A Marathon Ace

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This past Monday, our Lindsey B. set a personal record of 3:23:58 at the Boston Marathon.

Lindsey placed 826 out of 5,948 in her division: females 18-39; her gender placing was 1,021 out of 12,168, and she placed 5,958 out of 26,639 overall.

Are you frickin kidding me!? These are awesome accomplishments from an awesome woman!

Lindsey sets a great example for anyone with goals. She didn’t just hope she’d hit a personal best, or feel that she deserved it, she put in twelve months of work to make this happen. Sometimes Lindsey would run 10 miles in the morning before work then come to the 7:30pm class at the gym that night. This is dedication! But this is what it takes to crush your goals, and Lindsey has mastered the practice.

Lindsey, thank you for inspiring us and showing us that accomplishing your goals can be done through hard work. Your kicking-ass-at-life skills are unrivaled and we are fortunate to have you in our ranks. We could not be happier for you or more proud of you!

LindseywithherMom

Small Steps, Everyday

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What are you doing today to make yourself better?

In the back of our heads we’ve all got a list of things that we’d like to improve at. The list is most likely pretty expansive, but the truth is that if you take regular steps towards a couple of them, you can make real progress.

What trips many of us up in class is getting distracted (even just momentarily) by what someone else is doing, and losing sight of what we really would benefit most from.

We want you to leave knowing that you took one small step towards a better you after every class you take with us. You’re putting forth the effort either way, so you might as well take some time to be specific about your outcome.

If today is a day that you need to hit a workout hard, then do that. But know why you’re doing it. If this is a day that you need to just get moving around, then listen to your body and don’t change plans just because someone else is going full speed. Maybe today is a day when your score doesn’t matter and your focus is on fine-tuning a movement that’s been giving you problems instead.

You could go to any gym and leave in a puddle of sweat – one of our challenges to our members is to be better than blind effort. Be deliberate about what you’re looking to accomplish when you come to class. We are here to help guide you, but at the end of the day the decision is yours.

So, what’s it going to be today?

How Little Things Make Big Differences

1795897_1106266209391574_673943306945917366_o“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek small improvements one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens–and when it happens, it lasts.”- John Wooden

How can you apply this to your workouts?

Elite athletes excel at the little things. They don’t cheat efficiency. They put in the time needed on the basics and only then do they start to ramp up the intensity.

This is the only way you can have something last. You might be able to get away with bad form and still do really well, but it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to you.

If only we could all remember this when the clock starts each workout instead of throwing caution to the wind and just going as hard as possible.

Why not start today? Start with the basics. Do the little things right. If you can’t do the little things right, right away, then that is your starting point. Once you get that down, then you can ramp up the intensity, not the other way around.

How can you apply this to your mobility?

For those of you that were with us back in September, do you remember the Squatember Challenge? How comfortable were you in the bottom of your squat for ten minutes a day?

Personally speaking, it wasn’t very easy the first week. The second week was better, the third week was even better and the last week was awesome.

We did exactly what this quote says and little by little things got better, not at day two or three, but over time. Which means if you want something badly enough you will have to work for it.

Let’s say that you currently are experiencing shoulder pain. Each workout you are faced with two options: 1) you can gut it out and push through the discomfort hoping that it doesn’t getting any worse; 2) you can come into the gym early or stay late working on shoulder mobility and ask for a modification until your shoulder mobility improves or pain subsides.

This seems like an easy decision, but when you are faced with that cool looking workout that has overhead squats in it and you really want to do it, what are you going to do?

How can you apply this to your nutrition?

You don’t have to completely overhaul your diet to notice results. Well, for some of you, this probably is not a true statement, but for those of you who eat well during the week and go crazy on the weekends, there seems to be a glaring way to improve.

Instead of eating and drinking whatever you want on Friday and Saturday, and making that easy call to the local pizza shop for lunch on Sunday, try cutting this down to one day per week instead of the two and a half to three days of terrible eating.

You don’t have to be a complete saint, you can have fun too, but how fun is it when year after year nothing changes and you always feel the same way?

Once you make a little change, continue to do so in other more manageable ways each month, and at the end of the year, look at how far you have come.

How can you apply this to your life away from the gym?

Maybe a way to improve your lifestyle outside of the gym means having a better work-life balance. Instead of grinding through each day because you can, take a hour or two break to do something you enjoy or maybe that your significant other enjoys. Watch how you reduce your stress by doing this everyday over a period of time.

