Recovering from Burnout
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons
While many of his college peers were preparing for their future by studying for tests in a library, Conner Moore was anticipating his professional career by training at a CrossFit gym. After majoring in health and fitness management and interning at Hyperwear, he had no trouble finding opportunities that would immerse him further into the world of CrossFit.
By the time Moore was 24 years old, he was coaching at one of the most notable gyms in the nation, and making a pretty penny doing it. To top it off, he was also becoming an increasingly competitive athlete within the sport. As he honed in on the business principles of box ownership, it wasn’t long before Moore started scoping out a location to open a gym of his own. He decided on the name Ludo CrossFit—the word “ludo” translating to “I play” in Latin.
Circumstantial obstacles presented back-to-back challenges for Moore during this process, though. “Things just weren’t happening. It wasn’t for lack of effort or education—but over and over again it was circumstances,” he recalls. Even once he settled on a space in the Dobie Center, the problems didn’t subside. Moore faced issues with fraud in the lease (unbeknownst to him), fire code, and losing his business partner due to family matters.
Still, he stuck with it. “What never wavered was the product we offered at the gym. We always provided a good service and there was never a doubt that it was worth what people were paying,” he says.
Meanwhile, Moore was still training at a competitive level and logged three or more hours of exercise on most days. His schedule revolved around being in the gym, whether it was to coach, to work out, or to manage operations. Although burnout rears its head in many ways, the beginning of the end for Moore happened through a simple epiphany.
“I had a moment to think, ‘If what I’m doing right now becomes as wildly successful as possible—the best case scenario—is that going to be enough?’ The really hard realization was that the answer was no,” he says.
Pursuing a goal that no longer resonated with Moore would have left a gap. Looking inward, he could see that it was never going to be fulfilling. Looking outward, he saw other gym owners beaming with passion and loving the work they did. It wasn’t fair to his mental health, nor was it fair to his clients, so he made the choice to close the gym and move on.
“Once you have that gap and start asking why, you better answer quickly or get out. If you start pushing that ‘why’ away, then you’re really going to get acquainted with what burnout is,” Moore says.
For a short period of time following the exit, Moore continued being competitive, but he soon came to terms that his heart wasn’t in that either. He said a final goodbye to the sport of CrossFit in early 2016 by gathering a team of his friends, competing at The Fittest Games, and taking home a third place finish. Standing on the podium alongside the people who had been a significant part of his journey was the closure Moore needed to walk away from that lifestyle.
“The best things in my life came from that burnout,” says Moore. “Now, my workout is 100 percent play.”
The new phase of Moore’s life involves having fun outside of his comfort zone at Onnit Academy. He says, “I’ll go to Bang Muy Thai or 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu and not know what I’m doing. I’m so clumsy, weird, and goofy but I love it because I’m the worst in the room. We beat ourselves to death trying to be the best at something. Take a step back, then try getting O.K. with being the worst.”