Practicing virtuosity and maintaining standards

Practicing virtuosity & maintaining movement standards

By: Coach Nicci Emery

As a CrossFit athlete, the first thing I learned was: how to move properly. Not only was proper form & technique repeated OVER & OVER again by my coaches, but I was also repeatedly being held to a standard. The reason there is a standard is so that I could measure how I was doing in a specific movement as compared to others who were practicing the same movements. The only way I could TRULY compare how I was doing versus my peers, was if we were all hitting the SAME STANDARDS with GOOD FORM. In my head I like to call this Virtuosity. Coach Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, refers to virtuosity as “performing the common uncommonly well.”

When I join a class as an athlete, my goal is to do ALL of the movements VIRTUOUSLY whether I can perform them RX or scaled, it DOESN’T MATTER. The goal is to do it right, meet the standards, and if I don’t then no rep myself and do it over properly. 2 or 3 weeks ago we did Benchmark Week where everyone was excited to hit new PR’s and crush these workouts however in the classes I taught I was saddened by the lack of virtuosity & standards. These things were being pushed aside just to hit a number and that is not the point of CrossFit.

As a coach my goal is to teach people how to move properly, with proper form & technique, and to do it over, & over, & over again until they can be VIRTUOUS in their movements. This would mean that a new athlete wouldn’t go from doing air squats to back squatting 200lbs nor would a seasoned athlete who has an early arm pull on their power clean continue to increase their weight because they’ve been an athlete for x amount of time. The reason we as coaches call “no reps” and scale weight of our athletes isn’t because we are trying to be jerks or mean or embarrass anyone. We are trying to teach our athletes how to be virtuous. And when we as coaches allow YOU our athletes to skimp on movements, not fully “lock out” or “get below parallel”, then WE are robbing you of being able to become virtuous. I want to be a coach that will not accept ANYTHING LESS than virtuous movements.

The reason we all do what we do is to be able to be good at living life: i.e. be able to go to the bathroom without assistance when we are older, lift up our children and run around with them without having to catch our breath every 5 min., help a friend move into their dream house without having to hire movers 🙂 We perform the common uncommonly well so that when we’re older we don’t need someone or something to help us live our lives. If today we don’t bring our chest all the way to the ground on our push ups or don’t squat below parallel all for the sake of a better time, then you’re missing the point. The strength you gain from being able to push your body off the ground could someday save your life if you had a fall. The strength you build from squatting below parallel could one day help you lift a family member who needs your daily assistance so that they can live their lives. It may sound silly but as we age these things become a reality. How many of us have seen a parent or grandparent unable to perform simple tasks because they are too weak. Or they have had a fall and had to go to the hospital because they couldn’t get themselves up and needed PT & Rehab to strengthen them enough to be able to go home and live a normal life again?

Help US to help you become a virtuous athlete for life.

-Coach Nicci

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