Greg Glassman #27 | The Origin Story of the L1 | Live Call In

Mattew Souza (00:04):

It starting a minute or so early this morning,


I was like, there’s two options. You either just hit the button now or I just sit here and allow my nerves just to start kicking up more than they necessarily need to. So good morning everybody. We got great Glassman coming on this morning, and originally when Seon let me know that he was traveling today and asked me if I was able to do the show, I said, sure. And he said, Hey, what if we just keep Greg on and you and Greg just rock it out together? And at first I was instantly terrified, right? Oh fuck, what if I screw it up? But then I was like, all right, you know what? If I just use this time completely selfishly to find out everything I wanted to know about the origin story of the L one and about CrossFit in general. Because a lot of times we look at things as to where they are now and where they’ve been, but we oftentimes forget the very, very beginning of everything.


How did it start? Who was employee one? Was the intention to scale the company? Of course. When did he decide to form it into a seminar? What articles did he use to choose? How many iterations did he go through of the L one handbook? When did the L two form? How’d you become a flow master in the early days or just the L one staff seminar? When did they start to have a hierarchy with Flow Master L one seminar and intern, if you will, right? Was there a pecking order? Was there initiation process? How did they push people out that basically weren’t a fit? All these kind of cool things that oftentimes get forgotten as the years go on and get kind of blinded by success, we start to think like, oh, CrossFit always was and always was awesome. It always was magnificent. We came into it with the L one and we forget some of the stuff was where it went, and we’ll see where the conversation goes.


Maybe Greg won’t have any of it and be like, yeah, we’re going to take it this way. And I’m along for the ride. Good morning, grace. Good morning, Ken. Leave some surprises. Oh, I’m sure there’ll be lots of surprises. Plus two. I’m kind of just talking this out with you guys before he hops on. Good morning, Jake. Good morning, Sima. I texted you back, by the way, rich. What’s up? And I also wanted to just let you guys know, thank you. Thank you for showing up at 7:00 AM every morning. Thank you for being a part of the membership. Thank you for trusting in us. Thank you for believing in us. And without you guys, we would be nothing. And I know Sevan says it a little bit on the show or quite a bit on the show, and I just wanted to say it from me directly before we got started this morning. So thank you guys. Greg,

Greg Glassman (02:40):

Buddy, how are you?

Mattew Souza (02:42):

I’m fantastic. How are you doing, sir?

Greg Glassman (02:44):

Doing good, bud. Doing good.

Mattew Souza (02:46):

I like the up

Greg Glassman (02:47):

In Idaho.

Mattew Souza (02:48):

Awesome. Is it pretty crazy out there, the weather? Do you guys get hit with a snowstorm?

Greg Glassman (02:53):

It is. Right now we’re in the middle of a beginning of a blizzard.

Mattew Souza (02:58):

Oh, okay. You enjoying it?

Greg Glassman (03:00):

That’s what, by my Santa Cruz and Scottsdale standards, San Diego standards. What do I know from a blizzard, right?

Mattew Souza (03:07):

Yeah. Anytime it drops below 50, I’m like, oh, I don’t know how people live on these places.

Greg Glassman (03:12):

I was with Maggie outside of a new restaurant, just opened up in Scottsdale, and there was some guy standing there and he says, I don’t know if I can handle another two or three weeks of this fucking weather. And it was like 58 degrees, right?

Mattew Souza (03:31):

Yeah. He’s like, I have to wear two sweatshirts. This is just crazy. It’s out of head.

Greg Glassman (03:34):

Hilarious. Hilarious. He gets soft quickly.

Mattew Souza (03:38):

That is true.

Greg Glassman (03:40):

That is

Mattew Souza (03:40):


Greg Glassman (03:41):

In reference to temperature, and it happens quick and light.

