Letter to My Younger CrossFit Self

By Keith Pelatowski – SISU Member since 2014. Featured image by Meghan Pate Photography.

You’re gonna walk into this CrossFit “box” called SISU one cold Saturday morning in January 2014 to very reluctantly try this crazy CrossFit thing. You’ll be nervous. You’ll want to turn around. You’ll be the oldest one there that day (and at most of the next 600+ workouts for that matter). You won’t know how to do half the movements. You’re just plain scared. You shouldn’t be though. You’re gonna finish the workout of the day (WOD) and walk out surprised at yourself. Again – you really shouldn’t be.  That day, your mindset will begin to permanently change. Forever.

Now, for the next 48 hours you’ll be more sore than you’ve ever been. You can’t walk down your stairs without wincing. Your hands are super sensitive from hanging from a pull-up bar for the first time in a while. But I promise you’ll fall in love with CrossFit. Promise.  Man, it will give you things you never expected. Like not being afraid to fail. You’ll wish you had had that mindset in your younger athletic years when you pitched competitively and played football.

You’ll spend that first year learning the different movements. You’ll learn how to do double-unders. Your confidence will grow. Then one day after you’ve “mastered” a few of the movements, you’ll try a handstand – try being the operative word. Humbling. Yeah, that’s another quick lesson. Don’t ever get too cocky. These workouts aren’t meant to be “comfortable”. You learn, though, that you actually crave being out of your comfort zone because you realize how much being in that dark place, when your mind says “no more” creates a “better you”…

SISU Santa Bash, 2018
Photo by Monica Wong

Beware, Keith!  You’ll start to evolve into one of those people that always talks about CrossFit! Yep. Those same “crazy” people that bugged you about trying CrossFit, you’re gonna sound just like them when you talk to your friends about it. And you will realize that it’s because it not only consumes you during that hour of rigorous exercise, but it inhabits your thoughts and turbocharges your mind. You will try to do things you didn’t think you could, both inside and outside the gym. It is crazy difficult to explain the effect it will have on you, but you will feel it! Promise.

Then, you start bringing your friends to SISU. Oh yeah! They’re nervous, just like you were, but you insist they try it because you want them to feel that mental edge. To be a part of this community. To give back to them this awesome experience.    

Saturday morning class | January 19, 2019

You’ll make new friends too. People of all types and backgrounds but who all share CrossFit as a common bond.  Then one of those friends convinces you to do a team competition with him. What?!  It’s the gym’s holiday competition, and it’s your third year there. So you do it. And it definitely challenges you.  But, of course, you “crush it” simply by finishing… AND you and you partner don’t finish last that day.  Boom!

Your journey will make you wiser too. Some days, you simply won’t want to go to CrossFit. Because you know what is waiting for you. Keith, just go.  Show up. Compete. That, like life itself, makes you resilient. There will also be plenty of times, even after four years, when you are the last one finishing the WOD while everyone else in class is done and waiting for you. That’s ok.  You will learn that simply finishing is awesome, and you will actually relish being last but still going strong. You will learn to get out of your head and into the moment, into the movement, into the trenches…..life will become more clear.  

It’s now Year 4 into your journey, and a really, really cool thing will happen that knocks your mind upside down! Your 12-year-old daughter will try CrossFit – and like it. And want to come back. Soon enough, she’s your partner during the workouts. And you’re finishing a beast of a workout together, talking about it afterward, replaying the movements, just connecting like dad and daughter should.  Man…wow…

Keith with friend Jerry and their daughters at SISU

And then on a cold January morning in 2019, you’re standing at SISU Plymouth as the coach starts the class introductions. It’s your 47th birthday, and you realize it’s been 5 years here. As you listen to your workout mates introducing themselves and how long they’ve been doing CrossFit: 3 months, 8 months, 2 years, first day……and you get a bit choked up. Have you really been doing this for that long? Yes, Keith, you are one of the “veterans”.     

And as you get ready for that intense, spicy workout, you will then realize that you’ve been a part of SISU not only because of what it’s done for your fitness, but because you like who it’s helped you become. And the meaning of “SISU” becomes apparent: strength, perseverance and resilience, going beyond one’s physical and mental capacity.
And, like every single one of the WODs in the past five years, you will go on to crush it that day!

P.S. I would like to thank Pat, Christina and Josh for their leadership, motivation and friendship.