I woke up with a hop in my step Monday morning because as mylast official visit for this crazy month of CrossFit visits I would be headedto CrossFit San Mateo. For those of youwho do not know, I have just recently folded my box in Burlingame to partnerwith Brendon, owner and coach over at San Mateo for the next handful ofmonths. This partnership comes thanks toa HUGE life decision made by my girl Lindsey and I and seemed like the logicalnext step for me and my business. I knowI’m leaving a lot of you on the edge of you seats with this whole decisionthing, but I will be making the announcement this weekend at the very latest.
But I digress. Thepoint being is that I have a quickly growing relationship with the athletes atCrossFit San Mateo and so far I am enjoying my time there a ton. To get to the gym, you have to navigate tothe most hidden road in downtown San Mateo, the one the parallels the railroadtracks very closely. Directly acrossfrom the main train station you’ll see a string of small warehouses andsandwiched between the grungy buildings is this gym. Stroll is and you are met by a pretty barrencollection of equipment. There are somebars, plates, a couple rowers, med balls, bands, a few DB’s and KB’s and boxesand that’s really about it. Theequipment is spread between two pretty distinct sides of the gym. The front portion has a pretty sweet pull uprig and houses the front desk area on the uneven concrete floors. The back half is all rubber–floored and hasan additional pull up rig as well. Thisside has a little higher ceiling and there are a couple ropes hanging upthere. A little thrown together, butabout as “classic” as they come! And to add to the fun, there’s apretty good sized lot on the side of the gym with a few tires, and the hiddenstreet paralleling the tracks is perfect for some spectator workouts!
Brendon, the owner here is an extremely down to earth andcharismatic dude. He knows his stuff,he relates to everyone very well, and then, he tears it up fitness-wisehimself. As we speak he is in theprocess of getting a sub-4 minute mile. Good freaking lord (to put that in perspective, he would lap pretty muchanyone reading this on a mile run on the track…sick)! In almost exactly a year of existence,Brendon has organically grown his spot to be a pretty damn good gym. The combo of well-placed location, greatcoaching and an enormously welcoming community, CrossFit San Mateo has nothingbut positive potential going into its second year. And awesome steps are already takingplace: a couple great additional coachesn Tuan and Erica, a boot camp class, a powerlifting class and a Kids class areall new additions that will bring in some pretty well-deserved attention to thegym.
But what sets this place apart for me is the perspectiveBrendon inspires in his athletes. As anactive athlete himself, he firmly believes that CrossFit is not just a greatway to get in shape, but also the best way to train for specific sports. His goal for all athletes that walk throughthe doors is to sign up and DO SOMETHING. Use CrossFit as the base to actually compete in some way shape or formout there. People are signing up forraces, triathlons, swimming meets, CrossFit competitions and more, it is sogreat! This is totally something Ibelieve in. Come in and work your buttoff; but make sure you’re working it off FOR something. This is a logical concept that a lot ofpeople miss out on.
Enough on that, we had a workout to get after! And when 6pm rolled around we had about 24total athletes packed in there ready to get after it!
3, 3, 3, 3, 3 power cleans
6 rounds of:
150 meter run
10 pull ups
8 hang power cleans 135#
6 lateral burpees
Soooo… I decided to skip out on the clean work as I did someheavy clean and heavy jerk work earlier in the day (a miserable outing I mustadd). We got after a great warm up thenI hung getting good video footage and helping out as the massive group workedon their clean form. After that we allattempted to figure out how to get this workout in. Brendon, Tuan and I decided to wait to jointhe 7pm group for it and everybody got themselves set up with modificationswhere needed. Watching this workout gotme so pumped to get after it, I couldn’t wait. When 7pm rolled around I was more than ready. Unfortunately Tuan jumped the gun and gotafter it on his own…, but then I got to join the smaller, and superhard-working 7pm group. My goal was toget the whole thing unbroken, and even though the top athletes were gettingthis in the low 17’s, my goal was sub-10. That is totally possible for you firebreathers out there by theway. I ended up finishing in 10:54 andthat 6th round was one of the toughest things I have ever done. My lack of fuel caught up to me, but havingBrendon just ahead of me kept me going. He finished in 10:24 I think and we both were able to get it allunbroken.
In the end I was all smiles. I had an awesome workout with a HUGE group of really energetic people. And what I think placed a close second behindthe 10 minutes of wonderful hell, the social connections happening after theworkout. It was so great to see all theathletes stretching after working their tails and chatting amongstthemselves. They all seemed to connectso wonderfully.
