10 Things To Learn From CrossFit

CrossFit has gained popularity, especially within the past few years. Despite the growth of the CrossFit community, however, there are still many people who will never walk into a CrossFit box or attempt a WOD. I hear it all the time: “I’m not fit enough to do CrossFit yet” or “I’m scared!”

It’s natural for people to shy away from things we’re not good at and stick to the things we are. I get it. Nobody wants to start something and get their badunks handed to them right away. No one likes that feeling. Everybody has been there one way or another with something in life. But let’s face it: in learning anything new, you’re not going to be an expert at it right away. Before you run a marathon, you need to learn how to walk first. Before you write a novel, you need to know your alphabet first. (I like analogies…)

I believe people should give CrossFit a chance. Having CrossFit as a part of the “lifestyle” can teach one many things, but I have narrowed my list down to ten things one can learn or be reminded of from CrossFit:

10. Variety is the spice of life

CrossFit workouts vary on a day-to-day basis and that’s what keeps it exciting. Like life, it’s good to try new things. It’s fun! It’s good to change things up or else you’ll get bored out of your mind. You’ll get stuck in a rut and your body will plateau if you’re doing the same thing over and over. To get better results and to be able to stick with something long term, you’ll need to change things up and keep it exciting.

9. Competition is good for you

No matter how good you think you are at something, there is going to be someone better than you — especially at CrossFit. You may be better at some movements/workouts than the person next to you, but there are some movements/workouts that person is better at. The friendly competition is good for you; it keeps you on your toes. One way to get better is to be around those that are better. You shouldn’t get discouraged by being around those that are better but instead use it to your advantage by aiming to keep up and push even harder. Also, use it as an opportunity to learn something from them.

8. Welcome challenges

It’s no secret that CrossFit is very challenging. Whether it be your 1st CrossFit workout or your 1,000th CrossFit workout, it will always challenge you. It doesn’t get any easier but you will get stronger, better, faster. How? By constantly putting yourself through challenges and workouts and overcoming them. It’s similar to how “Gold is tested by fire” — by putting yourself through fire, you will come out a better and truer athlete than you were before.

7. Be more prepared in life

CrossFit will help you with your daily life. Whatever it is that you do now, you will do it better. Are you already an athlete in a different sport? CrossFit will help you become better in whatever sport you are involved. Not an athlete prior to CrossFit? Well, you are now an athlete of the sport called “Life,” which throws many things at you. With CrossFit you are more likely to be ready for anything that comes your way. Also, the tasks you do on a daily basis will become easier and more efficient, even little things such as housework or taking a trip to the grocery store. For example, if you’re a man, and a woman asks you to move or pick up something heavy, doing CrossFit will teach you how to properly pick things up or move things around and to do it with ease. If you’re a woman who does CrossFit, very likely you won’t need a guy’s help to lift/move something or help you with your bags of groceries or bottled water cases. You can do that yourself! (Girl power! Unless you want your guy to feel like a “man,” then by all means go ahead and let him carry it.)

6. Humility

In CrossFit, you’re constantly reminded to “leave your ego at the door.” No one has to tell you that aloud because the workouts will constantly remind you of this fact. No matter what level of fitness with which you begin your CrossFit journey, you’re going to feel like you suck sometimes and wonder,”What the heck have I been doing all my life?!” CrossFit will point out your weaknesses just like a critic. While some choose to think of constructive criticism negatively, there are those who embrace it with open arms; they choose to not take it so personally and use it to turn those weaknesses into strengths.

5. Confidence

On the opposite end of the spectrum from humility, CrossFit gives you confidence. You don’t know something is possible until you do it. You don’t think you could do a certain movement because it seems impossible… but once you do it, you surprise yourself and what was once impossible to you was made possible. It may have taken a few progression movements and a little bit of time but guess what? You finally did it! Now, what’s next for you to tackle/ improve upon? The list is endless. You can tackle/ improve upon anything!

4. Be encouraging/Help others in need

The last thing people need in this world are naysayers, debbie downers, haters, and the like. It is very unlikely you will find that in the CrossFit community, as most CrossFitters are really positive and encouraging. Why is that? Because they know what it feels like to go through he** during a workout. They have empathy for what you’re going through and they praise you for doing what you do. That could mean a lot when you feel like giving up. They say CrossFit is the only sport that has the most cheers for the last person finishing up a WOD as opposed to the first person. And because you know how much encouragement can push you harder, you use the “Golden Rule” to give encouragement back to others as well. Similarly, everyone in life is going through their own battles, big or small. Always be encouraging and help others to overcome them.

3. Perseverance

CrossFit teaches you to never give up. During a WOD, you’re racing against time and within that time you have to focus and give your 100% the entire time, even when you get tired. Your 100% effort towards the end of the WOD may not be the same 100% in the beginning of the WOD because of the pain your body is feeling, but if you allow that pain to cause you to give up, then you don’t succeed. The worst thing that you could do is give up. In the same way, you should never give up on goals, dreams, and whatever it is that you truly want in life. And when you’re going through a tough/painful time in life, don’t give up! Just like a WOD, that pain is short and temporary. That pain will make you STRONGER.

2. Mental toughness

CrossFit definitely makes you tough. In addition to physical toughness, CrossFit gives you the more important attribute of “Mental Toughness.” According to Wikipedia, “Mental Toughness generally describes a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances and emerge without losing confidence.” Before every CrossFit workout or a really difficult lift, you get that nervous feeling because you’re scared of the unknown. You don’t know whether or not you’re going to be able to lift that amount of weight you put on the bar or if you’re going to fail & bail. You also don’t know how you’re going to get through that workout you’re about to do once the clock starts. But during the lift or WOD, you hear all the voices in your head — your mind telling you one thing vs. your heart vs. your body. When you overcome that voice that is telling you to quit, you mentally become tougher and realize that you can overcome anything difficult.

1. Share happiness with others

CrossFit helps you to become a better version of yourself in a variety of ways, and I’ve narrowed it down to 10. It’s certainly obvious that doing CrossFit has many health benefits as well for your body. Just to name a few: it helps you minimize the risk of diseases, gain more energy, and have a better mood — all of these will lead to a better quality of life. When you’re making healthier and positive changes for yourself and you are surrounded by others that are doing the same, you will stick with it and likely be happier in general. The happier you are, the more happiness you’ll be able to share among others in your presence. Happiness is contagious and inspiring, so go out there and be stronger, be better, be happy and be inspiring!

* Today marks my 5th year since I first did a CrossFit WOD (1/24/2009).  I LOVE CrossFit!

**  This post is also on Tabata Times.