JULY / AUGUST
Eating To Win With Julie Foucher Leap & Bound Your Way To New PRâ€™s A Walk In The Life Of The Most Inspiring Athlete
ISSUE 6 THE GAMES
28 COVER STORIES
14 Leap & Bound your way to new PRâ€™s
World record holder Ryan Moody talks about his Explosive Training program and how it not only will increase your vertical leap, but how it will also help you achieve many other personal records.
Seasoned CrossFit Games competitor Julie Foucher talks
By Tony Federico
44 A Walk In The Life Of The Most Inspiring Athlete Corey Reed is an adaptive athlete who is both blind and a right leg amputee with an inspirational story. Corey sits down with us and shares his past challenges, present successes, and future plans. By Jenna Johnson
4 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
Mental Strategies that REALLY Successful CrossFitters Use By Dawn Fletcher
The Hook Grip By Katie Chasey
about her Paleo lifestyle and how it has made this already impressive athlete even more formidable.
What Did Your Workout Teach You Today By Larry Doane
By Ryan Moody
28 Eating to Win with Julie Foucher
Training the MMA Fighter By Erik Arevalo
ISR and CrossFit Kids Understand how the techniques used by ISR to teach children to swim can help you become a better CrossFit trainer.
Africaâ€™s Finest Metal To Shine at The Games CrossFit Platinum from Johannesburg, South Africa is headed to the Games to represent Africa.
Improvement through Human Connection Julie Foucher shares her impression of the power of camaraderie within the CrossFit community.
Carleen Lessard shares how CrossFit has helped her overcome a full-blown eating disorder.
To Inspire, Not Impress Candy Rice tells how she overcame the intimidation of CrossFit and is now in the best shape of her life.
The Creep of the S Do you really need to scale that workout? Training your brain is just as important as training your muscles.
Learning to Love My Body
Life Changing High School sophomore Kelly Green has a whole new outlook on life since taking up CrossFit.
A CrossFitter Looks at 40 Leonard recently turned 40 and he is healthier now than he was at 30 thanks to CrossFit.
Strong is the New Skinny Marsha Christensen explains how hitting 200 lbs and knowing that she weighed more than some men, finally inspired a change.
Luke Kane shares his personal experience as a competitor in the Australian/New Zealand CrossFit Games Regionals.
Social Coupons & Affiliates Blair Morrison shares his success with using Groupon to grow his business.
WODTIME Success Jake Platt, affiliate owner with three thriving boxes, shares some tips to help you improve your website.
Why Blog? Geo of Fitrilla explains how important a good blog is to your affiliate.
Cover Photo Julie Foucher by Metcon Photos
6 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
FROM THE EDITOR PUBLISHER Christina Elmore email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR & EDITOR Chris Elmore firstname.lastname@example.org
Showcasing Our Sport The Games. A few short years ago you would have asked what game? Now the phrase The Games has taken on a whole new meaning. We now speak these words referring to the biggest event of the CrossFit community’s year. A time of year when we are able to showcase our
ASSOCIATE EDITOR Erik Arevalo
at a fever pitch. The discussions in boxes about the qualifying athletes and who has the skills and mental toughness to win this year can be heard above the clanging weights in boxes around the world. I for one am glad to find myself in the middle of the discussions and looking forward
The 2012 CrossFit Games sport to the outside world and demonstrate that CrossFit is a sport that is here to stay and not just a fad. The excitement around this year’s Games is vibrating through the community. The online chatter from spectators jockeying for tickets is
to July 13th when I will be able to witness the sport of fitness’ main event. I hope to see many of you at The Games this year as we unite as a community behind the elite and watch them achieve what many of us aspire to be in our CrossFit-self.
Chris Elmore Editor WOD Talk
8 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
COPY EDITOR Heather Villeneuve Kathy Foose CONTRIBUTORS Larry Doane, Ryan Moody, Brian Maucere, Dawn Fletcher, Katie Chasey, Tony Federico, Carleen Lessard, Bree Edwards, Erik Arevalo, Dave Large, Candy Rice, Hillary London, Jenna Johnson, Kelly Green, Leonard Ornstein, Julie Foucher, Luke Kane, Marsha Christensen, Jarred Moon, Jake Platt, and Geo Rockwell ADVERTISING INQUIRES If you are interested in advertising you can contact us at: email@example.com CONTRIBUTE If you are interested in commenting, contributing articles or photography you can contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHER WOD Talk Corporation 407 West Imperial Hwy. Suite H203 Brea, CA 92821 (714) 900-2804 email@example.com AFFILIATION STATEMENT WOD Talk is an independent magazine with no affiliation with CrossFit, Inc nor is it endorsed by CrossFit, Inc or any of its subsidiaries. The views and opinions expressed in WOD Talk Magazine, are not those of CrossFit, Inc or its founders. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.
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What did your workout teach you today? Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all that I can? ~Sun Tzu
Somewhere in between the reps and sets your workout was trying to tell you something. Even when you put metabolic conditioning and strength training aside, your workout is trying to teach you something…if you listen. What that voice is saying, when you choose to hear it, is that you don’t know your limits yet, even if you think you do. I’m not a fitness professional, don’t have any certifications, and I don’t run a gym. Any CrossFit Level 1 graduate will run rings around me in teaching you the fundamentals of a movement or how to program a workout. I’m just a grunt with a couple of tours overseas under his belt. And while I’m not the guy you should be listening to about proper hip drive in the squat, I do know a thing or two about fitness in the real world and what it’s really all about. You might think fitness is all about your VO2 max or having a monster CrossFit Total. It’s true, tracking your numbers can be a great tool for monitoring your improvement. But numbers don’t tell the whole story, or even the most important part. At the core of the enigmatic concept we call ‘fitness’ lies a simple question. “Can you get it done?” How fit you are is ultimately a measure of what you can accomplish, be it negotiating the mountains of Afghanistan, moving a couch, or chasing your kids through a marathon playground session. We train so we can DO. And since we never know what we’re going to have to do, we must do more than just simply train our muscles. I’ve often told people that military training is simply a series of experiences that suck more than the last one. Each training evolution or field problem is a progression of ever more challenging and difficult situations. The idea behind this is simple. Someday, when you find yourself suddenly thrust into an arduous position, you can think back on a time that sucked even more. And, knowing that you’ve handled worse, you can face your current problem with a courage born of well earned confidence. 12 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
When we work the power clean or gut through one more round of ‘Cindy’ we’re doing more than stimulating a response from our bodies. We are preparing our minds and hearts for the unknown. And this preparation isn’t born from simply knowing how much we can lift or how fast we can go. With every PR we set, every WOD we fight through we take one more step towards understanding that our limits are like our futures, unknown and unknowable. Ultimately, it matters very little what our PRs are or where your score fits on the whiteboard at your box. What matters is that we have faced our fears, our self imposed limits and pushed our way past them. We’ve felt the burning in our lungs and quivering in our legs, our hearts begging for a chance to rest. But we’ve also felt ourselves push past the pain and try for ‘just one more’. And when we do that, when our sheer will triumphs over our hesitating bodies, we do something extraordinary. We expand our notion of what is possible. So, when you hit the gym today, take a second to listen to what those bumper plates are trying to tell you. Have the courage to push yourself past where you think your limits are. We can’t know when life’s next challenge will present itself. But we can choose to be ready. Now, 3, 2, 1…..GO! By Larry Doane
Leap & Bound your way to new PR’s…Literally! By: Ryan Moody “Seriously what’s the big deal about jumping?”, “Why Jump?”, or “How will jumping help me progress in CrossFit?” These are examples of some of the questions that I receive on a daily basis and at my Explosive Seminars. You may recognize my name from a World Record Box Jump video in the CrossFit Journal back in 2010 called; “56 Inches to Fame”. Since then I have found a HUGE link between jumping [Explosive Training] and constant improvement in my ability to perform in CrossFit “across broad time and modal domains”. Let’s just say that there is a lot more behind what you see in some of my “jump videos”, and that key ingredient of jumping or [Explosive Training] coupled with CrossFit is one amazing PR producing machine! “It’s not so much about jumping as it is about how explosive one can be from their hips!” I laugh when people give me a hard time about “jumping on boxes for a living”, for reasons other than the obvious. What the individual doesn’t realize is how this modality of training [Explosive Training] has proved time and time again that it can take people to new heights and by new heights I don’t mean simply by improving their box jump. [That’s a given]. Over the past 2 years I have developed a program that will not only improve an individual’s ability to jump, but also help them to run faster and lift heavier. 14 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
In other words; it will improve the overall potential of the participant. “It’s science, and it’s logic, there is no fancy crap, or [sexy moves] required.” Look at it this way; in physics Power = (Force x Distance) / Time It’s important to note that the max amount of power produced, for example: in a jumping movement, is dependent upon the length of the amortization phase of the stretch-shortening cycle. Amortization is the transition period from stretching to contracting at the beginning of the concentric muscle action. The quicker or “shorter” this phase becomes, the more powerful the result intended for that muscular contraction. In other words….go into a 1/4 air squat and hold for up to 5 seconds —> then perform a box jump. This pause increases or lengthens the amortization phase. Now, perform a regular box jump with no pause at the bottom…this technique shortens the amortization phase and allows you to perform the movement explosively In other words: a.k.a. “Logic”; If you become more explosive at the hips, you will jump higher, run faster
Complex training is a training strategy that involves the execution of a heavy resistance exercise (HRE) prior to performing an explosive movement with similar biomechanical characteristics, referred to as a complex pair. The complex pair is then repeated for a number of sets and postulated that over time will produce long-term changes in the ability of a muscle to generate power, Hodgson et al. (3)”. Here’s a simpler definition: PAP is a phenomena by which muscular performance characteristics are acutely enhanced as a result of their contractile history. The underlying principle surrounding PAP is that heavy loading prior to explosive activity induces a high degree of CNS stimulation which results in greater motor unit recruitment lasting anywhere from five to thirty minutes, Contreras et al. (1).
and lift heavier…..NO technique course NECESSARY. (Obviously if you improve your technique and form you can also see gains in efficiency and performance). What I am saying is that if we simply become more powerful at the hips, we in turn can move a large load a long distance quickly. Whether that is a Clean, a Snatch, a Box Jump, 100m Sprint, a Kipping Pull-up, Knees to Elbows, Push Press, Split Jerk, faster Fran time, and the list goes on. If you’re a CrossFitter then you recognize these movements and how Explosive training applies to you. Even if you’re not a CrossFitter and you simply want to be more functional and efficient in your daily life; then training your “powerhouse” [pelvic unit] will help. “I’m not asking you to shake a weight to improve musculature, I’m asking you to shake the hips your momma gave ya to improve overall performance.” [If you’re not into the science of it all, skip this next part ;-) …. Let’s geek out for a second: How I program this type of training [seen below] is very similar to Postactivation Potentiation (PAP). Here is the idea; “…apply the principles of PAP to short-term motor performance as well as using it as a rationale for producing longterm neuromuscular changes through complex training.