Mattew Souza (03:49):

Yeah. It was funny. I was talking with Grace. My wife’s a grandmother and we were saying, oh, she’s busy with school and there’s a new baby and stuff, and we’re just trying to get through it. And she pauses for a minute, she goes, wow, it sure doesn’t take much for you young people to suffer. Huh?

Greg Glassman (04:06):


Mattew Souza (04:08):

So Greg, I wanted to chat with you when Sev originally said, Hey, would you mind doing the show and we’ll keep Greg on instantly, I got a little nervous. I was like, oh shit, I don’t want to screw this up. The show that you guys always do together is so awesome. And I always gained so much from it. But then I started thinking, you know what, if I just use this time selfishly to find out everything I ever wanted to know of the origin story of CrossFit in the L one and the steps that you took to make it the incredible global storm that it took. And so that’s what we’ll chat about a little bit. But I want to just real quickly touch on something you said probably about five or six episodes ago that I have not been able to get out of my head ever since. And we were talking, you and Sev were talking a little bit about some of the new hires that was happening over at CrossFit. And you said something that was very simple but incredibly profound and you said they have nothing to offer you. And you meaning the affiliate owners, myself, a 10 year affiliate owner, these other affiliate owners. And I kind of saw the writing on the wall, but when you put it that way, it was like a oh shit moment. And I was thinking, oh shit.

Greg Glassman (05:24):

And let me, before I double down, oh, that completely. And I have no choice. It’s fairly self-referential. Remember, I set up an affiliate program that I’d participated in. I put together a seminar that, man, I wish I’d gone to this. It would’ve been well worth a thousand dollars if someone had pointed me in this direction long ago and I built a gym that I would join. And what they have now is a structure I wouldn’t participate in. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer anybody anything. There might be people that fuck that finally got ourselves some equity and diversity and inclusiveness going on. I’m really happy. So there’s always going to be an element that’s more than content. I would not be, and it would’ve been for me as simple as the, there’s a whole bunch of things, but the one that would pain me every time I paid my fees would be the settling of the NSCA case. That one, that would be it for me. It’s enough for me to distrust the owners. How could I possibly trust them? How could I possibly, after that, what did you settle for? How much money did you get? And what’d you do with it


Before? We still don’t know what happened. And here we are facing the same issue again, the licensure and what’s the response? Nothing,

Mattew Souza (06:57):


Greg Glassman (06:57):

Nothing. So it’s a personal thing. Yeah, me, I’d be done. I’d be done.

Mattew Souza (07:03):

Well, and I think that’s why it hit me as hard as it is because I’m obviously in that camp and I made a video on when they closed the NSCA case. And for me, I knew that was going to be kind of a tipping point. It was almost the beginning of the end before anybody else realized it for those exact reasons. Why would you seal it? I knew that when you were doing it and going after the NSCA, you were going to take it all the way there. You were going to make sure all the way

Greg Glassman (07:30):


Mattew Souza (07:30):

You were going to make sure that that corruption could not continue to go. And you were going to slowly, as you said, correct the public record, but unwind everything that they have sunk so deeply into

Greg Glassman (07:44):

Imagine. It turns out that Safeway is poisoning their customers, and Vos wants to help ’em keep it a secret. I can’t conceive of it. I’ve sat with some of the world’s best attorneys in mine are the Nathan Watkins guys. Those are the best attorneys on God’s earth. And we’ve tossed the ball back and forth and explain. Tell me what possibly could be the, how are you meeting your fiduciary obligation in bearing this suit?

Mattew Souza (08:20):


Greg Glassman (08:21):

What conceivably would that be? You can’t paint a pretty picture on it. Of course, it reminds me of Pfizer wanting to unseal the data in 75 years. I’m not confused as to why you want to do that. It’s not because it’s so fucking good. We wouldn’t be able to deal with it.

Mattew Souza (08:44):

Yeah, yeah.

Greg Glassman (08:46):

You can drop that. It’s such a good fucking vaccine. You’ll have a heart attack. Just finding out how good.

