I love this podcast episode with 5 time CrossFit Games champ Matt Fraser. In it he reveals that while testing at a science institute with several other Games athletes, he had the worst sleep scores, heart rate under exercise scores, etc. We are often guilty of pointing at champions and saying “They are genetically gifted”. Well, if that were all there was to it then the other men at the testing should have been beating Matt at the Games regularly and we know that just did not happen!
In this same podcast Matt also gives us a clue as to why he stayed on top despite some physical “disadvantages”. At another institute, when a sport medicine doctor sat him down to go through a detailed analysis of Matt’s various weaknesses and imbalances, Matt had the good sense to cut the doctor off telling her “I can’t hear that.” Matt was self aware enough to know that at his level of competition he cannot afford to have any doubt, he has to approach each event with the belief that he is superhuman. He cannot have any reason to believe that his body will not perform the way he needs it to.
So the reality is that Matt Fraser is not physically the perfect athletic specimen. And he never allowed that to impair his performance because he may be one of the mentally toughest competitors out there. There is a lesson here for us.
How often have you held yourself back because you thought you were physically not capable? How often have you been told by experts that you could not do something? How often have you let your thoughts defeat you?
In 1996 the physio told me my shoulder would never work properly unless I had the torn labrum surgically repaired. And yet I can handstand walk, perform ring muscle ups and clean and jerk heavy loads pain free. In 2010 my doctor looked at the scan of my bulging and herniated discs and informed me that I would not be able to lift anymore. In 2016, 2018 and 2019 the lifting events at the CanWest Games were my best events as was every lift event programmed in the CrossFit Open from 2013 to 2020. I enjoy lifting and do it often. Pain free. Despite what the so-called experts have told me should be possible.
I like Dan John’s approach to this. Many times, the elite athletes he trains come to him concerned by the diagnosis given them by a doctor or physiotherapist. His litmus test is always “Can you go?” If you are living in a well-used body there will be evidence of use but scans and diagnoses don’t tell the whole story. Every therapist I’ve ever seen is distressed by how off kilter my body is. None of them have been able to fix it. All of them say I’d perform much better athletically and be less likely to get injured if I were not so crooked. And every attempt to straighten me out has resulted in injury and worse performance. So what do they know?
At the end of the day, the major limiting factor, the one that is really, truly, holding you back, is mindset. Lucky for me I’m blessed with a contrarian personality. I hate being told what I cannot do. The best thing you can do for me is tell me I won’t be able to do something. That really fuels my fire and my determination to prove you wrong.
According to the experts our little Dunbar gym would never succeed. It was too small to be financially viable. The bank was certainly not willing to loan us the money. They also weren’t willing to bet on us when we moved to our new, larger Alma Street location. If we’d listened to the experts we’d never even have started Empower. And yet, here we are.
Most of these naysayers are well meaning of course. They are trying to protect you from disaster. They are worried that you are taking risks that will ruin you. But if you listen to everyone who tells you what you cannot do, you will never do anything. At some point you have to believe in yourself even if you are faced with evidence from the experts telling you why you shouldn’t. We know it’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters but no one has yet figured out a way to accurately measure the size of the fight in the dog.
A mentor of mine, left with a lot of younger siblings to care for when his parents died young explained that on the farm in a prairie winter you didn’t have the luxury of debating whether a thing can or cannot be done, your survival depends upon putting all your energy into figuring out how it will get done. There is no room in such a scenario for naysayers only for positive forward action. We’ve persevered because we stubbornly refuse to accept failure as an outcome. Matt Fraser refused to even hear anything that might invite doubt to take up residence between his ears.
Do you let doubt live rent-free in your head? Do you let others set your limitations for you? Have you bought into the myth that a perfect body is required in order to perform at your peak? Or that genetics are the primary determining factor in achievement? Have you made DNA your destiny? Do you let the spectre of failure prevent you from starting? Do you use the first setback (or the seventh) as evidence that you will never succeed? What would be possible in your life if you said no to your limiting beliefs, ignored the naysayers and used each setback as fuel on your quest?
No rope climb? No problem. We will modify as needed to get you through.
1 min skipping
1 min ring rows
1 min skipping
1 min alt single arm ring row
1 min skipping
30/30 sec single arm ring row (L/R)
1 min skipping
1 min single ring climb
1 Legless Rope Climb
3 Rope Climbs