What a CrossFit Athlete and Crisis Management Have in Common

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CrossFit workoutThe CrossFit Games began this week in Madison, Wisconsin and athletes from across the world traveled to compete in the mecca of fitness. Endurance and strength are tested over a period of five days during a series of grueling workouts that are kept secret until the week of the Games. The workouts range from cycling, to swimming, to weightlifting, to handstand walks, to name a few.

The sport has developed quickly over the last decade. Athletes have become faster, better, and stronger by developing better gymnastics skills, strength, and technique. These athletes spend their everyday focused on competing well at the Games, in hopes to be crowned Fittest on Earth.

You may be thinking, ‘what does CrossFit have to do with crisis management?’

Adapt to Change

Much like an adaptable CrossFit athlete walking into an arena of unknown workouts, a crisis management plan must be adaptable and equipped to handle the unknown. The details of every crisis cannot be predicted, because no two events are alike. An organization can, however, plan for what is known. For instance, plan for a time when employees cannot arrive to the workplace. The cause could be an earthquake, fire, or communicable illness. Regardless of the cause, however, the implications remain the same.


During the 2009 CrossFit Games, athletes had to complete a deadlift ladder. In this event, the barbell weight for men ended at 505 pounds, women ended at 375 pounds. The workout was repeated in 2016, however, male and female weights jumped to 615 pounds and 415 pounds respectively. In the seven years between workouts, athletes had to increase their strength. Increasing their strength and updating their workout regimens was the only way an athlete could perform well in the 2016 Games. More athletes performed better in the 2016 ladder than the 2009 ladder. They prepared for the unknown by increasing overall strength.

Many crisis management plans Firestorm reviews are out-of-date and not actionable. This problem is detrimental to an organization during a crisis. To perform well during an event, crisis plans must include current information – employees, spokespersons, duties, etc. In 2017, *75 percent of organizations had to invoke their continuity or crisis plans for an average of 15 crisis events. These crisis events racked up more than $2.9 million. We’re more than halfway through 2018 – has your plan been updated?

*Based upon the 2018 Firestorm Analytical Solutions Crisis Event Impact Management Report

Crisis Impacts of 2017

Plans Need Exercise

The definition of CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. Athletes must practice and train in a variety of ways to perform well. This includes: running, rowing, weightlifting, rope climbing, swimming, and a plethora of other activities. Practicing a singular movement is not going to improve an athlete’s chance of being crowned Fittest on Earth. They must train their bodies in various ways, specific to their strengths and weaknesses. Crisis plans are no different.

A saying attributed to the United States Navy Seals states that “under pressure, we do not rise to the occasion, we sink to the level of our training.” Unfortunately, training for critical incidents is the most overlooked step in creating a comprehensive preparedness strategy. A robust training regimen for any organization should include both live and table talk exercises that are done with a consistent level of frequency, variety, and intensity. Firestorm conducts many types of exercises, based upon client needs, resources, and availability. Each exercise can be designed to meet both internal and external training requirements. Our exercises include:

  • Virtual Exercises – Conducted remotely and delivered through the use of online technology.
  • Decision-Based (tabletop) – Onsite exercises, but do not involve the implementation of operations and instead focus on command and coordination.
  • Functional – Exercises designed to test the implementation of the plans and procedures under realistic conditions.

We also create live-action content, or “injects” for more realistic simulations. This concept may be recreated from actual cases and then customized to fit a specific organization to ensure applicability.
Based upon the needs and desired outcome of the exercise, these injects include:

  • Live Calls into the exercise
  • Simulated text messages
  • Videos to simulate external actors
  • Simulated emails
  • Images to support details and visual cues

You may not be training to compete in the 2019 CrossFit Games and capture the title of Fittest on Earth, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be exercising in a different way.

The scary truth is: many crisis plans are out-of-date and not actionable. You must test and exercise your plans to identify strengths and weaknesses. What will your organization rely upon when a crisis hits? Firestorm Professional Services Solutions and Security Solutions are dedicated to testing and improving plans. Contact us to learn how to improve your exercise regimen.

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