GI Crossfit

What Is CrossFit and How Did It Save Me from Moralism?

In Social, Uncategorized by Noah LaPorte1 Comment

CrossFit Is Functional Movements executed at High Intensity while being Constantly Varied. CrossFit uses basic movements: run, row, jump, push, pull, throw, squat and lift every day in its program.

The goal is to define something elusive: fitness.

The intensity is like the RPM meter on a car. We want to get people to work harder and push themselves, but we do not expect them to floor it during a workout every day any more than we would want our taxi driver in a big city to drive 100 in a 20mph zone. The variance is planned so that we do not fall into a routine or get married to one idea. We are always growing and evolving. We encourage each other through a strong community that builds each other up, doesn’t judge people for where they are, and tries to help people reach their goals.

There is a huge health and fitness disparity in our country. I could spend an entire article espousing the issues of food consumption, body image and shaming in our culture, but I will save that for another day. My personal CrossFit journey started in an unexpected way. In March of 2011, I walked into a CrossFit Box (we call them boxes to differentiate from gyms) weighing about 300 pounds, depressed, and in poor health. I never expected to do anything remotely athletic in my life, let alone run a gym, and yet here I am. Life is funny like that and to fully understand CrossFit’s impact on my life you have to understand my past.

From my earliest memory, I can recall a strong desire to help people. I diligently watched TV shows about doctors, but soon realized that I was not cut out for this profession. Growing up in a loving home, I was raised in a conservative evangelical world. My family loved me and raised me well. From a desire to keep me safe, a community arose around us that were moralistic in nature. In this environment selfishness was prevalent, conformity was encouraged, and status quo was worshiped. I hated these things and as I grew it became apparent that the way to help people was by going into ministry. I didn’t like what I saw in the church in general, and I wanted to help change it. The cliff note of the story is that I went to Moody Bible Institute with an eye on ministry and graduated in what seemed like a wilderness. A lot about what I believed about ministry changed. I realized in those 4 years that full time ministry was not for me and that my moralistic upbringing betrayed me in some ways. I got accepted into a great Graduate program but couldn’t afford it. My attempt to build a career in the publishing industry was quickly foiled by the recession of 2008. So I moved back into Chicago to be a part of a small church plant with a determination to fix the problems I grew up with, find a nice office job and be comfortable. 

Comfort was immediately out of the question. My wife and I had a baby on the way, and I was starting a new job as a Valet attendant for restaurants in the city. This is where I hit rock bottom from a motivation standpoint. I was in the place I wanted to be with friends and a beautiful family, but I felt aimless. Career jobs eluded me, and I felt stuck. After a year I found CrossFit, and things would never be the same.

I never thought of myself as someone who would be a gym regular let alone join a gym to work out with people every day. However, my brother-in-law introduced CrossFit to me, and I decided to give it a shot. My wife and I didn’t have any athletic background and our main goal was to keep up with our daughter, but we were accepted right away. I immediately learned about how functionality mattered in movement and how I had little to none of it. I didn’t like working hard physically and was a bit unnerved by running into something new that I was bad at every day. With that said, my coaches were patient and kind. The community was warm and supportive. I was never ridiculed and was never ignored. Unlike many of my past endeavors, this community seemed to have a genuine desire to get to know me and accept me for who I was. This wasn’t a perfect scenario and like all things involving people, they can be messy. However, I cannot stress enough that the most amazing thing about CrossFit is the community and encouragement you receive from those around you.

Over the next 3 years I learned that while life didn’t give me what I wanted it certainly gave me what I needed and prepared me handsomely for it. My insecurity went away as I learned to be more disciplined and challenge myself on a daily basis. My wife and I had a new found camaraderie. Shortly after I started, one of my instructors, who knew that being a Valet wasn’t my desired career option, asked me if I would want to be a CrossFit coach. Immediately, feelings of excitement, insecurity, and disbelief mounted, but I took the plunge and went into it with everything I had.

That brings us to last summer for the purposes of this story. I sat down with another coach who works for CrossFit and told him about my desire to open and own a gym. I explained my plan, but also explained that I was intimidated by the task. He reassured me that I had the ability to be a great coach and that everything I learned about ministry was applicable to running a gym. That conversation was when I realized despite the feeling of being lost and in a wilderness, I was on a direct path to where I am today.  

CrossFit rallies against the moralistic values I grew up with. We want to be open with people. We want to accept people for who they are and help them get to where they want to be. We want everyone to achieve his or her goals of health and fitness and to have a better standard of life. We want everyone to be happy and live an independent life filled with vigor until the day they die. Every day I get to help people and see them transform. It blows my mind that I get to give this gift to other people. CrossFit has a huge following and is growing not just because it works, but also because it provides people an opportunity to change their life for the better. Looking back I may not have known the name, but CrossFit is exactly what I wanted to do.


Photographs in Article Courtesy of: Noah LaPorte 

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