As the sun set over San Francisco, I drove on down to Potrero Hill to the most contradictory of CrossFit affiliates that I have visited, CrossFit Potrero Hill. Why is it a contradiction you ask? Well, the second you pull up, as a CrossFitter, you would know. In the re-done, well-manicured area that clearly used to be just massive warehouses, you see the huge neon “World Gym” sign shining through the night. Yep, CrossFit Potrero Hill is located INSIDE a “dreaded” globo gym.
So, I strolled through the front doors, signed in at the fancy front desk just past the food and drink bar and began to make my way through the gym. Sure, it’s you typical globo gym, but I definitely do have to give them a handful of credit, not just for the fact that they welcomed CrossFit into their space, but because for a globo gym, it was a pretty well equipped one. But I am not here to write about them, I’m here for the CrossFit! Head coach and owner Eric welcomed me into the cage and I instantly felt at home.
So, you walk down a hallway that the cardio equipment makes and you make your way towards a fenced in area in the back corner of the gym. Walk through the fence opening and you are instantly transported into CrossFit world. There’s a sweet pull up rig wrapped around the back curved wall, there are stacks of bumpers, kettlebells, bars, med balls, boxes and all the necessary gear. It’s not the biggest space, but it’s perfectly organized and somehow felt like it was one of the biggest boxes I had been in.
There was a pretty good sized class in for the evening, and each and every one of them seemed pretty pumped to get after it. It was a diverse group as well and I was really excited to sweat with them all, despite my complete fatigue from so many workouts to that point. With Eric leading, and coach Michael assisting, we all went through a great warm up while chatting amongst ourselves. We then prepared for the workout:
3 rounds of:
Tabata toe taps
20 ring push ups
100 double unders
This turned out to be a really cool workout. And actually it was the perfect burn out post crazy couple days of programming. The way this one was run was to do the toe taps (basically starting with one foot on a plyo box and then jumping up to switch feet. Each time your foot touches the box counts as one rep), then directly into the push ups and double unders. I swapped in wall balls instead of push ups as my shoulders were about broken in two. There was also about a minute or so break between rounds. Eric wanted us to attack this workout without counting reps or time, he just wanted us to get after it as hard as we could and see if we could handle the mental challenge of just pushing ourselves. I like this; I like the idea of not always working against a clock. We as CrossFitters get a bit over-involved sometimes in the classic “what’s your time”/”what’s your number” concept of training. I think that if you can every now and again turn the clock off and put your pen down and just get after a work out is a great test of where your fitness stands. Do you have the ability to work against yourself just as hard as you do against the clock? This is a key, not only for competitors, but also for any athlete out there. To make true gains in fitness, you need to be able to push yourself through self-motivation. Eric did a great job of getting all of us to understand this, and I was really impressed with the effort everyone put forth. Each person took it upon themselves to “get that number” on their tabata, and while I could not see the push up efforts because I was on the wall ball, I saw some pretty hardcore efforts with the jump ropes all around.
It was an interesting experience to be working so hard, with a group of people on ellipiticals watching us. It was the perfect example of being active for the hell of it, and being active for a reason. You can find endless articles and opinions from CrossFitters on globo gyms and none of them are in the least bit understanding and kind. Hell, I have been known to share my sarcastic and somewhat insulting words with people about the “benefits” of spending money at a gym like that. I don’t really want to get into that topic here at all, but I will say I still share mostly the same opinion I always have towards what those places will do for you. But having a CrossFit affiliate literally inside one, well that just bleeds contradiction like I have never seen. It shocks me that people can really sit at their leg extension machines watching a group of divers athletes banging out 3 rep max back squats and getting after prowler pushes without feeling bad about themselves or getting up and actually working hard themselves. The way I view it, Eric and his crew have stationed themselves in the best place you could possibly be to share with the world how great CrossFit actually is.
CrossFit began as a grass-roots fitness concept and has grown faster then, well hell, it’s like the Facebook of fitness! But most of these affiliates hide themselves; garages, warehouses, small locations in obscure spots. I love that about CrossFit of course, I love that if you are someone who wants to get fit, you have to find places that will help you do it. There’s no advertising or anything like that, just go find it. But CrossFit Potrero Hill plops themselves right smack dab in the middle of everything that is wrong with the fitness industry and just do their thing. I applaud them for allowing themselves to stand out. I applaud them for showing, rather than saying, how great CrossFit is. I WILL be back there for a workout or two in the coming months, it was quite an experience!
