Happiness. Joy. Positivity. Beauty. All these things and everything good are always right there in front of you, it's your state of mind that allows you to see them all or not. Have you ever looked at something and just didn't give it the time of day, just walked on by, or even scoffed at it thinking how insignificant it is? Then, all of a sudden one day you see the same thing and you are blown away at how amazing it makes you feel? The thing itself did not change; it’s you that did.
I knew all along during my time of negative thoughts and extreme lack of motivation that I would find it all again. After all, I have always prided myself as being one who saw the bright side of life, and spent more time seeing the good in things than the bad. And it's just so funny to think that out of the blue you can see the world in a whole new light. I'm not about to say that I am ready to go skipping through the woods, rejoicing and singing songs or anything. All I am saying is that I have remembered what my purpose is in life and have re-focused my attention to what I like and what makes me feel alive and good. There are still bad things there, but I am systematically moving them away from me so that I can be the person I've known I wanted to be for so long.
It's incredibly powerful, and awesomely self-strengthening to realize that it's completely up to you to feel good or bad. If something is happening in your life, you ALWAYS have a choice to keep it, or get rid of it. I know that there are times when that legitimately feels impossible, but the fact of the matter is, you really do have the power to be in control.
When you see your life spiraling in the wrong direction. When you are getting sick, getting overly stressed, acting out, expressing anger, sorrow, fear, and you are becoming generally more angry for any reason at all. It could be your job, your family, your relationship, your living situation, literally anything. You need to take a moment here and there to assess whether or not some of the things in your life, or the choices you make on a daily basis are the right ones for you. Here's a bit of a light-hearted example. Over the past few months I have been watching a crap-ton of TV shows on my computer. No joke, I would probably spend an average of about 4 hours a day watching shows (honestly, it had to have been more than that!). I was doing this to avoid having to face the fact that I was acting like a little bitch and avoiding all the things I should be doing. I was feeling so down, sorry for myself, and so many other things that I overwhelmed my own brain and just decided I would do my best to check out. I didn’t go run around the woods, I didn't go climb a tree by the water. I didn't hit an extra workout, hell, half the time I didn't even hit ONE workout. I could watch an entire episode of Arrested Development without even cracking a smile. Now that is freaking bad! The things that made me happy were right next to me all along though. Sort of hanging out, waiting for me to give them attention because they knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid them forever. I guess my happiness is smarter than me.
And all it took was a little change of perspective. A little time where I could rip myself away from the negative things bringing me down, where I didn't have a computer and couldn't escape to my TV shows. When all of a sudden you have a handful of incredibly supportive people next to you, asking you to join them in things you know you love doing, rather than you having to find the motivation to do them yourself, your eyes will just flash open. For me it happened with three major things: running up the crazy sand hills at Baker Beach and looking over the Golden Gate Bridge while gasping for breath and dripping sweat. That was nice. Climbing a tree in Golden Gate Park, somewhere away from the cars and people. And walking a freezing, windy, empty beach at Ocean Beach. Just a couple days and all of a sudden I could not keep fooling myself into being a lazy, negative person. My natural personality reemerged and it was so unbelievably invigorating and exciting.
For me, it was simply putting myself in a situation where people that naturally supported me doing the things that make me feel good could surround me. And where I could not avoid doing things I liked to do. I was able to remove all negativity from my life for a couple days and that was all it took. Maybe all I needed was an hour, or perhaps I would have needed a week or a month. Either way, the simplest way to do it is to step away from things that bring you down, surround yourself with things that lift you up, and boom, you're good to go!
I know it's all way easier said than done, but saying it, or finding out what to do to make your life better is so simple. Age-old quotes and sayings are age-old for a reason; they work. Get rid of all the negative in your life, and surround yourself with the positive. If you choose to make excuses about why your life sucks, that’s on you, it’s your damn choice to make things better. If you know what you want out of life, pursue it with more passion and energy than anything else in the world. And if you don’t know what you want, constantly try new things so you can learn what it is you were built to do best. I am a rare case it seems. Rare in the fact that I have known what I wanted since I was pretty young. I wanted to play professional baseball. I mean, I REALLY wanted it. I never knew anything else besides that desire. And when baseball became a reality, that same passion and drive was found in wanting to inspire others to become healthier. I hope to inspire people, not just through writing and coaching, but through living my life the way I always talk about and share with others; you know, practicing what I preach. And I preach to be honest with yourself, wear your personality on your sleeve for everyone to see, good and bad, and do what makes you feel good and right (as long as you're not hurting others).
