I'm a Pastor and a CrossFitter. I like to work out. As a pastor, I feel we must model and teach good physical health. Our bodies are a gift of God and should be managed well. I spend so much time talking about spiritual health and often neglect the message of good physical health. However, becoming physically fit started at the end of a frustrating road.
Like most people working out was a necessary evil in an effort to ward off the greater evil...looking and feeling bad. However, along the way I have grown to love working out. I have always been relatively healthy and athletic. I have always kept some exercise in my life. When I turned 30 I realized that work outs were growing further apart and the meals kept coming! I did what most people do...I waited until the New Year and made the annual promise to myself to "get in shape." And like most people my good intentions were simply not enough to abandon my lifestyle of the fat and lazy. In February of 2010, a member of our church approached me and invited me to try out his newly opened gym. It is called CrossFit Bartlett (Bartlett is a suburb of Memphis). I gladly accepted the invitation since I had already begun to feel guilty that my New Years resolution was already fading.
My first visit to CrossFit was intimidating. I realized very quickly that my new trainer, Justin, was serious about my fitness not simply opening a gym and turning people loose to do whatever they wanted. Here's the truth...most of us don't know what we need. Our self assessment is usually wrong. Frankly, how we look and feel today is evidence of our self-leadership in the area of physical health. Those who are wise will enlist some outside help to bring the needed changes. That February day I stepped into a program that has radically changed my physical health, well-being and even my spiritual health.
So, here's what it means to CrossFit, maybe you will be inspired to be a CrossFitter as well (if you live in the Memphis area I highly recommend CrossFit Bartlett)
Not all work out programs are created equal. I have tried many workout programs. I bought an Elliptical machine and attempted to "get in shape" in 30 minutes a day. I tried a makeshift plan of jogging and weightlifting at my home. It became obvious I needed a plan, so I tried the "Body-for-Life" plan. I saw good results but when the 12 weeks was completed I stopped and lost all my gains. I did the P-90x program. I actually enjoyed this. I saw good results. However it took way too much time and after completing two rounds of the prescribed 90 days, i hit a plateau and it simply got old. I graduated from P-90x to the Insanity program. This program uses circuit training methods which produced good results, but lacked the muscle building that I desired and like P-90x after completing the plan, I was bored.
CrossFit also has a plan, actually more like a strategy. CrossFit has a philosophy that produces sustainable results without boredom or plateaus. The workouts are varied across 10 key areas of fitness: cardio vascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power speed, agility, balance, coordination and accuracy. CrossFit continues to amaze me at the seemingly unlimited number of combinations and creativity used in the workouts. Specific moves are often repeated but there is NO routine that allows you to plateau or get bored. Frequently new exercises or movements are introduced and every day you are pushed to your physical limit.
Many people may look at CrossFit, as I did, and feel intimidated. I've heard people say that CrossFit is for the extreme personality. I would argue that CrossFit is for anyone interested in total fitness regardless of age or athletic background. Justin, my trainer, is very good at helping people enter into CrossFit and scale workouts to meet the physical capabilities of the individual. That being said, CrossFit is intense. In fact, it is the intensity that produces the results that we long for. Working out with intensity is difference in watching the Food Network and having Emeril Legasse or Bobby Flay in your kitchen! Intensity breaks the mental and physical barriers that keep us from reaching the next goal. In all my years of working out i can now see how i lacked intensity, which corresponded to the lack of results. The lack of results is often discouraging enough to steal your motivation and end your progress altogether. We need intensity!
When I first learned that CrossFit was built around community I thought it was weird and honestly, I wasn't interested. I preferred to work out alone at my own pace. Little did i know that the CrossFit community would become essential in achieving the goals i had for my own fitness. CrossFit is not like a typical gym. You don't just show up whenever you want and work out a little. You show up to your class, the same time every day with the same faces every day. These people are key to the success of CrossFit. I often comment after a work out that, "I can't believe what I just did." I pushed myself because others were pushing themselves. Others verbally encourage me and spur me on to bring my best. We have become invested in each others success. We learn when a classmate is slacking and needs a friendly push. We celebrate when someone breaks a personal record in a lift or benchmark workout. The bottom line is accountability is crucial to achieving goals. The accountability of CrossFit comes in the form of real people shedding blood, sweat and tears right next to you.
Today I am in the best shape of my life. I feel confident that I can meet virtually any physical challenge and do well. I am also giving my wife and children the gift of my good health. I refuse to be a dad who is too out of shape to play with his kids! Most of all I can now say I am truly, "Honoring God with my body" and leading by example in this important and neglected discipline in the Church.