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Armen Hammer: What Comes Next for CrossFit? (Podcast)

Armen Hammer has worn a lot of hats around the CrossFit community: Athlete, affiliate owner, writer, vlogger, you name it. And his relationship with CrossFit HQ has been colorful, to say the least. Years ago, Armen, who was attending as a blogger and spectator, was removed from the CrossFit Games by event staff.

More recently, he’s built close friendships with people inside CrossFit’s leadership, and his videos and social media posts about goings-on inside the CrossFit community are some of the most popular content in the space. He’s also broken and confirmed some massive news stories, including the announcement that Greg Glassman would be retiring as CrossFit’s CEO. We recorded this podcast just one day after that become public knowledge, and our discussion revolves around the CrossFit Games, CrossFit as a company, and how the community is reacting to sudden changes.

In this episode of the BarBend Podcast, David Thomas Tao talks to Armen Hammer about:

  • Armen’s background in the CrossFit community as “The Naked CrossFitter” (3:00)
  • The incredible changing landscape of CrossFit news (6:30)
  • A period of Armen’s “rocky” relationship with CrossFit HQ (7:20)
  • Removal from the CrossFit Games (10:30)
  • Existential threats to CrossFit, and rekindling relationships with CrossFit HQ staff (14:00)
  • “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more stressed or anxious about something than this past weekend” (21:10)
  • How the CrossFit HQ shakeup overshadowed other impactful international sports news (24:00)
  • Armen’s style of reporting (28:00)
  • Will we have a 2020 CrossFit Games? (32:30)

Relevant links and further reading:

Transcription

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

My brain is in a thousand different places. I’m thinking about, when was the last time did we ever have a racist issue publicly happen in the CrossFit space? What’s going on with this Greg thing? Who do I text? How many people can I have conversations with at once?

 

My phone’s blowing up. My inbox is blowing up. People are like, “Why haven’t you said anything?” What do you want me to say? You know what the story already is. I’m not going to bring anything to the table if I, off the cuff, throw something out there.

 

It takes so much time to have a turnaround and when all of this is jam-packed altogether, you almost risk as a media person, as a creator, you almost risk losing the race.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Welcome to the “BarBend Podcast,” where we talk to the smartest athletes, coaches, and minds from around the world of strength. I’m your host, David Thomas Tao, and this podcast is presented by barbend.com.

Today I’m talking to independent video blogger Armen Hammer. Armen has worn a lot of hats around the CrossFit community, athlete, affiliate owner, writer, vlogger, you name it. His relationship with CrossFit HQ has been colorful, to say the least.

Years ago Armen, who was attending as a blogger and spectator, was removed from the CrossFit Games by event staff. More recently he’s built close friendships with people inside CrossFit’s leadership. His videos and social media posts about goings-on inside the CrossFit community are some of the most popular content in the space.

He’s also broken and confirmed some massive news stories, including the announcement that Greg Glassman would be retiring his CrossFit CEO. We actually recorded this podcast just one day after that became public knowledge.

Also, I want to take a second to say we’re incredibly thankful that you listen to this podcast. If you haven’t already, be sure to leave a rating and review of the BarBend Podcast in your app of choice.

I also recommend subscribing to the BarBend Newsletter to stay up to date on all things’ strength. Just go to barbend.com/newsletter to become the smartest person in your gym today. Now let’s get to it.

 

Armen Hammer, thanks so much for joining us. I’ve been following your work for a long time, the Wodcast Podcast. I knew you as The Naked CrossFitter for a while. Was that correct?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Old School.

David TaoDavid Tao

Old School.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

A long time ago.

David TaoDavid Tao

Why were you The Naked CrossFitter? I don’t think you were actually naked working out most of the time.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

No, definitely not. I don’t think anyone would want that to be honest with you.

No, so I basically had a blog way back in the day that started probably around 2010. It was just like a training log and a diary. Honestly, I was in college, or I was just getting out of college. I was super-angsty college kid, just fitness. Yeah, it was great.

David TaoDavid Tao

Was that your live journal phase?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 It was like that. It was exactly like that. It was exactly like that. I was one step away from having a GeoCities page with a custom cursor. It wasn’t great. I got over that phase, right?

 

I had this blog. My brother and I had opened a CrossFit gym in 2011. We had a coach who had been doing this weekly blog for their old clients and their old gym, for years.

