So, most of you know by now that I am an advocate for health and fitness. Sometimes when I blog, I find myself leaning more toward health than elite fitness. Some of that has been shaped by my own life experiences, science and the desire to provide information that impacts your quality of life and is sustainable for years to come. So, when I went to the South Central Regionals this weekend, I was in a constant state of flux trying to figure out which hat to wear.
After watching athletes kill it on the floor, lift with atrocious technique and torture their bodies, I found myself cautiously watching the carnage. After the Saturday’s competition, I was driving home and thinking about the workouts I had seen that day and it hit me. Duh! This is competition, everything goes within the rules and boundaries of the game. It’s no different than the NFL, NBA, or UFC. This is elite fitness competition at it’s best. There is very little difference in the atmosphere of the games or other professional sports. Athletes make a pact with themselves, their teammates and the organization they represent to give it their all and sacrifice their bodies to the God of elite physical challenge. The goal, WIN, at whatever cost. The main difference here is that pro team or individual sport athletes earn a salary that some would say is commiserate with the sacrifice. CrossFit athletes, in general, earn very little to no income off their sport. So, is it worth it? In the eyes of the competitor, warrior, athlete, yes. In the eyes of those who have never experienced the rush of competition, the feeling of the victory lap or even the agony of defeat, no.
Should we expect athletes to protect themselves from injury by lifting with better technique or giving less than their all? With some athletes, I don’t think it will ever happen. When the buzzer rings or the timer starts, their going to give everything they have no matter what the cost. Don’t believe me? Just watch some of the footage from regionals. Most of these athletes will have very little in relationship to monetary game. But, what they will have to show for it is the experience, rush and knowledge that they competed at the Games and for some that is worth it all. Unfortunately, I know too much. I’ve experienced competition (at a much lower level), and I have experienced life altering injury. As I look back over it all, the plastic or cast medal, prize award, t-shirt or bragging rights, were not worth the change in lifestyle and pain. But, I also get it and think athletes have the right to do what they love to do.
Competition in the world of most sports, is not about health and fitness. It is about displaying fitness, but not necessarily supporting health. I know it’s confusing but think about it. Ask any elite marathoner how many colds, aches or pains they have, or an elite crossFitter how jacked up their joints and muscles get during hard training and competition. So, how does that apply to CrossFit, the “Sport of Fitness.” It appears that there is no difference between CrossFit as a sport and most other sports. When the athlete reaches a competitive or elite level, the balance shifts to performance at such a level that the health vs fitness continuum shifts to the fitness side. If not careful, athletes can find themselves on the other side of the sick-wellness-fitness continuum suffering from injuries and inflicting irreparable damage to their bodies.
So here’s my point, competing as a crossfitter is different than training at a local box to build health and fitness for life, recreational sport or the occasional local competition. Or, at least it should be. Unfortunately, what I see in a lot of gyms are athletes training as if they are competing in the 2015 Games and using form, movement techniques and training principles that are not healthy. That’s where the CrossFit coach comes in. As crossFit coaches, we should promote safety-consistency and then intensity. That’s sounds familiar, right? By promoting safety first, then developing consistency in training and movement quality, we can then dial in the intensity and support membership health and fitness. If we are not doing this, we are missing the original mission of CrossFit no matter what we see at the Games. Remember, the Games are CrossFit’s method of crowning the fittest man, woman and team on earth. Not supporting health and fitness. Coaches, that’s our job.