CEO of Exercise New Zealand Richard Beddie- “CrossFit caused 6 deaths”

beddie writer Rebecca Stevenson recently published this article, which contained a pretty interesting quote from the CEO of the Exercise Association of New Zealand (ExercizeNZ) Richard Beddie.

“CrossFit has resulted in six deaths overseas and rendered an Australian man paraplegic …”

Nothing about this statement is true, so we contacted the publication. Glen Scanlon, News Editor at, responded quickly and said he would “check back with the author and source quoted in the story.” The story was edited a few days later, removing Beddie’s ridiculous quote with no explanation from Scanlon as to what had happened. The correction read as follows:

In last week’s SST story Fitness can be bad for your health page 9, we quoted Exercise NZ CEO Richard Beddie as saying there had been six CrossFit-related deaths overseas and an Australian man paralysed while training. In fact it was a US CrossFit athlete he was paralysed and reports of the deaths were unsubstantiated. We apologise for the error.

One glaring problem with this correction is that the US athlete they are referring to is Kevin Ogar, who was not injured during a CrossFit event. What is also interesting about this correction is that it doesn’t explain the source of these unsubstantiated “reports.” Could it simply have been Beddie making things up to harm CrossFit’s reputation in NZ? What motivation would he have for doing this?

As it turns out, quite a bit.

The Exercise Association of New Zealand is a pseudo-governmental organization similar to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in the United States. Their website states “Our mission is to proactively support a sustainable exercise and fitness industry in New Zealand by growing participation in structured exercise through advocacy, information and industry standards.” As one CrossFit affiliate owner in NZ puts it, the organization does this by “milking money out of gyms and trainers so that they can call themselves ‘registered and trusted.’”

My source went on to explain that “They have strong ties to (and may even own) REPS – the Register of Exercise Professionals, which is basically the fitness industry version of the Healthy Heart tick we see on cereal boxes.  There is heavy promotion through industry related media to only train at REPS registered gyms, with REPS registered trainers. But of course, obtaining this registration only requires yearly membership payments…” 

REPs registration does require certain qualifications from a list of “registered providers”, but REPs itself appears to offer no educational offerings. At CrossFit HQ, we refer to this type of behavior as “rent-seeking,” which is the practice of trying to make money without creating value. It appears that Exercise NZ is extorting money from gyms by presenting itself as a fitness-industry authority. The only problem with this model, is that NZ affiliates aren’t buying into this shady business model:

“Most CrossFit affiliates that I’m aware of, are not members, and when you add in our rapid growth in this country, I can see why Richard Beddie might have a bee in his bonnet, regarding missed revenue.  He approached me personally last year, to voice his ‘concerns about the dangers of CrossFit’ and that he ‘was prepared to help me and the other affiliates out with guidance on how to operate’ etc etc….”

It seems that Richard Beddie, in an attempt to get back at the uncooperative CrossFit affiliates popping up around NZ, could be intentionally spreading misinformation about the dangers of doing CrossFit. An official complaint to the editor of the article was sent by our affiliates, and this was the response they received:

Thanks for your letter, which I cannot print in its current state as it accuses us of making up a story and unfairly questions the credentials of both our reporter and the chief executive of New Zealand’s national fitness organisation.  I see no reason why a respected person like Beddle, who was asked to comment on a story – rather than instigating it – would make up a fact that would paint his own industry in a poor light. The story was not designed to malign Crossfit but to show that according to NZ government figures, obtained under the Official Information Act, via the government insurance body, the Accident Compensation Corporation, claims for exercise related injuries had risen dramatically. Our story started with these figures, which are indisputable, and Beddle was asked to comment.

Best wishes
Michael Donaldson
Editor- Sunday Star-Times

In other words, the editor (presumably an actual journalist)  refused to perform the simple task of asking Beddie where his information came from, based on his personal assumption that Beddie would have no motive to make up a lie about CrossFit.

