When it comes to health, the average person wants to “feel well”. They eat well, sleep well and do activities to maintain their wellness because they think that is what it means to be healthy. Although they are not wrong, health is much more than that.

When coach Greg Glassman was creating the concept of CrossFit over a decade ago, he was looking for the definition of “fitness” from the existing industries at the time. One model that caught his eye was the “Sickness/Wellness/Fitness continuum”. Coach Glassman understood the importance of this concept and included that into CrossFit’s definition of “Fitness”.

As a part of the four distinctive models he used to define such an abstract word, the “Sickness/ Wellness/ Fitness continuum” explains that “wellness” is, merely, average. To be “well” is to be halfway in between “sickness” and “fitness”. In other words, we don’t want to strive to be “well”, but we want to become “fit”.

This is what the continuum looks like:




Where would you guess most people are in this continuum?




Somewhere inside the orange circle.

These people tend to be content in not being “sick” and are trying to be close to “well” without changing their normal habits. But what happens when you get older and your body naturally begins to slow down? Or when you get sick? Or when something happens and you can’t focus on your health for a period of time? You guessed it: You fall toward “sickness”.

So what we want to do regarding our health is essentially what we do with our savings account. We put money in the bank so when something bad happens we have savings to rely on. If we strive for fitness and a disaster happens, or you’re just getting old, we will naturally fall toward “wellness”.

Being in the “sickness” zone means being in danger of health-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, loss of hormone production as well as loss of functional movement capacity. It also means having over 30% body fat, not being able to do a full squat and having a poor diet. In the “wellness” zone a person is free of these dangers. But in the “fitness” zone we create a protection against these deficiencies.

Anything that is health related can be inserted into this continuum. To illustrate this we will use a few examples and plug them into the diagram. Let’s say person A deadlifts his/her bodyweight, sleeps 8 hours every night, has 22% body fat and has a “Fran” time of 10 minutes.

This is where those markers would fall in the continuum:




This person is, on average, less than “well” regarding their health. So what we would want for this individual is to lower their body fat, blood pressure and resting heart rate. But we would also like to increase their deadlift, decrease their “Fran” time and have them get their first handstand. We want all the markers we can think of to fall as close to the “fitness” zone as possible.

The best way to do this is through high-intensity interval training. CrossFit has been shown to target most of these health markers and move them towards “wellness”. Be consistent in your training and you will see yourself moving from being “well”, into being “fit”. Only by striving for “fitness” we will be able to maintain a high quality of life and, at the same time, create a buffer from “sickness” for when we start to naturally lose our fitness.

by Coach Matt