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The Most Dangerous Man In American Healthcare

The most dangerous man in American health care is Greg Glassman. That’s right, the man who will make the biggest difference in making our country healthier, and thereby reducing the cost of providing health care, is a fitness trainer from Santa Cruz California. And you have no idea who he is.

That’s okay, though; you’re in good company. There are lots of really important, really influential people in American healthcare who have never heard of Greg Glassman. Donald Berwick, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services? Not a clue. Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the vaunted Cleveland clinic foundation? Nope, never heard of him. So it goes, as well, for the presidents and executive vice presidents of all the various and sundry medical “letter” organizations like the AMA, the American Association of ophthalmology, and the like. The man who might hold the key to economic healthcare salvation is not even a blip on the margins of the healthcare establishment’s radar screens.

So what’s the big deal? Why is Greg Glassman the most dangerous man in American healthcare? There are two reasons, actually. First, he is right. Glassman has identified not only the most fundamental and foundational problem with the health of Americans, but he has also discovered, defined, and implemented the solution. Americans are not fit. There is an appalling lack of physical fitness in the populace. Fat and slow, or skinny–fat and weak, we are a nation of the unfit. What Science Daily calls “frailty” in an article linking a lack of fitness to poor health outcomes (ScienceDaily.com/releases/2011/04/110426122948.htm), Glassman calls decrepitude. Skinny or fat, how healthy can you be if you can’t get yourself out of a chair without assistance?

Somewhere around 2001 Greg Glassman co–founded a fitness system which he dubbed “Crossfit”(http://www.crossfit.com). He offered  the first actionable definition of fitness ever created: work capacity across broad time and modal domains. How much stuff can you move, how far, how quickly. It’s not enough to be strong, you must also be able to travel long distances. By the same token, it’s not enough to be able to travel long distances if you are not strong enough to lift your own body. This definition led to a measurement of fitness, power output or work.

To achieve this level of fitness Crossett offers the equivalent of a prescription. Exercise should consist of “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements.” Intensity is the key. Fitness gains are not only magnified but are achieved in the most efficient manner when the exercise is performed at relatively high intensity. Functional movements include fitness standards like running, swimming and biking, but also weight training using major lifts like the deadlift, the clean, and the squat. Crossfit has returned those staples of gym classes in the 60’s, pull-ups, push-ups, and squats, to a prominence not seen since the days of Kennedy’s Presidential Council on Fitness.

Caloric intake matters; you can’t out train a bad diet or a bad lifestyle. Crossfit’s dietary prescription is quite simple: “eat meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but NOT BODY FAT.” Crossfit preaches the merits of both quantity and quality when if comes to food. Carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, protein containing all essential amino acids, AND FAT are all essential to producing physical fitness. Food should be seen as fuel and should be measured as such. Even the highest quality foods consumed in the most balanced proportions will produce increased body fat and decreased fitness if taken in too high volume

A funny thing happened on the way to revolutionizing the fitness industry. In addition to increased strength, increased endurance, and decreased body fat, which translated into a dramatically fewer inches and lower dress sizes, it seemed as if everyone who did Crossfit became healthier. Lower cholesterol. Lower resting heart rates. Decreased blood pressure. Elevated moods. It looked like a move away from decrepitude and frailty was actually a move TOWARD health. Toward WELLNESS.  A scientist at heart, Glassman digested this information and in 2008 made the following statement: fitness is a proxy for health. Indeed, Glassman declared that fitness EQUALS health. In this, Greg Glassman is right, or at least more right than not. At a minimum, fitness is the foundation upon which health is built. A healthy nation is one that need not expend countless $Billions on curing diseases that could be prevented by becoming fit. This is the first reason why he is the most dangerous man in American health care.

The second reason is that he doesn’t care.

Greg Glassman is like the little boy standing at the side of the road watching the naked emperor parade by who declares “the Emperor has no clothes!” He is standing there watching a parade of the fat and the weak and he is saying “hey look…they can’t get their butt off the throne!” It’s uncomfortable to hear someone say that, but he doesn’t care; it needs to be said. The standard dietary dogma of high carbohydrate, low-fat diets with little or no meat? A straight ticket to decrepitude! He doesn’t care that statements like that make all of the Oz’s and Pritiken’s sputter and squirm. When asked once upon a time how to gain weight for a movie role Glassman famously responded: “ easy…non–fat frozen yogurt.” It’s no different with exercise. Walking and other low-intensity exercises? Better than nothing, but only almost. Cue the howls of the Jillians and the Jakes, and every glossy, muscly, fitnessy magazine editor in the English speaking world. Glassman is right, and he doesn’t care.

Greg Glassman has looked at what is wrong with the health of Americans and he is willing to say what that is and say it out loud. He is willing to say that we as a people are unfit, and that this is the primary cause underlying our lack of health, and our accelerating need to spend money to cure disease. He is willing to say that the vast majority of the advice that we have received to fix this is flat out wrong, whether it comes from the government or the cover of Fitness Magazine. He is willing to say the the road to economic salvation in American Healthcare leads through the gym, the grocery store, and the kitchen, not to or through something as meaningless as an “Accountable Healthcare Organization” (whatever that may be). Although he is convinced that he is right he is presently spending gobs of his own money studying the effects of the Crossfit prescription on the health of regular people.

Yup, Greg Glassman is right, and he doesn’t care that all of the so–called experts in healthcare don’t know who he is yet, or that they wouldn’t agree with him if they did. Judging by what’s going on in the physical fitness world right now as Crossfit grows 30% PER MONTH, I’d say that makes Greg Glassman the most dangerous man in American healthcare.

