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CrossFit Observations (From The Stands)

Earlier this year, I attended CrossFit's Eastern Regional at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. At the time, I prepared a presentation about what I'd experienced for a speechmaking club. Below is an attempt to move that speech into a blog post. I took most of the CrossFit photos from my seat in the stands. 

Most sports fan never were or are no longer active participants in the sports they love. They tend to focus their energy on tailgating for hours before and after watching their beloved athletes. 

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On the flip-side, CrossFit fans have probably done a workout the day of the event. They will also come dressed as though they’re ready to participate should Froning pull up with an injury. Pre-viewing snack? Likely to have included bacon, Kill Cliff bars and FitAid drinks.

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Many of our most beloved national pastimes feature plus-size athletes with physiques that only an offensive line coach would fully appreciate. 

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CrossFit athletes are all about ‘booty shorts’ and ripping off their shirts to reveal abs-for-days.

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CrossFit has been called a cult but it’s a cult of crazed exercisers. There is no Red Sox versus Yankees rivalry in the stands. We’re cheering for the best teams to break records and the lesser teams to finally make their way to the finish line.

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I found the team events the most compelling. What was their strategy for excelling? How did they decide on the make-up of their team? How was their chemistry as they faced the misery of seemingly impossible workouts? Three women and three men working together to complete a gauntlet for physical feats.

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CrossFit isn’t just about speed or strength. You need to have a bit of gymnast in your repertoire to do things like muscle-ups, toes-to-bar and handstand walks. This isn’t about brute force but overall athleticism. 

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CrossFit is also about doing things that you never imagined personally possible. For the beginner, this can be things like your first rope climb. For the elite athletes in this weekend’s competition, it can be the possibility of setting records in front of thousands of cheering CrossFit fanatics.

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Throughout the games, I witnessed teams pulling for the teammates, teams pulling for other teams and fans cheering for whoever needed the inspiration. It was an enthusiastic outpouring from every angle. 

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Observing from the stands, the average CrossFitter could feel the pain to the competitors because we often struggle ourselves. It was somehow reassuring that even the best athletes were humbled by the hurdles that CrossFit can present.  

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Another nice things about CrossFit is the all the hugging. Competitors hugging each other. Teams hugging each other. It’s a big hug-fest. It makes you want to join a team to get in on all the hugs.

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I texted a photo of a female CrossFit athlete to a friend and he commented that she ‘looked like a man’. I told him, “One, 99.9 percent of men are nowhere near that fit. Secondly, they are what a woman can look like without the shackles of old-fashioned, outdated perceptions. What they are is amazing.'

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After the CrossFit regionals were over and to honor the purpose of the Memorial Day weekend, CrossFit locations across the country take on a workout named after a ‘hero’. These workouts are tough but they’re intended to be as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of our heroes. It’s tough to whine about pull-ups when you understand the meaning behind the task. 

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Lastly, people will tell you that CrossFit can be dangerous. This is a photo of a nasty injury I sustained this past Saturday. How did this happen? What devilish CrossFit workout caused this? It didn’t. I didn’t go to CrossFit on Saturday. I got this injury while hiking with my dog. Anything can be dangerous when you don’t give it the proper attention and respect. My recommendation? Go Crossfit. Be careful. Pay attention. Get strong. Get fit. Get some hugs.  

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