Mattew Souza (08:56):

Oh my God. Yeah. You’re absolutely right. And

Greg Glassman (08:59):

This is hidden because it would be hugely fucking embarrassing.

Mattew Souza (09:04):


Greg Glassman (09:05):

That’s why I got hidden.

Mattew Souza (09:08):

And what would,

Greg Glassman (09:09):

I got little kids when their backs turned you and they’re bent over and you go, what are you doing? And they stiffen up and nothing. There’s something there.

Mattew Souza (09:20):

You open the door and all of ’em freeze and look at you real quick. Yeah. Caught in the act. And yeah, I felt the same way with it because one of the things that connected me mostly to CrossFit, as I started to mature in CrossFit, I found it from a military buddy. He was in the military. We started doing it. He got deployed, and selfishly I looked at him like, Kenny, who’s going to program my workouts, man? Not of course, worried he was off to war, but more so about my workouts. And he looks at me and he goes, dude, it’s called Just go look it up. And that was it. As soon as I found the website and the journal, I religiously took and consumed every single piece of content in that thing. And I would sit there like a kid on Christmas every single day at 4:59 PM Pacific Standard Time.


So the workout of the day, we get posted, the new article we get posted, the workout demo would get posted, and I would just consume it. And I knew that there was something there that once you start to read it, it doesn’t take you long to realize, holy shit, this is it. This is different. And it feels right in terms of setting people’s health back on a way that is going to keep them healthy. It’s going to keep them moving, and it’s going to bring a lot of longevity and happiness in terms of what they get out of their life and for the long term.

Greg Glassman (10:49):

Yeah, I used to tell people, you could look in the mirror every morning and every evening and take 10 minutes telling yourself, this will never work. This will never work, this will never work. And one morning or one evening, you’re going to look in the mirror and go, fuck. But it is, I mean, you can’t even hide this from yourself even. And so as a trainer, and I’ll often see something before the client will, for instance, if I make you a meal plan and I see you a week later and you don’t look different, something’s not going right. So how’s it going? What’s up? What have you been doing? And get to the bottom of it, kind of quickly say, well, as a matter of fact, I didn’t get started. I didn’t have a car on Wednesday, didn’t make my normal grocery. Okay, next week if it’s a once a week kind of person, I didn’t have a lot of those, but I had enough. I learned a lot from them. And it was all fun. It was all interesting. But the dynamic impact, the positive, dynamic impact is undeniable

Mattew Souza (11:52):

Completely. I mean, it changed my life. Prior to CrossFit, as I was figuring my way out, I never would’ve considered myself a business owner. I was somebody that was always put in the dummy classes and made my way through high school due to my personality and wit, I would say more so than the education. But the funny part was is once my schooling stopped, my education started, and it happened through the path of CrossFit because it set me on. I wanted more out of it. And then the second I realized, oh shit, there’s an L one to this thing. I saved up all my pennies and I got my tax return. And the second that check hit my bank account, bam. I bought my ticket to the L one, and it completely changed the course of my life in ways that were unimaginable. And that was through the methodology that you created and through that seminar that you created. And I’m not sure if I got to say it to you in person, but thank you. You’re very

Greg Glassman (12:54):

Welcome. Thank you for the kind words. It means a lot.

Mattew Souza (12:58):

I just can’t tell you how much it means to me and how much I know it means to thousands and thousands and thousands, if not millions of people who have gone through that same process that I have. And one of the questions that I have too is who’d you first write your article for? As soon as you put pen to paper and started your first one, who, did you have somebody in mind as to a person you were writing for? Was it for you?

Greg Glassman (13:27):

I had clients pounding me about a newsletter, and you got to write this stuff down. You need to write a book. I had clients pestering me about getting a website, and I said, what the fuck do I need a website for? Ben Zer made a website for me, and I guess I could put workouts up on it. And it was Mike Bender who had won the toughest cop alive and remains a friend of this day, who told me that he reserve, so no one would take that. And I’m like, okay, what do I need that for? And that’s when there was an eFit ifi all these, I mean, it was Pioneer days early internet.


