I grew up as an athlete. This meant hours of practices, games, and tournaments in at least three consistent sports. While I loved the exhilaration of games and tournaments, I grew extremely tired of the rigidity of training by the time I got to college. It began to feel like I needed to center my entire life around sports if I was going to continue to participate. Whether that was training, diet, or how I spent my free time, I hated the forced structure of it. I hated that I couldn’t participate if I didn’t follow someone else’s seemingly arbitrary guidelines for success.
I decided to stop playing organized sports and instead created an Ultimate Frisbee club on my campus. Within months, we had 30 people showing up consistently. I was blown away by the inclusivity of this group and immediately felt like I had found my niche. I still play Ultimate Frisbee to this day.
During this process of leaving conventional sports and finding Ultimate Frisbee, I learned a few really amazing things:
1. A welcoming atmosphere is basically all you need to get people to participate. We had some people in the UF club that couldn’t do a single thing that you need to be a good player. However, we loved having people there and eventually those people learned enough to get by. Most of them were never great or even good at frisbee, but they kept coming and we kept playing. The response from those individuals was always one of gratitude for being included.
2. Even brief attention to detail can create extremely positive results. As new people joined, I was able to explain little things like how to attack a defense or where to find open space on the field. While these moments didn’t necessarily mean a lot to me, those individuals often came back and glowed with pride when they could demonstrate a skill that they picked up. The response from those individuals was always one of gratitude for being taught.
3. Always understand that your actions, however brief, have long term effects (both positive and negative). I have countless examples of this, but the weight of my words when giving specific advice or direction to others has stuck with me.
When I found CrossFit, I felt like I had found the community from Ultimate Frisbee all over again. Everyone was welcomed. Details mattered and were addressed consistently. And interactions carried great weight for people as their lives changed for the better.
Within about three months, I knew I wanted to be part of CrossFit as it grew. A year in, I got my L1 at Max Effort in Las Vegas and was blown away by the attention to detail in a seminar that is, in the larger picture, just one of thousands.
I began coaching very soon thereafter. I am still consistently grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of the individuals gracious enough to listen to me. Each person has also taught me something in return, be it about my own coaching style or about what they need in those moments.
Lastly, CrossFit has reignited my desire to simply find health. I unfortunately learned to hate the structure of sports, diet, and recovery while participating in youth sports. However, I have found joy in all of those things through the flexibility and individualization of CrossFit. That is a universally translatable idea and I am excited to pass it along.
CrossFit makes me want to be healthy. I think everyone deserves a chance to feel a desire for health. CrossFit has opened its doors to people who need that from the very beginning while encouraging even the best athletes to get better. I’m not sure I could ask for a more inclusive idea to pass on to my future athletes.