June 15, 2020 By Asha MacKay
The owner of CrossFit Sunnyside has dropped the CrossFit name and is rebranding in the wake of its global CEO making a number of insensitive and incendiary remarks following the death of George Floyd.
Greg Glassman, the founder of the international CrossFit brand, showed little concern about Floyd’s brutal death while on a recent Zoom call he had with his affiliates.
“We’re not mourning for George Floyd — I don’t think me or any of my staff are,” Glassman said, according to a recording obtained by Buzzfeed News.
The comment was made hours before he tweeted “It’s FLOYD-19” in response to a tweet calling racism a public health crisis.
The company later apologized and Glassman has since resigned.
But for Michael Seewald, the owner of Crossfit Sunnyside, the apology did not cut it and the comments were just too offensive. He has decided to change the name of his gym to Sunnyside Strong Fitness.
Seewald said Glassman’s comments do not reflect the way he operates his Sunnyside gym, which is located at 47-01 Barnett Ave.
He said his Sunnyside gym was built with “a vision of building a healthy, happy, strong community through fitness.”
Seewald added: “Those values are love, integrity, acceptance and equality. We’re proud to say that our members represent those values and the great diversity that is our Sunnyside community.”
Glassman’s incendiary comments came out of the blue for Seewald, but CrossFit Sunnyside has never taken many directives from the CrossFit headquarters. “We built a community based on our values. CrossFit HQ’s values, that’s theirs,” Seewald adds.
“Prior to the comments made by Glassman,” Seewald added, “We denounced the murder of George Floyd as a community.”
The CrossFit Sunnyside team dedicated a branded “Hero Workout” to honor George Floyd before Glassman’s comments were made. Although Hero Workouts are usually reserved for fallen veterans, the gym felt it was important to gather members for a socially distanced workout outdoors in Floyd’s memory.
This decision was made entirely by the Sunnyside gym.
“We as a CrossFit affiliate were independent in how we ran our business, the equipment we bought, the colors on our walls, everything on day to day operations was up to us,” Seewald said.
The gym will reopen under the name Sunnyside Strong Fitness, when the state COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Losing the brand affiliation means losing the global community of CrossFit gyms, but Seewald is confident that Sunnyside Strong Fitness will thrive as an independent business.
Seewald is in discussions with other former CrossFit gyms that also left the network in the wake of Glassman’s remarks. “These are early days,” he said.
The former CrossFit Sunnyside is also opening up conversations among its trainers and staff.
“Everything from COVID to George Floyd to Glassman, we have a long list of things to discuss,” Seewald said. He intends to actively listen to and openly communicate with members and staff about how to move forward.
“Without the affiliation, we’re looking forward to continuing the work that we’ve been doing over the past five years,” Seewald said. He hopes his members have been keeping up with the gym’s virtual programs, because the Sunnyside gym isn’t going anywhere.
Sunnyside Strong is on Facebook and members can continue with their fitness regimen online. Further details on its re-opening will also be posted online.