I can’t lift my arms.
They scream in muscle soreness after 3 weeks of CrossFit workouts. At the age 43 I’ve found myself in poor physical condition; my career having taken over my usually fit body. But a block behind our house in a slightly ghetto strip of businesses along a sidewalk dotted with empty gin bottles and crushed packs of generic cigarettes is a little white building with red trim. Inside this vintage garage which 2 years ago was where most of the neighborhood dope slinging happened, is now a CrossFit gym.
When walking my dog I’d pass by the crazy people lifting weights and stepping up and down on giant tractor tires and pulling themselves up over steel bars and I thought I surely was not in good enough shape to show up.
But three weeks ago I did just that. I hauled my out of shape middle-aged ass over to the gym and have worked out four days a week for the last three weeks.
Now I can’t lift my arms.
I was talking to my husband about why I am loving CrossFit and it made me realize that it is for some of the reasons I love church.
This is admittedly far from a perfect analogy, but ...
- I love working out with other people. The experience is fuller when shared.
- These are people I normally would not mix with but our common purpose brings us together.
- The coach is always there reminding us of the basics over and over because we forget. He’s not the coach because he’s the best at all the exercises, he’s the coach because he’s studied this stuff and we trust him.
- Everyone pitches in financially.
- Even when the workout is over it stays with me. It is shaping me and sometimes that hurts, but in the end, it’s good.
- If anyone gets proud and show-offy they look foolish and might hurt themselves or others.
- We spot each other on the heavy stuff.
- If I stop showing up, it stops helping me
- If I stop showing up, I stop being able to spot someone else.
- Sometimes I hate the coach for telling me “that push-up didn’t count – you’re cheating” because I know he’s right.
- No one ever “arrives” – there is always something new to learn.
- Sometimes people show up and say “man, I skipped my workouts, ate layer cake and drank beer all last week” and the response is always “we’re glad you’re back!”
- People laugh there.
Basically if I were working out at 24 Hour Fitness alone with an iPod I would not be getting into shape like I am now. And if I were staying at home just reading about fitness on my sofa I would not be getting into shape like I am now. I would not be pushing myself and allowing someone else to teach me and encouraging someone to keep going and laughing the whole time.
But CrossFit gyms, as great as they are, have a disappointing lack of bread and wine -- and hymn singing -- so I’ll keep showing up to church, too.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding Pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado — an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination. Learn more at www.houseforall.org. This post originally appeared on Nadia's blog, Sarcastic Lutheran.
(Gym image by Robert Kneschke/Shutterstock. CrossFit image courtesy of Nadia Bolz-Weber.)