Skeptics Say Crossfit ‘Breeds Assholes’…And They Have A Good Point

To some, Crossfit is the best fitness program since gluten-free sliced bread. To others, it’s a crazy cult or a potential haven for injury. And now, some are even calling Crossfit a place that “breeds assholes.”

The controversy has been reignited after a slew of disturbing images were posted by one Crossfit affiliate in Los Angeles, according to a piece in LA Weekly.

CrossFit Mean Streets describes themselves as “the premier strength and conditioning facility in downtown Los Angeles” on its website, however the owner, Ronnie Teasdale, and some of its clientele have posed for photos that show “a pattern of using the homeless and substance abusers as a source of amusement”:

In one photo published on his website and Facebook, Teasdale grins and poses with Wayne Willette, owner of CrossFit CrownTown in Corona, and several other CrossFitters as they happily pose over an unconscious man slumped in front of Teasdale’s truck. Aris Gregorian, a coach at CrossFit Crown City in Pasadena, holds a CrossFit shirt above the downed man.

One shot from Teasdale’s Facebook page implies that the highly fit bunch had brief contact with, but did not help, the unconscious person: Somebody has laid a CrossFit shirt across his back.

Another shows a different unconscious man sprawled on a sidewalk with a CrossFit shirt draped over his body. The photo caption mocks “free gift.”

Obviously, this is disturbing, rude, classless, insensitive and irresponsible behavior. Teasdale  has since apologized to LAWeekly:

I would like to be the first to say that those posts were inappropriate and did not highlight the best aspects of our gym or the CrossFit community. I am removing all of the questionable content from Facebook and my website.

But that’s a little too late as far as some Crossfit opponents are concerned.

Former Philadelphia Crossit affiliate owner, John Sheaffer, says there is a lack of quality control at the more than 4,000 affiliates now, leaving many of the gyms “subpar”, adding “One in 10 was something I wasn’t embarrassed to be associated with.”

Robb Wolf, author of the New York Times best-seller The Paleo Diet Solution and also a former Crossfit affiliate owner agrees that there is a lack of quality controlthus leading to problematic behavior as seen by the L.A. Mean Streets studio:

I think a lot of the problem is the culture itself. That really is the problem, and it’s a top-down sort of arrogance that creates bad behavior. There’s never a structure where decency and morality are part of the ethos.

Sheaffer added something many people are probably thinking right now:

It does not surprise me in the least. … Some of the CrossFit T-shirts I would see were just appalling. … It’s not, you know, you have a few bad eggs. … I really do feel like it’s an organizational-culture thing with CrossFit that breeds that type of asshole.

Sure, certain fitness groups can create a clique-like atmosphere–that’s what can push members to push themselves harder. But it certainly doesn’t  mean that clients of Crossfit, or any other workout program, should get to the point where arrogance takes over. Especially when it comes to humiliating the homeless or any other disadvantaged group of citizens.

Not to generalize that all Crossfit gyms are like this, because they’re not. But according to this article, there are a disturbing number of ones that lack quality and ethics, while breeding assholes.

Tell us what you think. Have you experienced any type of arrogance from your local Crossfit gym or other fitness program?




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    • HannahBeth

      I’ve not tried CrossFit yet because my university gym doesn’t offer a coach for it, but I imagine it doesn’t produce assholes, it just attracts them. I still want to do it though… I just think there’s probably an alpha-minded personality type (in addition to many others) who are attracted to the challenging workouts because they’re more of a conquest. Those few groups mentioned here seem like real jerks.

    • Erica

      “imagine it doesn’t produce assholes, it just attracts them”

      Exactly my thoughts! I have found that Crossfitters tend to be very in-your-face about fitness and pretty hardcore but they were likely that way before they ever started.

    • Tony

      There are A-holes in every gym, and of course a few in every Crossfit gym. Maybe its L.A. and Philly in general that are creating more than their fair share of arrogant jerks! Both cities do have a history of doing just that!

