Foreword: I want to stress something key because I do not by any means want to sound self-righteous or like I know how to run a CrossFit box. I am basing this post on my own experiences and conversations I have had with many other CrossFit athletes.
I have blogged about why people leave CrossFit boxes (link here) and so it only makes sense to follow it up with reasons why people often stay, even if they really do need to leave.
- Loyalty. This is legit a common reason. Often members feel like they would be abandoning their box or owners or coaches by leaving. They have been there perhaps from the beginning or they feel that the they owe it to the box to stay. Perhaps they have seen gains or perhaps they are friends with the owner.
Guilt comes along with loyalty and I totally get that. It is like any relationship or friendship. We feel like the other person stuck by us through some tough shit and it would make us pretty crappy people if now that we are not “in need” we are abandoning them.
- Athletes don’t know what “better” is.
I see this often with first time CrossFitters. They love CrossFit and where they are but they also have no benchmark to compare it to. So they stay.
For many, their first choice was stellar and they may be there until the end of time. Which is amazing. It just does not always happen like that for everyone.
I bring this up because at some point for many athletes, they do get a taste of what else is out there. Often it is in the form of a drop in. Maybe athletes go home to visit and drop in at a local box. They start comparing that box to their own and notice the short comings (I like to refer to this as “box envy”). Maybe they experience more methodical, dynamic warm ups that they do not get at their home box. Maybe they notice the coaches are giving far more specific cues. Maybe it is the physical space and they are jealous of the high ceilings for rope climbs. You get the idea. It can be a million difference reasons that attribute to box envy.
- Fear of losing the community we have come to love.
I have experienced this and I have heard people say the same countless times. “I am not happy anymore at this box, but I do not know want to lose the friendships and community I have built here.” And I think there are a few ways to look at this.
Evaluate your goals. Are your goals being met even if perhaps the environment leaves something to be desired? Can you reach your goals if you stay even if it means having to compromise on something else to stay with your community
People and circumstances in life are fluid. This is just a given. It is like when we stay at a job even if we hate it, but loves our boss. And then that boss leaves and we feel shafted. I look at it like yes the people we are around are extremely important, but the fear of losing them is not always a reason to stay. We get very comfortable with our workout buddies and coming into any class and feeling familiar. Anyone in your community though could leave at any time. It just happens. I personally feel that it is a balance and if you truly are not happy or not getting out of CrossFit what you want, I do not think the community should necessarily be the thing that keeps you.
Also, remember, the community you built, that did not happen overnight. You had to build that. And you can build it again.
Guys, I get it. I’m a few days into my latest box change and I have not yet found my community. I think the other athletes are still trying to figure out what my deal is or if I am just dropping in from somewhere far ,far away. And that is totally cool. Camaraderie happens organically.
- We feel like we are “cheating” if we go for a test drive.
There is guilt even before we make a decision to leave. Typically athletes want to have their next box lined up before making a switch. Naturally we start doing local drop-ins to kind of test drive other options. But heaven forbid the box we go to even has an inkling that we are thinking of switching. We fear being ostracized or not coached (because why should they bother investing in us if we are half way out the door?) And so often we just stay. We stay out of fear of being almost devalued. We do not even look because of this fear.
In my humble opinion, if that does happen, that your box sort of turns on you, then take that as a sign you DEFINITELY should be switching boxes. I have had both experiences. I have had an owner who wanted to know why I was leaving so he could make some changes and address them. And I have had owners who were basically like “ok cool got you cancelled.” (aka don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out).
This personally has never stopped me from looking around. I am on my 4th box (and I really believe this could be “the one”). If anything I had actually been fairly vocal about it this time around which thank goodness I was. The box I have switched to was not even on my radar as an option, and because I had posted in a Facebook group about looking for a box, one of the owners actually reached out to me. So sometimes, you just have to get over the fear because that could potentially prevent you from finding what you really need.
Deciding to do CrossFit in and of itself is not a trivial thing. Many of us CrossFit because we want to be the best versions of ourselves. We want to constantly push ourselves beyond what we think we are capable of. We CrossFit because we want to be healthy, fully functional people at all ages. We CrossFit because our health and fitness are freakin important.
Switching boxes is also not a trivial thing. I cannot stress enough the importance of being at the right box for YOU. Switching boxes multiple times does not make you needy or high maintenance. It is you recognizing what your needs are at that point in time. What you needed last year may not be what you need today. There should be no shame in making a decision to leave a CrossFit for another because at the end of the day you only get one body, one brain, one life. You have every right to do what is best for you even if you feel that there may be some drama or baggage associated with it. I say screw it because nobody can tell you what is right for you but you.