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Last week, Kenny hosted two former Navy SEALs (Chriss Smith, owner of Trident CrossFit and CFLA’s own Mark Semos) on his Positivity Project Podcast, and they had a compelling conversation about mental toughness. Early in the episode, Chriss defines mental toughness as “the ability to control one’s actions [and] the ability to control one’s mind to do the arduous things in life.” He then goes on to say that “[mental toughness] gives you the ability to realize that only you are standing in your own way. If your mind is strong enough you can accomplish anything.”

Later in the episode, Chriss and Mark both describe their SEAL training as a window to themselves, or an opportunity that allowed them to look inside themselves and see what they could accomplish. What they saw and learned helped provide them with the mental toughness that was requisite for their job, and they still lean on that mental toughness today.

Now, I probably will never have the opportunity to experience the elite training that Chriss and Mark experienced. But I have other opportunities (of course not on that same elite level) on a daily basis to look inside myself to see what I can accomplish. Some of those opportunities are right here at the gym. Our workouts give me an opportunity to learn about myself. I’ve learned that I’m terrified of difficult tasks. I’m terrified of experiencing discomfort. And I’m terrified of failing. But through our workouts, I’m also learning that I truly am capable of more than I had ever thought possible, both inside and outside the gym. Chriss is right when he says only I am standing in my own way.

This is a powerful concept, and it was high on my mind during yesterday’s workout, which required a great deal of mental toughness. It so happened that I’d listened to Chriss and Mark on the podcast just hours before class. Their words absolutely had a positive impact on my mindset during the workout, leading me to a huge PR. I highly recommend you listen to the episode if you have a chance. You’ll even hear a few sound bites from our very own John Bonds!


Thursday’s Workout
Retest

A) “Cosgrove’s Evil 8”
6-5-4-3-2-1
Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift
Bentover Row
Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Good Morning
**Hold onto bar during each round**
**Rest 90sec between each round**

B) Max reps in 2min
Sandbag ground to shoulder (100/70)

And Coming Friday
Retest

“Lynne”
5 RFR
Max Effort Bench press (BW / ⅔ BW)
Max Effort Pull-ups

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Yesterday, I failed. It was a day at the gym specifically designed to see how much improvement I’ve made over the past 12 weeks in the 20-rep-max front squat. It’s re-test week… and I’m used to actually seeing improvement – even if it’s just a little bit. I’ve been training every week for the past 12 weeks… and been at most of the workouts during which we’ve practiced our 20-rep-max front squat. 

But yesterday… I don’t know. I think the first thing that threw me was seeing for the first time that even with all the training over the past 12 weeks, I was potentially only going to increase my best effort by 5 pounds.  And that 5-pound increase was something I had achieved weeks before… today I felt like I needed to do more to make it “worth it”, even though inside I knew I wasn’t “feelin’ it”. An increase of just 1 or 2 pounds, over 12 weeks… really? Pfffft… hardly worth it. I would do it… and make it count.

I loaded the bar up with 185 – 10 lbs over my best from 12 weeks ago, and 5 pounds over my best effort in this cycle. I psyched myself up… convinced myself that, yes, I could do it… I could do anything. I got through the first 10 reps OK… knowing the second 10 was going to be rough… and by the time I got to 15, I was done. DROP.

I left the workout feeling down, dejected, even feeling like I was a failure. Yes, I know… silly… I’ve achieved so many amazing things over the past 20 years physically, even entertaining the idea that I’m a failure is ridiculous… and yet. There it was. I sat with it – in a straddle stretch after class for 10 minutes… reflecting during that time what I would say to myself if I was my own coach.

In those 10 minutes I found my compassion and empathy… and was able to forgive myself for judging myself as a failure. It wasn’t the failure that was getting me down, it was my own self judgement. Because the truth of the matter is… I’m pretty much anything in life but a failure (I’m sharing this because I’m sure I’m not the only person who has gone through these feelings after a workout at CFLA – and I know that you too, are anything but a failure!)

And then, after compassion and empathy, four words came to mind… the same four words that I used when I opened Petranek Fitness 10 years ago. 

“Show Up. Don’t Quit.”