    • Greta

      The picture you have at the top is of a great guy, Jeremy Theil, who is affiliate owner of CrossFit Central, one of the very first affiliates. He is professional, runs an exceptional business, great heart, very competitive (as you can see), and intentionally stays away from the bullshit part of CF.

      I wish you chose another picture, because you are 100% right that the arrogance and irresponsible leadership comes from the top… there are plenty of examples to replace this image. My husband personally experienced Headquarters blasting out cartoon images of men raping men with comments to match because they wanted to slander him in public!

      Just wish you hadn’t selected one of the good guys when making your valid valid point!!

    • Mark Cunningham

      You guys have absolutely the wrong person on this cover photo. Jeremy Thiel is nothing but gracious and humble and has worked really hard to establish himself as a leader in the Crossfit industry. If you can do anything, please remove this picture from this article…

      Of perhaps as a followup to this article, you can reach out to Jeremy and speak with him…

    • Tony Trungale

      Shame on you to posterize Jeremy Thiel during a competition as if to prove your point. Jeremy is certainly no assshole. How would you like to see an article like that with your picture plastered to it? The only asshole I can see here is the one who didn’t properly research the subject in the photo of her article.

    • Kelly Anderson

      If you knew a single thing about Jeremy, you would have never used his picture for this article.

    • Nick

      Ronnie Teasdale IS an asshole. Anyone who follows CF and its channels would know that. He certainly is not what the community is about. I hope for human sake that he doesn’t have too much interaction with clients at his gym

    • Mike

      I’m not sure that CrossFit breeds assholes but I’m sure assholes train at various CrossFit gyms just as they do at every other gym. I know there are a few at the gym I go to.

    • Sarah

      1. Your article discusses two different issues as if they are one and the same. Assholes and quality control. Two completely different issues.
      2. The asshole argument in your article is poorly substantiated. You offer many specific and outrageous examples from ONE affiliate. Do your homework. While it may or may not be true, based on what you present it is a ridiculous over-generalization.
      3. Please tell me you asked the athlete’s permission before using his picture. If not, three major problems with this: 1) slander, mis-representation, intellectual property, um lawsuit? 2) The athlete in this picture is exhibiting passion and intensity. How does that make him an asshole? A raw moment. It happens often in sports. 3) Do you have any idea of the work ethic and community involvement that the athlete in your photo represents? Wow. You used the chipper on that one and it shows.

    • Abe

      Your disclaimer is meaningless.
      His photo is still posted prominently next to a headline “Crossfit Breeds Assholes.” The fact that you follow that with “and they have a good point” indicates that this article agrees with the that proposition.
      Saying his photo “represented the intensity of the program” is a weak argument because that’s not what the article is about. The article is about a lack of quality control as illustrated by one individual/incident. So why on earth would you have Jeremy’s photo next to the accusatory headline rather than the person or gym you write about in the article?

      Let me offer an analogy:
      You have a headline “Catholic priests molest young boys.” Next to the headline you post a photo of Mother Teresa. Yes, Mother Teresa is a Catholic and she represents the good things about the the Catholic church, but that’s not what the article is about.

    • Jacob

      Wow! You really hit the nail on the head with this one. First of all, do your homework and chose another picture. Jeremy Thiel is a HUGE role model for CrossFitters and the community we live in. Not only is he a solid geniune individual but runs very successful and professional boxes in Austin, TX. Not a good choice there Deborah! Second, that “Breeds Assholes” headline is an IGNORANT headline. Have you tried CrossFit firsthand yourself, met any box owners, trainers, members and experienced our community? If you had you probably wouldn’t have written this article. Not only is it a fitness program changing people’s lives around the world but also honors fallen heroes (military men and women) in our WOD’s on a daily basis. We all give back to our local communities as well. So sounds more like CrossFit is Breeding Athletes who give back not assholes. Yes, like every other sport known to man, there are going to be a few bad apples but that doesn’t make the sport or affiliates around the world “Breed Assholes”. Every sport is going to have them…it’s inevitable. Might as well say that about people like you who write articles like this before digging a little deeper than just one affiliate and choosing pictures of others who have a positive impact in people’s health and world. INSERT FOOT!!! Shame on you and your website.

