September 2017 will mark my 10 year anniversary of finding CrossFit. If you’re interested in that story you can read it HERE. What I’d like to do in this post is compile some of my thoughts and lessons learned over the years. I truly hope you enjoy it.
The last 10 years have been quite a journey for me. This gym (I still haven’t bought into calling it a “box”) started as a bootcamp. You know the thing- run around, get sweaty and feel good about it. It was OK but I wanted more strength training in the mix. I felt strongly that the only way to improve fitness is to change it up. You can log all the miles and elliptical revolutions as you want but if you’re missing weight training you’re never going to have balanced and complete fitness. Don’t even get me started on tiny, neoprene covered weights.
You can’t be something you’re not.
My class laughed at my attempt at drill sergeant voice. That wasn’t me. Guess I can’t be a coach. Luckily for me, even though they did laugh at that attempt I didn’t give up coaching. I’m a teacher (who knew) and there is nothing I love better than dropping some knowledge about the WOD or technique for improvement in class. I’m not a yeller. I’m not a cheerleader. I know that now.
You can’t get it all at once.
CrossFitters have to be good at everything. Strength training, gymnastics, conditioning, olympic lifting…
So why then, adult newbie CrossFitter are you so bummed that you suck at pretty much all of it? Especially when your previous exposure to working out was the treadmill and leg curl machine. Sure some athletes come in and fire on all cylinders right away. But most don’t. It takes years to get a base of strength. It takes years to become proficient in olympic weightlifting. Conditioning will improve quite rapidly but if you’re coming in overweight then gymnastics are going to be a struggle.
You can get upset when things aren’t going the way you want. Or you can come in every day, earn every rep, fight for every inch and know that drop by drop you’re improving.
Hype can only take you so far.
I can’t stand hype. I can’t stand this culture we’ve created in which “experts” aka “Bob and Mary” aka “generic person in the world” are using their platforms to tell you what you need. “Buy this product and you’ll magically lose weight, feel better, blah, blah, blah.” Listen- be smart, be objective and think about it. Any and all quick fixes are not going to last. Will weight come off if you eat only cucumbers? Yes. Can you live the rest of your live subsisting on cucumbers? No.
Nevermind that I’m using my platform to inform, instruct and teach a better way. The difference? It’s not a quick fix. The charlatans telling you otherwise? Don’t listen. Taking the the quick, easy way is like driving your Ferrari off a cliff. You’ll get to the bottom fast but things might not look like you thought they would.
You are a product of stress.
Physical, chemical, emotional- good or bad these are the stresses placed on the body 24/7. The quality of each determines the quality of your body. They are all interconnected. A steady diet of poor sleep, twinkies and overwhelming thoughts can create a maelstrom that overpowers the best of us. Keep things in check as best a possible. Control what you can- hours of sleep, food units, and for goodness sake get some sunshine on you.
On this same note…too little stress (ie. tiny, neoprene covered dumbbells) aren’t enough to drive strength adaptations. No strength adaptations = little to no muscle change. No muscle change + cardio = you looking exactly the same but a bit smaller. If you want to look athletic and increase lean muscle you’re going to have to lift. There is no such thing as toning. There is only stronger or weaker. It’s really a choice.
My initial thought about almost every CrossFit WOD during my first month was- “How hard could this be?” I still do it from time to time. I did it last week. I should know better by now.
Everyone’s facing something.
Moment to moment and day to day it’s easy to be self focused. I can easily get frustrated with people (probably not any of you) if I’m worried about me. When this happens I try to look through their lens. What’s going on with them outside the box? Why are they thinking/doing what they are? Many times you and I get so wrapped up in our own movies (lives) that it’s hard to relate, difficult to understand and just plain work to see it from another perspective. Try. More often than not “motives” are pure and disagreements are misunderstandings. Empathy and communication are keys.
What fun is this thing if you don’t share it? I love working out with my crew at the box. Yea, I said box. The shared suffering, the joking around, the push for each other is all a part of what I love about this thing. When my guys aren’t there to train I don’t have the same drive. Don’t let your friends down…get to the box.
Play time is a must. Have some fun in your training. Enjoy the benefits by doing something else- flag football, ultimate frisbee, a 5k or fun run. Spikeball, anyone?
Moving forward slow is still moving.
When we officially became CrossFit Waxahachie in 2010 there were a lot of directions I could have gone. Over the years I’ve been very slow at steering the ship. CrossFit and the constantly varied, functional movement executed at high intensity has always been our true north. So for me I didn’t want to start a bunch of programs and classes that I couldn’t follow through with. We’ve lasted over the years because we’ve kept the main thing the main thing.
Likewise in my own fitness journey, I’m making small improvements each and every month and year that when seen in a totality of years are staggering.
I’m proud of the little gym (box) we have here in Waxahachie. I’m blessed to be a part of this community. I’m thankful for our awesome coaches. As I look back would I change things? Sure. But as I look ahead, I feel we’re still heading the right direction.
Dr. Chris Biles, DC is the head trainer and owner of CrossFit Waxahachie. He is a Level 2 CrossFit Trainer and is passionate about all things fitness. He has competed for many years in adventure racing, mountain and road bike racing, and marathons. His main sport now is the Sport of Fitness- CrossFit.