 

He had just been consistently publishing for a long time. We did a daily blog on our site. We were always writing something. Five days a week we would have something along with the published workout of the day.

 

That coach encouraged me to start my own thing. I was, “Well, I have this old one. I don’t like what it’s called right now. I’ll just change it up.” I changed it to The Naked CrossFitter. The idea was if you remember, Jamie Oliver had a show called “The Naked Chef.”

 

His whole concept was we’ll tear it down into its base most simple concepts, and make it interesting that way. That’s where The Naked CrossFitter started from.

 

It very quickly became a way of me just poking fun at the dumb stuff that we all do on a regular basis. The things that make meme pages right now. That’s basically what I was talking about for the first year that I had that blog.

 

David TaoDavid Tao

 

The name is pre-Clickbait, Clickbait. It just works out so well. It probably did a lot better just because of that name. Wait, The Naked CrossFitter? Do I want to see this?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Yeah, yeah. This was, CrossFit was still very much in its booming phase, at that point. I still have the Facebook page for it. I think now it’s called, The Naked Ex-Fitter or something. I still get people who like that page. I haven’t posted anything on it in 8 years or 9 years. It’s crazy. It’s crazy.

David TaoDavid Tao

I want to talk about your relationship with CrossFit HQ because before…OK, so background on me. I should probably give this as a disclosure on the podcast. I, years ago, wrote for CrossFit HQ. I was compensated for doing so. If there’s a conflict of interest, it ended a long time ago. I should say that, right?

 

Your relationship with CrossFit HQ has been interesting I think, to say the least. There was a period where, I think the Internet term would be shadow banned from the CrossFit Games? You kind of pissed off the wrong people or said some things.

 

These days you’re very much within the community, you’re breaking news, you’re doing a lot of really cool work. Tell us about the point in the relationship that wasn’t so amazing between you and HQ.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

I’d say the low point of my relationship with HQ was an error…

 

 …and it basically started in 2012. In 2012, a few things happened very quickly, back to back. I mean, not very quickly in terms of nowadays what means very quickly. Very quickly over the course of several months, essentially.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Which was fast back then. We’re going to get off this recording and the news landscape is going to be completely changed. We’re going to be playing catch-up.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 I’m almost scared. Honestly, I’m almost scared. At this point over the past week or so, every time I’ve recorded something while I’ve recorded it, something earth-shattering has occurred. It just makes me throw away the thing I’ve just created. I’m kind of concerned.

 

Either way, 2012 a series of things happened. First off, CrossFit decided to shut down a charity organization called Fight Gone Bad.

 

The decision behind that was Fight Gone Bad is an IP name owned by and trademarked by CrossFit. They didn’t want another company sending cease and desists to people using the name Fight Gone Bad and they didn’t want another company using something that they owned for something that they weren’t involved in.

 

They shut down this charity organization. That is a huge bummer because it was something that started in California, it started in the box that I was a member of. It had grown significantly, it was doing a lot of really good things. I was upset about that. I called CrossFit out on that. That was part of it, that was the start of it.

 

Then the open in 2012 happened. Not everyone, I guess, is as big of a CrossFit nerd as I am or maybe some other people would be. In 2012, it was just the second year that the open had ever existed and it’s…

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Wait, was that the second or was that the third, 2010 I think?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

 2010 was still sectional.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

You’re totally right.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

2012 was the second year that the open ever existed and the first workout…

David TaoDavid Tao

 

There were…

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Yeah, there were five that we…

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Instead of six the previous year?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

Exactly. The first workout was seven minutes of burpees. I had just won a competition that was relatively larger at that point, so I was feeling very fit and very ready. I got buried on the leaderboard with seven minutes of burpees. I was not ready for seven minutes of burpees.

 

I still have some issues with the fact that seven minutes of burpees were programmed. My biggest problem was the fact that you have 25,000 people participating or 40,000 people participating and the bell curve of scores is going to put 99 percent of them within a handful of reps.

 

What that ends up doing is it creates these unfortunate bottlenecks where you might have a score that’s in the 99 percentile but you get 1,000 points for it. It immediately knocks you out of the contention of making it to regionals unless you have exceptionally good scores. It just didn’t feel like it was the right move back then.

 

I think they learned their lesson from that by the way, and I want to say that part of my very vocal and rude criticism back then is one of the things that taught them that they shouldn’t do that again. That was another part of it.

