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I’m excited to announce that on Saturday, August 22nd, from 11:30-1pm, I’ll be hosting a Stongwoman Society CFLA Move It Event: A workout/fundraiser for Dress For Success.

D4S is an amazing organization that collects business attire and outfits women in transition – many who have been or still are homeless, many who are, in general, experiencing a very tough time. The clothes are meant to help women go into interviews for new jobs feeling more prepared and confident, buying into the adage that often when we look sharp, we feel sharp. When the women land jobs, more clothes are given to them so they have some variety in their work wear until they are more on their feet. D4S also gives workshops on the interviewing well, resume writing, and the general job-search process. They have helped 850,000 women worldwide since their inception in 1997. I am honored to host an event for them.

That Saturday, bring cleaned, business clothes that you no longer use. Bring items that YOU would wear in an interview. As always at CFLA, we emphasize quality over quantity. Also bring great-quality shoes, handbags, and accessories you are ready to part with. D4S has stated that they are in most need of suits and dresses in sizes 2 or smaller and 16 and larger, but they will not turn away nice items in sizes in between.

We plan on having a fun, team or partner workout that day. Bring your friends of family if you like! Men please come, too, but only bring women’s clothes. If you have no clothes to give, cash donations are great, too. I’ll leave that up to your discretion – any amount acceptable. If paying by check, make out to “Dress For Success.” The workout will not count toward your regular CFLA membership. I will take all the clothing to their downtown office after the event. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Mark your calendars. I’m very excited about this event and hope you are, too!

 


Tuesday’s Workout
Practice Recovery

A) 4 RFQ ≤70 RPE
18 Air squats
12 Pushups
6 Burpees to target
–2-3min Rest between rounds–
–SOMSAVS scoring–

B) FQL, working up across sets
2-2-2-2-2-2-2
Back squats
Accumulate 1000m Running.

And Coming Wednesday
Competition

AMRAP 8
6 OHS
6 TTB

 

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The last three weeks a dear friend and utterly brilliant mind Jami Tikkanen has been staying with me and simultaneously coaching many of the best Crossfit athletes on the planet.  For the last year we have maintained a weekly Skype practice dedicated to sharing concepts, ideas and principles in the pursuit of evolving our craft as coaches. There are many things that we agree on and one of them is that you must allow athletes to recover and workout at the same time. In the video, Jami shares his thoughts on why it is a good idea to reduce intensity and focus on quality.

 


 

Monday’s Workout
Competition

A) FQL, working up across sets
1-1-1-1-1
Deadlifts

B) 8 RFT
5 Thrusters (135/95)
50 Double unders

And Coming Tuesday
Practice: Recovery

A) 4 RFQ ≤70 RPE
18 Air squats
12 Pushups
6 Burpees to target
–2-3min Rest between rounds–
–SOMSAVS scoring–

B) FQL, working up across sets
2-2-2-2-2-2-2
Back squats
Accumulate 1000m Running.

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Hometown: Ft. Wayne, IN / Chicago, IL
Age: Nearing 40
Occupation: Writer
When did you first start CrossFitting? 2008
When did you first start training at CFLA? 2008
Favorite WOD: Anything that takes forever. Any chipper. The best thing that happens for me mentally at CrossFit is when a workout is so difficult and time consuming that you reach a point in your mind that you are thinking about nothing other than the next movement. I love the clarity.
Least Favorite WOD: Overhead squats. When I am trying to get low with weight overhead there’s a feeling of pain and dread that engulfs my entire being. Maybe this sounds dramatic, but judge no man until you have failed to OHS over 45 lbs. in his shoes. If you have ever done a proper OHS in a class that I’ve attended, you’ve probably caught me staring at you in slack-jawed wonder. I have seen people walk in off the street and do a better OHS than I can do, and I have been at it almost 8 years. That said, there’s no mystery to why I can’t do them: I hate stretching and do it rarely and am therefore a big, stiff nightmare. I have to own this.

Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I played basketball in high school, where I was mostly just a hustling spazz on defense who rode the bench for a very talented team, which featured actual future pro athletes. After that, I discovered mild, recreational drug use and decided to give myself over to that for a while. Grew my hair real long, listened to a lot of Dead booters, worked as a garbage man, ate an infinite number of 2am burritos, and swelled up. Then I moved to LA and was like, “I can’t be walking around like this out here, maaan.” So I joined the Y, started playing basketball again, lost ten pounds, and felt great. By great I mean I was only twenty pounds overweight rather than thirty, and that I smoked two packs of cigarettes per week rather than one pack per day. My fitness background is total garbage.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? I learned about CrossFit from my wife’s best friend’s husband, a Marine/awesome individual named Clay. He was doing CrossFit while stationed in the Gulf, told his wife about it, she started doing it, and then she told my wife, Agatha, about it, and Agatha (she’s over at Deuce now, which is closer to our house) said she was going to do it, and I was like, “Look, babe, that sounds weird, and I am doing pretty sweet crushing the elliptical 2 hours a week.” And then she sent me the link to PetranekFit-ness.net or whatever the hell it was called back then, and I saw a picture of three people, post-WOD, crumpled together looking like death in the corner of what appeared to be a gardening shed. This image spoke to me. For reasons I can’t explain, I knew immediately I wanted to share intense experiences in sheds. And I have shared a lot of them, maybe even a thousand by now!

My first workout was the Baseline. Agatha and I met with The Legendary Michael Stanwyck down at the beach when he was just a shirtless guy in white jeans hanging out by the pier teachin’ fitness. So we did the Baseline, and Agatha destroyed me. I think it took me 9+ minutes. I couldn’t do one squat. I went to squat, and my body refused me. I don’t remember how I actually got through them, but I think Stanwyck literally held my hands so that I could lean back and not fall over. After the Baseline I had to lie down and I couldn’t speak for fifteen minutes. Oh, the waves of nausea!

The first “real” workout we had on Day One was Murph. No joke! We did it Cindy-style, with a partner (so, half a Murph), but for crying out loud. I don’t know what the hell Stanwyck was thinking, or if it was some kind jump into the fire deal, but that’s a crazy workout to have be your first official workout, especially if your nutritional routine prominently featured American Spirits and Red Vines. Had Agatha not wanted to keep going, I would have never come back.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? The biggest change was that CrossFit broke me of the smoking habit. I had smoked for fifteen years, and heavily. I had tried to quit off and on, but nothing worked. I have had one cigarette in the 8 years I have been doing CrossFit and that was maybe three months after I started. The other changes have been just as dramatic. I can sort of do squats, I have muscles in my body now, whereas before I’m not sure I did, I sleep better, I eat (marginally) better, and just, mood-wise, I am a much happier person than I ever used to be, even though I am still largely a crank.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? The happiness thing. Becoming happier is not something I would have foreseen. I am exactly the opposite kind of person that thought he would ever enjoy something like CrossFit. I am deeply cynical, so the positivity, conviviality, and optimism on display at CFLA every single day is a thing I need for emotional ballast. I primarily work alone, and writing (for me, at least) is mostly about managing near-constant failure, which can lead a fella to feeling awful blue sometimes, so to be able to go to CrossFit during the week, and get outside my head, and do it with all these amazing, fun people… it has made a tremendous difference in my life. I am so thankful I gave it a shot, and so thankful for every single person who has passed through those doors either as a staffer or a fellow member. CFLA is a special place. The people are so nice.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: The years of accumulated memories of the people I have met, and who I’ve enjoyed seeing everyday and getting to know, those are my favorite moments. Just seeing how people at the gym have grown and gotten better or done something awesome, even if they didn’t realize how awesome it was in the moment. Steven doing a 1pm class with me after he had just done the noon class so I wouldn’t have to do the tough workout alone. Seeing Ken get double-unders or go viral as a Bar Muscle-Up Hero. Seeing Nina PR a squat clean and let out a yelp. Hell, seeing DCD do a 155 lb. squat clean today. I mean, I remember yelling encouragement at DCD to keep running at like his second class, and now the dude is pulling off squat cleans and chest to bar pull-ups like it is no big deal. Moments like that, where you see how people have stuck with it and improved are the best. I also love that thing that happens after every single workout, when everybody is done, and everybody is walking around in a daze like, “Yay, we all just did that.” That communal feeling is awesome.

