On human potential

by tom MCADAM



We’ve dubbed Basis “the human potential project”. This may sound like nothing more than pithy marketing language but in fact it gets to the heart of what we do. The idea developed organically through many months of deep reflection on what we want to achieve with Basis and what we think is most important for leading a healthy, high-performing life.


So what is human potential? And why have we subscribed to this idea above all the other more obvious choices like health, performance or fitness?




Having opened and run a CrossFit affiliate for 7 years (CrossFit City Road), fitness and performance have always been guiding stars. The CrossFit philosophy is that health is essentially a correlate of fitness. The fitter you are, the more your health improves.


CrossFit popularised the concept of GPP (general physical preparedness) and of training to be capable across the broadest possible range of physical dimensions.


This is an elegant and interesting model of how to train for life: train to be functionally capable of handling the challenges life throws at you and in being fitter over time, protect and improve your health.




The thought that developed for us over time was: can we take this even further? Can we apply the same kind of model over an even broader set of dimensions?


Our perspective is that if you’re going to train for life, there’s no reason to focus on physical fitness alone. The health and function of the mind is just as important as the health and function of the body if your goal is to live a truly fulfilled life. And while it’s true that exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mind, we’ve been around long enough to say with some confidence that exercise alone does not solve all problems.


Our philosophy is that we should train the mind just as we train the body. Luckily, there are now many scientifically validated ways of doing this. The principal practices that we advocate (and have classes for at Basis) are mindfulness meditation and breathwork.


We squat, run and do push-ups so that our bodies are prepared for the physical demands of an exceptional, unlimited life. Similarly, we meditate and breathe to prepare our minds for the stresses, and also the great joys, that life throws our way.


What we’re talking about here is extending the idea of GPP even more generally. We could talk about General Human Preparedness (GHP) which is a function of GPP and GMP (General Mind Preparedness).


BALANCE & a fully realised life


This is what we mean by human potential. It’s about having a healthy and high-performing body and mind. Going further still, the pursuit of human potential is about developing the tools and capacities to live a fully realised life.

Balance is fundamental in all this. The balance between mind and body but also:


  • Balance between hard work and purposive restoration
  • Balance between training and life
  • Balance between seeking progress and the ability to be present for the journey
  • Balance between a concern for self and a care for others

Train hard and pursue formidable performance, yes. But always make sure training informs and improves your life outside the gym. We don’t want to be so sore we can’t walk the dog… Of course, soreness will occur here and there but it’s a terrible way to gauge the effectiveness of your workout if your goal is to live a functionally limitless life! Recover adequately and purposely.


Keep performance in its place: unless you’re a professional athlete, there is no sense in losing sleep over how much you snatch. Root out obsession wherever you find it, particularly with regards to training or lifestyle habits. Results require consistency and hard work, yes. But we are training to live, not living to train. It is quite common to feel guilt or low-mood over a missed workout or a sub-optimal food choice. But the solution to this is not more discipline; it’s more mindfulness and equanimity so that you can avoid the senseless suffering that follows these decisions and simply move on to making a better decision next time.


Equally, allow your training to make you a better person in the world and in your relationships. Lifting heavy, sweating, sitting in meditation, breathing. These things can all help elevate mood and regulate emotions which can in turn give us the energy to be a positive force in the world: we can be better parents, spouses, friends, collaborators and ultimately better humans. It’s important to make that connection. Training is so much more powerful when it’s not simply an individualistic pursuit.


Training for human potential means training for a truly lived life. It is a life that is informed and improved by a healthy, high-performing body as well as a calm, present mind. That’s what the human potential project is all about.




ImageBy tom MCADAM
Published 17/11/21


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