 

The straw that broke the camel’s back is I was very vocal about they had gotten rid of Fight Gone Bad and replaced it with CrossFit for Hope, which I thought was really lame. They had, in my opinion, misprogrammed the opening workouts of the 2012 Open.

 

At regionals, I had requested media passes and was denied. I just borrowed a media shirt from one of my friends who’s doing photography there so that I could go support my friends who had qualified to compete.

 

I still bought tickets. I still even paid to get in. I just wore the media shirt, so I could go backstage and help my friends take some pictures and post on my blog. In response to that, I basically got this letter that was like, “You’re not allowed to call yourself a CrossFitter anymore. If you show up to any of the events and we see you doing anything shady, we’re going to kick you out.”

 

I was like, “I don’t think I did anything shady. I just took couple of pictures of my friends in ice baths, basically. It wasn’t anything too important back then.” Anyway, that happens. Cut to the 2012 CrossFit Games a few months later, we’re in the middle of recording a podcast on the Wodcast podcast and Dale Seren walks in with or Justin Berg walks in.

 

Justin Berg, the GM of the CrossFit Games walks in, and he’s like, “I’m looking for Armen Hammer. Which one of you is Armen Hammer?” I was like, “That’s me. What can I help you with?” He was like, “You’re not allowed to be here anymore. You got to get out.”

 

Him and five security guards literally escorted me off the property at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. I was like, [laughs] “This is awful.” That was probably the peak of where everything was the worst.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

I’m going to say something that I hope doesn’t upset you too much Armen. You’re a fit guy. You’re not a small person, but five security guards?

That seems a little excessive for you.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

It was definitely overkill. I can take it, I was certainly upset. I called a bunch of people and I tried to explain not to CrossFit, CrossFit I didn’t care, but I tried to explain to my friends why I suddenly was kicked out and what that means. I did a big post about it and I was really upset about it.

 

The thing that was most upsetting, the thing that I was most afraid of was, this was back in the day where Greg Glassman would regularly or at least the threat of him removing your affiliation was in the air. It was something that he had done recently, basically at that point.

 

My brother and I had opened our affiliate in 2011. We were still relatively young, we’re doing well, but the idea of the wrath coming down on both of us for my behavior was something that I was really upset about, so I laid low. It took, probably, I’d say, five, maybe six years before that relationship was repaired in any meaningful way.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Was there an olive branch extended from either party, or was there a moment where you’re like, “OK”, if not buddy-buddy again, but you’re not on the, for lack of a better term, the shit list?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

Yeah. 2013 I think things changed for CrossFit, Anthos was a big storyline in 2013. In 2013, Greg Glassman divorced his wife and they had 50/50 ownership of CrossFit and his ex-wife, Lauren was going to sell her 50 percent stake to an investment group that was going to transform CrossFit into more of a big box gym.

 

That was going to require certain certifications, and require that people wear uniforms and a certain type of shoe, and this and that or whatever. That was going to strick try and standardize and turn the more like franchises. The Anthos thing eventually was resolved. Greg was able to buy that 50 percent share from Lauren, and the Anthos threat was thrown out the window.

 

I think that was an eye opening moment for CrossFit HQ. That a guy like me, who loves CrossFit, pays his affiliate fees, pays thousands of dollars to get certified and then you renew certifications, and get new certifications, and attend seminars and stuff. A guy like me isn’t a threat. I love this thing. I’m trying to defend it, I’m trying to grow it. I’m criticizing it from the inside because I love it so much.

 

That was, I think eye opening for them to realize that, “Hey, there actually are much bigger threats out here that are truly being an existential threat to what CrossFit stands for. That got me off the direct radar of CrossFit HQ, but it really was not until, well, it was not until after the 2018 CrossFit Games that I rekindled any meaningful relationship with HQ, or its senior staff.

 

It wasn’t until the 2019 CrossFit Games that I actually got face to face with Justin Berg again, and cleared the air of that situation from being removed in 2012.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

What was that meeting like? Justin is someone, I’ve had him…Again, full disclosure, we’ve had him on the BarBend podcast. My interactions with him have not involved security guards over the years.

Let’s put it that way, maybe I’m just not threatening to anyone. Maybe I should, I don’t know, be more threatening or sneer more. What was that conversation like?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

I like him. It’s weird to say that because I harbored a grudge against him for so long because of that, but the strange-weird fiction of this whole situation is that, Justin was essentially doing what he was told.

