We Wouldn’t Trade You Guys For The World

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In our day-to-day endeavors at the gym, as coaches, we have many things that a lot of gyms and businesses would be really jealous of. We share in the victories and challenges that you all face each day.

But here is the kicker, you guys grind it out day-in and day-out because you want to, not because you have to. There is no monetary reward for what you do. This consistency is intrinsic, and is what makes it so beautiful to watch and be a part of.

You guys show the heart and determination that I have only seen in organized athletics. The type of work ethic where you don’t want to let the guy or girl next to you down. Work ethic where you push yourself to the brink of failure, to complete exhaustion, and sometimes to the point of barfing.

We as coaches may not express it enough, but you make our jobs so rewarding. The thing that pushes what we have here to the next level is our community. And that is one hundred percent you guys!

In the past few weeks we have seen so many inspiring pictures, videos and posts from you guys. Here are a few of them: “There’s No Crying in CrossFit”“How to Become a Better American in 39 Minutes”“CrossFit Confessions”.

We would not trade you guys for the world. Thank you for those of you that have shared what this place means to you, and we know there are a whole lot more of you than we displayed here!

There Are No Shortcuts To Success

no shortcuts

One thing I noticed during this year’s CrossFit Open is that it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and try to take on more than you can handle.

I get it, you’re competitive and you want to post a good score. But if you don’t check yourself and do it the right way you won’t be posting any scores because you’ll be on the sideline with an injury.

Believe me, I learned this lesson the hard way. When I began CrossFit I let my ego, pumped up from past athletic success, take the lead and it got me into trouble. Bad form and a big ego are a recipe for disaster. Just ask my shoulder.

Maybe you were a stud athlete in high school, or maybe you just want to challenge yourself. Either way, take caution. High school was probably a long time ago, and I bet you didn’t walk out there with the varsity in whatever sport you excelled at and dominate on your first day. No, you put in time honing your skills and working on fundamentals. You need to take this same approach at the gym.

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If you have bad form, or you’re not confident in your technique, back off on the weight you’re using and slow your roll. There is no sense in personal heroics; you’re only going to injure yourself or reinforce bad habits.

Master the fundamentals. Without solid fundamentals you have little hope of succeeding. Accept the challenge to get better and attack it with everything you have, but don’t try to take shortcuts. This way, when you’re ready, you will be able to reach your full potential.

Why meatheads need yoga

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Can you deadlift 400 pounds, but not touch your toes? Are you able to do dozens of pull-ups, but unable to reach your back in the shower? Are pistols and handstands out of the question because it is uncomfortable or impossible due to range of motion deficiencies?

How are your overhead squats? Are you able to keep your heals on the ground, getting full depth on your squat, all while keeping the weight centered over your head?

Some, or should I say a lot of us laugh or snicker when asked how often we do mobility or yoga. But we will puff our chests out and brag about the countless hours of lifting that we have done in the past week.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. The difference between those who can consistently snatch 200+ pounds isn’t strength, but flexibility.

I would bet on someone with mediocre strength and good mobility, over someone with great strength and poor mobility any day. Why? Because a high-powered athlete with poor range-of-motion is going to be nursing injuries on the sideline.

What does the Eat Well challenge have to do with my mobility?

For those of us that participated in the Eat Well challenge, not only did we improve our diet and overall health, but more importantly we learned the power of discipline. We saw the effect of our channeled energy towards one main goal. We now know what foods our bodies can tolerate, and which ones we cannot.

The Eat Well challenge had no shortcuts. There wasn’t instant gratification in the sense of that quick fix, like you get from that slice of cherry cheesecake.

You had to put in your time, punching the clock day in and day out, as you marched towards day 45 where your goal would be complete.

I dare you to do the same with your mobility!

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My best recommendation would be to go to a yoga class. This takes the guess work out of trying to figure out what to do, for us meatheads out there.

One or two yoga classes will not give you a bodyweight snatch. But over time an active yoga practice will give you quicker recovery, better focus, increased balance and fewer injuries that keep you from WOD’ing. The list of benefits goes on.

Just know that you have to put your time in. Yes, you will feel amazing when you walk out of yoga each and every time, but the gains pay for themselves.

Nothing in life is free

Marc Armbinder had a fascinating article in the The Atlantic. The article is wide-ranging and thoughtful. The author makes many good points particularly on the subject of national health policy.

I agree with many of Armbinder’s points. However, he poses a thought experiment which I can only characterize as irresponsible. He says:

armbinderThere is a way to beat obesity. But it is radical and expensive. No other diet or weight-loss approach is remotely as effective as bariatric surgery….The only way to cure obesity is to radically rewire the relationship between the stomach and the brain. Diet and exercise can’t do that as quickly or as well.

This perspective troubles me deeply and illustrates the vast gulf separating the CrossFit community from everybody else. Here are few thoughts:

Bariatric surgery might make you thin, but can it make you do a pullup? Body mass is an important corollary to good health, but so is functional capacity. Having a stomach the size of a walnut won’t help you do useful things with your body.

