This Is Supposed to Be Hard

What you fight to overcome in the gym makes you stronger for everything outside of it.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great. “

This Tom Hanks quote from A League of Their Own has become a cliché. But here’s the thing about clichés: they’ve become such because they are true.

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great. “

This Tom Hanks quote from A League of Their Own has become a cliché. But here’s the thing about clichés: they’ve become such because they are true.

So call it cliché if you like, but “the hard” is what makes CrossFit great. It is also why it’s not for everyone. As much as the diehard CrossFit Kool-Aid drinkers like to say CrossFit is for everyone, that workouts are infinitely scalable, and that your 98-year-old grandmother can do it—it’s not for everyone. Yes, CrossFit is all-inclusive in the sense that the movements and ideology can make all bodies physically strong and functional. Yes, your 98-year-old grandmother can scale CrossFit enough to make her body stronger and more functional.

But success in CrossFit mostly relies on the mental fortitude of said grandmother. The scaling possibilities are only effective if the individual has the willpower to greet the challenges of the workout with moxie.

The true “hard” of CrossFit lies in-between the ears of the person whose quads feel like they are on fire, but not as on fire as their lungs. What makes CrossFit hard is the decision that person must make, as their body shouts obscenities at them, to stay and fight instead of quit.

What Makes a Quitter Stay?

Is it possible to disregard the protests of your body in the middle of a workout, begging you to rest? Ask any of the thousands of people who do it every day. Many of them will tell you stories of their first experiences with this internal battle of will and how, in the beginning, they listened to the protests; they quit when they thought they were at their max output level. But then, they will continue to tell you how they learned to push past them and find another gear.

How did those people graduate from being “quitters?”

One word: Community.

CrossFit has created environs in which mutual support is just as much a part of the fitness regimen as back squats and running. In group classes, the person who finishes last is often the person receiving the most applause and cheering. And it isn’t a millennial “everyone gets a ribbon” thing. This cheering and support come from genuine respect and admiration for the finisher because he or she has just shown great mental strength by facing the challenge the workout presented head-on and not giving up, despite seeing their fellows ahead of them or maybe even lapping them.

Cheering happens in CrossFit because everyone at one point or another has been in their shoes, has been last, has struggled to finish that final push up or pull up, but somehow found it within themselves to physically make their body cooperate with their mind. That mental effort is what is rewarded with support, and what keeps them coming back for more. No one cares how you scale or modify the workout at that moment—just that you don’t quit. And with a creed like that, the community breeds itself to be full of stronger, healthier people.

The Community of Hard

The lesson of resiliency is the bread and butter of CrossFit’s success. I doubt you could find someone who is great at being a mental badass during their CrossFit hours and a complete weenie in their outside life. One valuable lesson in the gym bleeds into our personal lives. Hence why the communities within these gyms become so close-knit; the people are made of the same stuff.

  • They see the value of hard work, despite a little discomfort along the way.
  • They see the value of supporting those around them, because it always comes back in return.
  • They see the value of learning about nutrition to aid in their health and longevity as well as increase their performance in the gym.
  • They see value in trying new and challenging things without the fear of failure or judgment.

These shared values of the community are what make CrossFit valuable in itself. From personal experience, I can say I have formed relationships with people from my CrossFit gym that will last the rest of my life. I moved to San Jose knowing one person and living alone in a studio apartment. That one person introduced me to CrossFit Moxie, and from there I have found the best human beings I’ve ever met. Not because they do CrossFit, but because they are honorable, caring, hard-working, honest people who invest in me and my personal development as much as their own.

I began my coaching career here because this community brings out the best in me. I walked in four years ago as a CrossFit newbie and got punched in the face by 1k row time trials my first week. The next week saw me running out of the gym crying after my first attempt at “Elizabeth,” because ring dips are apparently really hard.

But today, I am immersed in CrossFit because it gave my life new direction and continually forces growth. To give the workouts alone all the credit for that would be a bold-faced lie; the people who do the workouts with me who have taught me about striving for more in and outside of the gym.

Hard Makes Life Easier

Rest assured, I have learned countless lessons about failure through the variety of movements CrossFit asks you to master. The biggest lesson is the response to failure. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be good at something the first time I try—or the 100th time. I just have to keep freaking trying. Eventually, if you stick with it, you’ll get that first ring dip, that first double under, or that back squat number you’ve deemed as THE weight. Once you learn to battle through the physical discomfort and frustration in order to reach that physical goal, other outside fears and frustrations in your life start to feel like trivial tests of will, rather than impossible mountains to climb.

Deciding to pursue writing was a scary undertaking because it seems like foreign territory for me, even with the English degree I earned a couple years ago. I doubted if I’d be able to string a decent series of thoughts together on paper that wouldn’t make my former professors cringe while reading. But then, every decision I’ve made that has given me butterflies has turned out to be the right one. Moving to San Jose to finish my degree: check. Joining CrossFit Moxie: check. Choosing to coach instead of taking that tech job: check. Deciding to write on my own terms: hopefully, in a time, “check.”

Thanks to countless scary attempts at learning muscle ups and deciding it was worth the risk of falling right through those rings in the process of learning, I can now take the same approach to life with confidence. Will my first few articles be my best? Probably not. But does that mean I should just not try in the first place? Nope. If I had never tried to do one pull up, I’d never be able to get that muscle up. If I never tried to lift 100lb over my head first, I certainly would’ve never been able to lift over 200 over my head. Baby steps, persistence, progression, patience, and of course, moxie; words I so frequently use to coach my clients are the same ones I try to reinforce into my own noggin.

I take my representation of my community and its values seriously. To do so, I have to walk the walk, even if I’m nervous as I put one foot in front of the other. I know as a coach, I am by default the example to the 200 members who take advice, encouragement, and instruction from me every day. So I better be a good example; the kind they can be proud of and respect because I practice what I preach.

The adjusted statement from earlier now reads “CrossFit is for everyone*.” Everyone who is willing to accept a challenge, knowing they might often fail to complete it, but not fail in giving their full effort. Because, well, “it’s supposed to be hard…the hard is what makes it great.”

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