by LAURA GROVER
Life is kind of like a kettlebell. All the parts of your life balance and combine to create an exciting, exhausting, and often unpredictable existence. Part of the draw of CrossFit is that it allows us to tackle anything life throws at us (mentally and physically). Unfortunately, if your balance is off, performance will suffer both at the box and in the rest of your daily activities. In the past year, I’ve committed myself to a number of new things — husband, mortgage, car payment, new job, and a year of intensive CrossFit training: Five days a week in the box for upwards of three hours, active recovery at home on my off days, hours of mobility, and constant mental gymnastics about the sport of fitness. CrossFit undoubtedly occupies all my thoughts, much of my time and the bulk of my energy.
To some extent that’s ok; CrossFit fulfills many aspects of need. It is social, physical, and in some ways kind of spiritual (it is a cult, right?). My box participates in competitions, has immensely fun gatherings, outings, seminars, charitable work events, and just generally encourages being part of our community. All this in addition to programming that caters to the needs of a highly diverse group of CrossFitters can (depending on your goals) have you at the box every day of the week. Sounds like a dream!
Losing Your Grip…
Unfortunately, it can become too much. Much like swinging a kettlebell that’s too heavy, you may think you have it under control, moving quickly between the “other” things in life while focusing on CrossFit and letting everything else move on the periphery. But then the “periphery” starts pulling a little too much to one side; housework piles up, your family is squeezed in to the hour between getting home from the box and going to bed, your attention isn’t totally on your work; eventually you start to lose your grip.
It can start with things that don’t seem to have a lot of impact on your CrossFit performance. Your laundry didn’t get folded this week. CrossFit clothes don’t necessarily need to be folded and the people at work won’t notice if your pants are a bit rumpled. You ask your family to reschedule a gathering for Thursday (off day!), and are late (and in rumpled clothes) because you were fitting in some extra mobility for an achy low back. They all shake their heads when you offer your CrossFit excuse. Maybe you didn’t get home from the box in time to cook dinner, or you were so wiped out that you just couldn’t do it. So you skip or order take-out. In this list the most obvious negative effect is the compromise in eating habits, but chores piling up and forcing family time in where you can may leave you feeling stretched and tired, which places additional stress on your body and negatively impacts your time at the box.
Asking Yourself the Hard Question
For the lucky ones, CrossFit can be the bulk of their lives — it supports their livelihood, is their social life, and is their family. However, most of us have to fit in a few more moving pieces. If your family doesn’t CrossFit with you, how often do you see them? Do you spend time with your partner’s friends and family? Do they spend time with you and your CrossFit family? Do you take time to do things that are important to others in your life, or is everything they enjoy secondary to CrossFit?
It can all be lumped in to one big question: What do you do that isn’t CrossFit? If the answer is hard to come up with, it may be important to look at what you are putting aside. It may not be much (lucky!), but it is important to take an honest look at how your non-CrossFit commitments balance your CrossFit commitments and to examine how they are impacting each other. When you are too CrossFit heavy, it’s like CrossFit is the bell of a 150- lb monster kettlebell, and everything else has to fit onto the handle. The handle isn’t big enough to fit all those other aspects of your life, and the bell is so massive it throws everything out of whack.
Make sure that you have a good grip on what you have to do to support yourself, your family, and life outside of the box. CrossFit is wonderful — after all, that’s part of the reason we WANT to participate to our fullest potential — but the balance has to be there in order to truly give your all at the box. CrossFit is the kettlebell, and the rest of life is the person swinging it. It makes you work just that much harder to stabilize, balance, and get stronger, making CrossFit a fun (and exhausting) activity. After all, we practice CrossFit to be functional in the rest of life — so it should be practiced in proportion to life.
Laura has been CrossFitting for 3 years and fitting in a career as an editor.