In July 2013, on a beautiful bright-summer day, I pulled the portable Pull-up bar from inside my gym in Santa Cruz, CA., out onto the parking lot. I had decided on a 30:00 CrossFit workout called “Cindy” which consisted of multiple rounds of 5 Pull-ups, 10 Push-ups and 15 Squats. To really challenge myself, I was going to wear my 20lb. weight-vest for the duration of the workout.
Approximately 10 minutes into the workout, a little voice of self-doubt started to creep in. The temperature on the black-top parking lot was hotter than I anticipated, and the ground was starting to burn my hands.
Twelve minutes into the workout, I became frustrated because my weight-vest was trapping body-heat, and I was sweating profusely. Plus, I had left my water bottle inside the gym.
At the fifteen minute mark, my playlist from inside the gym had expired, and I’d forgotten to hit “repeat”. Now I was exercising without my favorite motivational songs.
At about twenty minutes into the workout, I started to consider stopping early, and walking down to the ocean. I justified my thoughts based on how hot it was, that I was thirsty, there was no music, and my weight-vest was now causing my body to itch. Plus – I was all alone on this workout, and nobody would know if I stopped a few minutes early.
Suddenly, from the direction of Coffeetopia, an older man in a motorized wheelchair approached. A small American flag proudly hung on a pole attached to the side of his chair. He wore a blue baseball cap with another American flag across the front, with the words “Vietnam Veteran” printed underneath.
He rode up within a few feet of me and watched me struggle through a set of squats. My self talk was full of negativity, and I just wanted the darn workout to be over. I was still entertaining the notion of quitting.
Without warning, the old man loudly exclaimed, “I bet that feels great!”
Without another word, he put his chair into gear and continued to motor through the parking lot towards 38th Avenue and out of my sight.
In that moment, time stood still for me. I reflected on the old mans words: “I bet that feels great.”
I’d forgotten. It did feel great. I had full use of my body, and I was in the sun, on a beautiful July day in Santa Cruz, exercising. In that moment, I was so grateful for the gift of my body and my health.
God had provided me a great learning lesson that day – a lesson I will always remember and act upon.
Let us be grateful for the health and strength of our body. Let us be grateful for the ability we have to freely exercise: To run, jump, swim, play, lift weights, do Pull-ups, and the assortment of other drills and skills that make up our CrossFit practice.
This is the Way of a Warrior of Light.
~ Greg Amundson, CrossFit's Original FireBreather