Amateurs – Inexperienced, unprofessional, unskilled, unqualified, untrained, untaught, part-time, jackleg, weekend warrior, dilettante and non-professional.
“Amateur” is often used as a put down to demean any effort that does not compare to a high level of accomplishment. So who are the amateurs?
In the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece, of which we have substantial record, all the participants were both professional and amateurs. Usually sponsored by their city state with training provided by the military, as all most all the athletes were soldiers.
Often the cost of their training was underwritten by a fellow wealthy aristocrat and sometimes by an athletic entrepreneur who gambled that he could make a great deal of money by gambling on his protégé.
The winner, and there was only a winner, no silver or bronze medals, received a laurel wreath in recognition of his victory. (And it was always a him although at one early game, a woman snuck in and won. After that competitors competed naked so there would be no question that it was a him.)
“The rewards to the victor were substantial.“
Most were fed for the rest of their lives at the expense of the city-state and there were obviously monetary rewards because many victors had statutes of themselves erected at the Olympic game site.
Also, all of the athletes were aristocrats, so had independent means. No slaves or plebeians were allowed or could afford the training necessary. Many of the Roman gladiators were professionals and slaves. The winner didn’t get a laurel wreath, but got to fight another day and in a few cases won their freedom. Of course the losers didn’t get a second chance.
When Baron De Coubertin founded the modern olympics in 1896, he was dedicated to enshrining his erroneous vision of the ancient olympics and, as an aristocrat, thought that being paid was demeaning to the ideal of the gentleman athlete.
This began the long and sometimes hypocritical tug between amateur and professional.
If you were, according to his lights, a professional athlete, you were not a gentleman. This mirrored the English attitude that gentlemen did not engage in commerce at all. It was shameful to have to “earn” a living. This was also mirrored in the military ethos of the time. The second and succeeding sons of the aristocrats entered either the military or the clergy as the oldest inherited the family title and money and so the younger sons had to find a means of support. They could not go into “trade”, for if they did, they would lose their social position.
Rugby touts itself as “a game for hooligans, played by gentlemen”. The put down of soccer was that it was “a gentleman’s game played by hooligans”. So it’s natural that the tension between the gentlemen players and the poorer players would result in the early conflict over amateur and professional. As a rugby player must be tough and big, the need for the burly commoner, big as a horse and strong as an ox, became a necessity.
But how could they afford the travel and expense of competition and the loss of wages?!
Interestingly, and it should come as no surprise, American baseball adopted the idea of professional players in 1868! By 1886, the rugby issue reached a head, and rules defining professional were codified. This led to a split between the righteous amateurs and the pragmatic professionals and the founding of a separate governing body for each, which excluded one from the other.
The effects of De Coubertin prejudice continue to this day. The reality of the high level of training necessary for success in any sport is a huge economic burden. For the mainstream sports, Football, baseball and basketball, the solution has evolved with the college athletic programs. Of course there are programs for minor sports, and Title IX has played a part in parcelling out money to women sports. The huge revenues generated by mainstream college athletics make lie of the “ideal” of the players being anything other than professionals.The fact that “scholarships” underwrite the food and lodging and almost as an afterthought, tuition, is a method of securing the services of the athletes for what some have characterized as” slave wages”.
The US Olympic committee, as has every ambitious country, has set up various training venues to help American athletes train and prepare for international competition. But I remember when Michael Phelps was arrested for DWI some years ago, and in the middle of his dominance of amateur swimming, that he was driving a Cadillac Escalade. He obviously didn’t pay for that by teaching toddlers how to swim at the summer community programs.
The tribulations of Chloe Smith, the young athlete from Crowley who won her division at the CrossFit games last year illustrate the problems with this artificial dichotomy. She cannot compete for money at the games, as she would lose her amateur status in every other sport and any chance for a college scholarship. Yet she still has to train and pay for travel and the other costs of competing. To add insult to injury, I am told, her new high school coaches refuse to allow her to take time off from training in their sports to train for the regionals.
So what are we? Are we the dreaded incompetents? Paying our money to be a Monday morning player. AMATEURS ughh! Even our coaches are not professional athletes, although they may have the skills necessary.
What we should know is that “amateur” is not a bad word. We are not paid to compete or train or show up. Some of us, and I’m looking at the man in the mirror, really suck at the skills that CrossFit demands. Some are astoundingly gifted at some things but not others. Usually the split is between the lifters and the gymnasts. It doesn’t matter. We do this because we love all or some major part of it. The root origin of the word amateur is amour, or love.
“If we are at the box consistently and long term, we are true amateurs.”
