Being the fitness
enthusiast junkie geek that I am, it was only a matter of time before I box-jumped on the Crossfit bandwagon. I’ve pretty much dabbled in all types of fitness. I bought my first ab-roller at 17 while working at a sporting goods store. As soon as I was old enough, I joined Bally Total Fitness and hopped on a spin bike. I’ve purchased Tae Bo tapes (yes, I said tapes) off TV. My first two children spent more awake hours of the day with 24 Hour Fitness childcare workers than they did with me. I’ve done bootcamps, weight training, Insanity, kick boxing, yoga, pilates, galore. I’ve even been certified to teach a ‘special’ type of dance class at 24 Hour Fitness. DONT. EVEN. ASK.
I really don’t even know what took me so long to join Crossfit. In 2013, my husband joined a box (a Crossfit gym is called a box) near his office. Secretly I was jealous. It was the one genre of fitness I had not yet experienced but was dying to try. Six months later, once my youngest quit breastfeeding and I was getting decent sleep, I surrendered to the calling. I had fought it long enough. It went something like this.
August 1, 2013– start Crossfit.
August 2, 2013–become addicted to Crossfit.
April 2015— Still addicted to Crossfit.
With almost two years under my belt now, I was thinking the other day how a Crossfit community is so much like a church body.
1. The “Stuff”
With all sports there’s ‘stuff– gear, clothing brands, lingo to learn. That rule is no different with Crossfit. Just for the workouts alone there are a whole slew of acronyms to memorize. AMRAPS (as many rounds as possible), HSPU (hand-stand push-ups), DU (double unders), STOH (shoulders to overhead) are just to name a few. Then there is the gear. Oh, the lovely gear. Being married to a self-proclaimed gear junkie, I had my first pair of Crossfit shoes months before I even entered the box. Besides shoes, you’ve all seen the girls on tv in bright colored knee high socks and short booty shorts. Headbands, wrist wraps, knee braces, and Lululemon galore, oh my. That’s what Crossfitting women adorn.
With churches there is also ‘stuff’. You must acclamate yourself to the schedule, crowd, events, etc. Hymnals or lyrics on a big screen? Sunday school or not? Offering basket or tithe box in the back? Laid back or casual dress? Traditional or contemporary? And let’s not forget the Christian gear. Yes, there is gear. Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a WWJD bracelet? Or even an I Am Second for that matter. Oh and let’s not forget all the tshirts you wore in 8th grade that were made to look like it was a brand you bought at Pac-Sun but in actuality, they had a bible verse on them. Do you wear a cross on your neck, in your ears, or do you have one hanging in your house?
‘Stuff’, be it words, phrases, or even clothing, is a way that people in the same group help to identify and form connection with one another. My kid wears christian tshirts to school and that sparks conversation about the gospel and which church we attend. I was at a store the other day and saw two ladies in front of me both wearing Reebok Nanos (preferred Crossfit shoes) and Lululemon shorts. We ended up having a nice chat about our muscle ups and hand rips 😉
Wherever you affiliate yourself– the ‘stuff’ is just the icing on the cake for the true meaning of why you are there.
2. Everybody knows your name
Crossfit gyms offer multiple classes daily. I happen to enjoy the torture that a 5:30 am class brings. When you operate on a class based system rather than an open globo-gym type model– people know who you are and when you come. In fact, you know that awkward moment at church after praise and worship where they tell you to turn around and shake a hand… same thing happens at Crossfit. We are encouraged to shake a hand and meet someone new at every class. The goal is to make people feel welcome in the community. The class you attend regularly becomes a ‘small group’ within the larger Crossfit box. If you miss a day, people notice and ask where you were.
Not much different from church. If you go to a larger mega-church with multiple services, you probably find connection with the people who attend the same service. You shake hands with a few new faces and try to remember their names. People who are used to seeing you notice when you’re not there. Do they call? Do they reach out? If you go to a smaller church, you probably know all the members and their kids, too.
Knowing you have a place where people miss you makes you want to go back and nurture those relationships.
