You can't say that this blog is mostly about opinion and theory, because there are a slew of facts dispersed throughout the 100+ posts that are within this site. That being said, I would like to highlight a few facts that we should keep in mind . . .
The PVC pipe (otherwise known as Polyvinyl chloride pipe - a common plastic pipe) is used frequently for warmups, demonstrations, and learning movements. Although it is light as feather and stiff as a board, it does lend itself to scrutiny because it is difficult, due to it's lack of weight, to get the pipe into certain positions. Interestingly enough, when someone has to work to get proper position of the pipe, it is coined as being slightly inconvenient.
One of my favorite sayings that I hear is "But I can't get the pipe in place because it doesn't weight anything", and one of my favorite responses back is, "Well, that just means that you have to work to get the PVC pipe into it's proper position." Because therefore, if you have to work on keeping the PVC pipe in it's proper position, you are internalizing the movement, you are focused on each piece of the movement, and you apply all of this once the movement is understood.
All too often we want to be on the BMX course just after learning how to ride a bike with training wheels. So instead of working with a 45-lb bar, an athlete will have a tendency to load up for the workout and halfway during the workout go, "Whoa, that is too much weight, I gotta go down", and the workout is paused, rest occurs, and they strip down their bar to an appropriate weight and restart said efforts, with a roughly 30 second to 60 second rest. Count to 60 seconds, it feels like forever when all your doing is counting, start doing something, anything and start a watch, if you don't look at that clock at all - 60 seconds flies by.
If the movement is new, or complex, or being learned, maybe you haven't done it in awhile, be humble, be the student. Take the weight down and focus on the technique, focus on the drills. Reach through the haze and listen for the instruction that has been spoken before and perform the movement not for time - for technique.
The Bar (aka the Barbell)
The Bar, doesn't matter if it's 15-lb or 45-lb, is cruel. Unyielding, cold, and above all else, hard.
The rough diamond shaped grip is called the knurling, some bars have a center knurling, some don't - but what's the point???
Just because each bar may be slightly different, doesn't mean that your grip has to change. When you practice with the PVC pipe, whether going with a clean grip (outside the shoulders) or a snatch grip (think overhead squat), the distance between your hands shouldn't change just because you go to a barbell.
All aside, once you learn something for the first time, or are just coming back to something, do your best not to brush it off or put it to the side. Take the time to write your own notes on how you understood the movement, review it with your coach or look at it online (through CrossFit.com), and to further instill the movement or drill, practice it when you come into the gym.
So grab a PVC pipe and let's get to work.
"I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you're trying to accomplish and what you're willing to sacrifice to accomplish it."
- Lee Iacocca