Maybe its shutting down the TV, computer and cell phone two hours before bed, and spending time with people or getting cozy to read a book. I was amazed at how much of an effect this had on me and that the results were almost immediate.

Maybe it’s just going to bed an hour earlier than you are now, or in the case of this quote, going to bed fifteen minutes earlier each week going so at the end of the month you have eased your way into going to bed one hour earlier. Watch how energized you will feel and how ready you are to get out and tackle the day.

There are many different areas in our day-to-day lives that this quote can help us slow down and do it the right way. How else can you make a change in your life by taking this simple advice?

Shoulder Mobility Journey – Part One

In the past, I have documented how my lack of shoulder mobility has held me back and lead to injuries. I have also stated that until I fix this problem, I won’t kip, I won’t go overhead and I won’t be able to reach my goals of walking on my hands, stringing together strict muscle-ups and doing a freestanding handstand pushup.

It’s time to man up and do something about it.

This time, instead of just writing about it, I’m going to show you what my shoulder dysfunction looks like with two basic, but telling, tests.

Kelly Starrett arms overhead test:

For this test, you should stand with your feet hips distance, raise your hands overhead with your thumbs back, elbows locked out, and ears visible while keeping a neutral spine.

Passing this test means you have the shoulder and upper-back mobility to safely and successfully perform movements where your arms are overhead like a pullup, push press, strict press, jerk, or power snatch.

One fails this test when their elbows flare out, shoulders roll forward, and/or their lower back arches. Failing indicates that areas like your lower back will overcompensate for the lack of mobility in your shoulders when trying overhead movements.

Shoulder MOB P1

FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen:

The first step is to measure the distance from your distal wrist crease to the end of your longest finger. You can use a ruler or any other measuring device.

Next, stand with your feet together and make a fist with your thumbs inside of your fingers, like you wouldn’t do if you were going to punch something. Extend both hands out to your sides with your elbows locked out, then reach one fist behind the neck and the other one behind the back at the same time, trying to get the fists as close as possible to each other without forcing it. To test the other side, repeat these steps and switch your top and bottom fists. You may try up to three times per side.

A “passing” score occurs when your hand measurement is greater than the measurement of the gap between the end of the two fists, i.e., your fists are touching or almost touching. If the hand measurement is about the same as the gap between your two fists, or a lot less, then you have suboptimal shoulder mobility.

In most cases, either of the last two results means you will struggle with the same overhead movements mentioned above. Worse, either of these scores, but especially a score where your hand measurement is a lot less than the gap measurement, means you’re likely more susceptible to injury while performing overhead movements. (my hand measures 7″)

Shoulder 2

As you can see from the pictures above, I have a long journey ahead of me. This is frustrating. But I’m sick of dealing with these dysfunctional shoulders, so it’s time to put my big boy boots on and get to steppin’.

I will check in every three months for the next year with pictures of my progress and my quarterly routine to un-stick my shoulders.

Stay tuned . . .

Patience and Consistency

12356774_1100109356673926_228953655148068323_oThis past month I read an article in Success Magazine on James Lawrence, the guy who completed fifty Ironman races in fifty days, in fifty states.

An Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon. To finish one would be an extreme accomplishment, but fifty in fifty days all across America seems impossible.

On the fifth race in, he injured his shoulder which forced him to swim with one arm over the next several swims (which reminds me of Cat rowing with one arm for our 10K benchmark workout a few weeks ago).

On the eighteenth race exhaustion caught up to him and he fell asleep on his bike, but only suffered minor road rash in the crash. Other injuries he suffered throughout included a few toenails falling off, a hiatal hernia, and pushing his body so hard that his heart had to focus on pumping blood to his major organs causing him to lose feeling in his extremities.

How many of these would have caused you to quit? Would these cause you to give up on your goal?

What really hit home with me was what he said he thought about during the races. Sometimes he would have long conversations with himself, but most of the time, it was about focusing on what he would do in the next minute. Lawrence says he tried not to think about how many miles or days he had left; he just wanted to be perfect at whatever he was doing- running, biking or swimming- for the next minute.

Talk about a time where you would think absolute perfection would be the farthest thing from your mind, during this daunting task, but this is what allowed him to stay focused.

In relative terms, how hard would it be for us to focus on making every rep perfect in the movements we do, instead of just doing whatever is needed to finish as fast as possible?

