Get to Know Cat

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Adding to our continually-growing list of amazing coaches at the gym, we are pumped to have another quick interview with the next new face in our staff. You probably know Cat already, but in case you haven’t met, here are some questions that’ll help you figure out what makes her tick…

How long have you been doing CrossFit for and what got you into it?
I have been doing CrossFit for almost 5 years now!! I have been a competitive athlete my whole life (minus maybe like ages 1-4. I was really into working on my coordination during those times). During my late 20′s I started doing a lot of races, which included 10k, half marathons, marathons, and triathlons. During the off season AKA below zero weather, I was constantly trying to find different forms of fitness to keep my mind and body active. A good friend of mine from college told me about CrossFit and to try a drop-in class at her gym. I absolutely fell in love with the sport from day one! The coach that taught class my first day seriously looked exactly like Chuck Norris. I still brag to this day that Chuck Norris taught me CrossFit.

If you could instantly see significant progress on three movements, what would you choose to improve?
Ring Muscle Ups, they haunt me in my sleep sometimes. Snatches, because my limbs are like that of a giraffe. And cardio movements, like biking and running. I want to be quicker! Like a prancing deer!

What’s the one workout element that you wish you would never have to do again?
V-ups. I am the worst at them! It’s like my legs and arms can’t figure it out! One of the two always seems to arrive late to the party at the top of the v-up.

What aspect of coaching is most appealing to you?
I love being able to help people advance in their fitness goals. Whether it’s to crush the workout of the day, push to get a new pr, or accomplish a movement that they have been working on, it seriously makes me so excited!!!! It also inspires me to push myself a little harder.

You had a pretty serious shoulder injury last year that would have put most people on the sidelines for some time. What did you do to push through that time to get to where you are now?
Injuries suck. It has that capability to set you back physically and mentally. For me, I did not allow myself to think I wasn’t able to be in the gym just because I was limited in my movements. I created ways to be able to exercise so I could still be moving, as well as exercise with my friends at the same time. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have my times of absolute frustration. But with amazing support from a community like TwinTown, my family, friends and my partner in crime, Matt, I have been able to stay positive and patient during this recovery. So, keep moving, be patient with the process, and always remember that people are here to support you!

What was your favorite CD (yes, CD) in middle school?
TLC’s crazy sexy cool

Favorite YouTube clip, GO…
I could sing this song for days:

There is rumor circling the gym that you hate puppies. Is this true?!
Let’s be honest, I am most likely to be the one to steal your dog and then act like its my dog, and then when you question me, I will act like you are crazy person for even questioning me!! I seriously hug every dog I meet. You can’t take me anywhere.

We’ve been considering investing in some elliptical bikes for the gym. Would you be willing to try one out in a workout sometime?
I didn’t even know an elliptical bike was a thing. Heck ya I would!!! But only if we could find a rower that rows down the street, as well. I would like both movements.

We are beyond fortunate to have the amazing coaches that we do at TwinTown. Each addition that we make gives us even more ability to make our members better. We hope you like the additions to our roster as much as we do!

Meet Coach Josh

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We have a few new coaches joining the staff in the coming weeks! We’re excited about it and we know why we like them, but we want to make sure that you know why they’re awesome, too. Josh is the next up, so there’s a short interview with him so you can get to know what he’s all about.

You’re now living Minneapolis. Have you always lived in this area?
Yes, born and raised in St Paul, MN – I haven’t ventured too far from home.

What are some gym-specific movements you’d like to get better at in the next year?
The Olympic lifts will always be my favorite thing to work on to try to continue to improve. That said, I need to work more on the movements I don’t like so much – to that end, I am determined to master handstand walks and build my deadlift strength.

