I’m convinced we’re wired to love CrossFit. CrossFit taps into our most base, primitive self. And I’m not saying that to justify my love affair. I really mean it.
Our brain’s primary job is to scan the landscape and determine if what we see and experience falls into the column of “friend” or “foe.” The brain directs us to things that make us survive and thrive. Things that make us stronger, smarter versions of our current self. That’s what CrossFit does. Here’s how.
CrossFit Creates Community
When people say they love the CrossFit community, it doesn’t mean CrossFit is a big love fest of people sharing deep thoughts and feelings. It means CrossFit is where they feel accepted. Where they’ll be encouraged. Where they’ll be pushed to become better. CrossFit fulfills a primitive need to be part of a tribe. We need to know that someone has our back should a warring tribe decide to storm our manicured lawns and plunder the cul-de-sac.
… but CrossFit Is Also Competitive
In case you don’t know, here’s how CrossFit works: you walk into the gym, say your hellos, and walk over to the white board. The white board is the size of the whole wall. On it are the names of every person who worked out that day. And next to the name is a time.
Above all the names, the workout written out so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. An example of a workout would be:
3 Rounds for Time
- 15 Overhead Squats
- 400m Run
The time written next to everyone’s name indicates how long the workout took. This acts as a gauge so you know relatively how long it will take to finish. Now, you’re not competing against each other* with that time. You’re competing against yourself. You want to make sure you’re not a slacker and finishing slower than everyone else when you could have pushed yourself harder. The whiteboard is an excellent motivator and it helps your brain contextualize your place in the tribe.
*This is just short of a bald-faced lie. While it’s true CrossFit isn’t competitive to me if I can’t win, something primitive happens if I see myself tracking with one of the young guys. I’ve been known to downshift to see if I’ve still got what it takes to beat him.
CrossFit is Scaleable
If CrossFit was as hard as people who don’t do it claim it is, no one would stay. But, everyone is new at some point, and CrossFit is the perfect environment for this. The workouts are designed to be modified, scaled, for any and all fitness levels. And the beauty of CrossFit is that while it’s all able to be modified, for the most part, everyone is doing the same workout. It’s just that SOME people are doing it a heck of a lot faster and with a boatload more of weight. You can see why this would appeal to the brain. In the beginning, you feel safe because you can complete a modified workout. As you improve, you’re empowered by your own progress. You realize you’re getting stronger—and so you’re better able to survive and thrive.
CrossFit is Functional
Of all the reasons I’ve mentioned so far, most have to do with the primitive brain and our psyche. But the functional movements of CrossFit are particularly important to me as a chiropractor.
I want my patients to be able to move without pain. Being sedentary ages us. Fast. You know what they say—use it or lose it. That’s definitely the case with mobility. As we lose our ability to perform functional movements, we put ourselves at serious risk of being injured because we lose our strength to perform the simplest tasks.
The movements we do in CrossFit are great for our body. Pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, squating (being able to stand up from a seated position)—we need these movements to stay independent. You may be surprised by this, but chiropractic and CrossFit actually have a symbiotic relationship, assuming the ego doesn’t get in the way. When the ego spurs us past the limits—past the body’s warnings—it’s easy to lose form and cause injury.
CrossFit is Local
Most CrossFit gyms are owned by someone local who is invested in the community. They have relationship with their members. Their kids go to school with members’ kids. They organize events together. They support each other. They’re there for each other. I can’t tell you about the number of times I’ve heard stories of groups of people showing up to help each other through a tough time. They help their members thrive. Their local connection is a welcome touchpoint in our busy world.
CrossFit Honors Heroes
Another primitive need we have is to leave a legacy. To be remembered. We want to know we’ve made a difference and our life mattered. At CrossFit, we regularly perform workouts in honor of our fallen first responders and military personnel. People who have lost their lives protecting ours. Honoring the fallen reminds us there are things worth fighting for. That we’re part of a story larger than ourselves. That there are still things that are noble and right and good.
I suspect CrossFit’s commitment to honoring heroes is one of the reasons they are so successful. It’s inspiring to hear the stories of courage and tenacity. My CrossFit gym, CrossFit Sua Sponte West, is hosting an event on May 28 called “To the Lost.” To The Lost represents the opportunity for our community to come together in order to honor all of our brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and raise awareness and support for Veteran Suicide Prevention and assistance with successful transition back to civilian life. (from their website)
You’re invited to join me for that event in addition to the introduction class. This one is a fundraiser. I believe the cost is $39 and includes a t-shirt. Consider this your invitation to join me!
Please email me at [email protected] and let me know if you’ll join me at either the To the Lost event on May 28th or at the Introduction to CrossFit class at CrossFit Sua Sponte West on Saturday, June 7, at 9:15a. I’d love to have you as part of my tribe.