This is part 2 of a series in explaining how a CrossFit gym is different from a commercial/globo gym. For our purposes, we will be focusing on the following major differences between our box and some of the local commercial/globo gyms:
Coached Classes - When people go to a commercial gym they will typically wander around looking for a machine that is available to use. If you're lucky, on upper body day you'll find the applicable machines available for your upper body workout. However, the problem with a commercial gym is that the equipment you need might be unavailable at the time you need it and even if you are able to claim the machine needed, you might be using a piece of equipment incorrectly thus negating any benefits of that machine. For females specifically, in most commercial gyms you can find a self-proclaimed fitness expert/know-it-all that may interrupt your sets to inform you that you are incorrectly using a machine, when perhaps, in fact, you were using it correctly but because you have boobs they just assume you don't know what you're doing. At a commercial gym there is little hope of relying on a certified coach available to correct your movement to keep you safe and injury free. Unfortunately it is common in commercial gyms to have a so-called "trainer" onsite that sometime might not know as much as you do when it comes to lifting. We see it in our local area: local gyms that say they have a trainer when in fact the person they are touting as a trainer has no credentials, no certifications, and are no more than a person that might look to be in shape.
In regard to the machines and equipment that people use in commercial gyms, going to the gym on your own and just going through the motions on the equipment can be boring and monotonous. There are very few sports in which the athlete is sitting stationary on a piece of equipment and in life, we should be as physically active as possible well into our golden years so that our mobility is sufficient. So, why should you trust your workout regimen to machines that have no real life applicability to quality movement patterns?
CrossFit's founder, Greg Glassman, said that his idea for starting the revolutionary fitness craze he named CrossFit came about due to his frustrations with practices in traditional gyms. "I mean you sit on this thing, you put the pin in the hole, there's only one way you can move it, and that's not really what people need," he said. CrossFit workouts change daily and contain variety to keep its membership on its toes. The regimen consists of functional movements that aim to increase individual work capacity and is applicable to other sports activities.
Enter a certified CrossFit coach
When people attend a CrossFit class they participate in a structured class. There is no coming in and doing your own thing. CrossFit boxes have specific programming designed to help you achieve certain stimuli. One day the programming focus might be on conditioning - light weight, high reps, a set time frame. Another day, the focus might be more on skill - loading up AHAP (as heavy as possible) until your form breaks down and then you should back off and go AHAP with good form. On another, maybe the focus is just on lifting heavy. The class is coached from the beginning of the class, which includes a warm-up, coached through the strength and/or skill portion of the class, and coached through the movements of the WOD (workout of the day), until the class is concluded. We like to finish our classes with relevant stretches/mobility. A class is structured to last for no more than one hour. CrossFit coaches are certified and are able to provide coaching cues to make sure the athlete is performing the movement safely and correctly. In a commercial gym, you are left to your own devices and even though you might think that you are squatting to depth, you aren't. And how many times do you see "cheater" push-ups happening with no lock-out of the arms at the top and people not touching their chest to the ground in fitness classes that don't have the rigid standards a CrossFit class does? The goal for fitness is to develop a full range of motion in your body movement patterns and if you are left to your own devices, you're gonna short-range the shit out of squats and push-ups because otherwise, it HURTS; otherwise, you won't be able to do as many reps; otherwise, it will take you longer! And that, folks, is the main reason YOU NEED A CERTIFIED COACH, not some random Joe Shmo who took an exercise science class in college. There are standards that should be met in your body movement patterns and if those standards are not being explained and enforced, you are wasting your time and falling short of receiving the benefit intended from an exercise. You should exercise to get fit so that no matter what life throws at you, you are strong and can survive. A certified coach is someone that wants you to succeed and knows that if you aren't doing a movement correctly, there is little benefit.