When asked how he did this Lawrence said, “patience and consistency.” He went on to say, “you have to do a lot of things right over an extended period of time. You have to focus on the basics, and you have to be perfect at them. That’s ultimately why I succeeded: I was perfect with the basics, and I had patience. I became an expert at a lot of things, and that’s how I became successful- that’s one of the keys to success if anybody wants to tackle something of this enormity.”

This going back to the basics, really made sense with my goal that I’m working on for 2016. I want to preface what I’m about to say with the recognition that the only way my experiences should even be in the same blog post as something as amazing as what James Lawrence did, was that all I have focused on for the first month and a half of my goal is patience and consistency and just keeping it basic.

My goal is to accumulate 10,000 pull-ups and 10,000 pushups throughout the year. As of this writing I’m a little over 1,000 of each- so about on the pace I will need to keep going through the rest of the year.

I know I set this as my goal because all of my weaknesses in the gym stem from weak upper body strength, but I did not expect to see such amazing progress in such a short amount of time.

Through the first month I can now do bar muscle-ups consistently. Also, I have been doing ring muscle-ups for years, but they have always been an extreme struggle for me, and now I can string multiple reps together regularly. Until the past few weeks, I was only able to do them with a false grip, but now I’m able to do them without a false grip every time. This makes it easier to string together big sets of muscle-ups.

My working regimen for pull-ups are mostly sets of five strict pull-ups at a time and I’ll just do this for about 30-40 reps daily for the most part. There have been days where I have done zero and also days where I have done many more, but for the most part it has been pretty consistent. Pushups are easy for any of us to practice, because you can do them anywhere at anytime.

I’m excited to see the progress that takes place throughout the remainder of the year.

What can you do on a consistent basis to get better at something that has eluded you up to this point?

The Man Who “Thought” His Way Into Partnership

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How many of you have read, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill (pictured above)? This is one of, if not the top business book of all time.

The inspiration that this book gives anyone who reads it is truly endless.

You know how your grandpa, or even your dad, might tell you, “they just don’t make things like they used to,” or a some other similar phrase…well, I truly believe that books just aren’t written like this anymore.

This book is timeless! It was originally published in 1937 and the theme of the book itself is remarkable. And it is still just as true and impactful in 2016 as it was almost eighty years ago.

If you have not read it yet, do so.

Personally speaking, I have read this five times and it gets better each time.

I want to outline the story that begins this book in Chapter 1. Don’t go any further until you have read the first two pages about Edwin C. Barnes.

How powerful was that? The next story- 3 feet from gold is good too if you want to be more inspired than you already are…

What courage does it take to have such a burning desire to work with, not for, but with Thomas Edison, who is one of the greatest inventors and minds in United States history. You don’t even know Thomas Edison, nor do you have the money to pay for the train ride there, but your only desire is to work along side him so you take a step in faith and do it anyways.

Thomas Edison was no fool. He saw the passion in Edwin Barnes eyes and knew he had something special inside of him. He set Barnes on a path that if he worked hard enough, and truly did have the desire to work with him, he would be able to prove his worth over time.

Barnes started off on an even playing field with everyone else. He was not given any extra opportunities, but he truly was dedicated to achieving his goal, no matter how long it took.

When no one else thought that they could do it, Barnes knew he could. He didn’t just do the bare minimum to squeak by, he knocked it out of the park.

Thats how you go from being an “ordinary tramp” to being a business partner of the “Man of the Millennium“.

I’m no mathematician, but I believe a millennium equals 1000 years.

Thomas Edison was the ”person who brought more value to the human race than any other.”

Edwin C. Barnes must have done something pretty impressive to catch his eye.

What is your burning desire?

What do you want to accomplish more than anything in the world? What would you give up to get there?

Do you really have that desire or does it just sound good?  The work that is needed to achieve your burning desire is usually more than what people are willing to do.

What is your desire in terms of your overall health? Are you making any progress towards getting there or are you scared to start?

Besides writing it down and telling someone else what it is, what first step can you take towards that desire?

At What Age Do We Develop Movement Dysfunction?

23428703034_0aa9eae278_oThe next time you’re around a toddler, watch them move. They squat with perfect mechanics and can hang out in the bottom position all day. When they pick toys off the floor their backs are flat and their hamstrings and glutes are loaded. Their movement is effortless and graceful.

My ninth graders on the other hand, move inefficiently with poor mechanics and a lack of body awareness. These guys are athletes; they’re more active than most kids their age, but they still have trouble performing basic functional movements like squatting and deadlifting.

