CrossFit’s mantra is “be better than yesterday” and there are a few specific members at your box that will help you achieve that goal. CrossFit is an individual sport, but with a community aspect, so you can use your fellow gym-mates as motivation and inspiration.
Here are the four types of CrossFitters I think can be most helpful and why:
1. The Elite Veteran
The first athlete is the elite veteran who probably has been at the box since day one. When you think of your box, he’s one of the first people that jumps into your mind. Why? Because he lives, breathes, sweats, and bleeds his gym and the sport. He is also territorial (in a good way). He probably has numerous shirts that say his gym affiliate’s name and he wears them proudly. He not only represents himself, but he confidently represents the culture of CrossFit.
Having a person to look up to at the gym automatically makes you want to become a better CrossFitter. The elite-veteran athlete is personable and everyone can relate to him on some level. This person is serious about his workout, but he is equally as serious about helping his box be the best. He can often be mistaken for a coach because he willingly helps, give tips, cleans up after WODs, and enthusiastically encourages everyone. He knows the sport and his box inside and out.
The elite veteran is there everyday and he’s been in your shoes, so use his knowledge to your benefit. Ask how he started. (It’s helpful to hear his background so he doesn’t just seem like some superhero. He had to start somewhere too!) When the going gets tough, these are the athletes who are right there to help push you through it. Mimic his dedication and soon you’ll have it, too.
2. Your Opposite
This is the person who is the most unlike you – and that’s why she is beneficial to your success. Use your differences with your opposite to drive your motivation during the workout. Maybe she is competitive and you aren’t, maybe there’s an age difference, or maybe she comes from a completely different athletic background. In any case, you don’t immediately identify with her because of your differences, but your differences help you realize where you can be better in your fitness.
Maybe you can’t do a skill as well as your opposite in the beginning, but that’s where the friendly competition starts. You will naturally want to get to her level, so you pay attention to the movements she is better at and you put extra focus into that skill to improve. She will help drive your motivation silently because most likely you aren’t friends – yet!
But once you find this person, I think it’s best to tell her that you’re driven by her hard work and that having her in the gym makes you better. I just told my opposite today that I wanted to beat her in the 400m run segment of the workout because I knew she could get through kettlebell swings much faster than me. That’s how I gauged my speed – staying in front of her in the run so we would even out in the end. It’s a friendly competition, seeing her succeed makes me happy – and it goes both ways.
Having competition with someone who possesses your opposite strengths will help you pay more attention to the weaker areas of your fitness. Welcome the competition with your opposite, he or she is probably thinking the same way as you anyway.
3. The Newbie
Every time you meet a new member it takes you right back to the reason you started. Having a constant reminder of the specific reason you wanted to try CrossFit and become a better athlete could be motivation you need. Ask a newbie why he chose the sport. Not only will it make him feel comfortable that you are interested in talking to him, but it will help reinforce why you both are there.
Plus, talking to and helping the newbie will make the gym run more efficiently. New members may not know the different size bars or where weights stack, so help them. Be humble and think of it as paying it forward, because surely someone did the same helpful deeds for you in the beginning. They probably will be one of the last to finish the WOD, stay and cheer them on. Again, it’s that positive experience in the beginning that will help them feel comfortable and perform better.
The newbie is beneficial because it makes you want to be the example that others were for you. It helps you slow down and remember that, yes, CrossFit is an individual sport, but the box is a community. It’s a reminder to be kind to everyone, respect the gym, and to be on your best behavior – because that’s what you expect and you should be the example.
Who knows you best? Who knows what’s going on in your mind, your strengths, weaknesses, body, and injuries better than yourself? The most important thing is to listen and trust your body.
In the beginning, skills or even mobility stretches feel strange and strenuous. It’s your body adjusting to your new sport. You should try to go the distance, but also listen when it’s too much. Your mental capacity will change, too. Fifty wall balls is a big volume for newbies and veterans, but you’ll finish, and probably faster than you imagined. Allow your mind and body to compete. Your mind will tell you to stop long before your body does. Challenge yourself. That’s why you chose CrossFit, right?
The competition in CrossFit is to be better than yesterday. So, I ask you, what can you do today to make you better than yesterday? Look for these four athletes in your box, I bet they will help your progression.
Photos courtesy of CrossFit LA.