The 2015 CrossFit Open.
(Cue: thunderous applause!)
It took me a week to even want to talk about it, like most of you, I
am happy to see it come to an end. The stress of performing well and the
stress of the unknown is both what makes the open fun and daunting all
the same. I commend those of you who completed the workouts each week.
The Open is certainly not for the faint of heart (pun intended). The
workouts undoubtedly expose our weaknesses and for some it pushed us to
prioritize our practice to those things that we previously thought we
were unable to do. A great example is Clay Westbay, who went from being
previously unable to do a single muscle-up to completing 157 reps in
15.3, which in case you weren’t counting, contains 7 muscle-ups! We had
folks do toes to bar for the first time, handstand pushups for the
first time, muscle-ups for the first time (ah em!!! Big victory for me!
#didit #moreaboutthislater #wheresmytrophy) and folks doing far better
than they ever expected from week to week. It was so amazing to see you
guys put forth the extra effort each week and accept the challenge of
the performing on the worldwide stage.
If my sentiments don’t sound quite complete, it is because there is a
whole lot more to the open that gets “exposed” beyond the things I’ve
mentioned above. Things that I hope we can use to learn from and grow,
but things that we can’t quite ignore.
My good friend, a yoga instructor, J Miles often reminds us at the
start of every class to “keep your practice on your OWN mat.” While I
know this isn’t yoga and I realize our “mat” is actually quite large in
the CrossFit gym, I can’t deny the resounding impact this thought had on
me each week as we worked through the open and even more so as it came
to a close. Just by nature of competition the open breeds rivalry and
contention, but for many of us we get very lost in exactly who we are
competing against in this open. Most of us are fully aware that we are
not competing with Rich Froning and Samantha Briggs each week, however,
we seem to get a little lost in who our opponent actually is. With tens
of thousands faceless names written on the leaderboard of folks who we
may never meet in person the “opponent” seems to become our own gym
peers and FRIENDS. It is actually easy for me to see how it happens and
I don’t believe that anyone is truly immune, myself included, however
the repercussions of this behavior in the gym are viral and deep
rooted. These are the weeds in our abundant garden of growth. This is
what brought me to the thought of J and his piece of advice that kept
reverberating in my mind as each week of the open unfolded. Now I do
realize that yogis lack the opponent or aspect of competition as we are
accustomed to as CrossFitters, but they have an uncanny way of creating
the mind/body balance that could be very beneficial to each of us. So, I
called J and another one of my yogi friends, both of them have trained
at Stockyard and both have a vast understanding of what we do, and I
asked them both what it meant to them in their own words to “keep their
practice on their own mat.”
First of all, J reminded me that the competitiveness of CrossFit is
also the lure for many and folks gravitate toward that. He believes that
I could be better as a coach if I were to instill the idea that it is
about the process and not the results. He said perhaps I could better
achieve this by allowing my “students” to play with the edge of healthy
competition, but not letting them to dive headfirst over it. He said he
wasn’t oblivious to the fact that half of the girls in our gym were
lifting three times more weight than him, however he didn’t allow them
to be a distraction to his own practice at Stockyard. He reminded
himself that they were never his reason for coming to the CrossFit gym,
he came because he was in search of the challenge and wanted to be
strong. He said “the moment that you judge yourself based on the
accomplishment of another, you cease to live authentically.”
That my friends, can be very powerful advice. I took his words to heart and his advice was exactly what I was looking for.
Secondly, I asked my friend Amy Brachman the exact same question. She
said keeping her practice on her own mat meant, not busying herself
with another, for the sake of judging herself or others. She said she
finds that time and time again, comparisons to others can breed thoughts
or actions that can hurtful to herself or another person. Either she
finds that she treats them differently or herself differently than she
would otherwise. And it’s very rarely with love or kindness or
compassion. She reminded me that we can choose to spread love and
kindness or comparison, insecurity, and fear. It is always OUR PERSONAL
What is my take away from this advice you ask?
Our inward attention is what makes us better. Redirecting our focus
to ourselves is how we find fulfillment in our progress. With this we
can learn to celebrate our achievements based on our own personal goals.
Sometimes the gentle reminder is all we need to reset and then we can
once again become mindful of ourselves.
Who is my opponent? Me. Not you. I look at her in the mirror each
day. She is hiding behind a spray tan and a smile and a tough exterior.
Inside I need the reminders too. I can be very hard on myself as well. I
want to be good at this CrossFit stuff also, because at my age and
point in my life this type of athleticism is what fuels my passion for
fitness and wellness. I have my own challenges. I have my own
insecurities. I refuse to let your goals be mine. I refuse to compete
with you. I practice hard to not let my mind get the best of me, but I
won’t say that it doesn’t sometimes require a daily check.
The truth is I will always celebrate your achievements but I am
working hard alongside you to reach my full potential. I challenge you
to do the same. Moving forward I ask you to “keep your practice on your
own mat,” allow yourself to flourish and grow and find confidence in
your own journey. We are lucky that this “sport” of fitness breeds
competition, which will keep us striving to be better, just make sure we
channel it in the right direction and use it to create the better you.
Let’s work on becoming very best you that you can be.
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