The Question of Crossfit (Response from Adam Campbell)

This is the third response, written by Adam Campbell, to my original posting which asked the question of “how do you view CrossFit?”  If you would like to read Cam’s response the link is here, if you would like to read Bob’s response the link is here. If you would like to read the original article, the link is here.

– GPS

Walk in to any gym now and you’ll see a wide array of people from all ages and walks of life. Since “the needs of people vary not in kind but in intensity”, it makes sense that they’re all there. But, the question that isn’t being asked in most gyms is WHY are they there? Let me explain.

CrossFit

Let’s say you’re a gym owner and a client walks in. Said client has never been very active, but isn’t completely inactive either. They want what most people want; get healthy, look good naked, be fit, etc. Would you throw them a competition level workout and tell them this is the path to fitness? No. Yet, you see this EVERYWHERE. People talking about how they can’t wait for 14.1/2/3/4, strategizing on how best to tackle them, and guesstimating how well they will do when these same people walked into a CrossFit gym for the first time only a few months back. What took this client from wanting to get HEALTHY to wanting to be crowned FITTEST ON EARTH? And I don’t mean to single out the qualifier workouts. I’m sure most people reading can think back to some workout that took 20, 30, maybe even 40+ minutes to complete. Did anyone stop and think “guh…never again. That did nothing for me”. No; chances are they thought “just got my WOD on…heck ya, can wait to do it again tomorrow!”

One of my favorite taglines comes from a program very near and dear to me; “what are you training for”? I think it sums up the question of CrossFit quite nicely; what are you hoping to achieve from training? By continually looking at a program utilizing this lens, the trainer can effectively judge what he or she is doing in the context of how beneficial it is to achieving the end goal of the client. On the other hand, the client can view the program the trainer is recommending and determine if this will help them achieve their goals. In the case of an untrained and inexperienced individual, it becomes that much more important that the trainer take this burden very seriously; they literally have the power to make or break someone at this point. Am I saying that maybe, just maybe, 21/15/9 for time isn’t right for everyone? Yes. Yes I am. Am I saying that it’s evil/stupid/nevereverdoitneverever? No.

Let’s circle back to that client that walked in; most people with a rudimentary knowledge of strength and conditioning would recommend some combination of heavy lifting (heavy being relative here), maybe one day of sprint work, one day of SHORT metabolic conditioning (or MetCon, if you want to sound hip), and lots of walking. So the client gets on this program and really like its, but sees the folks who are chowing down weight plates like no ones business and wants to get in on that. I would say that at this point, the trainer and the client need to sit down and reassess what the client is training for. Remember, he or she initially came in to get FIT, and the goal is to get them there in the most optimum way. If their goal is still to get fit, then it’s the job of the trainer to discuss the pros and cons of changing the training cycle, and how this new cycle can potentially shift focus away from the initial goal.

Am I saying this is wrong, and that someone can’t EVER change their mind and decide they want to do something else in their training life? Heck no! I’ve done that plenty of times! What I AM saying is that, as long as that lens of “what are you training for” is maintained, effective trainers will be able to steer their clients into the most optimum training program. I’m also saying that it might become necessary for clients to take a step back once and awhile and make sure that the training they are doing is consistent with what they really want to achieve. The upside of CrossFit is that it made fitness enjoyable and fun; however, this can also be seen as a down side. The client who initially wanted just to get fit and in good health starts having fun doing Fran, Murph, Grace, Isabel…and eventually forgets why they came to the gym in the first place. Becoming fit and healthy is replaced with being on the whiteboard. Again, is this bad? No. As long as both client and trainer recognize that there has been a departure from the original training goal.

Having a goal is what separates exercising from training. One TRAINS for a goal, but EXERCISES because its fun. It’s when people forget what they are training for and decide to start exercising that they try the new workout program Rich Froning is on, while throwing in some CrossFit Endurance workouts, one day of Gymnastics work, and using intermittent fasting and low carb to get shredded for beach season. Have a goal, know what you’re training for, and keep that in focus. Everything else is gluten-free cake.

Adam