Chris Edwards tells me “Felix told me to call you, he tells everyone to call you.”
I imagine this to be true by the way; Felix is the Dr. Dre of CrossFit FiG, he’s sitting at the controls and directing the performance, as it should be. If we follow this analogy further then Fatima must be Jimmy Iovine (the power behind the scenes), Chad is either Snoop or Eminem (the young, undeniable talent) and I am, of course, Tupac (the boisterous prophet of cause).
So he does, he calls me. And we have a conversation that I do not remember. Riley, his son, was playing competitive baseball and needed to tack on some productive pounds. Okay, I say, too easy. And we make an appointment for him to complete the On Ramp. On the way to this appointment was where everything changed. Riley was a nervous 15-year old, probably envisioning he was being driven to be dropped off at a den of wolves.
“Do it with me.” Riley pleaded as they arrived. Being the father that he is, Chris did.
The common colloquialism for what came after is “And the rest is history.” This is because the Edwards family is a staple at CrossFit FiG. To include Stacey—mother and wife—who smiles with the frequency that most of us breathe, and the little one, Reanne; a 13-year old pistol of jubilance.
This July is three years. Riley has put on some weight—30 pounds of muscle to be exact. But that’s not what keeps him here. When I ask him what does at first he says “Numbers.” He means progress, competition amongst peers, defeating his former self, you get it.
But then he expands the concept. “My mindset is stronger too. I was kind of a wuss. I didn’t want to suffer.” And then pauses in a thoughtful way, so I just wait. After a moment he finishes “There’s always something to work on, you know?”
I do know.
Chris has been listening to our back and forth. He’s got a talent for patience I’ve learned. He’ll hear someone out entirely before countering. After Riley finishes Chris begins.
“I was really hard on him. I’d push him until he was pissed,” he says, circling back to baseball. “But now he’s found something he’s so passionate about he just pushes.”
Truth be told they push each other. We all do. No one person is a self-perpetuating machine within the walls of FiG. The work is hard and you feed off others’ energies. This is what Chris is referring to.
Chris conveys to me he was seeking out a method to live longer and that he believes he’s found it in CrossFit.
“My father was dead at 52, my grandfather at 54.” He pains to reveal this. “I grew up in an environment fueled by drugs and alcohol, and I wanted different for him.”
In his 40’s now Chris Edwards is healthier, stronger and fitter than he’s ever been. The community at FiG has given him dear friends, business associates, and galvanized a bond with his son that was less so before they found their way here. His words.
“This place serves as a positive base for us,” he adds. And as is common with Chris he laughs when he thinks of what he’s going to say next, “Even if it’s a shit-talking contest at home.”
“Give me an example,” I ask of him.
“Riley will say ‘I’m on the grind, YOU’RE ON THE ICE CREAM GRIND!’” Chris responds, and I know this is true by Riley’s immediate eruption into laughter.
Once the crowing has subsided we all three lean back into the leather chairs of the lobby. We’ve been talking about a half an hour and in this moment I realize this is the underlying value that when I attempt to quantify the CrossFit continuum for the uninitiated is so difficult to channel. The feeling that you belong because you truly, truly do. It’s something you can only experience.
Riley suddenly sits upright, snaps at me with his fingers and insists “Write this down, write this down.”
I click my pen and raise my eyebrows, ready for his epiphany.
“This is my oasis,” he declares. “This is the best part of my day.”
I couldn’t agree more.