True fitness is all about variance – about keeping the body guessing and making it think about the stimulus it is currently receiving.
We like to take that variance into our blog posts too. We like to pick topics that are both interesting and thought provoking but most importantly relevant and useful. With that in mind our latest blog post is slightly different to our normal topics and stems from a conversation our coaching team had with several members a few weeks ago.
The conversation opened with how we thought individual people would react to what, for the purpose of this post, we’ll call a ‘critical incident’. By this we mean any incident that is going to cause you to engage your fight, flight or freeze response. It could be witnessing a severe car accident, seeing someone become the victim of violent crime, being a victim of violent crime, being involved in a large scale terror incident or arriving at a situation that requires you to administer first aid or help other people.
Now most of us have heard of ‘fight or flight’. This is the bodies physiological response to a perceived threat or attack. It is your body kicking in its most primal and automatic response which will cause you to react in certain ways to certain incidents.
Fight – engaging the perceived threat or attack
Flight – getting the hell out of dodge
It’s also important to recognise the third option of ‘freeze’. Some people just freeze. They don’t run, they don’t engage and ultimately, they don’t help.
Now luckily, we live in a world where the vast majority of us will not know and won’t ever find out how we react in a ‘fight or flight’ situation and this is something we should be grateful for. However, there is always the chance of being caught up in an incident and being aware of how the body will react is only going to help you.
Once your body recognises a threat several things will start to happen:
Your heart rate will increase, your breathing will get deeper and faster, your pupils will dilate, your skin will become cold and potentially clammy, your muscles will tense and tremble, your mouth will go dry and your stomach will feel strange.
Now what does all this have to do with CrossFit. Fight or flight is a response to an external stressor. One of the best ways to control stress – fitness. Being physically fit will not only help you in whatever your reaction to a threat is – either engaging or running away from it – but it will also help you manage all the reactions your body is having so you can control your thoughts and decisions easier.
In the conversation with the members which led to this article it was noted by several people (police, military, fire) that they felt their or their colleagues fitness had helped them handle a threatening situation much better than their less fit colleagues.
This could be in the sense of their actual ability to control their emotions in that moment which would help them make sound and potentially lifesaving decisions. Or in the sense of once their fight or flight had kicked in they were physically able to complete that response.
Now I know very few people will encounter a situation where their physical fitness might save their or somebody else’s life. But I guarantee someone I know, be it a Saxon member, a family member or a training buddy will at some point in the next few years find themselves in such a situation. Having that fitness, that awareness of your body and that own knowledge of your abilities might just help you make a decision or movement slightly faster, might help you be more able to engage or escape the threat or might make you more able to help someone else.
It’s a dangerous world sometimes and we owe it to ourselves and each other to be the best prepared we can be to handle what it throws at us. Being fit is a super simple step you can take to be prepared.