2016: A New Year

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A New Year

Amplify & Anarchy: What’s with the logo?
The anarchy “A” symbol was adopted for CrossFit Amplify almost 6 years ago.

Early on, the logo was debated. Would it be too edgy? A turn-off, for some? Will it be mistaken as a promotion of chaos or mayhem? Or could it be a great draw to our barebones approach to fringe fitness?

It’s a delicate subject, particularly since the concept of anarchy has a confusing and negative past. When the question comes up, I find myself answering in a variety of ways depending on time and the sentiment in which the question seems founded.

Sometimes it’s a simple, “Yep! Yeah, it is the same symbol. We thought the circle ‘A’ would look cool.”

Other times a more detailed explanation helps, since research proves the term is a bit misunderstood and maligned.

Although anarchy now represents disorder, a true anarchic view was/is not necessarily what the masses and extremists have come to see it as. In its original meaning, anarchy does not equate to mayhem. It is not chaos. It is not barbarism. And it is definitely not terrorism. The initial meaning of anarchy as it relates to human beings is the concept of having no rulers and no masters. Rules, yes. Absolute rulers, no. But the accepted definition now involves a belief in the absence of government and/or not recognizing authority through lawlessness, disruption, and turmoil.

So why did Amplify assume such an image?

Below is further background, if you’ll humor me for a bit of a historical digression.

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The “good” translation?
No one person creates a living for another. We are born free, and should live as such.

A real anarchist in no way condones violence, instead preaching voluntaryism: the belief that our society can live voluntarily in action and transaction. In close relation, the non-aggressive principle is cited most commonly as a major component of anarchism, referring to a principle of ethics in which uninitiated aggression is illegitimate or improper.

In short, both of these terms explain that we are able to make our own decisions regarding what is safe or unsafe, healthy or unhealthy, and as long as we do not initiate violence and our choices in life do not negatively interfere in someone else’s well-being, we are free to act and react as we see fit.

In this context, then, anarchy means freedom.

From the anarchist viewpoint, the historic creation of government was to control people… in the negative sense. Control has historically occurred by the rich and powerful. The rule of people by people, held to a caste system, in a divisive state. Freedom only for those in power.

CrossFit Amplify

The “not-so-good” translation?
Obviously, throughout history the anarchist belief system, and in turn the anarchy symbol, evolved in meaning. Many symbols have done so, some to a terrible end. Need an example? Check into the original scribing of the swastika in Sanskrit to its most recent use as propaganda with the Nazi Party, concurrently evolving to represent hate instead of good luck and well-being.

For the anarchy symbol, eventually it came to represent disorder, insubordination, and other negative actions, most of which are historically degenerative, destructive, and even violent. Which now means anarchy is and will heretofore be used as a term synonymous with mass chaos.

Some historically infamous figures have identified themselves as anarchists and have wreaked havoc on society, leading to this evolution of the term. Anarchists have committed assassinations of Presidents and other leaders, not just in America but across the globe. They have called on violence in the name of their idea of anarchy, just as hundreds of religious zealots have killed in the name of their gods. This is the extreme. These are terrorists.

True anarchists would never promote violence. But the real truth is that anarchy now does precisely that: it describes a state of disorder.

Amplify Logo

The point?
The use of the anarchy “A” at the gym is by no means an endorsement of barbarism and chaos.

Quite fittingly, however, some modern conceptions of anarchy actually fit well into the CrossFit world of fitness.

  1. Non-conformity. There is a draw to CrossFit for many people—we began as an edgy, outsiders’ collective of free-minded thinkers in our exercise habits. A non-conformist view towards corporate fitness, if you will.
  2. No rulers. No masters. A legitimate fitness progression within CrossFit means consistency can get us results, while variance can make those results optimal. Rules, but no boundaries. Our workouts see many leaders with many different strengths in many different fitness components… all who respect others who lead too. Masters? Only in terms of age.
  3. Chaos & Disorder. The workouts at Amplify are often chaotic, and in many ways bring a person back to an inherent, barbaric nature of primal physical work. We’re never haphazard, but our MetCon workouts can definitely leave us feeling wrecked and disordered.
  4. Community. Our fastest, strongest, and most talented of athletes work right alongside our newest members and those still learning. In fact, we’re all still learning. We build ourselves up by cheering each other on, no matter if it’s the last member to finish a workout or our top athlete at a televised regional competitive event.

What does this all mean?
It’s a free market notion that we’re in this together, that we all deserve an equal opportunity in life, just like we do in our personal fitness. This unity is larger than that which a top-down, politically biased, prejudiced workout society could ever force upon its “citizens.”

And so, Amplify is full of anarchy. Disorder to the fitness norm. Disruption in sedentary lifestyle. Chaos in the MetCons. Unity through weekly suffering. Leaders by example in a community without a fitness caste system.

No matter what angle we take on the logo and associated term, every time the question comes up from now on, I will guide the conversation so it evolves into the fact that it is now our gym logo as well.

The circle “A” stands for Amplify. And that, dear AmpFam, makes it the most important symbol we could have adopted.

New Year 2016

Yearly Challenge
Each year I offer a motivational challenge to each and every reader, as prompted by our own love/hate relationship with CrossFit and the anarchy of the tough workouts we endure.

New to our AmpFam? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. And the group of people here are second to none. Check past posts regarding the fitness equation, dedicationprogresscommunity, etc. Ask questions. Seek out answers.

