Programming at a CrossFit gym is a lot like curriculum in school. We attend school to get smarter, and we attend a gym to get fitter. But the specifics of how we accomplish those goals can vary widely. As CrossFit gyms become more plentiful (15,000 worldwide and growing) there becomes a wider variety of paths that gyms take towards satisfying the needs of their members. And from gym to gym, those needs can vary widely. Some gyms cater to competitive athletes, while some do not. Some have an older demographic and some are full of young guns. But all CrossFit gyms use the practice of CrossFit as a general methodology to increase fitness, so we all share more in common than we have in differences. And here are some differences you may see in our programming compared to other gyms you have experienced...
Our programming is born from our desire to support our specific membership and their needs, not the needs of the entire CrossFit population. The demographic that is most common in our classes is between the ages of 30 and 50, with far more women than men. Most that walk through our doors have a desire to improve their health, age more gracefully and reclaim some of their past athleticism. Very few enter our classes with the intention of being able to squat twice their body weight and compete in the sport of CrossFit. As such, we design our programming to accomplish those goals for our members, helping them become more fit. And we do so using an inclusive, fun and effective format that could be considered "Classic CrossFit." This style of programming steers away from doing a whole bunch of separate chunks of work during the hour, and keeps the focus on one or two things that we try and do really well. It also tries to avoid using a whole bunch of numbers and math to define what weights to choose, and keeps it simple, allowing each athlete to make their own decisions, with the trainer's guidance, on any given day. Our most valuable resource is our training staff and we develop programming that allows them the opportunity to work with each athlete in class to customize the gym programming based on daily needs, not formulas. And we do not do strength and Olympic lifting every day - for most of our members the barbell is a fun tool to get to know, but not something we need to rely on for increasing our general work capacity.
There are three main reasons why we have chosen to follow the path of classic CrossFit...
1. IT'S INCLUSIVE - We have long debated the idea of moving towards a tiered programming model like some other gyms in our area. The idea with this approach is to define three specific versions of the workout of the day (ex. Fitness, Sport and Competition) and ask members to fit themselves into one of the three categories based on their athletic capabilities. We have consciously steered away from the tiered programming model as it goes against our core philosophy of embracing a culture of fitness where everyone works out together and shares challenging experiences as a single class. The last thing we want to do is declare at the beginning of class "if you are this type of athlete you are doing this today, and if you are a different type of athlete you will be doing that today." Not only is that operationally difficult, it does not align with our goal of fostering a climate of inclusiveness. We program and post workouts that are challenging for our top athletes, and then we work with everyone to determine how to adjust the movements and numbers on the board so that the workout is just right for them, without defining a specific "tier" that they are in.
2. IT'S FUN - One of the main reasons why CrossFit works is because people enjoy doing it. And when you enjoy doing something, you KEEP doing it. The best programming in the world is completely useless if nobody wants to do it for very long. So we spend extra time crafting our hour long classes into an experience that not only packs a punch physically, but it engages the brain and stimulates social interaction and our innate sense of play. So we have days where there are games, challenges, partner and team workouts, inter-class rivalries, and workouts that require some thought. We do work hard, but it is always in the context of our strong desire to make your hour of class the best hour of your day.
3. IT'S EFFECTIVE - If you don't believe us, attend a Level 1 or Level 2 CrossFit certification where they preach the philosophy of living most of your life in couplets and triplets (two or three-movement workouts), going long once a week, going heavy once a week. This is "Classic CrossFit" where the magic is in the movements, and the art is in how you combine them in unique ways. Or you can pay a visit to the highly respected affiliate, CrossFit New England. Here you will see challenging, thoughtfully designed, engaging workouts that align very closely with the core principles of CrossFit - constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. Interestingly they also have world-class athletes who compete at the highest levels attending classes right alongside their core membership.
So inclusive, fun and effective programming - that's what we strive for. We can't always hit the mark perfectly, but we at least want you to all know what our goals are as we define what we do on a day-to-day basis. We always encourage you to provide us with feedback on how things are running in your classes and whether you think we are hitting the mark. And feel free to converse with your trainers if you have any specific goals as athletes that you feel are not being met. Our greatest hope is that you all are walking into class excited to attack the workouts we provide, and even more importantly that you are all walking away from class feeling that your experience was something you want to come back to again and again.