People of all demographics have come together under the banner of CrossFit to develop a community that is unparalleled in strength, scope and size. The numerous individuals that make up the CrossFit community are obviously drawn to the program for the promise of physical endowment and the camaraderie forged on the floor, but in my short time as part of the community I’ve noticed there are certain intrinsic personality traits that draw people to CrossFit. Some may be perceived as positive traits and others negative, but they all contribute to the personality profile of a CrossFit athlete.
Although the adjective has mainly negative connotations, the fruit bore by neurosis can be extremely beneficial for CrossFit athletes at large. We all know a guy at our gym that takes an excessive amount of time to set up for an Olympic lift, re-gripping the bar several times and twerking in the same fashion before each rep. We all know the girl who goes for the chalk bucket in between every broken set of pull ups. And we all have experienced some type of anxiety or neurosis when we miss multiple days of training. However, when this neurosis is coupled with the right training techniques it forms habits that build elite athletes.
Events like Barbells for Boobs, organizations like CrossFit for Hope and numerous hero workouts honoring fallen soldiers and servicemen put philanthropy at the core of the CrossFit community. Although athletes can be perceived as selfish in many ways, their contributions to the community as a whole cannot be ignored. The philanthropic spirit of CrossFit athletes has transformed boxes into centers for universal benevolence.
Most athletes are fiercely dedicated not only to their own training, but to the gyms and fellow athletes that support their training. Boxes become symbols of identity for frequent athletes, and friendships made at the gym extend far beyond training sessions. There are few conglomerates that have inspired the level of dedication to an idea, purpose and place that CrossFit has.
The emergence of CrossFit has represented a paradigm shift in the world of fitness. After decades of domination by globo-gyms, home exercise videos and isolation training methods, CrossFit has brought the concept of functional fitness to the masses. Even though CrossFit has now become a much more prevalent fitness model, its athletes still embody the sense of rebellion and counter culture that the program was initially built on. Some of the most popular and successful athletes from the CrossFit games are proof of the presence of counter culture in the CrossFit fabric, whether it be undersized athletes such as Chris Spealler, tattoo clad athletes such as Matt Chan or even the unassuming king of fitness, Rich Froning.
There is no better trait that CrossFit athletes share than compassion. The compassion wielded by gym members is the main reason why CrossFit has grown at an exponential rate and has made boxes more than just a place to work out. Newcomers are commonly greeted with open arms, making CrossFit gyms a sanctuary where anyone can be accepted despite their past or present form. This compassion and altruism creates an environment that not only supports physical gains, but also emotional growth.
The stubbornness displayed by many CrossFit patrons is both a strength and weakness. It is strength in the sense that athletes are able to push themselves beyond the boundaries of normal human comprehension. They refuse to accept perceived physical limitations and are often rewarded with an array of positive results. However, this obstinacy is also a contributor to injuries that have tarnished the program’s reputation. Many people have argued that CrossFit is inherently dangerous, but fail to recognize that every athlete has a choice when they enter a box. They can scale workouts until they have developed the mobility, nutrition and techniques needed to perform as prescribed, or they can chose to put themselves at risk by picking up weight they can’t handle properly and performing movements they have not taken the time to master. Most injuries happen because stubborn athletes fail to adhere to a standard, develop a technique properly or listen to their bodies when feeling sore or injured.
CrossFit athletes are complicated. We come in different shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, needing something new on a daily basis. Despite all of these differences, we have found common ground in a sport that delivers a succinct message; we are all the same inside. Though our ages, range of mobility and athletic ability may vary, we all are striving towards creating a better version of ourselves and a better version of the world we see around us. Although these traits can, and have, been portrayed in a negative light, I choose to see them as a cocktail that can been used to inject positivity and success into our everyday lives.