Early in my training, Sam was trying to explain to me that I was too controlled in my movement. I looked at him like he was crazy. Um, what do you think I've spent 38 years of my life trying to do, buddy? Control life, grades, kids, my diet! He then said a couple of scientific words laced with a few f-bombs that went right over my head and then said something that stuck with me: "You've gotta leave that mommy shit at the door. This isn't housewife fitness."
Over the course of the next year, I've come to realize what he meant. As we're learning a movement, we're consciously competent - very aware of every part of the lift. Take a snatch - there are a million thoughts rattling around in my head: "back tight, ok, pull, 2nd pull, catch in squat, oh shit it's above my head now what, oh yeah, stand up, middle of foot? heel? oh crap I'm tipping over." But, there comes a point in our learning when the movement is there. We can actually do "a snatch," but the weight on the barbell is not increasing. No matter what, we can't get above that weight that we are so good and controlled at. That's where we have to walk into the box and decide to be a different person. It's time to leave the mommy shit at the door and get aggressive.
My most recent encounter with aggressiveness (or lack thereof) was the ever-elusive kipping pull-up. For 14 months I worked and worked and still couldn't get one. Sam had done a few "tests" and declared I was plenty strong enough and it was all in my head (um, big surprise). Last week during warm ups, he had me try again. Fail. Frustration. I walked back over and he said, "Stop thinking. Just jump up to the bar and whip the shit out of your kip." Feeling not-so-sure, I did what he said. I chalked up, looked at the bar ever doubtfully, said a big internal "Oh Well" and whipped it. I whipped it good. Bingo. Chin over bar.
What keeps me from being aggressive in the gym? For me, it's a lifetime of pacifism and non-competition. I actually don't know how to be aggressive, but I'm learning. I also realized that I have a big, ugly case of Fear of Failure. What if I give 150% effort and aggressiveness and still fail? What will they think of me then? As it turns out, that crazy crossfit crowd will be even more supportive and helpful.
So, what's holding you back? Time and time again we are reminded that crossfit is a big mental game. A barbell is a barbell. It's not going anywhere. Either you can lift it or your can't, so it points out glaring weaknesses in our character and thought processes. It stands to reason that these glaring weaknesses are present in our lives outside of the gym, too. Lack of aggressiveness. Shorting ourselves. Not believing in our own abilities. Cutting corners. Laying back on our effort. It's a new year - time to take the lessons that the barbell is trying to teach us and apply.