“Culture” is a workplace buzzword these days. The feel when you interact with others, the service attention you receive, and the priorities of the people all contribute to that culture. Each CrossFit Box (gym) has a culture, but there is a huge difference between the gym and the workplace—one pays you to fit a culture, and the other you pay to enjoy the culture. CrossFit can be financially unachievable for some, but those who do have a membership “get it.” The members know the people are what we’re paying for, not the equipment or the class times. Each person shapes the gym’s personality, and it’s rewarding to be a part of that identity. CrossFit is not a cult, it’s a culture.
I’ve been a CrossFit trainer for 17 months, but I’ve spent 5 years as a member of six CrossFit boxes (yes, a member, not a drop-in). Some communities have a culture worth propagating, and some have a culture not worth much. That’s intuitive, right? Some are great; some aren’t worth much. However, some cultures aren’t apparent to you until you’ve been a member for a little while. Once it’s apparent to you, and you’re comfortable with some other members, you must ask yourself this question:
“Do I fit the culture, or do I need to fix the culture?”
The question is a fascinating one. It’s one that determines how important you are to the gym and those around you.
I’ve observed many types of cultures that need fixing in a bad way. “Box 2” for me had a two-section gym, in which the “serious lifters” always had one side while the “regular people” had the other; talk about divide! My “Box 4” only used high-level, competition-style instruction and programming, and few fitness levels were able to enjoy the classes for which they paid a lot of money. Does your gym present you challenges, or does it give you obstacles? You should not feel handicapped by your own trainers!
Alternatively, I’ve also observed many types of cultures to fit into. “Box 1” for me had a familial, home-grown following which inspired its members to value time with one another rather than times on the leaderboard. “Box 3” has a hands-in “break down” after every class, during which the person who gave the most valiant effort led that countdown. Now, at CFI, the culture is loyal one. Our athletes chose to “fit” into a new space, a familiar family, and a new ownership. We knew if we didn’t fit right away, we’d fix it. Our athletes value who they know rather than what they knew at previous CrossFit gyms.
As a coach at CFI, I’d love to charge everyone with the same question about culture: “Do you fit into the culture? Or do you need to fix it?” Take ownership of your vision of CFI—what are we missing, and how can you make it happen? Do you want more recognition for your effort? Recognize others without expecting it in return. Cheer other classes on, even though you don’t have a bar in your hand at that moment. Select a new partner in a partner WOD to make a connection. Your personality is as much a part of us as, say, a coach or an owner; we lead and train for you, so we are passionate about meeting your wants and needs. You fit into our culture, but you can fix small aspects to make it a better home for yourself. Your desired culture is our commitment to our athletes and our community.
Coach Josh Womack
A fat guy walks into a gym…. No this isn’t a start to a joke. This was me back in early 2015 walking into my first CrossFit gym. Throughout my life, I have had ups and downs in my fitness journey. Times in my life where it was a primary focus and I was in amazing shape and times where I fell off that horse due to any number of reasons. I have also tried many types of fitness from being a gym rat focused on those isolation movements that made muscles big but didn’t really add strength to the height of my cardio when I raced bicycles. In 2015, I had started a new job at Eli Lilly here in Indianapolis, breaking the many years of spending many weeks on the road travelling. I like to blame all that travel on why I had gained 50 lbs. but if I am honest with myself it started even before my years of travel with not eating well and letting my time on the bicycle or gym fall away. What I did know is that now that I wasn’t travelling it was time to start down that road to being fit once again. But how? I had tried other fitness regimes and I could never maintain them. After about a month, I would just lose the desire. Enter CrossFit….
I hadn’t really heard of CrossFit before the last project I travelled for with my old company. There were a number of people at the client that were into CrossFit. When I expressed I was looking for a way to lose weight and keep motivated they sent me some links to videos and had a number of discussions over the last couple of months of the project. I have to be honest, in viewing the videos, I was hyped but at the same time nervous about my ability to do any of the movements I saw. It had been years since I had done even 10 pull ups or squatted heavy weight. In addition, what was these Snatch and Clean/Jerk movements? Those looked dangerous and complicated. Curls, Dips, Bench, Shoulder Press…. I knew these things. After about a month at Lilly, I decided to take the leap and try this thing called CrossFit. I looked up a number of gyms that were close to my house. Ultimately, I decided to reach out to Coach Lin at CrossFit Carmel.
