To be or not be….Competitive

One of the biggest joys of my life in the last year has been joining a Crossfit gym and focusing my workouts around the principals and philosophies of Crossfit methods. My gym is Crossfit Northland ( and I highly recommend the facilities, trainers, scheduling, and community of our box. Come check it out if you’re in KC!

To attempt to in-script all of the deep and varied reasons I appreciate and enjoy Crossfit seems a daunting task, but I’m feeling bold today. I’ll take the risk and jump in here with a few:

1-Crossfit emphasizes total fitness through whole body movements and functional movements instead of working muscle groups in isolation.

2- One Crossfit tagline is, “Crossfit: the sport of fitness.”  I like this idea- I wasn’t ever that great at other sports (read: I batted 8th on my h.s. softball team and tripped over the last hurdle EVERY time during the 300m hurdle race), but I am passionate about being active and pursuing health and fitness.

3- Crossfit fits almost anyone’s level of fitness with its scalability of intensity and load without program changes.

4- Instead of focusing on one or two aspects of fitness such as strength and speed, Crossfit seeks to optimize physical competence  in ten recognized fitness domains. They are: Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

Reasons 1-4 are widely accepted perks of Crossfit. Most personally for me, I appreciate:

5- Not having to plan, or motivate myself through, a workout. I show up and mobility training, strength work, a relevant warm-up and a kick-in-the-butt WOD awaits me. When it’s planned for me, I push myself harder, work with more intensity, and don’t quit early.

6- I like working out. I have been blessed with a body that can do some of this stuff well and I’m flat out entertained by thrilling activities like burpees, squats, pull-ups, box jumps, handstands, and sweating like crazy. When I work out I am less stressed and more prepared to work and be a mom, wife, neighbor, dog walker, and friend.

7- I’ve seen improvements in my physical strength and body composition. I also in general feel stronger and more confident in my ability to do physical tasks (ie: carry or chase children, lug grocery bags, push a car backwards down a driveway, etc…)

8- When I workout at Crossfit Northland I see friends. I am encouraged and challenged by trainers and others in the class. I get to workout with my husband, sister, 2 brother-in-laws, a sister-in-law and lots of new and old friends.

9- And I guess I’m writing today to admit that there’s competition mixed in with all of this and I might actually be competitive.

Is this okay this competitive spirit?  Competition is rooted in comparison and comparing ourselves to others is not something I usually endorse. Should I be motivated to work harder because someone else is going against my time and might be putting up more weight…or because I want to be stronger, healthier, more fit for my long term health? If I complete the WOD faster or with more rounds than someone else, does that mean I have achieved anything- that I’m better than them that day or should feel better about myself? What’s the line between competition and vanity? Does anyone win at Crossfit? Does winning matter?

I’d like to think that I don’t really care about winning, that I’m not fiercly competitive. I could in fact give you a list of competitive people in my life (remote throwing, dice sweeping, TV finger-pointing, crying- after-games people) and describe to you how I’m totally different.  How I just like playing the game and don’t really care if I win.

However, when I come home from Crossfit with the fastest time that day, I’m happy/proud. I do check the whiteboard to see what other girls, and Drew,  have done with the WOD that day to benchmark myself and have a goal.

I think competition is good when it does serve the purpose of setting a target for my aiming efforts that day. When I need context for a goal and something for which to work harder, faster, and with more strength. Competition, when I use it for myself, not antagonistically against others, can be beneficial. Like I said earlier, when I work out alone, I don’t pick up heavy weights, don’t run as fast or far, and don’t ever attempt overhead squats. With Karen next to me during the push-up test however, I didn’t want to stop because she hadn’t and I wanted to keep pace or push myself farther. I was happy to have done more push-ups but not because I beat Karen. Instead, Karen helped me to beat myself. I exerted extra effort and more “umph” because she was doing the same right next to me.

I think it’s been good for me to admit I’m competitive in some areas of my life. I think most of my competitive urges come from within my own desire to achieve to the best of my ability and I’m thankful for a gym where others are helping me see how I can run harder, squat deeper, push-up more powerfully, and live with more health. I also hope I am a humble competitor that looks outside myself to help others compete to achieve the best of their ability. To give others something to aim for without arrogance and with no ill consequences, but props and support, if the target escapes us that day, is for me, a healthy dose of competition.

See you at the finish line…may the fastest person that day win- and then turn around to cheer everyone else on to the end.




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