I love the Crossfit community. Its what makes our sport so much more than just a training regime. The fact that so many of can come together and embrace the suck is part of what makes what we do unique.
So I took it upon myself to head down to my local affiliate, Unit 22 in Northampton England, on the Friday night of the Games to have a brief, friendly, and candid chat with some of the members there. And after watching them all get through a grueling WOD that could only be described as a Mini-Murph, I wanted to see what my local Crossfit community had to say about their lives, our sport, and how they see the Crossfit world in general. To say I was shocked would be an understatement!
THE CROSSFIT COMMUNITY
The Crossfit community is as diverse as it is large. I spoke with young guns and masters, as well as middle aged folk like myself. Some were married – with and without kids – and some were single. There were office professionals and builders. There were those that wore suits and ties, as well as those that wore jeans and tees to work. There were newbies and seasoned athletes. Some attended the box alone, and others as couples. A variable cornucopia of people – a true slice of humanity – all with a strong passion for our sport.
We spoke about their lives. We spoke about how Crossfit had changed their lives, and how their friends and families see them now as a result. I was blown away by their stories.
Truly I was amazed at how, through Crossfit, people’s lives have been put on much more positive paths.
I heard of how cancer at one point might have sidelined a mother’s future life with her child, but how they are experiencing the true happiness that health and well-being can bring. People that thought their days of physical competition were over, are now competing with themselves as much as their comrades in the box. I relished in stories of how Crossfit has changed their outlook on what fitness really means.
FITTING EVERYTHING IN: FAMILY AND TRAINING
And we spoke of family. There was the usual discussion of how frequently they train, (some train A LOT) and how they fit it in to their lives at home. I heard about parents that bring their kids to the box, and how they get involved. Taking photos of workouts, enjoying a Crossfit Kids class, or sitting doing homework, and some just being kids.
This, I felt, was massive. In a world of instant celebrity, the fact that children are watching and being exposed to people that truly work for their accomplishment is a joyful life lesson that every child should learn.
The dedication of everyday people to being better, to grow, and change was astonishing. These were people that would never compete on a huge stage, but none the less, poured their hearts and soul into every work out 3, 4, and even 5 times a week.
Our conversation flowed into Crossfit theory and practice. and as we chatted and debated, I came to find that some, like myself, want to know why as much as we want to know how. While others just want to grind through the whiteboard. Some have take crossfit into the very fibre of their being, and made it the ethos they live by. For some, it was a means to an end but all agreed that not only did they love Crossfit, they lived it as well.
WHY DO YOU LOVE CROSSFIT?
Then, with all this on my mind, I started to ask athletes and the Crossfit community: “Why do you love crossfit? And what don’t you like about it so much?”
- A lot of the members, especially the older athletes, said they love the social aspect of the sport
- The sense of community and kinship
- Others love the challenge, and how it changes them both physically and mentally
WHAT DON’T YOU LIKE ABOUT CROSSFIT?
They spoke of what they didn’t like with equal passion. There was no ill-will towards the structure or training or movements. Most seemed to be upset about how the real world impacted the time that had to dedicate towards their pursuits in the sport. Some even said that they hated how Crossfit makes people fail, but then they turned around to comment on how those failures made them better people and athletes. Ahh, the double edged sword to which we all fall victim to!
THE REACTIONS OF FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO CROSSFIT
When discussions delved even deeper, I learned that almost everyone at Unit 22 had similar feelings about what they thought their friends and family had to say about them, since starting Crossfit. This brought a huge smile to their faces and they beamed with pride. This reaction was ubiquitous throughout the Crossfit community.
They told me how family members had commented on their new strength, fitness and fitter bodies.
Their friends perceived them as having better attitudes and more energy. But the biggest compliment and perhaps the most important, was their overall health and spirit of positivity and determination. They told me how Crossfit has made them into better human beings and people readily noticed it.
TRYING CROSSFIT FOR THE FIRST TIME
I cannot stress enough how much these athletes love our sport. Its a true testament to the coaching staff at Unit 22. And they all found it though tasters, or word of mouth, or through friends or friends of friends. So when i asked them about they would say to someone that questioned Crossfit, they all said the same thing. “Try it! While it might not be for everyone, for some it’s just what they were looking for.”
Time and time again, I was told about how the box had held a free taster month, and that the numbers of people looking to try Crossfit were immense. While not everyone signed on, I was assured membership numbers swelled after their experiment. Even the athletes that had only been there a few short months, and for one member weeks, had nothing but praise and and smiles for all they has gotten out of their Crossfit experience. I even was told “I wish I had done this sooner.”
EVERY BOX IS ITS OWN FAMILY
The day gave way to night, and the athletes tucked into some BBQ, but still we talked all things Crossfit. I noticed how everyone there interacted. It was like watching a family (a very large and hungry family) gathering for a communal meal. So I had to ask a few of the members if this was the extent of their social life away from training, and once again the answers I got made do a double take. It seems that for some of the older family oriented athletes, Crossfit was their social life.
It was their time away from work and the stresses of the world, and yet it was their way of keeping fit as well.
I think a lot of Crossfitters will agree, that this is one of the reason we keep coming back. And for the younger members, while they too were part of the extended family, they seemed to do a bit more outside the box, which if you think about it, seems only natural.
THE CROSSFIT GAMES: A FAIR REPRESENTATION OR NOT?
We talked about how Josh Bridges dominated Heavy Murph, and if anyone could challenge Crossfit Mayhem. And we talked about how the Games was affecting the way the world sees Crossfit.
This topic split opinion. Some thought it was great for the sport, while others said “It’s not really like what we do in the box.”
Some were passionate and love the Games, and others felt the Games don’t really affect what they do as athletes. Some Crossfitters were adamant in how they thought how the Open and Regional format need to change. They thought there weren’t enough spaces, and that the amount of athletes was dis-proportioned. They felt the USA had too many spots, and the rest of the world not enough. And I kind of agreed with them to be honest. There was some really harsh criticism of Glock’s involvement, but even after clearing up the specifics of their sponsorship, they still felt it was time for a change. It was a question some had never been asked, or asked themselves for that matter, and were grateful they were.
IS THE EVERYDAY CROSSFITTER’S VOICE BEING HEARD?
At one point I put forth a hypothetical question, and one that seemed to garner a strong response. When asked if they would ever consider paying to join an international crossfit athletes’ association of sorts, most said they would, depending on the benefits. I only asked this, as i questioned how much they felt their voice was heard in the international community. This surprised me. In the age of social media and the internet, we all feel somewhat more connected with those we share interests with, but as athletes in sport, some felt they are not being heard or are only a part of their smaller box community.
The night drew to a close and I said goodbye to the coaches, members and Crossfit community at Unit 22. I left with new ideas and new questions about our sport. I left with a smile on my face and in my heart. I think every Crossfit athlete owes it to themselves, and their comrades in pain, to take time to talk to their fellow athletes, and maybe have the same discussions and ask similar questions.
When I got home and thought about what happened, and what was said on that Friday night in July, that I realized how grateful and happy I am to have made Crossfit a part of my life, to be a member of this universal Crossfit community, and that others felt the same.