Realistically significant improvements in a vertical jump height, ground reaction force, impulse, or velocity at take-off can be found using PAP training. Using PAP/ complex training, which again in this case involves both an explosive lift coupled with an explosive jumping movement, can greatly increase your ability to produce power from your hips…which as you and I both know means PR’s in CrossFit movements [not just jumping]. Again it goes back to hips being a powerhouse, hips initiating the majority of functional movements we do in everyday life/training, and quite simply how increasing hip power allows us to move a heavy load a long distance quickly. Examples of studies performed using PAP can be found in the reference section: Chiu et al. (2), Khamoui et al. (4), Saez Saez de Villarreal et al. (5), Young et al. (6)] “Beam us down Scottie! Enough with the research studies…let’s get to the NITTY GRITTY, I wanna PR!” The program, again, is not about simply jumping. No, rather it’s about coupling jumping or explosive movement with a strength bias and ending with a high-intensity met-con. The idea is simple; start with 1-2 Explosive WOD’s [www.thexwod.com] a week. Program for an explosive lift (i.e.- power snatch, hang clean, dead lift) and in-between each lift program a explosive jumping movement (i.e.- box jump, broad jump, a sprint starting from ground). BLAH BLAH BLAH…For example: Front Squat: 5-5-5-5-5 (Progressive Loading, just like how CrossFit.com programs it….HEAVY AND HARD) - Then between each set- Perform: 2-1-2-1-2 reps of Standing Box Jumps @75% (2-rep height) and 80 % (1-rep height) of 1RM Standing Box Jump -Rest for 1-2 Minutes before next lift and jump combo Then program a WOD, preferably 20 Minutes or less… [5-10 minutes is a good range to start with]. Your WOD could be FRAN, or HELEN, or heck 7 Minutes of 15 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
Burpees...as long as there is NO HEAVY SQUATS OR DEAD LIFTS in the metcon portion….I’d like you to tax your CNS, not deplete it completely! Oh, and you’ll learn quickly…like CrossFit, these XWOD’s are POTENT, so be smart and safe. “Recovery and skill work are HUGE components of your overall success, make sure to take your daily dose of K-Star’s Mobility WOD and get your Gymnastics on with Carl’s G-WOD!” www.mobilitywod.com - www.gymnasticswod.com On Day 2, program a different lift, same jumping rep scheme “2-1-2…” different explosive jump movement, and a different metcon. Follow this type programming for a month. Re-test some of your lifts…do The CrossFit Total (1RM Back Squat, Dead Lift, and Strict Press) or The Other Total (1RM Overhead-Squat, Bench Press, and Power Clean)…but my guess is you won’t have to test at all.
16 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
“SAY WHAT?? No testing needed!! What the…WHY NOT??” It won’t take very long before you start noticing a significant difference in your ability to perform in WOD’s and Lift’s. When one can see improvement as quickly as those who engage in XWOD’s do…there is no testing necessary, the evidence can be found in each new WOD. It never ceases to amaze me the testimonials I receive, individuals improving their box jumps from 5 to 21 inches in less than a week, athletes putting 20# plus PR’s on their lifts in a month or less! “One athlete put 70lbs on his Back Squat in 4 months, while another pushed her Dead Lift up 20# in 2 weeks, and another PR’d his Fran time by 30 seconds and after only 1 month of XWOD training! We have tons of testimonials from a wide range of athletes and non-athletes, even seasoned CrossFit veterans see gains from this program.”
This program is NOT meant to push CrossFit aside. Not in the slightest! It needs CrossFit to survive. It is supplemental to CrossFit. On its own it’s strong; there is no doubt about that. With CrossFit…well…one could say; “It’s developing a NEW BREED of athlete”. For more info on Explosive Training: Join the “movement” at www.TheXwod.com also visit Ryan’s blog at TheRyanMoodyProject.blogspot.com The XWOD is brought to you by: PROGENEX, FORGED CLOTHING, DEMON BELLS, OOLA MOOLA, INSPIRE.BELIEVE.SUCCEED., BOXWEAR, LURONG, SICFIT, GOPRO, ROGUE FITNESS, and BRAIN PUMP. Notes about the Author: Ryan is a 6 Time World Record holder in Box Jump related feats, most notably known for breaking the original box jump world record set with Guinness at 55” [original record holder name unknown] by 1 inch at 56”, then re-broke that record at 60” on 3/10/12 and currently holds a standing PR of 63”. Ryan is finishing up his degree in Exercise Sports Science at the University of Utah and has helped to further the future of the ESS-Fitness Leadership track at the University of Utah with his contributions. Ryan travels the country putting on his Explosive Seminar at affiliates, and providing motivational speaking at schools to help inspire youth to believe in themselves and succeed at their goals in life. Ryan has had the opportunity to train some of the top athletes in the world both at the Collegiate and Professional levels working with such notables as Boise State Running Backs, and Stanley Cup champion Mike Modano. He has been a part of the fitness industry for nearly 10 years as a coach, student and fitness enthusiast and has been a part of CrossFit for over 5 years now. Ryan has been blessed with the opportunity to work with some of the best coaches and mentors in the world. Ryan would like to thank his mentors and coaches for their help in his progress as an athlete and coach. [Thanks to- Tyson and Miranda Oldroyd, Damon Stewart, Tommy Hackenbruck, CJ Martin, Nick “Snax” Hawkes, Mike Hom, Louie Simmons, Lynn “Quigley” Bigelow, Rob Orlando, David Yu-Lin Chiu, Andrew Landau, Chad Phillips, Kyle Hougendobler, Greg Brassfield, Karen Jackson & Maggie Barber, John Haynes, Coach Glassman, Lauren Jenai, and Ryan’s family and friends]
References: 1. Contreras, B. (2010, April 05). Post-activation potentiation: Theory and application. Retrieved from http://bretcontreras.com/2010/04/post-activationpotentiation-theory-and-application/ 2. Chiu, LZF, Fru, AC, Weiss, LW, Schilling, BK, Brown LE, and Smith SL. Post-activation potentiation response in athletic and recreationally trained individuals. J Strength Cond Res 17 (4): 671-677, 2003. 3. Hodgson, M., Docherty, D., & Robbins, D. (2005). st-activation potentiation: underlying physiology and implications for motor performance. National Center for Biotechnology Information, 35(7), 585-595. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16026172 4. Khamoui, AV, Jo, E, and Brown, LE. Postactivation potentiation and athletic performance. NSCA Hot Topic Series, National Strength and Conditioning Association, 2009. 5. Saez Saez de Villarreal, E, Gonzalez-Badillo, JJ, and Izquierdo, M. Optimal warm-up stimuli of muscle activation to enhance short and long term acute jumping performance. Eur J Appl Phys 100 (4): 393-401, 2007. 6. Young, WB, Jenner, A , and Griffiths, K. Acute enhancement of power performance from heavy load squats. J Strength Cond Res 12 (2): 82-84, 1998.
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6/7/2012 11:39:22 AM
ISR & CrossFit Kids
At 34 years old, it is hard to believe I taught my first karate class nearly 20 years ago. I was fortunate enough to work in the same studio that I trained in to get my black belt. It was there that I learned a lot about what it means to be an effective instructor, and that was before most of my friends had taken their first speech class in high school. Little things like not crossing your arms and always talking in a positive voice have stuck with me through the years and are now second nature as an instructor at U R CrossFit, the box I opened with my wife Amanda in January 2011. If I have learned anything though, it is I am never quite done learning. If you keep your eyes, ears, and mind open, you can draw inspiration from a variety of sources. For example, I recently completed my training as an ISR (Infant Swimming Resource) instructor as part of the growing partnership between CrossFit Kids and ISR. The training lasted 6 weeks and included 2 hours daily in the pool and another 2 hours completing course work. If you are not familiar with the training, each child attends a 10 minute lesson daily (Monday-Friday) for roughly six weeks. During that time, a child younger than 12 months is taught to float and children older than 12 months are taught to swim-float-swim to safety. Little did I know the 6 weeks spent in the pool would not only make me a certified ISR instructor, but also a much better CrossFit instructor. During one of my first days in the pool, my instructor, Mike explained that children learn by sensorimotor learning. That is to say, they learn by interacting with their environment and making adjustments along the way. In the pool, the environment is quite different and often times unlike anything else the young child has encountered. When a child would do something slightly different than what I had intended or hoped for, Mike would ask me “What did you do to cause that?” Although it seemed harsh at the time, Mike was right. My 6 month20 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
old student certainly did not know what to do unless I prompted the behavior. If there was a problem with the movement, it was not my student’s fault, it was mine. As instructors, particularly newer CrossFit L1’s, we can fall into the same trap of looking at a bad squat and asking ourselves, “Why are they doing that?” when the real question is “What did I do to cause that behavior.” It might be a tough pill to swallow at first, but trust me, the sooner you start looking at the person in the mirror, the better CrossFit instructor you will become. Another great tip to take from ISR training is to always teach away from fear and towards hope. In ISR terms, this means to start with the end result and work backwards. For example, ISR lessons for the swim-floatswim technique start at the wall. That is to say, it starts at the point where a child reaches safety, or hope. From there, we work in a series of very small steps towards the point where the child fell in the pool or became submerged. The reason is deceptively simple: If the next step in functional process is always the last thing you learned, then you are always working away from fear and towards hope. This concept had a profound and instant impact on my training the same night I learned it at ISR. I was teaching the Push Jerk to some new athletes in our On-Ramp class and one of them had trouble with the landing because she felt like she was going to fall over with the PVC pipe overhead. It occurred to me she was no different than my students in the pool. I had mistakenly asked her to work towards her own fear of falling instead of reversing the process and starting her in a solid receiving position with the PVC pipe overhead. Once we established the position and sound footing, I systematically worked backwards in small increments until we had reached the beginning of the movement. Working with this method allowed her to remain confident in her abilities because every new step I asked her to take was immediately followed by something she had just learned. In a sense, she remained hopeful and quickly mastered the basics of the movement. Since that class, I have taught every single On-Ramp athlete the same way with qualitative results. Try it with your own athletes and I promise you will see a difference! Before I go, let me leave you with one last ISR tip. On occasion, Mike would cut a lesson short with a student if the target behavior we were looking for was achieved. Meaning, if the goal of the lesson was to get the child to open his eyes under water and grab my hand, we would often end the lesson at that point. This is commonly
referred to as “ending on a high note.” About a year ago I heard a similar concept while attending my CrossFit Kids certification at CrossFit Brand X in Ramona, California. Jeff Martin mentioned to me that during a weightlifting PR class, he will not let you exceed your personal best more than once in a class. For example, if a 15 year old PR’s with a 225 lb dead lift, he is not allowed to try again for 235. Jeff reasoned that nothing good could come out of trying and then potentially failing at the slightly higher weight. Even though the 15 year old got a personal best lift, a subsequent failed lift is all that would be remembered. Jeff essentially forced the high note by not allowing anything further to occur. It is a move worth noting and using in any class. As new CrossFit instructors, we constantly want to show our athletes what we know. However, sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. If you have a student who is struggling with a basic air squat and then suddenly fixes just one piece of the move, ask yourself this question before jumping in to try and fix the rest: “Is the movement they are doing unsafe?” If the answer is no, chances are you
can leave the rest of the lesson for another day. Praise your athlete for correcting that one small piece and let them leave on a high note. Remember, teaching CrossFit is like anything else in life. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Take the time to celebrate the small victories and leave your athletes wanting more. By Brian Maucere Brian co-owns U R CrossFit in Trinity, FL. with his wife Amanda. Brian has been an instructor for over 20 years, has a masters degree in executive leadership, was one of the first seven chosen by CrossFit to receive ISR instructor training, and believes that Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is the key to success. For more information about U R CrossFit, go to URCrossFit.com
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Lorne Wilson at CrossFit IronCity By Ryan Ireland
Jandro Suarez By Jackie Martinez
Photos by Andy Williamson Central East Regionals
: The Sport Psychology Corner : It’s All In Your Mind
Mental Strategies that REALLY Successful CrossFitters Use The reason you may not be at the CrossFit Games or you aren’t at the level you’d like to be, might have nothing to do with your physical capacity. There is a huge mental component to CrossFit and each WOD challenges your ability to control your thoughts and emotions. The CrossFitters who use effective mental strategies are the ones who are at The CrossFit Games, winning competitions and setting PR after PR. The ones who don’t... aren’t. REALLY Successful CrossFitters Use These Mental Strategies: • They develop and practice specific preparation routines • They concentrate on the upcoming performance and block out irrelevant or harmful thoughts • They don’t worry about other competitors or uncontrollable factors, focusing instead on what is controllable • They are quick to identify and reverse any negative self-talk • They have appropriate goals and expectations of their performances • They are quick to refocus and recover after a mistake or after unforeseeable adversary • They choose to remain optimistic even in the most physically and mentally demanding WODs Photo by Metcon Photos
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• They communicate emotional issues that are holding them back • They are able to remain cool under tension and stress (able to regulate stress) • They learn how to regulate anxiety to benefit them • They develop and maintain high self and sport-confidence • They are able to shift their attention to match the environment and the demands of the WOD • They engage in mental rehearsal and visualizations • They are able to use dissociation and ignore bodily sensation of fatigue • They know their optimal level of arousal (not necessarily maximal) and when they need to use psyching techniques • They create balance in their lives outside of the box
Yes, these are all techniques that you can learn, train and implement. Mental Performance Training is simply just as important (if not more) than physical training. You can only go as far as your mind will allow you to. Athletes that work with a Mental Coach or Sport Psychologist are more able to tap into their full potential. If you want to have incredible results in CrossFit and develop into a competitive or top-level athlete you must train your mental game. Dawn Fletcher, CSCS (owner of www.FletcherFitness.com | @FletcherFitness) has an M.A. in Kinesiology with a specialization in Sport Psychology. She is a CrossFit Coach and has been featured numerous times in The CrossFit Journal for her articles and videos on the mental aspect of sport. Her online programs and one-on-one Mental Performance Training Sessions help athletes perform their best when it matters the most. For more - firstname.lastname@example.org
• They prefer to know all they can about themselves and seek coaching
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The Hook Grip Proper Olympic Lifting Grip Technique By Katie Chasey
Olympic weightlifters use a special grip that is relatively unknown and rarely taught to the average lifter. This special grip is known as the hook grip and is used on both Olympic lifts and practiced when training with different broken-down elements of these two lifts such as the “pull” portions. There are only two Olympic lifts that meet true Olympicstandards and these two lifts are the clean and jerk and the snatch. In both of these lifts, the hook grip is designed to stop the barbell from turning while gripped in the hands. The nervous system is smart and will sense danger. If the body feels that the grip being used is too weak for the weight being lifted, it will not allow the muscles to “fire” aggressively as an attempt to protect the body. In other words, the nervous system acts as a builtin safety mechanism. Therefore, if we secure the grip to meet the weight, we rewire this protective mechanism and give the body a sense of security and stability.
