What is CrossFit?

The title of this blog is actually the title of a lecture that gets taught at CrossFit Training Level 1 Seminars around the world every weekend. Hundreds of thousands of trainers hear the same message at the start of each lecture by whichever seminar staff member is giving it. “When I ask you guys, ‘What is CrossFit?’” – what are some of the answers that come to mind? Participants begin saying all the usual things: the sport of fitness, something that changed my life, community. The seminar staff member then says that they get that question all the time, especially when they’re in airports and wearing their seminar staff shirt. They say that they give their own response on what CrossFit is and what it means to them but the fact of the matter is CrossFit has a definition.

This the part where the seminar staff member gives the literal translation of what CrossFit is – and that is: constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity. Now, that’s a mouthful that really imparts no meaning to anyone who hasn’t attended a seminar. To me, CrossFit is and started out as a fitness program. Coach Glassman saw something very wrong with the way people exercised and he made it his goal to fix it. He perfected human kinematics. The perfect fitness regimen. One workout a day. Just about an hour in the gym. That’s all you would need to be world class in your age group at running, lifting, and gymnastics. But, as human beings tend to do, we had to make things a little more interesting. The Games turned the fitness program into sport.

Now, just to be clear, I love the sport. I love seeing what human beings are capable of. (I’m still waiting on Dave to throw in a 400m sprint. Not an obstacle course, no, zig zagging, just straight up line up on a track and go. I think that would be AWESOME to watch.) But, the problem with the sport is that people began confusing it with the general fitness program and the two are not one in the same. Sport, like any other professional sport, requires HOURS of dedication every day. It requires an ability that is unique to a very small percentage of human beings walking the face of the Earth. I can go play pick up basketball with my friends but I am never going to confuse myself with LeBron James and if I don’t play exactly like him and dunk the ball and do all those other amazing things, I’m not going to get mad or frustrated with myself, because I simply cannot do those things.

A group of friends of mine from high school were in town about 2 weeks ago for a birthday party and a few of them had begun doing CrossFit at boxes back home. I hadn’t seen some of these guys in about 10 years and they began telling me that they were hesitant to really get into CrossFit because they were unsure of when they were going to compete. They assumed that just because you did CrossFit at a gym that meant that you had to eventually compete somewhere. This mindset is what causes a lot of us to be very upset with ourselves whenever we don’t do as well as we had hoped in a workout. NONE of us are training for sport. We are TRAINING FOR LIFE. Your sole focus should just be to do things correctly and to the best of your ability. The fact that you’re here putting in the work after your day of: work, family time, kid obligations, extra work because bosses don’t understand you have lives, little to no sleep; is a miracle in and of itself.

If you plan to compete at the Games, then you can sit back and critique your performance for every SINGLE workout you do BUT if you plan on doing that then you also have to: sleep 8 hours EVERY night, cut out sugar completely, weigh and measure your food EVERY day, cut out alcohol completely, spend at least 3-4 hours in the gym working on something the entire time, completely disregard having any kind of social life, on top of all of your other responsibilities.

But, I strongly doubt any of you want to do that. We are normal people living normal lives. We take part in a fitness PROGRAM. Does it require your undivided attention while you’re here? Yes. Is it important to do movements well and correctly? Yes. Should you want to improve your fitness? Absolutely. Just keep it in perspective. Your goal should be to do your best and that’s it. There’s no reason to judge yourself like you’re going to the Games when there’s a million other things you need to be doing to even think about getting to that point. Program, not sport.


If you’re ready to get started with the best fitness program there is, email jobie@crossfitvirilis.com, sign up for a free, no-sweat intro, or call us at the gym at 210.651.1047. We’re training for life. Come & join us!