CrossFit | Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

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ByCrossFitMarch 27, 2020

In a version of a talk he has delivered during grand rounds at medical schools around the country, CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman divides various common causes of death into five categories: chronic, microbic, genetic, kinetic, or toxic.

The chronic disease category includes conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and kidney disease. Microbic deaths are caused by things like ebola, malaria, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 outbreak. The genetic category includes conditions such as Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis, kinetic examples include car crashes and falls, and the toxic category includes deaths caused by nerve agents, snake bites, and botulism, for example.

Pointing to the chronic disease category, Glassman notes, “This is about 86% of our medical spend on our runaway medical expenditure. It’s 86% of spend, 80% of deaths.” The other four categories receive 14% of spend and represent 20% of deaths.

“The significant thing here for us as CrossFitters is that we have a solution to this side,” Glassman says, again pointing to the chronic diseases. “And the solution here is what? It’s get off the couch, get off the carbs.”

Glassman insists sedentarism and excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates are not related to lifestyle. Instead, he says, they are “two pathological behaviors, two deleterious, extremely damaging behaviors that were choices.”

“The solution here — it’s behaviorally driven and it will be behaviorally cured or it will be medically babysat,” Glassman says.

Turning his attention to the COVID-19 crisis, Glassman explains, “What has happened is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the agent — the virus responsible for COVID-19, the illness, has escaped the microbic bucket and landed in the chronic disease bucket and has essentially started a trashcan fire with a precipitation of death, to mix metaphors.”

Glassman attributes the potency of the illness to comorbidities, the simultaneous presence of one or more chronic diseases in the patients affected. “I see these as chronic disease deaths,” he says.

“CrossFit fixes this. Medicine babysits it.”

Comments on Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

33 Comments

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Peter Langstrom
April 6th, 2020 at 9:35 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Excellent video!

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Tina Degiorgio
March 29th, 2020 at 7:35 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

This is awesome and it's so great to see your face!! I look forwarded to a hug the next time I see you at the games.

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Taylor Eichhorst
March 29th, 2020 at 9:37 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

An incredibly eye opening presentation. Wish we could have more of this from Coach.


It’s almost as if CrossFit should be lobbying for the reopening of it’s affiliates. After all, we are the lifeboats for chronic disease? I personally would like to see CrossFit continue fighting for its affiliates by advocating that we should be considered essential businesses. Especially during this time when governments are mandating that we do exactly the opposite of what we preach; off the carbs and off the couch.

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Tricia Moore
April 29th, 2020 at 3:38 pm

We absolutely are an essential business. I agree 100%

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Alessandra Pereira
March 29th, 2020 at 9:33 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

We Box and Coach owners have an infallible weapon in their hands to fight the enemy.

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Matthieu Dubreucq
March 29th, 2020 at 1:31 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Thanks coach for summarizing and putting in words and in a easy concept to grasp what we all were trying to figure out. The CrossFit Family will be the healthiest family in the planet!

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Terence Kealey
March 28th, 2020 at 11:04 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

It's almost as if this new virus rarely kills in its own right but, rather, accelerates ongoing, perhaps inflammatory, pathologies. Certainly, many of Covid-19's particular risk factors, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerotic vascular disease, reflect a high-carbohydrate, low-exercise way of life. A low-carbohydrate, high-exercise way of life would always be beneficial, but it would seem to have been doubly beneficial today. Greg's right.

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Emily Kaplan
March 28th, 2020 at 9:05 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

I am so happy to see this and to be able to share it. The five buckets of death is such a valuable tool to help anyone interested in their health grasp where personal control and accountability sits. In our current crisis, it is so easy to overlook how being unhealthy puts you at the greatest risk, it's an uncomfortable reality for so many. And this is true in regards to financial health, mental health and certainly physical health. In our day-to-day lives, we need to do all we can to build robust safety nets safeguarding us for attacks. We’ve seen 99.1 percent of deaths from COVID-19 happen to those with chronic illness, as Glassman explains, and I’d bet the remaining 0.9 percent also had comorbidities that simply hadn’t been diagnosed yet. That is incredibly important to think about. Much of the healthcare breakdown we’re seeing with this virus is due to an already overwhelmed system. Our ICUs run at, or near, capacity on a regular basis—before the virus—because we are a nation of sick people.


