Tuesday, August 22, 2006

For Love of the Game

Last night, as we were pulling up to the Facility, Sam articulated a thought that I’d taken for granted.

Sitting in the chalk-stained interior of her car, surrounded by old sneakers and discarded espresso cups, and she told me she loved Crossfit.

“Unlike anything else,” she said, “I’ve never regretted coming here.”

I knew exactly what she meant, and it has relatively little to do with the outward effects of fitness. It isn’t a product of weight loss, or muscle tone, or the cosmetic changes of intense exercise. The love of Crossfit is a love of community, character, and achievement.

I came to Crossfit Boston with the intention of learning a few things and jetting. I didn’t know how to perform a pistol, a thruster, or a handstand push-up, and I needed to learn. I figured I’d pay for a month or two, and head back to Gold’s with my newfound knowledge.

By my second class, I was hooked. These people didn’t pay lip service to hard work—they lived it. In a small yoga studio in Brookline Village, we cranked out Cindy and Fran and crazy sh*t like “Chaos II” and “My Pet Rock”. Every time through, we pushed the envelope of an ever-evolving skill set.

I’d sit outside the non-descript steel door, headphones blaring, waiting for Neal to come down the hallway. Listening to Rob Zombie, Staind, and Slipknot, I’d get so excited that my legs would shake, betraying my desire to tackle the workout.

I was usually alone, showing up a full hour before class. Time dragged in that little hallway, sitting beside the empty ice cream cooler, but I knew the wait was worth it. When Neal finally rolled in, ten or fifteen minutes before the start, we’d exchange a few words. I never told him just how excited I was, but he knew.

Back then, we used to do the full Crossfit warm-up every day. Fifteen reps of the Samson stretch, pushups, sit-ups, ring pull-ups, squats, and good mornings, three times through. It was a workout in itself, and good practice for the real work to come.

During my second go-round, the crew would filter in. Erin and Genny, Jack, Sam, Mark, Mike, and Alex would walk in, dutifully starting their squats as Neal attempted to make the decrepit radio come to life.

I learned a lot of things in that room. Back levers, push presses, and deadlifts were only the beginning. We squatted, and dipped, and ran in the street outside, Station Street to Kent Street to Harvard and back. It might have been 600 meters or it might have been 500. We didn’t really care. It was somewhere to run.

I wanted to win so badly. I wanted to turn in the best time or the highest weight or the most reps. Once in a great while I’d succeed, and it would be enough to keep me pushing hard. Back then, I thought it was about winning. It wasn’t.

It was about character. I ended every class in a puddle of sweat and a haze of confusion, my body deprived of oxygen despite my big gasping breaths. We pushed through the fatigue, and the ever-present threat of dehydration, finishing workouts even when our bodies begged to quit. We weren’t trying to lose ten pounds or get our bodyfat below ten percent—we were trying to become better people. We were developing the capability to overcome adversity, to push our bodies and our minds beyond our self-imposed limitations.

Crossfitters are some of the best people on earth. Not because of their wealth or status or celebrity, but because of their willingness to push on. Our pursuit rewards perseverance just as it punishes the weak-willed. If you are without fortitude you will not make it here. The people I’ve met are the reason I stay.

When you’re in a room full of people giving their best, you draw from their strength, and they from yours.

It looks like a competition on the outside, but in reality, we are all in it together. We share every agonizing moment, and we come out the other side better for the experience.

We realize that we become better when the competition is better.

Samantha has it right. I love Crossfit, and I’ll never regret becoming a member at Crossfit Boston. Records have been broken, and friendships have been formed, and I have Crossfit to thank for all of it.

To those who know exactly what I’m talking about, thank you for being there. If you don’t know, come find out what it’s like to play for the love of the game.

Go faster!


Blogger Dawn Adam-Brown said...

I agree...having something you love is great but having others to do it with is incredible! There is nothing like the CrossFit community.

8/25/2006 02:47:00 AM  

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