A workout can test your character. The barbell can question your courage. The burn in your lungs will push your determination. CrossFit is an excellent judge of who you are and what you are made of. The WOD’s can cause us anxiety and fear, which is a very real and healthy reaction that we ultimately need to apply to our greatest task: life.

Some of us like to look at the workout before hand to see what we are in for. Others dont like to look at it for fear of what is programmed while others look at it to cherry pick whether they will come or not. Why? A fear of failure plays a role. We look at the workout as it is prescribed and we reason that we cannot do that weight, that movement, or that much volume. The box jumps scare me. I can’t do overhead squats. This is the wrong attitude to have. We need to come to every workout we can no matter what is programmed. We will not be experts at everything in the beginning. Rowing may crush us because we can’t seem to get a hard pull in. The only way to get better at rowing is to do rowing. You become better through struggle. Behind every obstacle is the person you want to be which happens to be the person you see in others and the person you assume will never be you. Workouts are an excellent expression of this attempt-fail-attempt-succeed lesson of life. Workouts also teach us the vital lesson of scaling. If you want to dead-lift 500 pounds you do not load up 500 pounds and lift. You start lighter, working with what you can handle right now, and you add a little bit of weight every week, every month, every year until you are lifting 500 pounds. The workout shows us that we must attempt a heavy lift, succeed or maybe fail, attempt it again, and again until we get to our goal. The workout teaches us that we must be broken down, subjected to stress, to fatigue, to our fears in order to get better. If we keep coming back and doing the things that are a struggle to us then we will be/are better.  

Our body is designed to handle this process. We have muscles that are easy to repair. We have a host of hormones that are meant to increase our breathing, tighten our vision, pump more blood, and ready ourselves for action. Danger and hardships are very real but fear is a choice. As children we tend to be fearless and don’t know what is dangerous or not. We go recklessly about life without a care or a thought of the consequences. Through time we are taught about this danger, these consequences to our action. This is a healthy and natural reaction since some pain and injuries can alter the quality of our life. It is when we let this potential danger overrule our thinking that we become fearful. We ignore the benefits of the fight-or-flight response and grow scared of the world and in small scale our workouts. This healthy reaction, which is actually a call to action by our body, turns negative and we start fearing movements, we cherry pick the workouts, or we don’t push ourselves.

The gym is a wonderful place to learn these lessons. We must outgrown this place and see how these lessons apply to our job, our relationships, our finances, and our happiness. Take these lessons and stay away from compartmentalizing them to only the gym. Our workouts can always be made harder if we choose to take on more. Life can be made more rich as well as have more struggles if only we choose it. We each make that decision the moment we wake up, just like the moment we decide to check the WOD, to not look at it, or to cherry pick our workouts. I have a phrase written on the announcement board: “I’m not telling you it is going to be easy. I’m telling you it is going to be worth it.”