This video also calls to mind the Sickness-Wellness-Health Continuum, which really resonated with me the first time I saw it and every time since. This is our protective model. The closer we get to “Fitness” the more slack we have when we’re hit with a virus or other illness. We have a cushion. If we’re on the other end of that spectrum, between “Sickness” and “Health,” we have far less of a safety net when we’re hit. The individual must drive that ship deciding to protect and prepare or not. The outcome of that choice becomes life or death.


I hope people out there who have a chronic illness and feel scared that they are more vulnerable to these kinds of viruses, and sicknesses in general, heed this lesson and work to move across the spectrum closer to “Health.” The work has to happen everyday, but the incentive is clear: do the work everyday of your life and you will have more days of life.


Here is Glassman explaining this much better than me ;-)


Worth reading the full article, posted here is an excerpt from August 2016: http://journal.crossfit.com/2016/08/fitness-luck-and-health.tpl


“Accidents are largely stuff you can do nothing about, but there is one exception. Be fit. Kinetic: We hear stories from war of CrossFitters who survive things that people have not survived previously. Toxicity: Someone who is fitter is more likely to survive the same poisoning than someone who is not. Genetic: There are genes you have inherited that will or will not express because of your behavior through diet and exercise. Microbic: Who is most vulnerable to viral pneumonia? The frail, the feeble. So fitness offers a protection here. 

But assume there is no protection from fitness because what you need in terms of preventing accidents largely is luck.

Luck—there is no “good luck” versus “bad luck”—looks like not having these things happen to you. Seventy percent of what kills people can be addressed by what CrossFit trainers do, and the other 30 percent of deaths occur based on luck, so get fit and do not think about luck. If you stand around worried about germs, worried about the tire that is going to come through the windshield, worried about breathing toxic air and worried about your genes, you are wasting your time. It will not make you happy. It will not make you better. It will not make you safer. You are not going to live any longer. 


This sums to my “kinetic theory of health.” The singular focus on kinematics—increasing work capacity, increasing your fitness—is how to avoid chronic disease. 

Just get a better Fran time, better deadlift, better Diane time, and do all the things that would support a better Fran time—like eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar; getting plenty of sleep; and maybe taking some fish oil. After that, we are out of stuff that matters. 

With that singular focus on work capacity, we can avoid chronic disease and there is nothing really to worry about. You have the lifestyle answer. Make it to the gym, eat like we tell you, and enjoy yourself. 

We have hacked health. Here is the magic formula for you: 

Fitness + Luck (bad) = Health. 

It is the part you can do something about plus the part you can do nothing about that sums to your outcome. So make the most out of fitness and you will not be part of the seven out of 10 who die unnecessarily due to lifestyle. In the end, chronic disease is a deficiency syndrome. It is sedentation with malnutrition.“

http://journal.crossfit.com/2016/08/fitness-luck-and-health.tpl

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Erik Ander
March 28th, 2020 at 8:54 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

This is a really interesting and helpful way to understand the current outbreak and also to categorize causes of disease/death. Thank you for posting this! While I think it is important to emphasize that there is always a choice (willful), I wonder if we should also acknowledge that people are differentially subjected to environmental (geographic and physical) and socioeconomic circumstances that can make it much harder to attain the goals of health we promote. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should push for agency and people taking control of their fitness and diet (for a number of reasons including just to lower the amount of chronic disease). It’s not to make excuses, and this is not a personal qualm, I just think we should be mindful of it while pushing people to be their healthiest, best versions.

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Robert Semmens
March 28th, 2020 at 6:58 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Interesting presentation and quite convicting. I was confused though about where the bucket for cancer was. I did not see it on the list. Did I just miss it? I do not imagine it makes much difference on the point Glassman is making.

