CrossFit unleashed my inner athlete. After 4 years practicing CrossFit, I still want to become faster, stronger, and more flexible. My goals have changed though, and I’m honoured to mentor future athletes into the sport I love. Stepping up as head coach of Primal Ape CrossFit is a heavier responsibility than 400 pound squats.

As a leader, it’s important I guide athletes into becoming their prime selves and in this first article, I keep a central question in mind.

“What advice would I have given myself, 4 years ago?”

One of my favourite athletes, Chris Spealler, wrote a poignant piece on this topic. I’ve distilled his blog post, Training CrossFit vs. CrossFit as a Sport (November 3, 2013), in mine.

Beginners approach CrossFit in two ways.

1. CrossFit as training, or

2. CrossFit as sport.

In the first one, CrossFit as training people use CrossFit or Bootcamp programming as a means to an end. You’re looking at work put in the box to benefit your abilities outside it. This means becoming better swimmers, cyclists, climbers, parkour experts, basketball, volleyball or ultimate players. People also end up becoming better parents, students, brothers, sisters, and lovers. “General Physical Preparedness” or GPP is an individual’s baseline level of fitness. When you focus on this crucial aspect - exercise becomes efficient. People get the most performance bang for their training buck.

And the benefits can go on and on. Done properly, and consistently, your once/twice/thrice-a-week sessions will reap results for years to come. Performance, aesthetic and health markers improve. Tweaking programs will see weaknesses dissolve as easily as whey mix in warm milk.

Bottomline, sacrifice for this type of CrossFit is minimal.

On the other hand, approaching CrossFit as a sport, wanting to attain an elite level of performance, good enough for CrossFit Games - requires far more effort. Something else has to motivate you. I find a lot of people in this class of CrossFit relish competition. They revel in throw downs, and are borderline addicts when it comes to breaking their own personal records. This is their vision for their Prime Selves.

This does not come easy. Athletes target specific weaknesses, spend far more time in the box and place a premium on diet, sleep and stress management. The sacrifice for this aspect of CrossFit is a tab few people are willing to pay.

Regardless of track though, the thing that bonds both types of CrossFitters, the one thing that bonds ALL types of CrossFitters, actually - is fun. I’ll repeat that, because it’s so important.

CrossFit should be FUN.

We take pleasure in the journey, whether it’s experiencing everyday lives improve or giving yourself the best chance at competing. Sure it’s going to hurt. Yes that first morning-after means extreme soreness. Absolutely, you’re going to feel that hero WOD the next day…maybe even til next week. But you know what…it’s worth it. And seeing your box mates, your tribe mates, hurt, but still smiling - makes it more worthwhile.

So, to wrap this up, I’d advise beginners, to think about how they want to approach the sport, and angle in from there. Ask yourself:

How much time am I willing to commit?

What do I want to achieve for myself?

Why do I want this for myself?

Who can I count on to help me towards my aspirations?

I can’t answer the first three but for that last question, please know that Primal Ape’s coaches, myself included wish for you to unleash your Be(a)st selves.

Lift strong and conquer,

Anton Sietereales

Head Coach, Primal Ape CrossFit

Crossfit L1 Trainer

Crossfit Endurance Trainer