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The Slipstream Difference: The Meaning of “Fitness”

It has been 17 years since CrossFit’s founder published the article “What is Fitness?” in the CrossFit Journal.  In it, he defined “fitness” as “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.”  This definition of fitness was guided by a philosophy shaped by three different elements.  This post reviews these elements, how they create CrossFit’s definition of fitness, and explains how and when our approach is similar or different.

Related: Why Personal Training? To Achieve a Specific Goal

These three elements are at the core of the CrossFit understanding of “fitness.” Together, they define the goal of CrossFit and set the standard by which it wishes to be judged. The elements are:

1) 10 General Physical Skills. These are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, muscular stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. Your fitness can be determined by your ability to successfully use all of these skills.  A triathlete may have massive endurance, but have very poor strength and agility.  A powerlifter likely has awesome strength and power, but not stamina or agility.  The goal of CrossFit is to maximize performance across all 10.

2)  The “Hopper Model.” The idea behind the hopper model is that you should be prepared for any and every physical task imaginable.  Think bingo hopper, but with physical tasks instead of numbers and letters on the face of the balls. The idea is that you should be able to complete any task that is picked out of the hopper, even ones you’ve never done before!  This means you should be able to adapt to unfamiliar tasks, which is useful in the real world.

3) There are 3 Metabolic Pathways that produce energy in the body.  All 3 are always active, but each has its specialty.  The phosphagenic system is the shortest and most explosive; it dominates for about 10 seconds and produces extremely high power output.  The glycolytic system dominates for up to several minutes and is used in very hard but longer activities such as a 400m sprint.  Finally, the oxidative system will last until you die.  It is used in steady-state and relatively low-power activities such as a marathon.  Note “low power” does not mean “easy.”

Whatever your goal, we will work with you to achieve it.

CrossFit has certainly grown over the past 20 or so years; however, this definition hasn’t changed.  By following this definition, CrossFit has helped 1000s of athletes, including us at Slipstream, to get fitter and has produced some of the fittest people on the planet, as measured by this definition of “fitness.”

Image Credit: CrossFit Impulse

At Slipstream, we believe that this approach produces useful general physical fitness and is a beneficial starting point for everyone.  Even the specialist will perform better after plugging holes in their fitness, which become vulnerabilities under real-world conditions.  Our CrossFit and Lite classes seek to build fitness as CrossFit defines it.  This is why some workouts are long vs. short, some use kettlebells vs. barbells, some have more gymnastics vs. weightlifting, etc. Some focus on skills, others on organic elements.

However, we also encourage you to set and reach specific goals, and pursing fitness as CrossFit defines it might not fit with what you need.  Most often this means additional endurance work, but not necessarily.  Whatever your goal, we will work with you to achieve it.

Related:  The Slipstream Difference: ‘Functional’ Training.

To get started, we recommend a number of paths: First, personal training is a perfect way for us to match our skills with your goals.  Second, you could join our On-ramp program. There you will learn all of the skills that CrossFit promotes and is more cost effective than personal training.  Lastly, be sure to checkout our CrossFit Lite classes! They are great for beginners or more experienced athletes looking to improve their general fitness.

Setup a free intro today or contact us at info@crossfitslipstream.com with any questions you have.

-Bryan Rosen

CrossFit Coach and Personal Trainer