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Don’t Workout With Strangers

Elevators are awkward. They present an opportunity by which you could be uncomfortably confined with several individuals that you have never met. Body odors, loud talkers and space invaders are just a few of the many perils of the awkward elevator situation. And because we know that the ride will end soon, it just isn’t worth making a personal connection with our fellow passengers. Unfortunately, at GloboGyms around the country, millions of individuals are turning their fitness facilities into similarly awkward and unappealing places. GloboGyms are filled with people tuned in to their headphones and doing everything humanly possible to avoid eye contact. There is always some trepidation as to whether someone is going to want to “work in” with you and leave a sweaty trail in their wake. More often than not there is a guy grunting or yelling loud enough for any female of breeding age to hear him from across the gym and look over to see his kipping bicep curl. Despite all of this, millions suck it up and hurry through their workout hoping to make it out of their with as few awkward interactions as possible.  

Why do people choose to put themselves in that environment? Given a choice, wouldn’t you rather workout amongst friends who will support and encourage your efforts and celebrate your successes? If not, you’re a sociopath and can stop reading. But if you are like those of us who enjoy the company of others, CrossFit Invictus is the place for you.

One of our taglines and objectives at CrossFit Invictus is “Building Communities,” and it is something we take very seriously. We believe that there is more to elite fitness than just athletic achievement. CrossFit facilitates development of mental fortitude because of the rigors associated with its relative intensity, but more importantly, it fosters friendships in a way that is only typically seen in team sports and certain divisions of our Armed Forces. CrossFit can at once be inspiring and humbling. It presents hurdles that seem insurmountable and the thrill of achievement when they are overcome. It’s precisely because of these rigors and their associated emotions that we grow close to those who share the experience with us. We cheer the loudest for others because we remember overcoming a similar obstacle and know the sense of achievement. Their successes become our inspiration and drive us to achieve even more.  

For the most part, this community building is organic and needs very little tending. But it is important to plant the seed. At CrossFit Invictus I ask at the beginning of each coaching session that everyone takes a moment to introduce themselves to anyone in the room they don’t know. I encourage our more veteran athletes to take the initiative to introduce themselves to newcomers even before the session begins. It might seem silly or forced, but it is amazing how knowing someone’s name can change your view of them and your willingness to connect with them. So if you have not made a habit of it already, be sure to shake someone’s hand and introduce yourself the next time you see someone in here that you haven’t met. By doing so, you help us combat the awkwardness that plagues GloboGyms (and elevators) everywhere.

  • POS

    Hi, name is POS and CJ told me to stop reading after the second paragraph!

    Great post CJ. I never realized how much a globo-gym resembled an elevator but it is funny now that you mention it. Those little things such as veterans introducing themselves to new members and the selfless encouragement among classmates is what separates Invictus from other gyms. To have WOD crushing studs (who are so grounded and humble), like you have at Invictus, come up to you and notice your efforts or just to engage you in a friendly conversation automatically endears you to the gym. It is also why I think, aside from the physical results, that crossfit is growing at the rate it is. We have a great community here lets keep building.

  • mike

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  • Gary M

    Great post C.J.

    It is so true! I was a major player in the de-personalization of my own fitness experience. I had always found interaction with others in that environment irritating.

    Then came Crossfit. Now I appreciate the importance of shared experience (group suffering) and a goal accomplished by all.

    A group vs. a collection of individuals. At first glance the globogym may seem to be a group of people working toward the same goal: better health and fitness. Digging deeper you see a collection of individuals who happen to be together in the same place, stumbling through, without any clear goal, path to take, or understanding of why they are really there. Each one doing (or not doing) their own thing.

    Crossfit is a group, working together with clearly defined goals and a path to get there. People coming together to work as one, to motivate each other in a shared experience. Crossfit seems to understand that life is about relationships; and, a life not shared is a life not lived.

    As the Dalai Lama says: “I seek refuge in the Buddha (the coaches), the Dharma (the crossfit philosophy), and the Sangha(Crossfit Invictus).”