I still have plenty of things to work through, and I will always have negatives in my life. It is ridiculous to think or expect that everything will always be wonderful and perfect. But if you spend most of your days completely understanding what it is you are living for, it makes it so much clearer and easier to figure out how best to deal with the negative and the bad.
I am waking up each day now thinking about teaching and coaching. And right next to those exciting thoughts is an eagerness to spend my quality time with the barbell and the outdoors each and every day. And the people in my life that bring me warmth, and respect me for who I am will inspire me today. And the ones that question me, and bring me down with their negativity will not get my attention.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This weekend ended up being a damn good one. Lot's and lot's of quality time with my awesome girlfriend and plenty of exploring around our not-for-long home town area. Saturday we went out and searched through the Presidio, an area of the city that instantly takes you OUT of the city. I had a bit of a challenging workout that ended up not really being a workout at all. The sweat and elevated heart rate were a result of panicking attempting to find a workout spot in time. Let me break this down a bit...
I basically had a 30 minute AFAP (as fast as possible): find a workout location, come up with a workout, perform the workout, get back to the car. This turned out to be way harder than expected as there were no good branches in the wooded area we were in to hang the rings! I ran around about four different trails and found nothing. I had one possibility a bit off the trail on some very thick brush, but the branch ended up being way too angled and just like that, 10 minutes gone. As I headed back towards the car I spotted a hidden clearing just off the path and went to check it out. Perfect, there was a fallen tree about 8 feet from the ground. I strung the rings up and put together this:
3 rounds of:
20 log jump overs (13" log)
1 hill sprint (50 meters, about a 4% grade)
5 muscle ups
This was going very well until I hit the 5th muscle up on the damn first round. I just got stuck. And when I finally got it, I noticed I was about 2 minutes from my 30 minute limit. Damn! I packed up the rings and high-tailed it back to the car. Total fail. But, to make the evening totally worth it, Lindsey and I shared an awesome dinner down at Crissy Field (a huge park area on the Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge). Then we hit up an awesome comedy show. What a day!
Today, after a huge breakfast, we drove north of the city to explore Tamalpais Mountain. Well, our timing was just a tad off and literally the second we got out of the car, down came the rain. We toughed through it for a while and lucked out with a good 5 minutes of open view way out over the city. Absolutely breathtaking. But then the wind, rain and crazy fog blew in and, after hanging out in a incredibly comfortable alcove made up of moss-covered rocks, trees and bushes, we trudged back to the car. We then spent a couple hours hanging out on Union Street, drinking coffee, people watching and trying on sunglasses before heading down to the Mission District to grab dinner at an absolutely impressive vegan/raw foods restaurant. Cafe Gratitude, besides being so stereotypically fru-fru, had a massive menu of totally vegan, organic, local and mostly raw dishes that would satisfy even the most Paleo of eaters. Lindsey and I both walked away filled to the brim, and smiling widely, it is a great place for a good, healthy meal.
And now we are home, chilling out before bed time and a super early wake up call for me as I am shipping out to NYC for the week. I'll be taking part in a media event with the compression clothing company 2XU and am so excited to represent their brand. I'll share more about this at the end of the week, so look for that. Besides that, the first CrossFit Games Open workout will be announced on Tuesday, so I am super excited to see what this weeks workouts will look like. Depending on the workout, I will either hold off and do it with the crew at CrossFit San Mateo, or I will do it somewhere in NYC. Either way, I will be hitting up a gym or two while in the City That Never Sleeps and doing a couple cool workouts. Should be an adventure all around!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
The title for today's workout has two meanings, one for the workout itself and one for the workout location. I wanted to get out to the hills to get some running in and I decoded to head back to a trail I have been on once before. With only about an hour to spare before Powerlifting class got started I had to get after it, no messing around. So, I zipped up to Skyline College in the hills, parked by the trail-head and took off.
The trail starts off as a wide gravel path that winds gradually up for about a quarter mile, once you get to an abandoned shed f sorts, it turns into a super narrow, rock, root and mud filled path that heads straight down into a deep canyon only to head straight back up again. Because it's actually a kind of popular trail, the super steep down and up have a massive collection of wooden stairs to navigate, this added a totally different element to the run as I had no choice but to stay light on my feet and keep my knees up. The added fatigue from this hit so hard when the stairs ended and I had a good 3/4 mile path that averaged out at around a 10% grade all the way to a bike trail that circles the peak.
