Cross Fit: The joy of the WOD buddy

buddy carryCross fit is a not a team sport per se, but most days it feels like one. While you’re not actively competing and no-one is scoring any goals, your fellow WOD-ers motivate and inspire you, commiserate and advise you. We discuss our ‘game plan’ for Girl or Hero WODs, we compare 1 rep max weights and use each other to benchmark where we are, and some days, where we should be. And while your WOD buddy might not be wearing a matching shirt or Nanos (it would be kinda creepy if they were).. they are on your ‘team’.

What is a WOD buddy? She’s that chick who is always in the 5pm class with you every Monday. The dude who you spot on his 1 rep max lifts. The one who you can depend on not to take 8 minutes to row 500m while you’re punching out hand stand push ups. Your WOD buddy is your partner, your support, your conscience and sometimes your supplementary trainer, but they’re the ones you’re relieved to see at the box. Sure you’re there for the WOD, but your WOD buddy is what makes it bearable when you’re hitting your 40th wall ball or trying to get that muscle up. They’re close enough to where you are to feel your pain..and when you finish the WOD, you’re figuratively crossing the line together.

I was a gym rat for many years, joining my first gym at age 16 and leaving my last age 40, but I never had a workout buddy. I climbed, rowed, ran and strode for hundreds of miles, lifted, pushed and repped for hours upon hours, earbuds in place. I never said a word to anyone…for 24 years. If I ran into a friend at the gym we’d exchange pleasantries and go our separate ways. After all, I didn’t need a cheerleader on the treadmill and lifting 20lbs doesn’t require a spotter. In fact, the only people buddy-ed up were those scary dudes with wifebeaters and ‘roid rash hanging out by the 80lb dumbbells. The gym is a place to be alone and only you get you through the doors and through the workout. Which is probably why I never got any fitter in those 24 years. But boy, I did read a lot of US Weeklys.

When I started Crossfit, I fell into the same gym mentality mode. Come, workout, leave. Smile – sure, but make friends? Its a workout.. how do you make friends when you can hardly breathe? But you doYou have to. Working on lifts requires a partner, and if you’re about to drop 120lbs on your chest, you sure as hell want someone you trust by your side. And as you’re lungs are collapsing on your 800m run, you need someone to smile at (hey you’re too winded for encouraging words), and know that they’re suffering right along with you. Your WOD buddies are the ones learning, improving, dying alongside you during the WOD.

We all have more than one WOD buddy.. after all we all need different things at different times. The person who runs as slowly as me. The chica who can go shoulder to shoulder with me on squats. The girl who makes me laugh when we’re sucking wind. The girl who always suggests I try a little more weight with a smile and of course, the amazonian buddies who lift 200lbs+ and kip like there’s no tomorrow. We’ll never actually partner up (I can’t do what they do), but they’re my inspiration and they still find time to offer quiet assurances of ‘you can do it’.  I’ll never be one of them, but along with my mortal WOD buddies, they help inspire, support and coach me to be better.

Your perfect WOD buddy?  Are you the A type driver who wants to excel in everything and face down the Rx every workout? You need the guy (or girl) who’s ambitious and fearless, who’ll urge you to do more, lift more, punch out more. Or are you more of a ‘slow and steady’ WOD-er who likes to add 5lb increments to the bar and feels pretty satisfied as long as that number goes up slightly every time? Your buddy might be a fellow tortoise, slow and steady. Maybe you’re someone who pushes themselves one day, and nurses a hangover the next? Your WOD partner needs to know when to shout encouragement, and when to leave you to sweat out that beer from a distance. Or maybe you just someone  who’s not going to make you feel guilty because you went light on those kettlebell carries. Depending on the day, I’ve needed all of these buddies.. and I’ve found them all at my box.

The guy who pushes you and the guy who doen’t (phew). The guy you enjoy coaching or the guy who makes you laugh. The dude who you’re using as your benchmark or the chick who’s helping you perfect your Thruster.. your WOD buddy is as valuable to your box as your coach (and the AC).  You win when they do, and you feel each other’s pain when you’re on that 60th pushup.

So no matter whether your buddy is shouting you on as you crush 265lbs or just thrilled that speedy 500m row saved her from 5 extra burpees, give them a high five and thank them for being on your team. You can save the matching outfits for Halloween.

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