“I get by with a little help from my friends.” – Joe Cocker
I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf (I originally wrote “loner”, but it just felt too sad to open with). I don’t always work best in groups and under most circumstances, I would label myself an introvert. I get nervous being the center of attention, and I feel drained after being around large crowds. On the surface, it might not make sense for me to choose a career that forces me to always be in front of other people. One thing that CrossFit teaches us is to embrace “getting comfortable being uncomfortable”, and I’ve had to come to terms with the idea that in order to maximize my contribution to the group, I need to put aside my personal apprehensions and learn to adapt.
In 2007, when I first started working as a personal trainer, much of my days were spent sitting down and talking to new members about their fitness history. We talked about goals, past experiences, and how we could best position ourselves as experts to help them reach the outcomes they were looking for. Time and again, I kept hearing similar stories about how people were trying to get back to a physique/body weight/performance level that they’d had previously, only to have “something” get in their way. My focus was always drawn to that something, and I began to notice that it often consisted of a mixture of two things: a disruption in routine, coupled by a loss of community.
I met with a post-collegiate athlete who had just moved back home to start their new internship and missed training with his teammates in the weight room. I met with a woman looking to lose 40lbs who was a recently divorced, middle-aged mother of 3, and whose last child just went off to school. I met with a retired fire chief who was borderline diabetic and hypertensive and headed quickly in the wrong direction since leaving the station. 3 very different cases on the outside, but 3 very similar stories as to what disrupted their fitness. Looking back now, each of them probably would have benefitted more in the long run from a group training program focused on broad, general, and inclusive fitness than a specialized personal exercise routine they weren’t likely to adhere to anyway.
CrossFitters often talk about the intensity of the workouts, the constant variance, the functional patterns that underlie each exercise as the reason it’s so successful, but where the magic truly lies is in the community of people it brings together for a common purpose. It’s said so often, in fact, that I sometimes take it for granted, and the word “community” can begin to lose its luster. When I start to fall into this trap, all it takes is a quick reflection to put things back into perspective. My CrossFit community has helped me in too many ways for me to write in this article, and I’ll never grow tired of saying thank you to everyone who has helped me along my path as an athlete, coach, and gym owner.
They say you never know how good something is until it’s gone, and right now, billions of people around the world are experiencing a complete disruption in their daily routines. I would consider ourselves lucky that even though many aspects of our lives are upside down right now, we still have a fitness community to lean on and support. It’s been amazing to see people reach out and offer to help each other on the Facebook page, seeing your smiling faces on our virtual ZOOM classes, and having some of you stop by the outdoor gym to do work out in the sun. The friendships built through the gym are coming out in full force, and it feels like we’re stronger now than we’ve ever been. Soon enough, the world will open itself back up, and we’ll be able to live our lives like we could before COVID-19, but maybe we can use this unplanned pause as an important reminder that it’s ok to slow down sometimes, to appreciate the things we have and the people who matter to us. Looking forward to seeing you all on the other side!