Speaking of performing a movement safely and correctly, why is that so important? Well, to begin with, if your goal is to get in shape and you get injured because of performing a movement incorrectly, you won't be able to workout. The goal is to perform movements without risk of injury so that you can advance in your strength and conditioning. Although CrossFit has been the butt of many jokes regarding how unsafe it is, the vast majority of people with half a brain know (and we aren't saying that even half the population has that much mental capacity) that is an unfair statement. When you consider the actual number of people that do CrossFit worldwide (it's estimated that a whopping 4 million people do CrossFit!) in relation to the fail videos that circulate on the internet (regurgitated by strength athletes that are jealous they can't hang from a pull-up bar for 30 seconds let alone do a pull-up or a muscle-up), the injury ratio for CrossFit is far less than the sports of powerlifting and strongman (sorry, folks)! CrossFit has fostered the culture of putting everything online which has helped to perpetuate the myth that CrossFit is unsafe. NOT TRUE, especially when you have coaches that are engaged and invested in their members. At CrossFit Intense, we are fortunate to have knowledgeable, educated and certified coaches that are invested in our members' quality of movement.
The proof of quality coaching, however, is in the pudding. Through the coaching onsite at our facility, we have taken a "skinny fat" former marathon walker who was in her 50's who definitely didn't need to lose weight, but she came to us because she realized that as she was aging she lacked the necessary strength needed to perform reasonable tasks. Six years later, the 60-something year old deadlifts over 200 pounds, has competed in a power lifting meet and holds state records, and is proficient at Olympic lifts, jumps on boxes and can do double-unders and more movements than we can name here. These were activities she never dreamed of doing before starting CrossFit. She has succeeded because of the programming and coaches.
We had one female that begin CrossFit in her 40's that couldn't do a sit-up when she first started. Now, she does tough mudders and spartan races, competes in local CrossFit competitions, can do pull-ups, toes to bar and is proficient at body weight movements in addition to barbell movements. Again - her proficiency throughout the broad realm of exercises is to voluminous to list.
We had a 50-something year old female that began CrossFit for the first time at our facility in 2010. She had never participated in sports growing up and under our coaching she finished the CrossFit Open in 2015 as 60th in the world in her age group. Without proper coaching, that is a feat that she never could have accomplished.
We had a 53 year old join us in late March 2014 at the conclusion of our Zero to Sexy in 6 Weeks class during bring a friend week. Gayla was able to deadlift 95 pounds the first time we had a deadlift 1 rep max challenge which wasn't bad considering that that was almost her body weight! Within the next 8 months or so, Gayla was coached throughout a broad range of movements during her CrossFit classes and she attended classes 4-5 times a week which caused her to see dramatic improvements relatively quickly. Because of Intense Barbell Club, the side of our facility that was created for those athletes that was to focus on strength, Gayla began receiving more one-on-one coaching and her power lifting numbers skyrocketed. Long story short, she ended up qualifying for IPL Worlds in February 2015 at the first annual Pro/Am Strong Box meet, and at IPL Worlds in November of that year she set three IPL World Records, which she still holds today. Gayla had a 275.58 pound deadlift (an increase of 180 pounds in 18 months). She won't have these records for long, however, as she has qualified for IPL Worlds, once again, and will go back in November 2017 to add some pounds to her totals. All of this came about because there were coaches invested in her training regimen. She had trained at a local facility prior to coming to CrossFit Intense but again, she did not receive any significant coaching that enabled her to make any credible advances in her strength (remember, her deadlift was just 95# when she started with us)! Under proper coaching, she has gotten older yet stronger -- something that should be the goal of everyone over the age of 50!
We've had more people than we can count that have lost 70+ pounds since they began CrossFit at Intense. Weight loss is primarily controlling your food intake; however, those at our facility that have had major weight loss after they joined us made huge strength gains while at the same time losing significant weight.
The common thread among these people is that they committed to the programming and trusted the coaches at our facility. Coaches are not only motivators, they look at a member and know they can't fix everything in just one session - we are building a relationship with our clients and adding layers of confidence and ability every time the person walks through the door. A coach builds from the ground up instilling confidence, encouraging, pushing, motivating and developing the character needed to push through an exercise that the member thought would be impossible just a few weeks ago, yet now they are not only performing the movement efficiently but they are having fun while doing it. A certified coach knows when to modify a movement for someone and yet knows when to push the person to do more, go faster, lift heavier.
If everyone could go it alone through life and remain in shape there would be no need for any gyms. The fact is, most people go it alone through life and become immobile, weak, stiff and lack energy to do menial tasks which often times leads to obesity and ultimately their acknowledgment that they need to begin a workout regimen. Doing things on their own is the main reason they are out of shape, so why would they think doing things on their own in a commercial gym is the answer to getting back into shape? Coaches are necessary to motivate and critique movement patterns so that even the most out of shape person can be successful in improving their fitness.
