Once you’ve been introduced to CrossFit, it won’t be long before you’re introduced to its foundational nutrition advice: “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” As the base of the pyramid in CrossFit’s Theoretical Hierarchy of Development, nutrition is the foundation on which fitness is built. Without proper nutrition, the benefits of CrossFit will never be fully realized.
So it makes sense that in the pursuit of becoming a CrossFit trainer, CrossFit courses educate on the topic of nutrition by way of the Level 1 Seminar — the foundational course that teaches the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit — and supplemental courses like Nutrition I, which elevates the knowledge and importance of nutrition.
As coaches, affiliate owners, and athletes seek to continue their education on the path to optimal fitness and health, nutrition will always be at the forefront.
To take away a CrossFit trainer’s right to coach their athletes on nutrition habits is to run the risk of watering down a program that has been proven to reverse chronic diseases, including obesity. And that risk, said CrossFit Head of Government Relations Brett Ewer, is very real.
“There are new bills popping up all the time that put affiliates at risk for not being able to share nutrition information, advice, and guidance with their athletes,” he said.
A large part of Ewer’s job entails scouring current and upcoming legislation to assess what could affect CrossFit affiliate owners around the world and their ability to provide the best possible service to their members.
Nutrition, Ewer said, is always a hot topic.
“A lot of the work that I’m doing is behind the scenes. One of the first things that I do everyday is I get a digest of new or pending legislation in issue areas even remotely related to CrossFit, and I end up reading through (multiple) bills,” he explained. “I have a bunch of keywords like ‘health,’ ‘fitness,’ ‘diet,’ ‘nutrition,’ ‘physical’ — anything that’s related to CrossFit.”
Once Ewer has filtered through the bills, he evaluates where they are in the legislative process, whether they are helpful or harmful, and if they’re something CrossFit should worry about in terms of impacting affiliates’ freedom to keep doing what they’re doing: making people fitter, happier, and healthier.
In just the last year, Ewer has engaged in multiple states including Nebraska, New York, Georgia, Michigan, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Massachusetts — most of which were facing new restrictions on who can offer nutrition advice.
“One of the big things that we focus on on the state level is making sure that CrossFit trainers and affiliates can talk about nutrition without having to get a state license,” Ewer said. “A lot of the issues we take on are regarding what trainers can talk about when it comes to nutrition.”
In January, CrossFit published this article detailing legislative bill 1249, a bill that would effectively prevent CrossFit trainers from talking to their athletes about nutrition unless they obtained a state license that would require a bachelor’s degree in dietetics or human nutrition, plus hundreds of hours of clinical internship.
Luckily, that bill in its current form has not passed, thanks in part to Ewer and his team lobbying against it in defense of CrossFit affiliates and trainers everywhere.
But the fight is never over, and the fine print continues to get more and more complex. Similar bills continue to be introduced in other states seeking to prohibit those without specific licenses from offering nutrition advice, even to help those struggling with obesity.
“The proponents of these restrictive nutrition practice bills say obesity is a disease, so if you as a trainer give someone the 100 words, or work on a meal log with them and identify poor diet choices … that would necessarily become a medicalized practice and would be prohibited and punishable by law,” Ewer said.
“Roughly one-third of the country is obese,” he continued. “If you put a black mark on those people and say, ‘I can only talk about food with you if I have this license,’ then you’re creating a bottleneck where affiliates can’t engage with a population that desperately needs help.”
Just this last May, Ewer lobbied elected officials in Michigan when a similar bill showed up.
In May, there was a hearing on this bill, CrossFit submitted testimony, and I reached out to the committee members and lobbied them,” Ewer said. “I said, ‘I’d like to talk to this senator to explain why this bill has unintended consequences and will end up being harmful rather than helpful.’ Thankfully, they understood and they pumped the brakes, and they’re currently working on it and reforming it.”
If affiliate owners have concerns about any level of government when it comes to running their business, Ewer encourages them to reach out to him directly.
“If affiliates do have any concerns about any of their state’s laws — regardless of the issue — and how those laws might be affecting their business, they should absolutely reach out to HQ,” Ewer stressed, “because that’s what we’re here for — to have their backs.”
While nutrition takes up a lot of the political sphere in Ewer’s scope, another area CrossFit is monitoring is new legislation regarding recovery coaches.
“There are people who provide support for people in recovery from substance use, and some of them want there to be a license required for you to be able to provide support for someone struggling with drug and alcohol issues,” Ewer said. “I saw a bill regarding this in Massachusetts, and I immediately thought of The Phoenix.”
Realizing the threat this new bill would present against a program that has helped more than 130,000 people in recovery regain their health and pursue a life focused on wellness and fitness, Ewer sprang to action.
“I worked with The Phoenix to reach out to the sponsors of the bill and fix some of the issues with the bill so that The Phoenix could continue operating,” he said. “We’ve had a really positive experience working with the sponsors to make sure that The Phoenix and its trainers are able to continue doing what they do without the state coming in and saying you need a license to help people in recovery through CrossFit.”
CrossFit will continue to fight for total freedom when it comes to protecting our affiliates’ rights to change lives for the better, Ewer said.
“If any affiliate anywhere is having an issue directly with any level of government, or wants to advance a policy that will help their business, reach out.”
You can email Ewer directly at email@example.com.
Comments on How HQ Safeguards Your Freedom to Serve Your Members
Nice read. It is great to understand what is doing CrossFit behind the scene to keep leading the good fight.
Thank you for your continued work for us. It's one thing to fight the stigma of "CrossFit is dangerous". It's another to worry about even speaking about diet to an overweight, diabetic athlete who you KNOW can make some small changes and get good results over fear of being held liable for a "crime". Your work does not go unnoticed. #grateful.
How HQ Safeguards Your Freedom to Serve Your Members3