Better learn how to spell his name.

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49 Responses to “The Most Dangerous Man In American Healthcare”

  1. May 27th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Dose of reality says:

    Anything that gets people passionate about getting up off the couch is a good thing. And CrossFit has done a world of good in that respect.

    However, what you fail to mention in the article are 1. the numerous injuries associated with the program (google “crossfit rhabdo” or “crossfit slap tear”) 2. the lack of training and accreditation of their “coaching” staff 3. the fact that this man with the answer to America’s health care problems hasn’t done a lick of exercise in decades, and is in fact legendary for his less than healthy life styles.

    An action shot of your hero: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-affiliates/CIMG5750-THMB.jpg

  2. May 27th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    Hero? I have no heroes.

    Injuries? Do you know the sport or activity that has the greatest % of injuries, the highest injury rate? Little League baseball. What you have found is the preposterous openness of the Crossfit community WRT injuries and injury prevention. Do you know what the two greatest causes of Rhabdo are? Amateur marathons and military/law-enforcement basic training, greater than Crossfit by more than an order of magnitude. I’ve done the research; I’ve been involved in developing the Crossfit rhabdo response.

    Crossfit done properly is universally scalable. Done properly some form of the “Crossfit prescription” will do more good for the American healthcare system than anything coming out of Washington.

    By more than an order of magnitude.

  3. May 27th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Chris Johnson says:

    Homie, little league baseball don’t put you in a hospital with renal failure for 6 days and a $60,000 medical bill.
    Greg Glassman the most dangerous man in American healthcare?
    Damn straight, the American healthcare system is only thing keeping his clients alive and shoulders attached to their torsos.

  4. May 27th, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    What’s the incidence of Rhabdo in CF, Chris? Especially in the unfit/poorly conditioned? You’re missing the point…forest for the trees, Brother.

  5. May 27th, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Dose of reality says:

    All due respect for publishing contrasting view points.

    The issue here is the cult of personality being built around a charlatan, and the dangerous aspects of this program when it’s put in the hands of poorly trained, uncertified and unsupervised “coaches”.

    To say there’s science behind the Glassman’s incoherent rants is wishful thinking. Where, good doctor, is the fabled 750 lb deadlift?

  6. May 28th, 2011 at 6:45 am

    darrellwhite says:

    “…contrasting viewpoints.” I’m open to a discussion of ideas; as long as folks who disagree with me or others discuss ideas, rather than the people who hold them, that’s how it oughta be, oui?

    The science of which I write is being done now. There is a team of researchers crunching ridiculous amounts of data to evaluate the issue of health as it relates to fitness and nutrition. Don’t forget that Coach Glassman is rather certain about a particular nutrition strategy and its effects on fitness and therefore health.

    I see no problem with “cults[s] of personality” when they are driving in a beneficial direction. Indeed, have we not had 2 or our last 3 Presidents elected in this manner?

    Have you spent much time in health clubs? How about the weight rooms of high school football teams? Man, I have. It’s astonishing to see not only the horrific technique which is accepted by so-called well-trained, well-certified trainers and coaches, but also the really poor teaching. Engage them in discussions about technique, form, and rationale for a particular exercise or routine and it gets even more so. The entire field is wallowing in the shallow end of the expertise pool. I’m sorry, but my experience in countless Crossfit gyms is not what you are implying, but is rather a step UP from what is now the norm. Could it be better? Of course. Always. Indeed, Crossfit coaching on average already is c/w what passes for training now.

    You know the difference between whatever science may exist (decreased serum lipids with a Zonish Paleo diet) and promotional statements (750 lb. DL) without my help.

    Thanks for engaging.

  7. May 28th, 2011 at 6:33 am

    Sarah says:

    Just like main stream society, there are idiots in CF too. Injuries happen with every sport and CF is no different. A CF athlete may push his or her body beyond its capacity for the sake of the win (wikipedia NFL athletes, college baseball players, etc.). These are the elite, the few in all of our society. Then there are people who are simply dumb about fitness. They don’t listen to their trainer. They ignore the warnings and show up to their CF gym 7 days a week, then run a marathon, or play 3 rounds of soccer on a 100 degree day. The average, below average, or intelligent CFer will NOT get rhabdo. They may get hurt every once in a while, but I’d rather break my skin on a 24″ jump than fall while getting out of the shower because I have no balance or strength to hold my body up. This is a sport that EVERYONE can do. It makes you breath, sweat, and sometimes bleed. BUT it also saves lives. Gives people a reason to live and reminds us that getting old doesn’t have to equal a life in a nursing home. Is Glassman the most dangerous man in American Healthcare? I don’t know. What I do know is his fitness model has gotten me off every Rx drug I was on. No more asthma, no more eczema, no more chronic upper respiratory infections, no more seasonal allergies. It works for me and it just might work for you if you give it a chance.

  8. May 28th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Syliva Dunn says:

    “Do you know what the two greatest causes of Rhabdo are? Amateur marathons and military/law-enforcement basic training, greater than Crossfit by more than an order of magnitude. I’ve done the research; I’ve been involved in developing the Crossfit rhabdo response.”

    Regarding injuries and specifically rhabdo, the fact that you say you’ve done the research and are willing to say “greater than Crossfit by more than an order of magnitude” implies that you might have some statistics you are willing to share? So where does CF rank among other sports with regard to rhabdo? How many incidents relative to how many participants? In fact, let’s just start with how many participants. How many people “crossfit,” and what exactly does it take to be counted as a “crossfitter?”

