First Aid

By Jon Gilson

[Editor's Note: This was originally published here on June 6, 2006.]

CrossFit is the most effective exercise protocol on the planet. It is constantly evolving to incorporate new training knowledge and refine existing programs. It is effective because it is hard. CrossFit is quick, often heavy, and always brutal. These qualities make it attractive to the trainee with masochistic leanings. They also limit widespread adoption.Your typical big box athlete doesn't want to spend their post-workout time gasping for air in a puddle of sweat. If you've ever blasted through Fran, Cindy, or Helen, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Your heart rate momentarily hits hyper-drive, and you couldn't suck enough air to blow up a party balloon.

For some of us, myself included, this is a moment of Zen. For others, the post-workout fugue is the 5th circle of Hell.

If you experience this Hell by yourself, you may never want to do it again. Subjecting yourself to lonely agony is not usually the pinnacle of existence, and repeating that experience is low on your priority list.

Suck it up.

CrossFit is going to get you exactly what you want. The speed. The power. The physique.

Your problem is not physical, despite the dry heaves. Your problem is mental. As a lone trainee, there's no immediate payoff from your efforts. You busted your ass, but your back isn't wider, your thighs aren't stronger, and you still can't crush a beer can between your pecs.

The lack of immediate gratification leaves you at home, watching reruns of "24" and eating Doritos.

It's okay--we've got a solution. Quit doing CrossFit alone. Like most other people, you need an incentive to subject yourself to a daily beatdown.

Doing CrossFit in a group environment allows for all sorts of benefits. When 20 people are competing for the best time on a given workout, all 20 of them are working harder than they would alone. When we introduce competition into a workout, it ceases to be chore.

You're not a masochist, but you're intensely competitive. Okay, bub. Let's see who's better at this crazy sh*t. Ready, Go!

When I'm on the verge of collapse, and I see a fellow CrossFitter busting out 95 pound hang squat cleans like the bar is made of marshmallows, I step it up.

The group environment also benefits from shared suffering. When I'm a gasping puddle of man, and I see some firebreather gasping right next to me, I'm not going to quit. I not going to wave the white flag before you do, Custer.

If you've been doing more reading about CrossFit than actual CrossFit, it's time to get off your ass. Find someone to do this stuff with--roommate, girlfriend, boyfriend, uncle, whoever. Better yet, find your nearest CrossFit affiliate. I guarantee there's someone there who will beat you at just about everything and keep you coming back for more.

Make the post-workout puddle your moment of Zen. If you don't, at least you'll have someone to listen while you b*tch. Go faster!

Jon Gilson is the founder of Again Faster and former member of CrossFit’s Level I Seminar staff.