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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Sunday musings 2/28/16

Sunday musings…

1) Sleep 1. 9 hours of solid sleep last night. While I don’t recommend major surgery as a means to more sleep, still, that was nice.

2) Sleep 2. Over the New Year’s weekend I changed my nutrition strategy. After 10 years as a strict Zoner I am now using what I consider to be a version the Zone (Macro) in a timed fashion. I’ll expand on this another time, but one of the main reasons to have done this is to improve my sleep, both quantitatively and qualitatively. I think it’s better, sleep that is, except for the effect of…

3) Sleep 3. …alcohol. Seriously, is there a weirder substance out there? On a macro level, drink too much and your life expectancy is lower, too little and ditto. Drink juuuuust enough and you live longer. Except the sleep thing. Alcohol messes with your sleep.

Still working on that particular sleep hack. Let me get back to you on that one.

4) Sleep 4. Man, lots of sleep apparently lost by Affiliate gym owners over 16.1, eh? It appears that the WOD has a couple of, ahem, logistical challenges when it comes to running it in a Box. Apparently there are a whole lotta boxes (boxen?) out there built like the classic big-city shotgun apartments of yore: long and narrow. As a partner in an Affiliate who writes most of the programming, I certainly understand the need to take architecture into account when designing the local version of our international kick.

Here’s one man’s take on it: I love 16.1. I think it’s everything we’ve come to know and love about CrossFit, both in a CrossFit Affiliate and in garage gyms and big box commercial gyms the world over. It’s a classic triplet with three easily scaleable movements utilizing one of the most time-tested formats in our quiver, the AMRAP 20:00. It’s inclusive; very few people will drop out of the Open because of these movements and these loads. Indeed, Mrs. bingo’s observation was spot on: “I’m proud of CF tonight; those two regular folks could be from our gym.” Frankly, if you’re looking to criticize (and I’m not, at least not here), you could very well quibble with the fact that it’s taken so many years to get a longish WOD programmed for the Open. At that, it’s more a quibble for folks outside of CrossFit who still think fitness equals long, slow, runs or rides.

The CrossFit Open is our annual “Big Tent” event, one in which we all gather both literally and figuratively to celebrate our shared experience. It can be a challenge for the Affiliate owner, and neither gym members nor HQ should dismiss this. But the Open is ours. All of ours. The Regionals and the Games are for the professionals and the wanna-be professionals, as near to what we do in the gym as Rory McElroy is to Joe Sixpack at the local Muni. When I recover rest assured that I will do all 5 Open WODs so that I, too, can be under the Big Tent that is the Open.

I imagine I’ll sleep pretty well after each one, too.

5) Sleep 5. I’m pretty sure no one at HQ is losing any sleep over this, but I wonder if maybe someone should. In the WSJ this week was an article about the buying habits of different types of gym members. The results of that part of the study were so predictable, reinforced stereotypes so completely that they were comical. My only surprise was that CrossFitters paid more for monthly dues than any other group including boutique cycling gym and yoga studios, but that turns out to be because those members don’t use their boutiques as often as we use our Boxes.

We spend less on pretty much everything else we buy than everyone else. Oh, except fitness clothes that is. Time for a big, fat “thank you” from Reebok right about here; CrossFit gear has sold at a rate 4 TIMES the internal Reebok/Adidas predictions. No matter what you think about the CF/Reebok deal, it looks like CF is underpaid. Of note is that we spend less on food than athletes in other genres, both at the grocery store and out to eat. Funny, that. The assumption is that eating healthier is more expensive, that it must take up a greater percentage of your finances. I’m going with that would make Coach sleep better, except he probably already knew that. Plus, I’m not sure Coach ever sleeps, anyway.

Here’s the part where someone, sometime should probably be losing some sleep: only 13% of CrossFit Newbies who sign up and pay in January are still paying for CrossFit in December. Whoa. This “fall off the cliff” decline was seen in pretty much every group of gym members over their first year, so it’s not just CrossFit. Again, not surprisingly, the big commercial gyms with a low-price business model that actually seeks non-attendance saw the lowest drop-off in membership after 12 months.

13% though. What does this say? What does it mean to the Affiliate owners and by extension to CrossFit, Inc.? We all, Affiliate owners and members alike, tend to think more about the people who are there in the gym every day and every month, working hard on their health and on being the kind of people we would remember. For me that 13% number is a punch-in-the-nose red flag that those nagging feelings about folks who drift away are real. It’s a big ol’ wake-up call about the constant need to attract new members to the gym to replace that 87% who for whatever reason just drift away. Man…13%.