What is wrong with the conventional grip? The more conventional grip of thumb over fingers; while it can produce more force is not the most secure grip. Here again, we must convince the body that it is capable of not only pulling but also holding a load. With the hook grip the thumb wraps around the bar first and is held in place by the pointer and the middle fingers. These two fingers wrap around the thumb. There is nothing more convincing to the body and to the mind than this solid, locked-in grip.
Okay I’m hooked! Now what? There are two ways to “unhook.” First, this can and most often does happen naturally. As a lifter flips their palms up in transition from pull to catch, the thumb
RXBound Team Athlete Dave Nichols 26 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
automatically pops out from beneath the other two fingers. Some lifters prefer to unhook the thumb only after the first portion of the clean and jerk (after the squat) as they prepare for the jerk portion of the clean and jerk. The majority of lifters will use a conventional grip to complete this lift. During the snatch, the thumb automatically pops out mid-lift and the bar is caught with a released thumb. The final grip is conventional as the bar is caught overhead.
Doesn’t that hurt? Yes. Well, at first that is. As one begins to implement this grip, there can and most often is some discomfort. With practice, this will pass. Some thumb bruising is normal but will also pass with time. A second issue many face at the start is a sense of insecurity with the very grip that is designed to be most secure. However, after much repetition these same lifters soon find that there isn’t a more secure feel for the bar. Eventually this hook grip becomes so natural that any other grip feels weak and uncomfortable. It is worth the wait.
When do I use the hook grip? Use this grip with both Olympic lifts and practice the
hook grip on all broken-down pull elements of these two lifts such as the deadlift, the clean pull, and the snatch pull. The snatch-grip deadlift for example is excellent practice and builds confidence for the lifter as he/ she adjusts and re-wires the nervous system to trust the grip’s strength. Boxes are especially helpful when practicing the pulls of both lifts. Coach’s Tip: Start with lighter weight and slowly build up the weight on the bar as you feel more confident to do so. Do not sacrifice technique in the process. It will all come together with practice and the final result will not only be a stronger grip and therefore more confidence with heavier weights, but a true and proper Olympic Lifting technique. By Katie Chasey Team Coach RXBound Training Team Olympic Lifting. Russian Kettlebell. Strength. Speed. Agility. Games Programming. www.rxbound.com @rxbound @trainingrxbound FB: Facebook.com/RXBOUND
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Eating to Win with
A CrossFit Athletes Guide to Paleo Performance By Tony Federico, BS Applied Physiology & Kinesiology Blogger at LiveCaveman.com “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease” – Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) For most people, attending medical school is a full time job. For Julie Foucher, however, it’s just a warm-up. At only 23, she’s a seasoned CrossFit Games competitor and has been dubbed “The Silent Beast” for her humble demeanor and devastating athletic ability. We sat down with Julie to talk to her about the Paleo lifestyle and how it has made this already impressive athlete even more formidable.
This past January I had dinner with some friends who were very into Paleo, so I went home and started looking at some stuff online. I figured that it shouldn’t be so hard to stick with it for a month and my boyfriend even decided to do it with me. How did you feel when you first made the switch? I was expecting to feel a lot worse, but it wasn’t so bad. The biggest thing was taking out dairy. I love dairy (laughs)! There were a few days when I felt sluggish during my workouts, but after about the second or third week I started to notice some changes, but in a good way. Now, I just feel better all day. I have more energy and don’t get tired or sluggish after eating a meal. In my workouts it’s like I have this little extra something that helps me to push harder, like there’s a little something more.
Tony: So, which came first, Paleo or CrossFit? Julie: Definitely CrossFit. I started CrossFit about three years ago and my diet at the time was more Zonelike than Paleo. I never measured any of my food, but I was cognizant of keeping a balance between protein, carbohydrates, and fat. I would eat things like pizza or have a bagel for breakfast though and that’s how it stayed for about 2 ½ years. 28 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
Obviously you stuck with Paleo past the “30 Day Trial”. Have you had to make any adjustments to your diet since then? Honestly, I think that it’s going to be a constant process of modification because I don’t think I have it completely dialed in. I would like to experiment with the amounts of food that I am eating as well as playing with different
levels of macronutrients because I haven’t really done that yet. Even though I really love dairy, I have not felt the need to add it back in. For my mental sanity, I eat a lot of really dark chocolate or maybe put some heavy whipping cream in my coffee once a week. Are there any particular Paleo foods that you find especially helpful for athletic performance? Protein is huge. I also tend to eat a lot more sweet potatoes than someone who isn’t working out would need, but other than that, I don’t see a whole lot of difference. What kind of protein do you go for? At the beginning I wasn’t so concerned about what type of meat I was eating, but I’m starting to feel like the lean meats are actually better. I have been eating more bacon just because it is delicious. I’m also starting to think a lot more about the quality of my foods and to try and get more organic and grass-fed meats. Do you feel the need to change your diet as you get closer to competition now? All I’ve really been doing is to try to be more dialed in with Paleo. When you’re traveling, how well are you able to stick to the Paleo lifestyle? It’s actually not that hard. I eat a lot of Steve’s Club Paleo Kits. I eat those even when I’m home and in a rush. It might not always be “perfectly Paleo” but wherever you go there is always something Paleo you can get. For instance I was at a bar with some friends and just ordered a plain burger and a salad with some olive oil and vinegar. It was pretty Paleo and it was pretty good! If you can go to a bar and find something Paleo it can’t be that hard. Sometimes you might have to be annoying to the wait staff (laughs), but if you can get past that it’s not too hard. How do you handle your grocery shopping? I usually do a combination of Costco and the farmer’s market. Costco purely because of quantity! There is also the Westside Market here in Cleveland and they sell everything. I usually just buy a lot of meat, fruits, and vegetables and cook once a week. I recently bought a grill and have just been grilling everything. It’s really awesome (laughs). I think that cooking once a week really helps. I even found a recipe where you put eggs and other things into muffin tins and bake them ahead of time, that way you always have something ready for breakfast. I use a lot of Tupperware and store my food in the fridge at school. by Metcon Photos 29Photos | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
Photos by Metcon Photos 30 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
I noticed that you had a Thomas Edison quote on your blog where he describes the doctor of the future as treating patients by instructing them “in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Is that what you envision for yourself when you graduate?
doing a nutrition masters which I think is important because in med school we don’t really get a lot of that. I think it’s going to be really interesting learning about Paleo and the things we talk about in CrossFit and to try to make sense of it all. Do you have an ultimate Paleo meal?
I love that quote, I heard it during a lecture this year and think that it highlights how important prevention is and how many problems could be avoided by living a healthy lifestyle. At this point I don’t know what kind of medicine I want to practice, but I want to incorporate CrossFit, nutrition, and Paleo into it. Are there any Paleo books or blogs that you’ve found helpful? I’ve found recipes on sites like FastPaleo.com but honestly haven’t had time to do a lot of research. I have a month off and that’s on my to-do list. I’m really looking forward to learning more about it. I’m also planning on
Probably some combination of steak and seafood, grilled asparagus, salad and sweet potato fries. I’ve been really into grilled asparagus lately (laughs). What would you say to someone who is just starting out with Paleo or CrossFit? I would say to just stick with it and give it time. It can be really frustrating in the beginning, not making progress right away or not making progress in the way you would like to. What helped me was the idea of “give it 30 days”. I say give it time, let your body adjust and have patience.
Pre and Post Workout Paleo Meal Plan by Stephanie Gruenke RD RegisteredPaleo.com By avoiding foods that stress the immune system, a Paleo diet can boost recovery and help you heal faster between workouts. You can further optimize performance by adjusting your pre and post workout meals based on the time of day and intensity of your exercise session. Pre-workout: Choose what foods work best and give yourself at least 20-60 minutes prior to exercise to allow for proper digestion. Post workout: Try to eat within 30 minutes and remember that low intensity workouts burn less glycogen than high intensity ones. On high-intensity days, be sure to include more starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams, yucca or taro in your post workout meal. On low intensity days, do just the opposite and refuel with plenty of good fats and non-starchy vegetables like green beans, spaghetti squash, and broccoli. Some examples are listed to the right.
AM WOD Pre Workout Meal: • Eggs and Bacon • Smoked salmon • Leftover meat from dinner and almonds *Note: Some people may also prefer to workout in a fasted state Post Workout Meal: • Egg and vegetable frittata with mashed acorn squash • Chicken breast stir-fry made with coconut oil and mixed vegetables • Bison burger in a lettuce wrap with oven baked sweet potato fries
PM WOD Pre Workout Meal: • Macadamia nuts and grass-fed beef jerky • Hard boiled eggs and almonds • Quality deli meat and sliced avocado Post Workout Meal: • Baked white fish with tomato salsa and steamed vegetables • Shepherd’s pie made with lean ground turkey, mashed sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables • Spaghetti squash with grass-fed beef meatballs in marinara 31 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
Learning to Love My Body By Carleen Lessard and Bree Edwards
Bench: 140lbs Squat: 250 Deadlift: 305 Snatch: 120lbs Hang Clean: 150lbs Diane: 4:29 Fran: 4:18
Within the CrossFit community you hear amazing story after story about how CrossFit has changed lives, especially, with regards to losing weight. My story is nearly the opposite of this. Growing up sports and athletics were always an integral part of my life. I played softball and soccer growing up, and then went on to play softball throughout college. After college, I lost my competitive desire. Rather than desiring a strong physique to perform as an athlete, I associated beauty with the waify super model looks that is coveted by millions of Americans. My desire to achieve this svelte body type led to a full-blown eating disorder over a 3-year time period. Eventually, this unrealistic desire to achieve an unachievable body type led to a stint in an Intensive Outpatient treatment program, in June of 2010. I was diagnosed as both bulimic and anorexic. After 3 months, I successfully completed treatment, and slowly began the process of accepting my athletic body. However, while I was no longer destroying my body with an eating disorder, I began destroying it with alcohol. I made the decision to stop drinking in October of 2010. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Insert CrossFit into my life in December 2010: My coach James 32 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
Massa, of CrossFit X-Factor in the NW area of Portland, was introduced to me through a friend. I simply thought he was a trainer, similar to what you might find at a big box gym. I figured his workouts would add to my regular workout routines of running and weight lifting. I knew I needed to implement exercise into my life in a more meaningful way to aid with my recovery process, but had no clue that CrossFit would inevitably change my life for the better.
competition was the Oregon Winter Games in Bend, OR in January of 2012. I took 8th place, and was immediately hooked. I knew then that I wanted to continue participating in more competitions. Competing showed me that I am capable of putting myself into uncomfortable situations and being successful. It taught me about being willing to risk failure and the resulting sense of accomplishment that comes along with that. I know I am capable of ANYTHING now.
