Working it out: Richard Neal, a part-time CrossFit coach and the owner of Zeus Comics, says he will no longer promote the brand. He says, “I’m ashamed.” Elizabeth Lavin

Business

Dallas’ CrossFit Gyms Sprint Away From Founder’s Racist Statements

The city's franchised CrossFit gyms figure out how to respond to the offensive comments made by the brand's CEO.

Before June 6, few people outside CrossFit head-quarters knew the name Greg Glassman. But after the company’s founder made several insensitive statements about George Floyd’s death—as well as relaying conspiracy theories to gym owners and staff about the coronavirus—the response was swift. Reebok, among others, cut ties with the company. A few days later, Glassman stepped down as CEO.

Many gyms across the country have since decided they are going to go their own way by no longer using the CrossFit brand. In Dallas, gym owners and athletes alike have condemned Glassman’s comments as they try to figure out their next steps. Many have invested years in this community, only to see it potentially undone by remarks made by a single ignorant man.

Richard Neal is a part-time CrossFit coach and the owner of Zeus Comics. He is struggling with the news. “I left IT to open a comic book store,” he says. “Since I no longer have comics as a hobby, I made CrossFit my hobby.” But CrossFit threatened to become a full-time job as well. “I got hooked. I started going to every workout I possibly could, and then, at some point, I had the opportunity to start coaching other athletes.”

“I got hooked. I started going to every workout I possibly could, and then, at some point, I had the opportunity to start coaching other athletes.”

Richard Neal

Now, however, after a decade of involvement with CrossFit, Neal is making some changes. “What Greg Glassman said was repulsive,” he says. “It was a gut punch to everything that I believed CrossFit to be.” But to him, the CrossFit brand doesn’t matter. “My community here is stronger than Greg Glassman,” he says.

Chase Ingraham, the owner of CrossFit Big D, says, “I think the simplest way to put it is that it was heartbreaking.” Ingraham says they are talking about ways to move forward as a gym. It’s a difficult situation for him. Having been involved with CrossFit for more than 12 years, he sees the training community as part of his identity. “Everything I currently have in my life now stems from the first day,” he says. Beyond operating his own gym, he is a broadcaster for CrossFit Games and a former competitor. He met his wife through CrossFit.

Ingraham reiterated the public statement issued by his gym, saying that CrossFit “is a community of acceptance, tolerance, and love.” Other Dallas-area gyms have made similar declarations on their Facebook pages. The folks at D-Town CrossFit, for one, posted that they “100% DO NOT agree with Greg Glassman and his disgusting comments.” Just as Neal and Ingraham noted, D-Town CrossFit emphasized that local gyms pay for the name but have little connection to the headquarters. “We can assure everyone that we are a community separate from CrossFit HQ.”

Both Ingraham and Neal have decided to remain with CrossFit for now, mostly because of their years of involvement. But Neal intends to make a few personal changes. 

“I will put away my CrossFit shirts,” he says. “I no longer mention CrossFit in my posts. I no longer promote the brand because I’m ashamed.”  

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