Congrats Freeze Fest Competitors!

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  - Teddy Roosevelt

Biggest ups to the TwinTowners who competed at Freeze Fest this weekend. Addi Rizvi, Amanda Redepenning, Brett Burgstahler, Josh Peterson, Lindsey Burstahler, Matt Onken, Shane Christenson, and Tracy Gabrelcik, we are proud of you!

Crushing “Fight Gone Bad”

IMG_9685On Saturday, members of TwinTown Fitness took on the beast known as “Fight Gone Bad”, and you kicked some serious butt. It was awesome to see so many people give this workout everything they had from start to finish. A lot of you achieved personal bests, and a lot of you threw your hat into the ring for the first time. Great job accepting the challenge and rising to the occasion.

Beyond the tremendous athletic achievements of the day, something else stood out to me: all of you, whether before or after your heat, stood on the sidelines supporting your buddies. You cheered one another on and helped each other push through the pain. This show of support reinforced my belief that our community is truly special. We have a group of dedicated athletes who work their tails off and help each other push themselves to be their best. I could not be more proud of all of you.

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As coaches, we are truly fortunate to be surrounded by such an amazing group of people. For me, it makes this a dream job because it’s like being on a team again. Camaraderie like this is special because it is rare.

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I appreciate each one of you more than I could ever express here in words. You are an awesome group and I can’t wait to see you dominate our next challenge.

Why Molly is Great

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Molly has been a part of the TwinTown community for the past six months. If you have been in a class with her, you probably already know why she’s great. If you haven’t, well then, let me tell you.

The spirit that she brings with her to class is first and foremost – I have just never seen her not happy, and it is contagious in the best way. Molly shows up ready to work, every time. Even before taking on Fran last week (which she clobbered, by the way), she was all smiles and ready to go.

As far as gym-specific progress, Molly is all over it. She is steadily making small tweaks and improvements to her lifts, and watching her numbers go up in the exact, attainable ways we want to see them rise. She is also now just crushing pull-ups without any problem. When she first started she had yet to get them down. After a brief one-on-one with coach Joe, and some persistent practice, Molly is now among the top finishers in our pull-up workouts. Her first swing at Fran as prescribed was in 6:02?! Come on!

Keep up the hard work, Molly. We are all really excited to watch your progress continue!

Play With the Hand You Have Been Dealt

10641030_884241811594016_3771034519819827184_nIf you have been to the gym in the past two months, you likely have seen this guy. He is the type of dude that will walk up to you when you walk in the door at 5:25am and introduce himself. He always has a confident, positive mood that makes people feel comfortable. His work ethic never waivers. He doesn’t sacrifice form to move faster, because he wants to get better.

This handsome gentleman is Scott McMahan. Scott has been an athlete most of his life. He waterskied for the University of Colorado all the way through college.

In the summer of 2009, while waterskiing, he was going around a buoy like he had a million times before when out of nowhere he felt a pop in his shoulder area. He tore his pectoralis minor right off his shoulder.

After the incident, Scott had a surgical consultation where the doctor said there wasn’t anything that could be done to reattach the muscle. In the doctor’s words, “it would be like sewing ground beef back onto a steak.”

The injury put him out for four months, where he did a lot of physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Due to his hard work and commitment to rigorous physical therapy, Scott still skis regularly and also competes from time to time.

He says that the injury hasn’t so much affected the pulling motion, but he feels pain and weakness during pushing movements like the bench press and push ups. Still, Scott hasn’t stopped working out since his injury.

What I really admire about Scott is that he doesn’t let his injury define him. He was dealt a bad hand but he chooses to work through it. Scott will always be successful because he chooses to see no other option.

Scott, it has been fun to have you as part of our community. Keep pushing yourself and having fun!

Abdullahi Abdi has stick-to-itiveness

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Stick-to-itiveness: the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult or unpleasant.

This is the word that comes to mind when I think of Abdullahi Abdi, who has been with us for almost three months now. Since day one, he has brought a good coachable attitude to the gym.

When he first came in it showed incredible courage, because I know that CrossFit, and everything we do, was something Abdi had never encountered before. I remember the first time that he did air squats in class. He came nowhere near parallel, all his weight was balancing in his toes and he looked like he was going to injure himself.

Squats were very difficult in the beginning, but kettlebell swings presented an even bigger obstacle. I could tell it was extremely frustrating for him to learn. We had him using the smallest kettlebell and it felt like the timing wasn’t going to ever click. His spine position was all over the place, he couldn’t send his hips back, lat engagement was nowhere to be found, and the list goes on.

Even though I let doubt slip into my mind, I know that Abdi didn’t. He has bought into the foundations programming. He shows up with his hard hat on ready to work each and every time he comes to the gym.

