Full disclosure, I am not an athlete. A fact my entire high school can attest to. I am not even an average recreational league player. You don’t want me on your church softball team — seriously. While I admire many athletes in many sports, from what I can tell, the “sport” of CrossFit is full of a fair amount of insane, cult-like behavior and more than a few narcissistic zealots who “overshare” on social media. And yes, I dearly love CrossFit.
Somehow in January of 2011 I found myself 20 pounds overweight and unable to do a single pull-up standing in a CrossFit box (gym) trying to learn the difference between a clean and jerk and an Olympic snatch without snickering like a 12-year old boy. In the five years since that day, I have had ups and downs, more than a few injuries and some low-level CrossFit glory. I have made amazing friends and learned a lot about myself. While I no longer workout at a box, I did have great inspiration from my wife and strong support from my business partner to open a garage gym in the basement of our advertising agency. What started as a concrete floor and one kettle bell is now a pretty credible box for our office. Lots of employees have used it for simple cardio and self-guided fitness. A few fanatical colleagues hit a WOD (work out of the day) with me 3-5 days a week, most days before dawn.
The most amazing thing I have learned about CrossFit is not how to do a kipping pull-up or hang clean. What I learned most surprisingly is that CrossFit makes me a better business person. Here are just a few reasons why.
Any day that starts with a WOD makes the day easier. When I finish even a short Tabata WOD, I know that the toughest thing I will do all day was just completed. It makes an unexpected deadline, an employee challenge or a client “misunderstanding” easier to process. There is almost an added calm and a clear “I got this” that comes from getting through these challenges early in the day. I still get fired up or addled about work, but I rarely get overwhelmed.
I have always thrived on deadlines. Which may be why I have excelled at advertising and why CrossFit and business seem, to me, inevitable partners. There are few fitness regimes as deadline orientated as CrossFit. The time management, resource allocation and mental process of CrossFit are tailor-made for application to anything, from a business meeting and a shoot to doing landscaping.
There are a lot of inherent benefits that come from being active — in CrossFit or in any gym. While I am not impressive to look at, I am in pretty good shape for a 50-year-old guy. I have a lot of stamina due to CrossFit. I can work a 15-hour shoot on my feet and help carry gear and still take the stairs and be solid. I get sick less and when I do I find I heal quicker.
I am a better teammate, at work and at home. I am sure my Type-A, OCD and ADHD don’t make me a joy to work around, but CrossFit has made me work a lot harder to be kind to my peers and my partner. I bend easier than I used to. I lash out less. I channel my intensity differently. These are all CrossFit. It makes me able to settle into my rage or pain and use it, control it. I have no doubts CrossFit has made me a better boss and a better friend. My wife has told me it made me a better husband.
I am not sure how else to say it. I am just happier. CrossFit surrounds me with people that inspire me. I met some of my best friends at CrossFit and I have taken a few dear friends and turned them into CrossFitters. Even my friends that just casually do CrossFit are amazing to me. I don’t judge the level, just the effort. And the shared effort makes me love them more. And the fun of the experience is a wealth of conversation — much to the dismay of my non-CrossFitting friends I am sure. To be clear, about 70 percent of my friends will probably never do CrossFit and I love them just the same. But I am sure I am a better friend to them and still happier because I do CrossFit.