Who’s Spotting You?

The concept of a spotter is familiar to anyone who’s ever set foot into a gym. A spotter is someone who watches your movements, provides feedback, adjusts your form, and if necessary, saves you from dropping a barbell on your face. We’ve all been spotted at some point in our fitness journey. But last week at Trident Crossfit, I realized I had been spotted in a different way.

A Different Kind of Spot

My gym recently started offering an advanced class in the evenings. In addition to the daily WODs, we’re incorporating the Westside Barbell conjugate method into our training. This means tons of squats, lots of deadlifts, and persistently sore hammies. It’s also been a great opportunity to meet new people that don’t typically go to the same class time as I do.

One night this week we had the task of finding our one rep max of deficit deadlift. We broke up into groups, and as we started setting up, I asked the other girls what their previous maxes were so we could get a general idea of what we were working up to. The ensuing conversation went like this:

Me: My conventional deadlift max is 285.
Girl 1: Holy cow, are you serious?
Girl 2: Of course. It’s Karla. (As in, duh, everybody knows she’s strong.)

What blew my mind about this whole thing was that these ladies were from the morning classes. Since I’m an afternoon Crossfit kind of gal, I would’ve had very little opportunity for these ladies to see me work out, much less to have formed opinions about whether or not I was a strong lifter. I barely knew their names, but even in a gym of 700 members, they knew who I was.

Nobody helped me lift. Nobody adjusted my form. But in that moment, I realized I’d been spotted. Somebody had been watching and noticing.

When (You Think) Nobody’s Watching

In 1993, Derek Jeter was still years from graduating from the minor leagues but received an invitation to Yankees spring training in Florida. One day after the training session was over, Jeter and Don Mattingly began to walk to the club house. In that moment, Donnie Baseball shared some invaluable wisdom with the future Yankees Captain. He told young Derek to run, not walk, it into the clubhouse because, “You never know who’s watching.”

They say that true character is revealed when nobody else is watching. But I’ve realized that there’s almost nothing you can do in life without somebody observing you.

The irony is that when new Crossfitters come into the gym and are embarrassed about people watching them work out, I tell them not to worry about it because nobody is watching; we’re all so absorbed in kicking our own butts that we don’t notice people around us. And that’s largely true when the buzzer goes off and we get in the zone.

But I’ve also realized that yes, indeed, people are watching you. They may not be watching you to critique your clean and jerk form. But they will notice you.

Not all workouts are competitions with big audiences. But there’s always somebody watching.
Not all workouts are competitions with big audiences. But there’s always somebody watching.

They’ll notice whether you’re the kind of person who pushes hard to the end of the WOD, or walks on the back stretch of the running route where you think no one can see you. They’ll spot whether you finish every rep, or if you get “creative” with your counting. They’ll observe whether you help clean up the equipment and thank your coaches, or if you leave a trail of bands and bars in your wake.

And not just in the gym, but more broadly in life. People notice how you go about your tasks; how you react to bad news; how you treat your waitress; whether you step up in the face of a challenge.

We may not always be in the gym needing our spotter to help us push to a new max. But we are always being spotted.

Who’s spotting you? What will they see?


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