You have more of an endurance background than a lot of people. Tell us a little about what you’ve done over the years and what the switch to CrossFit has been like.
As a result of me being awful at standard ball sports and my mom not allowing me to say no to being on a team at school, I grew up a swimmer and runner. That transitioned into an interest in triathlon and distance running through college and the subsequent years thereafter. After a few marathons, many triathlons and one full Ironman, I needed a change of pace. I found CrossFit through friends and fell in love with the challenge and social bond it offered. From trying to do Fight Gone Bad at LA Fitness (rower upstairs and someone stealing my barbell downstairs) to a pieced together home garage gym to TwinTown – the journey has been a blast so far and I’m excited for what’s next!

Everyone begins coaching for different reasons. What made you want to take on the challenge?
It is inspiring to see the gym and members continue to grow and develop. Before I became a regular at the gym, the thing that kept me coming back to TwinTown was the quality and attention placed on the coaching – I could not be more excited or humbled to have the opportunity to help play a part of that role going forward.

We’re going to need to know your favorite YouTube clip…

If there was only one local restaurant that you could eat at for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Burch – hands down best wood fired pizza that I’ve found anywhere (and I’ve tried a lot) – oh, and the Small Treats, so good!

What are 5 events/things/activities that would make for an ideal weekend for you?
Coffee, fitness, nap, dinner at a new restaurant, cocktails

Latest show/series you’ve binge watched? (No judgment, we promise!)
Narcos

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE LACROIX FLAVOR?
This is hard as my love for LaCroix runs deep but I’d have to say Pamplemousse

Josh will be coaching our Sunday classes for the time being. Come by for class or Open Gym and get to know him! Welcome to the team, Josh!

My/Your First Month of Yoga Classes

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I vividly remember my first yoga class. I went to the Uptown Core Power yoga studio with a friend who had managed to convince me that I was somehow not going to be laughed out of class. I was able to not take myself too seriously as I fumbled through the postures, and ended up leaving feeling less embarrassed than I thought I would.

My friend knew that it would take some time for me to get used yoga, so he stayed on me about attending. With a good amount of prodding, I made my way through no less than 3 classes per week for an entire month. Despite the initial discomfort and insecurities, I came out of that month a changed man.

I have been an avid yoga proponent ever since. I find it such a helpful form of mental and physical therapy for myself that it’s something I’m constantly trying to get others to jump into.

Looking back on where I got my start, I know that I wouldn’t have had the same experience if I’d just gone to a few classes. It was the repetitive practice and slow, small physical adaptations that got my head wrapped around the fact that this was actually something that I could benefit from.

Think about how hard it is to get used to any new physical challenge. Most people don’t walk away from their first run, CrossFit class, etc., feeling like they’re very good at what they just tried. It takes time to adjust!

Because we have seen first-hand the good that comes from taking on a full month of yoga, we want to offer the same experience to you. From 10/1 through the end of the month, all of our yoga classes will not count towards your weekly classes. On top of that, anyone who participates in 10 or more classes throughout the month will receive a free 10 class punchcard to keep the ball rolling (members on unlimited plans will receive a discount on their next month).

We could not believe more in the good that can come from a regular yoga practice. Now there are less excuses than ever for not making it happen. Commit to the process and I promise you will be happy you did when you come out on the other side.

Our Yoga Program is Growing!

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We are excited to announce a new addition to our yoga program’s teaching staff! Beginning next week, Meg will be leading our weekly Yin class (please note that there is a schedule change happening next week, too!) We’ve had her in a few times to lead classes, and all of them have run extremely well. We know you’re going to enjoy having her as a teacher as much as we have.

We put together a few questions for Meg to answer so you can learn what she’s all about. Here goes…

Tell us three things about yourself that you feel sum up who you are.
-I’ve been to twenty countries. It all started when my whole family moved to Australia when I was six years old.  I love to travel any chance I get!
-My spirit animal is a squirrel.
-My happy place is outside, preferably in the Minnesota Northwoods.  The wilderness has a way to captivate my attention unlike anything else.  It’s especially magic if there is a cabin involved to cook epic meals & for crafting purposes.

