People are Not Dogs

Bear with me…

I was up in the hills the other day with three dogs – an old dog, a young dog and a puppy. Their behavior was remarkably different and I think lends a concrete lesson to approaching fitness and goals of any kind for that matter.

Old Dog – Poor old Dixie is about 11 years old at this point and, while still in great condition for a dog of that breed and age, just not her former self. She diligently walks along, never straying too far from her humans and just maintains a steady, if not somewhat labored, gait to and fro snuffling here and gazing doggily into the distance there. In years past, she would bound through the hills, chase cows, roll around in whatever feces she should find and, if you weren’t careful, become a brown spot in the distance barely within ear shot. Those days are gone, but she dutifully takes her walk through the hills and appears to enjoy the experience in any event.

Young Dog – Sadie is a few years old and basically operates on a balls-to-the-wall system of propulsion. It is actually rather amazing an beautiful to watch her spring and dance across the hills, bounding with endless fury to some curious hole 300 yards away. And, before you know it, she is a white spec of fluff that damn near time traveled across a small gulley, hill and rocky outcrop to explore one of a 1000 burrows of unknown habitation. There is an allure to her carefree rampage across the hills – no worries of “rolling an ankle” (if such a thing is possible for a dog), receiving a life ending bite or misjudging a hill for a cliff and jumping inadvertently to a broken leg. Just pure bliss as she darts about the tall grass.

Puppy Dog – Salami is just a few months old and, while curious and full of energy, is still just too floppy and uncoordinated (not to mention, disobedient) to go off leash in the big wide open. She is operating within the imposed confines of her humans and hates every moment of it. However, at the end of the day, she is exhausted beyond anything she has ever experienced – 2 miles of walking is probably 400% longer than she has ever gone in one sitting. But, she will grow, mature, get her legs about her and learn the commands that will eventually prevent her from getting lost in the hills.

The lessons may be apparent already, but to spell them out:

Don’t have to be an old Dog

Dogs will operate in the maximum capacity that they are able – no more, no less. They don’t “push” themselves in the sense that they will do up to and exactly what feels comfortable and most right. An old dog won’t try and run with the young dogs. But, we as people can make a conscious decision to avoid this. For better or for worse, we can elect to go beyond our comfort zone and try to push the envelope beyond what our genetics, culture or natural inclination would have us rather do. Among the hardest things for adults to do is learn a new language. Why might this be? Well, theoretically you have mastery in one already – starting over sucks a big one. Communication is also critical to human function, robbing yourself of that ability is frustrating. Also, the utility derived from being receptive to new languages later is life is pretty low, from an evolutionary perspective.  Then there is time, opportunity and so on and so on. When absolutely forced, humans make do and learn what they have to. But, do you really think there is anything stopping a truly determined person from seeking out, learning and mastering a second language? There will be hurdles, but greater feats have been surely accomplished. New goals and skills of any kind are like this. By the time we hit 30, we are, for better or worse, old dogs prone to do exactly what is comfortable. But, we can consciously elect to ignore that, transcend our animal brains and learn something new. We can make a forced choice to be something we are not. We are not dogs – we can choose our fate if we so desire.

Be a Young Dog!

When you are able, go balls to the wall! Why not? What is at stake? Let’s be clear, stupidity is not the same thing as operating to your fullest ability in any given context. If the motive is to avoid injury, let’s be clear – avoidance of pain is not the same thing as the pursuit of pleasure. One can operate in both a high intensity fashion AND be safe to the extent that you avoid some catastrophic injury. Yes, the tweaks, aches and pains will be there. BUT, if you like to Ski – let’s not pretend you aren’t putting something on the line when you hit that black diamond super pow for the last run of a long day. Without risk, the reward is invariably low. It’s up to you how you wish to proceed, but understand that those who don’t put it on the line rarely stand to gain much. Don’t ask Mark Cuban for advice on how to pinch your pennies or Randy Couture what the best method for shoulder injury is. You most certainly won’t be a billionaire or legendary (and old) mixed martial artist, but you can still be awesome and be a young dog!

