PK Fitness is ditching its affiliation with CrossFit, a worldwide fitness company, after its now-former CEO Greg Glassman made controversial comments regarding the death of George Floyd in Minnesota as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chris and Darren Lubbers, the owners of PK Fitness, publicly released the letter they sent to CrossFit denouncing the statements Glassman made and announcing its intention to end its affiliation. The PK Fitness owners initially sent the letter on Monday, prior to Glassman’s decision to resign as CEO on Tuesday.
“In light of CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman’s racist tweet this past weekend, we are announcing that CrossFit Parsons is ending its CrossFit affiliation and will no longer be known as CrossFit Parsons,” the letter read.
“We have worked hard to develop a local community of people that are focused on becoming stronger physically and mentally regardless of race. We thought CrossFit was focused on this as well, but it has become clear that CrossFit HQ and particularly CEO Glassman does not share the same core values as we do. CEO Glassman made it clear that he has no empathy for the black community and no understanding of the issues of our black brothers and sisters. Furthermore, his tweet and subsequent correspondence are divisive in nature and truly lacking of leadership from a major U.S. corporation. This is a time when we need unity and leadership.”
Glassman sparked controversy this week with controversial tweets and statements related to Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.
In a Zoom call with CrossFit gym owners — Chris and Darren Lubbers were not on the call — Glassman told a Minneapolis gym owner that, “We're not mourning for George Floyd — I don't think me or any of my staff are.
“Can you tell me why I should mourn for him? Other than that it’s the white thing to do — other than that, give me another reason.”
The recording of the call was initially obtained by BuzzFeed.
According to the website Morning Chalk Up, which covers the fitness community at large, over 1,000 gyms have decided to end their affiliations with CrossFit in light of Glassman’s comments.
Reebok, CrossFit’s apparel sponsor, also cut ties with the organization.
“We decided pretty quickly on Sunday evening,” Chris said of PK Fitness’ decision to end its affiliation with CrossFit. “A lot of times in life, decisions can be pretty tough. Maybe there’s not a 100% right or wrong answer. But this one was easy. To me, it was black and white.
“We made our decision in not even an hour. Darren and I both had the exact same thought. We knew we would de-affiliate right away. And we knew we needed to say why we were and that’s why we wrote that letter.”
Glassman also repeated debunked conspiracy theories about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic during the same Zoom call with gym owners. Glassman stated in the call that he believed the coronavirus was man-made inside a lab in China and said that the related stay-at-home orders cost “way more lives than have been saved.”
Glassman later apologized as part of his resignation announcement.
“The apology feels hollow,” Chris said.
PK Fitness and CrossFit Parsons were formally two separate businesses that operated at the same location in Parsons, 2112 Belmont Avenue. Chris Lubbers told the Sun that PK Fitness will absorb CrossFit Parsons and will operate solely under the PK Fitness banner.
“We have pushed the family and community aspect over anything else,” Darren said. “Our gym pushes that, as well as safety. The gym is people’s therapy. That’s why there’s a sign in my office that says ‘Safe Space.’ That gym is designed to be a safe space for anybody that walks in that gym.”
Darren didn’t hide his feelings for Glassman.
“Glassman is an a------,” Darren said. “He just is. He’s a jerk at times. For him to say what he did, there was no thinking needed with Chris and I. It was no problem.”
PK Fitness was closed for three months as part of the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That, coupled with the decision to end the affiliation with CrossFit, is allowing the business to hit a hard reset.
“Reset is a good word to use,” Chris said. “We had some ideas, but we felt like we digressed a little bit. Then the pandemic hit and it gave us an opportunity to really think about things. Even with going away from CrossFit, that’s just another part of the reset.”
Both Chris and Darren both said that PK Fitness will still offer classes that resemble traditional CrossFit workouts in addition to other programming.
“The theory of CrossFit are the functional movement workouts,” Darren said. “We’re still going to do the classes at normal times with those workouts. We want to focus on high intensity functional movements.”
Chris added that PK Fitness also aims to add other programming including yoga and beginner fitness classes.
“We want to do more for younger people,” Chris said. “We want to help them get better in their chosen sport or help with health issues.”
The decision to separate from CrossFit will also save PK Fitness an estimated $6,000 annually between instructor and gym fees.
“We don’t have all the answers,” Chris said. “But we know we have to reset. It’ll take a little time to build. But we want to have a positive impact on the community.”
“We want to bring the community together and build each other up,” Darren added. “That’s what Chris and I have always envisioned. That’s the reason behind PK Fitness. We want you to feel better by coming in to a class with us.”