Strength In Depth 2017

In May, we made a decision to try to send a team to Strength in Depth 2017. Strength in Depth is probably the largest Functional Fitness Competition in the UK. Backed by Reebok, teams of 12 face three qualifiers to get to the finals in Bath in November. Each qualifier takes a slightly different format, but 12 members from SCCF kept an eye on the leaderboard through the summer as they worked through three qualifying workouts. The group qualified in 49th of a 60 available spots.

Fast forward to November and on a chilly Saturday morning the SCCF crew arrived at the University of Bath with an agenda. The team knew they were capable of more than 49th, they also knew they had done the work to be able to deliver the required performance, what they didn’t know was the level of competition they were facing.

Event one: Max clean and jerk total plus 5k Row for time. In advance of the competition the team had spent some time running through the events, discussing the best way to take down each event. Event one was the first opportunity for that homework to pay off. Big shifts on the rower from Marcus Davis and Sam O’Connor helped pull the team to 33rd on the row, at the same time Charlee Leachman and Gareth George put up 85kg and 135kg respectively for the heaviest lifts in the first heat. It became apparent that the team were not planning to be in the first heat on day two.

IMG_6583.JPG

Nerves out the way, and with a pit stop of food and coffee the team began their warm up for event two: 3 laps of a 1.3km course with a 20kg Sandbag, after each lap the team left four athletes at the finish pen leaving just four out on the final 1.3km lap. Ultimately the team knew running was not going to give them the best result, but as in workout 1, some serious strategy work in advance set the team up well. Sam Leachman took charge on the event and worked well with Sian Peters to lift the team across three laps to finish 44th.

IMG_6584.JPG

Workouts 3 and 4 saw the team split into two teams of 6. Lianne Griffiths showed some prowess in the pool, leading the team to a 29th place finish. The workout consisting of swimming, air squats and climbing in and out of the pool. For a full breakdown on how hard that can be just catch up with Sam L or Rickie Lovell when you next see them in the gym; ask them how Sam OC got on with jumping into a pool.

IMG_6586.JPG

Simultaneously Gareth Wayt was making friends with the Assault Bike, working in pairs the remainder of team SCCF Red worked through Dumbbell Cleans and Down ups before smashing through 60 calories on the assault bike. The team managed to win the heat and claim 21st on the workout.

IMG_6581.JPG

Day one ended with heavy, very heavy and ridiculously heavy thrusters, handstand walking and some rope climbs or muscle ups. Mike Holmes, walking more comfortably on his hands than most people do on their feet, taking over from Charlee’s 10 unbroken thrusters at 60kg, scampered up and down a rope and back to the start mat on his hands to take the heat and 21st in the workout to wrap up day one. A leaderboard check after eating virtually all the food available showed the team had pulled themselves out of heat one and into 30th position. They would be taking down day 2 from heat 3.

 

 

Arriving on day two, the team faced an unknown event, a 400m obstacle course featuring an 8ft high inverted wall. Fortunately for the team the military experience of Hannah Lewis as well as Sian, Marcus and Sam L more than made up for their distaste for running. Following the change of clothes required after the water obstacle the team notched up a 32nd place finish. Not the perfect start to day two, but by far from the perfect workout. They team went into the next workout with something to prove.

 

Workout 7: in sub teams of 3, 75 Wall balls, 50 Toes to bar, 200 Double Unders, 50 Overhead Squats. Some magic from Dre Wesley, who pulled out 130 double unders unbroken and Marcus with 75 Wall balls unbroken helped the team to 17th place.

 

The 17th place in workout 7 left the team on a big high and ready to go for event 8: The snatch ladder. Hannah Lewis moved a bar faster than anyone else that weekend, and the team pulled off their plan perfectly: moving through ever decreasing reps at increasingly heavier loads. Rickie putting in the same consistent performance he did across the weekend to set Mike and Gareth up for snatches at 100kg, the men took 5th place. The girls followed and another seamless team performance took 13th in the workout. The team won the heat and left the platform with nothing else to prove.

IMG_6582.JPG

Second City CrossFit took a group of members to that competition with something to prove, that they were better than 49th. What they actually did was show that a group of people, working hard for each other and believing in one another is worth more than the sum of its parts. There were no super star athletes on this team- but there was a team, and that is worth more than any individual contribution over the weekend.

