{Read} Embrace the Suck

08 December, 2015

Embrace the Suck: A Crossfit Memoir by Stephen Madden

To be fit, or CrossFit?

Lifelong amateur athlete Stephen Madden decided to put himself to the test. He immersed himself in the culture, diet, and psyche of CrossFit--the fast-growing but controversial fitness regime that's a stripped-down combination of high-intensity aerobic activity, weightlifting, calisthenics, and gymnastics. Madden is just one of over two million athletes worldwide to do so. But what's crazier? The fact that such a grueling regimen--in which puking and muscle breakdowns during workouts are common--is so popular, or that people pay good money to do it?

In Embrace the Suck, the former editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine explores with irreverence, humor, and soul-touching candor the fitness revolution sweeping America. Madden chronicles the year he devoted to trying to master all the basic CrossFit exercises, like double unders, muscle-ups, and kipping pullups, and immersing himself in the Paleo diet that strips weight from its followers but leaves them fantasizing about loaves of bread. Along the way, he explores the culture of the sport, his experience becoming a CrossFit coach, and some basic questions about himself, his past, and his athletic limitations--and why something so difficult and punishing can be at once beautiful, funny, and rewarding.

As someone who is still new to the sport of CrossFit, it can be extremely discouraging by your lack of or perceived lack of progress (also known as gains). There aren't many new-to-CrossFit bloggers out there (if there are I haven't found any) and most of the blogs/vlogs I have found are done by folks who look like they could snap me like a twig.

Enter Embrace the Suck by Stephen Madden.

I stumbled across this book while traveling down the blackhole of Amazon while shopping for weightlifting shoes. The title immediately drew me in, while some of the reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads had me a little concerned but I decided to give it a shot.

Embrace the Suck is one mans experience with CrossFit, what he got out of it and what it did for him as a person. It is no, much to the dismay of some readers, an introduction to CrossFit.

While reading this book, I felt like I was eavesdropping on a conversation Madden was having with a friend. He wrote about some of the "ups" he experienced as well as a lot of "downs". I think the "story" that hit home the hardest was one that he told where he didn't finish an exceptionally hard WOD. I've been there, more times than I care to admit to. There are times when quitting has seemed so much easier than pushing through.

I felt like Madden's story was more than just his thoughts on CrossFit but also a great way to approach life. Not everything is going to be sunshine and roses. Sometimes things are going to suck and when that happens, you have to either embrace it or wallow in it.

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