It’s Pride Month, which means lots of companies are expressing their support for the LGBTQ community while doing the bare minimum to actually support said community. One company, though, is taking a different approach: a CrossFit gym in Indianapolis canceled a Pride-related workout event after the gym’s owners claimed it wasn’t in line with the values of “health and wellness.”
One of the gym’s members, Dan Mendoza, emailed the gym asking for an explanation. In their response to Mendoza, the gym’s management explained that “pride” — both as a concept, and, presumably, in the sense of LGBTQ pride — is detrimental to health. “Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships, and the spirit,” read the email, which Mendoza provided to his local Fox affiliate:
“Our underlying goal for the staff and members at CrossFit Infiltrate and our other gyms CrossFit White River and University Ave CrossFit, is total health and well-being for the individual and the community. Total health involves the body, the emotions, relationships, and the spirit. At the foundational detractor from health, as we believe God sets the parameters for, is pride. We believe that true health forever can only be found within humility, not pride. Humility is seeing oneself as they truly are, and as God truly defines them to be. As a business we will choose to deploy our resources towards those efforts and causes that line up with our own values and beliefs.”
Mendoza and several other members have since canceled their memberships, and the gym closed on Wednesday, The Indy Channel reported. At least one CrossFit employee has chosen to publicly support the event’s cancellation. “As someone who personally believes celebrating ‘pride’ is a sin, I’d like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing their convictions and refusing to hose an @indypride workout,” CrossFit legal researcher Russell Berger, who describes himself as the company's "Chief Knowledge Officer" in his Twitter bio, wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing.” Meanwhile, the official CrossFit’s Twitter account offered up this disastrous attempt at damage control:
“I am crazy proud of the gay community in CrossFit.”— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 6, 2018
In a subsequent tweet, CrossFit announced that Berger had been “placed on unpaid leave while management completes a thorough review.” A few hours later, the company announced that it had terminated Berger's employment.
This isn’t the first time a CrossFit gym has been accused of discriminating against LGBTQ members. In 2014, a transgender woman named Chloie Jonsson filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that it prohibited her from competing in a strength competition alongside other women. In a letter to Johnson’s attorney, a CrossFit lawyer said the company had an “obligation to protect the ‘rights’ of all competitors and the competition itself.”
We’ve reached out to CrossFit for comment on the cancellation and Berger’s tweets and will update if we hear back. In the interim, find a less douchey gym to go to.
Update [June 6]: This article has been updated to reflect Russell Berger's termination from CrossFit.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described Russell Berger as an executive at CrossFit. A spokesperson from the company clarified that Berger is a legal researcher at the company, not an executive, though his Twitter bio describes him as a "Chief Knowledge Officer."
Update: This story was updated to reflect that CrossFit Infiltrate closed on Wednesday.