CrossFit, the Program vs. CrossFit, the Competition

I don’t consider myself a real OG like some of the people who started doing CrossFit back in 2005 or even earlier, but I’ve been in the community long enough to speak about this. I remember once reading one of Tim Ferris’ books, and in it, he discussed how it’s important to mind your labels. I forgot the context he used to describe why it’s important, but the overall message stuck with me. Mind your labels. Be careful how you frame something in your mind, because it tends to stay that way for a long time. 

CrossFit saw it’s boom largely because of the competitive aspect of the methodology. Greg Glassman turned fitness into sport and revolutionized an industry. The only problem was that Frankenstein turned on his creator and the connotation around CrossFit became solely competition-focused. The methodology, the program that revolutionized the way we also look at health, became synonymous with the competition aspect of it and lines got blurred. 

To this day, people will walk into the gym worried about doing competitions. People who haven’t ever touched a barbell in their lives will worry about having to do a competition. That’s like me going to a doctor’s office, having never performed open heart surgery, and worrying about having to do it. 

It didn’t help make the lines any more distinguishable when many affiliates focused on the competition aspect of CrossFit themselves. You had to have competition intentions in order to fit in at some gyms. People always ask me, during a session, “does that count?” Which is again, like me going to play pickup basketball with some guys, shooting a shot with my foot on the out of bounds line and asking some random passerby, “does that count?” The problem with CrossFit and its exponential growth was that the more people you had the more individual definitions you were going to have of CrossFit. 

The program, the methodology that saves lives every day around the world – that’s CrossFit. There’s a great line that gets repeated over and over at the Level 1 certificate courses around the world every weekend and that’s “there is no difference between grandma and an Olympic athlete, because our needs differ by degree, not kind.” The needs of both individuals are the same. Both individuals need to deadlift. Both individuals need to squat. Both individuals need to be able to pick themselves up off the floor. The degree at which they do that depends on the person. The Olympic athlete needs to be physically DOMINANT. The grandma needs to be physically COMPETENT. 

The competition aspect of CrossFit happens at local throwdowns, sanctioned events, or the Games. There’s a judge next to each person competing. They count reps and enforce standards. What happens at your affiliate on Thursday morning at 6 a.m. is simply a workout, led by a great trainer, who is there to help you improve and refine your movement. They’re there to ensure you get the right stimulus and challenge yourself.


To learn more about how you can make your life better with the methodology of CrossFit, get stronger and fitter in the gym, so it can translate into a better life outside the gym, schedule a time to talk with us

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