It’s been a long and circuitous journey to CFPC/Gravitas. I’m 30 years old, and it feels like I’ve already had a couple distinct lives in that three decade span. There was the period during my early teenage years, where I watched a lot of television and hadn’t found the joy of moving yet. During this time, some significant family challenges were unfolding. My father had been diagnosed with lymphoma when I was 7 or 8 and after a brief respite into remission, his cancer returned.I discovered skateboarding around the time when my father was re-diagnosed. Suddenly, concrete curbs, handrails, and stairs were a canvas to create on — not just mundane features of the urban environment — and I connected with a community of friends who shared my passion for skateboarding. Progressing took dedication. Long hours of practice helped me find a new kind of power: the ability to focus on and achieve what I set my mind on. If I truly wanted to learn a new trick or overcome the fear of falling, I could. However, I couldn’t see that life was about to challenge me in ways I couldn’t imagine.
After numerous rounds of chemotherapy and an experimental bone marrow transplant, my father passed away when I was 15. Without going into too much detail, I can say that losing my father led me down a path where I became increasingly fixated on health, fitness, and well-being in ways that weren’t all that healthy. I got into competitive road cycling during college, over-trained, and under ate. It was the ultimate in bitter irony: the things I was doing to convince myself that I was becoming healthier and stronger were actually tearing me down in body and spirit. Long solo training rides and an obsessive attention to diet left me isolated. I’d lost my community and was pedaling without a tribe.
Eventually, I got wise. It became clear that there was a viscous cycle at work, and the fear, grief and anger over my father’s passing was fueling it. I left road biking behind, and spent several years re-learning what it truly meant to promote my health and well-being (and how to have fun). After dabbling with a couple other sports, a good friend introduced me to rock climbing. Climbing requires a focus and diligence similar to skateboarding. Ascending long routes and boulder problems challenged me on a mental and physical level, and it brought me back to community. At the end of a long day of climbing, there was a place for me in a circle of friends around the campfire. Without ever looking for them, I also found mentors who supported my growth in both climbing and life. And I could feel my father’s enduring presence while walking through quiet stands of pine trees on the way to solid faces of granite rock in Yosemite.
I’ve been climbing for more than 5 years now, and it has taught me much about myself and life. Over time, I got more and more curious about cross training, and quickly learned that I felt better and climbed harder when I incorporated different forms of movement. This has lead me to a point in my journey where I have a deeper appreciation for the simple act of moving with intention and integrity. To me, movement is a healing modality – especially when done with others. That’s brought me here, to CFPC/Gravitas.
Every day of CrossFit launches me into the unfamiliar. Opening up to new lifts or loading up a bar with more weight than I’ve ever moved before can bring up some pretty serious feelings of doubt, or even fear. This also has a way of keeping me very honest and attuned. It has helped me examine these feelings and emotions in the moment, and use them to make good decisions about how to be informed by what I’m experiencing inside. I’ve had moments where I really pause and ask myself, ‘Am I moving this weight in a way that acknowledges and honors where I am at physically and mentally right now?’ These are powerful moments, and I’m convinced that they’ve helped me make better decisions in other contexts and situations.
CrossFit has also challenged me to open up to and embrace being a beginner every day. I’ve learned that approaching things with this type of “beginner’s mind” makes things a lot more fun. Ultimately, movement is a gift and it’s a gift that doesn’t last for any of us. I’ve been trying to remind myself of that and really enjoy the CrossFit experience for what it is, even in those moments where every fiber of muscle in my body is quivering and that little voice in my head is wanting the intensity to stop.
Q: What was it about our gym/community that drew you in?