I still remember that first week of basics. I am a decently athletic guy with decent coordination so even with my 50lbs extra I was able to pick up the movements fast and was out of basics in a week. Ok I thought to myself, this isn’t that hard I can do this. I am also a competitive person and I thought I knew how to push myself. BOY WAS I WRONG!!! CrossFit offers so many things, great workout, great community, and…. Quickly letting you know just how unfit and zero mobility you really have HAHA. I still remember my struggle to get below parallel in squats, having the flexibility to complete an overhead squat, and simple movements such as pull-ups and toes to bar. I have since become proficient in these movements but I can’t say I have mastered them. To be a CrossFit athlete means a never-ending journey. You start with the basics, with scaling all the WODs either due to weight or in ability in movements. You work for months until that fateful day you Rx your first WOD. What a great feeling! However, it doesn’t end there. There are always movements to learn, to perfect, to get just a bit better.
For someone that loves to learn, as I do, it is an intoxicating sport to be in because there is always something more to learn. Ultimately, it is this desire to keep learning and follow new avenues to improve that drove me being a CrossFit coach but that is a different story to be told in a follow up: The Journey to CrossFit Coach
Back in 2014, when I got out of active military service, I found myself longing for something to belong to again. It was an aspect of being in the military I did not realize that I would miss until I no longer had formations, organized physical training, spending months together with the same guys every day. Some of those things I thought were just the annoying part of being in the military. What I didn’t realize until after was that those were just some of the things that created the bond and team atmosphere I began to crave on the outside.
After the military, I got a job, went to work every day, went to the gym afterward, did some bench press and other random non-complex things, went home, had dinner, went to bed, and started over the next day. The biggest variation I had was which body part I was going to crush while I was at the gym.
I eventually made a career move that brought me here to Indianapolis. Within the first couple months of being bored with the globo gym, I got over myself and emailed a CrossFit gym, CrossFit Carmel. The response I got was warm and inviting so I went in on a Friday at lunch to give it a shot. I was a little worried about the WOD but, like most decisions in life, I said “screw it” and went after it. I found myself in a class with 15 other people all routing and yelling for each other until the very last person finished their very last rep. I was cheering right along. What really impressed me were the coaches. They made me feel welcome from the minute I walked in and were eager to have me back, which felt great.
What I realized, and experienced, over the coming months and years was that this wasn’t just a place where you go workout. Obviously, you do. But you go there, and you stay there because it feels like a second home. This is a place that when you go in for a Saturday morning WOD, you end up staying for the next one as well, then realize that you are still there hanging and talking 2 hours after. The first great friends I made, and ones I will be lifelong friends with, I met in a CrossFit gym. I know that the people here would give up their own time if I was in need or asked them for help. I know I can count on these amazing people. It feels like family.
Fast forward a couple years and here I am typing this up in my own gym. I get to hang with my family every day. I get to push them to their physical potential, all while continuing these awesome friendships I made as an athlete and now, grow them as a gym owner. I love how our community has come together through so much change and adversity and still continues to thrive in their fitness goals. It makes me extremely proud when I see classes rooting and cheering for every last person and then high fiving all around once the chaos is through. These are the moments that bond us as a community. As a family.
There is no doubt in my mind that I have the best job in the world, that I have the best coaches in the world, and that I have the best athletes in the world. I have the best family in the world.
Coach Chris Warsop
CrossFit’s worldwide presence has transformed its “constantly varied, high intensity, and function movement” mission into a bona fide sport. Local throwdowns, annual events, and the CrossFit Games have inspired near-and-far competition for your everyday box-goer. With CrossFit’s status as a sport, standardizing movement requirements and rule compliance is a necessity, which is why each individual and team receives a personal judge during all competitions. A judge has the following two roles: ensure movement standards and count repetitions. The judge’s role is crucial to providing fair competition across all events.