The view from the top of an insanely tall tree at UC Santa Cruz
Happiness. Joy. Positivity. Beauty. All these things and everything good are always right there in front of you, it's your state of mind that allows you to see them all or not. Have you ever looked at something and just didn't give it the time of day, just walked on by, or even scoffed at it thinking how insignificant it is? Then, all of a sudden one day you see the same thing and you are blown away at how amazing it makes you feel? The thing itself did not change; it’s you that did.
I knew all along during my time of negative thoughts and extreme lack of motivation that I would find it all again. After all, I have always prided myself as being one who saw the bright side of life, and spent more time seeing the good in things than the bad. And it's just so funny to think that out of the blue you can see the world in a whole new light. I'm not about to say that I am ready to go skipping through the woods, rejoicing and singing songs or anything. All I am saying is that I have remembered what my purpose is in life and have re-focused my attention to what I like and what makes me feel alive and good. There are still bad things there, but I am systematically moving them away from me so that I can be the person I've known I wanted to be for so long.
It's incredibly powerful, and awesomely self-strengthening to realize that it's completely up to you to feel good or bad. If something is happening in your life, you ALWAYS have a choice to keep it, or get rid of it. I know that there are times when that legitimately feels impossible, but the fact of the matter is, you really do have the power to be in control.
When you see your life spiraling in the wrong direction. When you are getting sick, getting overly stressed, acting out, expressing anger, sorrow, fear, and you are becoming generally more angry for any reason at all. It could be your job, your family, your relationship, your living situation, literally anything. You need to take a moment here and there to assess whether or not some of the things in your life, or the choices you make on a daily basis are the right ones for you. Here's a bit of a light-hearted example. Over the past few months I have been watching a crap-ton of TV shows on my computer. No joke, I would probably spend an average of about 4 hours a day watching shows (honestly, it had to have been more than that!). I was doing this to avoid having to face the fact that I was acting like a little bitch and avoiding all the things I should be doing. I was feeling so down, sorry for myself, and so many other things that I overwhelmed my own brain and just decided I would do my best to check out. I didn’t go run around the woods, I didn't go climb a tree by the water. I didn't hit an extra workout, hell, half the time I didn't even hit ONE workout. I could watch an entire episode of Arrested Development without even cracking a smile. Now that is freaking bad! The things that made me happy were right next to me all along though. Sort of hanging out, waiting for me to give them attention because they knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid them forever. I guess my happiness is smarter than me.
And all it took was a little change of perspective. A little time where I could rip myself away from the negative things bringing me down, where I didn't have a computer and couldn't escape to my TV shows. When all of a sudden you have a handful of incredibly supportive people next to you, asking you to join them in things you know you love doing, rather than you having to find the motivation to do them yourself, your eyes will just flash open. For me it happened with three major things: running up the crazy sand hills at Baker Beach and looking over the Golden Gate Bridge while gasping for breath and dripping sweat. That was nice. Climbing a tree in Golden Gate Park, somewhere away from the cars and people. And walking a freezing, windy, empty beach at Ocean Beach. Just a couple days and all of a sudden I could not keep fooling myself into being a lazy, negative person. My natural personality reemerged and it was so unbelievably invigorating and exciting.
For me, it was simply putting myself in a situation where people that naturally supported me doing the things that make me feel good could surround me. And where I could not avoid doing things I liked to do. I was able to remove all negativity from my life for a couple days and that was all it took. Maybe all I needed was an hour, or perhaps I would have needed a week or a month. Either way, the simplest way to do it is to step away from things that bring you down, surround yourself with things that lift you up, and boom, you're good to go!
I know it's all way easier said than done, but saying it, or finding out what to do to make your life better is so simple. Age-old quotes and sayings are age-old for a reason; they work. Get rid of all the negative in your life, and surround yourself with the positive. If you choose to make excuses about why your life sucks, that’s on you, it’s your damn choice to make things better. If you know what you want out of life, pursue it with more passion and energy than anything else in the world. And if you don’t know what you want, constantly try new things so you can learn what it is you were built to do best. I am a rare case it seems. Rare in the fact that I have known what I wanted since I was pretty young. I wanted to play professional baseball. I mean, I REALLY wanted it. I never knew anything else besides that desire. And when baseball became a reality, that same passion and drive was found in wanting to inspire others to become healthier. I hope to inspire people, not just through writing and coaching, but through living my life the way I always talk about and share with others; you know, practicing what I preach. And I preach to be honest with yourself, wear your personality on your sleeve for everyone to see, good and bad, and do what makes you feel good and right (as long as you're not hurting others).