Many of the professionals are true amateurs. They love the game. Tom Brady in football, Valentino Rossi in motorcycle racing are two that I know that continue to engage in their sport, well beyond the age and years of their contemporaries. They don’t need the money but they will miss, when the day comes, the love of competition, the relief of survival and the thrill of winning.
We are blessed, because we can compete with ourselves, revel in having competed a difficult WOD, know that we are working our bodies to perform feats that few of our peers can match and above all, share that effort with friends who motivate us when we tire, cheer us when we finish and understand what we have accomplished.
We are the lovers, the TRUE AMATEURS.
-Don Richard CFSL
My favorite movie franchise of all time is the Star Wars movies. I have always been intrigued on how George Lucas brought so many different aspects from around the world and created the greatest science fiction movies. He used different religions, cultural beliefs from all over the world, myths, folklore, and tall tales to deliver a message between good and evil.
What I love the most about Crossfit is how it uses functional movement to get you fit. A time will come in your fitness journey that you will cross paths with good and evil so to speak and that is “the little blue RX button.” That one mouse click in Wodify can bring even the best and pure hearted athletes to lie, cheat, and steal. You are not hurting any member by doing this, you are only hurting yourself. It is that proverbial path to the dark side of the force.
Prescribed workouts are meant for the top 1% of athletes in Crossfit.
Clicking that button is you saying that you performed every rep to exact standard of the movement. You take upon an honor system with yourself to apply a no rep on movements when necessary. Rather than it being a daily task and seem boring, RX workouts should be a major accomplishment on your quest to get fitter.
The phase “leave your ego at the door” applies so well when speaking of the RX button.
For a long time, I thought that it did not apply to me. It was meant for me, and it was meant for you too. When I look at the 10 fitness domains, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, balance, and accuracy, it doesn’t include muscle ups, power cleans, double unders, and hand stand pushups. It doesn’t say a thing about Fran, Jackie, Cindy, or Angie. Mastering those movements are not an end goal. We want to live longer, free of chronic disease and be able to thrive when faced with a challenge. That challenge could be the “fit test” in the gym or racing to get help or pulling someone to safety.
I hope you fully understand the meaning behind “that little blue button” and you should clearly feel like a rockstar when you earn that accomplishment. As soon as you realize that you only need to compare yourself to the person in the mirror. No one else. It’s not that hard to become a little better every single day. A little stronger, a smidge faster, slightly more coordinated.
Last week’s post discussed at how we, at CrossFit St. Landry, approach maximizing your results through the philosophy of mechanics, consistency, and intensity. We broke down what this process looks like. We also brought in the idea of this being an approach that ensures a lifetime of continuous development. If you missed it, read that first. The next few posts will be concerned with some things YOU can do to speed this process up even more.
One of the very first questions engineers will evaluate when trying to increase the mile per gallon, or efficiency of a vehicle is aerodynamics.
The aerodynamics of a vehicle is a description of how the vehicle moves through the air. As speed (rate of progress) increase, the effects of aerodynamics are compounded. If a vehicle has good aerodynamics, this means it has minimal DRAG. So, typically the improvement of aerodynamics involves the reduction of drag.
Sometimes the reduction in drag involves a total reshaping of the vehicle. (Some of us wouldn’t mind a total reshaping:) But often, significant improvements will come through small adjustments like the antenna or mirror placement, fender width, or windshield angle. These little things add up quickly but are the best place to start.
The rower is also a good place to imagine what drag feels like. In fact, there is a drag factor display screen on the rower which will give you specific details on the drag factor of a specific rower. What it feels like in practical terms is how much resistance you encounter when trying to spin the flywheel, as well as how quickly it slows down once you stop. By imagining this, it is easy to see that drag is not helpful when trying to move from one place to the next efficiently.
“So what does DRAG look like in your life?”
Since our first phase of increasing results per hour is involved with correcting and improving Mechanics, we will begin by working through an evaluation of our current mechanical patterns and their impact, positive and/or negative, on our quest for results.
We all know we are working on improving this every single day we train. But we are only in the gym for 1 hour a day, while we spend the other 23 doing life. Briefly. thinking about that time ratio, it is not difficult to admit that our mechanical habits outside of the gym will have a huge effect on our progress.
In my next post, we will look at some common activities of everyday life like driving, standing, carrying groceries, picking up children, sleeping, and so on, and we will begin identifying where poor mechanics in these daily activities might be placing an unnecessary drag on our efforts in the gym.
