UPDATE, 7 P.M.  A second local gym, CrossFit of Ithaca, has also unaffiliated itself from the CrossFit brand.

“This has come at a time of hardship for all of us,” Nina Jordan, owner of CrossFit of Ithaca, wrote in a statement to gym members. “We realize the impact that this has had on the entire community as a whole, and we believe that disassociating CrossFit of Ithaca with CFHQ is the right thing.”

EARLIER

ITHACA, N.Y. — Pallas Ithaca has unaffiliated itself from CrossFit after Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit, made controversial comments about George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 4, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation [IHME] at the University of Washington tweeted a statement from IHME director Christopher Murray. In the statement, Murray wrote that racism is a public health issue and vowed that the center “will do more to illuminate the public health impacts of systemic racism … expand [its] work on COVID-19 to specifically examine the differential impacts of the disease by race …  [and] will make every effort to bring attention to police brutality.”

On June 6, Glassman replied to IHME’s tweet, writing, “It’s FLOYD-19.” In a separate reply the next day, he wrote, “Your failed model quarantined us and now you’re going to model a solution to racism? George Floyd’s brutal murder sparked riots nationally. Quarantine alone is ‘accompanied in every age and under all political regimes by an undercurrent of suspicion, distrust, and riots.’ Thanks!”

Pallas Ithaca, a local gym that has been open since 2012, made a statement on its social media accounts June 8 condemning Glassman’s comments.

“We cannot stand by a brand who’s [sic] leader is divisive and insensitive in a time where we need to show compassion and empower each other to become better,” Pallas stated. “We will stand by our core values, and our promise to promote anti-racism and be pro-active allies.”

The gym will start the Pallas Accessibility fund, which will financially support gym memberships for underrepresented members of the community. The first donation to the fund will be the money that would have gone toward the CrossFit affiliate fees, which costs $3,000 annually. Pallas memberships range from $120 to $200 per month for adults. Non-members costs are $60 or $100 per month for one or two classes per week.

Pallas co-founder Tim Paulson said that community members will be able to apply to the program in the coming weeks.

“We want to try to do more to make our services more accessible,” he said.

Paulson further explained the decision to de-affiliate from CrossFit in a video posted to Pallas’ YouTube.

“It was not a difficult decision given what’s going on,” he said. “But in the grand scheme of the history of our business, it is a difficult decision because it’s been a part of who we are for so long.”

He said that Glassman’s comments are unacceptable and that the gym does not need the CrossFit affiliation to uphold its values.

“Those … do not support all of the things we do as a gym,” he said. “The inclusivity, the community, supporting one another, building each other up. They don’t go in line with that, and that’s the main reason we have decided to pull our affiliation, because as long as he is the figurehead of CrossFit, we can’t identify with that.”

Pallas co-founder Eamon Coyne said on his Instagram that Glassman’s comments discredit the health disparities the African American community faces.

“What has transpired over the past 3 months, and most notably 7 days, has been the very rapid death of a brand that I held in the highest regard,” he wrote. “What I am realizing is the methodology and the brand are two very different things. What Greg Glassman has said over the past two days with his twitter fingers is appalling, insensitive and passively racist.”

Gyms and brands across the country have de-affiliated with CrossFit after Glassman’s comments, including Reebok, the exclusive title sponsor of the CrossFit games and licensee of CrossFit apparel. The brand said it will fulfill its obligations for the 2020 CrossFit games, but will not continue its partnership after the end of this year.

“The frontlines of this community – the athletes, the affiliate owners, the members – are making our voices heard,” Paulson wrote on his Instagram. “We will stand up for what’s right because black lives matter, our community matters, and we need compassionate leadership now more than ever.”

Glassman issued an apology on Twitter June 7, claiming he made a mistake by his choice of words.

“Floyd is a hero in the black community and not just a victim,” he stated. “I should have been sensitive to that and wasn’t. I apologize for that. I was trying to stick it to the [IHME] for their invalidated models resulting in needless, economy-wrecking, life-wrecking lockdown, and when I saw they were announcing modeling a solution to our racial crisis, I was incredulous, angry, and overly emotional. Involving George Floyd’s name in that effort was wrong.”

Pallas has been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Paulson said that he anticipates the gym will reopen in the next two to three weeks in accordance with local health and safety measures. New York State has not issued clear guidance on which phase of reopening gyms will be included in. The Southern Tier is currently Phase Two of reopening. Phase Three includes restaurants and food services, and Phase Four includes arts, entertainment, recreation and education.

Paulson said that once the gym can reopen, it will continue to provide programming despite no longer being affiliated.

“One thing that I want to assure you guys of, is when you walk through the doors of Pallas, not a lot will have changed,” he said. “The word ‘CrossFit’ will be gone, we may call a couple things different things, but the experience that you have when you come in, the coaching that you get, the classes that you take, the facility, the community. Everything that you love, and all of the reasons that you come to our gym every day, they will still be the same.”

Madison Fernandez

Madison Fernandez is a contributing reporter at the Ithaca Voice. You can reach her by email at mfernandez@ithacavoice.com.