I am proud to be a part of this gym and will be sad to leaveit in a few months. I hope that I can domy part in catapulting CrossFit San Mateo into a new realm of CrossFitaffiliate, one that helps change the world y getting people to take theirfitness out side of the gym. And thewhole Bay Area will get a chance to come hang out there in a few weeks. After the Courage Games 2011, there will bean awesome after-party hosted by CrossFit San Mateo. So, I expect to see all you out for thecompetition on the 19th, and I hope you all can make theafter-party. We’ll have food, we’ll havedrink, we’ll have raffles and we’ll have a few more bits of entertainment!
CrossFit San Mateo
23 S. Railroad Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94401
This marksthe official end of my CrossFit Community Month. I will be visiting 3 more in the Sacramentoarea this coming weekend, and of course, I plan to visit hundreds more in thecoming years. This was one of the mostinspiring and educational times of my life and you all can expect a fewarticles inspired by my journey. I’m excitedto get back to my regular posts!
Never Stop,GET FIT.
I woke up bright and early, still feeling broken downcompletely to take on a double workout with the athletes at CrossFit EastBay. I was actually really excited forthis visit for two reasons: first, they were doing a couple workouts that fitperfectly with my hopes to recover from such a crazy tough workout. Second, I was really excited to visit theOakland/Berkeley area of the Bay Area, an area I had yet to visit since movingout here!
The day started off with a visit to a track up in thehills. I got there a bit early and waspretty impressed with the amount of people getting after it up there. Right when I was getting worried that I wasat the wrong location, or that I had missed the cancellation notice, a noticeda group of definite CrossFitters walking on in. The high socks were the give-a-way.
The group was small but they were all clearly ready to getafter it and I was in some serious need to a good track workout. It was exactly what I needed to get thingsloosened up in my body a bit, and looking at this group, I knew I would be pushedvery hard! Head trainer Maximus welcomedme to the group and I chatted with a few of them as we got ourselves warmed up.
We had a set rest between all sets as well and just likethat, we were off. I ended up runningabout a step in front of a beast of an athlete and that helped SO much to pushme that much harder. I got a prettyslow, but very comfortable 6:45 on the 1600, then 3:01, 3:12, 1:12, 1:18, :34, :34, :35, :15, :18, :17, :16 respectively. I was so spent after this,but it was that sort of spent that makes you walk away feeling real good. All of us were gasping for air, but we allhad this sweet buzzing energy about us. And the best part: we were headed back to the gym to get after workoutnumber two!
Unfortunately, only ONE of the track folks (not countingwith myself and coach Max) actually showed up for the workout. Oh well, we had four others there and itended up being the perfect number for what we had in store. But before that, I have to go into thisgym. It was awesome!
You pull up to this massive freestanding building (lookslike it was an old paper mill or something) with this huge brick smoke stacktowering into the sky. There’s a hugefront archway, and to get in you go through what seems like a tiny little doorhidden the elaborate front. Duck on intothe front desk area and you are met with a classic welcome: a big front desk, abunch of snacks, sports drinks, and water for sale, along with shirts, climbinggear and a few other odds and ends. Thenyou look out into the gym floor and you see to your left a good 20 yards ofbouldering wall (differently angled climbing wall only getting about 15 feethigh). To the right is just a huge flatclimbing wall, but what blows your mind is what’s behind that wall. Towering to the probably 50-foot ceilings isthe biggest indoor climbing space I have ever seen. Back in Maryland I used to head to a placecalled Earth Treks, and I thought that place was big. This place seems so much bigger for somereason and it was pretty humbling to just stand there looking up at all theholds.
To get to the CrossFit, you got to walk past all thebouldering area and head to the back where a normal space would keep all theirstorage. Wedged into an L-shaped, smallarea is everything you’d expect from a CrossFit box: pull up bars along thewalls, bars, plates, KB’s, rowers, bands and a few other odds and ends. It’s not packed with equipment by any means,but for the space that’s available, it has everything you’d need. Max welcomed me back once again and I wasintroduced to another coach, Ynez. Agood group warm p and we were back at it for workout number two.
1 mile run
50 KB swings 1.5 pood
Rest until the clock hits 20 minutes
Starting at 185#, each athlete performs 1 deadlift, add 10#repeat, add 10# repeat. Continue goingaround until everyone fails.
This was fun. Itwasn’t super tough, but just enough to push the body a little harder. And, after the track work, that mile feltlike 3! I finished the first part injust over 13 minutes, but soon realized I had used a 44# KB rather than theprescribed 53#! I banged out a quick 20extra reps just for the hell of it. Thedeadlift relay was a pretty fun one. Weall took our reps and as we got into the 300# range, people started to findtheir wall. Max stuck with it through355# and then it was all me. This iswhen it started to get tough, I basically had to pull the weight, then stepback while a couple people added weight, then go and get another repagain. Surprisingly, I was able to getall the way up to 465#. I went for475#, but the second the weight left the ground I knew the form would bebrutal, so I stopped there. Was veryhappy with that.
