Why the Group
CrossFit training by and large has always been done in a group setting. It was originally due to the number of clients CrossFit founder Greg Glassman had and the amount of time he had in the day. He couldn’t do 12 one-on-one sessions anymore, so he discounted some people and threw them in with a training partner. The phenomena only grew from there and now pretty much every CrossFit gym in America, and even gyms that aren’t affiliates, offer group sessions. The group session has always and will always be the best way to get fitter, in my opinion. But, increasingly, people in CrossFit gyms or even those not at them are looking for “individualized” programming. There’s more and more members at gyms doing their own thing off in the corner than ever before.
The case for this might be that a person has some “specific” weaknesses that just aren’t getting addressed in the group sessions. This could be slightly true, but 99% of us just need to get fitter in all ten general physical skills not just one or two. For example, I can probably do 50 kipping pull-ups unbroken, so most people would say I should consider that a strength and not spend so much time doing pull-up workouts, but what if I had to doing something super grip intensive before jumping on the pull-up bar, pretty sure I’m not going to crank out 50.
Now, could someone have some major imbalances somewhere? Sure. Is it wrong for someone to want to spend some extra time working on something they’re terrible at? Not at all. Coach Glassman has routinely talked about chasing your weaknesses until they become strengths and then to start over. The problem occurs when people begin to BIAS towards their perceived “weaknesses” and simply do that instead of anything else. I might think I should be able to do 60 kipping pull-ups unbroken, but if I start skipping a lifting session in order to do more pull-up work, I’m biasing my training towards something I like working on.
The group sessions will always push you and force you to do something you really don’t want to do. That’s where 99% of us need to live. The competitive aspect of what we do is great when applied properly. This means everyone is scaled to their appropriate level of fitness and then pushing so hard at something that’s safe for them to handle. I’ve had to work out by myself for a number of years simply due to my schedule, and I will tell you first hand I never push as hard as alone compared to when I’m in a session with other people. Even if there aren't people competing with me, I still go harder. General physical preparedness is where most of us, if not all, need to live. The group sessions provide an environment of camaraderie and intensity unlike anything you could replicate on your own. Plus, misery loves company!
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