I am: Strong!

Lets start with a story shall we? Once upon a time... Ok, maybe not that extreme. Few people know the background story to Paradigm, and in order to tell this story, Im going to need to start there. As an 11 year CrossFitter, I was approaching my 5th year in CrossFit, my 9th year as a Gymnastics Coach, and Gym owner. Naturally the two had a perfect segue into each other. My athletes were doing CrossFit, I was inspired by them, so I was doing more CrossFit and ultimately that landed us at an impasse. They needed more so they could continue their athletic progress, and I had the space. So I put down all the money I could come up with and created this Paradigm Idea. The original intention, and where we are now couldn't be any different. Much of this responsibility lies in one interaction. 

After assembly of the equipment, Paradigms model was to develop athletes. As an aside I thought it would be of value to train a couple of athlete-parents to help offset some of the cost. This mostly happened when I was approached for help and knowing what I knew about CrossFit I knew I could help. 

Amy Papke was one of those core parents. (literally) She is my longest standing member, and has been here since the beginning. This story is about what she did for me, the business model, and in exchange herself. She will likely kill me for this post but here goes. Amy was not some success story waiting to happen. She wasn't morbidly obese, de-conditioned, or otherwise decrepit. No, she in many ways was a perfect depiction of the masses, easily identifiable as attractive. What Amy was perhaps was more inspiring to me. She was a pretty woman, in her prime, seemingly fit, and otherwise happy. However it wasn't until she found CrossFit I saw her truly light up. Those things on the outside were honestly only a glimmer of what I saw come alive in her. She found passion, youthfulness, health, happiness and a place she called home. This to me was earth shattering. I knew I could teach fitness and movement, I wasn't so sure I could create humanity, community, or relative happiness besides goals though. Amy showed me a different path, an opportunity I couldn't Ignore. Amy has and will always serve as my Icon of Community. What I saw Amy accomplish in her personal growth crushed her physical goals, and my expectations for her. I was never going to look back. Paradigm was for the people from this day forward, not just the athletes. We were going to change lives, not just trophies. I owe to this to Amy. 

I don't want to sell Amys success's short either. In her 6 years here, she's accrued over 1500 classes, she's smashed quantifiable fitness goals, and to be honest looks way better having done so. She's squatted almost twice her bodyweight, Deadlifted more tonnage than some forklifts, decreased her mile time, has muscle ups, strict pull ups, perfect push ups, Hand-stand push ups, and Clean and Jerks like a boss. All while smiling and looking incredible doing it. I clearly am very proud of her, maybe I don't tell her enough, but thats because I think she's still just beginning.. Amy is an Icon at Paradigm, and our first 1500 member. Lets let her tell us what Paradigm means to her: 


Friends, Fitness, Support, Fitness, Motivation, Confidence, Healthy


These are all words that describe Crossfit Paradigm Performance. The last month for me personally has been very strange and unreal to me, I never could have imagined this situation. Spending two weeks of the month in the hospital, having two unrelated surgeries in a week and not being able to work out has been very frustrating and stressful. The support myself and my family received from my friends at P2 during this time has been unbelievable, without them this month would have been even more stressful. From my friends texting me asking me how I am doing to them asking if I need anything to them just letting me vent about how stressed I was and at one point how scared I was.  Jen Ignizio starting a meal train, all the people who provided dinners for us for a week, I’m still in awe, these people are true friends. If I had not been fittish while going through all this, my recovery time would have been much longer. We are a family, there is no judging, only encouragement no matter what.  Because of P2 being a family I had the confidence to come back even though I’m not where I was a month ago, I’ll get back there and beyond. Every day I was on face book looking to see what the workouts were and no matter what they were, I wished every day I could be there for every one of them. I thought about the normal everyday discussions we always had the gym standing in front of the white board about how bad the workout was going to be for some reason or another.  Every day I laid in that hospital bed I realized how lucky we are to have the ability to work out, no matter how hard or how easy we are lucky to be able to do it.  I also realized how different it is when you choose not to work out for one or two or three days or however many it may be than when you have no choice. There were days I cried because I just wanted to get up and get to the gym but could not and not by choice. As you can tell P2 means a lot to me for multiple reasons, the friendships old and new, the coaches and the support, encouragement and motivation that is given by all at the gym.  I cannot thank everyone enough for everything they have done and the support they have given me and my family.

This is what Paradigm is really about. The community, the friendship and the support. None of this would have been possible if Amy wasn't one of the first ones to ever ask for my help. Amy chose Strong as her word for "I am __" To most they would assume that just meant physical, to her, to us, we know it relates specifically to every aspect of her life now, not just her performance. 


Fitness, Luck, Health -CrossFit

Adapted from CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman’s Level 1 Certificate Course lectures Feb. 27, 2016, in San Jose, California; March 27, 2016, in Aromas, California; and April 24, 2016, in Oakland, California.

In 2002, we observed that almost any health parameter sits well ordered on a continuum of values that ranged from sick to well to fit. Take high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol), for instance: At less than 35 mg/dL you have a problem, 50 mg/dL is nice, and 75 mg/dL is a whole lot better. Blood pressure: 195/115 mm Hg you have a problem, 120/70 mm Hg is healthy, and 105/50 mm Hg looks more like an athlete. Triglycerides, bone density, muscle mass, body fat, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c, aka glycated hemoglobin) — all can be plotted relative to these three values.

