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Our growth and evolution as human beings often begins with a shift in perspective. We get stuck if we view — or insist on viewing — life from limited angles. But often we can expand our understanding when we are willing to respect another’s experiences — and listen.

My perspective on Memorial Day “Murph” was challenged and broadened yesterday. During our annual “Murph” event at CFLA, I was changed for the better because Mark Semos put some things in perspective, from his perspective. As part of SEAL Team Five, he has seen and experienced things I never hope to, but I gained a deeper understanding because he has.

“Memorial Day is just another day to me,” he began. “Every day I wake up and think of my friends who have died next to me.”

Though he spoke in a near whisper, this set the tone for the twenty minutes of story telling that followed. He is admittedly very reserved, but he expertly wove in CFLA’s own context and philosophy of practice into the storytelling. “You need skill and heart to win anything. We practice the majority of time here at CFLA. CrossFit gyms don’t do that, but we do. To become a SEAL I practiced my skills for untold hours.” He illustrated that heart was up to us as individuals.

Thinking he would tie skills and heart into how we honor veterans who have died while doing Murph, he told us we weren’t honoring anyone by doing a simple workout. He said, “You cannot hurt yourself enough working out to know what it’s like to be shot to death. Or what it feels like to lose a child in combat. You can’t destroy yourself enough to know what a wife goes through when she is handed a flag.”

You could hear a pin drop in the gym. Tears welled, goosebumps raised. We were hearing something new about a workout simply named “Murph”– something so authentic and true, we hung on to every word. Mark finished with this: “The way you can honor those who have died serving our country is to be a better person. Be a better person. When you apply your skills today and when you have to rely on your heart — because you will — this is what makes you a better person.”

The idea on congratulating ourselves after Murph became a flat second thought. The only thing that became important was doing our best and helping others suffering through the experience. We always do that at CFLA, but yesterday, this energy moved into new spaces that new perspective had created.

During the workout, I thought of my own grandfather who died just a year and a half ago. Grandad, a 1st Division Marine, landed on the shores of Iwo Jima at the age of 19. I thought of him as a bean-pole private — younger than my own daughter — landing in the middle of fight so horrific, U.S. historians have called the battle like “throwing human flesh against reinforced concrete.” Over twenty-two thousand Americans suffered casualties including almost seven thousand dead during the island fight that only lasted just over a month. I thought about what my young, fierce grandad must have seen, his own heart and skill full throttle as he survived the odds. I then realized that I come from good stock; I have great “heart” genetics. And Mark was right, this workout held no footing in what I have handled and could handle if need be. The only thing left is to continue the pursuit of being that better person.


 

Tuesday’s Workout
Practice

A) For quality load
20 Back squats

B) 3 RFQ
2 9yd Plate pushes
10 Pushups
10 RKBS (32/24)
–1-3min Rest between rounds–

And Coming Wednesday
Competition

“The Farmer And The Annie”
*50*40*30*20*10
Double unders
Situps
*100m DB Farmer Carry (½ BW / ⅓ BW)

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24 May / 2015

Today, we remember Lt. Michael Murphy. He died heroically in 2005 and we’ve been honoring him since by doing his favorite workout every Memorial Day since (this will be our 9th).

Join us at 8am before the workout heats begin for a special Opening Tribute. Heats run every 15 minutes after that.

Odds are you will be sore no matter how you choose to scale later in the week. If so, do come in during Practice days for active recovery. (This may seem counter intuitive often but it get in to flush it out and you’ll be thankful you did…)


 

Monday’s Workout (AM only)
Mental Toughness

“Murph”

1 Mile Run
100 Pull Ups
200 Push Ups
300 Squats
1 Mile Run

**The workout can be scaled any way needed**
Scale Suggestions:
“Cindy-Style” (Breaking up the bodyweight portion into rounds of 5pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 squats)
3/4 Murph (1 Mile Run, 75 Pull Ups, 150 Pull Ups, 225 Squats, 1 Mile Run – Cindy-Style or straight through)1/2 Murph (800m Run, 50 Pull Ups, 100 Push Ups, 150 Squats, 800m Run – Cindy-Style or straight through)

And coming Tuesday
Practice

A) For quality load
20 Back squats

B) 3 RFQ
2 9yd Plate pushes
10 Pushups
10 RKBS (32/24)
–1-3min Rest between rounds–

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Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Age: 47
Occupation: RN
When did you first start CrossFitting?: July 2012
When did you first start training at CFLA?: Jan 2012 Private sessions with Shirley Brown
Favorite WOD: Maya
Least Favorite WOD: Niki

Tell us about you sports & fitness background: Played hockey as a child, ran track, volleyball, field hockey, skied, iced skated, and gymnastic as teen. As an adult, I continued to exercise at gyms and did pilates.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I read an article about CrossFitters and thought it would be something worth checking out. I would drive by the gym and thought why not. I called, talked with Niki, explained what I was looking to accomplish and the next thing I was paired up with Coach Shirley Brown.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? I went from a size 12 to a 4 in 10 months My 6 year old tells me I have more muscles than Daddy. I have more energy, strength, and more endurance.