    Thanks for everything.


  • POS

    Lynne: Total Reps 209 (PR) Rounds of 18/33; 16/30; 12/30; 10/26; 9/24 Body Weight Slightly less than 185 but used 185# for the bench.

  • Cynthia

    Ryan! Way to go, buddy!

    So true, CJ. When we were going to 24 Hour Fatness, I couldn’t have given a poop what other people were doing. Now, with my 6 a.m. crew, I get so excited when somebody PRs or gets a new skill down (Jessica with her kipping pull ups today!) I really look forward to seeing you all in the morning for that hour of fun. Even though we come from different backgrounds and have different interests for the rest of the day, I know that while we’re at Crossfit Invictus we’re all of one mind.

    Umm…Lynne was not so hot today. Upper body strength is seriously lacking. But I’m working on it!

  • POS

    OK before anyone checkes my math….. I, the math teacher, made an error it was only 208. Sorry, I wish I had gotten that extra rep, maybe next time. Rest inbetween sets was 5 minutes.

  • CJ Martin

    Insane numbers POS. You’re crushing it. Now we just have to get you out to the West Coast.

    I have to give props to my 7 a.m. husband/wife duo this morning. Tausha and Frank were killing it. Tausha was pressing 10 reps of 85 lbs until the last couple of rounds when she went down to 7 reps, and Frank (who weighs about 180 right now after losing 25 lbs. of muscle eating one meal a day in Iraq) put up some great numbers with 185 lbs. Frank posted a total score of 137, knocking out 30 pull-ups the first round and staying above 15 every other round.

    Frank, we are so happy to welcome you home. With a couple of months of good nourishment and the effort you are putting in here, you are going to be back to full-fledged CrossFit monster status in no time.

    I also noticed some big numbers from Nick’s 6 a.m. crew this morning. Solid work by all heading into the weekend.

  • courtland

    CJ, Finally back from France, so hope to see you this evening. I agree with your stance on most gyms. One particular incident regarding “working in” went as follows:

    After learning proper squat form from you, Calvin and Danny Davis, the weight I worked with initially dropped, which did not bother me because I had learned the value of a technique-before-additional-poundage approach. Some guy asked me to share the squat rack one day and I was happy to do so. I had worked up to 155 or something in that range and he announced that it was time to “quit warming up and go big”. I watched the guy put up 315 and proceed to do squats with a 1/8 to 1/4 ROM. I begged off and told the guy he was just “too strong for me” …and of course I got the snicker and sneer as I backed away.

    Ultimately I don’t blame the kid, for he had not been exposed to proper training and probably had faced pressure from his peer group to always load the bar so as not to look weak.

    Before I left PureFitness (ha!) I did notice maybe 5-10% of the clients were doing actual crossfit workouts or at least incorporating crossfit elements into their training. Not surprisingly these were the folks who were most willing to discuss training from a functional perspective, as opposed to just talking about mass, volume and hypertrophy.

    Cheers for a great Friday.


  • Yadira

    Great article! You are very right we live in a world were no one seems to interact very much. I found myself being very borred at my old gym with very little motivation. Crossfit Invictus has inspired me once again. You have an awesome program. The trainers are the best. They push you in order to accomplish your goal. Thank You!
    Way to go Ryan! Keep up the hard work. YG :)

  • Wayne

    Ryan! Studly numbers dude!

    CJ, great post… I am going to be working out in a globo gym (Crunch) in a week or so for a few days… I can already sense the awkward feeling of doing CrossFit in a globo gym. It is actually the same feeling I get on the subway where you have all these people around you in their own world that tend to interrupt you to ‘work in’ at the most inconvenient of times…

    POS, you are a maniac! AWESOME performance dude as always. Wish you were out here to just witness that in person.

  • Tausha

    Thank you so much CJ! Frank and I had a blast with you this morning even if I tried to convince you we were on our fifth round when we were only on the fourth :) ! I want to also thank you for pushing me last night to back squat 175 even if I could only do three rounds with that weight! You are such an awesome coach! Keep up the good work with everything….you are an ispiration to many!

