Archive for the ‘Crossfit’ Category
1) Confabulation. A tall tale that begins with a kernel of truth and grows from there.
2) 3 D’s. For the past 3 days I have been spending the daylight hours with Grampbingo as he struggles to recover from a life-threatening illness. It has been an eye-opening experience, to say the least. One of my take-homes is that Coach is right: the battle is against decrepitude, because that is the only one of the 3 D’s of aging over which we truly have any control.
Dementia, delirium, and decrepitude. This is the kind of 3-D no one wants. Dementia is the disease in which some progressive trauma is inflicted on the brain and results in physical changes that alter brain function. Delirium is the brain’s response to these traumas, the creation of a narrative to explain any event that is the least bit confusing or new. Decrepitude, as we know, is the end-result of dis-use of our physical body resulting in the inability to perform the functional movements of daily life.
Delirium may or may not be permanent; it is, after all, an adaptive reaction which, although negative, demonstrates the plasticity of the brain. The best one can do with Dementia is hope for a full stop, hope for the cessation of whatever insults are hurled at the brain. There is little one can do over a lifetime, at least little that we know, to steel oneself against the ravages of Dementia and Delirium.
But Decrepitude, ah now that’s a different story altogether. The battle against decrepitude starts as soon as you start to move in a purposeful, planned manner to train your body. To build strength, power, and endurance. These may actually be the magic elixir that pushes against Dementia and Delirium, but we know for certain that if we are more able physically we will be better able to persevere. Imagine how much more is the psychic trauma of Delirium if you cannot raise yourself up, cannot walk away. It’s frightening to watch when the realization that you are unable to help yourself becomes the only thing that you know is real.
In the end I hope that I know where I am, what I am doing, and where I am going, though I realize I may have nothing but hope to offer in this regard. But I’ll be able to do and to go because I fight decrepitude here, chez CrossFit. The fight against Decrepitude starts today.
3) Team. Greg Popovitch, coach of the San Antonio Spurs, has a pretty good handle on what it takes to get a team t function as a unit rather than a collection of individuals. At the core of his strategy is the necessity for teammates to care about not only the team but also about one another. Before this can happen, though, they must first be interested in each other. They don’t need to hang out; they don’t even really have to like each other. Just be interested in who the other folks are and what makes them tick.
Makes some sense, and seems to be a pretty actionable thing for any of us who work in or with a group. You know, like an Affiliate. Or a doctor’s office. Or whatever team you might be on at work. Think about your Affiliate. Chances are you really know all kinds of stuff about the people you work out with. You probably know more about them than your neighbors, co-workers, or even some family members. Not only that but you’ve come to really care about whether they are meeting their goals not only in the gym but also outside. This wasn’t anything you set out to do, but once you were interested it just kinda happened as a matter of course.
Popovitch has found that when his players have some degree of caring about and for one another, they tend to be more successful. This is probably a universal truth if you think about it. Caring about your teammates means being concerned about not only your success but also the general success of your team. My bid is that this is just one more bit of the CrossFit experience that is transferable from the Box to everyday life, bringing that interest in your teammates out into the world and letting that interest morph into caring.
It’s easy; all it takes is a little interest.
I’ll see you next week…
There’s a certain story I’d like to read or hear following the harrowing week in Boston. A postscript, if you will. There’s also one in which I have precisely zero interest. My bet: you feel the same.
Do tell me about the heroes. Tell me about the men and women who turned and walked TOWARD the blast. Talk to me about the civilians who chose not to run away, but to run TOWARD the chaos. Let me know their stories. What were they thinking? What is their back story? How did they come to be at that spot at that time on that day? Make sure to follow-up and tell me how they are doing now, too. Don’t let me forget them either as the white, hot glare of the moment cools inexorably into the impersonal embers of history.
Tell me the stories of our public servants. How they worked around the clock to save the victims, went without sleep to find the perps. Give me the details of how a city’s doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers performed better under pressure than any episode of M*A*S*H, and did so without ever really, truly training for such carnage. Who are they? What did they sacrifice? Make sure that I don’t forget them, either, once the video fades to black.
