Earlier this afternoon, former Chief Knowledge Officer of CrossFit Russell Berger found himself in hot water after tweeting out a string of comments focused on an Indianapolis CrossFit affiliate that recently shut down after their response to a Pride event.
For background behind Berger’s tweets, CrossFit Infiltrate based in Indianapolis, Indiana was set to host a Pride-focused workout at their gym, which was planned by coaches. The event was then cancelled by gym ownership, and an email was sent out to members, which released a statement that included, “the owners of the gym value health and wellness, and they believe that this event does not.”
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In celebration of the founding of the United States Army on June 14th, 1775: 1775 Complete as many rounds as possible in 60 minutes of: 17 power cleans, 135 lb. 75 squats Unload the barbell and carry it 200 meters away. Return to the plates and then carry one forward to the barbell. Retrieve the second plate, carry it forward and reload the barbell for the next round. #CrossFit #CrossFitHQ #mainsite @usamurphy @crossfit @davexre
Since the backlash and uproar from the Indianapolis-area CrossFit community following the initial cancellation email, the gym has since posted that it would be shutting down. According to WTTV, this closing came after some coaches and gym attendees quit in protest of ownership’s decision to cancel the event.
In a photograph shared by Marc Mullins on Twitter, a posting on the gym’s door reads, “CrossFit Infiltrate has determined that it will no longer run its business at this location.”
Now, on to Berger’s tweets. His original tweets have since been deleted, but multiple screenshots have been taken and shared, which we’ve embedded below.
— Gaycey Musgayves (@ChrisDStedman) June 6, 2018
After Berger’s initial tweet, he added, “The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression.”
Then after push back on the social platform, Berger responded with, “Thankfully I work for a company that tolerates disagreement. I have homosexual coworkers who I love and respect, and as far as I am aware, they aren’t demanding I be punished for my views.”
All of these tweets led to a string of backlash responses, even after Berger quickly deleted the posts. He was at first placed on an unpaid leave of absence and then later terminated by CrossFit Inc., as confirmed by CrossFit’s CEO Greg Glassman in an interview with Buzzfeed News and on CrossFit’s official Twitter account.
In talking to Buzzfeed News, Glassman said:
“He needs to take a big dose of ‘shut the fuck up’ and hide out for awhile. It’s sad…. We do so much good work with such pure hearts — to have some zealot in his off-time do something this stupid, we’re all upset. The whole company is upset. This changes his standing with us. What that looks like, I don’t know. It’s so unfortunate.”
The official CrossFit tweet posted reads:
“The statements made today by Russell Berger do not reflect the views of CrossFit Inc. For this reason, his employment with CrossFit has been terminated.”
The statements made today by Russell Berger do not reflect the views of CrossFit Inc. For this reason, his employment with CrossFit has been terminated.
— CrossFit (@CrossFit) June 6, 2018
Berger later told the same outlet that he regrets not further differentiating between “making statements of personal opinion, and me speaking as a voice for CrossFit.”
“I should have realized that, and I didn’t until it was too late,” he said. “I do regret it.”
Feature image from @russellberger Instagram page.