Week of 09/30-10/05

CrossFitters,

This week I want to discuss injuries and you out there (you know who you are) who push through injuries at your peril. But before I begin I want throw this out there: yes, I know I’m 23 years old. Yes, I know my body recovers lightning fast. And yes, injury talk coming from someone like me is almost heresy. BUT, just because all the information is coming from someone like myself, please don’t discredit the intent of this post. I’m here, as a trainer and coach, to help everyone succeed. Everyone. From the fittest athlete in our gym to the guy who’s just starting out.

Injuries suck. They do. There’s no getting around the fact that at some point in your athletic career you’re going to be injured. When that happens, please oh please take care of yourself. Some injuries call for you to take a day or two off. Others require longer stints on the DL. It’s easy to say, “Well I’m sure I’m injured, but the problem will just take care of itself and I don’t want to miss a day of CrossFit. Think of the endurance I’ll lose!” I love the commitment, I do. But if that injury isn’t getting better after several days or a week (at most), it’s time to take a little hiatus. The issue isn’t the loss in endurance. The issue is that your body naturally compensates for the injured area. Knee hurt? No worries, I’ll put more pressure on the other one. Leg not feeling up to snuff? That’s what my back is for! Here’s a useful analogy. Think of car tires. When one tire gets out of sort, all the tires go, because they’re compensating. Many times we know this because the tread is worn unevenly. Hence the need to rotate and balance our wheels every X number of miles. Your body is no different.

Remember that time a few years ago when you took a day off of training because your calf was a hair tight? Or that time in college when you planned on working out but you blasted your biceps so hard the day before it’s hard to drink a cup of water, let alone lift weights? Of course you don’t. Taking a day off in the present seems like a huge deal. But in the big picture—the forest through the trees, if you will—a day off here, a week there, to deal with a persistent injury is the proper way to take care of your body.

As a final note, remember that soreness and injury are two very different things. One is discomfort, the other is pain. As you warm up, soreness will decrease as additional blood is introduced to your muscles. When your injured, the pain is there no matter what.

Hope to see everyone this week! Stay dry!

Tyler

Week of 9/23-9/28

CrossFitters,

I wanted to take some time this week to discuss exactly why I love CrossFit so much, and to give you a little ammunition for when your friends ask you, “what the heck is CrossFit and why do you partake?” I know at the beginning of my CrossFit career, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. “Crossfit is, well, it’s really freakin hard. Yea. And we do a lot of fun stuff like hand stands and overhead squats. What’s an overhead squat? Well it’s kind of like this . . .” At this point I’d usually grab a broomstick or borrow a buddy’s umbrella and attempt an overhead squat, at which juncture those in attendance would nod covertly to one another, muttering, “I knew this whole CrossFit business was weird.”

First off let me ask a simple question: what is fitness? How would you define it? I think this varies from person to person, mostly depending on the type of exercise they do. For runners, fitness (or being “fit”) could be defined based on how fast you run a particular race. A 17 min 5k time? You are fit my friend! For bodybuilders, it might be how much you lift. Dang! 700 pound bench press? Fitness baby! For boxers, it might be throwing a given number of punches or going the distance in a 15 round bout. So fitness, it seems, is broadly defined. For Greg Glassman (the founder of CrossFit) this was no good. He, along with a team of ridiculously intelligent individuals, came up with a definition of fitness they believe hits the nail on the head. Here it is: Fitness is defined as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.

Let’s break that down. Work capacity is your ability to do work, with work being defined as force x distance. Time and modal domains signifies that the time components to WOD’s must be varied from short to long term, and the types of workouts need to change, from high weights to low weights, high reps to low reps, weights with gymnastics, gymnastics with running, running with weights, etc. In other words, everything needs to change all the time. Repetition is the enemy.

CrossFit, as you know, is all about intensity. But again, as with fitness, what is intensity? For CrossFit, intensity is defined as power (force x distance / time). The more power you produce, the more intense your workout is. The person who has the most “intense” workout has moved the most weight, the farthest, and the quickest.

