Blog Post

The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard
(A Double Edge Sword)

When an athlete comes into a CrossFit Gym on their first day and gets over the fear of walking in, awkwardly answering an icebreaker question, feeling silly doing a warm-up that they are so unsure of and then going through their first WOD while the entire class of athletes is there yelling and sweating right along side of them, they are very often instantly hooked! The athlete collapses to the ground post WOD and they feel like death. But they loved it. That athlete then gets up from the ground and a coach asks them to post their first official score onto the whiteboard. It is extremely intimidating and even a little nerve racking for the first time. The athlete will think, “Will other people think I am weak?”, “Did I count correctly?”, “Man, am I this out of shape???” All questions that first time athlete will ask themselves. It is tough to put in that first score, but it is now real! That athlete is no longer an exerciser, they are a CrossFit athlete and for the first time they are officially training!


In the OG years of CrossFit we used an actual whiteboard and markers to record results in front of class. You used to literally have to write down your lifts and scores, and PR’s were simply marked with a star (this happened only if the athlete even remembered their previous score, remember nothing was saved in your handy dandy WODIFY app). By the end of the day the only person who saw everyones scores was the last coach who lead the evening classes. This coach would then simply erase all the days scores, the times and lifts on the whiteboard and then begin to write down the following days workout. It was sad that all that information was gone, but it was also symbolic of the fact that it was now time to move on. Whether an athlete crushed the workout or struggled that day, tomorrow was a new day and nothing carried over. A fresh start.


We now know things are a little different. Today we still have the “whiteboard”, but the whiteboard has been replaced by an in the palm of your hand app that can be viewed 24/7. Every workout you have ever done and recorded can be viewed in less than a second. Lifts that athletes have recorded can be broken down into percentage based reps and sets used for precise strength work. We are now able to look back at how we as athletes have faired in previous Open workouts, Hero WOD’s, Girl WOD’s and see how we are progressing. It allows us to see improvement in graphical data. It allows us to record PR’s not just a day at a time, but a year at a time. It allows you to write notes and comments after your workout. It allows us to compare how you did against your buddies and other gym mates and see who crushed it. It also allows you to congratulate other athletes in the comment section and “Like” other’s daily performance’s. All amazing stuff that is helpful for an individual athlete but also helpful in connecting our community.


We also know there is the other side of the whiteboard. A side that can be viewed as negative. Because we as athletes are all competitive, yes I said it “We Are All Competitive” (You wouldn’t be here if you were not), there is constant comparison. Athlete’s will check scores and lifts throughout the day. Some of you I know look more than a handful of times! Athletes will look at the whiteboard and say stuff like “Man how did that person get that score???” “Holy Cow that athlete is fast!!!” “WOW that girl is strong”, and everyones favorite…. “No way that athlete beat me!!!” For someone who has been participating and coaching CrossFit for almost 10 years now, this is nothing new. Athlete’s always want to see how they stack up against other athletes. That’s why people pay $250 to do a weekend CrossFit Competition and get their heads kicked in for 2-3 days to possibly step on a makeshift podium and get a banner and a free bag of protein. Crazy right! We want to compete against ourselves, but also we want to compete against others. It is in our DNA make up and that can be extremely healthy and positive to make yourself better and push yourself farther than you thought you could be pushed. It is why we love CrossFit!


With that being said it brings me back to the point of me writing this article. Within our gym there is an under current of chatter about athletes and their scores. Athletes possible rep shaving and athletes habitually miscounting. I am going to be honest with you all. I know it is going to be shocking…. This will happen! We are human. Sometimes athletes are frankly just stronger or faster than you think, and they beat you and you might just be a little bitter or butt hurt about it. Sorry just being honest. But also sometimes people miscount and make mistakes. Very often this happens unintentionally. As a community we need to be accepting of the fact that in the course of your entire CrossFit journey from time to time we all can make mistakes of miscounting, not completing the standard of movement or completing fewer reps than required, this is including you reading this right now.


Mistakes can be made, but the other side of this conversation is that there are athletes that this seems to happen with often. A miscount here, a movement not to standard there, an added rep or two every where! This is bullshit! If you cheat to try and put a better score into Wodify to look better on the whiteboard, you are truly only hurting yourself. You don’t know if the decisions you are making outside of the gym (sleep, nutrition, stress etc) are positively or negatively hurting your health and fitness inside and outside of the gym. You aren’t being honest with yourself. If you cheat or lie about your scores in CrossFit, what else in life are you cheating or lying about? I want our COL community to be a community of acceptance, of welcoming for all but most importantly I want it to be a community of integrity. If integrity is something that is not important to you, then you may not be the best fit for our COL community.


We as coaches have conversations with athletes constantly on this issue. Very often it falls on deaf ears. Besides having the tough one on one conversations with athletes (which we have had a lot of), we do other things to try and keep integrity with scoring and results. We program workouts with easy rep, set schemes to try and help athletes not miscount. We try and run two heats when it is possible when completing benchmark workouts. We complete partner WOD’s to hold a partner accountable. We have even counted for athletes in a WOD to make sure they are counting correctly! We as a coaching staff will continue to do our best to keep this integrity with scoring. It is a big part of what makes CrossFit special and different than just exercising.


I hope you can take two things away from this article.

  1. The whiteboard is a powerful tool. With it being such a powerful and amazing tool that we use here at COL remember at the end of the day it is there to help push you, to challenge you and to hold you accountable for yourself. If you focus on your “Bobber” and realize that your scores and your lifts are the only thing that is important, you will have success and realize what others do is frankly just white noise. The daily rankings of how people finish in a WOD or a lift does not matter! In my ripe old age I am now finally starting to realize this. Of course I get pissed when I get beat in a WOD or when we do strict shoulder press and I get out-lifted by half the guys and also numerous ladies! It drives me nuts, but I put my score in because it’s real, it is where I am at, and I want every one to know I am in the struggle with them and I am going through the pain side by side with my COL family. We are all on different points of our fitness journey and the cool part with CrossFit and the white board is that we all get to go through it together and see one another’s struggle but most importantly each others success.
  2. Integrity is everything! Mistakes can happen when playing golf, they can happen when you are doing your taxes and they most certainly can happen when completing a WOD. But if deep down you are someone who knows you have shaved reps or put in an inaccurate score numerous times, why does this keep happening? Be honest with yourself. Is it Insecurity? Pride? Ego?… All are emotions and feelings poisonous to your success. I challenge you to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.


When this is all said and done we are here first to stay healthy and have fun. Let’s not forget that! That is the most important part of why we are here at COL hands down! If you feel like this article does not apply to you and you are perfect every single time you do a WOD, you are one in a million. I am sorry for taking your time. But I do challenge everyone at any time to have someone be your judge for you or count for you on any day, during any workout to hold you accountable. We all need to be held accountable. We all should have the confidence and integrity to know that you are completing the workout correctly and to the full standard. Again, that is why we love CrossFit. “We are in the struggle together” and that is also why we love the CrossFit Open so much! We are going through the pain together and everyone is on the same level playing field. We are all just on a much bigger whiteboard!