The Rewards of Competition

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At The Holistic Fitness Project we view competition a little bit differently than the concept’s traditional sense.

In competition, of course, it is necessary for some people to win, and others to lose. This undeniable element is the heart of one of competition’s ugly, unintended (or perhaps intended) consequence — it’s nasty habit of transforming people from like-minded friends into ousted foes.

HFP, on the other hand, seeks to rebuild the competitive arena from one that separates people as opponents and condemns the losers, to one that unites a passionate community and celebrates all victories — those on the score board, as well as those internal to each competitor.

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SICEST_equipheadEDITA few weekends ago, HFP made it’s debut in competitive fitness world at the SICEST of the Southwest II competition, where we helped sponsor (along with Vitamin Authority and The Green House) our first team of CrossFit competitors, Team CrossFit 623.  In addition to this great accomplishment, HFP also played a key role in the SICEST of the Southwest II’s planning, execution, and aftermath.  HFP cofounder Dan Lennon was appointed head equipment manager by SICFIT and was responsible for setting the stage, heat after heat, event after event, with everything the athletes needed to leave their body and soul on the court.
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By diving in head first into competitive fitness at SICEST of the Southwest II, HFP learned a thing or two about competition. We took notes from the experts who Specialize In Competitive FITNness (SICFIT), and did some of our own soul searching and reflection. The result, the HFP philosophy of competition as an homage to strength and vulnerability, and as a way to bring people together, while bringing out their very best. Let us explain…

Within CrossFit boxes and competitive fitness gyms around the world, competition is a constructive tool. It is an external variable used to compound and enhance one’s internal desire to achieve.

Though great feats of athleticism are attainable without competition, the pace at which gains are made would be slowed and the evolution of each athletes trajectory shortened over a lifetime.

When the competitive stimuli is magnified at an organized, multi-gym competition, as it was at the SICEST of the Southwest II, the positive impact of competition upon athletic achievement is multiplied. Efforts become increasingly focused, goals become clear and urgent, and the vigor with which the craft is practiced is intensified. When the main event arrives the athlete’s performance is an expression of the motivating effect of competition, played out on the physical and bodily stage.

To consider an athlete’s performance at an organized fitness competition as an expressive act is also to recognize competing as an act of vulnerability.

Not only do competitors reveal their masteries and strengths, weaknesses and breakingpoints, but they do so under the critical eye of judges. Though making oneself vulnerable and exposed is often frightening — many athletes tell stories of nervous jitters and butterflies in the gut, even nausea before an event — this rawness is a prerequisite for the most meaningful experiences and feelings of connectedness we as humans can ever experience.
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When we are exposed, open, and vulnerable – as we are when we bare all on the competitive floor – there are no walls or defenses. We suddenly have more space inside ourselves for connection, for feeling, for life. We experience our teammates as we d ourselves – living and breathing their every rep, their every cry of determination. We make room for the supporters, whose passionate cheers and applause seemingly fuel the very muscle of athletic delivery.

And we make room for ourselves — for our own victories so rightfully earned, regardless of the final standing on the scoreboard.

I was lucky enough to call myself a member of Team CrossFit 623. And even though we took fifth out of 55 teams in our division (an incredible feat in and of itself), I am even more proud of all the personal victories my team and our supporters experienced that day..

Two memories stand out that portray how my team embraced our vulnerabilities that day, and how this reaped the greatest rewards of competition.

Our team leader (you know who you are) was dealt a heavy hand while leading our team through the two and a half months of training. In addition to periodic spats with me due to disagreements in programming, he endured a great loss during that time — one that unfortunately our team was an inconvenient reminder of.
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team623AfterHug_editDespite these difficulties, I watched our leader push from the very depths of his soul at the competition, particularly in the second of three events. He was up last in succession of four two mini workouts, where he was tasked to complete as many 75 lb thrusters as possible in two minutes. With every inhale–down–and every exhale–up– our leader became stronger.

Kneeling on the ground aside his platform, I watched body become simultaneously fatigued and strengthened with each passing rep.  It was as if each taxing thrust was a reminder of his pain, and every time he pushed on he came closer and closer to his own victory.

When it was all said and done our leader performed 51 thrusters in two minutes. It was, without a doubt, the most heart-felt athletic performances I have ever seen. Chills.

The second memory is of myself, and my experience of vulnerability during competition. Throughout all of the training my team did during our preparation for the big show, I always felt like the weakest link – always bringing up the rear, never quite on the same page.

Despite this, on the day of the competition my team earned a spot in the final event, where we battled with the 10 top teams for the win. The workout called for athletes to move in succession through four stations — 20 ground to overhead (75/115), 25 toes to bar, 20 plate burpees, and a 1k watt bike sprint.

Since no athlete could pass another, it was decided that the slowest athlete should go last — of which I volunteered myself, the weakest link, to do.

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I watched as my team mates cycled through, becoming spent, slow, and on the brink of exhaustion. And then it was my turn, I could hear the cheers of my 623 and HFP crew behind me. The screams escalated as I jumped up to the pullup and began strining together my toes to bar. I was passing people! By the time I got to the Watt Bike Sprint I could hear nothing but the resounding cry, “Kari! Kari! Kari!” “623! 623! 623!” and my teammates telling me to dig deep.

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It was redemption. It was my own personal right of passage from the weakest link, to the strong ending that helped Team CrossFit 623 take fifth place.

That day, I won the SICEST of the Southwest II. As did my team, as did every athlete and supporter that was moved by incredible feats of athleticism and humanity that were on display.

After the competition I asked Dan what he thought was the best part of the whole day.  He replied simply yet poignantly, “Seeing everyone so happy.”

This is why HFP supports competitive fitness — to make people happy. To bring people together and then bring them to their very best so that everyone can win. 

SICEST of the Southwest II was an opportunity for HFP to get it’s feet wet in the world of competitive fitness, an avenue we plan to traverse upon long into the future. And the next destination along this road may just be in the works as you read this very post.  Be on the look out for more details, especially if you happen to live and train near the #bestgyminglendale. #westsidebrawl #competitionseasonjanuary2014
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