By Kyle Krueger
Crossfit PointBreak (Spring, TX)
August 7th, 2014
I’ve been a member of Crossfit PointBreak in Spring, Texas since July of 2012, but I have been a teacher my entire life. I was one of the select few who went to college with a major declared and graduated with the same major. I wanted to become a teacher because like most of the great teachers I have been taught by, or have taught with, I value relationships above everything else in my life. In high school, I loved reading to elementary students, spending my Saturdays being an instructor at the same basketball camps where I learned to love the game, and coaching the junior golf program where I spent every Wednesday of every summer from the time I was eight until I was eighteen. The look on the face of someone who has learned something from you is intoxicating to me and it’s what I cherish the most about the job I have now in Houston.
After a year of substitute teaching in Wisconsin, I took a job with the one of the urban school districts in Houston. When I moved from Cumberland, Wisconsin to Houston I didn’t know a single person. I just knew I wanted to teach. I wanted to get back that feeling I had during high school because I never felt it during my year as a sub. I moved in the summer of 2009, so flash forward five years to yesterday: August 6, 2014. I was out picking up a few things for the upcoming school year when a question popped into my head—Why don’t I fear failure at the gym?
To give some context to this question I have been dealing with a lot of self- doubt over the last few weeks and was trying to work my way out of it. The 2013-2014 school year was rough to say the least. I started at a new school with 6th graders after having taught 8th graders the prior two years. Needless to say I did not transition well to the 6th graders and they ate me up to the point that I did not want to go back to that school. In June, I had two great interviews with a Houston area junior high that was a dream job teaching 7th grade history along with coaching football and basketball. I was convinced after the interviews that the job was mine and was gearing up to make the change. Only the job wasn’t mine. I was passed over, but they would keep my resume on file. Not very comforting, but I shook it off and told myself I did the best I could.
Three weeks ago, I was visiting my parents in Wisconsin when I got a call to interview for a high school history teaching position that included coaching girls basketball and track. The athletic director called me on a Wednesday and asked me to come in the next morning. I explained that I wouldn’t be getting back from Wisconsin until Thursday night and we agree on 9:00 am Friday morning. I’m over the moon at the opportunity until Thursday afternoon when he calls me back and said, “You can disregard the interview tomorrow. The position is no longer a history teaching position.”
Over these last few weeks self doubt turned into over analysis of my abilities as a teacher which then manifested itself into over analysis of just about everything in my life. It was the fear of never being good enough. The fear of never being good enough to get that dream job, the fear never being good enough to find a girlfriend much less a wife, and the fear that I will never be the man that I think I can be. Which lead me to the question—Why don’t I fear failure at the gym? I was astounded by how quickly I could identify the characteristics of Crossfit PointBreak that are shared by so many Crossfit boxes across the country and throughout the world. It is what I believe Crossfit truly is.
The first reason that I don’t fear failure at the gym is because I know that I won’t be judged. The people who I surround myself with at the box and outside of it are the most accepting people I have ever known. No one at CFPB gets any enjoyment out of watching the struggles of others and no one uses the struggles of others to feel better about themselves. We all know that we are going to have good days and bad days. Days when we look at the WOD and see our three least favorite moments in a 20 minute AMRAP. There are days when we are envious of the athletes around us that make muscle ups and handstand walks look routine, but those people don’t make me shy away from the work ahead, they make me want to attack it that much harder. On those days where nothing has gone right leading up to the workout and nothing seems to be going right during the workout there’s always someone there to say, “Just pick the bar up and keep moving.” Our coaches do an amazing job with the technical side of Crossfit, but it’s the people around who prove to me that its okay to fail and no one will think less of you because they have seen you at your best and your worst.
The second reason I don’t fear failure at the gym is because I know that everyone else has been there too. Not even that they HAVE been there, they ARE there with you each and everyday. When you are pushing yourself and the limits of your body to places you have never been before there are going to be struggles. In Crossfit, each time you achieve one goal there are still numerous goals you’re working towards. Although we measure ourselves by PRs, AMRAPs, and WODs for time the overall goal of Crossfit is fitness. It’s to be skilled in a wide variety of functional movements that enhance the quality of your life. Everyone is fighting a battle in the box, but we don’t fear those battles because we know we fight them together.
The last reason I don’t fear failure in the gym is because I know that it is a necessary part of my growth as an athlete. If I never fail a lift or fall down at the end of a Met Con it means that I haven’t pushed myself hard enough. The perfect example of this for me was 14.1. Snatch and double unders. I had put in time on my double unders and was feeling confident. When I got to the workout it felt like I had never jumped a rope before and it made me so frustrated, but three weeks later I did 100 double unders unbroken and it made the struggles of 14.1 worth it. Failure is a gut check for every athlete and it lets us know where we are, where we want to be, but most importantly our failures help us to look back and see how far we have come.
So you’re probably wondering when I’ll elaborate on the title so here goes. The three reasons I don’t fear failure in the gym:
- Knowing I won’t be judged and have the support of those around me.
- Understanding that the people around me are facing battles just like I am and that we are in the fight together.
- Accepting failure as a necessary part of success.
Just as Crossfit is about fitness, education is about learning. Crossfit emphasizes versatility and adaptability in order to constantly challenge our bodies. Education has become one dimensional with the amount of high stakes testing that takes place and consequences it brings for both students and teachers. The challenges of our world are changing everyday with the rate at which technology evolves and information becomes more available to us. We can’t forecast the types of jobs that will be needed five years from now much less ten or twenty, yet we pigeon hole every student down to a set of test scores. Tests are as different across the country, as each state’s curriculum differs, so how can they be used to compare students from different parts of the country? It doesn’t take into account the different demographics found between cities and rural areas or social and economic factors that affect student learning.
I don’t teach a subject and grade level that has a STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) test. I teach 6th grade geography and the state of Texas does not test Social Studies until the 8th grade. However, I see what those test do to the students and the teachers. Many classrooms are based on testing, not on learning. Multiple choice questions are substituted for short answers or class discussion and students are taught that unless it’s multiple choice they shouldn’t have to do it. They wonder if it doesn’t help them with the test then what good is it to them. It’s a continuous cycle of mounting stress for teachers causing most new teachers to have a career of five years or less. That’s not what I want to be as a teacher and that’s not who I want to be as a person. I want to walk into my classroom without fear just like I walk into that box five days a week. I want to bring the same energy, strength, and courage to my classroom that I have learned to carry into each and every workout.
My goal for the 2014-15 school year is to create a culture of learning in my classroom just as Crossfit has created a culture of fitness. Just like each WOD I know there will be struggles and opposition. There will be people who say, “This is the way we’ve always taught it” or “That will never work for these kids.” But just like so many Crossfit athletes, I’m going to fight with everything I have for that next round or that next rep. Instead of fighting for rounds and reps, I’m going to be fighting for the future of each of my students. At the end of the year, I want every student to support others without judgment. I hope that they understand that everyone is fighting their own battles and that together we can all overcome our struggles. Most importantly, I hope they learn that failure is a necessary part of success. If we never push ourselves to failure, (fail or failure-not sure on word choice) we’ll never know that we’re all capable of so much more than we ever imagined.