Written by RJ Devite
Hello 4B athletes!
Everyone has a particular reason why they CrossFit, for some it might be to train for a specific sport, and for others it might be overall health and fitness. I probably fall into the latter category just a bit, but I ultimately participate because I am an endorphin junkie. I love the feeling that I get at the end of a workout that leaves me sucking wind while lying on the floor in a puddle of my own sweat.
When folks ask me why I enjoy CrossFit so much, I tell them that the feeling that it gives me is reminiscent to that feeling that I had when I was playing on the playground in elementary school. We played so hard when I was a kid, whether it was a pick-up game of football, kickball or tag, we would spend our entire recess running. And run we did, we played so hard that my lungs would burn from the cold Western Pennsylvania air. We’d return to our classroom with the endorphins raging so fiercely in our bodies that it was sometimes difficult for me to sit still. I was an endorphin junkie long before we ever heard of the word endorphin. I lived for recess!
From time to time throughout the next decade or so, I was able to replicate those same euphoric feelings by competing in track & field and football, but those feelings were fleeting. Adulthood came calling and I embarked on a 30-year career in the military where in the first half of my military career, I rarely participated in any sort of physical activity. I realize how ironic that may sound to some, but it was a different period and physical fitness wasn’t something that the Air Force put a lot of stock in. To prove it, part of our annual physical fitness assessment was to ride a stationary bike to measure the rate that our heartbeat rose. That was supposed to be the ultimate measure of physical preparedness. It was a farce. Most of my free time during much of the first half of my career was spent partying with no consideration to the food that I was eating or how it was affecting my body. Only time will tell the damage that I inflicted upon myself, but I am hopeful that I am slowly reversing it.
It’d had been almost two decades since I was the little boy playing on the playground and I was rarely able to replicate that euphoric feeling of any sort on a consistent basis. By this time in my life I had found my way back into the gym and I was doing the standard chest/triceps, back/bicep workouts, and I rarely trained legs, I always said to myself that I would start training them next week, but I never did. I also picked up running as a hobby and had run a few marathons and several half’s and 10k’s but still wasn’t able to replicate that feeling from elementary school.
Toward the middle of my career, I was the Chief of an Aircraft Maintenance Unit of F-22 aircraft stationed in Anchorage, Alaska and it was my responsibility to ensure that all of the Airmen under my leadership were “Fit to Fight”, so I started to piece together a small gym and assembled it in a small unused area of the Unit. About this time, a fighter pilot Colonel, who had the call-sign “Blood” started talking to me about CrossFit and how I should look into it. I brushed him off for several months until we were deployed to Guam together. He tracked me down and pestered me for weeks to join him for a workout, but he was old and I figured he didn’t know what he was talking about when it came to my fitness. I didn’t put much stock in old age and wisdom at that period of my life, but now that I am old, I do. He eventually wore me down and asked me to join him for a workout. I figured what do I have to lose since this guy was about 10 years older than me, what could he possibly have for me that I couldn’t handle! We did Fran. Actually, he did Fran…I didn’t complete the workout.
As I laid there on the floor in a puddle of my own self-pity, with the endorphins raging in my body, my heart beating out of my chest I realized then and there that I had found my way back to my elementary school exhilaration.
So if you happen to see me participating in a WOD at Four Barrel and I end up so out of breath that I can’t speak to you, know this…In my mind, I am at recess and I am having the time of my life!
This is why I CrossFit
RJ Devite is a retired Air Force Command Chief Master Sergeant. He is a CrossFit Level 2 coach, avid CrossFit athlete, and leads morning classes as well as our Longevity Program at Four Barrel Fitness.