Any advice for people just getting started?  Just go. This is the most overused piece of advice on athlete profiles, but it’s overused for a reason. For the first four years of my CFLA life, every time I’d think about going, I’d get very anxious. And what I discovered was this: All I had to do was get in the car and go. The mental aspect of getting there was always worse than the actual workout. But I knew if I could just get in the car, then I would make it there, and I would get through the workout, and I would feel better about myself when it was done. Now it’s the opposite: I get very anxious if I don’t get to go. In the beginning you might not feel very “connected” to it because yes, it is strange and intense and there’s all the shouting and grunts, but you just have to stick with it. If I can do it, and stick with it, anyone can.

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I spend a lot of time with my family. My aforementioned wife and our daughter, Lucy, those are my main interests. I am super lucky to get to spend as much time with them as I do. I don’t have a ton of serious hobbies. I write a lot so that makes me not want to read as much as I used to because one starts to hate words. I mess around on the guitar a bit. I watch sports. I grill meats. I like brown liquor, and am interested in that, although as of late I have discovered I feel much better in the morning if I drink tequila. I have even had a bit of a “breakthrough” as of late at CFLA with my WODs coming in really fast, and I attribute this to tequila. Somebody should do a study of the use of distilled, 100% agave products and its relationship to subsequent physical exertion limits. Or, try it yourself. I am partial to blanco tequila with grapefruit soda and lime. Have a few belts some night, and then in the morning, see if you really put the smackdown on a WOD. If it works for you, let me know. If it doesn’t work for you, also let me know. Maybe I’ll do the agave study myself. I can be like Coach Jamie, but for people who are looking to drink tequila as a way to maximize athletic performance.


Friday’s Workout
Competition

“Franklin Hill”
2 Rounds on the 15:00
Up, over, back, and up
–See 6/30/15–

Saturday’s Workout (Yes, you read right … we are experimenting with posting the weekend WOD’s. Please note they are subject to change — to a partner, an edit to a movement — at the coach’s discretion.)

“Remy’s Rod” (In collaboration with Justin Remeny)
AMRAP 25
– score is total rounds of cub complex –
5 med ball Russian twists (20/14)
5 dead lifts (95/65)
1 Cub Complex
10 mbrt
10 DL
1 Cub Complex
15 mbrt…and so on
1 round of Cub complex = 3 cycles of bear complex without dropping bar (power clean, front squat, push press, back squat, push press)

Sunday’s Workout

For total time
3 Rounds:
Partner A completes 10 DB Hang Squat Cleans (45/30), and 10 TTB, while Partner B Rests.
Then Partner B Completes the same 2 movements, Partner A rests.
Then both partners run a 200m run.
Rest 3 mins.
3 Rounds:
Partner A completes 10 Alt. DB Snatch (45/30), and 10 Ab Mat Situps, while Partner B Rests.
Then Partner B completes the same 2 movements, Partner A rests.
Then both partners run a 200m run.

And Coming Monday
Competition

A) FQL, working up across sets
1-1-1-1-1
Deadlifts

B) 8 RFT
5 Thrusters (135/95)
50 Double unders

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“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden

Wow. If you want to be inspired for a moment, just search for a list of John Wooden quotes online, and you probably won’t be able to pull yourself from reading all of them. I was reminded of the above quote in particular during our Coaching Development Program meeting this past weekend. It’s extremely striking, because it directly speaks to what we do here at the School of Mastery.

In our context training we focus not just on the results of our training but also on the process. That process involves purposed effort toward an appropriate priority for any given day. Sometimes we can tend to ignore effort, because it can be so intangible and hard to measure. But it is important. Consider the effort required for a student with well-developed pull strength to complete 10 strict pullups, contrasted to the effort required for a student who struggles with the pull to complete 2 strict pullups. The latter example could very possibly require more effort!

