Every now and then we need reminders. Why are you doing that? Who are you doing it for? What got you started? Is it good for you? Are your goals realistic? From a health and fitness perspective, we give you those reminders often. But those reminders are also new information for all the people newer to our facilities. Today, we’re talking CrossFit!
Among all the varying definitions and explanations of what CrossFit is, one of the most common is it’s the “sport of fitness.” It may have something to do with the competitive nature of the training environment in CrossFit gyms, a bit to do with all the exercise competitions using CrossFit-style workouts, and helluva lot to do with the Sport of Fitness™ being the official tagline for the CrossFit Games.
In fact, that trademarked tagline provides the distinction between CrossFit the training program and the sport of CrossFit.
CrossFit the Training Program
CrossFit the training program is what CrossFit was truly designed for. The overwhelming majority of people doing CrossFit are training for lifelong health and fitness. They want to be better cyclists, runners, hikers, parents, healthier grandparents, athletes – they want to be the healthiest and fittest they can possibly be throughout life.
They use CrossFit to increase their level of general physical preparedness (GPP), and a better GPP correlates to better performance in life or sports, and in overall health and wellbeing.
People under this category are by no means lesser athletes than anyone else, they simply have different goals. Training once a day in class on three to five days a week is sufficient to realising some of those goals. With good and varied programming, training that way is sustainable for life and should see consistent improvements in most areas of fitness.
Take many of our members, for example. We’re nearing our seventh birthday and many members have been with us for five to six years. They’re healthier and fitter than they were before joining, and they continue to progress physically both in and out of the gym!
Some might spend extra time working on weaknesses or preparing for an event such as a marathon, a triathlon, an in-house throwdown, or a local exercise event, but overall, the sacrifices here are minimal and training in class is more than enough preparation.
These are the people we exist to serve. You are the reason CFJ was opened. This was the reason you joined in the first place. You are the majority of our clientele. That’s just how we like it!
CrossFit as a Sport
A Recreational Sport
Many people using CrossFit as a training program grow to enjoy the competitive aspect of it. This competitive edge is typically fostered in training where you have your previous scores to beat, where you’re using the person beside you as motivation to keep moving, where the group environment itself drives you to work harder. These people grow to enjoy that competitive aspect so much that they regularly enter local events – it becomes their weekend sport.
Here, aside from a good base level of GPP, some specific goals are required to ensure safety and enjoyment in competition. The more serious recreational athlete may need individualised programming, will need to keep their nutrition dialled in, and will need to learn about managing themselves in competitions.
While people here make up a much smaller percent of our clientele, we have the systems and resources in place to support them. While some extra sacrifices are made here, the goal is still to chill out and have some fun. Performing well in an event isn’t the be all – like participating in a local club sport. Whereas playing sports professionally demands a vastly different commitment.
Events is written in bold to highlight the fact that the majority of local exercise events are not competitions. That is because the primary goal of those events is participation. Sure, there are some events with prize money and/or prizes for podium finishers, but let’s be real – it’s about participation and expressing fitness, not so much testing fitness. Similar to a mountain bike or running event. They serve to get you out of the gym to express your fitness.
The CrossFit Games
By this I am referring specifically to training towards competing at either Regional or Games levels of the CrossFit Games. While just about every Games athlete trains CrossFit to grow their base level of GPP, the Games have evolved to include a specific skill set. While aspiring Games athletes must still ensure a strong GPP (for life and for competing at the Games), they now also need to acquire the specific skills required to compete effectively at Games level.
Specific skill training can be referred to developing ‘specific physical preparedness’ (SPP). Therein lies the difference between CrossFit and The CrossFit Games.
It’s the same in all sports. You can use the sport as way of keeping fit, but if you want to compete at a high level in that sport you need to be conditioned specifically for the demands of that sport. As with any sport, the sacrifices start mounting here. More specific programming is required along with a staunch dedication to keeping nutrition and other recovery practices dialled in. Athletes often have to train alone and may sometimes become alienated from the community. They’ll have to train through the aches and pains. But for them, it’s okay, because it’s what’s required to realise their goals.
