Your Sistine Chapel

Have you ever walked through a museum or an art gallery and been totally blown away at some of the creations scattered throughout? The time and effort that must have gone into some of those pieces is hard to imagine. For years, some of the artists poured over their work and likely cast out dozens of pieces that didn’t quite live up to their standard. To some degree, as athletes, we go through a similar experience. From the day we first begin training, we start this never ending journey of perfecting a variety of movements, learning how to pace, how to increase our work capacity and any other facet of CrossFit that will give us an edge on the WOD.

When we first walk into a gym, most of us had little to no experience with any sort of formal weightlifting. We had likely gone to a globo gym and hit the machine circuit and closed out our session with a nice stroll on the treadmill. Passing through the gym doors was probably intimidating; loud music, sweaty people, grunting, bars slamming and a coach barking orders at a group of half dead individuals. You were probably thinking that you were in over your head, but you gave it a chance anyways. From here you took it easy your first month, coach was super nice and scaled every component of the workout for you. Then came the day when coach allowed you to put a pair of 10’s on the bar for the first time. The pure satisfaction of adding weight and beginning your journey to being like the rest of the athletes in class. You were sick of back squatting to a box with an empty barbell while Susie on platform 7 at the prime of her life at 65 was stacking 10’s on her bar and crushing it. But, coach had a reason.

Fast forward a few months, you’ve gotten a grasp on a majority of the movements. They aren’t perfect, but they are certainly better than day one. The barbell has become your friend, coach has started to challenge you more in workouts by not watering them down as much. Here and there you still struggle with some mobility restrictions that make certain movements a little dicey. You were probably thinking that you’ve been an athlete for 6 months, you can handle whatever movement coach throws your way, so you gave those single arm dumbbell overhead  squats a go anyways. Against coach’s foreboding instructions of augmenting the overhead movement, you grinded your way through it and woke up the next day with severe shoulder pain. The struggle to find a comfortable position to sleep in and now having to modify workouts in order to not aggravate your shoulder any more than it already is. But, coach had a reason.

You are now entering your 2nd year of CrossFit. What a ride it has been. You are proficient in all variations of the Olympic lifts, you’ve added some higher level gymnastics skills to your résumé and it is rare that you have to modify a workout due to an injury or mobility restriction. You were thinking that enough is enough and you checked your ego and began listening to your coach a little more. Scaled when they said scale, modified when they said to modify and you cared less about the weight on the bar, but how the movement looked and felt instead. As a result, your weights began creeping up ever so subtly and nagging aches and pains began to vanish without a trace. You will never forget the utter joy of dropping into another box while on vacation and having your substitute coach give you credit for how well you moved. You no longer concern yourself with what your score was for the day or who bested you, but you’re happy being pain-free and making progress everyday. Because, coach had a reason.

CrossFit is a journey and will always find a way to present new challenges, but one lesson we can all adhere to, is that patience will go a long way. Don’t consume yourself with adding weight to the bar before you’re ready, don’t be overzealous and try movements your body can’t handle, don’t settle for mediocre movements. Listen to your coaches, check your ego and take your time creating your masterpiece. Michelangelo took approximately 4 years to paint the Sistine Chapel, I don’t think you taking a few extra months to do a handstand push up is an unfair request. 

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