You go to the box, but you don’t call it a box anymore.
It’s a gym. A gym, like the others before it and yet different.
Box as a word seems sort of old now, like WOD and fire-breather and beast mode. Old in the way that groovy and man and aerobics got old, you suppose. Not bad, just … familiar. Like Olivia Newton-John’s headband turned into Richard Simmon’s headband turned into a Rich Froning and Sam Briggs headband. Different and the same. Sweaty headbands through the ages.
You still get a good workout but you don’t feel the need now to lose yourself into this pack, this movement, these specific movements. You belong to them, but you belong to yourself first.
You forgot that for a while, but you remembered it again, and you’re okay with this independent-yet-together melding you have now. The magic and the mystery might have slipped into the night along with your high socks, GHD sit-ups, and the thrill of running with an object, but this is the nature of life, perhaps.
Seasons, again and again. And these are the seasons of fitness.
Yet the barbell seems to have no season.
Neither do the bumpers or the dumbbells. Never the steel. They seem timeless.
They are timeless. You can always find solace in them.
They know no jargon, wear no headbands. Winter does not visit them.
“Lift me or not,” they say, “I really don’t care what you do with the rest of your time.”
Sitting at home, you flip open your Mac on a Sunday morning and watch some of the CrossFit Regionals. Without sound, of course. You don’t have to listen to the sound anymore. The athletes on the workout are doing things in synch on the pull-up bar, like swimmers out of water, above the surface, below the surface. You want them to wear rubber bathing caps with straps under their chins. Some of them, of course, wear headbands.
You close your Mac.
You think about the ten years you’ve been doing these workouts. Much has changed, but the whiteboard has stayed the same. You hear there are gyms that don’t use whiteboards because a workout app company forbids them. You must track all data in the app or don’t track at all. You want to throw a Molotov cocktail through that company’s internet window.
Thankfully, the whiteboard at your gym is still the whiteboard; its innate value encapsulated in its purpose, which is the ability to broadcast results but not enshrine them. Even the finest scores and numbers will be wiped out at the end of the day.
Nothing is permanent on the whiteboard.
Today, this person is #1, and these people all fell behind them. Tomorrow, tabula rasa again for everyone.
There’s something so refreshing about the whiteboard. Possibility, effort, success, failure, perseverance … and a fresh start. Always a fresh start.
You think about how everything changes in this world. And so too was this experience slated to change at some point. You’re not surprised. But you mostly leave the fervor to the newbies now. They’re still fun to watch. You’re the vet in the corner, getting your sweat on, smiling at the headbands.