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Crossfit United Archives - Kohler Created

Has it been 5 years of CrossFit already?

By | CrossFit | No Comments

A little ditty on our CrossFit anniversary…

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2011, last night in our first location

I can’t believe I just typed that. Neil and I have been doing CrossFit for 5 years. It probably sounds somewhat smug, but most people don’t celebrate their gym anniversaries. That’s a testament to why CrossFit (and especially our community) is so significant and valuable. Because not only do I feel the need to acknowledge every year, but there are more years. My fitness is not something I picked up and put down. It’s never faded or become old hat. If anything, it continues to grow in my life.

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2013, after HOA team competition

CrossFit has taught me to define fitness not only by its methodology but the entire spectrum of my health. It’s taught me to constantly seek improvement, whether it be in my lifts, or the quality of my sleep and time with family. I’m less afraid to tackle new or hard challenges, and my attitude has more optimism than a church revival. I strive constantly to be a better person, a better example, and a better support to others.

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2016, after CrossFit Open Workout 16.5

Being new at something is never easy, but if I were to give one piece of advice to new athletes (in any sport really) it would be to make it your own. Focus on just your pieces of fitness. I was so intimidated by others for far too long. And I thought that if I wasn’t the best, that I was less “good” or would be seen as less of an athlete. Having the heaviest lifts or the fastest times doesn’t define you, the work and your attitude does. Celebrate all the little moments, find your tribe, and savor every moment of the adventure.

Here’s to five more years…

CrossFit Fringe

By | CrossFit, Design, Exercise, Featured, Freelance | 2 Comments

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Health and Fitness Voices program and have been provided with the Motorola Razr HD and six months of service in exchange for my honest review and opinions about the product.

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So if you’ve managed to keep up with us the past few weeks (hard, we’ve been everywhere but nowhere at the same time), you may have noticed that we’ve been talking about our gym a lot. And not CrossFit United, but CrossFit Fringe. What is CrossFit Fringe? Did we open a gym? What is going on!?

I’m sorry we’ve been totally absent and not good at updating and explaining what’s going on. Some of it was intentional, other parts were unintentional, and then work got crazy, we built our deck, and we just dived right into being at CrossFit Fringe without a lot of answers. So now that things have quieted down a little bit, I really want to catch you all up with what’s going on.

A few months ago, Neil and I were brought into a meeting with the ownership of CrossFit United to talk about a website redesign. We were pumped. A new CrossFit gym had just opened across town and we were eager to help CrossFit United not only improve their ability to reach people online, but to offer some ideas on how to give them an edge and refine some of their brand/presence. These are the types of consulting jobs that we live for. We love small business branding and consulting.

As it turned out though, we weren’t being hired by CrossFit United, but CrossFit Fringe. Half of the ownership of our gym (the people we were used to seeing every day) had decided to open their own gym with one of our other trainers. Only a few people knew, and we signed a non-disclosure, adding ourselves to the secret. The plan was still unfolding, but they had a name — CrossFit Fringe.

Well, and they had this:

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Someone had put together a logo for them, and they wanted to design a website and identity for CrossFit Fringe around it. I was immediately honest with them that I found the logo to be a little… underwhelming. All I could think of when I looked at it was a swamp. It just felt “meh.” So I asked if I could take a stab at it, and they said “sure.”

I took two weeks to kind of sketch out some ideas and wrap my head around what I thought the new box would be like — and what I wanted it to be like. I think I watched nearly every CrossFit video on YouTube (the above was my favorite). We didn’t have a location at that point, just ideas. And members. When I thought about our community, and how we all live day to day, CrossFit is certainly something we wear on our sleeves. It’s a source of pride and a constant presence in how we embrace all of life’s moments — both good and bad. Even if life is treating me badly, I still feel strong and resilient, and that goes far beyond just getting in shape and feeling good about how I look. I wanted our brand to represent the collective strength and power of our community, our affinity for one another, and our place in a greater community of athletes. We’re parents, siblings, police officers, students, lawyers and grandparents, but we’re also athletes. I also wanted our brand to give us each the feeling of being part superhero — something a little fanciful, while still being legitimate.

