Earlier this week, the CrossFit community stood divided over a tweet sent out by Greg Glassman, the CEO of CrossFit Inc. With more than 14,000 gyms around the world flying under the flag of official CrossFit affiliation, it would be extremely difficult to put a finger on the pulse of the entire community, so we decided to reach out to a handful of CrossFit gyms in the US to learn what they think about recent events in the community.
Meet the CrossFit owners we spoke to:
- Snez Veljanovska: Owner & Coach at Ausletics, Brea, CA
- Corey Allen: Head Coach at CrossFit Batcave, York, PA
- Brandon Garcia: Owner & Head Coach at CrossFit ELM, Thornton, CO
- Tawnya McCammon Mitchell: Owner at TNT Fitness and Nutrition, Tomball, TX
We asked each of the four CrossFit owners the same questions. It was great to experience very differing opinions and perspectives on the recent situation and the role of CrossFit affiliation in their lives and professional work. Here’s what they had to say.
1. What does CrossFit affiliation mean to you?
Snez: I affiliate with the method of CrossFit, not the man who created it. I affiliate with the community built because of the method.
Corey: CrossFit Affiliation (to me) means being able to operate under the brand that helped change my life, while also improving my business’s chances of being found via Google, etc.
Brandon: CrossFit affiliation means being a part of a mission to rid the world of the most preventable diseases known to man. Can you do that and not bear the CrossFit name? Sure. But CrossFit gave the training world a platform and opportunity unlike any other. Holding onto the CrossFit name means staying on mission and because you’re wearing the jersey. It’s accountability to a higher degree than any other certification I’ve had.
Tawnya: Last May, my husband’s box announced they would be closing their doors if they didn’t find a buyer. We bought it. I had hoped by renewing my affiliation with CrossFit I would get something out of it. I did get the occasional drop-in but not worth the affiliation fee. I didn’t gain a single member all year because I was a CrossFit box. Not one. I totally agree with the methodology that CrossFit is based upon and that it truly is for everyone because each person brings their own level of intensity to each WOD. I guess you could say that I have mixed feelings about what CrossFit affiliation means to me.
2. Are you planning on de-affiliating? If so, how do you see that impacting your business?
Snez: No I am not de-affiliating.
Corey: I will not be de-affiliating, as from a business standpoint alone changing my website, logo, email, SEO; it’s too much to do overnight especially when we’ve been decimated by COVID-19.
Brandon: We are staying affiliated. CrossFit changed my life as a professional and in turn helped me change lives I would not have otherwise reached. After dealing with the initial impact of the Glassman fallout, I don’t think it will be any different. Most people have no idea and don’t care because they know CrossFit provides results because they’ve had someone in their life get them from CrossFit. And that’s where it’s important.
Tawnya: When COVID-19 hit the US we heard nothing from CrossFit HQ for several weeks and then we got the Support Your Local Box as what seemed like somewhat of an afterthought. I decided then and there I was not renewing my affiliation because so many other business groups supporting gym owners provided tremendous resources during this time that CrossFit did not. We have already let CrossFit HQ know that we are not renewing our affiliation with them which was set to renew. I let my coaches know on Saturday and they were behind me 100% and I let the members know on Sunday that we would no longer be using our previous name and the signs were coming down but we were not going away. The support was overwhelming and I can feel the new energy from leading my members forward into our future together as a fitness community.
3. CrossFit is all about community, is your decision in this matter based on feedback from your members or more of a business decision?
Snez: It’s based on both.
Corey: My decision is based on doing what’s best for my business currently. I have personal reasons to stay or leave. But I cannot allow that to dictate my plan of action.
Brandon: For me as the leader of my gym it’s more about holding to my values. Our decision to stay affiliated came from that. We had some folks leave because of it and that’s ok, they didn’t agree with our values because their values are different. For those that stayed, they did so because they saw us stick to our values and that builds integrity.
Tawnya: My decision really was already made up a couple of months ago. When we were closed I had time to really analyze what I wanted for my business. I think I was so busy prior to that, learning to run the business that I wasn’t fully focused on being the visionary leader my community needed me to be. I did not ask my members because at this point in time they don’t care what we call ourselves they are just happy we are open and able to workout (6 feet apart) together again. We are our own community and don’t identify with CrossFit but with each other. If you are a leader, the time to lead is now. Make your own decision based on the best information you can find right now and lead! That is what we owe to our members. It’s lonely at the top. Even when you have others to fall back on, ultimately, you are responsible for the decision. Definitely use your support team to help and then over-communicate with everyone what is happening and why.
4. What do you predict for the future of CrossFit?
Snez: CrossFit will bounce back from this, they will improve. The sport and its people are too strong for it to break down.
Corey: CrossFit will hopefully evolve and become more proactive in reaching out to minorities within the community.
Brandon: Watching the seminar staff (of which I am starting the process of joining), they are all excited. They have all worked with and under Dave’s leadership and they are all confident in his ability to effect change where it needs to be and stay strong where it’s called for. If they’re excited, so am I. They’re more in the know than I am. So I predict a strong future for CrossFit. One that builds them as THE leader in the health, wellness, and fitness space more so than they already are.
Tawnya: I really don’t have any predictions for the future of CrossFit. I wish them the best of luck because we are really all about helping people to become healthier and move a little more today than yesterday. I think there will be others that step in and offer some fantastic fitness and possibly take over that “Hey, let’s go open a garage door with some basic weightlifting equipment, put some big fans up, and workout together!” group. I do not regret having been with CrossFit this past year but I feel it is time to lead my box and my community into a new fitness era.
Four coaches, four parts of the country and four different approaches to the past, present and future of the CrossFit brand.
While it’s clear that there are vastly differing feelings and opinions about recent events and the importance of the CrossFit™ name painted on the wall, there is a constant underlying theme: as gyms around the world return to normal and rally around their community of members, the core CrossFit values will continue to be the driving force for coaches. They’re not going to let a tweet or even a worldwide pandemic stop them from holding true to providing a safe, inclusive and dynamic environment for their members for as long as they can.