3. The common goal
At Crossfit, the common goal is fitness. Some have been doing it years, others just a few months. Most are somewhere in between. Regardless, everyone is striving toward the same thing. At church, we will never be able to say ‘we arrived at perfection’ and we have it all figured out. At Crossfit we will never be able to say we have achieved perfect fitness. There is always something to strive for. We can always be stronger, faster, or healthier.
At church, what’s the common goal? Showing up just to say you did? No. Serving and glorifying God. At church you have the front row Frannies, the people who have been Christians since birth, the new believers, people still hung over from the night before, and everything in between. Despite the differences, everyone is there for the same reason. In a healthy functioning church body, everyone’s ‘level’, so to speak, is different. Guidance is given to those to ask. Sometimes guidance and instruction is even given to those who don’t ask but still would benefit from it.
Being in community with like-minded people, striving for the same goals, makes the journey of chasing yours more worthwhile.
4. It’s a Village
When people gather together from different walks, networking naturally occurs. At church you might know a guy who can do your taxes, someone who can watch your kids, and a girl who does your hair. It’s like SuperTarget but for life situations. One-stop shopping, if you will. The same is true with Crossfit. With the community that you build, there are so many different types of people there. We have hair stylists, movers, nurses, teachers, business guys, doctors, and other moms like me. When you have a need, it’s great to know someone personally who can fulfill that need. Likewise, it’s also great to connect with people you wouldn’t normally come in contact with. For instance, I am now pretty much lifelong swole sisters with a girl that is younger than me, just starting a family, and a business woman. She’s completely opposite of me and I adore her. Without the village of Crossfit, our paths would have never crossed.
Most of us set foot in that Crossfit class either overwhelmed, scared, or ready to take a beating. Whatever we feel when we arrive, we all desire some type of transformation of the body. More than likely, none of us will ever be Rich Froning or Camille Bazinet (Winners of the 2014 Crossfit Games) , but the standards they set give us all something for our bodies to strive towards. Your standards of what ‘normal’ is also change. For me, the desire to be skinny and fit into a size 2 has been replaced with the desire to be strong. On the road to transform your body, with Crossfit you end up transforming your mind and heart as well.
Many seek church as a means to an end. They are tired, weary, weak, and alone. Seeking church as an ‘answer’ or a ‘fix’, we find loving Jesus as a true transformation. Jesus was the only perfect being, flawless from birth as designed by our Creator. While you may never be exactly like Jesus, the hope for being in a body of believers at church is that you would be transformed to be more like Him. To an outsider, church may appear to be a place for perfect people who have it all together, but in reality it’s a place where you realize that all your imperfections make you perfect.
I could buy a pull-up rig, a squat rack, and a ton of other equipment for my gym and do the same workouts that are posted on my box’s website everyday. But the key thing I would be lacking would be the community. There would be nobody there cheering me on when there are no burpees left in my tank. There would not be that person who is a tad bit faster for me to chase and get faster. Nobody would re-rack the bar when I failed a heavy squat and tell me to try again. When one person suffers through a WOD, everyone feels it with them.
I can sit here and read my Bible, pray, even watch church on TV, but I would be doing all of that alone. Community and being around people is key in both Crossfit and Church. God created man to be in community with others. It is pleasing to him when he sees us coming together. His intention was that we would never be alone.
To some, ‘church’ itself may bring on it’s own type of suffering. If Christians would commit to suffering with each other the way we do in Crossfit, the church might actually begin to become what God called it to be.
Christian, embrace those different than you, encourage those weaker than you, and love those in need.
Crossfitter, find a community of people bigger than your PR or best Fran time. Don’t be afraid to suffer with those who share your deep heartfelt struggles. And don’t find your identity in your back squat weight or your open placing. Find it in Christ who calls you, loves you, and accepts you. Plus He has like the biggest back squat ever.
So what are you scared of???
Huge Shout Out to the lovely and talented Pixie of Andrea Dovey Photography- a British transplant, now living in TX. Locals— grab her up for your family shoots!