Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CrossFit Community Week Summary

What a great week!

I was able to get 5 affiliate visits in, along with a nice workout with a collection of avid CrossFitters in a "globo" gym.  The process was an interesting one to say the least.  With my usually high expectations, I sent out emails to 12 different affiliates all around the greater Washington, DC area.  I was able to get 5 affiliates to gladly accept my request for a visit, a few others responded that they would not be able to accomodate me at that time (their reasons were more than understandable), three non responses and one affiliate flat out turned down the idea.  Not going to lie, I did not expect a response like that last one, especially from this particular box; oh well, you never really know what's going to happen when you throw out new ideas.

I started off my journey with a couple major points in mind: first, I wanted to feel out the different spaces and coaches to get the root methods of that specific gym.  You see, while CrossFit has a definition, and has a manual and a theory, it is also openly understood to be an open-forum training method.  What this means is that any CrossFit coach has the freedom to put his/her twist to the programming based on what he/she feels is the most effective way to train.  Second, I wanted to plant the seeds to connecting ideals.  What I mean by this is that I personally have very strong feelings towards promoting a community around the world that believes in and supports fitness as a major roll in peoples lives.  The more I get into it, the more I realize that CrossFit is such a perfect vessel for this concept.  And with this week of CrossFitting, I hoped to enforce my conclusion.  And lastly, I just wanted to get in some great workouts.  That's the selfish side of the adventure...

My visits were so much fun!  I was able to meet some great minds and talk shop with a huge collection of fitness nuts like me.  And, of course, I was able to get some pretty memorable workouts in.  Along the way I took a few things in that will continue to stick with me as I expand on my travels.  The main thing is that the people I talked to, all of them, truly believe in the community.  While the number one thing you will find at any other gym out there around the world (and I have been to a TON of different gyms...almos around the world) is the push to get more memberships, CrossFit affiliates have a little different agenda.  The goal with all these coaches, the reason they got involved with CrossFit, and even more involved by opening their own affiliate, was to promote fitness and get people active.  They all seem to have this understanding that the best way to get people to love exercise, is to make them feel comfortable pushing their limits.  Again, a comparison to your typical workout facility: one, people crowded into the cardio rooms and circuit training machines, with their iPods in and moving at a nice aerobic threshold rate in general.  Then the CrossFit box: people sweating, pushing their anaerobic thresholds everyday, music pumping and coaches and athletes alike cheering everyone on to go a little farther, do one more rep.  This is wheree people go to get in shape, and all the coaches know and respect this.

The enjoyable part about meeting these different coaches was exactly what I hoped for.  Different training methodologies.  I found extremely structured programming, and easy, relaxed programming.  We had strength bias, we had straight metcon focus.  And one place had what I thought was just, well, the coolest: obscure objects (rocks, and such) to lift and throw around, true GPP (general physical preparedness, a CrossFit goal for those of you who don't know).  Coaches came from very different backgrounds: bodybuilding, power lifting, military, sports and sometimes even nothing active.  With these various backgrounds came different approches to training.  Some coaches would make up workouts and use workouts found from CrossFit mainsite or other well-known CrossFit blogs and resources.  Other coaches had serious, almost scientific approches to their programming while yet others had a system in line, but it was not so serious.  It became clear to me very quickly that different personality types would find it pretty easy to find the proper affiliate for their specific needs.  CrossFit MPH is for the athlete looking to make serious gains in their fitness, to see tangible and measurable progress on a regular basis.  CrossFit DC was more of an open workout affiliate, they had less class availability, and because of that, had no real need for that regular structure (while their gains were certainly very measurable, a story of a week before where 12 of 14 PR'd on deadlift supports that).

CrossFit Balance has a pretty detailed Foundations course all athletes must attend, while Capital Jiu-Jitsu allows athletes to join in a WOD whenever.  And Primal, well, they seem to have a good combination of very serious focus and loose "get after it however you can" focus; pretty damn versatile all around.  And then of course there was that fun meet up with a few CrossFitters at a "globo" gym.  This defined something even greater for me.  It showed that CrossFit is even more than what I hoped, it is more than a "box" or official affiliate.  It truly can be just a theory of fitness that people can practice where and when they choose.  And while it helps to have a space to work, and like-minded people to work with and support, it still exists.  And it can exist anywhere.

While all these coaches and athletes believe in CrossFit, and that it's base definition (constantly varied functional movement at high intensity) is true, they all take this definition and add their own little twists on how they put it to practice.  What this says to me is that, just like all people, all CrossFit is different.  And it is because these differences that make CrossFit so acceptable for anyone out there.

So, I will continue to travel around (two days last weekend at Albany CrossFit was so much fun), meeting new people, athletes and coaches and trying out more workouts.  I will continue to open my mind to all the different approaches to working out, and I will do my best to share everything I learn with as many people as I can.  I believe in all this so strongly, and the more I expand my adventures, the more I realize that others share these beliefs with me.

I am working on the CrossFit Community Article now, it should be out some time in the next couple weeks.  If anyone has any connections with CrossFit HQ and the journal, please let me know, I have been trying to reach people with the hopes to get this one published.  We shale see...

Thanks Coaches and Athletes!

To read about my visits, just look through my post archives or scroll down.  To check out videos click here.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

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