“A man got to have a code.” – Omar, the Wire.
The second stanza of the United States Declaration of Independence is as popular a few sentences as any in American consciousness. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all *men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, it goes. We at CrossFit FIG, concur, as it would be.
As a whole, there is an underlying patriotism that lives as a ribbon wound throughout the US contingency of Fran fans. From sea to shining sea, whether running against a sobering coastal sidewind, wearing a tee emblazoned with CompTrain’s Ben Bergeron caricature blacksmithing, or performing Karen in flyover country, tallying wall ball shots against a tree and working your handgun proficiency during rest intervals like local Games heavyweight Jacob Heppner, Americana is seemingly in every breath. A work ethic that resonates the world over can be damn-near bottled in the atmospheres we die for reps within. It’s an environment where your past dissolves, your transgressions are forgiven, and the only expectation is one of mutual respect and relative intensity. Where origins are celebrated, but where you are and where you’re willing to fight to go harbors a togetherness and camaraderie that I can attest is firstly an element of humanity that one can only experience, as being told of it does not do it justice, and secondly that I have only encountered in my time in combat with the men that fought alongside me. True story, all you are in the box is your effort and attitude. Race, religion and creed falls away at whiteboard and is replaced with boisterous elation in finishing something you believed you could not, surrounded by those who chose to suffer with you.
This specific subject matter came to my attention not because of recent news blurbs concerning the divisiveness pertaining to the United State’s border buttressing Mexico, but because both the man and the woman who conceptualized of CrossFit FIG are themselves immigrants. Felix is from Puerto Rico, and although it’s been 100 years since being born there granted you US citizenship it remains lawfully an “unincorporated territory,” and Fatima is from Brazil, respectively. Everyday that I am fortunate enough to find myself looking at the flags that adorn our lobby wall—they are, in order of orientation: Old Glory of course, Brazil’s distinct yellow-and-green banner that reads Ordem e Progresso, the 1952 variant of the PR flag with which people are most familiar, and (for good measure) a 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team guide-on representing yours truly—I am overcome with the notion that I am witness to what popular culture would refer to as “the American Dream.” Felix and Fatima built their business from nearly nothing. Beginning not with a loan, but with capital in the form of a tax return after Felix had been laid off from his job as a jeweler. Their first client was trained in their home utilizing any space available. She’s still among us today, and in delving into FIG’s history prior to my inclusion she’s told me tales of doing burpees and kettlebell swings in a townhouse kitchen while Felix methodically coached her with his trademark style of patience as just a few feet away Fatima cooked dinner for the family. Success, they say, is looking back and having no regrets, living nose to the grindstone, bouncing back from a lost job, in the country your parents heard was ripe with opportunity. This “never die” philosophy is the backbone of the Fig’s code. What could be more American?
FIG is not an outlier in it’s being a mosaic of culture and community, as CrossFit as a whole has become a monolithic entity with a global presence unmatched by any fitness methodology before it. Just as there are more Subways than any other “restaurant” on Earth, there are now more CrossFit affiliates than gyms of any other brand name. This is a good thing. As the tides rise, the ships rise. And foreign inclusion breeds healthy, albeit fierce competition. This also is a good thing, and has been proven to be productive for the umbrella that is the sport of fitness. As much as the Invitational would love to bolster the narrative of a rivalry between the States and outside constituents, it is frankly a hollow notion. If anything the sport as a whole is trending towards overseas factions occupying the podium alps for the calculable future. Of the 11 CF Games that have taken place on American soil, only 9 Championships have been awarded to foreign-born athletes (2 men and 5 women: with 2 women claiming back-to-back titles). However, of those 9 victories 7 have come in 7 years, all on the women’s side. And the 2 men’s titles were both within the first 3 years of the competition. It seems the future of fitness royalty is veritably of imported physical engineering.
Bring us your tired, your hungry, your poor, it goes. Nothing could be more relevant today.