What’s the CliffsNotes version of your experience with yoga?
About 6-7 years ago, I tried seated meditation for the first time after stumbling across an audio CD at a second-hand bookstore. I was hooked, & began practicing yoga at Common Ground Meditation Center.  Eventually, my sister introduced me to Your Yoga slow flow classes, & I’ve been practicing there ever since.  I went through their teacher training program in the spring of 2014 & taught there for about a year and a half before I moved out west last winter (I still sub there any chance I get).  I’ve also gotten the opportunity to teach in some obscure places: a resort in Tulum, teaching middle school students in the BWCA, at a music festival, in a barn…… I love how teaching & practicing yoga so strongly support one another.  It’s really hard to only answer a Cliffnotes version of my yoga experience, because I could go on forever about yoga.  It’s made such a impact on how I relate with myself and the world…it has been quite a game changer.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities to eat at?
Oooohhh…probably Birchwood Cafe!
I love that they change their menu with the season, & support so many local farmers. Plus, it’s just a handful of blocks away from my house.

This is an important one… What’s your favorite youtube clip?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=L7ZDymkidHA
(Basically any baby/cute kid videos will do)

What have been the best and worst movies you’ve seen in the past year?
Best: Colonia. I usually don’t have any interest in watching violent movies, but this one taught me a lot & made me cry.  Plus, Emma Watson.

Worst: I can’t remember the name, which is probably for the best. It was a foreign film about a horribly creepy meat market…I think I tried to erase it from my memory.

Favorite candy as a kid?
Fantales (An Aussie candy).

What does an ideal day free from responsibilities look like for you?
Coffee & bead work (I love to make jewelry on my hand-built wooden loom) at a cafe with a patio. Bike & go on a walk in my parents backyard (the Minnesota River Valley Bluffs), or by the Mississippi River.  Grab lunch with my friends & go to a MN lake to swim and endulge in some sun-soaking.  Take a yoga class that includes yoga nidra.  Go to my parents house for a family dinner listening to James Taylor on the backyard deck & enjoy the sunset.  Watch the movie Little Women with my mom and sister and eat popcorn.  Read poetry (Rumi, Kahlil Gibran, Mary Oliver, or Nayyirah Waheed) until I fall asleep.

What would you like to accomplish most with your time at TwinTown?
In teaching, I’d like to get to know the students who come to class & get a sense of what is important for them in a yoga class. I hope to contribute to a space where practitioners can relax & connect with their most authentic selves.

Come meet Meg and see why we like her so much! She’ll be leading a yin class on Monday evenings at 6:45 beginning 9/12!

Meet Coach Matt

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We’ve got a number of new coaches slowly making their way onto our roster. The first to begin taking on classes is Matt. In order to help you get to know these new(ish) faces, we put together some grueling questions for them to answer. We are extremely excited about the upcoming additions to our already solid staff, and we hope you enjoy having them as your coach as much as we do!

Lets start with some basic stuff. Where are you from, and where do you live now?
I grew up in Roseville, MN and now I live in Uptown. I love Minneapolis!

What was your CrossFit/workout experience prior to starting at TwinTown?
I was always a weight lifter, with a little running and sprinting here and there. I discovered CrossFit through a small blurb in Men’s Health in 2007 and, with no idea what it was, started trying it out at a community gym. I spent the next 5 years following the main page workouts at Globo Gyms (I got a lot of weird looking running back and forth from barbells to treadmills and pull-up bars) and out of my garage. I finally decided to join TwinTown two years ago and wish I would have done it sooner.

What does an ideal week of workouts look like for you?
I like to workout 6-7 days a week, with a couple of those being lighter days based more around mobility, body weight movements or endurance, and usually some long, beefy workouts on the weekends.

What takes up the majority of your free time throughout the week?
I love trying new restaurants. My girlfriend, Cat, and I are always looking to find great food and cocktails. Minneapolis is awesome for that. Other than that, I am usually hanging out at the gym, or searching for flights to go exploring somewhere.

