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20 Things I Love About CrossFit

CrossFit Impact Lindsey Kelly | CrossFit Regional Games

One of my coaches, Lindsey, doing pistols at the CrossFit Regional Games

About that time when kid #2 came was when it hit me.  The trifecta of
lack of sleep, lack of time, and increasing career demands – I’ve seen
too many guys experience that “lost decade” going mid-thirties to
mid-forties in a long, stressed-out, oblivious haze.

Holding my newborn daughter in my hands for the first time, I decided it
was time for me to get fit.  I didn’t want to tell my kids “I can’t
right now, I’m too tired” — ever again.   I started working out for a
couple of years with measly results.  It wasn’t until I started CrossFit exactly a year ago when things started happening. [quick shout to my awesome gym, CrossFit Impact]

20 pounds of fat gone + probably 5+ pounds of new muscle isn’t a
dramatic change on the outside.  My 325-pound deadlift is half of what
“real” athletes might do.  But nonetheless, CrossFit has completely
transformed my mindset on health, my kids’ health, food, and life. “Why I
can’t…” has become “Why not?” CrossFit has helped me become a
stronger person and a better (and more fit!) dad.

If you don’t know what CrossFit is, it’s a lifestyle + community +
exercise program that actually gets you “fit” – in every sense of the
word.  It’s constantly varied, functional movements executed at high
intensity. Yeah, exactly, clear as mud. Check out the video below for a
quick intro.

In honor of my 1-year anniversary with CrossFit, here’s a few ways I
love CrossFit, and a few random things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. There’s an athlete inside every one of us.  The first time
    you set foot in a CrossFit gym, you are seen as an athlete. Doesn’t
    matter if you’re coordinated or not (me), doesn’t matter if you were the
    captain of your math team (yup, I was a nerd).  Being an athlete is a
    mindset more than it is about physical feats.
  2. CrossFit helped me understand what fitness is.  Stop and
    think – how do you define fitness? How do you know you’re getting there?
     There’s 10 aspects – agility, speed, flexibility, endurance, power,
    stamina, balance, accuracy, coordination, and strength. CrossFit is one
    of the few programs that works on it all.
  3. CrossFit is like Suduko – easy to learn and do, but hard to master. My
    6-year-old has done scaled work-outs with me.  I’ve been doing it a
    year and there’s probably still 30% of the basic movements that I can’t
    even do. Some things I’ll never be able to do.
  4. Sometimes the “oh MAN, that hurts” moment isn’t even during the workout.  It’s 30 seconds afterwards, as your body is still catching up with the hard work you just did.
  5. CrossFit is like love – hard to define in a sentence, but easy to see in a moment.
  6. CrossFit is like Florida.  It’s grandma-friendly.  Can you
    do 75 burpees in 7 minutes?  I couldn’t when I first tried, but the
    52-year-old grandma next to me could.  I love the YouTube series “Killing the Fat Man
    – CrossFit changes this midlife-crisis-dad’s life so much, that his
    triple-bypass, can’t-walk-10-steps dad gets into it and the results are
    amazing. Just watch episode 1.
  7. CrossFit is the closest thing there is to physical training for real life (and the physical rigors of parenting!). 
    I can get down on the floor with my kids like never before (squat).
    Move heavy furniture (sled push). Throw heavy kids across a swimming
    pool (snatch).  Bend down to have those beloved one-on-one, “do you
    understand?” parenting talks (lunge). CrossFit is all about correct
    positions & movements in real life – the way our body is designed to
    be.
  8. I’ve been eating all wrong my whole life.  I know my friends
    now think I’m “one of those crazy people” on food.  But eating lots of
    meat/veggies, some nuts/oils, a little fruit, a little starch, and no
    sugar has been great – I like what I eat, and I like how I feel
    afterwards. Less energy lulls.  Less cravings.  Less stomach drama.
  9. CrossFit has “healed” many injuries – I had a bum knee, a
    constantly sore back, recurring shoulder pain.  The knee I got from
    training wrong for a marathon, the back from just bad everyday posture,
    and the shoulder pain from too many past afternoons in my teens
    believing I was Roger Clemens. All that is pretty much gone now. 
    Because CrossFit teaches you to move in the way your body is designed to
    (after all, CrossFit’s founder is an engineer), the more you move
    right, the more aligned everything in your body becomes.  I’ve learned
    that so many injuries and nagging joints are a result of wrong positions
    done repetitively (+foods that kick up inflammation). Then, other body
    parts overcompensate, creating this cruel vicious cycle of bad to worse
    form, leading to all kinds of problems, leading to throwing up your
    hands and conceding to inactivity.
  10. The workouts are extremely effective at achieving fitness. 
    okay, I know I’m going to sound like a CrossFit snob – if you want to
    get fit, why spend hours and hours doing cardio?  Especially when that
    only trains one or two aspects of the ten aspects of fitness?  In fact,
    the workouts are effective exactly because they are short and intense. 
    Short enough that I’ve often time squeezed a workout in while my
    toddler watches a short episode of Dora.  Short enough that my
    6-year-old will do a scaled version with me sometimes.  But intense
    enough to turn me into a sweaty pile of hot mess on the ground
    afterwards.
  11. CrossFit people are awesome.  There’s something about
    tackling something difficult together that brings people together. The
    last one to finish a workout is often cheered and encouraged the loudest
    (I get lots of cheers).  It’s inclusive and encouraging.
  12. CrossFit will never be for everyone.  While CrossFit is
    truly inclusive so many ways, the intensity and positive/team culture
    won’t be for everyone.  I like that. People will self-select out.
  13. CrossFit is like Jesus.  You can talk passionately about it
    to someone, but until they experience it for themselves, it will sound
    like you’re a little off. Haha.
  14. CrossFit keeps me on my toes. No two work-outs are exactly
    the same. Intentionally.  This adds to the effectiveness of the workout
    since our bodies are extremely good at adapting. I love that moment when
    I walk into the gym and see the workout of the day (WOD) and say, “I
    wonder how THAT is going to go!”  And I love the fact that any day’s
    workout could be the hardest workout of my life.

