What CrossFit Is (To me)
What CrossFit Is (To me) or Why Im trying to ride a unicycle
*originally published on www.crossfitadelaide.com Sept 2014*
I’ve been involved with CrossFit for a number of years now and been fortunate enough to see it evolve incredibly rapidly – some of the evolution has been fantastic some of it not so much, recently we’ve been acquiring a few more odds and ends around the gym and more than one person has made the comment that it appears I’m filling the gym with stuff that resembles normal gym equipment as little as possible. It got me thinking and it took me back to the things that got me started with CrossFit in the first place and a time before CrossFit was so accessible with gyms literally everywhere, websites where you could literally buy a full gym setup without having to hunt for hours on the net looking for a piece of equipment or having to make something yourself as it just wasn’t available.
The images below are of the original CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz and the original Gym Jones location, these are what I was looking at and following online 7 years ago when i first came across CrossFit – you’ll probably notice straight away the “stuff” in both of them – cargo nets, campus board, parallel bars and so on (not a 10 cell Rogue rig in site…)
Original Gym Jones
CrossFit Santa Cruz
This is a time when there wasn’t really a mold to base your gym on, you weren’t creating a carbon copy of something someone else had done – people were actually working stuff out for themselves and just playing around to find out what works! Looking at these pictures it reminds me of what “CrossFit” means to me – it is being trying to be adept at as many physical skills as possible, a big part of it is trying new sports and activities (the ability to learn new skills is a skill within itself). The “Sport” side of CrossFit has become so massive with the CrossFit Games becoming so massive that people are seeing that side of CrossFit as the be all and end all, training purely with the purpose of being more competitive at “the Sport of Fitness” rather than looking at CrossFit holistically – its about being as strong, fit and healthy as you can be to get the most out of life (as far as we know you only get one crack at it..) Being able to dominate at the Open is nice but don’t forget to enjoy the ride as well.
Early on CrossFit would laugh at “commercial” gyms with their rows of machines, fancy facilities etc it was the antithesis of what CrossFit stood for, CrossFit was an underground movement tucked away in warehouses in industrial areas where the training was raw. Ironically a lot of the direction CrossFit gyms are trending now is exactly towards the things it once laughed at – tanning booths, juice bars and plasma screens are now appearing inside CrossFit boxes, someone might think its odd to have a campus board and climbing holds in a gym, I think that is the apitomy of exactly what should be in CrossFit gym (just because the workouts on a flat screen monitor – it still doesnt do the work for you…)
Hard work and classic training never goes out of style – check the 1800’s gym below, rings, pommel horses, stuff to climb on and everyone in there looking like a dapper beast
Old School Cool
Obviously I love the sport side of it as I have spent the last couple of years putting on the majority of events in South Australia and travelling the USA every year for the Games but it doesn’t define why I do CrossFit or what it means to me. I love hopping on a unicycle and wobbling my ass around for an afternoon, I love hanging on the campus board and finding out that its way harder than the internet made it look, there is a definite intrinsic value in trying and doing things just because. Spending 20mins playing on the slackline might not have the same easily quantifiable benefits as say 5 x 5 back squats but there is a definite value to it (not to say your entire training program should be based around messing around but there is a useful place for it in there)
Part of CrossFits original doctrine was based on the workouts / movements being constantly varied (to the point of almost being randomised) in order to be better prepared for the demands of real life, we know that training for sport which have set demands that a more structured training plan will be able to deliver more effective (and reliable) results than a randomised plan. I think it is possible to get the best of both worlds (and its what we strive for at CFA), there is underlying structure to what we do to ensure that everyone makes effective consistent progress but we also look to provide regular opportunities to do different things for the sake of doing different things
To summarise what Im saying – get in to the gym as often as you can, see every workout for what it is and no matter what it is get the most out it, try new things, mess around – you’ve been giving one body (and for most of you its in better shape than 90% of the population) and one life – make the most of it and do some stuff (CFA is the perfect environment and it has a group of like minded people) hang off the campus board, work on your handstand, enter an obstacle race, learn a new skill – being fit and healthy is more than numbers on a scale, reps, weights and times, its also your attitude to how you approach life and what you do with yours (hence why’ll you see me trying to ride a unicycle for no useful reason).