Intensity and trainer responsibility.

in·ten·si·ty (n-tns-t)
n. pl. in·ten·si·ties
1. Exceptionally great concentration, power, or force.

CrossFit posts videos daily…the vids feature athletes doing some uber-cool stuff, and displaying an athletic prowess to which many aspire. HQ also posts videos of people collapsing, falling over, and literally giving everything they’ve got and then some to a WOD.

HQ is also gearing up for the Games, the annual competition to find the fittest CrossFitter around. This leads to some super crazy, exceptionally demanding WODs. They’re awesome and awe-inspiring to watch, and many of the athletes who don’t make the cut for the Games have incredibly inspirational stories to share.

Cool…but…

Please…please please don’t watch those videos and assume “Wow. So THAT’s CrossFit…”
It IS CrossFit, but getting to that point is a journey.

Rare is the athlete who enters a CrossFit affiliate and is able to go full on balls to the wall crazy WOD work. Most athletes entering an affiliate are entering a whole new world of training, regardless of their physical fitness past. The movements are new. The combinations are new. The programming is different. The application is unique. Even seasoned runners or lifters are left gasping for breath and feeling like they’ve been hit by a Mack truck after their first WOD. There are range of motion issues trainers have to assess, there are skills trainers must teach, and there’s a mindset that must be cultivated.

The first month of CrossFit is a commitment issue. The athlete must commit to making a fairly substantial change in his or her life. New movements are learned, and bad habits are ‘unlearned’. Athletes must adapt to the methodology, and learn to work through the suck.
The second month of CrossFit really starts teaching the athlete more complex movements and their practical application. The athlete starts feeling more confident in his or her strength and speed, and performance improvements are marked. They’re a little more aware of what the WOD really implies when first reading it on the blog or the board. Their clothes have started fitting differently – better around the waist, perhaps tighter in the ass and thighs. T-shirts are starting to have some breathing room in the middle, but the shoulders and back are starting to fill out. Friends and associates start noticing “something different.”
Month three, the real fun begins. Now the athlete is sure-footed enough on nearly all movements, and can consistently apply them with raging intensity. This is where the collapsing, falling down, nearly puking mindset comes from. The rush, the “high” if you will, of completing a WOD at breakneck intensity is a craving, and with any luck, the athlete considers the box a home away from home.

My point with all of that is this:
CrossFit requires commitment, consistency, and THEN intensity. Intensity is the final piece of the puzzle. I’m not saying that the first two months should LACK intensity, but keep the learning curve in perspective.

My second point concerns trainer responsibility.

I love CrossFit. I love training. I love love love when you guys hit a PR, or do something for the first time. When I see the look in your eyes…that triumph…I swell with pride for you and your achievement. There’s no question that I want only the absolute best outcome for you.
My responsibility is first to your body. I know that climbing a rope upside down barefooted then doing a triple backflip off the top after slapping the tape is freaking awesome. But that’s not happening on my watch, because honestly…you’re gonna hurt yourself. I don’t need any of you on an episode of Tosh.0 for stupid human tricks.
I’m going to make sure you can do each of these movements correctly, safely, and consistently. When you squat, your heels better be down and your chest better be up and your ass better be hitting grass. Otherwise, I’m NOT going to load you up with an overhead squat. You can’t do it safely.
If you have a shoulder injury, you can bet your ass that I’m going to do everything I can to protect it without coddling you. I’m not going to bubblewrap you, but I’m also not going to be stupid with what we’re doing here.
Our responsibility is to get you to the best level of fitness you’ve ever had, without hurting you along the way. Sometimes you’ll want to take the bit between your teeth and run with it, but that’s a great way to lead to injury. I’m not a fan of heading down that road.

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