Sunday I posted on Facebook bragging about hitting a personal record on a lift earlier that morning. A life-long friend, a man who has always been, and continues to be a mentor and role model to me commented with, ‘why weren’t you in church?’ My first reaction was to blow it off.

I thought, ‘just let it go. There’s nothing you can say that will make him accept a Sunday morning in the gym was better spent than time in church.’ If he reads this, I don’t expect this will change his mind and that’s just fine. But the question stuck with me for the better part of the day. So it deserves an answer; if not for him, then for me.

So I spent a fair bit of time asking myself: what would I want from a church for me and my family?

Sense of Purpose – If I were an active church member, part of what I would pursue is defining a sense of purpose in my life. In the simplest terms: every day I wake up, I’m just trying to be a bit better than I was the day before. I would want to be surrounded by people who support, facilitate and could guide me in that growth.

Every day, I’m trying to be stronger physically, emotionally, socially. I strive for that improvement for myself and my family. I choose to believe this is what most folks are striving for. We all may define ‘better’ a bit differently; but the intent at its core, is pretty much universal, I believe.

Well, in the time I’ve invested in improving my body and mind in my box, I sincerely feel I’ve found that personal sense of purpose. Crossfit has taught me so much about who I am inside and out.

Fellowship – If I were an active member of any church I would expect that community to embrace me and my family.

The friends we’ve made through  Crossfit Durham are some of our closest ever. They embrace the diversity of our family without question. They’re the first to jump in and say, “how can we help” when life presents us those challenges that squats can’t fix. What more can you ask of people?

Role Models – I would want a church congregation to provide role models for all of us. I would look for a congregation full of characters and people who I can hold up to my children and say, “Look. There’s someone who’s doing things the right way.”

Every time we look around the box, we see all of these amazingly diverse people who embody the things that my wife and I are trying to instill in our children.

  • Show up every day
  • Give it your best effort
  • Work through the challenges that Life throws at you, then learn and grow from the experience.
  • Be considerate of others
  • Lend a hand to a friend in need
  • Don’t cheat. Have integrity in all that you do.

All of these things and so much more are on display every time we take our children to the gym and yes, we talk about what we see when we sit down together at home.

To put an even finer point on it, we want to surround our daughter with all of these fierce, strong, determined women. My wife and I want Lil Bit in particular to understand that strong and healthy have SO many different definitions and none of those are defined by body image. They are defined by how she chooses to use her body, mind and spirit. Strong starts from somewhere within and the ladies that surround our daughter demonstrate that strength every day.

Community Service – I would expect a church to take part in community outreach and community service programs.

Like many other Crossfit gyms, our box organizes periodic community volunteer events and we participate when we can. Beyond that Erin is working with local adaptive athletes in a collaboration between the gym and the local VA Hospital. Me? I’m coaching first-timer classes introducing newcomers to the Crossfit community. Plus, I’m working with kids now and not just those whose parents are gym members. We’re creating ways to take Crossfit into local schools. We’re introducing kids who otherwise might not have access to Crossfit and fitness in general to what’s possible.

So, why would I choose to spend a Sunday morning at the gym rather than church? Because Crossfit Durham provides me and my family all of the things that I would look for in a church community. The gym has become my sanctuary. It’s the place I go when I need to find some peace of mind.  It’s the support group I turn to when things get hard and I need someone to lean on. Our box is the place where I know my family will experience life’s lessons that help us learn and grow individually and as a family. So for the forseeable future, it’s where you’ll find me most Sundays and just about every other morning.