The Power of Community

I’m not a box owner or trainer, but I am a CrossFit athlete and I have a story to tell.

In a galaxy far, far away… Wait, wrong story.

It seems like a very long time ago now, but it was only 2012 when I was exposed to CrossFit. We’d heard about it from our friend Charlotte, but it really hadn’t become part of the social landscape as it is today. It wasn’t until my wife Evelyn started at CrossFit Continuum here in the Springs that it began creeping up on me.

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May 2013 seems like a million years ago!

She started at the urging of her soccer teammate Marilee, who was coaching there at the time (she now coaches over at CrossFit 719). Every night she would head off to some unknown location and come back waddling like a duck, every muscle sore. There were days she struggled to get up the stairs to go to bed.

And the next day or maybe two days later, she’d go back again. I just didn’t get it. Why subject yourself to that kind of abuse?

If you turn the camera back towards me at the time, you would have seen an obese guy who barely moved on a daily basis. I’m a desk jockey computer geek and I work from home. Why move?

In October 2012 I looked at the scale and couldn’t believe I hit 262 pounds. Something about going beyond the 250s made me wonder if I was going to be around for my kids. That was a startling thought at 42 years of age.

But it prompted me to get moving. I lost a bit of weight over the next few months and started at CrossFit Continuum in February 2013. I weighed 248 pounds when I walked through that door and had a long way to go.

The first few sessions were brutal. But nobody made fun of the fat guy who was trying to change his life for the better. In fact, I became friends with many of the trainers and other athletes. Night after night, day after day, moving got easier. I gained strength and lost the jiggle. Well, not all of it. But some.

The community at Continuum brought me into their fold. There were trainers who tried to push and pull and prod in a variety of ways. Some methods worked. Some didn’t. They eventually figured me out. And there were athletes who encouraged me. I am not the fastest, the strongest, or the most flexible individual doing any of these workouts – but I was happy to be inspired along the way by others who were.

11041187_10153302669719648_2090122082587817495_n (1)And I worked my butt off. I went from hardly being able to hold a PVC pipe over my head in an overhead squat or push press to doing deadlifts over 200 lbs. and being able to do a push up again. Over time I figured out how to do pull-ups and even a handstand on the wall. Those were things I never even dreamed I could do – I wasn’t an athlete. Why would I dream of doing those things?

As I became accustomed to going and learned more and more, I gained in confidence every day. Are there still movements to this day that I can’t or don’t want to do? Hell yes. Are there workouts I look at and moan and groan about? Sure. But I’m usually there 3-4 days a week regardless of what’s on the board. Even running. Dang I hate running.

Eventually I came to see myself as an athlete for the first time in my life. That is a crazy thought. 🙂 And I have my wife, family, and the amazing community at Continuum to thank for it.

Are there still challenges? Definitely. Over the last three years I’ve yo-yo’ed on weight – going from 248 to 200 and back up to the 230s where I sit today. I’m not svelte. I’m a chunk. I like to eat and I’m a work in progress on that front. We’ve tried the Lurong Challenge, Whole 30, Paleo, Zone, and the Advocare 24-Day Challenge. If I ever find “the perfect” diet for me, I’ll let you know.

Perfect, I’m definitely not.

But I laugh when I look back at the gym rat I’ve become. I’m not the same guy who walked through the door in February 2013 – physically or socially. I have friends and family at our box I would help in a heartbeat if they needed it. We’ve seen highs and lows in our community and always come together to do what we can. I mean – I’ve helped Continuum move locations twice. Who volunteers to help move a gym? That’s crazy talk!

And it’s not just at my box. I’ve met many people from other boxes in the area (and beyond). They’re always the same – welcoming and amazing. 🙂

Though Continuum is my home box, I have attended a few classes at CrossFit 719 (and still try to get to yoga there when I can), been to a Friday Night Lights community event at CrossFit Decimate, and have even attended a competition down at CrossFit Endemic. Alex and Silvie at Decimate were even kind enough to do a pet food drive for my wife’s charity – Street Petz. The community donated nearly 700 pounds of dog and cat food that night, which was incredible.

20160212_201754The thing I remember best about that night was being greeted at Decimate by Alex. He already knew me even though I’d never met him before. He knew me as the guy with the insane number of long check-ins at Continuum on Facebook. Once a writer, always a writer. And I’ve been writing about my CrossFit journey for a long time now. 🙂 I’m that crazy writer guy – and I’m ok with that!

Even going to a box in another country, they were kind and welcoming towards us. Earlier this year my wife and daughters visited one in Paris and we dropped by a few in Barcelona. I think it may become a habit to find a box anywhere we end up. 🙂

Keep in mind – I’m not anything like a Rich Froning or Mat Fraser. I’m a 46 year old computer geek who sits behind a desk most of the time. They’re at least 20 years younger than me and professional athletes. But I’d like to think that if I walked up and met them, we’d have something in common… CrossFit and the insanely amazing community that it has created.

It’s a community like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We can sweat, move some weights, and know that it’s shared suffering that brings us together in the end. It’s a good kind of suffering though, I promise.

Some call it a cult. Most call it a community. I call it a family. One large, dysfunctional, wacky family who likes to lift heavy things and has supported me in becoming a better version of myself. 🙂

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