(*EDIT: this was written August 31st while I was in Hong Kong)
In 2001 I moved to Taipei, Taiwan to take part in a yearlong fellowship program at 師大大學 (Shi Da Da Xue = National Taiwan Normal University). It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Every day was an adventure, especially when riding around the streets of Taipei on a 50cc scooter (picture "Dumb and Dumber"). But despite it all I never felt like it was home. I was never able to make a connection, even though my Mandarin was quite good and I had made a number of close friends.
By the time my fellowship was up, I was sad to leave Taiwan... Sad because as much as I fell in love with Taiwan, I didn't feel like Taiwan reciprocated that love. I was never able to latch on to anything in all those months I spent in that wonderful city...
Fast forward to 2012. Here I am in Hong Kong, a city every bit as amazing as I had imagined. A week and a half - not one year - is all I came out here for. And in my first few days I have already connected... I have already latched on. The only difference this time around? I had a CrossFit gym to visit.
There is an indescribable feeling you get when dropping in at another box. And the further you are from home, the more those feelings are exaggerated.
I walked into CrossFit Asphodel in Quarry Bay, Hong Kong just a few days after arriving. When I first arrived I went to a Globo gym chain since CF Asphodel was closed. There I witnessed a variety of exercises being performed, some I had recognized and some I thought were better suited for torture methods used for interrogation. None of the members or trainers approached me. No one offered help as I walked around looking for a place to snatch. The only looks I got were judgmental, at best.
But things were quite different at CrossFit Asphodel. The owners Alix and Ash were welcoming and friendly the minute I walked in. I met two people who were from New Jersey. I met Tiffany who trains there and is a crazy good athlete... And was born in New Brunswick! I was greeted with hellos from the gym regulars on my second day as if I had been there forever, and was complimented on my matching apparel as well (which you know I just loved hearing).
Thousands of miles away from my family and friends, away from my work that I love in a gym that has meant so much to me, in a city as different from any in the entire USA... and I had still found a connection.
This is CrossFit. This is what CrossFit does. It gets you fit. It gets you in the best shape of your life. It gets you to accomplish things you never thought possible. And it allows you to travel half way around the globe and feel as though you never left home.
In CrossFit we always talk about community. This community has helped shrink the world for all of us. I love that aspect and I desperately want to be a part of it as much as I want to TAKE PART in it. Which means I want our gym, our box to be as welcoming and inviting to everyone who walks through that door, whether member or drop-in, fire breather or beginner. A simple hello or a kind gesture can make a world of difference, can help someone feel at home when they are so very far from it.
With that being said, I miss CrossFit Koa more than words can possibly describe. I miss Jack Ryan giving me that look to get the class going when I get distracted... I miss Joe Coates voice booming words of encouragement to everyone... I miss butting in on Sheila, Eileen and Mary Beth's convos... I miss Jill Bonafide's 346,839,984 questions each class (love ya Jill). I miss all the PRs and the sweat and the laughs and the smiles... I miss all of you. Yes even you Chuck.
See you all next week!!!!!!!! CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK TO WORK!! (how many people can say that while on vacation???)