The more WODs I did at X-Factor, the more addicted I became. I couldn’t wait to get back the next day to throw down again in a WOD. Then I began to notice something…I didn’t want to be that frail, waify girl any longer. I admired other strong women at the box. I admired that they were doing WODs prescribed. I remember thinking, “Wow she is amazing…I want to be like that.” I began to see why strong is beautiful. As I got stronger, I had this new sense of accomplishment. I began to appreciate my muscles and my body. I began setting big PR’s on my lifts and was finally able to see I had potential.
I competed in the Open this year for the first time, and made it to NW Regional’s where I placed 18th over all. In my first year of competing, I see nothing but forward strides for me. My CrossFit journey has also taught me things about recovery, and I have also benefited in my
With setting PRs and getting stronger, I began to think about competing. I did just that. My first
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training due to my recovery. I’ve learned that if I want to continue being the best I can be I need to be fueling my body appropriately. I cannot fall back into poor behaviors that lead to an eating disorder. I have picked up a new addiction, and that is CrossFit. Yes, it’s an addiction, but a healthy one, that I can pour myself into and be a better person for it. I can’t get enough of the high one gets from finishing a brutal WOD or being cheered on by my CrossFit X-Factor family. It’s a feeling that I would never throw away. Throughout the Open this year, I realized that as much as I loved CrossFit, I had been missing out on one of the best parts…the community. Initially, because of my battles with an eating disorder and alcohol I was reticent about connecting with people at X-Factor
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integral part of my life. I now have a 2nd family and am a part of the X-Factor family. I know they have my back. I am there to support my family and they are always there to support me. We crush ourselves in WODs together, we cry together, we cheer each other on and most importantly we laugh a lot together. We share in each other’s failures, successes and victories. We are in this together. Today I cannot imagine my life without my X-Factor family. They are some of my closest friends and my #1 fans. due to trust issues, but I slowly began to let people in. I began to WOD with the other women at my box. I got to know others, and began hanging out with them outside of the box. I also visited other boxes and the community was always welcoming. Once I realized this, CrossFit became an even more
I’ve always been athletic, but never able to embrace and appreciate my athletic build. CrossFit has helped me to own that and embrace who I am both inside and out. CrossFit has irrevocably changed my life. Strong is beautiful. Today I can finally say, “I love my body.”
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Working with mixed martial art fighters can be a very unique experience. There seems to be an endless supply of fight organizations promising you the best fighters in the world. In reality there are very few individuals who are willing to make the commitment to actually being a true mixed martial artist. Unfortunately there is no blue print to training these athletes. There are a number of variables, rules and factors, you the strength coach must consider. With too many to list, I will layout what in my mind are the most important.
RULE NUMBER 1: Do not assume that strength training takes priority over actual fight practice. Our job is to supplement what the fighter is doing in the ring. You cannot beat up your fighter to the point where he/she is not productive at practice. Too many coaches are taking pride in proving how hard they can make a workout rather than programming a workout that benefits the athlete, donâ€™t be that guy. My fighters only train 2-3 times a week in the weight room. The rest of the time should be spent excelling at their sport. Understanding that fight practice is the priority I try and schedule weight training after sparring. I want their body and mind to be sharp during practice which will allow your athlete a higher learning curve and reduce injury. 36 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
RULE NUMBER 2: Know your fighter: As the coach you must take into consideration that most of the fighters will be coming to you with an injury, either current or previous. Some of these guys have injury charts a mile long, and the desired outcome must not change because you failed to understand your athlete. It is a very rare occurrence when a fighter is able to walk into a fight injury free. So make sure you are in constant communication with your fighter about recovery and diet to keep him or her as healthy as possible throughout camp.
RULE NUMBER 3: Stay in the know! You must have constant communication with the fight coaches. This will help you determine how your fighter is progressing as the big date approaches. Fortunately I get to spar with these guys so I can see and feel their progress daily. This will also help you better understand what they are going through on a daily basis. When you know your fighter you can understand their level of dedication. I will not work with any athlete who is undisciplined. I need to know that this individual is living the life of a professional Mixed Martial Artist and not just wearing a Tapout shirt.
RULE NUMBER 4: Programming: I like to program for my fighters a month ahead. This allows me to see if I have missed or neglected
any specific areas of importance. But this only serves as a blueprint as things come up your plan will have to change (i.e.: injury, fatigue etc). Keep in mind that these guys have real lives also. Many have children, wives, sick family members and all that stress will build up on your fighter. If your athlete is just surviving the workouts then it is time to adjust the training plan. Every fighter will have imbalances and it is your job to find them and fix them. As your fighter evolves so will his training, and with many variables to consider you cannot have a one size fits all program. I like power cleans for my fighters but many of them have serious flexibility issues. With some of these guys only coming to me once they have a scheduled fight, I don’t have the time to teach them all the flexibility or technique involved for a proper clean. The clean high pull is a perfectly good substitute for an athlete who may have wrist or shoulder injuries and has 6-8 weeks to get ready. For past training camps I have relied on interval training, Interval Weight Training or (IWT) developed by Pat O’ Shea with much success. If we have a strength day I will usually follow with a hard effort lasting no more than 10 minutes. This may include 30 sec hard/30 sec less hard 6x air dyne, row, sprint etc. You can add another
block after a short rest depending on where they are in the training camp.
RULE NUMBER 5: Document everything: Make sure you keep tabs on what worked, what didn’t and what you missed. If you had success with the formatted training camps then apply the same principals the next time around. If success was not achieved then evaluate the plan and reconfigure it. I also have my guys e-mail me what they did, how they felt during and how they currently feel. This gives me a better understanding of how my monthly plan will need to be adjusted. In closing: Most strength coaches will never understand what it takes to climb in the ring with someone who wants to rip your head off. With that being said, no matter how well conditioned your athlete is in the weight room it will not prep them entirely for the rigors of being punched, kicked, kneed, elbowed, or bloodied. You can’t replicate how your breathing patterns will vary due to being kicked in the liver in the weight room. So understand that what we do does not take precedence over what they do in the cage. In addition, never stop learning new techniques to make you and your fighter better. Learn from CrossFit,
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Gym Jones, Dan John, Mark Bell, and anyone who has experience working with athletes. Take what works and throw the rest out. By Erik Arevalo Erik Arevalo has been wrestling and training MMA for the past 17 years. He currently wrestles in Japan for the Inoki Genome Federation. Erik has worked with former UFC and Strikeforce fighter Babalu Sobral. You can now catch him working with Former UFC heavyweight and current Strikeforce fighter Josh Barnett.
IWT Format Block I of an IWT session involves a set of 8-12 reps of an “athletic lift,” and in this phase the lift is usually explosive (e.g. Power Clean, Hang Clean, Jerk, Snatch Hi-Pull, etc). O’Shea recommended these be done at 70% of 3RM but different loads and reps may be used to achieve different outcomes. The lifts are immediately chased with two minutes of free aerobic exercise @ 90-95% of capacity. We take this to mean that the objective is to spend as much of the 2-minute (or longer) interval at 90-95% of Maximum Heart Rate. The free aerobic exercise period is followed by two minutes of rest. This is repeated for a total of three sets (or four if endurance is being emphasized) after which the athlete is rewarded with a 5-minute intermission.
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Block II follows a similar template: 8-12 reps of an “athletic lift” though in this phase the lifts are slow, and less technical (e.g. back Squat, Front Squat, Deadlift, etc), then two minutes of free aerobic exercise, two minutes of rest, for three sets, and another five-minute intermission (includes the last two-minute rest). The loads and work interval durations in Phases One and Two may be scaled toward a particular outcome: if explosive power is needed then choose a heavier load, and a more complex movement done for fewer reps, and reduce the length of the aerobic exercise period but not less than 60 seconds. One could also increase the rest periods to ensure full recovery between sets. If using IWT workouts to support an endurance-oriented sport choose lighter loads regardless of the type of movement and do more reps, increase the length of the aerobic exercise period, and decrease the rest between sets to ensure a lack of recovery. Block III involves a circuit of complementary movements, often using bodyweight, 6-12 reps per set, 3-5 sets, with one-minute rest between each. These workouts can be devastating. Source: Gym Jones
Africa’s Finest Metal To Shine at The Games By: Dave Large
Platinum – one of the toughest metals known to man. With 80 percent of the world’s deposits found in South Africa, perhaps the richest of these can be found at a CrossFit box in an unassuming suburb in Johannesburg. This is home to CrossFit Platinum, the team that will represent Africa at the CrossFit Games in July.
the lead after event three. “The strength of each athlete covered the weaknesses of the others,” Reichman explains. “Some of our athletes could cope with those demanding weights, and that set us apart. But compared to the rest of the world we’re not as strong, so from a strength perspective there’s a lot of work to be done.”
“Platinum is a level above the rest, it’s the elite, it’s that extra bit that everyone looks at, and that’s why I chose the name platinum,” says Julian Reichman, affiliate owner and coach of Africa’s top team.
While CrossFit Platinum’s supporters are scrambling to raise funds to send the team half way around the world, these athletes are undergoing their final refinement to take on the very best in the CrossFit community. “Regionals were tough, but the biggest test is still to come. And we’re not prepared to settle for second best,” says Reichman. But the team is under no illusions about how tough the Games are going to be. “We’re up against the best in the
CrossFit Platinum proved their metal by winning the Africa Regionals in May. Despite a dismal start to the weekend the team used a combination of good strategy and a strength advantage to take
world and that’s what it is. We know we’re not going to win but we’re going to make damn sure we don’t come stone last.” Despite Africa’s lacklustre performance at previous Games, and what many feel is a lack of development in the sport in this region, Reichman believes his team will put Africa’s CrossFit community on the map. “We’re carrying the name of Africa, so people will look at us and say ‘If you guys suck, Africa sucks. If you guys are okay, then Africa’s not such a bad sandpit,” says Reichman. “We’re hoping that through a good performance at the Games we’ll be saying: ‘this is what we can do without the support of the world’s top trainers. Now imagine what will happen if we get the true support that the rest of the world gets.’” 39 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
My goal is to inspire, not impress. My name is Candy Rice and I am a 41 year-old mother of 2. I have always been fairly “small”, never overweight but certainly not fit. I was never an athlete in school and never liked to run at all. A few years ago I decided I wanted to start working out as an example to my kids and for myself.