Killer dude, killer. BUT, the views were insane! I expected it to be super foggy because the weather today just was not good, but the gray skies and chillings winds were deceiving and when I reached the separate peaks I was welcomed with views of the Peninsula, the southern part of San Francisco, and the Ocean. Each time I was able to soak in a couple seconds of these views I was instantly flooded with new energy and it just kept me going. Not sure why, perhaps it's because I wasn't expecting to have them, but they totally inspired me. My energy levels, even while gasping desperately for air, were through the roof and I felt so good. I have said it many times before, but I feel like it can not be said enough: finding inspiring scenery for your workouts takes them to a whole new level. Sure you can get great results doing all your workouts in a gym, but what's the fun in that? Different settings add entirely new dynamics and challenges to workouts; and for anyone wanting to truly make fitness a part of their lives, these extra motivators are what ultimately make the suffering fun. Like I just said, I was so out of breath climbing these hills I doubled over a few times, grabbing at something to support me, but somehow I just did not want to stop. I felt alive, part of nature, like i was experiencing something extraordinary. It was beautiful.
For all of you coming out to the Courage Games this coming Saturday, even if the weather is not ideal, I am sure you will experience something similar. Your workout stage will literally be feet from the beach. Your view will be the northern Peninsula coast and the San Francisco skyline off in the distance. You will be surrounded by 100-plus people challenging themselves and cheering you on. I envy you all so much!
Oh, and this video is a bit different than normal...got a little excited with my mini-adventure, you'll see. Um, hope you enjoy!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well, besides the crazy programming with traveling around to so many affiliates, and the planning for the Courage Games 2011, I have been at the highest level of stress I have ever been in my life. This difficulty has come since around the holidays when Lindsey and I began discussions on our future and how we wanted to approach it. As many of my readers here know, our move out here was based on literally ONE thing: to live in California. Both of us were leaving quite a bit in the East Coast and we knew that going into this crazy move. So after settling down a little bit (living together for the first time as well!) we began the long discussion of family and future. In the end, we came to the difficult conclusion that our future would be better off back in the East Coast.
We initially planned to really sink in here for a while, up to five years, but while enjoying what California has to offer us, we would have in the back of our heads that we would most likely be leaving at some point soon. This began to weigh on me as I left so much in the DC area to recreate my business here. And I was struggling with the idea of getting everything going here and then leaving it all once again to start fresh in a new place. I just could not see this as a plausible choice for me and what I want out of life. So, when push came to shove, we realized that it would be best for both of us to pack up our gear and head back East to really sink our roots in and settle down.
This has been a very, very tough process for both us as we both really like it out here. I have had nothing but positive experiences in the short time exploring the greater Bay Area and I have made friends and connections quicker than I ever thought possible. While I do not struggle very much with the actual decision to move back East, what I do struggle with is the knowledge that I am leaving days like today. Today, as I write this, I am sitting at my kitchen counter, windows and patio door open to the 68 degree weather, birds chirping and not a could in the sky. After I finish this I will head over to a park right on the Bay to do some tumbling and ring work, then it's off to the gym to train a large group of kids, workout with a couple training buddies, train another group of athlete, cook dinner and read some of my book. That right there is the perfect life to me (if Lindsey was not traveling for work it would truly be perfect!). I know we will have this life, and better (because Lindsey won't be traveling so much) back East, but this weather, and these people! Man, I will miss those a ton.
So what it is looking like now is that I will be returning to the greater Washington, DC area in early April, setting up shop in The Garage again while pushing like crazy to open up a much larger gym. I have a whole slew of things prepared for getting up and running when I get back there, so all you Washingtonians, Marylanders and Virginians better be ready!
In the mean time, I have folded my CrossFit affiliate in Burlingame out of 1st String and have partnered with CrossFit San Mateo. I am helping out a local High School baseball team as well. Once I have the CrossFit Kids class, Powerlifting/Strength class and baseball teams up and running, and once the Courage Games 2011 are over and done with, I will bid farewell to lovely California as my place of residence and return to my home town area of Greater Washington, DC. To all my athletes who were so committed to me before I scampered out West, please send me a note and let me know if you are game to get back into things. I will set a date for my return and will plan on having people back in The Garage within a couple days of that date. So spread the word, and get yourselves ready to have a Spring and Summer filled with massive gains!
