We support our friends.
We buy their kids’ overpriced chocolate bars and popcorn for school fundraisers. We host their Tupperware parties.
But what if our friend is opening a gym, and not just any gym, but a CrossFit gym, or as the CrossFitters call it, a box? Do you sign up for an annual membership to be abused? What the heck is CrossFit anyway?
This was the dilemma I faced when my friend BJ McKay told me that he was opening a gym.
All I knew about CrossFit I had learned from my CrossFitting facebook friends. I watched a video of one of my friends staring daggers at a wood box, hesitating before jumping on top of it to the cheers of onlookers. It looked like some type of rah-rah sadomasochistic cult.
CrossFit looked like something I would pay NOT to do
“Hey, man, I wish you the best with your gym and all,” I told him, “but I’m getting back into running, so…”
I wasn’t sure what else to say. The very first time I met BJ he asked me to join what would become the Leadership Board, which champions mentoring in Muncie.
Then he asked if I wanted to try SEALfit with him, but not before describing the hours of torture and pain and questioning of all that was holy. The blood, sweat, and broken hearts and minds of his fellow sufferers didn’t sell me.
“No way,” I told him. “I just met you. I don’t want to hate you.”
BJ can sell happy to a clown. He can sell memberships to a CrossFit facility before there is actually a CrossFit facility. I waited.
We both have an office in the same building, and I would regularly bump into BJ as he searched for a gym site, managed remodeling construction, and made opening day plans.
The Arsenal isn’t a building; it’s a community
The opening of The Arsenal was scheduled the day after Game 7 of the NBA Finals. As I settled into the couch that evening, I thought of BJ and his co-owner, John.
I felt guilty, so I sent BJ a text: “If you are in a pinch and need more hands on deck tonight, or tomorrow, I’m happy to help.”
BJ: “Yes, come please.”
Not sure of BJ’s level of morale or consciousness, I offered to bring beer or coffee. Instead, he told me to bring paint thinner and a wet vacuum.
It was 9:30 on a Thursday night and the bar bands were just settling into their first sets. The music poured into the streets and mixed with the sounds of construction and cleaning emanating from The Arsenal. Inside, there were a few members of a construction crew working away, but most of the folks cleaning and finishing were volunteers.
I worked alongside BJ’s dad from Pennsylvania, cleaning the grease off of the weight plates. I wet vacced the rubber floor alongside Jennifer, Joy, and Aly long past midnight. They had been CrossFitting with BJ and John since May. Their kids were at home in bed and they were here giving back. Their love for the Workout Of the Day turned into their willingness to work all night to get the gym ready for the big day.
That’s when I saw what CrossFit was and what BJ and John had built. It wasn’t a building; it was a community and I wanted to be a part of it.
I’ve been working out at the Arsenal now for two months. I’m hooked. I got my wife to join as well.
I don’t go for BJ. I go for me. I don’t go out of guilt, but out of desire to test myself.
Now I’m the guy who posts the picture of his bumps and bruises on Facebook. You’ll see me regularly on The Arsenal’s Facebook page. If you want to see a small example of the community, go to the Facebook page. Imagine what happens inside these walls.
Over the course of several blog posts I’ll share what the first two months of CrossFit have been like. Next up: The First WOD.