I recently sat down with a prospective student at my gym. At DEUCE Gym, anyone who is interested in the program after understanding some of its basic framework must sit down with a coach for an hour to learn about the program, do a baseline assessment, and fill us in on their background/goals. This particular Intro Session was with an experienced CrossFitter and weightlifter, who had a particular knack for a flavor of fitness that looked much like CrossFit Football, powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman, and big sport strength and conditioning.
He knows what he wants. And, he also knows that CrossFit includes some things that he isn’t interested in.
It is conversations like this one, and thousands of years of rewarding human specificity, that bring me back to the importance of specific mastery. Taking into account that spending time with things that have our interest is not only beneficial to our happiness, but it also allows us to become great at things. Specificity allows us to have an impact and allows us to share our craft with the world.
With the rise of the CrossFit ethos, I think some athletes have latched on to its GPP ethos too tight. I don’t think quitting your lifetime practice of martial arts to train CrossFit is the goal, for example. Loving endurance sports is okay. Don’t quit running the 10Ks that make you happy because “specificity is bad.” Let me be clear: I don’t think CrossFit is making a mistake here. I think the interpretation of its application can be misapplied.
In that way, I don’t think the young man who I met with at my gym is at odds with CrossFit’s goals and application, which is, after all, a GPP base for which one can be better suited for his or her more specific interests. CrossFit isn’t telling you that your specific interests, whether they are a strength-bias, running marathons, or your golf career, are wrong for being too specific. Rather, the cut-and-dry foundation built by training GPP can serve as a necessary support structure for some very specific application.
Simply put, 300-pound powerlifters and 120-pound BMX riders don’t need to meet in the middle with CrossFit. CrossFit is, and should be, their supplement. I think we all can agree that the moment training CrossFit becomes a liability to your essential practices of sport and lifestyle, it no longer serves your wishes or the design of CrossFit itself.
In every case, other than that of a professional CrossFit competitors, a level of specificity is extremely natural and, arguably, important. CrossFit, then, doesn’t have to be your thing. I’d argue it should be a tool you use to better express your thing.