Everyone has a different lens to which they view situations. Here's my lens: I'm a dietitian who fell in love with CrossFit and helping make health a way of life through nutrition, fitness and accountability. We've had the opportunity to take the Healthy Steps Nutrition methodology and teach over 3,500 gym owners and coaches how to coach clients using a habit-based approach since 2015.
Nutrition is the first 13 words of fitness and the foundation of the fitness pyramid. It’s no secret that nutrition is the foundation of health, reaching your body composition and performance goals.
When taking the CrossFit Level 1 Training Course almost nine years ago, I was perplexed why nutrition was only one hour of the two-day course. Back in 2014, the CrossFit Level 1 nutrition curriculum reflected zone diet and blocks. For most coaches, it was confusing to understand, let alone take that back to clients and help people.
It’s no surprise that most coaches and gym owners tell me, “I know that nutrition is the foundation. I’m unsure how to package a program or service to support my members professionally.”
In 2016, I was introduced to Nicole Carrol after helping some gym owners build nutrition programs. Nicole was the director of training at CrossFit at the time and she knew this was a missing piece in training and support for gym owners. She introduced me to the managing editor of the CrossFit Journal and asked me to start writing for the journal. I’m forever grateful for Nicole Carrol and the opportunities that have been presented over the years to empower gym owners on how to build nutrition programs.
I wrote for the CrossFit Journal on how to make nutrition a priority in an affiliate, how to run a nutrition challenge and escape the challenge trap, how to build an employee wellness program, and how to find a great coach. Some of the articles were translated in many different languages.
I had the opportunity to speak at the CrossFit Games, TwoBrain Conferences, Coach’s Congress in Sweden, the Florida CrossFit Affiliate Owner Gathering and many other competitions.
CrossFit HQ moved away from the strict zone recommendations in the nutrition lecture during the level 1 training course a few years ago. I remember being at HQ eating breakfast with Matt Swift, an employee in the CrossFit Training department. I said I wasn’t a fan of the nutrition lecture, and he said, “When was the last time you heard it? Have you heard the new nutrition lecture?” I hadn’t listened to it since taking my level one over eight years ago. He gave me a high level overview of the nutrition lecture and he was right, it was very different than what I remembered.
The nutrition lecture for the CrossFit MD Level 1 Training Course was scheduled for that afternoon; we went in and sat in the back to listen.
Recommendations shifted from only zone to talking about processed foods, carbohydrates, overconsumption of sugar, and suggestions to meet people where they are at. They briefly discussed zone, keto, and intermittent fasting.
In the past two years, people who have taken the updated CrossFit level one training course have heard the new lecture, but most people holding the credential have only heard the old lecture on zone diet.
There was a desperate need for more formal education from CrossFit Training to promote a habit-based approach when focusing on nutrition. The new CrossFit Nutrition course was a great solution to that problem.
CrossFit Home Office (HQ) is prioritizing health and nutrition like never before. As a dietitian, gym owner and advocate for prioritizing nutrition, I think this is a great thing and can be an excellent thing for affiliate owners.
There are two CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Courses for gym owners and coaches, Precision Nutrition (not to be confused with Precision Care) and Basics of Nutrition Coaching. Both of these courses follow a habit-based approach.
Many people ask about our nutrition and habit-based coaching philosophy at Healthy Steps Nutrition. Here it is:
At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition shouldn’t be complicated, which is why we focus on a simple, habit-based approach. We know that helping people make health a way of life isn’t just about what they eat. We use a holistic approach looking at sleep, stress management, support system, exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle.
Feedback From A Registered Dietitian & CrossFit Affiliate Owner On The New CrossFit Nutrition Course
Overall, I think the course was very well-written. It comes with a 116-page workbook to follow along. The curriculum was delivered through videos with three instructors, reading materials, and quiz questions. There was a final test at the end.
The course first discussed the problem, the root cause, and the solution to fight chronic disease through a simple, habit-based approach.
“Globally, obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 or older were overweight, and over 650 million were obese. The numbers are increasing every year.”
(Quote pulled from the CrossFit Nutrition Course)
The course takes a deep dive into the root cause of chronic disease.
“For most of these chronic diseases, the root cause is insulin resistance caused by excess consumption of processed carbohydrates. Fixing this should be the focus of the treatment, and fortunately, the fix is within your control.”
(Quote pulled from the CrossFit Nutrition Course)
As CrossFit affiliate owners, we are uniquely positioned to fight this growing chronic disease problem through nutrition, fitness, and accountability.