 

He had no idea who I was or what I had done. He basically just had a name and was like, “This guy has to go and this is just another thing on my list that I don’t want to deal with that I have to deal with this weekend.”

 

The actual guy who was responsible for me being cited, named, and removed was Russ Green. I actually became close friends with Russ Green, well before I repaired my relationship with CrossFit HQ. Russ was the bridge that was able to use to repair that relationship.

 

I met Justin Berg, we got face-to-face in 2019 at Madison. I was poking around. I was being a little over the line. I’m not going to say I was definitely breaking any rules, but I’m going to say I was a little over the line. I was in the parking lot at the Alliance Center and there’s a back gate in the parking lot, if you don’t know.

 

If CrossFit ever goes back to Madison for the games, there’s a back gate in the parking lot that’s right…

David TaoDavid Tao

 

You’re going to have to close this loophole after this podcast comes out.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

There’s a back gate in the parking lot right next to where the Coliseum is, where they used to bring in and out all the major equipment and the people movers, and the machinery and stuff that they use to set up the CrossFit Games, at least on that end of the park.

 

I was looking for somewhere to record. I was like, “OK. It’s the day before. Two days before the games I’m here, I want to do a little thing like, ‘Hey guys, I’m here. Here’s what we’re looking forward to. Here’s what’s going to look like.'”

 

I saw the Coliseum, and I was like, “This is perfect. There’s a break in the fence. I’m going to stand right at the break in the fence, so the Coliseum is behind me. I’m going to have a great shot. It’s going to look great. I’m so pumped.”

 

I’m standing at that break in the fence. I wasn’t breaking the rules and getting into the park where I shouldn’t have been, which we had definitely been briefed on, but I was standing there. I was like, “All right. This is a perfect shot, and I’m recording like, “Hey, guys, it’s Armen Hammer. I’m here in Madison for the CrossFit Games.” That’s my voice in my head, by the way.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

That is what you sound like, I’ve just confirmed that now.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 Yeah, I’m doing my thing and I hear someone lay on their horn as I’m recording. I was like, “Uh, ruining my shot. What is going on?” I look and again, something maybe a lot of people don’t know is that your CrossFit develops corporate sponsorships to provide cars for their staff, and in 2019, it was Porsche.

 

I look over, and I see three Porches parking in the shade 200 feet away from me. I was like, “That’s Justin.” Immediately, I was like, “That’s Justin.” There’s no doubt in my mind, because who else is going to be here at this time of day, in this entrance, coming to do whatever it is that they’re trying to do?

 

I walked over to them, and he was like, “Hey, man, just giving you a hard time. You having a good time out here? What’s going on?” We talked a little bit there, and I was like, “Justin, before you go, do you remember, in 2012?”

 

He was like, “You know, it’s funny you should mention that. I had no idea who you were. I didn’t even know what you were doing over there. I just really wanted to do my job so I can get back to doing what I was supposed to be doing. You just happened to be the guy on my list.” I was like, “It is what it is. Look at us now.”

 

Since then, Justin and I have had a lot of really good conversations, shared a bunch of really good ideas. I see what he’s up to these days and I’m interested to see what happens in the future with him.

David TaoDavid Tao

There’s an undercurrent of like a WWE storyline here, but maybe with like a feelgood at the end. One thing that’s been a little bit not feelgood…This podcast is coming out like probably a week after we record, just so folks know, and Armen’s very aware of this. The production timeline for these things, it’s never optimal.

 

Things have been changing in the CrossFit community. We’re recording less than 24 hours after it was announced that Greg Glassman would be retiring as CEO of CrossFit and Dave Castro will be stepping into the role of CEO.

 

Has this been the most [inaudible 19:52] time for CrossFit HQ in your association with Crossfit and CrossFit community?

 

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind this is probably the most emotionally charged, psychologically challenging, and transformative few days in CrossFit’s history. I don’t think it will be matched until CrossFit either just explodes into a supernova of insanity and turns into dust or it takes over the world. I don’t see a future in which this weekend and what has happened in the past few days is eclipsed.

David TaoDavid Tao

I should ask. I think in media, we don’t get asked us enough. We’re asked to report. We’re asked to give like a reaction and we’re asked to connect the dots. “What did this person say? What did this person say? What was the impact of that?”