I began by working out in my garage. I still remember crying in the beginning because I would get so sore and felt like I would never get there. I bought the “Body for Life” book and did the workouts. I finally began to see some results, mainly with my strength, but I did not feel like I could really “see” any results by looking in the mirror. I then bought P90x and did that for 2 years. I did see more results and felt stronger than I had before. Still, I felt like there was something better out there for me. A friend of mine had told me about CrossFit and I was intrigued. To be honest, I was absolutely intimidated by it. I had never gone but had heard “horror” stories about how hard it was and how people got these horrible injuries. In my mind you had to be an athlete your whole life to even think about doing CrossFit. And then there was the age factor...the only people I knew who did it were in their late teens and early twenties. I am in my 40’s and certainly did not want to walk in looking like a joke. Finally, I convinced myself to just “try it”. I went to the 2 week “on ramp” program and was still very intimidated. I remember one night we had to do box jumps. I could not even jump on a stack of weights. I was the oldest one in my group and I felt it. After that 2 weeks it was time to decide if I was going to commit and join or not. CrossFit seemed so hard and I did not want to be humiliated every time I went. I decided to go ahead and do it. I still remember sitting in my car before class with knots in my stomach. I wanted to be there so bad, I looked up to everyone there and thought to myself “if I can do this I know I can do anything”. I literally had to force myself to walk in there some days. It was just all in my head. Everyone there was so nice and welcoming. No one compared me or judged me at all. It was the opposite from what I was expecting, I never heard anything negative and was encouraged everyday. Here I am, 7 months later feeling the best I have ever felt. I am in the best shape of my life and I want to tell people everyday how great CrossFit is for your mind and body. I especially want to share my story to inspire anyone my age who is intimidated like I was. If I can do it, they can do it! I am continuing to set goals for myself and to strive for the next level. My goal is to inspire, not impress. 40 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
THE CREEP OF THE
2 MINUTES LATER Mind:
“WTF? What are you doing? What have you been doing? This is the first 50? You should scale down to 25 for the rest of the rounds. The new kids are doing it, you can scale down, you should scale down if you want to be able to walk from the parking lot into work tomorrow.” Body: “Holy crap, why is this so hard? We’re not even using any weight here.”
7 MINUTES IN Mind:
“Scale down, scale damnit! No one’s looking. Oh wait, Merle is looking.” Body: “You suck and these suck.”
I always find it inspiring to read the blog posts and the responses that we receive from our coaches. They are sometimes subtle, or more often overt reminders that we are not only training our bodies, we are also training our minds. Every workout seems to be a reminder of that fact. I think a lot about my mind. I wonder if it knows I am doing that… probably does. I can’t seem to pull anything over on my mind. And that can prove to be the problem. As a former coach and athlete, I used to be faster, stronger, and thinner. I could do an unassisted pull up, 375 squats without stopping and sprints were my preferred method of travel as opposed to a mile jog. Right now those things aren’t true. I think they can be, but right now, I have a daily fight with the S. We can all have our workouts scaled to better fit our abilities. Bands, weight, reps, those can change to better accommodate where we are on the fitness scale. Saturday was one of those days though. The workout seemed very doable. Stupid mind, you should have known better, why don’t you know better anymore? A 400m run followed by 50 squats for four rounds.
“That’s a mile run and 200 squats, you can do that.” Body: “Yeah, that sounds fine. I should be able to do that in 13 minutes.” Mind: “You know your quads will fatigue, but no biggie.”
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15 minutes in Mind:
“One more set, you might as well just do it.” Body: “Thanks for the overwhelming support.”
Done at 20:41 Mind:
“You’re last. You didn’t scale though. But still, you are last.” Body: “Thanks for not that much.”
If the pen is mightier than the sword, then the mind is probably mightier than the body. So what I have learned from Saturday’s squat fest, and what I have always known but tend to ignore, is that we should train our brains as much as we train our muscles. Can’t really do much with one and not the other. By Hillary London Hillary London is a manager with the worldwide leader in sports after wrapping up eleven years as a collegiate lacrosse coach. A once upon a time collegiate athlete, turned black belt, turned crossfitter, Hillary is now focusing on her first two Crossfit competitions this summer. In her time outside of WODs and work, she is currently finishing her first book: A Nun with bad habits.
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A Walk In The Life Of The Most Inspiring Athlete
CoreyReed By Jenna Johnson Every now and then you come across someone whose inspirational story must be told. Corey Reed is one of those people. He is an adaptive athlete who is both blind and a right leg amputee. I was fortunate enough to speak to Corey about his past challenges, present successes, and future plans. Corey has always been a competitive athlete. In high school, he played on the baseball and water polo teams. However, his true passion lay in action sports. “I remember asking my baseball coach to skip a practice in order to go on a snowboard trip. He wasn’t very happy about it and told me he would kick me off the team if I went,” Corey recalls, “But I went anyway. It sure gave me more of a thrill than baseball did!” Once out of high school, Corey explored a variety of jobs. After a few years, he landed a job in Audio/Video, designing and building home theater systems. Working with a close friend from high school, Corey believed he had finally discovered the perfect career path. Once they felt that they were proficient in their trade, Corey and his friend decided to start a company of their own. One night after work, adrenaline and alcohol got the best of Corey and his new business partner. A few bad decisions resulted in a near fatal car accident where Corey, as the passenger, was left permanently disabled. The impact took Corey’s eyesight as well as his right leg below the knee, putting him into a 6-week coma. “Upon waking up, I remember feeling very disoriented,” Corey explained, “I knew something bad had happened. I immediately reached for my leg, and my dad put his arms around me and said ‘it’s going to be alright. We will get through this together.’”
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‘Life altering’ would be an understatement for everything Corey went through that first year. Learning to function without eyesight combined with learning to use his wheelchair would have been enough to bring anyone down. Even the prosthetic was painful and unwieldy, forcing Corey to remain in the wheelchair for the foreseeable future. But Corey Reed is no quitter. He never gave up trying to push himself and learned to make the best of his situation. That’s when Corey’s father came into contact with the man who would reintroduce Corey to action sports. He was the director of an adaptive camp in Colorado, introducing visually impaired individuals to winter sports. After much thought, Corey decided to try returning to his old sport, participating in a week-long class on snowboarding. During the first two days, he tried to ride like he had before the accident with disastrous results. After a particularly bad crash on the second day while he was waiting for his guide to arrive to help him recover, he heard a pair of snowboarders fly by. Purely by the sound of their passing, he could tell they were riding the way he used to – the way he no longer could. That devastating blow brought out Corey’s iron will. From then on, he listened to his instructors. It didn’t take long for Corey to master riding with a guide. In fact, by the end of the week the guides were having trouble keeping up with him! It served as his introduction to the world of adaptive sports. Corey quickly became skilled at snowboarding and wakeboarding, using all new skills to learn the team dynamic of snowboarding with a guide. His favorite adaptive sport? Wakeboarding – the boat is his guide, giving him the freedom to pursue the ride his way. Of course, learning the adaptive style of the sport is significantly different than the way he originally learned. Snowboarding relies heavily on eyesight, so learning to react to instructions relayed over a headset resulted in some spectacular wipeouts. Being stubborn proved to be his greatest challenge, whether it was trying to ride like he had before the accident or not wanting to wear the ‘blind rider vest’ making his acceptance of his disability the key to progression as a rider. Patience is required – you will not be able to start at the mastery level
but if you accept your disability, listen to the people who are trying to help you, and become your own advocate you can succeed. Granted, not all of the challenges that arise as a disabled athlete are bested through sheer determination. For example, Corey’s prosthetic leg was a huge hindrance for years. Originally, he met with a traditional prosthetics and the leg hurt – it never fit nor functioned right. After discussing his troubles with some fellow adaptive snowboarders, he discovered a facility that specializes in building prosthetics for high performance athletes. Corey found that the right equipment makes all the difference. With a properly fitted and functioning prosthetic, he was able to push himself to his limits, not the limits dictated by faulty hardware. One piece of advice for any prosthetics wearers: if it hurts, if it doesn’t fit right, if it doesn’t function right then replace it – there are always better options available. As a natural athlete, Corey began branching out into competitive sports. While he seeks a competitive guide for snowboarding, he has already started competing in wakeboarding and is currently looking at CrossFit competitions, Triathlons, and potentially the Paralympics. So how does Corey train for these competitive sports? Corey does CrossFit five days a week and also rides 100 to 150 miles a week on his Wattbike. He also finds time to lift weights for strength training as well as tandem road biking. Once the weather improves, he plans to switch the weight training with wakeboarding. Though new to CrossFit, his favorite Workout Of the Day (WOD) so far consisted of a 500 meter row, 50 overhead squats, 100 pull-ups, then 500 more meters rowing. It gave him a great opportunity to do his favorite exercise – pull-ups – while pushing him outside of his comfort zone. Maybe next time we can throw in some running (Corey’s least favorite exercise) to shatter the comfort zone completely, even if running is pretty boring! After his first real WOD, Corey could see the advantages to the
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CrossFit mentality. It immediately pushed him outside of his comfort zone, gave him a hell of a workout, and was a load of fun!
it. Don’t let a bad choice define who you are! Believe in yourself and others will believe in you too.
Of course, being a blind amputee does present special challenges in relation to CrossFit. Jumping rope, for example, is extremely difficult blind due to spatial orientation (without the ability to see, moving around the room while jumping is impossible to avoid, leading to embarrassing situations of running into and smacking people..) and being forced to do it with one leg is brutal enough to warrant switching exercises.
A sense of humor is also important. While taking life and his training seriously, talking to Corey was a lot of fun. Just speaking to him gives you a good feeling and no topic seemed taboo, even the more painful ones. It became clear that ‘living the choice’ involves maintaining a sense of humor. If you cannot laugh at yourself, if you cannot find the humor in a bad situation, you will never be able to maintain a positive attitude.
As with any training program, the right equipment is key. For Corey, the right equipment was the Wattbike, which he described as having a ‘love/hate relationship with it’ – when your workout is complete, you feel great. While the workout is in progress however…
Similarly, if a friend or family member has suffered a disability, don’t be another disability for them! Stay positive for them, encourage them, and believe in them. Help them, don’t baby them! Corey says that is one of the things that always aggravates him – he’s not fragile, don’t baby him!
Nutrition is another key element of any training program. Corey always sticks to an organic whole fruit diet, though he does say people are always pushing him toward the Paleo (caveman diet) lifestyle. He sticks with a well-balanced diet of complex carbs, rich in protein, organic free-range foods without trans fats or artificial junk. Interestingly, he was on a good diet before becoming involved in fitness – his formal training in massage included nutritional training.
I asked Corey what message he would like to relay to the world. His answer? Don’t ever stop believing in yourself. Set goals for yourself, things you never imagined you could do but always wanted to. Set the goal, work toward it, discipline yourself, and then reap the reward. If you are in a comfort zone, get out of it, that is the only way you can grow as a person. You will learn so much more about yourself and your limits – you will never know how far you can go until you push yourself.
How does Corey stay so positive? He explained that his faith was instrumental, giving him the ability to release his burdens, to let it go and move on with his life. The trick is not to dwell on the negative, accept what is then move on. No excuses. As Corey says, ‘live the choice’. Accept responsibility for your actions, live your life, never give up. We all make bad choices, small and large challenges may follow, but the key is not the problem but how you overcome
One of the themes that kept coming up in my conversation with Corey was ‘no excuses’. Despite all the challenges presented by loss of vision and loss of a limb, Corey is actually happier now than he has ever been before. Why? I asked him that question; his response was that he believed the accident happened for a reason. The reason for bad things may not be obvious initially, but if you look for the positive in every situation you will find it. Even if you do
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not believe bad things happen for a reason, you will always find some positive outcome when you look for it. Without the accident, Corey would have never pushed himself into the world he now thrives in. The friends he’s made, the skills he’s learned, the life he lives – none of it would be the same. What’s next for Corey? The Extremity Games just ended, so it’s time for the Malibu Nautica Triathlon and physical training for the snowboarding and wakeboarding competitive seasons. Corey is not only an exceptional athlete but an amazing person with an outstanding philosophy. I feel honored to have met him and been able to tell his story. Though he lost his vision and leg, he never gave up, never made excuses, and excelled. He pushed past the limits others may have set on him, became his own advocate, and never lost his sense of humor. By living his choices, he mastered his disability and proved that believing in yourself is key to living up to your potential. Remember, live the choice!
