There’s a group of folks I see regularly who really help me out. We get together for the same reason and work together for the same outcome. We are committed to the effort and to each other.  We are not all equally talented at everything we try, but everyone’s efforts contribute to the group as a whole. As a matter of fact, those who are better at one thing are inspirational to those who need improvement; consequently, the skill and success level of every group member is improved.  We all want the same thing and are using our skills, talents and focus to get there. It is quite Utopian—no, really.

According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter in her book about commitment and community, “Utopia is held together by commitment rather than coercion, for in utopia what people want to do is the same as what they have to do; the interests of the individuals are congruent with the interests of the group; and personal growth and freedom entail responsibility for others.”  Interestingly, Ms. Kanter suggests that Utopia is an imaginary society, but I am here to tell you that for at least one hour, 3 times per week, I live in a Utopian Society.

Admittedly, I am making my exercise class seem awfully lofty and philosophical, but that is not far-fetched when you consider the various parts of the definition for a Utopian society and how it applies to my CrossFit experience. 

“Commitment rather than coercion”—I remember meeting with Jeremiah, one of the coaches at CrossFit Champions, when I was considering taking the 6-week Challenge. He was very matter of fact in explaining what the challenge entailed and how the class would work…then he said, “you’ll come back- I guarantee you will come back.” He, of course, understood what would happen when I started doing the work…that I’d feel better, that I’d find success regardless of my ability, that I’d find people who were the same as me. Neither he nor any other coach would have to coerce me to come back…I would commit. He was right. Why?

“What people want to do is the same as what they have to do”  No one in his right mind wants to work to the point of exhaustion or illness…except a CrossFitter.  What we have to do is move our bodies, lift our weights, use our muscles and, yes, sweat.  But those things give us a feeling of accomplishment, pride and success. Those things make our bodies better, our minds clearer and our personal outlook refreshed. THAT is what we want. Almost any effort is worth it when you get what you want, especially when you aren’t alone.

“The interests of the individuals are congruent with the interests of the group”  I joined the Challenge and stayed on afterward because I wanted to get stronger. Some of my work-mates joined and stayed because they wanted to lose weight; others, because they needed to recover from injury or illness. All those reasons are different, but by committing as a group, we are all reaching those desired goals.  We can do the same activities, encourage each other in the process, and all succeed without one individual derailing the group because her interest is more important than the others. Congruence means accordant; even in geometry, it means different forms coinciding at all points.  Strength, Weight loss, Recovery all coincide at the Box and we succeed!

“Personal growth and freedom entail responsibility for others” If someone doesn’t show up for a workout, we all inquire as to why. Not in a harsh accusatory way, but with genuine concern. We reach out through social media and personal contact to make sure the members of our group are ok. We often offer help and always offer encouragement when the workout goes long for someone. We know that regardless of our own success, our own performance, our group succeeds together.  We don’t let anyone quit; it is our job to keep them succeeding.

So, while a 3-time-a-week CrossFit class might not seem like UTOPIA, for me and my group, it is!! And the only thing that is imaginary about this society is that I never would have IMAGINED I would love this so much.

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