Be it in our gym or the general CrossFit community, these athletes form a tiny percent and therefore form an even smaller percent of the general population. South Africa has had just ONE athlete in the recent history of the Games come close to the top 10 at the Games – you do the percentages.
Just as we support recreational CrossFit athletes, we have always supported athletes with genuine aspirations to compete at a higher level. There are no quick routes for these athletes, and for most, it will take years to realise their goals. The reality for athletes aspiring to compete at this level now is that they need sponsors that will give them the money needed to maintain their lifestyles AND training AND pay for travel, pay (lots) for a coach to program and coach one-on-one, saddle up for non-fun-CrossFit, and most importantly, have chosen their parents wisely 😉
Your goals ultimately dictate the face of CrossFit you choose to follow, so record some tangible goals. Set short term (3 month), mid-term (6 month) and long term (1 year) goals. Record why you have those goals. List how you’re going to achieve those goals and then review with a coach.
We’re here to help you achieve those goals. You may just need more consistent training in class or a bit of extra flexibility work. Maybe you need some help in preparing for an event, or want to level out your fitness so you’re better prepared for a local event. Or perhaps you’d like to take a good stab at getting to Regionals, in which case you’ll have to be prepared to prepare for many, many months.
Competing in the sport or not, there’s a far greater picture – your lifelong health and fitness, and some fun!
As our favourite Pat Sherwood quote goes, “The goal is just 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. WORKOUT.”
The term soul food refers to a variety of cuisine that became popular in the southeastern US of A around the 1960s. Soul food restaurants were largely black-owned businesses that were community meeting places serving dishes such as fried chicken, mac’ and cheese, cornbread and cobbler. It is said the name of the cuisine originated from the reminder it gave patrons of the home and family they had left behind to seek greener pastures – the food was good for their souls!
I’ve always maintained that the food you eat should be both healthy and enjoyable. The soul food I referred to above may be enjoyable, but it’s not the healthiest and I was talking about a type of cuisine. What I’m really talking about here is eating food that is good for you, inside out. That is, mostly consuming food that is good for your physical health and performance, AND your mental health and performance.
When talking about food we generally focus on physical health and performance. How is that going to affect my blood sugar? Will it give me high cholesterol? What is going to give enough energy to perform well in training? How will that affect my recovery before the next session? But how often do we consider the psychological effects of food?
While I’ve alluded to the psyche of eating through topics of balance, approaching food as a fuel, and habit formation, I’ve never talked about feeding your soul. That sounds a bit airy fairy. By feeding the soul I mean eating in a manner that takes care of you – your self esteem, self confidence, happiness, and general wellbeing. It’s having a regard – giving a shit – about yourself.
Taking care of yourself is making your nutrition a priority. When that happens your approach to challenges changes from excuses to solutions.
“I don’t know what to do” becomes “I’m booking a nutrition consult.”
“There weren’t any healthy options” becomes “I had a good meal before the function and packed some snack just in case.”
“I was preparing snacks for the family so I didn’t have time” becomes “We all mostly have the same food now.”
Getting your nutrition right is challenging, especially because your body and needs are forever changing. But it’s just challenging, not difficult. You just have to make caring for yourself a priority.
Go home? Are those your only choices?
On our About Us page we’ve always had a line that reads “Sure, CrossFit can be tough, but it gets results.” You do need to work hard to get results, and we certainly get you working hard. But hard work only covers an area in the big picture of lifelong health and fitness. Training with us can be as tough as you make it.
Enjoying improved fitness through life requires that you remain injury free and enjoy what you’re doing. While group training is part of what we offer, how to stay injury free while having fun and getting results means something different for everyone. It means different load and repetitions for you, different movements for the next, a slower pace for him, more intensity for her, catching up instead of doing the warm-up perfectly, and for some it may mean an entirely different workout of the day.
How hard you go is relative to your “hard” for that day, and it doesn’t mean a thing. You coming in just to move is doing more than the overwhelming majority of the population on the couch.
Listen to your body and tell the coaches what it’s saying. There are countless variations and substitutions for what we’re doing on the day. Come in instead of avoiding a session; stay instead of ninja bombing out! And if all that you need is to come in and hang out without training or exercising, do it. That’s what CFJ has always been – your third place.