Stay tuned….(automotive pun intended)
Head Coach CrossFit St. Landry
Our bodies are truly wonderful. They have adapted and changed according to our needs, preferences, and circumstances. One of the most clever ways that our bodies have learned to survive on Earth is through collaboration with other species.
Humans have an ongoing contract with microorganisms—bacteria, viruses, fungi. We’ve struck a deal with them: “In exchange for helping us to digest food, produce vitamins, and regulate our immune system, we will feed and protect you.”
We house them in our gut (and many other places) and give our food a one-way ticket to their front door, which they feast on happily.
If you’ve ever taken pre- or probiotics, have ever eaten fermented foods for their bacteria content, or have ever eaten yogurt to improve your digestive health, then you’re probably aware of the gut bacteria that have set up shop in our body.
But did you know that the foods you take in feed different types of bacteria? It’s true! Not all of the bacteria in your gut eat the same foods. Some crave zucchini, others crave bread, and others still crave Twix. Not only that, but when we eat a lot of a certain type of food, we are cultivating more of the bacteria that feeds off of it and starving the others. We are essentially deciding, with the food we eat, what bacteria thrives in our gut and what bacteria dies.
What’s even more interesting is that those same bacteria send signals to your brain to eat more of the food on which it thrives. That’s right.
“Our gut bacteria plays a significant role in the food we crave.”
At first thought, this news may be frightening… “Oh no! I’ve eaten McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich for lunch eight days in a row… No wonder my brain is yelling for more!” But fear not! This news also means that you are in control of what your body craves!
With this new awareness, you can acknowledge the craving for what it is—a signal from your “Filet-O-Fish” gut bacteria telling your brain that it’s hungry and wants more sustenance, and instead decide that you’re going to feed the bacteria that would rather a juicy hamburger patty (without the bun) topped with fresh tomato and avocado slices.
Of course this explanation of how bacteria tells our brain what to eat is over-simplified and likely not 100% accurate, but it is worth learning more about. We are worth learning more about.
Our bodies do their utmost to keep us healthy and capable. It’s what they were tasked with. But the decisions we make and the actions we take have an enormous impact on their ability to do their job. We can either build them up or destroy them. The choice is ours.
For more information on the gut-brain connection, read this article.
Head Coach CrossFit Statesboro
Last week we introduced the idea of results per hour. If you missed that post, you can check it out here. Today we are going to start looking at one of the processes we use to accomplish this at CFSL. Once we wrap that up, we are going to talk about a process that you can begin implementing that will help you take your own results per hour to the next level.
At CFSL, nearly everything we do is aimed at this one metric. From our facility and equipment to our programming and class structure, we aim to provide you with the highest value return possible for your 1 hour a day that you invest with us. We shoot for that sweet spot where safety and effectiveness meet. Free from superfluity as well as deficiency.
Our approach to training is not our own, but was built upon CrossFit’s charter of Mechanics, Consistency, and Intensity, or MCI. (some of us remember that as a long distance service)
1. Mechanics –
This can also be referred to as form, or technique. This involves answering questions like:
Which muscle groups are being used and how?
Which joints are being loaded and how?
In what order are the above taking place?
Is energy being wasted?
There are many more. The next phase involves correction, and this is the meat of it. It is not very difficult to see poor movement. you guys can probably see a bad deadlift from a mile away. Somewhat more difficult is identifying the root causes of poor movement. But the real heart of this phase is CORRECTING poor movement. And here is where we excel.
Breakdowns in mechanics are typically attributable to a lack of coordination, a lack of mobility, or a lack of strength. The speed with which these causes can be diagnosed and corrected directly impacts the rate at which you improve. Our experience and education help us quickly guide you to an appropriate corrective exercise scale or modification to address these breakdowns and keep you moving toward your goals safely.
2. Consistency –
Once mechanical errors have been corrected, we now want to ensure that the change is permanent. We look for consistency within your movement to make sure that the new motor patterns have over-ridden the old ones. Once that happens we move to Intensity.
3. Intensity –
Think of Intensity as your level of effort. This can mean a heavier loading in weightlifting exercise. Increased unbroken reps in gymnastics exercises. Higher sustainable heart rates in aerobic exercises, and so on. But what intensity ultimately translates to is the clock. How fast can you go?
Some people may argue, “Well I could get a better score in this workout if I just did it my way!”
That is likely true at first.
But we play the long game here. When we consider your results per hour, we also add a third piece to the equation. That piece is your entire lifespan.
Life doesn’t care how fit you were in your 40’s if you’re 50 now. The MCI philosophy helps us help you maintain your progress and avoid foolish injuries for an entire lifetime of fitness.