Darren Thornton is in the process of researching new names to rebrand CrossFit Defy, the gym he co-owns with his wife Michelle in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood.

He estimates their 32-foot storefront sign alone will cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 to replace.

But like some other gym owners across Canada, Thornton thought it was crucial to cut ties with the CrossFit brand, no matter the cost, after former CrossFit founder Greg Glassman’s insensitive comments about Black Lives Matter protests last weekend.

“It was kind of the final straw for me,” Thornton said.

On Saturday, the research firm Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation tweeted: “Racism is a Public Health Issue.”

Glassman replied on his Twitter feed, “It’s Floyd-19,” a reference both to COVID-19 and George Floyd, who died two weeks ago after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck for several minutes. The incident, captured on video, sparked worldwide protests. Four Minneapolis officers were arrested in his death.

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Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response.

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