CrossFit & Entrepreneur

Author: zmzlois


The natural fit or wanker pair?

6 min read

The natural fit or wanker pair?

‘CrossFitter’ and ‘Entrepreneur’ are probably my least favourable word to be called — They both sound a bit wankerish in my opinion. But if you fall into the target customer segment of CrossFit, you will keep reading.

Open Game 2022 CrossFit Open Game 2022 @CrossFitDawn, London

Fake Sport.

This is what I get from people who do specific sports. For the majority that doesn’t do CrossFit, CrossFitters are just in a cult without noticing — they can’t stop talking about CrossFit as if CrossFit is a full-time job. The constant hype you’d get from CrossFitter makes you want to stay away from them. Anyone who does a specific type of sports, whether bouldering, boxing, tracking, or rugby, might consider CrossFit a fake sport that you have no targets to hit nor a sense of competition and winning. You are in a group class but focusing on your own performance without team collaboration, and it might get you nowhere if you don’t look out for what others are doing. You guys do too much of everything, and the dilution of effort makes you good at nothing. It’s partially true and untrue. However, ‘Gymnastics meets Olympic Lifting’, described by the Guardian — Crossfit is extreme, controversial — and addictive. So does running a business.

Funny thing — if you swap the word ‘CrossFit’ → ‘Entrepreneur’, ‘ Sports’ → ‘Work’ in the last paragraph, it somewhat fits ok.

Fake Job.

Many of my family members consider an entrepreneur a fake job, so as many friends — you have no income at the very early stage. You are sitting at home or in a flexible office creating something. Everything happens in one head. Before you have a mock-up and a specific idea, you can’t go around and pitch people either. Before you find your product/market fit, you don’t want to pitch any investor — you definitely can, but you will likely fail unless you have done a start-up and exited. Similar to CrossFit, before you get 20–30 unbroken pull-ups, you are not going to get very far in CrossFit Open Game.

Although being an entrepreneur is not a job, it almost certainly requires people to adult harder. A lot harder. You simply can’t have the same lifestyle you once had in Russells or Ivies. And to see the results in CrossFit are almost the same. They both take a lot of commitment.

I am definitely not the only one talking about how entrepreneurs and CrossFit are a natural match here. Philosophies in businesses and CrossFit fed on one another. It’s not just about the adrenaline. If you are in something for eight years, regardless of how many times you drop out and come back for different reasons, it is not adrenaline anymore. I am in love with what I have learnt from CrossFit. Okta’s founder also mentioned what he has learnt from CrossFit and how it has benefited his business. I am here to write some bullet points I found throughout the years and to add to others’ work.

1, There are no other sports can be more time efficient than CrossFit and prepare you to be a well-rounded athlete at the same time

When I was training in CrossFit 168 in the city centre of Sydney, a wall-hanged quote resonated with me for years ‘ Forging Elite Fitness ‘. It was created specifically for city workers who used to be professional athletes( or not at all), now focusing on their work but still want to keep up with their fitness level to be comparable with professionals. You see, Product/Market Fit right there, and Greg Glassman has explained it in great detail.

Several reasons limited me from returning to the usual gym, rugby, baseball and boxing — safety, efficiency and time. With CrossFit, it’s unlikely you will face any of these. Anyone can find a CrossFit box within walking distance in a city like London. The planned WOD(Work-Out-Of-The-Day) saved me a humongous time planning what I should be doing in a regular gym, while HIIT class can’t satisfy me. It usually comes with a website or app for booking, so I don’t need to schedule it back and forth. And what other sports can burn the same amount of calories and build muscles in an hour? Let me know if you know any.

2, Assessment and KPIs

For those who said CrossFit is a sport of your own, CrossFit does have an assessment system to measure your progress called the Level Method. It’s a color-coded scheme ranging from white to red, and it pre-defined how you can progress in each category from pull-ups, back squats, aerobic endurance and so on, much like how one’d define KPIs and goals in a company to achieve milestones and reach the north star. In every stage of a business, the KPI should be different; it also heavily depends on the industry. So does CrossFit; every stage of your fitness journey should have different goals, and it's individual ability-dependent.

That being said, people usually progress one color bar at least in several categories after a quarter or several months if they are consistent.

3, It’s about never giving up.

I did my first CrossFit session at 18 years old, and walked out of the box vomiting, kneeling on the floor. A lot of us did. And the ones who come back only get stronger. So as running a company.

If there is one thing to take away from Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong and his talk about how he built a $100 Billion Company, it’s what he learnt when he was working in Airbnb at their early stage, soon after YC funded them ‘There are many points the founders of Airbnb could have given up, and it was so difficult, but they didn’t. They just didn’t give up.’

4, Learn risk assessment with mistakes

The controversy around CrossFit is mostly associated with injuries. Severe injuries might result from several reasons — coach, not being present/sloppy, pushing out of limits. I am seldom present in real life and always plan for things every second in my head. The risk of getting injured for me is significantly higher. I am sure it’s the same for many busy city workers. Having a coach over-watching what I do fits exactly what I need while saving the hustle of scheduling personal training lessons.

I have had severe injuries, sitting in a wheelchair for weeks and bringing crutches around for months — mostly from not knowing my limit. And it’s the same as running a business — understand the limit, push it, but if you try it too far, you might fail epically — over spending, over hiring, and silly mistakes on taking clients outside of your service scope and target segments. Rahul, founder of Superhuman said it very explicitly, don’t waste time on the non-target segments, no matter how much they complain. But as long as it is not a fatal mistake, you should get up.

5, The Cult Is In The Community — The Desire To Belong

If you are travelling around the world and trying to find what to do, and you love immersive travel as much as I do(stay in one place for more than two weeks). Drop into the local CrossFit box. The rate is almost the same globally, and you can quickly find someone who shares an intense activity with you and sweat as much as you will never have in any other relationship. It’s location agnostic. The global CrossFit community is the same everywhere — loving, caring, supportive and fun!

Someone also mentioned the number of business owners she has encountered in CrossFit. Same as me. CEO of a global insurance company. Top fund manager who is responsible for a 9-figure annual investment. You name it. The best part is finding people who share the same spirits but are non-business related — so they keep you sane. Running a business is crazy enough. You don’t want to talk about it for 24hrs, and you don’t want people to probe you soul-searching questions on whether you can continue what you do.

Enough of reading. Maybe it’s time for you to join a local box and find out whether it’s a good fit. Well, if your life gets too much and requires you to work overnight, do some yoga and pilates if CrossFit is too much.