Much of adult life is about what we wear, what we weigh, and what we have -- a hierarchy of socio-economic clues and cues that classify and divide us. We hide imperfections beneath concealer and blush, bury our emotions, alter who we are to "fit in," obsess over clothing and shoes and the latest trends to keep up pretenses.
Pretenses that everything is fine. That we have it all together. That we are always the one for the job. That we don't come with baggage, faults, flaws, imperfections, challenges we overcome every day. We are easy to be with, fun, beautiful, perfect, always happy, never grumpy or less than. We want others to think highly of us, and that image management is full of stress and strain. It's a competitive world and we must keep up pretenses, we think.
But when we step into our CrossFit box, there are no pretenses.
We are all dressed down. No Sunday best. No office clothes. No night-on-the-town cocktail dresses and heels and perfectly coiffed tresses. No cologne, ties, power hand shakes, tough guy posing, or carefully mussed hair so as to appear carelessly carefree and still debonair.
We wear our finest in workout gear, maybe. Cheap but functional tees that will move with our bodies and, besides sporting sayings that make us laugh, will soon be adorned in sweat, chalk, and whatever grime we pick up from throwing ourselves to the floor and dragging ourselves back up again.
(We will just pretend, for the sake of this post, that we aren't coveting our neighbor's shiny new lifters or the latest pair of Nanos. Because those are purely functional. No pretense about it.)
What make-up remains from the day is soon irrelevant under the gloss of sweat and the rose of flushed cheeks.
No perfume or cologne can mask the heady scent of hard work.
No skin-deep smile can resist the max effort of a deadlift face.
There are no soft tresses in the wake of a tight ponytail and messy bun. That carefree hair is free of care and dripping sweat.
We come as we are. And then we leave it all there on the floor.
Exhausted. Frustrated. Angry. Ecstatic.
We can experience those emotions freely on the floor, welcomed and supported, and then work it all out amongst friends. There's nothing like lifting something really heavy overhead and throwing it back down, again and again, to work out the snags in your day. Or the exhilaration of achieving a PR, accompanied by an unrestrained shout of pure joy and understandable pride from even the quietest among us. No pretenses.
If that bar is too heavy to lift, you can't lift it. No pretenses.
But the entire box and all the coaches will be rooting for you to get that bar up, to finish that last rep, to finally get that strict pull-up, and they are unthreatened by your achievements. No pretenses.
In the middle of a high intensity or mental toughness WOD, you'd sooner shed tears or growl in determination, than let that bar beat you. No pretenses.
Maybe there are days when you want to let that bar win. You want to lay down on the floor and give up. And your friends tell you to pick it up, they won't let you stop, and you swear at them. No pretenses.
When it's all over and you've given it everything you had left, you find yourself lying flat on your back trying to recover. And you're finally wearing the most fitting CrossFit attire: accomplishment.
It doesn't matter what you are actually wearing. It doesn't matter what emotions were clouding your day when you walked in the door. It doesn't matter what time or how many reps you post on the whiteboard or how you compare to anyone else. You don't have to pretend that you've got it all together, that your waist is slim and your abs ripped, that you don't feel like giving up some days. What matters is that you confronted all of it, you stepped up, you persevered through the challenge you set for yourself, you gave it all you had for that day, and you accomplished it.
And everyone on that floor with you?
Proud of you. No pretenses.