The strides that Abdi has made are downright incredible. His squats are well below parallel while staying in his heels now. His kettlebell swings have improved to a point I thought would take him two years to get to. His determination to get better at everything he does is an inspiration to all.

Stick-to-ititveness. Do you have it?

 

Get Like Carla

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Carla has been a staple in TwinTown classes for a long time. If you’re predominantly an evening-goer as she is, it would be impossible for you to not have taken class with her at some point.

Never one to skip class, shy away from a tough workout, or avoid a new challenge, Carla has not only improved a great deal since starting with us, but is continually looking for ways to further her progress.

One specific instance perfectly illustrates the drive that I see in Carla.

A few weeks back we were working on overhead squats, a movement that is a significant challenge for even long-time CrossFitters, and I had offered up a substitution for anyone that wasn’t ready or able to take on this technical lift.

As I was walking around checking on the athletes’ progress, I noticed that Carla was struggling a bit and told her that I thought it would be best to either use the substitution, or continue to work on her form with a training bar or PVC pipe. I’ll never forget her reaction. She looked me dead in the eyes and told me that she was “NOT interested in a substitution!”

Carla spent the rest of class taking on the lift with no more than 15 pounds. She could have taken the momentary satisfaction of working with a much heavier weight on a lift that she could handle more easily, but she instead took a more humbling path and spent time working at something that she has been wanting to improve at for some time.

No, she didn’t master the overhead squat by the end of class. She did however get better at it. This very much sums up the work ethic that I see in Carla when I have the pleasure of coaching her in class. Carla continually works her butt off, takes on new challenges, and is willing to put pride aside in the name of progress when she needs to.

Carla, you’re an inspiration to us all and I can’t wait to see your skills continue to improve even more (especially in those overhead squats!).

Cori Van Brunt Has Grit

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The on-boarding platform for new clients at TwinTown Fitness is our Foundations program. 

Half of Foundations is learning to move your body safely, solidifying your technique, before applying heavier weights to the equation.

This is the easy half.

The other half cannot be taught.

It is a combination of a strong mental attitude, an open mind, and taking coaching cues while pushing outside your comfort zone.

This takes grit.

Four months ago this week, Cori Van Brunt joined our TwinTown Fitness team. Cori exemplifies what it takes to be a successful Foundations athlete.

When Cori first joined, she was nowhere near getting to parallel, let alone below parallel, on her squat. 

Kettlebell swings caused her to severely round her back, and she could not engage her lats on the downswing.

Core stability seemed more like a distant dream than a reachable reality.

Wow! What a difference a few months makes.

Cori’s squat depth is awesome, and she is able to keep her chest vertical throughout.

Her kettlebell swings are a thing of beauty and should be posted on YouTube as a “how to swing a kettlebell properly” tutorial.

And if I were given the choice to have a plank off  with Cori, or walk away, I would sprint in the other direction.

As coaches, athletes like Cori make our job simple. She makes everyone around her better. There might be a touch of competitiveness involved, as well!

From all of the coaches at TwinTown Fitness, thank you for all your hard work, Cori. It is a true pleasure to have you as part of our community.

Keep working hard!

Something remarkable is happening at TwinTown Fitness

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I want to give a huge shout-out to our members at TwinTown Fitness for making it a priority to move with solid form over the last few months.

Whether squatting, snatching, clean and jerking, or deadlifting you have checked your egos at the door and done the right thing in the name of moving properly and safely.

When you take weight off the bar, and sacrifice a potential personal record to ensure you are able to complete each rep with rock-solid mechanics, it inspires your peers to do the same.

When you pump the breaks instead of charging forward because you feel a flaw in your form, you prove your commitment to doing things the right way.

By making it a priority to dial in your technique, you have collectively raised the bar and set yourselves up for big-time gains in the long run.

There are no short cuts to success, and you prove time and again that you are willing to put in the hard work necessary to achieve your best, knowing that you probably won’t see immediate results.

This is tough to do, but having the backbone to focus on form has become the norm in our gym.

It fires us up as coaches to see this happening, and it makes every day we work with you a pleasure and a privilege.

Keep up the outstanding work!

The Success Of Tracy

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Well, after a picture like this, there isn’t really much I need to say about Tracy’s success. Tracy is always down to work hard and her progress is evidence of that, to say the least. If you’ve been in class with her, you also know the ever-upbeat presence that accompanies such determination. Here are some words on Tracy’s story; I hope it’s the inspiration for you that it is for me…

Being bigger than everyone else has been such a big part of my life that I often forget that I have a “story”. I do know that I have come a long way though so when Coach Peter asked me to share my story I was happy to say yes.

My story starts when I was REALLY young, but we won’t go through all of that. Let’s start at college graduation. When I was 255 lbs.

Like many with weight issues, you just think one day it will go away or you’ll start losing weight. That didn’t work out so well for me, so in 2008 I finally took the first step. I joined Weight Watchers. By the end of that year, I had lost almost 60 lbs. I eventually stopped WW in 2013 because it just didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore.

