Amidst all of the change that naturally comes with a new year and its resolution/goal making, it is important to remember why it is you started CrossFitting in the first place. Ambition is super high right now, but too many goals could lead to a sense of pressure and feeling overwhelmed. The vast majority of people do CrossFit because it makes getting into shape fun. It turns out you can have your cake and eat it to, so to speak. The second it starts to be anything else but fun is when you need to stop to reevaluate your goals before going down a road increasingly difficult to come back from.
I recently had a discussion with an old friend during which I discovered she had stopped CrossFitting. As an avid and enthusiastic CrossFitter myself I was naturally curious about why someone would stop such an amazing program. My curiosity quickly turned to understanding when I found out why. She said she’d stopped CrossFitting because it became too stressful. She was putting so much pressure on herself to do well and to improve quickly that it stopped being fun. The passion was gone.
I wasn’t really shocked by my friend’s answer because it sounded all too familiar to me. At one point during my 4th/5th year of CrossFit it all became a little too much for me. Not setting a PR was the end of the world. Knowing the workout before hand would ruin my entire day all the way up until finally doing it. It wasn’t because CrossFit changed. It’s stayed the same amazing program it’s always been. Instead, I changed. My focus turned from friends, fun, and fitness, to being the best, being perfect, and winning now. I’m a very competitive person, and that started to not mix well with CrossFit’s inherently competitive nature. And, trust me when I say this, that road is a very slippery slope few come back from.
For me it was about going back to basics. I first started CrossFit because I wanted to stay in shape. It was also a great opportunity to hang out with friends. We were just discovering CrossFit and it was exciting trying brand new movements we’d never done before. It’s now six years later but I’m realizing that it can still be that way. The only difference now is that I work out with a group of friends exponentially bigger than the group I started with, and that I’m no longer discovering new movements. Instead I’m working to improve upon the advanced ones. There’s still plenty of fun to be had.
Why so sad?
The irony is that most of the pressure zapping away the fun is usually of the self-imposed variety. For whatever reason we convince ourselves that others only care about our scores. From a trainer’s perspective I can tell you that we absolutely care about our members progressing, but mostly in the long term. In the short term it’s much different. If you don’t set a PR for a given workout, but we can see that you are working as hard as possible, we’re still a very happy bunch. As for your peers, they’re probably so focused on their scores that they are totally unaware of how you’re doing.
Life happens. It gets in the way a lot. You won’t always PR and thats perfectly fine. The goal is the future. Whether you realize it or not, we all have at least one goal in common. That is to be functional and independent at old age. Think about it. Is that something you want? Of course it is. Coming into the gym, working super hard, and not PRing is still putting you into a strong position to achieve that goal. At the end of the day workout out hard can never be a bad thing, so cut yourself some slack every now and then.
Back to basics
If you too find yourself losing the passion and the fun it might also be beneficial to refer back to Chris Spealler’s Training CrossFit vs CrossFit as a Sport blog. If you’re simply training CrossFit then you should be relatively stress free. Get in the gym, put in an awesome effort, then go home. There isn’t much more anyone can ask for. Training for competitions is a little different, but still similar. Naturally, there will be a little more stress when it comes to competing on the big stage. The underlying theme, though, should still be to have fun. The only difference is the competitor’s definition of fun. For them the thrill of testing their abilities against others in the community is what they live for.
To sum up, make goals. Want to be better. Embrace the positive change that comes with a new year. But never forget how much fun CrossFit can be. Remember your workout routine before finding CrossFit? There’s a reason you ditched that for us. There truly is nothing out there like CrossFit. The constant variation and the community make the fitness journey fun and enjoyable. Never lose sight of that and you’ll reach every goal you set for yourself. Yes, setting PRs are awesome, but so what if you don’t? What matters most is that you come to the gym and work hard each and every time. When you start to feel that annoying self-imposed pressure coming on stop to think about how great life is. You’re surrounded by friends, you’re making positive changes in your life, and a year from today you’ll be an infinitely better version of yourself. In fact, speaking of irony, with a different mindset and the weight of the world off your shoulders you’ll probably start to set more PRs than you ever thought possible.