Julie Foucher Talks Medical Residency, CrossFit Health and Her Current Workout Routine
Four years have passed since then, and although Foucher is no longer vying for the title of Fittest on Earth, she has certainly maintained her status as one of the most well-known individuals in the CrossFit community. In fact, Foucher’s star may have only grown.
As long-time CrossFit fans will remember, Foucher retired from elite CrossFit competition to pursue medical school full-time. And that she did. Foucher is currently in her second year of family medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. She has just a year and a half of medical training left.
What’s the plan after she graduates? How often has she been making it to the box? We recently caught up with Foucher to ask her those questions and more, curious about what this CrossFit legend thinks about where her life, and CrossFit, are heading in the years to come.
“Right now, I'm spending a lot of time in outpatient settings and working with patients in the way that you would think of when you think of your family doctor,” says Foucher when asked what her typical day of work entails.
“There's also still a lot of time spent taking care of people in the hospital, working with patients throughout pregnancy, delivering their babies, and taking care of kids. We spend time in the nursing home as well.”
I love family medicine because it's such a great mix of people in all different stages of life.
“I love family medicine because it's such a great mix of people in all different stages of life,” she adds. “You get to work a lot with whole families.”
Foucher notes her experiences with CrossFit as sparking her interest in family medicine, and ultimately, leading her to select it as her specialty. She was fascinated by the range of individuals whose lives were affected and bettered because of CrossFit.
“I became much more passionate about preventing disease, rather than being on the other side taking care of people once they get very sick and are in the hospital.”
I became much more passionate about preventing disease, rather than being on the other side taking care of people once they get very sick and are in the hospital.
“I feel like I, personally, can have a bigger impact that way. In family medicine, a lot of it is about educating people and working on optimizing lifestyle factors in order to prevent chronic disease from happening in the first place.”
Foucher is far from the only CrossFitter focused on this.
In January 2018, CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman launched CrossFit Health, which is described on its website as “an investigation into the ills of modern medicine.”
Foucher notes that CrossFit trainers and gyms have worked to improve people’s health and fitness for years; that’s nothing new. She views CrossFit Health as a more formal platform to bring together doctors and medical professionals together to share their expertise and experiences. It’s something she resonated with the moment Glassman approached her about it.
In family medicine, a lot of it is about educating people and working on optimizing lifestyle factors.
“It started as a blog that Greg Glassman wanted to use to expose and create discussion about the problems with our modern healthcare system,” says Foucher.
"Then, he started hosting CrossFit Level 1 Seminars specifically for physicians that physicians can attend for free. He estimates that there's a significant number of CrossFit physicians out there and realizes the importance of exposing them to the true methodology and purpose of CrossFit that you learn through the Level 1.”
That’s where Foucher got involved.
Already a member of the Level 1 Seminar Staff – a small team of experienced CrossFit trainers who lead seminars around the globe to teach and certify new CrossFit trainers – Foucher said Glassman asked if she’d be interested in being one of the Seminar Staff trainers at the first few physician-specific Level 1 Seminars. These seminars would soon become known as the MDL1.
“It is interesting the conversations that happen and the connections that are made between physicians at the MDL1,” says Foucher, who has adjusted her work schedule so she can be present as many MDL1’s as possible.
“My time has been limited as I've been going through medical school and residency, but I felt like this was really important for me to be a part of.”
“I think there's a lot of positive that comes from the networking between these doctors. They're able to support each other and share ideas. Many of them are already working to help their patients understand there is a better way, by helping them with nutrition and getting them into CrossFit affiliates.”
“It’s a unique position to be in where I have that experience as a Seminar Staff member and then I can relate to the physicians by working in the healthcare system myself. I really enjoy being there.”
It’s a unique position to be in where I have that experience as a Seminar Staff member and then I can relate to the physicians by working in the healthcare system myself.
Even when Foucher was competing in the Games, she remembers being just as impacted and awe-struck by the individuals who had transformed their lives through CrossFit as she was by her fellow competitors on the competition floor.
“My favorite part of the Games has always been the commercials,” she says, laughing about the fact that she has a bit more time to watch them now that she’s a spectator rather than one of the athletes. “I think that CrossFit has done a great job of highlighting those lifestyle stories in the commercials.”
CrossFit now is really trying to highlight the dramatic impact it can have on people's quality of life and their medical conditions.
She sees recent changes to the Games qualification process as a bigger effort to highlight these stories.
“CrossFit now is really trying to highlight the dramatic impact it can have on people's quality of life and their medical conditions. I think it is important that we put those stories towards the front.”
“I don't think that it takes anything away from the importance of the Games or anything that the athletes who are competing at the Games are doing,” adds Foucher. “What the athletes are doing is so incredible. All of us can learn from these individuals and use what they do as inspiration to optimize our own lives.”
When asked whether there’s a chance we’ll ever see her back on the Games competition floor, Foucher laughs.
What the athletes are doing is so incredible. All of us can learn from these individuals and use what they do as inspiration to optimize our own lives.
“CrossFit has evolved so much over the last four years since I stopped competing.”
The calls out the most monumental moment of her personal CrossFit journey over the last year—joining a new gym, Black Flag CrossFit in Avon Ohio.
“I absolutely love this gym,” says Foucher. “My first year of residency was lot more demanding. Now, I usually start work a little bit later in the morning so I'm trying to do morning workouts. I've never really been a morning workout person but I'm enjoying that now that I am doing classes again.”
CrossFit has evolved so much over the last four years since I stopped competing.
In terms of what’s next for Foucher’s career, finishing residency is her focus. Like all residents, she’s not certain where she’ll end up once she does finish, but she is excited to see and get to work.
Foucher’s husband is a newly practicing family physician himself, and ultimately, their long-term goal is to have a practice together.
“We want to have a practice that's closely tied to our local CrossFit affiliate because we think that relationship is crucial for exposing patients to a healthier lifestyle. The hardest part is often walking through the door, and once inside you realize that you're not that different from a lot of people who are there and who are doing CrossFit.”
“I'm not sure exactly at what time that will come into play,” she adds. “But it’s definitely in our future.”
The hardest part is often walking through the door, and once inside you realize that you're not that different from a lot of people who are there and who are doing CrossFit.