I still have plenty of things to work through, and I will always have negatives in my life. It is ridiculous to think or expect that everything will always be wonderful and perfect. But if you spend most of your days completely understanding what it is you are living for, it makes it so much clearer and easier to figure out how best to deal with the negative and the bad.
I am waking up each day now thinking about teaching and coaching. And right next to those exciting thoughts is an eagerness to spend my quality time with the barbell and the outdoors each and every day. And the people in my life that bring me warmth, and respect me for who I am will inspire me today. And the ones that question me, and bring me down with their negativity will not get my attention.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
One of my many 'splorin adventures in the hills between the Bay and the Ocean
Well, besides the crazy programming with traveling around to so many affiliates, and the planning for the Courage Games 2011, I have been at the highest level of stress I have ever been in my life. This difficulty has come since around the holidays when Lindsey and I began discussions on our future and how we wanted to approach it. As many of my readers here know, our move out here was based on literally ONE thing: to live in California. Both of us were leaving quite a bit in the East Coast and we knew that going into this crazy move. So after settling down a little bit (living together for the first time as well!) we began the long discussion of family and future. In the end, we came to the difficult conclusion that our future would be better off back in the East Coast.We initially planned to really sink in here for a while, up to five years, but while enjoying what California has to offer us, we would have in the back of our heads that we would most likely be leaving at some point soon. This began to weigh on me as I left so much in the DC area to recreate my business here. And I was struggling with the idea of getting everything going here and then leaving it all once again to start fresh in a new place. I just could not see this as a plausible choice for me and what I want out of life. So, when push came to shove, we realized that it would be best for both of us to pack up our gear and head back East to really sink our roots in and settle down. This has been a very, very tough process for both us as we both really like it out here. I have had nothing but positive experiences in the short time exploring the greater Bay Area and I have made friends and connections quicker than I ever thought possible. While I do not struggle very much with the actual decision to move back East, what I do struggle with is the knowledge that I am leaving days like today. Today, as I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen counter, windows and patio door open to the 68 degree weather, birds chirping and not a could in the sky. After I finish this I will head over to a park right on the Bay to do some tumbling and ring work, then it's off to the gym to train a large group of kids, workout with a couple training buddies, train another group of athlete, cook dinner and read some of my book. That right there is the perfect life to me (if Lindsey was not traveling for work it would truly be perfect!). I know we will have this life, and better (because Lindsey won't be traveling so much) back East, but this weather, and these people! Man, I will miss those a ton.
A wonderful bike ride along the San Francisco Bay
So what it is looking like now is that I will be returning to the greater Washington, DC area in early April, setting up shop in The Garage again while pushing like crazy to open up a much larger gym. I have a whole slew of things prepared for getting up and running when I get back there, so all you Washingtonians, Marylanders and Virginians better be ready!In the mean time, I have folded my CrossFit affiliate in Burlingame out of 1st String and have partnered with CrossFit San Mateo. I am helping out a local High School baseball team as well. Once I have the CrossFit Kids class, Powerlifting/Strength class and baseball teams up and running, and once the Courage Games 2011 are over and done with, I will bid farewell to lovely California as my place of residence and return to my home town area of Greater Washington, DC. To all my athletes who were so committed to me before I scampered out West, please send me a note and let me know if you are game to get back into things. I will set a date for my return and will plan on having people back in The Garage within a couple days of that date. So spread the word, and get yourselves ready to have a Spring and Summer filled with massive gains!To everyone I have met and connected with in my short time in California, you better believe I will be back out here on a VERY regular basis to workout, hang out, explore and chill with everyone. California was everything and more than I expected and I will be be visiting every chance I get. And of course, each and every one of you will have a place to stay and train if you ever want to visit the East Coast; and I would expect a ton of you to come let me show the same hospitality all of you have shown me since I have been out here.So, for the final 1.5 to 2 months I have left here, I will be re-visiting gyms, exploring more areas, introducing more people to CrossFit and basking in the intensely active calm that is Northern California. For those of you who have never been out here, get your butts out here, it freaking rocks! I look forward to the life Lindsey and I have ahead of us. I am eager to grow my business and see where it takes me. I am excited with the knowledge that I will be living in an area I truly do love. Yet I will travel back with the bittersweet feeling of knowing I am leaving behind something that connected with me in the deepest of ways. I will miss California intensely, but I am overjoyed with what is to come.
