CrossFit was met with backlash over allegations of racism and sexism from previous leadership. That is about to change.

CrossFit’s newly appointed chief exec has told CNN Business in an exclusive interview that he felt a calling to overtake the fitness company amid the public backlash it was facing.

In June, Eric Roza was named the new CEO of CrossFit, following his purchase of the company from previous chief Greg Glassman. And with the issues circulating the company, Roza said: “I felt a calling. I felt this was my time to step in.” 

New Chief of Fitness

Roza’s previous experience of leading a company was with tech startup Datalogix. It is a firm that provides a database on consumer spending to gauge sales impact, which was bought by Oracle in 2014.

“When I started doing CrossFit about ten years ago, I very quickly wanted to get more immersed in it,” he told CNN Business. But the new chief, who also owned a Colorado CrossFit gym, had to deal with the struggles CrossFit was facing prior to his leadership. 

Inclusivity in CrossFit

Among these challenges were those of the company affiliates that left connections with CrossFit, including major sponsors. This was due to Glassman’s statement of “not mourning for George Floyd,” per CNN Business. It came as the company came under pressure for making a stand on the Black Lives Matter movement. It also complicated matters for them as the company struggles with the pandemic-caused shutdown of many physical fitness facilities.

Roza said this comment from Glassman did not reflect those of his beliefs and other CrossFitters. “We knew that CrossFit… was about as inclusive as anything we’d seen. We knew that hierarchies get stripped away in the gym and everyone is accepted here.”

Celebrating Diversity in a ‘Happiness Platform’

Roza also took charge of the company amid allegations of a toxic workplace culture. Ex-staff said that they witnessed demeaning women and also confessed of being afraid of getting to the bad side of Glassman, per Business Insider.

Denouncing racism and sexism, which Roza noted wouldn’t be tolerated under his watch, he said: “Black lives matter, absolutely. Brown lives matter, absolutely. It’s core to everything I believe as a person.”

CNN said that Roza is ready to create “a more diverse leadership team” as CrossFit, with 14,000 affiliate gyms in 150 countries, will finally form a board of directors. He also intends the company to be “the world’s leading platform for health, happiness, and performance.”

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