By Adam Rennie

What would you prefer?

In years past, it wasn’t uncommon to walk into a CrossFit gym, just to encounter a bunch of commotion. A maelstrom of shouts, chants, yells, and cheers for someone struggling to complete that last push up, or that last burpee, or even that last squat, just as the timer on the wall finishes its countdown. The community of CrossFit was one of loud, audacious, and intrepid people who reveled in taking part in motivating that individual who was grinding through the same torment they just put themselves through. Even today, that same audience exist, but just as there is an ebb and flow to life, there have been similar shifts in the way CrossFitters and fitness enthusiast compose themselves today.

Today’s society hinges on a fast paced lifestyle. Who was the first person to post that comment on Facebook, or who was first to post a picture on Instagram? How many followers are we at? What’s our subscriber count? How many “likes” did we achieve? We move fast with our social lives, and our social interests, and that is just as present in how we move about in our daily affairs. In many cases now, it’s not uncommon to walk into a CrossFit gym, but this time, you’ll hear the loud music blaring, and people cleaning up there equipment and scooting out the door just as fast as they preformed their first 200 m sprint.

As an athlete, I miss those days of cheers and guffaws, motivation and yells. Having been indoctrinated early in my CrossFit career, I loved being yelled at to “Keep Going Big Guy!” and “Don’t quit now, you’re almost done!” My favorites where the days of “Sure, go ahead and quit, since quitting was ever an option.” I understand some would find this offensive, but my friends and fellow athletes knew me, and knew what worked for me; just as I knew them and I knew what helped them keep the pace. However, the CrossFit crowd, like so many crowds, has changed over time, and not everyone enjoys being yelled at or even cheered on when the clock counts down to the final zero.

I heard a story of an athlete who went to a CrossFit gym, and was treated with respect, just as she has expected to be treated. Having never experienced CrossFit or its ilk, she took part in the class, and like so many before her, she was the last person to finish. At the end she had an entire gym surrounding her, cheering her on as if she was the winner of a marathon.

She never returned.

Later when she was asked why she didn’t return and why she had no intent of returning, her answer was simple: “I felt embarrassed.” She felt singled out. With the growing popularity of “Functional Fitness” and CrossFit being the brand name behind it, people of all walks of life, come to find the path to achieve their goals. This only paints a more vivid picture of who is present and how one person finds motivation differently than others.

Going back to our previous example, the one of people “scooting out the door just as fast as they finished their first 200 m sprint,” brings to light the polar opposite of our crowd: Those who feel abandoned when this happens.

CrossFit classes, for the most part, are taught in a group fitness format: We start together, we move through the programming together, we end together. For those of us who truly enjoy the group atmosphere, watching someone finish in front of you isn’t bad, but watching them finish, clean up, and leave feels defeating. “Hey! Where did the class go?!” Watching people clean up and disappear can leave you feeling unimportant, and not part of the group. I mean… If you wanted to work out by yourself, why join the CrossFit gym? Why surround yourself with people who are like-minded, fitness goal-oriented, if you’re just going to watch them leave while you struggle.

At the end of the day, we are a social group. I know who likes to have friends surround them at the end of a workout yelling at them to “keep moving” and I know who doesn’t want to be bothered during their “grind.” Morale of the story: Get to know each other, and don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t be afraid to let someone know what you do or don’t like. Also, stay with the classic CrossFit mentality: We start together, We end together. Don’t just clean up your equipment AND LEAVE! Even if you’re not cheering someone on, they’ll see you there and they’ll know you were all in it together. After all, we are all on the same road to our fitness goal; we shouldn’t have to walk it alone or in silence.