What is Fitness and Who is fit? Part 1

We could sit here all day and debate which star athlete is more fit.  You see the problem with defining true fitness is that there is no single test to find it.  You can easily tell who has a stronger deadlift by setting up a bar and seeig who can lift the most weight.  In the same way you can see who has the fastest mile time by going to a track and running a mile race.  In order to try and answer this question of what is fitness and who is fit CrossFit founder Greg Glassman wrote an article titled “What is Fitness” way back in 2002.  Even though it is 15 years old at this point it is still a great article.  Since it is very long I am going to break it down in sections and post it here for you over the next several weeks so that you can digest it and think about it.

In this first part of the article Glassman talks about who the public thinks of as fit and why there may be a case both for and against that argument.  He goes on to describe his theory of World-Class Fitness and how to achieve it.  Enjoy!

Part 1 – What is fitness and who is fit? (By Greg Glassman, CrossFit Journal, OCT 2002)

“In 1997, Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen “the fittest man on Earth.” Let us just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the IronMan Triathlon is the fittest of the fit. Then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman, who also possesses incredible endurance and stamina yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison that includes strength, power, speed and coordination?

Perhaps the definition of fitness does not include strength, speed, power and coordination, though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “fitness” and being “fit” as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little. Worse yet, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in its highly authoritative “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning,” does not even attempt a definition.

CrossFit’s Fitness

ALT TEXT

For CrossFit, the specter of championing a fitness program without clearly defining what it is that the program delivers combines elements of fraud and farce. The vacuum of guiding authority has therefore necessitated that CrossFit provide its own definition of fitness. That is what this article is about: our “fitness.”

Our pondering, studying, debating about and finally defining fitness have played a formative role in CrossFit’s successes. The keys to understanding the methods and achievements of CrossFit are perfectly embedded in our view of fitness and basic exercise science.

It will come as no surprise to most of you that our view of fitness is a contrarian view. The general public both in opinion and in media holds endurance athletes as exemplars of fitness. We do not. Our incredulity on learning of Outside’s awarding a triathlete the title of “fittest man on Earth” becomes apparent in light of CrossFit’s models for assessing and defining fitness.

CrossFit makes use of three different standards or models for evaluating and guiding fitness. Collectively, these three standards define the CrossFit view of fitness. The first is based on the 10 general physical skills widely recognized by exercise physiologists. The second standard, or model, is based on the performance of athletic tasks, while the third is based on the energy systems that drive all human action.

Each model is critical to CrossFit, and each has distinct utility in evaluating an athlete’s overall fitness or a strength-and-conditioning regimen’s efficacy. Before explaining in detail how each of these three perspectives works, it warrants mention that we are not attempting to demonstrate our program’s legitimacy through scientific principles. We are but sharing the methods of a program whose legitimacy has been established through the testimony of athletes, soldiers, cops and others whose lives or livelihoods depend on fitness.”

Source:
Glassman, Greg. (2002, OCT). What is Fitness? The CrossFit Journal. Retrieved from: https://journal.crossfit.com/article/what-is-fitness

Get Outside

 

Spring is finally making its appearance and the best way I know how to take full advantage is to get outside as much as possible. Being outdoors has so many benefits; increases your Vitamin D which helps combat depression, increases brain function, and reduces stress.

 

How can you get outside more????

Join our 30 Day Run Challenge

 

Starts next Thursday April 27th ( I know its weird to start on a Thursday but I wanted to give you a few rest days before Murph on May 29th, details of Murph below)

 

Here are the details. You predetermine a distance/time that is right for you to run (or walk/run) every single day for 30 days. Each and everyday you get outside and complete whatever you have chosen.

 

It’s all up to you. If you think a mile is a good distance for you to try and complete everyday, go for it. If a mile seems a bit much you can do 5 minutes a day. Just 5 minutes, thats all you need to do. You can do this.

 

The bonus of the challenge is it is also preparation for some upcoming events.

On Memorial Day we will be doing the Hero Wod “Murph”

1-mile run

100 pull-ups

200 push-ups

300 squats

1-mile run

On Saturday June 3rd we will be participating in the Hamden 5k

We did this last year and it was a lot of fun, this year we want an even bigger crowd!

Register Here

On Saturday Aug. 5th is the New Haven Craft Beer Run

There is a whole beer festival at the end what’s not to love.

Register Here

 

The Committed Club

Another new feature we are going to start doing is recognizing those athletes that are truly committed to their fitness here at CrossFit True.  Each month we will celebrate their achievement by listing them as members of the “Committed Club”.

