Working on your Fitness

Working on your fitness.  What does that mean?  It means that in the gym, your fitness experience belongs to you.  You are in control of the type of experience you choose to have.  Sound weird?  Don’t believe me?  Maybe that reflects the type of CrossFitter you are.

What Kind of CrossFitter are You?

Have you ever taken a minute to reflect on the type of CrossFitter you are?   Did you even know CrossFitter was a word?  It might not be, but I’m pushing to make it official!  To be serious, though, taking a minute to think about our approach to the gym and to our fitness can help us make adjustments that will lead to reaching or even blowing past our goals.  Such reflection helps us understand why we may not be progressing the way we hoped.

After CrossFitting for almost 8 years and coaching for 5, I have watched a lot of athletes in the gym, and in my mind, almost all athletes can be described by one of four categories: Passive, Passive-Aggressive, Aggressive-Aggressive, and Balanced.  Understanding the category you fall into is a first step in understanding your performance in the gym and maybe making necessary changes to allow for progress.

The Passive Athlete

A Passive Athlete shows up, goes through the motions of the workout, and leaves.  This athlete does not set goals or worry about making progress.  A Passive Athlete does not evaluate his or her performance and is not really looking to progress, but just looking to get a workout in.  A passive athlete does not mind being coached, but will probably not make major changes based on the coaching he or she receives.  Being a Passive Athlete is not necessarily a negative. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to get a good workout in and get your sweat on.   At the same time, if you are wanting to see strength gains and progress on skills movements and you are taking a passive approach, you will be disappointed.   If this is the case, you need to take a more active role in your own fitness.

The Passive-Aggressive Athlete

The Passive-Aggressive Athlete wants to improve.  He or she has goals, although they might be vague or general.  The Passive-Aggressive Athlete is unhappy with his or her current performance and wants more.  However, this athlete may show up and go through the motions of the workout.  He or she does not do extra work or seek out coaching advice.  This athlete may always use the same weights and scales but also be frustrated he or she is not making progress.  This athlete may blame his or her lack of progress on outside factors, like coaching, programming, or other athletes.

Often, the Passive-Aggressive Athlete complains but doesn’t actively seek out solutions to problems and may constantly see him or herself as the victim.  The Passive-Aggressive Athlete is almost never happy and often quits CrossFitting all together, never reaching his or her goals.  Having a passive-aggressive approach to CrossFit can pose a big problem for an athlete.  Realizing that passive-aggressive thought patterns are occurring and finding ways to avoid them can be the key to jump-starting progress and finding happiness.

The Aggressive-Aggressive Athlete

The Aggressive-Aggressive Athlete is hyper-competitive, hyper-focused, and hyper-sensitive.  This athlete wants to win every workout and is constantly refreshing Wodify throughout the day to see the score to beat.  An aggressive-aggressive athlete may never be happy with his or her performance and may find themselves overtraining in an effort to reach perfection.  While an aggressive-aggressive athlete is motivated to progress and may see some progress, he or she might also be putting some obstacles in his or her own path.

The Aggressive-Aggressive athlete is never satisfied.  A constant cycle of never being good enough can eventually break an athlete’s spirit.  It is hard to give 100 percent day after day if you never get the satisfaction of feeling like it was good enough.  This can cause the aggressive-aggressive athlete to burn out on CrossFit pretty quickly and give up on themselves.

Aggressive-Aggressive athletes also have a tendency to overtrain since they are trying to be the best at every workout.  All that overtraining can cause injuries.  Even if an injury doesn’t occur, overtraining means the athlete’s central nervous system never recovers.  This reduces the athlete’s ability to reach maximum intensity in a workout.  Instead, the athlete is slogging along through all of the training and not making the gains he or she might if he or she was resting adequately.

The Balanced Athlete

As with almost everything in life, moderation is key when it comes to your attitude in the gym.  It is important and healthy for an athlete to take an interest in his or her gym life.  Set goals and do extra work to achieve them.  Ask a coach questions.  Seek to understand why a workout is structured the way it is or what you should be doing to reach a certain goal.  If you don’t like the way things are going, reach out and express that.  Be your own advocate in the gym.  You are paying to get a great workout and to reach your fitness goals.  If you feel that isn’t happening, take an active role in making it happen.

On the other hand, it is important to keep the proper perspective.  For 99.9% of us, working out is not about winning the CrossFit Games.  It is about being fit and healthy so we can enjoy our lives.  Making goals that reflect our desire to improve is great.  Wanting to win the world every workout, however, can defeat us in our quest for health and happiness.

The answer, of course, comes in balancing between taking charge of our fitness and keeping our fitness in proper perspective of how it fits into the rest of our lives.  It’s also important to remember that our value as a person doesn’t come from our performance.  Whatever reason you CrossFit, be sure that the main one IS NOT so that you feel worthy as a person.  That unhealthy attitude can send you right into aggressive-aggressive mode.

In the end, if you can find a balance between taking charge of your fitness and keeping your fitness in the proper perspective, you have a chance at having a long, healthy relationship with CrossFit that will help you live a healthy, active life for years to come!  What could be better than that!?