To everyone I have met and connected with in my short time in California, you better believe I will be back out here on a VERY regular basis to workout, hang out, explore and chill with everyone. California was everything and more than I expected and I will be be visiting every chance I get. And of course, each and every one of you will have a place to stay and train if you ever want to visit the East Coast; and I would expect a ton of you to come let me show the same hospitality all of you have shown me since I have been out here.
So, for the final 1.5 to 2 months I have left here, I will be re-visiting gyms, exploring more areas, introducing more people to CrossFit and basking in the intensely active calm that is Northern California. For those of you who have never been out here, get your butts out here, it freaking rocks! I look forward to the life Lindsey and I have ahead of us. I am eager to grow my business and see where it takes me. I am excited with the knowledge that I will be living in an area I truly do love. Yet I will travel back with the bittersweet feeling of knowing I am leaving behind something that connected with me in the deepest of ways. I will miss California intensely, but I am overjoyed with what is to come.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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.
Damn what a night! Chris and Maribel LaLanne have situated themselves comfortably in the heart of San Francisco and have sure made their mark! Their space is not all that big at all (just wait until their new 6,000 square foot facility opens…) but they have generated such a large and loyal following it is impossible to disregard what they have done for the CrossFit community.
Walking in there you instantaneously get the feeling that hard work has been taking place there all day. This gets the juices flowing and all you want to do from the moment you step through the door is workout, hard. I walked into the end of a beginner’s class and it was impressive and motivating to me to see how committed all these people were to their workout. The coaches moved around the class feeding motivation and checking on form and it was very clear that each of these athletes were in good hands.
I was welcomed in typical CrossFit fashion, a few people I have met before were in (I visited a few weeks back when my buddy big Dan was in town) and I felt at home within a minute or two. It was nice to feel like I belonged in a place I have only been to once before; I think that says a lot, not just for the community that has been formed here, but also for finding a gym that meshes well with me. I am very big on taking the time, especially with so many affiliates out there, to search around for one that really fits your personality. I have noticed more and more with all my visits that each affiliate has such a distinct difference and certain people will fit better at some than others. LaLanne is a place I could see myself training at on a regular basis. They are serious competitors, but pretty chill, laid back and humble at the same time. I didn’t feel like I was looked down on as the new guy, I felt supported. But at the same time, I knew they were all itching to compete with me and give me a run for my money. I like that; healthy competition is a damn good thing that CrossFit promotes so well, and the coaches and athletes here get that and practice it very well.
So the throwdown was:
3 rounds for time of:
400 meter run
21 KB swings 1.5 pood
12 pull ups
Sweet, big fan of this workout and also a big fan of getting to work out with a HUGE group of people who like to work out as much as me! This was a great combination all around. We had enough people for three heats, and they also had a decent collection of people there just to cheer everyone on. Along with Max Muscle being there to offer pre and post workout drinks, this had the feel of a hugely successful in-house competition. I was in the third and final heat and when my time came to toe the starting line with the other athletes, I was more than ready. Running around during the first two heats, video taping and pushing people on got me pumped up, and having so many people around cheering just added to the energy. I blasted off on a pretty good pace for the out and back run and was feeling light and smooth. The same can be said for the swings, light and smooth. The pull ups on the other hand were a good deal tougher than I hoped. This was day three of pull ups for me and thanks to the 126 or so from yesterday, I had a pretty good sized tear in my right hand. This forced me to tape it up which just made the pull ups uncomfortable. I blasted through them unbroken though and moved on to the next round. It was much the same on this one, all unbroken and raring to finish off strong. When I came in for the final rounds of swings, I heard someone yell I was at 6:40, definitely enough time to hit a huge PR. But then the last 12 pull ups came and I just crashed. I got 6 before slipping off the bar. I then got 4 and 2 to finish off with a time of 7:56, a 2 second PR. I totally gave that workout my all and just came up short thanks to those pull ups. I would have liked to get my sub-7:30, but I guess I have something to work towards now!
After the workout was the perfect example of what I hope to generate myself when I have my gym up and running smoothly. People helped put away equipment, then it was catch up time. Now I know there are mixed feeling about hanging out in the gym for extended periods of time, and I see both sides of the argument. But, I honestly have seen best of friends being made in the gym. Hell, a good deal of my friends have been from the gym. And, for those of us who have decided to make fitness a central focus of life, being in the gym is a GREAT place to spend your time if you have the ability to. Being the last class of the day, people lingered around a little longer than usual to go over workouts, tell stories and just socialize in general. I was able to chat a handful of people up and again, felt totally at home. What can not be missed here is that while socializing within the gym is a great thing, the second it deters the athlete from working his or her ass off and making all the gains they should be able to, then it is a total waste of time. I say: give your workout 100% every single time you walk in, then bask in the wonderful afterglow of a sweet workout with your friends and workout partners. Nothing better!