Today… failure and all… today was a “show up day”. Nothing more, nothing less. And yes, there’s always this to look forward to… there will be plenty more failures on show up days. 

And quit? Hell no. 


Wednesday’s Workout
Retest Week

3RFT
800m Run
800m Row
200m Sandbag front carry (100/70)
**40min cap**

**See August 20 for test results**

And Coming Thursday
Retest Week

A) “Cosgrove’s Evil 8”
6-5-4-3-2-1
Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift
Bentover Row
Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Good Morning
**Hold onto bar during each round**
**Rest 90sec between each round**

B) Max reps in 2min
Sandbag ground to shoulder (100/70)

**See August 21 for test results**

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As most of you know, November 1st marked the 10 year anniversary at CrossFit Los Angeles. This is no small feat. In fact, there are hardly any other CrossFit gyms that can make that claim, and some may never. It makes me very proud to be part of an original-ten box that keeps evolving and getting better.

So, this year’s Holiday Party will be special. It will be a 10 Year Anniversary and Holiday Party – more than a celebration, but an acknowledgement of who we are and how far we’ve come. It’s our diamond anniversary! We’re only 10 once so let’s blow this party out of the water. We’ll dress a little fancier, enjoy it all a little more, get in that photo booth a hundred times, and cheers with our CFLA family and friends often.

Mark your calendars now: Friday, December 12th from 7pm – 11pm.

And there’s an extra kicker: We are having a Member (and Staff) Lip Synch Performance! Find a song, get some friends to perform said song with you, practice a little, then perform it at the party. Simple yet fun, possibly side-splitting funny. You can do a solo act, too, if you like. The song needs to be four minutes or less. You can wear costumes, you can dance (please dance!). The intention is to bring in the next 10 years at CFLA with a highly-entertaining bang. I will set up sign-up sheets by tomorrow. You don’t need to reveal the song – or the name of your group. Just write the participants. Fun!

Lastly, if you’ve been a member at CFLA for a long time, please share old stories and if you have them, old photos. You can email me directly [email protected] or you can tell stories in the comments.

 


 

Tuesday’s Workout
Retest Week

1RM Power snatch (20min)
20RM Front squat (20min)

**See August 19 for test results**

And Coming Wednesday
Retest Week

3RFT
800m Run
800m Row
200m Sandbag front carry (100/70)
**40min cap**

**See August 20 for test results**

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Cycle Six is coming to a close.  It’s time to put the last twelve weeks of  front squats, sandbags, runs, bench pressing, hspu’s, barbell complexes, kipping pull-ups, and snatches to the the test.   Game on CFLA.  Celebrate your growth with PR’s.  


 

Monday’s Workout
Test

3RFT
15 DL (225/155)
50 DU
15 HSPU

**See August 18 for baseline test results.

 

Tuesday’s Workout
Test

1RM Power snatch (20min)

20RM Front squat (20min)

**See August 19 for baseline test results.

 

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Hometown:  San Diego, CA
Age: 25
Occupation: Former Restaurant General Manager; Currently, Niki’s running partner, prepping for the Avalon 50 Miler!
When did you first start CrossFitting?: June 2012
When did you first start training at CFLA?: Nov 2013
Favorite WOD: Anything with wall balls, rowing, or long workouts.
Least Favorite WOD: Anything with any type of gymnastics movements!

