Written by ryan burgess
If you’re reading this right now, training matters to you on some level. As an athlete, coach, or personal trainer, you don’t view it as “just exercise.” You TRAIN, or you lead other people in that pursuit. It means something. To you. To your athletes or clients. It’s not just sweating for an hour to check that box off on the day’s to-do list. Simply put, you care. You’re vested. But here’s my question- do you REALLY care?
Let me put that another way- are you willing? Willing to sacrifice- your time, your money, and yes, even some of your “friends”. Willing to risk- injury, failure. Willing to do the undesirable- the prehab and rehab, the nutrition, that 4th back-down set when you can’t fathom how your body will be able to complete the task.
As I was driving home from the very first JTS Become Unstoppable Seminar, these were the thoughts running through my head. It was hands down the best collection of elite athletes and coaches that I’ve been around, and that’s saying something- after playing football in college, coaching athletes for the last 8 years, and competing for the last 3, I’ve got some miles on these tires. I’d love to figure out how many national and world records were represented, either by the athletes themselves or by proxy through their coach, but I don’t have a calculator handy. In addition to the presenters and the coaches, there were about 70 people in attendance. And everybody under that roof this weekend was willing.
Interacting with the coaches and athletes, you can tell that they undoubtedly DO care. Training IS their passion, and it shined through all weekend. They have sacrificed, and risked, and done the undesirable. They’ve made the choice to walk the unbeaten path, and then gone even further to blaze a trail of their own. But what impressed me even more was the collection of people there to learn. And this is where things get interesting… the crowd was dominated by Crossfitters. Hungry to learn. Willing. People who obviously cared.
Where were the powerlifters? The weightlifters? The strongmen? The strength coaches and personal trainers? You know, the ‘authorities’ on training. The one’s who supposedly care. The one’s who are, well, ‘better’ than Crossfit… or at least that’s how they act.
As a community, Crossfitters take a beating from the outside. I know this because I’ve always been on the outside, and I see and hear it first hand. And, truthfully, I’ll most likely always be on the outside- it ain’t my cup of tea. But just as strength respects strength, hunger respects hunger. The majority of the people that I met this weekend were incredibly driven to train their ass off, LEARN their ass off, and find a way to evolve and improve. That’s not ‘elitist’ to me- in fact, it’s the complete opposite.
I know, I know- it’s one weekend, one seminar. N=1. But even at other conferences and workshops I’ve attended in the past, the attitude was very different. Presenters weren’t willing to engage, instead choosing to stand behind the podium explaining how their way is the best way. Attendees often weren’t much better, sitting there glassy eyed like they were back in 10th grade stuck in calculus. And these were supposedly the conferences and workshops where the “best” trainers and coaches were gathering! BUS 1 was the complete opposite of that. People connected. Learned. Trained. Improved.
With how prevalent information is shared now, you’re probably somewhat familiar with Block Periodization and the concepts of Accumulation, Intensification, and Realization in regards to training. You accumulate a large base of strength and general skill, intensify and get more skill specific, and finally realize your gainz in a meet or your competitive season. It works great in practice and training, but how about taking that attitude towards your personal growth? Towards your “training IQ”?
If you truly DO care, then you should be constantly accumulating more knowledge. Successful people have large libraries and small TV’s. Become a voracious reader of anything and everything training related. Don’t limit it to just training though. Open your eyes to the world. Be willing to learn anywhere and everywhere. My life changed on a tip I got from a gas station attendant in high school. Every morning during the week I’m reminded of hard work and sacrifice from the guy who runs the 7-11 when I stopped by to get my daily caffeine fix. You can learn from anybody.
Then intensify. Discard what you don’t find useful or disagree with. You’re allowed to formulate your own opinions- it’s ok, the thought police aren’t going to come arrest you. Seek out people who are stronger, smarter, better than you and learn from them. Given the wealth of knowledge in both Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting that was at the seminar over the weekend, it seriously bothers me that there weren’t more strength coaches and athletes from those disciplines there. Yes it cost money, and yes it meant you’d have to leave your bubble for a weekend. Suck it up. Be a professional. Don’t be afraid to get out of your box and expose yourself to new ways of thinking. Honestly, if you’re not going to 2-3 workshops or seminars a year, you’re falling behind. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. It’s as simple as that.
Finally, realize your newfound knowledge. If you’re an athlete, coach somebody. If you’re a coach, push your own training to another level. Again, stop with the excuses. For the athletes, chances are you know plenty to get a novice moving in the right direction. If you want to learn something read about it, if you want to understand something write about, but if you truly want to master something, TEACH it! Yes, you’ll make mistakes, but so does everybody else along the way. For the coaches and trainers that are reading this, I’m pretty sure most of you have 2 arms, 2 legs, and relative health- use it. You’re not going to find the time. Hold yourself to the standards you hold your athletes and clients to. Make the time. And this one’s for everybody: compete! I guarantee you crossing the line from “guy/gal who trains” to “competitor” is jet fuel for your growth as either an athlete OR a coach.
The end game in life is the pursuit of your happiness. If you’re just going to dabble in training, and you’re happy, that’s fine. Just don’t expect to progress very far, and don’t be so quick to judge others who are willing to take things further. That’s their choice. And that’s their happiness. If you do expect more out of your training though, act the part. Don’t just go through the motions and wonder why you aren’t making progress. Talking to all of the coaches and athletes over the weekend reinforced one thing. Your success is going to be directly correlated to how much you’re willing to sacrifice. The choice is yours.