It has been awhile since I got down and dirty in a blog post and preached the benefits of CrossFit. Sometimes I think you guys get tired of hearing me rattle on about it, but I also know that there are a lot folks that read the blog that are just lurking…still on the fence. If you are a regular ( maybe an “irregular” as the case may be), a refresher never hurts either…especially as we roll into a time of year when workout windows compete with happy hours and holiday parties.
So today I want to talk about the mental benefits of CrossFit. It is a well known fact that exercise of any kind is a fantastic stress reliever. This is not just the “get your mind off of it for awhile” effect, there is biochemistry and neuroscience happening here. The right hormones and neurotransmitters get up regulated and the negative ones get down regulated. While these benefits may be transitory, they are real and can make a huge difference.
Beyond just exercise, CrossFit has even bigger implications for the mental picture. You see, CrossFit is hard. It runs counter to the common practice of taking the path of least resistance, cutting corners, the easy way out, or minimum acceptable contributions. CrossFit rewards sitting in through the tough spots, biting off more than you can chew, and not backing down when things get uncomfortable. You know going into a workout that it is going to hurt and that you are going to want to quit; yet we do it again and again. We understand at a deep level that facing this discomfort and working our way through it will present us with gains in our strength and fitness. What we may not consciously realize is that we are training ourselves to act this way in our lives outside of the gym too. We are training our mental fortitude and our perseverance through tough times while down regulating the part of us that seeks the easy way out.
I believe that one of the biggest benefits that CrossFit offers to all comers is the self confidence and mental fortitude that comes from purposefully choosing to do things that are hard. “Hard” is not about lifting the heaviest load, doing the most pull ups, or being the fastest runner. It is relative. For many of us, walking through the door for the first time is almost overwhelmingly hard. Over time, our definition of “hard” changes, but we are united by our collective willingness to choose to take on these challenges. It is this character trait that I believe transforms us into better people. I’ll leave you with the words of Coach Greg Glassman: