Knowledge Blog

  • Knowledge Blog

    HEALTH MONTH: MENTAL HEALTH

    - by Imtiaz

    In the first article for Health Month I noted that although it’s challenging to measure, mental health is of immense value to us. We know that many mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and related symptomatology are mitigated by diet and exercise. The stronger one’s markers of mental health are, the better their overall health rates on the sickness-wellness-fitness continuum. However, there are no single markers for mental health that  allow us to measure it like other health markers such as blood pressure and body composition. So how do we evaluate, and therefore measure changes in mental health?

    Mental health can be assessed by psychiatrists and psychologists, but they often provide subjective reports. To obtain more objective (measurable) data, self-report questionnaires are used. These provide ratings of stress, anxiety and depression, and they score your perceptions of your mental and physical wellbeing. That means such questionnaires provide insight into how you feel about your mental wellbeing, not about how a doctor sees it. And there is a great body of research evaluating changes in the results of such self-report questionnaires in people participating in structured and guided exercise programs as part of their therapy and rehabilitation.

    In NZ and Australia, healthcare is tax funded with very few people using health insurance (medical aid). So when people were deemed unfit to work as a result of poor health they would go on to an income disability benefit until healthy again. The exercise rehab clinic our department ran formed part of the multidisciplinary team that got these people healthy enough to return to work again. Something I certainly wasn’t initially prepared for was the amount of clients we worked with who were on income disability due to mental health. They made up 60-70% of our clientele.

    The testing and programs we implemented for them were all evidenced based – directed by (the huge amount of) research. And the results were profound. Along with their other treatment modalities such as occupational therapy and psychotherapy, exercise contributed significantly to improvements in perceptions of both mental and physical wellbeing. Moreover, improvements in those perceptions occurred concomitant to improvements in markers of fitness.

    There’s a strong relation between not just engaging in an exercise program, but in tracking and observing the results of an exercise program, and improvements in mental health.

    To simplify that further, if you exercise and measure the results of that exercise program, you are improving your mental health. Sounds familiar, yeah?

    So just by turning up to your sessions every week you’re already taking care of yourself a great deal. But always remember that while all your health and fitness markers might be good, your mental health is important too. So stay aware.

    If you’d like to complete a self-report questionnaire to help evaluate changes in your mental wellbeing, get in touch with me. Likewise, if you’re know of people who might need an exercise intervention for their health, send them in. We have the resources at CFJ!

    -Imtiaz

  • Knowledge Blog

    MEMBER PROFILE: SANDESH RAMNATH

    - by Admin

    WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A JOB?

    I’m the Finance Director at a Multi-National company that sells house hold appliances

    HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING AT CFJ?

    Not too sure but probably just over 3 years

    HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT CrossFit?

    While browsing through TV, I managed to catch a glimpse of the games on ESPN. I managed to record it and thought that it looked like a challenge that I’d enjoy. Searched the web to find a box and luckily found CrossFit Jozi within 5 minutes from my workplace.

    ARE THERE ANY MEMORIES FROM YOUR FIRST DAYS THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?

    I felt like I was going to die after my intro class and my baseline test !
    Training in the rain and snow at the old box was also a cool experience (pull-ups on the outside rig in the cold) !

    WHAT IS THE COOLEST THING THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AT CFJ?

    I’ve managed to learn to enjoy running which was never a favourite for me. Also managed to string together a few muscle ups.

    WHAT CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE STARTING CrossFit?

    Energy levels are more constant during the day and sick days have decreased. General improvement in strength as well.

    FAVOURITE EXERCISE?

    Pull-ups, squats, cleans and running

    WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN CrossFit?

    I’ve got a dodgy shoulder so I sometimes struggle with overhead movements. Not a fan of those evil sleds as well.

    LIST SOME OF YOUR CURRENT GOALS.

    Be more consistent in my training as I didn’t do as much as I wanted to in the last quarter of 2015, mainly due to work constraints and a bit of laziness creeping in.
    Improve my shoulder strength over next few months and get that bar muscle up.

    WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT OUT IN JOZI?

    The Grillhouse in Rosebank

    IF YOU COULD INVITE 3 FAMOUS PEOPLE TO DINNER, WHO WOULD THEY BE?