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Erik Ander
March 28th, 2020 at 8:39 pm

Cancer likely falls into a mix, though a heavy contribution would be genetic mutations (which can be acquired or in part present at birth).

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Joe Westerlin
March 28th, 2020 at 8:40 pm

Robert,


That’s actually a great question. Cancer is an interesting one. First of all, the list under each bucket is not comprehensive. Second, Greg would acknowledge that cancer would have representation in more than one bucket, but we do know that many types of cancer are heavily associated and/or caused by lifestyle. That said, there are certainly strong genetic, toxic, and microbial connections to various cancers as well.


update:

Robert,


I chatted with Greg about your question, and my response and wanted me to share this list of chronic conditions with you extracted from the following publication:

Next, physical activity/exercise is examined as primary prevention against 35 chronic conditions [Accelerated biological aging/premature death, low cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max), sarcopenia, metabolic syndrome, obesity, insulin resistance, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, hypertension, stroke, congestive heart failure, endothelial dysfunction, arterial dyslipidemia, hemostasis, deep vein thrombosis, cognitive dysfunction, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, balance, bone fracture/falls, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, polycystic ovary syndrome, erectile dysfunction, pain, diverticulitis, constipation, and gallbladder diseases].

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/


Finally Robert,

I’m tagging another link here for your interest, this one from WHO. You’ll see the natural spread of suggestions across ‘buckets’. Have a great day sir.

https://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/

(edited)
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Mothilal Jayathilake
March 28th, 2020 at 6:36 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Great information Thank you very much

I will share it

Mothilal

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Pat Sherwood
March 28th, 2020 at 4:22 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

This has been a concise and powerful piece of content for me to share with family and friends in need of this message.

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Tina Degiorgio
March 29th, 2020 at 7:34 pm

You got that right!!! I hope all is well with you and your family and I see you at the games one day!

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Emily Jenkins
March 28th, 2020 at 2:56 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Thank you Coach Glassman, sharing now with family and friends.

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Grant Shymske
March 28th, 2020 at 2:18 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

profound as always and to the point. Thank you for this!

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Mike Andridge
March 28th, 2020 at 2:15 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Thank you Coach!

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Joe Westerlin
March 28th, 2020 at 12:43 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Heartbreakingly, in so many cases, the mortality from this virus has been about as microbic as the hip fracture is kinetic to the same patient demographic.

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Tim Aanerud
March 28th, 2020 at 12:29 pm
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

This is great, thanks coach!

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Sean Hastings
March 28th, 2020 at 11:30 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Well said, thank you for posting. As an affiliate I really appreciate and will share. My affiliate has been closed although we are doing virtual WODs and our members are better suited than the general public to handle this and other microbial/viral infections. Conversely, liquor stores and ice cream shops remain open, deemed “essential”, by my state and local officials. We have a long way to go so please keep cranking out this type of knowledge.

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Emily Jenkins
March 28th, 2020 at 2:54 pm

Hey Sean, I'm curious where you are. I feel the same way. I'm in Spain where individuals are allowed to go to the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, tobacco shops, and walk their dogs, but children are not allowed to leave the home, and in many cases, apartment.

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Jesse Ward
March 28th, 2020 at 2:33 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

I think this falls squarely under our charter to “train for the unknown and unknowable.” We don’t know something like this is coming, and getting truly fit is the best and only defense against some unknown agent of demise. Regardless of which bucket it comes from. Falls, COVID, PKD, dodging a snake bite, you name it! Escape the “Quarantine 15” and get to work family!

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Dennis Lehtinen
March 28th, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Well said Jesse!