7 miles from our house, looking out over the Pacific
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Yeah, so this is a bit of a cheater, but, being the first one of many, I thought I'd get a little practice in! So, for the first official visit of my CrossFit Community Month, I headed out to meet, ME! CrossFit Courage became a physical location only a couple months back and is located out of 1st String Athletics in Burlingame, CA. But the business has been growing like wild-fire over the past three years. I started things off as Josh Courage Training in early 2008 and things blew up so fast. I had a few 9 to 5ers, but the base of my membership came from the High School athletes, mostly baseball players. With my background as a pro baseball player, I just seemed to have a connection with these guys. And when I hooked up with Headfirst Sports (a major player in the baseball world in the greater DC area) I got my first couple guys in. Once those guys were in for a few weeks, they spread the word and a few more came in. This just kept on happening and soon enough, by mid-2009 I had a base of a bit over 30 regular clients, and had a good deal over 150 strong utilize my services in some way. Ichaged the name to Courage Performance and was featured on TV a handful of times, showcasing my somewhat unconventional (not so unconventional to all you CrossFitters out there) methods. And by the end of the year, I had built myself a pretty decent following both in the gym and on my blog. The good year was rewarded with the winning of Best Personal Trainer in DC, and things took off even faster.To the frustration of the community that I worked so hard on building, I made the life choice to up and move out of DC. And my girl and I packed our gear for the West Coast. Now here, I have been getting after it to get as involved as possible in the CrossFit community and work towards my ultimate goal of promoting fitness - practicing an adventurous and active lifestyle and sharing it with everyone.As of now, my spot in Burlingame is at it's most introductory stages. I have a whole lot of stuff going on as we speak, mostly with this Community Month, but also a few other things, so I am wonderfully overwhelmed with all things fitness and CrossFit. I love the space I have, the people I have met in that space, but I am looking forward so much to checking out all these other affiliates and seeing how they put things together. It's going to be such a fun adventure!So, for the workout, the damn head coach, Josh Courage decided to pick "Murph"... A lot of CrossFit spots chose this workout for New Years and I though it would be a great one to throw in there before the craziness begins. I warmed up a ton, because of the cold, then just went into it; slowly. I struggled from the last 400 of the run on and I finished in an exhausted 33:59. I KNOW this is a sub-30 minute one for me, I need to focus a bit more on getting better sleep and better fuel (I need to eat MORE!). It was fun all the same, as working out generally is. Now, I am resting up and getting things all worked out for the next 28 days. Lastly, and something I will be mentioning on every visit, check out the COURAGE GAMES 2011 happening on Saturday, February 19th. Expecting a huge turnout, so if you want in, sign up asap!Visit number two is over at CrossFit Pleasanton tomorrow. So excited! Never Stop, GET FIT. Josh Courage
It seems like forever but we arrived, with plenty of drama, back to California, welcomed by even more rain! I woke up this morning with all sorts of energy geared towards getting back on track with the workouts and the writing and I started with a bang:
Run up Sweeny Ridge trail for time
5 x 5 floor press w/ 2x max strict pull ups between each round
KB swings 62#
The run was great. It's 1.8 miles pretty much straight up and within 5 minutes there is no way to catch your breath. The best part is that it is a narrow, paved, switchback road and you never really know when the end will come. Took me 19 minutes flat (with a quick phone call from Lindsey that I totally needed to take, she rocks my world, what can I say). I soaked in the view from the top, through the rain/hail that was crashing down on me, then headed back down in a blazing 13:21.
