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CrossFitting With an Autoimmune Disease by Nick Zavoda - CrossFit Journal

In CrossFit, HD Videos, Medical/Injuries

September 15, 2012

Video Article

At 19 years old, Nick Zavoda was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. The symptoms: pain, swelling or stiffness in one or more joints, and joints that are red and warm to the touch.

While in paramedic school years later, he met Shannon Hildebrand, co-owner of CrossFit Sonora in California.

“She’s like, ‘Ya know, you should try this new workout. It’s really good for you. I think it’ll help with your joint problems,’” Zavoda recalls. “I was immediately hooked.”

It’s been about three months since the 24-year-old started CrossFit, and he reports good results.

“When I first started CrossFit, I couldn’t really even squat to 90 degrees. I could barely get below parallel without it hurting my knees. I just thought it was impossible,” Zavoda says. “I feel great now.”

4min 56sec

HD file size: 103 MB
SD wmv file size: 59 MB
SD mov file size: 30 MB

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Additional reading: The Ties That Bind by T.J. Murphy, published June 11, 2012.

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6 Comments on “CrossFitting With an Autoimmune Disease”


wrote …

Crossfit helps everything!!! Thanks for sharing your story, Nick....


wrote …

thank you allison! really awesome to get the story out there! thank you all the trainers at CFS for always being there!!! and cant wait to meet the newest crossfit baby allison :)


wrote …

Great story Nick. I too have psoriatic arthritis and over the past 10 yers have been on a long list of immunosuppressants and corticosteroids. I've been a crossfitter & occasional trainer since 2008. Even with flare ups (I've had the grapefruit knee and sausage digits-that's paleo pathology) and I've struggled to keep motivated while dealing with the fatigue & pain. You have figured out early that you can still be a bad ass with this disease but it can't be done alone. It seems like you have a great mentor and a supportive gym; that is beyond important. Keep taking all your fish oil, staying as paleo as possible, & kickin ass. Thanks for sharing your story & best of luck to you.


wrote …

Wow Brad, which immunosuppressants have you tried? When I first got diagnosed they put me on 60mg of prednisone which I found out was the devil because it made me gain weight and very rapidly! How did you discover crossfit?? And I LOVE your paleo analogy in reference to body parts! My wife and I were cracking up!!! Ya just this week I have been off my meds and DID NOT have the motivation to go that much this week. I went on monday but have just felt crappy the rest of the week because of the lack of meds! I am always happy to hear other people's stories and theyre struggles with the disease...most days for me are good, but then out of no where I am reminded that I have limitations! Thank you for the kind words and sharing your story as well!


wrote …

Way to go Nick and Brad! Thank you for sharing your story and keep up the good work. You are inspiring. I have Lupus that attacks my joints and skin. However, I have been fortunate enough to be able to keep it in remission for the most part with diet and exercise for about 10 years now. I started working with a Naturopathic Physician who has helped me stay off meds when I developed an intolerance to them. I started CF about 3 years ago and absolutely love it! The Paleo diet has been a great help as well since I was already wheat/gluten/dairy free. A great dietary resource is a book called "How to Eat Away Arthritis." It taught me how to identify food triggers so I could remove them. Best wishes to you both!


wrote …

This was really encouraging to see other folks struggling with PA hitting Crossfit. I started my own Crossfit experiment about a year ago - with the help of some immunosuppressants, the guidance of the coaches at Crossfit Route 1 and the support of my team in class I have seen real progress. After a little set back at the tail end of 2013, I am anxious to hit it hard in 2014.

@Cynthia - thanks for the recommendation for "How to Eat Away Arthritis." Its on the way from Amazon as we speak!

Happy New Year to all, and happy Crossfitting.

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