 

Understand that you might be a Puppy

The adage goes by a million different phrasings, but is most aptly captured by stating, “you must walk before you can run.” To apply this to CrossFit in particular, I think the confluence of events that most often leads to injury, and thereby criticism, is athletes and coaches not understanding their inherent limits. Taking a newbie and introducing things that require a mastery of preceding steps…and then ignoring that the preceding steps are still a work in progress. There is a difference between being able and applying that ability to go balls to the wall and taking the time to learn and grow into a state that allows for that. It is a subtle distinction, but a necessary and important one. Basically, it boils down to the idea of shortcuts. A very frequent question is, “are there any shortcuts or tricks to X?” No, there are none. The best shortcut you could ever discover is that there are NO shortcuts and proceed from there. In the same way, there is no way to magically make my puppy older, wiser or better behaved. It is a slow and steady process. The upside? Like it or not, the processes undertaken to learn as a puppy will exhaust you, teach you and improve you in any event. That little puppy dog was all tuckered out despite having performed about 1/10 the activity of the young dog. But, it was necessary to her adaptation to the environment and preserving her safety so that she can become a young dog!

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Fallacies of the CrossFit Athlete

You do this job long enough and you will find a number of fallacies are pretty common among CrossFit athletes – which can probably be extended to athletes of any kind over all. Here are some of my top fallacies that impede the progress of even the most intelligent person. Please note the following caveat: these are generalizations and should not be taken as doctrine for any person that considers themselves in any particular group.  Anyone can transcend the boundaries of their particular group and be the outlier!  The important thing to consider is whether or not you are committing the fallacy at all – and then fucking stop doing it.

 

The Strongman Fallacy

Time and time again big strong guys frustrate the most persistent and patient of coaches for their reliance on strength to accomplish all tasks. For some reason, grace, fluidity and finesse are often lost and the method to success is 1) power 2) more power and 3) when all else fails, power to the max.

This is particularly prevalent in movements such as muscleups, double unders, Olympic movements and rowing. There is significant technique that accompanies these movements and one cannot just grunt and heave through them for results. I have seen many a strong man tickled to death at their ability to power clean (often times nearly muscle clean) 250 pounds with ease only to poop out at 255, because they are slow with the elbows, terrified to drop under the bar and have a poorly supported front rack. No, we are not upset with you because you muscle clean our max with ease – we are upset because you are satisfied with a clean of 250 when you could easily clean 315 with a bit of technique. Strong guys – release your inner dancer and be fast, light and agile. Trust me, you will feel infinitely more accomplished when you hit that 3-wheel clean.

 

The Shortcut Fallacy

In observance of someone with more experience, a CrossFit athlete may erroneously come to the conclusion that those skills are an endowment from the heavens and not a product of sustained hard work. As a result, they wish to “do as they do” and employ more advanced technique such as kipping, open grip muscle ups, touch-and-go cleans, rebounding box jumps and all around, heavier, faster and more complex movements. WHHOOOOOAAAAA-HOOO, sloooowww down there son! These are movements that can FUCK. YOU. UP. If done improperly. Let’s be clear about that – and the people who do these movements routinely and well, have likely put in the time to graduate past false grip muscle ups, high volume strict pullups, lighter, slower less complex movements in order to build that baseline strength and competency to warrant higher risk maneuvers. Here is an analogy – you insist on throwing a weak and spotty curve-ball because you have a greater than zero chance of confusing the batter with novelty instead of perfecting your fastball by hitting spots, adding movement and varying speeds. Without an effective fastball, you’re weak curve-ball’s impact is severely undermined.

Those with an eye for advancement, the question should steer away from is, “how do you do movement X?” in favor of “what do I have to do to get to this point?”  The devil is in the details – knowing how to get to point A is different than wanting to be at point A immediately, right now.

 

The Kipping Fallacy

If strict is good, kipping is better! Right?! “But I can kip like 10 pullups!”

