CrossFit Radio: Greg Glassman on the Disease Economy

Shortly after the CrossFit Games crowned the Fittest on Earth in Madison, Wisconsin, CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman says CrossFit’s true purpose is curing chronic disease. Speaking with Executive Director of Media Sevan Matossian, Glassman explains that his original prescription was designed to challenge the best athletes on the planet, and then he backfilled the program for grandmas, so to speak. While the spotlight is often on the elite, Glassman knows his program can also help millions of people who are sick and overweight. “The best work of the affiliates is the reversal and prevention of chronic disease, not sending athletes to the Games,” Glassman explains. Glassman says that the CrossFit community has already attracted all the fit people and athletes, and the new market is the unfit, the broken and the sick—people who are literally dying for help. “If you only work with healthy people, that’s only 30 percent of the population. … Seventy percent are going to die from chronic disease. I’d like to have that market,” he says. To that end, Glassman is reorienting his staff to understand that CrossFit Inc. is in the business of curing chronic disease. “We need to make it clear—starting with us, then going to the affiliates, and then going to the 175,000 trainers, and then to all of their clients, everyone that CrossFits in the land, and then finally to the general public that isn’t CrossFitting—that we sit in unique possession of a solution so elegant to chronic disease that it may be optimal. The only thing missing is our awareness.” Chronic diseases are ravaging the world, and yet the conditions are curable. These self-inflicted diseases are caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates and sedentarism. Luckily, they can be cured with two complementary steps: “The solution is get off the couch, get off the carbs.” CrossFit affiliates are uniquely positioned to lead a health revolution through diet and exercise, and Glassman says it’s as simple as approaching people and telling them the truth: “You’re fat. You’re going to die. I can help you.” Overall, Glassman has recognized that while his program produces people like Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey, its most important application is with people who are sick and dying. “We’re part of the disease economy, but we’re just the guys who make people well.”

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