Back at The Gym, I had a couple guys in to workout and I hit my own. The floor presses felt great! As much as I talk trash about bench pressing, there totally is an invigorating feeling about heaving a weight off your chest. Floor presses are interesting because of the added challenge of pressing without momentum. I was able to get 240# for a smooth set of 5 and was pretty happy with how strong I felt. The pull ups between sets were brutal but such an interesting challenge. I banged out 12 and 11 on the first round, then 9 and it was 7 and 8 for the remainder of the work block. I'm pretty happy with being able to endure such a tough exercise under a TON of fatigue at that rep range. I would love to be in the 10 range, but this was better than I expected.
The metcon was short and sweet. Finished it in a muscle-fatiguing 3:02 and was very happy with that time. The combo of jumping lunges to KB sings was killer, and this led to the push ups feeling kind of like a recovery. My arms are going to be shot tomorrow! I'll have the video up soon.
Catching up on work now, I have officially set up the Courage Games 2011 - Winter Edition website and registration and am so excited to host another sweet event. I have also had a lot on my mind over the holidays which have inspired lots of topics I want to write about, especially with the New Year approaching. I'll have one up tomorrow!Never Stop, GET FIT.Josh Courage
Yesterday we had a decent group come in for the "StrongMan Saturday" workout, but it ended up being a little scattered thanks to the absolutely crazy rainstorm that hit us. And what's even crazier is the rain that's coming down right now. Apparently there IS a rainy season around here, but people are freaking out at how much it's been coming down as of late. It is coming down like mad right now.
So back to yesterday's fun. Things got started with breakfast at the place Lindsey and I have found to have the best breakfast around these parts. We took JP over there and ordered our food. Interestingly enough, not too long after our meal, all three of us did not feel right. JP and Lindsey were able to have that feeling subside, me on the other hand, well, I felt pretty much like crap the entire day. It was brutal. Even today I am still feeling a good bit off. Ugh.
So, we started off our workout yesterday by hooking up the harness to the car and running 100 meters with it. Immediately following the run, we zipped into the gym and held a heavy barbell over our heads for as long as possible. We ended up getting two rounds each with this, I was able to get 185# for 59 seconds, then 205# for 41 on my second attempt. Time and rain cut that off at two rounds each, then we wasted a ton more time trying to figure a way to get some unique pulling work in. JP came up with the sweet idea to wrap our climbing rope around the high pull up bar and tie a KB to the end. We then went three times through each of pulling the weight up to the bar (3 times), 50 weighted jump ropes and 30 sit ups. It was pretty cool.
We then finished with a birthday workout for Justin. It was his 17th birthday so we hit 10 burpee pull ups and 7 broad jumps for 3 rounds. This was a sneaky hard one. I finished in the high 3-minute range and my arms were spent, pretty sue the rope pulling had a good amount to do with this.
Well, anyways, after a skipped metcon on Friday, a spread out workout yesterday, and a LONG rest day on Thursday, I am itching for a great workout. So, today I am headed in to test my clean and jerk numbers and then attack two metcons! Despite having an upset stomach, I am really looking forward to just getting after it today.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Had a good bit more progress today on the platform and am happy with how things are rolling along. With an insane week staring me in the face, I got myself prepped for some snatch work, snatch pulls, 5x5 back squats and a pretty tiring looking metcon. With the snatches, I was still struggling with my typical issues of spreading the feet wide on the catch, and having my knees shift forward at the bottom of the squat. But, I was getting under the bar quickly and sticking the weight over my head very well. I generally fall forward with the oly lifts, but today I was sitting back and was able to get 175# with hardly any issues at all. For my second session of serious snatching, I am very happy to know that I am WAY further along then I thought I would be. With my goal of 210# loomng all the way in March, I am feeling confident I can blow that number out of the water.
The snatch pulls felt strong, just tried to stay quick and solid throughout, worked up to 235#. Then, I went on an increasing set of 5x5 on the squats, working up to 305# and getting those last five with ease. Very happy with the depth and control of all those.
