Jerry started CrossFit this summer weighing 370 lbs. At this point, he suffered from an enlarged heart, was pre-diabetic, and had very high blood pressure. Jerry wanted to live to see his two young boys grow up to be men. Unfortunately, his health made it seem unlikely that he would be healthy long enough to do so.
Had Jerry entered most gyms as his pre-CrossFit self, scarcely able to walk, most trainers would not have known what to do. But Jerry showed up at Kenny Castro’s gym, CrossFit Ranch. CrossFit Ranch is at the forefront of the CrossFit community in terms of training substantially overweight clients. On Jerry’s first day, Kenny had to take him by the hand to get him to walk 250m to warm up.
What a difference 5 months of dedicated effort can make. Last Saturday, Jerry rowed 1000 meters. Jerry then carried a 35 lb. kettlebell and 45 lb. bar up the near-vertical Aromas hill for 300 meters. Jerry lifted the barbell upright and placed it into two weight plates. With his hands free of the barbell, he performed 30 kettlebell swings. Then, Jerry carried both these implements back down the hill.
Jerry fought through this torturous order of events for three rounds. He finished this workout, known as the Mount Suribachi Challenge, in one hour and 59 minutes, and 59 seconds.
Jerry’s achievements are not confined to one day of effort. He has lost 75 lbs. while gaining a substantial amount of muscle. Performance-wise, Jerry has raised his deadlift from 220 lbs. to 360 and increased his press from 65 lbs. to 160 lbs. Whereas he once could only run 25 yards at a time, he can now run over half a mile without stopping. You can read more about his experience with CrossFit at his blog, A View from the Plus Size.
Does anybody think that Jerry is not right for CrossFit? If a 43 year old, 370 lb. man can become an exemplary CrossFitter, then we cannot rule any person out based on age, weight, or any other elitist criteria we may think of. CrossFit is hard, but for most people, life is harder. Millions of people will choose to work hard in the gym if we show them that CrossFit is a good investment of their time.
Let me repeat this point for emphasis: We cannot rule out anyone as a potential CrossFitter, regardless of the individual’s current appearance or fitness level. The objection that people make to CrossFit’s expansion is often borne of elitist insecurity: “CrossFit’s not for people like that.” But now that you know about Jerry, you know that’s not true.
Reaching the masses is the right thing to do for our gyms, our country, and our conscience. We will have much more success as CrossFit trainers if we follow Kenny’s example and open our doors to the majority of Americans that are overweight. It should sicken us as Americans that so many of our fellow citizens are poisoning themselves to early graves. It is wrong to keep to ourselves when we have knowledge that can save our neighbors lives.