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OPINION: CrossFit Has Begun to Fix Its Inclusion Problems, In A Way

On Tuesday, Dave Castro shared a clip from a news report on his Instagram account. The post, which’s caption read “Robby Dinero owner CrossFit AU” and tagged the CrossFit and CrossFit Affiliates accounts, showcased a Fox News interview where affiliate owner Robby Dinero speaks his mind against local COVID regulations and tears up a government fine he received for breaking them.

Dinero, a former marine, stated he “wanted to get together […] and protest and fight the lockdown that I feel is infringing upon our freedom.” A crowd of people standing close together and not wearing masks, is gathered behind Dinero in support.

The clip, which only showed the last minute of the interview and was shared without context, has since been deleted. Still, one has to wonder: why share it in the first place?

Dinero’s confrontational attitude towards the law is a mirror of what CrossFit, as an organisation, used to be like – and what ultimately lead to founder Greg Glassman’s downfall. In the past few years, CrossFit’s leadership promoted its anti-establishment attitude, showcasing an apparent lack of care for consequences and a speak-your-mind no matter what attitude, which alienated CrossFit from many followers and potential members alike.

To spotlight this attitude, especially coming from Dave Castro, a popular and well-followed employee who has in the past used his Instagram account to speak on behalf of CrossFit (sharing Open announcements, revealing CrossFit Games workouts, posting clues), somehow shows stagnation in the old ways.

There must be hundreds of CrossFit affiliates out there doing their outmost to prove to governments they can continue to operate safely, proactively working together with the authorities to prove it might be possible that there’s more benefit than risk in staying open, and how to implement this. It’s beside the point that Dinero has valid arguments – highlighting his lawless behaviour won’t bring CrossFit to being a more inclusive and welcoming company.

After Eric Roza acquired CrossFit and became the new CEO, some of the first and most pressing issues he had to address where those of diversity and inclusion. Speaking to the CrossFit community for the first time, Roza said: “If CrossFit stands for something, and we know it does… It stands for — we see people’s common humanity, and we are not gonna discriminate against people. We’re going to affirmatively reach out and make sure people feel welcome.”

How, I ask, is a CrossFit employee shining a light on law-breaking, without context, affirmatively reaching out and making sure people feel welcome? Has the culture within CrossFit really changed?

Dave Castro’s Instagram account is followed by more people than CrossFit’s main account and the CrossFit Affiliates account combined.

I took the questions to CrossFit, who said:

“Affiliates around the world are facing tremendous pain and frustration due to government-mandated closures that have inexplicably hit gyms harder than almost any other industry. CrossFit strongly believes the best way forward is through engagement with policymakers, education about the importance of fitness to public health, and adhering to best practices established by public health officials.

“That’s why we are working with affiliate owners across the US and around the world to help them connect with their local elected officials, as well as building support for legislation in the US Congress for up to $30 billion in gym-specific relief.

“We encourage all gym owners to comply with local laws and adopt best practices to protect their members, so we can emerge stronger from this pandemic together.”

Seeing Dave Castro’s post was deleted following this statement strengthens my belief that CrossFit is heading in the right direction and, while there might be slips along the way, the organisation is now willing to acknowledge and act upon instances that go against its core mission, and see through the changes promised six months ago.

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BOXROX. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

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