By Meagan McGinnis
In a floral grey and pink ruffled dress, I walk into an 880-square-foot garage where white tin, vinegary sweat and badass beards dominate. Guess I wore the wrong outfit.
CrossFit Pallas is set back from the street, the only indicator for the gym being a tarp banner hung in front and an old weight bench in the corner of the parking lot. Inside, black metal pull-up bars line both sides of the garage. Kettlebells of every size are in the far right corner. Wooden jump boxes are stacked on top of each other four boxes high. Multicolored jump ropes hang tangled from constant use in the far left corner.
I try to ignore the small water circles that the leaky, water-damaged ceiling leaves on my dress. The rusted garage door tracks tied with climbing ropes and wooden gymnastic rings make the place look like a torture chamber, while the black scratched padded floor seconds as matting for athletes laying in fetal positions from exhaustion or pain.
Thank God they’re moving to a new space soon.
A wall is covered with female names and a list of three athletes’ times under each woman. I later discover the times listed are from the three quickest CrossFitters who conquered those ladies — “those ladies” actually being bitchin’ workouts.
There are chalkboards with personal records in neon chalk next to the small bell that rings with each accomplishment.
The CrossFitters’ hands are torn and peeled like the plaster on the walls, which are black with the red logo, a mythical wing with a spear pointing upwards behind it for Pallas, the Titan God of Warcraft. The wing channels Pegasus from Greek mythology symbolizing strong physicality and freedom. This is their Nike Swoosh.
“Can I steal some of your pre-workout?” Joe Rogan, the class clown of the gym, yells, decked out in batman apparel: socks, a “Keep calm and call Batman” shirt and a yellow beanie hat to match. Tim, one of the gym owners, gives a nod as he stretches out his right hamstring, touching his hand to his bright green Reebok sneakers, one of his six multicolored “work” shoes.
Eamon and Tim stand next to each other, the little and big Irish men. Eamon is 5’7” (and a half), 33 years old, 160 pounds with dark hair and blue eyes. Tim is the baby at 23 but towering at 6’2”. The two are brothers — not the biological kind.
Kate sits on the floor, a grey CrossFit beanie pulled down far on her head with her blonde, long hair tucked up in it.
“So remember when you trusted me to do workouts by myself? I was doing mobility, and I hit myself in the head with an unloaded barbell.”
“When we say ‘head through’ we mean after the bar is overhead,” Tim says.
Eamon bursts into laughter. They are each other’s best audience.
“I can see the bump through your hat! All the testosterone in this room is coming from Kate’s forehead.”
CrossFit is the opposite of Fight Club, the first rule being to only talk about CrossFit.
The Spotify playlist “This is going to hurt,” angrier than any music I have listened to before, blasts through ‘90s desktop speakers. With that, shirts are off. “The gauntlet has been thrown,” Eamon jokes.
It is 10:30 a.m. and today’s workout of the day (WOD) is 14.4, the fourth week of the CrossFit Open competition. The strongest and most agile will make it to the CrossFit Regional Games; others will use this as a competition against last year’s self.
Yeah, but tomorrow’s self is going to hate you when you can’t walk in the morning.
Complete as many rounds as possible in 14 minutes:
40 wall-ball shots
Is it possible to get through more than one round without puking?
Two minutes in.
Please don’t let them puke.
Blood rushes to Tim’s face, spreading to a ruddy complexion. His breathing is labored. His body is strong. His eyes are focused as a bead of sweat forms at his temple. “Tim always has something to prove.” This year especially, he feels a pit of fire in his stomach; it burns in every muscle that flexes in the traps of his back, with each row of his erg. “You are DNF for the weekend.” Did not finish. It plays on repeat in his head. “I fucked up as big as I could have fucked up this weekend.”
Meagan McGinnes is a journalist and recent college graduate from Ithaca College with a passion for the environment, social justice and writing. She is currently freelancing in the Boston area. When she isn’t busy writing a story, Meagan can be found running, reading or throwing down at Crossfit Florian.