What’s Your Metric?

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After a recent class, a member came up to me and told me about his frustration with his perceived lack of squatting progress in his time since starting with us (roughly 7 months). He was confused and frustrated by other people in class lifting more than he was despite all his hard work.

I say that his progress was “perceived” because what I’ve seen in this person is the opposite of how he feels he’s done. When he first started with us, even empty bar squats were a challenge. Just a week ago I saw him squat what must be close to his body weight – with impeccable form.

Sure he still might be coming up short compared to the other people in class, but his numbers show progress in just 7 months that is nothing short of remarkable.

The specifics of this case aside, this is not an uncommon conversation with a new member. “Well, I’ve been here for a while now and I’m still not as good as that person. What am I doing wrong?!” The truth is, if you take notice of the progress you’ve really made, you will realize that you are are actually doing a lot right.

I’m going to be the bearer of bad news here and tell you that there will always be someone better than you at most things you do. Does that mean you shouldn’t keep working? Yep. Just kidding. NO!

A little friendly competition is a good way of keeping a fire lit under your butt. However only basing your progress on the performance of those around you is a recipe for endless frustration.

Track your progress and appreciate it.

Oh, and in this case, the person that I was talking to is one of the best at pull-ups in the gym. I can’t even imagine how many people who can squat heavy weights envy his ability to do pull-ups.

“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!

Attitude is Everything

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In 2005, a friend gave me a CD to listen to from Success Magazine, which featured Paul J. Meyer. This was the first time I had heard of Success Magazine and Paul J. Meyer, but it was something that I will remember forever.

The topic of his discussion was, “Attitude is Everything.”

Over the past ten years I have repeated this simple phrase in my head thousands of times. It, along with others, gives me strength I need to get through a tough time, the courage to take fears head on, helps me to reverse negative thoughts running through my mind.

Attitude is everything in your marriage. Attitude is everything as a parent. Attitude is everything in your relationship with friends and family. Attitude is everything in your career. Look at any aspect of your life and your attitude can affect it positively or negatively, the choice is 100 percent yours.

Every one of us has life happen to us in some regard on a daily basis. It is a choice how we react. How easy is it to just give in and let negativity consume you and drag you down?

The hard thing to do is to take a step back and tell yourself, attitude is everything; and spin it into something positive. That being said, not all things can be spun into something positive, but we have control over the type of character we portray.

Every time you step through the doors to come and workout or to do yoga, attitude is everything! We have all had those days where we let our attitude get the better of us, and in turn, so does the workout.

Personally speaking I have been on this side of the fence and it has the opposite affect on what you wanted it to do in the first place and you walk out feeling even more defeated.

However, I have also had those days where something really bad has happened or I was in the worst mood all day, but by reminding myself that attitude is everything, I have had the best workout, or PR in something that I had been chasing.

How empowered do you feel when a workout can reverse the way you feel or when you get that boost that you have been needing so much?

Ultimately, you have the last say in how you react things that come up. The next time life happens, remember this phrase, “Attitude is Everything.”

Don’t Hide

AEP We all have things we’re good at. We might not like to admit where we excel, but our strengths are still our strengths.

We also have a list of things we would rather avoid than work to improve, both in the gym and out. This list is a pain because no matter how hard we work, it will remain constant. It will undoubtedly change shape as we do, but it will always be there.

What’s on your list? I dare you to write it down and put it somewhere where you will see it. Hiding from what you’re not good at won’t change your desire to improve, it will only serve to suppress you.

Can you run a marathon without issue, but have issues with even the lightest weighted movements? I dare you to scrap your next run and spend some time adding strength work into your program!

Maybe you’re the opposite, and can squat multiples of your body weight, but get winded running down the block. Some time spent training your endurance would serve you well.

Can you do a bajillion push-ups, but can’t straighten your arms above your head? How about waking up and hitting a yoga class instead of adding another hundred reps to your cache? I bet the you of the future would be happy you stopped overworking your shoulders and started getting them moving better instead.

