Is High Skill the Future of the Reebok CrossFit Games?

As I sat and watched the SoCal Regional event play out live at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, I began to think about the progression of the Sport of Fitness. I reminisced about where we’ve been.
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As I sat and watched the SoCal Regional event play out live at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, I began to think about the progression of the Sport of Fitness. I reminisced about where we’ve been.
Is High Skill the Future of the Reebok CrossFit Games? promo image

As I sat and watched the SoCal Regional event play out live at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, I began to think about the progression of the Sport of Fitness. I reminisced about where we’ve been. With roots as essentially a fitness-flavored barbeque in Aromas, the contrast is stark. I smiled as the energy in the fairgrounds was on par with the 2010 Games. And, this was Regionals! With those two thoughts, my mind raced about the future.

These thoughts drifted away from the fanfare and regalia of the event to the action on the floor. Everyone was significantly stronger and more skilled than last year, but what does the future of the fittest men and women on Earth look like?

With the likes of Glenn Pendlay in the weightlifting world giving credit to CrossFit as potentially the greatest thing to ever happen to American weightlifting, we’ve surely come a long way with the barbell in CrossFit, but what about other domains? By contrast, we certainly haven’t cracked the code on triathlons, for example. Maybe there’s more room to grow in certain areas of performance than others, I thought.

I was fortunate enough to sit next to Carl Paoli, of all people, for part of the event. What better person to ask about the evolution of skill in the sport of fitness than he? Anticipating his answer, I asked him where he saw gymnastics relative to weightlifting in CrossFit.

Though I’m paraphrasing, his answer noted that in the same way as one could increase load on a barbell, we can increase the demand on athletes’ gymnastic arsenal through increasing skill requirements. All of the sudden with this approach, the gymnastics discipline follows suit with weightlifting in its endless scalability. The fact that barbells can range from PVC to 1,200 pounds meets each athlete exactly where they are. In the same way, truly unrestricted gymnastics better reaches top-end performances.

Still not picking up what I’m putting down? I’ll use Carl’s example of the rope climb. As it stands, the rope climb (aside from simply making higher rope climbs) is a “closed-loop” movement. Athletes climb to the top of the rope … rep! Increasing the skill around this basic gymnastic movement can open this “closed-loop” model. (See: the strict L-sit rope climb, for example.)

As the relative layman that I am, I asked the obvious question: “Sure, you can increase skill, but can you measure it? Because that’s an obvious requirement in the Sport of Fitness?” He gave a resoundingly positive response.

As an advocate for CrossFit, I think Carl sees the Games the same way he sees everything else — MORE POTENTIAL. And I’ve got to tip my cap to that. Time will tell, but early predictions are coming out that CrossFit will heed Carl’s high-skill-based ideas. Is this the year of the triple-under?

— Logan Gelbrich
@functionalcoach