Morning Chalk Up Community

Challenge Accepted: Why You Should Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

August 18, 2023 by

-Written by Yael Hayes

Anyone who’s done CrossFit knows that feeling. When coach walks into the 6am class wearing a sadistic grin, and says, “G’morning Protein Puffs! I’m happy so many of you signed up. Our first challenge today will be... Murph.” The initial response will usually be a collective inhale of either joy or shock. If you’ve never physically experienced Hero WOD Murph, it’s one of the most iconic and fun (*cough*) benchmark workouts in CrossFit.

The WOD starts with a one-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats. Then it’s capped off with another one-mile run. If you’re RX’ing the workout (doing it as written), you’re also supposed to wear a weighted vest.

Following that first moment of veteran-excitement or newbie-confusion, you might witness one of the following scenarios:

a) Fired-up shouts of athletic prowess and claps on shoulders, chests and butts in anticipation.

b) The biggest mass-exodus of “not today” athletes any gym has ever seen.

Participate in a gym challenge

Let’s talk about safety first. If you’re sick, seriously injured or have not slept enough to do the movements safely, it would be careless of a coach or owner to let you participate.

Even if it’s a brand-new gym doing their first event, I’d rather see an owner or coach prioritize safety over risk anyone’s health. That’s the gym I’ll go back to. That’s how I know they’ll have my back during training. Because during a regular class, if I’m running on two hours of sleep and suddenly lose control with a dumbbell, it’ll be someone’s foot.

So this is your friendly reminder: Participate after Mardigras at your own risk. Also, scaling is cool.

With that said, even if you’re a newbie or it’s been a long time since you’ve worked out, as long as you’re feeling healthy, here’s why you should accept the challenge:

1. Integrity.

A challenge event like this is where your fortitude - both physical and mental - will be put to the test. Will you accept the challenge, even if you don’t feel ready?

Whether you’re (literally) miles away from completing the workout within the time cap, or your taxes are overdue or you failed your second driving test, do it anyway. If you stay, you’ll be making a clear statement that, yes, all these things are important but there is more to life than setbacks. No, you will not let all your doubts and fears get in the way of taking care of your body and having some fun.

And that’s a great way to start earning respect for yourself.

This is why I do a community gym challenge such as “Murph-day” every CrossFit box I guest coach at as a traveling coach and athlete. It’s not just to see who will stay or to gage their respective levels of fitness or mindset. But it’s also to encourage each athlete to face themselves and do it honestly in a new situation.

Because whatever is happening outside the gym, the pride we feel when we’re done, will be our fuel to push through it all. The integrity of having honestly given our best on that day, will transfer into real life. And might even change it.

Gym challenges improve integrity

2. Intensity.

Chances are, you’ll rarely go as hard as you do during a challenge or competition. Having an athlete of any fitness level push to their limits right next to you is simply inspiring.

You’ll understand why and how advanced athletes got to where they are, and that it’s possible. You’ll start to see the road there. It will encourage you to try that heavy squat you’ve been avoiding. Nearly every time, you’ll succeed. And you’ll gain a confidence you’ve never had before.

It’s pretty exciting to see a newer athlete who suddenly finds themselves keeping up with a veteran or getting some peer-recognition for their effort. The fire that ignites in them is absolutely infectious. And oftentimes, I’ve observed such athletes pushing twice as hard in regular class afterwards.

Accepting a challenge is such a great chance to test our limits. It’s how we see if we can take charge, quiet the mind and surpass previous efforts, because we have that extra boost to go beyond. So take the chance. Go for that 110%. Challenges build fitter athletes.

3. Vitamin C.

Community Challenges Create Connection.

Even if it’s your very first day in a CrossFit gym, signing up for a collective feat is a great way to make new friends and gain some “sweat-cred.” Suddenly you’ll be the “went for that last lap barefoot cause his shoe broke” person. Respect.

And if you’re lucky, one of your classmates also happens to be your 11am job interview and boom, you got a new job! It might sound crazy but I’ve seen romantic, professional and many other connections made during challenges, many of which have lasted to this day.

It’s not just the shared struggle of 100 burpees to target for time. It’s also that others are able to observe how you tackle challenges. They’ll take this information and add it to their image of you outside the gym. And that makes a big difference.

Challenges build strong gym community

4. Charity.

Many challenge-related events support a good cause. First, it brings in a great atmosphere with fresh energy and raise awareness. Second, it adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that helps bring out the best in everyone, including staff.

Shredding for a cause is such a nice way to apply your fitness. There is something extremely satisfying in knowing that you can actually use your health to do good, while enjoying yourself. It’s a pure win-win. You might even surprise yourself and become addicted to such events.

In Summary: Do it Anyway.

In short, whether you’re brand new to CrossFit, ready for a challenge, don’t feel like it or it’s laundry day and you’re wearing your least-favorite workout apparel, do it anyway.

Let yourself be convinced, dragged along or pushed through it. Because there’s nothing like those shared endorphins to completely turn your training around and actually start feeling proud of what your body can do. And for the coaches and owners amongst you: Know that your athletes will expect you to join in the fun. So invite a guest coach or hire an assistant, do what you need to do. But do it anyway.

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