The Most Revealing Test in CrossFit
Written by Kirsten Ahrendt

There are plenty of “tests” in CrossFit. There are lifts to test our overall strength, WODs to test our aerobic capacity, skills to test our gymnastics. But as a CrossFit coach and athlete, there is one test in particular that I hold in the highest regard. This test is given nearly every day we walk in the gym – it reveals mindset and character. The test is simple…

What does an member/athlete do when their WOD is over?

I’ve coached for nearly 4 years, 5 days per week. I have accumulated numerous case studies weekly and have categorized the results into two categories. For the rest of the article, I’ll refer to all members as “athletes”.

Result 1 – The Individual Mindset Result

This behavior is generally executed in the following way:
– The athlete finishes their WOD and may roll on the floor for a few minutes.
– Upon collecting themselves, the athlete may go check their text messages, social media alerts or email.
– The athlete then proceeds to clean up their equipment – navigating in and out of fellow member’s spaces who are still working out.
– Sometimes this mindset manifests itself in members pooling together in groups sitting on the floor and talking about how tough the workout was and discussing their day.

Result 2 – The Group Mindset Result

This behavior is generally executed the following way:
– The athlete finishes their WOD and may roll on the floor for a few minutes.
– Upon collecting themselves, that athlete gravitates towards other members that are still in progress of the workout. The athlete cheers them on (whether they know them or not).
– The finished athlete may clap, give words of encouragement, and move between groups of athletes who are still working.
– Upon other members’ completion of the work, high fives and pats on the back are exchanged.
– Workout equipment is put away together as a group.

Your workout is done when everyone is finished

Why did you join CrossFit Invictus? Is accountability, group sessions, friends or community part of your answer? If so, then consider this…the workout is not done when you finish. The workout is done when everyone is finished. As a CrossFit coach, facilitating a sense of community is part of my job. I played a lot of team sports, so this comes naturally to me. But it can be scary for others to reach out to someone they don’t know well and encourage them. Often people think “who am I to cheer them on? To tell them they can do it?”

CrossFit exploded on the “fitness scene” years ago because of a few key founding principles – 1) simplicity 2) constantly varied exercise 3) community. People could’ve continued CrossFitting solo – but there’s a reason there’s 10,000+ boxes around the world – people crave community. People become their best selves when pushed, encouraged, and surrounded by others that believe in them. As David Byrne, artist and musician writes…

“We’re a social species, we benefit from our tendency to cooperate to achieve what we cannot alone… We do not exist as isolated individuals. We, as individuals, are inhabitants of networks; we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive.”

If you came to Invictus to be part of a community or for the “push of others” to keep your intensity high when working out, then consider this – you owe it to give back to that community. Consider it part of your social contract with the gym (entirely separate from your financial contract. Talk to management about that one.) You can keep your end of the deal by supporting every last member of your class to the finish line of each workout.

Coach’s challenge to you

At the start of every class, look around. Every single person who came to that class is now your tribe. You should take personal satisfaction in seeing to it that each individual is supported and no one “finishes alone”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a founding member or this is class #1 after fundamentals; it matters not that you chose to do Fitness track and someone else chose Performance track. For that hour, we are one group with a common goal – self improvement through shared suffering. Make sure no one suffers alone.

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