Friday, September 19, 2014

CrossFit® at Home - Pursuing Your Passion

The CrossFit® catch phrase of "Our specialty is not specializing" is part of what draws many to it's cause.  That "constantly varied" and easily scalable training keeps the appeal open to the widest range of fitness levels and athletes.  And that variation in training has proven over and over to be effective at producing some amazing levels of fitness in the home athlete.

With all of the movements and tools currently in the grab bag, most any CrossFit® Gym still isn't afraid to try the next new thing.  If someone has built a better mouse trap or found a new way to test strength and conditioning in a foundational way, most won't step away from the challenge.  It's never about gimmicky or quick fix equipment that promises results without effort, but rather it's about seeing a new challenge in a functional movement that is out of the mainstream.

For many, the appeal of trying new techniques and tools keeps interest and curiosity levels high.  We all like to learn new skills and when we can move a skill from unlearned to learned or even into mastery, the sense of accomplishment keeps us coming back for more.  But with all of the different movements and skills to learn, it can be a challenge to master any particular tool without practicing some of those CrossFit® movements at home, away from class time.

Many athletes can develop a passion for a particular piece of equipment or exercise and that's a good thing.  That desire to learn a certain skill can come from simply seeing it up on the whiteboard, seeing someone else's success at it, or maybe it is a common competition movement that just isn't in their wheelhouse.  But even for those that are consistent members at a local CrossFit® Affiliate, the skills they wish to pursue further might not frequent the whiteboard often enough to develop enough familiarity for mastery.  Depending on how often they attend, it may be a week or more until they see a movement repeated.  For those that want to improve their skill at a particular movement, this presents one of the challenges of the varied programming.

Fortunately, much of the equipment in use at a CrossFit® facility is affordable for the home athlete and when equipped with even a few of those tools, garage gyms can be great spaces to supplement skill training.  But even though many CrossFit® gym athletes can outfit their own small Garage Gym, many of the skill sets required for complex movements need to come from a qualified instructor.  No matter the movement, proper instruction always gets us to the end faster and more safely.

And many Affiliate owners and coaches, seeing the demand for more specialized training on tools like gymnastic rings and with movements such as the snatch and clean and jerk, are offering more services outside of normal class times.  To answer those requests, many hold clinics and seminars on Olympic Barbell Movements, Gymnastics Training and Kettlebell movements to further their athletes' knowledge and skill.

Those that respect the complexity of some of these movements realize that the more proficient they become at learning and practicing these skills at the gym and at home, the faster results will come with fewer resultant injuries.  And in a dedicated classroom setting, athletes can now concentrate on quality of movement rather than speed.  The relaxed environment allows gym owners and coaches to spend more time answering questions, slowing down movements and demonstrating technique without necessarily putting their athletes through a workout.

And what we've seen happening too are at home athletes who are not normally members at the local gym are getting in on these seminars to fill that need they have to improve technique on some of CrossFit's® more challenging movements.  Getting those athletes out to the local affiliates for instruction also gives the gym owners the opportunity to get them on board for regular classes.

Will this specialized training pull athletes and gyms away from the 'constantly varied' aspect which gives CrossFit® it's allure?  Not at all.  Most can appreciate that in order to achieve high levels of fitness, we have to do the things that make us uncomfortable.  Today it might be Thrusters and Pull Ups for time and tomorrow Push Ups, Kettlebell Swings and Wall Balls.  And this method of fast and intense training is a necessary part of fitness.

But when the met cons are over at the end of the class, many athletes want to walk away with not only high levels of fitness, but also having complex skill sets as well.  And if you are one of those that wants to learn what skills go beyond the ring muscle up or need more dedicated learning time on barbell snatches or cleans, ask your Affiliate Owner or coach if they would consider hosting an educational seminar outside of class.