Consistent with adult learning, capacity-building, non-directive, goal-oriented, solution-focused, performance-based, reflective, collaborative, context driving, and as hands on as it needs to be.” – Ruth & Sheldon
The quote, from a textbook I am reading for my pediatrics residency, incorrectly assumes that we train using these principles as adults. Let’s look at two examples:
Example A: 3 sets of 15 Bicep Curls, Tricep Extensions, Barbell Rows, 60 seconds rest
Example B: Partner A hangs with chin over a bar while partner B crawls across the room while pulling a sled. Switch any time. Perform 20 repetitions of this sled crawl. Then we will discuss as a group strategies we used.
Example A may satisfy two of these: performance based and capacity building. I would argue it satisfies none.
Example B builds physiological capacity, is relatively non-directive in that it allows participants to accomplish the goal using any solution they deem appropriate (when to switch, how much intensity to use versus how to pace), and requires collaboration between partners and reflection during the time period to adjust strategy. Lastly, the context should be given by the coach prior to the workout, describing the desired stimulus of the workout, something that is rarely done in CrossFit gyms but is perfected in the “good ones” that breed happy human beings.
When we look at motor learning theories and development of the human, it is no wonder people have gravitated to CrossFit for their fitness. As human beings, we desire and require so much more than sitting alone doing bicep curls to move forward as human beings.
Greg Glassman states that CrossFit should improve your job, your relationships, etc. At face value it may seem like a founder’s exaggeration, but when we look analytically we see CrossFit is satisfying so many principles of human growth that our current society has overlooked in the health & fitness industry. Not only are we growing muscles, we are growing the same skills that elevate your child from their terrible 2s to a mature teenager and onward. 90% of our brain’s growth occurs by age 5. Part of that is inevitably nature, but I would argue those that continue to learn and play like children can attenuate that vigorous growth as long as humanly possible.