CrossFit and I have always had a very love hate relationship. My first exposure to CrossFit was through my Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Patrick, in the 173rd Airborne Infantry. Unfortunately for my squad and I, he was an aspiring CrossFit regional athlete and decided we should be too. There was no easy break in, scaled workouts, “stop if you feel light headed” or general concern for our well being… Day 1 was Fran… Needless to say he cut us off at the 10 minute mark with none having reached the final round. We all collapsed in puddles of misery and between gasping breaths like little gold fish dropped from our bowls sputtered our own versions of “it’s impossible, can’t be done, you’re a monster, respectfully, etc.” He then hopped up and crushed it in something like 3min 45sec… That was my first look at what is still today, in my mind, a true and total athlete. Physical strength, cardio, body control, and a mental aptitude to completely and literally bring to life the phrase “embrace the suck.” I don’t know if that little saying has ever gained popularity outside of the military, but if CrossFit hasn’t heard of it someone needs to email them their new slogan. If there’s one thing the infantry and crossfitters have in common it’s finding a ridiculous amount of enjoyment and humor in their own self inflicted misery. Whether it’s rucking through a 3 day thunderstorm and sleeping in mud, or AMRAPing thrusters and burpees, at a certain point all’s you can do is laugh at how ridiculous your life choices are. Long story short, we did CrossFit for one month and had our own internal competition (which I won by sneakily choosing all of the workouts no one else wanted to do, so I automatically got enough first places to make up for all my 4th-10th place events) and vowed never to CrossFit again.
Flash forward 9 years later, I’m out of the military, moved to Denver, met the love of my life, Bailey Wright… And she owns a CrossFit Gym. I couldn’t stop there though, I had to go take it a step farther and ask her to marry me! If you look up the word masochist, there’s a picture of a paratrooper jumping out of the side of a C-130, and then me dying on the floor of CrossFit Cielo to impress my future wife… But I’ve found other similarities as well. There’s camaraderie. There’s self worth. Saying in your head “I can’t finish this, I’m going to die, I should fake an injury,” then collapsing with a smile next to every other puddle-puppy that finished right alongside you (or 10min before you in my case). I’ve found genuinely kind, encouraging, amazing people that humble me every time I step foot in that gym. There’s the “power couple” Katie and Russ that are not only the damned nicest, smiliest people you’ll ever meet, but absolutely CRUSH workouts together! There’s Brian the macho, loud ex-army guy that wants you to yell at him like a drill sergeant, but is secretly a complete softy under his bench press max. Navneeta, who completely inspires me every workout with her enthusiasm and won’t quit attitude. Rick and Vadim, who are probably both two decades older than me, but I spend every workout thinking “If I can just keep up with them for the first half…”
I haven’t met a single person at CrossFit Cielo that didn’t smile, say hi, and make me feel like an original member of the gym. Don’t get me wrong, I’m also a big outgoing nerd, but I can usually tell when people are just being polite. There’s rarely been a time that I met someone here and haven’t gone over to tell Bailey how cool I thought the person was I just talked to. Just recently I met Peter for all of 30 seconds on his way out the door and immediately had to go whisper in Bailey’s ear like a schoolgirl with a crush “I liked Peter, he seemed like a really genuine dude.” But that to me sums up the entire community DK and Bailey have found at Cielo. It’s a giant family of genuinely amazing people, that you can’t help but want to be a part of. AND THEY LET YOU!
“I haven’t met a single person at CrossFit Cielo that didn’t smile, say hi, and make me feel like an original member of the gym.”
I’ll touch on one last thing with this novel before you leave the bathroom and go back to work. I said it earlier, but the strongest factor for me is how humbling it is every time I walk into the gym. I’m of course humbled athletically by the superheroes that crush the workouts and give me goals to meet in the years to come. But, I’m humbled on an entirely deeper level by all the people I’ve met who aren’t the stellar athletes, who aren’t the best conditioned, strongest bodied, or in their prime. My friends who outperform me every single time because they’re willing to push themselves to that point of complete and utter exhaustion and then somehow just keep going! I think that’s what really keeps me coming back. Everything else helps, all the friends, camaraderie, getting back in shape, my fiance forcing me… But really, I just want to be able to push myself like Rick.