I didn’t know it on that first cool Spring morning that I rode my bike into CrossFit Discovery Downtown to meet Robert VanNewkirk, but this motto is the real reason I feel instantly in love with CrossFit.
At the time I was running. A lot. And I loved running (still do). But I wanted something… more. I wanted change. I wanted a team. I wanted to be pushed.
I was hooked from the first workout- the same first workout I make all our athletes do now. Ten minutes: complete as many rounds of a 200 meter row, 10 strict presses, 15 air squats as possible. Simple. Basic movements. Yet my athletes will tell you- those were probably the longest ten minutes of their lives. As my legs started to burn with every pull of the rower, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.
Or so I’d thought.
I thought I’d found a way to take my training to the next level. To push myself to my absolute maximum as an athlete. I’d found what I’d professed to want: a team, a family, coaches, and true fitness.
Don’t get me wrong: I HAD found all of those things. And I loved it (still do… even more so today than I did then). And I have worked hard to achieve the greatest overall fitness of my life.
But none of that is what I was actually looking for.
“Getting Better Every Day” is such a simple, kinda hokey, almost cheesy slogan that it is easy to overlook. It isn’t funny or sarcastic, it doesn’t jump out at you, and it isn’t very original. But it is the most important lesson you can ever take away from CrossFit.
Unfortunately, we in the CrossFit community can be a little obsessed with “getting better” in terms of our “fitness” and our “competition.” From time to time we all do a little “whiteboard worshiping” meaning we care about our times or scores more than we care about actually getting better as athletes and as people. That drive to “win” today’s WOD inevitably goads people into “rep shaving” (claiming 10 reps when you only completed 8) or sacrificing basic mechanics in order to finish faster.
Look, we all want our fitness to improve. We want lower Fran times, higher CrossFit Total scores, blah blah blah. I know we all check the board to see how we stacked up against everyone else. I’m not saying this is WRONG– the competition is what makes it easy for us to keep the intensity up. I’m saying just don’t lose perspective… we don’t hand out medals for “winning” a WOD. If you beat someone by 5 seconds, but completed 6 less reps, did you really “win”? The truth is I don’t really care what your time is, be it first or last. What I care about is DID YOU GET BETTER?? Once you embrace this attitude, you will truly be on the path to enlightenment.
The second step will be to realize that not every day is a PR day. That you CAN get BETTER by goinglighter. Or less intense. Or skipping the WOD to work on skill work. Coming in every day and jamming your foot down on the gas pedal isn’t always what you need to do. Trust me- the day you get your first muscle up is going to be more exciting than being “first place” in some random ass Thursday WOD. The point is… did you get better today as an athlete? Did you take the time to learn the proper landing for a snatch? Did you practice your double unders? Or your kip? Go hard. High intensity is important. But don’t neglect your weaknesses for the sake of bragging rights on the whiteboard. (That’s ridiculous… you know I’m erasing that shit at the end of the week, right?)
Finally, I’ve learned this: the reason I fell in love with CrossFit is because of the impact it has on all aspects of your life. Did you get better today as an athlete? Great. Did you get better today at your job or in your career? As a parent? Further your education? In your relationship? In your spirituality?Find a way to make yourself a better person every day. I’m not saying you have to work on everything every day, but pick something… Go put the toilet seat down 100 times to reinforce the muscle memory- and commit to always putting it down. Want a real life 20 min AMRAP? Go play tag with your kids. Sit down and update your resume. Learn a new yoga pose. Do SOMETHING to make yourself better every day. “Getting Better Every Day” should apply to every aspect of your life.
That’s what I love about CrossFit. I’m here to make people better people, not just better athletes. And the awesome thing is… the mental toughness you learn at the box- the “I don’t care if this is tough, I’m going to push through it,” never-back-down attitude carries over too. Tough day at work? At least it wasn’t 100 thrusters for time.