"Perhaps more importantly, Crossfit has made me believe I can do hard things, given me great friends and I know my life long health is protected, not just my present day performance."
We don’t go to the gym so we can get better at squatting, or push-ups, or to beat our neighbor in Wodify rankings. Okay, yes, we do want to improve our ability to squat heavy, and we do want to increase our push-up stamina, and I’m guilty of wanting to beat certain people in workouts. However, we practice these movements because they train us, prepare us, and equip us to handle life.
We're here to chat about a prevalent theme in the arena of health and fitness: the coupling of body measurements with our worth as humans.
"I don't care about the number on the scale."
"I'm not worried about how much I weigh, just..."
"Oh, I know the number on the scale doesn't matter."
Have you heard or said one of the above?
While these statements are not dangerous in-and-of themselves, they can be covering up a darker issue dwelling beneath the surface.
How do you define success in health? How do you define your self-worth?
While I could sit here and attempt to rattle off the characteristics or inherent traits which determine your self-worth, waxing philosophical and attempting to quantify the nature of being--I'm not going to do that (yay!). I believe it's beneficial to attempt to answer those questions (to a point =P), but it's not the theme of this blog post...for the most part.
It is important, though, to take a moment to think about just how you define your success in the realm of health and wellness. Is it a body weight? Is at a particular body image? Is it a dress or shirt size?
Now think about the two ends of each of the easily quantifiable data above: higher body weight vs lower body weight, high dress/shirt size vs low dress/shirt size. Is one "good" and the other "bad"? If yes, then by extension, what does that make you?
As the title states--you are not your body weight. You are also not your Body Mass Index (BMI) score, your body fat percentage (BF%), or your Lean Body Mass (LBM). In the same vein, you're not even your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, or your resting heart rate.
More than any one number.
Each of these measurements is a static, immobile snapshot of an aspect of your health at any given moment. It doesn't tell us where you want to be or where you're going, only where you are at the moment the measurement was taken.
Additionally, one biomarker in-and-of itself is unlikely to tell a complete story, just as one letter doesn't comprise a full sentence. But with enough breadth of data taken across varying time, a picture or trend in health emerges.
That trend should be what we are using to determine whether our actions to improve health are indeed bringing us closer to or pushing us further away from our goals.
The knee jerk reaction.
Because I state that you are more than your body metrics (and I am not the first to do so by a long shot), don't misinterpret that those measurements are not useful. They are. But they need to be read contextually, integrating together all available data and considering the actions taken to mitigate or change unfavorable data sets.
Coupling body metric data with awareness of what and how much we are eating as well as what and how much we are exercising gives a more accurate equation for controlling the trend we see. Are you gaining weight? What do your nutrition (in terms of the quantity and quality of food ingested) and activity (in terms of strength training and cardio-respiratory endurance) look like? If you don't have objective, quantifiable answers (i.e. answering with significantly more detial than "pretty good") to either of those questions...that's most likely where you need to spend some time.
Bringing it all together.
So again, you're not your body weight, body fat percentage, or BMI. For that matter you're not your ACT/SAT score, your career title, or the amount of money you have in the bank either (I'm starting to feel like Tyler Durden, here). Each is a characteristic or facet of your humanity.
If you don't like one or multiple of your individual biometrics listed in this article, do you wanna hear the really good news?
You have the opportunity to change it.
Unsure where to start?
Still need some help? Set up an appointment, give us a call, or shoot us an email. We love to help.
Congratulations! You've made it! Nutrition Challenge DOWN. Whether or not your finished with authority or puttered out towards the end, you all have something in common: you completed it.
I'm guessing, too, along the way you learned a few things about your body and mind and the way both facets of yourself interface with the food you're eating.
Here's what you should do to ensure your continued success moving forward:
If you take an evening, a whole day, or a whole weekend celebrating--that's ok. Give yourself some leeway now and again will take the mental stress of dieting way down.
What were your experiences?
How do you feel when you ate "healthy" food? How about "unhealthy" food?
What have you learned? About when and for what you have cravings? How did you deal with them successfully or not?
How do you feel about your participation in the challenge? And how do you feel with your results? If good, identify which habits seemed to make the most benefit. If not good, identify which habits were just too much and keep in mind a few you can implement at a time.
What tools from the nutrition challenge will you be carrying forward with you?
If you were great at getting in the three meals a day and cooking made that a reality for you, maybe you figure out how you can integrate that into your week.
Maybe you realized the benefits of drinking enough water. Plan to keep your intake in the realm of 1/2 oz. per pound of body weight still!
Sleep is huge. Did you get enough? If not, how can you prioritize your body's recovery from training and stress so that you can be the best version of you every day?
Carry out and execute your plans on a daily basis. If you fall off the wagon, dust yourself off and get right back onto the plan.
