Fear Anthos

Most of you have heard that Anthos, a private investment company, has positioned themselves to purchase 50% of CrossFit Inc. from Lauren Glassman (Coach Greg Glassman’s ex-wife).  The fear is that this company, not understanding what we have, will destroy the nature of what makes our community special.  The rumors have been swirling that Anthos would “franchise” the affiliates, force us to peddle supplements and change the nature of what has made us great.

I don’t believe rumors and hate “he-said she-said” battles of social media so when news of this potential hostile take-over came out I spoke directly with representatives of CrossFit HQ to see what the deal was.  Their side of the story was compelling and scary.  Basically, their story is the worst fear an affiliate owner could imagine – an outsider with substantial power takes control and destroys what we all love so much.  But that was only one side of the story, so I called and spoke to Bryan Kelly, the Co-Founder of Anthos.  We spoke for over 45 minutes and Mr. Kelly was very forthcoming with his motives, thoughts and intentions.  Mr. Kelly stated that he was a CrossFitter, loved CrossFit and that is why he wanted a piece of the action.  He believes Greg Glassman is a visionary, an amazing leader, and he repeated that he had no intention of changing the affiliation model.  Mr. Kelly was forthcoming, personable and convincing.  I thought our conversation would have beeb much more uncomfortable, but I actually enjoyed talking with him and felt more comfortable about the potential CrossFit/Anthos marriage after our conversation.

From the onset I have been reluctant to post about this rocky situation, or get involved in any way.  I wanted to know and understand first hand what was happening, but I loathe the social media “he-said, she-said” battles and blog-wars that this has turned into.  Having said that, in light of recent events, I now I feel it necessary to voice my opinion on the matter.

As a successful affiliate owner and lover of everything CrossFit I was originally scared to hear of an outside threat potentially taking over the business that has given so much to so many.  My conversation with Mr. Kelly helped to subside my fears as he promised that his intentions are not to disrupt a business model that is working so well.

Since our conversation it has become public that Mr. Kelly said, in writing, that he would never approach Lauren about a selling her 50% of CrossFit out of respect for Coach.  In the same statement Mr. Kelly said that such a sale would allow a third party the ability to create gridlock.  My fear is that Mr. Kelly cannot be trusted.  HE LIED.  And now I believe he lied to me during our phone conversation and is continuing to lie to the community through his social media posts and emails.

I trust Coach Glassman whole-heartedly and completely. Coach is one of the rare people in this world that every time you speak to him, you feel better about yourself, the community and the future.  Coach has always had the best intentions of the community as the driving force behind his decisions.  He continues to lead CrossFit to great places, and continues to lead me.  He is the single man I have modeled CrossFit New England after.  Coach said, “do all the right things for all the right people.” And that is exactly what I have done.

Repeatedly in my conversation with Mr. Kelly, and recently in his Facebook video, Bryan refers to CrossFit as “his investment.”   On the other hand, when Coach talks about CrossFit he talks about “his life’s mission”.   These two very different viewpoints sum up exactly how Coach and Mr. Kelly view CrossFit and how they would direct the company.   Coach is motivated by bettering people’s lives, creating an extended family of affiliates, and “doing all the right things for all the right people.”  There is no “end” for Coach.  Just like the CrossFit program isn’t a short-term “get-fit-quick” scheme, Coach is in this for the long haul (his entire life), and because of that he can be trusted to make the right decisions.   On the other hand, Anthos is motivated by an investment opportunity, and the only way to realize the potential gains from that investment is to cash out at some point.  Mr. Kelly and Anthos will not be steering CrossFit with the same core values that we as a community have come to embrace as our ethos.

Mr. Kelly has said that he is a CrossFitter and that he respects and understands the Affiliate Community.  But he doesn’t train at an Affiliate.  He did for a short while, but left.  You can be a CrossFitter and train in your garage, or with a coach, but you cannot understand the business and community of CrossFit if you aren’t part of an affiliate.

My allegiance is with Coach Glassman.  He is the reason I started CrossFit New England.  If Coach decides the best course of action is for mass de-affiliation, we will be the first to follow him wherever he goes.  The comforting thing is, I spoke at an Affiliate Business Seminar this weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, FL with close to 40 box owners in attendance, and the feeling was mutual. The resounding sentiment I heard around the room  was, “CrossFit is Greg Glassman”.  If Coach leaves CrossFit we all believe he can recreate this fitness revolution under another name and he will start it with 4,000 loyal foot soldiers.

