Scaling is Not a Punishment

My former coach used to hammer this home every workout but no matter how many times he said it, I disagreed. I always felt like I SHOULD be able or capable of doing certain movements. Like my tenure in CrossFit had earned me that dubious honor. It doesn’t. The only thing that earns you anything is hard work. Consistent practice. And dedication.

But, when you’re injured, it certainly shifts your perspective. Every year for the CrossFit Open I go in aiming to Rx as many workouts as I can. After all, I want to climb the leaderboard. I want to see where I rank with other women my age in my region. Making the top 10% is exciting for someone like me who was never an athlete, never in shape.

Last year I Rx’d every workout, even if it meant doing 1 movement and standing there while time expired because I couldn’t do the next one to move on. And then I did the scaled workout just to get a workout in. It’s moronic. And pointless. The whole point of CrossFit is to get fitter. How is standing around helping me do that?

But as every CrossFitter knows, doing a workout Rx carries more weight in the rankings than scaling it. Even if you get 1 pt Rx and crush the scaled workout, the Rx still counts more. So this method of tabulation causes mass hysteria in the community and causes people to make unwise decisions, just for the sake of the leaderboard.

I have a confession to make. I’m not making it to the CrossFit Games. I’ll wait for your stunned reaction. So if I’m not ranking with the best of the best and I have no chance of qualifying, why do I care about the leaderboard? Because I’m competitive. With myself and with others. I want to see how I stack up. Mostly I want to see how I stack up year over year. But there are so many factors that determine my rank each year and my own fitness.

This year I’m the fittest I’ve been. But I’m also injured and have been for months. This injury has mostly precluded me from doing overhead movement and rig movement, like Toes to Bar, which was the one thing I wanted to work on. But I had to make a decision. Continue to do things that would harm my body, or take it down a notch and be able to still work out and compete. No brainer.

So I’ve been rehabbing my shoulder and it’s getting there but it’s still not 100%. Thus, when I saw 17.2 and realized that 32 Toes to Bar needed to be completed (as well as Bar Muscle-Ups which I also don’t have), I made the decision to scale. It’s not worth me risking further injury to my shoulder by struggling with a movement I’m not proficient in. And while I did need to do pull-ups, that’s a movement I’ve been working on and I know my limitations. I broke them up and I made sure to drop when I was pulling more than popping. And you know what? I got a great workout in. Yes, I could have gone Rx and maybe gotten a few T2B, but it wouldn’t have been a satisfying workout for me. And doing pull-ups is something I love, because I didn’t have them in years past. So I’ll take that progress as a big fucking win.

Ironically, the person I was partnered with didn’t have her pull-ups, so she, like thousands, spent most of her workout trying to get just one. She didn’t. But I was able to help her with her kip, show her how it should look and feel and she practiced the whole time. The irony of me teaching someone how to get a pull-up is not lost on me, someone for whom that movement took over two years. And to me, that is the true spirit of CrossFit and the Open. It doesn’t matter where we are on the leaderboard, it only matters how we help others on their journey and keep moving forward on ours…healthily.