Mike Giardina sits down with Jason Welch at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games. Welch is a nurse anesthetist, a member of the CrossFit Games medical staff, a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, and an affiliate owner — CrossFit Cadre in Hudson, Ohio.
While wearing multiple hats in the CrossFit community — healthcare professional (HCP), affiliate owner, and coach — Welch has done quite a bit to bridge the gap between fitness and healthcare. One of these is running the Winter Classic — a CrossFit-associated event in Cleveland, Ohio, in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic and Rogue Fitness. It is a community event that showcases high-caliber athletes while also including the everyday athlete. The event also provides “Chalk Talks,” in which HCPs from the Cleveland Clinic and other functional medicine HCP’s lead discussions about living a healthy lifestyle.
When asked how Welch bridges the gap between fitness and healthcare as a coach, he explains how “walking the walk” is a very powerful approach. People like to ask him questions about how to live healthier, which can open the door to discussions about CrossFit and nutrition, he says, which hopefully gets them into the affiliate. Education plus experience is a powerful combination for behavior change.
HCPs can also provide value to affiliates, he adds, by educating affiliate members about the importance of healthy lifestyle practices. Coaches can be responsible for initiating the conversation about fitness and nutrition while HCPs can provide the legitimacy of the message. Also, HCPs such as physical therapists can provide services to affiliate members to keep them physically healthy and active.
If we really want to make a difference, we have to figure out ways to work together. There is no one professional that can do it all. HCPs and CrossFit coaches have to really understand their specialties and lean on each other for things that are outside of their scope. That is how we will make the biggest difference in improving community health.