    Similar questions with regard to injuries in general. What is the “injury rate” in Crossfit? Does anyone have a clue?

    “Although he is convinced that he is right he is presently spending gobs of his own money studying the effects of the Crossfit prescription on the health of regular people.” He’s actually studying this? As in carefully collecting data? Is this being published anywhere? I would love to see what is being learned.

    “He is willing to say the the road to economic salvation in American Healthcare leads through the gym, the grocery store, and the kitchen, not to or through something as meaningless as an “Accountable Healthcare Organization” (whatever that may be).” First, “grocery store” should be first on that list, and it wouldn’t be inappropriate to make it the only item on that list. Physical fitness is great, but lack of gym attendance is not making a significant contribution to the poor health of Americans. You used the phrase “Zonish Paleo diet.” You know as well as I do that CFHQ is pretty much allergic to the term “Paleo.” Otherwise you’d think that term might at least make an appearance in their FAQ? They promote the Zone Diet, period. And second, you make it sound like GG is a courageous pioneer for saying all of this in 2001. Are you honestly unaware of anyone else who, in the past, has espoused diet and exercise as the means to good health? Gee, if only someone like Jack LaLanne had thought of this remarkable prescription, we’d be years ahead of where we are now!

    You should be embarrassed by your essay here, but save it in a safe place. In 10 years, the American healthcare industry will be every bit as oblivious as it is now to the name Greg Glassman.

  9. May 28th, 2011 at 9:19 am

    darrellwhite says:

    I rather doubt that I will be embarrassed by this later, Sylvia, but time will tell, eh? A quick google search of rhabdo and marathons, and rhabdo and basic training will answer some of you questions. I agree that “paleo” doesn’t appear on either the CF website or in the Level I certs, but in the Crossfit community where the “Crossfit source code” is being altered for daily use, measured paleo is very common. FWIW, I live outside Crossfit, Inc., among Crossfitters, the number of whom exist is hard to discern as you imply. Greg Glassman is, indeed, collecting data, and is indeed paying numbers wonks to evaluate it. As I said, I am not of Crossfit, Inc. so have no access to the guts of the project.

    It would be cool to see that data along the way, though.

  10. May 28th, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Justin says:

    Yes I used my real name, babies. I am certified (Yeah I put down the cash)level one, and I have a Masters Degree in Science with a health care specialization.

    I said all that to say this, Mr. Glassman has yet to put forth scientific information in the form of statistical evidence from research, he ALSO has yet to claim such. Given the method of data collection one will need a HUGE number of elements to from which to extrapolate. Mr. Glassman verbalizes a recognition of this and is working toward what could be compelling evidence to support his HYPOTHESIS.

    What Mr. Glassman has done is put forth a hypothesis around which he has invited the world to experiment. Either participate with your own experiment or shut-up. Your inferences and un-informed extrapolation is both unwelcome and very telling of your ignorance.

  11. May 28th, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Syliva Dunn says:

    “Mr. Glassman has yet to put forth scientific information in the form of statistical evidence from research, he ALSO has yet to claim such.”

    Justin, just looking for something, anything really, to substantiate what Darrell said.

    “In addition to increased strength, increased endurance, and decreased body fat, which translated into a dramatically fewer inches and lower dress sizes, it seemed as if everyone who did Crossfit became healthier. Lower cholesterol. Lower resting heart rates. Decreased blood pressure. Elevated moods. It looked like a move away from decrepitude and frailty was actually a move TOWARD health.”

    “Either participate with your own experiment or shut-up. Your inferences and un-informed extrapolation is both unwelcome and very telling of your ignorance.”


  12. May 28th, 2011 at 9:56 am

    darrellwhite says:

    Play nice, you two! I’m all for discussing ideas, even with those who disagree with me, but this is my sandbox, and we play nice here.

  13. May 28th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Jeff Kirk says:

    When the “injuries” part of their own forum is 2x as large as the success stories part of the forum, that’s very telling.

  14. May 28th, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    Perhaps telling only in so far as there is a forum to which folks can bring their injuries and questions? Or that folks generally don’t share their successes on the Forum? The “Health” part is also substantially larger than success stories, as is the “Stuff and Nonsense” section.

  15. May 28th, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Dose of reality says:

    Sarah says: “It works for me and it just might work for you if you give it a chance.”

    Good for you. Glad you enjoy it and it’s working for you.

    As for me? I am a “certfied” CF trainer, I’ve coached people in 3 different boxes and traveled to 20+ sites around the world. What I’ve seen by way of coaching is at least 50% of the time downright dangerous. For example: 50 weighted back squats for time with no instruction on form. Throwing the Zone diet at everyone who walks through the door, including 20 something women with obvious eating disorders.

    It’s a dangerous game, with absolutely ZERO science behind it.

  16. May 28th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    Douglas Adams wrote something like “jesus came along and said ‘be nice to each other’ so people nailed him to a tree.”
    With that template, Greg Glassman comes along and says “I think we can make people live better if we try a low carb diet and high intensity exercise” and people say he’s a fat charlatan when millions of people try what he suggests and find it works as advertised. Go figure.
    As for the Paleo v Zone argument, how silly can this be? The CF Rx is “eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit little starch and no sugar.” This is paleo for all intents and purposes, without the associated baggage the paleo folks get into when the get OCD on the details. The older CF vids show Nicole stating the CF assertion that “Zone Paleo” is the performance bomb. The argument that CF is ‘anti paleo’ is completely manufactured.

