By Ryan Burns
This coming Saturday I will be leading a new, once-per-month, free (invite your friends) class at Full Circle that has been affectionately named “Saturday is for Suffering.” The class is designed for people interested in doing a GORUCK, Spartan, Mudder, or anyone who simply wants to add variety into his or her training. The class is one hour long and involves teamwork, bricks, logs, sandbags, an American flag, pain, sweat, and hard work. You should totally join us.
As I’ve been planning our first class, I began to ask the existential question (which I ask during just about all of my workouts at Full Circle), “Why in the world am I doing this?” While I don’t feel like I’ve ever given myself a truly sufficient answer, I most often come back to three little letters: DFQ.
Don’t Freakin Quit
Life is hard. Despite what your Facebook feed would have you believe, everyone faces challenges and adversity on a near daily basis. Whether it is a crappy boss, a stressful project, a teething infant, a rebellious teen, overdue bills, traffic, tests, cancer, death… the list goes on and on.
[Tweet “Life can be hard. The question is, “What are you going to do about it?””]
But, what does CrossFit or Saturday is for Suffering have to do with the bigger challenges of life? I think there are three things that I’ve learned from my time at Crossfit Full Circle that spill over to every day life.
1. You can always do more than you think.
Recently, I’ve been taking Full Circle’s NSW Candidate Group class. Designed to help future Navy Seal and Special Forces recruits get prepared for the mental and physical challenges that await them, every class pushes me to my absolute limit.
Whenever the NSW Workout of The Day gets posted on the whiteboard, my response is almost always, “that doesn’t look too bad.” However, it is usually within the first 2 minutes that I realize I was completely wrong. The workout is horrible. I can’t breath, my limbs are burning, and I still have 3 rounds to go.
But, as soon as my mind starts to tell me I can’t do it, I’ll never make it, the pain is too much… I do one more rep, I do one more sit up, I take one more step than I thought I could. I did it. So, I can do one more, right?
Inevitably, after each NSW workout, as I lay on the ground, it hits me that I did it. I pushed through the pain and did far more than I thought I was able to do.
While it isn’t the fix-all cure for life, it gives me that simple reminder that when life is tough, I can always do more than I think. Just DFQ.
2. The weight is lighter once the clock starts.
Sandbag workouts are rough. They are awkward to hold, the sand shifts, and for some reason our sandbags smell horrible.
We use sandbags in almost every NSW class.
With sandbag work there is often no RX weight; rather it is “as heavy as you can handle for the workout.” I find myself, most often, settling on a 40-60 pound bag for most workouts, and prior to the workout I will usually do a few of the required movements (lunge, GTO, STO, getup). After 2 or 3 reps I always do the mental math of extrapolating the difficulty of those 2 or 3 reps across the spectrum of how many reps I’ll have to do in the workout. The result of that equation is always some derivative of, “this might be too much weight for me.” I somehow managed to get winded on just a few reps and it felt like I was lifting a million pounds… now, I’m going to do it as part of an AMRAP!?!?!
But, then something magical happens. The clock beeps and it is go time. Suddenly, the weight that winded me in 3 reps is flying over head 4, 5, 6, 7… and I’m out the door for a run… then back at it again.
What happened? The bag certainly didn’t any lighter. What happened is that I didn’t have a choice any more. It wasn’t theory anymore. It wasn’t some abstract idea of how it might feel to do X reps. It was time to go. Time to work. Time to get it done. So, we work.
Life is like that a lot of the time. Projects, conversations, bills, and decisions all loom. We look at them, and maybe even try a few “reps” to see what it will feel like. We hypothesize in our mind all the different ways this will suck. But, eventually, the clock is going to beep and it is time to go. You’ve got to get it done. And, once you’re in, you realize that you can actually do this. Not that it is easy, or fun, but what seemed so difficult in theory is something that you can do in reality.
The “weight” is the same, but you’re doing it none-the-less. Just DFQ.
3. You can’t do it alone.
I was never really good about “going to the gym.” I’d shell out my $10/month, stroll in from time to time, do the same “Back and Bi, Chest and Tri” workouts I learned from a friend in college. I had no idea what I was doing and it certainly wasn’t working. Eventually I got bored and stopped going. Then, I found Full Circle. I realized that I was missing something… people!
People to teach you. People to cheer for you. And people who get into the pain with you.
At the gym you have coaches there to lead and guide you and give you the help and information you need to make it through your workout.
Then, as the workout begins you have a room full of people who want to see you make it to the finish. When the going gets tough, you need a classmate to shout an encouragement across the room. A simple “c’mon Ryan” is like a magic bullet for me, good for another 2-3 reps at least.
But, most of all, having men and women surrounding you dealing with the same, sucky 21-15-9 that’s killing you. As you lay in your own pool of sweat, contemplating the pain involved in just one more push up, you look to your right and left. You’re not alone. You’re in it together.
And, let’s be honest, we need all of that in life, too. We need people who have survived the terrible two’s to give you some pointers on what worked for them. We need people who know you hate your job and believe in you to yell, “c’mon ____” to get you to follow that crazy dream you’ve had for year. And, most of all, we need people who see the pain you’re in and are willing to jump in with you.
You can’t do it alone. Just DFQ.
Life is harder than a WOD.
It would be silly to imply that DFQ and CrossFit are somehow the magic pill to making it through the challenges of life. They aren’t. But, in life we need all the help we can get, and sometimes we can find a little piece of that help in the most peculiar of places. And, sometimes we can find it in a gym in the back of Scotts Addition one Saturday a month. 😉