Remember--life is too short to hate what you eat on a daily basis. Give yourself some leniency, but remember how you feel right now. Use that feeling moving forward as you continue your journey.
Stay tuned for our next Nutrition Challenge (as mentioned, likely will be occurring quarterly) as well as more awesome nutrition-inspired blog posts over the coming week!
In Part 1 we ventured into the world of adherence and resilience: the best, most ideally designed diet without the ability or discipline to follow it is a waste of ink, and the most perfectly followed diet for short periods followed by long, long stretches of not is counterproductive to long term health. Pick a diet - any diet beneficial to health - and stick with it. If and when you fall off, dust it off and get back to it. ASAP.
In Part 2 we'll look at two more tenants that, when combined with the principles of adherence and resilience, dictate our overall success changing our diet and lifestyle in a healthy manner.
3. Changing everything at once typically leads to burnout, "diet fatigue", and the age old adage, "some people are just meant to eat healthy and I'm not one of them."
One of the most daunting tasks of setting a dietary or nutrition goal is the sheer number of practices it seems are necessary to change to ensure success. Reading food labels, remembering macronutrient percentages, shopping for foods "on the list", making sure to eat the appropriate number of meals at the appropriate times, and even the act of having to think about and remember/record what we put into our bodies can seem like a huge burden at first.
The art of progressing from one change to the next is subtle and often overlooked. Typically an overhaul is attempted and two or three weeks later (if even that long) we're right back where we started.
Action #3: Choose one or two practices to focus your energy on--and commit to making those practices daily and monthly habits.
One of our favorites is the commitment to eat mostly whole food sources.
Folks doing the nutrition challenge have several healthy practices to choose from. Eating meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar is one; drinking adequate levels of water is another; sleeping 7+ hours a night i still a third...
Some people are feeling as though they are "failing" for only picking up certain ones. You are not, I repeat, NOT failing.
You're picking the tried-and-true, tested tenant of progression. Once you've mastered your first practice and made it habit, move on to the next. Keep up with the small, incremental improvements over time and you'll be amazed where you are at the end of your journey.
4. Seeking 100% perfection will cause you to miss out on the fun and mentally relaxing nature of shirking all responsibilities every once in a while...even those of eating healthily.
Those who reap the most benefits from a healthy diet are the ones who eat mostly healthy most of the time. Those who hold themselves to the unattainable or unsustainable image of dietary perfection are generally setting themselves up to accomplish just that: unsustainable or unattainable concepts of what it means to eat the way they should.
Action #4: Life is too short not to enjoy a dessert, a life event, or a vacation with your family every now and again. When you do, don't beat yourself up about it. Make the conscious choice, enjoy the moment, and then enact Action # 2.
All-or-nothing is typically a lot more "nothing". Shooting for a healthy balance of "pretty darn good" should be the average human beings' goal with nutrition.
Typically I will tell folks that eating healthsome, whole foods 80% of the time and indulging in the above mentioned, sparsely occurring occasions 20% of the time allow folks to enjoy both the physiological benefits of a healthy diet and the psychological benefits of allowing some leeway.
Regardless of where you are in your journey towards health, try implementing the four tenants discussed here and in Part 1. If at any point you need some guidance, direction, or just a little clarification please reach out to me at email@example.com or stop by my office and let's chat for a little while.
Best of luck, healthy people!
For more information about the above concepts please see the inspiration behind this post, Understand Healthy Eating: A Science-Based Guide To How Your Diet Affects Your Health by Israetel, Case, and Pfaendtner (Renassaince Periodization).
I'm not a huge fan of absolute statements. They generally make me very nervous (see what I did there?).
That being said, these next couple blog posts are going to delve into absolute truth-facts in the world of diet, nutrition, and you. Yep. I'm going to make bold, absolute claims directly related to you and your attempts at dieting.
I may not even know you, but these tenants will still be upheld regardless of race, gender, age, or ethnicity.
1. The simplest, most well thought out, easiest to follow diet in the world is absolutely useless...unless actually followed.
Our first tenant is the tenant of adherence: the simple matter of whether you ever actually start a style of eating and, if you do, how likely you are to adhere to it.
As for the rule of thumb? Again it's rather simple. Find the style of eating (i.e. diet) which best suits your needs and fits your lifestyle and stick. to. it.
Action #1: Make a commitment to yourself to start a diet--any diet--and build some accountability to keep with it.
For some of you reading this, the Summer Kick-off Nutrition Challenge gave you the accountability necessary to pick something and stick with it. Others of you haven't made up your mind which direction to go. The solution? Literally choose a diet which will illicit positive health benefits, and stick with it for 4-6 weeks.
Not haphazardly, not here and there, not only when it's convenient. Create and commit to the daily habits.
What about when you fall short of your expectations? What then?
2. Dieting for health is a cumulative venture: deterioration as well as improvement are seen over long periods of time.
What separates those who succeed on the long term from those who don't isn't just adherence to a diet, but when they find themselves falling off the bandwagon they dust themselves off and hop right back on. Quickly.