To learn more about Corey’s career, you can follow him: Facebook: www.fb.com/blindbkboarder Twitter: www.twitter.com/blindbkboarder His business page at fb.com/coreyreedsportsandmedicalmassage Corey is also branching out his corporate and personal mission called ‘Ride with Core’ which can be found at: Website: ridewithcore.com YouTube: youtube.com/ridewithcore Facebook: www.fb.com/ridewithcore Twitter: twitter.com/ridewithcore Additionally, you can learn more about adaptive sports, including Corey’s involvement and how you can help, at these locations: National Sports Center for the Disabled: www.nscd.org Challenged Athletes Foundation: www.challengedathletes.org Athletes with Disabilities Network (ADN): www.adnpage.org Extremity Games: www.extremitygames.com
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Life Changing By Kelly Green
My name is Kelly Green and I am currently a sophomore in high school from White Plains, New York and this is my CrossFit story. CrossFit has changed my life completely and for the better. My mom started CrossFit before me, and at first I thought it was such a joke. How was it possible that my mother was able to lift that much weight and not look like a body-builder? After a while I decided to give it a try, and it took me until January 2012 to realize how intense and amazing CrossFit really is. From the moment I stepped foot into that box I knew my life would be changed forever. I started going to CrossFit daily, and even did the “Paleo Challenge” and I immediately saw results. In 6 weeks I lost 3 pants sizes and began to feel the best I’ve felt my whole life. Now I eat, sleep, and breathe CrossFit and my ultimate goal is to make it to the CrossFit Games. Every day I wake up and head to school but what’s really on my mind is how am I going to get to CrossFit tonight?! The days when I have no rides are the days that I take the bus. Anything that will get me to that gym. CrossFit 48 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
IS my life. It changed my whole mindset. I train at CrossFit 914 in Elmsford and my trainer is Mike Mckenna. Mike is the owner of 914 and is in the top 10 of the Northeast Region for the 2012 CrossFit Games. Mike has helped to transform my life. He trains me privately once a week where we mostly work on power lifting and other methods to get me stronger. The oneon-one WODs I have with Mike are extremely challenging but also a lot of fun. I wouldn’t want to train with anyone else! Mike makes me push myself to my limits and he knows what my capabilities are. He has also taught me to become a more confident and positive person. I don’t know what I would do without my CrossFit community and family now! Yes, my friends may think I’m crazy because rather than eat pizza for dinner I eat steak and eggs, but that’s fine because this is MY new lifestyle and I wouldn’t want it any other way. CrossFit has changed my life and is the best thing I have ever done. I will continue to do this for the rest of my life.
Ryan Garrett Photos by Jason Morrison CrossFit Pulse in McDonough GA
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The CrossFitter Looks at
I recently turned 40, and it really does not sting as much as it should because I can honestly say I am healthier at 40 than I was at 30 all thanks to CrossFit.
Once upon a time I used to run and mountain bike all the time and was in decent shape. When I first started teaching 17 years ago, the students used to call me “Mr. Fox” as in Michael J. Fox. But as time went on and I became less and less active and ate worse and worse and got fatter and fatter, kids began to say I looked like Drew Carey or George Costanza. I would occasionally go for a jog or a hike. I even joined a few gyms, but I just got bigger and less healthy. When Globo gym opened up in town, I joined. I would time my 30 minutes on the treadmill to coincide with ‘Judge Judy” or the ‘O’Reilly Factor’, I would look at a bunch of equipment I had no idea how to use, I talked to nobody, would get intimidated by the guys with no neck, and I would stare at all the silicon at the pool. Despite Globo gym being 24-7 with showers and a locker room after the first few months I was down to about going once a month: maybe. One August day I was reading the local paper and saw the ad for the free Saturday class at CrossFit Fury in Goodyear, Arizona. I decided to give it a try. I think that first WOD had a couple of 200m runs and some air squats, I remember huffing and puffing, I remember total strangers urging me on, and I remember feeling very sore by the time I got home. I never felt this sore leaving Globo gym. I came back a couple days later and found myself jumping on and off a big monster truck tire, quite different from all the fancy equipment I used to just stare at. Two days later I was doing a 400m lunge. Fortunately about 30 minutes later at about the 250m mark, the trainer told me I had gone far enough. At work, the next day, I was trying to walk up the stairs when my colleague asked me “Am I OK?” I remember telling him I was sore from doing this “crazy new workout called CrossFit.” For almost the entire next year my co-workers and students had no idea what I was talking about. Things are very different now, as a number of my fellow teachers and some students have started CrossFitting themselves. I was hooked (addicted??) almost immediately. For the last two years, I have hardly missed a WOD and can honestly only remember 1 time that I did not come to the gym for a reason other than illness, or life getting in the way. For that first year it was morning WODs at 5AM (so I had no excuse not to go), Gold Bond and Axe showers at work, and breakfast from a little black container. I remember telling a trainer that first week, when a WOD had pull ups, that I could do “none.” I remember hoping to run 400’s in less than 3 minutes. I remember being so 50 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
bad with the bar that those first few prep classes I was only allowed to use the PVC pipe. Now it’s almost two years later: down over 30 pounds and in full CrossFit. I am at the gym at least 5 times a week, and I know most of the people by first name. Many of the people I started with are still there. Sometimes I wonder if I am the same person who spent over a year at Globo gym and spoke to NOBODY. I can handle way more weight than I used to. I can get several double-unders in a row now! I can jump on and off a 30 inch box. I run 400’s in less than 1:30. I have taken 12 minutes off my 5k time and I have run a mile in under 7 minutes for the first time since middle school. I even recently had some blood work done where the doctor said my results are typical of people who are “athletic.” Me athletic? However despite tremendous improvements, very often I finish last or close to last on many WODs or still can’t RX the weight. Trainers are always telling me to be more “explosive,” and very often I still am not. On the surface that might be disappointing, but when I check Beyond the Whiteboard almost all of the time I see how much faster I was, how many more reps, or how much more weight I lifted then last time. This reminds me every time that it is not where I finish or how much more weight than me someone lifted, but rather where I am compared to last time. Or more importantly where I am compared to almost two years ago when I could barely touch my toes. Sure, naturally who wants to always finish last, but instead of focusing on that, we should focus on how much better was this than last time. On a daily basis, I know I am doing things I never dreamed I could do a year ago, and that trumps place any day of the week. I am never going to compete in a CrossFit Games, and sometimes I won’t even RX. However, in nearly two years at CrossFit Fury, I have met many great friends, got stronger, faster, and lost weight. But most importantly, I am healthier for my son and not a heart attack waiting to happen. RXing for me is being able to keep up with my 5 year old. Thank you, CrossFit. Leonard Ornstein Goodyear, AZ
Chris Burke Photos by Andy Williamson Crossfit Power Performance in Loveland, OH
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Improvement through Human Connection By Julie Foucher
Last October I had the fantastic opportunity to spend a weekend with the Barbells for Boobs team on their Amazing Grace tour across the country. I, like most CrossFitters, always jump at the chance to participate in all sorts of local events whether they may be fundraisers, competitions, or seminars. Do a workout or two, cheer some people on you just met twenty minutes ago, and then hang out and swap stories with these awesome, newfound friends? Yes, please! And if we can raise money for a great cause, well that’s even better. The events I experienced at CrossFit Chicago and CrossFit DuPage were no exception, epitomizing the camaraderie and power of the CrossFit community. Not too long before heading to Chicago, I had watched a CrossFit Journal video in which Greg Glassman discusses the “Philosophy of CrossFit.” Coach describes this philosophy as “The belief in the improvability of ourselves and each other.” He goes on to describe the manifestation of this philosophy in one of the most common occurrences at any CrossFit event, or in any box on an average Tuesday evening for that matter. As the last person to finish a workout fights through the last few rounds and repetitions, “The crowd goes wild. Why are they going wild?” Coach asks. He answers, “Because they know that the person out there hears them. You’re believing in your capacity to improve someone by cheering for him.” Now that is a beautiful and powerful thought, and one that was on my mind throughout my weekend with B4B. Heat after heat after heat of CrossFitters performing Grace, I saw this philosophy come to life. Though an uninterrupted stream of cheers could be heard throughout the day, I couldn’t help but notice that these cheers amplified at the end of each heat, as the last few finishers lifted their barbells for reps 28, 29, and 30 faster than reps 1, 2 and 3. Crazy, right? It’s not as if the cheers of the crowd suddenly changed these peoples’ physiological states, enabling their muscles to extract oxygen more efficiently so that they could lift the barbell faster at the end of their workout. Then what happened? What was it about this mass of screaming CrossFitters that elevated their peers in this time of struggle? As I ponder this question I can’t help but think about a painting by Sir Luke Fildes titled, “The Doctor.” I was first exposed to this painting my freshman year of college, and it seems to be a favorite in the profession, as I’ve already run into it again at least three times in my first four months of medical school. The painting depicts a physician in the 1880s watching over a dying young 52 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
girl at her bedside while her parents despair hopelessly in the background. In a time before antibiotics, there was nothing more this doctor could do medically for his patient. Despite this fact, he sits with her deep into the night with the belief that in so doing he might somehow improve her condition, or at the very least, relieve some of her suffering. It was the belief in his capacity to improve his patient by sitting with her that drove the doctor to do so. I believe the physician-patient relationship, though different in its polarity, is in many ways reminiscent of the philosophy that Coach describes for CrossFit. Even with the rapid advancement of medical technology, in many cases this image of the 1880s doctor is still seen in hospitals today – there comes a time when more cannot be done medically to improve a patient’s condition, and at that moment the best doctors depend on their ability to provide comfort simply by being there and connecting with their patients. Again we see that it is the belief in improvability through these connections- between physician and patient, between two CrossFitters- that elevate individuals. Magical, isn’t it? One aspect of the B4B events separating them from other events such as competitions or seminars lies in their very purpose. This event wasn’t about doing a workout and having a good time, it was for a much greater cause – raising funds for Mammograms in Action and providing support for those affected by breast cancer. The fact that we had all gathered for a cause much larger than ourselves or even the small community in which we resided at that moment seemed to amplify everything about the usual camaraderie of CrossFit events that keeps me coming back. The cheers were louder, the Grace times were faster, and the conversations among complete strangers were deeper and more thoughtful. At this event, it became apparent to me that maybe Coach’s philosophy extends beyond the improvement of the person standing next to you by cheering for him or her – maybe what unites the entire community, what allows us to walk into any CrossFit box in an unfamiliar city and feel welcome, is the belief in the improvability of “each other” in a much greater sense – maybe it’s the belief in the improvability of humanity.
