What It Takes


LEFT: Matt Z, doing what it takes.
RIGHT: Matt Z, stoic focus before amazing the crowd.

What It Takes;

Potential maximized through unparalleled work ethic, great support team and high level coaching.   

Recently, after heading to dinner right after class, I returned to CrossFit West after hours (about 9:00 pm) to get my car.  As I drove up to the gym, I saw this;

Matt Z, alone in the gym, staring into the distance as he stood over a loaded barbell.  (I wasn’t able to get my camera out in time to capture the perfect shot.)

He was focused.  He was silent.  He was motionless.  Posed like a Greek statue, stoic gaze and all, he loomed over his opposition as he centered himself before executing the task at hand.

10,000 square feet of space, and not another person in the building.  There were no crowds to cheer for him.  No friends to support him.  No training partners to motivate him.  There were no cute girls to impress.  No competition to intimidate.  There was no one there to see him train.  No one to acknowledge the work he was doing.

Yet there he stood, alone in the gym, with the same focused calm that we all saw mask his face at the Affiliate Cup before he appeased the crowd and amazed us all with a 300# Clean-&-Jerk and 315# Clean.

Matt Z is a great athlete.  Yet he is NOT a “freak of nature”.

He is not an “Outlier” of some unobtainable origin.  What he IS, however, is focused, disciplined, and tenacious in his relentless pursuit of maximizing his fullest potential, both inside the arena and out.  It is potential being maximized through unbridled work ethic.

The advantages he may have, however, over other athletes his age (19 years old) is the fact that he found CrossFit at an early age (17) and had great coaching along the way while training in an incredibly supportive environment.  He had a solid support team and great foundation to build upon as he developed as a young athlete and honed his mental focus and desire to train.  This is true of virtually all young athletes who start CrossFit at a young age, such as our own PJ Rubel or all the Martin family children who developed under the CrossFit Kids program started by their parents.

It seems that many people these days look upon accomplished athletes and, while being fans of the athlete or sport for which they compete, still sometimes feel a disconnect from the athletes they follow, as though the athlete has attained a level for which they never could.

Nothing could be further from the truth, especially with the sport of CrossFit.

The Games athletes we have all come to love and respect, the ones who inspire us and motivate us, while they are indeed great athletes, they too started somewhere, each having experienced that “first time doing ‘Fran’”, laid out after a WOD wondering what the hell the just happened to them.  Like Matt Z, they are not just Outliers, gifted from birth with unobtainable levels of fitness for which we can never achieve, (well, except maybe Froning; he might be an Outlier, lol).  No, that is not the case.  Yes, they are indeed great athletes.  But what truly separates them from their competition is not the amazing feats they accomplish while competing or the dominance they generally exude in their sport.  What separates them is not what you see in the arena on game-day.  It is what you don’t see.  It is the incalculable hours of work they put in each week; the focused discipline they put into their training when the cameras aren’t rolling and no one is around to acknowledge their efforts.  Yet they too have coaches.  They too have that amazing and supportive environment that is inherent within the CrossFit community.

What separates high level competition, regardless of sport, is much more than just “natural athleticism” or “genetic potential”.  It is a relentless pursuit of excellence.  It is potential being maximized through unparalleled work ethic.  This is just as true of your favorite Games athletes as it is of your favorite athletes in other sports.  Though a truly gifted athlete, what got Defensive Back Dwight Lowery into the NFL wasn’t simply his natural athleticism or “God given talents”.  It was an insatiable desire to excel in his sport, fueled by an unparalleled work ethic.  Like Matt Z alone in the gym after hours, standing over the loaded barbell, there was no one around to see the hours of work that Dwight put into his training as we trained nearly every night, 9:00 pm to midnight, at the old CFHQ.  Potential maximized through unparalleled work ethic, nurtured by solid coaching and a great support team.

As CrossFit athletes, no matter where in the world we be or which box we train out of, we all have access to this amazing and supportive training environment and immeasurable support team that is inherent within CrossFit and the community that has been forged around it.  We all have access to the high level of coaching that CrossFit provides.  The questions is, does our level of commitment match our level of desire?  Does the power of your will have the ambition to feed it?  If we truly want to realize our fullest potential, whether it be in training, sport, work, relationships or life, are we willing to do what it takes?  CrossFit provides for us the high level coaching and unparalleled support team.  All we need to provide is the discipline and work ethic.

Whether you ever win the Games or not, at the very least you will have achieved a level of fitness you may not have ever thought possible, obtained a better position in your profession, procured a better life for you and your family, or in some way awakened an area within yourself you never knew existed.

No matter what aspect of your life it is, a relentless pursuit of excellence will always help you maximize your fullest potential and yield profound improvements in your life, forever changing your life for the better.

You have every bit the potential of the great athletes we all love and respect.  We just have to work for it.

Potential, maximized through an unwavering work ethic, a great support team and high level coaching.

That’s what it takes.

NOTE:  Unfortunately, our 9:30 am Saturday morning Mobility Class is cancelled for tomorrow.  We are sorry for any inconvenience.