My gym peeps remarked this morning that I haven't posted in a while. They've also noticed my workout times on the whiteboard at the gym this past week. It's certainly obvious where I've been putting my energy lately. I'm going for an A in PE, and failing Writing and Photography.
And I'm sleeping on the job, catching a few moments of shut eye while the kids work on their math, hoping that no one needs tutoring. (Photo by Avery.)
It was quite the week at my gym. A week full of benchmark WODs (workout of day) after a 4 day holiday weekend. For those of you who don't CrossFit (yet), benchmark WODs are trademark CrossFit workouts, named after women, designed as a way to benchmark performance and track progress over time.
After every workout, benchmark or not, our coach writes our finish times and weight loads on the whiteboard, and checking out these numbers is an unspoken part of our workout. Who got what time, how much did they lift, who am I competing against today? Taking it to the next level, CrossFitters around the world post their WOD times online, so if you're a curious student like I am, you can google these numbers.
Today when I walked into the box and saw "Angie" on the board, I almost walked out. 100 pull ups, 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats for time. Then I checked the board to see the finish times for the previous class. Denise, sweaty and smiling from her workout, teased me that I could beat her time by 10 minutes. I thought optimistically that maybe, just maybe, I could complete the WOD in under 20 minutes, about 5 minutes less than her time. I ended up finishing in 21 minutes and 15 seconds (which, according to an old forum post on the CrossFit website, places me #6 among the top women who posted times, if you're into those kind of stats).
Doing the "ladies" this week opened my eyes to a new level of competition present at the gym, and CrossFit in general, but mostly in myself. Yes, I compete with the other athletes at the gym. But more importantly, I compete with myself. I don't go to the gym to prove my power, I go there to exercise it. Yes, I beat others more than I am beat. Yes, I am proud to write that, though you'll probably never hear me say that at the gym. I set goals for myself, based on my desire, my performance to date, and the performance of others, and I work as hard and as fast as I can.
For me, competition isn't all about getting the best time, it's about achieving my goal. Reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand this past week, while lazing on the couch after my workouts, has helped cement for me the importance of competition. It is vital to progress, and it benefits everyone, not just the "winner". As Francisco told Dagny,
". . . you know that achievement is man's highest moral purpose, that he can't exist without it . . ."
And as Dagny herself felt upon reaching a goal,
". . . the sight of an achievement was the greatest gift a human being could offer to others."
Take competition out of any system, and what do we have to strive for? My times and weight loads on the whiteboard motivate others just as their times and weight loads motivate me. Competition at the gym creates cohesion among the group. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed, as evidenced by the good cheer and camaraderie following each workout. Competition is also vital to our individual progress, as evidenced by some amazing numbers this past week on our benchmark WODs.
Surprisingly, the highlight of this past week was not the days I posted the best times, but the day I didn't. I struggled through "Diane": 21 dead lifts (158 pounds), 21 hand stand push ups, then 15 of each, then 9 of each. My two competitors finished before I did, and I was almost in tears trying to dead lift that 158 pound barbell during my final round. My hips were on fire. I didn't think I could lift the bar one more time, but my friend T looked me in the eye and quietly said, "You've got this. You can do it."
And I did. Not with the best time, but with encouragement and support from my competition.
Any gym peeps reading this, I just want to say, thank you all for bringing it to the box. Enjoy your day of rest tomorrow, and be ready to bring it again on Monday. I know I'm doing something right by you when you give me a high five or bump my knuckles, look me in the eye, and say with a smile, "I hate you."
Any blog peeps out there interested in trying some CrossFit workouts at home, check out CrossFit Mamas. I just have to warn you, CrossFit is exhausting, addictive, and one of the best things that will ever happen to you.