So far, Beddie hasn’t responded to my interview requests sent to his personal email or his organization. Perhaps someone reading this post will have better luck:

P: +64 (0)27-520-5744


  1. Ben

    I love it how he jumps straight down CrossFits throat especially when there is specific mention in the article to Les Mills (who ExerciseNZ specifically promote on their websites cover page as one of their commercial members). I welcome any research into the increase, and I really hope ACC and ExerciseNZ conduct their ‘research programme’ (hopefully not weighted in ExerciseNZs favour) and find that the higher injury rate (which I assume, having used ACC before for rugby, means ‘Injury’ covers everything from Death to a bad bruise) just comes down to more people exercising than a higher rate of injury/100hrs of exercise. I don’t want to go jumping to conclusions like Mr Beddie has, but I think he’s barking up the wrong tree if he thinks CrossFit is the problem.

  2. Jason C

    My source went on to explain that “… There is heavy promotion through industry related media to only train at REPS registered gyms, with REPS registered trainers. But of course, obtaining this registration only requires yearly membership payments……. not any actual qualifications, or proof of best practice.”

    I find it highly ironic (and deceitful) that you wrote this article attacking a journalist for not fact checking, then you yourself cite an anonymous source whose facts you failed to check. If you had done a fact check you would have realised that a REPS registration requires a qualification in exercise plus a current first aid certificate.

    Congratulations on write the type of junk article your blog is supposed to defend against.

    • Jason,
      You are right that REPs registration requires you have credentials from one of a list of “registered” providers. This quote was in reference to the fact that REPs itself does not offer any qualifications, training, educational material, etc. They simply charge a fee to those who have gathered qualifications from other sources.

      I’ll update the article to clarify this point.

  3. Lisa Winn

    Bottom feeders and charlatans.
    Apology and retraction in order dont you think or else heavy fine for slander at the least.

  4. Lloyd Shaw
    Founder of Vibra-Train

    I blacklisted all involvement with REPs and Fitness NZ ( or whatever they change their name to ) when I found out how unethical they were. After being friendly with a few industry people for years, I thought they had a similar vision to me. I was wrong.

    In our industry we had a flood of fake vibration training equipment being sold to the elderly, disabled and desperate. And even entire fake franchises worth 1 million.. Richard Beddie had no issue with taking money from these con artists ( like Power Plate ) . Even listing them as “preferred suppliers ”

    And his mate, who was also on the Board of Fitness NZ was eyeball deep in selling fake machines online.

    Please Note: I do not retail. I in-house manufacture only.

    This Board member joked to me how they went on junket trips to the US and Europe to Expos . All paid for by the personal trainers of NZ. Staying at the best hotels, eating at the best restaurants. To then set up deals to sell exercise equipment on the internet.

    Hows that for screwing over the NZ trainers from every angle.

    Note: He only told me this info because he thought I was going to let him buy into Vibra-Train. I told him to stuff off.

    When I had proof from the courts and engineers of the scam of fake Vibration Training products coming into NZ that Fitness NZ was supporting. , And after I had followed Fitness NZs complaints policy. Richard and his cohorts refused to show up for the meeting.

    In my opinion he is a money hungry coward. A leech on the young passionate hard working fitness industry folk.

    It is about time, his time was up. And I will be there to urinate on his reputation when it all comes tumbling down.

    As a mortician who only entered the fitness industry to help those who seemed to be falling between the cracks. His behavior simply disgusts me

    • Ben

      From everything I’ve seen and heard you’re about bang on Lloyd, he seems to just be a businessman whose only concern with peoples fitness is how it affects his bank balance

  5. Pingback: Has Exercise NZ’s CEO Richard Beddie Been Caught in Another Lie? | THE RUSSELLS

  6. Pingback: Richard Beddie Claims CrossFit Trainers are the Reason For Female Urinary Incontinence | THE RUSSELLS

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