35 – Coach Greg Glassman on CrossFit, Chronic Disease, and the “5 Buckets of Death”

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Coach Greg Glassman grew up in southern California as a gymnast and he supplemented his training with modalities including weightlifting and cycling. When he began his career as a trainer in 1974, he brought innovation to the industry ultimately redefining fitness with CrossFit, otherwise known as constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement. He was kicked out of several globo gyms before finally opening the first CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz, CA in 1995. Shortly after, CrossFit.com was created where he posted Workouts of the Day, or “WODs.” Athletes from all over the world would complete these workouts and post their scores online. Beginning in 2003, CrossFit affiliate gyms began to open and CrossFit experienced exponential growth over the following decade such that there are currently more than 12,000 affiliates worldwide. During this period, we’ve also witnessed the growth of the CrossFit Games, the ultimate proving grounds for fitness which identifies the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth each year from a pool of hundreds of thousands of athletes across the globe. We’ve also witnessed incredible stories of transformation in the affiliates, with participants losing weight, gaining confidence, and ridding themselves of chronic disease. I recently sat down with Coach to discuss the role of CrossFit and the affiliates in addressing chronic disease and where CrossFit is headed.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • His athletic background and how he got into training
  • What influenced him to innovate as a trainer
  • What it was like to open his own gym after being kicked out of several globo gyms
  • How he developed CrossFit’s definitions of fitness and health
  • The role of CrossFit and the affiliates in creating health
  • The role of chronic disease in the current health of our nation and our health care system
  • His “5 buckets of death” model
  • Why fighting the soda industry has been such an important focus for him and CrossFit over the past year
  • His perspective on CrossFit affiliates opening in hospital systems
  • His plan to address chronic disease with “Doc in a Box”
  • Three things that have the biggest positive impact on health
  • One thing he struggles to implement that could have a big impact on his health
  • What a healthy life looks like to him
  • What inspires him and what he does to exercise his brain
  • What it’s like to see his ideas and CrossFit change lives around the world

You can follow Coach Greg Glassman at CrossFit.com, The CrossFit Journal, and on Instagram and Twitter.


If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #JFHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.
Disclaimer: This podcast is meant to share the experiences of various individuals. It does not provide medical advice, and it is not a substitute for advice from your physician or health care professional.

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