Women’s Only: Cindy Lau

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Life Lessons of a CrossFitter

by CINDY LAU, Co-owner of CrossFit Kindred and certified life coach

Cindy Lau is a life coach, CrossFit trainer, and co-founder of CrossFit Kindred in East San Jose, CA. She blogs about the connections between wellness and leadership at HeartStepping.com.
One of the biggest reasons my fiancé Jeff and I decided to open a CrossFit box has nothing to do with physical fitness. I’ve seen time and again that CrossFit doesn’t just change your body; it changes your life. For me personally, my experiences in the gym have gone as far as to shape my entire career path.

Back before opening CrossFit Kindred, I did a doozy of a workout one day at CrossFit Silicon Valley called the “Bar Crawl.” Similar to the “Bear Complex,” it required you to find the max load at which you could execute an entire sequence of lifts, including front squats, hang cleans, thrusters, walking lunges with a front-racked bar, etc .– all without dropping the bar.

During my last attempt at the sequence, I started to panic early on. My friends cheered me on, but I thought, “Oh no — the bar’s too heavy. My legs are too tired. I’ll never make it!!” I seriously considered just giving up. But then a voice in my head started asking me what was up:

The voice: “Why are you freaking out?”
Me: “This burning feeling in my legs sucks!”
The voice: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
Me: “My legs will give out, and I’ll drop the bar.”
The voice: “What’s so bad about that?”
Me: “Well…I guess it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
The voice: “What will happen if you give up before you even reach that point?”
Me: “Now THAT would truly suck!”

So I decided then and there that I would simply keep going until my legs gave out — but that I wasn’t going to let my mind give out first. And guess what? I proceeded to finish the entire set without dropping the bar.

“Failure” in CrossFit is an opportunity to regroup, learn, and come back stronger.
That experience changed me forever. It made me realize how strong and powerful I am, that my choice of mindset can turn the impossible into reality, and that the fear of failure is often worse than failure itself. These lessons ignited my desire to help others push past their own limiting beliefs, eventually leading me to pursue a career in life and leadership coaching.

Fast forward to a conversation I had last year with my own life coach. I was already well on my way to my dream career: I was launching CrossFit Kindred as well as my life coaching practice. But I was afraid of taking the final plunge and quitting my successful, secure career as a software engineer at Google. “What happens if I fail?” I asked my coach. “Won’t it mean that my dream just wasn’t meant to be? I’d have to go crawling back to software engineering, and I don’t know if I could face that.”

My wise coach asked me: “So…you do CrossFit. What would failing look like in CrossFit?”
I responded: “Dropping the barbell during a lift.”
My coach: “And what happens if you drop the bar?”
Me: “Well, I just pick it up again.”

CrossFit at its best is a grassroots movement forging not just elite fitness, but also courage, integrity, and the realization of human potential.
And therein lay another key lesson for me. Obviously, if I encounter failure during a CrossFit workout, I’m not going to conclude, “Oh, well. I failed. I guess I just wasn’t meant to be a CrossFitter!” I’d regroup, learn what I did wrong, and come back stronger on the next attempt, or on the next day.

Similarly, I realized that, if I really wanted to make my dream career a success, I couldn’t let myself give up at the first sign of failure, or let that failure determine my beliefs about myself and my capabilities. I decided to go all in, and commit myself fully to my dream. And I’m happy to report that the dream is still alive and kicking today!

If my own experiences are a representative example of the true impact of CrossFit, it’s understandable why there are so many die-hard, Kool-Aid-drinking CrossFitters around the globe. CrossFit at its best is a grassroots movement forging not just elite fitness, but also courage, integrity, and the realization of human potential. My hope is for CrossFit Kindred to give this gift to as many people as possible, from all walks of life.


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