When we decide to join a gym, what’s our underlying motivation? There’s usually more than one, but ultimately themes of losing weight, getting fitter/stronger and ‘looking better’ are common driving forces. We might also want to feel more energised, demonstrate self-accountability or just generally improve our health. Overall though, I’d say the motivating factors for joining a gym are all entangled in the category of physical health and well-being. Have you ever joined a gym that has ticked these boxes and then delivered above and beyond them? A bit like when a delivery arrives, but the supplier has accidentally put two of what you ordered in the box. But better.
I joined Colchester CrossFit in August 2020, shortly after the first lockdown eased. I’d been into running and Bootcamp type workouts for a few years, but nothing ever grabbed me by the horns. I kinda just did them to stay in ‘shape’, burn off some excess stress/energy and feel good about myself. The reason I joined CrossFit Colchester was ultimately, because I wanted to get stronger. I felt so weak and frail after growing, birthing and breastfeeding a human that I sometimes felt like my back would crumble like a cheesecake base. I also used to experience these intense, intrusive thoughts that my son would get trapped under something incredibly heavy, like a tree trunk (postpartum anxiety at it’s finest); and I wanted the functional fitness skills necessary to save his life in this, of course, highly likely scenario (sarcasm at it’s finest…)
Lockdown II swooped in just several weeks after joining, but CrossFit Colchester were determined to make sure that their members health journeys didn’t pause with it. Through a sincere desire to support the wellbeing of their members; interwoven with a bucket full of innovation and creativity, the coaches divided all members into teams (except poor Dex), and gave us weekly challenges. If team members took part in the challenge, a point was awarded to the team. The team that won each challenge earned ten extra points. This kept our competitive edges ignited and our humorous streaks on fire. One challenge was to create a video performing a Thruster movement with the most random object you could think of, in the weirdest/craziest place. We had member Leon, ignoring his self-confessed inability to simply stand up on a paddle-board, attempting multiple times to paddle-thruster. With practice and tenacity, we believe that Leon will get there one day.
Paul got his weekend clothes out because there was nowhere else to wear them.
We were also given the task of CrossFit bake-off, whereby the team who whipped up the most delicious home-made treats earned their team ten points. I tried to make a dumbbell cake but it’s safe to say that food creation is not one of my talents (below: reality vs. goal).
The coaches even devised the task of a picture-hunt in the local park, to get us out of our COVID caves. We were provided with discrete shots of spots in Colchester Park and teams were given points for finding their location and taking photographs of themselves next to them. Here is Paul again, weekend attire wisely left at home and trying his hardest not to snap any children in the playground.
You get the message I am trying to convey here. We went into a lockdown twice but CrossFit coaches and owners James, Chris, Jodie and Hannah fostered members with the resources to continue to socially bond, get creative and have a belly laugh on a weekly basis. They even concluded the lockdown with ‘I’m in Lockdown, Get Me Out of Here’, whereby a nominated member from each team engaged in the classic insect munchin’ challenges and to end, a ‘plank-off’. Inevitably, Bubba needs a mention in this blog post because he’s the ‘Face of CrossFit’ (his words when introducing himself to my partner a few weeks ago); although he did actually earn himself such a status on this one occassion with an impressive seven-minute plank.
The winning teams (one for each lockdown) won a weekend workshop at one of the ten new talent academies across the UK – Colchester Weightlifting. This was an incredibly generous prize which scaffolded our motivations throughout the trudge of the pandemic.
The purpose of this blog post is not only to portray my appreciation to the team, but also to explain what I’m appreciative of. Yes, my initial motivation for joining has been ‘achieved’ – I have built strength. Currently, I’m proud to say that I can safely and functionally lift 54kg above my head and I can squat 85% of my body weight. When I first joined, I couldn’t even lift the 15kg barbell. But as I outlined at the beginning of this post, my initial motivation has somewhat become a whisper in my CrossFit journey. I haven’t continued to return to CrossFit because I want to get stronger and stronger. I have continued to return because of the community spirit that the gym fosters, the inclusivity, the honesty and openness that it inspires, the transparent conversations about the struggles of life and mental health and the appreciation of individuality. It is not about who can lift the heaviest weight or who can complete the WOD (workout of the day) in the fastest time, it is about coming together to cheer each other through something that is challenging, celebrate our accomplishments and empower one another in the process.
There is a concerning disconnect in Western society and culture, that the mind and the body are separate. CrossFit Colchester defy this misconception, just by being authentically them. It is not just an environment that gives us the resources and the knowledge to accomplish our physical, fitness goals. It is a place to celebrate yourself and one another, to relish in your own accomplishments and the accomplishments of others and to experience and witness empowerment. So if you want to join a gym that supports your initial wellbeing goals, fosters an incredible sense of social support and tickles your soul in the process, CrossFit Colchester is for you.