Anyway, who says being healthy should be quick and easy? The consumerist mindset that makes us think we shouldn’t have to get out of our car to eat a hamburger is the same mindset that makes us think we should be able to buy our way out of obesity.

The notion that our stomach/brain circuitry is responsible for obesity is too slick for me. We’re not robots guided by microchips. We make choices. Yes, the agribusiness lobbies make it harder to eat healthy, but YOU are the one holding the fork, and wielding the pocket book.

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As a former obese person, I have great empathy for Marc Armbinder. When you’re fat, the world around you feels like an obstacle course devised in an evil lab by a bunch of hateful thin people. I know this.

Who knows, if I hadn’t discovered CrossFit I might have tried bariatric surgery. Luckily for me it didn’t come to that.

The Summer I started CrossFit I had a 44 inch waist and weighed about 240 pounds! Desktop1After about eighteen months of CrossFit training three times a week I weighed 160 pounds. (Today I walk around at 170.)

But body mass is only part of the health picture. Let’s look at functional capacity.

I’m 43 years old. I snatch 205 and dead-lift 415. I’ve done 10 consecutive muscle-ups. I run the mile in 6:00 flat. Those are respectable numbers for a twenty year old. They are very good numbers for a 43 year old. Would bariatric surgery or fad diets have given me the physical abilities I have today? Not a chance.

Working on myself has not been even remotely easy. After a fifteen hour work day I want to eat Ben & Jerry’s and Doritos in front of the TV just like everybody else. Many days, working out and eating healthy food is a struggle. But I refuse to be part of a culture that is pathologically devoted to convenience and quick fixes.

Nothing in life is free. I learned that in CrossFit.

The long game

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I had an interesting conversation with one of our athletes the other day. She expressed frustration that she is usually the last person to finish the WOD and that she gets steamrolled by the workouts.

This particular athlete is special in that her technique and range-of-motion is always above reproach.

If your last rep is as perfect as your first, and if you never cheat on range of motion, you are going to get pretty tired. In all likelihood you won’t be the top finisher.  But you’ve still achieved a more durable and meaningful victory than anything that can be expressed on a whiteboard.

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We have another athlete who never cheats herself.  She is consistently a top-finisher and can hang with anyone, anywhere.

Both are exemplary CrossFitters. So what’s the difference between Athlete A and Athlete B?

Time.

8 Week Pull-Up/Push-up Program

10430456_938849396133257_2568539751138169983_nDo you remember what your 2015 fitness goals are? How are they going? Have you made progress? Have you started to work towards conquering them?

Out of everyone who submitted there goals, “strict pull-ups” where the top goal with 50% of you wanting to improve them, or in most cases to be able to do them without any assistance.

Another 25% of you hope to be able to improve on your pushups or to ditch those abmats for good.

Instead of running clinics on these movements like we are doing for most, if not all of the rest of people’s goals, starting March 1st we will be rolling out a Pull-up/Pushup Program.

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Even of you did not submit a goal on either of these elements, and just want to get better at them, you are ALL welcome to participate.

The cost of this program will only be the time that you need to put in to get the results you want, which in turn will be the results you deserve.

The program will run for 8 weeks, with different requirements depending where your initial test results are.

The initial test for pull-ups will be: 1) Set of 5 with the least amount of band resistance. 2) If you can do pull-ups without band assistance, then you will record a max effort set of strict pull-ups.

The initial test for pushups will be: 1) Set of 10 with the least amount of abmats possible. 2) If you are already doing chest-to-deck pushups, then you will record a max effort set of chest-to-deck pushups.

After you record your initial test results the program will look like:

-Pull-ups- You will do 3×3 with the least resistance that you can or, if you are not using resistance you will do 3×5 for the entire first week every time that you come into the gym (either before of after workouts)

-Pushups- You will do 3×10 with the least amount of abmats that you can or, if you are not using abmats you will also do 3×10 EVERYDAY at home or when you are at the gym.

So to recap, Pullups will take place at the gym when you come to workout (the more days you come, the more practice/the better you will get at them). Pushups will take place EVERYDAY regardless of where you do them.

You are allowed to take as much rest as needed between sets. If you are doing your pull-ups before or after class, you must stay out of the way of the class. If they are using the pull-up bars, then you will have to wait.

The full 8 week schedule will be sent to all participants, and will also be posted around the gym so you know what to do at all times.

If you would like to be part of this let us know, email goals@twintownfitness.com and let us know what your initial test results are for both pull-ups and pushups. Also, indicate what type of assistance you used. We will be discussing this further in our daily announcements and all coaches will be able to answer questions you have.

Last but not least, this program will conclude on April 25th, where we will retest both of these elements. Coincidentally, April 25th is exactly one month before Memorial Day (March, 25th) this year, where we will be participating in the workout “Murph”!

Spoiler alert, there will be a pull-up kipping clinic between the end of this program and “Murph” to really hone in your skills, so that you can PR or participate for the first time in this event.

CrossFit Callus Care

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The opposable thumb is the main anatomical feature that makes humans functionally different from apes. Our ability to grab things is essential for tool use. Every time I hit my thumb with a hammer I howl thanks to the human genome.

