We are a comparative species.

We look at others and think, “He’s taller than me,” “She’s not as smart as I am,” or “Her clothes are more expensive than mine.”

It’s a survival instinct. As we roamed across plains in tribes, we cautiously avoided being “the outsider”. We hid our differences because we didn’t want to be left for the wolves.

But in modern society, we no longer need to worry about being cast out of the tribe. This means most of the judgment about our appearance, weight and fitness comes from OURSELVES (and, sometimes, Jeff Probst, I guess.)

This internal comparison can push us to try harder. Our desire to provide more to our families, or to win the trophy, or even the chance to mate–these are all positives brought on by comparing ourselves to others.

But in the fitness world, most comparison ISN’T healthy:

“I want that guy’s abs.”

“I wish I had her butt.”

“If I had her body, I’d wear a bikini too.”

At Catalyst, we want to change your mind about fitness. And that starts with measuring fitness in different ways.

Yesterday, we did a sumo deadlift. It’s excellent for those (like me) who sit in a chair all day, because it reactivates our numb butts and fixes our posture. It’s pretty useful to guys like me, but that’s not why I do it.

I do it because I know my score: last time I did the sumo deadlift, I lifted 200 pounds. This time, I wanted to try for more.

When I arrived to class at 11:59, I saw over a dozen “PRs” on the whiteboard. Those are Personal Records, and when people achieve one, they write it down to encourage others to do the same. Then they track their numbers in our tracking app. Many in my CrossFit group had their own PR, and wrote it on the board and in the app. Next time we do a sumo deadlift, they’ll be able to look back and say, “If I’m stronger, I should be able to lift 5 pounds more than last time.”

This type of fitness is objective (200 pounds will always be 200 pounds), observable (anyone can measure the weight themselves) and repeatable (I can do it the same way next time.)

We also measure our metabolic work.

Yesterday’s workout was a combination of thrusters and burpees, arranged in high-intensity intervals of 3 minutes of work / 2 minutes of rest. Our goal was to get through as many reps as possible in each of the 3 minute work intervals. Then we recorded our score.

Now, you can’t go all-out on the same workout every day. Imagine trying to set a 5k run record every day: by the end of the week, you’d stop trying. The workout would be boring, and you’d stop seeing success. So we change exercises and parameters and weights and–well, everything–every day. And sometimes we repeat workouts to compare our fitness.

There are no mirrors at Catalyst, because that’s a false measure of fitness. We don’t have scales, because–well, sometimes I eat a donut at night, and don’t want to beat myself up about it. Weight is not a good measure of fitness unless it’s how much you can lift.

Knowing your “Fran” score won’t make your body envy problems go away…but it will sure help. And it’s a LOT easier to go to the gym when you know everyone is watching your effort instead of your butt.

See you at lunchtime!