Recently, CrossFit partner, Reebok, introduced a marketing campaign imploring the world to “Be More Human”. On one hand, the ad seeks to elevate what it means to “be human”, elements such as running, jumping, throwing, and climbing while on the other, it puts a recognizable face on “extreme” exercise sports such as Tough Mudders and CrossFit. Watching the commercials, you get a sense that anyone could achieve greatness and that your potential is only limited by your willingness to try.
But here’s the thing about commercials, they don’t draw a line from the successful people you see climbing muddy walls or gutting through a workout and those watching at home while dusting nacho cheese flavoring from their shirts. To be fair, it’s not really the job of a commercial to sell you on frustration, failure, and pain. But, in fact, there is a very tangible connection between “Being More Human” and the old CrossFit slogan “Forging Elite Fitness”.
CrossFit CEO and founder Greg Glassman brings home the tedious nature of training to be perfect, to perform the common uncommonly well in an article on Virtuosity from 2005.
|Virtuosity is defined in gymnastics as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, supremely elusive. It is, however, readily recognized by audience as well as coach and athlete. But more importantly, more to my point, virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery (and of genius and beauty). There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or compete in gymnastics, to quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s curse—the rush to originality and risk.|
Elite Fitness is a 500 lb squat, a five minute mile, double-digit sets of muscle ups without so much as a whiff of struggle. It is rowing a half marathon for the first time and turning in a score high level rowers work for years to achieve. But for everyone who posts an internet-breaking lift there was a first a coach and an air squat. True mastery demands thousands of repetitions of good fundamentals. This is what commercials, product hucksters, twenty-four hour gyms, and bad trainers won’t tell you. The reason is simple. It is the same reason why people give up on themselves so easily when they aren’t instantly good at something; Achieving your goals is hard work.
This attention to detail filters down from the cream of the crop to the everyday gym member. Most of us have neither the time or the genetic disposition to achieve elite status. Most of us have goals that are not in line with Olympic champions or professional athletes. However, that should not stop an instructor from their duty to provide not only a base of knowledge to support elevated athletic performance, but also member safety. You see, the path to “Being More Human” is also the path to “Forging Elite Fitness”. So in that way, it is very easy to look over a landscape of athletic training options and their promises and pick out those that deliver results and those that fall short.
Coaches are expected to ask pointed questions of their members to hold them to standards in order to obtain the highest level of virtuosity possible. Why shouldn’t the same be true for athletes asking their coaches? Gyms are full of members with various skill levels and experience, but what if the gym as a whole fails to perform the basic elements of training?
Virtuosity and culture come from the top down. If owners and trainers cease to demand more from themselves or if they allow other motivating factors to steal their attention, how are members to respond? When striving for perfection stops bad coaching habits begin. Allowing soft elbows in the overhead position is a problem during a PVC warm-up, it is highly dangerous when that error transfers to a weighted barbell. Patting a member on the back after another failed overhead squat attempt to reach below parallel with the note to “work on your mobility” is not actionable advice, it’s just lazy.
Every moment a trainer does not seek to encourage better movement is a moment they reinforce something less than virtuous movement. It is only when virtuosity is practiced in movements like the pull-up that a muscle up is achieved. Ten dedicated minutes a day with a virtuous instructor will produce double under jump ropes in a matter of days or weeks with ninety percent of able-bodied adults.
Our promise to you is to care. When asked about the most important thing you can do as a coach, Greg Glassman responded, “Care, care, care, and care…everything else can be taught”. We care about your fitness as it relates to your quality of life. We know that everyone who walks in our doors isn’t going to be concerned with becoming “elite”, but the blueprint for the person that wants to become “elite” and the blueprint for the person who wants to simply “be more human” is the same.
We ask you to hold us to the same standards. Look around your gym. Are you proud of what you have become since the day you first stepped onto the floor? Are you proud to wear your gym’s t-shirt because of what it stands for and the accomplishments it has made, in both the athletic and civic arenas? Have you placed yourself in an environment where Virtuosity is the rule and not the exception?
CrossFit Tupelo is proud to bring virtuous fitness to the people of our city. We understand that where there is pride in yesterday’s work, there is opportunity in tomorrow’s.