For the past ten years, I have loved to hate my time in the CrossFit box. The workouts are torture, the boxes are hot, and people cheer you on, which usually makes me want to jump out of my skin if I’m honest. But I have loved so much more.
I have loved feeling strong. I have loved feeling empowered as a strong woman in ways that I rarely experience outside the box. I have loved laughing with friends, complaining about everything hurting, and experiencing my body lift weights that I never thought were possible.
But this week, my safe heaven crumbled. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it erupted and burned to the ground. At least that’s how I felt after I read the tweets. And the email. And the description of the disgusting Zoom.
Initially, I felt ashamed to be affiliated in any way with this jerk. And then came the rage. The same rage that surfaced the first time a boy touched me without my permission. The same rage the first time I heard someone say “Spic” when they forgot, or didn’t realize, or simply didn’t care that a Mexican was in the room.
The same rage I felt when I watched the video of a man being gunned down on a jog.
The same rage I felt when I heard about a woman being shot while she slept in her bed.
The same rage I felt when I heard a man call out for his dead mother as his life was taken. For no damn reason.
It’s a rage that has come a lot more often in the last couple of weeks. And I know it’s shared.
I imagine that CrossFitters all over the world let out a collective, “what in the actual f*ck,” when they learned what was said and written. And then we all had to come to the harsh reality. Our safe space, our community that we have worked so hard to defend, it is changed. Permanently.
Because the thing is that leadership impacts every level beneath it. And if a racist, callous, self-centered jerk is at the top of CrossFit, Inc, well his shit rolls down hill. No matter how far removed our boxes are, we are all downhill.
I watched as athletes and sponsors and boxes began to announce their disaffiliation. And I internally cheered. And then I started reading some other announcements. The “our box doesn’t agree, his words don’t align,” statements.
And I get it. Changing your entire business overnight is not something to be taken lightly. There’s insurance and contracts and all sorts of things I can’t even begin to imagine that have to be worked out. But at the heart of CrossFit is a community. And it’s a diverse one.
Which is exactly why we need our box owners to show us that they see us. Don’t tell me you see me. Don’t tell me you care for me. Because, honestly, I believe the words. But when you truly value a relationship or a person or anything, you have to be willing to be inconvenienced.
If my best friend calls me at 2am to tell me she just found out her husband is cheating, well I’m heading over at 2:01 to figure out what we’re doing with the body. But if an acquaintance calls me at 2am, I’m probably going to text them “I’m so sorry” in the morning and bring them some chocolate. Because I’m willing to be inconvenienced for a friend, but I’m not willing to do the same for someone I don’t care deeply about.
So I hope my box cares about my community in a way that means they are willing to face the difficulties.
I live a privileged life, and I have every ability to turn away from this and say, “it’s not something I want to focus my energy on.” But I refuse to use the out.
Because even though Glassman has stepped down as CEO, he still directly profits from CrossFit, Inc. Every single time a box pays their affiliate dues and a trainer gets certified, that jerk gets a little wealthier. And I may not be able to eradicate racism all on my own, but I sure as hell won’t fund it.
I won’t walk into a gym every day and think about a complete lack of care about human lives when I see the words “CrossFit” on the walls. I won’t sit in the rage that comes up every time I remember that even after taking on the CEO role in response to this publicity crisis, Castro still couldn’t bring himself to say “Black Lives Matter.”
CrossFit doesn’t mean the same thing it did a week ago. And I am mourning that loss. But I won’t sit idly and contribute to Glassman’s retirement account. I’m willing to be uncomfortable and find a new community, but I hope I don’t have to.
I hope boxes across America choose to support their members, and not systemic racism. I hope boxes step up and work out the logistics. And I am 100% confident that the community will support them all along the way.
I hope we get our safe space back. I hope we mean enough to be inconvenienced for.