Downtown L.A. CrossFit Gym Debases Homeless Neighbors in Photos, Facebook Posts

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Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 6:00 AM

click to enlarge This photo, originally posted on CrossFit Mean Streets' Facebook page, shows members of the gym, including owner Ronnie Teasdale and owners of two other local CrossFit gyms, posing with a passed-out homeless man.
  • This photo, originally posted on CrossFit Mean Streets' Facebook page, shows members of the gym, including owner Ronnie Teasdale and owners of two other local CrossFit gyms, posing with a passed-out homeless man.

When the CrossFit Games arrive at the Home Depot Center in Carson on July 13, they'll bring with them a flood of heavily muscled, extremely intense athletes hoping to win a $250,000 prize courtesy of CrossFit's big-name sponsors, such as Reebok and GNC. They'll be immortalized on the website of the CrossFit Games, filled with pictures of incredibly buff men and women squatting, running and jumping.

But not far from the glitz of the ESPN-televised games, on the downtown streets, one local CrossFit affiliate has been taking photos of a different sort.

The photos depict members of CrossFit Mean Streets, a gym located on the edge of Skid Row at 265 S. Main St., engaged in mockery and humiliation of troubled local denizens, some of whom had passed out on the sidewalks.

It's a sharp contrast to the morals and ethics CrossFit claims to espouse.

CrossFit Mean Streets bills itself as "the premier strength and conditioning facility in downtown Los Angeles" on its website. However, the conduct of Mean Streets owner Ronnie Teasdale and some of its clientele, exhibited on its website and Teasdale's Facebook profile, shows a pattern of using the homeless and substance abusers as a source of amusement.

In one photo published on his website and Facebook, Teasdale grins and poses with Wayne Willette, owner of CrossFit CrownTown in Corona, and several other CrossFitters as they happily pose over an unconscious man slumped in front of Teasdale's truck. Aris Gregorian, a coach at CrossFit Crown City in Pasadena, holds a CrossFit shirt above the downed man.

One shot from Teasdale's Facebook page implies that the highly fit bunch had brief contact with, but did not help, the unconscious person: Somebody has laid a CrossFit shirt across his back.

Another shows a different unconscious man sprawled on a sidewalk with a CrossFit shirt draped over his body. The photo caption mocks "free gift."

It is not known whether CrossFit members tried to verify if these men needed medical help.

Queried by L.A. Weekly, Teasdale quickly apologized. "I would like to be the first to say that those posts were inappropriate and did not highlight the best aspects of our gym or the CrossFit community," he said. "I am removing all of the questionable content from Facebook and my website."

He did so, adding, "We are also in the larger process of changing the image of our gym as a whole."

Numerous incidents and photographs -- now all removed from the Internet -- paint a worrying picture of the attitudes at CrossFit Mean Streets toward their immediate neighborhood's mentally ill, homeless and addict population.

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