CrossFit CEO Eric Roza Lays Out Bold Agenda in First Town Hall
“If we are successful, I think that when we look back five or ten years from now, I think 80 or 90 percent of CrossFit gyms are going to be outside the U.S.” That was one of the first bold statements that new CrossFit CEO Eric Roza made in the 80-minute Town Hall session he co-hosted with Director of Training, Nicole Carroll. Going forward, Roza plans to hold a similar Town Hall event every quarter.
One big thing: In answering questions from the global CrossFit community, Roza began to frame a long-term vision for CrossFit LLC, introduced several developments at the top of the company and revealed some of his top priorities.
A new mission statement: CrossFit’s mission “is to be the world’s leading platform for health, happiness and performance.”
- In his discussion of the new mission statement, Roza highlighted health (which he defined as being “pain-free” and living a long life), performance (being able to do the things you want to do and get better at them) and happiness (“it’s gotta feel good”).
- Importantly though, he also talked about the fact that this is a global mission, which is why it includes the word “world,” and that he purposefully chose the word “platform.”
- Roza: “Here’s what’s important about ‘platform’ is people build shit on top of CrossFit, right?” He noted that between nutrition, apparel, publishers, equipment manufacturers, box owners and event operators, there are more than 100,000 who make their living in the CrossFit space.
Growing the Pie: As he elaborated on the “platform” aspect of the new mission statement, Roza noted that “that CrossFit hasn’t been perceived as being invested in the success of platform participants, of all these stakeholders.”
- Roza: “My message to everyone here is that we at CrossFit are invested in your success. We see ourselves as a platform business…We’re going to build this pie bigger and bigger around the world, and you guys are going to be a key part of it.”
- “If we do our job, instead of 100,000 people working in the CrossFit ecosystem, when we look out in five or 10 years, it’s going to be half a million or a million and for every person who makes their living with CrossFit, guess how many individuals we’re going to touch and be making healthier, happier and higher performing.”
A Board of Directors and the X Team: At several points throughout the Town Hall, Roza referenced a new board of directors, a development that many in the community will be happy to note. And, introduced the “X Team” or leadership team, including mentioning a few key individuals who will work in international development, research and analytics, and affiliate growth.
COVID Rx: Unsurprisingly, several questions submitted to the Town Hall focused on COVID-19 and the effects it has had on CrossFit gyms around the world. Roza said that the community needs to be prepared for the virus to very likely be an issue through the end of 2021, but outlined a couple of key initiatives from CrossFit HQ.
- HQ will establish a “COVID Rx” fund to help affiliates that have struggled during the pandemic.
- Roza: “We have decided and we’re working with our Board of Directors now on establishing a COVID Rx fund…we are still working through the contours of it, but…within about two months and hopefully sooner, we’ll be launching a plan to help — to try to help gyms who have had closures due to COVID.”
- HQ will also be providing guidelines for best practices to help affiliate owners going forward. This will include information developed by Nadia Abuelezam, a Boston College professor and infectious disease expert (and CrossFit athlete) to help affiliates keep their members safe and healthy. Roza plans to hold a webinar in September on best practices that will also include information on lobbying local governments.
- A key takeaway: Roza encouraged all affiliate owners and others in the CrossFit ecosystem to assume that COVID is “a thing in 2021” and advised: “Don’t succumb to magical thinking. Don’t succumb to blind hope…Don’t try to make things as least bad as possible. Figure out how you’re going to get a win out of this. There is one for you. There’s one for everyone here…because we are going to come out of COVID, and it’s likely that we’ll come out by the end of 2021, and you want to come out guns a-blazing.”
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: In response to a question on his point-of-view on diversity, equity and inclusion in CrossFit, Roza reiterated a point he’s made previously. “Racism and sexism are absolutely abhorrent. I find them abhorrent personally. There’s zero place for them in CrossFit.”
- Roza: “If CrossFit stands for something, and we know it does…It stands for — we see people’s common humanity, and we are not gonna discriminate against people. We’re going to affirmatively reach out and make sure people feel welcome.”
- He noted that there are real and perceived grievances surrounding these topics and indicated that there were several initiatives that CrossFit would take to address.
- Roza has hired a leader for inclusion and diversity, Trish Gerlitz, who will report directly to him. And, they have created an email account [email protected] to gather information and feedback on these issues from community members.
- The CrossFit Foundation will receive a $7 million endowment (that’s the amount pledged so far from Roza and his partners), and the company will be donating a portion of its revenues as well. While this endowment, the Foundation will focus on public health, specifically within underserved communities. As a part of this initiative, the endowment will help fund boxes operating within those communities.
- Roza described it as being like “the Boys and Girls Club but with a box where you can come in and work out, you can get a healthy meal, you can learn about what a healthy meal looks like,…and then mentoring and studying and so on in the box itself.”
Growing the Sport: While most of the questions in the Town Hall focused on the business and affiliate side, Roza also noted some high aspirations on the sports side as well.
- Roza: “Let’s shoot for a billion viewers of CrossFit around the world in 10 years.”
- He also indicated that he would like more athletes to be able to make a better living as professional CrossFit athletes. “Can you imagine how many more athletes are going to make their living, and a really good living from CrossFit, if we have 1 billion viewers around the world?” he concluded.