It’s annoying. You hit a WOD. You do every rep. You adhere to standards. And at the end, you proudly place your time on the whiteboard … only to be outdone by somebody who cheated. While the whiteboard serves as a valuable tool to gauge progress and spark a little competition, it can become consuming for some athletes. Concerns about where they place and whether each time or rep is deserved becomes a constant question. Then it can fester into a topic that divides the community. Talking sh*t about somebody who skimmed reps is easy to fall into, and judging whether a ring dip was done right begins to pull attention away from personal performance and onto other members, often undeserving of the negativity. But what can you do when you have a cheater in your presence? Somebody who beats you but doesn’t deserve to. Here are four tips for dealing with what can become a frustrating and fickle situation.
1. No Need to Call Them Out.
People come to the gym for a number of reasons. A few may want to compete at a high level, but the vast majority of people just want to look better naked. They show up, they work hard and they go home. It’s not up to you to ruin any positive feelings they might walk away with. It’s a coach’s job to correct form, enforce standards and hold athletes accountable. Coaches recognize when there may be some medical restrictions, and they help boost the performance and development of each member but they don’t count reps for every athlete. Coaches are not baby sitters and can’t physically force an adult to get below parallel on every squat in every workout. Some responsibility lies on athletes to adhere to the things they’ve learned. And if they don’t, they’re only hurting themselves. Plus, you never know what’s going on inside another person’s head … sometimes, just getting up and getting to the gym takes all the effort they have. Supporting those around you is always better than being an ass. So keep your mouth shut and move on about your business. Because another athlete’s six bad reps don’t affect you.
2. Forgo the Gossip.
CrossFit is about community. It’s about people coming together for a common goal. Creating a divide by quietly discussing “cheaters” in the back corner hurts not only your reputation as an individual but also hurts the community as a whole. When you feel compelled to bitch about what you believe is a poor performance or fabricated finish, remind yourself that hormonal female teenagers once earned the name “mean girls” and you might just be earning an initiation into their club. Be the bigger person. Be kind. And be mature. Be anything but a gossip because it will quickly destroy the CrossFit kinship that is such an integral part of any great gym.
3. Do You and Only You.
As a coach, when people approach me to vent about a cheater, the first thing I ask is how they know that person cheated. If you were truly focused on your own movements and if you were counting your own reps, you wouldn’t be so zoned into a performance outside your own. When that clock starts, it’s about you and what you can do. The movements become note only a test of your skill and effort but also of your accountability and ethics. Keep the focus on you, and only you, because personal progress is not about every other person in the room.
4. Compete With Quality Athletes.
Let’s be honest: When somebody is a regular cheater, everybody in the gym knows it. Coaches may attempt to manage it, but it’s hard to hide if it’s a common occurrence. So with that in mind, when you look at the whiteboard and choose to compare yourself to other athletes, ignore anybody who falls outside of “quality.” It’s just a score on a board. It’s not the Super Bowl or the Games. It’s a workout. And if you’re a competitor or you like to chase a fellow CrossFitter during regular WODs, keep your eye on comparable athletes and cut the cheaters from your radar.
Cheating has been around as long as humans have. Taking a shortcut here and there is more common than we might like to believe. And most of us are guilty of some form of cheating at some point. Rather than step onto a pedestal to point fingers at people, take a look in the mirror and make the best of what you have control over. Yourself.