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? Not to limit yourself, try something unexpected!

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: For me, it’s the women’s 9am class. The group of gals are a riot to be with!

Any advice for people just getting started? Don’t be intimidated! Jump into the advance class or as I refer to it ” the big boy’s and girl’s class” the encouragement you get is awesome!

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? Love my Toronto Maple Leafs hockey, baking anything, ( of course low calorie? Well maybe not so low calorie) and trying something new, which I recently did by joining the Speed Team!!


Friday’s Workout
Practice

A) Air Squatchella
Focus on spinal extension

B) For quality load, working up across sets
5-5-5-5-5
Overhead squats

C) 4 RFT on the 3:00
200m Run
2 Push press (85% of 1RM press)
3 Jerks
–2min Cap–

Coming Monday
Mental Toughness

Memorial Day “Murph”

1 mile run
100 Pull Ups
200 Push Ups
300 Squats
1 mile run

Scale however needed. Event starts at 8am. Heats begin shortly thereafter.
**No regular classes!**

 

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I had a moment coaching the other day when I was in total bliss. It was a Monday afternoon and I had 10 teens in class. They were all doing the workout and had just begun on the rowers. The room was full, the music was loud, but not too loud and I was walking by all of these amazing kids and I was so happy.

It was last fall when coach GC told me he was not going to be able to coach teens anymore. I was sad and nervous all at the same time. It meant I was to take over the teens. Yes, you all know me as the “kids coach” but I truly do love working with teens.

It might be because I was a teenager when I started on my strength training journey. Or because one of my favorite jobs in college was teaching teen strength training at my local YMCA. It’s just so empowering seeing teens (and adults) gain awareness of their bodies and build strength at the same time. What I really love seeing and hearing about is how my students go out into the world and use that confidence and strength they have gained working with me. That’s truly why I love coaching. I love helping people grow, learn and become stronger and more confident in and out of the gym.

To name a few of my favorite things: My favorite musician? India.Arie and one of her her amazing songs, Strength, Courage and Wisdom. My favorite ice cream? Haagen Dazs, vanilla swiss almond. And it wouldn’t be a complete blog post if I didn’t include a recipe for you all. I love eggs and sweets, so here is a little sweet egg treat you should all try and it looks beautiful!


 

Thursday’s Workout
Competition

“Franklin Hill”
2 Rounds on the 15:00
Up, over, back, and up

And Coming Friday
Practice

A) Air Squatchella
Focus on spinal extension

B) For quality load, working up across sets
5-5-5-5-5
Overhead squats

C) 4 RFT on the 3:00
200m Run
2 Push press (85% of 1RM press)
3 Jerks
–2min Cap–

 

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I wanted to take time today to discuss how important it is for your mental state of mind, to exercise regularly. 

Back in February, after the 15.1 Open WOD, I felt a new pain in my left shoulder.  After all those TTB and snatches, I knew something was wrong.  I had felt a lingering ache in that same shoulder for a few years, but this was different.  I decided to take some time off and rested, so NO overhead movements, including presses and anything hanging from the pull-up bar or rings. 

For me, this was a total disaster.  I wasn’t interested in modifying movements, I wanted to perform the entire workout, as prescribed.  I knew I could come in and do squats all day long, or run, or work on core, but my desire to do that wasn’t present.  For almost two months, I fell into a mental funk, or some could call it a “situational depression”.  What suffered the most was my attitude, and I didn’t feel like being proactive and productive. 

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.  These chemicals also trigger a positive feeling in that body.  Most of us can relate to the euphoric sensation we experience after a run or workout, called the “Runners High”. 

Besides these endorphins being released, studies have proven that levels of a neurotransmitter called Serotonin are elevated during exercise. Serotonin is popularly thought to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness.  Serotonin releasing drugs such as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are actually used in psychopharmacology to elevate levels of the neurotransmitter in patients with mood disorders or that may be depressed.  Exercise is a great way to boost those levels naturally, without the need for medication. 

I mention these two chemicals manufactured and found in the body, because exercise has been linked to their presence and elevation.  I fell into a rut because I was sedentary for those few weeks. I became irritable, anxious, and most importantly I started to lose that mental edge of performance that we all strive for daily. 