“The solution is simple: Minimize your consumption of refined carbohydrates by eating natural, unprocessed foods, and combine this with constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensities.”
(Quote pulled from the CrossFit Nutrition Course)
The course focuses on creating healthy habits. It’s nice to see the recommendations match the two CrossFit Preferred Nutrition Courses, Precision Nutrition, and Basics of Nutrition Coaching, both focusing on a habit-based approach.
“Habits are patterns of behavior that we have engrained to the point that they are automatic responses. They happen consistently in certain situations or contexts and are mostly below our level of awareness.
It’s important to remember that our nutrition recommendation is independent of any specific diet and can be readily adapted to work with any dietary specialization. The key is if you choose to specialize, the principles of quality and quantity still apply.”
(Quote pulled from the CrossFit Nutrition Course)
The Four Main Diets Discussed In The CrossFit Nutrition Course & A Dietitian's Perspective On Each Diet
The Eyeball Method aka The Plate Method
The plate method is one of the first things we teach clients at Healthy Steps Nutrition. It’s simple to remember and easy to follow — half of your plate consists of non-starchy veggies, a quarter protein, and quarter starch. When I interview people on the Nutrition Made Simple podcast who have lost 100+ pounds, they almost always mention this as one principle they follow.
The Zone Diet
When we first made sample meal ideas and meal plans back in 2012, the zone diet is what we based the macronutrient percentages on; 40% of calories coming from carbohydrates, 30% of calories coming from protein and fat. The Zone Diet is an anti-inflammatory diet developed by Dr. Barry Sears more than 30 years ago. There is a lot of research behind why you should balance macronutrients, and it’s a great starting point for most people. At HSN, we don’t talk about the Zone Diet often because today, there are so many food products labeled as “zone” that are filled with artificial ingredients and additives. At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we take the core principles of balancing macronutrient percentages applied with whole foods.
Flexible Method aka If It Fits Your Macros
Meeting your macros has been such a buzzword and FAD diet over the years. Clients are given grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats that they need to consume for the day, and most people who promote this eating say that as long as you “meet your macros” for the day, you are good. While you might lose weight, meeting your macros for the day with processed carbohydrates, sweets, grilled chicken, and broccoli will not help you achieve optimal health.
Consuming sugar and processed carbs causes an inflammatory response in your body, and finding a way to normalize overconsumption of this isn’t promoting optimal health. I was happy to see the CrossFit Nutrition Course said something similar.
I remember going to a CrossFit Health conference before the CrossFit Games in Madison, WI, a few years ago and listening to someone speak about intermittent fasting. He said it didn’t matter what you ate during the window; clients saw weight loss. He might have been right. They were restricting calories by adding food rules. I struggled with this and didn’t agree. In the CrossFit Nutrition course, I was glad to hear that they still focused on the quality of foods in the designated window.
Here’s what I know, quality should always be considered, not just quantity. In the CrossFit Nutrition Course, consumption of food quality and quantity were addressed with every diet discussed.
The core principles of this course are exactly what we have been preaching at Healthy Steps Nutrition since 2012.
The course was very well-written. It’s clear there was a lot of effort put into creating this course, and by how much the nutrition course is being pushed that CrossFit HQ wants people to sign up for it.
The price point shows me that they are targeting the masses because it is only $120.
I’ve been coaching clients with nutrition and working in private practice with nutrition since 2005. There is no shortage of information for people out there and potential courses that people can take.
What people need is a coach to keep them accountable.
It's Important To Understand Where This New CrossFit Nutrition Course Fits In, When You Look At The Bigger Picture
CrossFit Home Office announced CrossFit Precision care on October 5th. It is a new program in partnership with Wild Health, a genetic testing company that works with individuals to create plans based on genome. There is a heavy emphasis on health coaches and habit-based coaching with this program. Julie Foucher worked with the founder of Wild Health and Eric Roza to create this program.
Members of CrossFit Precision pay HQ a monthly membership (12-month commitment) for occasional medical visits, regular meetings, and unlimited messages with health coaches who promote habit-based coaching. Julie is in charge of training the health coaches for this program.
I’ve listened to Julie speak at the games and interviews about Wild Health (the medical side of CrossFit Precision Care). I’ve heard her say multiple times that health coaches are a vital part of the success of their clients.
It was interesting to see one of the three instructors for the new CrossFit Course was Julie Foucher, one of the co-founders of CrossFit Precision Care.
