Monday, March 3, 2014

14.1 Lessons Learned

The Crossfit Open is in full swing. One week down and four to go. Here is what I have learned from 14.1 so far,  in no particular order.

1. Seeing someone who has never done a double under before step up and do like 70 is more exciting than watching someone get a 350 total score

2. We train, eat, rest and repeat to make our bodies stronger; we compete to make our minds stronger

3. 10 minute AMRAP is a total mind suck. 7 minutes - Just go all out...... 12 minutes - figure out a pace...... 10 Minutes - Ummm what the hell do I do

4. In a battle against myself it really helps to have people screaming at me that I'm taking too long to pick up the bar. Thanks for the "encouragement".

5. It becomes very apparent who has been putting in the work all year long.

6. It is amazing the way a Crossfitter is OK with subjecting themselves to brutality just to see if they can do a little bit better a second time. This is a rare trait that I think we are skewed to thinking is common... it is not. The average person does not have it in them.

7. Jump rope sales will be exploding this spring

8. Sam Briggs could beat me up easily

9. Crossfit Nittany is hands down the best box I've ever worked out at. Even when you subtract my bias....  You just can't beat that kind of community.

10. Custom Leader Boards are addictive

Check back next week for my 14.2 recap... until then, Live Primal.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Redefining Defeat as an Opportunity.

      As a coach, and overall extroverted, annoying, eternally optimistic person, I have the great benefit of meeting people from all walks of life and all levels of ability. Something that helps me to form my opinion of a person, right or wrong, is when I get to see them handle a setback, failure or defeat. What do you do when life just doesn't work out?  Do you recoil and lick your wounds? Do you blame? Do you look for external or internal causalities? Or do you evaluate the situation and decide that you just need to get better, study more, train harder?  Or, as a great little fish once said,  do you decide to "Just keep swimming....."

Defeat is what defines us. It is what fosters growth. Today however, we are no longer looking at defeat as the natural progression into success. Too often blame is passed, complaints are filed, or parents/spouses/friends are quick to bolster a failure by layering on the "its not your fault" icing. You know what.... if you lose, lose. Get over it fast and learn something from it. I illustrate this point with a quick quote and a story.


"The trouble with most people is that they would rather be ruined by praise, than saved by criticism."
                                                                                                     - Norman Vincent Peale

Story: past weekend I was a judge for a Crossfit Competition. I judged the performance of a handful of athletes, but one in particular illustrates the potential for redefining defeat as a learning opportunity.We will call her Jena - Because that's her name. She entered a competition when it was announced that the top four female athletes would compete in the final event for the overall top honor. She ended the first two heats, heading into the finals in 4th place. However, the standard was changed to only the top three athletes making the finals because of lower than expected female turnout for the event. What were Jena's options. Cry, stomp, complain, recoil, leave, quit and run. What would you have done? Well here is what Jena did. I spoke to her and her attitude was exactly what I think everyone's should be. No mention at all of the competition rules change, the host facility, the other competitors..... none. She said, "Well I know what I need to work on for next time."  Would you have reacted the same way? Really- be honest with yourself?  Not only was that her attitude, but as I was judging the finals events I looked out into the crowd and she was standing right near the front cheering on the competitors who made the top three. Life is a constant barrage of choices. They shape who we are and will be. Looking outward with the intention of transferring blame does nothing at all to aid in your becoming the best you can be.  Taking Jena's approach of accepting the situation, learning from it, formulating a plan to avoid it next time and then smiling in the front row cheering on others seems like a better option. This latter approach, to me, is truly primal.

