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Longevity in CrossFit – How to Play the Sport of Fitness Forever

By: Jenessa Connor

Starting CrossFit is kind of like beginning a relationship. Everything is new and exciting. You’re always a little nervous (in a good way). The bad days are still pretty good. You celebrate every milestone. You can’t imagine ever feeling less than enthusiastic.

A few years in, things start to slow down. PRs are few and far between. Maybe you can’t remember the last time you conquered a new skill or recorded a new one-rep max. You’re still showing up to the box, but maybe the passion has fizzled just a bit.

Just like with a long-term relationship, it’s up to you to spice things up! That rookie energy will get you hooked, but self-motivation will keep you in the game. We hit up some of our 718 OGs for their tips for longevity in CrossFit.

Go Back to Form

No matter how long you’ve been doing CrossFit, you’re never done working on your form. It can always be better. “The first year or two were about learning how to set up for the workout efficiently, and about learning and relearning and practicing the movements,” says Lauri Schindler, a member since 2013. “With that came the inevitable injuries that result from poor form, so my second wave of motivation was (and still is) around improving my form.” Stay ahead of injuries by periodically backing off weight and focusing on proper bar path and the positioning of your body.

A PR is a PR

Progress doesn’t always come in 20-pound packages. “I think you always have to push yourself- a PR is a PR, even if it’s 15 seconds or two pounds,” says Tina DeGraff, a CrossFitter for six years. “Don’t get stuck in a rut, strive for more.” The longer you do CrossFit, the more subtle your gains will be. But that doesn’t make them any less significant.

Set Long-Term Goals 

Almost every athlete we surveyed stressed the importance of continuing to set goals, most of which required months or years of work. “I wanted to be able to do the CrossFit Open as prescribed,” says Sam Pritchard. “So double unders, pull-ups, handstand push-ups, and muscle-ups were a must. I would try to learn and add a new movement to my repertoire as the years went by. While some movements like the pull-up took me two years to ‘get,’ I focused just 10 minutes after every WOD for a month to learn the dip. The feeling of accomplishment I get fuels my desire to set and attain my next goal.”
Look Outside the Box

If you’ve regressed or hit a plateau, take a look at your life outside the gym. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating the optimal foods for fuel and recovery? In the beginning, you may see progress, despite lingering bad habits. But if you want to continue to improve, you’ll need to adopt a more holistic approach. “Healthy eating is more important and provides more results than anyone wants to accept,” says Kristeli Zappa, a CrossFitter for three years.

Look Outside Yourself

Yes, longevity requires self-motivation, but sometimes that extra push can come from another person. “My daughter was recently born and she became a new motivation for staying in shape,” says Kenny Restrepo, a CrossFit 718 member since 2013. Other athletes, both your workout buddies from way back and new members who have just recently been bitten by the bug, can also help keep things fresh and remind you why you started CrossFit in the first place.

“If you had a bad day and just want to hit the couch, just push through and go to class. Once you get there, start chatting with your friends and get moving. You’ll feel so much better,” says Chrystie O’Brien, who’s been with CrossFit 718 since the beginning. DeGraff agrees. “For me, the excitement has not faded, I still get excited not only for myself but for others as well,” she says.