    – Richard Branson, I think he’ll have a few good stories as well as some wisdom to impart.
    – Steven Gerrard as I’m a Liverpool supporter for as long as I remember.
    – Julius Malema, I think he’s an interesting character and there’s more to him than he puts on in public

    WHO INSPIRES YOU AT CFJ?

    I think inspiration appears every time I walk into the box and see someone pushing their personal boundaries and squeezing that last rep out. Also favourable to everyone in the 6:30 pm crew.

    TELL US SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU.

    I love music and used to be a mobile DJ and have produced 3 tracks. Still try and get to it every now and again when time permits (I know I still owe you that mix Imtiaz)
    Also enjoy golf, fishing, watching drag racing and anything extreme that gets the Adrenalin going, so I pretty much represent the Gemini split personalities quite well.
    (The pic is just before the bungee jump)

  • Knowledge Blog

    HEALTH MONTH: THE DOCTOR AND THE DEADLIFT

    - by Imtiaz

    80% of the population has experienced a form of debilitating low back in their life. It’s a staggering statistic, and is why we chose to study exercise techniques for low back pain for my master’s thesis. Well, we actually chose that topic because we knew that a scholarship for the research would be granted given the prevalence of low back pain 😀 Either way, it led to some pretty cool understanding of the spine and had a strong impact on how I approached the rehab of low back pain patients.

    A high priority goal for all low back pain patients was to get them deadlifting.

    Yes, teach patients suffering from low back pain how to perform a movement that most would consider harmful to the low back. The deadlift, though, keeps company with standing, running, jumping, and throwing for functionality. So when a low back pain patient achieved the ability to deadlift properly with low to moderate it was an indication that they were closer to full functional capacity. That means, being closer to being able to do more than just activities of daily living. Healthier.

    Conversations with doctors (as well as many specialists, chiros, physios, etc.) and coaches often go something like this:

    Doc: Many of my patients shouldn’t be doing the deadlift.

    Coach: Which ones are those, Doc?

    Doc: Many are elderly, marginally ambulatory, frail/feeble, arthritic, injured and osteoporotic.

    Coach: Doc, would you let such a patient, let’s say an old woman, do her own grocery shopping?

    Doc: Sure, she needs to be self sufficient!

    Coach: All right, suppose after walking home she came up to the front door and realized that her keys were in her pocket. Are you okay for her to set her grocery bags down, get her keys out of her pocket, unlock the door, pick the bag back up, and go in?

    Doc: Of course, that’s essential activity.

    Coach: As I see it, the only difference between us is that I want to show her how to do this “essential activity” safely and soundly and you don’t.

    Doc: I see where you’re going. Good point.

    Adapted from the CF-L1 Seminar Training Guide.

    Maybe it’s the name “dead”lift, perhaps it’s because of all the bad deadlifting that does happen, but most often it’s just a lack of understanding. See, for us, being able to deadlift is as essential as being able to sit and stand. We believe that, for health, everyone needs to deadlift. We simply scale load and sometimes range of motion to meet the needs of the individual.

    It’s why we prefer the original name of the movement – the health lift!

  • Knowledge Blog

    HEALTH MONTH: WHAT IS HEALTH?

    - by Imtiaz

    April is going to be Health Month on the CFJ blog. We’re going to cover a variety of health topics during the month, including common topics like nutrition and flexibility, as well as lesser covered areas like mental and cardiovascular health. Please don’t just read, ask questions via the comments section on the blog posts and feel free to request topics that I might not cover. If it’s something I don’t know enough about, I’ll find an expert in that area to write about it.

    To kick the month of we first need to revisit CrossFit’s definition of fitness and cover how we define (and measure) health. It’s going to mean a long post to start the month, so grab a cuppa, put your headphones on and have a read 🙂

    Fitness, as defined by CrossFit, is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. That means to be fit you need to be able to perform well in all task durations – short, middle and long distance – and at any physical task imaginable. Pretty broad definition, yeah? That’s exactly the point. The ultimate aim of the program is to prepare you for the unknown and unknowable. How do we attain that? By adhering to CrossFit’s four models of fitness.

    1. The 10 General Physical Traits
      These are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, strength, flexibility, stamina, balance, coordination, accuracy, agility, power and speed. A regimen develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of these 10 skills.
    2.  

    3. The Hopper
      Think about a barrel loaded with an infinite number of physical challenges where challenges are drawn at random. This model suggests that your fitness can be measured by your ability to perform well at all of the challenges.
    4.  

    5. The Energy Systems
      These are the “engines” that provide the energy for all human action. The phosphocreatine system for activities up to 10 seconds in duration, the glycolytic for activities up to two to three minutes, and the oxidative/aerobic for activity lasting longer than two to three minutes. Total fitness requires training and capacity in each of three pathways.
    6.  

    7. The Sickness-Wellness-Fitness Continuum
      This is where we start getting into the health side of things, and it’s where CrossFit is worlds apart from any other fitness regimen. We actually include a health component to our model of fitness! Every measure of health can be placed on a continuum that moves from sickness to wellness to fitness (Figure 1). Fitness is therefore “super-wellness.”
      A marker missing from that figure is mental health, but only because there is no single measure for it. Rather, there are a huge array of self-report questionnaires used to evaluate mental health. Just as all other markers are mitigated by diet and exercise, so are mental disorders.
      This model of fitness states that sickness, wellness and fitness are all measures of the same entity – health, and that you’re healthy when all your health markers are on the fitness side of the continuum.

    Given that we’re focusing on health, that fourth model of fitness is most pertinent for this month. But for me as a coach and as the person directing all systems at the CFJ facilities, it’s the most important part of what we do.

    I had to cover the definitions of fitness first because it includes that fourth model of fitness and because it leads into how we define health.

    The conventional definition of health is “a state of being free from illness or injury.” What. A. Joke. As long as you have no form of illness and are uninjured, you’re healthy. It doesn’t matter if you can’t pick your grocery bags up, get yourself up out of a chair, or throw a ball to your kids.

    We define fitness as work capacity across broad time and modal domains – having you all the way to the right of that continuum. And we define health as work capacity across broad time and modal domains throughout lifeHealth is fitness across one’s age – sustained fitness. It might not make sense initially so head back up to re-read the models of fitness, especially spending time on the fourth one. The first three models keep you to the right of that continuum – not just “well” but fit. Keeping you there throughout life ensures that you stay healthy.

    All of this defines the best practices at CFJ facilities. Picture twin sisters aged 65. One is healthy by the conventional definition. Her health markers are only good enough to place her on the wellness part of the equation. Although she has good health markers, she is physically inept – she’s unable to play with her grandchildren. Her sister, in contrast, is physically capable. She gardens, goes to the gym, is part of a running club and runs rings around the grandchildren. However, although she is physically capable she has always had poor dietary habits and therefore her health markers are in fact on the sickness end of the continuum. She’s on chronic medication and is at high risk of experiencing an untoward cardiovascular event. Yeah, “it fits her macros” and keeps her lean, but she’s going to die of a heart attack, in her sleep.

    Who would you rather be?

     

     

     

    That was a trick question. I hope you said “neither one of them!”

    It’s a simple analogy to illustrate what I meant by “best practices.” What good are we doing if we’re getting your fitness markers up, but your health markers aren’t changing, or worse yet, diminishing with age? This drives our methods in class, but also all the information we provide you that should be guiding your habits outside of the gym.

  • Knowledge Blog

    MEMBER PROFILE: JEAN LE GRANGE

    - by carl

    WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A JOB?

    I’m in the construction Industry – mainly residential.

    HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING AT CFJ EAST?

    I started my Groundworks in August 2015

    HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT CrossFit?

    I have known Coach Andre for a few years and when I ran into him he told me to give it a go.

    WHAT IS THE COOLEST THING THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AT CFJ EAST?

    Competing in the 2016 Crossfit Open.

    WHAT CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE STARTING CrossFit?

    I’m more alert during the day and sleep better at night.

    FAVOURITE EXERCISE?

    Power Cleans

    WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN CrossFit?

    Deadlift

    LIST SOME OF YOUR GOALS.

    Competing RX in the 2017 Crossfit Open

    WHAT IS YOUR NUTRITION FIT? (Paleo, Zone, anything and everything, etc.)

    Anything and Everything

    WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING FOR EXERCISE OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?

    Off-road motorcycling , water skiing , ice skating.

    WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU AT CrossFit?

    Vincent Swanepoel – To do so well at such a young age is really inspiring.

    IF YOU COULD INVITE 3 FAMOUS PEOPLE TO DINNER, WHO WOULD THEY BE AND WHY?

    Rich Froning , Valentino Rossi and Ken Block.

    WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU WISH YOU COULD DO IF GIVEN THE CHANCE?

    Competing on an international level.