We're in the midst of a nutrition challenge here at CFN. Some folks are wholeheartedly on that bandwagon. Some are off and back on. Some are defiantly off. Others never got on in the first place.
And yet we all have something in common.
We're all human. Which means (as a general rule of thumb; remember that absolutes thing) we make mistakes. Similar to other mistakes we make in life, it isn't about the mishap itself but how we respond to it which defines our resilience.
Action #2: If you've fallen off the wagon, make the commitment to get back on. Next meal. Make the decision and stick with it.
Combine this with Action #1 and you have a recipe (pun!) for overcoming two of the largest obstacles faced in dieting: starting and sticking to a diet (adherence) and spending as little time between
We'd recommend starting with this blog post for a simple guide on how to set up a diet geared towards improving your health. Once you've grasped the basic principles, put Actions #1 and #2 into practice.
In Part 2 we'll examine the other two tenants of dieting strategy.
For more information about the above concepts please see the inspiration behind this post, Understand Healthy Eating: A Science-Based Guide To How Your Diet Affects Your Health by Israetel, Case, and Pfaendtner (Renassaince Periodization).
"Eat meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support performance but not body fat."
These are words taken from the article "What is Fitness" originally written by Greg Glassman almost 15 years ago this year. Thousands (if not tens of thousands) of folks around the globe have embraced this outcry for a return to the foods which help us fulfill our journeys towards being healthier, happier humans. And it has been the cornerstone of the CFN "Clean Eating Challenge" for the last three years as well.
This year we will be doing a "Summer Kick-off Nutrition Challenge" in place of our typical "Clean Eating Challenge." The rationale behind the change in name is an attempt to help us not label the foods we eat with "good" or "bad" monikers and consciously or subconsciously labeling ourselves as "good" or "bad" for eating them--this is a small shift yet one that leads to longterm healthier relationships with food and ourselves.
Taking "good vs bad" or "clean vs unclean" out of our lexicon of how we view food, we're left with the age-old question: "What should I eat?"
Eat Food. Eat real food.
For this nutrition challenge, we are keeping the same concept as the year before. We're taking the above quote from Glassman and running with it. We want our folks to realize what kind of health and lifestyle benefits come from eating what Michael Pollan refers to as Real Food.
What is Real Food? In the most simple terms, Real Food either grew from the ground or had eyes. It doesn't contain maltodextrin or potassium sorbate or acesulfame potassium. It probably hasn't been packaged, or if it has not for very long. Likely there aren't commercials on TV trying to sell you on it's benefits. If you were to show it to your grandmother or great-great grandmother she would recognize it and understand the creation process for the food at least in theory (I'm still not sure I completely understand what goes on to make cheese).
With a change in name we will also be packing a little different "how-to" in terms of applying the principles behind our last CEC's. This go round we will talk about the second half of the quote above: "Keep intake to levels that will support performance but not body fat."
How much of this quality food should I eat?
Not too much.
"Duh, David." everyone is now saying. "Keep intake to to levels that will support performance but not body fat." But how?!
We're advocating that for this challenge that we stick to the following:
- Eat a balanced meal each time you sit down: protein/fats/carbohydrates
- Palm sized portion of protein
- Fist sized portion of starch OR fruit
- Thumb size portion of fat
- The rest of your plate should be vegetables (raw, preferably)
- Eating 3-4 times/day
- Males who wear a large or extra large shirt, 4 meals
- Females who were a small or medium shirt, 3 meals
- Only those meals...no seconds or snacks
The above will not dictate the earning of points for the challenge, but we feel that it will contribute to the longest and best decrease in overall body fat levels. Once we have reached an appropriate and healthy level of leanness, we'll start dialing in the performance intake levels.
What happens if I get hungry?
Plants are among the most nutrient dense as well as satiating foods we can eat. If you fill the rest of your plate with vegetables, I can almost assure you will feel satisfied (satiated) towards the end.
As far as raw vegetables go, the intake is almost unlimited (I say almost for the genius who will try and eat a whole bag of baby carrots and then tell me I said they could). As soon as we cook our veggies, the same rules as the starches/fruits above apply (fist).
Couple the "mostly plants" with drinking a healthy dose of water (1/2 bodyweight in ounces) and hunger should decrease drastically. If not, it can at least be dealt with until your next meal.
Quality AND Quantity.
"Eat [real] food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
"Keep intake to levels which support performance not body fat."
Over the next few blog posts we'll chat a little bit more about how to go about integrating the above suggestions into your day-to-day and, ultimately, your life-long journey.
