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Reflections: 3 Things I wish I knew when I got into fitness 10 years ago


I am a work in progress.

I am impatient.

I can be short-sighted.

I want results, like, yesterday.

Sometimes I take a sell now, build later approach to various aspects of my life.

Like I said, work in progress.

By nature, I am the opposite of Chesty, a perfectionist, who has all the patience in the world...

Though we're all different, I see characteristics of myself in various clients around MadLab, and when you see your flaws in someone else, boy are they magnified!

In other words, although as a school we're getting better, I still see people choosing movements sometimes that aren't right for them. You have been told you should stick with single-leg step-ups, but your heart wants you to at least try the single leg squat. Or you choose to do a thruster because it just seems sexier than a goblet squat. Or alas, your ego won't let your throw a thin band on a bar or hit up some ring rows, so you do wiggly worm, fake strict pull-ups instead.

If there's anyone who understands these feelings, it's me. (And that last example—the fake strict pull-ups—that might have been referring to myself).

Human nature is a hard thing to fight. We're born with personalities (I believe). We're competitive. We're short-sighted, and sometimes we let our egos get the best of us.

HOWEVER, there's also a nurture component to this. As a result, for the most part, it's the people who have been around the longest who are more likely to choose inappropriate movements or inappropriate loads, because they were raised, so to speak, in the old days when we weren't as individualized in our approach. (The days when everyone had to learn how to do a handstand and everyone had to learn how to kip. It's almost laughable now to think about how we did things 10 years ago). 

Going back to the nurture thing. Let's look at someone like Thea. Thea is in Grade 11 now, but she started training with us when she was 11, and more seriously when she was 13. By nature, she might be more patient than some, but she has also had militant Tom coaching her for the last three years. As a result, I would argue Thea might have the best technique in our entire community on the more technical lifts—cleans and snatches. Yes, she is young and talented, but she has also been incredibly well coached. There's something to be said about this.

This got me thinking: Although my nature is my nature, there are some things I wish I knew when I got into what I then referred to as CrossFit 10 years ago. 

Truth be told, people did try to tell me these things, but I didn't really take them seriously....

3. Learn it properly now for the sake of the future

Let's just say when I got my first muscle-up in 2009 I had no business even attempting one. But I didn't care. I threw my legs in the air, completely inverting my body, and willed myself through the things.

Sheppy told me for three years I needed to get stronger and fix this, but dammnit I didn't care: I could do muscle-ups, and that was the only point for me at the time.

This bit me in the ass in 2012 when they changed the muscle-up standard at the Regionals events (your heels were no longer allowed to go above the height of the rings). I went into the final event, which featured muscle-ups, in second place (two qualified to the CrossFit Games), and I ended the event in 3rd place.

Essentially, choosing the short-term over the long-term cost me a ticket to the Games that year.

2. It will take you way longer to achieve your goals than you want 

Now I'm not sure I would have listened, but had someone looked me in the eye in 2009 and told me this wasn't about the next two years, this was about the next four decades, maybe I wouldn't have been in such a rush to get there yesterday.

Either way, it's an important concept to grasp: You might have an ultimate goal in mind, or ultimate goals, but it's important to embrace the slow road to progress, and to stop and appreciate even the smallest of successes you have even if they don't seem all that significant.

1. Intent

The number of times I wasted training sessions (and especially accessory work) because of a lack of intent.... Sigh.

I am confident to say that everything that is programmed now is programmed for a reason. That doesn't mean it's always going to feel super exhausting, but it means there is a reason for it and if you're not doing it perfectly and with intent, you're missing out on many of the possible benefits. If you're not sure the reason for something, or what you should be feeling, ask.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that came to mind first.

All that being said, the process will always have its ups and downs. There are days my mind wins and I humble down and select ring rows instead of shitty pull-ups, where I know I can't hit the tempo I'm supposed to hit. And other days, my little impatient heart wins and I load up too heavy on a front squat and slip a rib in my back yet again.

Awareness is the first step. And imperfect change is the next step. I like to think there are more and more days my head wins over my heart, and ultimately I think this is progress....