Hardcore? Hardly.

The other night I was out with some friends, obviously doing everything I could to be the center of attention. At one point, I met a young lady who does CrossFit at another gym in northern Virginia. I'll refrain from naming said gym because it will add nothing to the points I'm going to make.

We began discussing the differences between our gyms and why, although living closer to Balance, she chose this other affiliate. Her reasoning: "I just think our gym is a little more hardcore than yours." Now, let me clarify: she said this in the nicest, most non-malicious way possible, but it still irked me a bit.

Look, right off the bat, I'm not going to try turning this into a dick measuring contest (I have a habit of losing those), nor will I attempt to explain why CrossFit Balance is THE MOST HARDCORE GYM ON THE PLANET because it's not. Neither are they. This isn't a discussion about who's "better" because, in the end, we're all alright. My issue here really stems from the term "hardcore" and all the connotations that come with it.

Oftentimes, I wonder if people are more interested in being perceived as badass rather than actually being badass. Of course, this all depends on how you even define "badassness" or "hardcore." And while I'm sure the definition differs for everyone, in terms of CrossFit, here are some quick guidelines:

1) Tearing your hands to the point of hamburger meat is not hardcore
2) Puking is not hardcore
3) Holding a plank for 40 minutes is not hardcore
4) Rounding your lumbar spine on a deadlift PR attempt is not hardcore (it's also not a PR)
5) Sumo deadlift high pulls are not hardcore

Your shoulders fucking hate this position.

6) Avoiding foam rolling is not hardcore
7) Being shirtless is not hardcore (doesn't mean I still won't do it)
8) Doing 45+ minute metcons everyday is not hardcore

I feel most people will agree this is all common sense. I'd like to elaborate on my last point, however; because there's confusion out there. For some reason, people assume that if a workout doesn't leave them half-dead on the floor gasping for air, it wasn't a "good" workout. Before I go any further, read this article from Whole9Life.

Did you read it? No? Well, here it is again: Beware The Lure of the Sexy Metcon. Don't worry, I'll continue after you finish it.

Done? Good. Those ridiculously long and complex workouts, we call those "Any Asshole" workouts. Because any asshole can design a workout that will make you tired. An expression I heard once: A trainer makes you tired, a coach makes you better.

And sure, we throw a couple of those in once in a while, but they by no means define our programming at CrossFit Balance. You don't always have to be lying in a pile of your own sweat to feel a sense of accomplishment. Our goal is to simultaneously build your strength and improve your metcon capacity, while refining your nutrition habits and developing your skills. Some might not see us as "hardcore" but they're usually the ones wearing board shorts, eye-black, and carrying a sandbag while shirtless for a charity 5k fun run...

Trying Too Hard To Be Hardcore.

If we absolutely had to label something fitness-related as hardcore, then Mikhail Koklyaev is decidedly so...

In the long run, it's really not important if people perceive you as hardcore. Just be consistent, be kind, be humble, and work your ass off. Everything else will fall into place after that.


  1. I thought Mikhail was going to squat that first weight. hahaha... definitely hardcore!

    The simple fact that strength is the base of the pyramid for every other physical skill has been lost on many people.

    Doing random, long-duration met-cons will always be sexier and draw in more people. You can scream and yell and act like you're getting a lot done. Pain is not always progress.

  2. Nice post. The truly hardcore people in this world are the ones that go about their business quietly and with humility. Being mentally tough is not about destroying your body. Anyone can do that! Being hardcore is about being smart, training with purpose and discipline, and knowing when to fight your battles you have prepared your body to win.

  3. I think that some of the longer, completely miserable workouts (Murph, Filthy Fifty, etc)are really useful for building the mental toughness to succeed in activities outside of Crossfit. Soldiers, firefighters, and athletes (in real sports), to name a few professions, often have to perform at close to 100% after enduring enormous amounts of misery. Having a few of these painful metcons under your belt might give you the mental strength to throw your buddy across your back when you just hiked up the side of a mountain carrying 100 pounds of gear, or take down a huge running back in a game-saving goal line stand.

    Of course, being strong as hell will also help. And constantly doing absurdly long, random metcons doesn't make the average person any more "fit," hardcore, or more prepared for sports or life in general. And I'm going to wax my entire body, wear eye black, and take my shirt off before every workout from now on.

  4. Thanks for the comments, fellas.

    @ Ash,

    I completely agree with you on the mental aspect of those longer duration metcons. My contention is that they shouldn't be done five times a week. Similarly, a workout like "Fran" can be just as effective in training the mental component of CrossFit. Honestly, who wants to pick up that damnm barbell for that last set of thrusters?

    Does anyone else think eye black AND a hat seems a bit excessive? Really, how bright was the fucking sun that day?

  5. It must have been a REALLY bright day because another woman in the picture is wearing a visor AND sunglasses.

  6. If you have to explain to someone what a bad ass you are.....then your not.