On the eve of my first ever CrossFit Open, I sit reflecting on the journey I have been on the last year and a half. I originally joined Team Friday at CrossFit Palo Alto after the all too early death of my father and made a commitment to not have my two sons experience the same. Each of us in class have our own reasons to show up 3x a week for what often feels like a blended cocktail of strength conditioning and human torture garnished with copious amounts of sweat.
As a kid I loved re-runs of Gilligan’s Island. A collection of people brought together by the promise of a 3-hour tour and ultimate shipwreck that transformed into 98 glorious sitcom episodes of hilarity. Besides the obvious connection between our class having “the professor” in it, there are some similarities between CrossFit and the comedy classic.
An Unlikely Cast
The original cast was an odd match up. The Skipper and Gilligan make sense as they were manning the boat but what set of circumstances would have brought the millionaire and his wife, a professor, a movie star, and of course, Mary Ann, together is beyond me. A typical class may bring in people from all various fitness, vocational, ethnic, social, and age backgrounds. But that is the very thing that makes it work. Just like the entire cast had to band together for survival on the island, our class has been joined together in the pursuit of fitness. Each of us have our own definition of what that looks like, the group is bonded around that similar goal of survival which is demonstrated in support, accountability (no sandbagging), and encouragement. Rather than be a “survival of the fittest” mantra that is espoused in the globo gym crowd, there is a “survival of your fitness” that is supported and cheered for as we each pursue our individual goals. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of good-natured competition to be had and daily posting of times and weights on the whiteboard help keep us driving toward our goals. Each of us brings our best effort to class and the same way each cast member brought something to the island to help one another, we share tips and tricks on what works to make that next personal goal.
A Fanatical Community
I’ll never forget my first CrossFit joke told by my coach prior to signing up. How do you know if someone is doing CrossFit? ‘pause’ Oh they’ll tell you! While that may be a overplayed model of your typical CrossFitter, it certainly can be what it seems like to all of those outside of the flock. As humans though we all seek out our “third places”, those that are neither home or work but are the place by which we help establish our identity. I have experienced the same zealous boasting with long-distance runners, Starbucks snobs, Harley riders, college football fans, and countless others. It is human nature to have a desire to belong and to be accepted for who you are. The rise in popularity of CrossFit has long exceeded a mere workout and has evolved to an entire ecosystem centered around fitness, nutrition, and community.
Tomorrow starts the 2015 CrossFit Open for our gym, the point in time each year where we all test what we are made of in tandem with CrossFit athletes around the globe. The marketing engine leading up the Open has been phenomenal, sharing stories of why someone would participate, what would hold them back, what their goals are for the next 5 weeks. It is amazing to see the variety of people who participate and common ground which we all stand on when encountering others outside of our gym/class. We have an immediate sense of unity that says “I may not know you but I know you”. The castaways on Gilligan’s Island, while each unique in their own way, came together around a single unifying goal — rescue.
For 5 weeks in early Spring, fitness seekers from around the globe bond in a similar way, to rescue themselves from an island that has stranded so many in our world today and have the stregth, mental and physical fortitude, and the will to bend over and lift one more rep.
Special thanks to Tim and the entire team at CrossFit Palo Alto for welcoming me into the group and pushing me to be the best I can be for my family.