Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the honor of working out with folks from every walk of life… Teachers, plumbers, police, military, firemen, and even a few doctors! Dr. Kurt is a quiet, friendly, and dedicated crossfitter at our box. He makes running and burpees look easy and seems to fly through any workout he participates in.
Plus, he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his experience with CrossFit so far!
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I think what has shaped my life the most is my childhood. I was the sick kid. I had chronic ear infections, strep throat, bronchitis, and eczema so bad that when I opened my hand it would bleed. I was also an obese kid. I grew up the son of a preacher and a nurse. My dad was pastor to a small, geriatric congregation. We did potluck meals quite often. I remember in front of most place setting was a Dixie cup filled with colorful looking things. As a child I thought these were candy and was pretty miffed that everyone got candy except me. It was quickly explained that those weren’t candies but were medications to make the people ‘get better.’
The problem is that as I aged along with the congregation, no one was getting better. All I saw were the Dixie cups get more full and more prayer requests for healing. As I entered undergrad, I made it my mission to help these people with the faulty logic that they probably weren’t getting the right medicine or that the right one hadn’t been developed yet. I declared my major as pre-pharmacy and I was going to be the ‘pharmacist for the people.’
I got a semester into my college career and my advisor said I should change majors. She said, “I’ve seen kids like you before, you won’t succeed in this field.” I had no idea what that meant. I wasn’t a partier. I wasn’t disrespectful… until that moment. I took the break between semesters to find a new major. Being a quiet, competitive kid, I set out to pick a major out of spite more than any love of a future career path. I opened our course manual and saw biochemistry. It looked hard, it was in the science department, and it gave me full opportunity to rub my diploma in this adviser’s face as I walked across the stage in 3 1/2 years.
Joke was on me. That adviser retired a year later and I never had the satisfaction of rubbing it in her face. I was assigned a new adviser. Since I declared biochemistry as my college career path, I was put under our PhD biochemist with grants from the NIH to do genetic sequencing. I become a lab rat. I would spent the majority of my weeks in a lab, making batches of cells in petri dishes and then doing experiments to see if we could sequence the DNA.
The basic premise, I was told, was that the DNA of these bacteria cells would dictate the health of the cell. Therefore, if we could alter the DNA or create an intervention, we could stop these cells from replicating. But I also received a conflicting message. When I was creating petri dishes, they had to be perfect. They had to have the right medium, the right nutrient content, the right temperature, the right oxygen levels, and be sterile. In other words, they needed a pure and sufficient environment.
So was it the DNA or the environment that has the greatest influence on our health expression? I became, ‘that kid’ and started messing with petri dishes. Anytime I changed something with the petri dish the cells that I transplanted on it would not thrive and often die off early. If I changed the temperature, nutrients, or cleanliness, the cells would not thrive.
This altered my career course. Instead of being groomed to go into bio tech research or pharmaceuticals, I went in search of a profession that could give the greatest tools and platform to work with environmental factors of the individual. In other words, I wanted to change people’s lifestyle (how they eat, move, and think). I wanted to help them create a sufficient and pure personal petri dish so their DNA would receive what it required and allow them to thrive.
That led me to New York Chiropractic College after undergrad and my continual post grad studies in functional and lifestyle medicine.
Q: What is your main focus or goal as a medical practitioner?
My main goal and focus is to help people create health. We have a massive healthcare system that boasts the worst health outcomes in the history of the world. We apply emergency interventions to chronic lifestyle problems and expect people to get well. The tools and practices you use to put out a fire are different than the tools and practices you use to build a house. Our healthcare system is the fire department — great at putting out fires. The problem is that those interventions are now used for any and all problems. What I do through functional chiropractic, functional medicine, and lifestyle medicine is build the house. We figure out what is deficient and toxic and create an action plan of sufficiency and purity.
As a result, I work with people of all ages. 30% of my clinic is kids. It’s a lot of fun and much like the CrossFit community, we have a tight community within our clinic.
Q: What brought you to CrossFit?
Drea and Jimmy Tapia brought me to CrossFit, the owners of CrossFit Continuum. Before formally doing CrossFit, I was prescribing a short duration, high intensity type fitness routine to many of clients. We met through a mutual connection and realized how similar our messages were and the working relationship grew. They invited me to do a couple of events at the box like the Murph and I started falling in love with it. I went through On Ramp and never looked back. That was September 2013.
