WHAT'S IN A NUMBER?  On the basketball court, baskets that bounce off the rim do not count as points.  In CrossFit, our "point" system is Rx movement.  In class your Coach's roll is teacher, nurturer, cheerleader and motivator HOWEVER the moment your Coach yells "3,2,1 Go!" he/she becomes the referee in a the sport called CrossFit.  It is his/her responsibility to make good calls and not allow points that were not earned.  You cannot see your range of motion during a WOD.  Your coach has been trained not only to see improper movement, but to bring it to your attention.  From this point forward, we will not allow "points" to appear on the board that were not earned.   
A WORD ABOUT SCALING:  "Scaling" is NOT a scarlet letter.  It simply means that the athlete currently has limitations due to flexibility, strength, genetics, injury, rehab etc. and that he/she cannot execute the movement as Rx'd.  "Scalilng" is indicated with a star on the board.  A star alerts others that you are not comparing your score to athletes who are performing RX movements.  If you have partial range of motion and do not like to see a star by your name, simply do not put your name on the board.  

You, as a CrossFitter, are welcome to compare yourself to YOU by keeping track of your own scores in your journal.  You never have to write your name or score on the board.  If this is your wish, please make sure your Coach knows.  We honor and support that 100%. 
However, the moment you put your name and "score" on the board, you are indicating that you are willingly entering the "sport" of CrossFit where CF athletes "compete" by comparing their time or score against others who have earned their score on a level playing field (same weight, same range of motion and same form standards).   

CrossFit Truth #2:
If the rep didn't count, it didn't count...Pretty black and white.  You can pitch a fit, but do it outside.

15 Things CrossFit Taught Me About Life - By CrossFit Lisbeth
1. If I think it’s heavy, it will feel heavy.
2. If I complain, no one wants to stand near me . . . except other complainers.
3. Finishing last is okay sometimes.
4. Finishing first feels great . . . if a bit lonely.
5. Mom was right: Stand up straight.
6. Shakespeare was right: The empty vessels make the loudest noise.
7. Keep quiet and pay attention and you’ll learn a lot.
8. Nothing feels better than that first big breath of air after you’ve deprived yourself of oxygen.
9. “Power” doesn’t mean it has an external motor.
10. “Squat”  a LOT.
11. If someone near you yells “Oh sh**!”, jump to the side. Really, really fast.
12. What goes up does come down. Even if it only goes halfway up. And that’s usually worse.
13. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right.
14. Cheaters think they win. But everybody knows the truth.
15. What you put into life, you get out of life. So don’t quit. And don’t stop. Drive onward, always onward.

When’s the last time someone (outside of your CrossFit circle) nudged you? Psst. Hey you, you’re better than what I’m seeing here.  We’re really not interested in making the WOD easier for you, but we are interested in adjusting the workout so that you are working as hard as you possibly can.

Change your own expectations of what you can deliver, of what you can do, of what you can be. But you can’t do that with easy. You can do it with hard.  Expect more of yourself.

CrossFit Truth #1:
If you are the "uncoachable one", chances are everyone BUT you knows it.  Don't be that one.

But It's A Good Cult...
There is something uniquely bonding about suffering together, showing up when you don't really want to, running in freezing rain, finishing your work and circling back to help a fellow athlete and supporting one another. Sure, we get irritated with one another at times but relationships forged in fire are ones that are not easily broken.

I have many friends, but I can honestly say the closest people to me, the ones who help me through the hard times, the ones who are there when I need them most, are the same people who correct my form, and support me through Fran that takes longer than my ego prefers.  Think about it...What about you?  Who are your "go to people?"...Fellow CrossFitters.  The friends you make here become your family.  They help you when you're injured, they have your back in times of need,  they run with you even if it slows their own pace down, they go through paleo challenges with you (with the occasional "corn break:") and call B.S. when you cheat or give a stupid excuse when another athlete beats you.  They find the same sadistic thrill out of "Murph" and celebrate with you when you announce "Hey I finally beat you today!".  Most of us have lots of friends, but we also have a CrossFit FAMILY and I'm grateful for mine!

The Beauty Of The Barbell

The beautiful thing about the barbell is that it doesn’t care.  It doesn’t care whether you’ve had a good day, or whether you’ve eaten the right things.  It doesn’t care whether you’re fighting with your boyfriend your girlfriend, or your best friend.  It doesn't care whether you’re sore from yesterday's WOD or if you are fearing today's.  The barbell cares about one thing, and one thing only: performance.  The only thing that matters is whether you are stronger than the bar or not, whether you are willing to fight to move it – and if you fail, are you committed to improving and addressing that load again?  These are traits that can be applied to all areas of life.  And they wonder why we love CrossFit?