Looking for a motivating atmosphere to increase your capacity and strength? Fill out the form on our website to schedule your free fitness assessment and you can see for yourself how a coach can help you increase your fitness abilities.
This is part 1 of a series in explaining how a CrossFit gym is different from a commercial/globo gym. For our purposes, we will be focusing on the following major differences between our box and some of the local commercial/globo gyms:
No doubt the first thing that people compare when looking at local gyms is price. Some people might be shocked if they think that a commercial/glob gym in on the same level as a CrossFit box. The differences between the business models are vast and since money speaks, we thought to tackle the financial aspect of a CrossFit gym verses a commercial gym first.
Price Structure - Whereas commercial gyms have a price point that is typically under $50 a month, CrossFit boxes price their monthly memberships at upwards of $100. In North Central West Virginia, the average cost of a CrossFit unlimited monthly membership is $125 per month. Why does a CrossFit membership cost more than a commercial/globo gym's membership? The best explanation we have found is on CrossFit Mayhem's website: "What do you get from a typical gym membership? You pay a flat fee to use the equipment....[at a CrossFit gym] we program your workouts, instruct movements, scale the workout if necessary, offer nutritional suggestions if requested, and are committed to each client every time you walk in the door. Our group sessions are the equivalent of semi-personal training." We couldn't have said it better.
The goal of a typical gym is to get as many people into a contract as possible at low monthly rates that are automatically deducted from a checking account, debit card or credit card. Once people are locked into a contract, however, whether or not they are actually working out at the gym becomes irrelevant, as the relatively low monthly payment is no more than the cost of foregoing a few trips to a fast food restaurant throughout the month. This fact became known to us at CFI when we had a couple join our community in late 2014. The couple was in their 20's, both of them worked, and they were parents of a toddler. After the couple joined us for our CrossFit 101 beginner's class, which is traditionally offered at a lower price point than the regular membership rates, they were initially uncertain as to whether or not they could swing the monthly dues once the 101 class concluded. After the 101 class concluded, the gentleman came into the office and said that he and his wife couldn't afford NOT to sign up. He went on to explain that they had purchased a globo gym membership earlier that year that was recurring for just $20 a month for each of them and even though they had a membership at the globo gym for close to a year, they never used it and didn't even feel guilty for not using it because it was so cheap. Josh then said that he realized they both HAD to join us at CFI because with the higher price point, he and his family would be making an investment and they knew that if they made the investment, they would be in the gym regularly, thus improving their health and fitness that in the long run would pay off in lower medical bills due to a healthy and fit lifestyle. Josh put into words what we see as "value."
The word 'value' is defined in Merriam-Webster's dictionary as "a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged." If a gym member pays a relatively low monthly rate for a gym membership (a service) and does not go to the gym at least three (3) times a week to workout (thus, receiving nothing in return), there is little value in a low monthly rate gym membership.
Further, if a commercial gym whose goal is to acquire 600 members actually reaches the number of 600 members, you can bet your bottom dollar that the owners are hoping and praying that 600 people never show up in the same day, or even the same week. The wear and tear on their equipment in addition to the water usage, toilet paper needed and the cleaning costs alone would be so great that the gym would find it hard to make ends meet. The commercial gym owner is literally banking on the fact that people will forget the low monthly payment, not show up, and they can just rack in the money with very little expense to their gym.
At a CrossFit box, the goal is quality coaching over quantity of members. CrossFit owners prefer to provide a quality experience which is through their programming and coaches that are certified, over having too many people in each class. In fact, at CrossFit Intense we do not want any classes over 12-15 people (depending on that day's workout) so that the coach to athlete ratio provides a better experience for the athlete as they are learning and refining barbell movements and their gymnastic's skills.
The business model of the typical commercial gym is to sell memberships. The business model of a typical CrossFit gym is to provide a quality coaching experience for their members so that their athletes can see results.
Next week's programming features the use of tempo squats during our strength work. Tempo prescriptions come in a series of four numbers representing the times it should take to complete four stages of the lift. In a workout, the tempo prescription will follow the assigned number of reps and the tempo prescription, such as: 5 x 5 Tempo Squat (4221)
The First Number – The first number refers to the lowering (eccentric) phase of the lift. Using the above (4221) which will be the focus for the week of June 12th, the “4” will represent the amount of time (in seconds) that it should take you to descend to the bottom of the squat. (When performing tempo squats, the first number always refers to the lowering/eccentric phase).
The Second Number – The second number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the lift – the point in which the lift transitions from lowering to ascending. In our tempo scheme for the week, the prescribed “2” means that the athlete should reach the bottom position and would be expected to pause for 2 seconds at the bottom position.
The Third Number – The third number refers to ascending (concentric) phase of the lift – the amount of time it takes you to get to the top of the lift. Since the third number is a “2,” it should take the athlete 2 seconds to get the lift to the top regardless of whether they can move it faster.
The Fourth Number – The fourth number refers to how long you should pause at the top of the lift. Most times, we will pause for just 1 second at the top before beginning the next rep.
Consistency when counting is obviously important, yet seems to vary wildly form athlete to athlete. So, we will use a timer on our screen to keep you honest and adjust the weight as necessary.
Why Tempo Training?
Improved Quality of Movement
Quality of movement should be your first priority. The CrossFit mantra is Mechanics - Consistency-Intensity, something that is often forgotten when athletes push themselves to go harder and faster, sadly at the expense of good form. So, bear in mind that intensity comes only after one can consistently demonstrate the proper mechanics of a movement. Tempo prescriptions can help athletes develop awareness and body control by giving them an opportunity to “feel” which muscle groups are activating to keep them in proper positions.
Using our squat example again our goal should not simply be to lift the weight but to do so in a safe and effective manner. The movement standard may be for the hip crease to pass below the level of the top of the knee but imagine if we were to just collapse into the bottom of the squat hoping to bounce back out. The knees may well collapse inwards, chest fall forward and the pelvis roll causing "butt wink". By requiring a set tempo, particularly one with a slow lowering phase, we force the athlete to hold a good position, giving them time to focus on a neutral position in the lumbar spine, chest up and knees out. If these positions can't be held for the prescribed tempo we know the load is too great.
So, for our newer athletes there is an opportunity to learn and practice correct form and in more experienced athletes tempo squats can be used to identify problem areas and strengthen any weak links in technique. For example, if you struggle in the bottom position of a front squat, a prescription forcing you to spend some time in that position will help solidify your technique, create more comfort in that weak position, and permit greater improvements in future.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Improving the quality of the movement obviously helps to reduce the risk of injury for athletes. But in addition, slowing down the tempo of lifts can ease the stress placed on joints and shift that additional stress to the muscles powering the lift. More stress on the muscles and less on the joints is a good thing. Muscles are far better at adapting to increased loads. Connective tissue typically takes longer to strengthen and adapt to the increasing loads, so by slowing down the tempo you can give your connective tissue some rest while still strengthening the surrounding musculature.
Improved Strength Gains
Different tempo prescriptions permit greater training variety and stimulus. This means fewer plateaus and more adaptation. They also allow us to overcome weak links by focusing on certain areas of movements. If your tempo prescription called for a slow descent and a longer pause at the bottom, you would have to get stronger through your weak points. Time under tension is another factor in strength training, by using a tempo prescription we can increase the time spent under load but often at a lighter weight - picture a 3-second pause at the bottom of a squat. By reducing the weight we can lessen the impact on our central nervous system but still get stronger, particularly important for CrossFit athletes who often train consistently at high intensity.
This article was adapted from http://www.crossfit-bold.com/coachs-blog/tempo-training
Making you harder to kill.
CrossFit Intense is an affiliate located in Fairmont, West Virginia in Layne Performance Center (LPC). We are a business that is focused on assisting you in maximizing your performance, whether it be for increased it quality of life in your daily tasks, increase in strength, greater mobility, sports conditioning, benefit from chiropractic care, or access to physical therapy and whole foods nutrition.
We are home to Intense Barbell Club which members are strength athletes devoted to powerlifting and strongman and dedicated to advancing in their sport. We have numerous state and American Record holders on our team, as well as a few IPL World Record holders.
Live in NCWV and serious about strength? Come join our team. You'll be glad you did.