The Who, What, When, Why, and How Behind Personal Training
Group training is great. It’s fitness. It’s in an environment of your peers. It’s an hour of your day. And you don’t have to think about what’s on the board or how you’re going to warm-up or what weights to use for the workout or…
CrossFit group classes are a phenomenal revolution to the fitness landscape. I have long lauded the “oh dark thirty-ers” for their ability to get up and get after it before the sun has even gotten out of bed. I have shared with a few of those classes that, at least in my experience, if the guided model were not available I would likely hit the snooze, roll over, and continue my dream-filled slumber.
For a large majority of the world seeking to improve their health and longevity (see: fitness), group classes are the bomb-dot-com. They hit the right combination of price-point, value of services offered, and accessibility.
Are there folks in the world who require a little specialized attention?
What about for the gal who has been struggling to get that one movement to click (I’m looking at you, DUs)?
What about for the guy who doesn’t feel as though he’s quite ready to be thrust into the social dynamics of a group even after an introduction to movements, philosophies, and group model in our Elements course?
And those pesky injuries! How the heck is someone supposed to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and getting back into the gym to strengthen their limbs without risking further injury?
The answer to all of the above will almost always be an unsatisfactory, “It depends.” Maybe you can improve your snatch technique or your DU attempts with an online video (of which there are heaps and heaps). You can make your way into Open Gym or use the 10 minutes pre/post-WOD to hone that skill/technique work. It’s worked for dozens of athletes.
One thing I will absolutely say is there are some things that require a more personal touch.
At CFN we strive to give every member of our group classes 1-on-1 attention. At some point it is our intent that you have a coach delivering YOU personal coaching, watching your implementation of their coaching, and providing you some feedback about how to move forward. Sometimes, depending on class size that may only happen once during the course of the hour. Hopefully it happens several times. But in all cases, that is the intent.
Sometimes, however, we see folks struggle for weeks, months, or even years on a foundational or fundamental part of their fitness game (see 10 General Skills).
“I could squat if only my hips weren’t so tight.”
“My OHS is rubbish. I think it’s my mobility. Or my strength. Maybe both? I’m not really sure, actually...”
“My ankles are the cause of all of my issues. If they weren’t so tight I’d be the next Katrin Davidsdottir for sure.”
“I can’t keep my chest up in my squat.”
“I have always had imbalances that lead to pain in my hips. It’s just how I’m made. I see the chiropractor every week, though. I guess I’ll see him every week for the rest of my life…”
“I can only do DUs on cloudy days if the sun is in Aquarius and I squint.”
“I know that muscle-ups are coming up in the Open, and I think if I had the direction I could probably get one...but I really have no clue where to start.”
“I think DUs and snatching is great (or even OK), but I really just walked in the door to lose 15 lbs. I really have no idea if I’m on the right track or not.”
Now all of these aren’t word-for-word quotes from clients’ mouths, but a vast majority have been uttered in some semblance at some point within the halls of CFN (and many other CF gyms, we’d posit).
For almost all of these scenarios, a more personalized--or customized--experience is the answer.
The above scenarios may not have been verbatim, but they do hit close to home...and they are something we are committed to not let happen moving forward. Personal training is simply a space for people to sit down with a coach for a few sessions and diagnose the issue and soar past what their expectations or limitations.
It is our goal to never prescribe you something we don’t feel would benefit you. Ever. The entire purpose behind program development is to increase the value of our services to you. This is as true in the realm of group fitness as it is in the realm of personal training.
At the same time, we will strive to not sit idly by while you deal with an issue we could solve with a little 1-on-1 coaching.
It’s as simple as that: we want to help you reach your goals as quickly as possible.
Diagnosis? A Prescriptive Model.
What happens when you go to a good chiropractor?
They generally ask you a few questions about what brings you in, give you a once-over, and then develop a plan to help you rid yourself of whatever is ailing you. They give you their take on why the injury/pain occurred, they perform an adjustment to relieve the symptoms, and then they give you homework to perform between sessions. In the best scenarios, you are there 2-10 times with a clear plan moving between those points.
CFN’s take on personal training is, for the most part, in the same model: assess, manage, prescribe, maintain.
Conversations about personal training might arise any time you’re in the gym and a coach notices you’re repeatedly struggling with a concept, some mobility (or injury), or a particular movement. Conversations could go something like this: “Hey, I have noticed you are really working hard on your snatch technique. I'd like to give you some resources to help you. If you'd like, I think it would be beneficial to sit down and talk about what I think is limiting you and develop a plan of attack to help you get passed whatever it is.”
You can also reach out to us about issues or goals you want to achieve for our help to create an individualized plan on how to achieve them.
If you or someone you know is interested in traveling down the personal training road, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a free consultation--a zero commitment sit-down to talk about fitness goals and how we can help.
Cool Crossfit lingo (to toss around to let people know you’re fit) following in the paragraph below.
