Greg Glassman: The World’s Most Vexing Problem


Hi. I’m going to take—Hey, I hope you’re having fun, and sorry it’s so hot. We didn’t plan that, but man, it can get hot here. Today’s a lot better though, right? That’s what I’m feeling. I’m going to take a few minutes to defend the following assertion. It’s just, I think it’s full of profundity. We collectively—CrossFitters, affiliates, trainers, you’re all gonna be L1 trainers here very shortly— we sit collectively in unique possession of an elegant solution to the world’s most vexing problem. And it may be so elegant that it’s optimal. And I’m just gonna defend all of that and elaborate now. So let’s talk about the world’s most vexing problem. Let’s talk about an elegant solution. And talk about, is it optimal? How could it be better? Let’s talk about that problem first. The problem is chronic disease. Anyone got a sense of what chronic disease is? Jeremy, what’s chronic disease? [Jeremy:] Any disease that affects you as you go on that’s inevitable. Yeah, but not inevitable. With lifestyle, sure. One way to address this— Yeah? [Woman in audience:] I was just going to say that lasts about a year or longer. Yeah, that is a common kind of NIH definition. And it doesn’t get better on its own, right? Tends to get worse and worse. One way to look at this is just to give you a list of chronic conditions. And I’m pulling from a single list in a single article that was published in the Comprehensive Journal of Physiology. Author’s name was Booth and the date is 2012. The article was entitled “Lack of Exercise Is a Major Cause of Chronic Diseases.” And it opens with a list of chronic conditions for which they support with almost 800 studies that point to these chronic conditions having as their major cause or primary cause a lack of exercise. So I just want to give you the list. I hate reading lists, but it’s a neat list and you need to hear it. Accelerated biological aging, low VO2 max, sarcopenia, metabolic syndrome, obesity, insulin resistance, prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, hypertension, stroke, it just goes on and on— These flies are great. Congestive heart failure, there’s cancers in there, obesity, a ton a stuff that you don’t want. And if you start looking at what can go wrong with you, kind of a neat game you can play where I can put up five buckets here. A big one, chronic disease, and then I’ve got things—kinetic, microbic, genetic and toxic. And we can stand here and play a game where you name horrible things that can happen to you. Let’s just do a few. Give me some rare horrors and some common horrors. So, throw something at me. Dustin? [Dustin:] Ebola. Ebola, yeah, that would be microbic, so we’d put Ebola right here. [Man in audience:] Car accident. Car accident, that’s kinetic. Goes right there. [Woman in audience:] Arthritis. Yeah, that’s an interesting one. Could be genetic. [Man in audience:] ALS. ALS is a neurological disorder with origins in what, do we know? That’s why I’m not sure where to put that one. Give me another one. [Man in audience:] Diabetes. Diabetes. That’s gonna go, you know, Type 1 probably belongs on, but Type 2, T2 is going to go on here. It’s chronic. What else? [Man in audience:] Down syndrome. Down syndrome. Genetic. Bad parents. [Woman in audience:] Fatty liver disease. What? [Same woman:] Fatty liver disease. Yeah, both the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic are gonna be in here. Yeah, what else? [Man in audience:] Crohn’s. Crohn’s. Auto-immune disorder. I’m going to put it in here. [Woman in audience:] What about psychological things, like depression, anxiety? A whole bunch of it I’m gonna put in here. A whole bunch of it, including addiction. Yeah. Look, if someone shoots heroin into you and kills you, it was thought if you did it to yourself, it’s a chronic disease. This accounts for about 70 percent of deaths nationally. This stuff in here and undifferentiated, about 30 percent of what’s left. In terms of medical expense, 86 percent is going over here, and about 14 percent here. These are largely accidents— get chopped, cut, dropped, stabbed. Bacteria, virus, fungus, prion. The wrong parents. And then environmental toxins, being poisoned, who knows how and where. But what’s really interesting about this— And I— We sit with an elegant solution. I’m using elegant in the mathematical sense of marked by simplicity and efficacy. And the solution is extremely elegant because basically it’s this chronic disease has two causes, and one is sedentarism— that is, the habit or practice of not moving, of not exercising, and two, excessive consumption of carbohydrate, particularly refined. Start there. Those are the two causes. And our solution is off the carbs, off the couch. You’re gonna get the nutrition lecture later. Pay close attention. If you’ve got a high-carb diet, you’re not doing CrossFit. Not yet, you’re not. Carbohydrate restriction is one of the hallmarks of this program, and it is at the heart of the successes that we’ve had— physiological successes, business successes, affiliate successes. So, chronic disease, it’s simple. Now, the resulting complications of chronic disease are not simple: glycation, oxidative stress, inflammation, that’s complicated. The politics around it are very complicated, and the reason it was gotten wrong for so long is also full of complications, but the causes are not. There’s a simple solution. But if you buy into that simplicity, if you believe me that it’s sedentarism and excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, and I tell ya, I’m betting The Ranch, the program, everything on that, I’m as sure of that as I’ve ever been as sure of anything in my life. That’s the simplicity, but that also means—and this is really important— it means that it’s self-inflicted. You get that? Understand that not getting