Impress me with the work of our public safety personnel. The Boston city cops and their suburban brethren in Watertown, Cambridge et al. The Mass State troopers and the FBI agents. Tell me about the teamwork, the absence of turf wars between the services. How everyone was united in the single-minded pursuit of the demons who created such horror. Let me know some of their stories, too, at least the ones that aren’t secret without jeopardizing their ability to do their jobs. When all is said and done keep the stories of the cops, the troopers, and the special agents alive so that we may cheer their bravery, resolve, and results.
But don’t…don’t tell me anything about the cretins who did this other than that which might be used to stop others from following in their footsteps. I care not for their troubles. I care not about their back stories. Tell me only those things about the background story that apply to the hunt for any accomplices, any others who lent succor to these two who had such little regard for life that they purposely sought not only to end it, but to ravage it. No, I don’t wish to hear anything about their wretched lives or their warped rationalizations, nor do I care to see their roles paraded in front of our nation as the survivor is tried. Let us learn what we must to exterminate their verifiable “supply chain”, and then redact any mention of their very lives.
Bury them, and all mention of them. Deprive them of any legacy whatsoever. We cannot erase the reality of their acts, nor can we erase the memories of this tragedy. What is once seen or heard cannot be unseen, or unheard. The cold, hard facts of the story will live on, as they must. The stories of the victims and their families, as well as the law enforcement officers, healthcare workers and civilian heroes, can live on through the conscious will of we, the people. But not the monsters. Not the story of the men who did this. No, don’t tell me their stories. Don’t write or speak or show their names. Deny them the very history of their existence.
Deny them their name.
You know those liquor ads, all sensitive and such, where they show you a picture of a bunch of young folks warm and close. “You save your good stuff (presumably THEIR stuff) for your best friends.” My friend John Brown thinks otherwise. Maybe you save your best stuff for your Mom or your Dad as sign of respect or as a thankful gesture, but your REAL friends are the one’s with whom you can drink the really bad stuff. The rot gut. The “Old Crow”.
If you think about it for just the littlest bit John is absolutely right. With your best friends, your real friends, it’s not at all about the what or the where but only about the who. You are sitting, standing, sweating…whatever…with your friend. “Old Crow” is just fine.
Try this. Someone, probably my Dad, told me long, long ago that your closest friends were the people you could hang out with in silence. If there’s nothing to say, you say…nothing. No awkward silences, just silence. That’s one way I knew my wife Beth was “the one” by the way.
(Lifts glass of Old Crow)
Back in the day, before the astronomic growth of the CrossFit Affiliate program and before there were jokes about the number of CrossFit gyms vs. Starbucks, a CrossFit program was really a much more personal endeavor. Unless you were one of those very fortunate souls to belong to the first 100 or 200 gyms you did CrossFit alone, or in a very tiny group. Everything about CF was really “you vs. you” because the three people in your gym were “me, myself, and I”. We could truly say that the omnibus CrossFit really was for everyone, at least everyone who was willing to learn enough to adapt and scale the WOD. Only those given to self-loathing had any problems with the community aspect of their gyms.
Now? People new to CrossFit are often unaware that an online version even exists; they are clueless when you ask them about anything that might be on CrossFit.com. Some large percentage of people only know the CrossFit Affiliate model and are introduced to CrossFit by someone who knows someone at some CrossFit Somewhere. Their first exposure to CrossFit and the CrossFit community occurs when they walk through the front door of the Affiliate. This changes the conversation. With a very few, really unique exceptions CrossFit is STILL for everyone. However, every CrossFit Affiliate may not be for everyone.
In my son Lil’bingo’s Affiliate on Saturday I listened to one of the members who quite sadly related the tale of a good friend who was turned off by the vibe at the Affiliate he visited. He felt right away that he didn’t fit. Didn’t feel welcomed. Why he felt this way is probably not all that important because someone else surely walked in the next day and felt right at home. It is a bummer, though, because he has extrapolated his initial experience in this particular Box to ALL Boxes and to CrossFit itself. That’s really a shame because from all accounts he’s a guy who would not only benefit from CrossFit, he’s a guy who would really enjoy a CrossFit community.