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Mary Dan Eades
March 28th, 2020 at 2:04 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

What a clear and concise explanation -- easy to visualize and spot on. I would add one thing to the 'Toxic' bucket, as it may clearly impact the risk of death from SARS-cov2 at all ages: smoking. My understanding of the connection is at best sketchy so far, but there are some reports that the virus has an affinity for the ACEII receptor. And because smoking is said to upregulate the ACEII receptor density throughout the airways and lungs, this uptick may be what puts smokers (or perhaps former heavy smokers -- we don't have that data really yet) at higher risk for the bilateral interstitial pneumonia that presages a worse outcome. Rare is the 80-something individual (in the US and worldwide) who didn't smoke. In Italy, many of the very elderly still do. With smoking you add another connection among the 'toxic, the 'microbic' and the 'chronic' especially important in the case of covid-19. If young people who currently smoke needed another compelling reason to quit (before they destroy their arteries, brains, and lungs over time) this is it!

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Ray Watford
March 28th, 2020 at 6:01 pm

ma’am I read your book way back when. The book saved my life. Thank you

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Tyler Hass
March 28th, 2020 at 1:44 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

This is a compelling way to look at the disease landscape and very timely as well. Right now, the big bucket has sprung a leak and is spilling into the microbic bucket. The general level of poor health in our population provides a lot of soft targets for a novel virus. As a result, we have a global shutdown.

I hope this is a wake-up call that we can't put blind faith in the government to save us. Your health is the accumulation of all of the good and bad choices you make in life. It's time for everyone to make better lifestyle choices and help their friends and family do the same.

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Nathan Jenkins
March 28th, 2020 at 1:39 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Well. I will no longer be using the term "lifestyle" to describe chronic disease and its precipitating factors. First time I've heard that perspective and I fully agree that "lifestyle" is a misnomer. It's a problem of willful decisions.


This short talk is so important because it highlights what's missing from the general dialogue on SARS-Cov-2: comparative data on hospitalization and death from causes within each of these 'ic' buckets, as a function of age and disease status. Of course there are a lot of deaths from Covid-19... the aging population is greater in number than at any point in human history, and a significant proportion of older adults are afflicted with chronic disease.


Are we confined in our homes, kept out of our gyms, and keeping 6 ft of safe space from each other only because we're paying more attention than usual to this new microbic cause of disease and death? I haven't been able to understand why emotional reactions and virtue signaling have precluded honest intellectual discourse on this question. It's just a question and it needs to be discussed.


Thanks Greg for the most intellectually stimulating 7 minutes I've experienced since I've been confined to my home in government-mandated quarantine.


And oh, by the way, I can still wash my car at the local car wash but I can't workout at my affiliate. Essential businesses and all.

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Stephen Luther
March 28th, 2020 at 1:23 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

Well said. Thank you for your straight forward message.

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Chris Sinagoga
March 28th, 2020 at 1:12 am
Commented on: Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

I am trying pretty hard to shut myself out from any outlets that report on this thing. The police officers and nurses and health officials I've talked to all want us getting outside and exercising, just more spaced apart than usual. Still, sometimes I get caught too much in the spiral of the bad stuff that's come up.


I really appreciate this video and any more you have in the future will be really welcome for a lot of people, myself included. Thank you!

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Jay McCormick
March 30th, 2020 at 2:29 pm

Uh, no they don't. Until we have test-and-trace scaled or better treatment options, "getting outside and exercising, just more spaced apart than usual" will lead to a continued exponential increase in COVID-19 cases and the resulting surge in hospitalizations that we lack capacity for. That will directly impact first responders and healthcare workers, both by requiring tremendous effort to address the surge (longer shifts, fewer off days) and by imperiling them (by exposing them to the virus). See, e.g., almost every country that has yet to contain this virus.

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Christina Crumpecker
April 2nd, 2020 at 2:17 pm

I was a proud CrossFit MDL1 (until last week) and have since had my certification cancelled and will no longer be associating myself or my practice with CrossFit in any way—which is most unfortunate, because I have seen (personally and professionally) the wonderful benefits of CrossFit on health. I’m one of the MDs who is in the thick of trying to manage the Covid19 pandemic, and am astonished by the gross ignorance and misinformation being propagated repeatedly on the CrossFit main site—and most of the comments from CrossFitters are frankly revolting, demonstrating absolutely no care or interest in anyone’s health (or “rights”) but their own.