Fly and Die. Fire and Tire. Crash and Burn. The Thin Red Line. These are all fun little terms for redlining, the phenomenon in fitness where an athlete begins a workout at an explosive pace, and then suddenly is completely void of oxygen, muscular endurance, an the overall will to continue. Let’s investigate a workout in which I redlined, and then discuss what physiologically happens to the body during a redlining occurrence.
Go Hard. Go Fast. And Last. Or, exactly what I didn’t do, and yes, that’s what she said.
17.1 was an ascending ladder of dumbbell snatches penetrated by burpee box jump overs. My first attempt at it was during a Friday Night Lights event full of a roaring gym, tough competitors and a whole lot of adrenaline. My first round of snatches and burpees was finished in sub 1:30. In the moment I felt fine, and was impressed with how well I had breezed through. My second round of increasing snatches and standard burpees also finished decently quick. I had completed two full rounds in under 4 minutes and with a whole of arrogance. Round three seized me quickly, deflating my lungs, my back strength and my ego. I finished my third round in the same amount of time it took me to complete my first two rounds. That’s not a good omen of things to come. My last two rounds took me nearly twice as long to finish as my previous three rounds combined, leaving me time-capped for the workout.
I’m sure this story is familiar. You start off doing a tabata workout and crank out 16 pushups in the first 20 seconds of work. You finish the last cycle grinding out 3. You start off at a blistering 6-minute mile pace only to finish the mile in 10 minutes. The first round of a barbell complex you do unbroken, never letting the barbell down. The last round of the same complex has you doing singles, guzzling water and grabbing chalk in between each rep.
What’s the cause for this?
Thresholds and Maxes
There is a limit to your metabolic capacity or the ability for your muscles to perform work under duress. The amount of oxygen that your body can effectively and efficiently inhale, absorb, and metabolize while undergoing endurance activities is referred to as VO2 Max. An increase in intensity for extended durations (see: I=P=work/time) over this max is short lived and rarely enjoyed. The science behind it is jargon-y and unessential to our comprehension of the scenario (who really cares about your muscle cells in/ability to clear carbon dioxide when you are wondering why you're staring through a tunnel of pain?), but basically your body is in need of more oxygen than it is capable of providing. Partnering with this is the lactate threshold point. The lactate threshold is the point when you begin to accumulate lactate and/or lactic acid (a chemical compound) in the muscle faster than it can be removed (usually in oxygen-flooded muscles). When these two team up, you experience redline. This is felt with by a super high heart rate, weakened and weary muscles (because they are void of oxygen) and of course, lack of breath.
To quote Shakespeare, “Ay, there’s the pace…er…rub.”
There is a tension we must keep as athletes and as coaches regarding pacing. One perspective is all out intensity and the other is lackluster intensity. What we are striving for is intentional intensity.
When we first begin in CrossFit we usually have the mentality of “all out, all the time”. Our coaches are yelling at us to go faster and do another rep. We hear that workouts are “for time” meaning the faster the time the better. We are taught that higher intensity will produce greater results, which is true. This is well-meaning, but may not be the most productive or helpful in accomplishing a workout or specific goals.
"It's all good, bro. I'm pacing," he said as he heads for the water fountain.
The converse is a very different approach, yet one we’ve all had on some workouts. It is easy to exert little effort, take unneeded rests, and exercise at a lower intensity and call it “pacing”, or "being cautious about redlining." This isn’t pacing. This is an unwillingness to challenge oneself.
Intentional intensity is about pushing your intensity to a difficult and challenging level, but not to the point where you are unable to continue in a workout. It's about having a game-plan for breaking up sets of reps, a determined goal pace, and a strategy for keeping that pace. This usually comes about through experience, discussing the workout with your coach or another athlete, and as always, knowing your own body and boundaries.
The good news is we can train ourselves to have a higher threshold as well as grow our wisdom in approaching workouts (good news!). A well-trained, strategic and intentionally paced athlete will be hard to beat. With that said, stop reading and get to class for today’s WOD!
An Open Ramble About Doing the Open.
The marker of my CrossFit career began in December of 2015, and even then, it’d be hard to claim what I was doing as “CrossFit”. Yes, my coach was (and still is) a Level 1 Certified Coach and he had me doing EMOM’s/AMRAPS of wall-balls and calorie row in his garage, but I was a long way from Olympic lifts, muscle ups of any kind, and I was still loyal to Adidas shoes, not those fancy Swiss Army Knife-Kevlar-enforced Nano’s everyone else had. I had yet to even step into a CrossFit gym when the Open rolled around. Here are a few reflections on my first Open season and why I, a CrossFit newbie, think you ought to do the Open.
“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”-Moliere.
The Open inspires you to practice, to study and to accomplish what you normally wouldn’t.
My first Open workout was 16.1 which involved two movements I had never done before: overhead walking lunges and chest-to-bar pull ups. It was promptly followed by 16.2 which I had to scale because I couldn’t do the prescribed double-under’s or toes-to-bar and I was still a toddler taking his first steps when it came to cleans. 16.3 was the first time I ever did a bar muscle up (learned it that day) and the first time I had done snatches.