  17. May 28th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    You know, the comments have drifted rather far afield from the post. The thrust of the post is that Greg Glassman 1) believes that healthcare expenses are high because Americans are not fit and 2) HIS dietary and exercise prescription is the solution, one that is superior to all the drivel that now constitutes “Healthcare Reform” and 3) he is willing to say it out loud, in stark and impolitic terms, calling out all of the policy wonks and 4) he doesn’t care what they think of him. The combination makes him very dangerous to the “Healthcare” orthodoxy.

    Don’t like Crossfit? Fine. Don’t like Greg Glassman? He would certainly say ‘fine’. How about discussing the thesis of the post, that Coach Glassman is the most dangerous man in American Healthcare for the reasons stated?

    All further comments that constitute ad hominem directed at Greg Glassman will be denied (there are ample examples of that sentiment above). Comment on Crossfit? Sure, but how about the core Crossfit prescription as a more appropriate “cure” for healthcare finance run amok (eat meat, poultry, fish…practice the core lifts…constantly varied…high intensity) vs. either other nutrition/exercise programs (vegan diet w/ walking and yoga, for example) or vs. what is now touted as reform.

    Discuss the thesis.

  18. May 28th, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    Dose – be careful criticizing fitness programs for their lack of science. The science of fitness is in its infancy. The utility of science for creating fitness is, to date, nil. The poor SOBs in the fitness and even to a lesser extent in the S&C world have not even established a meaningful definition of fitness, there fore cannot measure it, and therefore have no basis for conducting anything that might even be called scientific analysis.

    If CF’s basis in science is still just conjecture, it’s arguable they are significantly ahead of anyone else in the entire field. The regard that CF holds for science is such that they started by defining their terms, and the means to measure same. And now they are spending boatloads of their own money to test their conjecture via data.

    CF has smaller data sets from tests administered by individual Navy SEALS as well as by the Canadian military and various police departments. From what I can gather from the S&C world, they have similar small data sets but conclude only that “strength” is beneficial for job performance and injury prevention. This is hopefully not the best that science can do.

    If you want to condemn based on lack of science, you will get very tired doing so. The practice of medicine’s wholesale adaptation of the anti-fat, low cholesterol series of conjectures without a single successful intervention study stands as a start accusation.

    There’s a sad truth about the human animal and science. Good science is nearly impossible as regards diet and health of humans and for several reasons. That’s not to say it isn’t important to sort out how to do good science on human health/diet, but because so little has been done to date, there’s a lot of room for argument based on nothing more than strongly held opinion.

  19. May 28th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    Dose or anyone else – what relevance does GG’s lifestyle have to the assertions he makes wrt health and wellness?
    I think that line of thinking is a distraction.
    By this logic, fat doctors/nurses/nutritionists can’t give nutritional advice.
    Rhetorically, Are the only folks qualified to comment on health and wellness people as skinny and apparently fit as billy blanks and denise austin?
    If a half million people (or whatever the huge number is) become fit using the CF Rx, it suggests the methodology is sound regardless of who organized and broadcast it.

  20. May 28th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Dose of reality says:

    Fair enough: it is your sandbox after all.

    Most dangerous man in health care? What makes him DANGEROUS? That he’s telling people to get off their fat asses? That is sage advice (that he can’t seem to take-WHOOPS-just couldn’t help myself there…) Experts have been saying long before he arrived on the scene.

    I just don’t get the “dangerous” part of your argument.

    Anyway, I’ll leave you alone now. Best wishes going forward.

  21. May 28th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    No reason to leave me alone, Dose! Your presence and intelligent discourse are welcomed here.

    Dangerous to the orthodoxy of present healthcare, and specifically to healthcare reform. If people look to the side of the equation that Greg Glassman addresses, rather than simply at the “how much it costs” side, my premise is that the policy wonks lose their imprimatur, their legitimacy. He is “dangerous” because he won’t sugar coat his opinions, and cares not a whit what folks think of him because of those opinions. Kind of like that Hollywood exec (her name escapes me at the moment) who offered that the “perfect job is one you don’t need, because then it’s OK to do the right thing”, or something like that.

    Thanks again for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  22. May 28th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    jmfs says:

    Been crossfitting for 2 years with no injuries whatsoever. Leaner and stronger! Seen rhabdo once in our gym and that was because the person decided to run a 5k after their first cf workout. They had been a collegiate level runner so they thought they were invincible.

  23. May 28th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    Syliva suggests that the measure of GG’s success is the recognition he might garner in the next ten years for his conjectures about how to optimize health and fitness.
    I disagree. The measure of GG’s success will have less to do with him per se and more to do with how fully infiltrated the ‘gestalt’ of the H&F world becomes with ideas like defining fitness, and evaluating dietary choices based on measured outcomes vice strongly held expert opinion.
    I think perhaps another element would be a more widely held recognition that heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, many cancers, and the Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s/ALS spectrum of the “Diseases of the West” are manifestations of the same causative agents, vice a discrete set of afflictions which need discreet treatments based on medical interventions.
    Further, the measurement of medical success would shift. Right now, a person treated via medicine for years for high blood pressure is considered a medical success (we’ll call this patient “Mr. BP”). That’s a statistical view of ‘health.’ Treat enough people w medication to lower their BP, and we think many will in fact live longer. Formula: symptoms of illness, treat symptom, and outcome is measured as a statistical success via medical intervention.
    But how well did that intervention improve the patient’s life? Did it make the patient live longer, or qualitatively better? What was the life time cost to Mr. BP’s fellow citizens of living on BP meds? If the health care of the future must be based on coercively extracting payment for treatment from citizens, which apparently it must be, we’ll need to do better than this for patients and the rest of us being impoverished for the noble purpose of providing ‘health care.’ End of part 1

