Six Things I Learned Doing CrossFit for Three Years

Eugenia Salnikova
6 min readSep 28, 2020

Promise: not a single word on how everybody should be doing CrossFit and how it is the most complete work out there.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

As I said in my bio, I love finding deeper meaning in casual daily activities. Seeing where our decisions take us when we repeat them in a long run. I am also convinced that there is always something more profound behind every action than just the action itself.

Today it is about CrossFit. I was walking home from my yoga class, and then out of all the CrossFit boxes in all of the city of Paris, I had to walk into the best one. It looked scary, so I stayed.

1. You do YOU

Absolutely anything is adjustable and doable. There is always a way for you to perform something, a way to adapt a difficult activity, given that you actually do it.
My head did care about not being able to properly perform though. I kept beating myself up about my lack of skills and I kept coming back.
Raise your hand if you were ever afraid to be judged by others for your performance in any sphere of life. I’ll tell you a little secret. Nobody cares.

If they care enough to judge you, it tells you a lot more about them than it actually does about you. If they care enough to support you and help you, congratulations. They are your people.

2. Community matters

I’m a very solitary person and an extravert at the same time. I feel comfortable around people and I am also very comfortable not being a part of any group.
I always cringed when I read that one of the keys to success was surrounding myself with like-minded people.

I mean, where am I supposed to find them? I am a freelancer and sometimes the longest eye-to-eye conversation I have during the day is with my mailman.

CrossFit came in here, teaching me that damn it, it freaking works. Surround yourself with people going in the same direction with you and your chances of succeeding will go through the roof.

Example: We were preparing a huge 200km run with friends. Due to the restrictions because of you-know-what, we were not sure whether it was going to happen.
Still, we kept exercising and cheering each other up until the very last nail in the coffin of our challenge when the borders closed… and we kept doing it even after everything was cancelled for us this year.

We will be there next year, same people, same challenge, same direction.

3. People have a lot of opinions on things that don’t concern them

After I posted my first picture from my CrossFit box, my ex happily warned me:
⁃ You are going to look like a man!
⁃ Great! Maybe you should try it then!

I didn’t end up looking like a man. I hope? At least, all of my dates were polite enough not to run away screaming: «She looks like a man!».

Some of them did ask me though whether I thought about doing something more feminine like yoga (we are not going to talk about the origins of yoga and that it has way more to it than a woman in tight pants).

So just to clear things out… I actually do yoga and it has never crossed my mind to tell a man who does yoga to do something more masculine.
«Dude you look very feminine in your dancer pose, you should bench press».

I have also been told that:
⁃ This is very bad for women
⁃ This is very bad for female reproductive system
⁃ Women shouldn’t lift heavy weights
⁃ I am torturing my body
⁃ I am DEFINITELY going to get some kind of injury

I am a 33 y.o. woman with zero injuries, who does a full health check-up twice a year, with a complete blood test. If anything — globally I became healthier because I listened to my coaches and my body.
The other day a test showed my metabolic age was 23. I don’t know how correct it was but it was definitely flattering. The only injury I ever got was when I was trying to do a pull-up with an elastic band and the freaking thing ripped apart and whipped me. The only thing torturing me was unsolicited advice from unqualified people.

Also, it has taught me that a very good answer to any type of advice is «Ok». Life is way too short to engage in these conversations.

4. Work BOTH on your weaknesses and strengths

Every self-help book will tell you to focus on your strengths and put them up front. Highlight them on your CV, start with your most compelling argument, begin your article with the killer phrase that will grab the reader’s attention, etc. Make your most attractive features stand out.

CrossFit has taught me to work on my weaknesses as well. They might not become something you will excel in, or that will make you win, or that you will teach others. However, even little progress in something you thought was impossible, will boost your confidence through the roof for the bigger things.

This is being told by a woman who would cancel her workouts if she saw there was a 200m run involved and who ran her first 11K last week.
I have a picture from the treadmill just in case.

I might never run a marathon or break a record but did it inspire me to do something out of my sphere of competences? Damn right, it did.

I did have to strangle the perfectionist inside with a skipping rope though. Progress, not perfection.

This is how I ended up taking piano lessons again, after being told I was “stupid, talentless and useless” in a post-USSR piano school for 10 years. Two months after taking my first class in 17 years, I can play “Hey Jude” to the point where it’ll be recognised by the audience.

Maybe Paul McCartney, if ever he hears me play, won’t say: “I wish you were born in the right time to join the Beatles”.
However, what I thought to be my weakness, innate flaw and a complete lack of talent, became a hobby I am looking forward to every week.

5. Inspiration is found IN work

My another CrossFit-related lifehack was to “show up then figure it out”. I had to stop all the negotiation inside my head because the more it lasted, the more chances I had of skipping the workout.

I simply didn’t give myself any for rationalisation. I know how to talk myself out of things and thanks to my few years of experience in law school, I can argue both sides of the case. Usually the side looking for comfort wins — law of survival.
So I left zero room for negotiation and first I showed up at the workout, said “yes”, and then I would figure it out. It always turns out better than we imagine in our heads.

This is how I ended up taking on three very interesting jobs this year, signed up for challenges with friends, re-enrolled in German classes after having given up on it 10 years ago, etc. etc.

However, there was one more thing which glued my conclusions together.

6. Be there

This one has dawned on me while I was listening to Nir Eyal’s new book “Indistractable”. He amplifies that intense workouts, where you have a start, a set of exercises and a fixed time, give you a mindset you should apply to your work area.

Work in efficient chunks of time and BE there all the time. Not on your phone, not taking selfies, not switching between tabs looking what to start with, just do your thing in the set amount of time and give it your all.
Create an environment where you have a block of time, a task and nothing to distract you — this is exactly how a CrossFit workout looks like and this is how I am doing my work at the moment.
Actually, it became a revolution in my freelance work because I knew how the workouts functioned and I could trace them onto my daily routine.

I am currently not practicing any type of intense activity for completely workout-unrelated reasons but it is a forced break, not a final choice. I will be back as soon as I am allowed to. Again, I do ME and I adjust it accordingly.

In the meantime, absolutely nothing stops me from applying everything I’ve learned during my three years of CrossFit in my day-to-day life.



Eugenia Salnikova

Ukrainian in Paris. Doing things and writing about them. I love seeing casual daily activities as life-transforming experiences and finding some wisdom in them.