What do I have to do to get into the Committed Club?

It’s easy! Just attend classes 12 times during the month or an average of 3 days/week and you’re in. 3 days/week is that sweet spot where you can really make some serious progress and not get burnt out.  As you continue to develop as an athlete you will be able to handle more days and really accelerate your progress.

March 2017 Committed Club

Kristin R. 24 Classes
Marc P. 17 Classes
Raysa F. 17 Classes
Joe A. 15 Classes
Landis D. 14 Classes
Gina N. 12 Classes
Elaine L. 12 Classes
Alex C. 12 Classes

Runners Up with 11 classes.  Keep pushing and you all will be there next month!
Elisa G.
Miriam J.
Rozlyn
Dave V.

Don’t see your name on the list?  Make sure you sign in to each and every class.

Liz M. April Athlete Spotlight

Here is a first look at Liz’s athlete spotlight.  Be sure to check your inbox on Monday for our April newsletter and to learn more about Liz!

Anniversaries

We are going to start a new feature on the blog each month where we recognize our members anniversary of their join date.  Joining CrossFit True was a huge step in your lives and has changed you in ways you never realized it would.  We know some of you had a short break from us at times but as we always say, “Once a member, Always a member”.  So weather you were with us this entire time or you took a short break and now you’re back you will always will be a part of our amazing CrossFit Family.

We are so glad to have each and every one of you as members of our CrossFit True family and we can’t wait to continue developing the amazing relationships we have created.

Since this month is the first time we are going to be doing this I am going to include anniversaries from January-April of this year.

Congratulations on your Gymaversary!

First off a big welcome to our NEWEST Members who signed up last month!

Jennifer C.
Sana S.
Jen & Daniel P.

 

January – April Gymaversaries:

Ben Raccio 5 Years! Join Date: January 25th, 2012
Kelly B. 5 Years! Join Date: January 28th, 2012
Mike P. 5 Years! Join Date: February 15th, 2012
Tracy T. 5 Years! Join Date: March 22nd, 2012
Joe A. 5 Years! Join Date: March 23rd, 2012
Shawn B. 5 Years! Join Date: March 28th, 2012
Desmond 5 Years! Join Date: March 28th, 2012
Hil B. 5 Years! Join Date: April 1st, 2012
Britt M. 3 Years! Join Date: January 15th, 2014
Alex C. 3 Years! Join Date: January 23rd, 2014
Gina 3 Years! Join Date: February 6th, 2014
Scott Hazan 3 Years! Join Date: March 31st, 2014
Lou 2 Years! Join Date: February 17th, 2015
Derek 2 Years! Join Date: March 5th, 2015
Paul H. 2 Years! Join Date: March 10th, 2015
Meg G. 2 Years! Join Date: March 11th, 2015
Cynthia B. 2 Years! Join Date: April 13th, 2015
Asma 1 Year! Join Date: February 1st, 2016
Elaine 1 Year! Join Date: February 5th, 2016
John A. 1 Year! Join Date: March 6th, 2016
Cole 1 Year! Join Date: March 22nd, 2016
Roz 6 months! Join Date: October 20th, 2016
Juan 3 Months! Join Date: January 3rd, 2017
Jason 3 Months! Join Date: January 22nd, 2017
Jacqueline 3 Months! Join Date: January 23rd, 2017
Carly 3 Months! Join Date: January 27th, 2017

Gut Bacteria

Many of you may not know that inside of you right now are trillions of bacteria.  You might think that these are bad but in reality many of them are needed.  They help you digest food and improve your health.  Probiotics are one form of this bacteria that you are probably familiar with.  Check out this awesome 5 minute video from TED ED to learn more.

 

10 General Physical Skills

What is your definition of fitness? At what point would you believe you have achieved a high level of fitness? At first this might seem like a vague assessment, we are all at different levels in our fitness journey and each person might define fitness differently. A runner would place a great emphasis on how fast they are while a powerlifter could care less about their mile time, but would judge their fitness on how much load they can move.

 

But what if fitness wasn’t defined as one extreme or another. What if fitness was a sum of many different aspects of physical feats? And fitness was not to excel in any one part, but rather be well versed in all areas. Well, we call this the 10 General Physical Skills and if your goal is overall physical fitness you’ll want to pay special attention to each of them.

 

The 10-General Physical Skills

 

Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen. (Breathing, Breathing while moving, & ability to control it)

 

Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy. (Big sets of push ups, squats, long run)

 

Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force. (1 Rep Max lifts….Deadlift, Bench Press, Squat, Shoulder Press, etc)

 

Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.