I didn’t see any sense to it really. So the first affiliate was the first affiliate’s idea, the first seminar. I got a call from two guys at DOJ that wanted to come out and get a seminar on my method. And I told him, we don’t have one. He says, I can’t come out and learn method unless I can come back with a certification. And so I was like, all right, we’ll do it. Went to the stationary store on my bike, and they had a file of forms, and we found a certification that had a big gold star on. It looked pretty cool. It’s not like a parchment, right? It’s like one of the things you get in grade school and then That’s right. Same fucking thing. And then we found who had the best handwriting that could do some semblance of calligraphy on this fucking thing.


And these two guys came out from the Department of Justice. One of ’em remains a friend to this day and had a rather meteoric career afterwards. But what we did to those guys over three days was just brutal. It’s a miracle I didn’t kill ’em. We had to put ’em back on an airplane with a spatula. Fucking guys. I think they did every named workout in two days high. It was, oh yeah. And as soon as you’re done throwing up, you’ve got to sit in your chair again. I’m going to lecture you some more. And at the point, they cross-eyed from them, and I was getting two days teach ’em everything I knew. Wow. So I mean, they left with 20 pages of notes and bloody hands and shaking and having trouble walking. And it was, but one of them, Ted had tried to get into FBI Academy over and over and over again and kept fucking up on the physical on the test.


And this is a guy that was a black belt in jujitsu, but he couldn’t pass the FBI’s test to get in. And after some CrossFit, he had no problem getting in. And not only did he get into the academy, but he won the director’s fitness medal. He was the fittest guy, so a guy that couldn’t get into the fittest guy there. And he later became a personal security detail to the Attorney General. And there was a neat moment where Gonzalez was kind of passed out on his feet and tipped over backwards. And Ted jumped from behind the curtain and caught him and was also in the midst of drawing a weapon. He thought maybe the guy that shot or something, but he just saw him rolling back on his heels and going down and on live television fetched. The guy caught him. Neat guy. Anyways, good story.


Good people. Those were the recipients of the first Seminar seminar. And then someone said they wanted me to do another one again for a justice department. It was a National Police Corps program that had offices at Jacksonville, Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff’s Academy. And I went there by myself and they brought me like 75 guys. And alls they had was dumbbells, no barbells. Oh, it was horrible. And then in the of that seminar, someone comes in and says, there’s a group of generals at the Air Force Base, and they are somewhere like that, and they want to see you immediately. You need to stop the seminar and come and talk to these generals. My host agreed, you have to go now. So I got in a cop car with TJ Cooper, and I think we went 120 miles an hour in Emergency Lane to this Air Force. I mean, it was crazy, crazy days, but none of that was my idea. I didn’t know what the National Police Corps was, and I didn’t know anyone at DOJ. You know how they got me, the phone rang, we had a phone on the wall, and the only reason we had a phone on the walls is only about maybe 5% of my clients had cell phones, and I needed a phone on the wall in case someone fell out.


You don’t want to do that to someone and then not be able to call 9 1 1. That would be horrific, right?

Mattew Souza (18:47):

The lifeline, sure.

Greg Glassman (18:49):

Now it’s a defibrillator. But the phone rang, which was odd, and I’m staring at it and it never rang, and I answered it, and it was Charlie Sims from the Department of Justice.

Mattew Souza (19:03):

Holy shit. And at that time, did you have a collection of articles at that point? Was there a lot of pen to paper when you started that first seminar?

Greg Glassman (19:15):

The website, the first seminars and the journal all happened in about an 18 month period and the first affiliate. So it was all going on at once. And the foundations page was written for the website early. And there’s a lot there. There’s a lot of material there, the essence of it.

