Indy gym closes, CrossFit exec fired after Pride event canceled

CrossFit Infiltrate will no longer operate in its location on the downtown canal.
Gym closes after controversy
Gym closes after pride event canceled
Gym closes after Indy Pride controversy
CrossFit Infiltrate closing

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — An Indianapolis gym has shut down after a controversy involving a canceled Indy Pride event and the questions over what led to that decision.

CrossFit Infiltrate is a workout center on the Downtown Canal. Wednesday night, the door was locked and a sign saying that location of the gym will no longer operate was on the door.

Former members told Eyewitness News it's because many members, coaches and staff resigned after owners canceled a Thursday night Indy Pride event to support the LGBTQ community.

By phone, Brandon Lowe, a co-owner of CrossFit Infiltrate said, "The ownership canceled the event because of our beliefs."

Former member Dan Mendoza said, "It made me feel really uncomfortable and not welcome. And not just me but a lot of the other members."

Mendoza quit the club over it. After asking management for clarification, he said a gym official told him in an email, "CrossFit is about being healthy and well and they believe that this event was not about that."

He shared copies of that email, which says in part that "the gym's goal is total health and well-being for the individual and the community," and that "as a business we will chose to deploy our resources towards those efforts and causes that line up with our own values and beliefs."

Wednesday morning, CrossFit's Chief Knowledge Officer Russell Berger tweeted his support for the decision to cancel the event. Those tweets have since been deleted, but screenshots captured what they said.

The first read, "I'd like to personally encourage #CrossFitInfiltrate for standing by your convictions and refusing to host an @indypride workout. The intolerance of the LGBTQ ideology toward any alternative views is mind-blowing."

And in a second tweet, Berger posted, "The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression. The lack of tolerance for disagreement, which has been replaced with bullying Twitter mobs promising 'consequences,' should be a concern regardless of your political stance."

By Wednesday evening, CrossFit had put Berger on unpaid leave, and then, hours later, fired him.

Former gym member Becca Kimball quit the gym after finding out about the canceled event. She told Eyewitness News Wednesday night, "I just did not want to be associated with a discriminatory organization. I would not be able to look my LGBTQ friends in the eye if I was part of that."

Larry Stribling did the same.

"Unfortunately we had to stand up against someone who was basically not inclusive and did not value diversity," Stribling said.

Meanwhile, another downtown CrossFit gym, CrossFit Naptown, is showing their support for the LGBTQ community with T-shirts.

The gym posted on its Facebook page, saying "We believe that all humans deserve the same respect and equality no matter his or her ethnicity, family status, gender identity, genetic characters, marital status, nationality, race, religion, sex, disability, or sexual orientation."

The gym will have shirts for sale Friday.

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