What went wrong? No idea. Could have been any number of things, really. Maybe no one greeted him, or said hi. Maybe he’s a little far from his prior athletic peak and he was intimidated by an advanced class, or worse made to feel that he didn’t measure up. Might have been something as easy to understand as he showed up on a day when the Open was being judged and all of the trainers and member-ambassadors were just tightly focused on 13.5. Older than the group, younger than the group. Whatever.
I certainly don’t mean this to be a critique of this particular Affiliate, or even the vibe given off there. The beauty of the explosive growth to the CrossFit Affiliate model is precisely that you can find a Box that fits both your fitness goals and your “community comfort zone.” Each one of us should go out of our way to counsel newcomers to explore the various Affiliates in a community, go out of our way to tell them that how a place feels can be different for different people, and that they shouldn’t walk away from CrossFit if the first Box doesn’t feel right. Trust me, it’s a blast when a friend hits up the Affiliate you suggest and falls instantly in love with everything, so much so that they get a bit angry when you remind them to check out other Boxes! Your gym becomes your “third space” and we should all remember to include comfort in the community when we are making CrossFit suggestions to our friends.
And that Affiliate? In my opinion an Affiliate does have a responsibility to be an ambassador for CrossFit “the fitness program” and the CrossFit community at large. Welcoming the newcomer to your gym might be welcoming them to CrossFit itself. Very little is actually asked of Affiliates in the way of CrossFit as a whole. No purchasing agreements or requirements, no mandatory programming or equipment. An annual check to mail in and an informal understanding not to disparage Crossfit. That’s pretty much it. My call is that there should be just a little more, a tiny bit of ambassadorship for the program and the community, and all that both can do for all of our friends and family, each time someone new graces your doorway. Greet them with a smile and answer a couple of questions. If you’re really busy ask them to come back when you both have a little time. Tell them about your particular version of CrossFit and your very particular CrossFit community.
Each Affiliate may not be for everyone, and that’s really OK. But CrossFit itself, with few exceptions, is STILL for everyone.
1) Mongo. A person who salvages treasures from trash. Funny, I always think of Alex Karras when I see “Mongo”, don’t you?
2) Impression. “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Twain, I think.
“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou (who recently had a birthday).
I always thought Angelou was a little soft. A bit too touch-feely for my tastes. Uh uh, not that quote. That’s some fine advice. People change and they grow and all, but who and what they are at any given point in time is quite likely to be who and what they will be for some time to come. Best to believe them.
Think of this quote as inter-personal situational awareness and act accordingly.
3) Spirit. Lil’bingo and I were guests at the 13.5 “coming out party” in Santa Cruz. Man, I could spend several Sundays just musing about walking around downtown Santa Cruz (thanks for the tour, Gabby!), but that would be too easy. Nope, howsabout I point out some of the tiny details about our CrossFit world as expressed by a couple or our most famous athletes.
Did you know, for example, that Rich Froning was the houseguest of the Jason Khalipa family this week? The boys did all kinds of off-the-charts workouts and training, then broke bread with Clan Khalipa. How about the shirts Rich and Jason were sporting for their 13.5 duel? Rich had on the latest t-shirt statement from the fashionistas at NorCal CrossFit (owned by Jason), while Jason was repping CrossFit Mayhem with his shirt (owned by Rich). Hardcore, cutthroats these two, eh?
CrossFit the competitive sport is one of the 3 pillars of CrossFit as we know it (more in a bit), and the friendly, supportive ethic so well demonstrated by Froning and Khalipa has long been a part of our competitive DNA. I remember standing about 5 feet from the rowers at The Ranch and marveling as an earlier finisher slumped off his C2 and literally crawled over to urge on his neighbor, his competitor. How about all of the teams that finished the final event 2 years ago rallying around the team that pushed on through the time cap, unwilling to surrender? This competitive spirit, the realization that we are really competing against ourselves and need not wish anything but the best effort from our foes on the pitch is so ingrained in us that the failure to do this stands out like a zebra in a kennel. CrossFitters simply compete differently.
