CrossFit to the Highest Bidder
by a Concerned Citizen
Would you continue buying a product from a company who believes that you buy it because you’re “unsophisticated” and will buy something just because you see a Subject Matter Expert (SME) from an organization that you trust wearing the t-shirt?
Progenex. The Crossfit protein powder. Sure, it’s not produced by Crossfit, but they’re one of the major sponsors of the Crossfit Games, and have been highlighted in that role for the past few years – the time span during which most people have started Crossfitting, most instructors have been certified, and most affiliates have opened up. To acknowledge the tremendous growth of Crossfit is also to admit that most people are new to this world. When Progenex first started sponsoring the Crossfit games, there were less than two-thousand affiliates. Now there’s over five-thousand (or whatever). This means by default, most of those people have only been aware of Progenex as the dominant supplement; that MHP or other brands started sponsoring the ‘Games in 2012 does little to mitigate this fact. Progenex is marketed primarily to Crossfitters and without that market, the company shutters their doors.
I won’t waste my time or yours by talking about the product itself. Their flagship is just whey protein hydrolysate, the kind you can get anywhere. Enough ink has been spilled on whey protein hydrolysate already, and if you’re really interested, you can Google it. If you’re really, really interested, you can Google Scholar it (scholar.google.com). What interests me is how they became the biggest supplement in the Crossfit world, and what they think of that world.
The following is the sworn deposition of their interim CEO, talking about how they paid “trainers that train the trainers” (SMEs) to wear their shirts, mix up some shakes, and penetrate the “highly unsophisticated” Crossfit market:
This deposition was taken after he quit – they claim they fired him, he claims he quit – but he was the second CEO to leave, and that suggests something is up. But that’s not the point, the point is that he was being deposed in a lawsuit, unrelated to Crossfit. What he said simply represents the attitude Progenex has towards Crossfit. Put some cash in the SMEs hands, and the lemmings would follow without question.
I believe him insofar as this is the most likely way Crossfit is seen at the company, if only because he had no motivation to lie. On this topic, the comments weren’t important to the actual case he was being deposed for, and they didn’t make him look good, bad, credible, or less credible – it was just background information. Because of this, he was likely telling the truth. He was only at Progenex for a few months, and if he was fired (which seems to be in dispute), he certainly wasn’t fired because he didn’t respect Crossfit enough, or because he didn’t understand why SMEs were being paid to wear their shirts and mix up their shakes. No matter what he said at this portion of the deposition, with regards to paying off SMEs or whether or not Crossfit is sophisticated, there would be zero bearing on the case.
So if you’re buying these products, you should know that the people putting your dollars in their pockets think you to be highly unsophisticated, and believe that the majority of their sales are because they’ve put a few bucks into the hands of the people who do your thinking for you. I don’t know what’s worse – the fact that these people thought they could just pay off some “big names” in Crossfit, and everyone would buy whatever they were selling – or the fact that it worked. I guess that’s not a very sophisticated attitude…