By Chris Shkreli

About 2 months ago while doing some social media stuff for the gym, I came across the hashtag #communityovercompetition.  I read over it 2 or 3 times and then it hit me like a brick wall. The idea is something we preach in CrossFit, but is rarely executed.  The competitive nature of CrossFit will often trump the community aspect. “How so?” you may ask. Let me explain:

The WhiteBoard

The Whiteboard has become the thing that many people’s day revolves around.  They sit at work wondering what the top score for the day is and strategize how they will beat it.  They overthink the workout, often giving themselves anxiety. What is the point of this? Why stress over something that is supposed to be fun and a stress reliever?

Rx vs Scaled

The need to go Rx in a workout, whether you are banged up, or even able to consistently move the weight has become a large issue as well.  When did scaling a WOD make you less of an athlete, or less of a human being? There is no shame in going a little lighter or modifying a skill that you are very weak at.  The point of the WODs are to get stronger, better and to ALWAYS CHASE THE STIMULUS.

Disregarding Your Coaches

This has become a big pet peeve of mine.  We are here to help, to guide, to give you the tools to get better.  Everyone needs coaching. Let me repeat that so it sinks in…EVERYONE NEEDS COACHING. It doesn’t matter how great you think you are.  It doesn’t matter if you are the best athlete in the gym. It doesn’t matter if you are the best athlete in the area. You need coaching just as much as the newest person to CrossFit.  Look at the top 5 games athletes in the world for both men and women (and every other games athlete). They all have coaches. Their coaches are not better than them, they can never beat them in a WOD, and most of them probably have never made it to the Games as an athlete themselves, but these superior human beings trust their coaches, trust their guidance and look to them on how they can improve.  What makes you better?

We are able to see things that you will not be able to see unless you record your WODs and even then, you may miss it.  We have been trained to look for certain movement patterns and flaws. We can tell you what the stimulus of the WOD is, how to achieve it and what you could have done differently to reach that goal.  You are paying for the coaching, why disregard it?

Does This Mean I Should Not Compete?

Absolutely not.  The sense of competition and the sport aspect of CrossFit is one of it’s biggest appeals, but if you allow it to consume you, consume your life, consume your mood then you are losing sight of what CrossFit is all about.  It is about community, fun, enduring a grueling workout with a group of people, your comrades, your brothers and sisters in arms. Congratulate people on their achievements. Find someone to push you in a competitive way, but at the end of the day it is just a workout.  No need to get angry if you don’t score as well. Ultimately your goal is to improve yourself daily. Improvement does not have to involve beating someone else, but rather beating the person you were yesterday, last week, last month and last year. Take a different aspect of competition and let it engulf you.  Compete against the person that is holding you back from your true potential and that is your negative you. The person that looks in the mirror and sees imperfection, or the person that even when they hit a PR, does not celebrate, but rather looks around at the room and compares themselves to everyone else there.  Find the joy in fitness.

Speaking of Which…

Since coming across this mantra of “Community over Competition” and embracing it myself, I have found the joy in fitness.  This is something I lost a very long time ago. I don’t even remember the last time I truly had fun working out and for a prolonged period of time.  I’m there right now. The feeling I have before, during and after training is something I have not felt in a long time and I love it. I compete during WODs, but when the WOD is over, I walk around, give out fistbumps, congratulate people on their hard work and mean every single thing I say.  I don’t portray a humble person while thoughts of anger and jealousy run through my brain.

I chase the stimulus in every WOD.  I talk to my fellow coaches, I scale as needed and I focus on the task at hand which is to become better, fitter and stronger.  I have stopped caring about my score for the WODs. I have added strict movements into 90% of my WODs. I rarely kip anymore. Not because kipping led to an injury, but because for years, my fellow coaches have told me that if I wanted to get stronger and better at certain movements, I should work on my strict movement.  It took long enough, but that finally sunk in. I feel stronger, my movement patterns are better and I feel less pain than I have ever felt in my life, before, during and after WODs.

I listen to my fellow coaches constantly and ask for their feedback.  I love being surrounded by a group of coaches who all have vast knowledge in the fitness industry, each of whom even have specific specialties.  They have each influenced my training in some way or corrected something they saw me doing wrong. Whether I may agree with their critiques or not, I take each into account and test the suggested changes.  Not one suggestion has steered me in the wrong direction. They may have felt uncomfortable or awkward at first, but in the end, they have helped me improve.

Take 10 minutes out of your day to consider this mantra of “Community over Competition”.  Think about how much competition affects you in your training and also how much it affects you outside of your training, in your moods and mental wellness.  Then take a moment to remember why you started CrossFit and what appealed most to you about it. I can almost guarantee that for most of us, it was the feeling of being part of something special, a community.  Then embrace this mantra and let me know in a couple of months if your outlook of fitness hasn’t changed for the better.