Coach's Note: I've been bugging this athlete, (let's call them) Cris, lately to share their story. I've been inspired by their progress in such a short period of time and I think a lot of you will relate to their story. Cris hates being the center of attention and couldn't imagine putting themselves out there on video. They've been a member at Power Grid for over six months. They agreed to let me share their story on the blog. Here it is, in their words;
I started this blog out on a high note yesterday. But it definitely hasn't been easy the whole time.
Coach asked me on my first day why I was there -- specifically he asked "what's your why?". I think I gave some BS answer that I thought he wanted to hear. But the question stuck with me and I decided to put my thoughts down. Here is why I started CrossFit:
I'd always been told "oh, your in great shape", despite constantly wanting to change my physical shape. My family always commented on how fit I was. I'd played sports all through high school, and was the only athletically inclined in my family.
But since college, I'd been dormant. I still mentally felt as clear as I did then, but physically my age was creeping up on me. I'm really too young to be feeling this old.
Here's what I knew;
I knew I drank too much on weekends.
And weekdays (work happy hours, ugh).
I knew I should sleep more. This is a joke with a small child. Moving forward..
Definitely need to eat more vegetables.
I use to tell people that I run to stay in shape. but I hadn't run in 6 months prior to joining CFPG.
I knew I felt tired all the time. And achy. Dull, aching back pain.
I knew I wanted to feel better.
I knew I was the only one who had the power to make a change, but I needed help.
Coach's Note: I've been bugging this athlete, (let's call them) Cris, lately to share their story. I've been inspired by their progress in such a short period of time and I think a lot of you will relate to their story. Cris hates being the center of attention and couldn't imagine putting themselves out there on video. They finally relented and let me share their story on the blog. Here is the story of their fitness journey, in their words:
I just turned 30 years old and I'm instituting a new rule. Bedtime at 9:30pm.
9:30pm gives me about 90 minutes of "free time" after my daughter goes to sleep. The routine is something like this: shower, dinner (I'm not a meal prepper yet but Territory is cool!), recap the day with my spouse, fall asleep watching Netflix or reading a book.
This hasn't always been me. We've always been night owls. My spouse still stays up a couple hours past me.
But the workouts at Power Grid knock me OUT! I couldn't believe that the first workout of Foundations was so simple -- a mix of air squats, sit ups, and burpees -- yet left me so tired. I practically fell sleep while reading to my child before their bedtime.
Since that day a few months back, I've gotten better at fueling myself to have better energy throughout the day. But when my head finally hits the pillow, I don't waste any time and I'm out within a moment.
Now I've just gotta figure out a way to get rid of this belly before summer and I'll be a new person (ha!)
This is the third and final part from Coach Drew on Building Mental Awareness in the gym. Keep these tips in mind to make that final push and continue to progress towards your goals.
I’m the first to admit that being mentally tough in the middle of an intense WOD is one of the hardest things to do - I’ve let go of countless barbells, slowed to a walk on a final run, and rested more than a few seconds in between rounds. Finding mental toughness takes the same amount if not more time to develop than our physical skills.
Understand the intent of the WOD
At the whiteboard, listen to what the intent of the workout is. For example, if a coach says the 10 toes-to-bar should be done in no more than 2 sets, than the intent is to build your aerobic capacity to perform unbroken toes-to-bar or a scaled version of that movement. Dropping to singles instead of scaling down to match this intent can delay your growth as an athlete and creates a missed opportunity to build your mental toughness.
Try this next time and listen for the intent of the workout or ask a coach at the whiteboard. Then if you need to, scale movements to match the intent. This might mean doing toes to space instead of toes to bar to hold on to the bar for 5 reps.
Make a plan
My least favorite WODs are short metcons with two movements. The intensity of these workouts creates the mental challenge that makes me want to stay home and hit snooze. Whether it’s a metcon, cardio day, or long chipper, creating an initial plan before jumping in a WOD provides a framework when all we want to do is stop mid rep. Making a plan also means challenging yourself and pushing your comfort zone.
