I admit it, I consider myself a CrossFit junkie…or maybe I’m just a giant poser. I drank the Kool-Aid about 3 1/2 years ago and haven’t stopped. Before I go to bed each night, I prepare my gym bag, my workout clothes, fill up my water bottle, gather the supplements I take in the morning, and look for the workout that I will be attempting the next morning.
Over the past 3 1/2 years, I have noticed drastic changes in my strength, endurance, body composition, and the ability to run flat out for 1/2 a mile before my hands start shaking whenever my dog escapes the house. With 3 boys, ages 5 and under, the front door to my house routinely gets left open.
My internal dialogue has changed considerably as well. It went from, “I’m not doing that,” to “I don’t think I can do that,” to “I don’t want to do that but I’ll try.” That’s the moment you know you’re hooked.
But it’s not for these fitness reasons that I encourage my clients and my kids as they get older, to step into a CrossFit box. Here are 5 unexpected benefits I have learned and experienced in my 3 1/2 year journey that encourage me to recommend this routine to almost all my clients.
Forced to Focus
CrossFit is defined as ‘constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.’ What does this mean? It means you can’t multi task while working out. There’s one objective in front of you and until you complete that task, you don’t get to move on. There’s no breath for chit chat while the workout is happening, there’s no time to check your phone during the WOD, and there’s no possible way your ear buds are going to stay in place.
A huge problem I see with chronic health problems and the road blocks faced, is that the person hasn’t been focused. During a CrossFit workout, you always have at least one coach keeping an eye on you, you have other members in the class tracking your progress and encouraging you, and you have a set rep scheme or time frame that you need to complete the routine. You are forced to focus.
In a CrossFit box (aka gym), the workouts are set up in a group/class setting. You show up to a specified class time and everyone does the exact same workout. That workout can be scaled and altered to your ability but never modified to make it easy. You will be challenged. Growth and achievement doesn’t happen if you’re not challenged. This doesn’t matter if it’s your vocation, immune system, relationships, or fitness abilities.
Many times, your coach will modify the workout to just outside your comfort zone. You probably have the ability but maybe not the confidence to complete certain movements with certain weight loads. You are being forced to fail and be comfortable (not accepting) of failure. Failure doesn’t mean you aren’t successful. Failure is a part of learning to succeed.
If you can learn to fail in a controlled environment and it doesn’t destroy your psyche, you become ready to overcome failure in other aspects of life. I often see health experience road blocked by the person because they are afraid to fail. As a result, there’s a failure to even start.
Crapping on Comparison
Comparison is the thief of joy. In CrossFit, there will be certain movements that you are decent at and others you completely suck at. But the person right next to you may be really sucky at the things you’re good at and a rock star at the things you suck at. It eventually balances out. In life, you may admire your neighbor for the car they drive, the house they own, and the vacations they take but in reality they are filling the void of a broken marriage or a career they despise going to every day.
The bigger problem is that we often compare our greatest weakness with someone else’s greatest strength. If that’s your world, you have no chance at happiness. Crossfit quickly destroys your ego and your comparison complex.
Your coach at your designated class time has one goal…make you better than the previous day. I’m sure there are some dicks out there but not where I go. With that intent, he/she will comment and instruct you on your technique, movement standard, and maybe even your attitude. With enough time, your coach has seen you struggle harder than your closest friend or even your spouse.
They don’t speak up put you down or feel inferior. They want you to succeed. Your success is their success. If you do feel put down or inferior, it’s most likely a YOU problem, not your coach. The feedback is to help you do the movements more efficiently and safely. They are all up in your business because you pay them to be up all in your business. Part of being coachable is learning to accept criticism and filtering it under constructive opposed to a personal attack.
Community is an organized network of people with a common agenda, cause, or interest, who collaborate by sharing ideas, information, and other resources. In this instance the common agenda is to get your sweat on. But the people entering the same class time as you have vastly different backgrounds, political affiliations, religious convictions, and emotional baggage. None of that matters when you hear 3..2..1..GO!
Due to a shared similar, draining, physical experience, this opens the communication lines of shared interest and the development of relationships. There are a couple MDs that I work out with. Our views on healthcare are probably vastly different but none of that matters and even becomes an issue because we are there for another shared interest.
For all the reasons I listed above, this is why sports are so powerful for kids. The problem is that when we get older and have to check the box next to ‘adulting’ on our tax returns, we’re not just losing the physical benefits of training daily, but all the mental/emotional/social bonuses too. For that reason, I encourage you to give CrossFit your best effort for 30 days. If you hate it, at least you said you tried it. If you think the people around you are crazy and too intense, there may be another box with less crazies.
For those in the Colorado Springs area, my full endorsement goes to CrossFit Continuum. If you feel you have some health challenges that need resolution prior to even trying, you know how to find me. Or if you are an experienced athlete looking to improve performance and recovery, I also have some ideas for you.