My brother is a CrossFitter. That’s something a lot of people can say. But it’s not a phrase I ever expected to utter. My brother and I have always been very different in just about every way. I’ve known him all 30 of his years on this planet, so I knew better than to try and goad him into CrossFit, even if he needed it like congress needs conjugal visits from Nasty Nate.
Never underestimate the reach of your words.
He (was) a hard-drinking, hard-smoking, really-bad-eating sonofabitch. He is also at least as stubborn as I am (that’s pretty bad). I can’t describe the shock when I got this message:
How It Happened
CrossFit Lowell is everything you’d expect to see walking into an industrial complex to find a box. On a recent trip home, I finally got to check it out. I stood and watched the class–including my brother–do buddy carries. His buddy got kind of a raw-deal in that WOD.
A long, tangled webbing of conversations, discussions, and good-natured ribbing washed over me while I stood there. See, this all started from a conversation in a coffee shop a few years ago. A place I called home, much the way I do the place I’m writing this paragraph from right now. That feeling you get when the pieces of long forgotten puzzle suddenly start falling into place.
Most times I’d sit and write quietly, people-watch, and turn coffee into piss. Every now and again a conversation about fitness or nutrition would spring up in the café. My eavesdropping would get the best of me, and next I knew, I’d be ‘that guy.’ I’d butt into conversations I had no business in, as the fitness falsehoods I overheard had grown too much to bear. Surprisingly, people never seemed to be bothered by that, or even unwelcoming. (I’ll get to why in a moment).
Never underestimate the reach of your words. Knowing I played a small part in that coming-to-be was overwhelming. As any point can expand in a new direction creating an entire universe, the brief conversation starting with, “What’s CrossFit? Let me tell you about it … ,” became another small business with its own thriving community.
People usually grow out of the “baby-CrossFitter” phase where they talk about CrossFit like that creepy scene in Being John Malkovich where he goes inside his own head. The, “CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit, CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit,” wanes, and grows from every word to every third or fourth word.
I never really made it past that stage. That’s OK. Being a sort of CrossFit missionary–living and breathing it–is kind of what got me here.
That’s My Little (huge) Brother
Before California was even a pigment of my imagination, I spent most of my leisure time (at least when I wasn’t working out) at Brew’d Awakenings Coffee Haus, in Lowell, Massachusetts. My love of coffee predates CrossFit by quite a bit, believe it or not. As for Rob O’Brien, the jury is still out on what came first; the coffee or the CrossFit.
Most of these conversations were one-time events, like ships passing in the night. Some were repeated and friendly encounters. I always hoped it would help; that someone would be convinced to at least try CrossFit and find themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole to a far, far better life as I did.
You try and bludgeon people with the truth, but they scoff, never really paying attention–or so you think.You’ll have lots of these talks, mostly with friends and family. This happened with many of my friends and regulars at Brew’d. They were genuinely curious, and mostly poked fun (lovingly, of course). I never expected many of them would pick up a barbell.
Funny thing about people; they’ll always surprise you.
One of the regulars who I had accosted with the gospel of CrossFit like some offensive t-shirt wearing holy-roller, decided to try CrossFit. She got hooked. The first hit is free, as they say.
Suddenly, I found myself in California to see where this dream was taking me. Again, due largely to the sum-total of conversations and associations–all for the love of CrossFit. Not too long afterwards, I heard about Gina’s box (the gym, ass)–the first in Lowell, MA. Wow. Another guy, Bob, who came in to the coffeehaus all the time opened an affiliate in the area, too. CrossFit Merrimack. Blown away doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The thing is I didn’t do anything–except love CrossFit. All I did was talk with people about what I love. Just talked. About burpees and “Murph” and squats–things most people didn’t even recognize. Some of them started their own journey from there. Two of that group opened their own CrossFit affiliates. My brother became one of their clients. Even one of the greatest baristas of all-time–who jokingly mocked how I ate, dressed, and that I spent so much time training–is now totally in love with CrossFit.
If you believe in and love something enough the right people will always hear you. Never underestimate the force of communicating with people about something you love. Even if you think they’re not listening.