5 Reasons Why CrossFit Improves Men's Mental Health
There are several rumours that surround CrossFit. Some of its detractors may try and tell you that it’s a fitness cult, bent on taking over all the gyms of the world, while it’s supporters will say that it has been the cure-all to every single one of their impairments, physical or otherwise. And while neither of these statements are 100% true (make of that what you will), there is no denying that CrossFit truly does benefit the lives of its members – from the very first moment they step into the box.
As the mental wellbeing of men around the world continues to make its way into the spotlight, it is now time to examine how and why CrossFit improves the mental health of its male participants.
Man (And Woman) was made to move
Believe it or not, our early ape-ish ancestors didn’t make ends meet by staring at a Microsoft Excel sheet all day long. Shocking, I know. Instead, we got up off our fury butts and we worked for our food and for the protection of our family. This meant running, lifting, pulling, and pushing our way through the day – all of which are standard movements within a typical CrossFit class.
Whether you’re getting into the box once a week or once a day, CrossFit can be the much-needed getaway you need from the mundane inactivity of everyday life. And it won’t be too long until your body remembers exactly what it was made for. Your brain will thank you for it, too.
2. Being Part of a Community
Just like exercise, humans need to feel a sense of community and a sense of belonging. We can find this at church, at our local footy grounds, or even at the nearest book club. But, from personal experience, I can tell you that you won’t feel this sense of belonging more strongly than when you’re in the box, being screamed at (encouragingly) by your favourite coach and 10-20 fellow CrossFitters who believe that you can do the thing that you think you can’t do.
When you’re at CrossFit, there’s only one better feeling than hitting that PB you’ve been chasing for months – watching someone else hit the PB that they’ve been chasing for months. If you play your cards right, you may even make a mate or two in the process.
3. Learn Something New Everyday
Isn’t this an ancient mantra or something? That we can stay young by learning something new every single day? Well, if it’s true, you’ll certainly be learning something new everyday at CrossFit. Whether you’re talking to Rich Froning or Rich the dentist at your local 9:15 class, they will both vehemently agree that every time they come to the box, their coach has something new to teach them -- some little aspect that they can work on.
There’s always somewhere to improve, always something new to learn. Welcome to the fun that is CrossFit.
4. Watch Yourself Progress
Although the thought of a never-ending lesson in self-improvement may be daunting, it has its clear benefits. If you consistently show up to your classes and put the work in while you’re there, you will improve and improve fast. The snatch may feel impossibly awkward at first. But in no time, you will have weights above your head that you didn’t believe you could carry with your hands. Speaking of hands, did you know that if you practice long and hard enough that you can actually walk on them? Wouldn’t that be cool?
The progression of every CrossFit athlete is different and varied, but with a little help from coaches and your new encouraging community, you’ll find you can achieve feats you once believed to be impossible. And if that won’t make you leave with a smile on your face at the end of the session, I’m not sure what will.
5. Become the Example
As men, we often find ourselves responsible for the lives of those who are close to us. These can be kids, partners, friends, or acquaintances. Someone - somewhere - is counting on our leadership through example. By prioritising our mental and physical health and committing to the improvement of our own lives, we can then set the standard for those close to us to pursue their own goals of self-improvement and success. We prove to ourselves and to others that we can do what we once thought was impossible. And there is no pursuit more noble than becoming happier, healthier men.