3 takeaways from CrossFit that helped my professional life.

This isn’t a post about how CrossFit is the ultimate form a fitness. My intent here is merely to highlight some aspects of the sport that translate really well into my daily professional life. Things that made me reflect on how I was acting - both as a team leader and as a part of a team. These takeaways are based on my personal experience only, but I believe there are constants due to the very essence of the sport. And the parallel with work is easy: because it’s community-based and because it constantly tests you.

John competing at the Asia Championship - Bangkok 2017


  1. You achieve more with the support of others.
    This. You might be a lone wolf who enjoys the company of no-one but yourself. But when you’re at the end of a horrible workout, gasping for air, every muscle fiber in your body aching… What keeps going on? Pride? Maybe. But imagine having the people around you cheer on you. Tell you you’re doing an awesome job. How would that make you feel? Fired up. Confident. It would give you the necessary boost to finish strong. It goes the same for your professional life. Having the support of your co-workers and manager is key to your professional development and health. As much as it’s important to support others and telling them how good of a work they’re doing! Ultimately, it’s one of the keys to productivity. Too often, we forget to encourage the people around us and neglect the positive impact it might have.
  2. When facing a task, always come up with a plan.
    Going all out from the start without thinking isn’t always the best way to tackle things - whether it’s your workout of the day or a professional assignment. When presented with a task, you should always analyze it first. Assess where you’re going to do great and where you might struggle. What’s going to take you more effort. Sometimes, it implies knowing yourself and leaving your ego at the door - but since when is that a bad thing? If I’m facing a 30 minutes workout, I know my biggest issue is going to be pacing. I tend to start fast and slowly gas out after the 12 minutes mark. So I’ll force myself to go slower in the beginning, but keep that pacing throughout the rest of the workout. Be smart! Same goes for work: I know I have a hard time focusing on the same thing for a whole day. So I’ll split it in two: work on one topic in the morning and on another in the afternoon. It maximizes my productivity output.
  3. You’re only as strong as your weaknesses.
    This relates to the statement I made in the previous point: you have to know yourself. And the best way to know your weaknesses is to expose them. Put yourself to the test. Be fearless and go out of your comfort zone: only then will you face the cold truth. Every year, CrossFit organizes worldwide online qualifiers called ‘The Open’. Every week for five weeks, they’ll release a workout: a combination of different movements that you have to perform under the watchful eye of a judge. In 2015, I had been doing CrossFit for less than a year. I thought I was getting pretty good. Truth is: I was OK-ish at a few things I would always do, dismissing the WODs implying movements I was bad at. The Open exposed all my weaknesses. A humbling experience. Since then, I’ve applied the same mindset to work: I welcome challenges and step out of my comfort zone so I can make sure I know what I need to improve!


Hard work, dedication, ability to identify your weaknesses and working on them: these factors are key when it comes to leading not only a successful professional life, but a healthy one as well. Is this common sense? Sure! But for me, CrossFit highlighted the importance of these values. And more importantly, it's the daily reminder I needed of these not-so-groundbreaking lessons.


Ben Abbes