Reflections on Our Community: Dave L.

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In the waning days of 2012, a skinny runner joined CFDC. From then on, Dave L. became at ubiquitous presence at both H Street and U Street—clamoring for Kesha tracks, inviting burpee finishers, and blurting out “3-2-1-Go” and “the party is almost over” and “be a hero” whenever possible. As we truly miss and celebrate Dave L. as a forever loyal CFDC member, we invited him to put pen to paper one last time.

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I had a fairly ignominious introduction to Crossfit. After a decade of long-distance running, my weight had dropped to 128 pounds. My ankles and knees had chronic pain. Worst of all, I accidentally put on a pair of my girlfriend’s jeans one evening—and they fit. I needed change; I needed to become a stronger and healthier person.

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In late 2012, I started at another (now-defunct) affiliate and hated it. The coaches didn’t come down to my novice level, I couldn’t relate to the members, and I wasn’t having fun. I groused about this experience at work to our gym’s fitness director: a strong and charismatic athlete and Crossfitter (who coincidentally joined us years later—Coach Emily). She recommended I try a different gym up near my place. Enter CFDC and Tom.

Those first few months were rough. I struggled to overhead squat an empty bar, the concept of the snatch was lost on me, and I couldn’t stay back on my heels. My knees caved during every possible movement and my head craned up to the ceiling. I even slipped during a running workout, badly scraping my leg.

But Tom and former coaches Chris and Steph had infinite patience; they helped me focus on one weakness each class. And our members—all stronger and more experienced—were so generous. I vividly recall some of our best athletes—folks who competed on our Regionals team—offering encouragement. They partnered with me, cheered my early PRs, and taught me through my failures. In short order, the CFDC crew grew into my family.

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Some of my favorite memories date back to those early months. I remember grunting through back-squats at my then-bodyweight, racking the bar, and turning around to the gym erupting in applause. I recall “the Salty Special Workout” and worrying that the 135-pound bar was too heavy. Coach Tom’s response: “Try it. You’re stronger than you think.”

Most of all, I remember the 2013 Boston Marathon. An hour after I completed the race, two bombs exploded at the finish line, killing three victims and injuring hundreds more. Among the many panicked messages that afternoon from family and friends—all the coaches and a dozen members called or emailed to check if I had been hurt. The folks who didn’t have my information reached out to Tom or came to the gym seeking updates. These acts of kindness remain with me to this day.

*Editor’s note: full recap at http://crossfitdc.com/2013/04/27/dave-l-and-the-2013-boston-marathon/

From that day forward, this community has defined my DC experience. The excitement and camaraderie of the Open and the Smackdown. The amazement of someone hitting a first chest-to-bar, sticking a heavy clean, or pulling a previously unimaginable deadlift. The many brunches and happy hours. The crazy cast of coaches and members who came through over the years—several of whom became my best friends.

This town is incredibly transient. I found it strangely comforting that, on any given morning or evening, I could walk through these doors, spot a friendly face, and have the best hour of my day.

My advice is fairly simple. For new folks, don’t spend time worrying about the weight on the bar or when you will master a particular movement. (I’ve been here for nearly six years and my double-unders are still terrible.) This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you are only competing against yourself. So walk in with a determination to improve and a willingness to laugh along the way.

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For the veterans, visit both H Street and U Street. Attend morning and evening classes. Stick around for open gym. You’ll meet all of our incredible coaches; each has a unique set of cues and expertise that will make you a better athlete. In the process, you’ll encounter more amazing humans and pick up more enduring friendships

And for everyone, scream and cheer as loud as you can, as long as you can, every day, for each member, until the clock ticks down to zero.

Finally, why Kesha? Because she reminds us “we are who we are.”

Thank you for creating a community where I could display my weird quirks and mannerisms, mix in a little fitness and friendship, and find the best version of myself. I’m confident you’ll experience the same.

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