Adversity

“The greatest adaptation to CrossFit takes place between the ears.”
-Greg Glassman

People ask me all the time: “What’s the number one reason people don’t stick with CrossFit?”

The answer is easy- because it’s hard. Really hard.

Not because of injuries, not because of money, and not because of schedules. The number one reason people quit is because it never, ever gets easier. You just get faster.

Every day you are faced with a new challenge- the unknown and the unknowable. Your weaknesses are exposed, and your limits are tested. You are forced to truly measure your fitness, and reality doesn’t always align with your perception of your abilities.

Each class is a lesson in pain. Every workout elicits the inner monologue “Please, no more! Stop! I can’t! This is too hard!” Every rep challenges your mental fortitude. 

 

For some, that daily dose of adversity is just way too much honesty. People don’t like having to face their shortcomings. Nothing comes easily. There is no instant gratification here. The shirtless pictures and PR videos don’t depict the hours and hours of practice and training that were put into these momentous achievements. The smiling faces after a WOD, or the cheers for a big lift, gloss over the blood, sweat, and tears those athletes shed to achieve their fitness.

We live in a culture dominated by perceived happiness in the form of lattes on Instagram, vacation hashtags on Twitter, and happy families on Facebook. These filters make life seem warm, clean, and easy.

But none of this matches up with reality. Life is hard. And messy. There is always adversity, always. There is always some new obstacle that has to be overcome. A new project at work, or an unexpected bill to repair the house. As much as we strive to control it, life is about the unknown and the unknowable.

We like to say “CrossFit is for everyone, but not everyone is for CrossFit,” meaning anyone can DO CrossFit- regardless of age, sex, weight, fitness level- but not everyone will ENJOY CrossFit. Not everyone likes getting punched in the mouth by reality day in and day out. Not everyone likes to face that gut check- the “what are you going to do when this shit gets tough?” question every single day.

 

At some point CrossFit starts to transcend the physical to an almost a spiritual level. We engage in soul searching every single day. What will you do when every fiber of your being is pleading with you to stop? When you feel like you can’t possibly do one more round? What is your character made of?

You stop worrying about being the fastest or strongest. Times on the whiteboard become simply something to be wiped away. All you care about is what will you do when the pain comes. Because sooner or later you realize that it will come, every single time, without fail. How hard can you push when your lungs can’t possibly keep up with your legs? How will you face today’s dose of adversity?

It’s like taking a flashlight and examining every dark nook and cranny of your soul- everything becomes exposed. For some, this is a wonderfully excruciating journey that reminds us of our true selves. Others find this experience to be too revealing, and sometimes they don’t like the answers they find in that dark place.

I don’t mean this to be judgmental either way. I’m one of a few CrossFit affiliate owners that wholeheartedly endorse anything that gets people off the couch. I say it all the time- what we do is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there for you. I want you to be happy and healthy and enjoy whatever you’re doing physically, not force a program on you that doesn’t suit you.

But if the question is “What’s the number one reason people don’t stick with CrossFit?” then the my answer is “Because it will never be easy. The only constant in CrossFit is adversity, and not everyone likes being so wildly exposed every single day.”