Friday, March 23, 2012

Conundrum

I read this on CrossFit Flagstaff's site & thought I'd share. We have see a bunch of new faces come through the  door lately & its easy to forget what those early visits were like.


Upon recent reflection in considering perhaps the most resounding sentiments of folks new to our community, one in particular stands out: I was surprised at how supportive everyone was! It’s a phrase that I’ve heard post WOD en masse, spoken with a twinge of astonishment and it’s one we should be careful not to become complacent with. Each and every one of us has much to be proud of anytime someone new to CrossFit Chicago projects the aforementioned assertion. Take a moment to think back to those very first moments you entered the box. What do you remember? I distinctly recall a sense of dread that seemed to exponentially grow as I ascended the dark Clybourn staircase, sounds of barbells wanting to slam through the ceiling above echoed with requisite expletives, the smell of sweat, chalk and the cheap perfume fragrance of the bathroom air fresheners lingering in the hot, humid air, and walking into a room of narrowly controlled chaos, not knowing where to stand, who to talk to, how to comport. I was well past nervous, I was downright intimidated. Imagine my further dismay when, as I tried to stand casually against the wall, was abruptly nudged away by an athlete who breathlessly exclaimed that she was doing handstand push ups there as she somersaulted against the sole-marked drywall, her heel missing my face by the slightest of margins. Though trying to act collected, in retrospect it was probably fairly evident that in actuality I was having serious second thoughts about being there, standing randomly with poor posture, green faced and awkward. It wasn’t long until some of the other members graciously introduced themselves, tentatively asking through a suspicious smile if this was my first CrossFit workout. It was.

You’ll pass out before you die.

Okay.

Unwittingly to me at the time, what followed was exactly what happens every day at the box; a relentless encouragement from coaches and athletes alike simultaneously pushing each to do their best yet upholding the highest of standards throughout the varied movements. This unique atmosphere affords us the opportunity to unleash that competitive drive in all of us, and continued enthusiastic encouragement of each other plays catalyst to further propel us to our fitness goals. In the meantime, we keep coming back in order for us to beat ourselves (previous PRs) and each other. That’s right. Make no mistake, I want to beat you at every single WOD we do together. At the same time though, I genuinely want you to do your absolute best… hence the conundrum.

How is it that the motivation to do our personal best is not mutually exclusive to the desire for our peers to do their best when the latter could and often does usurp the former? It’s because in the process of making each other stronger, faster, fitter, we ourselves rise if not to keep up, to surpass what we once thought impossible. This approach is as necessary as it is elusive; evidence that we value our sense of community over individualistic motive and outcome. It means checking not only our ego, but also pride for humility at times. It means not excessively celebrating a personal achievement before assisting a struggling classmate simply aimed at making it through. Placing the impetus on the collective success makes us all stronger individuals and organically grows the strength of our community through solidarity. Sometimes we find that true personal reward lies in helping others achieve their goals. Whether it’s queuing someone through their first muscle-up, or silently standing by as someone finishes their workout, being there for that individual means more than any words exchanged after can explicate. To put it into perspective, the opposite would leave us hoping to beat each other through others’ failure. Reciprocate and suddenly there’s ubiquitous failure.

Aristotle would likely use the synergy of our community as a breathing example of his the whole is greater than the sum of its parts revelation, and he’d have been spot on.

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