Tell us about you sports & fitness background:  My sister and I grew up playing sports. We were the girls playing neighborhood football with all of the boys. There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t at some sort of softball, soccer, or volleyball practice/game. Ultimately, softball was my sport of choice. I played competitive softball all through middle school and high school, and eventually, softball is what got me into college. I was fortunate enough to play for Dartmouth College all four years—starting at first base for every single game. After graduation, I retired from softball. I spent the following years consistently working out and running, but was never able to fill the void of competitiveness or being part of a team that softball always provided me.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? One of my servers (in the restaurant industry) in Scottsdale was constantly coming to work with torn hands and sore muscles, and I was always giving her a hard time about it. Knowing that I worked out religiously, she challenged me to check out her CrossFit gym on their bring-a-friend day. Bored with my mundane workouts, and confident that I was already in great shape, I agreed to go. My first work out was Fight Gone Bad. It killed me—and I loved it. Never have I felt so exhausted so quickly. More importantly, I really enjoyed working out with like-minded people. I signed up that day and have been doing CrossFit ever since.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)?  Most significantly, I’ve seen my mentality of health and fitness change for the better. In college, I used to think working out at the gym had to be a 3-hour ordeal for it to count. I spent many hours at the gym, isolated with my headphones, running on a treadmill and doing ab workouts. Boring! CrossFit has played a big part in redefining my body image. Strength and functionality is what drives me now. I am less concerned about a number on a scale and more focused on being a well-rounded and strong athlete.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? CrossFit has been able to fill the void that softball left. I’m able to feed my competitive spirit while feeling like part of a team. I used to be that person who believed working out with other people only held me back. Now I do not know how I would be able to get up every morning if it wasn’t for my 7am and 8am regulars. For someone who has moved 8 times since graduating college, CrossFit has provided me with a much needed community and family.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: The Buddy Battle was one of my favorite moments. Shout out to RyRy for being the best partner ever! I also really enjoyed the 2014 Open workouts. I feel like those 5 weeks really embodied the spirit and tenacity of CFLA. Mostly, I enjoy the day-to-day. I love my 7am & 8am classes. I love watching people break through personal barriers. Lastly, I truly enjoy “stretching”, mostly talking, with people after workouts.

Any advice for people just getting started?  Humility, especially for people who are already “fit”. We all have strengths; we all have weaknesses. Show up on the days with movements that are difficult for you. Stay consistent. Know your limits and scale things when appropriate.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? Wait… we’re supposed to do things outside of CrossFit? I’m at the gym all of the time! On the rare occasion I am not at the gym, I enjoy surfing, playing flag football (summer 2014 champs!! Woot woot), and playing tennis with my sister. When I’m not outside, I do make time for quite a bit of TV… is the new Bachelor season on yet?


 

Friday’s Workout
Competition

 “Franklin Hill”
6 on the 6:00
**See 10/22/14**

And Coming Monday
RETEST WEEK

3 Rounds for Time:
15 DL (225/155)
50 DU
15 HSPU

Scaling for HSPU:
A) HSPU with head level with hands
B) HSPU with 1-2 Abmats under head
C) HSPU from box
D) Pushups

 

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Did you know that the company Bayer commercialized and promoted heroin as a cough and cold remedy – to children? This practice went on as late as 1912. You might have a vague recollection that lobotomies were once a popular “cure”  for any mental issue from mild depression to schizophrenia. Or how about bloodletting? This practice had been one of the most enduring and popular medical practices in history where a doctor would take a few quarts of blood to relieve the imbalances that were surely the root of any and all illness.

I bring up these wild and outdated medical practices because Gary Reinl the author of the book Iced believes that using ice as a cure-all for our sprains, injuries, and soreness will be the next practice to go on the outdated list.

In his book, Reinl writes about how the original (and accidental) application of ice – involving a severed limb — was grossly misinterpreted to mean that we should use ice for everything, which, he argues, is absolutely not the case. He argues that it can even be damaging.

Reinl confirms that ice decreases inflammation and swelling, but inflammation is our body’s way of trying to heal itself in the case of injury. And why obstruct that?

The argument is compelling. So much so that Dr. Kelly Starrett  the mobility guru, now staunchly advises against icing. No doubt some of you know about this icing debate. For those of you who do and have possibly looked into the debate further – maybe even read the book – have your practices changed?  I know I don’t blanketly prescribe icing any more, but I’m interested to hear what you think.

On Wed, Dec 3, Kenny is doing a podcast with Gary Reinl. We will have the podcast in the Tall Room openly at 7:30pm so we can hold a public Q&A after the podcast. Get your questions ready, but let’s get the discussion going now.

 


 

Thursday’s Workout
Recovery: Practice

A) 5 Rounds for quality (:30:30)
Kipping pull-ups
DU
HSPU
Situps

B) 6 Rounds for quality on the 3:00
Max Effort Bench press (BW / ⅔ BW)
**30 Sec cap each round**

And Coming Friday
Competition

“Franklin Hill”
6 on the 6:00
**See 10/22/14**

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I know that most of us, myself included, think of stress in a negative context. Something to rid ourselves of, or reduce in our lives, so that we can lower our blood pressure, get better sleep, and improve our overall well-being.
 
