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Life Is An AMRAP

A-M-R-A-P. Five simple letters which to the non-initiated are meaningless, but have every CrossFitter asking the same thing – how long? AMRAP is short for As Many Rounds As Possible. In an AMRAP, the athlete’s job is to repeat the workout again and again and again until time runs out. That’s why they all want to know how long it’s going to last. For example, this week in our gym we did a 14-minute AMRAP composed of three movements – 8 pull ups, 10 hand release push-ups, and 12 single arm alternating dumbbell snatch. As we were heading into the mid-way point of the workout, I took a moment to observe the other athletes around me. While everyone was at a different place in terms of the number of rounds or what rep they were on, they all shared one thing – they were limited by time. As I dropped down on the mat for one more round of push-ups, it hit me – life is an AMRAP.

Let’s be honest, we all have days when we crush it. It’s ok, you can take a moment to soak that in because it’s a good thing. I don’t know what crushing it looks like for you, but for me it’s that feeling that everything is in order and I’m in rhythm with God. On days when I crush it, I don’t feel hurried or rushed; I find myself in extended conversations with friends and athletes; And the dinner conversation is actually meaningful and engaging. On days like this, I want them to last forever. And yet I can’t escape the sound of time ticking by. No matter how much crushing it I’m doing, the day is drawing to a close at 24 hours. In the gym, think of this as your “wheelhouse” workout. All the movements on the board are your favorites and easy for you to do. But even as the workout ends, you know tomorrow will be different. Because no coach of any value is going to give you the same workout two days in a row. You may go to bed dreaming about doing the same workout the next day, but whenever your gym posts tomorrow’s workout, prepare to be disappointed. In the gym, as in life, you rarely face the same exact combination of challenges again and again.

Just like there are days when you crush it, there are days when life crushes you. Life feels incredibly hurried and rushed. I often get this sinking feeling that I’m missing something or that my schedule is so full I don’t know how I’ll get it all in. Even the little things, like prepping my clothes for the next day or making coffee, feel challenging. It’s not my job to know why I face days like this, and it’s not yours either. Here’s why. Life is not made to be constantly evaluated and nuanced, it’s made to be lived. Your strategy of trying to figure out why the day kicked you in the teeth will lead you to a place where you try to control everything around you. Let me put it another way. This would be like waiting to workout until the workout was one you were good at. In our community we call that “cherry picking.” You have absolutely no chance of developing true physical fitness if you only do the workouts you like. In fact, I would argue that the days you show up knowing that it’s not your wheelhouse actually benefit you more – if you allow them to. Let me give you two strategies that will you help you get more out of AMRAP’s, both in the gym and in life.


I have a simple coaching cue to remind athletes of this – work the problem. Just work the problem right in front of you. I see too many athletes get jammed up on the thing in front of them by thinking about the thing that’s coming after. The thing that’s coming after isn’t here yet. So, stop worrying about what’s downstream and focus on the task that’s in front of you. I like the old Latin phrase carpe diem. Seize the day. Today is never coming back, so why not maximize it? In Spiritual Fitness, maximizing it means connecting with God. Life crushes us when we think it’s all about what we have to do, and we lose perspective on what God has already done. If you and your spouse are having problems, now is not the time to get a new hobby. That’s focusing on the wrong task. The task is to invite God into your marriage. The task is to pray out loud for each other, or maybe text a prayer to each other if praying out loud is intimidating. It’s not just about a task, it’s about prioritizing the right task.


Simply put, if you’re not dead, you’re not done. There’s still time. I’m big on this in the gym because I want athletes to develop a confident mindset when it comes to work. I want them believing that they didn’t run out of work, they just ran out of time. To do that, I encourage everyone to be moving when I call time. If you can consistently be doing some task on the last second of every AMRAP you face, it changes your mindset. Sometimes, that means you have to run from the kettlebell to the pull up bar. It’s so easy to coast on the backside of an AMRAP. It’s so easy to make sure the workout ends on the movement you like. But when you do that, you devalue time. You essentially declare time to be meaningless. This is what it sounds like in your head, “It’s ok, this wasn’t my workout. Maybe tomorrow will be better.” While that doesn’t sound so bad, you carry that attitude into life. And now, halfway through a tough day, you’re ready to throw the rest of the day in the garbage. Is tomorrow really going to be better? Who knows. But here’s my question – what about today? There’s still time. There’s still time to forgive, to say you’re sorry, to connect with a friend who’s hurting. There’s still time for you to make a difference in this world. Please don’t wish it was already 2021. I’ve had people saying that since COVID started in March. Really? You’re ready to throw nine months of your life in the trash because you don’t like the circumstances life dealt you? There are plenty of people who wish they had one more minute on this Earth. They are sitting in hospital beds and hospice centers dying thinking about all the time they squandered. And while they’ll never get it back, let it be a reminder – there’s still time.

In every workout, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. I pray that you finish 2020 better than any other year. I pray that in this upcoming holiday season, you would find new moments of deep meaning. I pray that when you face a situation in life that you feel like giving up on, God would remind you that He’s still here and there’s still time.

Questions for Reflection:

Can you think of a mindset you developed in the gym that gives you better perspective in life? If so, what is it?

Most major media outlets and social media platforms have declared 2020 to be the worst year ever. How would you evaluate the truth of that statement?

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