CrossFit Made Me Want to Become a Drug Addict
by Mari Gomez
After more than three years of burpees, pull-ups, squats, and throwing things over my head, I feel I’ve plateaued. My back is saying things I don't understand and so I’ve come to a regression in performance, which is everything CrossFitters stand against. If there is one idea that dominates the CrossFit ethos, it’s the idea of constant improvement through diligence, training, and hard work. Giving up is not even in their vocabulary; most of them will spasm if the phrase is uttered in their presence or if it fleetingly enters their minds. Quitting is so strongly looked down upon in CF that any mention or allusion to it, is immediately shut down and replaced with optimisms like “The body achieves what the mind believes.”
So I’ve kept showing up because I don’t want to be the one quitter that suddenly decides, after more than three years, that CrossFit is hard.
So it’s PR day. Everyone is having a good time. Not you. You’re thoughts revolve around what a failure you are and how you’re not going to lift the weight anyway because your stupid and afraid and your genetics suck and all you want to do is go home and talk to your dog, but someone at the gym notices your struggle. They approach smiling and friendly, and they say nice things. Mari, you can do this. Don’t give up.
So you try, but you mess up the lift. They encourage you to try again. And again. If you mess up enough, they’ll say, Ah, don’t worry, you’ll get it next time. Then, they’ll high five you and congratulate you on a job well done. They’ll tell you that your form is good, all you need is to be confident, to get out of your head, to finish the pull and get under that bar. They’ll show you videos to demonstrate the technique and point out how close you are. They’ll even explain the body mechanics. You’re right there, they’ll say, almost have it!
And as your standing there after all this, your plan of throwing in the towel and saying, I fucking quit! is out the window. It would look really really bad, so you come back the next day. You force yourself to simply keep up, even if it means feigning excitement about a five pound increase over a year in your PR, when everyone else seems to be getting much, much more.
We hear a lot of stories about how CrossFit changes lives. We don’t hear about the dark side of CrossFit. The potential that CrossFit has to crush you and serve as a daily progress report of your net worth, which if you’re like me, feels at a standstill. You start to convince yourself that your worth to the gym becomes measurable by the numbers on the board and the amount of weight you can move off the ground. You are what you lift. And these numbers are the currency you exchange in conversation and high fives and most of the time you are dead broke.
Luckily I’ve come up with a plan to remedy my stagnant situation and it does not involve a change of diet, massages, or chiropractors or even getting to the real source of my problem . No no. I’ve come to realize that the only way out of this slump is to lose myself, surrender to the body in some other way.
I’ll start by concocting some terrible tragedy in my life and then drinking heavily. Then, I’ll move to a regiment of cocaine consumption, just enough to lose a little bit of control and my job. Ideally, I’ll make some kind of scene at work, where I show up disheveled and drunken to class wearing two different type of shoes and tell my students an offensive and very racist joke. Then, I’ll go on a rant about how their education is a big lie and all they’re learning is how to complain and how University is like everything else: just a business. Your better of backpacking through Europe and doing drugs. One student will protest and I’ll say, Shut the hell up white man! You’ve had your chance! And the security guard, who never gets any excitement, will come and drag me away kicking and screaming unintelligible insults while the students record this on their phone and instantly upload it.
Then, I’ll upgrade to heroin and get a job as a waitress. I’ll spill drinks and drop food and be rude to customers and tell them how fat they are and maybe they wouldn’t be eating alone if they didn’t stuff their face. Excuse me sir, have you heard of CrossFit? They’ll ask to speak to the manager and I’ll get in their face and say, Bitch, I am the manager. Then the real manager, with a BA in business who spends way too much time at work because he hates his wife and is a closeted homosexual, will emerge from his little office where he’s scrolling through Facebook profiles of young men and politely ask me to get out, to which I will reply: Why don’t you get me out? (Because by this point I’m incapable of coming up with anything more clever). He will call the cops. Ten minutes later, I will be escorted out by a disgruntled police officer whose job is for the most part tedious and meaningless and involves dealing with idiotic situations such as this one, when what he wanted to do was get in gun fights and catch bad guys, so he’s developed a bit of a beer gut out of self-loathing, which I’ll also point out to him in jest(the gut, that is, not the self-loathing).
Then, in a drug induced stupor, I’ll board a bus (I’ve had to sell my car by this point) and I’ll stand at the front and say, Ladies and gentlemen, I have a gun! The bus driver will tackle me down and bang my head against the floor until I’m unconscious. I’ll wake up in jail and I’ll be asked if I have any affiliation with ISIS or terrorist groups and then my mother will come crying to the police station saying something in Spanish, at which point, they’ll roll their eyes and let me go. Not before I sue them for racist profiling and maybe start a political movement. Around this time, I’ll already be the topic of conversation at CF parties, where the people will shake their heads and whisper to each other, She used to be such a nice girl.
Then I’ll check myself into rehab, get clean, and bring myself back. I will re-join the gym and turn my life into the kind of success story that sells memoirs. (Right now, my life wouldn’t be worth a dime as a memoir and as I understand it people with MFA’s write memoirs when their novels fail) To top it off, maybe I’ll become a single mother. Because then, no matter how stagnant my performance is at the gym, people will always say, Well she used to be a drug addict, or You know, she's come a long way from her addiction.
I can never lose. I’ll always exceed expectations. I will become an example of the modern woman's indestructible Will. Oprah with quads. Then, I'll write a memoir, tour around the country, and inspire your children.
For a moment there, CrossFit tricked me into believing that I too might one day be “a beast.” They’ve managed to convince me, that it was possible. Yet, they have no idea the damage this has caused. I wandered into a gym because I wanted to do a push up. Now it never ends. Pistols. Toes to Bar. Strict this. Strict that. I didn’t know that doing CrossFit meant to always want to get better, that progress would be such a big deal. I had no idea that it meant subscribing to a mentality of hard work/consistency/ patience/persistence. I didn’t know it meant a community of great people where you are supported and encouraged. My god, it’s exhausting.
So if you’re thinking of joining a gym because you want to lose your holiday gut, don’t. You’ll never leave, just speed up your metabolism with some cocaine and get back to work.