I Bet You Have Done CrossFit to Justin Bieber and Didn’t Even Know It

I recently had a conversation with one of the coaches where I do CrossFit about music. He wanted to do an experiment where he did not play any music during class. I want to say I encouraged this idea, but well, I did not.  I have been in class once or twice without music and bitched the entire time. I suggested perhaps he phase it out once the workout starts to see if anyone even notices. Much to my chagrin, the Great Music Experiment never happened (which, if it had, this blog may have been written very differently. Not to point any fingers, Ricky!)

Anyways, working out often is synonymous with music. We cannot workout without music, or more specifically without the right music. I agree with this… to a degree. There are tons of articles out there in regards to the benefits of listening to music: how the beat of music can match the cadence of your heartbeat. Or how the right tempo or song can boost your effort: the faster the beat the faster you move.

In my own experience, music does matter to me when I am working out solo. With running, I need music that gets me hyped up the same way it does when I am home procrastinating on putting laundry away. I blast Spotify to get me moving because for some reason, the idea of moving around my room putting items in the closet and drawers without music sounds like pure torture. There is something with music that gets me motivated.  When I think about kickboxing, I would not want to be punching a bag with a sappy Celine Dion song playing. Hearing “My heart will go on” are not the most inspiring words to give a swift left hook to the bag. When I take cycling classes, I strongly believe in the concept of “shared energy” which music is a big attributing factor. It gets people excited, nostalgic even when an old favorite comes on, and gets people to pump those legs harder.

Yet, when it comes to my steady favorite, CrossFit, I want to ask, how important is music to the workout? I may notice what is playing during the strength portion because there tends to be sets with rest in between. However, when it comes to the workout portion, I notice what is playing for maybe the first ten seconds, but after that, I could not tell you if it was Justin Bieber playing or Metallica. (And for the record, if you are rolling your eyes at the Bieber reference, I defy you to deny that he actually has talent). At any rate, I am curious, who else experiences this in CrossFit or am I on my own lonely planet? What other workouts do you feel music is more of a supporting role than a lead?

The more I think about this topic of how important is music to working out, particularly CrossFit, I come up with question after question. I could attempt to answer them, which I have contemplated the reasons within the confines of my own brain, but it brings me deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. So in the spirit of interaction, I am deliberately leaving much of this open ended. I would LOVE to get feedback from all of you as to your thoughts and perspectives.

Let’s start with the obvious: why? Why do I not notice what is playing? I mean, I am aware something is playing, and I am fairly certain if the music stopped, I would notice (mainly because I would hear my breathing coming through in full force). So what is it about CrossFit that is different than other workouts? Like cycling, it’s shared energy, yet it does not seem that music is the driving force. So if it is not what creates energy, what does? As I ask that, I suppose the answer is fairly obvious. With cycling for example again, it is instructor lead. They drive the pace and the intensity. For the most part, you are pushing yourself just as hard as the person next to you. Sure, you may require less resistance on the bike than the next, but generally speaking, people are moving at similar speeds. (It is not like driving 50 on a highway with someone coming up next to you going 80).

Perhaps with CrossFit, it generates a different kind of energy.  It generates a sense of competition WHICH IS A GOOD THING. It could be competition with the clock, competition with fellow athletes or competition with ourselves.  In all instances, I believe, as is the case with me, perhaps I am more focused on other variables. I am focusing on keeping good form. I am focusing on mentally pushing through some difficult reps. I am focusing on not burning out too fast and losing my lead on the person next to me. Are these valid reasons why music really does become background noise?

Is it that with CrossFit, it is not about just getting a workout or burning calories?  Is it that it is so varied, you do not get into a rhythm like other sports? If I compare it running, I tend to want to get to a steady running pace and stick with it. I also recognize though there are all sorts of training to do with running, from intervals to sprints. For all you avid runners, I am curious, does music, particularly what music is playing, factor into how well you train?

The funny thing is, I know a lot of coaches who put a lot of time into playlists for classes. I am wondering though, is it necessary? Don’t get me wrong, I have been known to yell out “what the hell are we listening to?” I’ve worked out to music that sounded more suited for the bedroom (and I voiced that complaint). But again, in looking back, I really only think part of the class I am even aware of what is playing. There comes a point, as I said usually within seconds of when the clock starts, that what is on that playlist does not even matter, at least not consciously.  On the flip side though, does it somehow impact us even if we are not cognizant of what we are hearing?

I can go on more about this, but I suppose I should ask a telling question that will either validate or disclaim this blog post. For those who CrossFit, can you name a song you heard while you were last getting your sweat on?