Ok, let’s be real here – kipping (in the sense used in CrossFit) is an invention of CrossFit to add an additional dynamic to the routine. It is not bad or good, but it is something that merits discussion. If you cannot do at least 5 of the strict version of the movement, you have no business doing the kipping version of the movement. Why is this? Well, one is a component of strength (strict) and the other of metabolic conditioning (kipping). If we were to include 30 pullups in a workout, performed strict you would poop out quite quickly. Unless you spend an inordinate amount of time doing pullups, you will likely never cross 20 strict pullups – it is just a threshold that is very difficult to cross. But that is ok, there is nothing wrong with having 10 or 15 – BUT, having ZERO is not particularly indicative of one being able to control their body movement effectively. Adding velocity to the movement puts your shoulders at significant risk as, by default, we have established that you lack that control to begin with. This is the chief complaint of CrossFit detractors in regard to the kipping pullup.

However, on the flip side, if you have 10 strict pullups, 30 kipping pullups should be very obtainable. For every strict pullup you add, your kipping volume should go up as a result. That is to say, there is no particular reason to “train” kipping pullups aside from improving the technique. Contrarily, 50 kipping pullups does not imply that you strict pullups have improved – in fact the opposite may be true.

This applies to all things – hand stand pushups, pullups, feet to bar and any other thing you can conceivably “kip into.” Kip enthusiasts out there – sack it up and improve your baseline strength. Two steps “back” now in volume will lead to three steps forward down the line when your strength has improved.

 

The Weak Girl Fallacy

The weak girl fallacy basically comes in the form of “I cannot right now, therefore I never will.” I blame society, culture, television – all the usual bullshit – that shapes girls minds from an early age that they are weak, in need of protection and incapable of physical tasks. I routinely am asked to lift things in the office that probably weigh no more than 20 pounds. 20 POUNDS! That, had they been a guy, would been practically forced from a gender role perspective to try, even if they had never lifted something so heavy in their life.

In the gym, this translates very often to fear that they might in fact be crushed under the weight of a 33 pound bar and exertion of any kind might sprout a penis and chest hair. Closely accompanying this is the idea that women, for some strange reason, have the magical capability to put on large amounts of muscle volume by simply touching weights in excess of 8 pounds. Also known as the “I don’t want to get bulky” line of reasoning.

Fortunately, I feel that these concepts are being slowly eroded by an opposing force of honoring women in athletics, departing from the skinny-is-everything body image campaigns and showing that women can, in fact, be strong AND sexy without looking like men and having Adam’s Apples that sword fight with their boyfriends when they get close.

Women are also finding that it is INCREDIBLY difficult to add mass. Also that being strong is empowering and nothing to be afraid of. However, the advertising and cultural messages are pervasive and persistent. No matter how deconditioned a person is, there bubbles occasionally to the top some random non-sensical fear or doubt that prohibits them from just attacking a movement, weight and or set with determination. You are woman – I hear you roar! Now hit that set!

 

The WOD is GOD Fallacy

“Can I just come in and get a WOD in to make up?” Is something of a generalization of the mindset that the WOD is what gets you stronger. This is not particularly true. In our gym, we employ basic precepts of strength and power – pulling, pushing, squatting, jumping and other related baseline movements. Those movements trained with efficacy build your strength, agility, coordination and power. Applied to the WOD, they provide a unique cocktail of conditioning that allows for a super charged dose of “cardio” that is difficult to replicate. That being said, doing 10 deads at X weight for Y rounds is not really what gets you stronger. It is the other way around – you do the standard strength (5×5, 5-3-1, starting strength – some combo of volume and mass with recovery) IN ORDER TO better perform the deadlift more effectively in the WOD. The WOD is an ends, not a means. I fell for this fallacy tremendously in the beginning – all I wanted to do was attack that WOD! But, my strength eventually became my weakness as I could power through just about anything that wasn’t heavy. I got “good” at CrossFit but was limited significantly by my inability to walk up to any weight and rep it out. The high you get from the WOD should not be confused with the gains you get from basic old boring strength. Any program that does NOT have strength incorporated is wasting your time (unless you want a glorified bootcamp).

