It all started from a friend, a colleague, a peer . . .
From being bored with the same routine, from plateauing time and time again . . .
I wanted to get healthy, I wanted people around me who cared . . .

They called it constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity . . .

It's about taking the first step -

It's called CrossFit and I friggin' love it!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Building Blocks of a Culture

It isn't very often that you can say that a friendship was forged after a certain date in your life.  As people grow older, they become more set in their ways, their friends are their friends and have been for years. . . now that is a generalization I have heard a thousand times over - and I think it's false.

It all started when you went to a local CrossFit box for the first time.  You heard about it through a friend, you couldn't go alone (or if you did, you brought your "iron will along").  That person was there to support you, help you, and low and behold, they now sweat, curse and smile right next to you each and every time.

You battle through toughness for an hour every day.  You battle with people who you have come to know.  At first they were just names tossed out at the beginning of class, but then you started cheering, getting to know one another until all of a sudden. . .

CrossFit - Forging Elite Fitness or Forging long term friendship?  Meh, both.  It isn't hard to figure out that CrossFit, or working out in general with a group, forms a bond.  This bond is very similar to the bond that I saw develop with a number of my friends that are, or were, in the military.  The things that you struggled with, the obstacles you overcome, and the wins/losses all come when you are together.

I find this topic so interesting because I got to witness this in all the classes last night.  A quick sprint followed by 50 push-ups, a quick sprint followed by 50 sit-ups, a quick sprint followed by 50 pull-ups and to top off the night, a quick sprint followed by 50 squats. . . a quick sprint = 200 meters.  This workout will burn you the right way, there is no doubt.  Push yourself into a new realm of madness, this is not the burner of a 400 meter walking lunge for time, this is the lungs hurt and you gotta move workout.

But people finished, finished with cheers, with congratulations, and with smiles.

No, I am pretty sure that no one was throwing people around, although that has a tendency to happen on occasion when certain coaches get a little rowdy.

It is really interesting to see the interaction between people.  To me, a Communications major for my Bachelors studies, Interpersonal Communication was always so intriguing.  We are forging long term friendships right before my eyes.  I see a camaraderie that goes beyond mere acquaintanceship.  People genuinely care how you did, how you are doing, and how have you been.  Our gym has even created it's own Facebook group, fondly known as "The Box".   CrossFit has become a microcosm of a giving society.  A Utopia of fitness - of sorts.  Now don't get me wrong, I am passionate about people bettering themselves, for those who have read this long enough, I think this point is clear.  Taking the First Step is a journey to becoming physically active, I just enjoy the path I have been walking on for over 3 years, and that happens to be CrossFit, so hence why it's always spoken about.

So what? I may be a little bias, but my little world of fitness is intense, and I think that we are better for it, and guess what else?  It ain't getting any smaller and more people are on board with it than ever, and it doesn't show any signs of letting up.

Back to the original point, watching the interactions tonight really sparked my mind about the friendship topic.  In just a short amount of time, I hear people re-hashing in such a nostalgic way the funny stories that they have experienced over their periods of time within CrossFit.  And the stories keep piling up.  Take a little gander at this interesting tidbit on friendship (my thoughts in red):

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:
  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other  
    • I think we, as a culture, desire the best for one another
  • Sympathy and empathy
    • In every given situation - it's called support
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one's counterpart
    • Really, does this need any explanation?  We all have things we need to work on. . .
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
    • If we haven't already been where you are, we will be
  • Trust in one another (able to express feelings - including in relation to the other's actions - without the fear of being judged); able to go to each other for emotional support
    • Trust, emotional support - sounds like CrossFit. . . weird
  • Positive reciprocity - a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties
    • We help each other, I think this works nicely
This isn't a mere phenomenon that is occurring at just my box in West Hartford, CT.  It happens all over the world.  Someone asked me tonight how you might get treated if you went to another box, rest assured, most boxes outside of my current CrossFit zone that I have been to have been really cool people, doing really interesting things, and have allowed me the opportunity to work out.  I even went to a CrossFit box that had Krav Maga. Let me tell you, this was some cool friggin' stuff I saw.

Now if only I could find a box that had a little bit of freestyle running (aka Parkour)  then we would be in business, hey, if all else fails, try it on your own, right?

The mere act of helping someone up or encouraging a lift will provide someone the upper hand to conquering everything in their way - CrossFit has a way of doing this everyday.

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. "
- Christopher Robin to Pooh

-Coach Tony

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