Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why I've Always Been A CrossFit Junkie...

A garage is one of the most important places to experience, as a young man. For one, it is a refuge from daily life. A temple to manhood whereby one can create, grow, maintain distance from the world and challenge oneself. Growing up in Oklahoma, half of our garage was devoted to workout equipment that I either made or bought mowing yards. The rafters were exposed, the concrete floor a bit slanted to the right and this thing was a draft machine (wind went right through it). If you had the distinct pleasure of an invite to my workout center, you would have seen two heavy punching bags, a speed bag, a workout bench, bicep curl stand and a collection of weights, jump ropes and boxes to jump on to go with it all. The main exercises we would have done were directly influenced by the men and women who taught me how to train - you would have gotten your ass kicked!

My entire live has been devoted to the improvement of my physical endeavors. My training life started when I was very young. Encouraged by an old Oklahoma State linemen to focus daily on strength and power, he helped me get serious around age 12. I also received further instruction from a Catholic Priest, Father Boyer. He would take me to a power-lifting gym, which truly solidified my love of Olympic-style lifting. Although I played team high school sports, they really didn't stick as much as the individualized sports like running, duathalons, biking and soon to be climbing. But it was gym culture that really captured my attention, and it wasn't just the pretty ladies :)

This is going to get deep... These gyms saved (and are still saving) my life! As a young man, I was (and probably still am) a flighty and challenged soul. I've spent time in jail, been in my share of really good fist fights, broken a lot girl's hearts and have cried a river of tears with pain. But, it was the gym that always spared me from going to the next level of disaster or sorrow. The men and women in these gyms were more of an influence on my life than they'll ever know. And by these gyms, I mean the power-lifting and martial arts gyms, where I spent most of my time (the fitness-oriented gyms, just don't have the same culture that excites and bonds. One feels weird sweating too much). The clang of weights, grunts of the power lifters and musty smell of hard training was like a group meditation, a practice. Alas, I feel I've lost a lot of this culture (which means I'm flighty again). However, I've seemingly found it again while visiting Oklahoma City over the holiday. But at the same time, I discovered something new, and had a realization. I have figured out that one key activity (mostly a group) really keeps the original gym-culture that wrote about earlier alive...

The CrossFit phenomenon is almost akin to the yoga-industrial-complex. CrossFit is beyond fad now. With the dietary component and cultural influence, people are turning to CrossFit like they turn to a religion. Personally, I think this is a great thing. These gyms carry passion, focus, determination and support to each individual (much like the gyms I grew up in). The activities they perform also have more of an athletic, vs fitness, perspective to them that charges up the hormones and gets one ramped up. I'd bet that a lot of people, who didn't grow up in gyms like I did, are turning to CrossFit to experience the same level of personal growth. So this post is more or less a thank you to the business-people and entrepreneurs who maintain such a positive and healthy culture! Those that push healthy eating, training and sacrifice! I could use a heavy dose of their influence, again!

Oh, and if you get an invite to my garage today, you'll experience a CrossFit center - that just got some major improvements! Finally, I'm not giving up gluten (just limiting it)!

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