But, get uncomfortable and test the limits of your abilities often. Life will demand that of you!
What drove you to join CrossFit Jozi East?
I was bored with gym, and was looking for something different, something that could keep me interested and motivated to train.
How long have you been a member for?
Approx. 6 months
Who inspires you?
Everyone at training! We are all there trying to achieve our goals, overcome obstacles, support one another and having fun while we do it. The coaches are also awesome, they help keep me motivated.
What are you doing when you aren’t at the gym?
Other than work, I cook, love cooking and experimenting with food. Walking my dogs, getting outside into nature as much as possible and taking photos.
Tell us one interesting thing that people might not know about you?
This is hard, as I am a pretty open book…but perhaps the one thing is I am a very serious geek – I am a gamer, huge fan of Marvel, DC Comics, star was (on my bucket list is to go to Comic Con in the US) – I own a Batman onesie, need I say more.
If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Batman! If you can’t be yourself, then just be Batman.
What’s your favorite piece of clothing you own / owned?
I have a pair of grey tracksuit joggers, that if I could live in them, I would. My partner wants to throw them out, cause when I am home that’s what I am wearing!
What are you most likely to become famous for?
Doing something incredibly stupid or funny or even both. I could be a YouTube sensation!
If you were dictator of a small island nation, what crazy dictator stuff would you do?
I would make a rubbish dictator, because I would want everyone to be happy, chilled and relaxed.
What do you usually have in your fridge?
Cheese and there is always a stock of assorted veg
What has been your most memorable class or session at CFJ East?
The first time I finished a WOD in the time allocated, that was awesome! When I started (and it still happens now, but I am definitely getting better) I just could not do any WOD’s in time. I found this incredibly frustrating so when I did it the first time I was over the moon.
What Is The Coolest Thing That You Have Achieved At CFJ East?
Walking up the wall and getting my face to the wall in a handstand. Being upside down and standing on my hands, never thought that would ever happen.
What Changes In Your Health Have You Noticed Since Starting?
So many…I am stronger, I am leaner, I feel energized all day, my confidence is up and I just feel good everyday now.
List Some Of Your Big Goals.
My main goal is to slim down and lose weight, I still have 25kg to go!
CrossFit goals, long term, to do Muscle ups. Short term is being able to do 10 push-ups without dying or taking a break.
One question nutrition coaching clients or lifestyle challenge participants ask when they come to their review assessments is “How do I keep these results coming now?” My answer is always to maintain the changes they’ve implemented at least 80% of the time. And that is inevitably received with a look that says “You crazy, how can you tell me to have treats?!”
That sort of mindset, however, is precisely what derails good progress. Yes, attempting to be “strict” all the time, to having “perfect” nutrition is the reason you lack progress.
You are able to maintain perfect for a while. You cut out certain foods, constantly worry about making mistakes and worse, you even change many of your social behaviours. Until you eventually have a social outing where there simply aren’t any food choices that make it onto your perfect foods list. You have two options: stay
hungryhangry or eat something. In your mind, staying hangry is keeping your nutrition “perfect,” and eating something means (even though it’s one occasion in weeks) you’re out of control.
Although that’s just an example, what typically happens is “I can’t stay strict so I’m just going to go all out and I’ll clean up tomorrow.” Sounds a bit like a crack addict, doesn’t it?
When you change from trying to be perfect to being good enough with your nutrition, lots changes. You feel more in control of what you’re eating. You know that you’ve eaten really well for the past few days, so having a piece or two of the birthday cake is okay. You are happy to have the side salad instead of fries because you had a work function in the week where you enjoyed some savoury treats.
Perfect is impossible. More importantly, feeling that you’ve not achieved your perfect is destructive. Work towards “most of the time.”
Good enough and most of the time are relative to your goals and needs, and just what they mean is ultimately up to your definition. I’ve always advocated the 80/20 approach. It gives you direction on what “most of the time” is and it’s sustainable.
You’ll get better results from the method you follow 80% of the time than the method you quit.