2014: Question Everything.
The new year is upon us. Tradition demands that we recite an obligatory list of affirming changes which we will endeavor to bring to fruition in the coming 12 month cycle. While “getting in shape” or “starting my diet” usually top the list for the average reveler, we CrossFitters tend to think in CrossFit Resolutions.
These so-called New Year’s resolutions, for us, manifest themselves as goals – “finally gonna hit that #200 snatch. Gonna make it to regionals as an individual. Gonna get my Level 1 cert or my USAW cert. Compete in 2 competitions in 2014.”
My challenge to everyone out there – one of your 2014 goals, in addition to making the games, regionals, getting your first muscle up, etc: Question Everything.
Now, I am not talking about being combative, disagreeable or argumentative. (well – maybe just a little) I am talking about seeking to understand the reasons that you do what you do, on a daily basis. Let’s face it – most of us live CrossFit in ways that far outweigh that of a normal hobby, fitness program or casual commitment. Many of us eat, sleep, and breathe this sport and as such, are exposed to so much every day that can potentially be life altering. It is our duty to question. It’s in our best interest and in the best interest in the longevity of the very sport itself.
1. Question your coaches
Every day we walk into our box, look at the whiteboard, and simply carry out what is placed before us. That’s a lot of trust we’re putting in our coaches. Do you ever ask why you’re doing what you’re doing? Let’s say your coach has programmed Russian Deadlifts. Do you know why? Ask. If they don’t know, then you’re beginning to uncover a potential problem. You’re educating yourself in the name of better fitness.
If you are setting up for a snatch and your coach tells you to get your butt down and your chest up – do you just accept that coaching cue and comply? Or do you seek to understand the reason for the cue- the purpose of the set up in order to become a better lifter? Ask. If your coach says “external rotation“, don’t just nod and hope it comes clear – ask for clarification. Ask for a cue that makes real-world sense and can be applied now, logically and effectively. If they keep yelling at you to get lower in your squat and you feel like your ass is nearly on the ground, ask for some video so you can both break down what’s going on. Become a partner in your fitness, not just a passive participant.
And if your coach keep yelling “active traps!” please, for me, say “what the fuck are active traps??”
2. Question your box
You are paying good money to your CrossFit gym to help you achieve your fitness goals. Is that happening?
Does your box even ask about goals? If so, question them as to why that is. Do they offer a one-size-fits-all daily metcon, or do they have several levels of programs available to match you up with the one that fits you best? If you asked the box owner to define the over-arching philosophy of the box, would he/she be able to do that? Are they a competition-centric box, a general health and fitness box, do they focus on community and family above all else? Ask.
How do they program? Make it up as they go? Weekly? Periodized cycles? If you don’t know, you’re certainly putting a lot of trust in your box owners to deliver a solid, progressive, effective training regimen to you. Shouldn’t you want to know how they come up with the programming? And if, God forbid, it’s being done on the fly, you certainly want to know that and again, make a decision as to how you might proceed knowing that. I, personally, would not trust my health and wellness to a CrossFit box that is making shit up as they go, especially if that tends to be 20-minute ass-wasting chippers, endless hero wods, and day after day of “girls”.
Ask. “Tell me how you plan to get me from point A to point B, safely, and effectively. What qualifies you to do so? I need more than your L1 Cert”. Interview these folks – and if they don’t pass, don’t give them the job. They work for you – attending their CrossFit gym is not a privilege they are bestowing upon you.
3. Question CrossFit, Inc
Technically, you can ignore CrossFit HQ. As a member of an affiliate, that’s your home, your community, and your focus.
But like, say, the Catholic Church, besides your parish on the corner, there is the Vatican. As a Catholic, you can just go to church, or you can involve yourself in the workings and politics of the Vatican. Some Catholics highly support everything the Pope does, blindly swear allegiance and loyalty to all of the rules, while others feel like the foolish politics and edicts of the Pope and his cardinals (child abuse cover ups, antiquated laws about contraception, women priests, etc) are destroying the church at large.
CrossFit HQ is the Vatican. And if you care, truly care about your sport, your fitness regimen, your obsession, you will question them. Ask hard questions about programming, social media, policy and tactics. Demand that they represent you, the affiliate, in a way that helps you grow your business. Demand they represent you, the athlete, to the world they effect. CrossFit, Inc has a major and ever-growing influence on the world of fitness. That influence may impact your bottom line. Does that give you warm fuzzies, or sometimes make you face-palm yourself? Have you ever had to defend CrossFit to clients or potential clients because of some HQ-level action? (“Making 7s out of 10s”, or the CrossFit for Hope poster, anyone?)
And here’s a newsflash. The “Pope” is fallible. Question.
4. Question yourself.
Ask yourself why you are doing this. Is it for you, or is it for someone else? Do you have specific goals, and if so, how are you going about achieving them? If you want to get a muscle up, for instance – do you have a plan as to how that’s going to happen, or are you just hoping it will? Do you come in to the box every day one-minute before and leave one minute after, and then lament as to how you don’t seem to be able to do double unders?
Ask yourself what you dread – wallballs, pullups, whatever it might be – then attack them with a vengeance in 2014. Decide to not wait until your body catches up with your desire – command it to by sheer force of will and hard work. Research, watch videos, train, learn. Ask.
Ask yourself how you can make yourself a better CrossFitter - by making every rep prefect, every workout 100% effort? By going above and beyond at the gym, cheering on those who are still finishing rather than putting away your stuff while the workout is still going on? By being completely transparent with your scores – no repping yourself when it’s appropriate? Hell, maybe even cleaning up your DNA after a massive sweat-session rather than leaving it to dry on the bars and on the floor.
Question yourself – are you injured and you know it, but you’re pushing through the pain anyway? What does your head tell you about that pain – that you’re headed for surgery if you keep pushing? Sometimes, asking the hard questions requires the hard answer, that maybe it’s time to ease off the throttle.
Above All, Question.
This is your fitness. This is your body. Your sport. CrossFit belongs to you. Without you, it does not exist. You have the right to question. Questioning leads to knowledge. Knowledge leads to growth, effectiveness, and safety. Growth, effectiveness and safety lead to long-term health, which is exactly how CrossFit should be impacting you.
Happy 2014. Train Smart.