4 Ways Marriage is Like a Crossfit® Workout

There’s a joke about Crossfit that never gets old:

  • Q: How can you tell if someone does Crossfit?
  • A: They’ll let you know.

Given Crossfit’s popularity, most of us have spent some time with a Crossfitter. They’re the ones constantly doing some weird stretch in their cubicle at work, picking at their callouses during church, and talking about all the intense workouts (sorry, “WODs”) they’ve done. If you’ve ever walked by a Crossfit gym (sorry, “box”) in the middle of a WOD, you’ve likely witnessed a sweaty, writhing mass of humanity and thought “what the- why?!?!”.

They’re an easy target for ridicule, but after a while, you’ll think, “Man, that guy is jacked.” And before you know it, you’re doing burpees at 5:30 in the morning, comparing workout times and talking about the latest Crossfit documentary on Netflix (i.e., “Fittest On Earth”).

Have you ever been around someone who has a Crossfit Marriage?

A couple with a Crossfit Marriage is one who is willing to take the necessary steps, regardless of how painful they are or how silly they make them look, to attain a “fit” marriage. I’m talking about the couple who stops in the middle of a conversation to do speaker-listener technique. I’m talking about the couple who turns down a group dinner to have a date night. Healthy couples do not have “FOMO.” They put in the work, day in and day out, often behind closed doors, to no fanfare, to make their marriage as healthy as possible.

CrossFitters are not afraid to look silly. A simple YouTube search of “CrossFit fails” confirms this. Embarrassing moments usually come when someone is trying something they’ve never done before or at a difficultly level beyond their current strength. In your marriage, be willing to try things that are different than what you’ve done, are harder than anything you’ve done before, and/or look a little silly. This may mean a shared Facebook account. It’s awkward being DaveandJennifer Jones, but if it prevents either one of you from flirting (or worse) with your high school bf/gf, it’ll be well worth it.

One-time Christian killer and New Testament author Paul has this to say about Crossfit, writing to his young protégé: “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8, NLT). So, by all means, do pullups until your hands bleed. Max out your front squat until you can’t walk up a flight of stairs.

But let’s talk about how to use the same techniques to make your marriage even fitter.

  • Burpees - the spawn of a pushup and a jumping jack. Prayer is the burpee of a Crossfit Marriage. As burpees are often used as a general warmup for a workout, prayer prepares the spirit for work. Do it every day. The spiritual giants of history were marked by a radical devotion to prayer (see Colossians 4:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  • Stretching - an often overlooked facet of a good workout. The best Crossfitters do plenty before and after every workout. Like stretching, communication can be uncomfortable and even painful at times. It’s difficult to hear from your spouse that you have disappointed them in some way. Taking the time to develop a summer plan for the kids is tedious. Communicating a sexual preference in a way that is neither demanding nor ­­­­­­­demeaning is a cultivated skill. But not having these conversations will be more painful in the long run. When the inevitable stress comes, your commitment to communicating regularly and effectively will prevent marital “injury” (see Ephesians 4:26-32).
  • Fran (the name of a famous Crossfit WOD) - 21-15-9 repetitions of thrusters and pullups. Fran is like sex; it’s the most well-known WOD, and everyone wants to do it all the time. The very best can finish in around two minutes. Hopefully your time in the bedroom lasts much longer than that (see Proverbs 5:18-19)!
  • Murph (another famous WOD) – 1-mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, 1-mile run. Murph is parenting. It takes forever and requires substantial baseline fitness or your pain will be intense and unending. The movements are all fundamental (think fruits of the spirit, Galatians 5:22-23), but it’s the volume that gets you. Murph separates the fit from the unfit in the same way that parenting will reveal your character deficiencies. Most of us can do a few pullups or be patient with our kids for half an hour. We can knock out 30 pushups or pray with our kids once in a while. But 100 pullups or that 15-hour road trip? 200 pushups or intentional, strategic discipleship? That requires strength and perseverance that are not built overnight (see James 1:12).

Crossfitters don’t shy away from a workout because it’s difficult. On the contrary, they seek out the hardest movements and heaviest weight with the goal of becoming as fit as possible. Those who persevere are an awe-inspiring sight.

The “Fittest” Marriage on Earth

Every year, athletes compete in the Crossfit Games, a series of fifteen grueling workouts held over five days, to crown the “Fittest on Earth.” Meanwhile, “the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9a, NASB).

So it is with your marriage. Don’t avoid difficult conversations or tasks. Do the hard work every day. Communicate, pray, have sex, and disciple your kids. Make others marvel at your marital “fitness” as you grow to have a Crossfit Marriage.

About the Author

Mike and Veronica Netzer have been married for 12 years and have lived in Dallas on and off for the last 10 years. They have three boys and are currently fostering a 5-month old girl. They enjoy playing cribbage and asking each other first date questions.


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