The CrossFit community is unique. It seems like every CrossFit affiliate I have ever been to (while all have their differences) are similar in that they all foster a positive community, where people talk to each other, are welcoming to newbies, cheer each other on and in the end become friends. In the typical “globo gym” (a CrossFitters term for the conventional gym) members don´t communicate, except for the occasional “can I get a spot” or “are you still using that bench.” In a CrossFit gym, however, as soon as you walk in you are bombarded with people trying to get to know you. Where are you from? What do you do? How long have you been CrossFitting?
So why does a CrossFit gym experience this unique characteristic of community? And why is it important?
First, the why. The workout of the day is the same for everybody, no matter what skill level. When you do the same thing as the person next to you, you know exactly how they are suffering. When you suffer together, there is a natural bond. Whoever finishes first in the workout knows exactly what everybody else is going through and the type of encouragement they will need to get through it.
With the coach-led, group classes, participation and attention levels are higher than at a globo gym. Athletes at a CrossFit gym can´t put in headphones and zone out, otherwise they will miss the entire purpose of having a coach. When you are “forced” to pay attention and participate during class, you tend to be more aware of the people around you!
And finally – people who work out a CrossFit gym tend to have similar interests and/or personalities. Let´s face it, CrossFit isn´t for everybody. The people that stick around a CrossFit gym have a lot more in common than they may realize it, which is why it makes it so easy to talk to each other, go out for beers on the weekend, etc, etc.
Why is the community aspect of CrossFit important?
It provides support. It provides support during a workout, after a workout and throughout your entire journey into becoming a more fit human being. We link fitness to intensity. Without people cheering you on while you finish a workout, you probably wouldn´t finish the workout as strongly as you started it. Your intensity would decrease and you wouldn´t get as much out of the workout as possible. After the workout, having people come up to you and give you a high five along with some encouraging words reinforces that what you just went through was really worth it, and tomorrow will be just as satisfying. And finally, when you feel part of a community, you tend to stick to that community a lot longer. Fitness isn´t something you can just find in a month and then revisit every once in a while. It is a life long journey of changing habits to become as healthy as possible, and we all need a support system to help us through it.
I´ll challenge everybody out there to remember the following when in a CrossFit gym:
1. When you walk in to the gym each day, say hi to as many people as possible, especially the new people! We were all new at one point and scared out of our minds. Go share some CrossFit stories with someone you don´t know!
2. If you get done first, you should be the first one cheering everybody else on. Clap, yell, help countdown the final reps.
3. Do not put away your equipment until everybody is done! You may not realize it while doing it, but think about how deflating that can be to someone still trying to finish the workout.
4. At the end of class, go give everybody a high five, even the coaches!