Crossfit & Community
The last two blog posts focused on aspects that we as an affiliate have the potential to do better on. However, this article will focus on something that we at CrossFit Reignited are doing entirely right: Community. This aspect almost sounds cliché now when talked about in the CrossFit world, but its significance cannot be overlooked. When an individual walks in those doors, at any of our four locations, we strive to make that hour the best part of their day, and we as an affiliate do a great job of creating such an atmosphere for our members. At the surface this is a beautiful thing, but as we dig deeper beyond this its significance is only enhanced with the impact that it has on our members’ lives and people in general.
There are many factors that go into creating a successful affiliate – coaching, facility, equipment, marketing, social media, membership costs, etc. – and they are all important. However, I would argue that not one of these aspects is as important as community. It is what differentiates CrossFit from other strength and conditioning programs and / or gyms around town, and for that matter, the world. Those who were lucky started their fitness journeys at a CrossFit affiliate, but some people had to experience the isolation of a (insert globo gym name here) membership first. At such places, community is non-existent. In this environment one can feel the judgmental eyes of those around them. There is an occasional nod of acknowledgment to others between sets, but no real sense of bonding. Nobody speaks to each other except to ask, “Are you using this?” One may know a handful of people by name, but the general atmosphere is to come in, lift weights, and leave. Ultimately, the only reason people go to globo gyms is to train. For those that had to experience this first hand, we appreciate CrossFit that much more.
CrossFit Reignited, along with other affiliates, is a place where humanity starts to re-emerge. Face-to-face interactions are created and this is the atmosphere in which people become people again. A sense of accountability from training with the same people day in and day out is created and the friendships that start inside the box transfer to our everyday lives outside of the gym. Members put maximum effort into the completion of a workout then upon finishing will run to their nearest rival (although friend) and cheer them on to finish. There is no ego, selfishness, or judgment. This act, time and time again, is done out of respect, empathy, and the sharing of a common experience. This repeated common experience is golden. There is something about sweating, suffering, and working hard on weaknesses with those around you that enlighten a sense of friendship between individuals. The endorphins that result from such an experience break down walls and encourage people to open up to those around them more than ever thought possible without an act of triumph (completing the WOD) being performed together. The social support is extremely motivating and is what I believe to be the underlying key to achieving physical results, along with all of the other dimensions of wellness.
There was a concept introduced by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in the late 80s known as “The Third Place.” He argued that everyone has two main places in life – home and work – but we are happiest when we have a third place that we can call our own. For years this third place was the neighborhood restaurant, salon, bookstore, etc. In our busy, fragmented, social media-saturated world, those places are not what they used to be. However, the unique culture of a CrossFit gym can foster that feeling of fellowship – the sense of uniting around a common interest or goal – that is the foundation of community. Here at CrossFit Reignited we strive to give our members this Third Place, enhancing the overall enjoyment, and thus quality of their lives.
Coming into the gym and creating such a strong sense of friendship with individuals with whom of which you never thought possible can be used as a metaphor for going about life outside of the gym. CrossFit is allowing this aspect to transfer to the community not only in our local affiliate, but to our daily lives. We can now look at others differently, as potential friends, and thus giving them a chance to have a positive impact on our lives, or the other way around. This aspect is how CrossFit is changing the world beyond the fitness that it produces. It is a special thing that we can develop further by welcoming new members not only into our gym, but into our lives making them feel accepted as part of our community.