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LIfe Lessons I Learned From Crossfit

This term, I decided to take the highest-level class I’ve ever taken in college, taught by professor who is known (literally, he told us on the first day of class) for being a hard grader. Not only that, I decided it would be a good term to take four other classes, become a group fitness instructor, and continue my internship at my gym–plus a part-time job. What am I forgetting? Oh yeah. My social life. How metaphorical.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I wasn’t doing so well. The superhard class had the hardest grading scale I’d ever had in a class (basically, to get an A in something, you would have to include live video footage of a unicorn hula-hooping), so I was only getting mediocre grades on projects I had worked really hard on. Those projects I lost many hours of sleep over were harshly critiqued in front of the whole class, which combined with my inability to deal with criticism meant that I was seriously struggling.

…and by struggling, I mean that I was so stressed about my assignments for that class that I couldn’t think about anything else until I turned them in (I know, I know, obession much?). Considering the assignments were due weekly, this meant that the rest of my classes were put on the back burner, which meant that I had a lot of catching up to do for midterms.

One day about a week ago, I had finally had enough. I decided to skip my last class of the day and go to the gym.

I don’t remember exactly what the workout was that I did, just that I wanted to drown myself in my own pool of sweat by the time I was done (mmm, great visual). And it felt great. Leaning on the wall for support and trying to catch my breath, I had an endorpin-based realization: life is like a giant CrossFit workout. And I needed to stop doing one slow, mediocre workout and start figuring out how to get things done more efficiently.

That workout, and accompanying realization, kick-started my motivation to stop thinking of everything as “too much” and start fighting back instead. And the more I thought about it, the more Crossfit could be applicable to…well, life. Like so:

  • Take things one step at a time. If you think of 150 wallballs as 150 wallballs, you’re going to be overwhelmed. Same thing goes for school. Take assignments one at a time–instead of freaking out over my three papers due, I do half of one, take a short break, then get right back to it.
  • Failing is okay, as long as you learn from it. Every once in a while, you will not do something up to your standards or you won’t make your squat one-rep max. But if that taught you that you need to work on staying on your heels or that photographing a boring subject is probably going to result in boring photographs, you can make the next rep (or assignment) better.
  • You choose your attitude. It’s easy to give into negative thinking–I hate this workout! I’ll never get an assignment right! However, if we don’t think we can do something, we probably won’t. But making the choice to see how something can be achieved instead of thinking of why it can’t be done can make all the difference in a workout…or a class.
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