So, we all get scared sometimes, it’s perfectly natural to be scared of certain things in life. We also all have irrational fears, things that we are scared of for absolutely no reason. For example, I am terrified of moths, yes moths, those dusty, can’t even fly in a straight line, attracted blindly to bright lights, little creatures that crumble if you touch them. I have never ever heard of someone being hurt by a moth but they terrify me.
So what fears, whether rational or not, do we often see people bring into fitness. Well we usually all carry similar ones: the fear of starting something new, the fear of not being good enough and the fear of failing. I’m here to tell you these fears are all irrational!
The fear of starting something new. We’ve all been there: first day of a new school, a new job, a new club or sport. We’ve all had that gurgle in the pit of our stomach or for some of us that rapid heart rate and erratic breathing that takes over. But we can overcome this fear, we all (hopefully) stayed at school, we turned up to work on day one and we learned that new isn’t always scary. Every one of you who is a member at Saxon has overcome this fear already too, well done.
Starting CrossFit can be scary, no doubt. I was nervous the first time I walked into a box (what we call a CrossFit gym). What if I hated it and it wasn’t what I expected? What if I wasn’t fit enough? What if I didn’t fit in? Those first two questions you will never know the answer too if you don’t try it. If you hate it and it’s not what you are after you don’t back, simple. Will you fit in? CrossFit is for everyone and our membership is made up of every imaginable type of person. We have kids, teens, students, pensioners, police, teachers, builders, doctors, accountants and stay at home parents. We have life long athletes and complete fitness newbies. If you are a human you will fit in.
Then there’s the main fear of starting: am I fit enough? Short answer, yes. Long answer, there is no such thing as fit enough. We don’t have an entry exam or a required level of athletic ability. All you need to start is the desire to get fitter, no matter where you are starting from. We have people of every conceivable fitness level and we cater for them all. We will help you find your level and then help you progress whatever your goal.
So the answer to this fear, just start.
Next, the fear of not being good enough. Similar to not being fit enough this is the concern that you won’t be where you want to be. We all have that level of fitness, that goal, that dream weight or skill that we want. That line we’ve drawn in the sand that will make us the athlete we want to be. Chances are most of us will continually fall short of that line, mainly because it’s a false summit, a line that can’t be reached.
“I want to be able to do a pull up, then I’ll be happy.” Athletes achieves first pull up. Momentary happiness. “Now I want to be able to do 10 pull ups.” Athlete works hard, achieves 10 pull ups. “Now I want to be able to do a muscle up.” If you are a driven person, which if you are investing your time in your health and fitness you are, then you will always move your own goal posts and therefore, in your own eyes, not be good enough.
The other end of this spectrum is feeling the defeat of not being able to do these things. Of seeing someone else achieve something you can’t. It can make us feel awful. I’ve walked out onto many a competition floor and felt crappy when the other dudes lifted weights and nailed movements that I couldn’t. Many years ago, I tried to leave a competition after the first event because I felt I wasn’t good enough.
A swift realignment of your perspective should negate this fear. What is good enough and how do you get there? If good enough for you is a movement or skill, or a certain weight or body fat percentage or if good enough is just putting on that party outfit and feeling like a fucking Rockstar then how do you get there?
If you keep the fear and don’t try because of it then you will always feel not good enough. But if you take one step, one day, one workout or one lesson towards that ‘good enough’ then suddenly you are a little closer to it. Celebrate each and every step on that journey, find a ‘good enough for now’ every day and suddenly being good enough isn’t a line in the sand it’s a mindset you’ve adopted.
Then we have the fear of failing. This is usually the fear that stops people trying new movements, entering a competition or pushing their boundaries. We don’t want to fail, to fall short or underachieve. We certainly don’t want other people to witness such things and we definitely don’t want to be judged for them. I could write a long piece about why the fear of failure is both a self-fulfilling prophecy and why you shouldn’t fear failure but Theodore Roosevelts famous ‘Man in the arena’ speech does a much better job than I could ever do:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
If these words don’t crush that fear of failure then I’m not sure any words will. Be brave, gather yourself some support and tackle the thing you are scared of failing. If you fall short, learn why, create a plan and then attack it again. (If you need help tackling a goal that you are scared of failing please ask me for help – together we will get there, I promise.)
So, fear, it’s a strange thing. Usually based on our assumptions of what might happen rather than what is statistically like to happen. I’ve always liked the saying ‘Fear is F-false E-evidence A-appearing R-real’ and think it applies pretty well to everything in this article. Don’t be scared, take that step, start that something new, try that movement or enter that competition, we’ll support you the whole way!