Do you jump at any opportunity to get into the gym to work your butt off but still can’t seem to lose the weight you’ve been looking to shed? If countless gym hours haven’t done it by now, they’re not going to do it tomorrow. You’d be better served taking some time to clean up your eating habits so you don’t have to work so damn hard!

In a broad sense, our goal is to be strong, healthy, happy people. In our pursuit of this goal, we will always be best off if we are as widely capable as possible.

I am not telling you that you can’t work on what you enjoy or are good at, I’m giving you a push towards what’s uncomfortable, in the name of progress.

Don’t hide from your list. The goal is not perfection, but just moving the needle forward. Figure out where you could improve, set aside some time to work on it and give it an honest go.

Why Scaling is Your Friend

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I clearly remember my first CrossFit class. I walked in blind to what was ahead of me, but knew I was in for a good whoopin’.

The workout that day was the Bear Complex; a brutal, multi-round workout consisting of numerous technical barbell movements. My ego may have gotten to the gym a little before I did that day because I was ready to load that bar up and get to work.

Thankfully, I was under the watchful eye of an experienced trainer who explained that I was not going to use more than an empty barbell, whether I liked it or not. This was the better decision.

Looking back on this over five years later, there was a lot that I learned from my experience that day.

First, I learned that even when it’s not what you want to hear, it’s a wise move to listen to your coach, especially if you are new.

Had I loaded the bar on my first day, I am sure I would have destroyed my wrists and probably left feeling like CrossFit was just too hard and something that I would never be good at. Needless to say, I’m very glad I listened to her. (Thanks, Laura!)

Second, I learned that if you never learn how to do something at an elementary level, you will never master it.

We regularly motor through some pretty amazing feats at the gym, but that is not always the goal of training. Sometimes we need to spend a workout (or maybe even an entire class) just working technique. Your ability to do so is a sign of humility and an indicator of true strength, rather than something to be embarrassed about.

Scale appropriately! Just because you are not doing the workout that is written on the board does not mean it is any less work. Plan and talk to your coach about how to make the workouts what you need them to be. When we are doing a workout for time, the last person to finish should not be too far behind the first.

Lastly (well at least for now), I realize the time it takes to really see improvements in yourself.

It’s easy to feel accomplished when your adrenaline is surging after a tough workout, but anyone can do that. Those that are willing to take and appreciate the small steps every time they train, are the ones who will make their strength and abilities last a lifetime.

Short term goals aside, we are all in this for the long haul. Make the better decision when you are in the gym. We are here to help and want you to be the best you can be for a long time to come. If you are scaling a workout (or if you need to be), embrace it! This is your chance to lay the groundwork for something that can make you truly great down the line.

2015 is halfway over…

pull-upThe first half of 2015 is in the books and the second half has already kicked off. For those of you who were with us last December, we asked you to come up with three goals that we could help you work towards achieving, and we promised we would hold you accountable to these goals.

Now that we are just over halfway through the year, it’s time to check in with your goals. How many of your goals have you crossed off the list? How close are you to achieving these goals? How many of you forgot about them completely? Shame on you if you did, but it’s not too late!

No matter where you are with your goals, there is still plenty of time to get there. But the work needs to start now, if it hasn’t already!

For those of you who are new to TwinTown and want to get in on the action, let us know the one most meaningful goal that we can help you reach before the end of 2015, and we will help you get there!

As coaches, our doors are always open and we love helping you get better at whatever means the most to you. Hit us up, yo!

Below are the goals that you submitted to us earlier this year, in case you need a refresher. Now go out there and get it!

