February 05, 2013
Dr. Jane Drexler reflects on philosophical ideas through the lens of CrossFit. It’s like Philosophy 101 with CrossFit as the frame—or perhaps CrossFit 101 with philosophy as the frame.
“Men will be good or bad builders as a result of building well or badly.” —Aristotle
Right around Day 12 of a 30-day nutrition challenge, I start to feel good. Day 12 is when I start to believe Aristotle again. I start to believe again that the road to a good life—an excellent, happy life—requires difficult, uncomfortable steps for both mind and body. I start to believe again that the road is long but gets easier, that on the road we are helped along by our friendships, by courage and by self-love, each of which are, in turn, nourished as we take each step.
I start to believe again in a fundamental truth: each success gets imprinted on my character, and I become a little bit more “one-who-succeeds.”
These are some of the key principles of Aristotle’s ethics. His overall point is that when we “train”—physically, morally, intellectually—we are molding not just our bodies or behaviors, but also our very characters, and in doing so, we are cultivating a core set of virtues that either enable or hinder our ability to flourish as human beings.
I have come to see that CrossFit—all of it: its nutritional focus, mental rigor, physical pursuit, community spirit and more—manifests Aristotle’s principles. CrossFit is not just a workout with a physical goal. It is also, and maybe even primarily, about cultivating a set of character traits that can enable a person to flourish in all aspects of life.