Ok, ok I did that thing that writer’s do. I used a really controversial sounding title to get you to read this. If you are a crossfitter you are probably already in the middle of mentally drafting a scathing comment about how wrong I am. Don’t forget your stopwatch to see how long it takes compared to the last article you rebuffed. I kid, I kid…
At this point ripping on Crossfit has become somewhat passe’, and to be honest some of it’s practitioners make it way too easy. *Yawn* I am guessing that fact infuriates the legitimate Crossfit athletes. See what I did there? I just gave credit where credit is due. It’s funny, when I mentioned writing this article to a friend in the fitness industry their first reaction was, “doing Crossfit you’re never really GREAT at anything. and Glassman is an idiot.” While I obviously agree with the former I think the latter isn’t necessarily true.
If Glassman’s goal was to create a training program to produce Elite Athletes, then I think he failed miserably. However, if his goal was to create a new sport, and subsequently develop a training protocol to help you succeed at that sport; then I would say that he has been hugely successful. I admit that I think Crossfit is horrible as a training model UNLESS you are a Crossfit competitor, much like I think golf is horrible as a training model UNLESS you are trying to get better at golf. Once you accept Crossfit as a sport then it is much easier to put it into context. And the ridiculousness of some crossfitters can be equated to the nonsense you might see on the blacktop during a pickup basketball game.
The truth of the matter is this isn’t really about Crossfit at all. As the title rightly suggested it is about the Crossfit model, and by that I mean Crossfit’s goal is to be good at everything but great at nothing. Crossfit is designed to test its competitors across all facets of fitness.
The Ten Facets of Fitness
It is the goal of a Crossfit athlete to be good to slightly above average on all 10 aspects. In other words Crossfit seeks BALANCE. Here is the problem I have with this model; you cannot be balanced and be an Elite athlete. I suppose I should have prefaced that statement. If you are one of the 1% of all athletes on the planet then you will more than likely be Elite at whatever you choose to do. However for the remainder of the population to be the absolute BEST you can be at something, anything, means that you are going to SUCK at other things.
That’s why I have to respectfully disagree that Crossfit training builds Elite Athletes. It simply doesn’t, unless we are redefining what it means to be Elite. If you take an Elite athlete from any ONE particular fitness aspect and had them compete against a crossfitter in that discipline the Elite athlete would CRUSH them. That is because the Elite athlete focuses all their energy on ONE thing, while the Crossfitter focuses on balance. And while, yes, this does mean that the crossfitter is above average across the board when compared to the average human being; the only thing crossfitters can hope to be Elite at is their sport of Crossfit. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that…”
Again, this really isn’t about Crossfit. The point I am trying to make is that for 99% of us you can either have balance or you can have greatness, but you cannot have both. To be the absolute best you can be at something requires laser like focus, and makes it impossible to focus on other things equally.
Do You Want To Be YOUR Best, Or Do You Want Balance?
The ironic thing is that even Crossfit doesn’t really achieve true balance. True balance is what average people talk about striving for. It is the homeostasis where everything in their life has the same level of focus, and unfortunately in my opinion it is a recipe for mediocrity. And while the Crossfit model does achieve balance across all aspects of fitness, if you are an Elite Crossfitter then you more than likely SUCK at some other aspect of your life.
The Ten Facets of Life
- Home/Physical Environment
- Love, Relationships
- Family/Friends/Social Relationships
It is impossible to be your best at every aspect. Technically, it is impossible to be your BEST at even two aspects of life. You just have to decide what is the most important to you, and you have to surround yourself with people that accept your decision. That is another point that may be lost in this. Your decision to focus on ONE (or two) thing(s) is going to have an impact on the people around you. If you want to be the best athlete you possibly can be, then there is no way you are going to be the best significant other, parent or friend. Whenever you lock into one particular direction you are inevitably moving away from something else. The people in your life have you understand this, or there will be conflict.
Do you think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, etc ever strived for balance? Absolutely NOT! The only reason they reached the heights that they did was extraordinary focus and effort in a singular direction. Do you think students in law school or medical school even entertain the notion of balance? I would venture to guess that most CEO’s of major corporation are borderline sociopaths. Now these people may achieve balance later in life once they have reached their goals or retire from their sport, but if they attempt to live a balance life while still pursuing them their performance will inevitably suffer.
This is just part of being human, and being restricted to the same 86,400 seconds per day that everyone else is allotted. If you are trying to improve one aspect of your life, another will fall behind. The bottom line is you cannot have balance in your life and reach your full potential in any one thing. If you want to be the best athlete, powerlifter, bodybuilder, strongman, etc then some other aspect of your life WILL suffer. Balance is only good for Maintenance. To be the best you can be at ONE thing, you have to be selfish..that’s how focus works. You have to decide whether it’s worth it or not.