By comparison, you will certainly get better at basketball by playing lots of basketball. However, if you take the time to drill, drill, drill, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot, shoot, shoot endlessly for hours at a time, you will find that is where the skills are refined and honed. You take your skills to the court to learn the dynamics, cooperation and tempo of the game, but there is no substitute for sound hands refined by hours of dribbling and shooting.

 

There you have it folks!  Ideas that, if completely abandoned, would lead to an all around better CrossFit Athlete!

 

 

 

The Value and Monetization of Fitness

CrossFit is expensive, in an absolute sense, there is no doubt. With prices ranging from about $120 to $250 per month in the US, it likely ranks among the most expensive gym memberships out there – especially considering that most boxes rarely offer additional amenities that are ordinarily associated with high price health clubs.

This is a common criticism leveled against CrossFit, and not without its merit. It would be an unseemly amount of money to pay and, in turn, get little to no return in fitness or be unable to attend as you would like for whatever reason.

However, let’s introduce a little thought problem here.

What would you pay to be presented with a button that would, upon being pushed, instantly and permanently allow you to be in fantastic shape? $1? $10? $100 maybe…?

What if that button cost you $10,000? Keep in mind, it would be instant and permanent and the results FANTASTIC. We’ll even do you one better, you get to choose the body obtainable through any mode of exercise. Want to look and function like a gymnast? Click – done. Rock climber? Click – done.

Pretty attractive button, right? I would pay the price in a heartbeat. That type of investment for elite, permanent health, strength, mobility and agility? This is an easy sell.

Well, there is no such button. In fact, the fitness industry has lied to you for at least two decades now trying to imply there is, in some sense, a “near button.” There is no way to target belly fat. No way to melt away pounds with a pill (that won’t perhaps kill you as a side effect). No contraptions to get you that six pack you always wanted…nothing. This lying has been so persistent and so pervasive, that I often here fairly seasoned athletes trot around some of these possible solutions, perhaps intermittently entertaining the possibility that they might be true. They are ALL false.

There are only two ways, and you can ask anyone that is actually in this position to share what it’s like, to get a rocking six pack, beefy squat or insanely jacked arms.

1)      You are born with favorable genetics

2)      You work your ass off

And in reality, the equation looks something like this: (genetics x hard work)/excuses = results. If the inputs in parentheses are low or zero (obviously all the effort in the world paired with spinal bifida will show some significant limits), you get little out. The greater number of things (i.e. excuses) that get in your way, legitimate or not, the greater the buffer on your results.

So, to bring it all back to center. What if I told you there was a way in great shape (maybe not FANTASTIC), with enduring results (not permanent) and you could achieve that in one year? Well, that is about the best that is out there. CrossFit is one mode, among many, that can achieve that. Why wouldn’t I go all out and say CrossFit is THE BEST way to do this? Well, obviously, people have gotten in freakishly good shape without and prior to CrossFit, so I can’t quite say that genuinely. However, many people bounce from routine to routine without getting what they want until they finally settle on CrossFit and it becomes the witch’s brew that finally gets them where they want to go – that’s my story anyway. It shouldn’t take too much explanation that an industry surge the likes of which CrossFit has enjoyed, self-evidently demonstrates that many people are satisfied with its structure, results and, finally, price.

So, after many tangents, let’s come back to price. First off, let’s kick around a few prices you can ordinarily expect:

Bargain basement super deal – $10 a month

“Standard” Gym membership – $50 a month

“Premium” Gym membership – $100 a month

CrossFit membership – $150 (on average)

“Elite Health Club” – $200 a month

Personal Training – ~$300+ for regular training

They are not all perfectly exact, but this is not really the point. The point is the spectrum available. I will happily remove Elite Health Club and Personal Training as I think they offer something outside the realm of a “normal” gym and may very well be considered a great value. We are left with CrossFit at the top of the pyramid of price.

