Until CrossFit Do Us Part

Blake Friis explains how a little white lie during courtship can land you in the gym on a random Saturday afternoon four years later.

What would a Sunday afternoon be without a lively game of Puke or Pass Out? That’s the street name. In a garage-like gym full of crazy people, they call it CrossFit. It’s a strength and conditioning program that provides a convenient facade under which a cult of incredibly fit lunatics gather to wear goofy socks and compete in a series of made-up events called a WOD, which I’m told stands for workout of the day, meaning this charade is carried out on a daily basis.

Curiosity, a philanthropic spirit, and a bat-shit crazy wife are the main factors that led me to participate in my first WOD. I’d been hearing about CrossFit for quite some time, because I have friends who belong to the cult and, in typical cult fashion, they refuse to shut up about it.

A friend invited us to a charity WOD with proceeds going to fight cancer, and said he would keep an eye on the baby while my wife, Summer, and I worked out. I would have paid the $40 just for the babysitter, so why not get a sweat and fight cancer while we’re at it? Of course, WOD for a Cure is the kind of event you can only write on the calendar in marker when you are married to a woman whose primary source of happiness is beating others in athletic challenges.

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The problem with lying to impress a girl is, if you’re successful, you are stuck in the lie. The bigger the deception, the more dedication and sacrifice required to maintain appearances.

Early in our courtship, I took up running because my wife is an avid runner. I also got a membership to the gym she worked out in, as well as her tanning salon. I hate all that shit, but, given it’s the foundation on which our relationship was forged, I am now stuck doing things I absolutely despise, like CrossFit on a Sunday afternoon when Tombstone is on AMC, lest she discover I am a lazy fat-ass.

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The entire day leading up to the 2pm WOD I did everything I could to convince my wife we should bail.

…That gym is 45 minutes from here (not quite) and I’m pretty sure we need an oil change (not true), can you imagine if we broke down in this cold weather with the baby (it was unseasonably warm, but looked cold and she hadn’t been outside)…

Not a chance.

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You tend to make certain assumptions when an event is for charity. There is a lightheartedness that accompanies the very word. Take golf, for example. At a charity golf tournament there is often a large contingency of people whose ability levels range from average all the way down to piss-poor. Of course, it matters not, everyone is just there to have a good time and support a good cause. Driving to the charity WOD, I expected to be greeted with an equivalent field of well-intentioned participants.

Wrong. The charity CrossFit crowd looks strikingly similar to a regular CrossFit crowd, the lone exception being a dopey heavy-set gentleman wandering the gym in a “Will Play For Beer” slowpitch softball shirt. I suspect they took one look at me and rightly assumed I would be gassed after the warm-up and that CrossFit is so foreign to me I actually believed WOD is a verb. Both correct.

I suck at WODing. My wife, on the other hand, WODs like a champ. While she obliterated the field in the women’s division, I managed to take third place in a men’s division that consisted of three men. I estimated the second place finisher to be no fewer than 15 years older than me. When my third place finish was announced I re-entered the gym behind the stroller containing my sleeping son, a shameless move to excuse my poor performance. The “new” baby excuse holds up significantly better when the woman who actually gave birth to the baby isn’t handed a first place prize four minutes later.

The drive home was wrought with silence, on my part anyway. Summer was on cloud nine and wanted me to find satisfaction in a tremendous first step toward getting back in shape – remember, she still thinks that is important to both of us.

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I know approximately how the CrossFit cult operates. The good news for me as I walked away tired and dejected was I couldn’t imagine a group of people with whom I felt less connected. CrossFit is loaded with ripped guys covered in tattoos who, though, remain strangely unintimidating. I think it’s their rigid Paleo diet. I fear no man who fears complex carbohydrates. By any account, I couldn’t imagine a situation in which we would mesh in a social setting. Cult averted.

“You know what was great?” Summer asked, somewhat rhetorically.

“Oh shit,” I thought, but didn’t say.

“I’ve been to a couple CrossFit places, but I think those people are more like us. Like, I could actually see us hanging out with them.”

Four years was a pretty good run for such an elaborate lie, but this is where I draw the line. If anyone needs me I’ll be on my couch watching Tombstone.

Photo: Courtesy of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska (U.S. Air Force/Justin Connaher)

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About Blake Friis

Blake is a writer and first-time father living in Dallas, TX. When not pushing a stroller aimlessly around Target or cowering in fear of a baby, he is documenting those misadventures at Pureed Green Beans and Whiskey. You can follow Blake on Twitter at @BlakeFriis.

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