When you deal in force, you measure weight and time a lot.

We tell a lot of stories, it's true. But we're selling science here – unbiased, nonempathetic, measurable. Objective. A litre of your sweat is the same as a litre of my sweat. We believe that consistency is kindness: that, by holding you to the same line as everyone else, we can promise you'll only be beaten in a fair fight.

If you squat 300lbs to competition depth – crease of the hip, crest of the knee, and all that – then you've done it. You've done 300. What does it take to squat more than you?

If I squat 450lbs, but only halfway to your depth, have I done better? 550lbs? Six-fitty? No, because I haven't done a squat. The line was clear, and I fell short.

If the line is unclear, then I'll squat as low as – well, pretty good – and beat you. I'll call it 'squatting to ninety,' and it won't be fair, but it will count. I'll win. Maybe you can pile a bit more on, and squat a little higher, and trump me, in turn. So I'll go to five plates a side, walk out of the rack, curtsy…and who are you to call me wrong? 

At Catalyst, we call that cheating. At other gyms, they call that Thursday.

Without that consistency, we can't measure 'yes' or 'no.' It's all just 'kinda.' As some visiting lifters have found, our pass/fail is black/white. Fifty Shades of Gray may be on our bookshelves, our pillows, or our minds, but it ain't on our platforms.

We also hold our Open Gym time to a standard just as rigid. At 7:00:00, 12:00:00, and 19:00:00, the gym is closed to members and open for CrossFit groups. Relaxing the standard for one of our 250 members doesn't help her out – it screws everyone else:

"You have to be done by noon, unless you're Amber. Then the rule is 12:07."

"Jim gets to stay until 3 minutes after, because he's – y'know – slow."

"Mandy's shirt looks new. Let's give her an extra few minutes and tell her to just stay out of the way."

We've tried it both ways. Consistent and fair is better. The squats get higher, the 'late' gets later, and everyone gets angry if we make exceptions. Let's keep it low and tight.