On the surface, the Crossfit Games is the penultimate showcase of functional fitness. Mere mortals look on adoringly as beasts and goddesses with bronzed, chiseled physiques dispose of seemingly impossible tests of fitness: a biathlon and its 45 muscle-ups; a 3k row, 300 double unders and a 3-mile run; heck, “Grace” wasn’t challenging enough so they doubled it. And yet the most valuable lessons from the Games come not from the amazing feats of fitness performed but from the people that perform them. Although each one of them possesses superhuman strength that few can identify with, their stories are easily identifiable.
Without further ado, here are seven lessons we (re)learned from this year’s Crossfit Games.
1. Keep things in perspective. Julie Foucher, one of the stars of the sport, took a step back from the Games last year in order to put her schooling first. It’s not that she didn’t love Crossfit or that she wasn’t sad about missing the opportunity to compete, she just understood that some things (in this case her career) are more important. Sometimes we overemphasize what happens inside the four walls of the gym at the expense of our lives outside of them. So what if you didn’t PR today or perform your best during the metcon, in the grand scheme of things, is it really that important? Crossfit may mean a lot to us, but Julie’s actions teach us that it’s not everything.
2. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over. After a 37th finish in “the Triple” the headline was “I haven’t been running enough.” After missing the final of the Speed Clean event it was “it’s just how the weekend’s been going”. But on the final day Rich Froning’s perseverance triumphed as he proved once again why he’s the four-time Crossfit Games Champion. A clean sweep of first place finishes in the final three events placed Rich Froning atop the podium for what may be his final Games as an individual. In doing so he shows us that even the very best have off days but what makes someone great is their ability to believe and to overcome the challenges they face.
3. Good things come to those who wait. Annie Thorisdottir missed the 2013 Crossfit Games due to injury. As a result she was forced to vacate her crown as the “world’s fittest woman” without having her chance to defend it. This year she made the most of her return, battling throughout the weekend and earning second place overall. “Iceland Annie’s” actions show us that injuries are not dead ends, they’re merely obstacles on the road toward achieving our goals.
4. Believe in yourself. Mat Fraser was a rookie this year and as a result not much was expected of him. But Fraser never bought into that. After putting on a show at the Northeast Regional, Fraser exceeded expectations at the Games falling just 51 points short of being crowed world’s fittest. Regardless of what others believe, Mat Fraser and his second place finish reminds us that what’s most important is to believe in ourselves.
5. Age is but a number. If you had the chance to see any of the masters competition I’m sure you marveled at what the athletes were able to accomplish. I saw 455 deadlifts by men and 100-foot handstand walks by women in their 60s! Couple that with top 15 finishes by “elder statement” Neil Maddox and Valerie Vobril in a field chockfull of 20-somethings and we quickly learn that age is but a number.
6. Don’t judge a book by its cover. At 5’ 7”, 160 pounds, he’s the most unassuming physical specimen you’ve ever seen. Sandwiched between guys like Jason Khalipa and Neil Maddox he looks like a twerp, but when he overhead squatted 325 pounds, people took notice. Cody Anderson was amazing this weekend, standing toe-to-toe with Crossfit behemoths. His weekend performance was punctuated by an unbroken, first place finish during the muscle-up biathlon. Although Cody Anderson may not look the part his actions teach us to look beyond the look.
7. Do what you love. Love what you do. Hands down Jason Khalipa had the most fun this weekend. My Instagram feed was jammed with Khalipa-and-fit-friend selfies. He also authored one of my favorite moments of the entire Games. His demolition of “Double Grace” earned him a sport on the podium, third place overall, but by his reaction, you would have thought he won the whole thing. After excessive clapping and fist pumping, he kissed his wife, lifted his seemingly disinterested daughter into the air, all while grinning from ear to ear. Jason Khalipa’s actions remind us to embrace the moment, have fun, and enjoy the ride that Crossfit provides.