I miss my Father. He passed away before his 67th birthday. It was much too soon. I wish he’d been here to see us open our own CrossFit affiliate. I wish he’d been here to see his grandson grow. He would be so proud. Sad as I am for his absence from our lives, what weighs on me more are the long years of disability and suffering that preceded his passing. The continuous pain. The dependency upon medications. The frequent trips to ICU as we all wondered if he would pull through this time. The man who had once been renowned for his athletic prowess lived out his later years nearly crippled by the pain of chronic disease.
Chronic disease or lifestyle diseases, are not inevitable. They can be avoided or mitigated by proper nutrition and exercise choices. I was in my early 30’s and my health was just beginning to become a problem when I discovered CrossFit and Paleo. Ever vigilant of my health and terrified to suffer my Father’s fate, I ran toward salvation with grim determination. CrossFit is a bitter pill. I do not like suffering. But an hour of pain so that I can live in a healthy body the other 23 hours seemed a fair exchange. I’d rather have a slice of pizza than a steak and veggies but I’ve seen up close and personal where that road leads. A moment of pleasure for a lifetime of illness and suffering? No thanks!
CrossFit gave me a road map to health that led away from the genetic fate I feared might await me but it did not stop there. Growing up I never exhibited any of the athleticism my Father had possessed but I always dreamed, as I sat reading or drawing, of being a man of action, a man capable of jumping up and doing a sprint triathlon at a moment’s notice (though of course I never thought I would). I never wanted to say I couldn’t do something because I was not fit enough but unfortunately, that was often the case. But CrossFit changed that. Over years of following the constantly varied programming my body was tested, shaped and strengthened in so many ways – yes, even a sprint triathlon! And gradually I found I was becoming the real life action hero I always imagined and wished to become. Lift, run, climb – yes I can. Sure I still spend more time reading or watching Netflix but I am no longer afraid to take on physical challenges because I am confident in the fitness I have built through CrossFit to carry me through the toughest challenges. That’s just what we do every day.
And it doesn’t end with me. My lovely wife joined me in this journey and is fitter and lovelier today than the day we were married 20 years ago! Our son has traveled this road with us and remains strong and active. And even my Mother trains with us reclaiming her strength and vitality and inspiring us all! I discovered the benefits of CrossFit can be shared and it makes better the lives of each person it touches. I who have witnessed first hand the ravages of lifestyle diseases now have the opportunity to spare others that tragic fate.
Even better, I get to bring families together in fitness. At Empower we do not write Mr. & Mrs. on the board because there are so many Mr. & Mrs. pairs in our gym. There are also a whole lot of juniors joining their Moms and Dads and training together as families. And let’s not forget grandparents because we have a few families now with three generations working out together. There is nothing more fulfilling than that.
CrossFit is not a vain fitness pursuit done alone checking your vascularity in the gym mirror, CrossFit is a community of people, a family really, pursuing health and fitness together to better our own and each others’ lives. This story is being replicated in thousands of CrossFit gyms around the world and the world is becoming a better place for it. People who don’t know better call CrossFit a fitness trend or fad as if they expect it to go out of style soon like step aerobics or Tae Bo. But there is nothing faddish about preventing and eliminating disease, embracing health and spending quality time with our partners, children and parents pursuing fitness together. It is not about the individual, it is about community. CrossFit is changing the way people think of and practice fitness forever.