In all those thoughts, this emerged:

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And from there it just sort of snowballed into colors, secondary marks and badges…

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Within a week, the owners had found and leased a new location, and in secret we started putting all the details together. They tackled all the physical labor, while Neil and I focused on the branding and website. There were a lot of late nights, many (many) beers, and ideas constantly being tossed back and forth. Meanwhile, the secret continued to get bigger, and increasingly hard to keep from the community. It was so hard to keep from them. Our existing gym flooded, the new CrossFit gym across town was getting a lot of media, all while we were hurriedly trying to get all the details together without losing our minds. It is definitely the hardest secret I have ever kept, but it was worth it.

Here are some pics of the place the day the lease was signed:

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What do you think, Captain America or American Gladiator? That red made me ragey…

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Managing projects for me usually involves notebooks, lists and post-its. Since I’ve been testing the Motorola Razr HD as part of my partnership with Verizon, I decided to download a few apps and see if it improved my organization and streamlined my workflow. And did it ever.

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While I got the owners of the gym set up on Do, which allows them to share project management tasks collaboratively, I have totally fallen in love with Wunderlist. It is not unnecessarily complicated or too simple to be useful like a lot of apps, and it integrates seamlessly with my other devices, so I’m not tethered to just my phone. I also used the Dropbox, Flickr and Evernote app as well.

We also set up QR codes around the gym so our members could access the website, wireless and if they’re new, the waiver. They can all be tracked using scan.me. How cool is that!?

We launched last Saturday to a completely packed gym. We put over 120 athletes through our first two WODs, and almost completely sold out of all our t-shirts. The website, which we designed to be completely responsive, generated over 1,000 visits the first day, and has now been visited by people in over 15 countries. In our first 24 hours on Facebook, we generated over 200 likes (443 now and counting), and in just a week we have 70 Twitter followers, which for a local business is pretty good. I can not convey to you the amazing response we received from our members — but I can tell you that we worked for months hoping for just a fraction of it.

So how about a tour?

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8,000-square-feet, two workout rooms, huge lounge area and plenty of mobility space. Is it not heaven!?

We have to thank Ben, Tyler and Nate for involving us in this project. It’s still ongoing, we still have a lot to do, but it’s been a complete honor to give back a fraction of what they’ve given us. I’m excited to not only act as a consultant, but train and train others here as well. Once a week I will be teaching a “Girls Night” class, and we’ve already got a full-session of On-Ramp that begins next week that I can’t wait to be a part of.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Health and Fitness Voices program and have been provided with the Motorola Razr HD and six months of service in exchange for my honest review and opinions about the product.

Weekly Workout Recap (5/27 – 6/2) + OPT Update

By | CrossFit, Exercise | No Comments

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Great week at the gym last week! We celebrated Memorial Day on Monday with “Murph,” I coached my first two classes, and then closed the week with some new PR’s at the bar, including the deadlift video you can see below. I’ve officially been on OPT programming for a month, and I’m pretty pleased with the results so far.

What I love:

  • Each workout leaves me wrecked and sore
  • My working weight in each workout is consistently going up
  • I’ve had more PR’s in the past month then in the last six
  • I’m working on my goats (weaknesses) — mainly my upper body strength

What I’m struggling with:

  • The workouts are long – sometimes 2 hours with proper warm-up, prescribed rests and cool-down
  • I’m on my own most of the time, so I’m definitely missing the social element
  • I sometimes end up a day off schedule because I need added rest

So all in all my first month on OPT has been pretty successful. I think I can address my struggles with isolation with 1-2 workouts per week with the group, and I definitely think teaching will help as well. The length of the workouts is just something I’m going to have to work on with my schedule, but I’m hopeful I can continue to make the programming work.

