Unified Whole

CJ, aka Connor.

CJ, aka Connor.

This is the third of a three-part series on virtuosity and excellence. Please click on the links for the first and the second parts.

There is a psychological term called gestalt. It is German, so you want to say it as if you are kind of clearing your throat, and its modern usage dates to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I like the term a lot, not because of its literal meanings of form or shape, but because of its English meaning of unified whole.

And that is what CrossFit means to me. It is, in its practice, theory, and, most importantly, application, gestalt. Remember, gestalt is a combination of elements so unified as a whole that it is more than the sum of its parts. To me, that is exactly what CrossFit is. A myriad of exercises, all of which are designed to be a functional movement, combined in countless possibilities, executed at high intensity. Couple with nutrition and mobility and recovery practices, and the result really is greater than the sum of the parts. The result is a unified fitness and health that goes far beyond strength, stamina, and aesthetic form.

If we look at strength and the pursuit of fitness as a unified whole, as gestalt, then we must look at the way, the means, to that strength and fitness. The pursuit of excellence that is so integral to CrossFit demands that the means to the end be of equal importance as the end itself.  This is the true gestalt. It will result in virtuosity.

An understanding of gestalt means that one understands that how goals are reached matters a great deal. The end result is merely the sum of many parts, of many steps, and gestalt is a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts. It is the journey that matters and therefore how one undertakes that journey matters. Once again we arrive at the importance of the journey.

Just as CrossFit espouses a balance of physical attributes, so too there must be a balance of end and means. The pursuit of excellence in anything, strength and fitness included, is not a short term trend, but rather a lifetime striving. When a specific goal or ideal is elevated at the cost of all else, at the cost of the unifying principle of gestalt, then the essential character of the pursuit is violated. The pursuit of excellence for the sake of an end attainment is not balance, and certainly not gestalt. This is not the way of virtuosity, of mastery.

There is gestalt therapy, gestalt psychology, gestalt prayer.  Now there is gestalt fitness. New t-shirt slogan?

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