For Love Of The Whiteboard


Companies and people all over the world weigh their options and make their daily decisions based upon readily available information.  Parents determine how to dress their children according to the weather forecast and the percent chance of rain.   Online retailers change their marketing campaigns based upon sales results and website traffic.   Even movie goers decide on what movies to see based upon the top grossing films at the box office.  Wearing a raincoat keeps you dry, focusing sales on LED TVs makes you money and seeing Howard The Duck ensures that you’ll be entertained.

CrossFit has two very important definitions that serve as the basis for everything that the program stands for:

  • CrossFit – Constantly varied, high intensity functional movements

  • Fitness – Increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains

As part of the second definition, we need to have a baseline in order to measure that increased work capacity.  As with any other activity in life, if we don’t have a baseline, we can’t define “good” “better” or “best.”  We might not know where to find the best steak in town, but once we have had a bad steak, we have a comparison to help seek out a better one.

These baselines allow us to make the decisions that we mentioned before and optimize our results.  If we don’t know how fast we ran our last mile, how do we know if we’ve properly trained between one race and another?  And how do we know how to train for the next one?

Some workouts have a fixed time where the athlete controls the work, while other workouts fix the work allowing the athlete to control the time.  But in either type of workout, you know how fast you went or how much work you did.  You have evidence to guide you in your next decision: what do I need to do to improve.

To be clear, we cannot solve the fitness equation by simply knowing what we have done in the gym.  We need to understand a number of variables including nutrition, sleep and rest.  But, just like algebraic equations in high school, the less variables we have to solve for, the easier to solve the equation.

DSC_8117-WMSo, why does any of this matter?  What does this have to do with my love of the whiteboard?

If you visit any CrossFit in America, you may find wall balls but no rowers.  You may see a rope but no rings or some kettlebells but no box jumps.  But, you will always find a clock and a whiteboard.

The whiteboard has always been the most polarizing figure in any CrossFit gym.  To some people, it represents a field of competition where they can chase their friends and try to keep up with the best of the best.   To others, it magnifies their shortcomings and shows the world that they’re not as good as someone else.  For another subset of people, it points out the movements that they cannot perform “As Rx” and for others it boosts confidence by placing a spotlight directly on their progress and who they beat that day.

But regardless of how it makes us feel, for everyone in the gym, the whiteboard represents the true manifestation of our fitness goals.    It shows us how far we’ve come or how far we still have to go.

Yet, some of us ignore its benefits and shy away from its usage because we don’t want to have our fitness level put on blast.   Unfortunately, it’s this type of decision that actually slows our progress and keeps us from reaching our true fitness potential.

The whiteboard gives us another piece of information that we need to solve the fitness equation.  It may make us happy, it may make us sad or it may even make us angry.   But, it doesn’t lie…it simply tells us where we stand in our fitness journey.

So, I challenge you to see the whiteboard for what it represents, rather than how it makes you feel.

DSC_9245-WMThe whiteboard gives you the evidence based results that you need in order to tweak your training program, your sleeping habits or your diet.    Knowing that you have a 6:54 Fran time helps you to prepare for your next go-round with CrossFit’s most infamous workout.    You know that the thrusters in Fran hurt more than the pull-ups, so you can now put some focus on your squatting and shoulder strength.    You know that you rested too much between the round of 15 and the round of 9…so, you put a little more emphasis on your metcons in the next few months.  The next time it comes up, you put your time on the board…and you see how far you’ve come.

The next time you’re in the gym and you’re tempted to put a smiley face on the board or tell your coach the wrong time…think twice.  Don’t allow your pride to get in the way of your progress, causing you to miss out on an opportunity to get better.   We all found CrossFit because we wanted to see results.  Every other program we’ve tried has failed and we needed to try something new.

Let CrossFit’s approach work.  Let the evidence speak for itself and let the whiteboard do it’s job in your fitness program.   The results will follow.

Post your thoughts in the comments…



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