We’ve all got an opportunity to deliver our best performance every day, whether it be in the Yoga studio, track, office, or gym, so why not take advantage of every chance we get?  You don’t have to complete a 40 minute “Murph” every day, or half-marathon, but get your body moving in any way.  Work up a sweat, mentally challenge yourself, try a new class or a new movement.  The benefits are endless!!

Wednesday’s Workout
Practice

A) For quality load, working up across sets
10 Sets
1 Clean pull + 1 Clean high pull

B) 4 RFQ
16 DB Renegade rows (35/20)
14 Situps
12 Alt. pistols
10 Pushups
–1min Rest between rounds–

And Coming Thursday
Competition

“Franklin Hill”

2 Rounds on the 15:00

Up, over, back, and up

 

 

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At the end of Kenny’s video yesterday, he quickly slipped in something that if you blinked, you might have missed it. . .

Yes, he bought CrossFit Los Angeles!

For almost two years, the gym has run under Kenny’s brilliant methodology and programming. We have become better, healthier athletes because of his revolutionary evolution to CrossFit. It was a natural transition for him to buy the gym from Andy who now works diligently and full time on the world-wide phenomena that is the Whole Life Challenge with Michael.

There is no one more capable to build upon Andy Petranek’s innovation and legacy than Kenny Kane. And I couldn’t be prouder to call him Boss.

You’ll still hear Andy’s laugh around the gym on most days. He will still coach and workout and counsel Kenny when needed. We’re not letting him go that easily.

When you see Kenny, give him a pat on the back – or a hug – and thank your lucky stars he’s steering the boat for another amazing 10 years.

 

Tuesday’s Workout
Competition

“Helen”
3RFT:
400m Run
21 KBS (24/16)
12 Pullups

And Coming Wednesday
Practice

A) For quality load, working up across sets
10 Sets
1 Clean pull + 1 Clean high pull

B) 4 RFQ
16 DB Renegade rows (35/20)
14 Situps
12 Alt. pistols
10 Pushups
–1min Rest between rounds–

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17 May / 2015

The Basics

How masterful is your squat? Is it flawless or is there any room for improvement?

Take today’20 Front Squat effort for example.  The idea isn’t to chase a PR. Rather, the objective is to maintain a vertical torso, proud chest, high elbows with little to no bend in the thoracic spine. The idea is that you chose a weight that you KNOW you can stick.  Make it prettier that Steph Curry from 3-pt range.

 


 

Monday’s Workout
Practice

A) AMRAP 10
10 Squat jumps
100m Run
5 Strict pullups

B) For quality load
20 Front squats

And Coming Tuesday
Competition

“Helen”
3RFT:
400m Run
21 KBS (24/16)
12 Pullups

 

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Hometown: Playa del Rey, CA
Age: 48 (I know, shocking!)
Occupation: Special Events & Family Shows – Forum/Madison Square Garden Company
When did you first start CrossFitting?: November 2012
When did you first start training at CFLA?: November 2012
Favorite WOD: Yet to be determined
Least Favorite WOD: Anything that includes weights going over my head

Tell us about you sports & fitness background: I grew up riding horses and competed in the Three Day Event. Once I left for college I started riding Western Pleasure, but I also worked at a gym and trained regularly.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Take us back to your first WOD… what was it, and how did it feel? I was introduced to CrossFit by the one and only Ricky Casady (my hero!). He and Lauren were very encouraging and then introduced me to Shirley Brown, the rest is history.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CF (before/after)? I’ve watched my body take a more detailed shape again and without a doubt I feel stronger inside and out. After a great workout my skin glows :)

What sort of changes in your life have you experienced out of taking on something like CrossFit that were totally unexpected? The amount of new friends I’ve made. I thought I would be in and out for an hour a day and that would be it but I was totally wrong. I’ve made so many wonderful friends.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit / CFLA moments: The 2015 Open was huge of course, I was beyond freaked out and when all was said and done I was so glad I did it. However, nothing will ever surpass the pure joy of my very first Double Under, I was ecstatic! Shirley and I could hardly contain our excitement and it certainly gave Kenny a good laugh when I ran around in the tall room screaming and high five’ing.

Any advice for people just getting started? It’s easy to get caught up with what’s on the white board and within those rooms it can be intimidating, but do yourself a huge favor, be funny, introduce yourself, look around at everyone. CFLA is family, friends, supporters, characters, bad asses, champions, lovers, fighters, vegans and carnivores – jump right in, we’re just waiting for you and we’ve got your back!

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit? I have three nephews and nothing brings me greater joy than spending time with them and watching them grow into the fine young men that they are. I love live music and going to shows. I love all things fashion, my inspiration is Gwen Stefani – she’s simply one of the most amazing women and a true rockstar. Someday I hope to show horses again and I’m crazy for the animal kingdom. Growing up on the beach I love being near water, on water and looking at it. My girlfriends are my heart and soul – shenanigans that will go down in history and so many adventures still ahead!


