The “sport of fitness” and why it isn’t.
Today I was watching a video a colleague sent me about CrossFit. During the opening minutes I heard mention of falling in love with the “sport of fitness”.
I had to stop. Said to myself, “Fitness is a sport? That’s news to me.”
See, CrossFit workouts are what I look at as GPP (general physical preparedness). They’re not sport specific, and follow no apparent form of periodization. Last time I checked, GPP was not a sport. Sport requires specialization on some level.
Now, I’m sure that many CrossFitters out there could brag about being able to smoke a professional rugby prop in a mile run, but how many of them can tackle his 110+kg mass as he’s storming down a pitch? They can perform high repetition deadlifts at 185lbs, but how many of them can pull 700+lbs like competitive powerlifters?
Let’s look at it from Dan John’s/Pavel’s quadrant examples in Easy Strength. QI is essentially GPP. All of the basic movement patterns, a large number of qualities required at very minimal levels of mastery. Every other quadrant includes sports which requires moderate to high levels of mastery in fewer and fewer skills as you progress II-IV (think about the aspects of contact sports like football, rugby, or hockey then progressing up through to very specialized sports such as sprinting, powerlifting and so on).
Sports require some level of specialization in a handful of qualities or skills in order to excel. GPP requires the ability to perform a very broad spectrum of movements. They are two very different things, and to hear GPP called a sport is bothersome because that is exactly what it isn’t.
That’s not to say that GPP is evil or useless. We all go through it at some point (think about a quality physical education coming up through school). It has its place in our physical development, but further specialization is required to create and athlete. Off-season training could include some GPP for athletes, but otherwise most training should be sport specific and work to improve the qualities which the athlete requires to compete at their absolute best.
For those of you looking to improve your general wellness and fitness, GPP would be a good place to start. But if you’re looking to become an athlete and compete at any level, you should be training specifically for that event rather than wasting your time on how fast you can do x amount of hand stand push-ups.