What a Workout Might Tell You about Your Next Boyfriend

Guest post today by Nicole Iden.  My friend and generally an amazing person. I feel big gratitude and honor that she is sharing her words for this blog. Enjoy!

There’s strength. And then there’s strength.

I am recently single.

Technically it’s been 2 years, but given that I was with this guy my entire adult life, as a percentage of my total years on earth it feels recent. But that’s a story for another post.

 So I’m recently single, and I hate dating. I’ve gone on what feels like a million dates in the past few years and it all ends up feeling like a rerun of the same old show: we get a drink or a bite, we chat about life, and I try to figure out who this person sitting across from me really is. If we’re at dinner maybe I can see how they treat the waiter. If we’re playing a game, maybe I can see how they deal with winning or losing. But discerning the quality of a person’s character over the course of periodic drinks is a sloooooow process. And I lose patience.

Enter my dear and amazing friends. These friends of mine are invested, often aggressively, in my happiness. And as a recently single woman, many of my friends have focused this love and attention on my dating life. 

“Nicole,” they say, “you need to be dating more. Let me fix you up.”

“I’m not really into it. I’ve been on tons of dates. They’ve been a waste of my time. I’m good, thanks.”

“Let me try,” they say. “Let me fix you up. Now. Do they HAVE to do crossfit?”

“No,” I reply, “not at all. But it helps.”

Then I get the eyebrow raise. “You know Nicole, not every guy you date has to squat like 400 pounds and be all ripped up.”

 And that’s when it hits me. I see now. This dear friend of mine thinks I want a crossfitter because I want the muscles. But that’s not it at all. I want a crossfit (or a weightlifter, or a strongman) for who they are. Not what they look like. I want a crossfitter because it’s so easy to tell what a person is made of when they’re in the gym. Suddenly I don’t need a dozen dates to figure out who you are. We only need a few workouts for me to see right inside of you and for you to see inside me.

Are you the first person to finish the workout? Are you lifting the heaviest weights and moving faster than anyone else in class? Good for you, but I don’t care.

Fast forward 10 minutes to when the very last person is still struggling to finish out every last rep. Are you still there cheering for them? 

That’s what I care about.

What about when the dude squatting next to you hits a 10 pound PR at the weight you’re warming up with? Do you celebrate with him just as loudly as you celebrate your own PR?

When your coach corrects your movement, do you listen with humility and then try your best to do what they cue? What if, God forbid, she tells you to take weight off the bar? Can you put aside your ego and do what she says?

 When you miss a lift or your feet get tangled up during double unders do you throw the rope or the weights like a child throwing a temper tantrum? Or do take a breath, collect yourself and try again. And try again. And try again.

Do you do every single rep called for in the workout? Even when no one is looking and no one is counting and if you did shave a few reps the only person who would ever know is you?

Do you have bear crawl races with the 3-year olds that visit? Do you spot the 6-year olds on the rings and the pullup bar? Do you challenge them to a flex-off?

Do you flirt with the 70 year old grandmother? And then talk to the teenage girls about getting enough to eat and staying safe on social media?

 And if you have a goal – whatever it may be – are you willing to quietly and persistently put in the necessary work? Can you work through that grueling, unsexy, mind-numbing skill work day after day, until eventually, even if it takes weeks or months, you have achieved your muscle-up, your handstand, or your very first pullup?

 We don’t just leave sweat and chalk on the floors of our gyms. We leave bits and pieces of our true self. We leave evidence of who we are, of what our hearts are made of, and what kind of humans we can be.

So dear girlfriend of mine, do I want someone who is physically strong? Of course I do.

But more than that I want someone with a strong spirit, a strong work ethic, and most importantly a strong heart. Someone who elevates others rather than themselves.

That’s the kind of strength that makes me weak in the knees.