At my CrossFit Level 1 in Santa Cruz in 2008, I remember hearing Dave Castro and Nicole Carroll drop “WOD” into their cornucopia of buzzwords alongside “constantly varied”, “functional movements”, and “high intensity”. Like a gentle breeze, it passed over my head with nary a second thought.
Then I heard it a few more times throughout the day, like when they mentioned how Brian Chontosh “WOD’d” three times, amidst awe-laden gasps from everyone.
Everyone but me, that is. I had no idea what it meant. “I got to try this WOD thing!” I declared to myself, thinking it was some supplement akin to dropping a few extra espresso shots in my coffee (never a bad thing).
I had signed up for the CrossFit Level 1 seminar on a whim. Back then, you had to sign up 6 months prior, as seminars were few, but the demand was high. They sold out well in advance. Before the event, they emailed a ton of information from the CrossFit journal and other required readings for the seminar. At that time, I was still playing for the Kansas City Chiefs and highly focused on my job, so making time to read about the merits of CrossFit fell by the wayside.
After the season ended in January, I took a month to travel and decompress, during which, I got a reminder my CF Level 1 was rapidly approaching first week of February. Armed only with some vague recollections of my friend (who suggested I sign up) describing the workouts as combinations of Olympic Lifting and gymnastics, I booked a hotel and drove north to Santa Cruz, not having read anything about CrossFit, looked at the site, or done a workout. I always liked to Olympic lift and loved the pull-ups, dips, and basic tumbling in Raphael’s program in Tampa. I figured my past experience would be a sufficient base.
Imagine walking into a little gym named CrossFit to take your level 1 with no prior experience, then seeing the seminar leaders wearing shirts that said, “CrossFit – Smoke You Like Cheap Crack” and “CrossFit – Mess You Up”. In contrast, I sported my best flannel, jeans, and basketball shoes. I was prepared to listen and learn, not glisten and burn. I had no idea this education was hands on and WOD-heavy.
After an extensive warm up, we finally got to the WOD – Fight Gone Bad. It was explained as a workout tested on MMA legend BJ Penn and was supposed to be real bad.
Yes, it was.
During the programming talk, the “WOD”, or workout of the day, was described as central as it dictated the training effect CrossFit was trying elicit via constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.
Simply put, crank the knob to 11 and go. If you implode, no big deal - just rest long enough to catch your breath, then jump back in. Over time, your conditioning and fitness improves, so the implosions will be less frequent. Soon enough, you will have dug a deep pool of capacity from which to draw during future workouts.
While many might not view this as “training” in the NSCA sense of the word, it does drive adaptation. Your ability to train to failure each time is predicated on things like proper nutrition, sleep, recovery, and staying healthy. Lets face it, unless you have trained in a similar manner from a young age, things can come apart at the seams quickly. Regardless of your stance on the training philosophy, the practice of doing the WOD has resulted in thousands of people getting fit, leaning out, getting healthy, and appreciating all things barbell. That much is as clear today as it was at my CF Level 1 in 2008.
Being so central to the methodology, the word “WOD” entered the vocabulary of everyone that ever heard the mention of CrossFit or Greg Glassman. And much like the word, “fuck”, it got used in every conceivable way - adjective, adverb, noun, and verb.
“I just WODed the shit out of that”
“I destroyed the WOD”
“Did you just WOD me?”
“Go WOD deep”
“How hard is the WOD?”
“Dude, WOD that shit.”
“She WODs me.”
“Dude…seriously? I am WODing”
Every company or program that wanted to align with the CrossFit market added “WOD” to their name.
Even Men’s Fitness did an article called, “Decoding the WOD” where they talk about...well, the WOD.
“CrossFitters march to the beat of a different drum—not to mention speaks an entirely different language. Coaches and athletes use jargon and abbreviations to describe the exercises and techniques that make up a particular WOD.”
“WOD” cranked up the bass, peeled out, zoomed past useful, blasted right through ridiculous, and proudly Tokyo-drifted into Armen Hammer’s Kill Cliff-sponsored garage gym, where he’s kneeling, looking up at the rainy sky while crying out in defeated agony “THEY ADDED ‘WOD’ TO THAT?!?”
*Armen, Eddie and Scott host the WODcast Podcast - the #1 most elite and fun podcast on the Internet.
Things have gotten out of control in the last few years.
People have beat the proverbial WOD horse to death, put its carcass on the funeral pyre, burned it, poured the ashes into a Reebok/Progenex/Junk Brands sponsored kettlebell-shaped urn, and slammed it on Castro’s plywood and stall mat-themed mantle.
Good thing I know Dave and swiped the urn last time we had orange mocha frappacinos.
I give you, a clever paronomasia intrinsic to training coupled with The Don of Doggie Style, Johnny Wadd.
Knock…knock…who is it?
This was the perfect opportunity to bring fun and humor back to training. Things have gotten so serious lately with constant talk of elite performance and peaking for a yearly event, targeting an end game of greatness only few will accomplish.
Training is about getting fit, having fun, and feeling some sense of accomplishment about what you put up on the whiteboard or see in the mirror.
I have always believed, when people stopped worrying about what they looked like and start focusing on getting better, they would get the results they wanted from training. As is the case most times, form follows function.
However, after the 1037th email asking if this program would get them ripped, I decided it was time to put the old cliché front and center, “If my body is a temple, I am going to build a gold plated fortress.”
It’s Johnnie WOD. Can I come in?
Johnnie WOD is taking training back to a simpler time when people just wanted to get their WOD on - before local throwdowns, online qualifiers, and mass-sharing on social media was the norm and wrecking yourself for the mere satisfaction was all that mattered.
Have some tact and realize a lady and gentleman should never talk about their WOD.
Of course Johnnie, you are the man we have been waiting for.