CrossFit surely seems like the most random exercise program out there to the uninitiated person. We run, we lift, we climb, we swing, we push, we pull, we extend. What these movements have in common is that they are “functional“. By functional, we simply mean that what we do in the gym, we need to be able to do to be independent in life.
The “average person”, knows what they know about CrossFit from watching the CrossFit games. “I’ve seen that on TV, definitely not for me.” Unfortunately, the CrossFit Games do not project an entirely accurate picture of “the sport of fitness”. Yes, CrossFit Games athletes are arguably some of the most “fit” individuals in the world, but no, they don’t demonstrate the heart (through their games performances) of what CrossFit is.
The games take the concept of scoring to the extreme in my opinion, and here’s why. As everyone knows, in CrossFit, we attempt to measure our fitness through timing the completion of our workouts, and counting the volume of our reps we can accomplish in a set amount of time. Why do I say the games take it to the extreme? Simply because the application of scoring is utilized to measure one’s performance against all other competitors. It isn’t used to measure one’s personal performance.
At CrossFit St. Louis, we are working accomplish a few simply expressed objectives:
- Measure our ability to maintain or increase personal work capacity over time
- Provide a community environment where engagement with others keeps us motivated to stay active
- Provide high quality coaching that keeps us moving well and safely
- Maintain our ability to perform functional movements well as we age
“If we lose the ability to perform functional movements, we will lose the ability to live independently”. Though that statement isn’t very sexy, it is a core tenet of the CrossFit philosophy. If you can’t squat, you can’t rise from a chair. If you can’t deadlift, you can’t pick things up from the floor. If you can’t press, you can’t put items away overhead. The list goes on and on.
“But I don’t need to be able to squat with weight on a bar to be able to rise from a chair.” True, The only “load” in rising from a chair is our own body weight. But, if you can squat with a bar, you can certainly rise from that chair without trouble. As we age, our natural ability to do anything physical diminishes. It stands to reason then, that the longer we move under loads, the longer we will will be able to move without them.
The point is simply this. CrossFit can be used as a way to compare oneself to others. The Open is the best way in my opinion to do this. You can quickly get a feel for where you are against arguably, the top 10-20% of people out there your age. But more importantly, CrossFit, when you participate regularly, will go a long way to maintaining your ability to perform functional movements for years to come. And you can measure how you are doing in maintaining your abilities by measuring your performance against yourself, not the rest of the gym.