Doing a HYROX improved my relationship with my body for the better – here’s why

My mindset changed from an aesthetic-focus to performance-focus

T3's active writer taking a mirror selfie at the gym and using the skierg in HYROX
(Image credit: Sportograf/Future)

Staring in the mirror on a Saturday morning, I begin to pick my body apart: “Not enough definition in my legs, my bum’s still looking a bit flat, and when are my abs going to make an appearance?” I sigh. This is a pretty normal weekend ritual of mine.

I’d been doing resistance training since the Lockdowns, with a particular focus on bodybuilding/hypertrophy. Over the years, I’d made great progress alongside different coaches, losing a considerable amount of body fat, getting stronger, and gaining some decent muscle. But, despite my progress, like many, I still had an extremely critical relationship with my body. 

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my training, but the thing with bodybuilding is that, ultimately, it’s aesthetic-focused. After every training session, before I’d get in the shower, I’d stare at my naked body, pinpointing every part of me that could do with some improvement.

My partner would constantly tell me: “You’d be so much happier if you didn’t look in the mirror everyday”. I knew he was right, but clearly, I’d become a bit obsessive. That was, at least, until I did a HYROX.

In case you’ve not heard of HYROX before, it’s an indoor fitness race that consists of running eight kilometres and completing eight functional fitness stations (from sled pushes to wall balls and rowing). It’s a race for ‘everybody’ but, as you can imagine, it pushes you physically and mentally.

When an email landed in my work inbox asking if I wanted to give it a go, I was keen to take on the challenge to see if I could train for it in four months despite having never run in my life. It ended up being the hardest training I’ve ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. 

I was training five times a week, sometimes running three times a week, and the goal in every session was survival (excuse the dramatics, but it was hard). When I’d get home, I would still critique myself, but instead, I’d be thinking about whether I'd run a little faster, if I could move with less pain, or if I felt less out of breath than the previous week.

T3 Active Writer doing HYROX farmer carries

(Image credit: Future)

My weekend ritual of looking in the mirror became less and less, and one evening, my partner commented on how much happier and less self-critical I had become since training for HYROX. He was right, and it’s because I didn't have time to think about what I looked like anymore. My mindset had shifted from an aesthetic focus to a performance focus.

(Of course) I’d still check my body out now and again in the mirror, but I'd find that I was a lot kinder to myself, praising myself for how much stronger I looked or fitter I’d become. Rather than telling myself how much more my bum needed to grow or how much body fat I needed to lose.

I’m not saying ‘you shouldn’t train to look good’ or that ‘bodybuilding sucks’. Loads of people train to want to look good, I still want to look good. But working out purely for that reason can suck the enjoyment out of your training, especially if you’re not competing. It did for me, but HYROX helped me truly realise that there’s so much more to working out than just trying to make my body look better. 

T3 Active Writer at the gym

Right: Bryony when she only trained to look good Left: Bryony training for overall strength and fitness

(Image credit: Future)

Just to clarify, I’m not a converted ‘HYROX athlete’ either. I’m back doing strength/hypertrophy training because I’ll always love lifting weights, but my coach keeps elements from my HYROX training (such as running and conditioning). 

The main difference is that I’m not training anymore with the intention of trying to grow my glutes or get a bigger back. I’m going there to get stronger, keep fit and healthy, and (hopefully) live longer. I'm going there to feel good. 

Now, when I look in the mirror on Saturday mornings, instead of pointing the finger, I'll try patting myself on the back because, despite being heavier, more muscular, and holding more body fat, my body is also the strongest, fittest, and healthiest it's ever been, and for that, I'll always be grateful to Hyrox.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.