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Greg Glassman: From Polio Boy to Creator and Fallen Angel of the Biggest Gym Brand of the 21st Century


The CrossFit founder, forced in 2020 to leave the company over comments following the violent death of George Floyd, led a revolution in training methods that today seeks to shed his image

He has referred to its creation as "a religion run by a motorcycle gang"; "Something as natural as the rise of the Grand Canyon" or "the expression of a profound truth about metabolism." Greg Glassman (Los Angeles, 65 years old), the founder of CrossFit, gave a good example of his verbal ingenuity during the two decades that he led the brand with which he revolutionized



. Using bodyweight-based training routines, this San Diego Californian who had to use a walker in his childhood to recover from polio built a network of more than 15,000 partner exercise centers. Until everything, at least for him, fell apart in June 2020 after a sequence of comments that culminated in a

"it's Floyd-19"

(it's the Floyd-19)

posted on his Twitter account, widely regarded as racist, which ended up precipitating his exit from the biggest gym brand of the 21st century.

Glassman became interested in physical exercise as a teenager. She suffered from polio, recovered, and then gymnastics caught her attention. His father, Jeff, a

scientist at an aerospace company, gave him a


of weight lifting to stimulate their enthusiasm and Greg day came combine performing with dominated series. According to

The New Yorker


, he ended up vomiting. The fact revealed that his eagerness had reached another degree. It might have gotten out of hand by then; but also that without sessions like that there would not have been a training method that some trainers defend as more in line with the human body than that based on the preferential use of machines.

Some time later and after several university dropouts, Glassman, who is now 65 years old, began working in a gym in Los Angeles, where his concept began to take shape, although he defends, as he explained in a 2016 interview with CNBC, that “the success of CrossFit

he was born without any plan ”.

There he became the wayward employee who broke the protocols of the place where he worked, encouraging rope climbing or running between exercises.

Greg Glassman, founder and former CEO of CrossFit, during a meeting with his company's employees in 2015.Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Im

After starting a relationship with a client and marrying her, in 2001 they opened their own gym, which they called CrossFit because of the multidisciplinary training they wanted to promote. In parallel, their followers and their followers began to upload videos to the internet, to practice the exercises in parks, police stations, fire stations or military barracks. Glassman, in any case, downplays its relevance in the popularization of



. Using a language that is sometimes close to animism, he has spoken of a “natural process” of the body itself or appealed to his role as a “hostess” of “something quite spontaneous”. "My paper? Just not having screwed up, "he told the




The rise of


is partly explained by the support provided to Glassman by nutrition guru Robb Wolf, who in 2010 published a book,

The Paleolithic Solution

, which became a bestseller and helped define a lifestyle in the one that


found a higher meaning. Wolf, a biochemist and former weightlifter, had contacted Glassman eight years earlier, in 2002, to inquire about his method of training and close a deal to open the first partner gym. Around this time, CrossFit began certifying its first trainers, a move that helped the brand's affiliates surpass fifty gym owners in three years.

Both partners, who later distanced themselves, were promoting at that time the benefits of a method that "tells a deep and elegant truth about activity, metabolism and chronic disease" and even "saves life." Glassman, however, was no stranger to the facts showing that exercise that crosses the border of physical pain is unhealthy. When, in 2005,

The New York Times

published an article about a man whose overexertion from


caused a disease that killed his muscle cells, Glassman bluntly replied: “It can kill you. I have to be completely honest with you. "

Despite this, the company lived through years of great growth.

With a business model that required affiliates to pay only $ 3,000 per year for the use of the name, until the arrival of the covid-19 pandemic, some 15,000 gyms were associated with CrossFit.

But to the withdrawal of part of them due to the health crisis, which promoted training at home, a trend that has been consolidated, was added that Glassman's reputation began to break as a result of several complaints of sexual harassment and comments that showed that their verbal tricks had a limit.

Three CrossFiters exercise outside in New York during the summer of 2020. Al Bello / Getty Images

On June 6, 2020, a Seattle affiliate, Alyssa Royse, posted on her gym's website an email exchange in which Glassman, in response to a message questioning her about her "moral ambiguity" in the face of the pandemic, he replied that he "sincerely" believed that the quarantine had "negatively impacted" his mental health. A day later, in a video call by Zoom consulted by

BuzzFeed News

, stated that the company was not mourning the death of George Floyd, the African American who was violently killed in Minnesota at the hands of the police. And that same day, in response to a tweet from a public health institute stating that racism and discrimination were "critical public health problems that demand an urgent response," he commented: "It's FLOYD-19." Subsequently, several complaints of harassment arose against him, which he emphatically denies.

On the 9th he announced in a statement that he was leaving the management of the company and at the end of that month, that it had been sold to Eric Roza, an entrepreneur who started doing sports thanks to CrossFit and that this last year he has made an effort to show his forcefulness against discrimination. It is one of the three chapters of concern at the company, which also wants to regain ground from home training and find a replacement for Glassman's old claim, which has barely commented during this time. "I didn't do this for the money," Roza said in a recent interview for

The New Yorker

. "The reason I am doing this is because I am completely in love with


and I want to take it to other people," concluded the businessman.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2021-07-25

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