CrossFit Games: Why I Watch

Some may call me a CrossFit fanatic, but that’s not entirely true.  Sure, I love CrossFit and frequently tweet about it, like here, here, and here.  It is also absolutely true that my weekend isn’t complete if I don’t get in a workout at our favorite CrossFit gym.  But, while I’m a huge fan of the sport, I wouldn’t consider myself a “fanatic.”

fa·nat·ic (noun) a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in 

religion or politics.

Despite my interest in the sport, I still think I have the ability to step back and take a critical look at the whole movement.  For example, recently there have been some incredible articles discussing both the benefits and drawbacks to CrossFit, and I can truly say that I can see both sides.  I may not agree with everything the critics say, but let’s be honest, we all know that one person who is utterly obsessed with CrossFit and just drives you crazy.  I really don’t care how many double unders you can do in a row, but then again CrossFit has never been about competing with others for me – it’s been about competing with myself.  Moreover, I’ve tried multiple different CrossFit gyms and definitely see how the culture of a “box” can impact your workout.  Despite moving almost an hour away for work, B and I still go to our same CrossFit gym up North, because it feels like family and I know that they care about my results.  It is also, admittedly, the least “CrossFit-ty” (if that’s a word) gym that I have trained at.

Conversely, I agree with the proponents that arguments about injuries are just plain illogical most of the time.  (Here is an interesting study done in 2013, which discusses among other things the rate of injury of the CrossFit participants.)  Any exercise if done wrong – e.g. with too much weight, with poor form, too frequently, etc. – is going to get you hurt.  And, absolutely no other workout has given me the results CrossFit has, and I’m not just talking about on the scale; I’m stronger, faster, and happier than I ever was before starting CrossFit.  I also love the variety and intensity of workouts, and frequently crave that feeling you get as you power through a particularly difficult workout.  I still throw in other types of workouts, but CrossFit has been the only thing that has consistently kept my interest for the last three years.

So as someone who does not personally get into the competitive nature of CrossFit – unless it is against myself, of course – I get the question frequently about why I’m so drawn to be a spectator of the CrossFit games.  Watching, arguably, the most intense CrossFit athletes out there doesn’t automatically seem like something I would be into, but just the opposite is true.  Every year I am riveted to the the live feeds, covertly watching on my phone at work, and searching for re-runs of the games on ESPN when I’m needing a fix in the middle of the year.

I watch mainly for two reasons: to see the camaraderie that exists in the CrossFit world and to see seemingly average people accomplish the extraordinary.  (Okay, I also watch to see the insane bodies of the competitors, but that’s more of a pleasurable side effect.)  Without fail, towards the end of the workout you can always see the competitors who have finished return back to the field to cheer on the remaining men and women.  Sometimes they offer advice, others they just stand in solidarity, but always they support one another.  Imagine if everyday life was like that – people supporting one another without judgment and just because it was the right thing to do.

I’m also amazed at the feats these athletes can accomplish.  Maybe most notable from this year’s Games was the 655 lb dead lift completed by Sam Dancer.  However, I personally was most inspired by watching the Masters competition.  (The Masters Competition is for men and women 40 years and older, and is separated into several age groups.)  For example, take Lynn McTaggart, a 69-year-old woman who started CrossFit in 2010 after having a hip replacement.  Her max pull-up number is 28, which is the age I will be turning this year.  My max?  0.

When it comes down to it, why I watch the Games is the same as why I love the sport – because it inspires me to be better everyday.  A better athlete and a better person.  And, while competition with others is not really my thing, if I’m doing 28 pull-ups at almost 70 years old and I am still surrounded by my CrossFit family, then I think I’ll be doing just fine.

xoxo – SavvySleever

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