Crossfit and the Nature of competition: a Few Notes and Comments

Last year right about this time I joined my local Crossfit gym, Crossfit East Sacramento. CFES is not a “gym” in the usual sense. Virtually all of the workouts are done in groups. Sometimes individuals work out alone as needed. But the essence of Crossfit, at least at CFES, tends to be driven by a sense of community. And therein lies an interesting effect — the concept of “competition”.

Crossfit is more then just rigorous — it demands mental and physical discipline that goes well beyond casual. That’s one of the reasons I like it, because it’s tough. It’s fast paced, and addictive. You can see it on the faces of the people in the group. And there is a high degree of competition. But the CF concept of competition is unlike anything I have encountered in the past. It’s as much social ideal as it is individual achievement.

I will describe it this way. Think of yourself living in a village of 500 people, half of them children. A remote place, far from anything convieneint. Everybody knows everybody. How does the village manage to thrive? Which is to say how could the group manage itself in such a way that there would be the highest probability for a continued existance? I would suggest that every individual would have to able to contribute as much as needed most of the time, and 110% some of the time.

So how exactly would you know what level of contribution each individual could make? Certainly there would be wide differences. And therein lies the secret to success: the ability to contribute across different challenges at different times. Unknown challenges, random, as fate would have it.  As it is written, the battle does not always go to the strongest, nor the race to the swiftest, but time and circumstance happeneth to all.

If a child falls into a place with a narrow opening, get a small wiry person to pull him out. Get some strong people to move the rocks out of the way. Need more help? Send someone who is really fast to get the message out.

That’s the secret of Crossfit: get every individual trained across as many different domains as possible. Intense work, constantly varied. Make the whole group stronger. Some people will excel at one thing or another — running, jumping, lifting, being nimble. Some will be good at all of those things. That’s the nature of life. No matter what, the whole village celebrates individual success, and the whole village celebrates it’s own triumph over adversity.

My commitment to my own success rests on two precepts: I check my ego at the door, but not my ambition. I see people around me who are stronger, faster, quicker of wit — and I compete with them. I don’t often come in first. Or ever near the top. Mostly I’m near the bottom. That doesn’t stop me. Nor will this change over time: new members will join, and most likely they will be younger and fitter. That’s not stopping me either. Because it’s not so much that they are “beating” me, rather they are showing me the possibilities. It’s tough, sometimes frustrating. But I doubt if anyone is worried about “beating” me, and in any case the tendancy at CFES is to celebrate everyone’s successes, no matter what level they are at. It’s the discipline, the resolve, and the participation that counts.

Because after all, is there really a choice? The world is competitive no matter what I do. I can choose to participate in the intensity of life, or not. So I choose to participate.

Well that’s it for today. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!



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1 Response to Crossfit and the Nature of competition: a Few Notes and Comments

  1. Pingback: Crossfit: the danger zone | The Writers Block

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