It’s the Small Stuff

Emily at CrossFit Shoreside.

Emily at CrossFit Shoreside.

Over the years I have moved around frequently, living in three different states in the past year alone. With all of this relocating, I have had the opportunity to visit numerous Boxes, some have been great, others not so much.

In this process, I discovered what makes me fall in love with a Box and want to become a member and what sends me running out the door.

Of course there needs to be the basics: great Coaches, good equipment, friendly environment and a strong sense of community. While all of these things are essential, what I value most is the small stuff, the stuff that over time might become less of a priority and fall to the wayside.

The first Box I ever joined was CrossFit Shoreside in Evanston, Illinois. Now, I look at this as both a blessing and a curse. With the help of Michelle, the owner, and all of the members at Shoreside, I fell in love with CrossFit and now can’t imagine my life without it.

However, once I completed school and moved back home to Washington D.C., I was forced to leave this amazing community. Once in D.C., I thought finding a new Box to join would be easy, as there were a plethora within a few mile radius of my home.

But this was not that case.

After visiting three Boxes, I realized that the small things I cherished about Shoreside were missing, making my experience at these other Boxes lacking.

At the start of every class at Shoreside, Michelle or any of the Coaches would take a minute to have everyone introduce him or herself. That way if you were new, or attending a different class time where there were unfamiliar faces, you would get to know one another. I still fondly remember Michelle always saying, “Don’t be a jerk, make sure to say hi to someone you don’t know.”

Then, at the end of each class, everyone stuck around until the last rep. While visiting one Box in D.C., I was one of the final few to finish a workout. I was trying to find just a little more motivation and strength to keep going, but I kept finding myself distracted by the others who had already finished and were cleaning up in order to rush out the door and get on with their day.

This would never fly at Shoreside. Michelle has a strict rule: Under no circumstances are you to start cleaning up your bar until everyone has finished their last rep. With this rule in place, once you finished your workout, you have no other option than to encourage those still struggling through the WOD.

To me, this is the absolute essence of CrossFit, while you may be completing the workout on your own, the people who are there with you are your teammates and you are meant to cheer each other on. That is what truly builds community.

Some of the best memories I have of my time at Shoreside were when there was one person left, struggling to make it through that last 400 meter run or last few reps and we would all gather around, yelling their name (which everyone knows since we all introduced ourselves), making sure they never gave up.

Sometimes classes run late and things become hectic, but it is crucial to make time for the small things, because who knows, they may be the deciding factor on whether someone joins your Box or not. I know it was for me.

Emily Harbourne is a writer for Peake Media and is the assistant editor for Club Solutions Magazine. Contact her at