Setting the Example with a Smile

Lindsey Smith, CrossFit Games hugging competitor

I spent this past weekend at the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games in Los Angeles. I went out there with a group from my CrossFit gym to watch the athletes and spend some time sharing the Compete mindset with CrossFitters.

It’s almost impossible to put into words everything I saw at the Games.

Community.

Competition.

Encouragement.

Teamwork.

Love.

Camaraderie.

Passion.

Heart.

There were memories to be had by competitors and fans alike, but at the end of it, the defining moments weren’t of Rich Froning & Annie Thorisdottir winning the Games as being crowned as the Fittest Man/Woman in the World.

The championship moment isn’t what made me suddenly root my heart out for them.

It wasn’t Rich conquering rope climbs after that skill had cost him the 2010 Games.

It wasn’t Annie moving weights like a machine, with a lung capacity I would love to have half of.

It wasn’t anything they did having to do with the weights.

It was their spirit.

Rich finished his workout and instead of resting over to the side, jumps back onto the battleground and cheers his heart out for his fellow competitors.

Annie smiling throughout the brutal workouts. You can see the pain on every competitors face as they push their staggering movements and weights, yet there’s Annie, smiling ear to ear with a child-like spirit and just having fun.

That’s right. The male winner of the Games was more focused on cheering on the guys trying to beat him in the competition than on recovering off to the side of the arena.

And yes ma’am, the winning woman was smiling in the face of each workout – grinning in the exact moments that we sometimes ask for death’s sweet relief from the WOD or cursing the lift movement under our breath.

And the very images of those two hit you right in the face – they are having fun. They are not taking life too seriously. They are enjoying the moment. They are enjoying life.

And they weren’t the only ones.

I tweeted Web Smith that I know he was a proud husband when his wife and Games competitor Lindsey Smith did the same thing in her heat of individual women. She finished her workout, dropped the bar, and walked directly over to her competition to cheer. She clapped, she yelled, she helped encourage as her rival struggled with the clean & jerk weight.

Katie Hogan did the exact same. Sitting out there by herself with her rival, cheering the woman on as she tried to finish the rope climb/clean&jerk workout. Other competitors walked over to get water or air, but Katie was out there cheering loudly. And when the woman finished, the first thing she did was hug Katie.

That’s community.

Chris Spealler & Josh Bridges did just the same. Encouraging each other, Rich, and other competitors as soon as they finished.

Groups of CrossFitters cheered for other boxes and individuals.

And you could hear the roar from miles away when a struggling athlete or team finished the workout. The arena went nuts seeing people compete with everything they had in them – success or failure, the CrossFit community in LA and watching around the world online cheered the competitors on.

Can you say the same thing?

Do we smile in the face of that “donkey” exercise?

(For those in the dark, a “Donkey” is an exercise/lift/movement that you struggle with – because when you try the movement, you end up looking like an “ass.” Therefore, as CrossFitters, we talk about killing our “donkeys” on a regular basis.)

Do we genuinely cheer on that athlete whose name is always above ours on the whiteboard?

Do we finish the WOD and head to the bathroom, the floor, or the dark corner of the gym and struggle just to find air?

Or do we follow our leaders’ examples and hop right back onto the mat and yell positive words to our CrossFit community members?

Do we put our community and our spirit above what the world say

I’m as guilty as the next person of just trying to recover on my own after I finish the WOD. I’m dead beat. I’ve killed myself pushing through the workout, but I drop the ball on fulfilling my job as part of the CrossFit community.

Encourage.

Be about others.

Give it everything you’ve got.

And when you’re tapped out, give a little bit more to help your fellow CrossFitter.

The world says you should step on your competition.

The world says you should dance and celebrate wins in front of your rivals.

The world says you step on their throat when given the chance.

The world says you don’t support someone wanting to beat you.

And that’s why the world is wrong.

But even more importantly, that’s why CrossFit is going to change the world.

Community.

Healthy Competition.

Encouragement.

Camaraderie.

Passion.

Heart.

As our sport continues to grow, this passion and community we share with each other will only continue to grow.

In and outside of our boxes and gyms.

As CrossFitters, we will set the bar for what a sports community should look like.

A global community built on supporting each other.

The 2011 Games Winners set the bar pretty high with regards to what premier functional fitness looks like.

But they set the bar even higher on how our community should compete – in sport and in life.

So the next time you head to CrossFit, remember this:

Have fun with the workout.

Smile when it hurts.

Encourage when you finish.

And compete every damn day.

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    About Jake Thompson

    Jake Thompson is the Chief Encouragement Officer for Compete Every Day. Before launching the motivational lifestyle brand, Jake served as a consultant, writer, and social media enthusiast to a number of companies in a variety of industries.