CrossFit Potrero Hill
290 De Haro Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-5124
As I finish this post I have one more visit in the Bay Area. I am so pumped to be able to get back on my own program after so much unknown this past month, but I will miss being able to train with all these different athletes! I know I’ll be getting back to a lot of them as I prepare for the CrossFit Games!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
After my visit to CrossFit Burn, I turned the car towards San Francisco for my next two visits for the day. I got into the city and pulled into the heart of downtown and found a spot outside of CrossFit KMSF. I must say, next to San Francisco CrossFit I would say this one was the most unique of all my visits. So, ladies and gents, welcome to “the basement”!
The main sport CrossFit KMSF is located within is actually a pretty well-known training center in the city. Krav Maga is the man focus in the facility, but plenty of other classes take place inside their doors. When I left, I was super excited to see a huge group of people getting prepped for a TRX class in their main training room. As an avid promoter of this training tool, I thought it was so cool they utilized it with such a large group. And while I have never personally taken a Krav Maga class, I know quite a bit about the Israeli self-defense method and hold it in very high regard.
To get to the CrossFit within the facility however, you must walk through the man floor hallway, past the couple huge training rooms, down a narrow stair well and into a very narrow hallway. You pass a couple smaller training rooms and then turn left into a room about 600-800 square feet in total space. The ceilings are low, half the floor is concrete, the other half is super worn carpet. There’s a makeshift pull up bar on both sides of the ceilings support beams, four sets of rings strung up from DIY braces up there as well. Just inside the door was a decent stack of bumper plates, and back towards the far end of the room were a few beat up squat racks and a GHD. Yeah, this place was about as thrown together as you could possibly imagine, shoot, my old Garage Gym back in Maryland had more total equipment in it. But I’ll tell you what, the coach, the athletes, the workout, the energy; holy cow did this place rock!
Everyone who was there warmly greeted me, and I found it very easy to talk with anyone throughout my time there. Kat, the head coach and veteran CrossFitter in this awesome communities short life so far was super open and welcoming to me. I had a great time talking with her before and after our workout and was so intrigued by how her place was put together. She is a level 2 coach, she has been seriously involved in CrossFit much longer than most people have even heard about it. And here she is, in the basement of a self-defense center, in the middle of San Francisco just doing her thing. There was something so simplistic and respectable about how she ran her spot and I was reminded of a discussion I have had with training buddies in the past: you don’t need a fancy gym to have a good business, all you need is a good coach and good programming to have an awesome following. And when the athletes start rolling in, they will stay, and they will spread the word. The athletes I met that came through the doors seemed like good, serious, dedicated fitness junkies. I mean it’d be tough to imagine a snooty old lady walking into a basement gym and not walking away in disgust. No, the people who came and stayed were people who understood that it’s all about the training. These people were so proud to be a part of that gym, it was inspiring.
Similarly to CrossFit Burn, the early evening class was understood as a little more free-for-all than others as it was that shaky after work time for most of the athletes. Because of that, we all just got warmed up on our own, and the workout was performed in heats.
10 rounds of:
10 deadlifts 135#
10 push ups
God my poor arms. Already completely destroyed, my shoulders needed a real good warm up before attacking 100 push ups. A group of us got a couple laps around the block (always fun to run around a city around rush hour!) and then set up for the workout. I went in the second heat and had a sub-5 minute goal in mind for this one. Well, that crashed around the 6th round. I was able to go pretty much unbroken until then, but around the 60th push up my arms just had nothing left. I was able to get all the deadlifts like it was nothing, not even a pause on any of them. But with the struggling push ups I ended up rolling across the finish line at 6:20. A couple heats later there was one guy who crushed it in sub-4!
I hung out for a while talking with Kat and a handful of other people. It was real cool to see how people just sort of seemed to keep rolling in. Such a uniquely different CrossFit gym for sure, and it was a great one despite all their seemingly obvious setbacks. The fact that I had to rush out of there to get to my next visit was a bit of a bummer for me actually, I really liked hanging down there with everyone. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to head back there soon!
1455 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Great site and recourse from one of the athletes!
Post are coming, hate that there’s such a delay between visits and posts, but I an only edit these things so quickly! I’ll have them up soon enough!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
I woke up early Tuesday morning and got myself prepared for probably the toughest day of my CrossFit Community Month: 3 visits in one day! I really was not al that worried as each of the three visits this day looked to be so distinctly different and exciting, but, I was feeling pretty damn beat up from my workout with Jason Khalipa at CrossFit Santa Clara the night before. Either way, I packed up a load of food and hit the road for CrossFit Burn.
This was officially the farthest visit for me, being about a 1.5-hour drive from my home with no traffic. But the drive was great. I went thought the city, across the Bay bridge and into the hills; such amazing scenery all around. As usual, I had to do a few turn-arounds to find CrossFit Burn. But again (as usual) I was not let down in any way once I pulled in.