To add to the great energy, I was able to see the award for student athlete of the year, a great idea to propmte your gyms community. AND, I was given a pretty damn cool shirt, always a great thing!
So, if you want to be surrounded by hard workers, if you want intensity and complete dedication to reaching full athletic potential, if you want all that while also being a part of a friendly, welcoming and supportive family, LaLanne is the place for you. Humble hardcore, that’s a good way to describe it
Right off the bat, apologies for the delay in this post, last night got away from me and I just did not have the time and focus needed to make a proper video and post.
But onto the first visit of my second week, CrossFit SOMA, smack in middle of the great city of San Francisco. Things started off great because my parking spot gave a view about two/three blocks down the street of the baseball stadium. And for any of you who know me, I am slight fan of baseball. The neighborhood added so much to the feel of this gym, very hip and modern. The entire area is a completely done-up collection of warehouses and garages, turned into condos, nice shops and fancy restaurants. This gives the entire area that sort of rugged hint behind all of it's cleanliness. The gym was the same way. Just like any other CrossFit gym, all the same equipment and so on, but it had an organization about it that was a good bit different than most. I honestly could not tell if that feeling was because of the way the gym was set up, or because of the neighborhood, but it felt that way all the same. The main thing that left me standing there in awe for a few minutes was their pull up rig. I am a huge fan of cool pull ups rigs and this one took the cake. It was huge! It ran right thrugh the middle of the gym, and had an impressive dominance about it. The fact we got to use it on the workout got be so pumped!
Jenny and Olivia, the two owners for UB (United Barbell) were both extremely welcoming, warm-hearten and knowledgable. They're backgrounds are very impressive and they ring in a very rare personality to CrossFit gym: one that is run by two women. Perhaps this plays a roll in the way the space feels, but as they put it, they really think it plays a roll in the community it forms. Only having been around for 6 months, they are still very much in the growing process, but they have already formed a great following that is very dedicated to changing their lives. According to Jenny, they are a group of people who are very green to fitness, without very much history in serious athletics at all. This leads to a slightly tamer gym, where the fire-breathers and hardcore competitors are generally not found. Their community is one that has grown organically and has grown strong, something the owners don't necessarily actively promote (at least not yet), but are very happy with.
Only a couple people came in to the noon class I joined (the rent cold front in the city has been keeping a few people cooped up in their homes!) but they were both really nice athletes and I had a great time working out with them.
20 minute AMRAP of:
1600 meter run for remainder of time do:
5 ground to overhead anyhow 95#
10 pull ups
15 PVC sit ups
We took a good long time to warm up, work on some hollow rocks and get to know the movements we were about to perform and I really feel like we were all well-prepared. I can't say enough about a coach who makes sure each athlete is not only warmed up, but warmed up properly for the specific workout. Then to add to it, makes sure each and every athlete fully understand what they are about to do. Even a well-trained athlete needs good coaching and scheduling time pre-workout to work out hitches in form is something I feel a lot of people miss. But not here, we were all good and ready.
I was felt very good physically and was able to get in a good pace on the run, finishing in 6:35. I then got right into the exercises. All ground to overheads went unbrken, all pull ups the same; it was the PVC sit ups that got me. What this is is an ABMAT sit up where you hold a PVC pipe on your shoulders like a back squat. This takes any chance to use momentum out of the picture and all of a sudden the sit up is brutally hard. I could not string together more than 8, and it was exhausting, both physically AND mentally. When time ran out I had gotten 7 complete rounds. I felt like I pushed, but not as hard as I really could have, not totally sure why, but it as a great workout all the same!
Looking through UB's workouts I really liked their programming. They have backgrounds in Olympic lifting, and while they fully promote using those lifts, they do not seem over-do it on their athletes. Many times you'll see a coaches likes and dislikes strongly through their programming, and the athletes inevitably are molded in that direction. A good coach uses his/her experience merely as one source for designing a program, but the main one is the well-roundedness of their athlete (depending on the athletes specific goals of course). Jenny and Olivia have found a great route in terms of supplying all their members a truly divers program. With a tight-nit community, great programming, well-organized gym and great coaches, these two have a lot of potential as their gym continues to grow through their first year.