My next milestone came in 2012 when I joined Gold’s Gym. Starting with simple stuff, I eventually decided to take on a Warrior Dash to see if I could finish it and I did in September 2012. It surprised the heck out of me that I made it through, so I signed up for an 8K and crossed that finish line in 52 minutes in March 2013.

Enter the “Tracy, you do know you’re insane right?” stage.

In 2013 I set a goal to finish 10 races. I met that way too soon, so I upped the ante to 20 races. I finished many distances up to a half marathon, completing a total of 16 races, that last on Thanksgiving morning. The training for all of these races started to take a toll on my body and I didn’t like how I felt, so I called it a win and stopped running races.

Around the start of races, I also joined CrossFit in January 2013 after being told by a friend that I would love it (sure nailed it there). From day one of my fundamentals class, the goals started rolling through my dreams of what I could lift and do with time. Never ever did I dream of or think I could or would compete. Well, that was a lie. February 2014 brought Freeze Fest Team Challenge, May 2014 is Twin Ports Raw Powerlifting Open, June 2014 is The Dakota Games, August 2014 is the Twin Cities Weighlifting Open and September 2014 is The Granite Games.

Forgive me for sounding cliché, but out of all of it, CrossFit has been the life changer. I gained a huge support system through joining and am constantly challenged and learning more. It honestly has made me a completely different person for the better both physically and mentally.

It took me thirty years but finally I have endurance and stamina. I ENJOY getting tired and sweating. I don’t watch the numbers on the scale anymore, count calories or points. I weigh much more still than people think. Why? Because I have muscles. Actual muscles. I have lost 19 lbs of fat mass and gained 8.6 lbs of fat free mass (this is anything not fat on your body, including muscles) and my body fat has gone down 8.6%.

I am healthy for the first time in my life.

Beginning: 255 lbs, Size 22/24
Today: 179 lbs, Size 8

“A Trip Impossible Without CrossFit”

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There is nothing more fulfilling in this line of work than hearing about the real-world changes that people’s improved fitness are making on their lives. That said, you can imagine how pumped I was to get this email from Matt a couple weeks back, detailing a recent hiking trip he had embarked on with his son. Matt’s strides since starting at TTCF, his attention to detail in class, and his pure determination to succeed make him a model athlete. If you know Matt, you probably already know this about him. If you’ve never met, please read his story to see what he’s all about:

 

A few weeks ago I went to Hawaii with my 10-year-old son Owen.  One of the highlights of the trip for us was getting a remote backcountry wilderness cabin in the crater of Haleakala National Park.  To reach this cabin we had to start at approximately 10K-feet of elevation and hike about 6 miles down the Sliding Sands Trail.  The cabin itself is located at about 7500 feet altitude.  We spent two nights there, and had to pack in all food and supplies.  My pack weighed about 50 pounds and Owen’s weighed about 20 pounds.

 

The hike down was relatively uneventful, with nice weather, gentle winds, etc.  The hike back out, however was totally different.  Once we left the crater floor, we hiked directly into a cloud.  Visibility was cut down to a few feet, we had driving rain the whole time, and a 40mph headwind.  Temperature was also down to 45 degrees.
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This hike out was one of the most strenuous experiences of my life, both physically and mentally.  I had to carry Owen’s pack on my front in addition to my own for much of the climb.  The trail itself consisted primarily of wet sand and rocks.  And of course, the higher we climbed, the thinner the air became.  So that describes the physical hardships.  But I also had to be mentally strong for Owen.  He was really struggling, and I had to keep his spirits up.  Inside I was ready to break, but outside I had to keep it together.
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I’m telling you all this because I am convinced that I would not have been able to do this hike out had I not been doing CrossFit with you guys for the past year.  Just knowing how to use my legs properly allowed me to climb that trail in a way that kept my legs from dying.  The increased endurance I’ve built up allowed me to keep going when the air got thin.  My increased core strength allowed me to do this while carrying 70-plus pounds worth of pack.  Mentally, the WODs I’ve been through have rewired my brain into realizing that something that sounds flat-out impossible really isn’t, especially if you break it down into small steps.  I would look up the trail into the mist and just tell myself, “get to that next ledge, get to that next turn.”  And I would say those to Owen as well, helping him break down this impossible climb into possible segments.

This experience has been a transformative one for my son and for our relationship.  He doesn’t realize it, but he’s changed.  He used to whine about carrying his gear when he would have to go to ski practice or races.  Now, he volunteers to carry his own gear and his sister’s.  He gladly helps his mom with groceries or laundry, without thinking about it.  Is he physically stronger than before?  Maybe slightly.  Is he mentally stronger than before? Exponentially, and it’s all due to how my time at TwinTown CrossFit has changed me.