Before I start, credit where credit is due. Everything below the first paragraph belongs to Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit. I’m just putting it into my own words.
Some of you have this T-shirt, our original. Logo on the front and the quote by Mark Rippetoe, a long-time weightlifting coach: “Strong people are harder to kill – and generally more useful.” The “more useful” part is trademark Rippetoe humor, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being “harder to kill.”
There are basically five ways you can die: chronic, kinetic, genetic, toxic, and microbic. Seventy percent of American deaths fall into the first category, chronic disease. These include obesity, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers and a few others that we can broadly attribute to the consistent choices one has made over a lifetime.
The other 30% of deaths in the U.S. are attributable to accidents, or bad luck. Kinetic: some trauma like you got in a car accident. Toxic: environmental toxins like lead poisoning. Genetic: disorders you are born with like cystic fibrosis. Microbic: bacterial infection or…wait for it…a virus.
As I write this, deaths in the United States from Covid-19 are approaching 50,000. In less than two months it is rocketing its way up to the leading cause of death in America.
Those that are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus are also those with another underlying chronic condition. This is no accident. (It also is not universally true…some young and fit people are dying and/or suffering badly.) These are people that the CDC considers to be at higher risk for severe illness.
CrossFit, since its inception, has been preaching that your fitness + luck = your health. If you are in a bad car accident, you are more likely to survive if you are fit. Same with toxic poisoning. There are genes that may or may not express based on your behavior with diet and exercise.
If you inhale the coronavirus today, in a week or two you will be grateful for whatever fitness you have banked. We have a coach to prove it. Unlike the virus, your level of fitness is something that is entirely under your control. You decide what to eat and how much. You decide what to drink and whether or not to smoke. You choose whether or not to exercise intensely several times a week. That’s non-medical health care, and you are your best provider of that.
As my friend and long-time triathlon training partner, Phil Bergman posted this week, “As we learn about our ability and capacity to fight the current public health challenge we can all benefit greatly from a true connection to our personal health and maintaining a fit lifestyle…Fitness is a life-long process and will serve you well if you respect its variability. Fitness is essential to good health. Health is integral to fitness. Aging is inevitable. Longevity is optional.”
At Second Wind, we have gotten pretty good at providing non-medical health care and we can certainly help you even now, but I’m not here to sell you a membership. I want you to value your fitness. Cherish it. Nurture it. No matter your age or your current condition, you can always work on making it better. Fit people are walking around this pandemic with an extra layer of body armor. They are stronger against this enemy.
And we’ve already established: strong people are harder to kill.