Ukrainian CrossFit Banda Owner Tatiana Grashchenko Disappointed by Lack of Support from CrossFit HQ
When Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February, Tatiana Grashchenko was forced to close all four of her CrossFit Banda locations in Kyiv, Ukraine, a decision none of her 70 employees took lightly.
“Each of those 70 people has their own story, but I know that all of them are pretty sad,” Grashchenko said. “Some lost their home and will never get it back as it was. Some lost their friends, relatives, loved ones. Some picked up a machine gun and went to defend their country and family, and some devoted themselves to volunteering,” she said.
Although there was no money coming in through membership fees, Grashchenko continued to pay her coach’s salaries to allow them to cover their bills. And then she turned one of her gyms into a humanitarian aid hub, while a second affiliate was turned into a bomb shelter.
“Everything that could be useful for our military was taken out from (gyms) and handed over to them,” said Grashchenko, who left Kyiv and is in a safe place with her children.
More recently, after being closed for two months, Grashchenko has reopened one CrossFit Banda location with a small team of coaches who were “ready to return to work,” she explained.
“But whether all these four clubs will continue to (operate) or not is difficult to say, as the entire ecosystem of our clubs is broken. People’s priorities have changed. They now have other values and needs, and it’s not clear whether there will be a demand for all four clubs in the future or not,” she said.
Disappointed in CrossFit LLC
Through this “most emotional and disturbing time of [her] life,” Grashchenko has also been outspoken about how silent and unhelpful CrossFit LLC has been.
“From the very first days of the war, our entire team and the majority of CrossFit athletes in Ukraine immediately began to seek help and write letters to the CrossFit community and CrossFit HQ. But to be honest, only a few affiliates really helped and even offered themselves,” she said.
“CrossFit HQ didn’t comment on this for a long time, and weeks later they answered that we could turn to the regional manager in Russia for help. Seriously? Russia attacked us, and we should ask them for help?”
As a result, Grashchenko said she now questions the words she has read on CrossFit.com for years:
- “We’re here for you every step of the way. We have an unparalleled network of people, products, and services designed to support the affiliate community. From business best practices to coaching expertise, we’ve got you covered. With our vast network of affiliates worldwide and our network of field support professionals, we are dedicated to supporting you in your journey as much as you need.”
“Does this CrossFit community about which we have been reading on CrossFit.com and hearing from CrossFit HQ for so many years really exist?” she asked rhetorically. “It hurts.”
Grashchenko’s message to the world: “Please don’t get used to the war. Fight for us. Tell everyone who doesn’t understand what’s going on. We have people dying every day. Our cities are disappearing. Help stop the war. Don’t stay aside.”