I would categorize CrossFit Burn as a “Classic” CrossFit affiliate. A pretty good sized warehouse space with a sweet graffiti logo on the left wall as you walk in. There are a string of squat racks and platform wood in front of that wall, with bars and plates lined up against it. Plyo boxes and other equipment line the back wall and then smack dab in the center is a massive Rouge Fitness pull up rig. What a sweet set up! I was instantly welcomed and ended up chatting up a few different people before and during our warm up. It being the noon class, head coach Jamie explained that it was a little more relaxed. People would shuffle in, get a good warm up in, and then everything would filter into the workout. I enjoyed that approach, especially given the cool people I got to talk to who were hanging out.
From the feeling I got walking in, to chatting with athletes and coaches, this place is one I foresee just getting bigger and bigger. From what Jamie told me, it’s a pretty new gym and already it seems like a staple in the area. Things just seem comfortable there. What really stood out to me though (and I honestly do get the feeling this is a very regular occurrence at Burn) was the variety of people that were there when I walked in. A couple people around my age give or take, a few older people, a couple much younger people, and then, a handful of kids. The fact that all of these drastically different age groups could hang in the gym without having any part of the workout compromised speaks a ton to the leadership. We all got to work at our own pace, with our respective weights, and we all gave it 100%. And the best part: the kids were all playing wonderfully while we worked out. One of them goofing off on a GHD and a couple others playing with the “CrossFit Ghost” they met in the office. Awesome!
5 x 2 back squat
Squat clean thrusters 115#
Chest to bar pull ups
Oh my goodness, my poor shoulders! With my arms feeling like they did, I was not feeling like this would be the easiest workout in the world. Then, when I felt like I was completely stuck with only 335# for the back squats, I became even more defeated. But, when everyone began getting their weights ready, and finding their spot on the pull up bar, I got a little burst of energy. I have to admit, the feeling one gets just before a workout when everyone in the room is truly ready to go is difficult to describe. There are so many levels of feelings you can have right here, and I can’t choose which one I like the most. I think that it’s all a matter of how you feel on a given day. With this workout and how I felt, having this particular group of people ready to go was so motivating. I felt like I was competing against the bars with all these other athletes on my side, rather than competing against them. That team feeling I got the second Jamie yelled go got me pretty fired up.
I blasted through the first round unbroken, and then hit the second round, breaking the squat clean thrusters into 3 sets, and the chest to bar pull ups into 4. Then the last round, the round that really got me came around. I ended up going to singles on the barbell after about 4, and the same with the pull ups after 3. I was spent. With the extra pump from Jamie at the end I finished in 6:42, a time I am very happy with for how I felt, but overall I feel it should be closer to 5.
I really felt like just hanging out there for a while after we were all stretched and done. The people were that welcoming and fun. I would like to think I’ll be back out there in the coming months, I just wish they weren’t so damn far away from me! But anyway, tons of respect for all the athletes and coaches that make up CrossFit Burn. I get that much more excited with each “Classic” box I visit, and I learn so much more on how I can build mine.
110 2nd Avenue S, A-14
Pacheco, CA 94553
As I write this I am down to only 2 visits remaining in the Bay Area (I am scheduling 3-4 out in Sacramento for the first weekend in February though!). I’ll be posting up a couple tomorrow as on the day I visited CrossFit Burn, I also visited CrossFit KMSF and CrossFit Potrero Hill…
Never Stop, GET FIT.
The excitement for this one started well before I actually showed up. I have briefly been in CrossFit Santa Clara a few months back when my girl Lindsey went to her level 1 certification there, and it was an awesome place! So I was very excited to get back there and sweat a little with the crew.
I ended up getting there for a late night open gym time, but showed up a little early to catch the tail end of a class so I could see what the fun was all about. Right off the bat you could tell things were serious here. The gym is separated into two parts, with a stairway taking up the center console allowing a good path on either side to get to the second half of the gym. The front half has some wonderfully fabricated squat racks fixed to the wall, and a sweet double-shelved plate rack along the right side. The left side has a few benches and a ton of bars as well. Straight ahead you’ll see a massive white board hiding behind a string of rowers. Walk through to the back and your eyes instantly turn to the massive graffiti logo across the back wall. Above that you see the complex pull up rig, and there are a bunch of additional pieces of equipment along the walls. Overall the space is sneaky big, and to add to it there’s a huge outdoor space out the side door, and a great upstairs.
When you get up to the top floor you’re met with a huge open space with a desk along the wall, a big TV with a couch and a few arcade games. Yep, arcade games, sweet. There’s another little workout space behind all that, then, move to the other side of the upstairs and there’s a whole separate room where a massive jiu-jitsu class was going on. My respect for this place raised a few notches with the knowledge that they house jiu-jitsu classes. If you have read back through my old blog at all, you’ll see I was crazy into that for about a year, and I miss it so much now!