    Ryan…….all I can say is AWESOME!! You rock!

    Michele, the apple cin shots were the bomb this morning after the WOD and of course I took home a cake batter for later!

  • Wayne

    Oh I forgot! I discovered something this morning. I have yet to do double blind tests or surveys, but I think its a pretty sound theory… let me know what you all think.

    “When your chin and bar meet on the way down from a pullup your hands tend to release from the bar.”

    As I said its just theory, and its in its infancy…

  • Chris F

    Great discussion!
    Personally, one reason I kept coming back was because CJ, Dani, Nick and the other coaches remembered my name. After the great training, it was the encouragement of other members that helped me to feel less and less intimidated (after all, CrossFit is TOUGH) and to stick with it.

    As time has progressed, I’ve come to love the fact that I can count on my fellow clients to come in and take their “daily dose” right alongside me. I may never have the perfect squat (or even close to it :) ), but I know that I’ll always be encouraged and pushed to improvement by my WOD-mates (nautical term). Cheering others on and watching someone hit that PR is always so cool!

    It was Nick who recently said to me, “People start CrossFit for the workouts and end up staying for the community”.


  • Jillianne

    Holy guacamole, Tausha, 175# back squat?!? That’s fantastic! I can’t wait for the baby’s antibiotics to kick in so I can join you all at 9:30 again!

    Wayne, my contribution to your unscientific poll: I did not experience the same outcome as you did when I “met” the bar doing pullups. I dropped to a dead hang, stunned and embarassed, but resumed kipping after a moment. However, my hands did release from the bar when I smacked myself in the chin doing thrusters. That one felt way more awesome.

  • Matt

    Enjoyed the WOD. Thanks for the push Michele and letting me count that last rep.

    29/75 (bw 215) I think that’s 104 or half of POS’s effort.

    In accordance with the article I introduced myself for the first time to 2 people that I had been seeing at my local globo for the past 10 years at least. So there you have it I am the embodiment of the elevator/globo experience.

    Thanks again to the 9:30 crew.


  • Dani

    Ok all great posts, but I must focus the attention on Ryan.

    Ryan you are a true example of what consistency and dedication can accomplish. When you first started CrossFit body weight exercises were a challenge and look at you today putting up some serious weight. I know it sounds silly, but every time I see you workout I am reminded of why I love coaching so much. It is amazing to see you get stronger and stronger each day and it speaks volumes to your commitment to your healthy and well-being.

    Props dude. We (all the CFI coaches) are very proud of you.

    Oh and Jessica, I can’t believe I missed your kipping pull-ups. I want to see that on Monday!

    Happy Friday all.

  • Mark

    Dani, you beat me to the punch. Hats off to you Ryan.

  • Ryan

    Dear CrossFit Invictus Community:

    Thank you immensely for your encouragement, praise and notice of my accomplishments. Your comments mean the world to me and are excellent examples of the comradery that CJ discussed in his article. I am so proud to be a member of the CrossFit Invictus community and am excited to develop further as an athlete.

    Thank you again.


  • Robert

    Hey Ryan, way to go. You are the best athlete in the family. I am so glad to see you crushing your record. Keep up your excellent work. You mom and I look forward to seeing you soon.
    Your Dad

  • Mary

    It was great to be back this morning, but the first wod after a vacation is always rough! When I played team sports, I was so much more motivated to work out and get stronger than I was when I worked out on my own at 24 hour fitness. I love Crossfit because it has that team vibe to it and I find myself more motivated and enjoying the workouts way more than in a gym where I don’t know anybody. The other GREAT thing about Crossfit is there are no creepy weird old guys staring and interacting with us ladies at CFI like there are at the big gyms!

  • M


    That last rep counted b/c you did it! I merely guided the bar back to the rack w/ the illusion of contact to psyche you up. Garrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

  • Kelly Starrett



  • Jason Struck


    we feel the same way : (WFS)

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