 

You’re someone who’s clearly very passionate about the CrossFit community. I mean, you got tossed out of the games by, I assume burly security guards. I don’t know what they look like, but I have an image in my head.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

The story is they’re super burly and very, very threatened by my physical presence.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

That’s the official story, cool.

You were kicked out and you love this so much that you continued paying certification fees, affiliate fees. It’s like you were literally getting slapped on the wrist and then just handing over money in a quite literal sense. Your love for the community, it’s clear. How are you holding up during all this personally?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

Let’s put it this way. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more stressed or anxious about something than this past weekend. It has been a very challenging few days.

 

I have for better or worse, I have really close relationships with every aspect of this story. The brands, the affiliates, the athletes, the regular CrossFitters, the day-to-day CrossFitters, Greg, the staff at CrossFit HQ, all of those relationships color my experience of this. On top of that CrossFit for me, has been this massively positive thing in my entire life.

 

It has been one of the most defining portions of my entire life. I started doing cross when I was 19. I’m 31 now. It’s like, this has been a part of what has made me into the human that I am today. It’s been really, really hard. Outside of health scares in my family and deaths in my family, this has been an incredibly stressful time.

 

It’s only amplified by what’s happening in the rest of the world right now. The fact that we lead up to this moment with months of people being forced out of their jobs, with the threat of this pandemic hanging over everybody, with the unrest that comes with all of that, shelter-in-place stuff.

 

On top of all that, there’s this insane awakening of activism around the racial divide in the United States. It’s like everything is layered upon each other and because of that, everything, I feel, is amplified.

 

I think a lot of people would probably agree with me that in a vacuum, each one of those things individually would probably be acceptable or at least something easier to deal with. When you put it all together, at least that’s for me, I don’t know.

David TaoDavid Tao

The point for me that where it became so clear that this was such an impactful story to people even outside of the CrossFit community. Mainstream press coverage, not even to speak of mainstream fitness coverage. What would normally be the biggest strength sports news of the year dropped on Thursday with the McLaren Report looking at IWF corruption.

 

It’s something we’ve covered in depth on BarBend, it’s something that I interviewed Phil Andrews of USA Weightlifting like an hour long podcast about it. $10 million is missing from International Weightlifting accounts or at least unaccounted for, widespread election corruption.

 

At the international level, the international governing body of an Olympic sport and no one is paying attention to it relative to — I mean, some people are, of course, right? — relative to what’s happening to CrossFit? It’s just been like an afterthought. That would normally be the biggest strength sport story of the year in any other year.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

This past week has had individually a handful of stories that would themselves be the biggest story of, at least the month potentially of the entire year. One is that McLaren Report. The last time that happened, it was the biggest story in the world because it was the uncovering of Russia’s doping in Sochi. It led to Icarus. It was pop culture.

 

It turned the conversation international, right? So, this happens, same people. I love that they had McLaren come in and do the same thing. It was like Dick Pound and McLaren were like, “You know what, bring the crew back together, let’s do this again,” right?

 

I saw that on Thursday and I was like, “I’m going to have such a busy weekend. I usually don’t talk about weightlifting but it’s also a world that I really care about and it’s also a world that CrossFitters care about so I might as well bring this up and talk about it.”

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s just hugely impactful, the scope of it. The guy who had been running the IWF for 40 years, it’s just…

 

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

40 years!

David TaoDavid Tao

 

…the scope of it, even if you’re not a fan of weightlifting, it’s a huge sporting story. You might have never touched a barbell in your life but it’s worth a read.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

It’s the same reason why people care that FIFA is a corrupt organization, even if they don’t care about soccer. That was this massive story that would’ve been world changing in a vacuum. Except, it turns out, this weekend is going to go even crazier.

 

Friday we saw this email exchange with Greg and an affiliate owner in Washington State, I believe come out. That email exchange was contentious, it was rude, off the cuff, brutal. He said stuff like, “This quarantine has affected your mental state and I’m ashamed of you.” It’s really inflammatory stuff.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

I believe the word evil was used.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Yeah, bordering on evil. Really inflammatory stuff. I was like, ” This is really adding to my work right now. I have to talk about both these things, I can’t…”

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Little did you know.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

Even crazier by the way, between all of that, with Greg tweeting on Saturday and that tweet turning into this whole thing right now. There’s a CrossFit Games athlete that got outed for using the n-word in a private text message group. That would’ve been a massive story outside of all of this context and suddenly, it’s just a drop in the bucket.