Coach Glassman’s recent video lecture certainly make great points about “co-morbid conditions” which will be most interesting fodder for thought, and would be great to discuss and consider when evaluating long-term mitigation strategies for viral contagion—say, 6-12 months from now. Reading all these folks talking about how they think that affiliates should be open as “essential services” are missing one of the most basic points about community spread of contagion—so you consider your risk of developing serious illness or death from Covid19 to be quite small (because you are young, active, and make “better” choices than the rest of society)? Well, congratulations to you! That makes you more likely to be an asymptomatic Covid19 positive person. And your great immune system means you are more likely to be able to carry an extremely high viral load, making you EVEN MORE contagious—so when you then go to the grocery store, church, visit grandma, etc. YOU are one of the greatest dangers to public health out there.


But who cares, right? It’s all about you, not those folks making “bad choices” (or who have autoimmune disease requiring immunosuppressant medications, have needed kidney transplants due due massive traumatic injury, pregnant women, those undergoing chemotherapy for genetically-linked breast cancer... oh, and your parents and grandparents—because surely there are people you love who have made “bad choices”, right? And what about the members of your affiliate who started coming in 6 months ago and are working their asses off to improve their health, but at this particular moment, still have underlying conditions like diabetes, HTN, etc? Fuck them, too, right?).


I suppose the folks you have absolutely the least interest in protecting are the health care providers. None of you even mentioned the effect Covid19 patient care has on us. I’m on known major exposure #3, already. And because of an underlying condition (no, not lifestyle related), I wholly expect I will likely end up infected, may develop serious illness, and could possibly even die from Covid 19. But I took an Oath to care for every patient before me—not just the ones who are privileged to enjoy youth and good health. I don’t “get to” (nor would I “want to”!) decide whether a person “deserves” to be treated aggressively in an attempt to save their life.


And as for the “government telling us to get back on the couch and back on the carbs”? Give me a fucking break. I have been in self-isolation for more than a month (work/apartment only) in order to make sure that I am not accidentally becoming an additional “disease vector” in my community (that’s called “caring about the health of others around me, even if it inconveniences me right now”). I have completed CrossFit-style workouts at least 5 days per week, with about 10 square feet to work with, and zero equipment. It’s not that hard. I don’t understand how so many CrossFitters seem to have morphed into people who are incapable of figuring out how to exercise at all without a full set of Rogue bumper plates. That’s completely ridiculous.


You might find this hard to believe, but I am actually a libertarian as well (just like Coach Glassman), and I’m not any happier than anyone else about the amount of “government restriction” we find ourselves under now. But, if you recall, this is actually the “final straw” of a long (overly slow) rollout of “voluntary measures” to mitigate viral spread in the US. It quickly became apparent that these “voluntary measures” were not working AT ALL. So few people seemed to feel any sense of personal responsibility to help protect the most vulnerable members of society, and in fact many even flaunted the recommendations. We didn’t have much time to try to make a difference and spare lives. The only option was to “enforce” the measures so few were willing to take upon themselves as a matter of “social contract.” Frankly, I think it’s pretty pathetic that we seem to have so little care for each other that we couldn’t even tolerate some very minor daily adjustments to our routines, performed on the “honor system.” It’s also very intriguing that most blame the “government” (or doctors, for that matter) for the economic devastation caused, particularly to small businesses, by the “lock down” we are currently all suffering. I have heard VERY few people acknowledge that this preventable disaster came about because WE FAILED EACH OTHER AS HUMAN BEINGS. And because of that, we are all “grounded.” It’s no one’s fault but our own.


