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by Kathryn Skeean

Competition is a loaded word – it can mean something different to anyone you talk to, and it can be seen in several different lights. Is it inherently good or inherently bad? For this month’s blog post, I spoke with two of our very own CFL coaches about what exactly competition means to them in life and specifically in CrossFit.

Here is what coach Dave Rector had to say:

“Competition comes with a lot of negative connotations. Those who pursue it are over the top. Those that don’t pursue it are lazy. In CrossFit, it’s not quite that simple. The competitive aspect in CF is twofold in my mind. Yes, you’re going up against everyone in the gym day in and day out. And yes, you’re trying to beat your own previous times, weights, etc. These are obvious forms of competition in CF.

However, alongside these, the biggest form of competition for me has been committing to the pursuit of health and fitness. It’s a competition against all the negative thoughts challenging my own self-worth. It’s competing against what my family history says about how my life should end up. It’s competing with the alarm clock in the morning. It’s the little bitty things that we all go through that CF has helped me compete against.

As I’ve entered my thirties, I’ve wrestled with identifying what type of person I’m going to be as I age. CF has helped me have the mindset of ‘Well, if I can do *insert least favorite movement/WOD here* then maybe I can change my diet. Maybe I can wake up earlier. Maybe I can…’. Competition is more than simply having the desire to beat other people, or to be the best. It means challenging your own preconceived notions about yourself. Again and again. CF has taught me how to apply these values in my everyday life.”

Coach Alma Tucker had much insight to add, too. Here is what she had to say:

“I have always had a competitive side to me, no matter what the scenario, but when competing at Crossfit it’s more about proving to myself that I can be better than yesterday. I see true value in the self-improvement you can make by showing up daily, slowly improving movements and advancing skill levels over the course of time.

Competing with myself and not others has allowed me to build more self-esteem, which in the end I think allows me to help others more. I feel comfortable with the amount of training I am putting in every day and see my own personal growth with my goals, so I always suggest finding out what is important to you and start working towards that.

Crossfit really is the ultimate package. With so many different variations of movements and rep schemes, it makes it almost impossible for one person to dominate it all. I think it can be empowering one day and almost a slap in the face the next… Quite possibly all in 15 minutes. It forces you to overcome obstacles that you haven’t faced before and that feeling of accomplishment is irreplaceable.

I think too often we look at our neighbors and compare ourselves to them. When I compete with others it can make me feel inferior or inadequate to athletes, especially those who have been doing this for years. Those are tough feelings to swallow and don’t motivate me to show up every day. They can often do the exact opposite, BUT if you’ve competed in The Open then you know the energy in the gym is just different.  The love and community that pours out during that time gives me chill bumps. Competitions like that allow us to pull together as one and cheer each other on until the very last second. Competitions are fun and high energy, but I hope that every day I’m at the gym I can help someone win a battle in their life. No matter how big or small, it’s just as important as standing on any podium in my book.”

Use competition as fuel for the fire that burns inside you for self-development! You’ll be unstoppable if you can channel it in a  positive manner.