The competitive aspect of what we do at CrossFit Elevation is one of the most potent, and it's a two-edged sword. Some people are definitely turned off by it, and some of us love it. Why do we do it, and why does it work?
I'm thinking of this after reading this article here from CrossFit Dallas. I can't recommend it enough. I enjoy the philosophical approach of the piece:
"The French psychological anthropologist, Roger Caillois, has divided the worlds games (anything that can be considered a pleasurable experience) into four broad categories, depending on the kind of experience they provide. One of those 4 categories, Agon, includes games that have competition as their main feature, such as most sports and athletic events. Crossfit, hopefully we would agree, is an athletic endeavor and now considered a sport. So by using this association, we have two things that are worth mentioning:
1) Despite the agony of some of the training that we do, it's enjoyable. It's a pleasurable activity
2) The main feature of this game that we play is competition."
It's often been my thought that the physical fitness regimes that actually seem to make people come alive, and become lifelong habits, are those that are essentially games. In CrossFit we have more in common with a martial arts school or a sporting club than we do a box gym or a personal training studio. We're doing this together and despite some agony, the overall effort is very much worthwhile. We compete against each other, against ourselves, and the effort is not so much one of winning ( because we all have a bad day and Kristen Clever will smoke us all anyway) but is more about progress. You don't suffer through Fran because you like the status quo. You do it because you want the progress that only comes from giving it your all. And giving it your all includes giving ti your comfort zone - throwing that on the fire as well.
The competitive aspect is part of that overall intensity - because quite frankly very few of us would reach anything near our potential if we were doing our WODs in a vacuum. I go faster to try and keep up with Scott. Scott lifts more because he knows I am max-effort stronger. Together, we both get more out of it because we are competitive.
"In Latin, the roots of the word "compete", con petire, mean "to seek together". What each person seeks in competition (whether sport, games, or now fitness) is to actualize their potential."
There is something good on the other side of the suffering we put ourselves through. The competitive aspect is what guarantees that we put our all into it. There isn't that much felt difference between suffering through Fran in 7 minutes vs suffering through it in 4. And it's often only the knowledge that the next guy is going to do it in 4 that gets you there. 2 minutes into the workout and your mind is quite satisfied with 7 minutes. The benefits of doing it in 4 minutes are incontrovertible and felt through the rest of your life's activities.
Competition brings us together to fully actualize our potential. That's why we do it.