A New Year
I was about 14 when I found punk rock.
Life changing, for sure. Coming from a fairly normal and fortunate upbringing, punk music didn't represent a distaste for life, necessarily, but it hit home as it satisfied a very natural need of adolescence: to question everything. Question the norm, question the rules, question the answers, question existence... question oneself.
A punk rock song won't ever change the world. But I could tell you a few that changed me.
If you've been there you know; people are drawn to punk for many reasons, all unique to each individual. For me, the attitude of the music and lyrics was easy to relate to. But songs with societal meaning registered just as much as the galloping riffs that accompanied those often-indiscernible words. (Good thing for liner notes.) The punk community is one that offends the mainstream with no mercy but all in the demand for tolerance and equity. Racial and class lines be damned.
Identity in school, as in life, remains just as difficult a topic as ever. In my case, not following pre-set expectations made a lot of sense... classifications, stereotypes, cliques all seemed dumb and immature. Counterproductive. Moreover, why can't a person be interested in a lot of different things, and hang out with lots of different people? Funny enough, finding like-minded friends and having that kinship of a social circle is essential in teenage development.
Cue the music.
Following punk and getting into everything from "well-known" underground music to smaller, local bands ended up creating a place for me in a counterculture scene that was welcoming and unique. A wide open road of my future.
It is the same things that drew me to CrossFit that drew me to punk rock.
In a sense, punk rock means you do what you need to survive. CrossFit means much of the same. The pursuit? A no-holds-barred approach to health and fitness. Just what this aging punk needed. Destroying my body with sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll seemed just as dumb as the expectations of a stereotypical high school. The "live fast, die young' mantra was stupid and narrow-sighted... even with its flaws I loved life and wanted more of it.
I wanted to be healthy, I wanted to stay alive, and I wanted to feel challenged in the meantime. But working out was for the masses. Sweating with no goal? The same 3 sets of 10? Redundancy in the usual gym routine? Yes. What I needed was a heavy dose of existential reality to counteract the mainstream fitness being shoved down my throat. So what if the punk community would judge me for taking care of myself? Is that really punk anyway? Judging a person because of lifestyle choices?
Like a time bomb ready to explode, I jumped into CrossFit training in desperate need of a fitness counterculture. And the chaos of a CrossFit workout? It made me feel right at home. Kind of like a lesser-known group punks try to keep to themselves with the claim of "I knew them before they were cool," CrossFit is that indie band I hope doesn't sell out. It's that balance between underground and mainstream. Between obscurity and being chewed up and spit out by the masses. It's a scene I now need to stay alive... it supports my head... gives me something to believe.
The sense of family and acceptance? It's here. Think it over. Maybe there was a void in your life and you knew it. Or maybe CrossFit wasn't anything you thought was missing... it was something you weren't even looking for, yet it fit. Like a friend's basement, or a bowling alley, or a run down theater full of punks just like you. Or better yet, a place where everyone wasn't the same. A place you knew you could hang out and be yourself and endure workouts that unite us all. Like only a true local scene can.
After all, we're in this fight together. This is a community, not just a place to work out or listen to music.
What is shocking and sad is that the punk music scene was and continues to be hypocritical. While creating an accepting sense of family, in many respects it is also guilty of the very thing it despises: it can be judgmental and outright elitist in its beliefs. This is an interesting, alarming similarity to CrossFit.
Fitness shaming is all over the internet.
The answer to "Why?" might be simple enough: it's just as much an issue of bullying as we see in adolescence. And things are automatic when you see them every day.
Or perhaps the answer to that question isn't so easy to configure. Why would someone tear another person down just to make themselves feel better? What does a person gain by shaming or ridiculing another's workout regimen, lifting technique, body image, or sense of self-worth? Once again, more questions than answers. The only hope is that the acceptance in this community far outweighs the elitism. Forging Elite Fitness is the goal. Requiring it is a detriment to society.
So we head into 2014 with the same goals as a year ago. New to our crew of outcasts? Welcome. The journey is fun, but the outcome is better. Both are necessary, so check past posts regarding commitment, attitude, community, etc. Ask questions. Seek out answers.
Search the back catalog of CrossFit articles, videos, and other media across this site and the rest of internetland like a teen discovering good records for the first time. Commit, stick with it, trust the programming, and hold yourself accountable.
And as for that 14 year old punk of yesteryear? Instead of degrading the older version of himself, maybe he'd be impressed in the philosophical teacher and coach still listening to some of the same bands. Or maybe not... who knows, with all that angsty teenage feist. But I bet that young kid would like the do-it-yourself attitude of CrossFit. Guaranteed.
Here's to another year of growth, you punks. Ⓐ
- Scott, 1.1.14
* Special shout out to Paul Mirek, childhood friend and fellow punk, coach, and CrossFitter. "Pick it up, pick it up!"