Here is where I leave it all on the floor.
Here, at CrossFit, I sweat, toil, and labor my way through workouts named for heroes and workouts named for beautiful women and workouts that have names like “10 Rounds of Garbage” and “That F**king One” only because I gave them those names.
Here is where I swear like a longshoreman, sweat and shake in delirium, and beat myself into the ground with each thruster rep and each horribly inadequate pull-up. It’s penance or punishment. Or more like purgatory.
If I was cut off from it, I really don’t know what I would do. At this point, I am willing to throw rocks through car windows and steal spare change in order to feed my habit. I am an addict.
But here is also where I dread to come.
Where I have to force myself to go. Where I think daily of skipping the workout, of finding something terribly more important to do: like pay my bills or teach college students, or raise my children.
Surely, I can quit this habit. I can blend into society. Yet, somehow, this way of thinking suddenly flips around and those same tasks become unimportant in comparison to the workout. My thoughts literally warp in the grip of this beast known as CrossFit.
I’m not certain when I left the ranks of normal people, perhaps it was long before CrossFit sunk its claws into me, but it is a done deal now. I am not normal. I am, as the incongruous pairing of the Foo Fighters and Sesame Street would proclaim, “Not like the others.”
Except when I come here.
To this place. To this CrossFit affiliate. To this room in the back of an old brick industrial building where, many moons ago, women in long dresses and serious shoes produced tons of metal pins for the entire nation to utilize. Now, in this same space, with its high ceilings and oak columns, we produce athletes and unearth beautiful spirits that have hidden too long in oversized bodies.
Here is where I am, in some way, like the others in their efforts: a work in progress. I don’t always succeed. But I’m trying. Lord, I’m trying.
Here is also where I hate to leave.
When the workout is done and I have nothing left in me, all I have to do is sit for a minute or two, or even pace, in that caged animal way, ready to tackle whatever else dares to stray into my part of the jungle—and I am rejuvenated, refreshed, reborn. I’ve had my hit and I am high.
Then, I don’t want to leave. For it is at the end of the workout that people tell their stories. We talk about our lives, our loves, what strange sh** is going down in our part of the world today. We want to know about the broken hearts, the new babies, the bad habits, the good recipes, and the ghosts of old fears that are holding us back.
CrossFit is our drug and our twelve-step recovery program all in one. Somebody a lot wiser than me once said, “You can’t hate somebody if you know their story.” Here, we all know each other’s stories. It’s what keeps us coming back.
Here, if only for a moment, we catch the dragon.