As the old joke goes, the First Rule of CrossFit is: “always talk about CrossFit.” It’s a famously exercise-obsessed crowd. But from ten years of growing the largest CrossFit gym in the world, I can tell you even that group of die-hards makes it to the gym, on average, about 2.8 times a week.
Which means their other 165.2 weekly hours are spent doing something else. Put another way, what people do in the gym is less than 2% of their total time pie.
Of course, training hard has lasting effects that spill over into the rest of an athlete’s life. Beyond the psychological impacts, there’s the more concrete EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, an afterburn of increased oxygen intake following intense exercise that raises calorie-burning metabolism for hours to come. But, by and large, exercise, even hard and relatively frequent exercise, is just one small part of the bigger picture.
Indeed, in those other 160-some hours, we eat, we sleep, we socialize, we feel stress, we sit and stand, we move or we don’t. All of which contributes to or detracts from our health and wellness. Historically, gyms have been rather narrow in their focus: they dictate what happens when you’re in them. But, to achieve a sustainable high level of fitness, you need to think about what happens outside of them, too.
Which is all to say, fitness is composite. It’s an array of elements that work together to add up to the complete whole. And, in the future, the most succesful gyms will need to help their members succeed in that holistic way – maximizing their success, improving their choices, not just when people are working out, but all 168 hours of the week.