Open Gym: Networking in CrossFit

Posted: May 12, 2017 in CrossFit, Training

I’ve always considered myself a “people person.” Does that mean I can capture the attention of an entire room with my stories? No. Does that mean I’m everyone’s favorite “date” to their work events because they know I’ll never be standing alone in the corner being shy while they run off and try to engage with their boss? No. Does that mean I’ve had so many incredible life experiences that I can relate to anyone on anything they want to talk about? Also, no.

What I mean by calling myself a people person in this context, is that I think my tolerance for, and interest in, people is pretty high. Given the years I’ve spent working in the “Service Industry” and the way I was raised (to genuinely care about people and give nearly everyone the benefit of the doubt), I am always trying to engage with people… often complete strangers, and trying to learn from them. Sometimes it has lead to me giving people “too many chances” in my personal life, but at the end of the day, I would rather accept more, rather than less, people. I think this showed through my coaching of CrossFit. We are all SO different and I don’t expect athletes to come into the gym every day genuinely excited to put themselves through some form of torture. Hey, you’re there, and that’s the hardest part! But does that mean that just because you give me your best “RBF” while I tell you there are 100 Thrusters in the workout that I’m going to ignore you for the rest of class because I think you’re mad? Nope! Instead, I’m coming in for the real thing and doing whatever I can to try and CONNECT with you anyways. That’s what always drove me. To try and build MEANINGFUL relationships with people through a few hours of fitness each week.

As I psychology major in college, I learned something that has stuck with me for a long time. That’s the fact that if there’s one thing most humans love, it’s hearing themselves talk. Not the sound of your own voice playing back in front of you… most of us HATE that, I just mean having someone there who wants to be there and connect with you. So, when I meet someone new, I’ll often try to ask them questions about things that excite them. Their hobbies, their families, what they do for work… it may sound like Conversation: 101, but it typically works fairly well. When people feel like you actually care about them, most of the time they’ll open up a little more! If you’re someone who stands in front of a class, reads the words that are on the board or the screen, and stands around for the rest of the hour, people feel that, too.

This personality trait of mine has lead me to surround myself with like-minded individuals. Another crazy concept, huh? The difference for me, is that those people over the last decade or so have tended to be in the CrossFit world. Seven years ago, when I really started to dive into this “sport” of ours (that wasn’t even called a sport yet), I met friends in CrossFit through competing. Local throw-downs started popping up more frequently, many of my friends trained CrossFit too, and these events became as much about camaraderie as they did fitness. At one point, I think I knew 90% of the gym owners in town, and it was great!

We would work out together often, share stories about what was good or bad in the gyms where we trained, and use each other as legitimate resources. THAT is what’s fun for me. Sharing Best Practices with other people who are either in your industry or have transferrable skills that also apply to your line of work is so great. Usually in these conversations, it’s not one person talking AT the other. Instead, it’s one person saying “here’s what we do,” and the other one replying with something like, “that’s interesting, here’s what we do.” A normal chat can literally open up one’s perspective through simply sharing life experiences. Too often I’ve seen gym owners, trainers, athletes, reach a certain point in their careers and basically stop caring. They just go through the motions because it’s all they’ve done for years, and it’s not FUN for them anymore. If you’re always learning, you’re always growing!

This morning, I had an awesome conversation with someone (a friend of a friend) I’ve known for years, but never actually met in person. The purpose of the call was literally just to learn! I asked what he did to train his staff, we shared stories about our experiences in CrossFit, and when the call was over, I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. It felt so good to connect with someone and not have the expectation that either of us needed THE answer to any one question. That’s the stuff that gets me fired up and excited.

The other day on Facebook I shared a quote that I heard from a friend of mine in my first job out of college: “Your Network is your Net Worth.” It rang so true in my head then, and it still does today. Why not surround yourself with people who when you leave their presence you feel good? My “CrossFit Network” makes me feel that way. Dropping in at gyms across the country and around the world, I feel as though I could walk in the door at so many places, and immediately feel “at home” with them. That’s pretty special, and probably my favorite part of it of this community of ours.

If anyone out there wants to set up some time to chat about fitness/training, diet/nutrition, or anything of the sort, let’s do it! It’s so cool to share stories and learn from each other.

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