Mattew Souza (19:34):

And did you just compile it already to present, or did you have, in your mind, was there a game plan coming into some of these first seminars?

Greg Glassman (19:44):

In my head, in very different language that I can tidy, sum it up now, but I had a powerful conviction that constantly varied high intensity functional movement with increase work capacity across broad time and mortal domains. In other words, I couldn’t think of an activity that wouldn’t be enhanced by working out in this manner. And I’ve been having those discussions with other trainers in Gold’s Gym in Venice and in Santa Clarita, and I had some friends that didn’t train, but trained smart and were smart that were very receptive to my argument. And we were testing that out kind of in the sly all the time, doing things like taking a row of machines at a place like Gold’s Gym and Venice claiming a bank leave halfway down and asked for 15 reps on 15 machines, and we’re doing this for time. And I had a friend who later came to work for CrossFit, who did this one time at Gold’s Gym in Venice, and he went down the row and on the last 50 reps, he jumped up and ran out the door and then took off out of the parking lot with his tire screeching.


And I was like, of course, his pre-cell phone, I have to wait until I see him again to find out what the fuck

Mattew Souza (21:16):


Greg Glassman (21:17):

He got off that last machine, this John Kramer, John,

Mattew Souza (21:21):


Greg Glassman (21:22):

Fucking, John jumped in his car. He had a cougar, a mercury cougar, a blue one, tires squealing, tears out of the parking lot. He went right to either St. Joe’s or St. John’s to the hospital and ran into the emergency room and told him he thought he was dying. It’s true fucking story

Mattew Souza (21:43):

When you know the workouts are really effective.

Greg Glassman (21:45):

Yeah. And I’m like, wow, ever been to Jim watched it too. What the fuck was that? What were you doing? What happened? Is he okay? I’m like, I have no answers. I call him enroll tonight.

Mattew Souza (22:00):

Yeah. You had to wait until you got back to the landline. That, I guess, was when patients, as a virtue started to slowly leave us as we had the cell phone and the instant contacts. Right.

Greg Glassman (22:10):

I got people hunt me down through Maggie and tell me, dude, I texted you three fucking hours ago.

Mattew Souza (22:17):

I Okay. Yeah.

Greg Glassman (22:22):

I give her number out for everything because her phone’s always handy. Handy in her hand.

Mattew Souza (22:27):

Yeah. Yeah. Perfect.

Greg Glassman (22:29):

In case of emergency call, Maggie,

Mattew Souza (22:33):

That’s the straight line to you, huh?

Greg Glassman (22:35):


Mattew Souza (22:36):

When in doubt, well, who was your first client that you were training?

Greg Glassman (22:50):

I can’t name a first. I can’t name a first. It was a fairly seamless transition though much of my gymnastics career. I was also training in coaching gymnastics.


And to go from that environment to the Gold’s Gym environment was pretty natural thing for me. And I had discovered weights as an adjuvant to my gymnastics training as a teenager, and was confident in what could be done with dumbbells, barbells in terms of securing the strength moves of gymnastics. And so I had gym memberships and all my own gear and interface with that crowd early. Why I’m having trouble with this is there were people that were working out with me, and I think I was training him and I would mention John Kramer again, who was an early Guinea pig. He and I as teens were riding our bikes to family fitness center

Mattew Souza (23:59):

And was training with dumbbells and barbells. Was that happening a lot in gymnastics?

Greg Glassman (24:04):

I don’t think so.

Mattew Souza (24:05):


Greg Glassman (24:06):

I don’t think so. But the progression to all of the great strength moves in gymnastics on the rings, I used dumbbells as an adjuvant pulley system, and it was pretty easy. Really?

Mattew Souza (24:28):

Yeah. When you did start training people, did you ever have a first client that came up that was like, because I know you trained a lot of Olympians and different things like that in the past. Did you have the first client where you got a little nervous and said, oh, shit, I better not mess them up. Or by that time, were you pretty confident in the results from what you were seeing to know that they were going to have a massive benefit from training this way?

