Burned-out on CrossFit, But Love the Community? You Don’t Have to Quit!
When folks workout at CrossFit days on end, I’m reminded of the Arabic idiom, “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, and wonder when that “straw” will indeed result in injury or burn-out, forcing them to take a break or quit. Most people get into this situation simply because they love the feeling of comradery and ambiance of the CrossFit community. Being in the gym has become not only a place to workout, but also a social staple. You don’t have to quit! You just need to make the workouts work for you. Below are some suggestions about how you can accomplish this goal. I’ve also added the tools to stay healthy, continue a learning path, and acquire some body awareness.
Talk to the trainer and make the workout work for you. This does not mean scaling! “Scaling is failing”. Deadlifting with a PVC pipe is not your answer! It means listen to your body. Avoid movements that might aggravate your injury. Choose the ones that you like to do and eliminate the ones you dread. Then, literally walk yourself through the workout. Set a time for yourself with a definitive end; you should not be “on the clock” and pressured for time as you move through your workout. For example, you might take one movement out that you feel uncomfortable about and replace it with something that you love and gives you confidence. Also, look at the times on the board, and take about 15% off the average time, that is how long your workout should last. I also recommend, if it is a long workout, that you don’t go beyond 20 minutes. When your time is up, just stop.
Get Strong. Have the trainer set you up with a strength workout of squatting, deadlifting, pressing, bench pressing or power cleans. Pick 1 or 2 of the movements and do a 3×5, a 3×3 or a 3×10. Those are just suggestions, and your trainer should help you decide what sets and numbers are good for you.
Work on a Skill. Slow down. Find a skill you want to refine and work on it during the class time. This might be a clean or a snatch, or even a cartwheel! Just make sure you can do it safely without the trainer having to distract his or herself from the rest of the class.
Get flexible or stable. You may have a part of your body that is extremely stiff or unstable. Coming to class and just working on flexibility or stability still gives you the feeling of community, but lets you catch up on some body work you might have been neglecting. I recommend seeing a physical therapist to help you identify where you need to work on flexibility and where you need to work on stability, that way you can be sure you are keeping your efforts productive.
Learn to Coach. How about coming in and shadowing the trainer? Or, hanging out with your best friend and giving them feedback on their movement? When one person coaches – two people learn. Learning to coach is the best way to be in touch with your workout community, give you some needed time out, and help you enhance your gym experience.
These are tools that will primarily give your body a break, but also allow you to be with your social peers in the gym environment. You may be surprised at the positive physical and mental changes that result from pursuing a path that may be different form the rest of the class, but in tune with your body’s needs. I encourage you to discuss this with your trainers and make a plan for yourself. There are a lot of productive ways to keep yourself strong, healthy and happy, without having to quit your gym!