I CrossFit. Yea it’s a verb now. It means that I perform “constantly varied, high intensity functional movements measured across broad time and modal domains.” Or to put it in simpler terms “the act of CrossFitting,” which is also it’s own understood word now. And this methodology of fitness comes with a whole glossary of it’s own terminology- but I digress.
When people learn I participate in CrossFit the conversation usually goes something like this:
Non-CrossFitter: Oh, you CrossFit! That’s like a cult, isn’t it?
Me: *Forced LOL* I know anything that has a large dedicated following can be considered a cult so it isn’t necessarily something to look at negative. I feel that CrossFitters just have a strong sense of community. We endure tough workouts together, we cheer each other on to succeed and most facilities have an active social presence where athletes get to know each other outside of the gym. It’s easy to make friends that way.
Non-CrossFitter: I guess. They probably serve Kool-Aid at those social events, too ha ha ha.
Me: *Smiling while attempting to avoid my judgement of the judger* Yeaa- most fitness professionals do promote hydration. You should come with me to a class sometime and see what you think for yourself!
Non-CrossFitter: Oh no no. I’m not in shape enough to do that.
Me: That’s why we do CrossFit- to get fit.
End scene. Meanwhile my next interactions with Non-CrossFitter are usually them avoiding further conversations with me while I flex every time I wave and remind them to join me at CrossFit.
So how did this “cult” mentality come to be? And is that really what’s happening? And regardless why are those CrossFitter so diehard about their fitness?
I will start with what a cult is. According to Merriam-Webster a “cult” is extreme devotion to some one or some thing. Okay- so in that case can’t we say that any group committed to anything on a regular basis is a “cult?” And what’s better to devote your time to than your health? Stop saying CrossFit is a cult like it’s a bad thing. Just stop it. Stooppppp ittttttt….. Thank you.
Moving on, what’s really happening at these boxes? All around the world there is some type of magic going on in these simple, open air structures that is making people want to spend an awful lot of time there. What’s their secret? What’s the appeal? Simple. Self belief and tribes. Say what? Yea. Those things. CrossFit has a way of showing you that you can do things you never even thought you would want to do. Ladies who come into the gym wanting to tone often discover that they can actually eat food while looking leaner than ever AND manage to lift more than their body weight from the ground to over head. Growing up as a little girl when would one ever think that they would be able to do that? Or rather who would even think they would ever want to do that? At least who from my generation? Guys who remember the glory days of winning games in their younger years find themselves being cheered on for being the last person to finish a workout. Re-read that again if you want to. It isn’t a typo. In CrossFit people actually cheer on the last person to finish. Who ever thought you would be celebrated for being last? Your fellow athletes cheer you on because they know how hard it is- they just did it. And they want you to feel the satisfaction of finishing too.
Which brings me to the community. People tend to find their people in theses boxes. They find their tribe. CrossFitters don’t just workout alongside each other. We are living the experience with each other. Your box (there goes that language again. “Boxes” are what CrossFit facilities are called) is where you go every day to get better. And the people that are there doing the same thing recognize that. They celebrate your successes, they feel your frustrations and are the loudest ones to cheer when you break your old PR (personal record). Sweating with people and experiencing things with one another bonds us. But it doesn’t end there. These boxes schedule socials like other outdoor fitness events, winter formals, movie nights because life is about more than just working out. It’s about living happy days and sharing them with those you care about. It’s about encouraging others and helping uplift them. And perhaps most importantly it is about that self belief I mentioned earlier. Knowing how great you can be- even if you had never realized the possibility of it before.
So that’s why. That’s why I feel like CrossFit can be regarded as a “cult.” That’s what goes on. That’s why I think so many are in love with this particular sport. And if any of this sounds like something that you might want to be a part of then you can have a sip from my Kool-Aid cup any time.
About the Contributing Author
Johnna Matthews is a North Carolina native but she’s been in Miami for a bit. She is a Lululemon Ambassador for Brickell City Centre and currently coaches private clients and group classes at CrossFit Wynwood and Reebok Crossfit Miami Beach. Not having always been an athlete nor fitness enthusiast she has an understanding for those new to working out. Johnna promotes a comprehensive approach to wellness including mind, body and soul with a focus on self love.