How is Penance Different from a CrossFit Facility

Clinton Cox
March 2, 2023
How is Penance Different from a CrossFit Facility

When you've done this as long as I have, you notice patterns. A common pattern is when someone moves over to Penance from another gym, whether it be another functional fitness (or CrossFit) facility, a bootcamp studio (Orangetheory or other), or a 24 hour globo gym (ATC Fitness).

This was initially meant to be 1 post, but there was just too much to cover.

This time around lets cover the move for a member to Penance Gym from a CrossFit facility.

Disclaimer: Every CrossFit facility is an independent affiliate, that means that each owner has the power to create whatever structure they want for their business. There is no particular model to follow, so workouts, movements and even whether they allow modifications will all be up to the owner to decide. I am only covering our transition over the last few years and the experiences of members that have moved from CrossFit gyms to Penance.

As with our article regarding Orangetheory and other HIIT or Bootcamp Studios, lets start with the similarities. If you missed that installment, you can find it HERE.

By its own definition, CrossFit is Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity - and by that definition we are not far off but there are some distinctions.

We've replaced Constantly Varied with Structured Variety.

We know that repeating the same ol' thing gets boring - even if its something you love. So we understand the allure of learning new skills and movements. Its fun to try new things. But we also know that repetition is what really builds strength.

How we differ is in HOW we implement that.

There are 6 major movement patterns (pressing, pulling, hinging, squatting, core and cardio) that we build our workouts around. We've also created different workout structures based around proprietary intervals. Our daily workouts rotate between those movement patterns and workout structures to create the variety our members need while still helping them to build the strength they need to live the life they want.

Some of those workouts have turned into our personal versions of benchmark workouts. And we repeat these specific workouts because they offer the greatest opportunity for improvement.

Functional Movements

Its difficult to have a functional fitness gym without using functional movements, obviously. But who determines what constitutes a functional movement? If you ask 6 different people, you run the risk of getting 6 different answers.

And this is 1 area that separates us from most CrossFit gyms.

We believe that functional movement is any type of movement that resembles tasks required outside the gym - in daily life or your passion-activity. (A passion-activity is a physical hobby like hiking, biking, canoeing, etc) These are movements like bending over to pick something off the floor, putting items on a shelf above your head, dragging a load across a distance (like pushing or pulling a heavy cooler or piece of luggage across the floor), carrying heavy grocery bags and many others.

For the vast majority of people that come through or to our gym, many of the exercises that have become synonymous with CrossFit are not actually functional for them. Some of the most common culprits are Handstand Push Ups, Overhead Squats, Squat Snatches, and Kipping Pull Ups or Muscle Ups.

We have moved to more time working with odd objects, picking up a weight from the ground and lifting it overhead (Ground to Overhead), and heavy sled work - both pushing and pulling. We know that helping you maintain or improve your mobility, and increasing your strength in a controlled environment vs a chaotic one, will lead to a more enjoyable LIFE and not just a killer workout.

Instead of High Intensity we utilize Appropriate Intensity (This is a difficult distinction to explain, but worth trying)

CrossFit was the first to successfully put a measure to intensity (that I know of) by equating intensity to Power. [Power = Work divided by Time]

So to increase your Power/intensity, you need to either move heavier weights, move them further, or move them faster.

This can be great because pushing your intensity and effort is what drives results.

Unfortunately, more often than not (especially when a time clock becomes involved) mechanics break down in order to move heavier loads, greater distances, faster increasing intensity. (What this means in lay-mans terms is that when a coach prioritizes speed over all else, you throw your form out the door leading to a just get it done - whatever it takes mentality. This is how you end up getting injured - and we've seen it firsthand.

Instead, we want to improve your ability to control movements, positions, and weights. This is where our interval set up really comes into play as you're no longer racing the clock, or your neighbor. You are just focused on your workout. This is one of the ways that tracking your workouts benefits you. If you know that you can do 15 swings in 30 seconds with a 35lb kettlebell, then when we ask you to push the intensity, you have two options. You can either move that weight faster, or you can increase your weight to 44lbs.

We've developed a Strength-Focused Interval Training program.

Interval training is a great way to increase your cardio capacity in a condensed amount of time. These are very appealing to busy individuals who don't want to be in the gym all day. But we believe in leaving no man behind.

Gone are the days when one or two stragglers would be left finishing the workout alone while the rest of the class talked and laughed around them - or worse, left the gym. We've restructured this aspect of working out so that the whole class starts and finishes together. Where the difference comes into play is that a stronger person with more experience will likely do more work (reps & weight) in the workout than a newer person who is still learning.

Adjusting our mindset has been a huge step forward for the members at Penance Gym.

We have always followed this structure with our Penance Athletics program (and it's always worked well for them), but when we transitioned our Achieve group classes into this same format, they noticed improvements in how their training affected them outside of the gym - where it matters. They were building strength without constant aches and pains, they recovered quicker after a challenging class and they were able to get back to things that they loved - without worrying about whether their workouts were going to leave them wrecked.

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