Saturday, September 10, 2011

Programming, Fundamentals and Virtuosity

CrossFit founder Greg Glassman has defined virtuosity as performing the common uncommonly well. It is true than in any art form, the true mark of a master lies not in fancy tricks but in their command of the fundamentals.

Remembering my days in Capoeira, my teacher Azeitona, was not an overly fancy Caoperista. He did no flips and spins and acrobatics that are most commonly associated with Capoeira. Yet when he was playing against other Mestres who spent most of their game flipping through the air, his clear mastery of the basics and a game so rooted in the fundamentals made him appear years ahead of the rest. Watching him weave in and out of the game around other masters while using the same basic movements that he drilled his beginning students was pure poetry. Yet he seldom left contact with the ground even while playing the fastest games against the most acrobatic of masters.

Over the past year Myself and many others who I train with have been questioning our love of this thing called CrossFit. I couldn't quite put my finger on it but it seemed like CrossFit was no longer in line with my fitness goals. I played around with some things, changing my focus towards strength and making metabolic conditioning an after thought, doing all Powerlifting and Olympic lifting workouts, I barely even considered myself a CrossFitter anymore.

Then I came across a letter from Coach Glassman addressed to all affiliate owners titled "Virtuosity". To me this letter was a wake up call to return to the basics. In it he basically states that true virtuosity lies not in being able to demonstrate a large collection of tricks that you are pretty good at, but in truly mastering the basic movements that form the foundation of whatever it is you choose to do. He states that too many affiliate owners fall victim to programming increasingly long and elaborate workouts in an attempt to impress people with their knowledge that they never truly master the basics. This retards one's overall progress, in essence, limiting their fitness.

I never really strayed too far from the basic movements in my programming however I am definitely guilty of falling into the trap of thinking I had to do more work in order to become more fit. Of trying to jam so much into a workout because I felt I had to master everything at once while still managing to become more fit. This is where I started to question my love of CrossFit. In following suit with not only many programmers but with the mainsite as well, I began making my workouts longer and more difficult and wondering why I was actually backsliding. Why would I stand there, about to begin a WOD and dreading the pain I was about to put myself through. I had begun to fear the exact thing that I had become addicted to just a few years ago.  The same thing that drove me to go through the gym door and push myself harder every day. Why was it that I was getting stronger but my Metcon times were getting worse? It didn't make sense.

After reading "Virtuosity" I began to go back through the archives of the CrossFit Journal. Re-reading the articles on programming and foundations and "What is Fitness" and I began to remember what drew me to CrossFit. I remember falling in love with learning movements that had been around for a century yet seemed so new to me. Doing Short intense workouts that drove me to Keep going no matter how much it hurt because I knew the end was only a few more reps away.

So to reign in my long winded-ness, we are going back to basics. I am taking things way back to what caused me to fall in love with CrossFit. Once again I will be programming based on Greg Glassman's vision not based on what we are seeing on the internet these days. I will be programming workouts intended to increase work capacity. Short intense bouts of insanity intended to make us more fit individuals overall without spending too much time on any one element. Small consistent gains across the entire fitness spectrum. While continuing to love what it is we do. That is what CrossFit is to me.

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