IMG_6384.JPG

SCCF Red: 21st. Strength in Depth 2017.

Would you rather...

This article could well be titled something about justifying our pricing structure, but the actual title is much more interesting.  And a title talking about economics would probably turn you right off.

aid318161-v4-728px-Play-Would-You-Rather-Step-6.jpg

When people enquire about the prices at SCCF without knowing anything about us as a gym and community they instantly think one of two things:

1 - "That's way too expensive for a gym because I've seen big chain gyms offering memberships for £14.99, I'll take my business elsewhere."

Or

2 - "That's expensive but there must be several reasons why it's so much more than a budget chain gym, I'd like to know more about what sets you apart."

People who think option 1 without coming in to see the buzzing atmosphere, the energetic classes, the welcoming community, the highly skilled and experienced coaches, the in house physiotherapy services, the choices between five different types of class, the fact that we have over 40 hours of coached classes per week and the large group of like minded individuals all seeking to become fitter and healthier versions of themselves are doing themselves a massive disservice.

People who think option 2 tend to join up.  These people might even reorganise their monthly finances to allow them to join because they can see so much value in what we have to offer.

We all know the phrase 'buy nice or buy twice' when it relates to consumer goods.  We all know that trying to save some money by buying a cheaper option can actually backfire when it breaks or wears out sooner leaving us back at square one again.

How many people in the UK do you think have a gym membership and never go to the gym?  How many of those people don't feel guilty about not going because it only costs them £10 or £20 a month?  How many of those people make excuses about why they didn't go to the gym?  How many of those people fail because of the lack of a support network?  How many of those budget gyms keep in touch with people when they haven't been to the gym in a little while?  How many of those cheap gyms are staffed by under qualified people who don't care about their members?  How many of the big chain gyms are run by people who you know and invite to your weddings?  How many of the people with a gym membership actually know the management on a personal level?

Penny-A-Day-3-Act-Math-Task-UpdatedFeaturedImage.001.jpeg

So, all this fundamentally boils down to a simple question:

Would you rather spend more per month on something that you'll actually use, or less per month on something that you won't use?

When incompetent isn't an insult

This isn’t an article that will bash CrossFit, strength and conditioning or the constant exploration of the boundaries of human potential by ordinary people.

This is an article exploring the ideas surrounding awareness and competence.  Feel free to relate it to your own fitness journey.  Feel free to relate it to your chosen profession, whether that’s CrossFit coaching or being a doctor.

Everyone everywhere has a level of awareness about any given topic.

Everyone everywhere has a level of competence within any given task.

development-cycle.jpg

Viewed as a graphic, it looks like this:

Let’s use times tables within maths as an example.   Before you go to school and start to learn you have no awareness of what maths is and consequently you can’t do any maths, therefore you can be viewed as unconsciously incompetent.  You discover numbers.

As you develop and start to do some maths lessons you become aware of maths but you aren’t yet competent and make mistakes so move towards the consciously incompetent area of the graph.  You begin the process of learning how the numbers work together.

More deliberate practice and focus helps move you towards conscious competence, where you still have to concentrate on the questions but are getting the answers right more often than not.  Disciplined effort is required.

Time spent grooving these patterns start to make things much more automatic so that problems that would’ve once upon a time baffled you are solved without conscious thought – the zone of unconscious competence.  You skillfully apply your skills within maths.

Watch any great sports person at work – they appear to make decisions without thinking and invariably make the right choice.  The old doctor who has seen virtually every medical condition under the sun can quickly diagnose without having to look up symptoms and treatments.  Musicians who can pick up instruments and within a couple of minutes learn a new song probably can’t explain how they do it, but they do.

A more detailed version of the previous graphic:

cycle of competence - unaware -  w title.gif

What are the take home messages from this article?

  • When you are new to something in the gym accept that it will take time to become skilled at it.  Not being able to do something may just mean you’ve never seen it before.
  • When you know someone is newer at something you should give them time to practice and focus so that they can move along in their progressions.  They’ll thank you in the long run.
  • Every new task and environment presents an opportunity for you to be unconsciously incompetent and start to move forwards with your progression towards mastery.  Seek to be incompetent, get out of your comfort zone and develop yourself.
  • Consider how the concepts discussed in this previous article might apply as you try and make progress.