A Weekend of Celebrations

I witnessed my first proposal.  I was rowing away on an erg while another group of coaches did sled drags with a long rope.  One coach asked his girlfriend to hop on and pulled her in, got down on one knee, and proposed.  Of course, that meant we all got to celebrate.  We went to People’s Palace for an amazing dining experience.

In order for you to truly understand why it was so awesome (which it really was), you have to also understand what other dining experiences are like.  Generally you wait a while to order your food then the food arrives one plate at a time, with up to an hour wait from the first delivery to the last person’s food deliver.  It then takes a long time to get a bill and then we have to tell them we don’t pay VAT and wait another hour.  It’s a more pleasant experience to eat at home.

We sat down at the table and were lucky enough to be there with the head chef, so he ordered for us.  Within five minutes of him ordering, our food arrived at the table.  We asked if it was just because he was there, and he said no, he enforces a 5 minute ticket time.  Once the order comes in, it should leave the kitchen within 5 minutes.  The waiters also don’t take notes, they just memorize the order.  To top it off the food was phenomenal.  From the pomelo salad to the sticky rice with mango dessert, there wasn’t a single dish I didn’t enjoy.

I tried to figure out why the service could be 1000 times better at People’s Palace than every other restaurant I’ve been to here.  Apparently after six months or so working somewhere, the company has to start paying benefits.  Instead of doing that they just fire them and move on to the next person who is eagerly awaiting a job.  It’s not worth the time to properly train the wait staff.  I assume, that at People’s Palace they are willing to train their staff, because they are also willing to keep them.  Now, I have not been able to confirm that training and money is the reason service is poor relative to what I experience at home, but if that’s the case, it’s certainly a sad reality on the part of the businesses.  Unfortunately, there is a high demand for jobs, so it’d be challenging to convince a business owner to retain employees at a higher cost when it doesn’t stop many people from dining out anyway.

Onto the next celebration, or party.  A going away party for one of my swolemates.  He’s not only someone I work out with, he’s also the one who got me in contact with my gym.  We booked a cabana at the Palace Pool Club.  It’s exactly what it sounds like, a nightclub with pools.  Thankfully it was not Saturday night, I can only imagine how crazy it would be to party in a pool and how many drunk injuries there would be.  The idea is pretty sweet though, especially given how hot it is here.

The pool was nice, they had some floaties for us to jump around in, the mojitos were delicious, and so were the burgers.  We were the only ones there for a while so we used the open dance floor space to do the typical CrossFit thing, drinking relays.  Handstand walks, push ups, and squats, plus chugging a beer.  All in all, it was a pretty fun day.

I’ll see if I can get photos from other people this weekend since I failed miserably at taking them.

Are You in the Cult?

Though it only happened once, I have legitimately been asked this question.  To be fair, I am part of “the cult,” which is more commonly known as CrossFit.  While people often use the word to critique CrossFit, the “cultish” atmosphere is what made me feel a sliver more comfortable picking up my life and moving across the world.

My CrossFit journey started in 2007 when Danny at CrossFit Sonoma County had a dream to open a box, or CrossFit gym. My first workout of the day (WOD) was Fran.  It was a grueling 10 or so minutes of work, and I was hooked.  Back then there were only a handful of us, all of whom were Danny’s friends.  We worked out in the back room of my old gymnastics gym from 9-10pm and as you can see below, we had some fun.

Xfit Old Days

I left for college a few months after staring CrossFit, but every winter break I would come back and workout at the box.  By then Danny had rented out his own space.  With that space came a big community and no more 9pm classes – I suppose that is a bit late.  Though I wasn’t a CrossFitter at that time, everyone in the community always welcomed me for the month that I was home.  As a bonus, I returned to college every year in shape for lacrosse preseason.

Fast forward 2 years after graduation.  After constant discussions about joining a CrossFit box, Mark told me I needed to shut up or do it.  I chose CrossFit Balance in downtown DC.  My year and a half there changed my time in DC.  The community they built and the coaches’ knowledge drastically exceeded my expectations.  I found myself surrounded by people who share my love of working out and my love of beer, generally in that order.

Why is all of this important? Well, because what I have learned over the past 8 years is that the support I receive from CrossFit goes beyond the doors of the box.  I have truly become part of a global community.  When we looked at the bid list I googled CrossFit boxes in each city – it exists nearly everywhere.  I did this because I knew that no matter where we wound up I would have a group of people who would welcome me and make a new place feel a bit more like home. I reached out to Primal Ape CrossFit prior to my arrival because it was recommended by another FSO.  I have not been disappointed, the space is amazing (picture below) and so are the people.

Joining Primal Ape has helped immensely with my transition.  I now have a daily workout time to help set a schedule and even a job offer.  Without it I’m not sure how long it would have taken to establish a routine, especially since I would know even fewer people in Manila.  I didn’t leave my community back home either, the coaches and athletes have offered to help with programming for me, discuss classes and coaching, and even visit.

On the surface CrossFit is a workout regime meant to get people fit for anything life throws at them.  Yet, the willingness to pay upward of $150 per month speaks volumes about the fact that it goes beyond a general workout class. After college we lose that feeling of being a part of something like a soccer or baseball team.  CrossFit makes me feel like I’m on a team again.  In the end, it is the highly critiqued “cult-like” atmosphere of CrossFit that makes it a great match for the constantly moving lifestyle of an EFM…or someone who travels on business often, or wants to be a part of a team, or wants the strength to be able to pick up grandchildren, really, anyone, because everyone is always welcome.  Maybe we’re not so cultish after all.