Local Steamboat gym drops CrossFit affiliation after CEO’s controversial tweet
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — When Dana Forbes answered the phone, she introduced herself as the co-owner of Steamboat CrossFit. Her title is one she’s been used to saying for more than 10 years, but she’ll have to break the habit quickly.
Forbes and co-owner Ronni Waneka announced Monday that Steamboat CrossFit will no longer be affiliated with the brand after Greg Glassman, CEO of CrossFit, posted a tone-deaf tweet regarding George Floyd. The gym will now be known as Steamboat Strength and Conditioning.
Waneka and Forbes decided to step away from the CrossFit brand after seeing athletes, brands and other gyms do the same after Glassman tweeted in response to a tweet that said racism is a public health issue. Glassman replied saying “It’s FLOYD-19,” a play on COVID-19.
Some affiliates were already upset the brand had not come out with a statement of solidarity, as many other companies have done amidst protests that followed Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.
Waneka and Forbes said there will be a few challenges in losing the CrossFit name. The brand provided its affiliates with insurance and training, but even after considering that, Forbes said the decision to unaffiliate was an easy one. It all came down to maintaining integrity.
“When you really looked at what he had said and the stance the community was taking, it became the easiest decision ever,” Forbes said. “We knew it was the right thing to do for our community.”
The Steamboat community is very much a white, privileged community, far separated from the urban environments where large protests are calling for change. Still, Forbes and Waneka felt obligated to take a stand due to the values they try to instill in their gym’s members.
“We want to build strong, healthy, better people, so you can go out and take charge of your life. That’s what we’ve been doing for years,” Waneka. “It’s fascinating for me that exactly what we’ve been working on for all of those years has come to a head. The CrossFit community, as a whole, is standing up and fighting for what’s right. It’s just what we do.”
There are about 15,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide. Steamboat’s former CrossFit gym was one of the earliest gyms to affiliate with the brand, celebrating 10 years with just 250 other affiliates last year.
Other than the name, and a few logistical things like insurance, the gym will look and function the same.
“Nothing’s going to change,” Waneka said. “Tomorrow, we’re going to go in there and have the same day we always have. We just have a different name.”
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As an affiliate of CrossFit, we cannot support, agree with, or condone the racist and insensitive remarks made by CrossFit CEO, Greg Glassman. These remarks do not support our values or that of the CrossFit community at large. Because of this, moving forward we will no longer be known as CrossFit Steamboat. We will no longer be an affiliate of CrossFit Inc. We know that many of you reading this fell in love with CrossFit for the community, which is why you have our word that we will uphold the values, culture, and infectious energy that make up our family- now, and forever. Moving forward we will be known as Steamboat Strength and Conditioning. This was the most difficult, yet the easiest decision we have ever made. We pride ourselves on being inclusive of everyone who walks through our doors. We assure you that we will continue to support you as athletes with top coaching and programming and a training methodology that is unlike any other. Most of all, we assure you that when you walk through our doors you will always feel a part of something bigger than yourself. We are a community of HUMBLE, HUNGRY AND HAPPY humans, we are a family. #beready #humblehungryhappy #wearefamily #community #weareinthistogether #strong #bethechange
Before Glassman even took to Twitter, Steamboat CrossFit hosted a workout Saturday to honor George Floyd and raise money for The Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that challenges racial and economic injustice and is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, according to its website.
The workout was six rounds, the age of George Floyd’s daughter Gianna, and was completed with a partner or a team, representing the fact people must work together to fight racial injustice. The numbers 8 and 46 have become widely used to represent the eight minutes and 46 seconds that an officer knelt on Floyd’s neck. So, the workout featured an 800-meter run and 46 thrusters.
About 30 people showed up and donated sweat and $1,200 to the cause. Forbes said the gym is still taking in a few donations from those who want to contribute and expects to hit $1,500 by the end of the week.
Saturday was not the first time the Steamboat gym has gathered to fundraise and workout in honor of someone, having done so for community members who have passed away or are suffering.
One of the gym’s coaches came forward and requested to do something in honor of Floyd and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“She reached out to some of our community members who are black and asked them for guidance,” Forbes said. “What can we do? How can we support? We are privileged white people, and we don’t know what to do. We reached out to the people we knew could give us guidance, and we let them lead that charge in regards to that fundraiser.”
Waneka hopes the gym is just the first of many businesses in Steamboat and other mountain towns to show their support and speak up.
“This is the time we need to stand up and use our voices,” Waneka said. “You can’t be silent right now. I get it, that we live up here. But living in a place like this should give us even more of a voice to try to do something. It’s been long enough.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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