Finally, after a few minute break I hit the metcon (I noticed a typo of 4 rounds on "My Workout" over there to the right of the blog, that would have been brutal!). 3 rounds of: 400 meter sprint, 30 GHD sit ups, 20 KB swings (44#) and 12 pull ups. This was not overly demanding at all, and I was able to get everything unbroken. It was just tiring, the hips were pretty fatigued from the days session. I finished up at 11:23 and feel like that is a decent time. I am sure a sub-10 is possible with this one, just didn't have the amount of intensity in me I guess.
I realized that I sometimes struggle, without even noticing it as I train, with not having someone to compete against. Doing benchmark workouts is one way to go about making sure I am going at proper intensity, besides that, all I can do is go all out every time. I figure that at this point, I should know what a workout should feel like afterward, and if I don;t feel that way, I didn't go heavy or fast enough. Simple as that!
Check out the video from Saturday's Strong Man fun!
Have a double-whammy ready tomorrow, should be a good one!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
SORRY FOR THE SIDEWAYS PICTURES!! (Trying to figure this out...)
Today marked the first of so many Saturday adventures at CrossFit Courage. The group was small, but we all got a damn lot of great work in, and I am extremely confident we'll see this Saturday fun grow to epic proportions. With so much equipment in the process of coming in, we kept things simple, and brough to the back parking lot and side street a Honda Accord with harness, two barbells with 10's and 25's to add on, a sledge hammer and small tire for striking. A good warm up and we hit the workout:
3 alternating rounds of:
25-40 meter car pull
25 meter barbell farmers walk
30 hammer strikes
Hell yes was this fun! It was an all-out sprint through, and Lindsey, Justin and I all challenged our times each round. Justin and Lindsey used just the barbells (Justin threw 10's on them for the final round), and I used 25's on mine (95# each hand), then moved up to 115# each hand for the final round. Justin and I were sub-2 minutes each time, except for my last round where I got 2:03 thanks to the added 10 meters and heavier farmers walk. Lindsey had some pretty impressive improvements reach round, especially given the awesome struggle and victory with those farmers walks!
We then hit 4 rounds each of a 40 meter car push. Then, finished up with a burn-out 100 meter car push sprint. Legs were jelly after that. For those of you out there that want to get in on the fun, "Strong Saturday" is offically happening every single Saturday I am in town at 11am. So if you want to have a blast and work your ass off, come join us.
Now it's off to see The Nutcracker, then have a well-deserved rest day tomorrow, with plenty of fuel and football to prepare me for the absolutely BRUTAL workload I have programmed in for next week!
[Video of "Strong Saturday" will be posted tomorrow]
Never Stop, GET FIT.
On the schedule for today was a fun, technical trail run. But, given the crazy weather we've been having here in Burlingame, and the workout I wrote up for the classes, man, I decided to give the workout a go! This seemed like an all-out effort of a cool collection of movements and I got excited to see how it would feel.
Similar to the Filthy Fifty, the movements were put together in such a way that would make the next one coming up that much harder. And, given what we all had done in the days before, it would add that much more toughness to it.
For Time Do:
10 ball throws 20#
30 toes to wall
20 pull ups
20 pull ups
30 push press 42#/25#
10 ball throws
This basically was throwing a dynamax ball as far as you could, running after it, and throwing it back. Toes to wall are where you lie down with you head about a foot from the wall, then perform a dynamic le g raise where you reach your feet up to a point about 4 feet up on the wall. Under-overs are laterally stepping/jumping over a bar about waist height, then returning underneath that bar. Suicides (if you don't know this, you missed out on child-hood sports!) are performed on a basketball court; you run from baseline to the foul line and back, then to half court and back, then to the far foul line and back, and finally to the far baseline and back. Good times. I was able to get through the end at 8:14 and was pleasantly spent! It was filled with enough awkward movements to keep the mind firing, but yeah, it was an all-out sprint to complete all the moves, really liked this one.
In other news, I was able to get my Pull Ups Rig almost completely built up today! At this point it's totally functional, but I need to get a few more pieces on there to make sure the shaking is completely minimized. I can't wait to have this thing at 100%. I'll be posting up a fully detailed write-up on how I put it together, so if any of you all want something similar, you'll have the means to do so.
