CrossFit Is More Than A Workout (Story)

David (above) wanted to take some time to share how joining the CrossFit community helped him overcome his depression while also reaching his fitness goals. From the rainbow flag hanging from the ceiling to the welcoming athletes surrounding, it was one of the best decisions he made.

This is David's story.

What comes to your mind when I say the word: CrossFit. Tough? Athletes only? Total bro session a gay man doesn’t belong in? It had to be one of the hardest styles of exercise out there that I couldn’t do physically and would never be prepared for mentally, right? Dang, was I wrong.

During early 2017; I was depressed and struggling after dealing with a roller coaster year in my personal life. Scrolling through Facebook, an ad popped up and talked about a six week transformation challenge. After some digging, I learned it was a six week boot camp style class at the local CrossFit gym that would include 3 classes a week. Sure, the thoughts of “can I do this physically?” ran through my head, however, my bigger concern was will I be accepted as a gay man? I struggled coming out as I felt I didn’t fit the “stereotypes” that existed living in a small town. Sure I love me some Britney, but, I love my football as equally (almost) J. After several days of debating, I finally decided to sign up.

I was quickly contacted by the gym’s owner, Logan Bautch, to set up an appointment to discuss if it was the right fit. Nervously, I entered through the door of CrossFit Nordeast and one thing stuck out to me immediately. There was an assortment of flags hanging from the ceiling and one of the first ones you see is a rainbow flag, used to represent the LGBT community. I felt a bit at ease after seeing that. I was told I would be going through the classes with the same group each day and we would be learn the movements safely to be able to “graduate” into normal CrossFit classes if we wanted to continue. I walked out feeling excited to get started.

During the six week beginner course, I got to know my fellow boot-campers as we learned movements and encouraged each other. I quickly learned each class and Workout of the Day (WOD) is led by a coach; who assists, looks out for your safety and well-being, and plays some killer music! I struggled with some movements, but the coaches never gave up on me, worked with me one-on-one, and encouraged me to continue to push myself while working within any limitations and avoiding injury. I was getting the workout of a lifetime and at the end of the six week program, I had dropped over 15lbs. and was feeling stronger.

However, the best part of CrossFit isn’t the workouts, it’s what surrounds them. My gyms, CrossFit Nordeast and affiliated CrossFit Linden Hills in Minneapolis, have built an incredible community for its members. I learned the LBGT community was well represented. Whether gay or straight, no one cared. All that mattered was that you were having a good time, doing your best at the workout, and working toward whatever goal you may have. It’s truly a sense of community full of people from all areas of life. 

The gym holds monthly “Happy Hours” where people do a work out, then bring in a favorite beer to share and just hang out. We have a private Facebook group where we encourage each other in and out of the gym, and just throw out some jokes to lighten any day! During Pride here in the Twin Cities, CrossFit Linden Hills hosted a “Gay WOD,” open to the public, where people donated to do the workout. This awesome event was the brain child and ran annually by David Schmit. This year, they had a DJ blaring your favorite songs, a raffle of rainbow apparel, and shirts sold that had “Homo” in gold letters on the front and “Sapien” on the back, with the Russian translation of each directly below it. These shirts had a special meaning, as all proceeds went to a charity benefiting the LBGT community being persecuted in Chechen Republic within Russia.

There is so much sense of community at my gym I wondered if it was isolated. Through my personal travels, I have “dropped-in” to CrossFit gyms in Las Vegas, Colorado, and Southern Florida; finding the same community feeling and helpful coaches as I do at home. I also discovered a LGBT CrossFit group on Facebook that has representatives from all over the world who post videos of their accomplishments, favorite songs, and great parodies.

I do not regret joining CrossFit one bit and think it’s one of the best things I have done for myself. All the things I thought I knew were wrong. It’s truly all about helping better you, both physically and mentally.

Shout out to the CrossFit “NordBeasts” and CrossFit “LindenKillers”…You all rock...Keep It Up!