Effort is a constant in our training that should always be praised and rewarded. On practice days, you may not produce produce perfect technique, but you can always make the effort to move with the best technique you are capable of. On Competition Days, you may not be the fastest in the class or as fast as you think you should be, but you can always make the effort to move as fast as you are truly capable of (with safety and acceptable technique). On Mental Toughness Days, you may not be the calmest person in the room, but you can always make the effort to actively engage your mind and control your breath as much as you are capable of.

It’s not merely about having the best quality, best performance, or most composed finish. So just show up and allow your heart and mind to fuel your best effort to become the best you are capable of becoming in the moment.


Thursday’s Workout
Practice

A) Pushup Rager
Focus on shoulder loading

B) AMRAP 12
200m Run
24 RKBS (24/20)

C) FQL
In 20 min, work up to heavy
3 Position clean (low to high)

And Coming Friday
Competition

“Franklin Hill”
2 Rounds on the 15:00
Up, over, back, and up
–See 6/30/15–

 

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A few months ago, I wrote a post about how I fell into a “mental funk” because I was injured, and not moving my body.  Well, after several weeks of physical therapy on my shoulder, I was ready to jump back into the mix at CFLA, and boy did I jump in head first!

Sometimes us Crossfitters feel that we are invincible.  It may be ego driven, or we just feel that way because we perform mentally and physically challenging tasks several days a week.  We continually push our limits in various capacities, to find out just how far we can go. 

During my time in rehab, I started to perform overhead movements with dumbbells and kettle bells, and I was feeling great.  So after several sessions, I decided that it was time to get back on the barbell, just to see how things felt.  Guess what, they felt great, so I pushed myself to go harder and heavier, and couldn’t wait to test out the shoulder in class WODs. 

The only problem was that I had taken off so much time, that I wasn’t fully prepared to handle the kind of volume and strenuous activity that is associated with high-intensity Crossfit workouts.    In one particular recent WOD, I thought to myself, if I can C&J a barbell, I can certainly climb a rope five times.  I had not performed a rope climb in several months, but my “invincible” self told me I would have no problem doing it.  The end result, some tendonitis in the forearm, very painful. 

I had become so eager and driven to get back to the competition, that I forgot about the state my body was in, a state of not being physically prepared for what I was throwing at it.  During my intro sessions when I review fitness and Crossfit with potential clients, I describe fitness as “General Physical Preparedness”.  This concept grabs the attention of those who want to be physically and mentally fit for the range of easy to difficult tasks. 

My point is that I forgot about the practice, the mobility, the warming up, and jumped right into the face of competition.  I should have been more diligent about preparing for the movements, in order to get my body ready for the “fight”. 

Physical fitness should not be considered a race, but instead a lifelong conversation with oneself, your coaches and community, in order to experience the journey that takes us through progress, and into a realm of glory and achievement.  Life is about the experience, not the end result!

I’d like to thank the rope climb, for once again humbling me, and for helping me put more thought into my physical and mental actions and output. 

Wednesday’s Workout
Practice

  1. A) AMRAP 10

10 DB Renegade rows (35/20)

20 Air squats

30 DB Russian twists

  1. B) FQL, working up across sets

5-5-5-5-5

Overhead squats

And Coming Thursday
Practice

  1. A) Pushup Rager

Focus on shoulder loading

 

  1. B) AMRAP 12

200m Run

24 RKBS (24/20)

 

  1. C) FQL

In 20 min, work up to heavy

3 Position clean (low to high)

 

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Like Kenny blogged yesterday, all week we have the pleasure of hosting an onslaught of visitors who are here from all over the world to attend the CrossFit Games this weekend. We attract so many visitors mainly because we are an iconic gym that is one of the original 10 CrossFit gyms in world, but also because we really do love visitors. We get them from all over the world. In fact, on Sunday, we had more visitors than members in one of the big classes. Yesterday alone we had visitors from Alaska, Boston, England, Hong Kong, Ireland, Kuwait, and Scotland(!). We love hearing about their cities, hearing about their own CrossFit experience, and we love sharing our own unique philosophy with them.

