The Commoditization of Workout Design (programming)

Why in 2023 workouts at CrossFit gyms are curated as often as they are created, and why that is good news for members.

Burpees, thrusters, box jumps, back squats and more!  We could list a thousand different exercises and create 100, 000 possible combinations to use them in, I’m sure.  But what makes a workout design great?  By our definition it is something that is fun, effective, and interesting.

Why fun? Or maybe at least enjoyable? Because if it isn’t, most people won’t do it often enough to see results.  We see a lot of folks coming in from a running background who say they want something that is “more fun”, because after years of pounding pavement as their only means of fitness, they’ve gotten bored.  Of course, we need it to be effective, your time is valuable, and you don’t want to spend an hour on something that doesn’t yield results.  By interesting we mean something that will always give you a means of improvement, or a goal to strive towards.  CrossFit checks all these boxes.  Its always different, its effective and there is always another area you can improve in, or work towards.

In the old days of the gym, I used to believe that the magic was in the workout design alone.  I thought that the best workout designers were mad scientists in some lab coming up with new and unique rep schemes like 21-15-9 and odd ball movements like back flip burpees were the real secrets to my client’s success.   As it turns out, for the most part, the blueprint is complete. 

Great programs have been written, rinsed, and repeated for years now, and there is enough data to support the CrossFit programming theory that is out there.   For a strength biased CrossFit program to work, you need to squat, push, pull, hinge and lunge regularly.  You need to hit short, medium, and long, time domains.  You need to mix in skill work, mono-structural work, and maxes alike.  However, after being at this for 10 years and watching the blueprint come to life firsthand, I can tell you that the magic isn’t in the recipe, it’s in the hands of the cook.

Over the past 5 years we have seen an explosion of workout design companies entering the marketplace.  Commonly referred to as remote programming, this offering is delivered by “athletes”, gyms, coaches, and all types of training gurus boasting the “magic formula” to fitness success.   I’ll let you in on the big secret, most of them probably work.  When someone sees results its not from the magic formula and the fact that they programmed 13 box jumps and not 11, its from the discipline and consistency that the trainee used while following that program.   All the good ones check all the boxes we listed above for being a “good program”. 

So where am I going with this? 

CrossFit Conshohocken has a data base of over 1200 workouts written by us over the years.  We also have subscribed to and curated programming from companies called “Box Programming”, “Comptrain” and “NCFIT”, to name a few.  It doesn’t matter who wrote the program or when, if it’s being implemented properly and consistently.  We’ve realized as a coaching staff that our time in meetings and collaboration is better spent on how to apply workouts, and customize them to our members, than necessarily reinventing the wheel 365 days per year.  Our clients are paying for coaching services, not to see how many ways we can put push presses, kettlebell swings and rowing into a workout.   The magic is in how we deliver it, and how consistently we approach it.  In 2023 our team is dedicated to creating, customizing, and coaching YOU.  In the past it was 3 hours per week on thinking up new workouts, now those 3 hours will shift to coach development, meetings on application and modification, ensuring we hit the stimulus daily, measuring what needs to be measured, and eliminating that nagging need in the back of our head to create novelty every day.  You’re going to love it!

So, in closing, 2023 might bring you some workouts that you hear about at other gyms, and you might see some repeats from last year.  Please keep in mind, that while everyone out there is using the same or similar ingredients, and sometimes even the same recipes; you’ve got Travis, Sam, Colleen, Lauren, Nick , Mani and me in the kitchen, and we are gonna make this year’s food spicy AF.