At first glance, and by the title of this post, it would seem as though I’m way off base from what I set out to do with this blog (write about life as a daddy, and everything that goes with it), but if you read through to the end, you’ll understand why I’m writing about this (hint: it’s not just because I’m passionate about it)…
I started working out when I was 13 years old – my mom got me into it, and I’m forever grateful to her for that. Over the years, I’ve always been active to some degree – whether it was playing ice hockey as a kid, playing golf (while actually walking the course), practicing or teaching yoga, or simply weightlifting, there was always something.
Back in February, my sister suggested that I try CrossFit – she thought I’d love it (she’s very wise). I looked into it (yes, I did my research – I’ve heard all the negative stuff you may be thinking about too) and found a gym (lovingly referred to as a “box”) close by that was offering a Groupon for a bunch of classes, bought it, and dove in head first. After 3 weeks and 9 workouts (or WODs) I cancelled my gym membership, signed up for unlimited classes and my life hasn’t been the same since. But not just for the reasons you might think. I mean, yes: I’m more fit than I’ve ever been, and my body is changing, but it’s more than that. After four months and 58 WODs, I’ve learned 3 very important life lessons (no, I’m not kidding, and yes, they really are important), and that’s how I can easily and happily tie this post into the over-arching theme of my blog. These are life lessons that I want Jacob to learn, and while some of them may seem obvious to you, they’ve really been driven home for me over the last few months. I started out going to CrossFit 3 days/week and after 1 month I upped it to 5 days/week. Yes, I’m dedicated, and yes, I go early. Very early. I’m talking “home-before-my-2.5yr-old-toddler-wakes-up-oh-my-god-you’re-insane” kind of early. And I love it. In four short months, CrossFit has become my hobby, sport, exercise, and teacher all rolled into one beautiful package.
So without further delay, here are 3 major life lessons that I’ve learned from CrossFit that have crossed over into my everyday life and made it better:
1. Support each other – in the end, the only battle you’re fighting is with yourself.
I’ll never forget my first class. It was insane. Actually, they’re pretty much all crazy. Every. Single. Class. (For those of you in the know, it was 21-15-9 of Wall Balls and Pull-Ups – funny how it now seems less crazy, but for the first time? Pretty tough). I got winded so quickly and had to take so many breaks that everyone finished at least five minutes (ok, it might have been closer to 10 minutes…) ahead of me. How do I know? Because for five (ten) minutes they were ALL cheering me on to finish the WOD. These were people I had barely just met 40 minutes earlier, and they were cheering for me to finish. They wouldn’t let me fail or give up. And you know what? I didn’t. I finished. And then I collapsed in a sweaty heap on the floor, breathing heavy, and feeling accomplished.
Here’s the thing: CrossFit is competitive. At the end of class, we all post our scores (time, or reps completed) on the board. We all strive to have the best time, or the most reps which means that we are all, in essence, competing with one another. In life, this tends to breed the desire for others to fail so that we can succeed. Not in CrossFit. Because in CrossFit, while you are technically competing with other people, the real battle is with yourself. You are constantly striving to get better, faster and stronger at what you’re doing. We all recognize that we’re going through the same insane movements and challenges as everyone else, so instead of putting each other down, we raise each other up and celebrate each other’s victories. You know, it’s funny – had the rest of the class not cheered me on that day, I probably would have given up.
Can you imagine what life would be like if we all supported each other, and rooted for each other instead of putting each other down, or rooting for each other to fail?
The first thing that CrossFit taught me that I want to pass on to my son is that there is more than enough in the world for everyone to succeed and be happy. Concentrate on bettering yourself – the real battle is within. Be supportive to those around you and surround yourself with people who will be supportive of you.
2. No matter how daunting things appear, show up and give it your all.
Every night at midnight the WOD for the next morning is posted so that you can see what insanity you’ll be subjecting yourself to on that day. Naturally, this is the first thing I check when I wake up. Sometimes, I check it twice – yes because I’m bleary-eyed, but also because I need to make sure that I saw what I thought I saw. What I’m driving at here is that often, I see the WOD and think to myself: “Nope! I’m gonna just go back to sleep.” The WOD just seems insurmountable. But I always get out of bed, get ready, and get down to the box – ready to do the best that I can. Sometimes, the WOD is insurmountable (for me) and time runs out before I can complete it, but I don’t ever quit before my coach yells “time!”, and I’m seeing those benefits every time I finish one that seemed crazy at first. It’s often so easy to just avoid something, or quit when things become or seem too difficult. Following through with something in the face of adversity? That takes courage. (And no, I’m not referring to a workout here, though it certainly applies)
The second thing that CrossFit taught me that I want to pass on to my son is this: We all face scenarios in life (death of a loved one, difficult bosses or jobs, or any hardship really) that seem impossible or insurmountable and we all think about quitting or giving up. Don’t. Just show up and do your best. Sometimes you’ll succeed and other times you’ll fail – that’s life. Just get back up, show up and do your best again. You’ll feel better afterwards, I promise.
Which leads me to…
3. No matter how tough things get, don’t give up. ‘See the success’.
There’s a point in every WOD – I call it the sticking point – where I feel like I might pass out or die. Ok, not really. But there really is a point where I feel like I can’t go on, or I have to stop and catch my breath or rest. But I always keep going (sometimes that’s because my coach or someone else encourages me to get back on it, but the result is the same) I always see myself finishing. I keep moving and I ‘see the success’. And it’s working. My times are improving. I don’t get winded as easily, and I’m stronger than I was when I started. Most importantly, I feel better. I think it’s because when that little voice in my head that tells me “I can’t”, or “I should give up” starts talking to me, I tell it to shut up. And then, I visualize my own success – in life, and in the box.
‘See the success’. My dad’s been saying that for as long as I’ve known him (which is almost 20 years now – wow, how time flies…), so this isn’t a new concept but wow, does it work! When you visualize anything, you’ll make it happen sooner or later – whether that’s finishing a WOD, or closing a sale, or booking a job, or anything really.
That’s the third thing that CrossFit has taught me that I want to pass on to my son: No matter what life throws at you, and no matter how much you feel like you want to give up, don’t. See the success, get back up and keep moving forward. You WILL succeed.
Is CrossFit for everyone? Definitely not. But the attitude definitely should be. And so should the community mentality. I truly think the world would be a much better place.
So there you have it. As it turns out, CrossFit (at least to me) is so much more than just a workout. It’s a way of life. It’s a mentality. And when you experience it on a daily basis and conquer these insane WODs, it’s impossible for that mentality to not bleed over into the rest of your life. I can’t wait to get Jacob into CrossFit Kids. As soon as he turns 5, he’ll run and jump and climb and play duck-duck-goose to close out the class. And then one day, maybe he’ll choose to continue on and do the Olympic lifts too.
One can hope, right?