It's easy to look at the whiteboard on any given day, and lose focus of why it's there, what its purpose is, and why it's a GOOD thing. We are all guilty, at least sometimes, of eyeballing times from earlier classes and wondering if we could beat them, furthermore, maybe actually chasing them during the WOD. Well that doesn't sound too bad, right? It isn't! That's one of the main reasons the whiteboard exists; to provide healthy, motivating competition across classes throughout the day. It also serves as a means by which we can hold ourselves, and each other, accountable. We are all safe in the knowledge that if we 'sandbag' a run, go light on a weight or take too many breaks from burpees, it'll be all too clear on the whiteboard. That makes us push, be it consciously or subconsciously, to achieve the very best we can from each workout. That whiteboard does more for your mentality going into a workout than you might realise, and it effects everyone, regardless of how immune you might consider yourself.
In addition to the psychological benefits, it serves a much more tangible purpose too - it helps us track progress. The picture is posted to our community group daily, and gives you a record from which to complete your own logs and track your scores. During test week, the benefits of effectively tracking your progress are becoming abundantly clear!
Whatever the whiteboard is there for, and however positive that intention might be, there is still plenty of room to allow yourself to fall victim to the negative side of it all. Did you do your push-ups on a box? Did you lift 5kg less than your friend/rival on a different class, or use a lighter medicine ball, or kettlebell? Did you run 1200m instead of a mile? It's easy to look up at that board and see yourself ranked below so many people who have lifted more, run further, or jumped higher, and that's where it begins. The only person you're ever truly competing against, is you! Even in a competition, those we race only serve as another method by which to hold ourselves accountable. The atmosphere is conducive to giving your all, and that's the point, not where you finish. The whiteboard is not intended as a ranking, but as a visual, mathematical representation of effort. If the numbers written on the board, rounds, reps, weight, height, represent your best effort, then that's your job for the day done. Make notes for every workout. Include how you felt, how you had eaten prior, how you slept, whether you'd been stressed at work, and anything else you feel might matter. This isn't a list of excuses, more an honest assessment of your physical and mental state that day. If you had an undisturbed 9 hours sleep, have eaten exactly the right amount of proteins, fats and carbs every day for 3 weeks, and are in the middle of a holiday from work, great, write that too, it's not just about the negative! Remember though, sometimes the results won't meet your expectations, you might hit your biggest PR off the back of your worst day at work in months, after 4 hours broken sleep and a bowl of cereal!
Summed up, the whiteboard is a numerical account of the day. By all means assess your progress by comparing it to those closest to your numbers in the gym. If two of you have always had the same upper body lifts, but you lift a couple of kilos more that day, that's good, but if your friend lifts the extra couple, remember, that doesn't mean you've done anything wrong, or failed! Be happy for them and carry on trying. We all progress at different rates, we all come from different lives, and we all want different things from our training.
For me though, whilst everything above is true, the most important phrase is this: "Just because you can Rx, doesn't mean you should." As coaches, we will regularly offer scales that might not challenge the full range of motion required by the workout, or have the same muscular demands called for, but we will instead opt for a movement which allows the athlete to replicate the intensity, generating the response which the WOD is supposed to illicit. If you're new to pull-ups, and have done workouts with 10-15 per round, for a total of 50-60 in a WOD, trying to do 100 in a row will probably lead to a lot of time stood staring at the pull-up bar. Sure, you COULD Rx the WOD, but at what cost? Put simply, you would lose the intensity. On the face of it, you might see jumping pull-ups as a cop-out, but in reality, all that time stood shaking your arms before squeezing out another single, scrappy pull-up, that's the cop-out. You read that right, the real cop out is NOT scaling! If the 'heavy' Rx weight or the complex Rx movement ever lead you to think you would have come much higher up the 'leader board' (it's NOT a leader board), then you should have scaled. Not only is that the harder option, it's actually what your body needs to progress