As CrossFit continues to grow in popularity, so too do the stereotypes associated with it. There is, of course, some truth behind the popularized notions of high socks and headbands or cult coconut water chugging, but CrossFit for many people becomes so much more than that. So I wanted to share an abbreviated list of CrossFit side effects I experienced, hitherto unbeknownst to the wider world.
1. Everything in life becomes easy, even the stuff you didn’t realize was hard before.
Stairs? Not even a second glance. Moving to a fifth floor flat? Weekend workout. Being chased by a dog? Sprinting skill work. A month’s worth of groceries? One trip from the car, up the stairs, to the fifth floor flat.
2. It becomes a metaphor for everything else in life.
There are days when nothing seems to work out favorably, when work is overwhelming and there seems to be more to do than the ever present confines of time will allow. On those days, the training from CrossFit training help me to dig deep and just hang on. Those difficult days, weeks, months, become extensions of a workout, where all you can do is embrace the suck and keep going. There have been many moments in my recent past during which I thought to myself, If I can endure 150 consecutive wall balls, then surely I can survive whatever else life throws at me.
3. The gym could easily become your second home.
The “get in and get out” thirty-minute workout routine faded to a distant memory very soon after I started CrossFit. You might find yourself getting to the gym early to stretch and staying after to lie on the floor and share in the exhausted camaraderie that exists only after people have suffered and sweated together. Once I started, I couldn’t stop going; because the gym is where my friends are, it’s where I feel both my best and worst. And of course, there’s the issue of those five flights of stairs to your flat after a long squat session…
4. You might just gain a new family.
There is a prevalent stereotype circulating associating CrossFit with cult behaviors, but my experience has been one that much more closely resembles a family. It is a community where the honest love and compassion between people is almost tangible. Walking in after a vacation feels like opening the door to a reunion. To me, the sound of barbells smashing, loud music and cheering is more heartwarming and nostalgic than the smell of mom’s home cooking. I know that my gym family has my back, always, not just in CrossFit but in any aspect of my life, and I have theirs for whatever and whenever they need me.
5. Your perspective changes.
Life’s ups and downs suddenly seem flippant after being forced to do hundreds of up-downs. Increased training endurance transfers to every day life physically, emotionally and mentally. I shed far fewer tears for rude comments or breakups, because a long workout suddenly seems far better therapy than a solitary sob fest. (Although, admittedly, sometimes a missed lift initiates involuntary waterworks in the bathroom.) And while the little things ceased to matter as I pushed myself ever more in my training, the big things continued to grow. Having people believe in me made me want to believe in something, too. There is more to CrossFit than just working out; it’s about community, it’s about improvement, it’s about potential.
6. It can help you become an athlete.
I was not really into sports as a kid, playing some tennis and even trying weightlifting; marching band makes up the majority of my athletic history. As I got older, I learned to go to the gym, but it was a casual aside to the rest of my life. Something that I had to do to stay in shape or lose weight. Now I feel as though my existence may cease to be if I miss more than one or two days at the gym. Not because I’m obsessing over weight loss or being “in shape,” but because somewhere in the process of doing CrossFit, I became an athlete. I’m still not exactly sure when or how it happened. During my first few weeks, I struggled to hold up the bar with no weight on it, and the warm up left me sore and exhausted. Then one day, I realized how easy that same warm up seemed, and every day I find myself doing things that the old me would have thought impossible. I’m no longer intimidated by sports, and I trust my body to perform any athletic feat that comes my way. Bring on the zombie apocalypse!
7. It can help you become the best version of you.
My body changed, my mindset changed, and most importantly, my heart changed. It sounds ridiculous and dramatic perhaps, but I know that there are so many others out there who know exactly what I mean. I care about things outside myself and work each and every day to improve, in order to become a better version of me.
8. CrossFit makes you feel like a f**king badass.
I feel as though this requires no further explanation. It’s a pretty fantastic feeling.
So yes, most of the stereotypes about CrossFit are true. We do speak incessantly about CrossFit when we’re together, we do change our eating and drinking and sleeping habits. We sometimes wear obnoxious clothes, scream at each other, and yeah, we do spend an absurd amount of time at the gym. But you know what? What they don’t tell you is that it’s because we’ve found something that has changed us so profoundly that we are willing and happy to put up with all of those things, in order to pursue our passion. So go right ahead and laugh at my high socks while I run by you on my way up the stairs.
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