CALGARY, Alberta (RNS) — As a preacher, I felt a bit awkward walking into Calgary’s Victoria Park CrossFit gym that morning. Not because of my profession but because of my paunch.
From a spiritual perspective I was feeling quite fit.
Months earlier a CrossFit athlete from our church asked if I’d be willing to preach a sermon on this new fitness craze he’d discovered.
I thought — why not? If all truth is God’s truth (which I believe deeply) then surely all CrossFit truth is God’s CrossFit truth as well.
At the time, I didn’t know about all of the controversies; how founder Greg Glassman so litigiously protects his brand, how their high intensity program has been known to push some participants into rhabdomyolysis (where muscle cells explode leading to kidney failure), and how — like in many gyms — the whole testosterone-fueled macho-thing can sometimes get a bit out of hand.
While The New York Times has interpreted CrossFit’s desire to prepare its athletes for the “unknowable” as some kind of warped preparation for Armageddon, I see its goal more charitably. Life is filled with unknowns. Any activity that helps prepare us for those unknowns, either physically or psychologically, can be good. Even the risk and extreme physical exertion that CrossFit is so often castigated for can be good. How else do you become a more capable person apart from pushing yourself; even if it hurts? And who of us hasn’t grown through past painful experiences?
Perhaps this is why CrossFit has attracted so many souls; people inherently know that in order to find more life you’ve got to give something up.
Is that what all of these athletes are trying to do? I was about to find out.
Stepping into the gym, I sat down with a group waiting for the 11 a.m. class and started to ask them what they loved about CrossFit.
They responded like people who’d just…