Greg Glassman (24:52):

I don’t know, but I just flashed. I had a general get word to me that if I hurt one of his air conditioning techs out in, and they pointed out who they were. These are the AC guys. If something happens to one of them, you’ll never get home. So they had to watch. I deputized them and they helped set up.

Mattew Souza (25:20):


Greg Glassman (25:20):

Guys are important

Mattew Souza (25:21):

Out there. I’ll tell you, once they

Greg Glassman (25:22):

Ac, he didn’t care about anybody else. Do whatever you want to fuck these guys.

Mattew Souza (25:28):

Don’t screw the AC guys. Yep.

Greg Glassman (25:30):


Mattew Souza (25:30):

The summer gets hot out there, man.

Greg Glassman (25:33):

No, but I’ve had things, I was training the, well, shit, some of the best world’s best in jujitsu. I mean, BJ pen counts, right? Yeah, absolutely. I had a list of martial artists when I got a short-term contract for the Greek national basketball team. And there was an awkward moment when the Greeks discovered that they were doing the jujitsu workout and they thought they were doing the basketball program. And one of ’em had already told me that it was making a difference for him. That was unbelievable. And I asked for evidence of that, and he said for the first time, just a few weeks ago, he got the view looking down through the rib, he’d never had his eyeballs above the rib, and he saw down into the hole and he’d never had that experience before. And so I had to tell him, what’s it matter what program you’re doing? Right? Well, it’s all the same. Yeah, you’re doing the Juujitsu program and get back to work.

Mattew Souza (26:36):

And when did the nutrition piece become an element? Was that pretty quickly

Greg Glassman (26:43):

From the start? From the start, and was there any I learned from the bodybuilding community, the upsides of car restriction, say what you want about bodybuilders, and I’ve had more than my share of poking at them, but I’ll tell you the response from that community, they’ve always been good to me. Really, I was the only person that ever got to train Dave Draper’s wife other than himself, Lou Draper. He trusted me with that. He had nothing but kind things to say about me, but they’re not fooled by nutrition. Not in the least. He passed away recently.


He was a special person. He was a special person. When I got kicked out of my last commercial facility in Santa Cruz, Dave offered to take me in. So I burned the Gold’s Gym Bridge. I burned the spa fitness center, threw me out, and Dave says, you can come to my gym. And I said, no, Dave, because I cherish the friendship. People would say shitty things about me on the internet, and he’d come on and straighten ’em out. He was that brave and bold and very well known, and I was unknown. And Josh Webster was like that for me. Amongst Mill guys would get on and tell about his background, experiences, citations, commendations, and experience, and he’d get almost anyone to back off., it comes Josh Webster to the rescue. But David been such a good guy that I didn’t want to damage the relationship, and I felt certain what was going on.


I had it explained to me by the directors at Spa Fitness. They showed me a graph of their training revenue and what it had been. They could take it back 15, 20 years. Look, here’s when you showed up. And they were taking a third of my revenue, and Alman Morales and I were taking all the best clients. And so we went from nothing to having 50 clients each in a matter of a month or two. And it had a huge impact on them. And then we started as if that weren’t enough. Now we’re doing group classes in the commercial gym. And so I’m thinking, yeah, that could take all the training clients. He explained to me, you’ve submarined our training program. You’ve got to go. I’m so sorry. Then he wanted to set me up. He goes, I’ve seen how you work. You don’t need much space or of gear. Yeah, that’s right. You could do it in the garage. He says, well, let me help you. And I go, okay, that’s cool. But the fucking guy wanted to take to Los Adams like a stray cat. You catch. That’s been take as far. Yeah. You take it, move it to a new city

Mattew Souza (29:53):

And hope it doesn’t find its way back. Right,

Greg Glassman (29:55):


Mattew Souza (29:56):

That’s the goal. So as you were kind of moving along.

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