Main image: Screenshot from an Instagram post by Hatchet Athletics
A popular local gym has dropped its affiliation with an internationally recognized fitness brand in a stand against racism.
“In response to CrossFit headquarters’ disturbing response to the Black Lives Matter and anti-racism movement we are choosing to take a stand for what is right. It is time to make a change,” wrote Mitch Friend, owner of the newly renamed Hatchet Athletics in Huntsville, in a statement released on the business’s social media pages. “Our mission has always been, and will continue to be, to provide our community with a safe and inclusive space to work out. These values mean nothing while idly standing by in the face of racism, injustice, and hate.”
Friend was responding to a tweet made by Greg Glassman, the founder and CEO of CrossFit, which read, “It’s Floyd-19.” George Floyd was the black man murdered by Minneapolis police on May 25, an incident that sparked world-wide protests and riots. The murder and the protests led the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to release a post that identified racism as a public health issue. The Canadian Public Health Association said the same in 2018 and reiterated that message in a statement released today.
Glassman’s insensitive tweet ignited a storm of protest that saw many gyms, including Friend’s, rescind their affiliation with CrossFit; Reebok ended their partnership with the company. Glassman has since resigned as CrossFit CEO and an apology was issued by CrossFit headquarters.
“When I saw what he had tweeted my immediate emotion was disappointment and anger,” Friend said, adding that his values had been drifting away from the CrossFit owner’s values for a while, but the tweet was the last straw in his decision to withdraw from the CrossFit name.
Friend started CrossFit Hatchet in January 2016. “CrossFit is a methodology I found when I was 23,” he said. Originally a long-distance runner, Friend said he tried the CrossFit training program and was so impressed with it that he quit his job as a professional chef and became a personal trainer, specializing in the CrossFit methodology
CrossFit training is a method of high-intensity, functional training. It is a brand but any gym that bears the affiliation can still create its own unique training programs. “CrossFit is a trademark name and we pay an annual fee to be affiliated,” Friend said.
Friend’s gym, located on Hutcheson Beach Road, has about 50 core members, but those numbers swell during the tourist season. “My numbers are directly influenced by tourism and fluctuate like crazy,” he said, adding the CrossFit name attracts members who want the CrossFit methodology.
Friend is not concerned that dropping his affiliation with negatively affect his gym. “I have built a community outside of the CrossFit community,” he said. “People know where I stand and support me.”
Since releasing his statement about dropping his affiliation, Friend said that he has received countless supportive messages with many comments from people happy he made that decision.
“It was scary in the moment,” Friend said, “but doing what is right is always what is right in the end.”
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!