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October 13, 2014

What We Do and Why We Do It, Part 1

By Coach Chris KerrFor the past two plus years I have constantly been harassed with questions about CrossFit. What is it? What do you do? Why do you do that? You enjoy that? That sounds awful… why? Or my personal favorite is all the ill-informed haters who simply state how dumb CrossFit is. Essentially what it boils down to is many people do not understand ‘What We Do, and Why We Do It’.

CrossFit, ladies and gentlemen, is exercise. That’s all it is. This has to be remembered. It was not created to be a sport, but people have turned it into that, and that is one of the reasons it receives so much hate. That will be another topic for another post, but for now we need to focus on the fact that CrossFit is simply exercise. Out story begins in the late 90’s, early 2000’s with a personal trainer named Greg Glassman. Greg was struggling because all of his clients were coming in and asking to get into better shape. Too get fitter. Too look better naked. However, back then there was not a great definition of fitness.

Let’s think about that word for a moment, fitness. If you ask ten people you’ll get ten different definitions all stemming around fitness is when you are healthy. Fitness is when you are in good shape. But okay, what do those mean? How do I truly know when I am becoming fitter? Is it when the doctor tells me I am healthier? Well heck, the doctor last year told my Dad he was healthy a few months ago and he couldn’t run half a mile. The same doctor told my mom she was healthy but she couldn’t hold a plank for twenty seconds. The point here is fitness needs to be all inclusive for anything life throws at you. Any physical activity. It cannot be measured solely from a doctor. Or from your mile time. Or how much you can bench. But for all of those and more.

What most people’s definitions of fitness are lacking is measurability and repeatability. Meaning a way to track your fitness. A way to know for sure you’re indeed fitter. Greg Glassman realized this, and so he revolutionized the world by defining Fitness in terms of measurability and repeatability. For Greg Glassman fitness is:

Work capacity, across broad time, and modal domains

Wow. A whole bunch of fancy words. They all boil down to simply being ‘How much can you do in a certain amount of time with anything. How far can you run, how high can you jump, how much can you lift, how much can you push, pull, throw, etc. If you run a faster mile this week than you did last week, you are fitter. If you can do more pull ups this week than you could last week, you are fitter. Is it starting to make sense?

Work capacity (how much can you do) across broad time (in a certain amount of time) and modal domains (with anything that life throws at you, any physical activity).

Now let’s tie it all together here. What we do as CrossFitters, and why we do it, is all based around increasing our fitness. Every burpee, every clean, every 400m run, every kettlebell swing is increasing our fitness.

Every day we are making ourselves better as a whole, not in one particular area. Because let’s remember, too much of something is never good. If we started focusing solely on strength our conditioning would decrease. And therefore our fitness would go down. If we focused solely on metcons, our strength and therefore our fitness would go down. Fitness as defined by CrossFit is not being great at any one thing, but being good at everything.

I am not a genius. I did not make all of this up. All of my information has come from my degree at Liberty and various CrossFit articles. My hope in writing this is to give you the insight that I have as to why CrossFit is the greatest fitness program out there. It has been scientifically crafted around increasing your fitness. So, the next time a hater asks why we do what we do, challenge them. Tell them you are increasing your work capacity across broad time and modal domains. And then after their head stops spinning, ask them what their definition of fitness is. Good luck.

Part 2 coming soon.

Chris Kerr is a Coach at CrossFit Lynchburg and also the Head Strength Coach of Club Sports at Liberty University

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