Kinda Crossfit(ish), Kinda Not by Steph Irwin
Recently, I ran into a store for a quick errand after I left the gym, and while checking out, a customer behind me in line complimented my shoes (some version of a Reebok Nano…nothing special…). “Are you a Crossfitter?” she asked, and I stuttered my way through a response. “Um, well I go to a Crossfit gym. Well, I mean I DO Crossfit. I mean I ATTEMPT Crossfit, but…” After telling me she was an avid Crossfitter, we shared a few pleasantries and I left the store. As I walked out, though, I couldn’t help but feel the irony in her question. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself over the past couple months, and I’m still not sure I know the answer. Am I a Crossfitter?
I’m a longtime fitness enthusiast, so I’m no stranger to a gym. Prior to coming to RTC earlier this year, I’d tried a few Crossfit classes here and there, but I knew little about the sport of Crossfit except stereotypes I’d read about or heard from other people. That there is little attention paid to form. That doing Crossfit will surely lead to injury. That Crossfit boxes are overly competitive and full of drama. And then there’s those Crossfit comp videos I’d watch and think, “I would never do that. I’d never be able to do that. And…why are they doing that??” Add to that my own fears about lifting a bar over my head or standing upside down or flipping around the rig like a monkey and well, I’d just decided that Crossfit would never be for me.
What brought me to RTC was some time spent floundering after leaving my previous gym, and my positive first impressions of the facility, the staff, and the members I met at my first visit. And after a few months here, I can say with certainty that these preconceived notions I had have for the most part been debunked. That’s due to some phenomenal coaching, a supportive gym environment, and the necessity on my part to be patient with the learning process.
The coaching at RTC is beyond reproach. Every coach is knowledgeable, experienced, and encouraging. Coaches are a stickler for form, modeling every move and going through rounds of practice prior to the start of every WOD. Multiple modifications are offered for every exercise. This is a staff that successfully navigated the challenges of quarantine and shutdown, supporting members with equipment signout, daily zoom class options, and product at home delivery. This is a staff that took cleaning to new heights even prior to all the Covid mandated protocols, keeping the facility always pristine and safe for everybody. This is a staff who offers nutrition coaching, one on one skills coaching, youth classes, and who make themselves available outside of class time for whatever a member needs, whether that’s simply to buy a can of protein or sit down for a serious talk about goals.
And I can speak personally to the added value I’ve received from one on one sessions with Coach Allie this summer. I’ve always struggled with shoulder flexibility, hip mobility, and my tendency to be overly cautious and fearful of injury, especially as I age. I’ll be honest and say that there have been moments of frustration along the way that ended with a few tears shed in the bathroom. I’ve been a teacher for over 30 years, and I understand a learning curve, but some days I seriously feel like I’m on a straight road to nowhere. But I can look back over these summer months and see real progress, not just in specific Crossfit skills, but in my confidence level and my ability to put all of this in perspective. I can thank Allie for that, who listens, adapts her teaching methods at a moment’s notice, and balances empathy with no nonsense expectations.
It’s also important to note that RTC’s mantra to “Work Hard & Be Nice to People” is more than just a cute aphorism posted on the wall. The RTC box is full of motivated and encouraging people, each on their own fitness journey. Athletes of all levels train at RTC, but there’s a true sense of teamwork and camaraderie and an overall feeling of support and acceptance that I’ve felt as a member. “Be nice to people” shouldn’t be difficult advice to follow, but we live in a world in which that doesn’t seem to be the norm. It’s comforting to belong to a gym that feels like a safe space full of like-minded people.
So the question remains: Am I a Crossfitter? Maybe on some days. On other days, not so much. I still struggle with some basic Crossfit skills, but I’m getting better. I still struggle with the whiteboard, which sometimes taunts me with its numbers, but I’m learning to focus on my own progress and not my performance in comparison to others. I still struggle to pace myself and set aside time for rest and recovery, but I’ve always been a work in progress in that department.
When all is said and done, what’s certain is that I’m a proud member of the RTC family. This gym is a special place where people come first and serious training leads to serious results. I like to work hard and learn new things, and I’ve found a gym full of people who share those same values. For me, and for now, that’s enough. Maybe someday I’ll master those dubs or overhead squat with confidence or get that kipping pull-up just right. Today, though, I’m comfortable saying I’m “Kinda Crossfit(ish), Kinda Not.”