I had an interesting conversation with one of members this week, and it has grown into a deep topic of discussion. He came to me and asked how he could get his oldest son involved in CrossFit here at PHX, as we do not yet offer a full on kids program. After some investigative questions, I found that he is a 14 year-old cross country runner, with no real injury history, nor does he have any real experience with weight training either.
Then we took it one layer deeper and found that his son had approached him about coming to the gym. This wasn’t the case of a dad impressing his lifestyle, stress management, and recreational activities upon his kid. No, quite the opposite in fact. His son is so interested in what his father is up to, that he wants to have that experience first hand. So we made a deal, “If your son is willing to get up with you at 5am, so you can oversee his safety, and I can personally spend time coaching him in that class, then I have no problem with him being at PHX.” To that, this father said, “Done!” and I told him bring his son with him everyday this week. Here we are on Thursday, and he told me this morning to sign him up for a membership.
Here’s the thing. That story has absolutely nothing to do with a gym membership, or working out. Not at all. It has everything to do with the quality relationship of parent and child. After we chatted some more about everything his son will gain from this experience, I couldn’t help but reflect on my childhood and the life changing impact my father had on me when he invited me to the gym with him for the first time.
What an honor, I said to myself, to be invited to the my dad’s place of escape and solace. How cool will it be to throw some iron around with my dad and the guys! I got so much more out of it. My dad took himself out of the equation, and allowed me to be coached and mentored by his training partners as they pushed two plates on the bar and then stripped it all the way down for me to get my set in, over and over. He sat back and simply cheered me on while I was learning how to control my breathing, battling constant soreness, celebrated my improvement as I evolved away from looking like baby deer with weight on my back. Between sets, they let me feel like I was helping by letting me “spot” them, and I just sat in awe as they shot the shit and told stories of their military days while breaking each other’s balls about the differences between the “Chair Force”, “Jarheads”, “Squids”, and the “Joes”.
Sometimes as a parent, or a spouse, a sibling, or best friend even, you are too close to a situation for your opinion or expertise to carry any weight. It is imperative that we recognize this phenomenon, remove our ego, and place those we care about in the company of someone that they will listen to. I can’t remember any of my dad’s training buddies telling me anything new about bench pressing that my dad hadn’t tried to teach me a million times in our basement. But for one reason or another, I listened, and implemented those teachings on the spot when they came from someone else.
In the case of the 14 year-old novice to life as well as lifting, it is impossible to know the impact that experience will have. I know for me, it changed my life. I got a chance to see my dad in a different light. I got to be one of the guys. I got to bond with my dad on a whole new level, see him struggle in training, and improve over time, just as I was doing.
Needless to say, I’m pumped to see how this plays out for this young boy, as he transitions through adolescence in to manhood. You just never know!