I'm not a genius. I'm not a personal trainer. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Despite all that, I still managed to learn the secrets behind living a healthy lifestyle and staying fit. Oddly enough, all of these secrets start with a "C" and they are all a big part of CrossFit. Funny how that works right?
Consistency is, hands down, the most important aspect to any workout program. Before CrossFit I found it so difficult to have anything close to consistency in my workouts. Some weeks, I would get to the gym and jog (briskly walk) on a treadmill for thirty minutes before getting bored and leaving without breaking a sweat. I would think to myself “well, a light workout is better than nothing at all” and that would be it. I would reward my brief, light exercise with weeks of rest and laziness.
Other weeks, I would go to the gym every day and sort of stumble from one machine to another, without any clear goal in mind. I would do five-ish reps on a whichever machine at whatever weight until I got tired, and proceeded to take a fifteen-minute water break. I simply could not stick to any type of program or commit to an active life style; that is, until I joined a local CrossFit affiliate. At first, I was taken a back by the class-based structure of any box. I wanted to workout on my own time for however long I wanted, doing whatever I pleased. That was, until I took my first class. I was so excited by the programing.
I slowly grew to love the idea of getting through a brief but intense workout and feeling good about it. I fell in love with concept that I just have to commit to putting one hour of work in each day to get results. I quickly began to feel my mindset change completely. The gym went from being a chore I dreaded to something I looked forward to. Going to my box and getting my workout in became, not only an important, but an essential part of my daily routine. Now, I feel incredibly put off when I miss a workout. Doing a WOD (Workout of the Day) is as much a part of my day as showering, brushing my teeth and going to class is. The consistency that CrossFit demands is truly one of the keys to success not only in working out, but in accomplishing any goal and making improvements for life, not for a week.
Constant variation in CrossFit goes hand in hand with consistency. Save for a few hero and benchmark wods, I have yet to repeat a wod in my fourteen months of Crossfit. For this reason, I never get bored with working out. I never dread going to the gym for “leg day” or “arm day” or “mindless cardio day.” I don’t even look at the WODS beforehand anymore because I enjoy the surprise of working on a new skill everyday. The challenge of constant variation pushes me to become a stronger overall athlete, as a I can not hype focus in on one muscle group or one exercise, because CrossFit doesn’t allow for a single minded athlete to achieve success.
Regardless of the box you go to, community is an undeniable part of CrossFit. The group aspect of CrossFit is a central part of the algorithm that makes the program work. I go to gym not only to get a good workout in, but to see my friends and catch up with a group of like minded people. The friends you make working out are worth the price of an unlimited monthly pass in itself. Seeing my friends is one of the most powerful incentives to get me into a box and stay there; for minutes or sometimes hours after a wod is over. The CrossFit community is one that promotes collaboration and success, not only individual, but as a community. CrossFit is an environment where everyone has the same goals in mind and is, for that reason, an environment that is conducive to success.
Critics of CrossFit point to lack of emphasis on form as the primary for injury. This may be true for some gyms, but, in my experience the coaches I have worked with express the utmost care for their clients and have heavily emphasized technique as a keystone of fitness. Care is undeniably the tipping factor that differentiates a superb box from a subpar box. The care that coaches should have for their clients does not end at correcting form, but expands to a more personal level. Coaches who care about your success as an individual and athlete will push you harder. These coaches are the ones who will constantly be there when your reaching PRs and getting movements you never thought would be possible. Good supplies, programing and classes can only get you so far; but a coach that cares can elevate you from a casual fitness enthusiast, to a true athlete.
When I talk about competitiveness I am not talking about competiveness with other athletes in your box (although this never hurts in moderation). Instead, I am referring to the competitiveness you have with yourself. There is no opponent as important or as hard to beat as the one looking back at you in the mirror (yes, I stole that from Creed!). Seeing your lifts get heavier, metcon times decrease and your body change is the most potent motivation to keep coming back to the gym. If their is no way to quantify your success, there is no motivation to keep working. Having an adversary to compete with is key in any fitness journey; and if that adversary is yourself, even better.
So that's it. You just learned five important concepts starting with the letter "C" that can change your life. The rest is up to you. Good Luck!