My recommendation to Bryan Kelly is to step away.  There will be other suitors for Lauren.  You are not leaving her in a bad position.  Your interest and motives in CrossFit are suspect at best and you are not welcome.  Please go away.

43 Comments

  1. Well stated. Thanks for sharing. Many of us appreciate all the hard work you put into CFNE and us, which includes trying to make the right decision in this situation.

    • michelle

      Agreed, Dennis. Thanks, Ben- Please let us know what we can do to help support/keep what you have made for us all here at CFNE.

  2. Erica D.

    Thank you for stating your opinion, Ben. What you have to say on the matter means a lot to all of us.

  3. Great insight. Thanks Ben. This has clearly been on my mind also as an affiliate owner. I too don’t enjoy the social media tic-tac, so I wasn’t sure how to feel. This gives me a solid perspective.

  4. Thanks for your perspective Ben. Is there anything members (of CFNE and other affiliates) can do?

  5. The last point is salient and the reason I do not understand why Anthos is interested in CrossFit to begin with. Anthos can’t force people to pay affiliate fees and the CF Brand is only as valuable as the affiliate and athlete community. If he wants a fitness brand he could use $20M “of his own money” to create one. Why buy ours, piss everyone off and be left with a damaged brand to compete against Coach Glassman’s re-named CrossFit?

    Honestly. Hire a couple models, set up a website, start selling franchises to “Mega Boot Camp Super Pump” and leave our community alone.

    -Kalian

  6. Justin E

    Thanks for posting Ben. I’ve been following this closely as well am glad to hear your thoughts on the matter. The simple fact is that Anthos sees crossfit as having loads of money on the table and they want to exploit that. Their goal is to make as much money as possible in a 3-5 year period. They are not in it for the long haul and they certainly do not have our passion/loyalty for each other. May they go away quickly and with no more stink.

  7. I want more videos from fitness Lonnie, that was awesome!

  8. Ben, that you would rise above all the social media noise and seek your own opinion by going to the source speaks wonders about your character. CrossFit is lucky to have you on its side.

    • Katrina

      Ben thanks for the post and doing your research by going directly to the source and then forming your own opinion. This why we trust you and crossfit community so much. You look at all side and look at what the goal is and decide what is best. I think I can speak for the community when I say that this is exactly we trust you….especially with when it comes to our health and well being. I believe you have Cfne community behind you 110%.

  9. Well said Ben I agree with everything you said 100% I would de-affiliate in a second if coach gave the word CF Rumble preserve what we all have come to love as a way of life at all cost thats how I feel about it

  10. Kelly Levens

    Outstanding!!! And I’m sold….very well put Ben, BIG fan!

    Oh….and blogging here on your main site! A breeze!

  11. MA Jennifer

    Thank you Ben. Your opinion is something we all put trust in everyday we come to CFNE. Much respect and many thanks! Integrity and honesty in leadership is admirable. Anything less is not.

  12. Ben,

    Thanks for sharing your take on this. It sound like it will take a while for this to unfold. Trust your gut.

    Matt

  13. Ben,

    Thanks for sharing your take on this. It sounds like it will take a while for this to unfold. Trust your gut.

    Matt

  14. Well put Ben.

  15. Christin Street

    Excellent post, Ben. When I saw the Lauren/Bryan Kelly video, for a brief moment, I too was fooled into thinking things would be okay with Anthos as a co-owner; however, my gut feeling is that BK is like a politician promising not to raise taxes. We know how that usually goes.

  16. “Bryan is a Managing Partner of Anthos, a Bay Area private investment firm focused on high growth consumer and healthcare companies. Previously, Bryan worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Investment Banking Division and Equity Derivatives group.” Off their web site. If I’m not mistaken Goldman Sachs, it was speculated they were involved in fraud and the FTC got involved.

  17. Rita Vatcher

    Thanks, Ben, for your careful and thoughtful discernment. You have articulated well the particulars of this situation. We support you 100%!