When you see a visitor or workout next to one in class, make sure you give them a warm CFLA welcome – they often have great stories. But we don’t have to tell you guys that.

 


Tuesday’s Workout
Mental Toughness

A) FQL, working up across sets
3-3-3-3-3
Presses

B) AMRAP 20
100 DU’s
20 CTB Pull ups
30 Wall Balls
400m Run

And Coming Wednesday
Practice

A) AMRAP 10
10 DB Renegade rows (35/20)
20 Air squats
30 DB Russian twists

B) FQL, working up across sets
5-5-5-5-5
Overhead squats

 

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19 Jul / 2015

Welcome All

As most of you know this is the week of the Crossfit Games. This means we’ll have a handful of visitors checkin’ out and hanging out at CFLA. Simply put, do what we do best – make our friends feel welcome and have fun!


 

Monday’s Workout
Practice

A) FT
20 Strict pull ups
1min Rest
30 Pushups
1min Rest
40 Box jumps (24/20)
1min Rest
1250m Run

B) FQL
20 Front squats

And Coming Tuesday
Mental Toughness

A) FQL, working up across sets
3-3-3-3-3
Presses

B) AMRAP 20
100 DU’s
20 CTB Pull ups
30 Wall Balls
400m Run

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With the 2015 CrossFit Games starting in a couple weeks, Shirley and I were reminiscing about when our own humble CFLA team made the 2011 CrossFit Games by the skin of our teeth, by the grace of our quality. We were a rag-tag crew adorned in unflattering, boxy baby-blue jerseys and of very ordinary ability, especially by today’s standard of CrossFit athlete. But our heart was beyond tremendous; it was unparalleled that year. (What other community would flash mob the Games with the Cupid Shuffle?) That, coupled with our high standard of movement (which made a difference when the workouts were actually judged) and the planets aligning, and the wind blowing in such a way that our sails ballooned perfectly, we made it. It was an amazing experience. One that is deeply etched in CFLA history.

This video of the team training was made by our own Todd Spradlin. It still chokes me up.

 


 

Friday’s Workout
Practice

A) Air Squat Rally
Focus on external rotation with active feet

B) 3 RFT on the 4:00
200m Run
12 Pushups
12 DB Renegade rows (35/20)
–3min Cap each round–

C) FQL, working up across sets
10-10-10
Overhead squats

And Coming Monday
Practice

A) FT
20 Strict pullups
1min Rest
30 Pushups
1min Rest
40 Box jumps (24/20)
1min Rest
1250m Run

B) FQL
20 Front squats

 

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Last week I was away for a little Rest, Relaxation and Recovery and it was just wonderful. I’m very grateful that I could take a little time away even though I truly love CFLA and all of you.  A couple of years back I was at a seminar where we mapped out different pieces of our life and what is looked like. My work was present, my health was in pretty good standing, my relationships were and are slowly being worked on, social life was good, but there was hole when looking at vacation/time away. I am pretty darn good about making time for what I love like fitness, my dog Ginger, cooking and taking  the occasional trip home to visit family, but dedicated time away just for me wasn’t there.

After this realization I had a conversation with a very dear friend of mine who I asked to help me out. She was currently living in Nicaragua and suggested I come visit her. So I decided to take the little money I had saved from the holidays and use it towards my vacation.  At that point my friend had become my vacation accountability partner. So, for the past two years I have taken a “real” vacation and couldn’t be more happy about it.

Many of you ask about making progress in the gym and some of it has to do with what you do in the gym.  But, A LOT of it has to do with whats happening when you aren’t in the gym.  If you’ve asked me about this before one of my first questions to you is: How much sleep are you getting?  Then, what are you eating and how often?  Now lets talk about the mental, do you take time for you meditation, reading, relaxation? All of these fit into how we make progress and how life flows.

