“The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.” - Greg Glassman
My first reaction after reading the quote above from Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, was... Duh! This may be the first time you read that quote, and although I am more familiar with it, I can imagine we have come to the same conclusions. The main one being that it only makes sense that the needs of Usain Bolt in his prime and the needs of Grandma, as athletes, differ. I want to look past that obvious conclusion and take a deeper look at what Greg Glassman is getting at in his statement and how that relates to me as a Coach and you as an Athlete.
The first thing I want to touch on is identifying who we are in Glassman's equation and what that means to our time in the gym. Let's start with eliminating the easiest of the two options first. So far, none of our members are Olympic athletes! Now, time to be honest with ourselves. If we were to write out a line placing an Olympic athlete on one end and grandparent on the other, where would you place yourself along that line? Where would you put yourself? Don't worry, no one is collecting your paper with your name on it. If we were to take a look the majority of you might have placed yourself more in the middle or upper half. Maybe another group of you would put your X closer to the grandparent side, or even some of you loud and proud put your X right on the grandparent side. All of these answers are correct.
So the next question is, now that we have identified who we are in the equation what does that mean?
After assessing where we fall into our equation we can now identify each and every one of your needs as it relates to you. Here is where your coach comes into play. Having a coach is an important part of the process, and we take pride in our coaching staff at Mighty Warrior CrossFit. We have all been trained to identify faults in movements to make sure you are moving in the safest way possible, along with understanding threshold training and how to also maximize your output during a workout or strength movement. That is what makes CrossFit and its infinite ability to modify so important when defining your needs as an athlete and how it relates to each individual workout and workload. The needs of all of our athletes start at mastering a basic level of mechanics so that you are always moving safely. After your moving safely, then takes communicating with the athlete, assessing goals for the future and again keeping movement patterns, longevity, and overall health as our main focus and points to keep touching base with.
The last part of the equation we need to make sure to understand is what the difference is between degree and kind. If we are to differ how we train by degree and not kind, how are we defining those two during a typical day at the gym?
When we are talking about degree we are looking specifically at intensity. This comes in many shapes and forms. For some it means adjusting the weights while for others it might mean adjusting the number of reps, shortening a run or finding a modification to maintain the stimulus of any given workout. Keep in mind there is a difference between the stimulus coaches are looking for, meaning how your body will react to the workout, and intensity, which is usually how quick we work or how many reps we complete in any given amount of time.
To switch gears, when we talk about kind we are talking almost solely about our functional movements. Everyone in our gym and CrossFit gyms around the world are performing the same movements and movement patterns that we base all of our classes around. As humans, we have been squatting, running, jumping, throwing, pulling and picking things up for our entire existence. That is why these things are highlighted in CrossFit, due to there ability to promote increased muscle strength and promote repeatable movement patterns for the long haul. They are safe for your body and will help when you use those same muscle groups to press, pull or pick things up when you are outside of the gym. That is why if you watch higher level athletes do a pull-up, push-up or air squat you feel a connection with them doing the same movement that you have been doing day in and day out.
CrossFit is for everyone, from young to old, fit to unfit, in shape or very overweight. We all have the same basic need for movement. We will continue to teach proper movement and form throughout our classes and stress the importance of safety. We try everyday to get better at understanding where each individual member strengths, weaknesses, needs and wants and help prescribe the right amount of intensity, in the degree by which we practice the movements. No level of degree is better or worse, and it all depends on the needs of each person. So next time we are assessing our fitness level, remember that we are always differing intensity and degree. This may even be different from day to day, movement to movement. Take a chance to assess where you fall into this equation and talk to your coach about some of your goals or needs as an athlete. Don't be so hard on yourself, the pressures off, remember none of us are training for the Olympics.
Come one, come all. Is CrossFit really for everyone?