Pretty well anyone, who isn’t quite ill, can jog a bit!

It’s actually, not that difficult with a bit of basic training to get almost anyone into a simplistic exercise class. I was forced to teach basic circuit classes in 1998 as part of my initial introduction into the world of fitness teaching, and its theory was to keep it really simple and really basic “as long as their heart is elevated it’s a great workout”.

It is quite correct that basic aerobic fitness is a useful thing and that it helps bring down some of the crippling costs of the NHS. However, to make fitness “walk off the street”accessible the powers that be decided to trash the moves. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t squat, or a push-up. If you could do a ‘half jack” and elevate your heart rate you were fit!

Trashing fitness standards leaves you weak and vulnerable in what is after all a very harsh world.

Jogging and spinning on a bike does not train you to pull your family from a burning house, or pick up your children and run with them to the hospital. An emphasis on specialism produces awesome endurance runners who cannot haul their luggage and superbly strong strongmen who would collapse after jogging a mile.  At Crossfit London we look for the middle road; unfortunately, it’s a hard road.

Many people embark on fitness regimes that consist of a muddled mix of sports-specific rehabilitation and bodybuilding drills. If you are injured – you need rehabilitation drills If you are developing your golf putt – you need sports-specific drills. If you like posing on a stage wearing fake tan and teeny weenie panties – body-building drills are for you.

Of course, all training should have an aesthetic output: your body should express what it can do. Is there any point in having a Cadillac chassis with a lawnmower engine? (Actually, some people think there is: and they are so very, very special)

We think it’s second-rate to embark on a core conditioning and training regime without a clear idea of what you are going to achieve. Immature goals such as ‘reducing my 10k time by four minutes’, or ‘upping my deadlift by 8%’, – while seemingly precise and accurate – are distractingly narrow for the fundamental ‘underpinning’ training that most people need (that said, we can easily get you those targets too).

We simply aim to generally prepare you for all types of challenges, by measuring and designing training against three standards.

Crossfit fitness standard 1

There are ten recognised general physical skills. They are:

■ Endurance (cardio/respiratory) ■ Stamina (the ability to effectively use energy) ■ Strength ■ Flexibility ■ Power ■ Speed ■ Coordination ■ Agility ■ Balance ■ Accuracy

You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills. A regime only develops fitness if it improves each of these skills.

Improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training improves performance through physical changes.

Improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice – which improves the nervous system.

Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.

Use this standard the next time you go for a spin class ( how strong, flexible, powerful and coordinated does sitting on your ass on a bike really make you?)

Crossfit fitness standard 2

We think your training should prepare you for real life. The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks (even unfamiliar ones) combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice, this encourages you to put aside any prior notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to ‘mix stuff up’.

In practice you turn up to training a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect.

It helps build will and bravery.

Crossfit fitness standard 3

Whoever invented the human body was a bit of a ‘worry puss’– they felt that one energy system just wasn’t safe enough. Rather like the householder who has a real fireplace, electric storage heaters, and gas central heating. Some would call that greedy, but a cautious person would call it prudent.

The human body has three energy systems. One for fast reactive movement (diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler), a slower, more extended, but still, a pretty snappy system (for running 350 metres, then diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler). Finally, there is the long term ‘trickle’ energy system (the one you use while shoe shopping, running 5k, miles away from any toddlers).

For people who have little experience of toddlers, these ‘metabolic engines’ are known

as: the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

■ The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities (100 metre sprint), those that last less than about ten seconds.

■ The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes (400-800 metre run).

■ The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes (5k run, walking, shopping).

Total fitness – the fitness that Crossfit promotes and develops – requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning (or ‘cardio’) that we do at Crossfit. Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others, and not recognising the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway, are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.

As an overriding principle, Crossfit views the needs of an Olympic athlete and that of our grandparents as differing by degree not kind. One is looking for functional dominance the other for functional competence. Competence and dominance manifest through identical physiological mechanisms.

At CrossFit London we scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.

In objective terms, this could mean trying and failing to master  skills like the muscle up

The muscle-up is simply a visible test. Do you really have strong arms and a  tight core? Do you have the will power to train for a move that’s genuinely hard? The advantage of a bicep curl* is that on day 1 you can do it, albeit empty-handed. All you have to do is add weight. Day 1 there’s no chance that most people can muscle up. But here is the thing. We are basically a school for adults. We teach you the functional physical literacy that you were deprived of. We have drills galore to help you learn, like this one, and expert trainers to support you.(* BTW, it’s ok, you get to do some bicep curls too!!)

We have some training drills on our facebook group if you fancy checking it out. If you want to come and train, drop us a line

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