I thought I knew what to expect when I arrived for my first day at Crossfit 12-12-12.
After all, though I was new to the gym, I’d been doing Crossfit in the United States for several years. I was well familiar with the movements — Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics feats, daunting numbers of burpees — and I knew the workouts would be intense, the kind of exercise that leaves you gasping on the floor. I was hopeful that, by continuing my Crossfit training during my 10-month stint living in Trinidad, I could gain strength and cardiovascular fitness, and stave off laziness.
And I did — I added 50 pounds to my max deadlift, broke a 200-pound back squat for the first time, and went from barely managing one strict pull-up to being able to knock out six consecutively, no sweat.
But here’s what’s really important: during my time in Trinidad, I gained a family. I learned that the gym doesn’t have to be an arduous place you force yourself to visit each day; instead, the people that I discovered there were so friendly, so tight-knit, and so good-natured that every workout felt like a daily lime with your best friends … just with a few box jumps and thrusters added in. There were always laughs, sometimes centered on my fuddy-duddy American accent, or the new Trinidad-specific Crossfit words I was learning, such as “buss,” “mash up,” and “pahdna WOD.” Or, my favorite: “Wha de ass,” as in “Wha de ass kind of miserable workout they have for us to do today?”
But my favorite moments at the box happen in the throes of a workout, when people cheer each other on, urge one another to finish, and congratulate the first and the last people to finish with equal earnestness and respect. Here, we’re all superheroes.
If there’s anyone thinking about coming to Crossfit 12-12-12 — either for a long-term fitness regimen, or just to drop in while visiting from elsewhere — here’s my advice: Come for the kick-ass workouts that will tap into your hidden power. But stay for the company, the terrific cohort of coaches and athletes and friends you will meet at the box.