As all CrossFitters know, the downside of repeatedly grabbing things is that you develop big gnarly calluses after a while. You know that you have CrossFit hands if your spouse recoils in horror when you attempt a tender caress.

Tender caresses aside, the practical reason to take care of your paws is that if you leave calluses unattended they’ll pinch and tear leaving you with a big, scary wound that looks like Freddy Krueger’s face on your hand.

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Lately I’ve been using this shaver from Trim that I bought for like $2 from WalMart.  It rules!  In the picture you can see smooth patches underneath my middle, ring and pinkie fingers.  Those used to be calluses and now they’re smooth like butter.

Now that my hands have been restored to velvety softness I can’t wait to go to CrossFit and smash something with them!

Beginner’s Mind

shoshinIn some ways experience is a burden.

First, the longer you do something the more preconceptions you have about it. It’s difficult to learn if you think you have all the answers. How great would it be to let go of your mental clutter so you can be eager and inquisitive again?

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Second, experts are encumbered by vanity. You see this all the time in CrossFit when an experienced athlete sinks into a mindset of “win” every day rather than learn every day. Why does this happen? Because when you’ve been doing CrossFit for a long time, it’s hard not to let your self-worth become enmeshed with the white board.

In Zen Buddhism this notion is expressed in the term shoshin, which translates somewhat clumsily to “beginner’s mind”.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few. ~ Shunryu Suzuki

Chase Anderson’s One Two Punch

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How do you attend twenty-two classes in thirty days?

There are two different approaches.

1) Yeah, many people can probably push themselves to make it to class three out of four days for a month. But what they may find is that they are not recovering as they wish, they feel over-trained, or they develop nagging injuries.

2) You can work smart and work hard, like Chase Anderson. Chase sprinkles in 1-2 yoga classes per week into his attendance, so that he can keep WODing. If you look at Chase’s strength, mobility and recovery dials, they are all pointed north.

Chase started off in our Boot Camp program, and in December decided to give Foundations and Yoga a try. He has not taken his foot off the gas or looked back yet.

He is the perfect example of allowing the programs to work for him. He moves safely and intentionally in class without compromising his form.

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Chase did not take any short cuts. He put in his time in Boot Camp, passed his Foundations screen on his first try, but stayed in Foundations for 2 weeks to learn the movements and our crazy acronyms/lingo while hitting up Yoga. Now he is beasting out in WOD classes.

If you want to steadily improve, take the Chase Anderson approach. Don’t sacrifice form to be one second faster or put up extra pounds. Help your body recover and mobilize properly by going to Yoga (oh and in case you don’t know, Yoga also helps you recharge mentally). Add this to an already awesome work ethic and you will become a coachable athlete with maximal potential.

Keep up the great work Chase. We love having you as part of our TwinTown family!

One Step At A Time

10422080_942381635780033_319106715722349795_nOf the people who submitted their goals for the New Year, 20% of you eluded to wanting to improve your body composition. Countless others have mentioned wanting to improve their body comp in class and one-on-one meetings.

For those of you not doing the Eat Well Challenge, what is your game plan? Do you have one?

Does losing weight, increasing lean muscle mass, decreasing body fat, or whatever your specific goal, really matter to you?

Or was it just a logical goal to put down that is more wishful thinking than anything, and if you happen to stumble across it through 2015 it would be a job well done?

One month of the year is already past us, some who started off on the right track have now resorted to their old ways because it is comfortable common ground that they have to put very little time and energy into doing.

If you haven’t read coach Kayser’s blog post from last week, do so. To echo what he is saying in four words, “nothing good comes easy”.

Isn’t that true for anything that you have accomplished in life? Don’t you feel great when all of your hard work has paid off and you achieve what you put so much effort in to?

Sure we all want to win the lottery, but you have a better chance of being struck by lightning, so why not have a backup plan.

Whatever your goal is around body composition, does it seem like an insurmountable mountain to climb? Does the thought of it alone just depress you or make you nervous to even take the first step?

One of the great life lessons that I have learned from this Eat Well Challenge, is just that- you need to take the first step. Personally speaking, and you can ask my wife or any of the coaches how nervous I was to begin this challenge, I was actually more scared of doing this challenge than taking a step into fatherhood, which is now around five weeks away.

How foolish! Looking back the thought of not being able to order that pizza or grab a fresh pack of Swedish fish whenever I wanted was terrifying! I now know how stupid I was for saying and thinking that way.

For the past five weeks, I have told myself just to keep taking that next step; keep putting yourself in smart situations; keep your eye on the prize.

I can honestly say that I feel the best that I EVER have! Not only because of my physical health, but because I have done what I said I was going to do. I did not take the easy way out. Mentally I feel as strong as ever, because I know how hard I worked in just this short amount of time to get to where I am. I would not have changed a thing!

What is holding you back from getting started on your pathway to achieving your body compostion goals? Fear, procrastination, laziness? Ditch your excuses and get a game plan together.

If you need help with putting together a plan or being held accountable, hit up your personal coach.

Take the first step towards climbing that mountain in your life. Don’t look back; keep taking those small steps, all while keeping your eye on the prize!