Time for another edition of ‘Deep Thought Thursday,’ so in your best internal Heath Ledger voice: “Here…we…go.”

On Wednesday night, I sat down with a new couple for one of our ‘No Sweat Intros.’ For those that don’t know what exactly that is, the no-sweat intro is our way of finding out how we can best help someone get to their desired results when they show an interest in our service. It starts with a conversation and builds from there. (New to the blog and this interests you? Book one here.)

During that conversation, I broached an idea that I’ve floated around to a few folks in my inner circle, in particular a few of the mentors I work with at Two-Brain Business, which I was in Chicago for last weekend.

And the idea goes like this – when someone first comes in and wishes to start CrossFit, they do so with a goal in mind: losing fat, leaning out, pursuing health, getting stronger, etc. CrossFit is simply the tool that we use to get them where they want to go. Yes, people come in and “want to do CrossFit,” but doing CrossFit for the sake of doing CrossFit is never actually the goal. Its simply the means to an end. But after a while, for many people, we see a seismic shift – people actually start to care that they are getting better at squatting, and pull-ups, and getting stronger, and decreasing their Fran time. They begin to pay attention to the leaderboard. They watch and analyze how they stack up against others in the gym. They want to get better for the sake of getting better.

Its at this point that a funny thing has happened – they’ve now begun to treat CrossFit as a sport.

And you know what? I think that is awesome.

(I’m not here to write about the pros and cons of sports; that is a different, albeit related, topic.)

Over the years, I’ve written numerous “talk people off the ledge” posts. (Here’s one as an example.) These usually come just after the conclusion of the Open. Meaning, I try to bring their personal goals back into focus, to remember why they originally came to CFG in the first place – losing fat, leaning out, etc. and not worry so much about where they finished after 5 weeks of beatings by Dave Castro. I still believe in these goals being a tremendous driver for your long-term success.

Sports are a part of everyday life when we’re young. We were always playing, enjoying the camaraderie, competing, having fun, learning, making up games, and getting better. Sports also bring with them precisely defined rules and standards for performance, their own unique uniforms and necessary attire, and their wins and losses are often used as teaching points for larger, real life happenings.

When you get old and retire, whenever that may be (college, pro, high school glory days), its common to look for something else to fill that void. Dare I say, that competitive void? When Mark James or Alex Dunn aren’t at the gym on a Saturday morning, you know where they are? Playing softball.

Competition isn’t bad. It’s hard-wired into our DNA. Matter of fact, at the most base level, its the competition to survive that has sustained our species for so long – survival of the fittest, right?

Can people take it too far? Absolutely. I’m not encouraging an abandonment of good judgment and safe technique. Nor do I think you should take your place on the leaderboard much more serious than when McDonalds advertises a “healthy” menu option. That should be obvious.

But what I am saying is this: maybe one of the reasons that people are so drawn to stick with CrossFit so intensely is because it scratches an itch that so many have. And its universally accessible. And it can provide all the inherent health benefits an effective exercise program should. How much fun do you have in the Open????

I’ll even venture further out on the limb – I’m willing to bet that the long-term membership of ALL CrossFit gyms can be broken down into two groups:

1. Former athletes
2. People who never got, or wanted, the chance to play organized sports when they were younger but find CrossFit fun for reasons they can’t really put into words. (Hint: its because sports are fun!)

There is absolutely nothing wrong in treating CrossFit like a sport. That is, after all, one aspect of it – its both an unrivaled fitness program AND the Sport of Fitness. At the old gym, we actually used to have a banner that said “The Sport of Fitness Has Arrived,” but someone stole it.

Way back in 2007, Greg Glassman famously wrote that “men will die for points.” He was alluding to the fact that the mere presence of the whiteboard fostered intensity in workouts like nothing else could. And intensity is really the key to maximizing your results, no matter what the goal. Fat loss, strength, leanness…winning the Open. If our website were up right now, I’d be linking to that post too!

So what exactly am I trying to say? Try enjoying CrossFit for what it really is, a sport. Who knows, it might just provide the push you need to get a new skill, lift a heavier weight, and have fun doing it. And that will help deliver on why you stepped into CFG in the first place without you always dwelling on it.

Its worth mentioning that this topic is ripe for an extended conversation via podcast episode, so you can expect Marc and I to get on that as soon as I return! Until then, I’m curious – what are your thoughts?