3 Core Principles Shared By CrossFit and Behavioral Science

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Core Principle 2 – Emphasis on data collection

Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, describes CrossFit as “evidence-based fitness.” The exercises in CrossFit must be “observable, measurable, [and] repeatable.” When I first heard that phrase, I thought I was in science class for a minute!

Data-based decision-making is the hallmark of evaluation and progress

You have to be able to OBSERVE the exercise or movement, MEASURE it in some way (see below), and be able to REPEAT the movement. If any of these three pieces are missing, then it cannot be part of “evidence-based fitness.”

CrossFit takes data collection seriously and it is evident after attending one class or watching The CrossFit Games.

Workouts and progress are often measured in the following ways:

  • Time-Based – how long it takes to complete a workout
  • Heaviest Load – who can lift the most weight (maximum weight on a back squat)
  • Most Repetitions – who can do the most work in a certain time (often called AMRAPs – as many reps as possible)

Behavior analysis relies heavily on data collection and an evidence-based approach.

The observable characteristic of behavior is first and for most, the key to any behavior change. Behavior must be observable for it to be studied. If you cannot observe a behavior (boarding an airplane, ordering at a bar, smiling), then you cannot measure it. Choosing observable behavior is the hallmark of behavior analysis when compared to the psychological sciences.

After choosing what you want to observe, then measurement follows a similar pattern as in CrossFit. You can measure behavior as a:

  • Duration – exactly like time-based; example – how long meal service is on a flight
  • Magnitude – similar to heaviest load; example – measuring the decibel level of your order at a bar
  • Frequency or Rate – similar to repetitions; example – counting the number of positive social statements in an interview

In any science, repeatable measures are just as important as the observable and measurable characteristics. Behavioral science is unique in that it measures behavior…a lot.

What is most familiar is the idea of taking a baseline measure, implementing a solution, and measuring again. Without this repeated measure, we cannot know if our solution was responsible for the improvement or not. This principle guides the daily activity of any behavior analyst.

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