The Point of the Clock

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CrossFit gyms in general tend to be pretty intimidating to most people. There is so much focus on measuring things by the clock or rounds completed, and comparing to everyone else, that it seems overly competitive. Competition definitely helps us push ourselves, but is the clock just there to remind you that you were slower than that other guy? You have a program noted for dizzying levels of intensity and bone-crushing strength requirements. There's very little to encourage your average person, who can't even do a pullup, to join a group of people without hope of ever reaching that level of fitness. I think the problem is that a lot of the more successful gyms are populated by people who are already accomplished athletes, or are at least very strong to begin with. Since success in CrossFit is based on measurable results, what does it mean if your results don't measure up?

One thing I like about CFS is that the people there are generally not already elite athletes. All of us started with a lot of weaknesses, some more than others, but we all wanted to improve. Andy and Kristi are invested in helping everyone grow, and I think that is what makes CFS stand out. The focus is more on growth than on pure results. If it was on pure results, then it wouldn't matter that you came every day and tried your best, you still wouldn't be treated as a valuable member of the community until you had really great performance. But what incentive would you have to do well if you were marginalized because you were just another average gym-goer? How long would you stay in CrossFit if you knew you'd only be valued when/if you became competitive? Alternatively, how long would you stay in CrossFit without the push to improve?

CFS strikes a fine balance between encouraging growth and accepting current limitations. Everyone is welcome there, as long as you are willing to push yourself. I'm not saying this is not true for other gyms; I cannot speak much for them. I just imagine it would be difficult to find a good balance.

Big Little People

Sometimes I wonder if I personally would do better if I were surrounded by the massive guys that make it to the games. Would their increased performance spur me to try harder? I don't think so. There has to be the impression that there had been growth and development for inspiration to work. I would have to see these excellent athletes struggling to become great, or at least know that they had made that struggle.

We have people from all walks of life at CFS, and all fitness levels. One thing that we all have in common, however, is a powerful drive to be our personal best. I have been constantly amazed at how determined many of my fellow CrossFitters are when it comes to finishing WODs and pushing themselves. Even with the knowledge that they won't finish within the allotted time, they will keep going until the end. They endure excruciating pain, without even the satisfaction of a great score, day after day, in their quest to get better. They derive satisfaction from personal growth, and that is what really counts after all.

I know I talk a lot on this blog about how, ultimately, the standards that matter are those external to us. It isn't good enough to just be alright. You must be up to the task at hand. I still believe that is true, but I also maintain that part of achieving that excellence requires the ability to be just 'good enough for today.'

The great thing though, is that we're all average people. After working out, we put on our normal clothes and head off to our day at work. We don't have bulging biceps and pecs that threaten to pop the buttons of our shirts. But in actuality, the only people that train at CFS are much more than ordinary. We may not be CrossFit games contenders (and we may, but that's besides the point), but we approach and push past our limits every time we workout. Nobody at CFS stays in their comfort zone for long. It is much more admirable to have lower limits, and to still rush headlong into them every day, than to have infinite ones that you are content to let sit undisturbed.

More Than a Workout

Andy and Kristi have built much more than a gym. They have built a community of people that support each other's growth, that see in the slowest, weakest, and most awkward the same value (or more) as the fastest, strongest, and most coordinated. And because of that, we are all made more well-rounded athletes, and more importantly, well-rounded human beings.

So as we head into sectionals, let's keep in mind that fitness is a process of growth and equilibrium, not a journey with a set end point. Sure, we'd all like to do well, but there's more to that than getting a good score, even though CrossFit is really about concrete, measurable results. It's possible though, that by holding ourselves to measurable standards, we start to see some immeasurable results, and that is the point of the clock.

Image Source: Phosy on Flickr