  24. May 28th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    Part 2: There’s an argument that all GG is suggesting is that people eat right and exercise. What’s qualitatively different is that he’s also suggesting a methodology that works better than the existing RX for both “eating right” and “exercising”. Further, he’s providing the first basis for measurement of the RX’s success.
    What do I mean by “works better”? First, an anecdote. GG’s in a globo gym and has 50 clients there on a Sunday morning, and there’s only a trickle of folks there who are not his clients. Why? Because the methodology provides a greater ROI – more fitness for the same or less time than the other gym goers get. There are other explanations – “Perhaps GG is some Rasputin like figure who charms people into coming to the gym where they suffer mightily and only believe they are getting results?” But that same model – more people paying more in pain and money to get their butts to a gym more often – is being repeated in approximately 3000 affiliates where day in and day out, there’s no GG. I’m suggesting that CF results make people more likely to come back for more training way beyond the February threshold which marks the end of the average person’s NY resolution to get a globo gym membership and get fit. Conjecture: fitness programs that produce more fitness will result in participants who sustain their participation than will ‘fitness’ programs that don’t produce fitness.
    This is part of why all the years of advice to “eat right and exercise” has not arrested the growth in numbers of feeble, fat people. The prescribed exercise is the kind which does not have impact.
    Now we go back to Mr. BP. Let’s hope that before Mr. BP was put on meds, we was at least advised to eat right and exercise. If he did was directed, he ate a low salt, low fat/high carb diet and found it was hard to stick to and if he did, it left him hungry and frustrated. He found the prescribed exercise boring, it had no visible impact after a couple of weeks, and it took a relatively long time to execute. When next he returns to the doc, the doc says to himself “won’t stick to the diet and exercise routine, better give him the meds.”

  25. May 28th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    What the GG RX suggests is the rate of successful “diet and exercise intervention” would improve dramatically if it was an intervention that ‘worked’ for more people.
    GG’s “brilliant insight” isn’t different than a thousand other people’s insight that the existing advice for diet and exercise is not scientific and more, IT DOESN’T WORK FOR MOST PEOPLE. What is different is that because he figured out how to administer his RX via the web and 3000 affiliates, people are out there figuring out what does work.
    Additionally, let’s compare Mr. BP in the notional new model GG conceived. Mr. BP gets a symptom of disease, high BP, and is directed to try the CF RX. His BP goes down, and his ability to use his body improves. His cost to the medical system ends because he is no longer suffering from disease. If his work capacity were plotted over his lifetime, it would show that his area under the curve is much, much higher than it would have been had he simply been on BP meds. Need I argue that his life would be of significantly greater quality in case 2 (cure the disease) than in case 1?
    Who would win in case 2? Mr. BP and his family, as well as whomever would have to bear his costs for ‘health care.’
    Who would lose? Anyone who’s livelihood depends or Mr. BP being sick for most of his life: those who make BP meds, statins, diabetes meds, assisted living providers, governmental health care pimps …. In short, any of the many folks who are now enriched by siphoning off of the trillions of dollars flowing through the current health care system keeping sick people alive for many, many years (please do not infer that I’m asserting any of the folks working to keep sick people alive have nefarious motives – my contempt is for the underlying system not those who embrace their role of caring for human beings within the insane system).
    I assume this is what the good doctor who hosts this discussion means by ‘dangerous.’
    And I thank you Doctor White for the sandbox and the interaction which has been EXTREMELY useful in helping my crystalize my thoughts on the matter.

  26. May 28th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Apolloswabbie says:

    Within the thread above is a gold mine of concepts which would outline a reasonable discussion of injury/risk/reward/cost.
    It will not surprise you if I agree w GG on this topic. Health and fitness training – or core strength and conditioning training for competitive athletes or war fighters or first responders – can only be rationally discussed in terms of injury if three factors are considered:
    1 – what is the desired adaptation
    2 – how long does the RX take to accomplish the desired adaptation
    3 – what is the all cause injury rate from the RX

    In the case of health and fitness training, the additional factor to consider is what is the risk of not training. IOW, we all know that keeping dollars in your mattress reduces your exposure to market volatility, but subjects you to the risk of theft and of fire and of inflation. There is no real risk free option, you must ‘name your poison.’

    If you want to throw a CFer with a $60,000 bill for renal failure in the discussion, how about the 8 or so marathoners that die annually when racing, apart from those who die from their resulting heart disease, or die in wrecks driving to their marathon events, or are killed by cars while training? We should also definitely consider the 12 or so folks killed each year when crushed during a bench press attempt. Cycling – killed while training by automobiles, for starters. Swimming/triathloning – add drowning to the discussion. And these are training and competitive modalities – if you consider also basketball, baseball, ultimate Frisbee, flag ball, football, gymnastics, MMA, traditional martial arts training, skiing, water skiing … whoa, baby, now we’re really getting into some interesting injury risk/reward discussions.

    And while we’re talking “injury”, we must define the term. Is a sprained ankle equivalent to tendonitis? Is a fracture equivalent to minor rhabdo (very common but 99% undiagnosed)? What if my back hurts, but I can still outperform 99% of those who don’t do CF? Obviously all injuries are not equivalent, therefore if there’s to be more than strongly held opinion, a means must be devised by which injury can be quantified – I suggest “lost work days” or perhaps “total cost of the injury” as possible means.