MOVEMENT QUALITY By Luke Kane
Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to compete at the Australian/New Zealand CrossFit Games Regionals competition in Wollongong, New South Wales. Similar to many other places in the world, the Australia/New Zealand region has a booming CrossFit community and the Regional competition only served to emphasize this. The competition was fierce, and the standard of athletes in the team and individual competition was incredible. Participating in the teams’ competition was one of the best experiences I have had. Over the course of the weekend, I learned a lot about myself as a CrossFitter, but I also learned a lot about the sport of fitness. CrossFit has redefined, or should I say defined, what it means to be ‘fit’. It has taken the ambiguity and subjectivity out of the debate about who or what sport has the fittest athletes on earth, and created an arena for people to actually measure their fitness against their peers’. The Regionals competition saw an amazing gathering of fit, strong, passionate and driven people ready to test their ability against that of their peers. Every single competitor would, in every sense of the word, be considered very ‘fit’ by the average person (success for the CrossFit model!). A feature of this year’s competition was the apparent strength and power emphasis; everything seemed to be heavy. So it could have been assumed that everything would be easier if you were a bigger, stronger athlete. To a certain degree, the competition reflected this; there were an abundance of big, strong men and women rising to the challenge that the weights presented to them. However, the most beautiful thing to see was how the best athletes of the weekend were not only strong and powerful with great endurance, they also displayed the best movement quality. What do I mean by this? The athletes that performed the best over the course of the weekend had the most 54 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
efficient movement and were able to express their strength and power better than other athletes who may have been ‘stronger’ in the raw sense of the word. Australia and New Zealand’s two best examples of this were surprise, surprise the two winners of the Region: Kara Gordon and Chad Mackay. There were two events during the weekend’s competition that highlighted this point. Kara Gordon in Event 2 setting what was a world record 11.56; a time only beaten by Annie Thorisdottir (11.47), and Chad Mackay winning the snatch ladder with 265lbs (120kg), and stamping his authority on the men’s competition. Event 2 was a brilliant test of fitness, requiring an array of physical attributes to perform well. Kara’s performance showed this brilliantly. After completing her 2km row she blazed through the 50 pistol squats; demonstrating sublime stability, range of motion and movement control, even finding time to wave and smile to her fans in the crowd mid pistol. Her quality and efficiency of movement on the pistol squats, rarely looking unbalanced, put her in a fantastic position heading into the hang clean section of the WOD. Arriving at the hang cleans Kara was able break off large chunks of repetition every time she picked up the bar, expressing great power, but maintaining technique into her final repetitions. Event two was the arrival of Kara Gordon on the global CrossFit stage and she managed to do it with a smile. 2010 Games veteran Chad Mackay’s win in the snatch ladder, which included 240 double-unders, 2,520lbs worth of completed snatches and a 265lbs (120kg) equal PR all in 13 minutes, was an amazing display of movement quality and control. While there were bigger men in the field who listed bigger PR deadlifts and squats, once the weight reached 225lbs
the number of athletes completing lifts plummeted. The technique displayed by the athletes varied from horrible to incredible, and the man with the best technique was the last man standing. Chad did what no other athlete chose to do: lift with the same technique and tempo from the first lift to last lift, reinforcing the good movement patterns he had practiced over and over again leading up to the competition. Chad is a rare talent; an individual with incredible focus and determination. Other athletes could learn a lot from his performance on the weekend. Chad didn’t seem to be the fastest or most explosive athlete on the field in any of the events; but he was, however, the most composed and most efficient mover on the field in almost every event. While other athletes, perhaps tempted by the intensity of the competition, would compromise lifting technique for the benefit of speed, Chad’s technique on every lift, of every event, was executed in almost textbook fashion. While other athletes rushed through their movements, Chad maintained a steady pace, moving with the least amount of wasted energy. This composure and method meant Chad never had to take extended rest periods,
avoided failed repetitions, and went almost the whole weekend without a ‘no rep’ call. Although it is something that should be (hopefully is) reinforced at every CrossFit Affiliate, the value of maintaining technique under fatigue is not always seen at the competition level. Lifting technique is taught a certain way, not simply for safety purposes, but because it is the most effective and efficient way to move weight repeatedly. Chad Mackay and Kara Gordon were both fantastic examples of how maintaining movement quality at the expense of speed works out faster in the end. Strength, power and speed are amazingly valuable commodities to almost any athlete however all of these attributes are enhanced with better movement quality. As the CrossFit model of fitness demonstrates, there is no benefit in being the most powerful, strongest or fastest if you can’t express those attributes in real life situations. The CrossFit Regionals competition was a testament to this, and shows us that movement quality is often the difference between a good and great performance. Congratulations CrossFit for creating such a successful test of fitness and human movement and congratulations to Chad and Kara for being the best examples of fitness and human movement Australia and New Zealand have to offer.
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STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY By Marsha Christensen
200 was the magic number. I don’t know why it wasn’t 175 or 198. I just know that the day I stepped on the scale and saw that number, something inside me changed. I had been uncomfortable for a long time, but I guess as uncomfortable as I was...it wasn’t enough to inspire a change. Arriving at 200 pounds and knowing that I weighed more than some men, finally inspired a change. I was never extremely overweight as a child or teenager, but I wasn’t naturally thin either. As a teenager, I struggled with my own body image. I was never satisfied with my reflection in the mirror. I took diet pills and starved myself from time to time, but I love food, so it was a constant struggle. Many people assume that I gained weight as a result of having 3 children, but I would be lying if I said that were the case. I gained weight because I was trying to be super mom to 3 children, ages 7 and under. I took no time out for myself...ever. My whole life was about what I could do for my family. The more I cared for the people I love, the more I neglected myself. I found an escape from the demons of my past, and I comforted myself after long, hard days with food. It was a vicious cycle. The more overweight I became...the more I lost my own identity and the more I ate. The more I ate... the more I hated myself, and the more I hated myself... the harder it was to change because I didn’t feel worthy. At 200 pounds and a size 16/18, I was bigger than I had ever been in my life. I felt like I was trapped in a body that wasn’t mine and the problem seemed insurmountable. It was like being down in a deep hole that I couldn’t climb out of. I had no hope and spiraled into a severe depression that required medication. The medication helped me cope, but the problems remained the same until the day I stood on the
scale and saw the needle point right at 200. I knew that very moment that something had to change. I couldn’t continue to abuse my body with food. I couldn’t continue to feel hopeless. I had to find a way to regain control and make changes. Over the next year, I went on a journey that took me from 200 pounds and 39% body fat to 130 pounds and 14% body fat. I had lost weight and I was finally skinny. It was after I lost the weight that I began to learn the importance on strength and started putting less focus on being skinny. I went from being a member of an all-women’s gym where I felt safe and knew what to expect, to hiring a trainer at another gym, to later finding CrossFit where I learned to love the unexpected and challenged myself. When I began my journey, I was broken and fragile. I was sensitive and afraid of failure...so afraid that I never tried anything new. I changed and grew and with every change I made and every small success I saw, I got a little stronger and a little more sure of myself. For several years, I went through my life focused on maintaining my weight loss and being a stay at home Mom and part-time CrossFit trainer. It wasn’t until a chain of events began to unfold that I started to really think about what it means to be strong, rather than just being skinny. My entire life I had wanted to be skinny and I chased an ideal that constantly set me up for failure and disappointment. I wasn’t taught to value strength. I always believed that strength was reserved for men or bodybuilders. It wasn’t until I found CrossFit and began lifting weights that I changed my mind about this. Even then, it was an internal struggle. I wanted to be strong, but the stronger I got, the “bigger” I felt. To me... big meant fat. It took me a while to recover from this way of thinking and learn to value strength. I realized that I could be strong and be feminine, so I stopped thinking that I had to be skinny and began to see the connection between my mental strength and my physical strength. In the summer of 2010, I posted a picture on my
Facebook page of a tank top I had personally made online that said, “STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY.” It started a buzz that eventually led to starting a specific page and took me down a different path than I ever thought possible. Suddenly, after years of blogging to a small audience, I had a platform where I could reach more people and try to inspire them to believe in themselves and be strong in a different way.
the person that is willing to take others by the hand and show them that they CAN change. I want people that feel hopeless like I once did to see that there is never a hole too deep to climb out of and know that if I was able to do it in spite of all the obstacles I faced, they can too. STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY is not just about how much you can lift. It is about what I consider to be true strength. True strength is about overcoming what comes naturally to us. It’s about replacing the desire to do nothing with the drive to do more than you ever thought you could. True strength is about quieting the voice in your head that tells you that you can’t and replacing it with one that tells you that you can. True strength is not about never making a mistake or breaking down. It’s about recognizing our mistakes and doing better the next time. True strength is about having the courage to do things that you’ve never done before...things that are not easy. True strength is about getting rid of excuses and feeling empowered whether you have achieved your goals or whether you are just starting. I truly believe that if I can teach people to take some of the focus off of what size they wear and replace it with this idea of true strength, I can make a real difference in their lives. Being skinny used to be my personal goal, but that has changed.
What started as an innocent, personal post of my new tank top, turned into this movement that took on a life of its own. The photo of my STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY tank top was all over Facebook and people wanted to buy tank tops like mine. From that moment forward, I had to quickly find a way to fill this need. Our community of people dedicated to strength continues to grow everyday to a level I could have never imagined. Websites and online pages about fitness and strength are abundant, so some may wonder how this one is different. I like to think it’s very different...so different that it is changing the world in a small way and empowering people in way that has been missing until now. STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY is not all about muscles and looking good in a bikini. It’s not a place solely for people that excel in the gym. It’s not exclusive or for one kind of person and it’s not a platform for me to publicize my personal success. I want the focus to be on the thousands of men and women in our community that I help motivate. STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY and the sister page STRONG LOLA are pages that umbrella all people that want to be strong, not just physically but mentally too. I share my stories and thoughts about how the way we think and how strong we are mentally effects how strong we are physically. I’ve tried to shatter the traditional image of strength and show that strength can come in many different forms and in all shapes and sizes.
Although I know not everyone will agree or like me, knowing that I can inspire even one person to take charge of their life and make a change is worth the risk of exposing my inner thoughts and feelings. I want to be
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It has been humbling to know that I can be an example and a motivator. I was the girl that never made it up the rope in gym class, the one that never played a team sport and has no natural athletic ability. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else...days that I want to hit the gym and days that I feel less than motivated. There may be people that look better or that are physically stronger than I am, but I’ve learned a lot about strength through my own journey to weight loss and through coaching people in the gym I work at. Every success I’ve had has come from hard work and an unwillingness to give up. I think what people appreciate most is my authenticity. I share my ups and downs in an honest way, and I don’t profess to be perfect.
STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY!
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COUPONS Right for Your Box?
Have you considered using Groupon for your CrossFit box? Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website, currently in the United States and Canada, which provides limitedtime deals to localized areas. Perspective box owners, new box owners and even the veterans may be able to gain something from putting themselves out there with Groupon. We recently caught up with Blair Morrison, 5th fittest man in the world and founder of CrossFit Anywhere to see what his experience has been with Groupon. CrossFit Anywhere has been open for over a year, and Blair was happy to share his experience with using Groupon to help successfully grow his box. At first, Blair was a little hesitant and had some objections to trying Groupon as a method to get people in the door at CrossFit Anywhere. “I thought I would get bargain hunters who are not serious about joining the gym and we would end up training them for nothing,” he said. “I didn’t want to get the wrong quality member.” One of the common occurrences with Groupon, and what Blair found to be true, is you actually only see 50% of those who purchase the Groupon. A number of people buy the Groupon because it is such a great deal, but they never end up using it. Blair set the Groupon cap at 300 for his box and sold out in three days. I asked him if he got to keep the money of the deals not redeemed. “You still get the money even if they do not use it,” he said. “Which is a good thing because you can take that money and put it towards gym equipment - things to keep the box running and to better serve your existing membership.” However, Blair wasn’t looking for “free” money; he was looking to grow CrossFit Anywhere. One thing that was obvious when talking with Blair was his passion for CrossFit and serving his members at CrossFit Anywhere. He didn’t want hundreds of uncommitted people running through the door because he knew it would take away from the one-on-one attention provided at his box, which is a very important aspect of how CrossFit Anywhere operates. Blair talked about how CrossFit can have a stigma as being too intense for most people, but he was surprised by what ended up happening with the use of Groupon.