Friday’s Workout
Competition

3 RFT
500m Row
12 Alt KB Snatches (24/20)
12 Toes to bar

And Coming Monday
Practice

A) AMRAP 10
10 Squat jumps
100m Run
5 Strict pullups
B) For quality load
20 Front squats

 

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“It is hard to make that boat go as fast as you want to. The enemy, of course, is resistance of the water, as you have to displace the amount of water equal to the weight of men and equipment, but that very water is what supports you and that very enemy is your friend. So is life: the very problems you must overcome also support you and make you stronger in overcoming them.” – George Yeomen Pocock

I’m currently reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, which recounts the story of the 1936 US men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing team. I’ve saved a number of powerful excerpts from the book including the quote above by George Yeomen Pocock (an internationally acclaimed designer and builder of racing shells, the boats used in rowing).

When I read this quote, I immediately thought of what we do here at the School of Mastery. Our workouts are hard, and the barbell or the task at hand can seem like your enemy when you are in the thick of a workout. But that “enemy” is the very thing that makes you stronger. Exactly as Pocock said: “So is life.” There are a lot of life lessons to be learned in the gym, if you’ll let yourself be open to learning them.


Thursday’s Workout
Practice

A) For quality load, working up across sets
5-5-5-5-5
Presses

B) 3RFQ on the 4:00
20 Air squats 2-1-X-1
5 Squat cleans (60%)
–3min Cap–

And Coming Friday
Competition

3 RFT
500m Row
12 Alt KB Snatches (24/20)
12 Toes to bar

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So over a week ago I made a trip to San Francisco with my wife and daughter to visit family. A speeding ticket on the drive up was not the only thing I was given on the trip – I came down hard with a stomach flu/virus. This happened pretty much on the second day. Cold shivers, body aches, stomach pains (knives in the guts type of pains), headaches and feeling like I was going to throw up. During this time, I did not feel like eating because I would just throw it straight back up. This whole ordeal lasted pretty much over a week and Monday was the first day I felt better. I asked myself the question “when is the right time to go back to training”? I googled this and found a whole lot of amusing topics in weightlifting and bodybuilding forums.

Now, there is no right or wrong answer here. It has to do with how you are feeling and, everybody is different. But, let’s face it… you’re not getting over major surgery, it’s a stomach bug. So, try it out. Go back to training, but don’t go as hard as you normally would, treat it as a recovery day. See how you feel, if you feel ok then you can pick up the pace the following day. If not, give the next day a miss.

Here’s a three step process on the road to recovery. This process may only take 2-3 days after an illness:
Step 1 – Resume training and gradually increase the frequency of training sessions.
Step 2 – Gradually increase duration or volume of training sessions.
Step 3 – Increase intensity so full training and competition can occur.

And just because you can’t initially train as hard… doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to still get in there and utilize your time well. When I was starting to feel better, I made good use of my time and got stuck into some mobility. Laying down in bed and sitting on the couch sick all week got me wound up. My hamstrings, hips and thoracic spine were really hurting. I found that moving helped with my recovery. Especially since the only movement I had initially was running backwards and forwards to the loo (too much info?).

Here’s some other things to consider:

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself when coming back into training. A cold/flu/illness is just something that life throws our way.
  • While you are sick drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes (in fact, just drink plenty of fluids all the time).
  • Make situations work to your advantage ie: work on mobility and range of movement.
  • Continue to train within the limitations of your current situation and monitor frequency, intensity, and duration of training.
  • Return to your normal workout schedule as soon as you can.
  • Attempt to minimize life stress and try meditating.

My best advice is to stay healthy, but on the rare occasion that you do get sick hopefully the above advice will help.

 

Wednesday’s Workout
Mental Toughness

Repeat the following pattern through round of 10 burpees

1 Burpee
1 DB Seated Floor Press (45/30)
2 DB Front-rack lunges
25 Double unders
2 Burpees
2 DB Seated Floor Press (45/30)
4 DB Front-rack lunges
25 Double unders
3 Burpee
3 DB Seated Floor Press (45/30)
6 DB Front-rack lunges
25 Double unders
….
10 Burpees
10 DB Seated Floor Press (45/30)
20 DB Front-rack lunges
25 Double unders

Then
400m DB Farmer carry

And Coming Thursday
Practice

A) For quality load:
Working up across sets
5-5-5-5-5
Presses

B) 3RFQ on the 4:00
20 Air squats 2-1-X-1
5 Squat cleans (60%)


 

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