Pre-WOD Anxiety

By Kenny Olmeda

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy

There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti

He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready”


The above lyrics describe me perfectly before a WOD. Well, minus the spaghetti on my sweater. We’ve all been there, walked into NECF, seen the WOD and immediately felt the twist and turns hit our stomach. You’re getting your barbell, plates, and equipment out.  The whole time you’re setting up your workout station you are debating whether or not to just simply go home. Then right before 3…2…1…Go at least one person will say “I have to pee!”  But then you actually start the workout and something truly amazing usually happens. You’ve forgotten all about the anxiety you were feeling in the first place.

The root of most pre-WOD anxiety is in the fact that you want to do well. I would always worry about putting up a representative score on the whiteboard. I didn’t want people to think less of me as an athlete so I would put all this pressure on myself. This would lead to knots in my stomach and I would end up doing worse. These days I have adopted my friend Coach Cam’s motto “Just tryna stay fit.” My focus has shifted to enjoying the process of fitness. Someone once told me “If you’re not having fun, then you’re doing it wrong.”

There’s nothing wrong with caring how well you do in a WOD. If you didn’t care at all, you wouldn’t get anxious, so this is a good thing YOU CARE. Maybe it’s WOD’s with particular movements or even some of the most dreaded benchmarks that make you feel this. For me, it’s WODs with burpees and thrusters. You inherently want to do well in the WOD so you work yourself into an anxious state thinking that you’re not going to do well. The key is to use the anxiety in your favor. Anxiety usually triggers a flight or fight response in humans, if you can learn to embrace the fight side, it can give you extra drive as you power you through the workout. Learn to harness those jitters and use them to your advantage.

It’s okay to still walk into the gym with a level of pre-wod anxiety. Most evenings this anxious walk into the gym may be the highlight of your day. Take it as an opportunity to walk into the gym and spend the next hour with great friends. You walked in knowing you couldn’t do something, and you walk out after succeeding, or at the very least exceeding your own expectations.