Please visit crossfit.com for more information. It’s a fabulous resource!

As always, please email me with any questions. Hope to see you this week!

Tyler

Week of 9/16-9/21

CrossFitters,

Congratulations this week! You did it! You’ve achieved something many people go their entire lives without accomplishing! What is this herculean feat you may ask? Well, many of you found your one repetition maximum (1RM) for both squats and deadlifts. Woo! Give yourself a nice pat on the back, or if you’re like me, that long awaited visit to Menchies 🙂

The questions arises: why perform a 1RM? If CrossFit is for general physical preparedness (life), then why do we need to know how heavy we can lift something once? Those twenty bags of mulch in the garage have to be moved outside and who the heck cares that I can squat 200 pounds? A valid point. But hear me out. Establishing a 1RM allows for two things to happen. Firstly, it establishes a baseline for strength. Essentially, the weight is something you can work from and work past. Secondly, it’s kind of cool to lift heavy things. Tell me it wasn’t awesome cheering on your fellow athletes and having them cheer you on in return. It’s fantastic! Lifting heavy is hard work. You against the barbell. Man vs. Steel. Weeks, months of dedication on the line. There’s a lot that goes into attempting a 1RM. But having someone there in your corner, pushing you, telling you that you can, you will—that’s what it’s all about.

On another note, there’s something I wanted to discuss this week that’s been on my mind for a while, and it relates to strength. Ninety nine out of a hundred women underestimate their strength. Many see thicker, bigger weights added to their barbell and mentally check out. Heck no, I’m not that strong . . . I’m not even sure I want to be that strong. But why? Being strong is not the same as being bulky. Being strong does not equal a loss in femininity. Being strong means you’re strong, something to be valued and praised. All things being equal, let’s take two women, both same body type, composition, height, weight etc. One is twice as strong as the other. Remember, both women appear exactly the same. Even in this example it’s easy to pause for a moment and consider the thought. Do we really want a woman to be that strong? But now, let’s take the same experiment and replace women with men. Nobody will bat an eye: I want to be (or be with) the man who’s twice as strong. I ain’t gonna be with no scrawny chucklehead!  As CrossFitters, it’s important to value strength across the board, whether it be a man or a woman. Especially a woman. Strong is healthy, strong is fit, and strong is beautiful.

Hope to see everyone this week! The schedule is posted on the website. As always, feel free to email me with any questions.

Tyler

Week of 9/9-9/13

CrossFitters,

I hope this week went well! I’m excited to have back our full six days in pursuit of elite fitness. If you’re looking to come at the new class times, shoot me an email to let me know and we’re good as gold.

I want to take some time this week to talk about recovery and it’s overall effect on your well-being. Simply said, we all need to recover. When we use our bodies, whether it be running, swimming, lifting weights, CrossFit type workouts, our muscles break down. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s this break down—this damage—that allows our muscles to grow. For after the workout, when allowing your body proper time for recovery, those damaged muscles heal a little bit bigger and (most importantly) a little bit stronger. That’s fantastic! Now this recovery time varies from person to person and also the amount of time you’ve been exercising. We see this every day: remember your first time CrossFitting where those muscles were ridiculously sore? Muscles you didn’t even know you had were screaming in protest. But after a couple weeks, while still mildly sore, it’s nowhere near the pain you felt those first couple of days. That’s because your body has adapted, become more efficient at recovering, grown stronger in the process. Awesome! The variance of CrossFit will leave the majority of people sore during the week. And that’s ok. It’s good to push through soreness (I’m old school in this regard). But most people should rest at least one day per week.

Here are some signs of over-training (not resting/recovering enough):

  • – Soreness comparable to your first week of CrossFit even though you’ve been going to the gym for a couple months now
  • – A decline in your workout performance. For most people, this means that you feel worse than you normally do during workouts for no good reason. You’ve eaten like normal, slept like normal, but for some reason your dang body just won’t move like it should, given your fitness level.
  • – That huge burst of energy that sustains you throughout the day post-workout is replaced with the need for a five hour energy.
  • – Sleeping becomes difficult
  • – Normal bodily signs/functions become thrown off. This will vary from person to person, but we all know how our bodies operate. This is a deviance from the norm, excluding that trip to taco bell and the grande burrito.