There’s a boatload of money in the game now. Prize money. Endorsement money. Money for on-air “talent”. Despite that, we have managed to retain this very special part of who we are as CrossFitters. The biggest cheers still come for the person who is DFL.
It’s up to all of us to preserve this.
4) Soul. Open 2013 is completed. 13.1 through 13.5 is in the books. We’ve survived our Wednesday night OCD and we are about to finish our 2013 version of Scoreboard obsession. The biggest deal in the calendar of the regular CrossFitter is over for 2013 and now we all step back and watch. Right?
Of course not. The spirit of CrossFit lives on through the competition you may or may not have engaged in during the Open, but the SOUL of CrossFit lives wherever people are actually doing CrossFit in the never-ending quest for a better version of themselves. It’s a personal quest, a kind of walkabout of the mind and body, whether it takes place in a lonely corner of a commercial gym or garage, or along with a couple dozen like-minded folks in the 5:00 class at CrossFit Somewhere. The soul of CrossFit is the Newbie in front of a mirror working with an old, frazzled broom to parse the secrets of the push-jerk. It’s Rich Froning, hours after that outlandish training session, being “caught” by Jason Khalipa in the garage doing front squats.
The soul of CrossFit lives in each person who takes CrossFit–the fitness program–and uses it to explore the ultimate competition, to best the only foe that really matters: yesterday’s version of you.
I’ll see you next week…
Wow. Just…wow. Quite a bit of strum un drang around the 2013 CrossFit Open, eh? Says here it’s really nothing new, the drama and the controversies. Re-runs of stuff from Games of yesteryears, just playing on more screens and viewed by more people who have more time on their hands than sense in their heads.
Yah…I just went there.
What’s got so many panties in a bunch? Let’s see. Everyone who has a great score must be a cheater. Of if they didn’t cheat they surely must be using PED’s of some sort. This canard took flight in Games 3 when a qualifier was first put into play. Funny, though, that you never hear this coming from any of the athletes who are likely to rock the Regionals (check out Freddy Comacho on FB, for example. No whining from that 3 times Games competitor). Seems there are a whole lotta folks shooting off their fingertips before they shoot off any neurons; if the mere possibility has somehow crept into THEIR head, well then, it must be a dead-on FACT. Because they just know, ya know?. Never mind that year after year it all just seems to work out even though year after year the Games grow bigger, change, and improve. Anybody think someone who should have been in the top 15 in any Regional got bumped out by a cheater last year? Really?
What else? Oh yeah, fairness. It’s not fair. Somehow, somewhere, someone at HQ is just out there doing stuff that’s…that’s…unfair. There’s a conspiracy here. Really. Gotta be. Just because someone has a limited frame of reference regarding what it takes to pull off something as audacious as an Open competition with >150,000 entrants, surely they know all the better than the rest of us. And the newer they are to CrossFit the better they know. Naturally. To be fair there are some folks who sincerely try to follow all the rules, do their very best in that effort, and for whatever reason they mess up. That’s truly a bummer. I really mean that. But how do you do anything other than invoke a strict enforcement of the rules for everyone, regardless of sincerity in the mess-up? How do you measure fairness if you allow even a bit of color into a black and white process? Fair tends to be hard.
Which brings me to the most important part of this whole harangue: there are real, live people involved here. Just like you. Just like him. And her. People who are trying their best on all sides of every issue. Doing the workout. Judging the workout. Administering the Open. Watching literally thousands of videos. And not for nuthin’, reading all of the vitriol being vomited through cyberspace and befouling our little corner of the planet. Listen, I’m no pollyanna. I know there really are a tiny few people who are trying to get over. They really deserve all the venom you can dispense. But it’s rare. There really aren’t that many of them, and they always seem to do something to draw attention to themselves. Have at ‘em. My pleasure.
For everyone else, though, let’s have a little perspective. Expand your frame of reference to include the notion that it really IS fair. That almost no one is trying to cheat. That even the very best athletes are approaching this in almost the same way as you and I, as a challenge to be met. An opportunity to participate in the collective, the community of our CrossFit. That every PERSON is doing his or her best to put forth something that they can be proud of. Something that will put a smile on the face of a Brother or Sister CrossFitter. Every athlete. Every judge. Every HQ staff member. YOU.