  15. CrossFit has changed my body, and transformed my mind.  At 37, I’m in the best shape of my life. But my mind, too.  “If I can do this, why can’t I do that?”
  16. I’m addicted to the CrossFit Games. 
    This annual competition to find the world’s fittest people is
    completely fascinating, partly because I was a part of it. I did the
    workouts in round 1, put up my scores, and saw how I stacked up against
    70,000 other athletes.  Hey, in 3 years, I’ll be 40.  Masters Division,
    here I come. Oh, and the athletes are jaw-dropping amazing.
  17. I love data.  I love tracking my progress through data, and
    seeing the progress on every aspect.  Double-unders from none to 17.
     Benchpress from 145 to 185.  2km row from 9 minutes to 7.24.  Seeing
    early wins motivates you to go for more.
  18. CrossFit has taught me about the behind-the-scenes things about getting fit
    The workouts that everyone sees are essentially stimulus for
    growth. Recovery, hydration, sleep and eating right are actually what
    are causing my growth in fitness.   So true for life in general.
  19. To get better at something, do other stuff.  Yeah, it’s one
    of those weird truths that you’ll find in CrossFit.  I’ve done a one-rep
    deadlift max about 4 times in the last year. Broke 200, then 250, then
    300. Now I’m at 325 (about half of what other guys at the gym can do). 
    What’s fascinating is that I haven’t been working on deadlifts in
    between – I’ve been doing CrossFit.  Runners at my gym are finding the
    same thing taking one or two days off from running, doing CrossFit
    instead, and watching  those half-marathon times go down.

The thing I love the most about CrossFit is how I feel when I’m not
doing CrossFit.  It’s how it all transcends the gym and somehow oozes
into my career, my friendships, my parenting.  It’s that I’m modeling to
my kids the kind of fitness and care of self that I hope they will pick
up on some day.

My 6-year-old came up to me this past week and said something that I’ll
remember for a long time, “Daddy, I’m not going to eat desserts anymore
because I want to be healthy like you!”

I asked him, “Even when your little sister is eating ice cream?”

“Yup! I want to be healthy like you, Daddeeee!”

We landed on a compromise – when I eat dessert, so can he.  No more desserts for me (or at least until they go to bed…)

About the Author | Tony Chen is founder of Savvy Daddy. Get to know him, and you’ll realize he’s a big kid trapped in a supermodel’s body.

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