At a recent gathering at the box to decorate our monster Christmas tree, we, as a community, received a wonderful compliment from a new member:

“Everyone here is just so down to earth… Real, and genuine.” This came on the heels of 1) a Secret Santa name grab where we went around the circle and shared a few things about ourselves, during which one member disclosed his penchant for a particular decriminalized indulgence, and 2) a group photo that was taken with another member hiking up his shorts and exposing his belly in a recumbent come-hither pose.

Some owners may look for measures of success like sending athletes to Regionals, having 300 monthly members, or peering out at a box full of people who could be models for superhero action figures. In my mind, this simple statement highlighted one of the best features of CrossFit Lowell, and the thing of which I’m proudest: we love your weird.

We don’t have a Cool Kids Club. Everyone does the same WoD and they do it together, regardless of their current capacity. A 95# back squat PR gets the same roaring response from the resulting gong hit as a 275# clean and jerk. The diversity of ethnicities, personalities, backgrounds, and abilities is likely greater than most gyms because of our unique location, and yet there is an effortless meshing of all these remarkably different folks. Why? Because there’s none of this:

Every athlete is expected to be themselves, and when it comes down to brass tacks, who you are in the shittiest moment of your WoD is generally who you are as an individual. We may not know all the fine details of each other’s lives – how many kids are at home, what they do for work, or that they like to knit, but we do know them at a more visceral, tribal level. We know who will stand up when it hits the fan.

In an age where putting on airs, filtering every damn photograph, building walls around yourself, and effectively proclaiming that you’re too cool to take a dump (“Oh, byproduct elimination? Bitch please. It’s 2013.”) is not only expected but hailed as a virtue, it’s refreshing to be able to relax into a community of individuals who are comfy letting the ol’ freak flag fly. That kind of thing is easy when you don’t have your mental panties in a bunch about failing in front of other people. Wondering if that’s you? Here’s an easy two-part test.

Do you humble yourself in front of your fellow box members and coaches every day you attend?

If the answer is yes, I’ve bailed out of lifts that were too heavy, laid writhing in pain on my back following breathtaking WoDs, cried and vomited from time to time, or accidentally had my pants fall down during some aggressive double unders, then here’s the critical follow-up question:

Did anything bad happen to you?

Were you ignored? Did you see someone making fun of you? Did the coach lead a group taunt about how much you suck?

Probably not. In CrossFit, the ideal is total group support, otherwise known as High School Antithesis. No one finishes alone, even (especially?) if you’re a little left of center. CrossFit Lowellians, keep working hard, keep pushing your limits, and keep rocking your weird. Everyone loves a good whack job.