I figure there are many contributing factors to their poor movement, the three biggest being puberty, sitting all day at school and at home, and today’s technology putting their bodies is awful positions for prolonged periods of time.

This lack of quality in movement at such a young age puzzled me. I was curious about when a child’s pure mobility begins to break down. As an experiment last week, I asked my eight-year-old super-athlete of a nephew to squat and pick up a shoe box for me. His squat was flawless, but his lumbar spine was curled when he picked up the box.

I was surprised by this. I know it’s just one kid, but let’s just say for arguments sake that this is the norm: kid’s movement begins to break down at the age of eight. Then what will their movement look like at 18, 30, or 45? Not good.

I mean, I didn’t stare at a computer or phone all day when I was a kid. I learned how to type on typewriter for crying out loud. I was highly active and played sports and games outside all the time. Yet, because I didn’t properly care for myself as a youth, my adult life has been plagued by poor mobility in the most crucial areas for functional movement.

The thought of this is disturbing. I picture a population of Quasimodo-like hunchbacks snap chatting and roasting each other (ask a high schooler about the app) on their phones who can’t perform fundamental movements.

Not all hope is lost though. This scary future is preventable, and some damage is reversible. It will take good old fashioned hard work, but this makes the victory even sweeter. I stress to my young athletes that mobilizing now is crucial, and I give them mobility work to do on their own.

Here are some ideas you can use yourself or share with the kids in your life:

Get up every 20 minutes and move.
Hold your phone or tablet at eye level with a neutral neck position.
Use a standup desk for at least part of your day.
Sit in the bottom of your squat for a few minutes every day.
When moving, be aware of whether or not you are using your core for its sole purpose: to support your spine.
Be physically active, move often.

Movement dysfunction is a snowballing SOB. Stop it before it’s too late.

 

 

 

Pump Up The Volume

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Where has 2015 gone? We have two weeks from today before it’s all in the history books.

Year in review; how did 2015 fair for you?

What big changes did you have in your personal life? Professional life? Gym life?

Did you go forwards or backwards?

Personally speaking, 2015 will be a very memorable year for our family. In March we welcomed our son Ethan into this world and on the last day of April, Peter, Kayser and I became the owners of TwinTown Fitness.

Along with my marriage, these have been the greatest events of my life.

The past nine months have been a blur, but I truly feel so blessed and thankful to be where I am.

So how am I going to top this year in 2016? Simply put, I am not. But I still plan on being the best I can be in every aspect of my life.

Let’s talk gym life here for a moment. We, as a gym, put out goals in 2015. I saw many people achieve their goals, and in a lot cases, eclipse where they thought they could go.

Have you thought about what you want to achieve in 2016? What areas are you going to improve in? What is that BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) that you have in your sights?

Does the thought of your goals give you the willies when you think of it because you have no idea how you are going to get there? Do you have a plan in place on how you are going to get there? Do you have someone, or a group of people who are going to keep you accountable to your goals?

How many of you have put your goals in writing? How many of you have told somebody about them?

If you cannot raise your hand in both instances, I would be willing to bet that you are not going to achieve your goals. Nine out of ten times, when goals aren’t written or told to someone they aren’t achieved because people let themselves off the hook.

I’m curious to hear what some of you are going to be working towards. I speak for all of us coaches when I say this: we are here to help you get there and would love to help you put a plan in place to do so. You just need to ask.

My gym goals are different than they have ever been. There is absolutely no excuse other than, laziness for me to not hit mine this year.

My palms are sweating as I’m typing this because this is very bold for me to put this out here, but I will need you all to keep me on track.

All of my weaknesses stem from the same problem and that is upper body strength and more specifically, weak pulling strength.

So my goals for 2016 will be based on pure volume: 10,000 pull-ups and 10,000 push ups!!

Often times you hear us talk about practicing enough or throwing enough volume at something that you have been struggling on and that alone will typically push you over the hump.

Don’t feel that this is what you need to base your goals on, there are plenty of ways to go about goal planning. Hit us up if you have questions or need help.

Good luck this next year! We want to hear what you guys are working towards. Let us know on Facebook.

“Someday I Will…”

Sarah Leonard

How often do you say, “someday we will have that house,” or, “someday I will get that promotion,” or, “someday I’m going to start to…”

What does your “someday” talk sound like? Have you reached your someday wishes of years past?

How did you reach them? Was it through a definite plan of action or did it happen more by default?

The comfortable way is to just live one day at a time hoping that with your hard work you will someday get to where you want to be.

