Fitness brands including Reebok have cut ties with CrossFit after the company’s CEO posted a tweet making light of George Floyd’s death.
It began when the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington tweeted that “racism is a public health issue”.
In response, Mr Greg Glassman tweeted “FLOYD-19” – a play on Covid-19, the name of the disease caused by the coronavirus.
He also called an affiliate “delusional” for questioning why CrossFit had been silent on the killing of Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
Since Mr Glassman’s tweet about George Floyd, hundreds of affiliate gyms have removed CrossFit from their branding. A spreadsheet tracking all of the gyms that are rebranding currently lists 227 fitness centres distancing themselves from CrossFit.
He said he had been trying to make a point about lockdowns that have been put in place to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Glassman also came under fire for an email he reportedly sent to an affiliate who asked for a response from the company on anti-racist protests across the US.
“I sincerely believe the quarantine has adversely impacted your mental health,” he reportedly wrote to the woman, before calling her “delusional”. “You think you’re more virtuous than we are. It’s disgusting.”
One of these gyms, formerly CrossFit Petworth – wrote on Instagram: “For a brand that has preached about being ‘for all’, the deafening silence on current and past issues of racism tells us all we need to know.”
It added that it would donate its annual affiliate fee – $3,000 (£2,364) – to the Black Lives Matter DC and Know Your Rights anti-racist campaign groups.
Adidas AG, which owns Reebok, also issued a statement confirming it was ending its relationship with CrossFit.
“Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ,” the company said in a statement to AFP news agency.
Several CrossFit athletes also criticised the company.
Four-time CrossFit Games champion Matthew Fraser praised a colleague for disaffiliating from the company, while Olympian and three-time CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey said she was “incredibly saddened, disappointed and frustrated” with Mr Glassman’s comments.
Icelandic CrossFit athlete Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir also posted screenshots of Mr Glassman’s tweet and email, and said she was “ashamed, disappointed and angry”.