As class winded down I was able to chat a few people up and I felt very comfortable with the style of people I was meeting there. It’s pretty clear they have an incredibly diverse demographic there, but the overriding feel is pretty competitive. People seemed to be moving at a pace and level that would make you assume everyone there was a serious, competitive CrossFitter, and for me, well, I like that!
After people shuffled out (and a large handful of athletes just stuck around, awesome!) I was able to meet the creator of this gym. For any of you who know anything about CrossFit, you’ll know the name Jason Khalipa. He’s the winner of the 2008 CrossFit Games and a regular staple around the mainsite videos and such. It was clear the second I began to talk with people that he is a pretty highly liked dude around there. And yeah, he is a pretty damn cool guy. I personally had to wait a few hours after my visit to fully appreciate him as he absolutely destroyed me on our workout. The last time I have beat like that was back when I thought I could hang on a bike ride with a group of professional riders. Basically, the second we took off I was lost behind them trying to figure out what happened! I’ll get into our workout in a second, so, yeah…
Clearly, and I have seen this countless times, the feel of the gym comes from the top. If a head coach hangs out in jeans and flip flops while he/she trains, the feel of the gym is most likely going to be pretty chill and super laid back. If the coach stand there without a smile and drill you like crazy, the place probably won’t feel all that fun. When a coach has the proof of upper level athleticism, yet still is completely approachable, goofy, and incredibly helpful, you’ll get a gym like CrossFit Santa Clara. I have seen a collection of places similar to this through the 30+ affiliates I’ve visited, and it’s a beautifully unique aspect that really stands out. Jason clearly knows what he’s doing, not just because he’s a good coach and knows how to get people motivated, but because everyone knows that what he asks of you, he can do it, and most likely do it a lot better. I have been around a large amount of people who have established a sort of celebrity in their specific fields (it’s the baseball background), and inevitably you end up finding a lot of these people responding to that by being a bit arrogant and so on. Jason does NOT have that one bit, and it adds an enormously welcoming feeling to his gym.
So, on to the workout. We started off by working the snatch. It being open gym we had people doing cleans, snatches, squats and deadlifts; just working on what they needed working on. I chose to work my weakest link with the barbell, and Khalipa concurred that that was his as well. We stayed pretty light (I worked a few reps at 155# to perfect the form) and I have literally never felt as good as I did. I felt fast and solid, two words I can honestly say I have never felt with the snatch. Sweet. Then came the metcon:
5 rounds of:
200 meter run
5 man makers 35# DB (push up, row, push p other arm row, push up jump forward squat clean and thruster. That’s one rep…)
10 front squats 135#
I hung not too far behind Jason for the first couple rounds, but it was round 3 he just took off. Or, I just crashed. Going into the last round I had broken up my front squats into 3 sets and I was feeling about as close to dead as I could. I heard him drop his bar just a bit before I entered back into the gym and all I could do at that point was finish. Those last reps were torture and I finished in 14:28 (assuming about 2 minutes behind Jason). That was everything I had for that workout. It made me realize the benefits of heavy strength training. Think about it, if 135# is an easy front squat, then a workout like this would be much easier. Same concept for Fran. If you have decent conditioning, but 95# is a slightly tough weight for you, you are going to have a much harder time than if that weight feels like a toothpick. Jason is strong (a 240# strict press if I remember correctly), and that helps him a ton on those weighted metcons. Another weakness revealed on my road to the Games!
Either way, I had an awesome time during my visit with Jason and CrossFit Santa Clara. I intend to get back there a handful of times over the coming months to get to workout with a harder core group of people. It will do nothing but push me and make me stronger. I felt at home there, honestly, and I am excited with the idea of returning and getting after it with Jason and the rest of the guys!
CrossFit Santa Clara
1731 N. 1st St.,
San Jose, CA 95112
So many visits and workouts for the rest of the week! Let’s see if I can get though it all without breaking!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Sorry for the delay with this video, but here it is!
I'll be playing a bit of catch-up with the posts for the remainder of the month, but they will all be up as soon as I can get to them. Here's to CrossFit!
This was a distinctly different visit than all the other ones because instead of joining a class, or working out with the coaches, I stayed for 6 hours as part of a gymnastics seminar. Basically it was a day of realizing just how out of shape I actually am. But, the good part was that i learned a lot of great progressions and I feel very confident in not only building my own personal skills up a lot, but in helping others learn how to control their bodies.
