It's not too often that people can claim that the gym they are from, the place that they work, or even the neighborhood that they live in, are really that much of a "community" in a family sense.
Webster's Dictionary defines community as:
- a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
- a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the )
Community in this sense appears to just have a "something" in common, CrossFit, our box, our gym, our lifestyle - goes a bit more than beyond that; let me explain a few things. . .
On Saturday September 25th, 2010, Fight Gone Bad 5 opened its arms to benefit three charities this year: LIVESTRONG, Wounded Warrior Project and the CrossFit Foundation. (http://www.fgb5.org/)
They raised over $2 million this year worldwide. . .
Saturday, October 30th, CrossFit Milford (http://www.crossfitmilford.com/) raised $1,743 for The Tony Vitti Benefit Workout - the funds went to the Milford PD.
CrossFit Relentless hosts multiple events during the year to raise money for the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, they have raised several thousand dollars this year. (http://www.crossfitrelentless.com/)
These are just some examples of building a community. But this community generally cares about the well-being of everyone. They want everyone to succeed, be active, and live a healthy life. They work together at the gym, not just in bettering themselves, but those they work out with. In an hour a day (and what should be generally six days a week - three days on, one day off) I have personally witnessed friendships blossom in a month.
It usually starts as a casual hello between two people before class, then I do the unspeakable act during teaching/coaching, and call people out to introduce themselves. For some silly reason, everyone gets a little flustered, they either say their name loudly or kinda quietly, usually the second way. And they shyly look at one another, unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable with how they should act. Remember what your mom used to say before the first day of school, "Be Yourself."
The next couple classes seem to go a little smoother, people have gotten past that first shyness and they start to say hello. . . the little circle of friends starts to form. The individual misses a class due to some unforeseen circumstance, but their new found friend is right there the next time they see them, "Is everything okay?", and that night they exchange numbers, become facebook friends. . . and so the beginning stages were super easy, because look at the last couple weeks of trials and tribulations the two or (in the case of my 7 pm night class) 8 members have just now gone through! So the group laughs, I bring them down to a serious level, instruct, and they lighten the mood a little. They may go into another class time, once in awhile, and as they are missed, they have a story to tell the next time they see a friend.
But in this arena, in CrossFit, I can walk into another gym, make a friend in seconds, just because of a quick story about squatting, a conversation about Fran. The level of experience makes it easier to connect with other individuals with the same experience level and less, and you want to learn from those who have experienced so much more. The individuals who run the marathons, the triathlons, the swimmers, and the CrossFit Competitors that do events all have a unique perspective. We welcome the newcomers, cheer on the newcomers, for example, throughout my 3 and a half hours of coaching tonight, I heard more than one person cheering on someone else while they were working, muttering words of encouragement underneath their breath as they ran by them, the breathless "c'mon, you got this!", urging someone to get the next L-Sit with their legs fully extended. . . they have only been here for three days. . . now that is one hell of a sign that the people are working together.
That is the community that I am talking about. . . .
I am going to go really old school about movies for a moment:
Remember Batteries Not Included? Some of you may not, 1987, a apartment building with tenants in a downtown area are being forced out of their homes to make way for a new city vision by developers and some thugs. Huge skyscrapers, busy bus stops, the whole nine yards. The building is visited by alien life forms, two parents and three little kids, little mechanical flying saucers is the best way to put it (hey, in my defense, its a Steven Spielberg film). The alien family befriends the tenants, until something goes awry. One of the parents gets hurt, the other parent fixes it, the robots tried to help the tenants with the thugs, but when the parent got hurt, the aliens got angry and they end up leaving.
**Huge Spoiler Alert**
The building gets demolished, burned down by one of the tenants who found one of the developers rats setting a "natural fire" trap. A separate tenant, the quiet one, had made really good friends with one of the little kid flying saucers, keeps trying to call him back, as if it will right the wrong that had been bestowed upon this group. He whistles and whistles and whistles, until finally his calling is received. Noticing what has happened to the demolished house, the little saucer family shows up with hundreds and hundreds of the saucers to fix the entire apartment building, and all the tenants get to stay.
It really is a feel good movie.
But now the point. We develop a relationship that is so strong during arduous tasks. It is a very, very difficult bond to break. The community sticks together, through thick and thin. The silly saying is that when one door closes, another opens. Well, at the gym that I work at, our doors are open, and we are welcoming. The truth is, I can't put into context the accomplishments that I have seen this week, the last month, my last two years. But I can tell you that watching a community grow is a great thing. I am glad I am in the middle and not watching it from the sideline.
"I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live." -George Bernard Shaw