This is a common CrossFit mantra. Additionally, we call all our members, athletes. We do this because CrossFit training centers around the concept that your exercise should increase your coordination, agility, mobility, speed, strength, endurance, power, stamina, accuracy, and balance; not just make the numbers on the scale go down.
This is important to remember during certain deload days/weeks. A lot of athletes get concerned whether they got a hard enough workout in on those days/weeks. To know whether your workout is adequate, you have to look at your WODs as part of a larger whole, not the day-to-day did I burn enough calories to eat lunch approach.
Training, if you embrace it, frees us from the binds of exercising for calorie burn alone. Once you are free of these binds mentally, you will find that everything falls into place physically. You will see long term results.
In short, committing to a training program will make you more fit than daily exercise.
1. Training has specific goals
CrossFit training for the everyday average person is best compared to marathon training. You aren’t running to burn calories when you train for a marathon, you are training for that specific race, and following a program that will yield the best results on race day. Maximizing how many calories you lose, or how sore you are the next day are exercise measures, not training measures.
For those of us who played competitive sports, or who still do, your training was called practice, and the goal was to improve a specific set of skills needed to optimize your performance in a sport. You didn’t wonder how many calories you burned. You measured your progress based on performance improvement.
CrossFit is training for everyday life and has specific goals. They are more numerous than training for a marathon or practicing for a sport, but they are specific. CrossFit Lake Forest’s daily WODs are programmed around those specific goals for our specific population over a specific time period.
Some goals are gym wide, like decreasing your Fran time and PRing your back squat, deadlift, and press. Others are more personal depending on our current skill cycle. For example, in our last cycle we did not focus on getting a strict pull up. We focused on increasing our stamina in the version of a pull up we could already do. So that pull up was a personal goal. Now, in our current cycle, you’ll see more emphasis on pull up and muscle up progressions as these items become gym wide.
2. You are forced to work on weaknesses and challenge yourself in ways you otherwise wouldn’t
When you exercise, you tend to stay in your comfort zone. People have a handful of movements they find important, and repeat the same routines over and over. On your own, you are likely only performing movements you are already good at.
Take jumping rope and handstands as an example. A lot of people come to the gym having not jumped rope or been upside-down since they were kids. However, both can be extremely beneficial. Additionally, they are challenges! Tackling those challenges, and eventually succeeding brings a whole different level of satisfaction than just completing your daily 3 miles on the treadmill, or finishing your dumbbell bicep curl sets for the day. Doing things you didn’t think you could helps you improve mentally and physically.
3. You get a coach
Encouraging athletes to reach their full potential is as much an art as a science. There is a both a physical and mental aspect to be addressed when getting people to push themselves.
Generally, you can’t walk into LA Fitness and work on things you don’t already know how to do, because there is no supervision. Additionally, even if someone can give you a few tips, they haven’t been working with you weekly during your workouts to know your strengths and limitations.
By taking part in small group sessions, you have both a coach who knows you and figures out when to push you, or peers who provide a mix of camaraderie and competition.
When I looked into whether I wanted to be called a Trainer or a Coach, I researched common associations with the terms. I decided on Coach because Trainer brought up all these conferences based on making your clients more dependent on you through an emotional sell. Coach, on the other hand, relates to teaching athletes how to be more independent in their training. Topics including helping athletes figure out weaknesses and want to work on them, how to help them establish goals and a healthy mindset when it comes to training. Being a trainer seemed to mean making people dependent on me for their successes, while being a Coach meant empowering people. I want to be a Coach.
As a CrossFitter, you get a coach who wants you to succeed because they find what is awesome in you. Not because they are so awesome themselves.
4. Training uses benchmarks
When you train, you are using your performance to measure progress. All our cycles have overlapping strength, endurance, and skill goals that get tested and retested. You know you are increasing your coordination, agility, mobility, speed, strength, endurance, power, stamina, accuracy, and balance because it is evident in your workout data.
In the end, we all want to burn calories and be healthy because we workout. However, if we understand that our workouts are training sessions, we can embrace all the benefits training has to offer. Look at your training over time, embrace each day as an opportunity to improve. Instead of working for your lunch, work toward a higher level of physical fulfillment and a better sense of self. And you’ll still get to enjoy your lunch!