2015 Member Goals

Alex Tripp

1) Achieve a bar or ring muscle-up
2) Freestanding handstand/15 foot handstand walk
3) Pistols with both legs

Kristin Gray

1) Strict Pull-Up
2) 50 consecutive double unders
3) Snatch/squat with correct form

Paul Bernstein

1) One rep bar muscle-up
2) Under 5:00 baseline
3) 4:00 1 km row

Anne Carlson

1) Shoulder press-80 pounds
2) 10 Wall walks to wall/15 hollow rocks not modified
3) Run 1/10K in 2015

Emily Nicolai

1)  Murph Rx.
2)  Two strict pull-ups in a row. I can do zero now
3) Body weight clean and jerk. (145)

Morris Stockberger

1) 5 strict pull-ups
2) 20 consecutive double unders
3) 15 kipping pull-ups

Carla Pavone

1) 5 perfect overhead squats with 35 lb bar
2) 10 push-ups using only 1 ab mat
3) Duckwalks from true squat

Cathy Dunaway

1) Unassisted pull-ups – no bands
2) Perfect push-ups – no ab mats
3) Drop 5 more points of body fat

Marc Andrew

1) Avoid back injury. Lift safe.
2) One muscle-up.
3) Everytime I stand up at my office alternate between 5 strict presses and 5 push-ups

Abby Stoddard

1) RX Murph
2)  1.5 body weight back squat
3) Complete flight simulator Rx

 Lauren Manix

1) Be able to do one strict pull-up
2) Back squat 220 lbs
3) Do 10 double unders in a row

Josh Peterson

1) 135 lb strict press
2) 50 consecutive butterfly pull-ups
3) Sub 5:30 mile run

Molly Schull

1) Do a muscle-up
2) Learn how to do butterfly kip pull-ups
3) Snatch 105 pounds with beautiful technique

Nate Larsen

1) Strict hand-stand push-ups
2) Muscle-ups
3) 25 consecutive double unders

Katie Kaufmann

1) 15 V-ups by the end of the year & hold a plank for 3 min
2) 5 consecutive double unders
3) 3 strict pull-ups

Kate Pearson

1) Strict pull-up
2) Chest vertical air squat
3) 7:24 2k row
4) Sub 3hr Half Marathon

Jason Mussetter

1) Use all my classes each month and add a 3rd class to each week
2) Be able to do pull-ups
3) Lose 15 pounds

Henok Tekle

1) 185 lb snatch & 225 lb clean
2)Realize major strides in bodyweight exercises- I’d like to be able to get 10-15 pull-ups in one set.  10 burpees per minute for as long as I can go.  3 Muscle-ups (can’t do even one atm).  Handstand walks (I can do a wall walk now).
3) Increase my mobility by attending yoga

Sopheak Srun

1) Be able to do 15 strict pull-ups in one set.
2) Be able to do a hand-stand (not against the wall).
3) Be able to clean my body weight.

Tom Lahey

1) String together at least 10 consecutive kipping pull-ups
2) String together at least 15 consecutive double-unders
3) Back squat 1.25x body weight (approx 185#, current max 145)

David Koontz

1) 10 consecutive good v-ups
2) 1 strict pull-up
3) 10 chest-to-deck push-ups

Hector Mesa

1) Increase 1 cm of arm girth
2) Increase 1 cm of thigh and calf girth
3) Decrease 2 cm of waist girth

Anna Kerr

1) 10 consecutive kipping pull-ups
2) 50 consecutive chest-to-deck push-ups
3) Bench press my body weight

Rob Williams

1) 5 double unders
2) 325 lb deadlift
3) 1 Pistol

Liz Monsoor

1) Muscle-ups
2) 10 unbroken strict pull-ups
3) Finish Fran under 7 min

Paul Dworak

1) Double Unders: 20 unbroken
2) Kipping Pull-Ups: 20 unbroken
3) Toes-to-Bar: 20 unbroken

Nate Perbix

1) Muscle-up
2) 50 consecutive double unders
3) Oly lifts (snatch, cleans etc.)