Trying new CrossFit programming has been reminiscent of going mostly Paleo two years ago. It’s exciting to tweak and try new things and find the balance of strength and endurance that is the most optimal. There are so many different programs, ways to program and people to learn from, I sometimes find it hard to believe I used to be the girl who dreaded exercise in any form.

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Monday

Murph
For time:
1 mile
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
1 mile
(+1 mile – Jes)

Finish: 48:16 (Neil), 54:10 (Jes)

Tuesday

Rest Day, we were sore!

Wednesday

Neil:

Banded warm-up, shoulder mobility
For time:
3 rounds:
200m run
10 ring pull-ups

Then:
200 ft weighted lunges (55# each arm)

3 rounds:
10 T2B
200m run

Finish: 18:30 (20 minute cap)

Thursday

Neil:

AMRAP (20:00):
5 burpees
15 air squat
20 DU’s

Finish: 10 rounds

Jessica:

A. Handstand walking practice (I’m terrible at this)
B. Split jerk; 2 reps on the min for 10 min @60% 1rm (75#)
+
Row 30 seconds @100%
rest 2:30
x8
(rest 5 min bw sets 4/5)

Finished with a PR power clean at 115#!

Friday:

Neil:

Rest day

Jessica:

A. Clean deadlift; 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; rest 3 min – started at 105# and worked to PR 1RM (rep-max) of 185
B. TnG (touch and go) Power snatch; 10, 8, 6, 4, 2; rest 90 sec (working weight: 75#, maxed at 85#)
C. 30 squat clean for time 70% 1rm (85#)

How have your workouts been going lately? Do you follow a plan to stay on track?

CrossFit Open WOD 13.3

By | CrossFit | One Comment

Gah! I am so sorry I am late in my recap of 13.3. With Neil’s track day out-of-town and the heaps of work I came home to, I didn’t even have time to take any pictures of the WOD. So then I thought I’d just re-create the WOD at home using Felix (18 lbs) instead of a med ball….

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Just kidding! He’s such a good sport.

When CrossFit Open WOD 13.3 was announced, I think we were all a little stunned at first. It was last year’s Open WOD 12. 4!

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This is a really tough and somewhat boring WOD in the sense that if you’re a reasonably good but not Games-ready athlete, you’ll spend the majority of your time just doing wall balls. We did it last year and didn’t finish the wall balls, and we did “Karen” (one of the girls, a mere 150 wall balls without the double unders or muscle-ups)over the summer and my fastest time was 9:16. It’s just…a lot of wall balls.

Thankfully this year we’re somewhat better at double-unders — in that we can do them and string some together. Neil unfortunately came down with a stomach bug two days before the WOD and made it to 150 wall balls right at the 12:00 point. I finished my wall balls with about 1:30 to spare and managed to eek out 28 double unders. My legs felt like absolute lead! Needless to say, I’ve GOT to get better at stringing my double unders together before next year.

I was bummed knowing I wouldn’t get a shot at the muscle ups. because I just got my first one a few weeks ago and was convinced I could have done one. Scoring wise, if you were able to get muscle-ups as a woman, you were instantly in the top 1/3 of participating athletes. That just goes to show how difficult and complex of a movement they are.

It’s always humbling to see the video submissions of the top competitors once you’ve done the WOD. Above is Sam Briggs, who completely finished the wall balls, double unders and muscle-ups, as well as an additional 50 wallballs! Aren’t her muscle-ups beautiful!? Sam is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with this year!

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In other CrossFit/fitness news, I got a new gym bag. Neil came across it on The Clymb and surprised me with it last night. This may sound completely pathetic, but I’ve never had a real gym bag before. I’ve always just thrown my gear in plastic shopping bags, or reusable canvas bags that people use for groceries. This is the real deal, and I love it!

