Why I Love Crossfit (Because, Of Course I'm Writing About This)
This post might be a big gloatfest, so be prepared.
I sat looking through the viewfinder of my Nikon, snapping away as an athlete hit numbers on a rowing machine I’ve never seen before. His pulls jerked the rower so hard that his teammates placed weights on the machine’s legs. When that didn’t work, they stood on the weights.
As he pulled, the number grew - 2,400 RPMs came quickly and 2,800 RPMs weren’t too far behind. He topped out at just over 3,000 RPMs, an insane number that I didn’t even think was capable. The fan inside the rower becomes so loud that even in a large, garage-sized gym that you need to yell at the person next to you to communicate.
As the last seconds dripped off the clock and the buzzer sounded, the athlete unhooked his feet, spread out his arms and rolled to the floor. He needed every last bit of energy just to get his breath back.
What amazed me most wasn’t how powerful this guy was, or how incredible this was for me to witness, it was how loud his teammates were in the last seconds. They showered him in praise and admiration, even though they all just went through the same 20 minute workout.
The running joke around Crossfit is how any Crossfitter is proud to tell you that they are one. It’s akin to the way someone from New Jersey loves telling you what exit off the Turnpike or Parkway they’re from. I’m no stranger to either (Turnpike exit 15W).
I started doing Crossfit more than 10 years ago. I joined a gym in New Jersey run by an old football coach of mine. I’ve been on-and-off ever since due to a move, COVID, then another move. I’ve called four different gyms home in those years and each time I step into them, it’s coming home.
I’ve tried to workout at different gyms and it’s never the same. Big-name gyms are filled with high schoolers, influencers, and people who love to do curls in a squat rack. Athletics clubs are too fancy and don’t get me started about old heads in the bathrooms. These places work for people, and I’m not trying to be dismissive of what works for people, but they just never felt right.
When I played rugby, I was lucky enough to break a few long runs for scores. In two of my longest runs, I remember the moment I saw green. Tired and exhausted, I reached for every ounce of energy I had to beat the defenders. What got me through was the crowd of people cheering. It didn’t matter if it was two people or 200, it was audible, and it got me through.
As I scrolled through the photos from Crossfit York’s Birthday Brawl, I kept thinking back to those moments. Training for these competitions, each athlete has an idea of what they’re going to hit. Time and time again, I’ve watched as these athletes blew past their own personal records, feeding off the adrenaline.
Why do Crossfit Gyms work for me when regular gyms do just fine for others? The community is something you can’t beat.
It’s being pumped up for the person who nailed their first snatch or who topped the class deadlift weight (even if it beats your score by five pounds). It’s the yells as a person rings the bell on a PR or the cheers of encouragement as an athlete begins their longest handstand walk. (Don’t believe me? Blackout is doing a “Bring a Friend” week the first week of November. Come see for yourself).
It's become a home for my daughter, too. I began to take Lucy to the gym with me as a four month old. She'd sit in her stroller, safely snug in the larger cage, and sleep through classes for the most part.
Now a three year old, Lucy goes for runs with the group (with me pushing the stroller, of course. "Let It Go" from Frozen and "We Know the Way" from Moana are GREAT running tracks). After class is over, she hits the rings (her favorite), a rower and does box jumps. If having your daughter yell "Go Daddy Go!" in the middle of a burner doesn't motivate you to do better, I don't know what will.
I couldn't think of a better place for her to be - an environment full of challenges, motivation and, most of all, positive support.
The gym is a home. In each gym, these people quickly became family. I will always be thankful for that.
As I prep for another round of competition photos tomorrow (Thanks, Crossfit 267!), I’m not as excited for my photos. I’m more excited to be in the gym with all the energy a competition can bring.