The significance is that these are the predictors, the cause and the manifestation of chronic disease. Chronic diseases include obesity, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer (to include breast, colon and lung, but my theory is this will include all the positron-emission-tomography-positive cancers eventually, which is 95 percent of all cancers), Alzheimer’s, peripheral artery disease, advanced biological aging, drug addiction, among others.

It is very likely that if you have any chronic disease, you have deranged markers. If you have Alzheimer’s, you would see your HDL suppressed, your blood pressure up, your triglycerides up, your body fat up, your muscle mass down, your bone density down, your HbA1c high, etc. The same is true with diabetes. The same is true with most cancers.


The Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum. (Credit: CrossFit Inc./CrossFit Journal)

Medicine has no effective treatment for chronic disease: It is symptomatic only. The doctor gives you a drug to bring your cholesterol down, a different drug to raise your bone density. You might need bariatric surgery if you have morbid obesity. If you have paved-over coronary arteries, they can do bypass surgery. If you become glucose intolerant, the doctor can put you on insulin. But all of these are not fixes. They are masking the problem. If you have persistent malignant hypertension, you should take an antihypertensive if you cannot get your blood pressure down otherwise. But how would you get it down otherwise?

CrossFit Inc. holds a uniquely elegant solution to the greatest problem facing the world today. It is not global warming or climate change. It is not the worst two choices imaginable for president. It is chronic disease. The CrossFit stimulus — which is constantly varied high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar — can give you a pass on chronic disease. It is elegant in the mathematical sense of being marked by simplicity and efficacy. It is so simple.

The CrossFit stimulus — which is constantly varied high-intensity functional movement coupled with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar — can give you a pass on chronic disease. (Credit: James Saverio Stewart)

Seventy percent of deaths in the United States are attributable to chronic disease. Of the 2.6 million people who died in the United States in 2014, about 1.8 million died from chronic disease. This pattern of increasing deaths due to chronic diseases also holds in countries that are ravaged by infectious disease. The numbers are rising, and when we finally add the positron-emission-tomography-positive cancers in, the number might be 80–85 percent in the United States. It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that the United States could have up to a hundred million diabetics in 2050. That will affect everyone. You will not go into the emergency room for something as simple as a broken arm: You will be seeing heart attacks on every corner. Medicine has no solution; you do. CrossFit — with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar — will help you avoid all of this.

The other 30 percent are dying from accidents that come in four “-ic” variants: kinetic, genetic, toxic and microbic. Kinetic: physical trauma, car crash, hit on a bike. Toxic: environmental toxins, such as lead poisoning. Genetic: genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, you are born with it. Microbic: virus, bacteria, prions.

This is where treatment can be symptomatic. This is where the miracles of medicine are. If you have got a genetic disorder that is making you sick, you need a doctor. If you have been poisoned, you need a doctor. If you caught a nasty virus or a flesh-eating bacteria, you need a doctor. You do not need to go to the gym, and you do not need burpees.

Doctors are like lifeguards; CrossFit trainers are like swim coaches. When you are drowning, you do not need a swim coach. You needed one, and you did not get one. What you need is a lifeguard. We will teach people how to swim, and when they do not pay attention and they go under, the doctors take care of it.

In CrossFit gyms around the world, trainers act as “swim coaches” who show clients how to avoid risks and live longer. (Credit: Adam Bow)

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.

Make it to the gym, eat like we tell you, and enjoy yourself.

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.

The cost of chronic disease is that our annual medical expenditure is about $4 trillion a year. Two-thirds of your premium goes to the health insurance company for its overhead and profits. One-third gets spent on the sick. Of that one-third, 86 percent goes to treating the chronically diseased ineffectively. Fourteen percent of the one-third goes to the stuff that medicine can actually do something about. That means five percent of your health insurance premium is not wasted. The amount spent on chronic disease is a waste.

What CrossFit trainers are providing is non-medical health care. When doctors treat those affected by accidents (the 30 percent), that is medical health care. If you are confused about the two, it is easy to distinguish by methods and tools. If someone is cut open, given radiation, prescribed pills, injected with syringes, it is medicine. It is treatment by a doctor.

On our side, it looks like CrossFit. We have rings, dumbbells, pull-up bars, our own bodies — and the prescription is universal. It is not to treat disease. It does not matter where you fall on this continuum: You get put on the same program. If the prescription is universal, it cannot be medicine. If it is something everyone needs — like air or oxygen — that is not medicine.

CrossFit trainers provide non-medical health care: By focusing on work capacity, clients can avoid chronic disease. (Credit: James Saverio Stewart)

Without vitamin C, you can get scurvy. Should physicians control orange and lemon groves, onion and kale production because they have vitamin C that you cannot live without? We do not want them doing that to food. We cannot let them do that to exercise, and there is a powerful movement with a lot of funding afoot to do exactly that. Millions of dollars are being spent to bring exercise into the purview of the medical arena so that it falls under the Affordable Care Act.

We have 13,000 gyms with 2 to 4 million people safe from chronic disease right now. This community is doing a lot of good things on a lot of fronts. Yet our gyms are thriving not because of our impact on chronic disease. They are thriving because the end users, the customers, are extremely happy with the transformation. And it is part physical, part emotional, part health markers, part relationships.

That is the miracle of CrossFit: People are getting something that they did not even know they wanted or needed.

Updated Aug. 18 to correct stats for chronic disease in the United States and worldwide, 2014 stats for deaths in the United States due to chronic disease, and CDC estimates on the number of diabetics in 2020.

Originally posted by CrossFit Inc, in partnership with Medium on August 16, 2016 all rights and credits reserved for CrossFit Inc.