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A “seasoned” athlete – part 3

On reflection, it’s hard to pick out a spot where Crossfit as a training vehicle became less important to me

In the first few years of my fitness journey, it formed a fundamental part of who I had become. I defined myself in my success at the box. In the midst of two frustrating experiences at Silicon Valley startups, the box was a haven.

Working with the over-40 group, I realized there were things that I did well and things I did not. My mobility issues (shoulders, hips, posterior chain) were roadblocks but I discovered that I loved competing against myself and eventually began comparing myself to others. I looked forward to the “chipper” WODs – the multi-function workouts that take 20-30 minutes to complete. I loved achieving PRs over a variety of activities.

But, there were problems. An important component of Crossfit is the set of standards within movements. The standards are intended to provide consistency and promote physical development. Ideally, programming is purposeful – the assumption being that by performing WODs within the program, overall physical improvement occurs. One of the purposes of coaching is to interact with members to ensure that the workout movements are implemented correctly and – as appropriate – scaled.

I have a personality defect relative to Crossfit which is this – once I start a workout, I will finish it. The problem is that if I hurt myself during a WOD, I will work through to the end. For example, on my last serious WOD – back in March – I tore a pec muscle doing ring dips in round 5 of a 7 round WOD. And yet, I finished the WOD. And could not do ring dips for several months.

Crossfit itself has a personality defect – which is the use of sophisticated Olympic lifting movements as part of timed workouts. I get the idea, but the reality is that form goes to crap when a clock is running. Now one might say that the role of the coach is to manage members and the role of the member is to know one’s limits and scale. But, I cannot say that I always did this. Or that coaches recognized when to step in.

The other defect is the “no rep” – leading to the “non RX“. RX is the acronym for a workout performed to the standard. Too many times, I would complete what I thought was a “standards” workout only to discover that the coach felt I wasn’t completing movements. Because of my hip, knee, and shoulder limits, I did not always know when I wasn’t achieving parallel in a squat or performing some other movement to standard.

My general strategy was to look at the WOD and decide if I could perform the movements at the specified weight – if yes, I would try to RX, if no, then I would scale. For example, there is no world in which I can do (or ever could have done) a 135# overhead squat.

So, for me, the day when the WOD was all bodyweight was my day – except for the day with the ring dips.

When I started not RX’ing workouts that I thought I had RX’d – and this became my defining feeling about being at the box – it was time to look elsewhere.

Crossfit had helped me come a long way – from 50 year old, skinny-fat, out-of-shape, Coke swizzling guy to someone who could rope climb, knock out pull-ups, swing heavy kettlebells, and do many other physical activities that I couldn’t image before.

I think it was tearing my pec that finally pushed me firmly onto the rower.

Continued in part 4 …