Box Drama, Open stress, and Overtraining
I’ve been blessed to be a part of some truly special communities in the CrossFit gyms that I’ve been involved with over the years. In fact, community is a large part of the foundations of CrossFit and the dynamics of a CrossFit gym. You will meet some terrific people there, constantly looking to support you in the challenges you are faced with at the gym. Everyone is there to get better and help each other along the way. This is truly a beautiful sight to see, but it can turn ugly very quickly.
The fact of the matter is, what started as a “warm, open community” has become cliques at the middle school lunch tables all over again. There are lots, and lots….and lots of gyms popping up all over the place now. And perhaps the location of a new gym better suits your living arrangements than the one you go to currently, or maybe the class times work better for your daily schedule elsewhere, or the gym you are at now has shitty programming and you want to move on. Let me warn you – some gym owners (and members) take the community thing very personally, and if you are going to “break up” with your gym, drama might be coming your way.
This is, in my opinion, extremely childish and highly unnecessary. I was once criticized for visiting my best friend at the gym he coached at for ONE WORKOUT somewhere else, and I got some nasty comments about me training at other gyms. Are you kidding me? Grow up. I understand gym owners are trying to maintain a business and uphold a steady number of clients, but lets avoid the shit talking, clique forming, and drama that seems to be forming from it.
CrossFit has been built off of a strong community, between athletes and gyms alike. Let’s go back to that and keep growing. We’re all there for the same purpose, whether it’s at gym A or gym B, everyone is working hard, reaching towards improving their fitness.
As I mentioned earlier CrossFit can be highly competitive, which can be good, but also very bad (and unfortunately can turn ugly). The CrossFit Open, the first part of the CrossFit Games qualifying series, is an online qualifier of workouts performed over five weeks where a registered judge scores you. Your score is then submitted into a database where you can see how you stack up against thousands of other participating athletes. It’s actually really cool and really fun… for most people. Unfortunately, there are always people in every single gym losing sleep over their open scores when that time of the year comes around.
Even with no chance of making regionals (the next phase of competition), people are constantly stressing out about how to get the best score. Some will spend all of their free time game planning the workout and may repeat it 4 or 5 times within a few days just because they want a better score.
Some athletes get so stressed out that they actually perform worse during these workouts because they are so tense and overwhelmed about their performance. And even if they did a great job relative to their own abilities, they’re still sitting in a pile of sweat bitching about how badly they did. Why? No one is judging you by your open score; in fact, no one even remembers your open score once the next workout is announced. STOP STRESSING OUT!!! It’s doing more harm to your fitness than good.
The people who do have a shot at making the next round – stay calm and collected during the open, just treat it as a another day of training and enjoy the process that goes with it. Take a page out of the elite’s book and fucking relax. It’s supposed to be a fun and exciting challenge, not a workout that will emotionally ruin you for the next month and a half. Don’t let the open get to your head, it will ruin the enjoyment of training and you will lose steam quickly.
With that in mind, some athletes not only take the Crossfit Open way too seriously, but they fall prisoner to the chase of being the best. And before they even know it, they have entered a dark hole of fatigue and ruin that they may never get out of.
Enter the overtrained athlete. There’s a ton of variance in CrossFit, so much that it takes a lot of time, effort, and practice to become proficient in the movements. Some (most) people have very little patience regarding this, and need to get better at everything right away. He or she comes in for the class, puts up a good strength number, then hits a pretty good WOD time – but that’s not enough. Next thing you know, he or she is doing hundreds of sit-ups to shred up those abs, maybe a couple rowing sprints, then handstand walks for a little while, and maybe a few heavy squat cleans “just because.”
I could’ve written about this in the “bad” section of this piece, but I have fallen victim to overtraining and, let me warn you, it is very, very ugly. You want to be the best so badly, you have it in you to do more, and more, and more until you are crawling out of the gym begging for an icebath.
Overtraining, sooner or later, will hit you like a fucking freight train if you don’t cool your jets. You will actually put your body into “emergency survival mode” because it is being put under so much physical stress. You will see a rapid decrease in performance and you will feel weaker than you did on day one. Avoid this!
Some of the best advice I got from a coach was that sometimes less is more. Value the intensity of your training and not the volume. Give 110% to whatever is on the board, and I promise you that you will see the results you want. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to practice muscle ups or handstand walks, by all means go to open gym and attack your weaknesses. But trying to get faster and stronger at everything every day will have very serious drawbacks on your performance.
What are some of your experiences with CrossFit (good, bad or ugly)? Comment below!