If you were stuck with only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Pizza. Do I need to pick 2 more?

What’s your all-time favorite Youtube clip?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lz0IT4Uk2xQ

If you could drop everything and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Zimbabwe. Ever since I read about a gnarly white water rafting trip there a few years ago, it’s been on my list.

You’ve only been at it for a short time, but what has been your favorite coaching moment thus far?
My favorite coaching moment actually just happened. We were working on heavy jerks, which was a fairly unfamiliar movement to a lot of athletes in my classes that day. Walking around, I found that different cues and coaching tips registered with different people and there was a distinct moment with each of them where they went from not getting it, to getting it. It was amazing.

What do you hope to do at TwinTown down the road?
I get real excited about new programs and events, like the Running Skill Series or the race we just put on, Push. I’m hoping to continue finding creative ways to bring new ideas and events to TwinTown.

What Does Eating Well Mean?

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In my last blog post, I wrote about how important it is to eat well. While the benefits of keeping your diet clean are valuable for all of us, what the specifics look like can vary from person to person.

I’ve come to a place now where I know what works pretty well for me, but it took a lot of trial and error to get here. It also took some open-mindedness to realize that just because I’d heard that eating a certain way was best for someone else, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for me.

Here are a few thinking points to guide you as you’re working your way towards eating the way that allows you to feel best:

Do you have energy throughout your days? Energy doesn’t have to mean a highly-caffeinated buzz, but it should mean that you’re not dragging yourself through every waking moment of your day. If you notice defined spikes in your alertness throughout the day, I would be willing to bet that a lot of what you’re dealing with comes from the food you’re putting into your body.

Does the doc tell you that what you’re doing is working? If you’ve been “eating healthy” but have received less-than-amazing reports back after your last check-ups, it’s time to start making some changes.

Are you happy with how you look? This sounds vain, but feeling good about your body is something that instills confidence and happiness in many other aspects of our lives. Usually looking fit is just a happy side effect of our body being happy with what we’re putting in it. Yes, there are plenty of ridiculous exceptions to this, but you’re smarter than falling for the next quick fix.

A couple years ago, I heard Robb Wolf (one of the main proponents of the paleo diet) give a talk where he opened up with something along the lines of “If everything I’ve told you eventually comes back as wrong, we can’t be afraid to burn the house down.” I’ve carried this with me ever since.

It’s a worth-while endeavor to take a step back every once in a while and examine where you are: is the way you’re eating/living really allowing you to feel your best? It’s not the end of the world if what we’re going isn’t prefect, but we cannot be so dogmatic about our approach that we’re afraid to make changes. At the end of the day if what we’re doing is broken, we need to be willing to fix it.

The Granite Games – Join the TwinTown Community

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In 2015 a group of us from TwinTown participated in the online qualifier portion of The Granite Games, a three-day competition taking place in St. Cloud in September that last drew over 1000 participants from everyday CrossFitters to CrossFit Games athletes. It was an amazing experience. With the 2016 online qualifier just around the corner I was reflecting on why it was so cool, and what made us want to compete even though we knew we had no shot of being the best.

For me, it came down to the energy and excitement that simply can’t be replicated in the workouts we do on any given day, and the way we came together as a community to face them together. There was the anticipation and predictions each week as the workouts were about to be released. The nervous excitement as we shared ideas and strategies. Walking into the gym on Sunday morning as we all got together to workout. The motivation to redo a crushing workout because you KNOW you could have done more or gone faster, if for no other reason that to prove to yourself you can. There is the friendly competition between us at TwinTown facing off against each other. The chance to see how we as individuals, and we as a gym, stack up against our peers across the state and even the country.