 

Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time. (Olympic Lifts, Jumping, Punching, Throwing, etc)

 

Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.

 

Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.

 

Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.

 

Balance – The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.

 

Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction at a given intensity

 

We will all have our bias, but our overall goal should be to have competence in each of these physical skills.

 

Try this:

Take a good look at the list and a good look at yourself then rank each of them 1-5 with 1 being something you need to work on and 5 being a bright spot in your training.

 

When you do this try not to compare yourself to others, this is a you vs you situation. We want to find out where you do your best work and what area you need to focus your training. You will also need to think of these physical skills in more than one situation. For instance, if you are thinking about flexibility and you know you can easily reach down and touch your toes you might think you’re really flexible, but if at the same time you struggle to sit “criss cross applesauce” well that might tell us that you have flexible hamstrings but are tight in other areas. Looking at different areas of each physical skill will help you sort them out.

 

Did you rank each of them? Where were you strongest? What areas can you improve? This drill is very eye opening. You can really see where you need improvement, it’s like giving yourself a report card on your fitness.

 

Now if you found that you have one area that is really holding you back, you might find a great deal of comfort knowing that even a small improvement in the area you lack can produce a big result in your overall fitness. Because although each of the 10 general physical skills can be judged separately, they are also highly connected. Improvements in flexibility can lead to better balance and better force production (ie Power). And with better coordination comes a higher level of agility.

 

If your looking to improve, come back to this basic list of skills and accurately rate your current abilities. From there work those weaknesses.

 

Resiliency

What is Resiliency?  Well to put it simply it is your ability, both mentally and physically, to deal with the stresses that are placed on you in life.  According the the world famous Dr. Google Resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness”

Right now as we come to the end of the CrossFit Open some of you may not be thrilled with your results.  You may not have done as well as you had hoped, or maybe you set your goals too high for this year.

Mike Lee from OPEX said it perfectly in his recent blog psot titled “What is Resilience?”  Mike says:

At the end of the day remember no one cares where you finish, except YOU. Stop judging yourself according to others. What does it matter?………YOU know that you gave everything to maximize your performance and reach your full potential.

Start getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.”

For some tips on how to increase your resiliency read the rest of Mike’s post here.

If you are resilient you will be able to use this year as a stepping stone to continued improvement and begin working on your weaknesses in preparation for next year.

Habits

Habits…we all have them; some are good, some are bad, and some well…they just are. It seems like the bad ones come easy, the good ones are nearly impossible and the rest we don’t even recognize as habits. So, how do these habits form? What can we do to eliminate the bad ones? How do we incorporate new habits without them seeming like a chore?

 

Habits have 3-main parts; a cue, a behavior, and a reward. If we want to change our habits we need to make conscious efforts to identify each part, recognize it as part of our habit, and establish a plan to change.

 

Our habits are easy to identify. Eating sweets after dinner, having an adult beverage when you get home from work, washing you hands after you use the bathroom, flossing, or buckling your seat belt are all examples of habits. The trickier part of habits are the cue and the reward.

 

The cue is what sets our habits into motion, the thing that triggers our behavior. The cue could be sitting on the couch to watch TV, the people around you, boredom, the timing, or how you feel. Take the example of always wanting a sweet treat after dinner. What’s the cue that sets your habit into motion? Do you always eat while watching TV? Are the other people in your house eating? Do you feel like you deserve it because you had a hard day? Once you can make the connection between the cue and your habit you’ll be able to start diving into the final part of a habit, the reward.

 

Identifying the reward might be the trickiest part as it’s not always the first thing we think of. If your habit is to have an adult beverage when you get home from work and maybe you have established that your cue is sitting down and “putting your feet up” you now need to figure out what the reward is from having a drink. What role is the behavior playing in satisfying your needs? Does it make you feel less stressed? Are you more relaxed? Does it quench your thirst? Does it help you forget about your day?

 

Once you have broken down your habit; the behavior, its cue that gets it started, and reward that its satisfying you can start making a plan to change. To do this you need to start substituting your behavior with another, better behavior that will reward and satisfy. If having a sweet treat while watching tv is your habit you could try replacing the sweet treat with a healthier snack. If that doesn’t work you may need to think about eliminating the cue, so instead of watching TV you read a book, or go to bed earlier. If you habit is having a drink because it relieves stress you could try getting in a workout, going to a yoga class, meditation, or taking a nap.
The key to success is to figure out what works best for you and sticking to the plan. It may be challenging at first, you may need to try a few different behaviors to find the one that is right for you, but if you stick with your plan you can make long lasting change.

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