I was recently on a panel discussion with Julie Foucher, Austin Malleolo, Danielle Hale, Gary Gaines, and eight other gym owners.
This panel discussion was set up for gym owners concerned about the impact of CrossFit Precision Care and HQ targeting members of gyms to sign up for a premium membership through HQ for health coaching and medical care. The goal of the panel discussions was for affiliate owners to voice concerns and ask Julie Foucher, the founder, questions. The zoom call was capped at eight gym owners.
During the panel discussion, CrossFit HQ staff said multiple times that they were not aware of the level of professional coaching that gyms using the HSN platform offered.
HSN has helped over 700+ gyms launch nutrition programs since 2015. We’ve invested over $500,000 to help gyms deliver professional content. We have a team of people who create professional content for gyms to use every month. I know first-hand the amount of time and money it takes to create professional content and most gym owners don’t have either of those.
During the panel discussion, I asked Julie Foucher, the founder of CrossFit Precision Care, “Is it true the reason why Wild Health works is because of the accountability and support from health coaches?”
She said, “Yes.”
I then asked her, “Were you aware that gym owners were offering nutrition coaching using a habit-based approach in their gym?”
She said, “No.”
The zoom call ended shortly after I reminded her of the panel discussion and podcast that we did the previous year.
It’s interesting that she said no because I was on her podcast back in 2019, and she was a guest on a panel I hosted in September 2020 talking about fighting chronic disease in an affiliate through habit-based coaching.
She knew gym owners were doing this because we’ve had many discussions over the years about how gym owners were offering habit-based coaching in-house successfully and why more gym owners need to be doing this.
During the launch of CrossFit Precision Care, the role of health coaching was downplayed. When you look at the trademark and the packages for Wild Health, it’s much easier to see the health coaches play a vital role in this program to keep patients accountable to the habit-based plans that are created for them.
CrossFit HQ has job postings for full-time health coaches. Why? The emphasis is on the habit-based coaches to have ongoing support with members paying membership rates to CrossFit Precision Care of $150+ per month with a year-long commitment. The monthly cost for CrossFit Precision Care hasn’t been announced publicly but Julie Foucher mentioned two price points on the panel discussion; a lower tier around $150/month and a higher tier around $225/month. The tiers are based on accountability and support from the health coaches and visits with the medical professionals.
When the program was launched, I started asking questions regarding the impact of gym owners. Unfortunately, no one knew the answers because these things were “overlooked,” or the advocates for gym owners didn’t know the details of the program.
How exactly was this tool to help affiliates going to benefit affiliate owners? More and more gym owners were reaching out and asking questions.
In October, the new president of CrossFit, Jason Dunlap, and Gary Gaines, the General Manager of Affiliates, requested to get on a call with me. We discussed the concerns I had with the program and why they should be encouraging gym owners to offer habit-based coaching within the affiliate. It increases sustainability and profitability for the affiliate. It allows them to add a revenue stream that doesn’t rely on physical locations to be open which has proved vital due to COVID shutdowns.
Gym owners need tools and resources to do this in house. They agreed.
Jason asked what I would like to see with CrossFit Precision Care, and my response was simple, “An option with no health coaching. Habit-based coaching should be offered inside the affiliate. Affiliate owners who are doing this have increased retention, improved clients results, deepened their relationships with clients, and added a revenue stream that isn’t reliant on their business doors to be open.”
It’s clear a lot of money has gone into the development of CrossFit Precision Care. There is a lot of money involved with the projections of them adding 100+ new clients every month. The more significant financial incentive comes from the client data in the software created for Crossfit Precision Care and health markers with eventual health care reimbursements once covered under insurance.
I’m bringing up CrossFit Precision Care because there is already marketing connecting CrossFit Precision Care and this nutrition course, which could be confusing to the public.
Every gym owner I’ve talked to over the past seven years has the same goal of supporting their members on their journey to be healthy. The power of CrossFit is inside the affiliate, where the connections are made, and the communities are built.
I know we will have a greater impact and help more people when we support the gym owners and coaches who have their boots on the ground and use our methodology to help people take control of their health one step at a time.
Isn’t that the goal?
There is a big shift to push health, wellness, and nutrition from CrossFit Headquarters. It will be interesting to see if they pivot to support the gym owners who followed the CrossFit prescription, made nutrition the foundation, and their business’s houses of wellness.
Final Thoughts About The New CrossFit Nutrition Course