For 4 weeks in 2016, from June 9th – July 4th an Rx, Scaled and Masters WOD will be released on Thursday. TwinTown will be programming the workouts for classes on Fridays and will have an alternate time to complete (or redo!) on Sunday at Open Gym. For those of us who have competed before, we are eagerly awaiting this years qualifier. Will you join us? Perhaps you will represent TwinTown Fitness at this year’s Granite Games! Also this year, all online qualifier participants are eligible to register for the open registration teams of 3 competition – no qualification necessary.

Sign up for the online qualifier and select the TwinTown Fitness Community during registration. Let’s tackle this challenge together. For all register athletes there are weekly prizes given at way at random – Kill Cliff, jump ropes, gift cards. Plus, if 25 people join our community we have the chance to win amazing upgrades to our gym, such as new rowing machines and Assault Bikes!

The Best $3.00 You Will Ever Spend

Lax_ballNowadays, what can you get for $3? An RX Bar? A bag of Giants sunflower seeds? Three Powerball tickets? Not much outside of these, unless you are one who frequents the “golden arches”. Then I guess you could get a double quarter-pounder, a McChicken and a value French fries.

Well, there is one more thing that comes to mind that would be worth your $3.00: a lacrosse ball. Of the aforementioned items and almost anything else out there for the price, can you get more than one use out of any of them? Probably not.

The white lacrosse ball that I purchased early on in my CrossFit journey has seen more places on me than anyone except my wife. It may not be the pearly white ball that I once had, but it has lost no value in my mind.

Over the past couple of years, the lacrosse ball has become more widely known as a mobility tool than as what it is ordinarily intended for. Here are a few practical uses for one outside of the gym:

Mobilization for the desk-jockey:

  • In some cases you don’t even need to stand up to mobilize. Start with the ball just above the back of your knee, on your hamstring. Keep it there for five minutes, then slowly move it closer to your buttocks until you have it right on your glute. The people who know you do CrossFit already think that you’re weird, so prove them right and help yourself out while you’re trapped at work.

For the standing desk-jockey:

  • This one will take slightly more effort on your part, but at most about 2%. You will slide one shoe off and stand on the lacrosse ball. The amount of pressure you can put on it will increase as your foot starts to loosen up. Typically, I start on the ball of my foot, with my toes curled around the ball. Try to let it sink into your foot instead of just rolling it around. You will notice how when you relax, your muscles start to let their guard down and allow you to really make some progress. I have spent an hour on each foot on more than one occasion, but I’ve also done quick sessions when I don’t have a lot of extra time on my hands.

Airplane travel:

  • A wise man, you may know him as Matt Onken, once told me to bring my lacrosse ball on a plane and mobilize while you cannot do much else. So, recently I had a three and a half hour flight to California and I brought my lacrosse ball. It was the longest mobility session of my life, but I also felt like a new man walking off that plane, which I have never been able to say before. I did the hamstring/glute one from above but also my entire back. This one is really difficult: you need to find any spot on your back and just lean against it. I started on my upper back and worked it around different areas for about five minutes each. I watched two movies and fell asleep all while getting in some quality mobility work.

There are literally hundreds of uses for this little devil. Spend some time with your lacrosse ball in areas that you need it the most and I guarantee you’ll start to feel better. Any of our coaches would be more than happy to recommend some of our favorite tips and tricks for putting the lacrosse ball to work. Just ask if you’re in need of some recommendations.

Work With Yourself, Not Against

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You know what’s the worst? Waking up and checking the clock only to realize your alarm is just about to go off. I really dislike that.

What’s really the worst though is when hard working people burn the candle at both ends in a frenzy of exertion, while trying to be healthier. Specifically, I’m talking about the attitude that “as long as I crush myself in the gym, I can do whatever else I want and still be a healthy person.” This is like driving with the parking break on, and seeing the only solution as continually pushing the gas further and further.

I’m not here to be the cookie police, but for goodness’ sake, be reasonable, people! If your constant goal is to punish the bad food you’re eating out of your body every week, it’s only a matter of time ’til the wheels fall off.

