Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.

–Thomas Szasz

Here is a list of the top 3 ridiculous things that I hear people say that drive me nuts.

1. “I do pilates/yoga/dance because I want to be long and thin and look like a dancer.”

You never hear anybody say “I want to be taller so I think I’ll play basketball” or “I’m too tall, maybe I should be a jockey.” The NBA selects tall men because they are best suited for the job. Horse racing selects short people for jockeys. Ballet companies select skinny women because they look best for the part and can be lifted more easily by their male counterparts. Certain people are genetically suited for certain physical activities and even though there are great basketball players that are short, great horse riders that are tall and great ballet dancers that are zaftig, they will seldom rise to the top of their profession because of their genetics.

I’m not trying to dissuade you from doing activities that you love just because the chances of becoming a professional are slim. Just don’t get fooled into thinking that you’ll look like a ballerina just because you stand at a ballet bar all day. Similarly do not start thinking that you’ll look like the guy or girl on TV because you buy the product they are selling.

2. “I have to get in shape first before I try CrossFit.”

This has many variants, like “I can’t lift weights, I’m too weak” or “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible enough.” It all boils down to avoiding an activity because you lack the very trait that the activity is supposed to develop. You would never hear someone say, “I can’t go to school, because I can’t read and do math.” If you want to get better at something, do the thing that is designed to make you better at it. I understand that confronting your weaknesses and flaws is humbling and tough both physically and emotionally, but we have all of us overcome adversity in our lives. We have all grown as people and developed new skills where there were none before.

CrossFit is one of the single best ways to get in shape. It’s amazing. The diet, the exercise and the community make it a one-stop shop for top tier fitness: those that stick with it see amazing results. Unfortunately, many people think it’s too hard for them, and that they need to prepare prior to participation with their own weightlifting and cardio routines. This is ludicrous. CrossFit is a general physical preparedness program that builds strength, cardio, endurance, coordination and other physical skills and it does it faster and more efficiently than doing the modern split of weight training and cardio. Sure it’s tough but it’s far from impossible. Doing new things, breaking out of ruts, and growing as people is what keeps us alive and vital as we age. Sticking with the same old routine day-in and day-out makes old before our time. Stop avoiding new challenges!

3. “I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky.”

I have also heard people say, “I don’t want to get too strong.” You never hear people say “I don’t want to read or go to school because don’t want to get too smart.” Like knowledge, physical strength is something of which it’s hard to have too much. Of course, excess hypertrophy can be a consequence of strength training. However, it’s impossible to grow massive overnight: it takes a real commitment to both strength training and diet to gain significant muscle mass. Nobody does one too many reps and is suddenly too huge, or wakes up and suddenly can’t fit into their clothes. Just like getting fat, it takes time to grow.

If you want to do yourself a favor, get strong. Don’t stop trying to get strong. You’ll thank me when you pack one too many books in your carry-on but still have to get it into the overhead compartment. You’ll thank me when you find yourself having to carry something heavy up to a 6th floor walk-up apartment. And you’ll thank me again when you’re 90 and you’re still strong enough to get up off the toilet by yourself. Muscles can get a lot stronger without getting much bigger. Also don’t get caught up in thinking that you will lose your flexibility if you are too strong. Gymnasts are both strong and flexible because they train to be that way. You can too.

The next time you find yourself uttering one of these phrases, stop and think about how ridiculous you sound. Why would you want to deny yourself a chance at being fitter and stronger? If you hear someone else utter these phrases, set them straight. Endeavor to make yourself as strong and healthy and smart as you can be. Don’t resign yourself to a life on the couch. Don’t settle for being weak and slow. Get strong, get fast, get fit, and enjoy the body you live in.

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  1. Luke N January 4, 2010 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Funny and unfortunately common.

    Re: #3, you will also not make them bulky because you are not the one who is feeding them. Unless of course, you count obligatory post-WOD trips to Jimmy’s (oops).

  2. Joey January 5, 2010 at 12:47 am - Reply

    This is f’in awesome. Already linked on my facebook profile.

  3. Thor January 5, 2010 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Thats it… Im not working anymore because I dont want to earn too much money!!!!

  4. Melissa Urban January 7, 2010 at 11:38 am - Reply

    This line comes straight from the fierce, strong and lovely EC Synkowski: I’ve never heard anyone say, “Oh, I can’t do that, I’m just TOO STRONG”. Amen, sister.

    Great write-up, Keith!

  5. Johana (My Quirky Life) May 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    LOVE this! Specially #3! Because once upon a time I was guilty of thinking the same way but was quickly dissuaded from that perspective! I now crave to be stronger and am doing so with crossfit!

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