Lessons from the CrossFit Box by Brittney Gaillot
When I first came back to Easton Training Center after some time away, I hadn’t considered that joining the gym was going to benefit me beyond getting me butt-kicked fit. It turns out that at ETC, CrossFit isn’t just about six-pack abs and giant quads…there’s something else that happens when the intention set by the coaches is to bring more than just a good workout to their students.
Coaches have an incredible opportunity within their job that goes way beyond starting class on time, teaching proper technique, and being good DJs and cheerleaders.
Why do we practice a discipline like CrossFit? It’s obviously nice to look good (naked), but when it comes down to it, there’s more to it than that, right? What we’re really after is doing work that we can apply to real life, the lessons that we can take out of the Box and into the real world.
I’ve been lucky to have practiced and played many different sports in my life, and had the experience of a variety of incredible coaches. It seems like there’s often a unique connection between athletes and their coaches–you learn so much more from them than the sport they are coaching. There’s a sweet spot. When you’re so exhausted from running, rowing, rolling, etc that you can finally “hear” the real lesson: One of discipline, mindfulness, respect, etc.–the great lessons that actually transfer from the field, boat, or mat, and into real life.
For me, one of the lessons I’m learning from the coaches at ETC has been one of “presence.” I’ve come to realize that the ability to be present with someone or something, whether it be in a conversation, or performing a task at work, is of the utmost importance.
There are different ways to practice and strengthen your ability to be present, be it meditation, yoga, or other forms of conscious mindfulness, but what I’ve discovered over the last few months is that there’s nothing more “presencing” than attempting to lift a heavily weighted bar over your head.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, then stick with the ‘sit-with-your-eyes-closed’ method…I’ve been working on my personal meditative practice for the last few months: It involves setting a timer for ten minutes twice a day, sitting upright, closing my eyes, deepening my breath, and proceeding to let my thoughts go. Anyone who’s tried this knows, 1) just how hard it is to “let your thoughts go,” 2) how long ten minutes feels, and 3) that lifting heavy weights is more fun :).
At CrossFit, in those moments before I’m ready to perform a lift, my mind is completely focused on the task at hand. Maybe it’s the imminent threat of dropping the bar, or maybe the sheer nature of intense physicality that has the ability to pull my busy mind away from the chatter and be completely present in the task at hand.
CrossFit-style meditation, anyone?
When your only focus is ‘one rep at a time,’ it’s hard for your mind to be anywhere else. For me, there’s no better way to be present in your body than with the feeling of your muscles working, no better way to connect to breath than when you’ve lost it–when your lungs are burning and your chest heaving.
This is the closest I’ve come to a place and space of total presence.
When they say, “Embrace the suck!” and “Just put your head down and go,” what they’re really saying is, “This is an opportunity to be fully present!”
CrossFit teaches us to be present in our day-to-day activities, the mundane and the exciting alike–no matter who you’re with or what you’re doing.
Thank you, coaches of ETC for all that you do,