First hearing about CrossFit in 2008, I thought it deserved as much respect as the thigh master. This placed it a step below the Total Gym and just above Fitness Made Simple DVDs (or were those VHS?). I remember thinking it was just a big fat fad like its millions of counterparts in the health and fitness universe.
My Gold’s Gym workouts on the other hand were basically perfection, Men’s Fitness magazine told me so. Every time I was in an airport or wandered into a Barnes & Noble, I made sure I checked out the health mags and their suggested workouts for “Summer Abs!” or “Bigger Biceps!”. Every new article described exactly what I was already doing. It was confirmed, I was still awesome.
Over the next few years I had some invites from friends to give CrossFit a try. If you couldn’t tell already from the first two paragraphs, I felt above it. Besides the fact that is was inferior to Bench Press Mondays and Once-a-Month Back Squats, CrossFit was just way too damn expensive, way too culty, and they just seemed to work way too hard.
The more popular CrossFit got, the more I wanted to hate it. I have to warn you, I do this with a lot of things though; hot stocks, the use of hash tags, anything that has to do with vampires, the New York Yankees. Just kidding, I freaking love the Yankees.
But really, what was the deal with paying over $100 a month just to workout? I can still remember that humid, south Florida, September afternoon when I got my Gold’s gym membership down to $21 a month by giving up class and travel privileges from the pretentious 34 smackaroos they were trying to gouge out of me. #Winning
So how in the world did I go from hating CrossFit to becoming obsessed with every ounce of it?
It was somewhere around hitting the age of 27 where I noticed I was getting considerably less awesome. Sooner or later we all have that picture taken of us where we go, “O M G, please don’t tag me in this.” For your enjoyment, here’s that picture.
But it wasn’t just the picture. I was actually feeling “old age”. Was 26 really the best it’s gonna get? If so, what does high 30’s look like? Having a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, I couldn’t help but chart my future health decline in my head.
Further analysis followed; If only I could increase the frequency of my already perfect workouts in conjunction with drinking less beer. That would probably result in a flatter decline until about 32 or 33 where my cycles predicted my next leg down in health would occur.
As cynical as it sounds, I really thought we were all destined to be fat, sick, and tired. It was just a matter of time before we got there. I knew I was going to get there, but I was determined to keep that line up as long as possible.
It’s a pretty sad day when your most ambitious goal is to have slower declining health.
Even though this seems like a pretty low point on my health journey, I wasn’t actively seeking out any solutions. As far as I knew, drinking less beer was a sufficient theory. It didn’t translate into practice as much, but a great theory it was.
Real change didn’t come until my brother challenged me to try a Paleo Diet Challenge for 30 Days. At first, I resisted for months due to my known hate for fads.
Finally one day he saw me gulping down some old man heartburn pills and couldn’t take it anymore. “You are doing this challenge, and once you are finished I bet you never have to take another heartburn pill,” he told me.
I never shy away from a bet so I accepted the challenge with the intent of proving my brother wrong and showing him what old age was really like for us geezers. “He’ll understand in two years,” I bitterly thought.
What resulted after those 30 days completely changed my entire life.
I could go on and on about the obsolete heartburn, the fat that melted off my body, the energy and mood improvements I never knew possible, or my whole changed relationship with food, but nothing beats the perspective change I had experienced.
Years and years of health advice from books, magazines, nutritionists, and our government was just completely thrown out the window. I felt for once in my life, in absolute control of my body and my results.
Which led to my next question…what else should be thrown out the window?
The answer… my Globo-Gym workouts.
It was time to take on CrossFit for a couple months and see what happens. I never go into anything new without bringing all my criticisms and mental baggage with so it’s safe to say CrossFit still had a lot of work to do to win me over.
I wish I could say I tried CrossFit and was instantly good at it. But while I considered myself an athlete, I quickly realized how un-athletic I was.
My first workout was ten minutes of a sweet little workout named “Cindy”, and it left me incredibly sore for days. CrossFitters know “Cindy” as a 20-Min AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) with one round being 5 Pull-Ups, 10 Push-Ups, and 15 Air Squats. 10 Minutes was more than enough to convince my body that it was now doing something that would actually provoke results.
My workout at my Level 1 certification went just as swimmingly. I was one of the last ones to finish another sweet little workout named “Fran”. Had it not been for one of the toughest coaches I’ve ever met, Christmas Abbott, yelling in my ear, I probably would have given up.
There were many more WODs in between those two events. Some made me feel like I was almost a CrossFit badass, while others had me questioning what the hell I was doing. Either way, I was loving CrossFit more each WOD, and was getting a helluva lot stronger.
My new found love for CrossFit led me into opening up a CrossFit box with my brother in our hometown of Jupiter, Florida; CrossFit Palm Beach.
Once I started teaching others CrossFit, I began loving it even more.
I would coach a member to a new accomplishment or personal record “PR”, and they would be filled with this happiness that’s rarely seen in everyday life.
I saw our members cheering each other on as if they were teammates in the Super Bowl; 20-year-old guys giving high-fives to 50-year-old ladies. Seriously, where else do you see this stuff?
I noticed that these people aren’t trying to be some exclusive cult; they are an all-welcoming team of different level athletes helping each other get better.
I realized they don’t push themselves to be better than the person next to them, they workout to be better than the person they were yesterday.
I see our older members adding years to an otherwise dormant lifestyle. Our younger members becoming more active outside the gym walls, and truly experiencing what life can offer.
They are prioritizing good health and making the investment in it.
Every day I hear the motivations of our members, “To be a better role model for my kids”, “To be able to play with my kids”, “To not die of heart disease”, “To compete in a triathlon”, “To finish a 5k race”, “To be able to try an obstacle course race”, “To be a better baseball, football, lacrosse (etc) player”, “To fit into a certain outfit”, “To feel a certain age again”, “To get rid of THIS!” (whatever part of body THIS may be).
What looks like a bunch of crazy people working out, is hundreds of individual stories playing out before your eyes. It’s much more personal and emotional than any outsider could ever understand.
Lately it seems like each day a new article or blog post bad mouths CrossFit.
I wonder, “How can people look at CrossFit so differently and make such harsh criticisms about it?”
Then I remember, that was me.