What are your fitness priorities? Even larger, what are you health priorities? Larger still, what are your life priorities?
I will speak largely to the fitness (especially CrossFit) community but these expressed ideals have a broader, whole-life application.
Think back to when you first entered the gym or began your fitness journey. What did you hope to accomplish?
Most desire to lose body fat, gain some muscle and strength, become a better mover and an overall happier, healthier, and more capable human. I share your desires.
Think about your time in the gym and what type of activities fill it. If you are a part of most CrossFit gyms, you do a short warm up after arriving and then split the remainder of the hour between a lift or focused skill work and a metabolic conditioning workout. This proves to be an effective use for the one-hour that you spend in the gym and most see positive results while following this prescription.
While this program will create positive change, it probably does not perfectly match your priorities. This program inherently values a strength and lifting bias to the neglect of developing better mobility and movement patterns. It is very easy to adopt a heavy focus on your lifting PRs and score on the board. Shifting your priorities is fine and even expected as we grow and change through out our life. Be aware that the gym program is a one-size-fits-many approach, places a focus on strength and conditioning, and provides only a starting point to address your specific goals.
This is not an indictment of CrossFit, your gym, or your coaches. Quite to the contrary. The inherent strength and conditioning bias exists because it has to. One-hour classes cannot hope to address your specific dysfunctions and develop a vast new range of general movement patterns while maintaining the structured, consistent regimen that an effective strength and conditioning program requires. Simply put, CrossFit gyms use their time effectively on the aspects of your physical training that require equipment and can be applied more broadly to a general gym population.
Improving your mobility, correcting your dysfunctions, unlocking your end ranges of motion, and developing a wide range of skills and movement patterns requires a personal approach and a time commitment that extends beyond group class. Your coaches understand this, and apply to their own personal practice. They can also help you sculpt a program, for both in and out of class time, to address your needs. To make this happen, you need to understand and honor your priorities.
So I ask again, what are your priorities?
Does the way that you train align with your original goals, or have your adopted the inherent priorities of your training facility? It is easy to allow the external priorities of the people and forces that surround us to hijack our own. This is not necessarily negative. People are meant to change, grow, and adapt. I only ask you to think deeply about what your true goals are and whether the way that you choose to train addresses them.
You might be training like a competitive lifter or CrossFit athlete when you simply want to lose body fat and correct your movement and alignment deficiencies to become a more capable human being. Do not abandon your gym and its focus on strength and conditioning. Understand that while it provides a significant portion of the health and wellness puzzle, you will need to honor your own priorities to complete your unique picture. The good news is that correcting your personal physical dysfunctions and developing new movement patterns doesn’t not require a significant time investment, only a commitment to honor your needs and some minor shifts in lifestyle. This however is a topic for other articles (like this one, and this one too).
This message applies broadly to how we choose to live our lives. We all claim to want to achieve and become so many great things. Our actions, though, express our true desires. Do your actions honor or betray your stated aspirations? I know many people who claim to aspire to great heights, but their actions express a priority to become a world-class beer drinker and YouTube watcher.
Think deeply about about what you want to become, both within and beyond of your health and fitness journey, and examine the true story that your actions tell.