Free Minds & Free Markets

CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman: 'I Don't Mind Being Told What To Do. I Just Won't Do It.'

Glassman talked about conscious capitalism and how he harnesses the power of markets and community in an interview with 60 Minutes.

A CrossFit gym in Verona, ItalyMassimo Sestini/ZUMA Press/Newscom"I don't mind being told what to do," said CrossFit founder Greg Glassman recently. "I just won't do it. Say anything you want."

Spoken like a true libertarian.

But Glassman's libertarian bona fides go beyond an individualistic streak. In a new 60 Minutes segment, Glassman credits his program's success with a free market approach to franchising and a personal belief in what we might (to borrow a buzzword) call "conscious capitalism."

Chances are, you know someone devoted to CrossFit. Part fitness regimen, part gym, part spectator sport, and part lifestyle, CrossFit—now the largest fitness chain in the world—was launched by Glassman in 2001 and now boasts around 14,000 gyms, or "boxes," globally. Glassman is sole owner and director of the private company, which is estimated to be worth millions.

"One reason CrossFit's grown so fast is because just about anyone who wants to open a 'box' can after paying a $3,000 yearly fee and passing a two-day seminar," reports 60 Minutes. "It's how the company makes most of its money."

Glassman quickly shuts down skepticism from interviewer Sharon Alfonsi about this process:

Sharyn Alfonsi: "Two days to take a course, then I can open a gym?"

Greg Glassman: Amazing, huh?

Sharyn Alfonsi: I mean, to me, is that enough?

Greg Glassman: Well, the— here was the alternative. Here's what it used to be: All ya had to have was the money. And you don't even have to take a test. That's where every other chain came from, someone just launched 'em.

The show goes on to report that "unlike most gym chains, Glassman...relinquishes nearly all control over his affiliates," a philosophy they attribute to his being "a die-hard libertarian." (CrossFit and Glassman have previously donated to the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason.)

There are no rules, for instance, about one CrossFit gym locating too close to another; Glassman's philosophy is that the strongest will survive.

Sharyn Alfonsi: —they can do it any way they want to do it.

Greg Glassman: —this isn't Kentucky Fried Chicken or— yeah, it's— it's CrossFit.

Sharyn Alfonsi: You let them do what they want to do once they—

Greg Glassman: I do.

Information about CrossFit exercises and philosophy can all be found for free on the company's website. "How does that make sense?" asks Alfonsi.

Greg Glassman: Yeah. It didn't until we did it, you know, the more video we give away, the more money we make.

In other words, Glassman isn't capitalizing on some secret knowledge or specialized equipment that only CrossFit boxes contain but creating the kind of program and philosophy that thrives on community. Explaining CrossFit's enviable business growth, Glassman explained, "I'm not trying to grow a business...I'm doing the right things for the right people for the right reasons."

Kudos to Glassman for demonstrating what libertarians like to preach to oft-resistant audiences: doing the right thing can be profitable, and doing the profitable thing can be right.

Reason TV talked to Glassman in 2013. Check out the interview below:

Photo Credit: Massimo Sestini/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...Glassman's philosophy is that the strongest will survive.

    i.e. The one employing the most orphans.

  • Longtobefree||

    But they are very, very FIT orphans.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No. You know what? It's literally like they reanimated Hitler and he started a meathead chain.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Hilter had the good sense not to devise, teach, and defend kipping pullups.

  • Hank Phillips||

    That's Trader Darwin's philosophy.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The NAP is violated each time a CrossFitter talks about CrossFit, therefore Greg Glassman is the biggest threat to libertarianism since Reason magazine hired Nick Gillespie.

  • SIV||

    Second biggest threat, right behind vegan "mayonnaise".

  • Citizen X - #6||

    If a vegan takes up CrossFit, which one do they tell you about first?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    which one do they tell you about first?

    their new electric car.

    No, wait, I want to change my answer. They ask you if you truly know Hitler?

  • Michael Hihn||

    Orwell LIVES! Mind Control in the 21st Century!

    The NAP is violated each time a CrossFitter talks about CrossFit

    To Crusty Juggler, talking is force!
    Precisely like Orwell's predicted NewSpeak: War is Peace .,.. Freedom is Slavery ... Ignorance is Strength

    In Orwell;s dystopian novel, 1984, Newspeak was his depiction of mind control in a future authoritarian society. Witless citizens were essentially helpless against such thorough brainwashing. So easily manipulated that they even believed the exact opposite of reality.

    Freedom is slavery. Spoken and written words are force. And why not? Mere words had enslaved them, rendering] them literally helpless.

  • Hank Phillips||

    "Freedom is Slavery" roughly translates the "Arbeit Macht Frei" set in wrought iron over the front gate at Auschwitz. Orwell was sent to Germany on assignment shortly after the surrender.

  • Michael Hihn||

    I remember reading about that.
    The Onion, IIRC

  • Rhywun||

    Chances are, you know someone devoted to CrossFit.

