It’s 6am on a dark Halloween morning and I’m at the gym, wearing a German barmaid costume and a long blonde wig. I am a CrossFitter.
Not everyone is in costume this morning; most people have opted to be normal. Well, as normal as you can be if you CrossFit. They chose to wear shorts and long socks, t-shirts or a tank top, while doing deadlifts and a crazy metcon.
There is one brown bear in the class, working on her overhead squats. I don’t feel so alone.
Working out in costume is ridiculous. It won’t make me stronger, faster, or more fit. But it will lighten my heart and, in an odd way, fill my soul.
So often, we are so serious in life.
Life is full of heartbreak: people leave, loved ones die far too young, and still the clock hands sweep the hour. I’m no longer convinced that serious accomplishment is my legacy in this life. More and more, I think that perhaps it is giving joy.
CrossFit is becoming bigger every day, a gathering force in the fitness world. It’s the “professionalization of training” as my friend Greg Glassman likes to say. With that professionalization comes serious money, serious workouts, and serious business. I think about these things daily, and I wonder how they affect us all.
We used to be goofier in CrossFit, in the early days. Things were wild and open and nothing was off limits. We designed insane workouts in our individual affiliates to see how we could push ourselves, punish ourselves, and stop ourselves just shy of the hospital. We knew no boundaries and we were learning each day, on ourselves and our people. We all had at least one sleepless night where we restrained ourselves from calling a member in the dark: “Are you okay? I didn’t kill you, did I?”
We still are wild today, but maybe not with the same elan. In the old days, there was fun and (yes) injury, laughter and a lot of healing, in more ways than one. Our CrossFit world was not mapped yet, so we couldn’t fall off the edge. Outside people already thought we were freaks and weirdos. Who does high rep Olympic lifting, then runs with a heavy bag on their shoulder? Who tries wall-ball with their eyes closed? Who pushes a weight sled in the snow?
I love the CrossFit world we have created and, if offered a magic time machine, I would not use it.
We are where we should be, and we are going where we must go. The train cannot return to the station. But, in the midst of your effort and achievement, your plans and your stats, your numbers and your PRs, maybe you can remember to toss in a little goofiness. Wear a costume on Halloween. Hit your gym members with water balloons on a hot July mile. Make them do warm-up sprints by chasing a foam rocket across the parking lot. (Winner doesn’t have to do burpees.) Add a spelling challenge during the ten-second rest on Tabata squats. Push that weight sled in the snow. Lighten moods and hearts, if you can.