We're introducing a new section to our blog, "Coach Corner". It'll be a little insight into what goes on behind the scenes at CrossFit GVA, the topics we discuss and the projects we're working on.
To inaugurate this section, let's talk about a recurring topic every June/July/August: the heat. It's one of the major drawbacks of the rue de Lyon building, which turns into a greenhouse once the sun rises and the temperature climbs to over 20 degrees.
We've had numerous meetings with the building's owner to try and solve this problem. Last year, the glass on the roof was replaced with a material that is supposed to reduce heat but retain light. Progress was marginal at best.
This year, fans were installed in the roof to evacuate the hot air. We were honestly skeptical as to whether this would make any difference, but they're now up and running and seem to be having a noticeable result. However, we still have the issue of the sun, so the next step will be to cover the roof with plastic sheeting to create shade. This will lead to less light into the building, but it will also reduce the temperature.
We'll never have a cool, airy space during the summer months at Rue de Lyon, but we hope these new measures can improve conditions.
Tests for our athletes
We're also constantly reflecting on our courses, our programming and how we can set a clear path for all our members to progress.
One of the points we emphasize to all those who follow the fundamentals is to assimilate the ability to acquire skills. Forgive me if you've heard this before, but I think it's so crucial to understand that I'm going to repeat it.
Developing physical performance is like learning a language or learning to cook. Nobody turns up for their first Chinese class and insists that they must be put into advanced classes despite not speaking 1 word of Chinese.
For CrossFit the same principle applies.
It doesn't matter if you can run a marathon or do a few pull-ups. If you've never done CrossFit before, you're a beginner and need the right level of movement and intensity to progress.
Just like learning a language, beginners need to build a foundation of movement skills. Can you execute an air squat or a push-up, can you activate your hips on a swing? Do you have the range of motion in your shoulders to get a solid overhead, have you mastered the basics of kipping?
CrossFit requires mastery of these movements as well as many others. When all these movement pieces fall into place, athletes can start adding load, volume, intensity and all that fun stuff.
If you turned up on the first day of Chinese lessons and asked "when will I be able to speak Chinese", you won't get a precise answer because it's impossible to say. The same goes for CrossFit. When will I be fit, or when will I be able to do a muscle-up are difficult questions to answer.
A better approach is to focus on small goals with consistent progressions. If you want to do a muscle-up, but can't achieve a push-up, working on the push-up should be the first goal. The same goes for any big goal - it can be broken down into a series of smaller ones. Adding is a certain consistency and diligence and over months and years massive progress can be achieved.
We don't expect a beginner to learn Chinese in 6 months same thing for CrossFit is and that's NORMAL! Fitness should be a lifelong journey where you plan for the next 12-24 months, not the next workout.
Regular testing is a great way to continually assess progress and work on strengths and weaknesses. If you know where your weaknesses are, as coaches we can come up with a plan to help you overcome them. We're working on this idea to set up a much more general evaluation and testing system. This will give athletes a clear picture of current capabilities and a very clear path to progression.
In the past, we've experimented with tests of different movements, but found them difficult to implement. We also struggled to find valid tests that offered a chance of progressive improvement. The differences between the tests were simply too great, and athletes often fell between the different levels.
At the moment we're working on a much more general evaluation and testing system. We'll be releasing more information on this system in the coming weeks, but we're confident it will help all members take the next step in their athletic development.
What I listen to / watch
I'm a big fan of all strength sports, but particularly powerlifting and strongman. The International Powerlifting Federation has just completed its world championships in Canada. If you want to see the world's strongest men and women reaching incredible weights in the squat, bench press and deadlift, check out YouTube.
The episode focuses primarily on bodybuilding, which can be a dirty word in the CrossFit world. However, if you're interested in gaining muscle mass and losing fat (and let's face it, who isn't?), Then the world of bodybuilding is a fantastic resource.
Mike Israetal is a very important figure in the fitness world as a bodybuilder and powerlifter. He holds a doctorate in sports physiology and publishes a lot of information on everything to do with bodybuilding and nutrition. I highly recommend this podcast episode if you want to learn anything about nutrition and training!