Also notably absent from any of these articles or discussions on the CrossFit main site are ANY mention of the complicating factors of Social Determinants of Health or the increasing evidence surrounding the potential effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences on the development of neurohormonal pathways—and how many biologic processes (especially insulin resistance) may be tremendously, perhaps permanently damaged by these factors. There is still so much to learn here, and though I am all for taking responsibility for one’s personal health and having the agency to feel one can (and should) do so, to completely ignore that poverty, childhood sexual abuse and violence, food insecurity, lack of transportation, etc etc are contributing factors to where we find ourselves on the “sickness/ wellness/ fitness” continuum is some of the most “privileged” crap I’ve ever heard in my life.


Sounds like most of you feel like, if your father with HTN and diabetes comes into my hospital with serious illness from Covid19, you’d be completely fine with me just going ahead and filling out his death certificate and stapling it to his shirt. No reason to spend any resources, time, or risk to myself trying to save him, since he basically brought this on himself. Probably had less than a year to live any way, so no reason to even struggle to find him a bed. Better to just to prop him in a waiting room chair and let him drown in his own lung fluid there, toss his body in a refrigerated truck, and move on, right? After all, what value did he really have at that point? Why would he deserve my precious time and our limited resources? Have any of you thought about that scenario for even one second—or do you truly not know/love/value anyone with “comorbidities”? I hardly know whether to be ashamed of you or feel sorry for you.


Oh, and one more thing that’s come up on the CrossFit main site recently (in spite of a ton of outspoken concern from many CrossFit MDs), like every doctor I know, I’d give anything to have “more data” to work with right now. But welcome to war—we work with what we have, when we have it, and we adapt as we go, because that is all we can do. There isn’t time to wait for “more data.” For example, we certainly don’t have enough information to “prove” anything about this right now—certainly could be a fluke—but in my area, as well as a few others in the US—40% of the patients hospitalized with serious illness from Covid19 are 20-45 years old, with no known pre-existing conditions. They also have often presented with a very different type of specific initial complaint than expected, and a very “unusual” course of illness, both in trajectory and speed. All we can do right now is make note of that and consider these new possibilities when similar patients arrive.


In all circumstances, I always try to get to know my patients as “people” (because sometimes that’s all I have to give, and I feel I owe them to at least acknowledge their humanity). Often, I am having to learn from their families, because the patient is unable to talk. Bet you’ll never guess what a couple of these young folks do for exercise...


I have made many, many comments on both the CrossFit main site articles as well as on the CrossFit Physicians private FB group, asking over and over if CrossFit would consider publishing point/ counterpoint information regarding the Covid19 pandemic, or at the very least attempt to stay even somewhat current on this constantly, rapidly evolving pandemic—but every single one of my requests have either not even been read, or have been blatantly ignored without even any acknowledgement someone looked at them and decided they weren’t interested in my perspective. CrossFit does not seem interested in doing anything at this point except pushing a very specific agenda—including deliberating overlooking any new, emerging evidence that does not for their narrative—pretty ironic, as this is exactly what CrossFit has (very correctly) taken the medical/scientific communities to task on over the years. So now we have just one more large corporation trying to advance its own financial interests and agenda, even if it is at the expense of people’s lives and health. Congratulations on joining the ranks of one more very suspect institution which cannot be relied upon to provide “facts” and “evidence” but rather just seeks to inflate its own power.


I have removed “CrossFit MDL1” from any of my identifying medical information, requested that I have my name and any other identifiers immediately removed from any lists, websites, etc, that associate me with CrossFit, and will no longer be discussing CrossFit by name with any patients. This is so very disappointing to me, because I thought the MDL1 training was very valuable and gave me many great strategies to use when talking to patients about sickness, wellness, and fitness (and, actually, it has always been my goal to get my patients off as many meds as possible via “lifestyle modification” and I am quite good at it—long before CrossFit apparently invented the idea). I had been very hopeful that developing a relationship between CrossFit and MDs would be a great step towards improving personal and population health—but now I see it was simply a very strategic “marketing tool”, collecting a “roster” of MDs to lend legitimacy to any and all material CrossFit has decided to decided to publish as “true”—even in the face of substantial, well-vetted evidence to the contrary. Input from extremely well-educated, experienced MDs (who clearly are CrossFitters and are already “on board” with the general philosophy) is routinely rejected or ignored...yet our names are attached to even the worst, most biased, incorrect garbage published by CrossFit, which is now being created at quite a clip, during a national public health emergency in which there is not one single reputable source who will claim full understanding of what has and will happen. Unfortunately, that information will only be available to us in retrospect, with thorough study from many disciplines, approaches with a sense of curiosity and humility. CrossFit has been making claims of “fact” on its main site that certainly may prove to be accurate—but presenting speculation with an air of authority bordering on arrogance is grossly irresponsible. Including a list of “CrossFit MDs” on the same webpage implicitly attaches us and our professional reputations to this nonsense (which, given the rate information is accruing during this fast-moving pandemic, is actually outdated by the time it is posted anyway).


