Do You Workout For Yourself?
We all have different reasons for working out: to lose weight, to be as fit as we were in college, to keep up with our kids, to get that elusive six pack, to be better than we were yesterday. Whatever your reason, I ask you to take one step further and ask yourself that question again: Why do you REALLY workout?
But before you do, I just want to share my personal reason(s) with you, which haven’t always been the same and continue to change and evolve to this day.
This week is a milestone for me as it marks my 10th year of doing CrossFit, and needless to say, it has completely changed my life and continues to evolve in my life. I am stronger and fitter than I have ever been. However, one by-product that I never anticipated was how it has helped me grow both mentally and spiritually, as well.
So, looking back over the last 10 years, here all my why’s:
-When I first started CrossFit in 2008, I did it because I competed in triathlons and I needed a
strength and conditioning program to get me stronger and faster for races.
-Within a few months, I ditched triathlons and moved strictly to CrossFit because I loved the
competition aspect of it, and strived to get stronger and faster than yesterday! I pushed myself
to keep up with the people in the gym whom I knew were better than me, and I did all I could to
get to their level.
-Within a year, my love for CrossFit grew and I knew in my heart that I wanted to become a
coach and eventually open my own CrossFit box. So my why shifted to perfecting my craft as a
coach and as an athlete. I wanted to move well and master as many skills as possible so that I
could develop the competency and reputation of someone who not only talked the talk, but also
walked the walk.
-Three years later in 2011, once we opened Tribe and moved into Hawaiian Gardens, although I
still strived to perfect my craft, there was a slight shift to working out in order to set an example
and the bar for the gym. Most of the first athletes at Tribe were brand new to CrossFit, and they
looked to me to set the tone and show them what was possible. It’s crazy to think this now, but
back then I was usually at the top of the leaderboard for every workout! Nowadays, those days
are fewer and far between.
-After about a year or two, the box started to mature, and the gap between me and many of the
athletes at Tribe started to close. So, competition within the box was in full bloom and I found
myself competing more and more to stay at or near the top of the leaderboard. It was like when
I first started CrossFit, and the everyday competition kept me motivated and coming back for more!
-Three years later we open the doors in 2015 to our current location in Los Alamitos. Although
my competitiveness was still in full affect, I could feel something in me slowly changing. Now
well into my 30s, a father of twin toddlers, and a new homeowner, I felt things shifting and this
is where my reasons for working out became cloudy. To be 100% honest, I lost my motivation
and there was period of time where I felt myself just going through the motions of working out, or competing to stay near the top of the leaderboard, because let’s face it, as the owner of
Tribe, I thought to myself, “I should be!” And anytime that I failed to be in at least the top 5, I
would feel defeated and start to question myself, “Why do I even bother?”
At this point, I had been CrossFitting for over 7-8 years now, and I figured maybe I needed to change things up (and there is totally nothing wrong with this, by the way). So, in order to combat this drop in motivation I tried a bunch of different things during the last couple years. First, I started running way more but that got boring. Then, I started playing basketball more and that was fun until I dislocated my ankle. So, at that point I figured this would be a perfect opportunity to finally start focusing on gymnastics, and so I did for about a year and that was pretty fun and rewarding. Then, I got my MovNat
certification, and most recently I immersed myself in Functional Body Building (FBB) almost fell in love with working out again. ALMOST. Through all that, each of these “phases” would serve to strengthen me physically, but something was still missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Then one day, about 3-4 months into FBB, I finally figured it out! For the first few months of FBB, there was a handful of us guys that were doing the workouts together, and I was absolutely loving the change of pace. There was a huge focus on tempos, unilateral loading, and carefully programmed “CrossFit” workouts that weren’t always about going 100% all the time. It allowed me to slow down a great deal and focus more on moving SUPER well, without focusing on the clock all the time.
However, as we moved into more difficult programming, people started to drop off and I found myself working out by myself more and more. One of the great things about CrossFit, is there is always someone around you to motivate you, push you to go workout when you don’t feel like going, to encourage you when you’re only a few more reps away from finishing a workout. This culture of group workouts is so great that people almost dread it to even think about working out by themselves. I know I was (and still am) the same way to a degree. I even have my own garage gym that I barely workout in because I would rather go to the gym where there are other people!