Stop. Think. There’s a CrossFitter on the other end of your post.
CrossFitters have taken up the cause of health, given the charge of improving health and preventing decrepitude. There will always be a need for what we can call “real medical care” or sickcare (you know, rather than healthcare). After all, stuff happens. I’ve been plunged into the abyss of American sickcare as I help shepherd my Dad through a prolonged exposure.
Much has been made of the tremendous costs of the most modern medical care. There was a 20 page article (20 pages!!) in Time magazine about this last week, about inflated charges and financial gamesmanship and whatnot. True enough. Indeed, I’ve read the theory that sickcare in the U.S. was pretty darned good 10, 20, 30 years ago, and we spent much less money for it back then. Why not just use, say, 1980′s sickcare as our standard? Weren’t we pretty healthy then? It sure seemed like we could at least afford sickcare then, both on the personal and societal levels.
Here’s the rub: I saw 2013 vintage care this week, and I saw something that approximated 1985 or so. The “time travel” between 1985 and 2013 was a real eye opener. No one in their right mind would trade the best of what we have today for “1985 is good enough”. Trust me. That particular “time travel” trip was a nightmare.
Do we as a society, country, and/or economic ecosystem need to find some way to bring some sanity, some rational economics to how we buy and pay for our “sick care”? You bet. We here in the CrossFit world are on the right track as we seek health, seek to avoid the need for sickcare. But man, I gotta tell ya, if you are sick and you need to be cured, you want to be right here in North America.
And you want to be be here today, in 2013.
A door opens. A door closes. A family grows, as it inevitably shrinks. Desperation or desire to halt the ebb while preserving the flow, both are eventually denied. One comes as one goes. Life’s passages are irresistible.
My Dad stands at the precipice. Not a one of us in the White family is ready for his last, fateful step. His ebb is now greater than his flow. Never a large man physically, he was once larger than life. Time and gravity have conspired to shrink him; he seems so much smaller in all ways. And yet what we have of him, both his physical self and our outsized memories of his outsized younger self…well…we put ourselves between him and the precipice, hold both him and his memory close lest he stumble.
At the same time our family grows in wonderful ways, our flow is strong as the next generation enters a new Passage. My son Dan is engaged! Our firstborn, he of the outsized everything, possessed of a “presence” so huge he fills a building all by himself, Dan is now part of a lovely couple. The White family grows by one as we welcome Brittany, and by extension her family. Flow, at least for the moment, exceeds ebb.
In all honesty I’m not really ready for EITHER Passage. Not Dan’s, not my Dad’s. This change stuff is hard, even when it’s a welcome change, like welcoming Brittany. The young couple are like sine waves that multiply all that is good about each, and flatten out to zero all that is less than good. Passage through this door portends happiness. My wife Beth and I, daughter Megan and son Randy are thrilled.
One stands on the on-ramp, poised to travel through many Passages to come. The other stands at the precipice, a final Passage looms just beyond. A door opens. A door closes. Tears of joy. Tears of sorrow.
1) Hope. Hope, alone, is no strategy for success.
2) Mofongo. No adventure is quite complete unless a new nickname is included in the outcome. Indeed, the better the nickname, the better the adventure.
Introducing Mama Mofongo, the 85ish yo star of our adventure in Puerto Rico.
3) Rome. You know, ‘when in Rome’ and all that. There’s a little more meat on that bone, though, especially if you are an outsider or an outlier. A certain respect for, and at least an attempt at following the norms of a place is a part of the equation.
We may talk the talk about being a good guest, whatever that might mean. In a foreign land we might try to at least avoid the specter of “The Ugly American”. One can, and probably should, have at least a bit of situational awareness of the local norms even in a place that is as seemingly familiar as a CrossFit Box you are visiting or your original home town.
My brother-in-law and I visited the neighborhood bar where we’d each been first served at age 1* (our kids read this). It was as if we’d been there last week, but it was also very much a place where we were visiting. We stopped, looked around, took the place’s pulse, took our own, then settled in. Everyone saw us for a bit, but soon we were just part of the place.