Roger, the head coach and gymnastics wiz at CrossFit Marin lead the class with coach Russ. We moved through things quickly but very thoroughly, and in the end, I know all of us in attendance had made some pretty great strides. But let's go back a bit and I'll talk a little about the actual location before getting into how the seminar was. Just like the vast majority of CrossFit gyms, this one was hidden from view completely. But once you find which entrance to drive in, it is impossible to miss. Two things stood out to me when I rounded the corner to the back of the warehouse complex: the incredible view of the mountains, with trails winding like a spider web towards them. And, the string of rowers and bars resting on the ground outside two massive roll-up doors. This was CrossFit Marin!
The place is big. Facing the doors, to your right is the gymnastics half. Just like your typical gymnastics center it is filled with tumbling mats, parallel bars, uneven bars and the whole collection of gear that inspires running around, jumping around, swinging around, rolling around and more. To your left is where you see all the weights, rowers, racks and bars. Then, to your far left you'll find a collection of what seems to be construction junk, but actually is all the equipment to their successful Parkour classes. They have everything! It had that down to earth feel about it that your typical family style CrossFit gym has. There was a group of very young children swinging around the gymnastics side, a CrossFit class with a few older people in it, a couple strong looking dudes, and a couple younger people in it as well. Then, off to the side there looked to be a personal Parkour lesson going on with a young teenager. Everybody was all smiles, and everybody was working hard!
I really think what stood out the most here was the view from the open gym doors. For me, and clearly for so many others, looking out on scenery like that just touches something deep inside that makes you connect with your inner workout animal. When I look out onto a mountain range, I want nothing but to be running around in nature, throwing my body around and throwing heavy objects around. I am sure that within the CrossFit community most of you know exactly what I'm talking about. I think that CrossFit Marin has that special aspect to it. It's really just a huge warehouse with a ton of equipment lying around; but with the addition of the view, it becomes something entirely different. Add good coaching (which they clearly have), add a ton of really cool athletes (they have one of the largest member bases of any affiliate I've been to thanks to all their different programs) and you have a pretty unique spot.
A good collection of CrossFitters showed up for the seminar and we all mingled and chatted amongst ourselves before things got underway. And things got going quickly. Roger got us prepped and we went right into tumbling. I would say we spent an average of about 30 minutes at each skill: forward and backward rolls, handstand progressions, muscle up progressions, planches, pull overs and a handful more. Let's just put it this way: we were there for 6 hours and we only had a 15-minute break to grab some food. Yeah, we got after it!
Rogers coaching was great. He talks very deliberately and clearly and you instantly understand what he's trying to say. What stood out so much to me was how much focus on safely and spotting we worked on and I appreciate that. Rather than just throwing us into drills and progressions, he really allowed us to learn how to approach this with our training partners and clients. All is all, it was one of the most informative seminars I have ever been to and as mentioned before, I not only feel that much more confident in practicing all this myself, but getting others to do it with my support.
Talking with some of the attendees and with Roger and Russ, I am that much more excited for what CrossFit has done for the “specialties” that are out there. I honestly feel that with the interest of the growing CrossFit community, gymnastics, power lifting, Olympic lifting, martial arts, running, triathlon and so much more get more and more attention. CrossFit focuses on becoming generally fit, more athletic, it focuses on allowing each athlete the means to attempt any sport. And because of the incredible effects of CrossFitting, people seek out these specialties and give them a try. I personally want to do so much more gymnastics work thanks to not only CrossFit, but to the motivating an inspiring instruction of Roger and his crew. Sure I can bang out “Fran” in a great time, and hoist a super heavy barbell off the ground. But what about having complete and total control of my own body. Gymnastics gives us the ability to understand ourselves in space. Imagine what you’d be able to do from a physical standpoint if you could do even a fraction of gymnasts can do. Yeah, it would be insane!
As for a video for this trip, it is in the works. Given the slightly different nature of the visit, I realized that I have to put a good deal more effort into the editing process. But I wanted to get the write-up up at the very least while it was all fresh in my head. So, apologies for the delay in the video but it should be up at some point this week.
I strongly urge any and all of you out there to seek out your local gymnastics center and set up a few sessions with an experienced coach. If you are in the Bay Area, CrossFit Marin is clearly top of the line. If not, I have a couple resources that are really great to get into them, and I highly suggest, CrossFitter or not, that you learn more about how you body works from a physical standpoint. Your overall athleticism will thank you!
After my visit to Lamorinda CrossFit, I fueled up and drove back to the Peninsula to San Carlos CrossFit. I had a heard some great things about this place from my good friend and now business partner (for a few months!) Brendon at CrossFit San Mateo, and from Jason at Mad Dawg Fitness (he is the brother of owner and coach Breanne!). Needless to say, I was pretty excited to check them out!
I got there for a noon class where I hung and watched (getting some good video footage). Then Breanne and co-owner and coach Branden hit a beast of a workout with me.