Here’s something to consider: If you’re working out hard on a regular basis and are still carrying around excess body fat, continuing to work harder and harder is probably not going to get you what you’re looking for. What’s the solution when your weight creeps up again? Now you need two hours per day of craziness to make progress?! I’m exhausted just thinking about that!

Intense exercise is a stressor on our bodies. It’s a stressor that we get positive adaptations to when done properly, but when we go hard, our bodies do break down a little bit. It’s the process of recovering (eating well, restoring range of motion to our joints, sleeping, etc.) that makes us better.

The circle of binging, only to “work it off” is an exhausting, and not-productive way to live (and I can promise you eventual burn-out after working your butt off for so long only to see minimal changes). There’s no one workout/eating template that works perfectly for everyone, but take a second to think about what you’re doing and be honest with yourself about whether or not it’s working.

I want nothing more than to help the people that I work with, but part of that is also on you. So, help me help you, and be good to your body when you’re not in the gym.

What the Running Skill Series Taught Me

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Do you enjoy running, or do you hide from it? Is it a way for you to relax and calm yourself down, or the exact opposite? Are you part of the 80% of people who get injured when they run, or are you the happy minority?

If you’ve had negative experiences with running, what was it that caused you to dislike it so much? Does running make your workouts exponentially harder? Is it boring? Do you hurt yourself every time you try to run?

For me it was all of the above, especially the last one. For as long as I can remember, I have had shin splints when I’ve gone running. This dates all the way back to my high school football days, where the only time I wouldn’t feel them was when the adrenaline kicked in during a game. Even running the bases in softball was tough. It would almost make me want to not try for anything more than a single so I wouldn’t have to limp further than to first. To most recently when we would have a running workout in CrossFit and I was forever resigned to rowing.

I tried all kinds of running shoes, orthotics, shin compression sleeves, you name it I’ve tried it.

I remember about a year ago when I hurt my wrist and couldn’t do many of the gym’s workouts. I was sick of doing squats and sit-ups, so I decided to go for a run because I couldn’t stand sitting around anymore. I was going to run all the way around Lake of the Isles without stopping, or at least that was my hope. But just in case I needed to stop or my shin splints flared up, I had my wife follow me in the car blaring the Rocky 4 soundtrack as I ran in my all-gray sweatsuit. Just kidding… well only the rocky 4 part. Everything else actually happened.

To my surprise, I made it all the way around the lake without stopping once. The second farthest run I’ve ever run. Well, for the next week I could barely walk because my shin splints were so bad.

So needless to say I hated running!!

As a competitive guy it always bothered me that I couldn’t run and I’d have to scale to something that I knew my body could handle. Six weeks ago I decided to do something about it and forced myself to take on the uncomfortable task of  joining the TTF Running Skill Series.

This clinic is designed to teach you how to run with the proper mechanics, and mobility that is required. At this point I had tried everything else, so why not.

We started off with a heavy dose of mobility and how to treat any hot spots or places we tender after running.

Think of it this way. If you are deadlifting with a round back a coach sees you doing it, what is their response? Do they say “well that was terrible, now try one hundred more until you get better?” No! A good coach will correct any faulty mechanics immediately, and will point out any movement/mobility issues so you can work to improve them.

Why should running be any different? Because it’s a basic movement and we have been doing it our whole life?

Week by week, we increased our running and every week I had no shin splints. Fast forward to week six, back on Lake of the Isles for thirty minutes of straight running. Once again I made it all the way around without stopping, but this time no shin splints. The next two days I ran again, still no shin splints. I was amazed.

This course taught me something that anyone can learn. It taught me how to run without pain and how to supplement my activity with proper mobility tricks to keep me moving.

If you are someone that has pain every time you run, or if you were like me and avoid running at all costs for fear of injury, you should check out our next Running Skill Series on May 23rd.

Take control of your workouts instead of letting them dictate what you can do!