    Lastly – training injury must be balanced against all cause injury because an effective training program by definition must reduce your chance of injury outside of the gym. It’s arguable that the common current RX for ‘fitness training’ increases risk of non-training injury due to the segmented, non-functional aspects of machine based training. What’s the risk of doing hundreds of pounds on a sled leg press, making you think you are strong but giving you no skill in how to apply the strength, when you get into the real world and must drag a wounded buddy into a humvee?

  27. May 28th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    KLK says:

    It is so interesting to me to see how so many people are affraid of CrossFit and have to bash it to rationalize their fear. Injuries in CrossFit? Sure, it’s possible I could get injured in a CrossFit workout. We have had a few in our box but how many injuries have I prevented in myself outside of CrossFit because of the new strength, flexibility, balance, etc. that I have gained? I am 47 years old and am way more likely to get hurt when I’m chasing my kids down a mountain on my snowboard, or mountain bike, or during one of the many other sports I am doing and loving at my age rather than sitting on the couch like my father did. Before CrossFit I was dealing with way more injuries and was seriously beginning to think it was time to slow down and accept my age. CrossFit plain and simply allows me to live a fuller and richer life and I will thank Coach Glassman for that for the rest of my life.

  28. May 30th, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    philsarris says:

    Apollo Swabie you nailed it!
    I agree GG is the most dangerous man because of the efficacy of the CF methods. I am compelled to argue that the results yielded over time will eventually uncover the fraud of: The Drug Lobby, AMA and ACA.
    I certainly would like to see that happen in my life time, doing my part by harnessing accurate training and diet information that validates said theories.

    Thank you Darryl White for your article. Keep banging the drum.

  29. May 31st, 2011 at 9:50 am

    also justin says:

    There are people who get it, and people who don’t. CrossFit changes people’s lives. Plain and simple. Is it the best path to fitness? Maybe not, but do you know of anything better? Something with measurable, repeatable results? I doubt you do. Do people get hurt? Sure they do, but people hurt themselves doing yard work (usually picking things up improperly). Do people get rhabdo doing CrossFit? Yes they do, but it is not common. I’ve been to 2 different CrossFit gyms over the course of 3 1/2 years and I only know one person who has ever had rhabdo – and by their own admission it was their own stupidity in training. Not the gym’s fault.

    Usually people who hate CrossFit are wannabe endurance “athletes” and I use the term athlete loosely (hence the sarcastic quotation marks). Recreational joggers is a more appropriate term. Skinny, fat, weak…but they can jog 10 miles!

  30. June 1st, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Jake says:

    I love the post, but I hate the title. I guess that means it’s a good title.

    I could see this article making the point that he is the most dangerous to the status quo, or dangerous to established wisdom or something along those lines because what GG advocates and what has made a difference for me is so contrary to what is recommended, but CF works.

    I want to jump into the safe/unsafe debate but am having trouble formulating my thoughts any better than Apollo did, I just thought of some more examples.

    It seems like a lot of the CF Haters come from bodybuilding, NSCA and powerlifting circles. Yet you look at a lot of their programming and it is migrating toward CF-style workout. Dave Tate’s gym uses a prowler, high-rep heavy squats, group workouts to push the participants, etc. According to articles on T-nation, vomiting from overexertion is common. Yet they hate CF.

    The most dangerous thing in CF is pride. You have to have the guts and smarts to say, “I am not capable of doing that yet.” Like any endeavor, overestimating your abilities can cause permanent damage. It’s just like a firearm: the only safety worth a damn is the one between your ears.

  31. June 1st, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    “Dangerous” was exactly as you noted, Jake.

  32. June 1st, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    DaveC says:

    All I can add is like a previous commentor, in 6 months of Crossfit I am off of a list of Rx medications and every measure of medical health that has been tracked by my physician has moved from either pathological or marginally acceptable to beyond healthy towards optimal. She is delighted with what she’s seen. I have had no injuries, and have had several nagging aches/pains in my hips and shoulders clear up (I’m 47, btw). There have been a couple of injuries at the affiliate where I train, but nothing major (turned ankles, pulled/torn muscles, all among the more fit and competitive athletes). The trainers are attentive and keep people from overextending themselves by holding them back from difficult/heavy movements until they have the skill and conditioning to undertake them safety. I have seen nothing remotely close to what the many critics claim, and have seen first hand almost all of the efficacy Glassman claims. And I am only one of many at my affiliate that have experienced immense positive changes.

    Just my $0.02

  33. June 2nd, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Ejd5050 says:

    There are a myriad of factors researchers must consider when scientifically quantifying fitness programs. I am sure a few decades from now there will be solid evidence supporting what various high-intensity programs (e.g. CF) have espoused, but do we really need numbers to make the healthy decision to commit to a program? Have all of our major lifestyle decisions been relegated to one massive cost/benefit analysis? I don’t need numbers quantifying CF’s power to realize what it would mean to me to teach my daughter how to surf instead of paying for her lesson–and I firmly believe scalable cross training like GG’s CF is the best way to get there.

    We may have changed quite a lot about our world since we evolved, but our basic physical make-up is the same. Homo sapiens fully realized existence under conditions that required them to develop incredible work capacity or be eaten by lions. The person you are today originates from a caveman and woman who developed fitness levels that enabled them to survive in extremely harsh environments. It was a lifestyle that required intervals of high intensity running, swimming, jumping, and lifting. How quickly the modern fitness hegemony and institutions forget their roots…

    Some of us 21st century folk have jobs that require similar levels of holistic fitness (e.g. Armed Forces, First Responders). Instead of asking for hard numbers on why scalable cross training is better ask yourself why you would shirk a program that so many men and women who are preparing to risk their lives in a hostile, unpredictable environment have embraced.

