Built to Scale

The fitness prescription at Catalyst can be broken down into a formula: W = F x d. Work = it’s hard, but it feels like play. F = force. Mass times acceleration. That will be important later. d = distance.
In short, large loads over long distances as quickly as possible.
Individual fitness in a group environment is the goal of CrossFit groups at Catalyst. Though everyone is doing the same number of sets and reps, and having the same experience, individual weights can be chosen to optimize your individual fitness.
CrossFit works for everyone by providing a daily challenge. But that challenge should then be tailored individually based on your skill level, speed and strength.
First, the coach leads the group through a fun warmup to increase general readiness. Then we do some specific warmups for the skills you’ll need that day, and begin practicing those skills. We choose skills and strength-building lifts that optimize the W = F x d formula; big lifts, like squats and cleans and deadlifts and presses. We do them heavy and light, slow and fast, and always with the goal of improving technique.
The real magic of CrossFit happens in the “WOD,” which comes next. When introducing the workout, your coach will reveal its purpose and benefits, and help you choose a weight or exercise to meet those goals.
For example, the purpose of “Grace” is to spend 3-7 minutes in an anaerobic state. Hard anaerobic challenges like “Grace” stimulate lipolysis (fat burning) for almost a full day afterward. A load should be chosen to create an anaerobic state. That might be 50lbs, or 95lbs, or 135lbs; your coach will tell you to choose a weight that will require 3-7 minutes to complete. A weight that’s too light won’t give you the metabolic effect we’re trying to create; neither will a weight that’s too heavy.
Likewise, we can stimulate the effect without weights at all if necessary. This is the purpose of our CrossFit Lite class: high-intensity bodyweight exercise with a purpose. Some call it “bootcamp with brains.”
What does “Rx” mean?
We prescribe (‘Rx’) a weight on some workouts in an attempt to standardize scores and measure progress. Of course, we can compare your progress using any fixed weight. But CrossFit is now done by millions of people, and it’s sometimes fun to see just how well the best in the world do at the same workout.
You work out harder with a partner. You work harder when you have a deadline. And you’ll jump further when you have a measuring stick. These top scores are the measuring stick, and while not the primary measure of your success (of course,) it’s still fun to see what’s possible. We’ve all seen the 2-man “cheating” bench press at the YMCA; “Rx” lets us compare apples to apples with movement standards and identical weights. Not the bare minimum, but the standardized maximum.
On that note, we standardize movement first. We want things done well–a good squat will help you, a bad squat won’t–before they’re done fast, or heavy, or often.
We call it “scaling” the workout, but we just mean “optimizing.” Decreasing the load is not a lesser version of “Rx,” just a different measure. As you’ll see when you join a group, there might be ten different “scaled” versions of the same workout happening at the same time. Everyone works as hard as everyone else. Everyone finishes together. Everyone smiles.
Then they put their score on the whiteboard for comparison later. In a few months, we’ll bring out the same measuring stick and check your progress: has W = F x d improved? Has F gone up? Are you better at d? If so, you’ve won. There’s no way to win on the pec deck, but in CrossFit it’s quite possible to win every day, at least at first.
Our CrossFit classes provide individualized training in a group setting. The mission is the same for everyone, and even if your map looks a bit different than mine, we’ll all arrive together.

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  1. Pingback: To RX or not to RX? - CrossFit Waimakariri | Rangiora, Canterbury