What Is Courage

courage jessica estrada

by: Jessica Estrada

I’m currently reading , The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. She set out to write this book as a guide to living a wholehearted life. And in order to do this we need three tools to help us along the way- Courage, Compassion and Connection. As I was reading the section on courage, not only was I able to relate to my own personal life but through my CrossFit world as well, particularly with my female athletes.

Brown begins by breaking down the meaning of the word Courage:

The root of the word Courage is cor- the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word Courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage (yes, I am going to bold it every time) originally meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

It’s about finding the Courage to speak honestly and openly about our feelings and experiences. So, how does this tie into CrossFit? I will speak honestly, coaching female athletes can be a very emotional experience…for me and the athlete. When I say emotional it’s not at all in a negative way! All of my current personal training athletes and small group sessions are only women, and I absolutely LOVE coaching them.

I think it takes a lot of Courage for an athlete to say, “I’m not comfortable doing (fill in the blank cause the list is pretty long)” or to even admit that they are nervous before a workout or when going for a one rep max. You know what, you are not alone….WE are ALL nervous and it’s good thing. It just means you care.

It also takes a lot of Courage for them to come up to their coach before a workout and say, “I want to be here but I’m really having a rough morning/day/night, and I just want to move. So if you see me just pacing through the workout, that’s why.” I am always glad these athletes show up and sometimes, it really is okay to take it a little bit easy. I guarantee they will leave class in a better place mentally!

Courage is when an athlete reaches out to you and simply asks for help or to say, “I don’t remember that movement” or “can you please show me that again cause I’m not getting it”. As coaches we have to remember that most athletes don’t study movements like we do or see it daily. I could never step into their jobs and assume I’m going to be an expert in a month or even a year.

As coaches, it is part of our job to be patient and understanding. We don’t know what state of mind an athlete is when they step into our gym. Whether it’s their first time or a long time member, we all have a story at the start and end of the day. So when a person opens up to you and expresses feelings, emotions and experiences, recognize that as an act of Courage. It takes a lot for people to open their “heart” to you and allow themselves to be vulnerable in your presence. If your athletes are that comfortable and trust you that much, then you’re doing something right!

“Courage has a ripple effect. Every time we choose Courage, we make everyone around us a little better and world a little braver. And our world could stand to be a little kinder and braver.”


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