Walking into this place was like walking into a fitness nuts fantasy. It was, as I am finding to be the case with most affiliates, slightly challenging to find, but once I did find it I was rewarded with hanging out in one damn awesome gym. You stroll through the roll up doorway, past a stack of massive tires and are met with an incredibly well put together pull up rig along the side wall. There are multiple width bars, square bars, I-beams and more, and there is more than enough space to get a whole slew of people swinging around on it. Then you look to your right and your eyes are met with a massive gym floor. A hand-made front desk along the front, rings and ropes hanging down from the center, racks and weights along the far wall and enough space for a the class to run around and feel like kids (while throwing around tons of weight as well!).
I was instantly excited to hang there for a while, and I knew that I was going to have a great time. Breanne invited me in as her noon class shuffled in and got to work, and soon after Branden came in to hang out and chat with me while the class went on. I could tell right off the bat that these coaches took their job seriously. They were fun, they joked, they goofed around and all, but when it was time to work, their instruction was top-notch. Each athlete clearly worked their butts off, and I could see that they responded very well to the cues they received. The believability of the coaches was strong there. What I mean is that when one of them said something, you honesty listened because you KNEW they not only understood it, but practiced it a ton themselves. I felt it personally when we hit some squats to start off our workout. To hear Branden’s support through my reps was motivating. As a coach myself, I am very aware of the effects of another coach on me while I workout, and these two had a great effect!
I would most closely compare San Carlos CrossFit to CrossFit Pleasanton; it is a place you go if you want to have an awesome time but to get some very serious work at as well. They don’t mess around at all, but they have found that perfect balance of hard work and good times. On a personal level, this was the exact type of place I could see myself training on a regular basis. An additional aspect that made this gym pop to me was that it was organized so well. Because of the look, it seemed like they had the most elite of all equipment there, but, interestingly enough, most of the equipment and features there were hand made. Awesome! The plyo boxes, the bar holders, the pull up rig, the plate holders, the foam roller stand, the front desk and on and on. I love a place that can be like a DIY gym but still come across as a clean, organized workout space. Lets just say I learned a good bit for the future of my gym!
After watching the noon athletes take their beating (pause squats and a row/run, long metcon), I got to see what was in store for me:
3x3 pause squats
“The Courage 300”
100 meter keg sprint (I got the 100#...)
50 KB swings 44#
60 sec. rest
100 m keg sprint
50 double unders
60 sec. rest
100 m keg sprint
50 box jumps
60 sec. rest
100 m keg sprint
50 pull ups
60 sec. rest
100 m keg sprint
50 calories row
60 sec. rest
100 m keg sprint
50 tire flips (heavy as hell!)
Man oh man was I excited!! The pause squats were perfect to open up my now insanely tight low back, and I worked to an easy 275# to get loosened up. We then set up our stations and prepared to get after it. This was a very interestingly put together workout. The rests were perfect, enough to give you a little juice for each round, but not enough to allow you to go crazy, or to allow you to lose intensity. Each 50 rep-er took enough out of you to make the next one that much harder, and honestly; the row took it all out of me. I got the swings, double unders and box jumps all unbroken. Then, with the pull ups I had to drop from the bar at 25 and get 8’s and 5’s after that. I was able to pull away at the box jumps, but Breanne caught me at the tire flips and blew past. I tried my best to match her flips, but I just had nothing left at all. She came in at 23:17, about 2 flips ahead of me. And I came in at 23:30. Branden came in not to long after that and we all were good and toasted at that point.
Yeah, what a great time with a couple great people. I am certain that over the next handful of months I will be back down to visit and get some good workouts in. Their welcoming personalities, their great space, and the fact the Breanne and her brother Jason are both training for the same thing as me, the CrossFit Games, I am sure it would help all of us to workout together!
San Carlos CrossFit
551 Taylor Way Unit #4
San Carlos, CA 94070
One more week of crazy visits and I am expecting an amazing week! I should have the post from my all-day visit to CrossFit Marin up tomorrow!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Early Friday morning I took a drive out across the Bay Bridge (first time for me!) and to Lamorinda CrossFit. Located a little before you hit Walnut Creek, Lamorinda hides itself in typical CrossFit fashion; if it weren’t for the pull up bar I spotted in the roll up doorway, I would have been driving back and forth for a few more minutes! Strolling in it felt like I was entering into an over-sized garage gym. Smaller than your classic warehouse, but a good deal larger than your typical garage, it had the best of both. The high ceilings and floor space were enough to fit a decent sized class in there, but the smaller overall square footage gave it that “homey” feeling to it. And what added to that comfortable feeling was the welcoming and super down to earth personalities of two of the three owners (the third was not around at the time) Luca and Anni.
