Richard Beddie, the CEO of the Exercise Association of New Zealand and spokesperson for REPs (the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals) has earned his place on our blog over the past year. In March of 2014, Beddie told Stuff.com.nz that “CrossFit has resulted in six deaths overseas and rendered an Australian man paraplegic.” This was later retracted by the editors at Stuff. Later, Beddie denied making these statements, though the author of the article has repeatedly assured us that she quoted him accurately.
It doesn’t end there. Beddie has continued to publicly criticize CrossFit affiliates, trainers, and our credentials by both name an implication. So in October of 2014, CrossFit Inc. filed a lawsuit against Beddie and the Exercise Association of New Zealand for Defamation.
But why would Beddie repeatedly slander CrossFit in the media? We need look no further than the same interviews with Beddie to see his motive. In August of 2014, a One News story titled “Warning Crossfit craze could put people at risk” quoted Beddie as saying the following:
“There are many really good Crossfit [sic] instructors out there. The key thing though is do they meet standards that the industry has agreed on,”
The reporter went on to say that
“The Exercise Association says putting all coaches on the country’s register of exercise professionals will allow the industry to set a consistent standard of training. That could cost up to $400 a year.”
This motive became even more clear in July of 2014, when Beddie contacted two of our affiliates. In his correspondence Beddie stated the following:
“It’s unfortunate that the media spend more time talking about ‘bad exercise’ than they do about all the amazing benefits… We can (easily) get CrossFit training recognised for CPDs (used to be called CECs) with REPs, so that any trainer/coach that is registered with REPs doing this, is recognised for doing it. This would be great for those that are Registered with REPs who only do CrossFit, and are not gym based. It also sends the message that CrossFit training is ‘legit’ for those who may try to say/imply otherwise.”
In these statements, Beddie is clearly speaking about the negative press CrossFit has received in NZ, which as far as we can tell, he is the sole source of. Yet here he presents himself as a neutral party willing to help CrossFit’s reputation. If we break this down, it reads something like this:
1. You (CrossFit) partner with us (REPS).
2. Have all of your L1 Trainers in NZ pay us (REPS) 400$ per year
3. You (CrossFit) will then be legitimized and no longer receive critical press from us (REPS).
This is commonly referred to as extortion.
In the same correspondence, Beddie also clarifies that it is not “anti-CrossFit”, yet holds concerns over “cowboy” trainers in the fitness industry. The pejorative “cowboy” is common in Beddie’s media interviews, and is used to describe trainers who are not members of REPS.
Beddie also proposed a draft public statement to our affiliates, suggesting it could be released as a joint statement between Exercise NZ and CrossFit Inc. In the opening sentence, he makes his motives perfectly clear:
“ExerciseNZ’s position on CrossFit is no different to any other exercise modality: When carried out correctly, and delivered by an appropriately trained and registered exercise professional, it can play an important part in the health and wellness of those that partake in it… ExerciseNZ supports the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals as the standard for exercise professionals in New Zealand, and encourages any exercise professional, of any exercise modality, to join REPs so that they can be recognised as a professional, as well as receiving the many benefits of registration…” (my emphasis)
In other words, Richard Beddie has no problems with CrossFit. This is unless the CrossFit Trainer in question is not paying a fee to REPS, in which case he or she is responsible for death, female incontinence, and danger. While this logic might seem remarkable, Beddie’s strategy is not new. What Beddie is doing is a form of rent-seeking. Aware that his organization is suffering due to the surge of popularity in CrossFit, he is attempting to manipulate CrossFit affiliates into paying him for a service both the public and trainers aren’t interested in. The easiest way to do that is to lie. CrossFit HQ has a moral obligation to protect its affiliates from individuals like Richard Beddie and the organizations they represent.