The gym was packed and it was loud as he walked in with that very uneasy look on his face. An unfamiliar space with lots of unfamiliar faces. I’ve been there and probably so have you. No matter how much CrossFit experience you may have, it’s always a bit unnerving walking into a strange gym, especially when you’re traveling on business. You’re alone and even a little bit lonely.
In the CrossFit world, we call them “drop ins” ( I know you dig all the insightful lingo!!). They’re basically a non member who looked you up specifically because you offer CrossFit. For a small fee they get to enjoy the facilities. Most places, like us, even offer a package where they can, for just $5.00 more, get the gym’s T-Shirt as well. (While I’m on the subject of T-Shirts, ours are stylish, colorful, and competitively priced. Wink, wink)
I don’t want to give his real name, so let’s just call him Clayton. Clayton dropped in on us from the East Coast. He’s an older guy, I’m guessing around 50 -55, in great shape, and he loves CrossFit.
Since he’s traveling all the time, he has a pretty keen insight of how demographics and communities vary from box to box (Ooops, more lingo. A ‘Box’ is a CrossFit gym. I’m a CrossFit glossary!).
He told me after the workout that he really appreciates our gym, not just from the instruction he received, but because of the hospitality that was extended to him, and he commented mostly on our members.
He said that he’s been in a couple of places where he was surrounded by young, super strong athletes, who he couldn’t hold a candle too. He felt intimidated and out of place, despite having close to two years of CrossFit experience under his belt.
To me, it begs the question: Was it the level of elite athleticism and age difference in some of these gyms that made him so uncomfortable, or was it that he just didn’t feel welcome?
I think that no matter the level of fitness in any particular box, it is the makeup of your ‘community’, the people in your gym and how they behave towards newcomers that makes a person feel welcome or, on the flip side, totally out of place.
Anyone is going to be in awe of someone who can clean and jerk 350# while you can handle only 125#. It can also be very intimidating. But that doesn’t mean that the badass of the gym has to be stuck-up and unwilling to talk and interact with a stranger. After all, we’re after the same thing, right?
So I learned a lot from my conversation with Clayton. Its important to be nice to other individuals, no matter their level of fitness and strength. It’s a clear message to all elite athletes (and no, I’m not putting myself in that category). The message is that it’s pretty cool for a person of inferior physical ability to be in awe of you, but it’s better for them to be comfortable around you.
I’m proud of our members for showing Clayton a good time during his brief stay at SOPO. I’m also very proud of the two coaches that are here the majority of the time, Amanda and Tim. I happen to think the community that we have at SOPO is a direct reflection of them because the members of our gym are the very people that our coaches draw in.
So if you’re in the neighborhood and you need to ‘drop in’, we’re here. Ready to do our job, actually more than our job. We’ll provide you with a great workout, and a nice space to do it in, but most of all, we’ll make you feel welcome.
Oh, and don’t forget those snazzy T-Shirts!!