United Barbell/CrossFit SOMA
300 Brannan St, San Francisco
Today I am prepping for a double dip: San Francisco CrossFit and Mad Dawg Fitness!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
My visit today took me back across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin Country and Tamalpais CrossFit. First things first, I have a hard time pronouncing Tamalpais, it's just one of those words that I cannot figure out for some really weird reason. That aside, I had an absolutely great visit to this place. Welcoming coaches, tons of high-energy, very positive athletes and a tough workout was exactly what I needed to get my day started and I got just that!
The place is right off the highway, just a little more then ten miles outside the City, once off the highway, it's a little hidden, but that sure hasn't held them back from bringing in the members by the boat loads. At exactly a year in existence, they have brought in well over 100 members, and they are expecting that growth to continue on. Two of the three coaches were in when I entered, Michael was teaching the 8am class, and Meshelle was working out along side the rest of the athletes. Then, for the 9am, (the one I joined) Meshelle coached and Michael joined the rest of us. They both were so down to earth and chill, and the members so approachable and kind, it felt like I was walking in to a Saturday morning home BBQ rather then about to lift crazy weights. But then, to add that extra appeal, their gyms set-up motivated nothing but hard work.
Walking in, you instantly feel like there is organization here. It's not huge, but has more than enough space, and has all the equipment to comfortably take care of their larger classes (they've been getting around 18 on a regular basis). Everything is home-built, the pull up bars, bar racks, plate holders, plyo boxes, and while I would normally expect that to make things a bit grungy and "dirty", they keep it pristine and organized. Their focus to these details is something that I feel sets them apart, they use their resources to supply their members with the best equipment and, coaching and information they can, and they keep things simple by figuring out ways to do all of this while as efficiently as possible. I very quickly remembered these guys from a video posted on the CrossFit Journal during their grand opening, pretty cool.
People started rolling in and class began. We all went out and got a quick 400 meters in, then, lined up in two lines and went though an active warm up reminiscent of pre sports game: high knees, butt kicks, squat jumps and more. This ended up boositng my energy like crazy, to be able t run around the gym with such a large group of people. After about 5 minutes of that, we all gathered around to go over the workout.
21 deadlifts 225#
7 rounds of:
7 front squats 155#
7 box jumps 24"
21 deadlifts 225#
Youch. While I was feeling fresh coming in, this one had muscle tissue break-sown written all over it. Bars and plates were collected and we took plenty of time working the different moves to make sure everyone was feeling comfortable. I really respected how much time they took to focus on this in fact. I feel as though with big classes, many coaches may feel like it's wasting time to go over the details of each move. But not here, and despite the inevitability of form failure with this workout, it was great to see how they made sure everyone knew exactly what was going on. And, thanks to that, plenty of people were able to scale their weights accordingly. Once we were all set up, it was 3-2-1 go time!
I was able to bang out the deadlifts unbroken, then used the time it took to strip off the 35# from each side to recover a little. The first round of front squats and box jumps made me realize very fast that this was going to tear me up quick. And sure enough, by round 5 was was flat out dying. My front squats were pretty messy, and I could feel the strain on my low back. The tightness was causing a lack of mobility in my lumbar spine and getting my butt down deep was tougher and tighter each rep. The load on my quads (and the additional strain thanks to me utilizing my front side too much under the fatigue) made the box jumps crazy hard. The first rep each round felt like I was jumping from sand to a 40" box. But I battled through, focusing on not rushing or allowing my form to completely break down, and was able to get everything unbroken up to the final 21 deadlifts. I got those in 4 sets and finished with a time of 8:47, a time I am very comfortable with; I gave that one everything I had!
After about 10 minutes of chilling out and allowing my back to stretch out a bit, I was feeling right enough to rack up my weights and chat a little more with all the athletes. Yet another gym where, still 30 minutes after class is over most of the members are still there catching up, talking about the workout and others, and just being friendly. I love that! There was not one person in the gym slacking off during that workout, we all gave it 100%, we were all drenched, breathing heavy and feeling good; and then, a bit of socializing, meeting and telling stories, and back on with our days. Nothing better!
Tamalpais CrossFit epitomizes the promotion of a fitness community. They host seminars, run challenges, have gatherings on a regular basis, and continuously expand their following by offering a welcoming and friendly environment. Their community is broad and inclusive, and, judging by the class I joined, a great mixture of all levels of athlete.
They welcomed me back any time, and I am sure I'll be taking them up n the offer in the coming months, not only to get a little better understanding on how to put together a clean, efficient and effective affiliate, but to hang with some really cool people!
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