The Draw of Community

You may or may not have read up on recent posts that claim Crossfit workouts are bad, bad, bad. Or maybe it’s the coaches. No wait, it’s definitely the guy that started this whole thing, right? Oh no, actually, it’s the participants. You know, the ones that can’t stop talking about the gospel according to Crossfit. But this is not a post to discuss and dissect the merits of this thing called Crossfit that recently made an appearance in Time magazine. This post isn’t even meant to make you change your mind or convert your way of working out/eating/living. The post is also NOT a commentary on whether or not Crossfit workouts are good for you. This is only an observation of events occurring at my local Crossfit box that I think apply to the whole of life.

I’ve been trying to get back into the healthy lifestyle thing. The baby has now turned 1 and despite my best effort no real effort on my part, the baby weight has yet to come off. I just don’t get how minimal exercise and no change in eating habits didn’t produce the results I was hoping for. Putting on the weight was sooooo easy. So, why, oh why is getting back to a healthy weight for me so very difficult? And by difficult, I mean, why does it require ANY effort on my part? Some people wake up two weeks after the birth of their baby and voilà, the weight is all gone. It is a cruel and unjust world we live in, people.

So, when my plan to go to sleep every night and wake up at a healthier weight didn’t work, I knew something had to change. I tried. Over the last 6 months, I ran a little. I did a couple of Crossfit workouts. I did yoga a few times only to realize, that business is hard. Feel like you’re going to snap your body in two, hard. Ok, so I didn’t try very hard. I’m at that point of I either do this, or I don’t. I don’t think I want to live in the I don’t. Enter Crossfit. It’s my workout of choice because I think at it’s core, it does what it should do for your body. Of course, as with all things, you should know what you’re doing, listen to your body, and have great coaches. Just to be clear, nutrition is a huge part. HUGE part of the healthy lifestyle, but that would be an entirely different post.

So I’ve been waking up at the ungodly hour of 5 am. For you morning people, I am not one of you. So yes, 5 am is ungodly by my standards. I’m attempting 3 Crossfit workouts a week because 3 is better than none. To date (since I started 3 weeks ago) I have only made it 2 a week. But I’m not beating myself up, because this is more consistent effort than I have given to working out (if you don’t count playing soccer) in the last 6 months. Celebrating the positive, people.

On Tuesday night, I glanced at the workout for Wednesday morning. As in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Big Mistake, Huge! It just looked awful, 4 rounds of awful, to be exact. I made up my mind, as I lay in bed at 8:30, (because that’s what time you go to sleep if you want to wake up at ungodly hours of the day) that I would be skipping the workout. Imagine my disappointment when my alarm went off at 5, and I decided, against my better judgement, that I should go ahead and workout.

My suspicions were confirmed, that workout was awful. Into my first set of 10 movements, yes, that’s right, the very beginning of the workout, I was already dripping in sweat. It was 19 degrees outside that day and the gym may have been a cozy 50 degrees. So, yeah. I kept on, sweat and all. I did it. It was ugly. I mean, really ugly. I didn’t even entertain the thought that I might look good doing the workout.

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I knew I looked like the other image, there was no imagining a better version of me. I was also convinced that I would be the last of the last, and most likely, one of the coaches would have to gently suggest that I cut the workout short given my struggle to finish. Finally, round 4, done. The girl next to me had just finished and shared my exact thoughts. That was rough. Another girl came up and shared our sentiments. As I was slowly collecting my keys, another guy shared how that it was the hardest workout he’d done in a while. As I looked around, red and sweaty faces were congratulating each other, nodding to the difficulty of the challenge.

And it hit me, it’s not just that Crossfit is challenging, can produce feelings of general bad assness (totally a word), change your body, or make you stronger. Crossfit thrives because when you share in the difficulty of the struggle alongside others, it draws you in. You’re no longer alone. You are now part of a community. Because in that moment, when all is said and done, you realize you weren’t alone in your struggle. Everyone went through it. Even the stronger ones, the ones that finished ahead of you. They went through their own version of the struggle or had been through it before, and in the end, they came alongside and encouraged you. It is not just in the workouts and nutrition, but, rather, the collaborative struggle to make it through. that creates this community.

On a macro level, aren’t these thoughts true of life? Those that experience the struggle alongside you are the ones that draw you in. Those people are the ones that you cling to for community. It’s when those around you admit the difficulty, that you allow yourself some grace even if was a bit ugly. When you realize you are not alone in the toughness/messiness of life, the thought occurs – maybe this is hard/messy sometimes. Maybe I’m not a crazy because marriage, parenting, being yourself can be rough. And quite possibly, maybe that is ok. It’s not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are showing up. Not only that, but others are showing up, too. Realizing you’re not alone makes the struggle a bit more bearable and possibly even allows you to, I daresay, appreciate the struggle. After the struggle is over, of course.

Truly.

When I play soccer, it’s not the back aches, winded “runs”, shots to the face/boobs/thighs/any part of the body that could leave a mark/hurt that makes it worth it. It’s that you have other players alongside you going through the same thing. Sometimes we celebrate the win after, sometimes we just nurse your wounds. And when one of the stronger players on our team gives a word of encouragement, I can’t help but feel the draw of the community. Or when one of other players that, like me, didn’t grow up playing soccer shares in my weaknesses/fears/pain, I again draw closer.

The examples are endless. It’s not just soccer or Crossfit, but any where you experience the ugly/messy struggle surrounded by others. Find a place. I promise you won’t regret it.

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