When we feel stress, it’s usually comes from anger or fear. Anger from some external source (a person or situation), and fear from danger, failure, public speaking, underperforming, making a difficult decision… you know, you probably experienced it at least a little bit today. When we’re under pressure from anger or fear, we feels stress… it makes us want to escape, shut down, or do anything we can to avoid the pressure (i.e. drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping). 
 
But consider this… there is actually a type of stress that is positive. You experience it when you take something on that is “hard fun” or hard work that you enjoy. It’s called “eustress” and comes from the combination of the Greek eu for “well-being,” and stress. Eustress is virtually identical to the other sort of “negative” stress… in fact, under eustress, physiologically, you exhibit the same symptoms – sympathetic nervous system prepping your body for “fight or flight”, elevated heart rate, higher blood pressure, increased cortisol and epinephrine production, and increased blood flow to the heart, large muscle groups and attention control centers of the brain.
 
What is different about eustress, however, is your frame of mind. You aren’t experiencing fear or anger. Instead, you might be nervous, but you’re excited, invigorated, feel alive and full of energy, and you’re confident (since you did, after all, choose to take this “hard fun” activity on yourself.) Believe it or not, this excited invigoration, this stress… it’s way more mood boosting than relaxing.  As long as we believe we’re capable of meeting the challenge, we’re motivated, engaged, and most alive during these “stressful” situations. 
 
So the next time you think that the only way to unwind is to “relax”, consider that there may be other options… reading an all-consuming book, practicing an instrument, playing a game of cards, going for a run, cleaning your house, even playing video games… might just offer you the mind boost and capacity to unwind you were looking for.

Wednesday’s Workout
Recovery: Practice

A) For quality
1 mi Run

B) 6 Rounds for fun and quality
With a partner, take turns to both complete each movement of each round:
30 Double Unders
6 Alt Dumbbell Snatches
5 Sandbag Ground to Shoulder
50m Sandbag Front Carry

And Coming Thursday
Recovery: Practice

A) 5 Rounds for quality (:30:30)
Kipping pull-ups
DU
HSPU
Situps

B) 6 Rounds for quality on the 3:00
Max Effort Bench press (BW / ⅔ BW)
**30 Sec cap each round**

 

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Tuesday’s Workout
Mental Toughness

A) 20 Front squats (+2%)

B) “Rankel”
     AMRAP 20
     6 Deadlifts (225/155)
     7 Burpee Pull-ups
     10 American Kettlebell Swings (32/24)
     200m Run

And Coming Wednesday
Recovery – Practice

A) For quality
1mi Run

B) 6 Rounds for fun and quality
With a partner, take turns to both complete each movement of each round:
30 Double Unders
6 Alt Dumbbell Snatches
5 Sandbag Ground to Shoulder
50m Sandbag Front Carry

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We are wrapping the final five days of the cycle before re-testing next week.  By now, you should have a solid handle on where you are at with kipping pull-ups, HSPU variations and strategies, 20RM Front Squat threshold, and be comfortable moving sandbags around.  

All three Practice Days this week are intended to expose you to the movements we’ve been training AND freshen you up for Re-Test Week.  Tuesday we will observe Veterans Day by doing “Rankel,” and Friday looking to get one last solid stimulus by zippin’ up Franklin. Again the thing so easily lost in all of this is that we can get preoccupied thinking that if it’s a, “hard” workout it’s a, “good” workout…  Next week will be hard enough.  Practice smart, get fresh, come back and rack up some PR’s next week!

