Integrity & Character As Cornerstones of CrossFit

3. . . 2. . . 1. . . Go!

That’s how every CrossFit WOD I’ve done has started.

And every single one of them ends the same way too:

3. . . 2. . . 1. . . Time!

But why? What’s with all the starting and stopping times? What’s with all the counting?

Well, it’s not just to get everyone to start and stop at the same time.

“What gets measured, gets done” as W. Edward Deming famously said in 1951 and it’s still true today. – and so we measure, everything.

As athletes who are there to improve, to make gains, we know that we must measure our performance each day in order to 1) ‘measure’ ourselves against ourselves and see progress and, if we choose, 2) to see how we ‘measure’ up against the other athletes in our box.

So we start and stop together, we strive for uniform, proper movement standards and we count our reps accurately – and this is where Integrity and Character play their roles.

Doing the right thing even when no one is watching – or no one will know the difference. What’s the real point of measuring anything, if we’re not measuring accurately?

Integrity and Character are personal things. It doesn’t take integrity or character for me to do all of the reps when a coach is watching – or to squat to depth when Sam’s there yelling at me to get deeper, to lock out, or make that second dip. She can be kind of intimidating and I do it just to get her off my back.

But in the heat of a WOD, when the box if full of athletes and no one’s really paying attention to me; when I’m dying and just want to short a few reps or get lazy with a movement standard and when there is something in me, pride maybe, that makes me want everyone to see my name on the leaderboard – it takes integrity and character to count my reps accurately and struggle as best as my mobility will allow me – to achieve the movement standards and to accurately report my time/score knowing that I did my best, honestly.

Because why am I there, really?

For a score on the board that is meaningless because I gave in to my weakness in the middle of the WOD and shaved a few reps here or there? Or to improve my fitness, make progress, enjoy the community, the shared suffering and head home proud of my effort and progress, whatever the score or time?

CrossFit WOD’s in the Box are a lot like golf in that, generally, there is no one there to count our reps, call us on a bad movement, etc. Like golf, it’s one of the few sports where we call penalties on ourselves – or should – if we have integrity and character.

Sometimes in a WOD, I’ll lose track of my reps. Was that 5 or 6? Damn it. Do I assume it was 6 and move on or say, no, I’m sure I’ve done 5 and continue from there?

It depends – on whether or not I have Integrity and Character.

If it all goes to hell and I really have no idea what I’ve done do I pretend I Rx’d it or do I admit that I think I lost count and tell the coach to record my score in blue?

It depends – on whether or not I have Integrity & Character.

The truth is though, that when we don’t have integrity and character in the Box, athletes and coaches know what we’re doing (or not doing) and it chips away at how others see us.

Worse, we know it too and it chips away at us too, and our perception of ourselves; our self- worth.

You hear it in the gym, “you get good at what you do.”

So if you’re not doing it right; counting your reps, moving as well as you can, etc. you begin to get good at doing less than your best and being dishonest – and you can’t be one way in one aspect of your life and another way in another aspect of your life.

If you get good at doing less than your best effort in the WOD’s and then cheating or lying about it, you’ll be good at it in other parts of your life too – and, well, I’m hoping you already understand where that goes.

The opposite is true too. What we do in the gym each day is tough. It takes Integrity and Character to do it right when we can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t stand up and just want to quit and when no one is watching.

But that’s part of why we’re there, isn’t it? To build Integrity and Character through the adversity? The same Integrity and Character that will carry into the rest of our lives and make us better every day.

3. . . 2. . . 1. . . GO!

~Coach Mike Fields