I’ve started noticing some distinct similarities between my experiences during my 15 years of military service and CrossFit training. Make no mistake, I’m not about to compare CrossFit workouts to taking out a machine gun nest or trying to save a wounded comrade. Military service is unique and nothing should ever be equated with the willingness to sacrifice and commitment to service that characterizes the brave men and women who volunteer to serve our country. However, there are definitely some similarities between the two. These are the 4 ways that Crossfit reminds me of the military:
1 – MOTIVATION
You need to have a lot of motivation to jump out of an airplane, walk into a war zone, or lay your life on the line. The military loves motivation because it’s absolutely necessary to accomplish the mission. The level of motivation in Crossfit workouts is just as critical. Wake up at 5 o’clock and torture yourself by doing Murph? Yes, please! CrossFit athletes demonstrate their motivation simply by waking up early or hitting the gym after a long day at work, relishing the chance to tackle a hard workout, and staying committed to their diet, CrossFit training, and community. CrossFit athletes always get a GO on motivation and they show it at the box during each CrossFit workout.
2 – LEADERSHIP
In my opinion, the military is the best leadership development organization out there bar none. I’ve also seen great leadership at the CrossFit gym as well. The Army defines leadership as “influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization.” That sounds to me like a good Army leader would be a good CrossFit coach. Our mission as coaches is to motivate people to lead a healthier lifestyle (the mission) through fun and effective training and a supportive community (the organization).
3 – NEVER LEAVE YOUR BUDDY BEHIND
It’s part of the soldier’s creed – I will never leave a fallen comrade. There are no fallen comrades in CrossFit, but every CrossFitter has had a time when they need someone to pick them up during a CrossFit routine. If you watch a group of soldiers while they run, you will notice that they go back for those that fall behind. At CrossFit Critical Mass in Columbia, MD, we pick each other up too, supporting each other until the finish line. Just the other day I watched about 15 athletes who had already finished the CrossFit workout cheer on and support the last group to finish, and then all of them took off to run the last 400m together.
4 – TEAM
Those who are in the service tend to do everything with their squad or platoon. These are tight-knit groups, cohesive units built on challenging experiences and a commitment to success. Whenever CrossFit Critical Mass has a social outing, it reminds me of when I was a young paratrooper. When I see dozens of people come out for birthdays, housewarmings, or other events, we do so because we are a team. We work hard and suffer together, putting a 150% effort into the CrossFit training. Then we come together again to celebrate what we accomplished – with hard cider and fireball!
The military is an extraordinary organization, comprised of a special group of individuals who have volunteered to sacrifice in order to serve their country. CrossFit training is not as noble as the military, so there is no direct comparison. But the characteristics that both organizations share are what make them each successful. So, go find your CrossFit platoon or family, work hard, and accomplish your mission!
Please thank a veteran the next time you meet one, because they have most certainly earned it.