June 01, 2008
The charter of CrossFit is forging elite fitness. Our prescription or methodology for achieving this elite fitness is constantly varied, if not randomized, functional movements executed at (relatively) high intensity. Following that prescription delivers improved fitness-- defined as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. How successful we are at that is measured by the degree to which game, mission, and life are enhanced, and not necessarily by anything that happens in the gym. Depending on your tolerance for precision, the reality of actually evaluating fitness--of measuring one's capacity across broad time and modal domains--is challenging at best and physically impossible at worst.
The unavoidable problems are that fitness levels are constantly changing and that we can't test a variety of modes and time domains simultaneously. Furthermore, the tests themselves performed over a period of time will result in adaptation that itself changes the athlete's fitness. Human performance is simply not as precisely measurable as performance in other industries (think aviation, computers, automobiles, energy, etc,).
But this is not a problem most of the time. Most folks see such dramatic and obvious improvements in their fitness after just a few weeks of CrossFitting that precise measurements are irrelevant. Even for experienced CrossFitters, the measurable improvements in workout performance (faster times, greater loads) are generally sufficient indicators of increased capacity. If your "Fran" time goes from 7:00 to 3:30, your average power, and thus that one measure of your fitness, has doubled (assuming you weigh the same, are the same height, and use the same loads). If it then goes to 3:25, you are fitter still. Every second off your time is a measurable and observable improvement in your fitness.