off the couch is willful behavior. A decision is made to not get up. And the sugar doesn’t come in, it’s not an accident, no one’s giving it to you while you’re sleeping. You have to get up and actively do it. It’s willful behavior. It’s chronic, willful behavior that becomes deadly. And if you think there’s a bigger problem in the world, you share with me what it is that can match taking 70 percent of the current stock of humanity and presenting them with a premature, unnecessary death. Do you know of anything like that? There’s nothing like that. These are issues of luck, and, you know, my favorite kinetic mishap is the tire that comes off the car going the other way on the freeway, and it bounces the center divider, and comes through the windshield and takes you out. And I was thinking of that one, and so I went to YouTube and I actually found a video of it happening. And this car the other way, you see the tire, and the next thing you know, it’s in the front seat. I mean, good thing he didn’t duck, or he would’ve leaned into it. There’s nothing you’re gonna do to protect from that. There’s no amount of awareness that’s gonna save you. What do you think of the people who cruise around with the masks on? Living in fear of germs, or are they contagious? I never know what to make of that. What’s your take? Are they afraid of getting sick, or are they afraid they’re gonna get me sick? It just makes me kind of stay away. I just ruined my set-up. Preventable. Preventable. Simple, self-inflicted, preventable. Much of it’s reversible, but at the moment that you skid off the couch and do 10 squats when yesterday you did none, and then you go to the refrigerator and you have a meal that is low-glycemic— Suppose it looks like some turkey breast and some broccoli and some cashews. Now you’ve just broken the hyperglycemic nightmare, you’ve lowered your blood sugar, and you exercised. You know what you did? You eliminated the root cause of your chronic disease. In the space of time it took you to do 10 squats and go to the refrigerator and have one meal that wasn’t deranged, you’ve eliminated the root cause. So Dr. Pflueger’s sitting at my house and he says, “You know what they call that when you eliminate the root cause?” I go, “No, what do they call it?” He says, “They call that a cure.” You’ve cured your chronic disease. You’re not better yet, but you’ve removed the underlying cause. And it doesn’t come back until you have another shitty meal or the next day, don’t do 11 squats. If you’re sore, do 10. If you’re really sore, don’t do any. You’ve earned a day off, but you’ve got to do something every day. Isn’t that simple? We’re the only ones teaching this. I was just at a health conference. There were 186 speakers there, and I was the only one there addressing the problem and the solution. So this is yours. You can take this and run with it, and what you’re able to do is amazing. Let’s take a look at this again: Sickness, wellness and fitness. You’ve seen this already, right? OK, and we can’t find a value that doesn’t sit well ordered here. And these would include things like HDL, triglycerides, A1C, your glycated hemoglobin— it’s a measure of how insulin resistant, how much diabetic you’re headed towards. Blood pressure. And then the elements of body comp: body fat, bone density and muscle mass. It’s easy to come up with levels, with values for each of these that are considered normal or healthy, and then there are values that are typically expressed only in people that are very fit. And then there’s some values that we all would agree on to be pathological. OK? These pieces here are manifestation of chronic disease. They are secondary, an additional cause of chronic disease, and they are also predictors of chronic disease. Some of them are all three. Let’s look at two of them. A1C. At a certain value, you are now diabetic. That is the standard. You got an A1C, what’s the number, over six? Yeah, where does diabetes start? Eight? OK, good. You know, who cares what the number is, right? It’s somewhat arbitrary. Lower is better. This is when you want to turn a nine into a five. A little different than some of the other work we’ve done. So at a certain level you’re diabetic. But also, this is an outstanding predictor of coronary artery disease. And the rest of all of chronic disease. Blood pressure. You know, you got 200 over 130, you’re sick. 120 over 70 is fine. 130 over 55 is fit. Now, what control these things, what moves you from sickness to wellness to fitness, and moves these variables— How do we move you from well to fit? What do we do to get you from sick to well? CrossFit is the answer. It’s meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Really simple. Really simple. Here’s the essential message here: These symptoms, manifestation, cause and predictor of chronic disease– these things are the dependent variables of an independent variable, causal independent variable that’s lifestyle choices. What’d you do for exercise and what’d you eat? Controls the sickness, controls your health. And I’ve got some docs here today with us. And what’s really neat about this, and we’ve used this analogy before, and I’m gonna share it with you: If one of you drops here in the middle of a workout, you need medical attention. You know, it’s an acute scene, and the fitness guys are going to help you, but it’s very likely you needed something beforehand. And the analogy we’re using is the doctors are lifeguards and the trainers, the CrossFit trainers, are swim coaches. And the world is in desperate need of you delivering to the rest of humanity, to all the non-CrossFitters, this wonderful, wonderful message. This is the best thing happening in the boxes. Fourteen thousand gyms, each one is a lifeboat against this tsunami of chronic disease that’s gonna take 70 percent of the people out there.

