From Coach Brandon
When I started my fitness journey I never thought that it would lead to being a full time coach. I had never heard of a snatch, never been on a rower, hadn’t touched a barbell since High School, what is a muscle-up? I had one goal, to be able to run to the park near my house and back. It was about 2 miles and at the time I thought that if I could do that I would be in the best shape of my life. I walked to that park and started what would turn out to be a major turning point in my life.
I’ve practiced gymnastics for so long that my skin ripped and bled, I’ve dropped barbells on myself on multiple occasions, and fallen off the pull-up rig a few times. None of that was nearly as painful and humbling as my very first 200m run. After about an hour of self-hate and embarrassment I decided that I never wanted to feel this way again. Since then I’ve done Fran, double Murphs, endurance WODs, Ran 5ks and 10ks, and trained for a weightlifting competition. If my goal was to go from a 200m run to a Double Murph it would have felt too daunting and I would have given up before I got started. I set small goals after small goals that lead to big changes.
Here are a few things I learned along the way that I hope will help you on your journey.
When planning your fitness Journey it is important to start with tangible goals. Goals like “Look Better” or “Feel Good” are great but they don’t provide you with a direction. Having goals like run a mile, do a pull-up, do a WOD Rx give you a direct path to follow. You can then create a clear plan with progressions that move you toward that goal. This will make every movement you do in the gym more meaningful. If you want to be better at the Olympic lifts, focus on all squats you do in class (even the ones in the warm-up). If you want a pull-up don’t rush through the upper body strength work, it can all move you forward on your goal. “We are what we repeatedly do”.
It’s ok to say you want to “look good” . We all have a body type in our head that we think is ideal for us and we want to achieve it. It’s not vain, it’s human. It is important to realize that we are all built differently. Everyone has different arm, leg, and torso lengths. Everyone has different medical, family, and athletic history. We are all not going to look the same no matter how much work we put into our fitness. Realize that you might be aspiring for a specific body type that may not be healthy or even possible for you.
Your goal should be to be the best athlete you can be. Not only working on achieving your specific goal but also attacking any weaknesses in your fitness. If you’re a poor runner, run more. If you’re a poor weightlifter, lift more. If you have poor mobility, stretch. Attack the factors that impede your progression. If you work toward being a better athlete in all areas you will move toward the ideal body FOR YOU. If you can run a 5K, Do 10 pull-ups, and squat 300+ lbs you’re going to feel pretty good too.
COMPETING AND COMPARING
Given the nature of CrossFit it is almost impossible not to compete and compare yourself to your classmates. We all have that one person that is either at our same level or a little higher that we want to beat in the WODs. That friendly competition is a great tool to push all of us to work harder. The extra push helps move us even closer to our goals. Where it can get unproductive is when we get down ourselves when we aren’t able to keep up with our fellow classmates. The only person you should truly be competing and comparing to is yourself. If you know you performed better in a WOD than you would have six months ago, you won the WOD. If the WOD had muscle-ups but you did jumping muscle-ups at a higher height than before, you won the WOD. Use your fellow classmates as metrics for your own fitness. If you can stay a little closer to that person who is a strong runner in your class then you are improving. If you are able to add 5lbs to your barbell and still keep up with a stronger member then you are improving.
An amazing aspect of the Fit2Live community is that the vast majority of you are highly educated. You’ve put in years of time, a lot of money, and experienced a lot of stress around your chosen fields. Many of you discovered a love for your field as children and you have been working on it ever since. Given all of that you would be generally surprised if someone with a year of experience in your field wanted to be at the same level as you.
Most people are unsatisfied with their current fitness level. Many have been doing CrossFit for a few years and are unhappy that they are not a walking mountain of muscle like Coach Rob. To use Coach Rob as an example, putting aside genetics, what most people fail to recognize is that he has been CONSISTENTLY Strength Training since he was a child. He has almost 20 years of hard, HARD work and experience. Can you achieve Coach Rob’s physique? Yes, if you’re willing to work 2-3 hours a day, 5-6 days a week, for two decades.
Again, for people like Coach Rob the goal isn’t to have the best physique, it’s to be the best athlete they can possibly be. You can and should sacrifice that time and effort if optimal fitness is what drives you. But if you are just looking to be in the best shape that you can be AND also live your life the way you want, all you have to do is show up to the gym with the willingness to work hard and have fun, consistently.
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