    The real issues you will encounter in your life are going to blindside you during an idle afternoon. I hate to be dramatic, but you and your families survival may depend on your level of fitness and work capacity is the most basic metric we have for measuring it. Scalable cross-training programs like GG’s CF develop this in a practical and efficient manner. All of the elements of fitness are tested during any given week of CF Rx programming.

    I won’t burden the healthcare system, but I never thought to congratulate myself for it. I know how it makes me feel to miss a WoD, and that is enough to get me moving. For many of us, survival (by pill or otherwise) isn’t enough–we want to live and die young as old as possible.

  34. June 3rd, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    G8rRanger says:

    I have been a CF-er in an affiliate for 12 months, dabbled in CF routines from the Brand X site that I did in my company’s on-site gym. I am 51, ex-military, with a shoulder wrecked by lousy lifting in college and the Army, arthritis and bad knees from a lifetime spent running wrong. I am also the manager of Employee Benefits for a large, nation-wide retailer (Top 10 Forbes 500 Privately Held Companies.) My CFT is currently 630, which would tell any CF trainer I am a novice, and I’d say after 12 months of 3Xweek WODs, and given the great progress I have made, “Novice” is an accurate moniker. I have a VERY long way to go.

    My company subsidizes membership in the CF gym, along with other options in town. I spend more on the CF membership than all other memberships combined. I do so because of the amazing results that are produced by the CF regimen. CF calls for strict accountability between the member and his/her fellow-members. It tracks progress. It focuses not on relatively meaningless numbers like “pounds lost”, and focuses on better indicators of health, like “strength gained”, or waits sizes reduced, etc. I may pay less for an employee who joins the local YMCA, but I have NO IDEA what health outcome is produced within the walls of that gym. I KNOW the results I see produced by the CF members. I see the difference in their health care costs to myself-insured company, as well as the influence they have on spouses, as the member’s own health and capability improve.

    Injuries in our gym are virtually non-existent. Many gyms may “celebrate” the base events like “who puked today”, etc.. In my opinion, this is a sign of a bad CF gym. It’s the trainers job to produce progress from members. Working someone to vomit is an indicator the trainer asked the person to do more than they should have. Or the person ignored advice and ate too soon before the WOD. We have virtually NO vomits in our gym. Does our gym produce results, then, without the “extreme” edginess so many media members want top focus on when they consider CF? We are the only gym in our area sending both a full team and a few individuals to the CF Regional games in 2 weeks, so if objective criteria of measurable results is the proof, we have it.

    My wife would say she can tell you the effectiveness by looking at me in my boxers. And she likes what she sees. Her measurements are based on where I was in June 2010. My waist is down 3” since then to what it was in college in 1982. My weight? Hard to say. I was around 195# in June 2010. In December I was 180#, and the only reason I weighed was so I could lift an accurate bodyweight for WODs that call for that. I’m probably 175-178# now but who cares. Blood work/lipid panel 2 months ago was stellar, in fact, some ratios unable to be determined because my “good cholesterol” was so high, the machine couldn’t register it, ergo no accurate ratios. My wrecked shoulder? Completely functional again and my bench press is now 25# over my bodyweight with none of the pain that used to accompany that movement. My 5K time is sub-26 minutes, good enough for #6 in my age group in a recent 5K. And I did no training in preparation for the race. Just showed up and ran. In 5-Finger shoes, BTW. Which have allowed me to run again without the accompanying knee/hip pain. CF also brought me into awareness of that running style, too. I can jump off the floor to the top of a 37” box. I could not do that at age 22 on the day I began Army Ranger training, which used to be the standard I said was the best shape of my life.

    There are many ways to explore the realms of “physical fitness”. I do not begrudge body builders, marathoners, etc., what they do. I am amazed when they narrow-mindedly reject the results I have seen in myself, in my co-workers, and in many others at my gym.

  35. June 3rd, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    Hey Dave, GREAT post. Do you mind if I send it on to Coach? Thanks for dropping by.

  36. June 6th, 2011 at 9:14 am

    G8rRanger says:

    Darrell…send it on PLEASE! I have a passion for people in my age category discovering the capability they thought they could never have again. But it has a few typos. Communicate to my e-mail so I can send back a corrected copy.

    BTW, my wife finished her Fundamentals class at our box on Saturday and has her first real WOD today. She has gone from a rock-ribbed skeptic ro a true-believer in the last 12 months.

  37. June 6th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Broken neck says:

    I broke my neck July 2010…Started CF in November 2010…lvl 1 trainer in March 2011…ADDICTED to RESULTS! I played collegiate football and rugby and 80% of the CF workouts are more difficult than anything I experienced in either. from 235 lbs to 205. 38 waist to 32. 29% bf to 13. Resting HR 75 to 53. I found my body urning for good clean food (paleo) to not only increase overall feeling of well-being..but performance! I found what I see to be true fitness through CF because there is NOT ONE aspect of exercise that CF leaves out..AND..it promotes clean eating. I’m not aware of any fitness regiment that has EVERYTHING in it’s plan.

    Also, performing combined Anaerobic movements consecutively DOES increase aerobic capacity as well as power, strength, etc. but aerobic training DOES NOT increase power,strengeth, etc; which is vital to many of lifes unexpected tasks. I think this ireversible relationship is opening the eyes of soooo many athletes and the concept will continue to infiltrate many high school, collegiate, and professional training programs!

