March 15, 2016
Russell Berger attends Exercise Is Medicine credential workshop and discovers gaping holes in methodology.
There are two distinct fronts in the war between CrossFit and chronic disease. The first—and most important—is the battle being waged every day in our affiliates across the world. While CrossFit trainers aren’t selling a cure for chronic disease, increased work capacity appears to be diametrically opposite to metabolic derangement, heart disease and obesity. It is no longer surprising to hear that CrossFit athletes who signed up to improve their fitness have also been cured of chronic disease.
But another battle is going on, this one between CrossFit Inc. and those who are working to make what our affiliates are doing illegal. At the forefront of this effort are the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and partner The Coca-Cola Co. In 2007, these organizations co-founded the program Exercise Is Medicine (EIM). The EIM program aims to “encourage primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients.” These patients would then be funneled to EIM credential holders for training.
From our first exposure to EIM, we knew that behind the veil of health-care buzzwords the program represented a strategic business opportunity for both the ACSM and Coca-Cola. Further research painted a disturbing picture of EIM. Should it be successful, EIM would make the ACSM a gatekeeper for anyone hoping to train unhealthy clients and assure Coca-Cola that these trainers were sterilized of any influence that might harm soda sales. If we were correct in our reasoning, EIM represented an enemy not only to CrossFit trainers but also to the health and wellbeing of our entire nation.
We needed to know more, so on Feb. 20, Russ Greene and I attended the two-day EIM credential workshop in Atlanta, Georgia—which is also home to the headquarters of Coca-Cola.