I routinely break personality tests. It’s sort of comical by this point in time–let’s see how many derivations of the word ‘loner’ I can conjure forth from whole cloth today. Lest you rush to cancel the checks and head for the exits, I usually net some pretty rocking marks in empathy and service as well, but that’s not where we’re going today so for all intents and purposes you can content yourself to imagine that the writer of this piece is painfully shy, would much rather listen than speak, likes books more than parties, and maybe wears glasses with tape in the middle. Sort of like Adrian in the Rocky movies, but with a beard.
All that is to first say something very simple for you: I really, truly get how weird and intimidating it can be to walk into the Woodshed on any given day–particularly early on in your tenure here. Yelling. Clanging. Words you don’t understand. Women wearing thick suede belts. A guy on one knee at the end of his set. Is he…praying? What the hell is actually going on here?
And that’s just Defcon Level 5. It’s noise. It’s different. It’s craziness but it’s our craziness and most folks get used to it after just a few days. What I want to talk about today is something that’s a bit deeper and, I know, a bit more intimidating: the burden of being known.
Good CrossFit gyms are no different than good powerlifting gyms, good martial arts studios, a good running club. We create community. Without it, we don’t exist–not in any meaningful fashion, at least. And for us, community in every meaningful sense is underwritten by the pleasure and the benefit of being known.
The guy who trains with you every morning and knows the 4th rep is always the hardest for you. The woman who lifts with you on Sundays and knows you hate squats at 155 but that 185 always feels fine. The three people at 7 PM who haven’t seen you in a month but tell you how great you look after dropping those last ten pounds. The guy who looks you in the eyes, tells you he knows how hard it was for you to get in here but that he’s glad you did. The person who says “go harder” because they know you can…and that you will. Being known.
Sometimes it can be hard to open up a bit. Morning classes especially. We all need our coffee. And nights, hey, we’re thinking about hitting the sack and maybe half checked-out. I know this stuff because I live it. It’s a risk to open up and be known; keeping to your own counsel is sure as shit the path of least resistance. But I also know that a whole world opens up when you are willing, ready, and able to be known in here. You feel better, you get better, you perform better, and this whole Woodshed community thing we keep prattling on about comes into very dramatic relief.
Be known. This has, after all, some historical and local precedent: