What Is CrossFit?

Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. This is the definition of CrossFit.  As a CrossFitter I am sure you have heard this more than once. This description is very accurate and precise and even though it says everything, it satisfies no one, as quoted by the CrossFit Founder, Greg Glassman.  As a trainer, I say this phrase all of the time, but I never truly understood what it meant until recently. For this week’s Skyline CrossFit blog I am going to break down the definition of CrossFit so that we can all understand exactly what we were doing. The why of what we do is not just important, it is everything.

We will start piece by piece.

Constantly Varied. This can broken down into one word: variance. Why variance? To be blunt, if you tell me that you have a routine, a leg day and a chest day for example, I can immediately tell you what you suck at. If there is a pattern or routine to your fitness “plan,” there is a deficiency. Deficiency is the space in between your patterns of movement; the things we do not do. We as humans and athletes require a pattern that has no pattern. Routine is the enemy.

Intensity. This is such a great buzz word.  Intensity gets tossed around more in the fitness world more than the words protein powder and gainz.

Some branches of the fitness community measure intensity as how red your face gets and how loud you grunt next to your buddies. I do not have to explain why this is a bad measure of intensity.

Other areas of the fitness community measure intensity based on their heart rate. This is far from accurate. Increased heart rate is a correlate to intensity, but a terrible measure of it. For example, if I ride a roller coaster or get pulled over by the police, my heart rate will rise, but am I becoming more fit from this? No. My rapid heart rate did not suddenly turn my speeding ticket into a work out simply based on the “intensity” of its beat.

Intensity is defined by power. What is power? The true definition of Power is Force times Distance over Time.


How much did you move? How far did you move it? How long did it take?
That is power.
How fast and how hard? 
That is intensity.

Intensity is the best answer to all of our fitness goals because it is measurable and relative to the person performing the work.

If intensity is the best answer to all your fitness goals then why don’t most people do it? Because it sucks. It’s hard. That’s why people choose the tambourine instead of the violin. Why they major is sociology not physics. That’s the difference between successful people and and unsuccessful people. Successful people pursue hard things, unsuccessful avoid them. Running long slow distances will make you good at just that, long slow distances but nothing else. Just like playing the tambourine will only get better at the tambourine, that doesn’t make you a musician.
— Greg Glassman

Functional Movement. A lot of people have a hard time articulating what function movement is. They theoretically understand it, but have a hard time expressing it verbally.  I myself have been stumped trying to explain functional movement to athletes. I often over think it, but then remind myself that there is indeed a very simple answer. Functional Movement is defined by Greg Glassman as “movements that are categorically unique in their ability to express power.”  Now that we know how to measure power, we can express these functional movements on paper; it is quantifiable. These movements decidedly have the advantage of moving large loads for long distances and doing it quickly. Bicep curls, lateral raises, and skull crushers do not move heavy loads for a long distance very fast. Think of the distance between your elbow moving from the extended position, to bent during a bicep curl. This is not very far, the weight is exponentially low, and the weight does not go anywhere anytime quickly. Squats, cleans, and deadlifts move a heavy load, a long distance (floor to end position), and do so extremely fast. They get the most work done in the least amount of time, as they are more powerful movements. They are efficient and effective and are seen everywhere. They are on a construction site, on the football field, and in combat. Functional movements are built into our DNA, they are a part of who we are.

In light of all of this information, do not be so quick to consider getting “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity” tattooed across your forehead. As trainers and athletes we say these words until we are blue in the face, but as I explained earlier, while this definition says everything, it does not mean anything to the person who does not define variation, intensity, and functional properly. My goal is that by breaking down the definition of CrossFit into definable terms, meaning they can be found in any dictionary, we may be able to give you the tools to also define CrossFit to yourself and to those who may be curious as to what CrossFit is.  In a nutshell, we do more work than anyone else and that is our objective.

Dylan experiencing "intensity."

Dylan experiencing "intensity."

August Athlete Of The Month: Monica Martinez

Monica is a day one athlete at Humble CrossFit and someone that we consider a pillar in our community. There is a lot to be said for someone whose presence changes the atmosphere of the gym and we are lucky to have members like her that make our community great. Read more about Monica below!