 As a primal convert I will always try to relate  my post back to the primal benefits. The benefit of redefining defeat is that it broadens our experiences and allows us to gain skills. What if our ancestors just gave up after not being able to run down a mammoth? Oh my, we may have never ended up with Twitter or Pinterest if those guys gave up and said "uh... too hard... not fair.... furry elephant fast." Instead, they said "uh... too hard... must get faster.... with sharp stick."  Are you sharpening a stick or giving up on dinner?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

CrossFit CULTure : I agree

I accept it, we’re are a cult

We have, on countless occasions, not allowed ourselves to be pulled into the debate.  We have walked away from conversations with a chuckle and a smile. We’ve played dumb. We’ve typed scathing wall posts only to hit delete. We have convinced ourselves that other people just don’t know enough. We have even gone as far as to stick our fingers in our ears and say “I can’t hear you”.
The debate we have so carefully tried to circumvent for the last few years, mostly because we were so aggravated by it, is the “Crossfit, oh that’s a cult where you spend too much money to injure yourself”. Today however, our silence ends. Not because I am about to go off and lambaste all of you who have told us this. Nope, I am here to graciously accept your expertly imposed label on behalf of all of us. Not only that, but I’m going to give you more ammunition for your ferocious hatred. Ready, take notes.
noun, often attributive \ˈkəlt\
: a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous
: a situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much
: a small group of very devoted supporters or fans

Although I cannot say we are a religion, I fully accept and take ownership of the rest of this definition.

We are a cult. We can be easily spotted by our weird high socks, slightly offensive tee shirts, good posture and obsession with bacon. So what? The socks serve an actual purpose, bacon is yummy and the good posture just happens here. Eh, the tees shirts, you got us. To us these things are just outward identifiers. No different than hipsters, skaters, yuppies, sorority girls / frat guys, bikers, swimmers, surfers, politicians, hunters, goth chics…. the list goes on. You see, we all express who we are in different ways and I am no longer going to argue that we are not putting it out there that we are into a true sense of community and improving the lives of ourselves and others. That’s what our stupid socks say about us. You’re right, we dress funny.

We are a cult. We care about it too much, and we talk about it all the time. I make no apologies for this anymore. However, the next time you go off about how your friends only talk about Crossfit take a moment and really pay attention to what is being said. Notice this; when we talk your ear off about Crossfit the words “we” and “you” are in constant rotation. When you talk to us about how much you hate your life all we hear is “I” and “me”. For this, an apology is due; sorry we like something so much we can’t shut up about it. So once again, you are absolutely correct; it’s all we talk about.
We are a cult. We support each other in all aspects, we travel in packs (or tribes), we go out of our way to help each and we are devoted to seeing each other become healthy and happy. When a helping hand is needed we have dozens of people ready to pitch in. When one of our own is in need, we do what we can to help. There are more than 150 friends at our box and we all know each other by name. Our kids hang out together. Our parents have met each other. We take vacations together. Sounds just like your gym right? You tell me it’s fake and that we all secretly are competitive and want to beat each other…. We say your half right.  The love and devotion to community is not fake, but you are dead right that we all want to win and be one second faster or one rep better. What you fail to see, or more accurately, fail to understand is that the competition is not so much with each other but that is lies beating our own previous best. We, and you, should constantly be striving to be a little better every day. You say we are too competitive, we say you have been doing the same hour on the elliptical for five years. Dang, you are right again. I’m devoted to a group of likeminded individuals who support each other in the quest to be the best possible person inside and out while becoming stronger and faster.  

We are a cult. We spend all of our extra money on membership dues, competitions and gear. No argument here at all. The average Crossfit member is spend 5 bucks a day on membership. Is it worth it?  That’s a personal choice. But really?  You’re going to try and discredit what we are doing over 5 bucks a day while you sip a 7 dollar coffee. Being the cult that we are I guess we need to work on our priorities. Guilty again.

We are a cult. We do weird things at our boxes. First off, we call them boxes. We allow our kids to try (my old gym told me I had to leave because my 11 year old daughter was with me once …… great message), we buy whole cows.  Even stranger, we have our own lingo, women freely disclose their weight and age, boys consult girls on lifting techniques, grandmas high five college rugby players, and OMG – no one wears headphones!  How can this possibly be happening all under one roof? It has to be a cult. 

We are a cult. The next time you tell me this I will reply with a smile and a yep. I will extend my hand and let you know that for 5 bucks a day, some really hard work, desire, and a commitment to wearing hideous socks you too can become one of us.

Brad Yeckley is a coach and affiliate co-owner at CrossFit Nittany in State College PA and owns 27 CrossFit tee shirts and is wearing socks with bacon on them right now.