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.