Gymnastic Work & Overcoming Fear

Hey Monday, nice to see you again! I hope the return to your week wasn’t too painful and you only need minimal amounts of caffeine to continue to function today.

Coffee!

Last week was a bit of a hot one here in the Bay Area. For most of the week, the temperatures settled into the 99° – 103° range, which is pretty miserable. Any workout that was already tough was going to be that much worse due to the heat. On Friday, it finally cooled off a bit and since we Californians are sort of weenies when it comes to weather, it was nice to get back into the comfortable (relative term) mid 80’s.

Ok, enough chat about the weather. I am sore. So, so, so sore. On Saturday, after the regularly scheduled Crossfit class at the gym, Crossfit Incredible held their first ever gymnastics class, which had a great turnout. In the past, we haven’t worked on gymnastics movements very often, so it was nice to dedicate a good 90 minutes to working on skills that most people had little to no experience with.

We worked on bar muscle up progressions, scapular retract dead hangs, some handstand push up work, transition work for ring muscle ups, more handstand work/box walks, and some grip & forearm drills. My shoulders are completely, utterly fried, but it was really fun to take on new challenges and work on new things.

I will say that’s been one of the nicest parts about becoming fitter – you often surprise yourself in the face of new challenges. In the past, I was not really a fan of trying new things – this mainly came from crippling self-doubt and very low self-confidence, but also because I didn’t want to try and fail at something, especially in front of other people.  Crossfit has taught me that if you’re not failing every once in awhile, you probably aren’t giving yourself the chance to learn. It’s ok – actually, it’s good – to not be able to do something, and it’s even ok to fail in front of other people. I can pretty much guarantee that not one single person who is into fitness has walked into a gym and magically knew how to do every movement – every single person has started at zero and has had to learn everything you’re learning.

One of my biggest fears in life has been looking incompetent/incapable in front of others, especially those who I look up to or respect. I have never really considered myself to be a perfectionist, but at the same time I do want to do it relatively well and relatively right. I’m sure everyone at some point has been afraid of failing, particularly when it’s in front of people, but trust me – nobody is going to look at you and think that you’re hopeless. I don’t think I have ever watched somebody attempt something new and if they failed, thought, “God what a loser, they couldn’t do that brand new movement on the first time they’ve ever tried it.” Who the hell thinks that?! How big of a dick do you have to be to put someone down that way? The Crossfit community is extremely encouraging and supportive of people at any fitness level, because let’s face it – this shit is hard., especially if you’re starting as an adult.

So, what is my point? I have a few. One, it’s ok to fail. It’s good to fail, because if you never failed at anything you would never have the opportunity to learn, and you would never have the chance to experience that awesome feeling of completing something you’ve never been able to do before. Two, you might just surprise yourself! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a workout and thought, “there’s no way I can do that, that’s too heavy/too much volume/too this/blah blah”, but then I just try it and I am capable of doing it. It’s an incredible feeling to complete something you thought to be insurmountable, or something you couldn’t have done a few months ago. Admittedly, I have been fearful of trying new things for the reasons I listed above – mainly because I didn’t want to fail and was afraid of looking stupid. While it’s difficult to get over that, I do find myself being more open to trying new things that again, I think I can’t do, and even if I don’t get it on the first try, it’s a learning experience. Just be open to the possibility that it can still be fun and rewarding even if you don’t get it right the first time – all good things take time.

It’s like the old saying of “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”. Fear is something that holds so many people back, but our attitudes have a lot to do with our success. Yes, I realize I sound like a really bad late night infomercial right now, but a lot of this has really been resonating with me lately. As I’ve talked about earlier, I do not have an athletic background; I did not play sports in high school or college, and didn’t really get into working out seriously until I was 25. I was terrified of being judged or looking stupid in front of other people, so for a long time I didn’t pursue something I was had an interest in – fitness. It makes me so sad to look back on that, because lately I’ve realized I was curious about it for a long time but just never had the lady balls to pursue it. When I stop and think about all the positive and amazing ways being fit has impacted my life, it’s a little astounding. It also makes me sad that I didn’t pursue it earlier and knowing that I could have battled a lot of my demons had I gotten involved at an earlier age.

If you are currently in that situation where you’re fearful of being judged by other people, or afraid of failing, please know this: walking in the door and starting is the hardest part. It only gets easier from there, and at the end of the day…who f*cking cares what other people think. You can’t control what other people do, say or think, but what you do have control over is your reaction to those people. Prove them wrong, and keep in mind you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for yourself.

Lastly, I think by now it’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Barbell Shrugged. They put out phenomenal content, they are entertaining, and they are relevant. If you have some free time and are interested in learning more about the psychology of fear, failure and how to overcome it, I highly suggest listening/watching to the below segment they did recently. It’s one of my favorites, and the best part is it doesn’t only relate to sports or fitness – there is a lot of crossover into everyday life. It’s long, but totally worth it.

Enjoy!

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