5 Reasons I’m about to Join CrossFit, Even Though I’m Terrified

by Brittany Bulens

I know they put their videos online and they’re not trying to hide anything. I know I could take one free class and see what they’re all about. I mean, I work out every day. I can run for days. But this is no joke. What I’m saying is, I’m joining CrossFitand I’m scared. Here’s why.

1. It’s a mystery.

Everyone seems to agree on one thing. CrossFit meets in a box. From there, opinions collide, accusations are fired, experts are quoted, glitches are used as ammunition, passion transpires and acrimony finally surfaces as a haze of uncertainty for us onlookers.

It’s a class stained by rumors, am I right? Should we call it a class, or is it so much more than that? It’s expensive. It’s relentless. Are there tires involved?

Outsiders hear so much about it, don’t we? Our eyes scan curiously when we happen upon a related article online. Occasionally, we probe YouTube for answers. Two strangers sit cross-legged beside us on the train discussing hidden lapses in the program and we discretely ponder their facts. Some declare that CrossFit is just too much. They introduce their wide-eyed spectators to the infamous Uncle Rhabdo, a character who suffers from a serious condition called Rhabdomyolsis, which causes the breakdown of muscle tissue, and has apparently been deemed CrossFit’s “dirty little secret.” It seems, to this fascinated observer at least, that a bunch of people have branded CrossFit to be some brain-washing, workout-fanatic, hard core, no-nonsense cult which, realistically, can result in an unsafe and agonizing experience. So, why are people who CrossFit so happy?

The more I casually investigate, the more acquainted I become with a welcoming, unified, supportive collaboration of people. I’m not surprised that this quite intimidating group is unified and supportive, but I’m stumped by their open arms. I witness over and over again CrossFit’s claim to maintain a non-judgmental community. Their reputation itself is nerve-racking and their “poster child” is impeccable, yet, all indications reveal they hold true to their positive, beginner-friendly environment and that it works.

Of all the intriguing aspects of my quite likable life, I can’t say there’s any sort of enigmatic element happening in my daily routine. There’s nothing that looks excruciating on the surface, but somehow feels perfect. That’s about to change. I need to know what the fuss is about.

2. It seems lots of people who are not part of the CrossFit community talk a lot of crap about the CrossFit community.

And I don’t blame them. CrossFiters are so strong and in shape. They’re so driven and disciplined. Can’t they be normal and just go to a spinning class and pipe down about it? I have an inkling that many of these bad-mouthing Debbie Downer cases are due to the maddening reality that the rest of us are still outside the box, peeking in. I know I can relate. We all have that Facebook acquaintance who posts photos of her spontaneous Friday night pull-ups, smiling in a dress, on some suitable bar that just so happen to be close by, with the caption, “I CrossFit!” Adorable, except not really because it’s not us.

We have every reason to take jabs at their taunting, snide team of everyday people who walk around like they’re trying to be healthy, encouraging and well intentioned. They suck. How dare they adapt a convenient vernacular which helps them communicate better and quicker during an intense workout? First, they call their designated area a “box” and now they have a secret language. That’s obnoxious but can I get in on it?

Most of us don’t know about burpees, double unders, what a Fran is, what a Grace is, what an Isabel is because we don’t do those things. We don’t have time. We haven’t found the motivation or the guts to try those things. Yes, the door is wide open for us, but that’s not the point. The bottom line is, we don’t know what they’re talking about and we don’t like that. CrossFit has generated an outbreak of envy, and I want to be on the other side of it.

3. I don’t want to be corny, but I do want a challenge.

Maybe one statement that’s been spoken, uttered, typed, heard, overheard, or read so many times is about how everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve been thinking that somewhere on my extensive, possibly never-ending list of weaknesses is a tendency to let anyone else take leadership in a given situation, wrongly assuming myself to be less capable. So, that is definitely not good.

It’s something I’m working on, or at least that’s what I tell myself and what I just typed out for you to read and what sounds good. I’m not the most courageous person (also on the list) so I remember when I was really afraid to move to Korea, I thought that if I can do this, I can do anything. Succeeding feels excellent.

Maybe CrossFit’s biggest draw is the stories I hear about ordinary people pushing really hard until they’ve accomplished something they believe is awesome, and then pushing to do even better. I quite fancied how something I did was really impressive to me, so I think I’ll try to incorporate that feeling into my life on a weekly basis.

4. It’s bad ass.

You know those long medal pole things with the circular weights on either side? Soon, I mean, when I pay for CrossFit and start attending classes, they will make their way into my life. Mind blown.

Before this endeavor, those things only crossed paths with my darling existence by being visible at the far back of the gym, gripped between the hands of some shaky guy in horizontal position, with his buddy standing right over him. Honestly, the only time I could even be bothered enough to give those medal pole things an actual place in my brainwaves was for a cute second as I pranced from treadmill to water bubbler, supposing that the gallant observer was there to prevent death in case medal hits cranium.

To say those days are over is an understatement, probably. I know this because I’ve been doing my fair share of peering across the gym at the area that’s painted blue with “CrossFit” written in white. That’s where a badass group of people with all different capabilities practice lifting those weights. They also climb ropes, do pull-ups, throw heavy balls and lean upside-down against the wall. Whatever all that means, I’m in. I’m scared but it’s on. I can hang. I’m not a workout fanatic but I’m quite capable of committing and getting stronger. We’ll add it to another list I’ve started drafting for myself, things that seem way too difficult for me to do, but then I do them really well.

5. I’m a foreigner.

I’m a little terrified about this whole CrossFit thing, but I’ve got a card everyone’s labeled “foreigner” and I’ll use as needed. Chances are, nobody will notice anything I do wrong. All shortcomings and catastrophic inabilities made obvious during this process will surely be chalked up to language barrier complications. If I can’t do it, every Korean onlooker will assume it has something to do with the fact that I come from very far away and nothing to do with me, I’m sure. I’m not going nearly as fast as everyone else and I’m breathing a lot heavier than my classmates have witnessed? Must be some weird foreigner thing. I’m not from around here, so it’s actually impossible for me embarrass myself in any way, isn’t it?