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Plenty of room and pockets to hold all my clothes and growing inventory of gear…

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Plus it has a dedicated compartment for shoes to keep them separated from the rest of the bag. I think lifting shoes are in my future.

So Open WOD 13.4 was announced last night, and I can not be any more nervous. A climbing ladder of 95# clean and jerks and toes to bar. Ouch! What do you think?

PS – If you’d like to join the Clymb, let me know and I’ll send you a referral! I feel like we order something at least once a week, and they have great deals on fitness apparel and outdoor equipment.

CrossFit Open WOD 13.1

By | CrossFit, Jessica, Neil | One Comment

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Boy, am I glad to be updating from the other side of 13.1. I didn’t think anything could be crazier than last year’s first Open WOD of 7 minutes of straight burpees, but now I know, burpees AND snatches is much, much worse.

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This is the first year that Neil and I have officially signed up to participate in the Open. We were still pretty new last year, and learning a lot of the key movements, so we just participated and scaled the workouts as we could. This year, since we’ve seen a lot of improvement, we decided to take the plunge, if for no other reason than to see how far we’ve come and have some fun with our fellow CrossFitters. It completely takes over the gym!

Let’s back up a little first. Many of you might not even know what I”m talking about. If you’ve never caught replays of the CrossFit Games on ESPN, they are by definition the search to find the fittest man and woman on Earth. Granted, all the participants are CrossFitters, but CrossFit prides itself preparing us for the unknown, and to be skilled in many areas of fitness. Nobody knows what the workouts for the Open, Regionals or the CrossFit Games will be. Athletes literally train year-round for a competition that is a complete mystery to them. Fun fact: During the first CrossFit Games, workouts were literally pulled from a peanut roaster/hopper.

In the past few years the CrossFit Games have grown from a small event on a ranch to a worldwide competition. Athletes are broken into groups by country and region, and during the Open we complete 5 weekly workouts that will determine who goes to Regionals, and then the Games.

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The first Open workout was announced last Wednesday. I was literally eating birthday cake when my phone started buzzing. A 17-minute ladder of burpees and heavy snatches fore reps was announced. I won’t lie, our excitement immediately waned.  The snatch is unfortunately a movement we probably haven’t worked with enough over the past year. They are a complex movement, and although our gym hasn’t shied away from them, they don’t land in programming often. I’ve only really started working on them this year in my secondary workouts and prep for my Level 1 Seminar. I have them down, but I still do them at a much lighter weight than my other lifts. In fact, up until Thursday, my 3-rep max was 75 lbs, the second snatch weight in the workout. Neil snatch max is also lower, around 125 for his 1-rep snatch, 10 lbs short of the second snatch weight in the workout. It’s definitely not a move you gain ground in easily.

With all this in mind we resolved to just go into it with an open mind but careful attention to form. Our burpees are excellent, so worst case scenario we thought, we’ll just plow through those to give us more time on snatches.

So how did we do?

Well, we fared okay. It’s hard to be disappointed when you know how much you’ve improved (I couldn’t snatch last year at all), however it’s hard not to be disappointed when your expectations exceeded your performance because you still thought you’d perform better.

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Thanks to Erica for capturing my before and after…eesh!

For my part, I wasn’t comfortable enough at 75 lbs to simply tap the bar to the ground and snatch quickly. I completely reset my form with every single snatch, which took time, and capped the number of 75 lb snatches I did at 26 (126 reps total) before I hit 17:00. I had really hoped to make it through the 20 burpees for a total of 150 reps. I prioritized good, safe form, and it cost me reps, which I know in the long run is the best way plan to avoid injury and bad habits, but at the same time, still a bummer.

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For Neil, a snatch at 135 lbs was still a little too heavy. He finished the first round of snatches and the 2 rounds of burpees and had a good 11 minutes to attempt the 135 lb. He got very close, but struggled to get under it. He performed really well though, and his form was excellent. He attempted 8 times, which is more than I could have with new weight. He is so much stronger than last year, and it definitely showed.

