By: Evan Cleveland
Have you heard of The Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum?
The leading cause of death in the United States is chronic disease, which is any onset long term health condition, usually preventable with diet and exercise. This includes heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more. We also put the most money towards treating chronic disease in healthcare.
CrossFit might just seem like a mode of lifting heavy weights, but there is much more meaning behind it. We like to use a concept called the sickness-wellness-fitness (SWF) continuum to explain. The SWF continuum is a scale that assesses how healthy or how unhealthy you really are.
Healthy bodies don’t all necessarily look alike, but we can measure health based on these markers listed in the middle of the image above. Based on those numbers, we can determine where you land on the SWF continuum.
A person considered on the sickness side (far left of the continuum) might have a blood pressure of 145/105 mm Hg, 40% body fat percentage. Someone who falls under “wellness” is considered average and would be within normal ranges of these health markers. It would look more like 120/80 mm Hg blood pressure and 15% body fat (male). A fit person goes above and beyond normal health, their blood pressure/body fat would look more like an elite athlete’s, 110/65 and 8% respectively.
Why should you strive to be closer to the FITNESS side?
We find that fitness acts as extra protection against sickness. Let’s use COVID-19 as an example: Imagine one person falling under the “wellness” category and another person under “fitness”. They both contract COVID-19 and the fit person has to regress all the way through wellness to reach actual sickness, that second half of the line on the scale acts as extra defense. They are much more likely to fight off this event and survive. The number of COVID related deaths in our country would drastically decrease if the majority of the population were fit. One study found that about 92.3% of COVID related deaths had comorbidities present, meaning that the deaths potentially could have been prevented if the person were healthy otherwise. Simply put, the closer you are to fitness, the further you are from sickness.
At Prototype Training Systems (home of CrossFit Prototype), many of our clients choose to utilize our CrossFit program to bring themselves closer to fitness.
CrossFit is defined as constantly varied functional movements, executed at a high intensity (CVFMHI). This is a formula for creating workouts that directly translate to our fitness. Ultimately, this will increase our ability to produce the work required under any given situation. It prepares us to handle whatever the world throws at us.
CrossFit training methodologies focus around well rounded fitness. Meaning, CrossFit isn’t just a weight training program OR a conditioning training program OR a gymnastics program… it focuses on what is referred to as the 10 General Physical Skills. This is CrossFit’s first defining fitness standard:
- Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance: ability to process oxygen
- Stamina: ability to process energy
- Strength: ability to apply force
- Flexibility: range of motion in our joints
- Power: ability to apply maximal force in minimum time
- Speed: time cycle of a repeated movement
- Coordination: ability to synchronize multiple movements
- Agility: ability to minimize transition time between movements
- Balance: ability to control your center of gravity
- Accuracy: ability to control movement in a given direction
The first four skills are developed through training, while the last four are developed through practice. So what’s the difference?
Training is defined as acquiring new skill through physical change, such as muscle growth.
Practice, on the other hand, is learning by making neurologic connections, such as the technique of a clean.
Power and speed are acquired through a combination of both training AND practice. CrossFit workouts actually implement all a mix of the ten general physical skills, which is why CrossFit workouts are so effective!
A great example of this is turkish get ups. You may hate them, but they do a great job of training multiple characteristics of fitness: strength, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.
Someone who exemplifies fitness is one who demonstrates high functioning ability in each of these ten characteristics. A marathon runner may beat an athlete fitting this description in a long distance race, but they would probably fall short in a multitude of other competitions. The one who is most fit will be able to handle a wider variety of physical resistances or challenges such as climbing, moving heavy items, jumping higher, and more. This translates to everyday activities as well. As we age, our physical abilities inevitably start to decline. However, the more skilled you are in these ten categories, the more you’ll slow down this process and be able to do the things you want and need to do!
So how do we reach fitness?
Health is grossly determined by not only diet and exercise but also our daily habits, routines, sleep quality and how we manage stress. The easiest barrier to entry to improving your health is exercise. Without regular exercise, you are limiting how healthy you can be. The same can be said about diet and the other elements I mentioned above, however, if you’r just starting out you shouldn’t put too much on your plate. Focus on consistency and making marginal progress. However, in order to get closer to the “fitness” side of the continuum, you need sufficient exercise and a good diet.
Luckily, we have all the tools you need at Prototype to live a fit life. This concept may have been brought up through CrossFit, but it is utilized through all of our training systems.
We have a large coaching staff that specializes in many different areas, so we have the knowledge to help you. You can do 1 on 1 sessions (personal training), small group training, work with one of our nutritionists or registered dieticians and more. So if group training throughout CrossFit classes aren’t for you, we have something for everyone’s goals and needs. If you need help figuring out what that something is, you can book a FREE No Sweat Intro session with one of our coaches!