Why you should sign up for your first competition
Thinking about signing up for a CrossFit competition? It’s not just for elite athletes! CrossFitters of all ages and abilities can benefit from a competition. Even if you don’t think you have any chance of winning, it can still be a great experience! I’ve been on the podium, and I’ve gotten last place. Each competition has given me valuable experiences, new friendships, and great memories.
Earlier this year, I competed in a local CrossFit competition and got dead last place in the Rx division. My teammates and I had a pretty good idea that this could happen going into it, but we signed up anyway. So we obviously regret doing it, right? Wouldn’t we have been better off signing up for a lower division? Aren’t we scarred for life and quitting forever? Didn’t we get booed off the competition floor?
Nope. None of those things are true. It was the hardest competition I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret doing it for a second!
If you’re thinking about entering a competition that you feel like might be out of your league, or maybe even your first ever fitness competition, here’s a few pointers how to get the most out of the experience, and why I think you should sign up anyway!
- You will see what you are truly capable of. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible to find your true capabilities until you are put to a true test. You may think you know what your max output is; your highest gear. But until you’ve put yourself out there in some sort of competitive format, I can guarantee you probably haven’t come close to your true potential to perform. Every time I go to a competition, I see people achieving personal bests, doing things they have never done before. A tragic reality of human existence is that not many people truly test themselves; living their whole lives right in the sweet spot of their comfort zone. Not exactly happy, but not bad, either. So many of us never reach our true potential because of our preference for comfort, and our own preconceived limitations. If you put yourself out there and sign up , and give it your best — you can’t fail. Even if you get dead last — last place is not failure. Last place still puts you ahead of everyone else who thought about signing up, could have signed up, but didn’t.
- Never underestimate how awesome the CrossFit community is. I have been to dozens of competitions, as a competitor, a volunteer, and a spectator. Not once have I ever heard anyone say anything negative about one of the competitors who was struggling with a workout. One of the cliche sayings you hear in the CF community is “the athlete who finishes last, gets a louder cheer than the athlete who finishes first.” Nobody will think less of you for getting last place. Whenever we see someone who is out on the competition floor struggling to get that last pull up, or failing on a heavy barbell lift, we cheer louder and harder for them. They put themselves out there, knowing there would be a chance they could fail, which in itself earns respect and admiration. Some of my most memorable CrossFit moments are when all of the athletes who already finished the workout gather around the last athlete working, cheering them on and doing everything in their power to help that last person finish the workout. Listen to the crowd in this video as the last man on the floor tries to hit one of his last lifts. It happens at the CrossFit Games with the best in the world, and it happens at local competitions every weekend. I’ve been the one cheering, and I’ve been the last one working, and either way it was a worthwhile and memorable experience.
- It gives you something to train for — to help you push a little harder in your regular class workouts. If you’re at all like me, you like to have goals to work towards to help you stay motivated in your training. Signing up for a competition is facilitates this by giving you some specific things to train for. After the competition is over, I often find myself even more fired up! I can see where my weaknesses are in relation to other athletes in my skill bracket, and I feel excited and motivated to attack them to do better next time. The end result is I work harder, and have more fun doing it.
- If nothing else, you’ll get a great workout in! Competitions often allow us to program workouts, movements, and equipment choices that we don’t often get to do in regular classes. Regardless of how competitive you are (or are not), competitions are great for building up new and novel workout experiences. When is the last time you did three or four workouts in a day? Maybe never! It’s amazing to see what your body is capable of, when you give it a chance.
While not everyone has the desire to compete, these events have a lot of value to offer, even to more “casual” CrossFit athletes. If you’re on the fence, a partner or team competition is a great place to start! Grab a buddy and do some Googling, and I bet you’ll find a competition near you in about two minutes. It’s worth it!
— Chris Lomen, coach at CrossFit Sabertooth