I spent Saturday on Thompson Island with twenty-five teenagers in my science program, getting to know them over games of rubber-chicken football and ultimate rubber-chicken, (sports equipment options were few), and educating them on the skills they will need for successful teaching and mentoring. We talked about the importance of building a community, showing patience while continually setting the bar ever higher, active-listening, and the concept of “co-inquiry,” in which the teacher is learning and growing alongside the students. In a few weeks these young people will try to demystify science in a way that will make their students laugh and have “aha” moments, which will, in turn, have them asking for more.

So has been my experience at CrossFit Fenway. Outside of my family and dear friends, there is no group of people that seems to know me better—when to push and when to say, “you’ll get it next time.” No similar community willing and able to celebrate my smallest victories while they strive for their own. My coaches have the ability to crawl inside my brain (right Stace?) and say the simplest things that seem to end my frustration, remind me of my growing strength, and make me want to take on new challenges.

JT and I were talking about this write-up and the concept of “numbers.” He asked me, “How have they changed for you?” I thought about it for a while, and realized that my relationship with them (and consequently, myself) is substantially different. Before January 15th, two numbers were a part of how I saw myself: my weight and my age. 9 months later, I’ve been on the scale just four times, and then only to find out what a bodyweight deadlift for me would need to be. As for my age, the birthdays keep coming, and although I’ve always celebrated them for a month and enjoyed as many massages, glasses of prosecco, and red velvet cupcakes as possible, I now realize that CrossFit, in the immortal words of Coach Eric, keeps me further from dead–a side effect I wholly embrace.

The numbers that matter now? Reps, kgs, rounds, and the pesky ones on the clock. More important are the number of friends I’ve gained, the times I’ve laughed over a PVC pole dance or ‘snatch, clean, and jerk’ joke, the marriage proposals I’ve exuberantly made to any one member of the morning crew in pure awe of their accomplishments, and the moments when I’ve said to myself, “not bad, KP, not bad at all.”

I hope my teens will find themselves as fortunate.