Sometimes I get writer’s block, and in fact last week I didn’t put anything out there in the blogosphere because there was just a blank space where my right-brain creativity (sometimes) is. So this week I was all ears, and Denee suggested I write about how we made it through the COVID shutdown. We not only survived when many other gyms and other businesses didn’t, but we thrived. Why is that?
In thinking about that question, I first of all stopped myself from believing that we have “made it through.” I don’t want to throw a Mission Accomplished carrier landing party just yet, as it seems this pandemic situation has lasted a lot longer than most people would have imagined. So, although our initial “shutdown” period is over and we are operating almost normally, there is always a chance that our operational plan could again be flipped on its proverbial head.
But I’m not worried. Our CrossFit Kent Island community has thrived during this time, and I think the best explanation why is that we have a shared story. We are all a part of this story that is bigger than ourselves as individuals, and we all stick together because we want the story to continue. It’s just too awesome to stop!
The story begins for us when we first walked into the gym and were thrown into a brutal workout experience. We had never experienced anything like this before, and during the thing, it sucked. But then we were helped off the floor and high-fived by several smiling faces, all of whom had just gone through the same miserable workout, and they were congratulating us! “Not many people step up and do what you just did,” they told us. We were now part of a special team of people that enjoy challenging ourselves physically, mentally, and even emotionally, in order to grow. Hard Work and Growth became core values that we lived by, and we were Having Fun doing it.
As more new people came into the gym, we learned to take our eyes off of ourselves and look out for them, making sure they felt welcome and encouraged. We remembered being in their scared, tenuous situation just a few short years, or months, ago.
The good feeling of looking out for our own in the gym made it a no-brainer to support each other when we were in trouble, and the Service aspect of the CFKI story began to take hold. We have led service projects for fellow members, our overall Kent Island community, and local non-profits that tie closely to our values, with amazing fundraising and community-building results. We support and help each other when we are in a strong position to do so, and we know that when we are down, experiencing some tough times in our lives, our teammates will be there to pick us up.
Our shared story of challenging ourselves to constantly improve, of suffering through tough times together and being there for each other, is what binds us together. And we don’t want that to end, so it doesn’t. You, the CFKI community, bound together and did what you didn’t need to do, which was to help the gym financially by continuing your memberships and working out at home. We stayed connected through social media (it does work for good sometimes!) and supported each other emotionally from a distance. We were once again suffering together, and it made us even stronger, and did not pull our CFKI team apart. This strategy — of continuing our training regimen together but without physically being with our teammates — it could have failed, and in fact did fail at other gyms that did not already have the bond, the emotional connection through a shared story that we have. This is why I know we can weather any storm that may come in the future, and why I am so proud to be apart of this AWESOME community.
We are at a difficult and rather scary crossroads now as a country. The heightened tension of the pandemic has added to an already ultra-polarized political situation, with two groups of people shouting exact opposite messages at each other and nobody listening. We have an opportunity to model to everyone in our larger community the values of supporting each other, listening to each other and respecting the suffering that everyone is going through, and to lean back on a shared story that we all have as Americans. There have been times in our national history that we have been very connected, and it usually happens after tragedy… shared suffering. We are truly in an extended “tragic” situation right now, and it’s up to us as leaders, as models of positivity and service to others, to pull our community and our nation through this together, not apart.
I hope you can forgive the quick foray into politics, but I couldn’t push it out of my head and my heart. This group of leaders, of warriors, of strong but humble, patient and compassionate human beings, has done it before — we have “made it through” tough times. And we can show others how to do it again.