The challenge?
Step back and do some self-reflection. Think about what goals you have and how you will pursue those goals. Bigger than that? Think about what can be done to put some order into your chaotic life.

  • What brought you in to the gym in the first place? Why did you step foot into Amplify?
  • What are you doing to take the next step, to make the next advancement in your fitness journey?
  • Where can the trainers help? Specifically, what can you communicate that would further benefit the time you put in the gym each and every week?

Whether you are an Amplify veteran or have just joined the ranks of our gym, here’s looking ahead at another year of fitness without boundaries.

Thank you for being here, and as always, thank you for reading, you rebels.

– Scott, 1.1.2016 Ⓐ
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2014: A New Year

A New Year

I was about 14 when I found punk rock.

Life changing, for sure. Coming from a fairly normal and fortunate upbringing, punk music didn’t represent a distaste for life, necessarily, but it hit home as it satisfied a very natural need of adolescence: to question everything. Question the norm, question the rules, question the answers, question existence… question oneself.

A punk rock song won’t ever change the world. But I could tell you a few that changed me.

If you’ve been there you know; people are drawn to punk for many reasons, all unique to each individual. For me, the attitude of the music and lyrics was easy to relate to. But songs with societal meaning registered just as much as the galloping riffs that accompanied those often-indiscernible words. (Good thing for liner notes.) The punk community is one that offends the mainstream with no mercy but all in the demand for tolerance and equity. Racial and class lines be damned.

Identity in school, as in life, remains just as difficult a topic as ever. In my case, not following pre-set expectations made a lot of sense… classifications, stereotypes, cliques all seemed dumb and immature. Counterproductive. Moreover, why can’t a person be interested in a lot of different things, and hang out with lots of different people? Funny enough, finding like-minded friends and having that kinship of a social circle is essential in teenage development.

Cue the music.

Following punk and getting into everything from “well-known” underground music to smaller, local bands ended up creating a place for me in a counterculture scene that was welcoming and unique. A wide open road of my future.

It is the same things that drew me to CrossFit that drew me to punk rock.

In a sense, punk rock means you do what you need to survive. CrossFit means much of the same. The pursuit? A no-holds-barred approach to health and fitness. Just what this aging punk needed. Destroying my body with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll seemed just as dumb as the expectations of a stereotypical high school. The “live fast, die young’ mantra was stupid and narrow-sighted… even with its flaws I loved life and wanted more of it.

I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to stay alive, and I wanted to feel challenged in the meantime. But working out was for the masses. Sweating with no goal? The same 3 sets of 10? Redundancy in the usual gym routine? Yes. What I needed was a heavy dose of existential reality to counteract the mainstream fitness being shoved down my throat. So what if the punk community would judge me for taking care of myself? Is that really punk anyway? Judging a person because of lifestyle choices?

Like a time bomb ready to explode, I jumped into CrossFit training in desperate need of a fitness counterculture. And the chaos of a CrossFit workout? It made me feel right at home. Kind of like a lesser-known group punks try to keep to themselves with the claim of “I knew them before they were cool,” CrossFit is that indie band I hope doesn’t sell out. It’s that balance between underground and mainstream. Between obscurity and being chewed up and spit out by the masses. It’s a scene I now need to stay alive… it supports my head… gives me something to believe.

The sense of family and acceptance? It’s here. Think it over. Maybe there was a void in your life and you knew it. Or maybe CrossFit wasn’t anything you thought was missing… it was something you weren’t even looking for, yet it fit. Like a friend’s basement, or a bowling alley, or a run down theater full of punks just like you. Or better yet, a place where everyone wasn’t the same. A place you knew you could hang out and be yourself and endure workouts that unite us all. Like only a true local scene can.

After all, we’re in this fight together. This is a community, not just a place to work out or listen to music.

What is shocking and sad is that the punk music scene was and continues to be hypocritical. While creating an accepting sense of family, in many respects it is also guilty of the very thing it despises: it can be judgmental and outright elitist in its beliefs. This is an interesting, alarming similarity to CrossFit.

Fitness shaming is all over the internet.

The answer to “Why?” might be simple enough: it’s just as much an issue of bullying as we see in adolescence. And things are automatic when you see them every day.

Or perhaps the answer to that question isn’t so easy to configure. Why would someone tear another person down just to make themselves feel better? What does a person gain by shaming or ridiculing another’s workout regimen, lifting technique, body image, or sense of self-worth? Once again, more questions than answers. The only hope is that the acceptance in this community far outweighs the elitism. Forging Elite Fitness is the goal. Requiring it is a detriment to society.

 

So we head into 2014 with the same goals as a year ago. New to our crew of outcasts? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. Both are necessary, so check past posts regarding commitmentattitudecommunity, etc.  Ask questions. Seek out answers.

Search the back catalog of CrossFit articles, videos, and other media across this site and the rest of internetland like a teen discovering good records for the first time. Commit, stick with it, trust the programming, and hold yourself accountable.

And as for that 14 year old punk of yesteryear? Instead of degrading the older version of himself, maybe he’d be impressed in the philosophical teacher and coach still listening to some of the same bands. Or maybe not… who knows, with all that angsty teenage feist. But I bet that young kid would like the do-it-yourself attitude of CrossFit. Guaranteed.

Here’s to another year of growth, you punks. Ⓐ

– Scott, 1.1.14

* Special shout out to Paul Mirek, childhood friend and fellow punk, coach, and CrossFitter. “Pick it up, pick it up!”