I had always been a naturally skinny person. This was convenient because I am very unnaturally athletic. In high school I would run track and cross country just to be part of the “sports scene,” but I couldn’t (can’t) throw a football to save my life. So I never really paid attention to my diet, and no one ever expected me to be a fit guy. So I just went with the flow just like that. And then I got married and, a few years later, my tax status changed back to “S” and I found myself drinking more alcohol and eating worse. Now, don’t get me wrong, these were very fun and adventurous times. Those details would only be appropriate on a much different forum. But after a while I started to notice that the size 32 jeans I wear weren’t so easy to button anymore, and I noticed my skin was looking a little haggard. And then I started noticing the people I was hanging out with and what their priorities were. And all this time I could rationalize my choices and my health as, “Oh, well, it’s not hurting anyone and I can still get my work done so what’s the big deal.”
But then one fateful day, at a customer’s location, a guy I have worked with for over 10 years comes up, pats me on the stomach and says, “Mark! They must be paying you so well to get that kind of gut!” All I could think was, “Oh crap! I’ve been caught!” I was embarrassed. I’ve never been the fat kid. I never even had to worry about being the fat kid. So I knew then something had to change. I still hadn’t heard of Crossfit, but I felt compelled to start doing something. So I would run some. And there were a few apartment complexes in the area that I could sneak into to use their weight room, but I could never develop a habit of fitness to take me away from my other habits. So I kept going to bars and eating fast food and being disappointed in myself but, screw it, I could numb that guilt.
So then I figured I would spend some money, and maybe that would get me to stick with it. So I joined a 24-Hour Fitness, cost $30 a month if I remember correctly, and started going. But that place got so old. I never knew what to do. No one there really looks like they do. It was gross in there. And finally, maybe even serendipitiously, one of my coworkers and I were talking about how I’ve been trying to work out but it’s been going nowhere; and she told me that she had been going to Crossfit. This is where I learned what it was and how it had worked for her and that there were probably single girls in any class and they were all over Houston. So I figured it couldn’t hurt.
I had driven past the Silverback sign outside of the vet clinic before. And, after Googling the schedule and reading a bit about the box online, I figured I’d go. I couldn’t have been more awkward, but something felt special about the place. This was before the on-ramp class. So they said, “Can you do this?” Of course, I said yes but thought, “What the hell am I doing?!?!”
I describe my first experience, in one word, “humbling;” in more than one word, “deliriously frightening”. I don’t remember the workout, but I do remember calling my mom on the way home and describing what I had just done. She replies, “That sounds like too much. You don’t need to do everything they tell you!” And I said, “Yeah, I know, but there is something special about this and I think I need to see what happens next.” And then slowly I started making friends, and they were peeling back the curtain into a community that was so much more meaningful and beneficial than what I had as my daily routine.
Sonya and Johnathan were a big part of me having the confidence to stick around. And after a few months of going I could see some improvement but not a lot; and, instead of blaming myself, I blamed the program and sent Matt an email complaining that I didn’t think it was for me and that I don’t think it’s going anywhere. The next day I was sitting at Lone Star Icehouse and my phone rang. I answer and, after realizing who it was, I speed walk outside so it’s not obvious I am sitting at a bar at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday. “Hi Mark, it’s Matt. Tell me about your diet. Has that changed at all?” And all I could say was, no, it hadn’t. I knew again that I had been “caught.” It was up to me to commit completely, which still is a struggle to walk the clean-diet-and-regular-exercise path. But I, at least, knew I had to make a life goal to stay on that path.
I still struggle constantly. I enjoy my nights out with friends, happy hour, and the occasional Sunday Funday. But I know that, if I can just keep the bad urges at bay for most of the time, then I will have a very meaningful experience.
What sealed the deal is once the friendships started. I would get excited about seeing everyone at 4:30 and talking before and after. This made me want to attend the classes and inspired me to do the best I could and arrive in the best condition I could for the workout. Also, once the “habit” had formed, people started complimenting, which was so weird at first but I liked it. And, as I became better in that aspect of my life, all other facets became improved as well. Better-looking girls started coming around; work was done consistently better; I could start creating a decent savings account because of all the money saved from not eating out and drinking all the time. Crossfit really does sneak up on you like a drug. But it’s one where, when you look in the mirror, you gain confidence to go ask the 10 out when, before, your self-esteem and lifestyle choices had relegated you to a life of 4s.
It’s a drug that demands you make positive choices instead of negative choices. It’s a drug that demands you associate with better people. And, in the end, every aspect of your life becomes an opportunity of limitless possibilities.
My biggest accomplishment at CFS is being accepted into the community and being a sexy beast now. Two years ago I was a chubby fool who hadn’t heard that the frat party ended years before. Now I have a great career, in school again, a super hot girlfriend and just feel more confident and healthy. I think the whole experience isn’t a plateau of an accomplishment. There isn’t a time where I can go “okay, I did that now that’s done.” That wouldn’t be sincere to the program. The biggest accomplishment is having the opportunity to now say, “Wow, I can’t believe I pulled that off! Let’s see what happens next!”
I have people tell me all the time that they are going to start working out at home or a 24-Hour Fitness type place only to ask them about it a few weeks later and hear that it didn’t stick. Most people get turned off to Crossfit due to the cost, but that is so short-sighted to think that way. The money we pay to have the privilege to be part of such an amazing experience is an investment in ourselves. Paying that little bit more provides the leadership from the trainers; and, for me, it makes me that much more compelled to go. I used to think, “I only went to 24-Hour Fitness once this month. Oh, well, it was only 30 bucks and everyone there looks like an idiot who I don’t want to be around, anyway.” Now I get to say I pay the extra amount so I can be part of a group who knows they are all in it together, and everyone knows everyone by name and roots on everyone and asks about how their lives are and sometimes hang out on the weekends, gets excited for things happening in their personal lives and overall just ooze as much positivity and fellowship as much as they do sweat.
This is what I like; this is why I go; and, yes, you will be sore and you will question why you do it. But after a while you’ll notice those shoulders and that stomach and your deadlift weight, and you’ll spend every day from then on seeing what you can do next!