“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 Stuff.co.nz, 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.
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:
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