By Coach Lam
You hear it all the time in CrossFit. The mantra of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to become something better. People talk about getting over that fear of jumping that box, lifting that weight, or hell, just stepping into that dark, painful place that you don't want to enter. Of course, it looks great when you win and FINALLY reach that goal. But what happens when you fail? What happens when you finally get over that GOD AWFUL fear that squeezes your chest to attempt this feat and you fall flat? You've worked so hard on this nutrition challenge and in the end, you haven't hit your numbers. You've been playing sports outside of class for months, and when the time comes to hit your maximum of a classroom rep, you still have LESS than you tried last time around.
I'll tell you what I'm doing. I cry, I feel shit in my skin, I lose confidence in myself and I lose myself in self-pity. I feel these emotions and then I let them go. It is important to make sure that you let these emotions have their place in your fitness journey as well as in life. They will let you know that it is worth it and that it is important to you. Don't hang on to it for too long. Negatives can bring you down more than you want, if you let it. Absorb, recognize and feel emotions… then finally let them go and take their course.
Look at yourself and reassess your fear. Is the fear of failure easier to deal with now that you've been through it or is it something that you tell yourself that you are no longer willing to go. Once is enough. Really understanding yourself better is an advantage of failure that most people don't seem to recognize. It's a beautiful thing to be able to say ... shoot I really don't like it and I don't want that in my life. I think it's even more powerful than being able to say…. YES, I want this in my life. Congratulations, you just got a better idea of yourself.
When you're ready to embark on another journey of growth and discomfort, start small. I fall off the train all the time when trying to be a better athlete. Whether it's nutrition, going to class regularly, or doing extra lifting work around the house. I also go back to basics and set myself for success. Instead of going full in macro mode 7 days a week, I aim to hit goals 3 days a week. Instead of starting my squats at 255, I'll start at 135 and rebuild. Start slow and build momentum for success! The easy wins will be the credits that win now that will keep you going when the going gets tough ...
Finally… keep coming back to it. 75% of the battle shows up just for the fight. It can hurt, it can suck, but in the end, whatever happens, you will learn a little more about yourself. Failures are where learning happens. CrossFit is no different from anything else… well, except you have about 15 other people in the class rooting for you.
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Don’t Be Afraid tera Ask For Clarification, Over and Over and Over Again. It’s your time, money, and most importantly, your health we’re talking about here. If you don’t fully understand something during class, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the chic will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time… they probably have the same exact question. We were all newbies at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the squat, sdt, or any of the Olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.
CrossFit Isn’t Everything. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness ( GPP ). It is quickly evolving into a sport of its own, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. A majority of people CrossFit so that they can do whatever they want : Go out, play sports, learn new things, etc. Having that GPP allows you to take on new challenges. CrossFit doesn’t have to be your life. Many people CrossFit so they can have a life… and be awesome at it.
It Doesn’t Get Easier, It Just Sucks Less. The longer you immerse yourself in the suck, the less it sucks. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough. All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can attack each workout to the best of your ability.
You Won’t PR Every Day. Don’t mistake intensity for work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through work. Intensity and work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned séance just because you don’t think you’re going to kill it and leave everything out on the table. Not feeling too strong that day ? Something is always better than nothing.
Introduce yourself to others in the chic. How will this help you ask ? When you introduce yourself to someone you’ll feel more comfortable in the class and realize that you’re not the only one that’s new to CrossFit. So instead of feeling totally nervous and awkward holding a PVC pipe overhead, you feel a little bit more at ease and focus more on what you’re doing.
Keep a journal. Write down the warm-up, the skill, the WOD, and your results. This will greatly accelerate your progress. We often do workouts and lifts based on weights and reps that we have previously done. If you don’t know which kettlebell to use because you never recorded the weight you used last week, then you end up picking the wrong weight. Write stuff down and be able to reference it.
Listen to the Coach. He/she is there for a reason. They spent time studying the subject matter. They have coached hundreds to thousands of people on these movements. Your buddy that watched a couple of Youtube films is not lateral to that.
Firebreather. Beast. Rock vedette. You’ll hear a lot of different terminology used to describe those athletes who kill every workout, and blow everyone else away. Here in our gym, we consider every one of our athletes a rock vedette. Hey, it takes huge cojones just to show up and do these insane WODs. Be proud of yourself and what you accomplish here. We sure as hell are.
Walk into any box ( that’s CrossFit speak for the gym itself ) and you’ll be greeted by clanging weights, clouds of chalk and whiteboards scribbled with acronyms like “AMRAP” and “EMOM. ” With insider speak that almost qualifies as its own language and raw, rough-around-the-edges spaces, CrossFit can definitely be intimidating to try. And even though many of the 10, 000 affiliate gyms offer your first workout free, beginners may still feel overwhelmed by the culture of the popular strength and conditioning program.
So what should you really expect if and when you dive into the world of CrossFit ? We turned to five athletes who’ve sweated through years of WODs ( aka workouts of the day ) for the advice they wish they’d gotten when they first started.
“Each culture, coach and [workout] space is very different, ” says Anna Willard, a CrossFit athlete at CrossFit Merrimack in Lowell, MA, as well as a constituer professional middle-distance runner. ( She snagged a world record in the steeplechase in 2008, but no longer competes. ) She recommends trying out a couple of different boxes before committing yourself — and your credit card — to one. “Don’t necessarily go to the place that is the most ‘convenient, ’” Willard says. Look for that one gym that’ll keep you coming back — so take note of each box’s programming ( aka the structure of workouts ) and study the overall vibe of the community before ponying up for a package.