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Integrity, Efficacy, and Ambition

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By Coach Jason Struck

In the nine years that Full Circle has been open, locations, equipment, and people have changed about the gym, but one thing has not. It has always been the mission of Full Circle to empower our clients to do whatever they want with their bodies.

We (the owners of Full Circle, James Boatwright and Jason Struck) believe that there are two pieces to the empowerment puzzle. They are the physical adaptations that take place over time as a result of training, and the changes that take place between the ears as a result of effort.

Let us repeat: At least 50% of the benefit of engaging in a rigorous training protocol over time is the improvement in psychological capacity that develops alongside increases in strength, flexibility, or endurance. Improvements include resilience, efficacy, confidence, discipline, and more.

We took some time to refine what we mean by empowering our clients, and we settled upon this statement: To help every one of you truly live in a body that you really love.

We reject Cartesian dualism in favor of the many philosophies that recognize that the human organism is one whole entity, body, and mind. That fitness happens in the brain as well as the muscles, and that neither can be ignored if you expect to truly live or in fact really love yourself.

And we believe that anyone who is willing to work for it deserves to really live and has every right to love themselves. But it’s not about blind acceptance of whatever may come. We believe that your relationship with your body can only be honest and complete once you’ve pushed it to it’s limits, and you’ve really seen what it can do. Loving your body shouldn’t be a frilly commercial of you skipping through a field of daisies. No, loving your body can and perhaps should be a begrudging respect granted to the battle-hardened, maybe even scarred vessel that has taken you through your entire life. The one with lats too large for pretty dresses, or quads too thick for dress pants, the one with layers upon layers of callouses from pull up bars and kettlebell handles. The one with stretch marks from weight lost, or freckles from long runs outdoors, or maybe that long stripe up your shin that reminds you every time you wear shorts of the time you ate a plyo box and kept on training.

It’s possible to love yourself and your body and still want to improve it. In the same way that sending your child to school in no way means you think he/she is too dumb, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be stronger or leaner or anything. Your body is yours to invest in how you please. Investing in yourself at the gym is a great start to showing yourself some serious self love.

We also wanted to refine what it was that our students could do to fully engage in this process. How could they start truly living in a body that they really love? Just as CrossFit has a progression of Mechanics, Consistency then Intensity (MCI) we too have a charter for the mental development of the athlete to ensure their continued progress towards our mission:

  • Integrity
  • Efficacy
  • Ambition

Just like MCI, you can approach these both sequentially (you must achieve Integrity before proceeding to Efficacy) but you must also recognize that they remain forever intertwined with one another, and cannot sustain themselves without the others.

INTEGRITY has many synonyms, such as sincerity, rectitude, honesty, ethics, trustworthiness, and coherence. The most important aspect of this concept when it comes to the gym is congruity. Your behaviors should match your stated goals or intentions. Your actions should and inevitably always will betray your desires or motivations. Being honest with yourself and your coaches about what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it is prerequisite to the process. There’s also no point in lying about what you have done or could do in the gym. In the end, CrossFit is a great meritocracy, and no athlete who lacks integrity will ever hold up to any scrutiny.

EFFICACY can be thought of as the ability to produce an outcome or result. Self-efficacy in psychological terms is a person’s learned confidence that they can complete tasks and accomplish more difficult goals through practice or experience. Every day at the gym can and should be an efficacy-building experience, whether or not you meet all of your expectations each day. If you stop to think about it, you should observe that there are a number of obstacles between anyone and achieving a high level of fitness, yet you, and many others still show up to the gym each day, chipping away at small sub goals like hitting your macros, doing one more round than last time, or lifting five more pounds. And through this process over time, goals become increasingly lofty and accomplishments become greater and greater, as do changes to the individual.

Which brings us to AMBITION. Once you have a healthy dose of efficacy, there’s nothing wrong with applying it to some ambition. Set goals. Make them harder than last time. Choose goals that you can control (make them procedural instead of outcome focused for example), but don’t be afraid to reach for the stars. The more meaningful to you these ambitions are, the more likely they are to keep your fire burning brighter and hotter longer. And to be honest, the road you are setting down is long, hard, and at times lonely. So you better have some big dreams to keep you company when the going gets rough.

As coaches, we only want to work with athletes who are willing and able to pursue all three of these virtues. In fact, it makes our jobs a lot easier. Come tell us what you want, and we’ll show you how to start getting it. Tell us what your ambitions are, and we’ll support you the entire way there.