I started CrossFit sometime in October of last year. I never intended to join… I was happy working out at my local Mommy Bootcamp, despite the fact that I was the only one without toddlers following them around. But when G, who had signed a year contract 6 months prior, hurt his knee and could no longer attend, I figured I had better take his spot if we were going to be paying for the membership. I was quite terrified at first, to be honest. It wasn’t the act of weight lifting that intimidated me… Weight lifting had been one of my favorite classes in high school! But working out in a primarily male-dominant atmosphere did. And I knew enough about it to know that there were strong military ties with CrossFit… and lots of yelling (of the encouraging variety, but yelling all the same) and pain (the good kind, if there is a good kind).
Sometime around November, I was privileged to experience my first Hero WOD (work-out of the day). I say privileged because it’s truly an honor to get your ass kicked in the name of a fallen hero. My coach explains on his website the importance of the Hero WODs as such:
Someone once asked me why we do Hero Workouts? I wasn’t really looking for anything profound to say and without going into one of my really long diatribes I gave this person my short answer… But I believe each of us have our own long answer.
The short answer is that we do them to honor the Fallen Soldier, Police Officer, Fireman, or any other person that has given their life in the protection of our lives and our freedom. It’s a short sweet and to the point answer. I think each of us might have our own version of a longer answer so I thought I’d share one with you.
Whether we do a workout in someone’s memory, run a marathon or 5K in someone’s memory or just light a candle in a person’s memory we are affirming that person’s life. The act itself requires an enormous amount of intent and respect. Many of you have reached out to me and thanked me for doing these workouts because you felt something as you were doing it. I won’t put words into your mouth as I’m sure it’s a little different for each of you or the ones who really establish a connection while honoring someone’s memory.
In affirming another person’s life here on earth we elevate them in their eternal resting place.
At least that’s what I believe.
The name of this Hero WOD was “Nate” and it consisted of completing as many rounds as possible of 2 muscle-ups, 4 handstand push-ups, and 8 kettlebell swings, in the span of 20 minutes. The details of the exercises are not important here… just know it’s 20 minutes of grueling Hell. What’s important is the hero: Nate Hardy. Chief Petty Officer Nate Hardy was killed during combat operations in Iraq. He gave up his life to defend the freedoms that I enjoy daily. ME. He did this for me, and he didn’t even know me.
Now here’s the crazy part… Sometimes life has a way of connecting people in mysterious ways. Not even two weeks after I completed this work-out I met My Gypsy Spirit, or V as I call her in my stories, through another blog. We started chatting on a daily basis and I came to find out that not only was she a former Marine, but she had been friends with Nate Hardy. When she told me this I think my mouth went dry, my pulse quickened, and I didn’t know what to say. “Nate” suddenly became Nate. Just thinking about it now gives me chills. Over the last several months we’ve talked about her experiences in the Marine Corps, in Iraq, and time spent with Nate.
Just a couple of weeks ago V came to visit me in Northern Virginia. We would be traveling to New York City together to go see Real Madrid play in New York and then Philadelphia. She made a special request for her “layover” in the DC area. She asked to go visit Nate’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery. I was happy to oblige. We went early in the morning before starting our road trip and were able to avoid the tourists and crowds of a mid-day visit. It was a sombre experience, but one I’m sure we will both always remember.
There’s not been a day since November where I’ve gone in to a work-out that I haven’t thought about showing up ready to give my all… to not give up no matter how much it hurts. I think about Nate, and the other brave souls who lost their lives, often. I’m thankful I have a connection, not only through V, but through CrossFit, to these heroes. If you too would like to experience this connection I encourage you to read her recent post about Nate here. It’s truly a tribute to this young man. And if you’re looking to get fit and become a complete athlete with a positive attitude about life and all that it means, I encourage you to locate your nearest CrossFit box. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll be inspired.