Cross Fit: The answer for introverts
One of the things that most people love about Crossfit is the sense of community and fun that working out together brings. You sweat and groan through workouts, you notice other people’s pain and when the thing is done for the day, you all know you accomplished something really fricken hard. Its hard to not make friends.
Some people looking from the edges call Crossfit ‘a cult’, but since no-one has asked me to drink any Kool Aid yet and the only time anyone mentions ‘higher power’ is when a dude makes Rx on a hang power snatch (look it up).. so I prefer to think of it as a community. And this weekend, my ‘community’ got together for some socializing.
In typical fashion for Crossfitters, it involved working out and drinking (first one, then the other, then both at the same time), then regrouping for more drinking and some CrossFit Games watching. Cross Fit Games? Think of an Olympics type event for insane people with 0% body fat and the stamina of ultra-marathoners and you’re about 50% of the way there.. I was excited. Nothing like watching some suffering on TV, plus the Tour de France is over and I was jonesing for some pain watching.
After working out, the plan was to meet for a pot luck brunch in the neighborhood. A super nice couple offered to host and since I was high on endorphins I thought ‘ hell why not’. It would give me a chance to say more than ‘good job’ to my new friends, and actually not sweat on them while doing it. Then later, head to the bar to watch the Games and have a few drinks. Fun right? No big deal.
Except, except… I’m an chronically shy introvert.. And hanging out with new people is pretty much akin to climbing Mount Everest without oxygen for me. I hyperventilate, I don’t know what to say and suddenly I don’t know what to do with my hands. I drop things. I say the wrong thing and I swear if it weren’t for people’s dogs, I’d be forced to take knitting to every party or dinner I’m invited to.
And even though my gym is full of the nicest, funnest, easiest going people you could hope to meet, I need to take my socializing like my mountain climbing.. one step at a time. So I decided to baby step this one and figured ‘aim for brunch’. Which was fine until I pulled up at the house and realized I’d never met the hosts … like ever. And they’d never even seen me before. Thankfully they graciously invited me in (chick with 2lbs of maple glazed bacon, who is saying no?).. but for a shy person, I’ve just entered the seven circles of hell.
I’m standing alone in a beautiful house with two strangers I’ve never met before and apparently I’m the first to arrive.Not uncomfortable. Not at all.
I was weighing up stroke vs. heart attack until I spotted the 3 dogs… then a guy I’ve seen in class popped out from the kitchen. Phew…something to stroke (the dogs, not the dude). And someone could verify that I wasn’t some weirdo off the street who just randomly walks into strangers’ houses with bacon. Then slowly, as the ability to speak returned and I was able to un-stick my tongue from the roof of my mouth, it suddenly hit me that I might not actually pass out on the spot from fear.
Because I might not know these people, but I kind of know these people. I know that they sweat it out every day or three, they struggle to make it up the stairs sometimes and yes, they’ve probably miscounted to 10 because they can’t breath, never mind think. And while I know nothing about them other than their names (and sometimes not even that), I suddenly feel ok.
The appearance of an damn fine arugla and goat cheese frittata didn’t hurt either.
Then people slowly started rolling in, all decked out in some of the most horrific gym gear you’ve ever set eyes on. The theme was fantastically obnoxious workout clothing and it was neon-tasic… and that’s before we got to the multicolored knee socks. Fueled with some of the best post work out food you can imagine, I started to have fun and forget my newbie status. After all, this is my community. These guys have seen me struggle to knock out my burpees, chicken out from the 24 inch box and run like a drunkard after too many squats. And even the ones who’ve not seen me run to the bathroom 2 nanoseconds before the start of the workout.. well they know how it goes.
These guys don’t care what I do for a living, whether I have a spouse or kids and whether I rent or own. They don’t ask about my job, struggle to find a way to relate to me, and not one Crossfitter has ever asked me ‘do you like America?’.. the first time that’s happened in 17 years. I don’t think a single person has asked me about my romantic ‘status’ and no-one has assured me about ‘finding a man’. Frankly, I don’t think they give a shit, and that is just awesome.
After years of awkward work socials where wives struggle to make conversation with me once they learn I’m single, and words dry up when they spot the tattoos.. it was a joy to be just a chick who understands that making a muscle up or your first pull up is a big f-g deal.
Plus, unlike most social stuff I’ve encountered in the US, all the men weren’t huddled in a corner talking about sports while the women dominated the kitchen with talk of kids, men and gossip. It was crazily wonderfully different. Everyone talked to everyone and everyone talked about everything and not all of it was about CrossFit.
Which, for the terrified introvert, made it one of the most relaxed, fun afternoons I’ve had a long time. Sure I was too tired to make it to the bar later that night, and I’m bummed I missed the chance to watch CrossFit pros suffer through herculean’ WODs, but I’m sure there will be other times.
And I will be there, complete with neon knee-socks and bruises on my clavicle. No Xanax required.