Finally on time, I show up to the box. Inside is full of sweaty people throwing barbells around, grunting, looking miserable. Wisely, I decide to stand outside. There are two small groups of folks hanging out. A couple look like they have already completed their WOD (workout of the day), a couple more look like they are getting ready for the 5:00 p.m. class, like me, and a few look like midgets. Okay, maybe they aren’t midgets. They are toddlers running around waiting for their parents to finish getting their sweat on. As I stand there, nobody says anything. Well, they are saying plenty but not to me. They don’t acknowledge that I have walked up. Conversations come and go. I awkwardly try to insert myself here or there with a slight chuckle to a joke or (I am having to fight the urge to write “light up a smoke”) smile and nod with a conversation. More often than not, most of these quiet intrusions are met with an equally quiet glare and a stalled dialogue. Got it. No talky to me. One of the coaches walks by, and I receive at least a glimmer of recognition. More awkward time passes. The gym owner walks past. Nothing. I feel dirty. I feel like something is wrong with me. I wonder if I am not local enough to be at this particular box. I haven’t felt this uncomfortable since just after gym class in 7th grade when that kid Derrick was punching me in the face for accidentally pumping into him an extremely large crowd of other 7th graders (By the way, eff you, Derrick… eff you).
10 minutes early for the 5:00 p.m. class, I walk up to the door and am immediately greeted with an enthusiastic fist bump from one of the coaches. To be fair, I am that guy that STILL goes for the high five because I am apparently ridiculously old, so I find this unprompted fist bump to instantly make me feel cooler and like I fit in. Inside is full of sweaty people throwing barbells around, grunting, looking miserable, but some of them actually appear to be smiling and joking around about how much it sucks. There are a couple of small groups milling about next to the desk and some benches set up for people to sit on while they wait. As I walk up, all of the individual groups turn to welcome me. Some quick, witty banter, some non-obligatory laughter, and I get more of the feeling that I have joined a group of friends at a social establishment. Another coach walks by and asks how the “Nutrition Challenge” is going. Asks about my wife and if she is going to make it today (right… like she would let me get one workout ahead of her). I don’t even think about Derrick from 7th grade, but if he were there, I am pretty sure I would kick his ass in a WOD. Stupid Derrick.
Two CrossFit boxes with about eight miles in between them, but worlds apart. Jaime and I recently did CrossFit Elements for the second time in about six months with a new CrossFit gym. On one of our training runs for the marathon, we happened to stop in because (a) it is closer to our house and (b) see the first paragraph of this post. From that 15 minutes we spent in the gym, the next time we came in three weeks later they knew our names, asked about how our marathon training was going, and whether or not we wanted a beer. Contrast that with Elements in June, working out three to four times a week in July and August, and then having to leave for a month, and show back up to a box where maybe two folks asked where I had been, the coaches and owner ignored me when I showed back up to work out. If you add on the fact that I had lost about 15 lbs in the time they hadn’t seen me, and no one noticed, I was particularly crushed. We were in the middle of marathon training, paying for unlimited WODs, and going twice a week. I do want to say that this is not a blanket statement for everyone there. There were certainly a handful of awesome folks who brightened some of the dark corners, but they couldn’t overcome how uncomfortable it was to just be there. And this place was DEFINITELY the right choice for some. But not for us. We needed better coaching to get better and somebody to take interest in our progress. And maybe laugh at a joke every now and then.
I could go on and on about the differences, but I will leave it at this. If you are interested in CrossFit, choose your box wisely. Each one has its own soul and personality, and it has to fit yours if you are going to find any real success. I feel incredibly lucky to have found CrossFit Pearl City (part of a CrossFit conglomerate on the island… five other boxes and each one of those has a different flavor, too) and in particular, Coach Juggs. I will stop here, because I am positive I will write more about this in the future.