The Church of CrossFit: From Atheist to Believer


(Written by Monica Hilton, Together We Rise CrossFit Owner)

I believe that there are two types of CrossFit videos in this world:

1. The world’s fittest athletes doing things most humans wouldn’t dare to try. A 570lb dead lift? No thanks, I’m good.

2. The world’s not-so-experienced athletes doing things most humans shouldn’t dare to try. Right, um, you know your body wasn’t designed to bend like that, mmmmkay?

For years, I watched these two types of videos scroll through my social media feeds. Every time I saw one, I had the same thought: CrossFit? Nope. But thanks.

I have more than a decade of experience in the fitness industry and have owned a group fitness studio for three years. I thought I had tried all the options I ever wanted to pursue. Until one day when a friend invited me to actually try a CrossFit workout. Okay, it took several invitations.

Absolutely not. Well, maybe. Fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

I was prepared to hate it and already had my excuses lined up for not doing another one. Turns out, I never needed those excuses. From my first 200m run to my first wall ball, I was hooked. And I’m 5’ tall so let’s just say wall balls don’t come easy… 9’ is a long way up there. Plus, we did Sally. I was exhausted and wanted to eat all the things, but I was ALL IN.

Sure, the moves are challenging and learning this foreign language of CrossFit took me back to my seven years of poor Spanish skills but there was one thing that rocked my fitness world: community.

I had always pictured CrossFitters as an elitist group of athletes who welcomed no man/woman but the fittest. In my mind, you had to work out at a regular gym in order to work out at a powerhouse gym in order to workout at a CrossFit gym (see video description #1 above). If you pictured some dude turning to some other dude and saying, “Do you even CrossFit, bruh?” then we’re on the same page.

But on that fateful day, I saw people of all fitness levels bettering themselves AND helping each other.

When I attended my CrossFit Level 1 certification course, the community aspect was crystal clear. We were presented with the WOD and this info: “You’ll be divided in teams of three. If your team finishes first, DO NOT go take a team selfie and label it #Winners. That’s not the CrossFit way. Instead, you cheer on the team next to you. When you both finish, both teams cheer on the team next to them, and so on.”

So what happened? At the end, one team was finishing the WOD with fifty… FIFTY people cheering them on. And that is the CrossFit way. That is the community I believe in, and why I feel so strongly about encouraging that camaraderie in my gym. And so, Together We Rise (TWR) CrossFit was born.

In addition to the community aspect, I knew I had to tackle the second type of video I mentioned above. Safety is key, so I hired an elite team of trainers who are focused on results through safety, efficiency and then intensity.

Scalability is also paramount, so new participants have plenty of options to complete the workouts as well. Have you seen the video of the 70-year-old woman doing pistol squats? Or the 82-year-old doing burpees? What was your excuse again?

Finally, programming is a very important part of the equation and the TWR programming is “intentional.” CrossFit preaches constantly-varied functional movements performed at high intensity, and obviously we follow that. The posted WOD from is a great option, but having programming specifically designed for our members makes it a customized experience.

So there you go: I’m a believer. Chances are, if you have a doubt in your mind, I had it too. Not everybody was born with a barbell in their hands but I’m here to tell you that anyone can do CrossFit and when you find the right community, it changes the game.