The Frustration Factor - The Box

The Frustration Factor


In my early days at CrossFit LA, I was always enthralled with the people that came into the gym seeking our services. I mean, these men and women would come in, without a gun to their head mind you, and inquire about how they could pay money to put themselves through the gruesome training I knew all too well.

CrossFit Frustration Factor

You see, as an athlete who was exposed to CrossFit while playing baseball at the University of San Diego, it was a necessary torture, and it’s worth noting that we didn’t have a choice. Training was mandatory. To this day, I think there ought to be medals of courage handed out to folks who step out of their office job to take on exercise like this for the first time.

This observation was one I talked about a lot with the staff. I was just so proud of these men and women that I’d tell them how inspiring they were and I’d exclaim to the rest of the staff how amazed I was by them. And, that’s when they told me about “the streak.”

You see, at CFLA every student does an introductory session with a coach for an hour or so. Part of that hour is comprised of doing the “Baseline” workout that the owner, Andy Petranek, made up as a simple taste of high-intensity functional movements and as a barometer of fitness to be measured against later.

I soon learned that there was a streak involved with these intro sessions, and though I don’t like the glorification of working out until you puke, it really got me thinking. The streak was that every single prospective student who puked on the baseline workout signed up. Every. Single. One.

I’d have to go back and ask if the streak is still alive, but the message to me is clear nonetheless. There’s something about the feeling of getting bested that makes us want to come back for more. And that’s what this particular streak was about. Not only were these courageous people coming in to something completely scary and challenging, but if the workout completely beat them, they would commit at least the next four months of their lives to it!

Now, I’ve never thrown up from working out before, but I feel like this “frustration factor” is a powerful motivator that extends beyond the observation I made at CFLA. The skill set tested, developed and demanded by the CrossFit protocol nearly guarantees that athletes will face the frustration of weakness. It’s my opinion that this taps into something innate within us all that seeks challenge and self-betterment. Things get boring when they are easy, and boring is no fun, so we don’t stick with that which doesn’t challenge us.

CrossFit’s ability to tap into our quest for flow and the way it weds challenge and opportunity is a powerful engine. I think that engine will be a driving force to propel men and women from all walks of life to new capacities for years to come.

— Logan Gelbrich