Inside The CrossFit Culture, Part II: The Overhaul

Briana Drost: Police dispatcher, grad student, competitive Crossfitter. Photo: T.J. Murphy

Briana Drost: Police dispatcher, grad student, competitive Crossfitter. Photo: T.J. Murphy

How Briana Drost lost 30 pounds and went from desk potato to competitive CrossFit athlete.


Surely with a distressed look on my face and standing 20 yards south of CrossFit Ali’i, in Kona on Hawaii’s Big Island, a reasonable-sounding voice in my head was producing a variety of highly attractive justifications why I shouldn’t take forward steps. It was 5:15 in the afternoon, 15 minutes before the last workout at the gym—or “box” per CrossFit vernacular—on a sizzling, humidity-drenched day. CrossFit Ali’i is, like many CrossFit boxes, a warehouse space in an industrial zone that you enter through a vast roller door. I was off to the side, kind of hiding, where I could hear the 4:30 class emitting sounds that indicated they were in the throws of a metabolic conditioning workout, aka met-con, the CrossFit staple of constantly varying, high-intensity, lung-torching workouts relying on combinations of functional movements. Movements like burpees, box jumps and clean and jerks. Dick Meldrum was probably leading the class, an instructor who started with CrossFit during a deployment to Iraq when he was a member of the 82nd Airborne. I had been in his class the previous day, where I learned how to flip a tractor tire and had my clock cleaned in a wall ball throws and pull-ups met-con.

I didn’t want to go in. Alibis gamely marched through my head. I recalled how many years ago at the first practice of high school track season at Kennedy High School, in the  miserable month of Iowa February weather, Coach Al Stiers told us how it was never too cold for a Cougar to run. He then handed us a “Handy Alibi Sheet” that listed about 100 of the most frequent excuses he’d heard from various whining Cougars over the years (my favorite being, “I drank too much pop yesterday.”)

Related–Burning Runner: Inside The CrossFit Culture

I could have used that sheet in Kona. A solid alibi would support me trumping my way down Palani Hill and into the Kona village, where I would find a good beach bar, order a mai tai and watch the sunset.

I was snapped out of my mai tai daydream when a ripped-fit Crossfitter, 6-foot-4 or 5, apparently just having finished the met-con, stumbled out the door and into the parking lot, hands on knees and heaving for air, where he announced, “That sucked!”

This was my future if I jumped in the 5:30. I knew one thing that wouldn’t suck: A mai tai. Now almost 100% about to bolt, I thought about Briana Drost. If I wimped out on this workout, how could I ever face Briana Drost, a fellow member of my home box, Crossfit Elysium? Or face any of the other CrossFit Elysium faithful?

If I wimped out, what would Briana think?

I went in and got clobbered. I was glad and relieved I did it, recalling a Navy SEAL motto: “Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.”

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