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So we did well, but still left feeling like we could have done more. Neither of us went for a second go — mostly because we don’t really have the time in our schedules, nor the desire to recover from what amounts to 2 Hero WOD’s worth of exercise in the span of a few days, which at some point becomes counter-productive. This is where I somewhat take issue with the CrossFit Open. As I mentioned, the snatch is a more complex and difficult Olympic lift than others we do, and the risk of overuse injury from high-repetitions is real, which makes me not a huge fan of this workout — or any which makes use of such extreme repetition range in a competitive setting, where undoubtedly proper form will suffer.

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In the end, my favorite part of the first Open WOD wasn’t actually competing in it, but judging it. Because I got my Level 1 in time, I get to help judge and coach others as they do the WODs, and I’m loving it. I love encouraging people, and coaching them to better, more efficient movements. So many people achieved things they didn’t think they were capable of, and it felt great to play an active role. I’ve coached a good number of people, and it’s exciting when they come back and tell me how much it helped them, or they come back asking for more advice because your previous advice worked or the way you explained things got through to them.

So that’s how the first Open WOD went. Sorry my pictures are a little all over the place. I had no idea what to expect. Hopefully 13.2 goes a little more smoothly. Rumor has it there may be heavy thrusters coming our way? Eek!

What’s the toughest workout you’ve ever done?

A Sunshine and Rainbows Farewell

By | CrossFit, Friends, Weekend | One Comment

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We spent a good part of this weekend saying goodbye to a friend from CrossFit. She has graduated and is off to Miami to start grad school and a new adventure. We’re so excited for her, but so sad to lose her all the same. She is truly one-of-a-kind, and if you ever hear the phrase “sunshine and rainbows,” it fits her perfectly, right down to her socks.

She’s the picture of adventure, optimism and how to magnify happiness in life’s little moments. I wish I’d known her in my early twenties, when I used to worry about every little thing enough for ten people.

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We did a fun little WOD as a send-off. A 4-round “Fight Gone Bad” style workout with three stations. The first, cartwheel burpees, is not a legitimate CrossFit move, but something Kaitlan would totally have us do in one of her signature warm-ups. The second station was squat clean thrusters, a simple squat-clean from the ground into an overhead thruster.

The last was a move that our trainer said was legit, but it seemed a little too weird to be true at first. Inverted burpees. Starting on your back, you roll onto your feet, and then over against the wall into a head/handstand push-up. Weird right?

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Needless to say, two of these stations left us a little dizzy and seeing rainbows ourselves. We take an awesome photo don’t we?

I feel so fortunate to have had some of the most amazing people come into my life this year in a time when I really needed a fresh new start, lots of inspiration and the reassurance that I’m worthwhile and valued. I hope to pay it all forward in a big way next year. More on that soon.

Competing in CrossFit

By | CrossFit, Exercise, Friends, Weekend | No Comments

Over the weekend, we participated in a  contest at our gym to determine who our representative competition team will be this year. It was our first time doing any sort of competitive WODs and we had a blast — though it definitely wasn’t a walk in the park.

The schedule for the day included 3 WOD’s, beginning with a thruster ladder, followed by a mid-morning “Helen” and finishing with “Ben’s Chipper,” a laundry list of a lot of exercises we had to “chip away” at. Since our team will be made up of both Rx and Scaled members, each of us had the choice to try for one or the other, depending on where we felt our skills were. Although Neil and I have begun tackling some WODs at Rx weights, we are by no means ready for Rx competition, so we both tried out for the scaled team.

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The thruster ladder included a series of incremental lift gains (by 10 pounds), followed with 20 double-unders/60 singles jump ropes that we had 90 seconds to complete in order to continue. The weight for Rx men started at 185 pounds, and 85 lbs for the women. Needless to say our scaled weights were much lighter.