Coach told my boys “[it's] easy, and it’s fun!” Lil’bingo and The Heir (and for that matter Mrs. bingo) would certainly agree that the 13% who stay real DO make it fun. Those folks who are there in your class every day, 3 on/1 off, cheering you on whether you PR or end up DFL…yah, that’s all kinds of fun. But it ain’t easy, at least it hasn’t been for quite a few years now. There’s nothing easy about replacing that 87%, and knowing that the number is that high doesn’t make it any easier, either. The professional trainer seems to need a bunch of sales professional in them according to these numbers, and as far as I can see that’s not really on anyone’s radar screens. Lots of really smart, dedicated folks who run Affiliates are up nights thinking about this. I used to be comforted by the fact that CrossFit has about a 2% penetration in the fitness market, that growth could come for everyone by moving into that 98%. This new number bugs me, though. 13% stay.

Eventually, someone might have to lose some sleep over this.

I’ll see you next week…

–bingo

Sunday musings 7/26/15

Sunday musings…

1) Spectator. I am missing my friends in Carson as Mrs. bingo and I must remain home for family reasons.

Reasonably sure Mike and Deanna have the whole med team thing covered without the eye doc, though.

2) Milestones. Are you on Linked-In? Among the automatic notifications one receives is the announcement of work anniversaries. For example, this year my connections were informed that I had a 10 year anniversary at SkyVision Centers (aside: huge upset victory).

This morning my FB feed informed me that The Daigle has been Facebook friends with so-and-so for 5 years. Like it’s significant.

I’m going with FB friend anniversaries as a Sign of the Apocalypse.

3) Size. You know the old saw: size matters. In certain settings saying this will set the audience a-twitter, in others it may make one twitterpated. Here, in CrossFit, but specifically while viewing the CrossFit Games, we are seeing that size does, indeed, matter.

I continually return to the classic treatise “What is Fitness” in CFJ #2, Coach Glassman’s seminal article introducing the principles upon which CrossFit has been built. Early in the article he references the differences in build, in size, between various types of athletes, singling out for particular praise those who run the 400 and 800M at the highest levels. Here, at this size and build, is likely to be found the prototype for the ideal expression of fitness as we define it.

What are you seeing this weekend as you watch the Games? What strikes me is the reinforcement of the concepts so elegantly described in CFJ #2. TheDaveCastro has once again put together a witches brew of tests that are revealing the importance of balance in training and its effect on size. Over-emphasize strength, and by doing so emphasize an increase in size? Gonna be tough to haul that extra muscle mass on both a run and 31 times up on a bar muscle-up. Sub-6:00 miles and flying through 100 pull-ups? The size you’ve shed would surely have helped in Heavy DT.

Some things are simply given and cannot be manipulated. The tallest and shortest competitors have all faired less well at the highest levels through no fault of training, for example. While you watch the final day of Games 2015, especially if you have followed this sport for awhile, pay a bit of attention to the changes in size of both the men and the women over the years. I found myself telling Mrs. bingo that so-and-so had gained too much mass this year, obviously over-weighting strength and with performance on other measures correspondingly suffering.

There’s a sweet spot when it comes to performance, one that changes if you value different outcomes. If we are talking about CrossFit and the CrossFit Games, the theoretic sweet spot was predicted years ago by Coach in CFJ #2. Finding the proper size that balances the emphasis among all of the essential characteristics of fitness is part of what it takes to win the CrossFit Games.

4) Change. While we’re on the topic of sweet spots, there’s probably a timeline over which there are optimal times to effect major life changes. For example, true entrepreneurship is quite rare after the age of 45 or so. Most people who are viewed as entrepreneurs don’t really start anything new, or even have any truly new ideas after that age. There are exceptions of course, but they prove the rule for the most part. If you ask them about their breakthrough most will say they are just now acting on something that came to them years earlier.

Which makes me want to ask those exceptions: “why now?”

Change is hard. Even evolutionary change (a catcher is turned into a 3rd baseman in the minors) can be gut-wrenching. The longer you wait to make that change the harder it can be to pull the trigger. Especially if change means leaving something that is OK, or good, or even great. Change is not any easier if you are leaving something less than OK or good, it’s just a bit more…I dunno…inevitable I guess.

And why 45? What’s significant about that mid-40′s thing? Probably the multiplying effect of 25 years of adult connections and the fact that every change you might make now imposes change on someone else I guess. You’re 20 and you walk away from a D1 track scholarship to pursue the CrossFit Games–pretty much just you in that equation. You don’t want to wake up at mid-life and wonder if you could have made a pro team, run with that invention, performed on Broadway, or earned a living as a writer. At 25 you’ll have years to bounce back if it doesn’t turn out. 45, family, comfortable job with a pretty clear and secure 15 years ahead? What a daunting proposition, to consider departing from good for only the chance of great.

Who’s to say which is the harder choice with the greatest personal consequences, to make the change or to walk away, forever unsure of what might have been.

I’ll see you next week…