I first heard about CrossFit in the spring of 2013 from a girl I started dating then (some of you know the legendary Alexis Mundy). She had been a SteadFast member for about a year, was at the gym every day, and talked about it non-stop. I was pretty convinced it was a cult. The first time I actually saw “CrossFit” was when we stopped by the gym one Friday night during the 2013 Open. The workout included 135# clean and jerks and I was floored. I had lifted weights at the Y and run for years, but couldn’t imagine lifting that much weight over my head so easily. By August, I was joining Alexis on Saturdays and by October I was a member. I was hooked! Fast forward 4.5 years. Brian and Sabrina asked me to write this, and they said part of the reason was that I’ve been a member at SteadFast for a long time and have been consistent with it. So I thought I would try to focus on the things I’ve learned that took some time to fully realize. Hopefully, it’s a worthwhile read.
People generally start CrossFit for the obvious reasons: they want to get stronger, fitter, lose weight, etc. All of those things will happen, but what you won’t realize at first is that in addition to the physical “gains” you inevitably make, there are mental gains that happen too. There are quite a few, but I’ll focus on the three I’ve noticed most.
First, CrossFit is extremely humbling. You can bullshit your way through a lot of things in life, but you can’t bullshit your way through a workout. The weight you lift is the weight you lift, your time is your time, etc. There’s no hiding from what you can and can’t do and it’s out in the open for everyone to see. You realize pretty quickly that there will be days you finish dead last (luckily, you also realize pretty quickly that no one cares). Over time, you gain a real appreciation for the work that you’ve put in, and that you’ve seen others put in, and you know yourself a hell of a lot better than you did when you started.
Along these same lines, you learn patience. I figured out double unders pretty quickly. However, it took me four years to get a 300# deadlift. For other people, it’s the other way around. There are so many skills to learn and things to work on that you just have to set reasonable goals, chip away at the work, and be patient. The work you put in getting to a goal is actually more important than the goal itself.
Finally, you learn over time that consistency is the most important factor in getting the results you want, and showing up is the most important part of that. If you show up, you’ll work, and if you work, you’ll get better. You don’t even have to “give 110% every day!” or any crap like that. Some days, all you have is 70%. Still beats 0%.
I could write a lot more about all of this, but I’ll stop here with a few final random thoughts:
- You’ll have great workouts and you’ll have terrible workouts. They all count.
- Listen to your coaches. I’ve been around a while. Trust me when I say they care a LOT.
- Write down your workouts. It really is fun to go back every now and then and see how much you’ve improved.
- Use weightlifting for strength training and WODs for conditioning (generally speaking). When in doubt, go lighter and faster. Weights are just accessories.
- If your body says take a rest day, listen. If your brain says take a rest day, don’t listen.
- Thank you, Brian and Sabrina (and Alexis).