Rest: During my time away from the gym rest was on point. When I talk about rest I’m truly referring to sleep. Most nights on vacation I got over 8 hours of sleep, which feels wonderful. I went to be pretty early and didn’t set an alarm (well, except the two days we wanted to catch the sunrise). When I’m at home I shoot for 7 which doesn’t always happen. But its key to feeling refreshed and aware. It also give your body time to heal.

Relaxation: That’s the easy party for me, well at least on vacation.   I hiked, snorkeled, journaled, read and freed my mind from emails, cell phone and busy work. And got to be out in nature.  I challenge you to look at what you do for your mind regarding relaxtion. It’s a key piece to separate yourself from work and all it’s business, maybe get away for a walk, breath for 10 minutes or meditate for a bit.

Recovery:  During vacation I worked a little on recovery, but not too much.  What I didn’t do was CrossFit, which was totally ok by me. I had a thought that I would go in and visit the local one, but I didn’t make time for it. I did hydrate with water and other tasty beverages. I did stretch and mobilize (another key part of recovery). And for being on vacation I feel my nutrition was pretty darn good. We cooked in and made sure to eat green things.

Take a look at your training, then take a look and see if you are getting all the R & R & R you need.


 

 

Thursday’s Workout:
Competition

AMRAP 8
4 Muscle ups
8 Box Jumps (32/24)
16 KBS (32/24)

And Coming Friday
Practice

A) Air Squat Rally
Focus on external rotation with active feet

B) 3 RFT on the 4:00
200m Run
12 Pushups
12 DB Renegade rows (35/20)
–3min Cap each round–

C) FQL, working up across sets
10-10-10
Overhead squats

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Yesterday afternoon, my 81 year old client Pat came into our session and immediately said to me, “We’ve been working together for a few weeks now, and I want to sit down and set some goals.”  I mean, how cool is this lady?  We talked about strengthening her weak side, opening of her hips, and general core strength, all while taking into consideration her arthritis due to aging. 

I found this to be relevant for several reasons:

1)  Pat shows ambition and dedication against adversity.  She knows she may not fully recover to what she was prior to her stroke, however she is willing to work at advancing her newfound “self”, in order to overcome certain obstacles.  She gets frustrated when she can’t do a minor task, but I tell her to use that frustration to combat fear and lack of confidence in something she is struggling with, and she continues to work at it. 

2)  She is performing the activity of just “showing up”.  That’s right, she is showing the F up.  We’ve all heard this before, from teachers and mentors, coaches and parents (well maybe not in that context).  I overheard Kenny and some others talking about this recently, and how personal growth and advancement happens when you make yourself present to opportunities, no matter how big or small. 

3)  Setting goals gives us the opportunity to prioritize what is important to us now and in the future.  It helps us to lay out a strong foundation of where we are as a person, who we want to be, and what’s going to help us get there. 

Perhaps you want to set a goal for 3 months out, that you increase your 1RM back squat by 30 lbs.  It’s important to define that goal, identify and create the path to get there, and then visualize yourself hitting that goal. 

Talking with Pat about her goals gave me the reason to re-visit the goals I had set in the beginning of the year.  I set a number of short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals, that I input into a spreadsheet for clarity.  Needless to say, not all were met at the half-year point, however I am pleased that I am on track and in the process of taking steps towards my passions and what will help me to feel content with myself. 

Life is a lot like a Mental Toughness WOD, for example, “MURPH”, where you just chip, chip, chip away at what is thrown at you, continually keeping your head up, making progress, and being confident that you ARE going to finish. 

Wednesday’s Workout:
Practice

  1. A) 5 RFR (:30:30)

Plank from hands

Strict Pullups

Squat cleans (50%)

Alt pistols

  1. B) FQL, working up across sets

5-5-5-5-5

Presses

And Coming Thursday:
Competition

AMRAP 8

4 Muscle ups

8 Box Jumps (32/24)

16 KBS (32/24)

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