Oh, CrossFit. You’ve done so much good for the fitness community. You didn’t introduce this notion of “high intensity workouts” ,but you sure did put a spin on working out that made it more fun. You got A LOT (and continue to do so) of people off the couch. You got A LOT of people addicted to working out. So please don’t let everything in this article come off as “negative” toward a brand that has done so much good for the world, but I think it’s time we address the elephant in the room...CrossFit created a monster.
Let’s just get this out of the way for those who aren’t members at a CrossFit gym. What exactly is CrossFit? By it’s own definition, CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. That’s it. Simple right?
Note: I LOVE this. Again it’s not actually “new” to the fitness world, it’s just an innovated version of ways things have been done in gyms in the past. Nonetheless, it’s great.
...But then you added a scoreboard and turned this shit into a contest of “Who’s the best at working out every day?” And that’s where the monster was born. It’s not all CrossFit’s fault. But similar to the way I can no longer wear workout pants that aren’t LuLuLemon, CrossFitter’s can’t even workout without trying to keep score every day.
Yes competition is healthy and it can be awesome in so many ways, but what if it wasn’t there? Could you still get a good workout in? Could you still enjoy your time in the gym? Would you keep showing up? Because the reality is this -you’re going to reach a point in life where you have to prioritize something else (family, work, kids, etc.) over your 2 hour gym session.
Are you okay with that? Are you content with only being able to show up to class, workout for 45 minutes, not even worry about your score on the board, and rush out the door to pick up Baby Oliver from daycare?
For so many people the “scoreboard” is what drives their workouts every day at their CrossFit gym. It’s a mental stimulus that they crave. But at some point that fades. You wake up one day and you aren’t 25 years old. Instead, you’re 35 years old working 60 hours a week, juggling your kid’s sports schedules, and trying to find time to even make it to the gym 3 days/week because you can barely find the time. You did CrossFit for 5 years when your schedule was a lot more open and you crushed it - top 5 on the scoreboard every day. Hell yeah! But, now you’re a nobody at your gym. The new 25 year olds are running circles around you in every “WOD” that you do, and you’re in the corner trying not to barf up the burrito you had for lunch. Not to mention that you’re barely getting 4 hours of sleep a night, so one CrossFit workout now leaves you sore for 6 days.
So why keep doing it?
Are you enjoying it? Not really.
Is it helping relieve stress? Not at all.
You’re actually more stressed now because you used to be good at this shit. Now you suck, so you dread writing your name on the scoreboard knowing Sammy Snatch Balls is going to come give you a hard time after every workout because he “smoked you by 4 minutes bro!”
The reality is this -you have to dig deeper. You have to find a better reason as to why you work out than the scoreboard alone. If that’s what attracted you to CrossFit, I would be willing to bet that on a long enough timeline it will also be part of what makes you walk away from it.
Whether you workout in a CrossFit gym or not, my opinion is that you should be tracking data on how much you lift, how fast you can run a mile, how fast YOU did a benchmark workout at your gym, etc. Whether you want to compare that to your workout homies or just to yourself from last year, I don’t really care about that either. But, you NEED to dedicate a portion of your training habits to simply enjoying the process.
Don’t keep score every workout. Just show up. Train your mind and body to be satisfied solely with the fact that you made it to the gym, worked out for 45 minutes without being distracted by your phone, and were able to burn a few calories while you were at it. At this point you’re gonna look better than 95% of your class at your 20 year reunion anyways, so you’re #WINNING right?
Remember: The girl who trains 3-4 days/week for 40 years and progressively gets a little better at everything is always going to end up more fit than the girl who trained 7 days/week for 1 year, ran herself into a wall because she trained so hard, and then gave up completely because she fell victim to the monster.
I’ll leave you with these words that I read in an article from one of the owners of a CrossFit gym in Dallas, Texas:
You have to find your own root as to why you show up at the gym every week, because the scoreboard isn’t enough. The scoreboard mainly drives the ego. But, beyond the ego is a soul and a heart that we all have. Gosh, I guess that's true right? I'd like to believe that behind the hard shell of having a life and job that looks successful is this ultimate desire of the heart to either be of use to someone or to something; To be lost in that effort.
That acknowledgement, or priority, is way cooler, way more personal, and will drive behavior when motivation isn't in abundance.
The magic is in connecting something VERY important to you. Back to the behavior and habits we initially said was the 'rote answer' for all of us.
So as the CrossFit Open season is upon us, I challenge you to do one thing. And it has absolutely nothing to do with how “fit” you are.
Go deeper. Find your why.