My Athlete to Coach Experience by Coach James

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Lucas Parker no reps in 2013 CrossFit games.

The ‘C’ word

No…not that one. I’m talking about the dirty word in CrossFit right now. Cheating.

During my apprenticeship I’ve had a lot of opportunities to observe different things about the box. The Battle of London WODs demonstrated how awesome the community is here at CFSL. There’s the meticulous attention to detail that goes into the programming. Or seeing how new members get integrated into the gym in their first few weeks. The list is endless and nearly all positive. But this blog sheds light on something not so positive.

It’s a pretty hot topic at the moment with several articles popping up in the CrossFit literature giving their take on when and why we cheat in workouts. The most obvious form is skipping the odd rep here and there, but there are lots of ways that we can fall short in a workout, sometimes without even realizing it. Not hitting depth in a squat, locking out in a push press, missing the squat on the first wall ball or missing the bar on TTB are all subtle ways of cheating. Now the common response to this is the old ‘you’re only cheating yourself’, which is true. You’re obviously not going to see gains as fast as you otherwise would if you’re constantly dodging reps or missing standards. But writing Rx next to our name if we’ve done any of the aforementioned forms of cheating has a number of other consequences too.

1. Whether you think it matters or not, it pisses off the girl or guy next to you who has done the requisite work. When community is so important,
as it is in our box, for me this is a huge consequence.

2. It’s contagious. People see others rep-dodging and think ‘fine, lets level the playing field’ and they themselves decide to cheat. That’s only fair, right? So now we’ve got more people cheating and subsequently the average standard of the box is brought down. Again, a pretty big consequence.

3. It de-values the whiteboard. A key part of each session is the final 2 minutes. Writing scores on the board is crucial to the programming as it helps ascertain patterns of weaknesses or strengths amongst the members. Once people start doubting scores it results in two things. Other members stop bothering to write their own scores, and it sparks conversations and gossip based around negativity and doubts.

4. It doesn’t just impact the programming either. Writing your scores at the end of each session is a chance to compare yourself to others, congratulate the person who’s just suffered through the WOD next to you, and be congratulated on a new PB. I see the de-valuing of this part of the session as a big deal. Its part of the motivation for a lot of people, which means it’s not yours to mess with.

5. Lastly, you might just find yourself being put forward to compete based on your scores. Not a nice thought for all those guilty CrossFitters out there.

So what’s the answer? To be honest I don’t ever see it vanishing completely. The competitive aspect of CrossFit is a huge appeal to its members but the flip side of this is that it motivates people to shave WOD times or add rounds. It comes down to what people see as more valuable: edging a WOD and seeing their name next to the best score each day. Or finding more satisfaction in knowing that you’ve completed the workout in its entirety, even if that means adding a couple of reps in the moments where you lost count?

If that doesn’t work then how about this…if you cheat, whether it’s in any form, someone in the box knows and you may have just lost their respect.

Keep on training with excellence in movement,

Coach James

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