Simple, but Hard to Master

“Make it simple, but hard to master.”

– Nolan Bushnell (Inventor of Pong, Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s)

Someone’s Deep Squats (Thoughts)

CFPA is already exposed to my daily rantings. As a break, here is one of my early CrossFit influences from 2013. I am sharing an abbreviated version. You can find the complete version in The CrossFit Journal HERE. I highly recommend digging around in this treasure trove of fitness information.

ON ELEGANCE by: Pat Sherwood

In my pre-CrossFit life, I only associated the word elegant with “fancy.” I was half right. Fancy is shorthand for the first two definitions:

1. Tasteful in dress, style or design.

2. Dignified and graceful in appearance, behavior, etc.

Yet there’s another definition with which I was unfamiliar:

3. Cleverly simple; ingenious. As in an elegant solution to a problem.

I’m now in love with the third definition.

Let’s start with Greg Glassman’s equation for fitness:

Perform constantly varied functional movements at high intensity.

How incredible is that equation? In just a few words, Coach described what no one ever had: how to get people fit. It’s beautifully concise while still accurate, and it makes it clear that there are just three knobs to crank when trying to attain elite fitness: variation, movement and intensity. It doesn’t get any simpler than that, and yet the few words belie the importance of the information. No one had ever thought of this before and then managed to summarize it so succinctly.

Coach’s definition of fitness is similarly elegant:

Fitness is work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

Anyone who has researched CrossFit’s definition of fitness, listened to Coach on videos, or attended a Level 1 Certificate Course knows the depth of this seemingly simple definition is profound, revolutionary and unparalleled in the fitness industry.

Elegance is perhaps best on display in CrossFit’s workouts, which tend toward couplets and triplets and precise prescriptions designed to maximize intensity. Let’s take a look at the workout of the day, or more simply, the WOD.

Here’s a classic:


21-15-9 reps of:

225-lb. deadlifts

Handstand push-ups

The 21-15-9 rep scheme shows up in many classic CrossFit workouts. It has a certain beauty and functionality. If you can charge through 21 reps when fresh, then you just might be able to get through 15 on the second round, and 9 in the final round. The rep scheme allows athletes to maintain their intensity even as they fatigue.

Of course, if you’re not Froning, Spealler or Thorisdottir, you may have to break up the reps into sets. Luckily, 21 can become 7-7-7 or 10-6-5. The 15 is ready for dissection into 8-7, 6-5-4, 5-5-5, or 3-3-3-3-3. The round of 9 can be 5-4 or 3-3-3.

Would you get fit if Diane were programmed as below?

19-5-17-3-1 reps of:

225-lb. deadlifts

Handstand push-ups

The workouts are the same in terms of total number of reps, movements and loading, and the second workout contains the same amount of work as the classic prescription. So what’s the problem? The second workout looks like someone threw up on the page. It’s not beautiful and it doesn’t flow. There’s nothing cleverly simple about it.

Elegance, by definition, is cleverly simple. It’s often the obvious answer everyone missed or the clever nuance that makes all the difference. Elegance is what happens when the clutter is removed and the essential ideas remain, and it is part and parcel of virtuosity. It is performing the common uncommonly well, and it is the mark of genius.

Next time you need to solve a problem, explain a concept, define a term or program a workout, don’t seek an unnecessarily complicated solution when an elegant one would suffice. Pursue elegance in everything.

Blaise Pascal, another mathematician, once wrote a long, drawn-out letter to a friend, then apologized in the postscript that he didn’t have time to write a short one.

Brevity takes time.

So does elegance.


Can you go wrong with a song about Autumn with lyrics like these?

“Iced Coffee with the pumpkin sauce

Yeah, we’re running through the leaves like a pumpkin boss

I’m pumpkin lost

We’re getting into pumpkin talks

Now I’m going online to check my pumpkin stocks”

What’s Going On?

Post Turkey – Pre Santa CrossFit Teen Program

Email [email protected] if you or your teen is keen to keep training Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4pm from November 28 – December 14.


The lot may be very full if you try to pull into the lot in front of the gym. Be aware that you can park on the north side facing the gym and even in the back of the gym.

CFPA Annual Holiday Party and White Elephant Exchange

Saturday, December 9th, 5-8pm

Location: CFPA

Overheard in Class:

“My spirit left in the workout.” – Jamila


I am not a fan of scary movies. But, many of you are! So here is my scariest movie recommendation in honor of Halloween. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” It’s a Disney movie from 1983 and based on a Ray Bradbury story from 1962. I remember watching it on VHS that we rented from the local Video Rental Store.

Send me your influences. Music? Books? Movies? Series?