I honestly am relatively new to CrossFit and I wasn’t too sure about it before I started. I’ve always dealt with injuries while wrestling (which was my love for 20 years) and with the stigma that can be placed on CrossFit I was certain I would hurt myself beyond repair. The funny thing is through this experience I have become stronger, resolved some issues and have learned so much more about mobility and taking care of my body, not to mention added immensely to my knowledge of how the body moves and correct form to exercises I had never performed in the past.
I’ll back it up a bit… I moved to Texas exactly a year and a half ago from Colorado Springs and I definitely lived that lifestyle, the outdoorsy hippie lifestyle if you will. My activities consisted of Hot Yoga, hiking in the mountains and taking my bike out on trails, basically finding my chi ;) Although I was a personal trainer I didn’t really do anything competitive or lift weights much due to the fact I had let myself become deconditioned from injuries that ended my wrestling career (neck injuries that I received cortisone shots for, a shoulder surgery & a pretty serious concussion that affected my quality of life for years). As much as I loved the competitiveness & pushing myself beyond my limits in wrestling I thought that part of my life was over. I didn’t think I’d ever find anything to compare and luckily life lead me here.
Shortly after I got settled in Texas and into working at my third 24 Hour Fitness I became friends with one of my co-workers, Gabriel. He had without hesitation taken time to help me with an injury & had done nothing short of magic in alleviating my pain which made me a little more open minded when he suggested I come and try CrossFit Strong. I contemplated it… knowing how I am I questioned if this would be the most beneficial decision for me. In case you didn’t know I’m kind of an all in or out type of person. Thoughts went through my mind like would I physically be able to keep up, would I have the time, would it be worth it??? I decided to at least go once and check it out, I mean I wasn’t doing anything else… I was kind of lost without all of my Namaste activities and friends in Colorado.
Little did I know that one decision would have such an impact on my life… when you make small decisions you never realize at the time what may come of it. I remember it was a gorgeous day outside and walking through this big white garage door and seeing this huge open space and wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. The vibe reminded me of my wrestling days, a good start to my experience. Gabe had gone over the workout with me the day before, taking me into the racquetball court to allow me to practice and demonstrate I could do handstand pushups… with a few mats I could do them but they took quite a bit of energy. Now surrounded by very welcoming strangers I went through a warm up that was just about as difficult as most of my current work outs but as far as I could tell I kept my game face intact and was ready to give it what I had. After completing this first work out at Strong I was exhausted, drenched in sweat (did I mention its summer in Texas??!! gross) and feeling like I had given my all... this was the closest I had felt to my prior life of competing.
CrossFit had my attention. I loved the effort that was required but what would make this place even more special was the community aspect. Remember I was in a new city and at this point only knew a handful of people in Dallas (basically my new coworkers). There are certainly challenges to relocating. One is finding good people to surround yourself with. I didn’t know it at the time but Strong would also provide that for me as well.
One of the workouts that I had completed early on will be etched in my mind forever. I participated in a WOD that involved thrusters and just in case any one doesn’t know I cringe to this word, still to this day they are my least favorite exercise. What a dreadful day. I was last… very last. What made it worse was that people were obviously aware of this and came over (Gale Yocom being the first) to cheer me on. I wanted to quit, my legs were shaking. I wasn’t sure once I got into a squat if I would make it back up and then I had to get that dumb bar above my head?! I was so embarrassed, pride erased… & I couldn’t quit, I had to keep going. I mean people that were long done with their WOD, who barely knew me stayed late to encourage me. I know beyond any doubt that multiple people were late for work that day because they chose to see this thing through with me. Weird to say but in that moment I felt like that was the worst thing that could have happened. As traumatized as I was by being last and everyone witnessing my struggle I realized how rare and incredible it is to really be surrounded by people like this, people that want to see you succeed, people who will build you up. I knew I would get better here and these were the people to be around. This was the atmosphere that would encourage my physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. I wasn’t going anywhere.
CrossFit has given me a sense of the life that I believed to be over (the hard work, discipline, dedication and fortitude it takes to improve in something physical) but Strong has given me so much more than a workout routine and goals. It can be hard being in a new place and Strong gave me not only my fitness back but new friends and a team atmosphere in a foreign place. It’s not just a gym you come to work out at but it’s a place where we celebrate one another and establish relationships and bonds making it natural to enjoy each other’s company outside the gym. It’s not uncommon for members to go to a dinner together for a birthday or after opens, to play sand volleyball at Vitruvian or partake in some manmosas after an offsite WOD, to go to the pool, or anyone of the many events they put on (the epic event, family day, Halloween, Thanksgiving Dinner, etc). I can certainly say that Strong is the reason I have remained in Texas… it provided a new lifestyle, friends that are more like family and a job where I hope to be able to contribute giving to others what I have received.
Im grateful for this twist in my life and what Gale has built and provided to me and so many others. His vision and commitment to this establishment has undeniably changed lives and given people a place they can go and tools to utilize to legitimately improve. In a time when it’s easy to become distracted or negatively influence by all of the crazy nonsense in the world we have a place to go where we can better ourselves, focus on our health, become mentally stronger, all while being blessed with those from all different backgrounds supporting one another. Beautiful if you ask me.