 

It’s almost like, OK, we have to talk about this, but so many other things are moving quickly. So many other things are so destructive so quickly that you can’t keep up as it’s happening.

David TaoDavid Tao

I wasn’t texting you in real time, I was texting with a lot of folks in the community. I should’ve just reached out to you and maybe we could’ve gotten a quorum together and told everyone to just pause. Give us a couple days in the media to catch up, don’t do anything.

 

Everyone shut up and sit still for a few days. We have articles to write, videos to record, and podcasts to put out. Come on guys.”

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

Yeah, because what I do is a very specific type of commentary and reporting. What I do is basically, I’m going to take all of what’s happening, and I’m going to contextualize it, so that you understand why it’s going on, how it got to this point, what we could potentially look forward to in the future, and the important pieces of that.

 

I editorialize a lot of what I do, but it takes a long time for me to condense all that information and bring all those pieces together. When all of this stuff [laughs] is going on at once, it is a brutal time, because my brain is in a thousand different places.

 

I’m thinking about, “OK. When was the last time, did we ever have a racist issue publicly happen in the CrossFit space? What’s going on with this Greg thing? Who do I text? How many people can I have conversations with at once?” My phone’s blowing up. My inbox is blowing out.

 

People are like, “Why haven’t you said anything?” It’s like, “What do you want me to say? You know what the story already is. I’m not going to bring anything to the table if I just off the cuff, throw something out there.” It takes so much time to have a turnaround, and when all of this is jam packed all together, as a media person, as a creator, you almost risk losing the race, right off the bat.

 

I’ve found myself reminding people, “Hey, guys its just me. It takes me a second to think this through. This is what I’m providing you and this is why it takes so long. Just give me a little bit of patience.” I think once I’ve explained that people have been very understanding.

David TaoDavid Tao

That I think impacts how personally thankful I am for you to take the time to record this and talk to us here at BarBend today, because it is such a tumultuous time.

 

Actually, when we scheduled this recording a few days ago, it was before it was announced, before it was leaked, and you’re one of the people who broke the news. That Greg Glassman was stepping down and Castro will be stepping up as CEO. It was before we knew that was coming.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

I drafted a, “Hey, can we reschedule email,” and I was like, “Oh, no, no, no. I know I can fit this in. Let’s make this happen. Let’s do it.”

David TaoDavid Tao

I’m so thankful. I owe you your drink of choice next time we see each other, because this is a crazy time. Actually, this morning I woke up I felt bad. I was like, “Am I going to ruin Armen’s life even more by taking some time of his today?”

 

Onto not a rosier subject, but speaking of contextualizing impacting, which is what a lot of the work you do, it’s like, “OK. What could this mean and what does it mean to you, the CrossFit, the everyday Crossfitter, weekend warrior, what does it mean to the elite athletes giving context?”

 

A lot has happened, the dust very much hasn’t settled, and we have not seen the end of changes at CrossFit HQ. We just have different titles for the people and the same guy still owns the company, as far as we know right now. What do you think this means? We’ll break it down. I’ll slice it. What do you think this means for the 2020 CrossFit Games, which is coming up in less than two months?

 

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 I think they’re on a doomsday clock at this point, it’s minutes to midnight. They have basically, the next week, maybe, to try and repair the relationships with the athletes and the sponsors in order to try and pull off the 2020 Games. It’s potentially already too late. I don’t really know the internal workings at HQ right now, because it’s so everything up in the air.

 

I don’t know how many people have resigned. I don’t know how many people have left. I don’t know how many of those people who have left were instrumental to making sure that the logistics of the CrossFit games occurs.

 

I don’t know how many brands or athletes are happy with or satisfied by the move that they made, which is put Greg back behind the curtain and put Dave up as the CEO.

 

I don’t know if that fixes things enough for even the brands, even if they do agree with it privately, I don’t know if it fixes things enough publicly for them to be able to come out and say, “All right. Now we’re going to keep supporting the games.”

David TaoDavid Tao

It’s also worth noting the Games is already, I don’t want to say on a shoestring, but a lot was changing. Moving it from Madison to the ranch, basically because of the COVID-19 pandemic, still understanding that they had to get approval from the county.

