Belief and Possibility

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“Your belief determines your action and your action determines your results. But first you have to believe.” – Mark Victor

I try pretty hard to limit the things that I let bother me so much that I’d describe them as pet peeves. Getting stuck carrying an umbrella around when it’s not raining, people who don’t use their turn signal when driving, and when people don’t put the kettlebells back in the same place they came from (ahem!) are just a few on my pretty short list. But do you want to know what tops this list every single time I’m coaching? When people tell me, “I could never do that.”

Unfortunately, I hear this at the gym far more often that I’d like to. It happens all of the time on the platforms: someone will stop what they’re doing and point to the person on the next platform lifting heavy weights, or to the person doing a muscle up, walking on their hands, whatever, and say to me “I could never do that.” In reality, I think what most of you are trying to convey is how impressed you are with what that other person is doing. But why do that by downplaying your own potential and abilities? Because guess what… each and every one of you has unlimited potential. You may not be able to do it now, but never? I don’t buy it.


Do you recognize the girl in this photo? It’s okay if you don’t; I had to squint before I realized who I was looking at. That’s our beloved coach Tina-Mo, aka the 14th Fittest woman in the Northeast (out of 5,680 participants!) after the 2014 CrossFit Open. This photo was taken back in early 2011. Here she is, working hard to lift 135 pounds, which is a far cry from the 25 reps she did at 205 pounds during Open workout 14.3! Don’t get me wrong, Christina was naturally athletic when she walked through these doors. But do you think she knew then that being at the top of a stacked leaderboard and heading to Regionals was in her future? Not a chance.

So how did she get there? The short answer is hard work. When I first met Christina a few years back, I immediately noticed and admired her work ethic and her coachability. She wasn’t afraid to scale down the weight on a workout or toss a band on for her ring dips; she did whatever it took to get better. Now let’s flash forward to about a year ago. Christina was already a drastically different athlete from the one that she was in that picture,  but now she had a goal: qualify for the 2014 Regionals as an individual competitor.

For the past year, we’ve watched her put in the hard work to accomplish this goal. Sure, some of us (Berretta!) may give her a hard time every once in a while about depriving herself of ice cream, and we’d all make jokes when she’d show up for her strongman workouts consisting only of yoke carries, bench press and axle bicep curls. But in reality, this was the hard work that was necessary. Though she knew qualifying would be difficult, she always believed it was possible. That possibility was enough to fuel a year of hard training, and look at her results. She’s one of 48 women in all of the Northeast moving on to compete at the Regionals, thanks to her hard work, commitment, and belief in herself. If she can accomplish her goals, why not you?


I can already hear some of you doubters: “But Christina works in a gym all day, of course she has time to train hard!” Let me stop you right there… I’ve got another example for you.  Meet Rob Hassell, a resident member of the 530AM crew (HTK!).  When Rob started CrossFitting, he was coming off a 7-year fitness hiatus and carrying around an extra forty pounds. Like most of us, his first few months were tough: constant soreness, struggling with new movements, and pull ups with two green bands. If you’ve seen him working out now or happened to check out his scores during the 2014 Open, this may be hard to believe, but it’s true.

In 2013, though he didn’t feel “ready,” Rob threw his hat in the ring during the Open. When all was said and done, he finished in 2614th place out of 4521 men in the Northeast. He knew he could keep improving, and put in hard work for the next year. He would frequently wake up and come to the gym at 5:30 every morning, and then stay after to work on improving his weaknesses. That hard work certainly showed in this year’s Open. When all was said and done, Rob finished in 1039th place out of 6866 competitors (and on top of the CFS Leaderboard)… talk about improvement!

Rob is the perfect example of what is possible with a little belief in yourself and lots of hard work. With a full-time job and a father to two young kids, he doesn’t have tons of extra time to spend at the gym, but he always makes the most of the time he spends here. He’ll show up for the 5:30am class in the morning so that he can get a little extra strength work in or spend some time attacking his goats after class ends, before he jets off to work. He’d be the first to tell you he still has things to work on, which is why you’ll frequently find him working on his handstand push ups or doing muscle up transitions. After coming so far already, he knows that anything is possible with some hard work. Watch out, 2015 Open!


Still not convinced? Still doubting that you could ever make the progress that these guys have? Well, I’ll tell you what I always tell the doubters: If I can do it, anyone can. Don’t believe me? Check out this picture… that’s me about 6 months before I started CrossFit. I walked into my first CrossFit class unable to do  a pushup from my toes, put a barbell over my head, or squat below parallel without falling over. Despite my complete lack of ability, I was having fun and I felt accomplished every morning that I woke up sore, so I kept showing up.

About 6 months into my CrossFit experience, I went to watch one of my coaches compete at Regionals. It was my first exposure to the competitive CrossFit world. Actually, it was the first time I’d ever seen girls do pull ups without bands! They were lifting heavy weight, doing chest to bar pull ups and handstand push ups, and I was hooked. Toward the end of the weekend I turned to one of my coaches and said, “Do you think I could do this? I want to be here next year.” He feigned his best encouraging smile and said something along the lines of, “Welllllll, anything is possible, but you’ll have to work really hard.” Looking back, I can understand his doubt (I still couldn’t do a push-up from my toes and was using every color band possible for pull ups); but at the time, it made me mad. And motivated.

I came home from watching Regionals and started working harder than ever: I started paying attention to nutrition, I actually started working on my mobility, and I stayed after class every day to work on my weaknesses. I even got my first unassisted pull ups! I wanted to prove my coach wrong, and I believed I could. By the time the Open rolled around, I knew I’d have my work cut out for me and hoped that all the work I’d done in the past year would be enough. I ended up qualifying for Regionals that year as an individual, but decided to join my team instead. We finished in 3rd place, good enough for a trip to the CrossFit Games! So, in just one short year, I’d gone from the girl in that picture, unable to do much of anything, to competing at the CrossFit Games. Talk about progress!

I know some of you may be thinking, “But I don’t even want to compete, so this doesn’t apply to me.” Of course it does! Competing may not be for everyone, but progress sure is. Do you ever look at the guy next to you busting out handstand pushups and say to yourself “that will never be me,” and then head back to do whatever scale you usually do? Do you stop yourself from going for that extra set on the platforms because you already know it’s “too heavy” for you? Be honest, we’ve all done it, and we need to stop.

The point I’m trying to make here is that the first step toward accomplishing a goal is believing in your ability to get there. If you honestly believe you’ll never be able to do a muscle-up, you’ll probably never actually walk over to the rings and give it a try. If you want to deadlift 400 pounds but constantly tell yourself, “never gonna happen,” then where will the motivation to do that extra strength session come from? I’m not saying that success will be easy, or that it will come overnight. It will take lots of hard work, time, and sacrifice, but it starts with belief in yourself. No matter how far-fetched or daunting your goals may seem now, if you put in the time and hard work, they’ll eventually be well within your grasp.

So, the next time you see someone in the gym doing something impressive that you want to be able to do, block out the thoughts of “I could never.”  Instead, let’s change that to: “I can’t do that yet, but I will one day.” Once you have a positive goal in mind, it’s much easier to find the motivation to work hard. Who knows where you’ll end up and what you may accomplish! After all, if I can do it, anyone can 😉

Have you accomplished something that once seemed impossible to you? Do you have a big goal that you are working toward? Post to comments!


6 Rounds
In 2 minutes complete
250m Row
Shoulder to Overhead (115,75)
Rest 1 Minute

*Your score is your total shoulder to overhead reps

Level 2 – (95,65), 200m
Level 1 – (75,45), 175m

Mobility Class:
Lower Body