1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a wife and the mother of two energetic little boys, Fabian and Jose, also known as “Batman” and “Superman”. At the moment, I’m a stay at home mom with a passion for health and fitness. 

2. What is your athletic background
I played basketball from 6th grade through 12th grade and also played soccer in high school.

3. What made you join CrossFit?
My husband joined first and he would always come home and tell me about his workouts. The thought of myself trying to do those workouts made me a little scared. At the time I had a 2 year old and a 7-month-old baby, and thought that CrossFit was not for me. I had never picked up a kettle bell, let alone a barbell! My husband encouraged me to try and one day I relented and went to HCF. I did my first class and have been hooked ever since.

4. What does CrossFit mean to you and how do you stay motivated?
CrossFit is my stress reliever; it’s where I go to push myself both physically and mentally. I love that my boys get to see first hand that making your health a priority shouldn’t be a chore. They see it as part of our daily routine. We go to the box as a family .The progress I’ve made since I started keeps me motivated. I have never been this fit in my life and I love it!!

5. What is your favorite movement?
My favorite movements are power cleans and deadlifts! :)

6. What is your least favorite movement ?
My least favorite movement are overhead squats :(

7. What are your goals for the next year?
My goal is to work on my gymnastics, I would like to get better at pull-ups, chest to bars and toes to bar. Si se puede!

8. What has been your favorite moment/accomplishment so far at HCF?
My favorite accomplishment so far has been connecting double unders. It took me such a long time I thought it would never happen. I couldn’t get the rhythm down, but I’m glad I didn’t give up.

9. What is your favorite cheat meal?
It’s hard to just pick one, I love food!! Tacos, pizza, and chips con limon y tapatio are definitely my top 3.

10. Do you have any advice for people hesitant to try CrossFit or for those struggling with their fitness goals?
My advice is to just try it, you never know if you like something until you try. I remember being hesitant and extremely nervous on my first day. Mostly because I was comparing myself to people that had been doing CrossFit for much longer. I learned very fast that everyone starts at his or her own level. We are encouraged by the coaches and other members every step of the way, it’s great! Don’t be intimidated by the WOD, everything can be scaled or modified to fit your needs.

The Cycle Of Problems

When most people come to us they have a problem regarding their health or aesthetics; they need to be healthier or they want to look better, or both. To a prospective member, poor condition is a problem and a new fitness regimen may be their solution. What people often do not realize is that being more active may very well solve their initial concern, but leaving with a new issue is likely.

Problems are a cycle. There will never be a life that does not come without an issue unless you are dead. Problems will always exist, but not all problems are bad. Take this hypothetical situation for example: Terry is a new member at Humble CrossFit. Terry came to us with mobility issues and a general insecurity about the way his body has aged over the past few years. Terry now comes to CrossFit four days a week, fits into his college jeans and wakes up with more energy every day. However, Terry now experiences mild soreness during stretches, has calloused hands, and owns way too many CrossFit shirts that are added to his ever growing pile of laundry.  Terry’s life in regards to health is now full of happy problems in comparison to the problem he walked through our door with. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of the next one; they never stop. Problems may be exchanged or upgraded, but they never stop coming. The best thing in life is not the absence of problems, but finding problems that you enjoy having and enjoy solving.

If I had a quarter for every time I was asked “How do you have the time?” I would be well on my way to making a pretty chunk of change.  For me, not having enough time is a happy problem. I am fortunate to have a full time job and the opportunity to be a trainer at Humble CrossFit. If I had free time it would likely mean that I was out of a job, not able to coach, and alone, which to me, is a much larger issue than being stretched for time.  It does become stressful on occasion, but I have handpicked these problems, which make them much more bearable. I would not choose a different path other than the one I am on now.

My challenge to you today is to analyze your problems. Are your problems happy problems or problems that cause negative feelings in your life? Often the only difference between a problem being painful or being powerful is a sense that we chose it and that we are responsible for it. How can you choose to make your problems positive?

Many of the ideas from this blog come from the words of Mark Manson. See Coach Francisco or Charlye on how to get a copy of this book for free!

Many of the ideas from this blog come from the words of Mark Manson. See Coach Francisco or Charlye on how to get a copy of this book for free!