Let me introduce you to Keith Simon. He’s a Crossfit trainer and overall bad man. This is him at the Crossfit Regional Competition a few weeks ago. Keith pushes himself to the limit (and beyond) on a daily basis. We can learn a lot from him on how he approaches his workouts. This translates nicely to those of us in the “corporate” world…and in life.
For those who aren’t familiar, Crossfit is a fairly new workout regiment (this video sums it up). It’s a kick in the ass to say the least. I almost didn’t go back after my second workout. Maybe that was due to barely being able to drive home (I could barely hold my arms up to the steering wheel – thanks Keith Simon : ).
The overall concept is a workout that combines weightlifting, rowing, running, gymnastics, power lifting, kettle bell training, plyometrics, medicine balls, flipping tires, etc.
It tests every muscle in your body. More than that, it tests mental fortitude. Simply put, it’s addicting. Just ask those that do it. Once you start, you can’t stop.
It’s not easy. It’s not for people who don’t want to push themselves to the limit and beyond. It will make you stronger.
It will make you look better and more fit. It will give you confidence to achieve anything in life.
So, how does it relate to work?
I’ve been doing it for about two years. There’s no doubt that my work performance has doubled, at least. A lot of what you learn and experience in Crossfit can be transferred to performing at an optimal level in work and life.
On to the 7…
Embrace the Best – At every workout, you will encounter a moment where you want to quit. It’s inevitable. You learn to deal with this and to overcome it. It’s resistance at it’s finest. It’s a mind game. At first, it’s a big kick in the ass. As you get more experience, you begin to crave “the beast”. It’s hard to explain. This translates to work as we all experience resistance. I know I do on a daily basis. Crossfit has helped me learn how to push through. How to grind when I don’t feel like it.
Rest/Recover – I talk a lot about this. It’s crucial to take breaks during your work day. It’s imperative to take vacations and disconnect in your personal life. In Crossfit, although you’re typically battling the clock, you have to take time to recover, albeit brief moments. I had to do 100 kettle bell swings yesterday. Instead of pushing through with unbroken reps, I knew the most efficient way to finish was to break it up in sets of 10. 10 reps, brief recovery, 10 reps, brief recovery. Think about your work day like this. Work, recover, work, recover.
Accountability – You write your name on the board after each workout with your score/results. Other people see it. You want to do great. This is just like setting goals in work and life. You put them on paper and you commit to it. Either you succeed in reaching your goals or you don’t.
Every time I look at that board before my workout, I pick someone’s time to beat. I don’t always accomplish that, but you better be sure I’m crushing myself trying to get there.
Competitiveness – At work, you need to think of yourself like an athlete. You’re competing against yourself every day. Shooting for improvement and optimal performance. I’m in sales so I’m also competing against my peers and “the clock.”
Focus – So crucial in life and work. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits wrote a great book about Focus. He’s a master at teaching about how to focus and to keep it simple. The beauty of Crossfit is that you see the workout on the board.
It’s not like going to the gym and making up your workout as you go. You know what you have to do. You get laser-focused on the outcome.
The Zone – Once you get the focus down, you experience the mind like water flow state that we all desire. This is where real results happen. Time stands still. It’s the best feeling in the world.
This is where you know you’re “doin’ work” and getting after it. If you find yourself getting in the zone more often at work, I guarantee your performance will increase exponentially.
Relaxed effort leads to results – This is a challenge for me and something I have to always remind myself (at Crossfit and at work). I’m an intense guy. I tend to push hard and accumulate tension. This isn’t the way to perform optimally.
It’s like a golf swing – the more relaxed your swing is, the more power you can create. Same goes for Crossfit. For example, when you’re doing a hang clean (an Olympic lifting skill). You can “muscle” the bar up, but you will tire out and fall short of what your true strength is.
If you relax and let the bar do the work, your strength increases significantly. The guy that runs my gym, Ralph Hicks, weights about 165 lbs. He embodies this as he’s much stronger than many of the 200 lb guys (and these guys are no joke). He’s efficient. He’s relaxed.
The Crossfit Games start this weekend
If you want to see these warriors perform, the 2011 Crossfit Games start tomorrow. It’s the ultimate test of the world’s best athletes and finds the “fittest person alive.”
The first workout was just announced. It’s tomorrow morning in Santa Monica. The competitors have to swim 200m in the ocean, run 1,500m on the beach, 50 Chest to Bar Pull-ups, 100 hand release push-ups, 200 squats and another 1,500m beach run.
Crazy workout, yet incredibly awesome. What a great start to the games. If you live in SoCal, you have to check it out. You can also catch the competition online at the Crossfit Games site. The games run through Sunday. Good luck to all the competitors, including Jamie Gold (here’s Jamie winning the final workout at regionals to qualify for the games), who is from my gym (Crossfit New Albany) in New Albany, OH.
I believe it’s crucial that we start thinking about ourselves like athletes. It’s easy to fall into bad habits at work and, quite frankly, to get lazy. You’re going to fall into this trap from time to time. I know I do. However, I’ve learned how to snap out of it and to jump back into the challenge.
Crossfit has helped me immensely, as I continue the journey toward optimal focus and performance. I’m supremely confident it can help you as well.
How do you get focused? Are you a crossfitter – if so, what has it given you (in work or life)? Please leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
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