Debra Glassman

1) Drop the 14lbs of extra fat that I have put on in the past 1.5 years – goal is 120 (or less)
2) 2 strict pull-ups (with a short rest between)
3) Increase my 1rep back squat by 10# to 135#

Dave Backstrom

1)    Lose 5% body fat or 10 pounds
2)    Do a muscle-up
3)    Learn butterfly pull-ups

Alicia Seewald

1) 5 consecutive, unassisted pull-ups
2) Full v-ups instead of subbing w/tuck-ups
3) Work on back bend/arm balance poses in yoga with the ultimate goal of scorpion

Scott Pollack

1) Pass the dumbbell push and pull for foundations screen
2) One unassisted dead hang pull-up
3) 10 consecutive double unders

Shane Christensen

1) 200lbs Snatch
2) 50ft Handstand Walk
3) 5+ Consecutive Muscle-Ups

Dan Lescarbeau

1) Strict paleo for a whole month without cheating
2) Get down to 210 lbs by may 15th, 2015 (my birthday)
3) Muscle-up by may 15th

 Jess Daniels

1) Be able to do a handstand walk 1/2 the length of the gym (I can walk about 2 feet now)
2) Learn how to do kipping pull-ups
3) String together 4 double unders (I can only do 2 as of now)

Kim Gallant

1) Get at least 8hrs of sleep and do 10 mins of mobility 5 days a week
2) Drink a gallon of water every day
3) 1 strict pull-up

Rachel Holman

1) 10 push-ups to the floor
2) 1 pull-up with no assistance
3) Pass the foundations test

Larry Shaw

1) Multiple unbroken double unders – [10]
2) Kipping Pull-ups – 5 unbroken
3) Clean and Jerk – 210lbs

Chase Anderson

1) Achieve and maintain ≤17% body fat (I have a FitBit scale). Currently at 25% (NOT GOOD).
2) ≥12 consecutive pull-ups without bands and proper form.
3) Be physically able to do ≥25 consecutive Russian twists without resting feet on ground.

Owen Murphy

1) Do 15 consecutive pull-ups
2) Row 2000M in under 8 minutes
3) Strict shoulder press 140lbs

Matt Smith

1) Do a muscle-up
2) Do Memorial Day “Murph” at Rx (no weight vest yet) in under 1 hour:
3) Learn double-unders

Ryan Goeken

1) Double-unders: String together 50 (so I can do Flight Simulator)
2) Snatch: 125lb
3) Pistols: 5 on each leg without a ball/box

Hieu Nguyen

1)Achieve 1 Muscle-up
2)Achieve 1 freestanding push-up
3)10 unbroken kipping pull-ups

Stephanie Allen

1) Lose 3 dress sizes.
2) Workout 3x per week without fail
3) Be able to do 50 push-ups in 3 min.

Elena Erofeeva

1) Unassisted strict pull-up
2) Deadlift bodyweight and more
3) Reach BTWB Fitness Level 30

Brett Burgstahler

1) Snatch 75% of clean and jerk 1 RM- Goal=150# Snatch
2) Clean and jerk over 200
3) Do a muscle-up

Melissa Sayabout

1) 1 strict pull-up
2) 5 consecutive double unders
3) 10 consecutive push-ups

Oksana Bohn

1) 5 strict pull-ups by the end of 2015
2) String together 10 double unders
3) Being able to do a free-standing hand stand

Eliz Trembley

1)    10 consecutive chest to deck push-ups
2)    1 strict pull-up
3)    Sub 7:30 2K before rowing season (April/May)

Liz Mann

1) Do push-ups without ab mats (10)
2) Master double unders… Or at least do 10 unbroken in a row
3) Do 3 unbroken pull-ups- no bands

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!

Taking His Medicine

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In golf, the term “taking your medicine” means chipping out into the fairway instead of trying that heroic shot between ten trees for the one percent chance of hitting the green.