Official announcement of the 2011 CrossFit Community Month is coming tomorrow!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This is your new blog post. Click here and start typing, or drag in elements from the top bar.
The workout today called for a bit of deadlifting (my legs are getting their butt kicked this week!), some floor presses paired with RDL's, and a fun little weight vest metcon. I was able to very comfortably pull 445.5# for a single, and this got me excited to work up my 1RM in the near-500# range next week! The floor presses and RDL's were great supplemental work, and I got to 87.5 and 100 kilos respectively. Then I moved on (after a few minutes rest) to my metcon:
100 meter bear crawl
10 jump overs
75 meter bear crawl
10 jump overs
50 meter bear crawl
10 jump overs
25 meter bear crawl
10 jump overs
10 jump overs
This was just fun. The 20# vest made it pretty tough of course, but it was cool. I wanted to get to the track, but bad rain and my inability to organize my time led me to stick to The Gym. So, I used the GHD as my hurdle, which was actually pretty cool. The only tough part was that I had to turn around a bunch when getting the longer distances on the bear crawl. Physically it wasn't all that demanding, it was just doing new movements, and that was the point. I finished in 11:06 and am pretty sure it would be a bit better in a different setting, like out in the woods somewhere!
On another note, things are starting to build up for me at the gym, clients are beginning to come in and I'm excited, I miss training people! Also, I got the final fixings and screws needed to get my pull up rig up and running in the gym, so I'll be putting it all together tomorrow morning and posting about how I did it! Can't wait to have this thing up and usable!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Don't Know, Just Like This Picture
Today I had track work programmed in and to tell you the truth, I was excited. I hadn't hit the track in a while and I was eager to see where things stood. To top it all off, I had a TON of energy throughout the day! Well, one thing led to another and I ultimately decided to hold off on the running until later in the evening. A couple points to make on this choice: first, I was comfortable with it because I really like the idea of changing up training times every now and then, especially if your goal is to compete. second, well, to contradict the first, I was uncomfortable with it. I don't really like training in the evening. So because of this, and the fact that I had a little extra energy flowing through me, I figured I could overcome my issues with evening training and put up some good numbers despite the time of day!
Well, I was WAY wrong. This turned out to be one of the toughest workouts I have done in a very long time, my legs were heavy as hell, my breathing was strained and it felt like I was running up hill the whole time. I literally hit a wall, and I mean a very distinct wall right at 200 metes, and it was pretty much crap after that. My times were legitimately depressing and I am pretty concerned about this. Sure, it could have just been a bad day, one of those really frustrating ones where you feel great, but just don't have the ability to perform to your known ability; but, no matter what it was, I just did not have it.
This got me thinking a little about failure. You see, every day we have something programmed in to do, whether it be fitness related, work related, family related and so on. We have certain expectation of ourselves based on passed experiences and we generally strive to meet or surpass our last efforts at a given task. But what happens when we fall short? What happens when we crash and burn? What happens when we fail?
Well, I'm not totally sure what you do, but I know what I do. I wake up the next day and get after it with the same intensity, 100%. I do this because I know I"ll pop out of it. I know that one day I'll run a 72 second 400 meters, and a few days later I'll fly across the finish line in 61 seconds. That's just how the body is. You can't expect to be "perfect" every day. In fact, you'll probably be a good deal less than "perfect" more often than not. But the whole idea behind this journey we all take is to pursue perfection, right? If we were to actually attain perfection, we'd have nothing more to work towards and that would just totally suck. If we have nothing to pursue, our journey is as good as done. No more training, no more challenges, no more glorious finish lines, no more progress, yeah, you get the picture. So, embrace the down days, let it be your fuel for tomorrows training, and keep on working hard!
Perhaps a little over-motivating there, but for some reason I am really feeling good about my training program, and having a rough day just pumps me up for tomorrow workout, so, it shines through in my writing. I actually have an article in the works about failure (along with two others...), so I'm sure I'll be touching on this topic a good deal more, and in greater detail of course, over the next few weeks or so. So, here's to our next workout! Here's to giving it our all each an every day, no matter what we define as our all that day! Here's to the journey!
Never Stop, GET FIT.