Are you an athlete?


The term athlete gets thrown around a lot these days. Most CrossFit gyms use it to refer to their members. Anyone participating in an organized sport is automatically referred to as an athlete. And here at my training center we use the word frequently-and we say it with pride.

So, who is an athlete?

We are careful with our words, because we realize that to use them loosely is to rob them of their meaning. And their power. Athlete is a powerful word and we assign it to the committed, strong and powerful people who come to our training center to work on achieving their goals. The attributes that we work to improve upon-strength, power, speed, coordination, balance, agility, mobility- are athletic attributes. And the people who walk into our training center and bring 100% to every single session are unquestionably athletes.

I’m working to build a list of attributes to put up on our wall at The Distance Project. Here’s what I’ve got so far, and I welcome the input of everyone on the team.

An athlete is someone who prioritizes the development of their athletic attributes and actively works to improve upon them.

An athlete takes their progress seriously. Their training is an important part of their lives and they aren’t afraid to admit it.

An athlete sacrifices to reach their goals. They train early in the am or late into the night. They don’t make excuses and they aren’t deterred by challenges. Instead they rise to meet them head on.

An athlete respects themselves. And, at least here at The Distance Project, they respect others. They treat their bodies well, and work to cultivate strength in themselves, on their teams and in their communities.

An athlete trains. They set goals and follow intelligently designed programs to make those goals a reality.

Is everyone an athlete?

No. Absolutely not.

Below are two methods that I use to determine whether someone is an athlete.

Method #1: I ask them.

Now this can be tricky, because everyone interprets the word differently. I’ve worked with many people who said they weren’t athletes, but quickly proved that they were throughout our training. Yet, I’ve never met someone who identified as an athlete and proved to me that they weren’t. Maybe it will happen one day, but so far everyone who’s looked me in the eyes and said “Yes, I am” when asked this question has backed those words up.

Method #2: I train them.

Over the first several sessions I get a good idea of whether they are, or are not, athletes. This has NOTHING to do with skill level and NOTHING to do with fitness level. It has everything to do with attitude.

If you come into the training center with a positive attitude, an open mind and a willingness to go the extra mile to achieve your goals than our coaching relationship will likely be a great fit. I can promise you that you will make progress, and that you will be welcomed to the team with open arms.

If you come into the studio expecting a service based relationship where you give me money and I somehow make you fit you are in the wrong place. This is not like getting a hair-cut-I can’t do anything for you that you aren’t willing to do for yourself. If you come in with a bad attitude, you will be asked to hit the bricks. Maybe until another day and maybe for good.

We work to build a culture of mutual respect at our training center, and we work very hard to maintain it.

One thing that I’ve learned in my years of training and coaching is that we are responsible for the culture that we create and the people that we surround ourselves with. What we can achieve as athletes is not determined by our surroundings, but a positive and strong community will always aid us in our progress. The respect that we show others says a lot about us, as does the respect that we show ourselves.

At The Distance Project we use the word athlete because of the principles that it embodies. We use it to build confidence and to build community. We say it,we earn it, and we own it. And then, we share it with someone through coaching, teamwork and community.

We’re proud of the athletes who train here. Every single one of them.

Here’s to building stronger athletes, stronger bodies and stronger community in 2015.

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