Maybe exercise is a lot like life. Maybe life is a lot like exercising. Maybe I’m just looking for life metaphors in all the wrong places? Whatever your particular choice of exercise routine if it doesn’t challenge you, it might be time for a change. For me, the CrossFit brand and Crossfit’s approach to exercise & nutrition seems to fit at this moment in my own life: “Constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity.”
Whether you have been doing CrossFit for a while now or maybe 2019 was your first CrossFit Open, this time of year is special. Your CrossFit gym is abuzz and you are either too new to know exactly “why?” Or you are a grizzled veteran who could care less about the shenanigans your box puts on to help get everyone in the “holiday spirit.” When you are new, every class is like “drinking from the firehose” and each new movement is a new Personal Record (or “PR”). For the veteran CrossFitter, PR’s are generally few, far between, and hard fought.
Rookies and Vet’s alike have all seen the videos of athletes making their way around social media of athletes getting their first: HandStandPushUp, MuscleUp, or Pull-up in the Open. These firsts are magical accomplishments and should be celebrated with dances and high fives. However, open accomplishments are more than just “firsts.”
For me, the Open is about tracking my progress over the longer term…and isn’t that what we are really here for? I can compare 17.4 vs. 16.4 (same workout one year later.). Same goes for 16.5 vs 14.5. Test & retest are exactly why we have “benchmark” workouts like “Fran,” “Grace,” and the “CrossFit Total,” to measure and chart your progress over time.
I like to see my progress against previously performed workouts but what about the progress that is harder to find? What about progress against that enemy that reappears every few days, or sometimes it may not rear its ugly head for weeks, but then there it is…“18.3 is…100 double-unders…”
“Oh no”, i think to myself. “I suck at double-unders” (for any non-CrossFitters reading this: #1 Sorry. #2 A double under is an exercise done with a jump rope in which the rope makes two passes per jump instead of just one.).
I can do the movement but I have not gotten around to getting proficient at it. Now, here we are, 18.3! I am decent, maybe even pretty good at the other movements but double-under’s have just not been a priority during my CrossFit career. Now is truly time to “pay the man” and I do not have enough money in the bank!
I struggled through this workout once and then a second time, bettering my initial score by a few reps. The immediacy of NEEDING to get better quickly meant I was to seek out all of the coaches and fellow athletes that were better at double-under’s than me to get some tips or feedback. I then would head home and scour the internet and youtube to find instructional videos from the pros. Incredibly, I found the most helpful videos to be the very beginner videos that broke down the simplest things, like how to grip & hold the handles and how to breathe.
One week later, I feel like a professional (or maybe “serviceable, leaning towards, decent, and maybe with some practice, “good.”). A week late, for sure – but now I am ready for next time!
If 18.3 had simply been “another Friday workout,” I would have said “Double-Unders’s…well, at least I am good at the accompanying movement…I’ll get to those pesky Double-Unders another day.” But it wasn’t just another workout, it was an OPEN workout!
Ah yes, back to my point: “The Open” – it creates a sense of urgency that I sometimes do not have in my day to day, workout to workout. It also may not be as groundbreaking as getting your first pull-up, or as internet-post-worthy as getting your first Ring Muscle Up, it just might be making a point to tighten up that basic movement that you have been saying to yourself that you need to work on. In any case, there is still magic in the CrossFit Open, you might just have to look a little harder to find it.
More broadly in my life, just as with fitness it’s when we start getting too complacent that it might be time to tune things up. Get better at the basics. Look for a new challenge. Try a new skill, no matter your age or level of expertise. If you still have breathe left in your body, you have a chance to learn something new.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual