By Coach Josh McClellan
I remember growing up and not liking chores. I know that I’m probably the only kid that ever felt that way, but yes, I confess I was a lazy teenager. I remember one particular moment, when I was about 14, being asked by my mom to do the dishes. And, probably like a few other 14 year-olds, I did so grumbling and complaining the entire time. At one point my dad walked into the kitchen and I decided at that point to ask him why we had to do chores like dishes. Despite the selfish and immature nature of the question, my dad simply looked at me and calmly said, “Josh, you’re a member of this family and so you will contribute to the work that needs to be done in this family.” He could have told me to quit being a baby, which would have been justified. He could have told me to stop being selfish, which also would have been justified. But instead he gave me an answer that has seemed applicable to me, as I have aged, to lots of other areas of my life. Despite the fact that I didn’t get out of the work I didn’t want to do, I walked away that day knowing that I was a contributing member of my family and that I mattered. When you’re a part of something, you don’t just receive, but you also contribute. And underneath this is a sense of value and purpose.
One of the unique things about Crossfit is the element of supportive community. It’s one of the things many of us love about Crossfit. And why shouldn’t it be? Misery loves company, am I right?! Meaningful community, however, is built on not just what I receive from the group/entity but also what I contribute to it. And for Crossfit Sintered to be the kind of community that I believe all of us would want it to be, we must not only see it as something that we benefit from personally, but also something we contribute to personally. Just as in the example of me and my family, if you’re a part of our family, then we need you to contribute to our family. This shouldn’t be seen as a burden but should communicate your value to us as a gym. You matter.
Its easy to think the people that matter are the owners and the coaches. After all, they’re the most visible and the most active. They are the ones speaking directly into the work and environment of the gym. And yes, they certainly impact the nature of our community. Its also easy to think that the top athletes are the next in line that matter (though I don’t think they’re the most important). That being said, there are significant groups of people that aren’t the top athletes or aren’t coaches that make a big difference in what kind of community we are at Crossfit Sintered. I want to call out two groups of people here that inspire me personally and I believe are game changers in the life of our gym. First are those of you that work long hours but still make the choice to get up early or leave work in the evening and come spend an hour of your day with us. It would be easy to choose to stay in bed or just go home. Most do, but you don’t. Despite being tired, probably mentally as well as physically, you choose to show up and do something hard, really hard. And I respect you for it. Second are those of you who come in to work out with us that have to scale the workout significantly to be able to perform it. While we’ve all heard the speech about Crossfit being universally scaleable and we are all at different places in our health and fitness, it would be easy to feel like you don’t belong here. You’re not anywhere near a pull-up, much less a muscle up, and you’ve been using a PVC pipe for 3 months every time we snatch. You’re not anywhere near parallel on your squat and you don’t even want to talk about how long a 400 meter run takes you. Maybe this isn’t for you. You’d never tell your coach that, they’d just give you that same old speech again, but in the back of your mind the thought is there. Despite it all, you’ve bought in enough to believe this will continue to improve the quality of your life so you’ll stick with it for now (and you’re right, it will). I respect you all immensely for showing up and working out with us. At Sintered we care more about attitude than performance, character than skill. And you all show all of us those things. People like these are the ones that I believe make us a better gym far more than incredibly skilled athletes or even talented coaches. When you show up we are better as a gym. You matter.
We live in a culture that teaches us to be incredibly self-absorbed. How does this make me happy? How does it offer something to my life? How does this benefit me? And we can approach our experience in the area of fitness/Crossfit with the same attitude. Not that we don’t want to find a quality experience for ourselves that is effective in its program and beneficial in its product. However, if supportive community is meaningful and beneficial to us at all, we should desire to contribute to it and not simply benefit from it (and paradoxically we’ll actually find our lives far more fulfilled if we take this attitude toward it in all areas). The next time you’re tempted to just skip tomorrow, don’t contemplate why missing a day (or a week!) won’t really hurt you, but why it might hurt someone else. That other person working out beside you might need you there beside them that day. They need to hear you breathing hard but see you keep going. They need you to tell them that toes to bar looked awesome. They need to hear you tell them you wish you could row as well as they do. That person who’s new might walk away wanting to come back because of the conversation not a coach, but you, had with them. That class was better for having you in it, even if you were the last one to finish.
If you’re a part of our family, contribute to our family, because we need you and you matter. Showing up isn’t always just about you. And yet, you’ll still be better for it.