In 2010, I attended the Course Coach’s Prep Course taught by, among others, Chris Spealler. As part of our instruction, he demonstrated a simple air squat.
That’s all. Just an air squat.
I was struck how unlike other squats, including mine, Spealler’s was. Anyone observing Chris doing this simple movement could tell he was an amazing athlete.
Some of the differences were easy to pinpoint: His torso was more upright, his depth was greater, and his back kept a tighter arch. But there was something else that was hard to place. That something else is what Coach Glassman calls “virtuosity” or “doing the common uncommonly well.” While that difference is hard to articulate, it is extremely easy to recognize.
We often mark progress in CrossFit by milestones of difficult or advanced movements like the muscle up and the handstand push up. While it is important to learn these movements, it is even more important to strive to perform the fundamentals as perfectly as possible.
It is easy to overemphasize times, rounds and loads because these measures of performance can be written on the whiteboard. They are the difference between “scaled” and “Rx’d.” An adequate, if imperfect, air squat counts for just as many reps in “Cindy” as an absolutely perfect one. So why bother with being perfect?
Here’s why: Lack of commitment to the fundamentals will ultimately impede your progress. Novices are fascinated with the advanced movements. Virtuosos are fascinated with the fundamentals.
Be a virtuoso.