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The couple that WODs together…

I managed to get to 95 lbs in my ladder, a new PR for both my clean and overhead thruster. Did you catch that? I put 95 lbs above my head! I still can’t believe that I’m nearly at 100 lbs! Neil progressed to 155 lbs, his current PR.

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The finish of my new PR thruster!

After about 30 minutes of re-coop time following the first WOD, we jumped into our second WOD of the day, “Helen.” It is 3 rounds of a 400-meter run + 21 kettle-bell swings + 12 pull-ups. It’s deceptively hard. You think it’s not so bad  being that it’s only 3 rounds, but each component makes the other increasingly hard over the three rounds.

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Kendall, who I swear is NOT human. Her great-grandfather was an olympian! (Check out the link, it’s a cool video.)

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Carrie, one of our Rx girls…

Neil finished in 11:49 and I in 12:30. My legs and feet were quickly feeling pretty smoked. Luckily we took another 30 minutes off to regroup, and got plenty of goof-off time in. After all, we are CrossFitters…

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Neil with Jimmy and Esther…

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Our awesome trainer Tyler.

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We dubbed the final WOD “Ben’s Chipper” so we’d know who to blame for our pain later. It was tough, and also pretty complicated, but I’ll try my best to explain it. It was made up of:

20 Ring Dips
5 handstand push-ups
10 deadlifts
5 handstand push-ups
20 overhead squats
5 handstand push-ups
10 Squat Cleans
5 handstand push-ups
20 Box Jump (30 in)

THEN 3 Minutes for AMRep Snatch (Each Snatch= 3 seconds off overall time not including these 3 minutes)

Confused? Yeah, so was I. The image above shows how it all broke down in scale, with men’s and women’s Rx on the left and scaled on the right. It wasn’t actually so hard as it was just tedious. Thankfully, we ran through it with coaches, someone who served to count our reps and make sure we were headed to the right station. Here’s Erica and I coaching Kaitlan:

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Nate in a deep squat, replete with pensive expression…

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It felt good to be done. Our trainers tallied the results and unfortunately, Neil and I didn’t make the team. It’s hard not to be a little disappointed, but honestly, we wouldn’t want to be chosen until  others felt we were really ready to compete, and after a year, we know that’s just not the case. We do plan on attending, and have already joked that we are ready and willing to be the equipment managers and document the event. I can’t wait until November!

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We were all pretty wiped after the day, but managed to have a great BBQ, which I failed to take any pictures of. I did however make an awesome new recipe that I’ll have to replicate next weekend for you guys: Paleo doughnuts and frosting!

And in case you’re wondering, we’re REALLY sore and swollen. Even though my half-marathon was difficult, this was by far more physically taxing, with the exception of  the toenail I lost that detached between miles 10 and 11.

What’s the hardest workout or event you’ve ever done?

The Roast of Skibinski

By | CrossFit, Exercise, Friends | No Comments

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First of all, how awesome of a last name is ‘Skibinski’? I don’t know why, but every time I hear it I think of the Szalinski family in ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, one of our trainers, Eric, is leaving to enter the Navy Seals in two weeks. It’s a huge accomplishment that he’s worked very hard for, and while we’re proud, we’re really going to miss him like crazy. He really took Neil and I under his wing when we first started, and his patience with my then athletic inexperience is nothing short of stunning, especially for someone who is only 20 years old. He is so mature and wise beyond years, I still have a hard time believing he’s that young. I hope the Navy realizes what an asset they are getting.

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We started the day with a WOD. Because so many people turned out to say goodbye, we did a team workout, with teams of 4 or 5. Because I’ve always been in charge of food or recovering from another event, this was my first team workout.

Workout (25-minute cap):

400 burpees
125 clean and jerks
200m run
Rest

Essentially, each member of the team did an exercise as a station. The determining factor of how fast each round was whoever was running the 200 meters. Whenever the runner returned, it was time to switch. In workouts like these, there is always strategy. My team chose to play to the strengths of each member. For instance, when it was my turn to do burpees, the runner knew to take their time, because I could bust them out, whereas with clean and jerks, we leaned more on the guys with better upper body strength. Here is some video a member took:

It was a tough workout, especially a few rounds into the clean and jerks.