The Non Negotiability Of Perfection
By Jon Gilson of Again Faster  http://www.againfaster.com/

Above:  Proper Overhead Position
Below:  Ehem...

CrossFit is the pursuit of athletic perfection—performing difficult workouts with technical mastery under conditions of duress.  We’re looking for flawless form with a jackhammering heart, bursting lungs, and battery acid-filled veins.

When this is accomplished with unyielding intensity, the result is nothing short of beautiful.  When we fall short of the mark, the result is horrifying at best.

Athletes often set up a false dichotomy between perfect form and intensity, assuming that as one increases the other must necessarily fall.  This idea is a thinly disguised excuse for athletic complacency.  Rather than revisit proper technique through low-intensity, low-excitement skill work, the athlete chooses to pursue personal records with diminished form.  The unstated reason for this choice: it’s easy on the ego to put up “good” WOD times. Taking a hit to your “Fran” time in order to perform perfect thrusters is not going to move you up the records board—at least not right away—and the blow to the ego is too much to bear.

In reality, form and intensity are not mutually exclusive, but the non-linearity of their relationship leads novice athletes to the wrong conclusion.  For the novice, maintaining form becomes a cruel joke as intensity increases, leading to the erroneous conclusion that the two cannot coexist.   Advanced athletes believe the opposite.  These athletes recognize that continuous high-intensity work is nearly impossible without strict attention to form.  The advanced athlete knows that perfect form is perfect for a reason:  it imparts structural advantages that poor form does not.

Take the thruster as an example.  Performed poorly, the movement relies on the small muscles of the anterior shoulder to support the weight at lockout.  These muscles fatigue extremely quickly, leaving the athlete with reduced capacity in short order.  When the thruster is performed well, the weight is supported by the large, hard-to-fatigue muscles of the posterior chain, allowing the form-conscious athlete to continue at peak power long after his sloppy brethren have stopped to rest.

The advantages of good form are not isolated to the thruster.  Clear structural advantages can be had in the majority of our movements if one chooses to pursue perfect form.  Most of these advantages are based on the physics of power transmission, specifically the fact that it is easier to send power through a rigid structure than through a limp one.

Squatting provides a wonderful illustration. The squat utilizes power from the hip to propel the torso through a complete range of motion.  If the spine is rounded and the torso is loose, power is lost and the torso becomes difficult to move.  If the spine is kept in a neutral or arched alignment and the torso is rigid, as proper form dictates, power flows freely and the load is easy to move.  Nonetheless, we’ll often see novices blasting through flaccid, rounded-back squats, heedless of the power-draining effect of their substandard form.

Condoning bad form for the resulting intensity ignores the big picture.  In doing so, we rob our athletes of their long-term potential, artificially capping their progress in the name of immediate gratification.  An athlete with poor form and an ugly three-minute “Fran” will always have an ugly three-minute “Fran”, while a similar athlete with good form will soon find himself pushing the limits of possibility, utilizing the structural advantages of the perfect thruster to close in on two minutes.

For the CrossFitter, perfection should be non-negotiable, regardless of the near-term outcome.  Progressing to the elite level—heart jackhammering, lungs bursting, and records falling—depends on it.

The difference between a structurally solid lockout and its weak cousin is obvious.

A Case For The Upright Squat
By Jon Gilsosn of AgainFaster  http://www.againfaster.com/

The upright squat—hips under the shoulders, back arched, weight on the heels—requires tremendous strength, stability, and motor control.  It’s less-than-upright cousin, the powerlifting squat, requires the same, although it puts the hips behind the shoulders and the torso at a forward angle.

There is no question that the powerlifting squat allows athletes to move greater loads.  Simple observation adequately proves this point.  The end goal of the powerlifter—to put up the biggest total possible—is borne out again and again using this method.

We do not practice the squat as an end in itself, but rather as a steppingstone to the high-power Olympic lifts.
Nonetheless, my athletes are taught to strive for a perfectly upright torso, bypassing the weight-bearing advantages of the powerlifting squat.  The reason is transferability.