CrossFit is about constantly varied movements which continuously challenges your body to respond to new stimuluses, therefore generating greater overall results and health. The constantly varied aspect keeps your fitness from moving from rhythm to routine to rut. However, the constantly varied aspect also reminds us of the humble beauty in the pursuit of overcoming a challenge and the wonderful opportunity for growth. Most of us don’t attempt what we aren’t good at, unless a coach or competition tells us to. The Open reminds us that we have an ever-expanding capacity for more greatness.
The Open will surely present some obstacles. Yet, it will also present you with the realization that once you commit and endeavor towards embracing that obstacle as an opportunity for growth, development and the creation of a better self, you begin embracing your glory.
“The most personal is the most universal, the most hidden is the most public, and the most solitary is the most communal.” -Henri Nouwen
The Open promotes, generates, and fosters community in a way different than a normal class.
We all long to be wrapped up in an epic story. Find someone who does CrossFit at another gym and simply ask them how workout “number point number” went and they’ll know what you’re talking about. The Open transcends gyms, class cliques, and state lines.
Events like “Friday-Night-Lights” and Thursday watch parties introduce you to people at your own gym that you don’t yet know. If you are a regular 4:30pm athlete, you may meet that insane person who can do thrusters at the 5:30 am class you never go to because why on Earth would anyone want to do thrusters at 5:30am? I don’t know, but that new friend you just made does.
I was in Denver the week of 16.4 and dropped into a gym. We did a workout and then had “Open Prep” in which their coaches all discussed what they thought the workout would be, and offered teaching cues and technique work to help all athletes-including the outsider-to get better. It doesn’t matter if you’re in America, Iceland, or Asia, the workout and the movements are the same even if the religion, language and race are not. That’s pretty cool.
The first workout I ever did in a CrossFit gym setting was 16.1. I was surrounded by a bunch of strangers. Some folks were incredibly fit and they were decked out in the Rogue tee-shirts to prove it. Others were like me-confused, wanting to be invisible, and fearfully peeing themselves a little. The only person I knew was the friend who was connected to this gym.
Yet, once my work-out began it was as though all my closest friends and relatives were there to support me. People who had learned my name only a few moments before were chanting it and cheering it with grand familiarity. People who I thought I was supposed to be competing against were giving me suggestions, tips, and workout hacks. My judge, who I thought was supposed to be overly critical, harsh, and mean (because their leader, Dave Castro is) was incredibly encouraging, supportive, and helpful. When I collapsed at the end of the workout I was greeted with handshakes, high fives and people offering me their water. I had 14 new follow requests on Instagram. My experience is not unique to me. That is the culture of the Open.
The Open promotes the shared struggle, the common suffering, and the collective experience. We each have a different level of fitness, combination of strengths and deficiencies and the uniqueness of our own bodies. Yet, when we all do the Open, we have one more bond uniting us, unifying us, and connecting us. It gives us something to share, discuss, and relate to with one another. It takes our individual workout and grafts it together in the overarching community.
“We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting upon our experience.”-Jan Johnson
The Open teaches and enforces the aspects of Measurable, Observable, Repeatable.
One of the largest emphasis in the CrossFit training methodology is measuring growth and this is achieved by having workouts with predetermined weight, rep schemes and movement standards. Workouts are designed to be repeated to see in what ways your fitness has improved.
For example, remember how I couldn’t do any of the three movements in 16.2? Now I can. Remember how 16.5 was a repeat of 14.5? You don’t? Probably because you did 16.5 three minutes faster than you did 14.5 and blacked out. THAT’S REPEATABLE, MEASURABLE AND OBSERVABLE GROWTH! BOOM.
Begin Total side note: since the Open requires you to meet certain movement standards you learn a lot about doing a movement with integrity, honesty, and virtuosity. Typically your chin on your pull ups on a random Tuesday doesn’t get over the bar, or maybe you don’t fully lock out your thrusters at the top but during the Open you’ll be no-repped if you don’t hit these performance points. So, you learn something valuable and essential about the movement, and you realize you’re capable of working out at a level of integrity worthy of you. End total side note.
The Open provides an orientation point for your fitness journey. It reveals to you all your subtle, almost insignificant and unnoticeable achievements. You drip sweat, rip hands, and train ferociously each week. The Open is a good affirmation of what you have accomplished and your efforts in the past year. This inspires and motivates you to keep moving forward, to continue practicing, and to remember your “why” behind you showing up each week.
Does the Open cost money? Yes, about 10 Starbucks drinks worth. Do the Open workouts hurt? Yes, like you did Monday-Wednesday programming in one workout. Is it humbling to see elite Games athletes demolish your score? Not really, because that’s just expected.
Is it worth it to master a new skill, meet new friends, and to testify about your training? Absolutely.
