8 Life Lessons Learned Through CrossFit

Does that sound melodramatic?

CrossFit as a metaphor for life. Even more dramatic?

I know. You want to punch me in the face, don’t you? I get it. I am drinking the Kool-aid. And it sort of sounds ridiculous. But stay with me.

When I moved from New York City to a small town in Connecticut, I knew I was going to have to find a way to meet new people. After spending about 2 weeks working from my home office and only interacting with other human beings when I picked up and dropped my daughter off at daycare, I REALLY knew I was going to have to find a way connect. With humans. In ways that did not involve a computer.

I’ve always had an affinity for working out. I knew that I liked to sweat. I knew that yoga makes me angry. I knew that my knees had had enough long distance running to last a lifetime. And I knew I needed to find a way to talk to some humans while working out. Okay fine, my goal was to network professionally and to perhaps come across a couple of single members of the opposite sex, all while working out – lots of birds, one stone.

A friend of mine suggested I check out CrossFit Hook’d, which was perfect because my sister had also mentioned being interested. So we signed up for a trial class, and were greeted by a group of super supportive and friendly athletes – and a coach who may be the only person I have met in CT with a larger personality than my own.

So far, so good.

The first class felt like I had entered a foreign country and everyone was speaking a language I had never even heard of. WOD, metcon, AMRAP, thruster, clean and jerk, snatch…my brain hurt. I was frustrated that I didn’t instantly get it, but at the end of the class one of the owners and the coach assured my sister and I that we would catch on – so we committed to a month.

Seven months later, and I have never taken less than 3 classes in a week and cannot get enough of it.

Usually by this point in any workout routine, I am bored and having to play little mind games with myself to get my ass in gear. But not with CrossFit. And for the past few weeks I have been wondering why. And, well I think it is because so many of the lessons I have learned in the gym (sorry CrossFitters – I am still struggling with calling it a box) not only apply to real life, but in some way have taught me some valuable lessons.

 

  1. Get out of your head. I realized a few months into my new routine that I’d leave the gym feeling like I had just had a mini-vacation – despite physically pushing myself harder than I ever have before. Seems sort of oxymoronic – right? Well here’s the deal – when you are pushing yourself that hard physically you need to focus equally as hard mentally. And there is no room for the “Am I a good mom? Will I be able to afford college? What is the next professional step I should take?” internal conversation. And ya know what, when that radio station is turned off, your performance is about 1000% times better – everywhere. And being forced to take a break from that noise feels like a mini-holiday.
  2. Rest is as important as the work. I just finished something called The CrossFit Games Open. It’s basically a virtual competition where people all over the world are doing the same five workouts over five weeks. They are hard. Like really hard. And they required me to pace myself in order to be able to complete them to the best of my ability. And I realized what pacing yourself is. It’s valuing rest as much as you value work, because rest helps you perform the work even better.
  3. Hard is not bad. Speaking of hard…it’s not bad. It’s just…hard. And so it goes. I’ve said this many times before as it relates to being a single mom, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s bad. Same goes for a crazy intense work out. The harder it is, the better I will be the next time.
  4. Looking at how far you’ve come is as important as looking at where you want to go. I’ve borrowed this lesson directly from the pages of the blog from my gym. Okay fine. Box. You win. Anyway, the post was called “Don’t Look Back? Wrong.” and it emphasized the importance of recognizing the work you’ve done to get to where you are. Yes. This is important. And I forget to do it about 98.7% of the time.
  5. Make it family friendly and the parents will come…and stay. Okay – so my CrossFit workout has not generated any dating leads. And that is either because I repel men OR it’s because I joined a super family friendly gym. Most of the athletes have kids (and are married), the owners have kids and they even have a kids room. Knowing that my parental status isn’t an issue keeps me committed, feeling welcome and allows me to make this work with my life. Perhaps a few corporate environments would like to take note. Moving on…
  6. The feeling you get when you are on the other side of your fear is one of the greatest feelings of all. I’ve been in the middle of workouts where I think, “I am not sure I am going to be able to get through this. I am not sure I can hop up on the damn box one. more. damn. time…I am not sure I can lift that damn bar over my head one more time…” And then…I do. And it is one of the greatest adrenaline rushes, actually very similar to the rush I got when I’d sit in a network news control room, scared out of my mind that I could not possible process all of the information I needed to in the time I had before the show went on the air. That feeling – it builds confidence. And it’s awesome.
  7. If you aren’t careful you will smack yourself in the face with a 55-pound barbell. This happened to me a few weeks ago. Totally my own fault. I wasn’t focusing enough on my form, I was lifting more than I ever had for this move and when I swung the barbell up, I nailed myself in the forehead. I saw stars and my eyes teared. Knowing my limits and remembering that when I push them I need to be even more focused – was a nice little reminder.
  8. At the end of the day – it’s the people who make the ride enjoyable. When I left my job in network news to work from home consulting, a close friend and colleague said to me, “I know you will miss news, but I really know that more than anything else you will miss the people.”  It’s always the people that make the ride worthwhile. The athletes (my sisters being two of them) and the coaches who provide the support, the camaraderie and even the teasing I tee myself up for – are far and away the best part of this newfound obsession.
My sis, myself, my daughter and my niece.

My sis, myself, my daughter and my niece at CrossFit.