Ballet to Barbells: In the Zone vs Zone Out

One of the things I had to learn when I transitioned from dance to judo was how to get into a completely different mentality. As a dancer, being in "the zone" means that you are no longer thinking about the choreography or the beats, you're just being in the music and expressing yourself through movement. You no longer really see the audience, don't hear them, you're just existing. It's a sort of altered state I have yet to find the equivalent of.

I can't see you. (Yes, that's me.)
When I started doing judo, my first competitions were terrible. I went from a highly athletic endeavor where I knew what each step was going to be and could just disappear into that experience. Now I was doing something where being "in the zone" meant something else entirely. I couldn't disappear. I had to become one with the moment, but I also had to be aware enough to register what my opponent was doing and still hear my coach's voice amidst the din of the cheering teammates.

And I think that's a key difference in sport vs performance art. Being consciously tuned in versus being lost to the experience.

Yup. Me again on the left. 

When participating in a CrossFit class, it's important to try to strike the same balance.

Too often, I see athletes go the zoned-in-and-tuned-out route. They're just moving and moving and reps are flying by and not a word you say to them seems to get through. As a coach, it's frustrating to have to physically stop a person from moving, be it by stepping over their bar or blocking them from something, to break them of their coma and get needed coaching cues through. (It's even more annoying when the athlete takes these cues as a personal affront rather than me trying to protect their ass.)

To be effective in your workouts you want to be able to hone in your mentality to a certain degree. Experiencing every sensation would in a WOD would be a bit overwhelming, in a crowded class, with that construction happening outside, other athletes breathing, maybe talking or cursing. Making sure that you can still tune into the coach's voice will keep you on point for your movements so that "in the zone" experience will be safer.