As a gym owner, I can tell you straight up that the bargain prices, and probably even the standard prices, are a complete lie. The model can be easily informed by an experience I had joining a UFC gym a few years back:

Sales Rep: So it will be $80 a month

Me: Ok, sounds fair. When are the busy times?

Sales Rep: After work, you know, the normal times.

Me: Ok, pretty normal. How many members are there?

Sales Rep: We currently have about 8,000, but are looking to gather about 20,000 at full capacity.

I’m sorry, are you fucking kidding me? For those that may have missed the obvious – the model works like this:

“If we have a capacity of X and utilization rate of Y, we can reasonably accommodate Z members.” The built in message: they are expecting you to NOT utilize their services. The system would crash if all 20,000 tried to get a daily workout in five times a week. The New Year’s resolutioners, the guilty yo-yo dieters, the mid-life crisisers, the I-want-to-get-in-shape-but-have-no-timers and the tag-along-with-spousers are subsidizing the memberships of the people that actively engage in routine fitness as a life decision. If you have ever been a regular and attending member, of a gym of any kind, you have benefited greatly from people who look at their monthly bank statements (or not) and sigh heavily as they wish they could use their gym membership more, but cannot justify cancelling it because, “it’s only 29.99 a month…maybe next month…” The model is built exclusively on non-utilization of the product. They don’t want you to come – they want you to not come AND pay…paving the way for more to do the same and beefing up their bottom line. No gym could function with their current rate structure if had 100% utilization of membership.

Our gym, on the other hand, has an active user base of, oh, I dunno, something closer to 100%. In fact, I routinely field requests for people to freeze, suspend and otherwise adjust payment schedules because it is so damn expensive. They are involved in their membership, not passive subsidizers. The threshold for payment ambivalence has long been crossed – if people do not plan on attending, they are quickly figuring out how to cancel their payments. I suspect this is true among just about every CrossFit gym out there. And we want this – we WANT you to attend as often as possible. We have structured our class system expecting you to use your membership to the fullest.

That all being said, is it really that expensive? I contend it is a true market value of what it costs to attend a properly utilized gym that operates on an instructor led class basis. But, let’s break it down.

If you were to attend 5 classes a week, you would be attending, on average, 23 classes a month. If you were to be paying $199 a month, that would be about $8 per class (even less with a couples/service/student discount). The thing that makes it expensive is that it is routine – day in and day out. It would be a tremendous bargain to be able to attend college for this price – about 22 weeks of instruction, 3 instruction hours per week per class, $8 per hour or $528 per class. That is $2112 per semester for a 12 unit load. I am not aware of a 4-year university that charges rates that low…

What about child care? The average cost of center-based care in the United States is $11,666 per year. Granted, this is your child and your education – not a recreational habit. But, the point is being made that any sort of routine attendance or utilization of service is going to accumulate incrementally over time.

So we return, having navigated many venturing circles, back to the original question, what would you pay?

Well, 12 months of membership at our facility will cost you $2,388 if you want unlimited access and have no accompanying discounts. If you committed to 6 months ahead of time in two segments, it would be about $2,150 for a year.

So, would you push the button for $2,150? I know I would. Absent a button, CrossFit is among the most reliable methods to get you fit with hundreds of thousands of people have found success in the method. And, at $8 a class, about the best damn deal you can find if attending regular gyms has not been successful.

Those who have made the leap, had great strides in their fitness and love CrossFit understand this. They are sold, the price reflects the necessary cost to achieve what they could not before (speculating, but I cannot think of any other reason this might be the case). If we consider the prophylactic nature of fitness on disease, injury and overall health consequences paired with its intrinsic utility and interest as a life practice, it is actually one of the cheapest things in which you can endeavor.