    Ha, you haven't seem the crowd I hang out with.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    It's like if someone just climbed Mount Everest, and has new baby, and a fresh tattoo, but everyday.

  • Jerryskids||

    Cross training in my crowd consists of hoisting a brew, hitting the bottle, grabbing a beer, running to the store for more beer, jumping at the chance for a free beer, pushing the limits of alcohol tolerance - we do it all.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Chances are, you know someone devoted to CrossFit. Part fitness regimen, part gym, part spectator sport, and part lifestyle

    ...part cult.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Like kale consumers?

  • SIV||

    I've been eating kale since I was born, as the essential ingredient (along with chourico) in Portuguese Kale Soup.

    Raw kale is the kulty "superfood" stuff.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Fact: SIV was born with a full set of adult teeth.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Don't you mean hatched?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yeah, kale is great when cooked. Southern style greens have kale oftentimes too.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Damn it!

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Mikey has constructed a life-sized ENB voodoo doll from materials gathered from Dave Weigel's compost pile.

  • KDN||

    I'm disappointed that he's using a regular ass nickname. Low grade punnery is the only reason not to block him.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    It's more germane than most of his comments, but it does suffer from the lack of a bizarrely shitty nickname.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I must have missed an epic meltdown over the weekend or something because that makes even less sense than his usual tripe.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||


  • Zeb||


  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I wonder if Glassman sees any radical personal grooming on the horizon?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Man, i hate being on the same team as the founder of CultFit. [angrily drops barbells]

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Part fitness regimen, part gym, part spectator sport, and part lifestyle...

    And part cult.

  • shoshido||

    "just about anyone who wants to open a 'box' can after paying a $3,000 yearly fee and passing a two-day seminar" Result? Injuries. Lots of them. As for me, I joined a Crossfit after extensively emailing with the owner/instructor about my health situation, coming back after a long illness. He assured me I could start easy and work my way up, but then in class, he ignored all that and pushed me to do more and more squats. Long/short, I ended up at the doctor's, got blood tests, and found out I had lactic acidosis and a two month recovery ahead of me. Couldn't get a refund, Better Business Bureau was useless, and not long after the Crossfit owner skipped the country. Moral of the story: Crossfit is only as good as the individual teaching it. The brand itself is worthless at best, and deceptive at worst: giving the impression of quality control while having none whatsoever. One of these days there will be a massive lawsuit against Crossfit central for all the terrible instructors harming and injuring people in its name. I'm generally against that kind of litigation, but in this case, it can't come soon enough.

  • IceTrey||

    I take it you're a grown man? Why did you let him push you beyond what you thought prudent?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Same reason folks go to chemotherapy when their doctor tells them to, even when it makes them feel even more sick. Because they're the supposed expert, and it's their job to know things that you don't know, including what's best for your health.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Same reason folks go to chemotherapy when their doctor tells them to, even when it makes them feel even more sick

    Yeah, much better to die of cancer than suffer extreme fatigue, constipation and/or hair loss.

    It's not true that millions of people have had their tumors disappear, from radiation and/or chemotherapy. That's just another conspiracy by the medical community and libruls, financed by George Soros and Nancy Pelosi's grand nephew,

    Cancer does not even exist! It was invented by Red China to bring down Donald Trump, and spread by those who cannot accept that he won the Electoral College in a landslide of 80,000 votes in three states combined, even though nearly 10 million voted against him.

    The same people who deny that vaccines cause autism, acne and runny noses, as shown by Rand Paul, a doctor for chrissakes.

    Never trust doctors! Always trust anonymous emails with fake links to snopes, and total strangers in chat rooms and comment forums. Together we can return to the glorious Stone Age, which we lost with the invention of the wheel! This time, suppress the false gods of cancer, the wheel and Preparation H!

  • ||

  • Hank Phillips||

    Quick! Somebody fetch this victim a butthurt form!

  • IceTrey||

    There's nothing I like better than watching a Crossfit competition while sitting on my couch eating a pint of Phish Food.

  • swampwiz||

    > Chances are, you know someone devoted to CrossFit.

    I can better that - I know someone who died of rhabdomyolysis incurred from CrossFit training.

  • Michael Hihn||

    Mayo Clinic says rhabdomyolysis is a rare side effect caused by taking statins to reduce cholesterol. But Mayo also denies that vaccines cause autism, that Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, and that the earth is the center of the universe.

    We must be ever vigilant to escape the crazies among us.

  • Sevo||

    "Chances are, you know someone devoted to CrossFit."

    If they are, you WILL know about it, and nobody I know has done so yet.

  • Hank Phillips||

    This world needs more card-carrying, taking-orders-from-customers libertarians.

  • Africanis||

    What he won't bake the gay cake when told to do so??? I think we have an open spot in the re-education camp. Just know if they ever get control, that is where you are going.

  • Avanthika||


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