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Doctor Turned Affiliate Owner Battles Chronic Disease From Her Garage

November 26, 2020 by
Photo credit: Bobbi Rockett
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Ronda Rockett was a family doctor for 12 years before she opened CrossFit Launchpad in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Three to four years later, she has 55 unlimited members, a couple dozen punch card members and several coaches. And it’s all out of her garage.

One big thing: Rockett, with a lifetime of medical training, has seen firsthand the things CrossFit can do for chronic disease.

  • Every member has dropped body fat. 
  • Another lowered his anti-diabetic medication.
  • Others decreased their inflammatory markers for rheumatoid arthritis.

And she isn’t the only one who has noticed the impact. One of her members is Stpehen Wiviott, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. As an avid runner coming into CrossFit, in two years he has lost fat, gained muscle and feels fitter overall.

Even more than that, he echoed Rockett in the impact CrossFit Launchpad is making with reducing weight and body fat, and increasing muscle.

  • “As a cardiologist, I know that sustained over time these changes translate to less hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes and lipid abnormalities – all risk factors for heart attack and stroke,” he said.  
  • “There are athletes with arthritis or other chronic diseases that have reduced pain and increased mobility.”

In fact, Wiviott’s clinical and research work focuses primarily on disease management, as well as developing new treatments to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes.

  • “We have long known that diet and exercise are key components to long-term health,” said Wiviott. 
  • “We have learned that traditional cardiovascular training, resistance training, mobility, and high-intensity intervals all have positive impacts on health.” 
  • “The fact that CrossFit incorporates all of these features is particularly attractive to me in thinking about how to counsel my patients.”

But it didn’t take owning an Affiliate for Rockett to bring CrossFit and medicine together.

Photo credit: Bobbi Rockett

Rockett found CrossFit in 2009 through CrossFit New England. In fact, she made the gym’s competitive team and traveled to the Ranch to compete at the Games that year. The fitness regimen bled over into her medical practice.

  • “I would pull out my prescription pad and I would write workouts for my patients,” said Rockett. “I would sometimes get down on the floor in the exam room and demonstrate burpees and squats.”

However, she would get frustrated because her patients would run out of workouts in a few weeks. She knew what she needed and couldn’t give it to them.

But, she hadn’t planned to open a gym. In fact, she had left the practice to take care of a busy family with three kids, two dogs and a surgeon as a husband. After a friend suggested Rockett start an exercise class for both of their fifth grade daughters, things just escalated from there.

Here she is, four years later and in the midst of a pandemic, running classes in her garage and a basketball court outside. Her gym is changing lives and fighting chronic disease.

But not every doctor sees the benefits like Rockett and Wiviott. When Rockett first left her practice, she let the other medical practitioners she had worked with know about her affiliate. 

She had a specific goal to help diabetics. And doctors are financially incentivized to help patients with diabetes to get it under control.

  • “Not one single doctor has ever sent me a client,” said Rockett.
  • “That’s a little frustrating because here I am, I have this magic potion, I have this magic pill, and it’s not getting into the hands of the right people.”
  • “The people who believe in CrossFit, that’s preaching to the choir. It’s the ones who don’t know about it.”

The bottom line: Despite the frustration, Rockett has carried on, impacting one life after another. Emphasizing healthy movement, diet and sleep, CrossFit Launchpad will continue to take a holistic approach to training clients. And Rockett will continue to bring two worlds closer together via her garage.

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