Who Needs Willpower?

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In my pre-CrossFit days, I logged endless, uninspiring hours on the track, treadmill, elliptical, and weight circuit.  There was no workout without willpower.  Willpower to drive to the gym…to step on the machine… to ignore that tweaked knee…  to crank out that extra mile.  A suspension of disbelief to pretend that this workout, indistinguishable from the last and the one before, somehow mattered…

An unappreciated facet of CrossFit is its unique ability to capture the pre-Willpower days of the grade school playground at recess.  The sense of play, camaraderie, healthy competition…  Swinging from the monkey bars…  Playing tag… Jumping off the merry-go-round… No willpower… No routine… Endless possiblities…Pure presence…

There is something magical about the combination of a great coach, a tight-knit community, and a short, intense, timed and scored workout that transports me back to that pre-willpower era…I would no sooner skip CrossFit than I would skip recess back in the day.

I walk into the gym and greet my my fellow 6am’ers.  I check out the whiteboard- today’s workout: 10 minutes, 3 movements,  as many rounds as possible.  Heart begins to pound…  Can I make it through 4 times?  5?

Coach leads us through warm-ups, skills, and chalk talk.  A lesson on how to land a jump…. “cat like”… 30 minutes have passed in the blink of an eye, and I’m thinking about nothing but now.  I prepare my station – a box for jumping, a kettle bell for swinging, a space for push-ups.  I consider strategy –  can I sustain 10 minutes all-out, or should I pace myself?   Today feels like an all-out kind of day.  I catch Caleb’s eye – he agrees wordlessly.

3-2-1 the timer begins.  I am in the moment.  Mind focused.  All around, other crazies jumping, swinging, pushing up, each at their own cadence, with their own intensities.  There is serious power being generated in this room, and I’m part of the machine.  Need to do my part. I see Daphne slow down and give her an encouraging shout.

I knock out a few more box jumps.  Coach yells out: “30 seconds, guys, let’s bring it home!”.  I flash back to the closing bell of recess… Carpe Diem!   I dig deep for three more push-ups as the buzzer sounds.     Fall to the ground, chest pounding, awash in endorphins.  Log my 5 rounds on the whiteboard. Recess is over – time to go back to real life. Back in the office, feel the nice burn in my legs and back.  Just 24 hours until my next WOD.

Who needs willpower?  We’ve got CrossFit.