Crossfit. It is both the darling and the devil of the fitness industry. If you can look past the dirt that creeps into the cracks, it offers a simple methodology that has reached many people. It makes success stories; The internet is filled aplenty with anecdotes of personal development, rejuvenation and reversal of the most common and sinister afflictions of our Western world.
You can see these stories by plugging into the CrossFit Facebook page, or following them on Twitter. For more formal reading, delve into the archives of the CrossFit Journal. You can access this community of CrossFitters virtually; by immersing yourself in reading material, feel good stories, or physically; workout, swap teeshirts and slap sweaty, chalkdust outlined handprints on each others backs. There is a 24/7, worldwide, intense CrossFit community. And it rocks!
What does this have to do with primary care? Or healthcare, in general?
—> On the superficial level, group-based exercise promotes physical activity and exercise, social interaction, teamwork and cultivates relationships and friendships. All of these are activities are investments that provide incredibly rich returns; cutting physical and mental disease, promoting self confidence and positivity, growing support networks, developing positive lifestyle habits.. the list goes on.
If primary care could share this ability to get people off their seats and into circles of people that spiral upwards, the landscape of a GP population would be revolutionised.
—> Going deeper, we need to dissect what makes CrossFit successful.
What makes people come back for more?
To give you context; Crossfit gets people to take control of their health. Which other institutions provide the same service in your area? GPs and Gyms..
If you go to you GP practice for help, chances are you won’t want to return back for more. Even if your return is to pick up something valuable to you, such as a repeat prescription, you probably put it low on the list of desirable chores you have to do.
Likewise, where does going to the gym sit on your list of chores to do today? If it’s even on there, I bet it’s below taking the recycling out or toilet cleaning.
How does Crossfit do it? Membership Psychology.
Membership can be a powerful thing. I’m a patient at my GP practice. I’m a client at the gym. I’m a member of my CrossFit box. I go to my GP practice rarely. I no longer pay for the gym. I miss my CrossFit gym sorely.
1) Being friendly goes a long way in providing a positive user experience. A friend called it the ‘high-five culture’; celebrating effort and achievement. Physical contact. The freedom to praise other people. Praising is positive. The more everyone praises, the better every one feels, the more everyone praises everyone else. The better everyone feels. Combining this social induced pheromone release with an exercise induced endorphine release, a truly good thing is created. CrossFit breaks down barriers.
2) Being a member means sharing a purpose. Call it teamwork, call it a cult. My mental image of Crossfit is of a group of people under the same corrugated roof, all working, sweating and suffering for a workout sketched up onto the whiteboard. CrossFit builds camaraderie.
3) People invest their worldly possessions into it. It’s worth sacrificing for.
3a) If an individual who is on the fence about this new CrossFit doo-lally shells out for a month’s membership, they’re not going to let that membership escape without getting their hard-earned money’s worth. They invest, they feel the benefits, they are sold.
3b) Repeating this monthly transaction process keeps even “the converted” on board. Directly handing over money for a service reinforces its value in an individuals mind. I love my Crossfit gym. I pay for it and will spend all my time there.
3c) I believe that this transaction makes an individual engage with the service more. More engagement => less likely to skip a workout => more time engaging with pals => better results => go and buy the next monthly membership. Ta-da, great business model.
3d) Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising the price of Crossfit. But its price point has meta-effects than just paying the coaches or buying the (costly) equipment.
Next time you’re at the GP, question your experience.
You are there for your free healthcare – do you truly value it?
Yes you pay taxes and the cost of a prescription – but this is such insane subsidised value for money.
When you leave the consulting room, do you feel like you’re wanted, valued, or empowered?
Do you feel like anyone wants you to be better?
Are you a member?
Do the same exercise if you’re a GP.
Did you take the time to understand your patient, to get to know them?
Did you empower them to own their health?
Did you emphasise the importance of lifestyle choices? Probably. Did you tailor your advice to that persons fears and dreams?