It’s 5:30 am on Friday morning and I’m doing what any other normal human does at this hour…I’m writing an article about overhead walking lunges (Spoiler: it’s about much more than that.)!
A ton of people hit their first version of this movement during the CFHV Open. In fact, in the 6 weeks that the CFHV Open hour covered, I experienced more high points in that short time than in any other similar period in my 43 years of life. That’s a weird stat I suppose, but it certainly left a lasting impression.
One powerful enough to have me up writing, in the wee hours of the morning!
No, the impression left has nothing to do with me being awake in cold sweats at the very thought! Rather, I was moved by the realization of the metaphorical (and sometimes literal) importance the achievement of firsts has for all of us in our pursuit of health and fitness.
While we all started and continue to do CrossFit for different specific reasons, all those reasons combine toward the same general purpose – to live a healthier life. On a superficial level, achieving an overhead walking lunge has absolutely nothing to do with that. In fact, many more people will live an incredibly healthy life without successfully completing such a movement, than those that do complete one. Certainly, there is a positive correlation between degree of fitness and ability to do one, but by no means is one required to be fit.
So, why does it matter? Why is knocking off a movement like this as important to the 25-year-old young gun as it is to the 69-year-old grandfather?
Simple – it’s the motivation of the pursuit and satisfaction of the achievement.
For most, I’m not talking about any one particular movement, but instead, I am referring to what it represents – a meaningful, tangible, physical goal. For the 69-year-old grandfather, that might be walking up 3 stairs without assistance. For others, it may be a 200kg back squat. And for some, it’s moving without pain.
We all need that meaningful something to keep us coming back, day in and day out. As with the pursuit of any goal, it is a journey filled with ups and downs. It is a journey that requires commitment, and it is a journey that will see you experience some form of failure. BUT, it is in that pursuit and even in that failure that we progress, grow, and succeed in some way.
For 99% of us, we’ve stayed committed to CrossFit longer than any other fitness routine in our lives. For many of us, we are fitter now than we were 1, 5, 10, and even 20 years ago. For most of us, going to the gym has become something we want to do instead of something we have to do.
All that is awesome, but we must acknowledge the facts.
Fact 1 – As humans, we naturally seek newness and growth. The first year or two of CrossFit is intoxicating. You’ve never done half the movements and while scary, it’s also exhilarating. You never knew how awful 5 minutes of working out could feel, but somehow it’s awesome. You were never a group class person but all of a sudden you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Inevitably, all of that becomes the new normal. It’s no longer new, it’s your routine. It’s still better than any other routine, but like anything else in life we do for years, it becomes routine indeed.
Fact 2 – Success breeds motivation, and it becomes a hell of a lot less frequent as the year’s pass. In the first 2 years of CrossFit, you look at a barbell and you PR. Not just PR but PR by HUGE jumps. 10kgs on a snatch in 1 month, 50kgs on your deadlift the next. Then the gains slow. Suddenly it’s 2.5kgs on your clean in 6 months, 10kgs on your squat in a year. Let’s be clear, improving at a decreasing rate happens to everyone in any fitness program especially as their fitness and age increases. BUT, it still sucks and can be demotivating!
Fact 3 – We can easily combat these issues by chasing the Infinite game, and not the finite one (more on this in another post).
Out of the athletes that got PR’s during the CFHV Open, I worked with 6 of them outside of class. I’m sure the tips we gave helped, but the main driver for their success was their commitment to the goal and journey. During that process what do you think their attendance looked like? Stellar. Why? They had a goal.
Now that they hit their goal, how do you think they feel? Amazing! Are they motivated to find another one and continue to improve their fitness? Hell yeah.
But guess what? I also worked with 3 other athletes who have yet to get one. Have they reached the goal yet? Nope. Has the pursuit of that goal fueled their commitment to their health? Hell yeah. Is that a success in itself? Absolutely!
In other words, my friends find a meaningful, physical goal and go get it. Maybe it’s a first pull-up or maybe it’s a 220kg deadlift. I don’t know what it is for you but all I know is you need one. It needs to matter. You need to chase it. You need to celebrate it when you reach it.