Try this next time, when you’re worried about a WOD come up with a simple plan to keep you going. If the WOD calls for 10 toes to bar and 10 burpees, plan to do 2 sets of 5 toes to bar and a steady burpee pace. When the clock starts stick to your plan, try not to focus on the person next to you for the first half of the workout. Follow your plan until the end and see how that impacts your workout.
Take a breath
Another strategy we overlook in midst of a WOD is coming back to your breath. Putting our focus on our breathing during rest periods or movement transitions can provide the reprieve you need to get into the next movement. This level of mindfulness allows you to quiet the chatter in your head and regain control over one of the things we can control in the middle of a workout.
Try this next time, when you find yourself gasping for air in the middle of a WOD. Place your hands on top of your head and take a deep breath through your nose - this opens up your lungs and starts to tell your body to relax. Give yourself a short countdown and focus on breathing in that countdown before you jump back in.
This is the second in a three-part series from Coach Drew on Building Mental Awareness in the gym. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the physical side of our training, that sometimes it's helpful to have a reminder to stay mindful as well.
So we’ve acknowledged what we brings us to the box and that we are all athletes, but what about the attitude we have when we start to WOD. One strategy that can be used in and out of the box is the idea of a growth mindset.
Adopt a growth mindset
Growth mindset, a term Coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist studying student motivation and development, was first applied to student learning. The theory and framework has since been applied to other areas such as business, leadership, and sports. Put briefly (albeit not giving it full justice), a person with a growth mindset achieves more by believing that talent can be developed through effort, habit, and appropriate feedback. As opposed to a fixed mindset, which supports that individuals are born with talent. Harvard Business Review has introductory article for those who want to learn more.
What are some ways to adopt a growth mindset at the gym?
I’m often reminded of adopting a growth mindset when I am taking one of our specialty classes and clinics. The drills are often challenging and the feedback often uncovers inefficient ways that I move to execute movements. Thinking about having a growth mindset provides opportunities to deal with frustrations, expand my opportunities to grow as an athlete, and discover new things about myself.
How do you see the concept of having a growth mindset impact your work in and out of the gym?
This is the first in a three-part series from Coach Drew on Building Mental Awareness in the gym. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the physical side of our training, that sometimes it's helpful to have a reminder to stay mindful as well.
In middle school, I became painfully aware of my own body image issues. What my mom called “husky” was fuel for many other types of nicknames and jokes from my peers. Middle school sucked - but being “overweight”, “fat”, and “chunky” was even worse. I am not saying that any of these labels are negative - body positivity all the way! However, the emotions, feelings, and the impact that these experiences had on me directly influenced my motivations, views, and perceptions on fitness and health.
Mental awareness begins with understanding the factors that influence us and motivate us in the box. What we bring to the table is an important part of knowing what progress looks like and how your concept of progress might change over time. A former collegiate athlete might come in with the desire to get to their level of fitness when they were competing and later adjust their expectations to a broader definition of health.
Believe that you are an athlete
Everyone who walks into our box is an athlete. In Ancient Greek, the word athlete came from a set of words that meant “one who competes for a prize”. There was little distinction between an amatuer athlete or a professional athlete in Ancient time - in the end everyone who competed was simply, an athlete. For our sake, we are all competing for something. Be it better health, challenge, or to be a more well-rounded person.
Even as a high school swimmer, I never referred to myself as an athlete. It was not until finishing college did I begin to shift my focus. I wanted to become healthier. The prize? A lifelong journey of wellness. I realized people began to ask me about health tips and fitness routines. It was like a weird twist in fate.
The next time you walk into the gym and feel doubt in your mind about what is written on the whiteboard, I want you to tell yourself, “I am an athlete!” You absolutely belong in the box. The fact that you walked into the box with those doubts makes you a powerful athlete. The willingness to try and develop is one of the defining characteristics of great athletes. And you are one of them.
I remember one of the last competitions I did and sulking on the cement thinking of how much better every other athlete seemed to be. Later that day, my sister mentioned how much of a “fitness-fanatic” I am now. It served as an immediate perception check of how much I’ve grown since starting CrossFit and now competing as an athlete. The beginnings of building your mental awareness starts off with what you already bring to to the gym - start by simply considering your past and having belief in the present.