We each have our own ‘relationship’ with CrossFit. Trying to explain this relationship to an outsider can be tricky. After all, it’s far more than just a fitness program—it’s a sport, a community, and a lifestyle. And as is the case with any relationship, there are ups and there are downs. So when times get tough, step back and reflect on these 10 tips to make sure your relationship with CrossFit is a happy one.
1. Get involved with the community
You’ve heard it before—CrossFit is founded on the affiliate community. When you get to know the people that attend class with you (and those who attend other class times too), you gain a good group of workout partners—people who will hold you accountable to your goals, who will progress with you, support you and challenge you to become a better athlete. Moreover, they’ll make your experience in CrossFit more fun! No one wants to celebrate PRs by themselves, and misery loves company. The relationships you build at your box can transcend the walls of your affiliate. It’s more than likely that some of the friends you make at the gym will become friends for life. Lastly, don’t discount the value of dropping in at other gyms and attending local competitions, or even competing in them yourself. It’s always good to get a reminder that you’re part of this giant, worldwide family that is committed to health, personal growth and CrossFit. There’s a communal sense of “all for one and one for all”, typified by the support that each and every athlete—regardless of age, creed, sex, shape or ability—receives at the box. So don’t ignore the community—embrace it and be a happier CrossFitter for it.
2. Celebrate the small victories
You can’t achieve a major goal in every class. That first unassisted pull-up or 10lb PR on your back squat comes after months of effort and failure. Indeed, many times you’ll have a workout where nothing seems to go right at all. Your numbers were lower than normal, and the WOD just beats you down—both physically and mentally. But even on the worst days, there’s something to be proud of. Yes, the WOD may have won, but you should be proud that you didn’t quit and you persevered through the pain. OK, your numbers might be far lower on the strength work, but perhaps your form was much improved, your bar path far more efficient. Trust that there always be small victories to be had in every class, and you’ll be far less resentful about those terrible workouts.
3. Put failures behind you
As important as it is to celebrate small victories, you must also strive to put poor performances behind you. Every athlete has days where things just don’t move in the right direction. The bar feels too heavy, your engine isn’t there, motivation is completely lacking—and that’s to be expected. The key to a lasting relationship with this sport is to understand why this happens and accept it as a byproduct of your training. To put these failures behind you, mentally recap the session and ask yourself, “Why?” Maybe your poor performance was a question of fatigue (and therefore time for a rest day or two), or something more specific (such as a lack of a decent warm-up, proper mobility work, poor weight selection, etc.). Understand, assess, accept and move on.
4. Appreciate your progress
CrossFitters have a tendency to obsess over the present and future—rarely do we take the time to truly appreciate where we started, and how much progress we’ve made over the months and years. It’s hard to recognize major developments on a day-to-day basis, but when you think about your first month of CrossFit—what weight you could move, how well you could move it and how often—and compare it to your present performance, you’ll surely be astounded. It’s good to get a dose of perspective now and again in order to remind yourself that you are indeed moving in the right direction. It’s just another reason to track your numbers—it’s the best way to measure your progress from month to month (or year to year) and compare your past PRs against your current ones.
5. Stop comparing yourself to others
It doesn’t do anyone any good. It doesn’t matter if you’re comparing weight, time, or physical appearance and worrying about what others think of you. It’s important to remember that we’re all unique and our strengths and weaknesses can be as varied as our personalities. While CrossFit is a community-based sport, it’s also a very personal endeavor. If you spend too much time focusing on the performances or opinions of the athletes around you, you may lose sight of the journey—you’re not training for yourself anymore. Be supportive of your fellow athletes, but be devoted to your own progress. Don’t get sidetracked by comparing yourself to others and you’ll be that much happier for it.
6. Learn about the sport
Whenever something interests you—a new hobby, a travel destination, a book—it’s likely you take the time to do a little research and learn more about the topic in question. Why wouldn’t you? As humans, we are an inquisitive species, and we like to be well informed about the things that spark our curiosity. CrossFit is no exception. While it may be a young sport, it does have a rich history—especially when you consider how it started, the growth of the affiliate community and the evolution of the CrossFit Games (from a barbecue throwdown on Dave Castro’s ranch to a Reebok-sponsored event broadcast live on ESPN). Take the time to watch some of the great documentaries from CrossFit HQ, such as ‘The Test of Fitness’ and ‘Letting Beauty Speak’. Dive into the sport headfirst—you’ll learn a ton and be more appreciative of the community that you’re a part of.
7. Get outside the box
News flash—there is more to life than CrossFit. Shocking, I know, but it’s the truth. We should all strive to be well-rounded individuals, both in our fitness and character. That means doing other activities outside of the gym, like playing other sports, going to concerts and traveling to new destinations. In addition to providing you with active recovery, mixing things up away from the box can help you to avoid burning out. It’s also great to see what you can do with your newfound fitness and mental strength by testing yourself with new and exciting challenges. Finally, if you spend enough time away from CrossFit, you’ll likely realize how much you miss training and hanging out with your friends at the gym—absence makes the heart grow fonder!
8. Be consistent with your training
When people get better at something, they become happier too. Everyone likes to see hard work pay off, but the only way you’re going to improve in CrossFit is if you’re consistent with your training—both inside the gym and out. Those people who attend classes for a week, miss the next two then show up for a few days will not see consistent progress, leading them to become frustrated with their training and CrossFit in general. Woody Allen said that 80 percent of success is showing up, and that rings true in all walks of life. If you want to become better at CrossFit—and thus be a happier athlete in the process—you have to commit to showing up and doing work at the gym on a consistent basis. No cherry picking the workouts!
9. Enjoy the journey
The great American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” This is also true for CrossFit. What is the value in getting upset with yourself when you’ve had a bad workout? If anything, leaving the box with a negative mindset will likely impact your performance (for worse) the next time you work out—not to mention affect your life outside of CrossFit. So you’ve had a disastrous workout. But before you turn into the Hulk and crush everything in your path, first remember there are always small victories to be had (see above). Second, take a moment to think about what went wrong, and pick out the things you can learn from. Finally, take comfort in the fact that both the box and CrossFit isn’t going anywhere—tomorrow’s a new day and with it comes the opportunity to smash a PR. So give yourself a break and enjoy the journey!
10. Know your why
Finally, a crucial part of remaining happy with CrossFit is reminding yourself why you do it in the first place. We all have our reasons—be it for stress relief, health or fitness goals, the social environment or for sporting competitiveness. We started CrossFit—and continue our memberships—because it ticked those boxes. That’s how CrossFit brings us satisfaction and happiness, but after repeated weeks of training, it can be easy to forget why you do it in the first place. The physical stress takes a toll on the mind and the body, so on the days where it’s not all that fun remind yourself of your “why”. Hopefully, you’ll be reminded that doing CrossFit helps you to feel fulfilled in those areas, so dealing with those brutal workouts is a small price to pay for the happiness you get in return.