Last weekend I went to visit my grandfather for his 90th birthday. In a few hours, I learned enough about fear and failure that the reasons I train Crossfit were re-evaluated.
Everything about my grandfather looks exactly the same now as it did 20 years ago. The same apartment, up the same 40 stairs. Which he walks up twice a day without fail, to all the same furniture. With the same clothes. With all the same books (and a few new ones as well). He’s still mentally sharp. He still cracks the same bad jokes, and he still tells the same stories. And he’s afraid.
His current physical ability and range of motion is limited by what he does daily.
Phrase it slightly differently and you have one of the core tenets of Crossfit: If you only train certain modal domains, you’ll suck at the rest. That’s why you see a 5K run along side a max deadlift. Gymnastics and Olympic lifting. Long light met cons vs. short heavy ones. You have to leave your comfort zone to become a better rounded individual.
Fast forward your life 5 decades. Your body starts to undergo sarcopenia, (the gradual decline of muscle tissue over time.) You’ve stopped training which compounds the issue. How often do you leave your comfort zone?
My granddad hasn’t left his comfort zone in a while.
He can only life his leg the height of the stairs he walks up every morning.
He can squat only as deep as the chair he gets in and out of everyday without losing balance or needing his arms.
He’s lost the ability to move his leg side to side.
He can’t do a push up.
He’s frightened by a simple question:
Would he be able to get up off the floor if he fell?
Think about it. Actually think about it.
He has a severely limited set of tools available to him. He can’t press up from the floor. He can’t get into a lunge position. He can’t roll over to sit up. Movements I took for granted are in the realm of impossibility for him.
We got him on the floor, and tested a movement pattern, tweaked it, and then made him practice. He was uncomfortable, but he did it. It’s not much, but he’s less afraid this week then he was last week. That’s powerful.
Last week if you had asked me why I trained Crossfit, I would have told you it’s because it’s fun and effective, the methodology behind it makes sense, it’s minimalistic, and more then anything, I love the community. (Although I will admit: Looking good naked is an added bonus.)
All those reasons still apply.
If I’m around in 5 or more decades:
I never want to have to skip dinner with family because I can’t get up a flight of stairs.
I never want to be afraid that I won’t be able to help a loved one.
I never want to worry about whether I’ll be able to get off the floor.