As we close 2015 and begin to look back on our collective years and think about everything that's changed, I'd invite you to try that from the gym's perspective. This year saw some great stuff for us. We had the return of old members and the starts of several new CrossFit journeys. But at the end of everything, people got better and people made friends. And that's all we've ever wanted. As a founding group and now as an ownership group, two goals have been in place since the start of this whole thing over 4 years ago:
1. Positively impact lives.
2. Create a community of like-minded friends.
And we feel great about that. So thank you, CFN. Thank you, from me, Brian and Brad. Our vision and our goals could never be achieved without your support and commitment to the group. As you gather this season to give gifts and celebrate family, know that your attendance and your support is gift enough for us. And thank you. Though, if you wanted to leave a quality bourbon behind the counter, that would also be much appreciated.
We are going to invite you, like we always do about this time of year, to join us in a renewal of your continued efforts. Our pledge to you is that in 2016 we want to bring great coaching and well rounded programming to a community of people that are second to none. All we ask in return is that you continue to work to be better. Live your lives by a standard that is a step above most of those people you associate yourselves with. And when those friends, family, acquaintances ask how you seem to be at the top of your game or how you always seem to look great and have so much energy - show them. Bring them in. Let them in on the secret. In four years this has grown from a rag tag group of strangers numbering 7 or 8 into a group of close knit friends bouncing around 100+. Seriously, most of my best friends are gym members. I don't think it's a stretch to say that when most of us think about doing something on the weekends, we call other CFNers. And I think it's a given that everyone has made new friendships, good friendships, with the people at the gym.
There's something really powerful about doing what we do in the kind of group we've got. If you've ever worked out at home or in your basement because you couldn't make it in, you know what I'm talking about. You know how much better it is to go through this with a group than to look at yourself in a mirror at some big box place. Guys, we've got something really great here. And it's because of you. So as the new years rolls and you start thinking about resolutions, don't get caught in counting inches and calories. Set a plan to get better. Then start showing up and watch that plan materialize. We're confident it will. And we're confident we can help.
Again, thank you for another great year. When we talked about all the great things that have happened, one is a new website. We've been redesigned! Hopefully you're reading this (and other old blogs) on our new site developed by our good friend Brad Voigt at The Factory Media Network. Bookmark this spot and look for more regular blogs including guest posts from coaches in 2016. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. Keep being awesome!
See you at the gym.
Dustin, Brian, and Brad.
CrossFit Northland Kansas City
Five rounds for time of: 155 pound Deadlift, 12 reps 155 pound Hang power clean, 9 reps 155 pound Push jerk, 6 reps
Death by Thruster 95/65
2:00 min max double unders
:30 sec rest
1:00 min max double unders
Accumulate 7 mins at the bottom of an overhead squat with PVC
4x5 Front squat 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%
Open Wod 12.3
18 min AMRAP
15 Box jumps 24/20
12 Push press 115/95
9 Toes-2 Bar
Christmas Eve WOD
12 Days of Christmas
1 Deadlift (95/65)
2- Cleans (95/65)
3- Push Press (95/65)
4- Front Squats (95/65)
5- KB Swings (53/44)
6- Pull Ups
7- Push Ups
8- Wall Balls (20/14)
9- Walking Lunges (35/25)
10- Ab Mat Sit Ups
11- Over-the-Bar Burpees
12- Box Step Ups (45/35)
30 Minute Cap
Congrats to the 3 teams that competed this past weekend. The CFN coaches are proud of your movement, teamwork and competitive spirit.
Points of performance were met and the our athletes looks very organized throughout the WODs. We see more competitions in the future for CFN athletes.
Congrats to Brett Otto, Hayden Bock, Hannah Barnett, Manny Catano, Christie Smeal, Daniel Weinert, Taylor Kraft, Nathan Soltice, Alexis Aipperspach, Bridget Netherton, Ashley Jones and Shawn Glen.
The CFN Community cheering on our athletes.
CrossFit Northland Kansas City
Snatch 5 x 3
3 Rounds for Time Run 600 Meters 12 Deadlifts (bodyweight) 21 Box Jumps (20 inch)
CrossFit Northland Kansas City
Top 10 CFN - 2015 Attendance
Congrats to the 1Q Athletes that led the pack in terms of WODs completed. Will you be on the list at the end of June?
