Because we've got some fun community things coming down the pipe at Depot (take a look at our events calendar for some July goodies) we feel it's the perfect time to publish this post by coach Nick Barr which illustrates the importance and value of community!
Sangha in Fitness
By: Nick Barr
As a fortunate antidote to less effective behavior, I studied in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic institute in Dharamsala, India at the end of my undergraduate career. Prior to going, I developed an interest in Tibetan Buddhism’s rigorous logical structure and rich philosophical and iconographic tradition. Buddhist doctrine posits three necessities, referred to as the triple gem, for achieving freedom from suffering. These are the Buddha, or teacher, the Dharma, or teaching, and the Sangha, or community. I could see the clear benefit of the first two; I had experience with great teachers, and I admired formal didactic systems like Aristotle’s syllogisms and Frege’s philosophy of language. Being something of a natural loner, however, I didn’t see much need for a Sangha.
As I spent more time in the community of monks and lay students, this view began to change. I realized that my understanding grew through debate and dialogue with others. Watching my friends and competitors grapple with challenging material inspired me to work harder to hone my understanding and critical thinking skills. Participating in a community of individuals more or less devoted to a similar goal elevated my practice and motivated me to apply myself.
Although I retain an innate need for a healthy dose of solitude, my experience in Dharmasala instilled a lasting appreciation for the value of a supportive and challenging community. This understanding is the bedrock of my choice to coach and train at Depot Crossfit Sunset. I’m happy training by myself, but I enjoy training with my Sunset Sangha even more.
Above and beyond the Crossfit methodology, which will no doubt continue to be debated and refined, I see the benefit of what we do exemplified in our community. The gratification that comes from competing with friends, feeling supported in our goals, learning from each other – these are the intangible rewards we receive from membership in our community. From a more scientific perspective, there is strong evidence to suggest people don’t maintain an exercise regimen because they know it’s good for them, or because their doctor tells them to. People exercise consistently because they enjoy it, and (almost) everything is more fun in a group of good folks.
I’ll close with a quote from Erasmus, an original member of the Sangha of Fitness, and a bit of unsolicited advice to the other natural loners, of which there are surely a few:
After you have din’d either divert yourself at some Exercise, or take a Walk, and discourse merrily...As for Diet, eat only as much as shall be sufficient to preserve Health, and not as much or more than the Appetite may crave.
Jump into the community with both feet. Take a risk, extend your yourself beyond your natural limits. I am certain you’ll reap the rewards, both physical and mentally.