Evidence-based Fitness

“What gets measured gets improved.”
 – Peter Drucker
CrossFit works.  The reason it works, and the evidence that it does, lies in the fact that we measure everything we do!
From the moment you step into a CrossFit gym, the measurement begins.  I’m not talking about waist and hips with a tape measure and pinching your fat with a caliper, I’m talking about what you can do.  Leading you through a warmup and then a workout, your coach is assessing your current capabilities, your skill level and your physical and mental work capacity.  Our 4-session On-Ramp program at CrossFit Kent Island is so important for the new athlete in terms of learning the techniques and getting accustomed to the types of workouts that we do, but it’s also crucial for the coach to get to know you and understand what you can do.
From there, it’s off to the races, and the second phase of measurement really begins – tracking the results of our workouts.  We track our times on the daily WODs to establish the habit, but where it really is important is after workouts like today’s “Jackie” – a timed test of a 1000M row, 50 thrusters with an empty bar and 30 pull-ups.  What time did you finish it in?  Were you able to complete the workout “as prescribed”, or did you have to scale the pull-ups to ring rows?  We document those results in our Wodify system, so that next time that workout comes up, we have a result to match it up against.  Those that have been doing CrossFit for a while know that it works, because they can go back and check their “Jackie” time from a year ago and see the improvement.  And they improved not because they did “Jackie” every day, but because they can squat more weight now and press more weight overhead – they’re stronger.  They can do pull-ups now – they are more skillful.  And they can make it through this 10 minute workout moving at a fast pace the entire time – they have more work capacity, they’re more fit.
This idea of measuring results to improve results gives us evidence that CrossFit works, and it also leads to the reason that CrossFit works – it creates competition, and competition is a huge motivator.  At first we compete with ourselves, attempting to set new personal records in our deadlift and our 1-mile run time.  For some people working out with a group creates another friendly competitive atmosphere, or checking your score on the daily workout and comparing it to other people that are around your level of fitness.  Even staring up at an unbelievable score on the whiteboard and imagining having that level of fitness can be motivating – you want other people to eventually look at your scores and think the same thing.
Eventually you can actually compete in CrossFit – the Sport of Fitness!  The reason that we harp on standards for each movement and precisely define the workouts is so that we can compete, and preparing to win a competition also drives an unprecedented level of fitness.  I re-read in the CrossFit Journal not too long ago that “men will die for points,” and it sounds a bit morbid, but it’s true!
In conclusion, CrossFit works because we measure what we do, which informs us of our strengths and weaknesses, and in turn motivates us to be able to do more – to lift more weight, to do more work in less time, to be more fit.  Whether we want to beat our own previous results, or we’re motivated by beating our buddy’s time or competing at the highest level, we’re always striving to get a little bit better.  The journey never ends, it’s demanding and sometimes tough as hell, but it’s worth it when you get to celebrate those small victories along the way and look back to see how far you’ve come!
See you on the leaderboard!

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