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Why are People Addicted to CrossFit?

By Tim LeDonne - CrossFitters can be so annoying…. posting every detail of their workouts on social media, talking about it every time they’re among friends, buying a CrossFit-centric wardrobe of sports bras, tight Fleo shorts and t-shirts that scream jargon only those who are part of the “cult” can understand.

CrossFit Meets Our Needs!

It’s absolutely ingenious if you think about it. When you have a business that appeals to so many levels of a person’s physical and psychological needs, the clients do most of the marketing and sales for you. They become “addicted” because it drives them to want and accomplish more. It motivates them to satisfy a need then progress to the next one. It…is…addicting!

I’m feeling a little brainy today (must be the coffee). Let’s geek out just for just a minute and investigate the psyche of us humans…and let’s use Abraham Maslow’s studies as our guide. Maslow was an American psychologist best known for his creation of “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”. His studies basically helped us understand what motivates and drives people. He used a pyramid with the base being our most basic needs progressing, as each need is met, to the pinnacle of the pyramid where we reach our full potential (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (credit to Simply Psychology)

CrossFit Helps Meet our “Basic Needs”

The first couple levels, or base, of the pyramid, focus on our very basic physiological needs; food, water, shelter, security, safety (personal, financial, health and well-being), etc. These are basic needs that must be met before pursuing needs at a higher level. Achieving these needs creates homeostasis, or stability in life. For example, someone who may not feel safe due to family violence or abuse may effect the next level of feeling loved. On the contrary, and directly related to CrossFit, part of safety is your health and well-being. An intense and successful effort to become healthy and strong can be, in my humble opinion, directly related to meeting that level of the pyramid and helps you progress higher to work on your psychological needs; the need to belong and have self-esteem.

CrossFit Helps Meet our “Psychological Needs”

I’m on a roll here, so put up with me and read on. This really makes sense! Let’s look at the next two levels of the pyramid; our psychological needs. This is what really locks us in to that “family” feeling at the gym. We feel like we belong because we’re developing close friendships and camaraderie. Not unlike what our military forces or law enforcement officers experience when they “go through the suck” with their peers during times of war or during training. They feel that tight-knit bond…or brotherhood. That sense of belonging because of the relationships they have formed. They feel like they have accomplished something important and difficult. Something that not everyone has or would even attempt to do. A level of prestige and pride that they “are doing what others won’t so they can continue to do what others can’t”. Sound familiar to anything experienced in the box?

CrossFit Keeps Us Reaching for our “Full Potential”

Remember the old US Army commercial and tag line, “Be all you can be”? The highest level of achievement for us all is to reach our full potential. We all want it. We all need it! In the gym, we have some athletes who want to lose weight, get lean and feel better. We have other who want to compete and win. No matter what your specifics are, we all have a need to do better and reach our full potential, no matter what that is. All other levels of the pyramid must be achieved before we can truly focus on this level. For example, you can’t focus on doing your best if a basic need is not met. You can’t focus on reaching your full potential if your psychological need of feeling somewhat accomplished is not achieved. Make sense?

I guess if I had to wrap this up in a concise statement, I’d say something like this; CrossFit makes people happy because it challenges them to reach their full potential, which is the ultimate desire of a human being. What better addiction can you have than to something that enhances your security, relationships, self-esteem, and makes you want to be your best?

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I've sent this to SEVERAL of my naysayers in hopes they could try and understand my "obsession".

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