    • Mariah Ziegler

      Show decency: pull the photo of Jeremy Thiel.

      He is a God-fearing community activist and represents everything that is good about CrossFit.

      And I am his competitor and *not* a CrossFit affiliate.

      Thanks for your consideration and doing the RIGHT thing.

      Mariah Ziegler

    • angelas

      I think the attitude/atmosphere of any given box is driven by the attitude of the owner(s). I am fortunate to go to an amazing box where the owner is one of the most positive people I have ever met. I don’t think it’s endemic of “Crossfit,” as an approach to personal fitness. But, as in any other “movement,” there are always extremists who will take things too far.

    • carissa

      I agree with previous posts regarding Thiel. The photo inaccurately lumps him in with those bad apples. Take it down. Thiel has always been kind to my son every time he’s seen him. Very helpful and eager to share with a young CrossFitter.

    • justin

      I love crossfit with a passion. But my current box Carson city crossfit here in Nevada and one of the owners is very rude and stuck up . She has made me and my wife feel very uncomfortable the past 4 monts was very nice at first.So we had a friend come in to try it out to make a long story she told her she can only do it on saturdays which she works and cannot then told her you can pay the 170 for elements and walks away like a bitch the coache are douches except one or two if there was another closer i would have already left.Makes me wonder if it is like that everywere

    • Health Fitness

      I work for Ronnie Teasdale; this is a statement he released to his gym members. I think you should take the time and read this. There are two sides to every story. Why would someone so awful be successful and admired by so many? Please read this and take the time to ask yourself that question

      “Hey everyone.

      A few weeks ago the LA Weekly posted an article, which used some photos from our gym’s Facebook account as a frame for a hit piece against both our gym and the CrossFit community as a whole. I been trying to contact the LA Weekly for the last few weeks to get them to correct some of the misstatements in the article, or at least to print a response, and they have yet to reply.

      I know some of you are being approached by outsiders and do not know what to say about the comments you are receiving. I want all of you to know that we are all about goodness and all about Downtown Life. That is why we are located here. We love this community and do what we can to help it. So just so you know, here is what actually went down:

      Many of the pictures in the article are over 2 years old. Let me be clear about who the people in the pictures are: They are not homeless people. They are alcoholics who are regulars at the bars nearby the gym. We know their names and have interacted with them over the time the gym has been open, including getting them help when needed. I don’t condone the photos, but the implication of the article, which is that the gym was abusing homeless people or refusing to come to the aid of people in need, is false. I could have explained this to the reporter, had he asked me. He did not.

      Those who have been to our gym know that we share a building with 3 bars and the block with many more establishments that serve liquor. Making fun of someone on a private forum– someone I know — who is passed out in front of my business in broad day light after getting drunk is not abusing the homeless. And, frankly, I don’t believe I owe that person any increased amount of respect for being a drunk. This behavior is literally the antithesis of what I stand for. Pretending that behavior of this kind doesn’t exist doesn’t help anyone or make it go away. Our community stands for actually helping people improve their lives, not refusing to confront reality.

      Also, just so everyone is clear, when we see people who are in need in this community, we help them. End of story. Many of you have seen us give genuinely homeless people water or food, or call for medical services for people in need.

      There is also someone with the first name of “Neon” who has made it her full time job to harass, blackmail, and threaten Andrea’s friends and family, and my friends. Please ignore, block, or report her as she has gone off the deep end and has made it her mission to spread hate.

