Hedge fund guys do CrossFit. So do cops. And construction workers, engineers, and professors. (Even rock stars, too!) Here are their personal stories from inside a global fitness phenomenon.

Jay Adams, 26, is a New York City-based CrossFit box manager and instructor.

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I would take sick days from work just to hang out at the box all day. I would go and work out and just hang with the trainers. It was the environment that made me happy. I never felt comfortable wearing business clothes and sitting at a desk, answering e-mails all day. I worked for a hedge fund administrator. I know I’m a smart guy, but it just never felt right. I wanted to be happy. I was fucking miserable. So I quit.

When I announced I was leaving, there were no shocked faces. They knew I didn’t belong behind a desk as much as I did.

I graduated from Johns Hopkins with a degree in international relations. I always regretted the path I took. It was stupid. I would sit at work for 12 hours and then come to the gym and work out for an hour and a half and then be miserable again because I knew I had to wake up and do the same thing all over again. Wash and repeat.

Now I’m a certified CrossFit trainer. I played fullback on the football team in college. Our coaches introduced us to CrossFit-style training during spring ball. After graduating, I tried it again, about three years ago, because I hated running but needed cardio. However, I discovered even an empty barbell was too much for me to overhead squat. I would jump in a workout and lose to a girl. I just couldn’t stand being bad at something, so I kept coming back. And that girl that beat me, turns out she was Kaleena Ladeairous, the top female competitor in the North East region. Now I compete, too.

You hear people say CrossFit is a cult and people become obsessed with it, but there are worse things people can be spending their free time doing. If the cult is a cult but it gets you more fit, changes your lifestyle, and makes you eat healthier, then I’ll drink that Kool-Aid. —As told to Christopher Hunt

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