The Church of Crossfit (1): Chronicle of a Seeker

In 2010 I discovered something called Crossfit.  It’s a workout philosophy that focuses on functional movements performed in short, high intensity workouts.  That might not mean a lot to most, and I will explain what I mean at some point, but even when I do it might not seem particularly interesting.

What is interesting is that Crossfitters treat Crossfit like their religion.  It is a source of purpose, meaning, discipline and even hope.  Crossfitters unite around their shared philosophy and practices, and congregate daily (in the temple and in every house) at special Crossfit gyms, where they work out in community – not alone.  As a member of such a gym, I can say that it has the feel of a grassroots, anti-consumerist, counter-cultural movement (though of course relegated to the world of fitness).

As a person very interested in working out on the one hand and church on the other, I thought it would be interesting to take you on my Crossfit journey and make observations along the way about what I’ve seen and learned.  Here’s chapter one.

The story begins in the fall of 2009.  In an effort to challenge myself, almost on a whim (but after consultation with my wife) I committed to an expedition hiking the fabled Incan Trail to Machu Picchu in June 2010.  Not wanting me to die on the trail, my wife made me get a gym membership (at XSport Fitness) and even paid for me to get some personal training sessions.

Much to XSport’s delight, I signed up for 10 PT sessions and they introduced me to my trainer: Scott.  When the lady signing me up pointed him out to me, she said, “don’t let him fool you.  He will kill you.”

I think she said this because Scott didn’t fit the profile of the standard trainer: muscle-bound meat-head with a name like Blade, Laser, or Blazer.  He did look a little bit like the guy in the latest Prince of Persia movie.

Later I would learn that he was going for something called lean muscle mass.  When I told him that that I didn’t want to look like a body builder, and that I really just wanted to be as healthy as possible, he smiled and pumped a fist.

But “kill me” he did.  For the first few weeks, I would come home from the gym and collapse on the floor.  It wasn’t that we were doing incredibly heavy weight, it was the fact that we were going at such a high intensity, and my muscles weren’t used to recovering that quickly.  But I was learning a workout philosophy that was quite a bit different than standard big gym fare.

Tomorrow: The Seeker Sensitive Gym

Question: Ever seriously tried to get in shape?  Ever tried personal training?  What was it like?

What’s In a Name?

So I thought I would write a quick post explaining the reason why I have called this blog, “Meditations in a Toolshed.”

First, the picture in the header is of the shed in my backyard.  Since we moved in, I’ve hated the shed and wanted to tear it down. The doors are about to fall off.  The prior homeowners left a ton of garbage in it.  Skunks moved in for a month a few summers ago.

But when our friend Irene came to visit, she took this picture of the shed, and since then it has grown in my estimation.  It looks like a place that has a story, character, and mystery.

In other words, sometimes it takes another perspective to open your eyes.

But the main inspiration for the title comes from the title of a short C.S. Lewis essay entitled, “Meditation in a Toolshed.”  In the essay, Lewis tells of a time when he was in a toolshed and began to look at a beam of light shining through the door. He then moved into the light and looked along the light, up through the door, through the trees and into the sun.  His conclusion: “looking along” is very different than “looking at”.

He goes on to describe that the view is very different when you are inside an experience (“looking along”) than when you are outside of it looking in (“looking at”).  He writes:

A young man meets a girl. The whole world looks different when he sees her. Her voice reminds him of something he has been trying to remember all his life, and ten minutes casual chat with her is more precious than all the favors that all other women in the world could grant. lie is, as they say, “in love”. Now comes a scientist and describes this young man’s experience from the outside. For him it is all an affair of the young man’s genes and a recognized biological stimulus. That is the difference between looking along the sexual impulse and looking at it.

For the person in love, the world is alive for the first time.  But the person looking at it from the outside picks the experience apart, reduces it it, demythologizes and debunks it.  “All it is,” he says, “is hormones.” He might be right.  But he is looking at the world as an outsider.  He unable to really see, since he is not in love himself. He knows how to look at the world from the outside, but not from the inside.  And so he is blind.

My goal is to see the world, not through the eyes of a detached observer, but through the wide eyes of wonder, entering in, drinking deeply, not merely knowing but tasting.

Perspective. Wonder.  These are my meditations from the toolshed.