  38. June 6th, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    CFCougMuscleup says:

    Great article. Yes I’m a xfitter (trainer-certified), yes I’m a paleo’er. I’m 47 years-old and the changes I’ve made in MY lifestyle has my rheumatologist bristling — you can see him bow up & get red in the face when I make claims that my switching to a paleo diet has GREATLY affected my lupus. I know how I felt before, I know how I feel when I cheat. He is just absolutely certain that my diet or working-out hard has NOTHING to do with my health. Which is kinda crazy when you read that, right?
    The biggest “claim” to success for what Coach Glassman started is that we are PROOF — we are the ongoing casestudy. When 30 people in a gym decide for fun that we’ll have a contest to work-out & change our diets, we are our own validation that it works.
    Extremely threatening to health-care etc? Hale yea. People might actually wake up & realize that your looks, health, and life does not have to be OVER at 50. For many of us, it’s just beginning. That’ll skew the bell-curve lol.

  39. June 7th, 2011 at 1:59 am

    nikki says:

    Awesome article! I’m fairly new to crossfit…paleo eating. Joining crossfit has changed my life. As weak as I may feel sometimes…. I’ve never been stronger in my life. I’ve never felt so good in my life… especially after finishing a killer wod. I have a 10 year old son who also absolutely loves his crossfit…everyday he asks “mom can I go do crossfit” We love it!! Thank You Coach Glassman!!!

  40. June 7th, 2011 at 11:36 am

    me again says:

    Glassman is dangerous to the status quo of the current ‘medical industrial complex’.

    I started CF at 38. I could not run 1 mile in under 10 minutes. I could not do 1 pullup. For my 42nd birthday I ran Murph in 36:00 minutes (1 mile, 100 pullups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1 mile). Do we need more science than that to show it works?

    Also credit Glassman with the Crossfit Kids concept. Start them young and let them live a full, healthy life.

  41. June 10th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Pär Larsson says:

    Nice article.

    Watch what happens in 10-15 years when people start coming of age having grown up in CF gyms or in CF high school programs.

  42. June 11th, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Calgary Colin says:

    Throughly enjoyed reading this thread…love the passion of those that would like to prove that GG is a sharliton, snake oil salesman, what ever you want to call him and those that have embraced CF. I absolutley agree with the article written by Darrell and hope that he conitues to generate such great discussion…except when some do not play far and call names. I have been crossfitting for 6 years now (56 years old) and have never felt better, have my family doctor stating that what ever I am doing keep it up…yearly check-ups only confirm the health benefits that I have acheived through my participation in this sport. GG is a very dangerous man to all those that sell the drugs, products, etc.. that are needed to maintain such a high level of physical UNFITNESS. I say good for you GG I am behind you 100%. Thanks again Bingo for the very entertaining and thought provoking article.
    Cheers from Canada

  43. June 11th, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    Hey Colin! Thanks for you kind words.

  44. June 20th, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Lori O says:

    “For many of us, survival (by pill or otherwise) isn’t enough–we want to live and die young as old as possible.”

    Love this statement, Ejd5050!

    I like this article and all the comment discussion! I am new to CrossFit (a few months in) and my husband, who’s been a certified trainer in a globo gym for several years, just opened his own CF affiliate. I have tried so many different fitness “programs” from the home workout videos like P90X, Jillian Michaels, elliptical trainer and circuits in the gym. I did get in good “shape” doing P90X, but I dreaded the hour long videos and repetition (even though it’s one of the most varied workout videos around). I looked damn good, but in just my few months of CrossFit, I am far stronger and more fit than when I was doing that. I’m on the road to looking that way again, but this time, I’ll actually be capable of things I have never been. I’ve already observed the every day life improvements – I’m not afraid to yank an awkward object out of our unorganized shed like I used to be.

    And the best part is I want to keep coming back for more. I’ve not ever had this enthusiasm for working out – I used to dread it and just be glad when it was over. I don’t have to sweat it out for an hour every day. I sweat more in twenty minutes or less, but it’s fast, and often fun. I love that I now love to workout, and it’s benefitting so much more than just the way I look.

    I hope others continue to try and test CF and find the benefits like so many already have. I hope it leads me on a continued life of no medication and real need for doctor visits.

    I am looking forward to seeing some data and studies on all this, which other than firsthand experience, might help some people see the light. I do talk to people and try and get them to come try and experience for themselves what I have discovered and how much better everything can be, but sometimes I just get half-assed “maybe’s” or blank stares. Some people are just “fat and happy” (or skinny-fat and happy) and don’t know how great things could be or how bad things will be when they’re older and still fat but very incapable. They think that’s just how getting old is supposed to be. Which is sad…

  45. June 20th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    darrellwhite says:

    Lori, congrats on finding CF, and congrats to your husband on the Affiliate!

  46. December 8th, 2011 at 9:24 am

    CrossFit Clothing says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I love CrossFit, but am ashamed to say that I really had no idea about Greg Glassman (I guess I’m in good company, right?). He definitely has changed the way I think about fitness, and my life!

  47. June 13th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Ricardo Santos says:

    Hey crossfit works if you try it! I have served in the Army for 26 years and I have never heard anyone ever say “wow, I trained for the Army Physical Fitness Test today and I loved it, and can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!” what I do hear is “wow, I went to CrossFit today and the WOD was great, can’t wait to go again!” when was the last time someone actually said I worked out everyday and enjoyed it, I felt like I conquered the mountain! That is what CF does, makes people enjoy training and working out, so much better that sitting on the couch and eating potato chips and complaining how out of shape I am! Way to go CrossFit and Coach Glassman!!

  48. August 23rd, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Steven Platek says:

    Awesome, simply awesome!

  49. August 24th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    darrellwhite says:

    Hey Steven! Thanks for the kind words. How are you just finding this now?!


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