How Gymnasty are you?
Competitive CrossFit athletes may perhaps view this question as a personal challenge, as if their abilities are being called into question. Not wanting to back down from a challenge, some amazing athletes have answered my call and I've been privileged to see some spectacular performances. So while I definitely take advantage of this mindset to generate as much participation as possible from competitive athletes, the main reason I pose this question so often is not to personally challenge anyone in particular.
I pose this question more in the mindset of a scientist. I'm interested in the observable, measurable, and repeatable. The CrossFit revolution has encouraged us to view fitness beyond the parameters of aesthetics and body composition alone. Our ability to perform functional movements ever more efficiently translates directly into an increase in work capacity across broad time and modal domains.
Some individual elements of our fitness are more easily comparable than others. What's your 5k time? How much can you deadlift? What's your Clean & Jerk? How about your snatch? The readily comparable nature of these elements leads many athletes to dedicate more time improving them for an immediate payoff in gauging their progress amongst their peers.
In regards to gymnastics skills, the most vital aspect and very foundation of this revolution in fitness, these aspects of our fitness may not seem to be as readily comparable. True, we might say "I can do [X] pullups in a row" or "I can do [Y] max unbroken Muscle Ups," but we certainly don't see athletes throwing those numbers around as often as they do some other benchmarks, such as their weightlifting numbers for instance. The best way to motivate competitive athletes is through competition. With this in mind, I decided to create a way to motivate athletes to both develop and improve the efficiency of their gymnastics skills while appealing to their desire to beat everyone else.
The BearMuscle Gymnastics challenge is nothing more than a progression of the fundamental skills most commonly tested in our training programs, local competitions and regional competitions. The rep scheme is kept purposefully low so that what is being tested becomes less a matter of overall strength & conditioning, but rather a function of your efficiency of movement. While other iterations of the challenge previously included more advanced movements, the current version is purposefully designed with simpler movements. This is in order to keep athletes laser focused on improving their efficiency in the skills that will provide them the biggest competitive edge in their competitions. Indeed, to sit atop the leaderboard of this challenge you must dedicate the time necessary perform all sets of these movements efficiently and unbroken.
So when I ask "How Gymnasty are you?" I'm not challenging you to a duel. Frankly, I'm not even as interested in the individual performances on the leaderboard itself. I am inviting you to observe, measure, and improve your gymnastics skills, and to offer you a system by which to do so. I have had the joy of personally seeing tangible improvement among the many athletes who have decided to challenge themselves and retest their performances, pushing their gymnastics skills to the limit in my lab. The feeling of accomplishment these athletes have felt pale in comparison to joy I feel as a coach, to see the results of my gymnastics experiment come to fruition with their improvement. I want to thank everyone who has played a part in this experiment, and I look forward to many more positive results and new participants!
EXPLANATION OF THE CHALLENGE