This gym was no longer a safe space
Out of respect for the privacy of the author, the affiliates involved and their communities we are publishing this personal reflection anonymously.
I remember my first CrossFit class. A girl in the class before me fell off the pull up bar and dislocated her elbow. I awkwardly stretched as I watched the ambulance pull up and take her to the hospital. Terrified, I stepped outside to call my husband, who had already been “drinking the Kool-Aid” for several months. “It’ll be fine,” he reassured me. “That’s not a ‘normal’ thing to happen. Just try it.” I had been doing sudo-CrossFit workouts at a nearby rec center to help transition me from purely running, so I wouldn’t feel completely out of my element. But the truth is, even before arriving, I was totally intimidated.
For my first three months, I would look up instructional videos that showed the assigned movements of the day before every class, so I had a tiny idea of what was to come. I tried my hardest not to cherry pick workouts and just modify (pretty much everything) accordingly. But soon, I got into a rhythm. I liked how I felt post-workout. I liked setting new goals. I liked learning what my body was capable of. But most of all, I liked the way the people in the class started to feel like my friends. And then we moved to a new state.
But the reality is, small miscommunications grew bigger over time and division crept in. You know you need to find a new box, when you’ve gotta switch up your workout time to avoid running into certain people. Suddenly, just like that, the gym was no longer a safe space.
Now I’m standing here, two years later, staring at a space I never thought I could love so much. The whiteboard is still scribbled with our excited PRs, the chalk beaten into the mats mark hours of pain, the couch invites flashbacks of conversations, literal tears, laughter and sweat (a bit gross, but whatever). I don’t know about you, but I LOVE my CrossFit gym. It’s where I go every single day after work to decompress, it’s where I let myself be completely real, it’s where I’ve formed my very best friendships. Simply put, it’s my second home. And now, as everything seems to be changing, I have to let it go. I can’t bear to leave this season behind me. But even still, sometimes we have to.
The truth is, as obvious as it may sound, I am learning that the gym is not perfect. The people are flawed. And sometimes because of that, the space can be tainted.
Whenever vulnerability is in the picture and time has been invested, there is potential for pain. I don’t need to go into the details of what happened. Everyone could have communicated clearer or done a better job at listening or loving or inviting. But the reality is, small miscommunications grew bigger over time and division crept in. You know you need to find a new box, when you’ve gotta switch up your workout time to avoid running into certain people. Suddenly, just like that, the gym was no longer a safe space.
What matters most is the community. That’s who I’m looking at in minute 5 of pain, and that’s who I know is cheering me on whether I fail or succeed in CrossFit and even more importantly, in everyday life.
This will be my first week at a new CrossFit gym. I’m both nervous and excited at the same time – unsure of what exactly to expect. Honestly, it feels a bit like college. Some of my “high school friends” are coming with me, and others are going in a different direction. And that’s okay. It’s a time to start fresh.
Change must happen, because life happens. This is a hard lesson to learn, because it’s often the places and people we love the greatest that can hurt us the most. But this doesn’t mean we should stop trying, because when we stop investing, for fear of getting hurt, that’s when we will experience the biggest loss – relationships.
For me, although lifting heavy weights and doing burpees for 7 minutes straight is fun, what matters most is the community. That’s who I’m looking at in minute 5 of pain, and that’s who I know is cheering me on whether I fail or succeed in CrossFit and even more importantly, in everyday life.
A CrossFit gym is merely a gathering place for a bunch of broken people, like me. I’m so thankful for my CrossFit family. On the brink of great change, I am focusing on the many snippets of memories that have shaped my story over the past two years. It’s a part of me, and it’s now the history of this simple space.
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