Then one early morning after I had finished coaching the 5/6am classes, I went back and forth in mind about 50 times – should workout or not? It was towards the end of the week, and I could feel the previous days’ soreness and tiredness tugging at me, trying to lull me back home so I could take a nap instead of working out. But I knew that hour or so would be the only time for the next couple days that I would be able to work out. So I ordered a Grande Americano from Starbucks on my mobile app, picked it up, came back to the gym and forced myself to workout. I’d be lying if I said that I felt great during and after the workout, but I didn’t. The workout lasted about an hour and half, and I have never told myself more times in 90 minutes to keep going, despite how tired I felt and how much I just wanted to just stop and go home to sleep. But somehow I finished and it was in that moment, working out completely by
myself (even though I had done FBB workouts by myself many times before) that I came to the
realization that would change my “why” to what is today: For a long time I had not worked out solely for me, or to learn something about myself and who I am as a person.
What do I mean by that?
In that 90 minutes, I learned more about myself than I had over the last 9 years of CrossFit.
-I learned that despite how tired I am, I always have more to give.
-I learned that “The hardest thing to do is work hard when no one is watching” – Ray Lewis
-I learned that “The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching.” – John Wooden
-I learned that what we do and who we are in the gym says a lot about what we do and who we
are outside of the gym.
-Lastly, I learned that I have ignored myself and my why’s working out for so long. Whether I had
good reasons or bad ones, I focused for so long on making other people happy or trying to prove
myself to other people, that my reasons for why I work out included everyone but ME.
How many of us workout for the ‘Gram’? How many of us constantly focus on the leaderboard? How many of us focus so much on the leaderboard that we end up taking shortcuts in the process? How many of us workout to prove others wrong about what we can or can’t do? How many of us workout for that six pack or that beach ready body that we can’t wait to show off to everyone else?
Or conversely, how many us work out in order to learn something about ourselves? How many of us workout in order to develop more self-discipline? How many of us work out to learn what we do when the workout or life gets hard: take shortcuts, give up, or push through? How many of us have ever spent countless hours working on a single skill that we suck at until we no longer suck at them, as opposed to just doing the things we are good at all the time? How many of us get easily discouraged when they see someone else progressing faster than us, as opposed to seeing what we can learn about ourselves from
that? How many of us don’t care that anyone else is watching or want to make sure people are
watching? How many of us work out to really and simply live out the mantra “to be better than
What is my purpose in telling you all this?
For the longest time, my “Why’s” for working were outside of myself. My original reason for starting CrossFit was to get stronger and faster for Triathlons. Then it was the high I felt after finishing after each workout, similar to the high I would experience after finishing a race. Then as I became a coach and eventually a box owner, it became about me loving CrossFit so much, that I did everything possible to build myself up as a coach and as an athlete. However, shortly after that, it became about everything else but me.
As my position atop the daily leaderboard started to slip more and more, it became more about being in competition with everyone around me. Then it became this need to show everyone that I still had “it” and fear of not being seen if I wasn’t at the top of the leaderboard every day. Then, after I dislocated my ankle I was forced to shift my focus to gymnastics and even though I wasn’t competing directly with everyone at that point, it became about my need to show everyone that I was now this gymnastics “G” with all my front levers and strict bar muscle-ups. Even when I started MovNat and FBB, it still was about this need to share this new awesome workout program with everyone. Not to discredit the programs themselves and what they have done for me personally as an athlete and as a coach, but I was focusing
so much on what this could do for everyone else that I had lost my why in the process.
So, my purpose is to implore all of you to think deeply about the question, “Why do I workout?” and take some real time to honestly answer that question FOR YOURSELF. Not for the Gram. Not for that beach bod. Not even for your kids. For yourself.
Then and only then, will your true motivation shine through and only then will you be able to really understand your true self and how working out can serve to help you improve on your true self in the gym and more importantly, in life.
Thank you for taking the time to read my humble words and #tribestrong
That was an amazing read! Thank you for sharing your journey and encouraging us to be #tribestrong for ourselves.