It leaves a sour taste in your mouth to do the right thing, but at least you live to fight another day

Here at TwinTown, one of our members took his medicine and now is reaping the benefits. If you come to the gym in the wee hours of the 5:30 & 6:30am classes, you know who Scott Pollack is

Recently, I asked Scott to tell me about his journey from when he started CrossFit until now. I’m going to let him tell you how it all went down in his words.

“I started at TwinTown in February of 2013. In June of that year, I had to stop with an injury. I have a bone spur in the channel where the nerve root leaves my spinal column and starts to branch out in my neural network. There’s also some disk degeneration that causes narrowing of the channel that houses the nerve root around my C5 vertebra. Most people have disk degeneration of some kind. Disks stop receiving look during our early teenage years. The disks crack, leak fluid, and compress over time, especially if you’ve lived an active life.

Somehow I banged the nerve. I had immediate and constant tingling in my thumb and fingers, traveling up my arm the pain was less frequent, but more intense. I also had weakness and atrophy in my right arm – two neurological red flags. I went from being able to do scores of pushups to not being able to do a single one. I had an epidural injection of a steroid into my spinal column which relieved the symptoms. I didn’t know if I’d need spinal surgery. One doctor suggested I not ever lift anything more than 5 lbs. (A gallon of milk weighs 8.3 lbs.) Another told me his brother had a similar injury. He recovered and was able to resume all the activities he had previously enjoyed. It never happened to him again. He told me to go SLOWLY and LISTEN to my body. I decided to take this course, even though it went against my cement headed nature. (Surprisingly, the doctors let me play hockey. I wasn’t going to question it.)

I went to physical therapy, spending time in traction and doing exercises to strengthen all those stabilizing muscles in my back and neck. I worked a lot with thera-bands and a Swiss ball. Next I started doing yoga. Eventually, I felt well enough to ask Kayser for CrossFit style workouts that I could do at home. I started doing them in February of 2014. I weighed 278 lbs – too many pints of Ben and Jerry’s and too many pints of beer.

By summer of 2014, I felt well enough to return to the gym. I started in foundations 3x/week in July of 2014, determined to work on my form and to continue to strengthen all those stabilizing muscles that would help me do the required movements in a biomechanically sound way. I wanted to go really slowly as my doctor suggested. I stayed in foundations until February of 2015, far longer than most. It took me that long to pass the dumbbell push and pull, which was testing all those atrophied muscles from my injury. During the early part of 2015 I also did the nutrition challenge. The results speak for themselves. I now weigh 228, so I’ve lost an even 50 lbs. since February of 2014. My blood sugar went from pre-diabetic to normal levels. My cholesterol went from elevated to normal. I can now string together double-unders and I did my first unassisted pull-up since the early 1990s.

I continue to try to go slowly and focus on form. In the long run I’ll make more progress by going slowly and avoiding the injury/recovery/starting over cycle.

I’d also like to thank the coaches who hung in with me during my recovery. I’d only worked out for five months and then took me almost a year to rejoin the gym. They were supportive throughout. Getting back was important. I love the TTFitness community.”

Scott exemplifies what it’s like to have a goal in mind, to put it out there and then have the dedication and determination to reach it. Make sure to give Scott a pat on the back when you see him.

Members like Scott make this community what it is. We love having you as part of our family Scott! Keep working hard and keep reaching for those goals!

Put Your Head Down And Go To Work Like Tom

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Tom Huynh has been a staple at TwinTown Fitness since 2012. He shows up with his helmet on and his chinstrap buckled, leading by example every time he comes to the gym.

Tom never complains or takes the easy road. No, Tom pushes himself and tests his limits. You have probably seen him on the ground in a puddle of sweat and pain after just giving it his all in a workout. This is the only way Tom knows how to work when he hits the mat: 100% or nothing. It is inspirational to watch for members and coaches alike.

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Tom’s work ethic, grit and desire to improve make him a dream to coach.

Tom, you put the “beast” in beast-mode!

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.