Sometimes that border between training and overtraining is difficult to find, especially if you’re training for a marathon, triathalon, or CrossFit competition. The added workload will take a toll on your body. It’s how you rest and recover that will determine your ability to grow.

Hope this helps! As always, feel free to email me with any questions.

Tyler

The 10 Things That Will Happen When You Begin CrossFit

I saw this in the Huffington Post last night and thought it was a great article. Check it out:

This week marks three months since I began the most intense workout regimen of my entire life, CrossFit.

What led to me beginning CrossFit was a realization that, if left to my own devices, I would never push myself hard enough to truly make the changes I needed to in order to get in shape. Occasional jogs and going through the chest-and-biceps motions of a traditional gym simply weren’t going to get it done. I also knew that there was no shot that I’d be able to stick to a diet if it didn’t coincide with something more offensive, like physical training of some sort that demanded I take in more nutrients and less garbage.

And so on July 21st, at 258 pounds and sick of seeing my giant moon-face on TV everyday, I walked into the CrossFit Lighthouse in Wantagh, Long Island and submitted to a long-overdue comeuppance. I marched my Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man-frame into a firefight I wasn’t truly prepared for. It’s 90 days later and I still have a long way to go to get back to the old me. But I’m happy to report that for the first time in years I feel like I’m back in control and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every day I get closer.

For those who are thinking about trying CrossFit and rewriting their own futures, below are the first ten things that will happen.

1. You will find out how truly out of shape you are. It is likely that your first few sessions at a CrossFit gym will consist of stretching and basic instruction. You will likely sweat like a pig and require numerous breaks to catch your breath even during this relatively easy phase. This is because you are engaging and stretching muscles that have been dormant for years. You will also be sucking at the air for every molecule of oxygen you can get. It will be a week or two before your lungs are really open, prepare to gasp like a newborn taking its very first breath.

2. You will realize how fat you and other regular people are compared to real athletes. This is because your certified instructors will have the physiques of comic book superheroes. You will weigh 40% more than them but they will be somewhere between 50 and 150% stronger than you. It will make no sense that such “little” guys and girls are that much more powerful than you; it’ll be rather disorienting, especially if you’re a big guy like me who thought he was “strong” walking in. The instructors are not huge or freakishly jacked like traditional body builders, but I wouldn’t want to bet against them in any contests of strength. The idea is to be able to lift heavy weights but in as efficient a manner as possible, and then to be able to run a mile while the old school body builder huffs and puffs behind you. And you, big guy, are not strong. You are fat and incidentally may be able to lift some weight up. You will learn about real strength very soon.

3. You will begin learning the lingo and using it without feeling like a dork:

  • W.O.D (or WOD): Workout of the Day, this is the combination of exercises, prescribed weights and time allotment that will be the law of the land from the first class to the last. Typically a WOD will consist of one gymnastic move (pull-ups, ring rows, sit-ups etc), one aspect of cardio (rowing, running, jumping rope etc) and one Olympic power-lifting maneuver (back squats, clean & jerks, dead lifts, push-presses etc).
  • RX: When one does the prescribed amount of weight and reps, one is said to have RX’d (as in, he or she followed the prescription).
  • Box: CrossFit centers are not called gyms, they’re called “boxes” and many of them resemble just that. Typically they’ll be in warehouse-like spaces with cement walls, exposed rafters criss-crossing the ceiling and nought but a black mat covering the length of the floors. There are no smoothie bars or aerobics studios in one’s peripheral vision, just the iron bar you’ll hang from, the weights you’ll thrust up above your head and the ground you’ll drip your perspiration and occasional tears into until you feel as though you’ve become a part of the place. This is your box. There are thousands of CrossFit boxes across the country, but this one is yours.

