Today at the gym we did a hero workout called Danny. Many CrossFit workouts are named after heros, and these are typically some of the toughest overall workouts. Our coach describes the hero workouts as having a spiritual aspect to them and I agree.
The Danny workout consists of doing as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of the following:
- 30 box jumps
- 20 push press (with 80 lbs on the bar for women)
- 30 pullups
I knew going in this would be tough, and it was. I got close to finishing 3 rounds, but I was mostly just happy I did the workout as prescribed, and I got through 65 pullups without any blisters.
But the most interesting part of the workout came during the box jumps. There were close to 20 people in this class, which meant we had all our boxes lined up in 2 long rows in the middle of the gym. Which meant when I was jumping up on my 20 inch wood box, there were people on both sides of me jumping at the same time, just about a foot away from me. On my right side was someone I’ll call “Roger”, someone who I typically see in most of my morning classes through the week. Roger has made some amazing progress lately, both in losing weight and gaining strength. He’s a genuine inspiration.
So when it came to round 3 of the workout, Roger and I started doing our 30 box jumps at the same time. We were staying pretty even with each other, jump for jump, and without turning my head I could see him out of the corner of my eye. We were almost jumping at the same time.
And then my legs got really tired.
And then I jumped again…
And I didn’t make it up on the box.
Instead my right foot got hooked on the box and I stumbled.
Luckily I didn’t crash, I just caught myself with my hands and recovered. 15 years of gymnastics comes in useful every once in a while.
But in that moment when I stumbled and almost crashed, Roger flinched and instantly stopped his jump. He instinctively and physically reacted to my almost crash. He didn’t have time to think about stopping, he just instantly stopped. Without consciously thinking about it, his body reacted to my fall. Roger stopped his jump in synch with my fall. And then he paused to ask if I was ok.
While this was happening, I also saw out of the corner of my eye that our coach had instantly moved in and leaned towards me as I fell. He also came over to check and make sure I wasn’t hurt.
And I wasn’t hurt at all. The fall didn’t even faze me. I kept on doing my 30 box jumps and just kept moving on with the rest of the round. I know many people have a primal fear of box jumps and many people do get ugly scars from falling on box jumps. I guess you can chalk it up to all those years I kept falling off the balance beam, but box jumps don’t bother me in the slightest. So I just kept on jumping.
But as I finished the rest of the hero workout, I was struck by the immediate support that came from my two peers. This is what’s called “being in sync with other people.” When I stumbled on the box jump, 2 other people instinctively and instantly flinched because we were in sync. My stumble caused them to flinch. We were connected by physical proximity. And also by physical exhaustion. And by a common goal. We were working towards a shared goal and when I stumbled, two other people leaned in to help me.
I guess that really captures the essence of a hero workout. When we do a hero workout, we honor the spirit of a specific person who demonstrated courage and valor. And by doing the workout in their memory, we pay tribute to the concepts of teamwork, of community, of instinctive and unflinching personal support.
Please don’t think I am comparing my box jump fall to the death of a soldier, because I’m not. What I’m describing is the spirit of community and support that exists wherever people pursue tough challenges together. I fell on a box jump today and instantly felt supported because two people next to me flinched at the same moment.
And I left that workout feeling like I was part of a community.
I’ve known 3 people over the past year who have transformed themselves physically in significant ways. All 3 have lost considerable weight and have become much fitter. I’m proud to know them and have witnessed their changes. I also know that all of them accomplished their changes with the help and support of others.
You can call it peer accountability, peer support, inspiration, rabbits, or whatever you want. But at the end of the day, we are all more likely to find success in our life when we are in sync with other people.
So right now, as you take stock of your life exactly as it is today, ask yourself who you are in sync with. Who flinches when you fall and when do you flinch for others?