From Insistent to Instagram


I’ve seen the progression a million times. It’s almost a laborious conversation for any coach who’s spent a considerable amount of time taking inquiries from the bell curve of society in their first jaunt with strength and conditioning. “I totally understand that from the outside looking in that this stuff is intimidating. I’d really think you’d be pleasantly surprised at how eclectic of a group we have here. You’d fit right in,” or so goes the conversation.

“No, weightlifting isn’t particularly dangerous. At least considering the level of danger in cooking dinner and driving an automobile.”

The teeter-totter conversation that mostly disarms the perception of heavy weights and reinforces some element of safety in the minds of weary first-timers, though accurate and justified, does get a bit old. And it’s one of those things that as a coach you need to separate from emotionally at times. Like I always tell myself, “You can’t make someone want something they don’t already want for themselves.” So I don’t get too bummed when I can’t win over a skeptical prospect who doesn’t opt in for training when it’s the very thing they need most.

What’s funny, though, is what happens for those that do give CrossFit a try. They come in concerned and uninterested in strength, “big heavy weights,” or the risks associated with even “going there.” Make one thing certain. These folks have made up their minds.

Then, some months down the road the tone changes. “Hey coach, could you send me any pictures you have of me squatting from last week?” I can’t tell you what happens specifically from the “I’ll-never-come-close-to-caring-about-lifting-weights-because-I-don’t-want-to-get-hurt” athlete to the time they become the “I-can’t-wait-to-Instagram-every-photo-of-myself-lifting-heavy-weights-ever” athlete, but it’s a beautiful sight to see.

I guess that in the 21st century it’s called “empowerment” and I don’t mind that “there’s an app for that.” When mothers and fathers, seniors, and boys and girls begin feeling good about themselves, we all win. When a worldview of fear and self-sacrifice is replaced by one of swagger and courage, we all win. So when you show up on my doorstep wanting fitness gains without the barbell bogeyman, I’ll nod in support. Then I’ll wait for your fear to become your most positive obsession.

—Logan Gelbrich