What the Haters Should Learn From CrossFit

You don’t have to go join your local box to take home some of the positive trends from CrossFit.

(Source: Bev Childress)

CrossFit is no longer a fad or a trend, or even a style of training that will pass in due time. It’s firmly established itself as a major player in the fitness space. Not surprisingly, it’s received its fair share of critics, as well as disciples. There seems to be no middle ground, as both sides take staunch positions on beliefs that they will argue to the death.

But even for the entrenched CrossFit hater, there are valuable lessons to be learned from CrossFit. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with it as a training protocol, you’d do well to transcend your petty squabbles and reap the benefits of adopting some of the positive aspects of the movement.

Love it or hate it, CrossFit is here to stay and has done some incredible things for our culture, both inside and outside the gym. Haters and devotees may never see eye-to-eye regarding programming, exercise execution, and some of the other mechanics of training, but there are a few points everyone can agree on.

No Distractions

If you’ve stepped into any CrossFit box you’ll discover a few things off the bat. First, when compared to most commercial, big box gyms, there aren’t any mirrors present. Training is solely a focused endeavor without flexing or taking selfies. You also won’t find anyone on their phone or wearing earbuds, off in their own world. Lifters are focused on the task at hand. No TVs, smoothie bars, or useless forms of entertainment to thwart the workout.

CrossFitters are there to work, to get better, and to progress, not to catch up with the latest gossip, stare at the hottie in the mirror, or impress the next guy with a max bench press. They have a mission and want to get after it. Any lifter with a right mind can appreciate that.

If you’re a member of a traditional gym, be friendly, be courteous, but also get focused. Use the time you have to get some actual, life-changing work done.

The Revival of Community

Years ago (decades?) gyms were places where lifters met up with other lifters and trained together. It was a community of like-minded people who helped each other, motivated each other, and respected each other. Of course, this was long before cell phones and headphones.

These days, most gym environments play out like silent films. Everyone has earphones on and cell phones out. They are off into their own little worlds, never to be bothered. “Working in” is no longer a welcomed term, and good luck on getting a friendly spot.

CrossFit harkens back to the good ole days of the community gym. It is more likely that everyone knows your name, is motivated when you show up, and will actually root you on during training. Total strangers will create lifetime bonds which cultivate a positive, welcoming atmosphere. There’s no denying CrossFit’s influence on the sense of community.

Be friendly, engage with the people around you, and just as important, leave your phone in the car. 

The Accountability Factor

Accountability is perhaps the most powerful tool readily available at any CrossFit box. Since you’re firmly embedded in a supportive community of like-minded lifters, you have an unwritten obligation to show up and get after it.

Sure, you might have a group of fellow bros that expect you to show up at the local globo gym, but that’s where the motivation and accountability stop. They just want to see your face to catch up on the latest happenings with you; they aren’t very interested in pushing you to be the best.

Wherever you decide to train, create a close-knit bond with a few other lifters. Have an understanding that you’ll all not only expect to see each other on specified days but also push each other every day.

Set Real Goals

What are you training for? What will it take to get there? Do you have concrete steps in place that map out what it will take? Most lifters have abstract, undefined goals swimming around in their heads without any details of how to get there. If they were to try and write them down, they either don’t have an answer at all, or they shoot for an unrealistic ideal.

Many CrossFitters have step goals. They set benchmarks to shoot for, and their community provides the motivation to achieve them. No one at a box is self-made. They are a team of like-minded lifters that want each other to succeed as much as they do themselves.

Wherever you are with your own training if you find that you have goals that are loosely defined, sit down and write out what you realistically want out of training. Why do you go to the gym each day, put in the hard work, and stay strict with your diet and recovery habits?

Expand Your Comfort Zone

You step into the gym, select from your short list of familiar exercises, and then get to work. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but if you’re stuck in a rut and don’t know why you may want to look at your programming a bit closer. Many CrossFit boxes encourage their members to get quite a long distance out of their comfort zone. Many newbies simply haven’t been exposed to that type of training, therefore experiencing a myriad of different modes is a whole new world.

You don’t have to go to a box to shake up your own training. Every now and again, it’s good to throw out your current program and just do something completely different, no matter how you go about doing it. It could be something as small as going from a low rep range to a higher rep range on all exercises, or you could go more extreme and adopt a bodyweight-only program for a month. Just do something you’re not accustomed to.

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that CrossFit has single-handedly brought back important and effective principles such as community and camaraderie, among others. But the beauty of it is that you can apply these principles to any gym, club, studio or anywhere you find yourself training, sweating, and striving with others.