BLAIR MORRISON SHEDS LIGHT ON GROUPON FOR YOUR BOX “What we actually got were people who were too intimidated to try CrossFit at full price, they were interested, but they were kind of scared,” he said. “People would use the Groupon to dip their toe in the water, and the ones who realized that it wasn’t as intimidating as they had thought, would sign up.” CrossFit Anywhere has had two successful runs with Groupon in the one year they have been open. Blair told me before his first use of Groupon, shortly after they opened, they only had 35 members, but by using the Groupon special they doubled their membership. I asked Blair what he recommended to new box owners who may want to give Groupon a try. “It is a good time to use Groupon towards the beginning of your opening because that is the hardest point for a new box owner,” he said. “At the beginning you are nervous you aren’t going to be able to pay your rent if you don’t have members coming through the door.” Blair also wanted future and present box owners to know the reward outweighs the risk. “Someone buys a Groupon for 12 sessions for $25, they show up for the first two sessions to give it a try and they quickly find out it is not for them,” he said. “If they don’t like it they are not going to go through all 12 sessions, so you really don’t have to worry about wasting 12 sessions on one person.” Blair said the ones who stick around are the ones you are looking for, and the real reason you should give Groupon a try. “The people that stick it out for all 12 sessions are normally the ones who sign up because they really take advantage of the bargain,” he said. “You get people who love CrossFit. They talk about it and get their friends involved and they are there forever; it’s great.” Blair even suggested to CrossFitters searching for a box to take advantage of Groupon. He discussed that you need find a box that will work for you, and Groupon is a great way to save costs and pick the right box that fits you as an individual. In financially-pressed times affiliates need to find creative ways to get people coming in their doors. There are a lot of options out there and Groupon is just one of them. There are many sites that can help you offer the same deals to your local area. Maybe it is time for you to try something new at your box. By: Jerred Moon from End of Three Fitness 59 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
I did my first WOD in the fall of 2006 and never looked back. By early 2007, I had already received my affiliation with CrossFit and had converted my Taekwondo studio into a CrossFit box. At the time, you couldn’t pay someone to do CrossFit. People thought I was crazy and warned me that I wouldn’t be able to make a business out of it because of how extreme it is. After a few months of throwing mud against the wall to see if it would stick, I finally started to figure out a couple things; like scheduling, billing and how to handle different levels of my members’ abilities coupled with not having enough equipment to go around for a WOD. Additionally, we had 9’ high ceilings and were crammed in a small 1,800 sq ft space. It was not only physically taxing having to work double shifts morning and night. It was also mentally nerve racking, figuring out how to keep every one of my members satisfied. It took me a couple years, dozens of members, a few coaches, articles written on CrossFit.com’s forum and a couple personal mentors to finally gain a little traction. I was shortly thereafter able to pay rent without robbing my home equity line of credit, which had dwindled down to a couple hundred dollars. I finally sold my prized possession in 2008, an ‘03 Ford Cobra that I loved to death. Yeah, I was a muscle-head (I’m an oppressed muscle-head now), but I had to get my priorities straight if I was going to make a business out of this CrossFit thing that I had become obsessed with. Like many CrossFitters, I am naturally competitive, so I addressed my initial difficulties as challenges that I needed to attack aggressively. I realized that if I could convince people to give CrossFit a try while I provided them with a program that they enjoyed participating in a few times per month, I could make something of this. So, like most other box owners, I took on the challenge and started to figure out how I was going to turn my little box into a successful fitness business. My Greenlake (Seattle, WA) gym, which was my first, had only about thirty members in its first year. One day a coach of mine asked if I would open up a box in Bellevue, WA. I thought it was a good idea at the time since I 60 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
was so obsessed with CrossFit and was confident that CrossFit was not just a flash-in-the-pan fitness program like many of the other fitness fads that pop-up with the latest trend and then quickly fade away. I signed a lease for a small 1,200 sq ft warehouse space in Bellevue, a large suburban city to the east of Seattle. So here I was a year into my CrossFit venture with two boxes with the same name and I was the affiliate owner of both of them. This was a first for CrossFit HQ, and remains a very unique circumstance. A couple of months after acquiring my second affiliate, CFHQ made it a rule that no one could own more than one. I was grandfathered in. I remember opening up my second box thinking that all I needed to do was break even and I would be satisfied. Well, that never happened. Instead my Bellevue box took a toll on the success I was having at my Greenlake facility. In my excitement to capitalize on a new fitness brand, I cut my legs out from under my feet. I barely made enough to pay the rent and so I had to sell annual memberships at a discount to get by from month to month. It wasn’t until a few articles were published through a handful of different publications that I started to see an influx of prospective members calling and visiting the gym to inquire about CrossFit. I used these publications to build a marketing piece to reach out to the public. It began to work in the fall of 2007. I finished 2008 with around a hundred members in my Greenlake gym and around fifty in my Bellevue gym. In 2009, I networked like crazy, became an ambassador with Lululemon, which was amazing for business. Lulu brought a bunch of young women into the box, which helped balance out our overly masculine vibe that had developed. In 2009, we won the CrossFit Games Affiliate Cup which is another thing I used to build a marketing campaign around. By the end of 2009, I was at nearly 125 members in Greenlake and 75 members at my Bellevue gym. I was still very far away from being able to make ends meet and felt my life was getting hectic trying to keep
my pulse on everything from programming, website management, marketing, employee management, etc. I didn’t have a payroll system for my employees and all my processes were based on shooting from the hip; I was winging it. As crazy as it may seem, I was proud of where we were, even though I felt disorganized and inefficient. This is where I made the most important business decision and flipped the tables over. Over the next two years, I took my membership from a combined 200 members to nearly 1,000 members. I will share with you some of the basic steps of what I did. Every issue of WOD Talk I will go through the steps I took that changed everything for my box and made it into the successful business it is today. In the next issue I’ll go over some basic fundamentals that will change your box forever and even possibly double your membership. Don’t believe it can happen for you? I’ve seen it happen for Northwest CrossFit and have helped others do the same. If you are interested in increasing your box’s game, please contact me through my WODTIME business coaching program at email@example.com I will do everything it takes to help you! Jake Platt Principal and CEO of WODTIME
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Having A Great Website Has Helped Me Grow My Business: • Put some time and resources into developing your website. • Make sure your website has the proper messaging for the market you’re trying to capture. For instance, if you want average Joe and Jane’s in your gym, don’t have pictures of big dudes lifting huge amounts of weight on your site. My wife helped me understand this. Big, muscular men doing crazy stuff will turn off the majority of women that would otherwise be interested in trying your program. Think about it this way: if your mom visited a gym’s website and the first thing she saw was a big burly tattooed dude deadlifting 650 lbs, wouldn’t she most likely be intimidated and explore a different option? • Your homepage should be your landing page for selling your gym to the mainstream individual or whichever demographics you wish to reach. Your homepage should be like an electronic brochure. Include your logo, an inviting landing picture or pictures, location address, phone number and contact email address. There should also be a short one to two paragraph welcome letter staring your potential member right in the face. Many people use phones nowadays for internet browsing. Minimize the steps needed for them to contact you. Don’t make them browse all over your site just to find a phone number or email address. In regard to contact email, I have found that a simple link to the contact email address is more effective than contact forms for prospects to fill out. Many individuals find questionnaires to be bothersome and impersonal. You can choose to add basic items that will appeal to potential clients, but they certainly don’t need to know the WOD. • Promote a beginner series or On-Ramp series with future dates that prospects can choose from. Your beginning CrossFit page should elaborate on the beginner program that you have created and should emphasize the fun, supportive and encouraging atmosphere that your prospects will experience. Be clear that CrossFit can be effective for anyone and that you and your coaches will help them every step of the way to ease them into the program safely. • Your website should have a separate section that caters specifically to your members. It is in this section that your members will find your WOD and gym news, track their workouts and socialize with other members. We use WODTIME obviously, but if not WODTIME, you should have a program in place that allows your members to track their progress over time. Wiping their scores from the whiteboard at the end of the day is in my opinion a waste of useful information. 61 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
6/15/12 12:52:53 PM
Personally, I think the word blog is lame. Regardless of what you call it, it is a must for all CrossFit gyms. Before you go guzzle down more fish oil, realize I am not just talking about your WOD page. Your blog should consist of the WOD and your thoughts, emotions and spoken word for all of your followers to read, enjoy and learn from. If you work on a blog like you work on your snatch it can be a very powerful tool for your business. Looking for inspiration? Ben O’Grady mentions 7 CrossFit Blogs to check out1, along with a few honorable mentions. A blog should not only speak to the current members of your facility it should be used as a tool to introduce new members into your family. In CrossFit people like to say their WOD page is their blog. Then they list T2B, power cleans, and games standard push-ups. The everyday person has no idea what a “WOD” is much less games standard or any other abbreviation that you might conjure up while sipping on coconut water. The lessons here is to speak to the everyday person, if something needs an explanation or video demonstration then give it one. Below are my five points as to why blogging is important for any business and should be a top priority for your CrossFit gym.
WHY YOU NEED A BLOG 1. Education I have said this before and I will say it again, people want to buy from a friend not a stranger. If you help educate your current members they will be members for longer. If you educate a prospect they will be grateful and more likely to join. For example, if you were going to pick out a new shirt and you read about the company through their blog. Then found a video on how they made their shirts, what material was used and the exact fit and feel that would make you more likely to buy right? Same thing applies to 62 | WODTALK.COM | July/August 2012
all aspects of business. Educate the consumer to increase their chances of buying. In the CrossFit biz this is even more important. People are afraid of the barbells, intimidated from the YouTube videos and nervous about being exposed to something that makes them breathe heavy. It is your job to convince them that you are a professional. It starts with your online presence.
2. SEO Search engine optimization is how people find you on Google. Obviously you want to be found and an easy way for people to find you is with more content. If your site is not updated with the information people are searching for then you will not be found. If you have a few articles on how to pick a good CrossFit gym, double your snatch and make Paleo mac n’ cheese you will get found through search. By the way there is no such thing as Paleo mac n’ cheese, come on now! I wrote a piece about SEO for 321Go Project2 if you are itching for more from me be sure to look for my article there.
3. Marketing Your blog can be a sneaky place to put in a sales pitch without people even knowing it. What if you filled a whole post with five dramatic before and after pictures, or three solid testimonials? That is a call to action for all your potential customers who are reading behind their computer, but have yet to come in. Will that motivate them? A great example of this is CrossFit Windy City. They have a great video on there “Getting Started”3 page that motivates the intimidated client to take the first step and come into the box. Be sure to check it out for some motivation. Do you have a new product in the gym? Fish oil or protein; why not write a piece about it. Provide some education and studies of the great effects and it will act as an up sell for current members.
4. Get Personal People want to relate to the coaches, owners, and trainers at your facility. Believe it or not they look up to you and value your advice. A blog is the perfect tool for you to answer the same question you get every week in one place. What should I eat before a workout? How many days a week should I come in? If all these things were answered on your blog you could direct your clients back to one place. This would not only answer current client questions, but help with SEO and answer prospects questions too.
5. Credibility You could be the best trainer on the block and not a soul is going to know but your block. It is 2012, create, spread and dominate online. Using a blog to leverage your ability as a fitness professional is essential to building your business. CJ Martin of Invictus is a prime example. He has a great blog check it out CF Invictus Blog4. This has set him up to be one of the most credible people in CrossFit. He puts out high quality information almost everyday with the help of his training staff. Over the course of a few years he has built up hundreds of articles
that help provide some amazing information for his community and many others. CFLA5 is another great example of an informative and educational blog that motivates current members and drives in new traffic. Now you realize the importance, have examples to work off of and are motivated for success. So before you hit Grace, sit down and start typing. If you need more reasons check out this article by SEOmoz - Why you should blog6 “From a purely financial standpoint, blogging has had a considerable impact growing SEOmoz’s bottom line.” Oh it will make you more money? Yes. Put down the Muscle Milk and get your fingers on the home keys, its time to type! If you want to increase your reach and make your blog a powerhouse, reach out to me Geo@Fitrilla.com 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6)
benogrady.com/7-crossfit-blogs-you-should-be-reading/ 321goproject.com/seo-for-crossfitters/ vimeo.com/20276696 crossfitinvictus.com/blog/ crossfitla.com seomoz.org/blog/why-you-should-blog
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WOD Talk is a CrossFit lifestyle magazine. This months issue feature a sit down with CrossFit Games athlete Julie Foucher, Olympic lifting...