What’s so SMART about Crossfit?

2 1/2 years ago I walked into a Crossfit gym. The place was like no workout I’d experienced before. It reminded me of two-a-days from high school football, only on steroids.

That first day a coach walked me through the philosophy and methodologies underpinning Crossfit. He talked about various ways to measure fitness and tried to convert me on Crossfit’s commitment to high intensity, constantly varied, and functional movements.  We were expected to set SMART goals which were Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

I’d been going to the gym fairly regularly since high school, but I was going to have to re-learn most everything I knew about working out and setting goals. I’d been taught to squat by never going more than a few inches above parallel. Crossfit insisted on full-depth, below parallel form. More significantly, Crossfit was going to have me doing all the things I’d traditionally avoided in the gym. Dead lifts. Rope climbs. Overhead squats. These were not part of my weekly workouts. I preferred curls and bench press. I didn’t go to a gym with ropes to climb or sleds to push or tires to flip or stones to pick-up.

It’s one thing to hear someone talk about Crossfit. It’s something entirely different to try it yourself. My first Crossfit workout was miserable. Completely miserable. Row 250 meters then do 10 box jumps then do 15 burpees. Repeat this 5 times. The coach scaled the workout for me. I only did 10 burpees and I only repeated three times.  My lungs were exploding and my stomach was churning.

I wanted to run away and never return to the gym.  Truth was, I could barely walk home. This may sound crazy, but I was hooked.  The feeling of dizziness and exhaustion gave way to a deep desire to return, a desire to push my body to new physical limits.

I needed the assistance of elastic bands to do pull ups in those first few weeks. It was embarrassing for me. But, the folks around me didn’t seem to judge my lack of strength. They just did their workout and encouraged me in doing mine.

I saw significant improvements quickly. My flexibility and strength increased. My body began to transform for the first time.  This allowed me to see something for the first time: my lifetime of “working out” had never before resulted in any measurable physical changes.  More reason to return.  And so I did, and soon weeks turned into months and now it has been 2 ½ years.

In the beginning it was all I could do to show up and survive an hour-long class. Now I have a journal and I record and track my goals and progress. My goals have changed over time. In the beginning I was actually embarrassed by my inability to perform basic expectations within a defined time period. I have so far to go in fitness journey, but I find myself today with a stronger sense of confidence.

photo from Crossfit East Sac blog

As we move toward Sunday, I invite you to think about creating SMART goals for your faith life.  What goal might you have for rooting your life in Grace through worship and prayer and the study of Scripture?  What goal might you have for growing in faith and reaching in love?

~Matt

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