But, this is coming from a business owner who has long been sold on the benefits of CrossFit and has actively practiced it nearly every day for 5+ years. Not everyone has prepared themselves psychologically to make that investment, nor they necessarily believe that it is worth it – and that’s fine. I write this purely to try and help ground this conversation in something other than “other gym memberships are cheaper.” The remaining questions are simply: if you have been doing CrossFit, is it worth it? If you have not been doing CrossFit, have you been getting what you want or been slowly bleeding your money away chasing empty promises based on a button that doesn’t exist?

The source of knowledge, Bro-Science and what you don’t know

Occasionally, when onboarding new members, the assertions put forth in class are challenged. Sometimes they are in earnest – wanting to know the meaning and purpose of what was said. Sometimes they are confrontational challenges, trying to undermine the coach’s knowledge for whatever reason. In any event, it happens, and here are my thoughts on it.

The true source of knowledge, that which we know, is ordinarily hard won with evidence. Evidence is something that is gathered to form a conclusion about phenomena. Evidence is also very hard won in its own right, having to be independently verifiable, reproducible and, above all, not conflated with other elements – noise, confounds and experimenter error (among other things).

This all contributes to what we know as “facts” and, as a result, bodies of knowledge we can rely on, often coined theories. I have an intimate understanding of this process having completed a graduate degree, culminated by the production of a thesis, which was then published in an academic journal. And, believe you me, these mother fuckers don’t mess around – you better have your shit in order for the content to be considered something that “contributes to that which we know.”

So, when we get challenged in a class, for whatever reason, we ought to resort to facts to support our statements, right? Weellllll….we can’t. See the same standards that apply to traditional academic and industry science rarely get applied in the gym. To put it bluntly – people are studying the shit out of cancer and not too much about how to get someone to back squat 300+ pounds.  But, does that preclude us from instructing someone on how to accomplish this?

Certainly not! But at this juncture, we have a distinct departure from what is “known” to what is known. The difference is purely that which is studied versus that which is accumulated through experience, anecdote and case studies. There are, and please correct me if I’m wrong, no studies that suggest that specific elements of Jay Cutler’s methods of body building work…except that he does them and it works. But, that is a sample of one applied to a population of one – it’s basically not worth discussing.

What if I assert that one should hold their breath while lifting, the valsalva maneuver, in order to achieve a heavier deadlift? Where is that supported? Blogs? Gyms nationwide? Are there an equal amount of people that disagree?

Well, I know that shit “works” and so do bajillions of other gym rats pumping out heavy sets of squats and deads. But, there are probably a lot of other people who disagree and suggest that it is dangerous. And where lies the answer? There is no answer, there is only an approximation of what works through the accumulation of experience, anecdote and case study. No one will ever design a study tracking 1000 individuals over 6 months, monitoring a group who deadlift without the valsalva maneuver, those who deadlift with and those who are not instructed to do anything in particular (control). This is the standard ordinarily applied to qualify something as “fact” or, at the very least, evidence. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could pull that off?!

Fitness experiments are notoriously low in sample size as well as guilty of having participants drop off without warning…test re-test effects…measurement effects…environmental effects…honestly, its barely worth the effort to “prove” what we already “know.”

As a result, we have to rely on sound logic to eliminate alternatives and go with the best approximation. This is not to say that fitness research is useless, but only that whatever is about to be studied is probably already common knowledge amongst those out in the trenches pumping the iron. That, or it is so specific and esoteric, that it is difficult to meaningfully apply to training (i.e. the effects of incremental glucose intake on V02 max during stationary running – or some bullshit like that).

Despite all of this, we cannot simply go around asserting bullshit because we believe it works. And here comes the actual message:

 

Coaches – figure out why you do what you do and critically assess if that is the best maneuver, practice, advice or insight to provide to your clients. There is an abundance of free information on the internet and you should be savvy in most of it, so that you can provide informed answers to your clients. In the event you don’t have an answer, you should be self-aware enough to say, “You know, that is a really good question that I do not have the answer to. Let me do some research and get back to you.” You earn respect by admitting what you don’t know and showing a willingness to continually learn. In the event you are called out on your bullshit…well, that should be pretty self-explanatory.

