Maybe you can relate—Just over a year ago, having just entered my golden 40’s, I came to realize I had lost a little of my mojo. I had never been an elite athlete, but had always been active. Basketball was my first passion, then endurance cycling, running marathons and then bike racing. But over the years creaky knees, an ornery back and a busy work schedule prevented me from putting in the time and miles necessary to stay fit. I realized I was a bit… well… soft, and was the heaviest I’ve ever been. And just as importantly I missed the challenge, the excitement, and the sense of accomplishment that sports always provided me. That’s when I decided to try Crossfit.
Maybe you can also relate—At first Crossfit was really intimidating to me. I had seen the competitions on ESPN where some incredibly ripped superman or woman blazed through sets of what felt like a hundred pull-ups, or lifted some super-human amount of weigh over their head like 50 times in succession. “I could never do that”, I thought; and I certainly don’t look like any of those elite athletes. The only six-pack I had was back in the man-fridge at home. The whole thing honestly seemed unapproachable, even a little cultish to me. But another part of me thought it was pretty badass. “What if I could do that?” I asked myself. And I knew I needed to make a change.
I found myself walking in the door of York Street Crossfit one Saturday for one of their free community classes. Instantly I noticed that while there were some extremely fit people there, there were also a lot of regular folks just like me. After a group stretch and warmup we launched into the workout—Only 10 or 12 minutes or something, but it absolutely kicked my ass. Lying on the floor after the workout, I realized I was hooked. One of the coaches suggested I come back the next week to watch a couple of the regular workouts to further check things out, but I had seen enough, and went right home and enrolled. I had already registered for a similar intro class at two other local Crossfit Gyms, but never stepped foot in their doors—York Street just felt like home.
So what has the year since been like? Honestly, one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences of my life. At first I was self-conscious about having to scale or modify many of the movements, since I couldn’t do a single pull-up, rope climb, handstand, etc.; but then I realized I wasn’t alone. It took me a while to come to understand that Crossfit isn’t something you learn overnight—It’s a process built on repetition, and slowly building strength and skill in the movements. That realization turned my initial frustration into a commitment to the process, to be “Better than Yesterday”, as is scribbled on a whiteboard at York Street.
I now attend YSCF 4-6 days a week, and seek out Crossfit gyms to drop into when I’m traveling. I’m doing things I never thought possible, like multiple pull-ups (for the first time in my life!), rope climbs, handstand push-ups and double-unders. There are still a lot of things I need to work on—OK, everything—But I now understand and enjoy that about Crossfit—It’s never dull, and always challenging.
I’ve absolutely burned fat and re-shaped my body, adding around 10 pounds of muscle (Everyone’s different, a friend of mine that joined YS the same time I have has lost over 30 pounds in the same time period!). My posture is better, my back problems have pretty much disappeared, my knee pain has improved dramatically, and the bloodwork from a recent physical came back better than I had ever tested in my life.
And why do I love York Street? Because of the staff, and the culture. The coaches are incredibly solid, enthusiastic, and care equally about you no matter your skill or fitness level. Even the strongest athletes at YS have no ego, and instead are encouraging and supportive of everyone else. For me at least, it’s the perfect balance—Not about being the best, or being better than the person next to you, but about being the best possible athlete you can be. And having fun, and supporting others along the way.
So now do I feel Crossfit is Cultish? Perhaps, but not in a negative way like I used to think. I have an addictive personality, and am glad I’ve found something so healthy, rewarding, and with so many positive, supportive people to fuel it. As the character Lester Burnham once said in the movie American Beauty, “It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself”.
Oops– I just looked at the clock—I’m going to wrap things up because I’ve got a class at York Street to get to. I hope to see you there soon.