October 19, 2011

Wednesday Form: CrossFit IQ…Bias and the Hopper

Sure sounds like some cautionary, moralistic, Aesopian tale…”Oh, Gramps, tell us the story about Bias and the Hopper, again.”

Ok, let’s start all the way back here.
First, there are a lot of really good CrossFit affiliate taglines…one of the best being, “Train to not suck at life.”

Funny, yet poignant.

The demands of life…in any context, in any occupation, at any moment in time…are unpredictable. So the only effective conditioning program that could adequately prepare someone for life would have to be…unpredictable.

The entire CrossFit program and methodology revolves around this idea…”constantly varied.”

Enter: Bias. Bias is the enemy. Bias is comfort. Bias is playing to strengths. Bias is being good at things we’re interested in, and being interested in what we’re good at. Well, that’s easy, any phool can do that. Bias creates, sustains, reinforces bad habits, imbalances, pseudo-athleticism. Bias is…biased. Bias in CrossFit refers to WODs that constantly play to strengths. Biased CrossFitters, then, are CrossFitters who only show on certain days, for certain WODs, or certain exercises.

The opposite of Bias is “constantly varied.”

Enter: The Hopper. The Hopper in CrossFit is a big metaphorical bin of any and every possible exercise, movement, physical skill or demand. Spin The Hopper (like bingo)…pull out 3 exercises at random…and you have your WOD. CrossFit isn’t a short list repetitive variations of the same exercise kinda program. CrossFit is the ultimate in the unpredictable unknown…”balance of modal capacity.”

So the moral of the story. Think about The Hopper. What 3 exercises do you NOT want to see drawn? What would you really rather not see on the whiteboard? What are your Kryptonites?

Answer that…and then you have your CrossFit WOD. Master them and move on.

BTW, don’t say…”Oh, burpees because they are so hard.” We say, “Bullsh%t.”

We’re talking pure CrossFit. For example, how about this WOD: KB Snatch, Double Unders, 65lb OH Squat…if those came out of the Hopper, could you complete the WOD, could you do the exercises? Or Max DL…or 25 Pistols…or Handstand Walk, Muscle Up, Dig a 3 foot hole…whatever…the Hopper is endless…what would you dread?

To not suck at life…get away from strengths and comfort. Find a weakness, remediate it, and move on. That’s CrossFit…and we all lived happily ever after.

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    Wicasa Yatapika October 19, 2011 Reply

    In other words, be corteous, be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everything that comes out of the fu#$ing Hopper!

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    Melissa October 19, 2011 Reply

    2 things that come to mind base on this blog entry (which I agree with 100% and appreciate!)

    1. variety is the spice of life, so embrace the variety of the movements and exercises done at CF. Don’t say “Oh, I don’t want to get big and bulky, so I don’t want to do CrossFit because you do olympic lifting and heavy lifting”. CrossFit IS a variety…you never know what you are going to get, and the heavy lifting is just one component.

    2. Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Not that certain exercises “scare” you…but the general idea of doing the thing that’s your “kyrptonite”…don’t let it take you down…face it and get over it, just like Matt said.

    And, one last thing (okay, so I lied…3 things!)…I attended a different CrossFit facility over the summer. On their website, they post each week what the CrossFit WOD is going to be for each day. No good in my mind…that just completely caters to the people who stick within their comfort zone…”Oh deadlifts…I hate those, so I”m not going to go today.” I like being surprised every morning :).

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      CorinaB October 19, 2011 Reply

      Ha!! I used to look before a workout or check to see what was done the day before. Not so anymore, ignorance is bliss in this respect. Carpe diem Corps Fitness!!!

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    Melissa October 19, 2011 Reply

    Yep Corina…it’s like we say at my preschool I teach at…”You get what you get, and you don’t get upset”!

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    Maria N. October 19, 2011 Reply

    Totally agree w/ Matt’s post.

    The unknown is the best part of CF (well, and the people)!!! It’s what keeps me coming back. I agree w/ Melissa, do what scares you, push through it & move on…you’re all the better for it.

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    Jan October 19, 2011 Reply

    I agree with the concept of Matt’s post, but from a different perspective.

    Call me a loyalist or whatevs, but CrossFit don’t know Kaag’s original Corps Fitness. With regard to unpredictable, dynamic, athletic workouts, traditional Corps Fitness circuits will get my vote 10 times out of 10. Before CrossFit ever became a mainstay at CF, we did variations of CF circuits for 5 years, 3 or 4 times a week! I never felt like I did the same workout twice in all that time. We never knew what would come out of The Hopper or the back of Kaag’s truck, and I feared it everytime! It was always novel regardless of the challenge. I enjoy the dimension CrossFit has added to Bldg 7; the rigor and demand of being a good CrossFitter has the potential to bring out our best. It’s made many of us much stronger physically and mentally, for sure. Still, my heart belongs to Corps Fitness for full-body conditioning.

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    Wicasa Yatapika October 20, 2011 Reply

    Reading through these posts gives me pause to think critically about this post and the meaning it has to me. To be clear I am a big fan of “constantly varied”, if I were not I would buy a membership to a cookie cutter gym and just go on my way. Two things you don’t get with that, one, the motivation of a dedicated group of Phreaks, and two the pleasure of being doubled-over in pain at the end of a workout with that same group of Phreaks! 🙂 One other thing, as I have stated several times in the past on this blog, I also cut my teeth on the circle-it-up-and-go, back-of-the-truck workouts and they by far are still my favorites, maybe that is one of my biases, but the heart wants what it wants. Finally my real point of this post, quote…”in the beginners mind all things are possible”…”in the experts mind few things are possible”…some say it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a “so-called” expert at anything…that is one hell of a commitment…for instance, say I have been mountain biking for 10 years, 10 hours a week, that’s 520 hours a year, and 5,200 hours over ten years…hmmm…that’s a long time and a lot of hours, but it by know means makes me an expert. That is just one activity, we are exposed to more exercises than I could possibly list in this post, and I have been doing CF/CrossFit type workouts for over 5 years, and there are still a bunch of them that I struggle with but that does not mean I don’t work to improve on those that I do not do well. My point is this, we do not see some of these exercises more often than several times a month and when we see them we see them for a WOD or Circuit which means we way spend several minutes working on them, thats not a lot of time to become proficient, especially if you may not see that same exercise for another several weeks or so, that is what enables us to do “constantly varied” workouts. From my perspective, I cannot become an expert at all of them without a lot of practice, and that is okay with me, I have limitations and that is not intended to be an excuse, it just is what it is, but when confronted with something that I know I do not do well, I do it anyway, maybe not perfectly, and maybe not with a big smile but I do it. It’s uncomfortable and it can be painful, but I make progress even if its just a little bit…and in the end that allows me to acquire a strength of spirit and a resolve to never give in, to never quit on life or anything in it, and that is what gives me humility…because deep in my own mind I will always be a beginner!

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    Matt October 21, 2011 Reply

    I agree with Matt’s post, too. Why do you think that is? The Proof is in the Pudding! A favorite perspective of mine is from this CrossFit coach who DOES post every work each day….

    “many of you cherry pick the workouts that you don’t like…You are all adults. And if you see a workout that you don’t like, you have a choice.

    You can take a “rest day”. Or go for a run or a bike, or do a “cardio” CrossFit workout at a park or at home. Or go to 24-Hour Fatness and do a back and biceps workout. Something that you are already good at.

    Or you can come in and do a workout that is made up of stuff that you aren’t necessarily good at, but that will actually improve your fitness and strength. The ironic thing is that the people that ALWAYS show up…are the best CrossFitters in the gym. Why do you think that is?”

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