By: David Ochoa
Maybe it’s because it’s been exactly a full year since I began CrossFit, but it seems like I’ve been on the receiving end of this question quite a bit lately. And every time it makes me laugh. Mainly because it’s asked in such a way that you would ask a person if they were still into their boyfriend or girlfriend. Almost like CrossFit and I are in this committed relationship, go on dates, and argue about the toilet seat being up.
I’m sure most people that have been CrossFitting for a while have been asked this question at some point and like me their answer without fail is probably always an enthusiastic yes. But I get why it’s asked. I really do. After all CrossFit has more social stigmas attached to it than NASCAR and smoking combined. And we don’t help ourselves either when we talk about OHS, 1RM, EMOM, HSPU, DL, CTB, AMRAP, T2B’s, DU’s and “the Girls” like we’re on the set of Windtalkers or something.
But someone smarter than me once said, “Don’t judge me until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes.” And while the only time we ever actually walk in a workout is on our hands, if you’re thinking about trying this whole thing out because it’s that time of the year for positive change, perhaps my observations from the past 12 months can alleviate some of the apprehension that comes with trying any new activity. And I’ll add that the first time I stepped into CrossFit Memorial Hill for my first community workout, I didn’t know a soul, and had never tried a single CrossFit class before. So here we go:
If there is one thing CrossFit is, it is humbling. No matter what kind of shape you’re in or not in, at some point you’re going to feel awkward trying out some of these movements. The only way to fully embrace this sport is to lose your ego and accept that the forty year old woman next to you may be able to kick your ass in a workout. It truly is a process that as you develop your skills and listen to the coaches, you will find yourself doing things you never thought possible. And you will struggle with things too. My toes to bar are still horrendous on an epic level. But it’s going to be an awesome feeling when I finally start stringing them together. The saying “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” is the most accurate way to define the CrossFit journey. But you have to take that first step. The gym community will guide you from there.
We’ve all heard it. From multiple places. “All CrossFit people do is talk about CrossFit and hang out with other CrossFit people.” This is a total fallacy. It’s not ALL the time, more like 90/10. But seriously, you could say that about anything people are passionate about. “All musicians do is talk about music and hang out with other musicians.” Our gym community genuinely enjoys each other’s company, and we have each other’s back. That being said we don’t all live in a commune, and we generally go our separate ways when we’re not at the gym. But when we are there, we truly are a team. And the purpose of any team is finding a greater strength as an individual, one that you may not have known you possessed, because your team is there to support you. I’m not saying everyone you meet at the gym is going to be invited to your wedding (although I can say with 100% certainty that you wouldn’t regret it). But you will become friends with some of these awesome people. And in there lies the why I think this sport has grown so quickly. You get to workout with great people and socialize at the same time. Much better than running on a treadmill with your headphones on. However, like with any family, you get what you give, so don’t be shy and reach out to someone if you’re just starting out. They just may end up being a friend for life.
My job allows me to travel the country and I’ve been fortunate enough to workout in some of the best boxes in the CrossFit community. What I’ve learned is that walking into a new gym is pretty much the same no matter where you’re at. A 135 pound barbell is going to weigh 135 pounds whether you are in Kansas City or San Francisco. It’s what you’re taught to do with it, and more importantly how you’re taught is what makes all the difference in the world. And without reservation, I would put our coaches on the same level as some of the top instructors in the country due to how they explain the movements for functional fitness, as well as their diligent quest for improving their knowledge base. This hunk of flesh and bone we carry around while on earth is a phenomenal, sophisticated and sometimes frustrating piece of machinery. And it can move in a million different directions. So ask the coaches questions. Ask them why, how, when and what. I promise they enjoy being there and they take great pride seeing your progress.
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