 

*In lieu of not yet having a trademark to put on my blog, consider this a small Public Service Announcement. I am all for sharing my writing (in fact I am flattered!) Please just give credit where credit is due. Thank you.

 

CrossFit is So Much More than Workouts and Meatheads

You all know I love CrossFit. Many of you think I am a bit coo coo for cocoa puffs about it. Many of you are intrigued by it. Many of you wish I would stop writing and posting about it. Many of you share my obsession with it. Many of you wish I would stop obsessing about it. The thing is though, CrossFit does so much for me beyond a workout. It is a mentality both in and out of the box. I did a Google search for “CrossFit inspiration” and so many memes popped up that immediately resonated with me. I want to share some of these with you as they really speak to why I, and so many others, CrossFit.

“I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say ‘because of you I didn’t give up.’” There is something about working out in the company of others. I know when I used to do my own solo thing at a gym, I often would cheat myself out of really pushing my limits. I did not even know what I was capable of as I worked out in a bubble.  I doubt I ever would have attempted even doing a pull-up or back squat more than 100 pounds. I had no inspiration to do it. I wanted to be fit and healthy, but I never really appreciated all the awesome, motivating shit fit people do. I got a taste of it when I had personal trainers and found running groups to hit the pavement with. Being around CrossFitters has turned me onto fitness on a whole other level. I have mad respect for athletes of all shapes and sizes because I now truly appreciate how hard it could be. I push myself now so much more than I ever have because of this community who motivate me to work hard. I also would like to think I do the same for other people. Think of how easy it is for someone who goes to a global gym or somewhere that they do not know anyone else working out. Think of how easy and how often it happens that people get discouraged and never go back. With CrossFit, we all have the potential to say a few inspiring, encouraging words to someone to make them want to come back. Working out does not have to be only a self-fulfilling kind of thing.  Make it about others too and what you can do for them.

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“Act like a lady. Lift like a boss.” For someone like myself who is petite, I never want to be perceived as fragile. Sure I appreciate chivalry and manners when it comes to things like holding the door open for me, but I sure as hell never want assistance getting my luggage off the carousel or down from the overhead because someone perceives it to be too heavy for me. There is a balance for me between being feminine (I do love make-up, nails and dresses) and not being delicate or helpless.

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CrossFit has made it cool for women to be able to lift heavy and not feel the need to hide it. CrossFit has become an accepted outlet for women to lift like a boss, and more importantly, has enabled us to feel proud of all the muscles we have to show for it. There is so much more acceptance for different body types, and I truly believe CrossFit has played a part in that. Fitness is not just about aspiring to be skinny anymore (and nothing against anyone who is). CrossFit is a showcase for strength (strong is the new sexy as we all know). I know I work damn hard for every muscle I have and so when I see that in anyone else, I have such respect for them. Gains require so much discipline, tenacity and an appetite for constant improvement.muscles.jpg

 

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” CrossFit brings accountability to everyone who sets foot in the box. (Yeah there are some who sandbag but then they wouldn’t fall into this category of doing the seemingly impossible). For most of us, it means doing those last few reps even if we feel like we have nothing left to give. It may mean it takes a few minutes longer than everyone else to finish the WOD. It may mean throwing a few extra pounds onto the barbell even if it causes us intense anxiety. CrossFit is a constant battle between doing what is comfortable and what sucks. Personally, I am elated and humbled every time I do something that seems scary to me (which is almost every day). 95 pound thrusters in a workout is not something I ever expected or strove to do. It sounds scary and impossible, yet I have done it many times. Doing the “impossible” is what keeps so many of us going. It has taught to us to expect the unexpected. It teaches us to not underestimate ourselves, and that is something that extends far beyond the box.

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CrossFit has taught me so much about myself and others, and I truly believe it has helped me in my personal life as well as professional. ( I have to refrain in meetings to not make CrossFit analogies  to my team as relevant as they are!) Think about your interactions, outside of a box or a gym even. How many times do you  witness people giving up before trying? Or how many times do you see people underestimate themselves? Or perhaps you watch a colleague get steamrolled because they have allowed others to perceive them as weak?  I swear, if people treated countless scenarios the same way they would tackle a hard workout, they may see different results. So whether or not CrossFit is your thing, please, embrace the mentality it offers as it translates in all we do in life. CrossFit builds strength, resolve, and courage in us not just at the box, but in all that we do. Crush life the same way you crush a workout. And on that note, I truly wish you a happy new year. Now, go get it 2017.