FIT for CARE: A compassionate sports community to support palliative care in three countries

Dr Juan-Pablo Leiva is founder of FIT for CARE, a not-for-profit association developed by athletes in support of palliative care. Dr Leiva also works as a palliative care consultant at CUDECA Hospice Foundation, a specialist palliative care provider in southern Spain. Here, he explains how functional physical training, or a ‘workout of the day’ may contribute to increased public awareness of palliative care.

Dr Juan-Pablo Leiva (second from left) and colleagues

Dr Juan-Pablo Leiva (second from left) and colleagues

In the past few decades we have become accustomed to the idea – and the practice ­– that the achievement of optimal health and wellbeing in every nation must be in a partnership with government, health services and every major sector of the community. Today, the call for ‘health-promoting palliative care’ or for the development of compassionate communities is a parallel call for just this type of engagement concerning dying, death, loss and care. It is a movement towards the recognition that end-of-life care is ‘everyone´s responsibility’.1  From this concept has emerged FIT for CARE, a non-profit association, developed by athletes who practise functional training as professionals and amateurs.

FIT for CARE supports palliative care for children, teenagers and adults around the world. Our mission is to provide financial donations to non-profit palliative care centres that support terminally ill patients in Spain, Costa Rica and El Salvador. We also educate athletes and the general public about palliative care and how to access it. Our vision is to facilitate access to palliative care for all who need it: children, teenagers and adults. Why do we do this? Our motivation comes from the recognition that quality palliative care is a human right and our desire to support patients from the community.

Most athletes who support us are from sports communities that are passionate about CrossFit® (a constantly varied, high intensity programme, using functional movements to improve fitness). A characteristic of this kind of sports community is its fraternity and support to others. This has made it easier for groups to join and work together in Spain and Europe. Before every FIT for CARE sports event athletes and the public hear a talk about palliative care, how the team works, and how patients can access the service. We started our activities in January 2015 and already have pledges of commitment from Sweden, UK and Belgium, and some encouraging interest from Canada and New Zealand.

Javier López Osuna, is the owner and coach at CrossFit Al-Ándalus. He and his crew worked hard welcoming athletes and the public for the final event of the ‘Malaga FIT for CARE Affiliate League’ (developed by CrossFit Fuengirola) held recently at his facilities, where FIT for CARE raised almost 1,500 Euros for palliative care. He says:

Javier López Osuna, owner and coach at CrossFit Al-Ándalus

Javier López Osuna, owner and coach at CrossFit Al-Ándalus

“Before being involved in FIT for CARE I had no idea what palliative care was. When I learnt what palliative care teams do for people I realized that it’s a priority service, because there will be a point in our lives when all of us could have that need, for ourselves or our loved ones.”

On 26 May, FIT for CARE held a press conference in collaboration with the CUDECA Hospice Foundation in Benalmadena, Spain, to sign an agreement pledging our commitment to support palliative care services in Costa Rica, “Fundación Albergue San Gabriel”, and “Hospital Divina Providencia” in El Salvador, and CUDECA Hospice Foundation.

To celebrate World Hospice and Palliative Care Day, we’re planning an international sports event on 11 October: ‘One Day/ One WOD/One World’ (a WOD means ‘workout of the day’). We’re asking CrossFit® communities around the world to support palliative care by joining FIT for Care in this special event.

Thus, through the Compassionate Communities Public Health approach, 2 and using sport as a medium through which to raise funds and public awareness, FIT for CARE is encouraging communities, in Spain and Central America, to support patients and their families and to promote the invaluable work of local palliative care teams.


  1. Kellehear A. Compassionate Communities: end-of-life care as everyone´s responsibility. QJM. 2013 Dec;106(12):1071-5
  2. An Overview of Compassionate Communities in England. Murray Hall Community Trust. National Council for Palliative Care Dying Matters Coalition. July 2013. Available to download. 

Links and resources

This entry was posted in ADVOCACY & POLICY, NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL REPORTS and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to FIT for CARE: A compassionate sports community to support palliative care in three countries

  1. Pingback: FIT for CARE | Fundacion Pro Unidad de Cuidado Paliativo

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