A couple of beers later we left to a nod and a smile from the owner, tiny gestures of thanks for paying our respects.
4) GAS. I would like to introduce a new entity. Think of it as a kind of energy, psychic fuel maybe. It’s quantifiable, and in my experience it’s both finite and capable of replenishment. When your tank is full you are fully engaged, committed. When you’re out of GAS almost nothing short of conscription can move you.
GAS, you see, stands for “Give A Sh!t”.
Yup, when you’ve got GAS stuff happens. It’s another way of saying that you care, but there’s a bit more there. GAS implies fuel. We’re gonna move. Something’s gonna happen, or NOT happen because we have the GAS to stop it. You’re gonna make a difference because you’ve got the GAS to do it.
Hope by itself is a weak strategy. but hope fueled by someone with GAS…that’s where magic can happen.
I’ll see you next week…
This is the time of year, the CrossFit Open season, when I find myself thinking about volume. No, no, no, this isn’t a ‘size matters’ thing. I’m talking about the volume of work you do to increase your fitness. Have you been following the video series from the Games competitors? I find it fascinating and very enlightening to be a fly on the wall for those discussions, especially the ones about training volume and strategies for competitive WOD’s both in the Open and outside.
Used to be, when we had more like 5-700 posts every day on CrossFit.com, that we would get an equal number of questions and concerns on both sides of the training volume thing. Is the WOD enough? Should I do more? How much do the Rockstars do (Hi Jackie at CrossFit Reload)? Or things like, what if I can’t do the WOD as Rx’d? I’m kinda tired and strung out after 1 or 2 or 5 months of WOD’s; should I take a break? Pretty much an equal number of questions from folks looking for more and folks overwhelmed by the WOD.
Now? Well, at this time of year if you only look at Facebook and the Games site you’d think all of the questions have been answered by the sponsored athletes and those of their ilk. Ya gotta do more, More, MORE if you’re gonna get Crossfit fit. Right? I mean, that’s what we all have to want to do, right? Be CrossFit like Julie or Annie or Jason or Josh?
BZZZZZZT. Wrong. Sorry. Elite fitness is a self-defined term, one that each one of us defines for ourselves. In truth, if we’re doing this CrossFit thing correctly, elite fitness is always just a few more WOD’s away, a few more trips along the neuroendocrine response highway. Face it…for most of us Crossfit is nothing short of the best fitness program (no matter what version of CrossFit we might do) we’ve ever encountered, bringing with it massive fitness returns on our effort invested.
But that’s it. You vs. you. Still.
There’s a quote that came up in a Sunday paper from a non-CrossFit Masters athlete: “if you undertrain, you may not finish; if you overtrain, you may not start.” Pretty good, eh? There’s some genius in that little gem. How much is enough? The answer to that lies in an open and honest evaluation of your own personal goals, your own personal needs, your own personal barriers and boundaries. For example, I have 60-75 minutes 5 times each week for my entire fitness experience, and any injuries I suffer will not only affect my ability to “start” in the gym, but also affect my ability to “start” in my day job. This is true of my everyday fitness journey, and it is certainly no less true of whatever might constitute this year’s CrossFit Open experience. You?
The genius of CrossFit–and it IS genius–and the gift given to us by Coach, is not the competition between CrossFitters produced for spectator consumption, but the competition produced in ourselves. By defining fitness, WCABTMD, Coach, and CrossFit give us something totally new and vitally important: fitness that is measurable, observable, and repeatable. We then have a goal for each workout, to achieve an increase in intensity, an increase in power, as well as a strategy with which to do so (constantly varied functional exercise…).
I love the videos we see at this time of year, I really do. And I love the CrossFit Games, so far still more fitness festival than commercial convention (as always we will see what this year’s changes bring). But the beauty of CrossFit lives on Crossfit.com, on the CrossFit Community page on Facebook, and in the 5500 and counting Affiliate gyms where each one of us willingly put ourselves through the exquisite challenge of a WOD in order to achieve our own individual goal. Our own version of of fitness.Our own version of a better you tomorrow than what you were yesterday, through the efforts you make today.
So…how much Crossfit is enough for YOU?
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