What keeps me going is the community, but also the results. At 36 years old I’m stronger, faster, and the best shape of my life… and still see huge potential for improvement.
Q: As someone in the medical profession, what do you think is the most misunderstood part of the CrossFit experience? And how would you correct that misunderstanding?
I think the most misunderstood aspect of CrossFit from an outsider, especially in the healthcare industry, is that they think the risk of injury is too high. They think it’s dangerous. My friend and colleague, Dr. Scott Mills answers this best with, ‘Does your doctor even lift?’ I remember having a debate with a fellow colleague. He continually told his patients to stop doing CrossFit because it is dangerous. Mind you at the time, he had just blown out his back doing yoga and a couple weeks later broke his ankle cycling.
Any sport has a risk of injury, but to say CrossFit has a risk higher than running, soccer, basketball, and even ultimate Frisbee is mythology. How many runners do you know that get injured or have to stop running because they say their knees can’t take it anymore? Ridiculous amounts. People fear what they don’t know… especially doctors who think they know it all.
if you have a doctor that tells you to stop doing CrossFit because you might get injured, just ask him ‘when was the last time you did CrossFit?’
Q: Where do you train? And where do you practice medicine?
I train at CrossFit Continuum in Colorado Springs. My practice is also in Colorado Springs and simply called, ‘Dr. Kurt’s Place: Functional Chiropractic and Lifestyle Medicine.’ My website for the office, blog, podcast, and anything ‘More Health, Less HealthCare’ related is www.MoreHealthLessHealthCare.com.
Q:If you could start over as a crossfitter, what would medical-you tell athlete-you?
I think I would tell the athlete me to create an ‘off season.’ CrossFit is not working out. CrossFit is training. When you look at any professional sports, they all have an off season. For the every day Joe CrossFitter like me, it could be taking a week off every quarter. This is what I shoot for. In fact, right now, I’m doing that. I’m on day 6 of no CrossFit and it has refreshed both my body and my mind to get back into the box. I’m wanting to do this for the next 50 years. When I’m a grandparent, I want to do a hand stand walk down the aisle at my grandkid’s weddings.
I think another piece of advice would be to slow movements down. Neurologically, we use speed to cheat. Decrease speed and load when learning new movements until everything is firing well before increasing load and speed.
Q: What’s your favorite piece of equipment at the box? And least favorite?
My favorite piece of equipment is ME. I love any and all body weight movements (except burpees – nobody likes burpees). My least favorite is deadlifts. Deadlifts are my nemesis. I have some mental block against them when going heavy. I would rather squat snatch and struggle any day than attempt heavy deadlifts.
Q: What do you think is the secret to CrossFit’s crazy success and growth?
It’s the experience. This experience will depend on the specific box but the with the rise in popularity, the majority of boxes provide a great experience. And if you’ve been to one and didn’t like it, there’s one that fits you. We live in a post-modern society where experience is valued more than information. My parents’ generation was a modern society where information was valued over experience. In other words, if our parents were told not to touch a stove because they will burn their hand, they wouldn’t do it. My generation has to experience that hot stove or have someone else experience that hot stove to believe the information.
CrossFit is one of those experiences you can’t describe until you’ve done it. But once you do, you have that experience ingrained in their your system. It leaves you wanting more.
Q: What’s your favorite story from your time with CrossFit so far?
At our 6 am class, there’s a running joke from a dream that I had. There are 2 other female members (you know who you are if you’re reading this) that have strong personalities. I had a dream that our box was putting on an in-house team competition. Teams would be made up of the class time you traditionally attend. They were also requiring that we dress alike to differentiate our teams. When it came to creating our team uniforms, they took it literally and wouldn’t budge at all, so I ended up wearing the traditional female attire of cropped compression pants, a spaghetti strap tank top, and a head band. If I didn’t wear it, we were disqualified.
What happens at 6am, stays at 6am!
A huge thank you goes out to Dr. Kurt for sharing his story with us. Now I know why he likes running and all those body weight movements! And I definitely encourage you to check out his website – www.MoreHealthLessHealthCare.com – when you get the opportunity!
Are you interested in being featured as a box owner, trainer/coach, or athlete? I’d love to hear from you! Click “Contact Us” at the top of the WOD Tales page (or in the right-hand column) and I’ll get in touch!