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?

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?

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.

What is “As Prescribed,” and why do we use it?

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Doing a workout as prescribed, or Rx, is completing the WOD as written, with no scaling or modifications, with full range of motion on each movement.

Rx is not flying through a workout with bad form just to post a good time and see your name on the leaderboard.

For example, if you fail to get your chin over the bar on a pull-up, you have not completed the movement as prescribed. If you don’t pick your shoulders off the ground and get your hands to your toes on a v-up, the prescribed standard has not been met.

I know it’s tempting to fudge this sometimes, and give yourself credit for a rep when the movement standard was not met, but this is not the way to go. I know it isn’t fun to do another push-up because your legs collapsed to the ground, but for me, giving myself credit for a bad rep like this would feel worse.

It is more beneficial for you to take the steps necessary to meet the standard correctly. Whether this means working on mobility or building strength, you will gain from going about it the right way. Plus, marking the workout Rx is extra sweet when it involves a movement you have struggled with, and you have worked hard to achieve.

Trust me, I get it. We all want to click that as prescribed button in Beyond The Whiteboard. When I first began CrossFit, my desire to be atop the leaderboard and Rx all the movements, won. My competitiveness and ego got the best of me, which led to a few frustrating years of injury and hindered my athletic development.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson: Being on the sideline with injury because of the need to feed my ego is lame.

Who cares about Rx. The point is to move correctly and safely. Don’t cheat yourself, or those around you, by claiming Rx when you didn’t do the workout as prescribed. It cheapens everyone’s experience and stunts your development as an athlete.

What movement have you had to work hardest on to complete as prescribed? Which one is next on your list?

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.

One Year in the Books / Moving Forward

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It has now been a little over a year since we started using the workout tracking program, Beyond the Whiteboard. We started using BTWB as a way to help our members record their numbers so they can not only improve on them, but also so they can look back on their journey and realize how far they’ve come.

So, with one year of workouts logged, what are your results telling you? Even though most of us have specific goals in mind for the near future, the ultimate aim is being as capable as possible across the board. It is this broad ability that will apply most easily to your life outside the gym, and keep you healthy and strong for a long, long time.

If you click on the number that represents your “fitness level” on the home screen, you can see, based on the average of your scores, where you stand. The goal here isn’t to be perfect at all of them, but to make sure there aren’t any big-picture elements that have fallen way behind. Looking at these graphs and numbers is a great way to see in a broad sense, where you are at.

These numbers aren’t there to rub your weaknesses in your face, but instead to show you where to concentrate your efforts for the greatest return. If you know you are already a very strong back squatter, maybe work to maintain where your hard work has landed you while you try improving a gymnastics skill that has been holding you back. If you can easily run 10 miles straight, try focusing on some of the faster/short workouts and see what your work yields.

Even if you haven’t been on top of logging your results, it is far from too late to start. I can promise you that this coming year will go by just as fast as the last one did. If you get into the habit now, you will have some real data on your fitness in less time that you’d think.

Working your weaknesses requires a real humility. Athletes of any level will tell you that. The trick is getting to it. Use this system as a tool to figure out what you could use some work on, and get down to it!