I learned this apothegm from Eddie Ramirez, owner and head coach of Steel Edge CrossFit in Aventura, Florida. I met Eddie when I did a kettlebell seminar with my coworkers at CrossFit Soul. I recall I thought it was going to be a bit lame, but then I came away with more effective knowledge than I could have imagined. After taking Eddie’s seminar, I immediately signed up for the kettlebell trainer’s course through CrossFit, and then completed my kettlebell level 2 certification with Eddie at Steel Edge a year or so later. The kettlebell course by far is one of the most valuable weekend courses I have ever taken, and this phrase that I learned from him, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast”, has been absolutely indispensible for so many things in my life, within and without of CrossFit.
I treat this phrase as a mantra when I realized I am getting ahead of myself. For someone who is determined and hardworking, owns two businesses, still works for other companies, and is working on writing books and helping to move my household forward, it is easy to fall into the “gotta be somewhere else!” mental trap instead of focusing on the moment. Focusing on being slow and smooth, smooth and fast, is what, truly, helps keep me focused and centered.
I see this the most in my life when I go through little freakout sessions if I leave my house too late and I have somewhere to be at a certain time. Through consistent meditation, I have trained my brain to remain calm through silly circumstances like bad traffic (which, seriously, you can kill yourself from stress in Miami if you let yourself get emotionally carried away in traffic here!). And when projects pile up in front of me, like writing Christmas cards to all the Cheetah clients, sending e-newsletters, writing blog posts, having time to meditate, helping Al finish painting our home, training clients, coaching CrossFit classes, teaching yoga classes for both Green Monkey and Red Cheetah, and planning and giving seminars, I have a lot to give me an excuse to jump onto the freakout train.
Freaking out about a workload is utterly pointless. I used to work myself up before and during wods, and I realized that working myself up was only wasting energy, making wodding more difficult, and dumping unnecessary amounts of cortisol into my system. Now, when I see a long line of work to be done ahead of me, I think, “Great! I have something to do with my time that’s going to get me somewhere.”
And how am I going to get there?
Slow and smooth, smooth and fast.
For many of us, stressing out in the form of speaking really fast, getting in our heads, breathing short and fast, and generally being unfocused and trying to most forward faster than we need to is only, truly, going to slow us down. If there is one thing I have learned it’s that taking my time prevents mistakes.
This applies to both CrossFit and to life.
The only times I have ever really hurt myself in CrossFit is because I have been rushing and not taking my time. My first CrossFit injury ever was when I was rushing to grab a barbell for a thruster and, with a horribly uneven grip, I thrusted overhead and my bar tilted way to the side. I felt the moment my bicep tendon popped. In a single moment I had acute tendinitis in my shoulder. Not fun.
Also, when I rush getting things together for a yoga class at a CrossFit gym (where I have to provide everything myself for the ambience, it’s not like at Green Monkey where everything is provided for me!) it’s easy to forget my lavender spray, my yoga mat, my book with inspirational passages, all of that which creates an effective and connective class for my students. It’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to the people around me.
So, instead of rushing, I choose to be effective.
I keep moving. Always.
If I feel those tingling sensations of my body desiring to move me forward into unconscious-sprint-mode, the tape reel of words coming up in my head of: “I need to do ____________ next, I need to remember ______________, then I need to do ______________ next!!!” then I realize I am not in the moment, I am not aware of the things I am missing right now, and that means it’s all the difference between forgetting some equipment I need for a yoga class or private client, and whether or not I move well through a CrossFit movement or mess myself up.
I choose to move slowly.
I may be a sprinter, but most people would be shocked at how slowly sprinters actually move, and how much they believe in one step at a time.
You can only ever do one step at a time, and the mark of a true master is the art of slowing time down.
When I used to sprint, I was aware of every. Single. Footfall.
I was aware of every single breath.
I knew exactly how my right shoulder felt.
I knew exactly how my left knee felt.
In CrossFit, I know what the sensation of the soles of my feet feel like while I am wodding. I am present to how I am breathing and how it is affecting my workout.
I am present to the actions the muscles of my face, what they are doing, and whether or not they are helping me or hindering me.
Yes, face muscles can hinder your performance.
If your face is tense, you are tense. You are wasting energy unnecessarily and you are slowing yourself down and wearing yourself out.
Enjoy the process.
Trust the process.
We all get to where we need to be in the time it needs to be done.
You can only do one rep at a time. The moment you start thinking about double under number 100 when you are only on 14 or 92, you will mess up.
That’s how life is.
Be here now, be with the number of rep you are on, and be grateful for that rep. Practicing gratitude while you are wodding is a powerful, powerful thing. It is guaranteed you will get more done faster because you have no space for complaining, you only have space for working, being in the moment, and moving forward.
So, take things easy. Be honest with yourself. Trust your instincts when they tell you how your body is feeling, and how it should move today.
Move slowly and easily, and remember that “slow” is a relative term.
I used to sprint at over 20 miles per hour, and, let me tell you, those sub-24 second 200 meter dashes did not feel like they were under 24 seconds.
They felt like a glorious eternity that I never wanted to have end.
CrossFit is the same way.
Running businesses are the same way.
Move slowly, joyfully, calmly, and in the present, you are going to go farther than you could ever imagine.
If you rush, you will only get nowhere really, really fast.
Take a deep breath, enjoy the moment, and allow yourself to flow. With ease and grace, you go.
Practice going smoothly on your way, without reaction, without attaching frustrated emotion to your actions. Whether it’s in the gym, on your yoga mat, in your home, at your business. Cutting out the layer of stress from your daily activities will make YOU feel lighter, move easier, sleep better. The only place you need to be is right here, right now, because this is the only time and place you are meant to be.
The only time and place your life happens is right now.
Move slower and with more awareness and you will produce 50% more and 100% better results.
Open up to the greatest version of you.
Take your time, and enjoy the moment, and still get your work in.