A dozen unnamed former employees and CrossFit athletes reportedly told The New York Times that Greg Glassman, along with other male employees under Glassman’s leadership, routinely made sexually vulgar, inappropriate comments about women at the company.
Former CrossFit employees and athletes are speaking out about alleged sexual harassment and an over-arching culture of misogyny at the company under the leadership of Greg Glassman, who recently resigned as CEO after he shared an insensitive tweet about George Floyd that was met with widespread backlash.
A dozen unnamed individuals—eight former CrossFit employees and four CrossFit athletes “with strong ties to the company”—spoke to The New York Times about Glassman’s and other male employees’ crude, often sexual comments about women, including those who worked at CrossFit and CrossFit athletes. These comments reportedly included “vulgar” conversations about women’s “bodies, how much male employees, primarily Mr. Glassman, would like to have sex with them and how lucky the women should feel to have his rabid interest,” reports The Times.
Those interviewed by The Times alleged that Glassman not only “verbally demeaned women,” but he also reportedly “pulled at their clothes to try to peek at their cleavage” and take photos of their chest. They also say that Glassman was known for “sometimes pressuring [women] to consider sharing hotel rooms or borrowed houses with him” while on business trips, according to The New York Times.
Glassman denied these allegations through company spokespeople, suggesting those who are speaking out against him “are doing so to lessen the worth of his company and then buy it from him,” according to The New York Times.
Shape has not independently verified these accusations or accounts.
These reports come just weeks after several CrossFit athletes and affiliates publicly denounced Glassman’s insensitive tweet referencing George Floyd, which eventually led Glassman to resign.
CrossFit co-founder Greg Glassman was exposed for racist antics just a few weeks ago.
Today we learn of CrossFit’s sexist culture, including that “wetpussy” was the wifi password at a company office and Glassman’s home.
Racism 🤝 Sexism https://t.co/HJOi68Obk6
— Staying in the Game (@AdrienneLaw) June 21, 2020
Among the athletes and affiliates who’ve spoken out against Glassman’s behavior following the tweet is former CrossFit headquarters employee, Andy Stumpf. In a recent episode of his podcast Cleared Hot, Stumpf said he routinely heard “derogatory and specifically sexual comments” about female employees (from multiple male employees, including Glassman, he said) during his time at CrossFit from 2010 to 2014. “It was an open secret as to who was potentially in the sexual crosshairs for [Glassman],” Stumpf shared during the podcast.
Stumpf admitted in the podcast that he, and many others, “enabled” this behavior by staying silent about it. He noted the company was “ruled by a fear of retribution,” causing many people to feel afraid to come forward.
“I don’t want to drag anybody else into this other than those that need to be,” said Stumpf. “But there are so many of these stories to tell,” he continued. “And the bottom line is they’re not mine to tell, but these people deserve a platform.”
What’s more, CrossFit affiliate director, Kathy Glassman—who’s considered “perhaps the most powerful female executive” at the company, according to The New York Times—is Greg’s sister. On top of that, The New York Times’ story notes that there was reportedly no human resources manager at CrossFit from its inception in 2000 until 2013. “[The HR] manager left the company in January and has not been replaced,” according to the publication. Understandably, these circumstances left people “reluctant” to complain about the alleged harassment and sexism they faced over the years, the news outlet reports.
At this point, the future of CrossFit is unclear. Dave Castro, longtime director of the CrossFit Games, announced he has taken over as the company’s CEO indefinitely. However, Lauren Jenai, co-founder of CrossFit and Greg Glassman’s ex-wife, told The New York Times that Castro is “a yes man” to Greg and that there will likely be “no change” under Castro’s leadership, largely because Greg reportedly still retains financial ownership of the company, said Jenai.
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 12, 2020
While allegations of sexism and sexual harassment have been made about Glassman and other employees from CrossFit HQ, the same culture doesn’t necessarily exist in local CrossFit communities. For example, when Greg stepped down as CEO after his racist tweet about George Floyd, CrossFit athlete Elisabeth Akinwale shared a two-part video (which she’d originally filmed in 2017) discussing the “different perspectives” regarding race and diversity in CrossFit.
“There’s CrossFit as a training method that someone’s doing in their local community, and then there are elite CrossFit competitions,” said Akinwale at the time. “Both of those worlds, I think, see a pretty significant lack of integration [for BIPOC individuals]. So, they’re different, but I think [the lack of integration has] been fairly consistent.”
In other words, local CrossFit gyms (aka “boxes”) can, and often do, cultivate different environments depending on the location, staff, members, etc. In the case of alleged sexism in CrossFit, while this behavior was reportedly happening at corporate headquarters, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is or isn’t happening at local CrossFit-affiliated gyms, too. In fact, research on the cultures of different CrossFit boxes suggests athletes are divided on this: Some CrossFitters describe their local gym as an empowering “environment in which to disrupt traditional norms of femininity,” while others have spoken about a “sexually-charged culture” and “the explicit gendering of CrossFit workout routines and equipment,” according to a 2018 paper published in the journal Fashion and Textiles. Oftentimes, these reports of sexist cultures appear to come from gyms that are not owned, operated by, or largely patronized by women, according to the paper. Meaning, representation—or, really, lack thereof—may play a huge role in the pattern of discriminatory behavior reported by CrossFitters.
In fact, Akinwale’s videos about race in CrossFit addressed a similar point about the importance of representation at these local gyms: “What I’ve noticed is, when I’ve visited gyms that have people of color as owners, then they typically have people of color as members,” said the athlete. “I think leadership matters, and seeing yourself represented when you come in the door makes a difference to people.”
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