Family Knows No Limits

We had a saying when I was in the Western Washington University Filipino-American Student Association: Isang pamilya. Isang dugo.

One family. One blood.

When Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines several weeks ago, it wasn’t just an event that showed up in the news headlines in my online feeds. Anytime anything shows up about the Philippines, I know that I, my mom, and many of my friends hope and pray that all our family are okay. And whenever anything heartbreaking happens back in the Philippines, I also know that the Filpino community comes together to help and to support and to show tremendous outpouring of love. That’s who we are.

It seems strange to then suddenly bring up the CrossFit community. It’s a community of voluntary participation; none of us were born into this. But that doesn’t mean people don’t bring their own intersecting identities to the table. And with that comes the intersection of communities.

In times of disaster, there are numerous fundraising and aid efforts, and one event aiming to help the Philippines came to light via one of the coaches (who happens to be Filipino) at my gym. King CrossFit in Renton, WA has a prominent Filipino membership and presence, and Coach Ryan organized a Workout Of the Day (WOD) dedicated to the relief efforts in the Philippines. Members were invited throughout the region to participate in a WOD that symbolized* the typhoon in its repetition scheme and the length of workout. Beyond that, other CrossFit affiliates were invited to hold their own sister events. Gyms throughout the country stepped up. There are even affiliates in other countries who held fundraising WODs.

My teammates and I went down early to Renton on Saturday morning. King was busy, packed with athletes from all over. As I warmed up on the rowing machine, the unmistakable smell of lumpia wafted in with each pull. (Talk about motivation. If I had lumpia waiting for me after every WOD, I’d be in the gym multiple times a day.) We all chipped in donations at the door to participate, and of course, many donated again when the lumpia (and doughnuts and coffee) came out. And of course, we did the WOD. Early morning box jumps aren’t my favorite, but knowing I was supporting one of my communities by way of another one of my communities was much more important.

Luckily for me, my family in the Philippines reported that everyone was safe and accounted for. I know that’s not the case for everyone. On the surface, I’m sure there are some cynics who only see that I got up early on one day and had fun with fellow CrossFitters and ate some lumpia; how is that making a difference in the wake of a disaster? Because it was more than just a regular day at the gym. It was a day with a deeper purpose, with a deeper reflective aspect to it.

Besides, when one gym reports that solely the at-the-door donations came in at $2500–not accounting for sales of shirts or donations for food and coffee–and that dollar amounts from other affiliates haven’t been totaled, you can see that this “crazy fitness community” is much more than one, singular identity. We’re not martyrs, but there are people with hearts of gold. There are people who recognize the power of many in the face of adversity, and they go out and do something to make a positive impact.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is a giant “thank you” to Ryan and King CrossFit. Thank you for organizing and growing an event that means so much to me, to my family, to my friends, to all of us. And to you.

And thank you to everyone who participated, near and far.

Isang pamilya. Isang dugo.

SEAtown CrossFit at the Philippine Relief WOD. Photo borrowed from the STCF Instagram page!

SEAtown CrossFit at the Philippine Relief WOD. Photo borrowed from the STCF Instagram page!

* Other memorial or tribute WODs are constructed in a similar manner. For example, there are variations of the 9/11 WOD. The 9/11 WOD I was a part of this past September concluded with a 2001m run after over thirty minutes of tough physical exertion; the burning in my calves was nothing compared to the sacrifices and the pain and heartbreak that accompanied the attacks. In some ways, these CrossFit WODs are intended to provide an outlet for reflective practice.

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