38 Replies to “Greg Glassman: The World’s Most Vexing Problem”

  1. True, however environmental situations can exacerbate chronic conditions, such that the person with a chronic disease will have worse outcomes, in kinetic accidents, microbial infections and certain toxic exposures. This leaves the genetic and chromosomal conditions (which can be relatively rare) as stand alone conditions and some of these benefit from better physical and metabolic conditioning.

  2. The three S syndrome: satiety, sedentary and sanitary. When we live too sanitary, we run the risk of greater Th2/Th1 ratio and end up with an allergy to everything.

  3. The majority of the world lives off of a high carbohydrate or an all carbohydrate diet of mostly corn or rice . None of those people are sick or dying from western diseases and yet they have been living and eating like this for thousands of years. Also all vegetables are carbohydrates and are also the undeniable king of all foods. And can we quit pushing meat as health food? Every credible physician, nutritionist, and scientist alive today is in agreement that meat is a direct causation of all of the diseases that you refer to in this speech.

  4. What's up with those videos lately? Why is Crossfit® trying so hard to push a low-carb diet? NONE of the top crossfit athletes actually are on a low-carb diet (because… it doesn't make any sense). I love crossfit, but those videos make it seem like a sect. I'm glad he didn't start the speech with "I put my balls on the line today." like the other clown of the video that was posted on this channel recently (an orthopaedic surgeon(!) who spreads nonsense about nutrition, and has been called out by proper nutritionists)

  5. This is how medical doctors need to be educated. People in this country know that they're going to be taken care of no matter what they do to their bodies. And the real problem is pharmaceutical companies have infiltrated Academia to teach medical professionals that medications are okay, opioids are okay!! I know this to be true, because I am a medical professional and when I was in college they taught us to offer opioids to patients and educate them that it's okay to take them that they won't become addicted if thier pain is real!!