The Coached – be critical of the words coming out of your coach’s mouth. Understand that a lot of this is the gospel according to “whoever taught them what they know” which often regresses back to untraceable bro-science bullshit. Don’t be a smart-assed usurper when your coach says something, but do your homework in whatever field you are practicing so that you can ask pertinent, relevant and thoughtful questions. As it is your health and wellness at stake, blind trust in your coach is probably a poor bet to make.

Back to life! (and a class based society)

It has been awhile since there has been a post here, but I was lured away with promises of a large audience, compensation and so on.  Well, the posts are censored, the time lag is ridiculous and the incentive to continue contributing is quite low.  At the end of the day, writing contributions are often an afterthought (as they probably should be) and it just didn’t pan out.

So, back to a smaller audience, but absolute freedom!

The topic for today revolves around an activity undertaking over the weekend: puppy training.

There is this cool place in Walnut Creek called Zoom Room (which I have just learned is quite a bit more prevalent than i would have imagined) that conducts all sorts of classes for dog training.

I find this interesting.  70 years ago, I suspect that most dogs were just kind of farm dogs, mutts, puppies from a local litter or something to that effect.  Once you had said dog in possession, you probably trained it to the best of your ability and didn’t really abide by any overarching principles so long as your dog shit outside, stayed off the couch and didn’t bite the neighbors.

But, times have changed.  There are now professional celebrity dog trainers with their own television shows.  Whether this is bad or good, this represents a distinct change it the way we do business in society. 

CrossFit (and exercise in general) is really no different.  70 years ago, the only people that “exercised” were probably in the armed forces.  Any exercise obtained otherwise was probably a result of manual labor…not recreation.  Fast forward 70 years and the same thing has happened – celebrity trainers, a new vigor for exercise as recreation, $1000s spent on tools and gear and an all around willingness to dedicate large amounts of time and money to these activities.

So, this coming Sunday we are taking our dog to a class, and it all started to sound so familiar. “yes, you sign up online and can buy punch cards in this amount or that amount.  This class is more popular than that…” and I began to feel quite at home with my understanding of how their operation worked.

I view the future of CrossFit, and really any recreation type activities, to be destined for a class based system – if it is not like that already.  Certainly, not everyone can afford $300 of dog training nor do they necessarily want that.  Some simply wish to train their own animal just in the same way they like to exercise on their own.  On the flip side, not everyone has the time to educate themselves thoroughly in the most up to date techniques in any endeavor.  Imagine trying to learn about a modern day vehicle to the extent that you could repair a cracked valve.  The people who can do this must a) have spent years learning from a parent or experienced person b) spend a metric shit ton of time on YouTube learning enough not to permanently render their vehicle useless or c) obtain specialized training to turn this from a daunting challenge into a routine task.

At some point, an internal dialogue begins asking, “Just how much is my time worth?  Do I actually want to invest to learn how to be an expert in this area or would I rather pay someone to share that with me?”  Life used to be simpler: get a free dog, train dog, dog gets sick, shoot dog, start over.  Now you need insurance, vaccinations, socialization, assurance it won’t bite anyone, microchips and orthopedic dog pillows – supposing you wish to be considered a responsible pet owner.  Our interest in these areas has increased in both breadth and depth – I don’t foresee the simple days returning soon.  The reason being, with this increase in focus, depth and breath also comes an increased interest, reward environment and all around enthusiasm.  There was probably a marked difference in interest between plain old “playing in the snow” and the advent of skis and then once again with the invention of the chairlift.  There is no going back…

In any event, the group dynamic, the socialization, the share interest and goals just seem a bit more human to me, as we are not hiding military secrets from Cold War Russia via our dog training and bicep curl methods.   Secrecy is not a particularly useful aspect to modern day education.

As a consequence of this, I wonder what other aspects of human learning are destined for small group classes taught by educated individuals and attended by those looking for a shared experience?  Surely there is a enormous business opportunity lurking for the person the is able to predict the next hot thing that people want to get all excited about and would be willing to pay top dollar for expert instruction.