Many times you’d never recognize a Masters CrossFitter just by looking at them. We have potbellies and C-section scars, gray hair and trick knees. We’re the guy getting you a cruller at Dunkin’ Donuts or the cop who just issued you a speeding ticket. We’re your pit-bull divorce lawyer or your stay-at-home sister-in-law with five busy kids or your bespectacled grandma with her blush pink velour tracksuits. We Masters are a mishmash of professions and backgrounds and personalities and responsibilities, but get us all into a box, and we are one and the same: a tightknit group, supporting and encouraging one another in a sport that has of late become one of the most competitive in the world.
Not all of us have been competitors before, which makes this dynamic even more interesting. Some athletes in my box had never done anything athletic before trying CrossFit, while others were elite collegiate gymnasts or runners or cyclists. Doesn’t matter. When it comes to doing a box-jump burpee or a handstand push-up or a toes-to-bar, we’re all on the same playing field. Because it’s a competition of you versus yourself, and in a very Me, Myself and Irene sort of way, you become two people: your daily persona of parent, lawyer, secretary, construction worker, artist, engineer or rocket scientist … and your alter ego of CrossFit junkie.
Sure we are jealous (insanely so, in my case) of the 20-somethings with their injury-free bodies, boundless energy and mercury-quick recovery. But we have something they don’t have: self-awareness. We know that success isn’t measured in how much weight we can snatch but how we can snatch without injury and still move forward toward our goals. We are OK if we don’t PR one day because we have the capacity to realize that we’re overstressed or overworked or under-recovered and are willing and able to cut ourselves some slack. There’s always next week.
Then next week comes and it’s game on because Masters CrossFitters are crazy, powerful, balls-to-the-wall athletes who surprise me every time I go to class. I am awed by my pixie-like friend who is four years my senior and who easily out-lifts me by 30 pounds, even though I easily outweigh her by 20 (OK, maybe 25). I marvel at the beer-bellied guy who cranks out 30 nonstop burpees, hearkening back to his football glory days, and laugh along with the newbie in the corner whose face breaks into the biggest smile as she learns to do a kipping pull-up, remembering when I also did my first.
So to these and the thousands of Masters out there in boxes across the country, this column is for you. You are powerful and open and fierce and generous all at once, and I am humbled and honored to be part of your club. Now get your ass into the box and get to work, people. The simpering is over, and it’s time to get real.