Leon Versfeld 66
Michael Loring 53
Daniel Weinert 52
Tara Kaiser 52
Brett Otto 49
Renee Haug 49
Gabriel Lancaster 47
Lyndsy Morton 47
Brad Anderson 46
Hannah Barnett 46
Jodi Adolf 46
How ticked were you to see that 15.2 was 14.2? Be honest. I was upset. I didn't like it last year and I didn't like it this year. Like most people, at this time last year I vowed to chest to bar pullups more often. Didn't happen. Isn't that how it is though? We take time off when work gets busy. We take time off when our kids have stupidly frequent activities. We sign our kids up for everything in the hopes that they'll find something they like and enjoy being active. That way they're not the fat kid in school or the lazy adult after school. But in reality, we're schlepping our kids all across town and we are turning into the fat or lazy adult we're trying to keep them from becoming. Because we sacrifice a lot, our fitness, our needs sometimes take a back seat. I get it. I'm living it right now and it's embarrassing. My wife and I planned out the next 3 months of family schedules and activities and I think I'll get to see her April 19th. Super excited to see you, babe!
Too often we make excuses. We need to stop. And the kind folks at the CrossFit Games have told us now that everyone isn't making excuses. CrossFit is a data driven endeavor. We preach results based fitness. We test and retest wods regularly to see if we're getting stronger, faster, a better motor. Well, 15.2 did just that, but for the entire community. Look at these numbers.
Last year the high score on 14.2 was 404 reps. This year, 13 athletes beat that score.
In case you're thinking that only the elite athletes are getting better, stop it. You're only going to get more depressed. This year showed us that 80.8% of all athletes improved over their 14.2 scores. Specifically, men scored an average of 11.8 reps better. And women scored 13.5 reps better.
So right when you're feeling good about everything. You've convinced yourself it's okay that you're not doing well because you've got all this other stuff going on, you get the news. Turns out 8/10 CrossFitters ARE getting better. You're the minority. At this impasse we're faced with two options.
First, continue to make those excuses. After all, kids are important, so is work. And things will eventually lighten up enough that you can get back in it. And man, when that time comes, you'll be committed. You'll jump back on that horse and rid, baby! Second, suck it up. It's always hard to restart. They say only 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolutions and 70% quit by March.
So don't quit. If you're really busy, make it once or twice a week instead of your usual four or five visits. Hit up a Sunday afternoon class. Do something at home when you can't get to the gym. We all get there at some point. But we don't have to stay there. For me, the Open data told me two things. One, other people are making less excuses than I am. Two, the programming works. That's the beauty of this. It's not like you're going to get up each day and do some long, slow distance stuff or hit the treadmill for 30 minutes. You're going to come to CrossFit. And we're getting to the point (some would argue we're there already) that CrossFit is empirically proving its methodology, when applied, yields positive fitness results. So get up one more time. Commit to doing what works. Come on back in the doors and take an a$$ whoopin'. You need it. I know I do.
See you at the gym.
Games Season is Here...
It’s that time of the year again.
The 2015 CrossFit Open is upon us. Registration is open and available and it takes about 5 minutes. Before we get into why this is a great opportunity, let’s learn a bit about the Open and its general purpose.
The Open consists of 5 weeks of workouts (1 per week). The workout is typically unveiled on a Thursday evening and participants have until midnight the following Monday to complete the wod and submit scores. Individual participants are grouped in different age divisions: Men, Women, Masters Men (40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60+), Masters Women (same age breaks), and Teens. Teens is new this year (two divisions [14-15, 16-17]). And a Scaled Division!=
So you complete 5 workouts, submit your scores. We verify the scores were legit. Also, if you’re traveling, you can generally complete them at any CrossFit gym. Just call ahead and ask them if you can stop in to do the Open wod. We have accommodated countless travelers in the past. You receive a score for each wod and you are ranked according to your age division. After all 5, they will take about the top 43-50 from each Region. There are 17 Regions, globally. We participate in the North Central Region. A couple weeks after the Open, if you qualified, you go to Regionals. From there, if you finish in the top 3 at Regionals, you go to the CrossFit Games in Los Angeles. And then we see you on ESPN.
Last year 209,585 people participated in the Open across Earth. We are still unsure if there were other lifeforms on other planets that submitted scores. Though we assume if there is intelligent life out there, they probably do CrossFit.
We have a different sort of stance on the Games. We would love to see someone qualify for Regionals and the Games and we would undoubtedly cram into cars and planes and come see you in LA, but we like the idea of the Open as more of a barometer to check your fitness and a way to build community. There are a million ways to compare yourself, if that’s your thing. Last year they implemented custom scoreboards so you could make a scoreboard for you and 5 buddies or you could make one for all the gyms in KC or whatever. We think it’s a great chance to compare you against yourself. See how you did compared to last year. Set a baseline for this year and see how far you can get next year.
This year we are going to host our wods on Thursday night and Saturday mornings. You will show up, have a judge, and get your score one of those two times. Additionally, we are giving a new CFN water bottle to everyone that completes the 5 wods. And fear not, you can do them. Every wod is structured in a way that allows anyone to get a score. You’ll be fine. You can begin your registration at this link: games.crossfit.com. Follow the directions from there, and join our team. You will receive things from us weekly during the Open about motivation, encouragement, and the like. Best of luck. Time to go test your fitness!
We are doing the Open. Are you?