Gym Upgrade: Finding Your Tribe

A little over a year ago, I was working out at my local YMCA gym with a girlfriend. It was the middle of the day and the gym was pretty dead. We were working out in one of the smaller free-weight rooms and it was just us and one guy in the room. As my friend was finishing her last set, I asked her if she wanted to go into another room to work on lying leg curls, and as I said this, I made a movement with my leg mimicking what the machine does. At this point, the guy who had been working out on the other side of the room came up, took out one of his ear buds and said, “Oh, do you need a good butt and thigh workout?” I was slightly confused, as I had not asked for his help, nor looked around helplessly. I politely said no thank you, and turned back to my friend. The guy then took it upon himself to start explaining split squats to me, telling us how they are a really good, “butt and thigh workout.” Not so politely, I told him, “Oh we actually just did those, thanks anyway.” This time he got the hint that we were not interested in him or his unwanted, “butt workout” suggestions. His manor changed, he rudely said “well never mind then,” and put his earbuds back in. As my girlfriend and I started to leave the room, he concluded our interaction with a loud, “TRAMP.”

I will say, the YMCA is a fabulous organization, and I don’t blame them for this interaction, it could have happened at any gym where there isn't any regulation to who comes in etc. Not to long after this experience, I received the opportunity to teach yoga at a Crossfit gym. After connecting with the owners, and being offered the opportunity to start a yoga program there, they also explained that they would like me to not only teach yoga, but to start doing CrossFit, as a way to get linked in with their community. Honestly, I had always been a bit wary of Crossfit. It seemed like it was a bit too “bro-ey” and intense for me. Also, I had heard of people getting hurt and I wasn't into that. All that aside though, my own gym experience wasn’t going that great for me. The main reasons why a traditional gym wasn't working well for me was pretty simple:

  1. It's very hard for me to motivate myself to go to the gym. I always felt like I had to have a buddy, or the chance of me going was slim.

  2. Even if I could get a friend to go with me, I didn’t realllllly know what I was doing, and I tended to feel silly, and therefore not spend much time actually working out.

  3. I didn’t actually know how weak or strong I was in any exercise, so I was always fearful of using a lot of weight and potentially getting hurt.

  4. Read intro paragraph again if you’re forgotten how I got called a tramp for no reason.

So I figured, can’t knock it if I haven’t tried it, and I agreed to start working out regularly. I think people believe Crossfit is intimidating for multiple reasons. I personally thought that everyone who went to CrossFit was super motivated and super fit and what I learned is that NORMAL PEOPLE DO CROSSFIT. Not only do normal people do CrossFit, but wonderful people do CrossFit! As I started coming regularly, I started to learn more and more about the way it works.

Throughout the week, there are set times that classes are offered, and these are led by a certified Crossfit coach. People are encouraged to pick a specific time of day that they can make it to class, Monday through Friday. This does multiple things:

1. It makes it a habit.

2. Having a coach who knows you makes it so that you are properly executing the strength-training movements to ensure that you won't carelessly hurt yourself from mis-alignment. (My first few classes were solely focused on making sure I was using the proper form!)

3. It connects you with the other people that are going to that class everyday.

I hadn’t realized that CrossFit was so community based! When I first arrived, everyone seemed so strong and intimidating, but what started to happen was I got to know people and realized that, yes they are strong, but not so intimidating. Knowing who is in your class everyday makes it so that people get to know each other, they ask each other how their kids are, or why they weren’t at class yesterday, etc. Staying accountable is a huge part of it for me, I know that, “So-and-so will probably ask where I was if I skip today,” ...etc. I love it! Obviously the added benefit is that I’ve become a lot stronger since I started working out, and not so surprisingly, I haven’t had any creepy dudes ask me if I need a good butt workout.

My goal isn’t to force anyone to go to a gym that they don’t want to go to, but just to break down some of the misconceptions of CrossFit. Since I started working out I’ve had the opportunity to go to other CrossFit gyms while living abroad, and I’ve found the same sense of community and acceptance at each one that I go to. Try it out!