Both coaches were real chill and nice. They were unassuming (what I mean by that is they were not muscle-bound beast by any means) and I think that fed into the feel of the gym that much more. It seemed like a quieter, family style gym and everyone was wonderfully comfortable with that representation. Anni’s young daughter supplied the entertainment for the time we were all there, running around, finding water bottles amazingly entertaining and showing us all how to foam roll after our workout. The group that came in was great, a mother a daughter tam, and a couple fun, overly raunchy guys who seemed to be having the time of their lives. The banter going on throughout the workout made it hard not to enjoy yourself and I got the feeling this feeling was something of a commonality at this place.
A little on the gyms set up. You walk in and are met with a string of pull p bars along the wall to your left. To your right is a little alcove with what looks like a workbench but acts as the front desk. There are some more pull up bars attached along the ledge of the alcove and above that you can see a bit of an office of sorts overlooking the gym. When you pass through the narrow floor space to the end of the pull up rig, the floor opens up a little and there is a solid workout space with all your needed equipment (racks, bars, DB’s, PVC, plates and more). Again, not the biggest space in the world, but it’s about as usable as you would need.
TABATA (20 seconds on 10 seconds off for 8 rounds. 1 minute rest between exercises)
Front Squats 55#
KB swings 35#
Jumping pull ups
After the weeks work, and all the deadlifting my back was pretty tight. But this workout in all was perfect, hard enough o challenge me to push (TABATAs in general are going to be tough, you just go all out no matter what!) but not demanding enough to kill me. The KB swings got me more than I expected and by the 4th round I was just using my upper body. Thank god the weight was a bit lighter on those or I would have been in the 5-8 rep range! If I remember correctly I got 11, 14, 12 and 14 for my scores (not sure if that’s right but it’s close I’m sure of it!). It was a fun one for sure, and rolling things out afterward felt like heaven!
I had a fun visit to Lamorinda, I felt welcomed and like part of the family. With their solid growth since they’ve been open I have no doubt that they will continue to do very well given their focus. As mentioned before with my visits, if you chose to open in a specific area, you better have an understanding of your demographics and appeal to that group. Lamorinda does so very well and because of that, I can tell they will continue to expand in an organic and exciting way!
This evening’s visit brought me to Coach Aaron Ryan’s sweet gym: Amity CrossFit. Located just south of Palo Alto, and directly on the busy El Camino Real, this place just pops out at you when you drive by. Easy to get to, huge space, cool coach, fun and hard-working athletes, yeah, good times all around.
It’s a pretty new gym and the minimal equipment shows that. But what it lacks in equipment it makes up ten-fold in its sweet location, how it’s put together, and overall size. The main room is a tad smaller than your classic CrossFit gym, but then there’s a little hallway that leads to another room just as big. And what blows my mind is that Aaron runs this place alone, impressive. I walked in a few minutes late but everyone was quick to welcome me to the workout. We all walked though a good active warm up and then everyone grabbed bars to set up for deadlifts.
Another aspect that makes this gym distinct is the fact that it has a proclaimed bias. Aaron’s background in barbell training has led him to focus his programming on strength and power. And what I instantly respected upon looking over the website and meeting Aaron is that he does not pretend to be something he is not. I have never seen anyone put on their website that if his spot does not fit well, go check out the other options in the area. He understands what he does, he believes in what he does, and he just does it. This is something I have found to be a commonality between the most successful CrossFit gyms. The ones who know what they excel at, and then focus on that aspect to grow their business see huge growth. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s just the same concept of following your passion. It’s motivating to me to meet guys like this because it reminds me to stay the course when things are a little up I the air. I guess I can thank Aaron not only for a great workout with his great athletes, but for motivating me outside the gym as well.
On to the workout! I took it easy while the rest of the crew worked on their final phase of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program (yeah, heavy deadlifts yesterday…). I worked a little on form for a few light sets, but mostly just talked with Aaron, got some cool shots of people hoisting up heavy weights, and met the athletes. We then split up into two heats for the metcon.
3 round of:
10 deadlifts 125% body weight
10 KB swings 2 pood (32kg or 70#)
I set up with 255# for the deads and got after it focusing on keeping form throughout. I was feeling pretty fatigued through my posterior chain and it hit me on the third round hard. The KB swings really got me the most, it just felt...heavy. But I was able to get everything unbroken and finished in 4:14. I am sure a sub-4 time is possible; it would be a matter of taking less time transitioning between exercises.