I won’t presume to speak for any other CrossFit MDs, but I’m not for sale, not to you any more than to anyone else. I took the Hippocratic Oath, and I meant every word of it. I value my ethical practice, personal integrity, and professional trustworthiness far more than any “CrossFit MD” certificate. And I value the lives of ALL patients who come into my care and do everything I can for them, without judgment for how “bad” or “good” their decision making was prior.


I sincerely hope that you and yours are able to remain healthy, for now and years to come. I wish ill on no one. However, I choose not to associate with those who seem to few that their lives and health and freedom are much more important than anyone else’s. Unfortunately, I will be canceling my affiliate membership as soon as our current economic crisis has turned the corner—holding off for the moment, because I very much value the small businesses in my community who are facing a great deal of struggle right now, and I would not do anything to harm them during a time of such uncertainty. Knowing that I will be leaving the CrossFit members I know and respect so much is terribly sad, as it has been a wonderful 6 years together. But if the comments posted here are at all representative of the CrossFit community at large—this isn’t my community at all). I’m sure I will be able to find a more-like minded group to workout with.


Now, my brief break is over, and I have to head back into the hospital, which is busting at the seems. I have no idea how many consecutive hours I have ahead of me in today’s battle, and the minimal protective gear we have limits our ability to drink water or eat anything. I’ll probably have to choose between a home WOD or getting adequate sleep tonight. It’s very worrisome as to how I will maintain my own immune system under this kind of deprivation and stress, and I know that I am, at that this point, probably more vulnerable to serious illness and death from Covid19 than many of the patients coming in with many comorbidities.


But, hey, that’s still a result of own my poor choices anyway, right? I’m the one who was dumb enough to spend 10 years of my life training to become a doctor.


Oh, sorry, I forgot...the CrossFit term for what I am is a “babysitter.”

(edited)
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Tyler Hass
April 3rd, 2020 at 1:55 am

Christina,

You sound like a wonderful doctor and I hope you stay safe as you continue to fight in this war. I'm sorry to see you leave the community, but I hope you continue to share fitness with your patients as you have been doing in the past.

I can't speak for anyone but myself, but the CrossFit community (as I know it) cares very much about the sick and underserved. Many are disappointed that the quarantine places them on the sidelines. During this period of time when many are unable to train their clients, they are more eager than ever to change people's lives for the better. There's never been a greater purpose to what a CrossFit trainer does than right now!

On top of the eagerness to get back out there, many are anxious about losing their source of income or their business. It's a tough mix of emotions.

You're attributing a lot of negative intentions to what has been posted. I don't think the motive behind any of the content posted thus far has been due to greed. And I certainly don't think anyone at HQ is vilifying people for succumbing to an illness, even if it is in part lifestyle-related. As you mentioned, lifestyle is more than just the choices you make, but includes the environment you grew up in and the experiences that shaped you. Health and strength is the greatest privilege one can have. The CrossFit community is not an exclusive club for elites. It's broad and inclusive, and more devoted than anyone else to sharing our privilege with others. The MDL1 and physician's network is a logical extension of this devotion. I'm incredibly excited to see the fruits of the relationship between CrossFit and its community of doctors.

Many of us wish we could be making the impact you are. Good luck and stay safe.

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