I hung for a little longer getting some interviews and justtalking with the athletes. The communityhere seemed really closely connected. Ithink the space they worked out of added to that tight-nit feel; I also couldfeel that having that climbing space right next to the gym added a whole new,awesome dynamic all around. I amsurprised you don’t see more of that really. CrossFit mixed into the same spot with Martial Arts is a little morecommon, but it seems that climbing and other extreme sports and CrossFit wouldgo hand in hand.
Either way, I had a great time with Max and crew and Ireally do hope to get back out there. Perhaps I can get a little bouldering in before a good workout! I also have a cousin who lives up in Berkeley,so I have even more of an excuse to get up there. I highly recommend checking the place out, it really is breathtaking!
CrossFit East Bay
520 20th Street
Oakland, CA 94612
One final post in the Bay Area for my CrossFit CommunityMonth is coming up soon! I’m excited toget out to Sacramento to hang with my buddy Blair Morrison and check out a fewaffiliates out there this weekend!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Late Thursday afternoon Lindsey and I jumped in the car andzipped down to visit one of the longest running affiliates: CrossFit SanJose. I was already a bit bummed outbecause waking up in the morning I was more sore than I can remember. It felt like I had pitched 15 innings withboth arms with a weighted baseball and there was no way in a million years Iwould be able to get a workout in. Itwas all for the better anyway because the workout was insane volume on theshoulders! I apologies to CrossFit SanJose as this was the only visit in all my visits that I did not workout;but, it lead to me being able to get some pretty great footage of all the greatathletes!
I was welcomed with smiles not only from the couple coacheswho were there at the time, but by the TONS of athletes who were there aswell. Let me try to put this inperspective for everyone: The gym isactually pretty small in comparison to most CrossFit boxes. I would instantly place it in the “classic”category if I had walked in there during a down time. But they pack in the athletes in expertfashion. I counted a good 15 or sopeople in the class when I walked in, and there were a solid 12+ in the classwhile I was there, and another massive group prepping for class after that, impressive!
The place jumps out at you right off the bat with theirincredible pull up rig just inside the roll-up doorway. The thing is an absolute tank and has allthese different heights, even high enough to get a couple sets of rings hangingwith plenty of headroom! They have somuch equipment stuffed in there its incredible that they have so much openspace. There is a home-made med ballstand hidden behind the pull up rig, stacks of plates, bars, squat racks andmore along the right wall. Then thereare tumbling mats, rowers along the back wall. Man, the more I think about it the more I am amazed at how well theyutilized the space. And they really hadeverything and more! They also hadropes, climbing ladders, KB’s, DB’s, yeah, shoot, they had it all!
The class was run very efficiently. They did a handful of agility ladderexercises which I really liked, then went through some progressions for boththe clean and the jerk, working slowly up to some decently weighted attempts. Then they all got themselves ready for theworkout.
Ground to overhead anyhow for time
This basically meant you have to pick a weight and get itover your head enough to equal that total number, pretty cool! I am not even about to attempt to write outwhat the weights and reps would be here, but if you have a calculator, you canfigure it out. But I am not going tolie, it looked tough as all hell! Theyhad a 17 minute cap on this one just to make sure the next class could getstarted on time, and a lot of the athletes were not able to make it under thattime. But it was an all out effort ofhoisting heavy weight for an extended amount of time. I am so going to have to try that one at somepoint!
After the athletes caught their breath I was able to talk toa few of them, as well as a couple of the coaches. It was pretty clear from all of them thatCrossFit San Jose was a pretty tight community. They are the self-prescribed “Bad News Bears” of the San Jose areaCrossFit’s. What that means for all younon-film-watchers out there is that they are a group of people you would notnecessarily expect to be super dedicated fitness buffs, but they certainlyare. And that really shone true as Iwatched them all in there. There weredefinitely a handful of beasts, or “fiebreathers”, but for the most part, itwas just a bunch of average Joe’s working their asses off. I have to admit, it is really motivatingwatching a group of people who are NOT muscle-bound beasts workout like crazy!
Another interesting thing about CrossFit San Jose is theownership. It is co-owned by 5 differentpeople, all who have jobs outside of the gym as well. Crazy. Personally, I cannot imagine how that works out, but it seems to begoing pretty damn well. All in all, thisparticular affiliate clearly has a following that has been growing for a longwhile up to this point; and they clearly have no intention of slowingdown. It was incredible to hear how somany people had an intense loyalty to their program and that is something thatI find is a going theme with CrossFit. It breeds connectivity amongst athletes, coaches and friends andfamily. It makes working out fun!
