The Emotions of CrossFit

So maybe it’s because I’m just exposed to it as part of my job, or maybe it’s because I’m sensitive, but I see a lot of anxiety in people. And it’d be really cool to just have a magic wand to say “Hey, you’re okay. Relax. You know what, you’re good.”

For whatever reason, this whole CrossFit thing tends to expose people pretty quickly. You become raw. You can’t really hide. Occasionally the demons in our head can take root and start to tell you that you’re not good enough and if only you were different you’d be better/happier/less anxious/more secure.

Maybe it’s because I see it a lot that I’d like to tell you that you are good enough. Like I mean we all see everyone’s highlight reel without really seeing their behind the scenes. How many times has a friend told you something and you said “I had no idea!”?

You’re not broken, or incomplete, or fuck it even unloveable because you weigh a certain weight, look at certain way, or are even “only” able to lift a certain number.

If this was said to me I would probably disregard it as well. It’s easy to brush off well intentioned and well meaning words with “yeah but you don’t know”. And maybe I don’t know. Hell, I’m sure I don’t know. But my hope in writing this is that it’s at least one positive message for you that may help you out. And I’m all about helping people šŸ™‚

I wonder if we see what others see would we have a much better opinion of ourselves?

I’ve long held the belief that it really isn’t what you do or what you achieve (or attempt and fail even, which is probably a better barometer of someone. How many hits you can take and still keep moving forward.)

It’s the people you share it with and the relationships you have which I personally believe are ultimately the most important thing. That human connection. And that’s really what we get in CrossFit.

I’m coming to the conclusion (dangerous I know) that all of this is really just people’s therapy. It’s therapy for a number of reasons.


It gives you a sense of control. So I believe in The Happiness Advantage they got college students suffering from depression to just take care of one square foot worth of space on their desk. Their rooms could have been full of pizza boxes and they had difficulty bathing in the morning but they started with something small like one square foot. Gradually, being able to control even the tiniest aspect helps.

When you’re in the gym, you have that control and mastery over just a small fraction of your life. That 1Kg PR doesn’t mean anything really, and yet it means everything. It’s seeing the reward for all the hard work you put in. So many other aspects of life may feel like a crap shoot, and you’re not entirely sure your efforts had any impact, but that PR you earned every bit of it, and can stand over it with pride.

It’s probably the only place that you are truly mindful as well. When you approach that back squat, you’re in the moment, and all that matters is the squat. Ditto with a horrific metcon. Sure, you may want to escape that particular brand of mindfulness but you’re fully present in those burpees!

That horrific metcon however does help release a lot of endorphins, and potentially that big problem you had before your workout doesn’t seem so insurmountable any more.

I think the main reason I love CrossFit is the connections we form. I mean, really, behind it all, is a place where everyone knows you. They see you at your most vulnerable (no one takes an unfiltered selfie mid workout) they probably see your insecurities more than you allow most – you can’t hide them – and that’s why they love you.

CrossFit is your happy place. You share your struggles with those who admire and inspire you. Afterwards you laugh away the pain of the wall balls and strangely look forward to the next time you feel like death mid WoD.

While writing this I’ve thought about and had discussions on what happens when this safe place becomes an addiction, and what happens when it gets taken away through injury or life circumstance.

There’s a bunch of things around this. Firstly, when you ‘lose’ your social group you feel threatened. Like it’s a survival mechanism in humans because we evolved in small groups and getting removed from that group essentially meant death.

That’s why it hurts and is scary.

You couple this with the fact that naturally we’re wired to focus on the negative. We can only focus on what we can’t do, and what the loss is, rather than the opportunities it may present.

If I’d to propose a solution to this it would be to remember that being a CrossFitter isn’t the only thing that defines you. And it is not the sole determinant of your value, or your happiness.

We all have that tendency to mistake intensity with permanency. Intellectually we know the highs, nor the lows, won’t last for ever. The trick is remembering this in the moment, enjoying the highs as they last, and knowing the lows won’t continue forever.

To scale it back from the drama of injury, this can become an obsession when we find something we’re good at, or believe we can be. You may be the best there ever was, and you may not be. But sport is cruel. Unfortunately a bitter pill to follow is just because you work hard, and really REALLY want something, is no guarantee of success. You may never reach the lofty goals of where you think you can be. All you can do, all you have control over, is to do the best you can in any moment. You shouldn’t be any better than that. Do your utmost (even if that’s just showing up and going through the motions sometimes) and let the chips fall where they may.

And I suppose this brings us back around to the initial point. Your worth isn’t determined by where you finish in a workout. You’re not 15Kg less a human than that girl who out lifts you. You’re not 2 minutes less valuable than the guy who has the gym record. You’re you.

I think maybe, just maybe, if we all accepted ourselves even a little bit more like the way we accept everyone else, we’d all be a little happier and enjoy our journey a little bit more. Hell, I’d wager we’d get closer to our ideal selves that we’re always chasing šŸ™‚

And for God's sake, savour this!

And for God’s sake, savour this!

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