      I thank our community for being here. I am proud for everything I have done regarding the gym. I want it to be known that in the article it says I apologized after being “queried by LA Weekly”. This is also a completely false statement. I was never questioned by the reporter about the album or homeless people. I have not ever mistreated a homeless person, so I would not and could not have given the apology the reporter describes. It is beyond me that lying like this in the press is legal. But I guess this is the way of the world now.

      I am sorry for the fact that someone twisted myself and my actions to attack CrossFit as a program and community. I live my life for CrossFit.

      I am also sorry for any friends of mine who are getting harassed due to association with me. Mostly Aris and Wayne who were mentioned in the article.

      We will get past this article, continue to help build our downtown community, and move forward. Thanks to everyone for their support.

      Below is what I have sent to LA WEEKLY:

      I own Crossfit Mean Streets, the gym depicted in Jonathan Maseng’s recent article titled, “Downtown L.A. CrossFit Gym Debases Homeless Neighbors in Photos, Facebook Posts.” I’d like to take this time to comment on the inaccuracy of the article, and request that a retraction be posted.

      My gym is located on the corner of 3rd and Main, between 5 bars. As a result of this my members and myself have frequent interactions with intoxicated bar patrons, including many bar regulars, on a day-to-day basis. Those are the persons depicted on the photos included in your article—local alcoholics, not homeless people. While I admit that the photos were juvenile and not in good taste and should not have been posted, they were never intended to mock the homeless, as the article suggests. There is very little I can do in the way of dealing with the bar patrons beyond accepting their presence and doing my best to make light of the situation for the sake of my members. My coaches and myself treat everyone that walks through the doors of the gym with respect – I invite you to come have a look for yourself.

      In regard to the article itself – Mr. Maseng took great liberties with this story and apparently did little if any research concerning my gym. He simply does not accurately describe the attitude of our gym or the experience of our members, and he could have learned the truth had he taken the time to adequately prepare the article. He never once reached me, or any of my coaches for comment regarding the issues he describes. The apology he claims I was so quick to give him pertained to a comment he had made on Facebook. A colleague of mine contacted Mr. Maseng to provide the context of the photographs, explaining that all of them were people whom we knew and regularly interacted with, and that none of them were homeless, or mistreated in any way. For reasons unclear to me, Mr. Maseng did not mention any of this, but chose to go forward with a fabricated account of what he felt was interesting in order to sell his story. At a minimum, the photographs contain no newsworthy material. It isn’t fair to present this material in such a way that it so greatly hurts the community, my gym, and myself.

      In fact, I deliberately located Crossfit Mean Streets downtown in order to help build a resource for the community, which is an obligation that my staff and I take seriously. We regularly provide water, food, clothing, and shoes to people suffering in the area, including the homeless and mentally ill. Contrary to the article’s suggestion, we have contacted social services or sought medical care for countless people in need of help. Finally, we currently run a fitness training program for at-risk youth. We have done all of this under the radar because it is the right thing to do, without seeking praise or credit for it, and I mention this only because the article attempts to cast our gym in such a radically different light.

      I’ve spoken with Crossfit HQ regarding the article as well, and was told that Mr. Maseng’s account of his conversation with them is also false. My coaches and I have already taken a great deal of punishment from the Crossfit community as a result of this story. Please take some action to fix Mr. Maseng’s fraudulent account and provide a retraction.

      Finally, I invite absolutely anyone—old or young, male or female, at any level of fitness—to come to Crossfit Mean Streets and see for yourself if the atmosphere matches that described in the article. Our gym requires hard work—because work produces results—but we are an extremely open, friendly, and diverse community, and we welcome anyone with an open mind interested in improving their health and checking out the sport of fitness.

      I appreciate your help in this matter,”

      Ronnie Teasdale

    • tracyvb

      a little late on the response, but HELL YES. i work at a box, and it’s now understood that the natural progression of the crossfitter is– starry eyed novice->gaining self confidence->starting to think their shit doesn’t stink-.> full fledged asshole. then they leave for a different box, and eventually likely wander back with their tail between their legs. it’s hard to deal with. i hate it.