Again, I really wish I could have joined the group for aworkout, I guess I’ll have to head back there in the near future to see whatthat is like! All the same, it was ablast to hang out with everyone, and inspiring to see the hard work and thehuge-family-like feel of the place!
CrossFit San Jose
1190 Dell Ave., Unit C
Campbell, CA 95008
Two more posts to come soon for my visits! After a few more visits in the Sacramentoarea, I’ll be back to my regular posts. Be sure to check out the updates to the Courage Games 2011!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Sorry if words are stuck together (liekthis), for some reason when I save to a live post that us just happening)
After waking up in just about as much pain and soreness as I have ever been, I took the drive down the Peninsula to visit CrossFit MountainView. This affiliate is a very new addition to the Bay Area and is run by a real cool coach Alex Rollin. It is actually the second gym owned by Jason Khalipa, who I visited a few days before at his base gym CrossFit Santa Clara. Basically, click on the Mountain View website and you end up at the Santa Clara one. But head to one or the other and you will see two totally different boxes.
Mountain View looks a little bare bones but you could tellthe second you walk in there that what it lacks in equipment, it makes up for 100% in coaching, programming and hard working athletes. Located just a turn or two off the 101, it’s the last warehouse in a string of them. Head to the back and you see the pull up bar across the large roll-up doorway. Walk in and you are met with a pretty barren gym floor, a great pull up rig with rings and such along the back wall, bumpers, KB’s, bars, racks, GHD’s and rowers along the right side wall and a few plyo boxes scattered bout. And that’s about it. I came in for the noon class and was just going to hang out and watch them and then get a workout in with Alex afterward. The intensity thatthe class had got the blood pumping instantly in me and I was stating to lose the doubts I had had earlier in being able to actually workout.
Alex ran the decently sized group through some Oly lifting progressions and they all got themselves set up for their workout. This place seemed to take their fitness very seriously. But what stood out to me was the fact that everyone approached the workout at the highest level of intensity they could handle. What I mean by this is that each athlete clearly had the understanding that no matter what weights and modifications they might need to utilize, they would still go at 100%. This led to a hugely intense and fun class to watch. Some went for the ring dips, pullups, squats and run unbroken, others just prescribed weight, and others used modified exercises. It was clear that from the top down here, people knew what was going on and things ran smoothly and efficiently. More mental notes were taken on my part for my space!
After the class got after it, and after we all hung for a bit chatting and talking fitness, Alex, his friend “handsome” Dan and myself slowly got prepped for out little workout. Dan was a little hung over, I was feeling like I had been hit by a truck, then backed over by an even bigger truck, and I’m sure our enthusiasm for a workout was bringing Alex down a little. But, we put our heads together for a little burner and wrote it out.
3 rounds for time of:
50 air squats
40 total walking lunges w/ 45#
30 KB swings 1.5 pood
20 toes to bar
10 meters burpee broad jumps
This seemed like an alright workout on the white board, but right around the middle of the second round things just came crashing down on all three of us it seemed. Yeah, this one crushed me like crazy. The squats were fine enough all the way though, the lunges…good lord did they burn, and for me, my back just tightened up like crazy on them. By the third round I could only get 5-8 steps before standing for a little rest. The KB swings were fine until the back tightened, and on the final set I couldn’t even get 10 unbroken. The toes to bar is where I actually made up my time. I chose to use a staggered grip and this helped me to be able t get at least 5 reps per effort. The first round I got unbroken. In the end I rolled in with a time of 18:09, a little less than a minute behind Alex, and I was ready to just curl up in a ball and go to sleep.
We all hung for a bit and chatted and I really enjoyed that. Alex is a cool, down to earth guy. And with his background in baseball, we had all kinds of stories to share with each other (for those ofyou who don’t know, I did play a few years of independent Minor League ball). I would easily put Alex’s spot in that “classic” category, and even more bare bones than the ones I have already put in there. Yet another perfectexample of good coaching and programming leading to a well-attended gym,despite the lack of equipment and fanciness.
I know for a fact I’ll be hanging out with Alex in the very near future. If I were to surround myself with people I have met in California so far with the energy that motivates me perfectly, Alex would be in that group with no hesitation. I think there is nowhere but UP for him and his gym. And with the help and guidanceof Jason Khalipa right there with him along the way, it is pretty much guaranteed that his spot will grow fast.
CrossFit Mountain View
1280 La Avenida Drive,
Mountain View, CA 94043
Back on my own programming now and feeling pretty weak. I am excited to feel the gains though with the programming I am designing. I’ll post up in a few days what the program is all about. Two more posts coming shortly!
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.
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.
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