Thursday, September 23, 2010

Impressions

Today's guest post is written by Chris Plentus of Constantly Varied

Walking down the street, it's easy to box people into certain corners and assume things about them. "Oh, he's tall, he must play basketball," or "She's tiny, she needs someone to help carry that luggage." We make these assumptions everyday and often don't even realize it. The danger in assuming is of course the classic adage of making an ASS out of U and ME.


One of the things I like most about CrossFit is that it brings people from all walks of life together to complete one task: the WOD (Workout of the Day). There are 15-year-old high school athletes and 65-year-old grandfathers, but they are all there to workout and get fitter. Movements in the workouts are drawn from many different disciplines: gymnastics, power lifting, olympic lifting, running, rowing, and many others. The breadth of experience athletes gain is incredible when you think about it. Who ever thought that these soccer moms would be clean and jerking 50% of their bodyweight, let alone KNOW what a clean and jerk even is?!

I think it's easy to look at people and assume their various fitness levels. "Ooh, she has a six pack, she must be strong" or "He's big, but doesn't have any definition. He must not work out." One of the most humbling experiences I had was going to a USA Weightlifting Certification. There, extremely experienced olympic lifters were getting certified along with me, but also put on a "showcase" during lunch. Even though these lifters were not that defined or even that big, the weights they were lifting were incredible. There was a 19 year old there who was 5'10" and 205 lbs. but clean and jerked 350lbs. for practice. There was a 5'4" guy who probably weighed 120lbs. but clean and jerked 225 no problem. Neither of these guys would get a second glance on the street, but in the gym, they are kings. On the flip side, I have seen guys come into the gym that look so athletic and strong, but they fall far from expectations. They've been doing the back/bi's/tri's routine for too long, focusing only on their "beach" muscles.

Women have a tough time because they are surrounded by media and social thinking of a "right" body type and anything different is bad. I, and many other people, have a different philosophy where I want to know what you can DO, rather than what you LOOK like. There are some girls who walk in the gym and may LOOK great and "in shape," but they can't lift a damned thing or run more than 200m without stopping. Then there are those who might be unassuming on the street or in the mall, but the minute they walk into the gym, they are QUEENS. They rule the gym and no one can stop them from feeling good because they just deadlifted their bodyweight (or more!). I tell my clients (especially women) that "form follows function" and if you are training and eating right, your body will do what it needs to look the part. I want them to focus on the numbers of the BARBELL weights, not THEIR weight. Because let's be honest, what happens if you do reach that magical number you've been striving for your whole life? You stop working out?? No, which is why I'd rather you chase the performance numbers. You can always get faster and be stronger. It's a life journey that has a healthier outlook than just a number on a scale. It's more fulfilling to complete a workout, or better yet, beat someone in a workout. No amount of crash dieting or saltines is going to replace the feeling of accomplishment after a workout.

So if you see someone out on the street, don't assume anything about them. Chances are you'd be wrong about them. And if you tend to pick out physical flaws about yourself, remind yourself of what you can DO. Walk around with a little grin on your face because of these reminders and accomplishments. People will wonder what you're smiling about and then you can tell them.

Chris is a high school guidance counselor by day and a CrossFit coach by night at CrossFit King of Prussia. He obtained his Level 1 certificate in January 2010 and his USAW certification in June 2010. His specific interest is in nutrition and has attended Whole 9 seminar and Robb Wolf's seminar. His blog can be found at http://www.chrispconstantlyvaried.blogspot.com/.
 
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"It is the pervading law of all things organic, and inorganic,
of all things physical and metaphysical,
of all things human and all things super-human,
of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law."
-Louis Sullivan

P.S.
I want to THANKS Coach Plentus, for the awesome guest post! Chris and his blog are helping people to be their very best within the culture in which we live.  Chris' realism mixed with a committment to best practicies is so valuable to so many people!  To top it off he is an amazing coach.  I'll always remember when during the workout "Barbara" I asked him as the next class came in, "should I scale the workout and not finish the rest of the rounds?" He gave me his hard as nails signature look and said firmly, "You know that isn't even a question"  I finished.