  18. Wayne White

    That’s kind of unfair, Billy, and misses the point. Whether or not CFNE chooses to have a Progenex ad/discount opportunity is one of the salient points here. It’s CFNE’s choice, as is the case with every CF Affiliate. The relevant affiliate chooses the business model and advertising approach and associations it finds best adapted to the delivery of CF to its fitness community.

    It’s true that over a brief period, the CF business/affiliation model could be changed and a lot of money could be wrung out of the business by making the affiliates mules for the delivery of CF branded goods and services. That would deliver a healthy amount of free cash to the shareholders in a relatively short time period. It would also irrevocably damage the intrinsic nature of the CF “model”, degrade the CF “brand” or house style and probably contribute to the long term deterioration of the CF business. Sadly, while private equity can often serve a productive role in bringing badly needed capital or enhanced management to underperforming businesses, it can just as often contribute to the degradation of healthy businesses in the rush to wring cash out in in the PE 3-5 year investment cycle.

  19. Billy Tumbl

    Wayne, I think I have this correct. What do you think?

    “peddle supplements” –> if you don’t like the person

    “discount opportunity” –> if you like the person

    • Justin E

      Please take this elsewhere. We don’t need nor want any trolls here.

  20. david mccauley

    i’m not an affiliate owner, i am a huge fan of Glassman’s and the impact he and Crossfit have made on fitness around the world – truly amazing…
    why not use Crowd Sourcing to “match” the Anthos offer? make it like $10 a “share”… or each affiliate (if there are 4000 affiliates, each one can own a piece for $5k per affiliate… one thing i have admired is that Crossfit is a community… let the Community vote with it’s money and it’s passion – buy it from someone who never understood… anyway… just a thought…

    • Have ager raise money. She *almost* got 100,000, lol.

      • david mccauley

        THAT is funny! i was like “HUH?” on that… but, seriously, though… i’d put some money in to protect what is unique…

  21. Great perspective we support Coach and his position.
    CrossFit RKU El Paso Texas

  22. Glen Schleehauf

    Thanks for posting Ben. And thanks for putting it here vs. Facebook.

  23. Melissa Chicoine

    Wow thanks for this Ben! As new affiliate owners we completely trust Coach because he has allowed us to do what we love. If CFNE is out then Red Stick CrossFit is out as well!!! We worked for a globogym for 5 years and vowed to NEVER go back.

  24. Patti j

    Ben and all of CFNE,
    We (my family) go where you and your team go. You and Heather have built an amazing box with a great community. I hope a bad sale doesn’t happen but Lauren Glassman may control that and if it does happen that really is too bad.

    Thank you for posting your take on the sale and I hope it all works out for the best. If it doesn’t my loyalty is to the box.
    – Patti Jeanne

  25. crossfit affiliates owner,

    I am sorry to tell you this but everyone have a price. Almighty Mr. Glassman will surrender at some point. The Microgym era is almost over! It have been surviving for longer than what a lot of people expected. Don’t worry, crossfit is not the first gym that big corporations end up having their fingers on it… happened with martial arts gym, zumba classes, dance studios, you name it… This is North America, the land of the opportunity.

  26. Thank you for sharing Ben!!

  27. Where Greg goes, we go! He is the motivator of all of us.

  28. As a 63 year old Box owner I have some words of wisdom to say to Bryon. Young man, as you go through your life chasing dollar after dollar you will one day wake up and you will be 63. With any luck, at sometime before then you will have realized that money is not what makes you feel successful. What makes us all human is to help as many people as we can. With CrossFit, we as owners, trainers and athletes will wake up and know that we have done just that. If you think your idea of making as much money as you can will give you the same satisfaction then go for it. Just don’t include CrossFit as a partner. We want no part of what you want…you need another selfish bastard like yourself not a team like CrossFit. 3-2-1-GO AWAY

  29. Thanks for the great insight Ben. I really appreciate you sharing this publicly. I am an affiliate owner in Denver, and like to see the solidarity behind the affiliate community. I was fortunate enough to meet coach Glassman at the southwest regional this year 2012. The first thing he said was “the affiliates are everything to me” and stated “I work for the affiliates”. Without any apprehension, I will follow his lead on this!
    Thanks again. -Emilio

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