CrossFit – A Different Kind of Zone

My TV viewing has been has been much enhanced in the past several years by the presence of a DVR. By enhanced, I mean that I never, and I mean never, watch a TV program in real time, and commercials (sorry, advertising industry of America) serve only as a trigger to press that fast forward X3 button and let’s get back to the show, please.

But there are a few commercials that I allow to live, and even go back and rewatch several times whenever they appear. I love that talking Wall Street baby, and of course anything involving Clydesdales, especially with puppies, is an automatic rewind.


These guys always get my attention.

But my favorite commercial of all time involves a gym whose manager is showing around a Prospective Client. The PC is a tall, heavily muscled gentleman in tight shorts who responds to being shown each piece of shiny new equipment by saying, in some vaguely Germano-Nordic accent and with an equally vague expression on his face, “I pick things up and I put them dowwnnnn.”

After several monotonal repetitions of this mantra, the manager escorts the PC through a door, the door to the parking lot, and quickly pulls it shut behind him with an emphatic click. This poor fellow, with his bulging muscles and overactive sweat glands, is not the kind of client they want at this particular chain of squeaky clean gyms.

I’m sure this successful chain of gyms has much to recommend it in addition to its great commercial. Their current ad campaign on the radio proclaims it to be a “judgment free zone,” where folks of all kinds can come to do their own thing without fear of – among other things – being looked down upon by muscular hulks such as our friend who picks things up and puts them down. Nothing wrong with that, and the chain’s success is proof that this philosophy has its appeal.

But I am a CrossFitter, a member of a “box” that on the surface is the antithesis of this particular chain. It’s a get down and dirty kind of place, rubber mats on the floor, rowing machines, Airdynes, racks and benches lining the walls, all kinds of barbells, free weights and unpainted wooden boxes neatly stacked here and there. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional.

The box

The box – spare, functional, no frills…..perhaps these folks are praying that their gut-wrenching WOD will soon be over.

My box also boasts its share of heavily muscled and incredibly fit bodies of both genders, who generate oceans of sweat and the occasional naughty word. Some, generally the gentlemen, divest themselves of their shirts to let that sweat pour off their body more efficiently.


This is the face, and chest, of CrossFit

I am a CrossFitter too, and I maintain that my box, CrossFit Ulster, (and I am sure a great many other boxes elsewhere) is the real “judgment free zone”, but with a slightly different slant to the meaning of the phrase.

I am a CrossFitter, but I am in my mid sixties, with some “shoulder issues” and a lot of stamina/coordination issues. I got a late start, will never be among the elite and there are undoubtedly certain things in the CrossFit repertoire that I will never be able to do. But notwithstanding my age and lack of innate strength and ability, I have been welcomed into a group of much fitter and often much much younger people with open arms.

Yes, this is one aspect of “judgment free” ness, the very real sense of “community” (even though my cynical side loathes that word) and acceptance of everyone, whatever their ability. But this judgment free zone doesn’t merely set me loose to do my own thing, tactfully overlooking my flabby upper arms, regrettable softness about the middle, and reluctance to do burpees.

Jes and Me

Tighten your core, straighten those knees, look straight ahead. You can do it, and you can’t hide!

No, CrossFit judges all the time, but in a good way. Can’t do a particular exercise? (yet – it’s always yet) Try this – it will work the same set of muscles. Use lighter weights until you get the form right. Try this – clench your butt, bring your shoulder blades together, use your core, don’t round your back, place your feet closer together, farther apart, look up, watch your hand placement on the bar. Yup, being judged all the time, and I am gradually improving.

And as for the non-coaching aspects of being “judgment free?” No one in your class cares what you are doing, that your weights are lower, that your times are slower. The common goal of each class is survival, each at his or her own level of getting the workout done. The judgment at the end – “Wow, that WOD really sucked! High five! We did it!”

CrossFit – a different kind of judgment free zone. And I like it very much.

About Elizabeth R

I have retired from being a mom of 2 little boys (though never from being their mom) and a teacher of multitudes of little people. Now I have lots of time (but somehow, not enough - why is that?) to shamelessly wallow in my previously underutilized passions - reading, writing, and Anglophilia. And somehow, a new interest has insidiously crept in - Crossfit. Crossfit is a wonderfully all-encompassing system of physical fitness allowing me to blame all my numerous aches and pains on it rather than old age. I like it very much, but then I have always been a little odd.
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