 

There was a lot that still needed to happen in order for the Games to even occur in some form in person this year. You add this into the mix, and it certainly throws a wrench in matters and makes things unclear. Do you think there’s a reasonable chance the CrossFit games won’t happen in 2020?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

Yes, absolutely. I think there’s definitely a greater than zero possibility that we do not have a 2020 CrossFit games. If you look at the hurdles that they already had to try and get over, that was to me a non-zero possibility that they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. This is just throwing a wrench into the gears in a way that no one could have predicted.

 

We don’t know how Monterey County is going to respond to this. They might be feeling some political pressure to not support the company until something happens. They could just either tie up the permits or deny them. That’s the end of it right there. It’s hard to rule that.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Or COVID cases could spike in the county.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Or COVID cases could spike, and they could say, “Hey, we can’t allow you to have more than 50 people on at once instead 300.” Then how do you do it? “Well, the top five from the Open, get in, and that’s it. See you later, bye.” I don’t even know how you handle that.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

What further changes do you anticipate we’ll see out of CrossFit HQ over the next few weeks, and maybe month and a half? This is a guessing game. I’m very much not putting Armen on the spot being like, “Hey, give insider info, say with a level of certainty.” This is just you guys chatting what they think might happen.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 What I would like to see is some traditional corporate structure in place at CrossFit. I would like to see a board to whom the CEO would be accountable to. Right now that’s not the case. Right now the only person that anyone is accountable to is Greg, because Greg is the 100 percent owner of CrossFit.

 

That is a gigantic issue, because realistically speaking, Greg is not fit to run a company of this size and magnitude. It’s just not his forte. He’s too volatile, he’s too stubborn, he’s too unpredictable, he’s too contrarian.

 

Those are the characteristics that made CrossFit successful whether it’s because of or in spite of those characteristics, his personality is what drove it to where it is right now. If you look at it, there has to be a change at some point. What that’s actually going to look like in the next month or so, I honestly can’t tell you.

 

With Dave as CEO, I don’t think it resolves anything. I don’t think it really puts the type of change that fixes the core issues with the business, the issues that CrossFit as a business was running into until this point, until all of this blew up with Greg, are still problems with Dave as CEO, the same way they would be problems with Greg as CEO.

 

Those things aren’t getting solved with Dave at the head until they make real moves to shore up their training business, their affiliate relationship, and comms. Until they shore those things up, everything else is up in the air.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

How does this change your goals in the CrossFit space as a content creator and as a member of the community?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

To me, this is something I have to remind myself constantly, I am accountable exclusively to the community. Those are the only people that I’m here to serve. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to agree with whatever the consensus of the community is, or the community is going to agree with what I have to say. My role isn’t to be agreeable, just like it’s not to be controversial. I’m not here to do one or the other for the sake of doing it.

 

For me, my goal is bringing a level of context and education to the conversation so that the conversation can move on in a meaningful way. Everyone in CrossFit is talking about the topics that I talk about. Not everyone has the understanding and the relationships to color in those contexts and those different pieces of conversation the way that I can.

 

My entire thing is, I’m just here for the community to have someone that can provide them with context and information that they otherwise would not be getting. Therefore, the next time they go back to their gym, and it’s like warm-ups and they’re like, “Hey, did you hear about this happened? This and this happened.” The other person’s like, “Oh, yeah, I heard X, Y and Z is the reason why.”

 

Suddenly that entire conversation is elevated. Everyone does better if everyone knows a little bit more about what’s happening. To me, I’m not accountable to CrossFit HQ. My relationship with them is positive right now. It could turn sour in the future if I say something to disappoint them or upset them. That’s not what I’m doing this for.

 

I’m doing this because there’s a need in the community for the conversation to be moved forward in a meaningful way and elevated, and I think I can do that.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

 That is the perfect segue. The perfect segue, best I’ve ever heard to my final question which is, Armen, where are the best places for people to keep up to date with what you’re doing?

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Hell yeah. I’m very easy to find, ArmenHammerTV everywhere. Just A-R-M-E-N-HammerTV. That’s on Instagram. My two biggest platforms are Instagram and YouTube. I tweet every now and then, but mostly Twitter is for consumption. I try to sort of catch up on things on Twitter.

Generally speaking, if I’m putting something out, I’m going to be putting it out on Instagram or I’m going to be putting it out on my YouTube channel. Those are the best places to keep track of what I’ve got going on.

David TaoDavid Tao

 

Excellent. We’ll link to those obviously in the show notes and in the description. Really appreciate your time.

Armen HammerArmen Hammer

 

Thank you very much, dude. I appreciate, man.

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