CrossFit saved me from myself. When I signed up and started coming to classes, I was a very angry person. I was antisocial, didn’t speak, kept to my corner of the gym, and was pretty much an all around bitch if you ask me. I also jumped at every loud sound. I have a few sensory issues, a low tolerance for sound being one of them, and CrossFit boxes are obviously not known for their quiet, tranquil atmospheres. Nonetheless, I kept showing up.

Despite my prickly attitude, the people at the gym were always so nice to me. They did their best to make me feel like part of the family. Of course, I resisted. But one of the things I noticed the most was how they always said goodbye. As I would be on my way out, trying to get away without being noticed, someone would shout out to me and make sure I was sent off with a proper goodbye. This would, without fail, create a chain reaction, with every member chiming in as I walked out the door. I always assumed these niceties would wear off. Then I could come and go as I pleased, unnoticed, flying under the radar. But my aversion to the social life of the gym only made the members try harder. They continued to greet me with a smile, cheer me on during workouts, and make sure I felt wanted. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it that way at the time.

When I began CrossFit, my closest friend had just moved out of state, and I had just ended a very long friendship with another individual. Anyone close to me will tell you that I don’t handle changes in my life very well, and those were two very big changes. Thus, upon walking into Balcones CrossFit, I was confused, hurt, and angry, looking for an outlet. My internal struggles caused me to be very wary of others, pushing them away, creating a bubble around myself that no one could enter. I let no one into that bubble for a long time. I didn’t trust them to stay.

However, my gym buddies didn’t quit. They continued to poke at that bubble and eventually, little by little, they made their way in. When the 2016 CrossFit Open rolled around, I saw just how genuine and caring these people really were. During all of the workouts, I received the most cheering and shouting I ever had in my entire life, and for once the noise didn’t bother me. For a person with sound sensitivity, to find themselves welcoming the screams and shouts of others, it says a lot.

Today, a little over a year later, I’m now coaching these amazing people, and just finished my first competition with them. They screamed, and cheered me on like they always do, pushing me to a second place finish in my last workout. Then when it was their turn to take the stage, I was screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs for the people I have come to accept and care for so much.

Upon walking into that gym, not only did I find an outlet for my emotional issues, I found a place I could feel comfortable being myself: I found a second home.