Church of Crossfit (7): Heroes and Saints

Every movement has its saints.  These individuals are the ones who embody the movement; they set the standard for what others aspire to become.  In this post, I’d like to explore the “saints” of the Church of CrossFit: professional CrossFitters.

There are two groups of sponsored CrossFit athletes: Team Rogue and Team Again Faster.  Incidentally, these two teams went head-to head last year, and watching the competition (which was like watching the Avengers fight the X-Men) one afternoon last November ultimately inspired me to join my CrossFit gym.

In any case, these athletes represent the best that CrossFit has to offer: a cross-section of the top finishers from the CrossFit Games over the last five years.  Some notables:

Mikko Salo, from Finland, who was the 2009 champion.  Salo is known as “The Cyborg” because of his machine-like feats, like doing 1000 burpees for time. It took him 82 minutes.

Jason Khalipa, the 2008 champion, who at the 2010 games had an entire section guys waving signs, chanting his name, and spelling out his name on their bare chests.

Chris Spealler, who was featured in the above Adidas commercial just prior to the 2010 Games (worth watching to understand what I’m writing about).  Spealler amazed the CrossFit community in 2010 when he embarked on a quest to do 100 pull-ups in a row.

Spealler’s quest for 100 pull-ups is worth investigating more closely (there is a 22 minute documentary of his attempts).  At one attempt in front of 45 peers, the energy in the room was fantastic: the sense of disappointed awe is palpable when, with large cuts on his hands, he falls off the bar at 97.  One trainer in particular was moved to tears at the attempt.  When asked what she thought of Spealler, she responded:

He’s an amazing human being.  He’s humble to a fault, he just gives and gives and gives….  Everything that he puts into his performance he puts into training other people too, and um, even outside of work, outside of CrossFit the way he lives his life is really inspiring.

Notice again that Spealler is a model not simply because of his physical prowess but because of the overall kind of human beings he is.  Incidentally, after failing on his first three attempts, he cranked out 106 pull-ups in a row.

At CrossFit gyms, people talk about these athletes.  They give the ordinary CrossFitter a vision of what he or she could become: it is a vision of a better future.

When the life that you are living is safe, comfortable and boring, you don’t really need any heroes to inspire you.  Those who are living for themselves have no need of saints.

People who need heroes are the ones who are staring down something big.  People with real obstacles, real dreams – people who know that to go where they are called to go will require them to become stronger than they currently are.

So it is no surprise that CrossFitters have heroes; their mission requires them.

Does yours?

Question: Who are your heroes?


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7 thoughts on “Church of Crossfit (7): Heroes and Saints

  1. Pingback: Thor critiques CF – Vol 3: Why I don’t WOD at a CrossFit box | Thor Falk

  2. Justin,
    I applaud your blogposts on the subject of crossfit. As a fellow Christian I am intrigued by the parallels between our faith and this form of fitness. I have recently joined a crossfit gym after having observed the movement from a distance for many years. I am enjoying it thus far. I am interested to hear of whether you are still crossfiting or have stopped. Thanks for the read.

    • Aaron, thanks for stopping by! I am still Crossfitting for sure. I am participating in the CrossFit Open happening right now, though after that first workout I’m not doing as well as I’d like!

      • Awesome! I did the second qualifier workout but was not judged as I’m still finishing the On Ramp (beginner) class. But, it was cool they let me do the workout with those that were competing. Really enjoyed your paleo posts too. Interesting reading paleo books though with all the heavy reference to evolution and pre-historic man. The diet makes sense and it is surprisingly easy to follow.

  3. Great post! As a relatively new Crossfitter, it is certainly inspiring to see some of the top Crossfitters such as Chris Spealler and Dan Bailey who are openly willing to claim Christ in a very genuine and humble way! After having drank “the Crossfit Kool-Aid” I can’t stop telling all of my friends about it and wanting them to join! I’m a believer in a wholistic approach to fitness and overall life-wellness and since adding Crossfit to my life, I have to say that it has improved many other aspects of my life. Thanks!

    • Thanks for stopping by Luke! If you didn’t read it already, this post is one of 10 entries about my CrossFit journey. I’m not familiar with Dan Bailey (until recently), but Chris Spealler was one of the guys who originally inspired me to take the CrossFit plunge.

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