4. Your friends and family will start Googling the term CrossFit and giving you warnings. “Oh, you’re doing that Cross thing, I think I just read something about that…”  They will come across a rare disorder wherein people push themselves past the exhaustion point until their muscle fibers begin to break down and slip through the bloodstream into their kidneys. They will also come across stories about injuries and the like associated with CrossFit search terms. The reality is that these types of injuries can and do occur with any kind of training if taken too far and under the wrong type of supervision. You are equally likely to be injured while ice skating, lifting weights alone, horseback riding, surfing or doing any other type of strenuous activity if you are engaging recklessly and not taking the proper precautions. I would also note that there is an ongoing fear-mongering campaign being waged by the traditional fitness clubs and gyms. They see the proliferation of the CrossFit movement across the country as a massive threat to their membership rolls. There is no possible way that a guy doing his usual leisurely circuit around the same 12 or 15 machines in a gym is ever going to get the intensity of a workout at a CrossFit box.

5. You will get insanely good at counting. Everything in CrossFit is about reps. 20 clean & jerks followed by 10 box-jumps topped off with 30 sit-ups, then repeat five times and compete for time. Think about the counting, the counting down, the mental division of large quantities of reps into small, more manageable-seeming blocks. “Okay, let me get five more then take a breath and then just three more and then only two sets left until I’m three fifth’s of the way through the five rounds.” This is the kind of conversation you’re carrying on with yourself in the heat of the W.O.D. and you’ll become very proficient at counting backward as well – “seven more…six, five more, c’mon, four…” Whatever it takes to get you through.

6. You’ll begin to respect endurance and stamina. When you’re a kid, your idea of strength revolves around how much one can lift, what someone’s arms and chest look like, etc. If you haven’t yet grown out of this idea, you will upon beginning CrossFit. You will begin to be much more amazed at things like quad strength and lower back strength. You’ll be blown away by the ability of others to do hundreds of airsquats or hold various static positions (holding one’s body in a plank six inches above the ground or half-squatting with one’s back against the wall, with thighs perpendicular to the ground and a 20-pound medicine ball pressed to one’s chest. When you can barely get through 30 seconds in these positions but you see someone hold them for 4 to 6 minutes, all of your ideas about what being strong means will be out the window.

7. You will gain weight at first. The most frustrating part of my first month at CrossFit was the weight gain. Simply stated, because you are using muscles that have been out of the game for years, you will be building those muscles rather rapidly, and muscle weighs more than fat. So while you will definitely be shedding water weight puffiness and sweating like you’ve been on a scavenger hunt in a rainforest, the scale will be ticking up not down. This will drive you f***ing crazy. And then, all of a sudden, you will hit that tipping point where the muscle you’ve been adding is burning enough calories each night to have you start to drop pounds. Then you’ll start to see your clothes fit better and your face shrink. All downhill from here provided you keep going.

8. You’ll notice an uptick in energy, even when you’re dead sore from CrossFitting. This new-found energy bounce comes from the fact that you’re dragging less fat around with you all day and you’re breathing easier. You’re putting less wear and tear on your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems and the dividend is you can keep up with your kids and accomplish more each day. The confidence and happiness that comes along with this is self-explanatory. Wait til you see the little and unexpected ways in which these peripheral benefits creep into your daily routine at home and at work!

9. You will learn about your mental weakness. My box, the CrossFit Lighthouse, posts the Workout of the Day on their website each morning. Three weeks in, once I had learned all the various exercises, I found myself hitting up the site and deciding based on what the W.O.D. was whether or not I was going to attend that day. One day I logged on and saw that there were 3 sets of 20 burpees included, which immediately triggered an inner dialog that went something like this: “I just did burpees on Tuesday and I’m still sore, maybe tonight will be my rest night and I’ll go tomorrow and Friday instead.” I realized that I was picking and choosing the workouts like they were on an a la carte menu, “I’ll do this but I’m skipping that because my ankle is acting up.” Once I realized this about myself, I stopped going to the site. I learned what a bitch I could be, and then I learned to deny myself the opportunity going forward. This is one example of many revelatory moments that have allowed me to get to know myself much better and make the appropriate adjustments.

