The Competitive Element

17092306 "Our workouts are competitive events. The strength and value of CrossFit lies entirely within our domination of other athletes. This is a truth derived through competition, not debate."

That message was printed on a sign hung on the west side of the Stadium at The Ranch in Aromas, California, site of the 2009 CrossFit Games.

2009284782 Every Saturday morning, we meet a new crop of the CrossFit-curious.  The spectrum is broad: from great athletes who realize they need to leave their comfort zone to improve, to those who have simply tried everything else to lose a few pounds.  They've heard CrossFit works.  And it does.  They've also heard CrossFit is hard.  It is.  

"CrossFit feels like sport, " I say, and they nod.  But inside, they're thinking, "That's not me.  I'm not competitive. I'm just doing it for myself."   

They're wrong.  At the spark of your existence – way back at the fertilization point – you were competitive.  Your sperm was the fastest, the strongest, the most agile.  Perhaps the most persuasive, definitely the most persistent.  You won.  Over thousands of others, you were top dog.

And even before that, your parents and grandparents and great-great-great-

granddaddies survived where
others did not.  Your family scrounged food while others withered.  You're the distillate of survivorship.  You are the product of eons of competition.

You may not be a competitive athlete when you come to the CrossFit introductory classes.  You may never hope to be.  You may not be a competitive athlete when you check the WOD online.  You may not be an athlete when you're stopped at the light on Second Line on your way to the gym.  You may not be an athlete when you open that door.  But trust me: at 3,2,1…. GO! a switch is flipped.  A primal instinct, buried deep below Victorian manners and Under Armour fashion, is triggered.

You're 'ON.'  Just like a professional athlete.

You may not have the look of an athlete – yet.  You may not have a number on your jersey.   Coca-cola may not be trying to reach you.  You may return home later to your quiet Sunday-morning life and never ever talk about CrossFit.  Or you may just post a little note on facebook about your sore quads.  You may just check the main site before bed, just to see if tomorrow's WOD is posted early.  You may just remember to have a couple of almonds with breakfast, because dammit, the workout is "Fran" again, and last time you almost broke the 7:00 mark, and you KNOW you could have done better, and she's not going to kick you around like last time.  

You don't have to try to beat anyone else.  Self-betterment means self-competition.