If you follow the athletes who compete in the CrossFit Games then you have likely seen them post about the “community.” When you see and hear this word, they are talking about more than their fellow athletes that compete and the spectators in attendance. They are talking about everyone who participates in workouts at his or her local box or gym around the world.
To get a full appreciation of what it means to be a part of the CrossFit community, you should go to a local gym and see the people training, interacting and encouraging each other while the clock is ticking on that day’s session.
One example of this is CrossFit Esprit (pronounced es-pree) in Ronceverte, West Virginia. Every year during the Open, it puts on a local event called “Friday Night Lights” where members take part in a theme and enjoy each other’s company while pushing each other to achieve new personal levels of excellence.
Dwight Bundy is the owner of this facility as well as a fellow athlete and coach. He hopes that everyone who takes part in these events reap all the benefits that CrossFit provides because he knows how important it can be in his area. “We are trying to change the culture in southern West Virginia. We’re one of the unhealthiest states in the country and we’re just doing our part to motivate, encourage and get people to start living a healthier lifestyle. I think that CrossFit is definitely a good part of that.”
19.3 on ’80s Night
On this particular evening, the theme is ’80s night so many members show up in ’80s themed costumes and outfits and prepare to train while “Eye of the Tiger” blares on the stereo system. 19.3 proved to be a great challenge. For those of you who may have missed it, here is the workout that was posted by CrossFit.
- 200 feet overhead dumbbell lunge
- 50 dumbbell box step-ups
- 50 strict handstand push-ups
- 200 feet handstand walk
Men: 50 pound dumbbell and 24 inch box
Women: 35 pound dumbbell and 20 inch box
10 minute time cap
Counting the scaled versions for different age groups, more than 20 athletes showed up to train, with ages ranging from teenagers to people around 60 years old. Liz Wickline is 56 years old and ranks in the top 30 in the world for her age group. She did a modified workout and put on a performance that she was pleased with.
“It was a little worse than I thought it would be but I got it done and hopefully I can move up a spot or two after this. It was great to be here around these folks and hearing them cheer us on. Training here and doing this has helped me with other parts of my life, including physically and even in business. I’m glad that I started doing this.”
No one who attempted the full workout was able to complete it on this day, but Elise McClintic came the closest. She completed 50 feet of the handstand walks before time expired. Even though she performed the best out of everyone there, she was still deliberating what she can do better because she plans on doing it again before the deadline to post scores which is Monday, March 11.
“I’m thinking about if I can move faster on the lunges or if I can squeeze out more push-ups before taking breaks. Where can I save a second or two so I can do more? I think that is what CrossFit is truly all about—pushing yourself to do the best you can and encouraging others around you so they can do the same. If you can do better, you should go for it.”
Dominique Daniels also trains and coaches here, and he said that McClintic wouldn’t be the only one to try again before the deadline. “I’m sure several of us will come back on Monday and do it again. A few people might come back tomorrow. For me, I’m thinking about where I can keep the dumbbell when doing the step-ups or if I can do the lunges better. There’s definitely a strategy when it comes to doing the Open workouts. We all want to post the best scores possible.”
The energy in the air during Friday Night Lights was contagious. Everyone in attendance supporting the trainees could see that the athletes go a little harder and push themselves more when they heard cheers and encouragement.
After the final heat completed their session, the athletes and spectators alike enjoyed food provided by the staff and shared laughs while recovering from another Friday Night Lights workout. They already know that next week’s theme will be luau night. What they don’t know yet is what workouts will make up 19.4. That gets announced on March 14. It’s certain that the workout will be a challenge, but this community, like the entire CrossFit community, will embrace it and give their all.
Roger Lockridge is from Lewisburg, West Virginia. His work has been featured on numerous platforms and magazines in the fitness industry over the last 10 years. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @rocklockridge.