  6. Not a criticism… just an observation… I've never seen a video of Greg Glassman… I thought he would be in really great shape… He doesn't really appear to be.  It's interesting that a guy who revolutionized working out… probably needs to. 🙂

  7. The world's most vexing problem? Natural disasters, Aids, Cancer, child / adult sex slaves, child soldiers, genocide, famine, droughts, distribution of wealth / poverty, environmental issues, nuclear weapons, crime, terrorism….hundreds if not thousands of other issues…then near the bottom of the vexing list is fat Americans.

  8. For a thorough and extensive response to the low carb idea, from a nutritional science perspective, check out this video series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QImWYirF0es

  9. So is there a way I can open and shut my car door faster? Like a kipping door open shit method? I figure that'd be good at yalls next crossfit Baby weight to infinity jerkfest.

  10. Beautifully simplistic. Take responsibility for your fitness. The fact that eighty-six percent of our health care costs is going towards chronic disease saddens me. The system is being overloaded by people who trash their bodies and expect medicine to fix the problem. The obvious solution is to teach people how to eat better and become more active. Thank you for this message.

  11. I'm a physician/crossfitter for 5+ years. My Center for Prevention is connected to health care providers who prevent heart attack, stroke and Type 2 Diabetes/prediabetes. Now 61 years old, I am grateful for the benefits to my health and the health of my family and patients I've inspired to join Crossfitinstinct/Longevity. There are pieces to the prevention puzzle that Crossfit alone will not address, that optimal medical care that exceeds standard guideline based treatment can address. Combining the efforts of the Crossfit swim coaches and physicians trained in optimal prevention will save even more from the ravages of chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and dementia. It will challenge the industries that treat these chronic diseases (without curing them) but their opportunity should pass to a more cost effective paradigm of addressing the root causes and prevention.
    Craig Backs MD/The Center for Prevention

  12. why there is no black people on crossfit?
    At least I do not see many..I fact i do not remember haven seen one.

  13. Everything he said is fine, except how Crossfit is somehow uniquely able to solve the problem. I love Crossfit but the problems he mentioned can also solved by less intense and cheaper alternatives (walking, hiking, jogging, bootcamps, cycling, etc). Part of the DNA of Crossfit is competition between members, chasing PRs, and technical movements. These things aren't necessary for a majority of the population to be healthy and can be dangerous if done incorrectly.

  14. Mr Glassman is an extraordinary marketer and highly successful businessman who has added much to the popularity of regular exercise. He tends to use a lot of scientific and medico-technical terms which undoubtedly bolster his aura of expertise. What are his formal educational attainments? Thank you.

  15. This is ridiculous. An old man totally out of shape, and limping giving advice on how to be healthy, using one of the worse sports for future health problems. In 10-20 years this first generation of cross fitters will be the showcase for how their shit exercise form, and programming destroys their bodies.

  16. To the BB muscle head carb head idiots trolling CrossFit… If you believed in your own cult you would not be here trolling you would be doing what ever cult your defending.

  17. Exercise has its place but you can't outrun a bad diet so no crossfit isn't the answer, cardio isn't the answer, strength training isn't the answer, yoga isn't the answer…… stop overeating is the answer but no one makes money from that message.

  18. Dumbest new thing ever started. Nothing will ever produce a better body than barbells and dumbells. Take your kettle bell and rubber band and stick it up your ass💩

  19. Never gonna be a crossfitter apparently. I'm gonna be an athlete
    instead and have good performance while EATING CARBS LIKE A HUMAN.

  20. so this guy is teaching us health but he is out of shape apparently. Am I supposed to take his words seriously?

  21. What a real sadness to hear the "bad parents" comment when Downs was mentioned. They are 'amazing parents'.

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