by Coach Blake B.
Let me start out by saying that the following content is 100% my opinion, and I was not coerced, or compensated for any part of the message. I will, however, be attempting to influence each of the readers to at least entertain my thoughts and beliefs on this passage. It’s January 25th and to most, this point on the calendar signifies the first week you weren’t accidentally still writing 2016 when addressing the actual date. To me January 25th means that there is ONLY 25 days until the CrossFit Open 2017 (and yes, I typed that right the first time.)
For those of you readers who have been doing CrossFit for less than a year, you have yet to experience what kind of impact the Open has and what to expect. For those of us that have had the privilege of being a part of the annual ritual, it’s kind of our sacred vow to let you sweat with as much anticipation as we did approaching our first. I’m gonna break a small piece of that vow and let you in on a little secret though, and if I had the ability to whisper via typing I would, so instead I’ll shout it out….IT’S NOT THAT SCARY!
Maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, let me first explain what the CrossFit Open is all about. Each year toward the end of February, CrossFit hands over the control to The CrossFit Games which begins with an Open competition for any and all whom desire. Wait! Don’t stop reading yet, don’t let the word “competition,” steer you away from the rest of the explanation. Yes, the open is considered a comp, and yes it leads to regional comps for the elite athletes, and eventually the Games for the best of the best. But that is just a textbook answer, there is much more to it frankly. The open is a test….crap, ugh, I probably just lost another couple. As a Level 1 Coach I’m supposed to tell you that it is your local box’s way of seeing if you are improving. Has your mobility expanded to full range of motion on movements, or your strength and stamina improved during grueling AMRAP’s. This much I agree on, and now entering my third open as a trainer/coach I can admit that I am excited to see all you folks that I worked with over the past year show your improvement. I am not gonna lie, the open workouts are extremely easy and not nearly like the extremely hard workouts we normally go through. Okay, I straight up lied to you, they can be brutal. This is the main reason that every year, at this time, a lot of people need some sort of realignment in order to sign up. Well not everyone, some love it, some cherish and invite the bar over burpees or the inevitable thrusters. And while I don’t share those exact feelings, I do appreciate the tradition of it all. Believe me when I tell you that nothing compares to pushing yourself through an open workout and having numerous others screaming you past your breaking point. Their genuine chants of, “You can do it,” never seem more true. And the sweat flows with so much more clout during these 5 weeks than seems the other 47 weeks of the year.
I know that plenty of you have already made up your mind, and will elect to not sign up and participate in this year’s open, so my last-ditch efforts to attempt to persuade anyone must end with a story from my first open. With less than two full months of any CrossFit experience, I blindly hobbled into my first workout nursing a severe groin injury that left my squatting mobility a bit shaky. And by ‘a bit shaky,’ I totally mean I was hard to watch! Surely, I would receive some sort of beginner’s luck and will draw a workout calling for pull-ups, and some sort of easy pressing lift, right? Nope, I draw overhead lunges (which I had never done) and box jumps. My groin officially was petrified of what was about to go down…. literally. So, with my nerves through the roof, my heart-rate already climbing when the clock on the wall is counted down 3, 2, 1, go! I find a way to do my best imitation of a snatch (which looked more like a broken wide gripped clean and jerk. I settle my stance and begin to grind out 10 of the most questionable full range of motion squats that gym had ever seen. I drop the barbell with pride, nauseas with the combination of exhaustion and butterflies both in my chest. At least I could catch my breath on the box while I do my step up’s, or could I? As I reach the top of my third step up I finally feel confident enough to make eye contact with both my coach, and many close by cheering supporters. “Go ahead and stop bud,” my coach says to me over the blaring choice of gangsta rap in the background. Stop? Why, stop? “The clock on the wall just froze…we don’t know why, and you’re just gonna have to do it again.” A part of me died on the top of that box. I may have cried just a little. That was my first open experience. And it was awesome. I did it again, just as bad as the first time. Just as painful to watch I’m sure. But I did it, and just like my high school coach used to tell me, “No one can ever take away what you’ve just accomplished.” And each year I get better, and each year my goals change. And I get to do it with people who’ve become like family to me. And that is awesome. That’s why I CrossFit. That’s why I test myself. That’s why I am signed up for this year’s CrossFit Open. #AdaptandOvercome #WarpathStrong #CrossFit
I know you’ve heard this one. You may have even said it a few times. But is it really true? Does it hold up to scrutiny?
People are always injured during CrossFit
…or something similar. The issue with myths is that there is always a bit of truth in them, and this example is no different. Let’s look at the stem of this myth.
Anytime you move your body, you put yourself at risk for getting hurt. Walking across the street, wrestling with your child, carrying groceries, and simply picking something up off the ground all carry risk for injury. The reason we still do these things is because life requires it. But we can do things to reduce the risks associated with those movements.
People can and do get hurt doing CrossFit. There are many reasons why this happens, but let’s look at ways we, and many other CrossFit boxes (CrossFit slang for ‘gyms’) do to reduce these risks.
- Hiring certified training staff – all CrossFit boxes should have a certified (CF-Level 1) coach facilitating each class. The coaches have been trained and are continuously being trained on proper movement patterns.
- Modifying movements – all workouts can and will be modified for each person based on skill level, flexibility, mobility, strength, and many other factors.
- Providing initial fitness assessments – Each new member should go through some type of assessment to determine their current level of fitness to determine any modifications needed.
Now that we have reviewed a few things CrossFit box owners and coaches do to reduce risks, here are a few things you as an athlete can do to help your coach reduce your risk even further.
- Listen to your coach – The hardest thing for many people is that they see John/Jane Doe doing something and they say, “yeah, I should be able to do that, let me try”. Nooooo!!! Take it slow, swallow your ego and listen to your coach!
- Form must always come before intensity – Intensity is a tricky word. Intensity can mean lifting heavy weight, but it can also mean lifting light weight quickly. In both instances ‘intensity’ should not be performed until your form is perfect! Again, listen to your coach. Your goal is to PERFECT your form first. That is much easier said than done.
- Don’t “fight through pain” – You will soon learn the difference between discomfort and pain. Discomfort caused by using new muscles or pushing your body in different ways can be ok. Pain is your body saying something is wrong. Talk to your coach about what you are feeling. Your body can be sore and you should be somewhat uncomfortable during the workout, but pain is an indicator to stop before it gets worse.
Finally, people get injured all the time. I have heard of people tearing their ACL or MCL playing basketball, softball, running, skiing, and even playing horseshoes. I have been around CrossFit for 4 years and in my experience have never heard of an knee ligament injury caused by CrossFit. Could it happen? Yes. But every time I hear a coach get on someone about proper knee position in a squat, I know that person is less likely to get an ACL/MCL injury in life.
CrossFit and its core principles are about injury prevention and functional movement.
Tomorrow, we’ll tackle #3!