It's a bit like being the parent of a gymnast at the Olympics. But we're not the parents of these athletes. In many cases, we don't even know them. But we've followed their journey. We cheer their victories. And our heart cries when they falter. We understand. No matter what our Fran times, max deadlifts, or muscle up ability, we understand. We understand because we, too, are CrossFitters.
We see the looks on the athletes' faces as they expand boundaries, pushing the limits of body and mind. We know what they are feeling. We've been there. Most of us will be there again soon. This is what is different about the CrossFit Games. Our physical capacities may be different, but our hearts and soul are the same. Burpees suck for everyone!
I'm Bob Guere, the owner and trainer at CrossFit California City, a garage affiliate in the Southern California High Desert. I had come to the 2009 CrossFit Games with two intentions. First, I wanted to meet face-to-face folks I've been "talking" to online for over a year. Second, I wanted to see the competition, the spectacle, and the display of intestinal fortitude that is the CrossFit Games.
Epic fail on number one. While we did meet some friends and message board acquaintances, we didn't spend much time socializing at all. We were sucked into the thrill of the Games themselves. The athletes. The spectacle. The excitement.
It all got me thinking again about the basic question: why do I CrossFit? Here I was, watching the fire-breathers, the champions, the fittest people on God's beautiful green and blue earth. For two days, I was one of them. I know the thrill of achievement and the agony of failure. I know the feeling of one more rep when you're already out of reps. I know the anguish when an old injury rears its ugly head again during a workout and how sweat burns when it seeps into the eyes. But it's only 5 more burpees! Anyone can do 5 burpees right? "This is why I CrossFit!" I thought.
If you attended the Games, and found yourself mingling in the crowd elbow-to-elbow with Josh Everett, Chris Spealler, Mikko Salo, Libby DiBiase, Coach Burgener, or Iceland Annie, and you felt the need to shake their hand and say "Great Job! You did wonderful!" Then you know why you CrossFit.
There's no other sport where the competitors walk freely among the crowd without fear of being mobbed or ridiculed for failing. You'll never hear a Josh Everett fan yell "YOU SUCK MIKKO!" Never. If you do, promptly punch that guy in the back of the face and escort him to the gates, because he's no CrossFitter! He doesn't belong with us, and we're better without him.
We cheer for our favorites. But we cheer just as loud for the competitor we don't recognize, simply because we see them gutting out one more rep. We celebrate with them in every movement.
In the end, we're all just trying to improve our bodies and our minds. We want to be an example to others, pass on our knowledge and experiences. Every true CrossFitter is the same. We are all striving to improve our physical self so our mental and spiritual self can thrive. Life is worth living fully and abundantly.
We were put here to be beacons of life, not to waddle around the mall with two ice cream cones in our hands, sucking in air-conditioned air while the breeze blows wonderfully through the trees just beyond the walls. This is why I CrossFit! To get out and get fit. To go to the Games, smell the dust, feel the pain, and live the victory.
At my affiliate, we are home to zero firebreathers. By firebreather I mean the top 5% of all CrossFitters. The Games competitors and the HQ trainers. I may even bump it to 3% as the number of CrossFitters is rising worldwide. The best of the best. Our garage-box membership is roughly at 8 adults and a half-dozen kids. Zero firebreathers.
CrossFit California City is home to regular people like you and me. We all aspire to be firebreathers, but really just as a lofty goal to guide our training. I am almost 39 years old, have been CrossFitting for a little over 18 months, have a handful of nagging injuries that always creep up, and hold a full time job at NASA.
I won't soon make it the firebreather level. But I'm Okay with that. For those 20 minutes during the WOD, I am a firebreather. I'm pushing very hard. Harder than last time. Faster than last time. Better form than last time. When I'm done, and the clock stops, I'm back to "not a firebreather" and I'm okay with that, too. That is not why I CrossFit.
I began CrossFiting to improve my health. CrossFit is the vehicle that has changed my overall health more than anything I've ever done. CrossFit has literally "whipped" me into shape, and quickly. I was pushing 240 lbs and 35% body fat when I started CrossFitting. I was certainly on the road to a lifetime of health problems. For the first time in my life, my blood pressure was measured "high" at a doctor's visit. The last time I had my blood lipids checked, my total cholesterol was over 220. I was a very "common" 39 year-old American male.
Now? I'm happily down to 205 lbs, about 17% BF, my blood pressure is Cylon-perfect, and my lipids are equally stellar. My total cholesterol is now 170. That is why I started CrossFit. However, CrossFit takes on a whole new life after a while. Suddenly I am an example to others and have new reasons to CrossFit.
I am a husband, a parent, a veteran, a black belt, a son, a brother, a friend, and now a Coach. CrossFit lends itself well to the personable coach, and I try very hard to be that. What I love about my garage affiliate is that I'm home when I train. When you come to CFCC, you'll meet my retired Dad, you'll get licked by my dog and you'll see what I bought at Costco this week. However, teaching CrossFit in my garage is the same as teaching CrossFit in a big box. If you've met other coaches, and gone to the bigger boxes, you know other coaches are this way too. They love to teach, and welcome you into their class like you were family.
I love training and I love coaching. While I don't have all the answers, and I don't have a bunch of letters after my name, I certainly can teach a mean overhead squat and know the fine points of a good snatch.
I've never had a job that is so much fun. CrossFit is really, really FUN. I don't mean roller-coaster fun, or family-day-at-the-movies fun. It's the kind of fun you have in competitive sports. The thrill of victory. It's fun knowing you gave it your all, even if your all wasn't a mind-blowing Fran time.
Remember when you were a kid, how long you could play outside in the mud and in the snow? Running up hills, down hills, through the woods, throwing snowballs, throwing footballs in the snow? Remember that? It was hard work! But we don't remember it as work, because it was fun. I get that feeling when I CrossFit. I enjoy working out with family and friends. I don't know how long I would've stuck with it if my wife wasn't CrossFitting with me. How long can you have a snowball fight by yourself? Yes, this is why I CrossFit; for me, for them, and for you.
Why do I CrossFit? I CrossFit so you'll CrossFit! That is why I CrossFit.
Now, why do you CrossFit? -Bob Guere