I recently heard a interview where they were talking about Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of dedicated practice will make you an expert.

What if instead of 10,000 hours, which is around five years at forty hours per week, you focused your time on something more attainable in the shorter term like 1,000 hours (close to one year at four hours per week)? Once you get to 1,000 hours you can reassess to see what kind of progress you have made or if this is truly the path you wish to continue down.

How about if we strip it down even more than that to 100 hours, which is about two-and-a-half work weeks?

But what about those of us that are not dialed in 100% of the time? The theory of 10,000 hours is based on dedicated practice where you are completely focused.

No texting or email interruptions. No phone calls in the middle but rather completely uninterrupted time.

How many hours or minutes per day would you say you are in this zone?

What if you committed to one-and-a-half hours per day to this? Cell phone off, email shut down and no personal interruptions. This 100 hours would take three months to achieve.

But three months is a good timeframe to see how things are going when you reach that point or maybe to tweak your current system to get a little better.

What if instead of 100 hours you dedicated 10 hours to some goal you have at the gym?

Would 10 hours make a difference? What if it was 10 minutes per day? That would be three months of dedicated time five days per week.

How would throwing that kind of volume at your goat, or some goal you’re striving for, help?

Would it bring that “someday” talk a little closer? Would it give you actionable steps to getting there?

This is the time of  year where people start thinking about what they want to do in the next year. Many people make goals but only a small percent have the tenacity to stay after them. I feel it’s because they have no actionable plan of getting there. They are just picking something that sounds good and making it their goal, and it’s the only thing they focus on for the whole year. But can they really say it’s focused work?

Take your someday talk and start small and see how big a difference it will actually make.

“When You’re Green You Are Growing, When You’re Ripe You Rot”

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What an excellent quote from Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s. 

I’m not sure that McDonald’s really believes that food can rot, because I have seen a hamburger and fries that sat untouched on a shelf for over five years and showed no signs of breaking down. The only difference from the day it was put on the shelf, was that it had shrunk to half its original size. True story!

While it’s safe to say that the “Golden Arches” don’t quite have the magnetic power they once did on me, this quote has always stuck with me because of the broad truth that it carries.

When you think of someone who has achieved success, what qualities do they possess? Relentlessness, determination, drive, desire, passion, they scratch and claw, are willing to fight, and will never give up no matter who tells them they can’t have it or says it will never be done.

How many people do you know that have accepted mediocrity? Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now in some areas. So how do you right the ship and change the bad habits that lead you to this trap?

Let’s take our “Squatember” challenge for example. How many of us have thrown in the towel on bettering our squatting ability, or worse yet, accepted that where you currently are is the best you will ever be?

I have witnessed plenty of members take many months to move up another 5-10 pounds on their snatch or clean and jerk. Instead of accepting that they weren’t going to get better, they worked from the bottom up to find the inefficiencies in their form so that they could expose areas to focus on and get better.

Or how about this one? Yep I’m going there… double unders!

How many of us have accepted that we aren’t going to figure them out? Who intentionally dodges workouts that have double unders because they don’t want to face the defeat of not getting them again?

There was a point in my CrossFit journey where I would answer yes to both questions. In fact, two and a half years worth.

Have you heard the definition of insanity? It’s “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

What it took for me was a clear plan of action. I was determined to figure them out once and for all. So every day for a month, I practiced double unders. And every day I got frustrated with them. And then it happened, in a CrossFit Open workout where I couldn’t run and hide from them, I hit one PR on the first set and then another on the next!

I messed up plenty and still got crushed by other gym members, but I had already succeeded in my own mind. I’m pretty sure I floated all the way home that night because it was, and is to this day, the biggest struggle that I conquered at the gym.

What is this for you? What do you run from in the gym? What frustrates you more than anything?

Remember the definition of insanity? Don’t expect that one day you will just get it out of nowhere. It takes dedication, a relentlessness to succeed and determination to not accept defeat.

What has worked for me in the gym and in my personal life and professional lives, has been to develop daily habits towards a goal.

Sometimes the best trick towards achieving what you really want is just throwing enough volume at it. If you really want to get your first pull-up, then spend time on pull-up work every day. If you want to get better at your squat, daily practice will get you there. If you are driven to achieve a goal, put in time on it every single day.

Any of our coaches are more than willing to help you get a plan in order to achieve your goals. The first order of business is to see if you really want it, because if you don’t you will surely quit when the going gets tough. The second is to put in the work. Figure out what you want, make a plan for how you’re going to get there, then get down to business!