What made this workout such a blast (besides the short sweetness with heavy weights!) were the motivating cheers of the rest of the group. These people had each others backs and there is nothing like that, especially being a new face and knowing that rather than being judged, you are being fully supported. I am a huge fan of a place that does not pretend to be something it is not (pretty much all of CrossFit), has awesome programming (surprisingly not too many CrossFits), has a supportive, helpful and hard-working member base (most CrossFits) and appeals to divers demographic (again, most CrossFits). While Amity does have a distinct bias, I still had an overwhelming feeling of that Classic CrossFit box I have been realizing I like so much. Kudos to Aaron for creating a generalized, overall athletic feel to a gym that has a particular focus.
3516 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94303
I have two visits tomorrow, then a few groups to train. Yup, got 10 visits in the next 10 days!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
After a few days of recovery I was back at it in Redwood City at Mad Dawg Fitness. With my body fully fueled and itching for a workout, I was excited to get back into a gym. And, knowing that Mad Dawg is a long-time very well known CrossFit affiliate around these parts, I was very excited.
This place was pretty well hidden. But it was just off the 101 and in the dark of the evening, driving through the warehouses; it was pretty easy to spot it. The single light shining out along the parking lights, music creeping out over the neighborhood, and the distant sight of rings hanging inside the roll-up door. I made my way on over and strolled in. Saul the owner, along with coaches Jason and Brandon welcomed me immediately and it was not hard to feel at home in their space. And speaking of that space, wow.
The main floor was a bit larger than average CrossFit style warehouse, with bars, plates, DB’s, KB’s, Rowers and more organized very well throughout. I think the two things that stood out to me most was how much stuff they had yet how in-order everything was, and the massive open space right when you walk in with all the rings dangling down. So let me explain this a little better. They have two floors here, and the top floor overlooks the bottom creating this squared off balcony. Upstairs looks like a good studio space, some more equipment, low ceilings, a heavy bag, bathrooms and storage. But with that empty area that looks down to the man floor, you get these incredibly high ceilings. They have about 10 or so pairs of rings hanging from there and it has such an awesome effect when you walk in. They also have a pull ups bar wrapped completely around the open space as well, and well, I love cool pull ups bars/rigs.
I wandered around for a little and was getting prepared to jump into the 7pm class with a few people, but Jason (not only a coach, but a Games competitor hopeful like myself) asked if I wanted to join him with his. He, along with a decent group of people have been getting their programming from the well-known Freddy Comacho over at One World Self Defense and it has been gearing them up for the competition season. Todays workout was an interesting one, but in the end I was able to see the purpose of it and really liked it a lot (even though I DNF’d the metcon…)
Power cleans at 50%, 55%, 60% of 1 rep max
12x2, 12x2, 10x2
10 minute row:
:45 below 20 strokes/minute, :15 hard as hell!
Rest 10 minutes
6 rounds for time of:
5 muscle ups
5 handstand push ups
200 meter run
So a couple things here: that’s 68 power cleans. That’s a lot of reps. But it was very light weight, I was doing 60, 65 and 70 kilos and just focusing on getting perfect form each rep, staying quick and getting my elbows out as fast as possible. Not to get into programming like crazy here, but you can see how a combination of 10-minute intervals on the rower and 68 power cleans, the arms would be relatively fatigued. Not beat up, just tired from so much volume. The metcon I knew would be hard. I suck at both movements, and given the upper body fatigue, I knew I would hit a wall fast. And I did. I got two full rounds in as Jason was getting into his 5th round and I was not able to get all HSPU’s on my third round. I ended up switching to negatives on that movement and just doing 3 muscle ups. Then, I finished after 5 rounds because I had been “banging my head against the wall” for around 20 minutes and it just became pointless. I really want to go into this, but I’ll save that for after this month.
Mad Dawg Fitness seems like it would be a pretty hardcore place at first glance. The name starts it off, and then the impressive collection of equipment and size of the space add to it a good deal. But Saul has a very different perspective on how things are run there and you can do nothing but respect is approach. His focus is not on becoming the fittest person you can be; it is on becoming the healthiest. So often you see a focus of CrossFitters and coaches aspiring to be the fittest on earth (or at least the fittest they have ever been…!) and sometimes, this almost one-track-mind drive leads to a creation of imbalances. Saul understands that proper mobility and weakness work will inevitably lead to a better life, and really makes a point to focus on this side of the training. This is something I feel can be neglected in the excitement of exciting and overly intense “CrossFit WOD’s”. Mad Dawg has a very healthy approach, a very simple approach, and clearly, a very effective approach.
Mad Dawg Fitness
335 Convention Way, Suite D 1/2
Redwood City, CA 94063
Got a pretty busy couple weeks coming up, and new programs are starting up with me finally getting to coach and train people!
Oh, and please continue to spread the word on this awesome competition coming up on Saturday, February 19th! It’s going to be an epic day!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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