Many CrossFit gym owners rebranding after controversial tweet
Sudbury gym owners Adam Ball and Kristin Green own what will now be referred to as the Sudbury School of Fitness. At one time, the name was CrossFit Sudbury. (Ian Campbell/CTV News)
SUDBURY -- After a three-month closure during COVID-19, many Canadian gym owners are now facing another difficult decision: what to do about their affiliations to the CrossFit brand.
A controversial tweet that drew a comparison between George Floyd and COVID-19 has led many to distance themselves and disaffiliating with the company.
Sudbury gym owners Adam Ball and Kristin Green own what will now be referred to as the Sudbury School of Fitness. At one time, the name was CrossFit Sudbury.
They had been moving away from the former name for some time and this just made their decision easier.
"I was disappointed," said Ball. "We were upset and it seemed out of character to a degree."
On their Facebook page, they couple released a statement. In it they write:
"In light of the response of CrossFit’s CEO regarding the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, it has become apparent that we do not share the same beliefs. We want to be clear in expressing that we do not condone these actions and that we stand in solidarity with the Black community."
"It's all it really took for us to separate ourselves and to make it very clear to the people that come to us that we know and love, that it's not what we stand for," Ball said. "You guys know who we are and we want to make it clear, as well."
The decision has been met with positive reviews from members both on Facebook and Instagram.
"Good job! Reflection is a major part of growth. Way to lead by example," writes the Northern Lights Basketball Academy.
Over on the other side of the city, True North CrossFit has also been contemplating its future with the brand.
"It's been a rollercoaster this past week to say the least," said owner Bradley Hogue. "I think it really frustrated a lot of us in the sense that it's really not representative of any community that I've been a part of and my gym included.
"I'm definitely in the stance of distancing myself from the brand. I definitely don't agree with it, that's really not what our community and our gym is built on, so I'm now looking at steps to move forward and kind of working on possibly rebranding and taking the gym in a bit of a different direction."
Cambrian College business professor Brian Vendramin said these business owners are not going to have an easy road ahead of them as they take a deep look at what they stand for and their brand.
"Each business is going to have to make their own decision," Vendramin said. "They're going to have to look at how their customers are going to feel, how clients are going to feel, and if they decide to make a change, then so be it.
"If they decide to go forward and there's some pushback from customers, they may have to re-evaluate."
It doesn't come at an easy time. Some of the businesses were hoping to reopen in the coming days to teach classes as part of the province's reopening plans.
Reebok dropped its affiliation with CrossFit earlier this week.
The founder, Greg Glassman, has since apologized for his remarks and said he made a mistake. He's stepping down from his position but denied being racist.
It's unclear how many gyms have officially severed their connections, but the figure is believed to be in the hundreds.