Given our goal of developing athletic power, it is not enough that my athletes possess the ability to move large loads.  They must also be able to move them long distances extremely quickly.  In addition to maximizing strength, we seek to maximize speed and range of motion.  For this reason, we do not practice the squat as an end in itself, but rather as a steppingstone to the high-power Olympic lifts.

Proper execution of these lifts, in which maximal loads are moved from the ground to overhead in mere seconds, requires a rock-bottom squat and a vertical torso.  Due to the dynamic nature of these lifts, any forward lean unacceptably exacerbates the torque around the hip, increasing the possibility of failure.

Again, observation adequately proves the point.  Snatches and cleans are caught atop upright squats and brought to standing.  When the athlete is unable to bring the spine under the bar with the hips directly below the shoulders, the weight inevitably hits the platform.

While a debate on the relative merits of powerlifting and weightlifting is beyond the scope of this discussion, the former does not develop many of the qualities we want in a well-rounded athlete.  Flexibility stands first and foremost.  An upright squat, especially in combination with the rack position seen in a proper clean, demands and develops flexibility in the legs, back, shoulder girdle, arms and wrists.  This full-body flexibility is a prerequisite to successful gymnastics—muscle-ups, kipping pull-ups, planches, straddles, and hip pullovers all require pliable body parts.

Add to this the accuracy, agility, and balance components of the Olympic lifts and their transferability to nearly any sport, and it’s easy to see why our athletic journey progresses beyond the powerlifting squat.

Squatting style is an individual decision, predicated entirely on the reason for squatting.  If maximal strength is the goal, irrespective of speed, the powerlifting version is the wise choice.  If the athlete is striving to move beyond strength, into the realm of speed, power, and wide-ranging athletic competence, the upright squat serves as the gateway.  

You Can
You can be strong.
You can look at the obstacle in front of you and tackle it.
You can fight through.
You can handle temporary discomfort.
You can decide that you CAN...
Or you can give in.

Are You Coachable?
Whether you are just learning CrossFit or performing at the highest levels, you should always be striving to improve. While you can get better on your own by continuing to train and watching others, the most efficient method of improvement involves coaching.  A coach can provide that outside analysis of your form and your tendencies that can be difficult for you to recognize yourself. In order to benefit from that coach's knowledge you don't just need to have a coach, you need to be coachable.

Coachability is a trait that comes easier for some than for others.  Think about the following:  

  1. Do you listen?  Is your ego in check?  Your coach has a better vantage point than you and can see things you can't.  He/she has also had training that you don't.  How well do you consider the information coming your way?
  2. Are you willing to try new things?  One of the toughest things to do is to get out of your comfort zone. Perhaps you've had the same squat form since you can remember and it has worked for you. But one day your coach comes along and tells you to change it up. How do you respond?
    Do you trust your coach's judgment and implement his/her tips on execution?  You have to give the new method a chance. Your body is accustomed to doing things the way it always has. Chances are that when you try it a new way, you'll get worse before you get better. Be willing to try the new method for an extended period of time to see if it is indeed better than what you were doing before. 
  3. Do you desire to improve?  Think about that one.  Maybe you think you've already arrived at perfect movement (think again grasshopper) OR maybe you don't even care when or if you arrive.  CrossFit is about improving the way you move which improves the way you live.  When your ego writes checks your body can't cash, when stop caring about improving, stop listening, stop trying... that's when you get hurt.
So...ask yourself "am I coachable?"  "Would I want to coach me?"

Monday, November 28
CrossFit is the only sport where we cheer just as hard for the last place finisher as we do for the first place finisher.  That's because we don't value the person's TIME or SCORE as much as we value their EFFORT and their HEART.  Today I watched an entire class of people finish their workout and then tired and beat, they rallied around the last person on the floor and did the last 20 reps of her workout with her.  And people wonder why this program changes lives? 

Sunday, November 27
You don't have to BE an athlete, BE strong or BE in top shape to join CrossFit.  The beauty of CrossFit is that the workouts can be scaled to meet you where you are.  Effort takes no skill.  We can help you with skill...You just show up giving big effort!  The day will come that you are no longer the slowest person in the class and it may feel wierd to you to beat someone who has been ahead of you for months and months.  On that day don't feel bad or slow down for anyone else's sake.  YOU be YOUR BEST and if your best scores better than someone else's...you earned it.  Always strive to finish stronger than you did the day before and when you cross the finish line and see someone behind you who is still struggling...go back and help them finish.  It's what we do.