10. You will learn a lot about your mental toughness. You will find that you barely knew yourself at all before beginning this adventure. That you didn’t have a clue about what really made you tick, your own elemental motivations and desires. In the heat of battle, when your head is soaked in sweat and there is nothing but the clanging of metal and the grunting of others around you, you will reach inside of yourself and go to that next level. When you realize that you are 80% of the way through a particularly punishing workout, you will dig deep and find what you need to get through to the other side. It’s there, and maybe you haven’t had to access it in years – decades – but when you finally do…my god. There is an apotheosis underway. And on the other side of an experience like that (or a series of them), you are a lot less hesitant to step into the breach. You have gained a knowledge (or in some cases, a remembrance) of yourself and what you’re capable of. I pity the person, in life or in business, who dares to face off against you once this has taken place. It won’t be fair to them in the least.

In my first three months of CrossFit, I came to grips with who I truly was, how out of shape I had let myself become and what kind of impact a steady and compounding list of physical achievements could have on my daily life. Now I find myself fleeing from the city after work each day at top speed just to make it back in time for a class. I find myself declining virtually every opportunity to drink at happy hours and eat lavish dinners and the like. Anyone who knows me will tell you how out of character all of this is.

But I’ve found a new addiction, something that both takes everything from me – physically, emotionally and mentally – and then gives me back even more than I had before. I’m hooked, and now all I want to do is keep getting better at it.

-Joshua M. Brown- The Reformed Broker

Week of 9/2-9/7

CrossFitters,

I hope your Labor Day weekend has been enjoyable! I know I’m loving the sunshine and extra day of freedom from the work week. As a reminder, there’s no class tomorrow (9/2) due to Labor Day.

Beginning on Tuesday there will be a new CrossFit schedule which I think everyone will be happy about. It goes as follows:

Monday/Wednesday
9:30am
12pm*
5:30pm (This will be a family class taught my Mr. Herrman)

Tuesday/Thursday
6am*
9:30am
3:30pm (Kids class taught by Ms. Kristin)*

Friday
9:30am
4pm
5:30pm (Family class)

Saturday
7:30am

*For the classes marked with an asterisk above, please respond by email (tksports41 at gmail dot com) if you are planning to attend. Only one person has to respond and I’m there, but if not odds are I won’t be at the gym. I would hate for that to happen, so please, shoot me an email! The 9:30am class during the week, as well as the noon and evening classes on Friday and 7:30am Saturday respectively are cut in stone. I’ll be there rain or shine, hail or sleet, though if it snows (since I’m a Florida boy) our WOD will be an AMRAP of snowball making and chucking 🙂

Unless otherwise noted, the CrossFit classes will be for adults and older teenagers (16+). I’m super excited for the expanded schedule! The classes have been steadily growing, more equipment has been bought, and the next stage is to keep on keeping on.

As for this week, we did a benchmark WOD named “Karen”. Good ole’ Karen consists of 150 Wall Balls for time. Yes it’s a lot, and yes everyone in attendance kicked Karen’s rear! I was very proud of everyone. It’s been said that CrossFit is 90% mental, 10% physical, and 100% intense. In a sense, this is true. WODs with high repetitions such as Karen or 100 Burpees are game changers. They make the average person stop and stare. “No way Jose!” they mumble as they pick up their jaws from the floor. But we CrossFitters are a rare breed because we dream about WODs like these and pray for the day they arrive. Well, not totally true. But as CrossFitters we are constantly challenged. Some days it’s our bodies—60 Front Squats. Some days it’s our heart—Thrusters and Burpees. And some days it’s our minds—“Karen”. It’s these challenges that make CrossFit great, and in turn, what make you great, too.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone this week! Shoot me an email (tksports41 at gmail dot com) with questions or to RSVP for a class.

Tyler