The pioneering spirit of CrossFit is well documented. CrossFit is inarguably a fitness revolution changing lives, and reinventing definitions of health and athletic performance. Moving away from niche capacity to general physical preparedness in a supportive athletic community reinvented the landscape.
But this article isn’t about that. It’s about the individual expression of our pioneering spirit.
Have you ever wandered into the forest (or desert or mountain side) with the electric thrill of adventure crawling up your spine and a sense that you are not only going somewhere new, but also challenging nature? What word would you give this feeling? And when the pleasant exploration of a journey transitions to pain, sweat and discomfort, why do we keep going?
Some folks need a challenge. Not need in the way people need a car to get around, but need in the way we need air, water and food. I would hazard a guess these are the same sorts of people who, for millennia, explored nearly every portion of our planet. They went over mountains, across oceans and crossed continents to see what was there. Why? They may’ve hoped to get rich along the way, but if that was their only intent, they could’ve stayed home and become bankers like their families wanted.
We don’t have that same opportunity for adventure anymore. We’re running out of frontiers, and those remaining are outside the reach of the fiscally mortal. Only individuals with deep pockets and a string of investors can explore the depths of the ocean or sign up for a launch into space. Not always does the spirit of adventure meet the axis of riches. What do the rest of us do?
Many folks express a sense of personal discovery from the advent of CrossFit. A void that left them feeling listless and undirected, vanished with extraordinary consequences. What is it about CrossFit that makes some people feel more complete?
CrossFit is an opportunity to test ourselves against the clock, against the weight, and against each other. Of course CrossFit makes us healthier, builds a community of support and gives a higher quality of life to those who practice it safely and appropriately. People espouse these many benefits, but again and again the quintessential CrossFit introduction is a sense of getting smashed by triplets, while others excel.
This realization of mortality and inadequacy is repeatedly identified as the impetus for the continued practice of CrossFit. Most folks don’t like to admit they like pain, but in agony, true value is identified. When we suffer, we learn what we believe in.
CrossFitters develop a unique understanding of challenge, and its appeal is particularly strong to those who have felt this adventurous urge for so long and been unable to find (or afford) an outlet. Each workout offers the opportunity to test, to push. So many of my conversations about fitness and threshold intensity relate to finding your boundary and pushing it back, bit by bit.
This is what the Pioneers who explored our great country, and indeed the entire world, did. They looked at the edge of the wood line and wondered what was out there. Then they took the risk, grabbed a weapon and walked into the darkness to see what they could find. Fortunately, our athletes don’t usually feel they need to grab a weapon before walking into a CrossFit facility, but many of them experience the same trepidation I felt as a kid walking into the woods by myself. We need those boundaries. We need to find them, and then we need to put our shoulder down and push them back.
I have heard it said that CrossFit is for everyone, but not everyone should do CrossFit. Then I see the enormous amount of energy and work that goes into ensuring scaled workouts are available to absolutely anyone regardless of physical capacity or impairment. So then, if not everyone should do CrossFit, who is it not for? It’s not for those who accept the boundary; it’s not for those who think we don’t need to know what’s at the bottom of the ocean; it’s not for those who avoid the tingly feeling at the bottom of the stomach that says this might be a bad idea.
CrossFit is for entrepreneurs and adventurers; those who follow that feeling, not to prove themselves, not to make them better than anyone else, but to find out who they are, and who they might become.
Coach Gerry is the owner and head coach of CrossFit Huachuca by Paladin Fitness.