I’m going to assume that you have heard about the fitness ‘trend’ that is sweeping the nation (and world) like WILDFIRE: CrossFit (if you haven’t, well, you REALLY need to get out more. Depending on your personal experience, conversations with others or media ‘feedback’ some of your perceptions both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ about CrossFit may include: it’s only for young fit people, it’s not safe (the two most common fallacies), it’s a fast and effective way to get in shape, it’s a cult comprised of sadists, ‘meatheads’ and frustrated jocks , it offers a ’family-like’ community, it’s more ‘fun’ than the ‘gym’, and one that I’ve recently read, it’s overpriced calisthenics in a warehouse.
Regardless of what you’ve heard and how you feel, there is no denying that CrossFit has changed the landscape of the fitness industry as well as people’s awareness of fitness in a profound way. CrossFit is regularly discussed and debated in mainstream media, Crossfit ‘boxes’ (name for a CrossFit gym)are popping up on every corner, and more than likely at least 1 out of 6 of your closest friends or family is (or was) a CrossFitter. Nonetheless, the purpose of this article is not to convince you that CrossFit is right for you, or to get you to jump on the CrossFit ‘bandwagon’ (although it is a fun ride) but to share with you the lessons, reminders and ‘Aha’ moments that CrossFit has ‘introduced’ into my life. Hopefully some of these lessons will inspire you to find ‘the CrossFit’ in your life, that will ultimately lead you down a path of fitness, fun and fulfillment.
Lesson #1: Become Comfortable with being Uncomfortable.
I would argue that as human beings we all have an innate desire to ‘grow’; experience ‘more’, do ‘more’, have ‘more, live ‘more’, be ‘more’. I would also argue that without challenge, and the opportunity to surpass your perceived limitations, growth is stagnant. The problem is if you’re not moving forward, then you’re moving backward, because NOTHING remains the same. Progression or Regression…that’s ALL there is. Millions of people want to lose weight, trim fat, eliminate disease and do things in life that their current level of fitness may not allow. Yet, very few people are willing to do the work that it takes to achieve these goals. Many will begin the process but once things become a little ‘uncomfortable’, the’ buck’ stops there. More often than not, and without exaggeration, I’ve questioned my sanity during a CrossFit workout. I frequently ask myself ‘What the hell is wrong with you? Why do you DO this? This SUCKS! Is it really worth it?’ YES, it is uncomfortable, YES it ‘hurts’, YES I want to stop ALL the time, and YES it’s worth every moment of discomfort. It’s worth it because the struggle pales in comparison to the triumph. I’ve discovered that sacrificing a little ‘pain’ for THAT feeling of accomplishment, overcoming and ultimately, becoming ‘more’, is worth it…Every. Single. Time. One of my favorite quotes says: ‘If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you’. Truer words have never been spoken. Crossfit has reminded me that if I want a healthy, fit, lean, strong body then I’ve got to work for it, not wish for it and most often, the greater the effort, the greater the reward’.
Lesson #2: Embrace failure because ‘failing’ is part of growth, and growth is part of life.
We all must confront failure. Sometimes consciously, but more often it’s disguised as self-sabotage, procrastination, and complacency. Somehow we’ve been conditioned to equate failure with inadequacy, ‘not being good enough’. The irony is that avoiding failure does not guarantee success, but evades it. If I do not ‘fail’ I will not succeed. In the CrossFit ‘failure’ is part of our culture. We fail at finishing a workout ‘in time’, we fail making a lift, we fail at completing another rep, we ‘fail’ at beating our personal records (PRs), we fail at making it to ‘top 3’ of the ‘leaderboard’, we fail at acquiring a skill, we ‘fail’…we ‘fail’…and we fail some more. Yet, we return the next day to ‘fail’ again. Why? Because despite the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ we know that ‘failing’ is part of the process; it is a part of our journey. We know that the only failure is in not trying, or giving up before we’ve reached the goal. We know that without risk, there is no reward, and without reward there is no satisfaction, and without satisfaction…well, what’s the point? CrossFit has made me aware of this truth: it’s the fear of failure and not failure itself that holds me back. Sometimes I will fail and sometimes I will succeed, and both are equally important. As Napoleon Hill once said: “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
Lesson #3: Community, Camaraderie and Support are not just ideal, they are Critical
Life is Hard…and so is CrossFit. However, what helps us get through the ‘valleys’ of life is community. It is our community that offers camaraderie, support and empathy just when the ‘pain’ becomes too much and giving up appears to be our only option. There is something very sacred about knowing and feeling that ‘I am not alone’. Some often say: ‘misery likes company’; I say: ‘misery needs company. We all have those moments that we need to be reminded and encouraged, ’to just take another step.’ This happens daily in the CrossFit world. Community is the foundation of CrossFit, and one of the many reasons for it’s world-wide appeal and success. Very often, during a workout, I don’t think I can take another breath or complete one more rep, but there is always someone there to remind me that I can. CrossFit has taught me that life is much easier and a lot more fun when you can rely on your ‘community’, and that needing someone to ‘hold you up’ on occasion is not a measure of weakness, but a privilege of humanity.
Lesson #4: Some Things Don’t get Easier, but with Time and Experience, You Become Better.
In my experience, 90% of people are NOT fit when they begin CrossFit. Yet, many believe CrossFit is only for ‘hard-core’ people who have been working out all of their lives. This is because they are witness to the result and not the process. When I started CrossFit in 2009 I was NOT fit. I could not do ONE pull-up or run half a mile…and I make my living as a fitness coach! No endeavor is mastered from the beginning; in fact most things are rarely ‘mastered’ at all. Yes, we do all have varying starting points, but for everyone, it takes time and consistent effort to progress. 5 years ago running half a mile felt like a near-death experience for me, today it’s my warm-up. I don’t say this to boast, but to make this point: just because you cannot do a pushup or run a mile TODAY, doesn’t mean that you never will. CrossFit isn’t any easier today than it was in 2009, I have just gotten better. I’ve invested the time and made the commitment to progress…not perfection. CrossFit hasn’t changed, I have. CrossFit has shown me that progress is not exclusive to anyone; and that I can get better at anything, as long as I’m patient and willing to do the work. ‘“We are made to persist.
that is how we find out who we are.” Tobias Wolf
And Last but not least…
Lesson #5 : All of Life’s Magic is in the ‘Present Moment’
CrossFit has introduced me to the sacredness and the magic of the present moment. There are not many moments in my day where I’m completely absorbed in the ‘Now’. Usually, my mind wanders somewhere in the past and more often, to the future; what didn’t get done and what needs to get done. Without much conscious awareness and appreciation, one moment just blends into the next. However, when I’m in the middle of a particularly challenging WOD (workout of the day), as my heart is pounding, and muscles are burning, NOTHING else matters but that moment. My awareness is completely centered in the here and now. It’s as if someone pushed the ‘pause’ button on ‘life’ and my mind completely rests. Ironically, there is such stillness in these moments of apparent ‘chaos. I crave this ‘stillness’; I think we all do. For me, these moments are my therapy, my time to reconnect to myself and appreciate my vitality and aliveness! I am grateful for the health and aesthetic benefits I have gained from CrossFit as well, but for me, that has just been the icing on the cake.