The Standard is the Standard

I’ve been doing CrossFit for almost 15 years. I’ve been coaching it for just over 10. I remember in my early days of coaching the culture of coaching was more bootcamp instructor-ish. It was very “you have to do it this way.” People were routinely made to do burpees if they were late to a session. I never understood it. I didn’t get into this to boss people around. I didn’t get into it to make people “suffer” despite what many of you like to jest about. I wanted to be great at coaching. I wanted to be on seminar staff. I wanted to own a gym that cared about doing the basics really well. 

One of my favorite quotes from one of my early coaching idols, Pat Sherwood, was “the goal is to get fit, make it the best hour of your day, stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people and blow off some steam. So, remember that. Relax. Have fun. Work out.”

This was what I wanted. This is what I envisioned. And, in the early days it was a lot of people who made it easy. The early adopters wanted to make progress at a blistering pace. Sure, they made mistakes with their movement, and sure, I definitely did a horrible job of providing clear, concise cues that worked. But, pushing people to hold a standard didn’t need to happen. 

Somewhere along the line, we all got soft. I don’t know if it was the pandemic or if we didn’t do a great job in explaining that getting results was hard work, but we lost it. We lost that grit. We lost that willingness to accept challenges. I’m not saying you shouldn’t scale workouts. I’m not saying you have to try and lift weight that is above your capacity. But, I NEVER remember someone not squatting to full depth in the early days. I NEVER remember someone allowing themselves to get away with throwing the wall ball under the designated height. I NEVER remember someone patting themselves on the back for just being at the gym. 

Getting results is hard work. Getting fit is hard work. “If intensity is so effective in getting results, then why isn’t everyone working out with intensity? Because it fucking sucks, come on. It’s why someone plays the tambourine instead of learning the violin. Why someone majors in sociology instead of physics. Successful people pursue hard things, unsuccessful people avoid them.” – Greg Glassman. 

I was listening to a podcast that featured another coaching idol of mine, Nicole Christensen. For those of you that don’t know, Nicole owns CrossFit Roots in Boulder, Colorado. She’s had her affiliate for almost 15 years and is a Level 4 CrossFit Trainer, the highest designation a trainer can get. In the podcast, she had a phrase that she kept repeating over and over. “The standard is the standard.” No, just showing up 2 times a week wasn’t enough. No, having a little cheat on the weekend wasn’t ok. No, not squatting to full depth wasn’t alright. The standard is the standard. If you want results you have to hold yourself to that standard. You have to be willing to do some things that challenge you. On the other side of challenging is change.

Sidenote: If you’re just starting out, or haven’t worked out in years or in your life, starting with two workouts a week may be your version of what challenges you. And that’s okay. It’s about starting where you are, setting goals, making progress, holding yourself to that standard, and continuing to challenge yourself with your new standard over time. You have to learn these things – learn to move correctly, gain strength to throw the wall ball to the intended height, figure out what weights are best to challenge you. It’s a part of the process. So, start where you are. We’ll take care of the rest.


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