I grew up in a rugby mad, one school town, where being in the 1st XV team was considered a higher achievement than university entrance.
Those in this team were given a certain status in school during the week and at parties on the weekend.
There were some who chose to abuse that position with fighting, bullying and other idiotic behaviour. The rugby culture in NZ that seems to almost excuse out of control, alcohol fuelled behaviour, has long been a part of life here.
And at the professional level it has always seemed just as bad, every weekend there seemed to be an article about an athlete who was drunk in public, fighting, or abusing their significant others.
So it was incredibly refreshing to see the recent article in The Telegraph about The All Blacks and the culture that Graham Henry has instilled in them. We’ve also had The Auckland Blues in for a couple of sessions recently under the watchful eyes of old school, hard but fair taskmaster Sir John Kirwan and their fitness trainer Wally Rifle, and they were hard workers with lots of respect for each other. This new breed of athlete are finally the role models much needed for our Generation Y society.
And there are some fantastic lessons here for CrossFitters too.
1. Sweep the sheds
Before leaving the dressing room at the end of the game, the players always tidy up after themselves.
Former All Black Andrew Mehrtens describes it as an example of personal humility, a cardinal All Blacks value.
Humility is important in CrossFit. You are always going to be better than someone else, but the fact that you have muscle ups and a triple figure snatch doesn’t mean you can’t put those weights away afterwards, nor take a moment to help someone with theirs.
2. No dickheads
Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit has said something very similar in the past. ”CrossFit has an arsehole filter”
The All Blacks select on character as well as talent, which means some of New Zealand’s most promising players never pull on the black jersey. We take a similar approach here at CFNZ, having let go both talented athletes and prospective clients when they have shown that they aren’t prepared to become a valuable and contributing member of the community.
3. Champions do extra
Former All Black Brad Thorn’s mantra, ‘Champions Do Extra’, helped him become one of the single most successful players in rugby history.
The philosophy simply means finding incremental ways to do more – in the gym, on the field, or for the team.
Now, I know that half the time, we’re trying to PREVENT some of you from doing TOO MUCH, but at the same time, feel free to do MORE mobility, MORE technique work, get MORE sleep, and cheer MORE for the rest of your class.
4. Keep a blue head
‘Red Head’ is an unresourceful state in which you are off task, panicked and ineffective. ‘Blue Head’, on the other hand, is an optimal state in which you are on task and performing to your best ability.
It’s easy to get a little ‘WOD Drunk’ in an effort to beat someone at all costs, but what are effects on your technique and your status as a community member? It’s also easy to beat yourself up over a failed lift, to overanalyse and put excess pressure on yourself during a lift, when at the end of the day, this is supposed to be fun! Relax, enjoy the process, and you might just find yourself slipping back into that blue state, and PR’ing!
5. Leave the jersey in a better place
The All Blacks have long had a saying: ‘leave the jersey in a better place’. Their task is to represent all those who have come before them and all those who follow suit. An All Black is, by definition, a role model to schoolchildren across New Zealand.
Better people make better All Blacks – but they also make better doctors and lawyers, bankers and businessmen, fathers, brothers, and friends. Again, this is something I’ve personally heard Greg Glassman say. Someone who has forged their fitness to a high degree through the hard, unforgiving furnace that is CrossFit, will be a much better person outside the gym as well. But it’s still your decision to make. Will you leave your ‘jersey’ in a better place?
Power Snatch + Snatch + Power Snatch
5 sets, moderate to heavy
10 DB/KB Snatch 25/16kg
Hang Power snatch
5 x 3
15 Russian Swings
15 Lateral Jumps