Monday’s Workout
Recovery Practice

A) Kipping pull-up skill practice

B) EMOM 15
     1st min: 125-175m Row
     2nd min: 5-8 Dumbbell burpee deadlifts
     3rd min: 10-15 V-ups

C) 7 Rounds for quality:
     3 Snatch-grip deadlifts
     3 Hang power snatches
     3 Power snatches
     **Hold onto bar during each round**
     **60sec rest between rounds**

And Coming Tuesday
Mental Toughness

A) 20 Front squats (+2%)

B) “Rankel”
     AMRAP 20
     6 Deadlifts (225/155)
     7 Burpee pull-ups
     10 AKBS (32/24)
     200m Run

 

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Hometown:  Arcadia, CA
Age: 42           
Occupation: 
Mobile and Web Application for DIRECTV.
When did you first start CrossFitting?: June 2011
When did you first start training at CFLA?: 
June 2011
Favorite WOD:
 I don’t understand this question.
Least Favorite WOD: Anything with thrusters, med-balls or running with a sandbag.  

Tell us about you sports & fitness background:  I was involved in little league and soccer at a young age. I wasn’t very good at them, but I always tried my best and I enjoyed being outside and being part of a group. If I wasn’t playing some organized sport I was outside doing something active like climbing up trees and jumping out of them. I played a little football and tennis in high school, but wasn’t good enough to make varsity. I took up golf after college and started running to keep the weight off, even doing a handful of 10Ks and half marathons. I discovered snowboarding in my late 20’s and I’ve been hooked since. My winters are spent in the mountains and the rest of the year I’m just waiting for winter to come around again.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? I broke my back in Nov of 2010 from falling off a cliff while snowboarding and after finishing rehab I was looking at something to get me back into shape. My friend who had been doing CrossFit for years suggested I try it. I don’t recollect my first WOD, but the thing that stands out for me during my first several months at CFLA was how much I struggled just stretching and warming up during class. I remember constantly dripping in sweat, feeling spent and wanting to quit after the stretching and warm up portion of each class.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)?  I always felt a lot of soreness and discomfort in my lower back due to my injury. It was a pretty constant thing from the time I got up to the time I went to sleep. After more than 3 years at CFLA I often forget that I broke my back. In fact, my back is much stronger than it has ever been. I’ve definitely seen other dramatic changes to my body as a result. I remember losing so much weight after the first 6 months and even more when I did the Whole Life Challenge. One of the best things about the level of fitness I’ve gained is that I can go out do things I enjoy or try new things without feeling destroyed.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected?  I know that I’ve become a much more positive person as a result of CrossFit and CFLA. Looking back my attitude towards myself was pretty cynical and generally negative. I always focused on my failures instead of my successes. Now I’m able to focus on my strengths and work on areas that I’d like to improve. I’m able to maintain a positive attitude despite the situation or environment. As Jonesy would say “I’m comfortable being uncomfortable”.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments:  Triathlon training with Coach Jamie and my teammates, finishing my first triathlon with the CFLA community cheering us on, competing with Pete Mann in the Buddy Battle and having fun and laughing in the 7AM class and still being serious about getting the work done.

Any advice for people just getting started?  I wish I had the one-on-one (Fundamentals) training that CFLA does now with new athletes because they’re getting personalized training on the movements. Focusing on correct form over weight or speed is way more important and will actually help you lift heavy and be stupid fast. Keep at it and keep coming to class. 

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I love snowboarding so you can usually find me searching for powder in the winter. When it’s not snowing I’m usually playing golf with my friends or I’m trying new sports like doing a triathlon. Lately through some encouragement I’ve been rediscovering my love for photography so I’m trying to get out more with my camera (thanks Shirley). I wouldn’t consider myself a foodie but I do enjoy trying new restaurants and new foods. I’ll try anything at least once. 


 

Friday’s Workout
Practice

A) 3 Rounds for quality
200m Run
10 Sandbag front squats

B) HSPU skill practice

C) 5 Rounds for quality on the 3:00
Max Effort Bench press (BW / ⅔ BW)
**30 Sec cap each round**

And Coming Monday
Practice

A) Kipping pull-up skill practice

B) EMOM 15
1st min: 125-175m Row
2nd min: 5-8 Dumbbell burpee deadlifts
3rd min: 10-15 V-ups

C) 7 Rounds for quality
3 Snatch-grip deadlifts
3 Hang power snatches
3 Power snatches
**Hold onto bar during each round**
**60sec rest between rounds**

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