After the workout, we all cleaned up and took a group photo:

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Lunch was a fare of mostly Paleo goodies. We made a Curry Steak that we paired with guacamole in a lettuce wrap (I’ll make it again and take better pics). There was also a slew of slaw, sweet potato salad, fruit, burgers and for dessert, an oat and fruit bar (gluten-free) and Paleo bacon chocolate chip cookies.

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My plate. Neil was like, “are you going to eat that all?” Um, YES!

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Of course, there was also malarkey…

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We also did a traditional roast:

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We spent the rest of the night on the couch glued to the Olympics and fighting the pets for a spot. What a great weekend!

A barbecue overdose

By | CrossFit, Kitchen | 4 Comments

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This weekend was all about barbecue and celebration. One to celebrate CrossFit and the continued success of our gym and its members, and the other to celebrate the impending arrival of little baby “LeBlaine” Walentik, possibly the most uniquely false-named baby in existence.

On Friday, Kaitlan and Erica came over to help prep for our first CrossFit member appreciation BBQ. On our to-make list: Kabobs, Alton Brown’s gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, Paleo “Oatmeal” Raisin Cookies and some Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus. A nice assortment of both paleo and healthy goodies!

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I don’t think our kitchen has been this packed since the Christmas taco extravaganza. Every inch of our kitchen was covered in various stages of prep or assembly.

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The cookies turned out beautifully, but our pièce de résistance were the kabobs. Thick cuts of beef, rubbed with a simple mixture of salt, pepper and chili pepper. We also added a little honey to help coat the meat. Then we skewered (is that a verb?) them alongside mushrooms, peppers, onions, mango and pineapple.

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Lots of meat + lots of veggies = tons of kabobs. We lined an entire tray full of them, which required a pretty interesting pack job to prevent them from spilling over. Lots of plastic and foil wrapping. The whole thing, which kind of resembled a UFO, barely fit in our refrigerator.

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The next morning, we loaded up the car and headed to the gym. Because we were bringing the meat, we missed the WOD, but it looked like a fun one, especially since we hardly ever do group challenges.

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Everyone was definitely hungry after all the excitement…

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Burgers, chicken, our kabobs and plenty of other fruit and veggies and salads. And our desserts!

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Lots of food = happy CrossFitters

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Our trainers Nate and Eric (right)

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Kendall and Ranger

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After food, we kind of broke into a Festivus-like celebration, replete with feats of strength.

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Beer pong with…

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..burpees? And…

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…stretching?

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Muscle-ups?

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Some ring work…

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And finally Rosie showed us some of her circus skills, literally.

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…I think Aaron’s face says it all.

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Even Neil got in a rope climb to test out his new shoes. Success!

And of course there is no better way to end the day like me ruining a group photo. People, this is why I stay behind the camera.

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We stayed out late that night. We definitely need to do that more often…

Anja and Steve’s Baby BBQ (in which no babies were actually harmed)  literally coincided with the rainiest day we’ve had all spring. While that pretty much killed plans for outdoor games and lounging, everyone was excited to cram into Anja’s parents house to celebrate baby LeBlaine, who is due in just a few weeks.

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I can’t tell if Hugo remembers me and is excited to see me or is resorting to growling to keep me away?

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We dined on BBQ, salads, fruit and veggies, cake and snacks. Whoever chose carrot cake is my hero!

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And gifts!

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A fun, albeit rainy day. It’s hard not to be a little sad that a good many of my friends are kind of moving into the next stages of life without me, but I’m trying to take it in stride. So far, being thirty feels like a wedge between two life stages. While I spent the first half of my weekend with people mostly younger than me, worrying I was too old and sticking out like a sore thumb, I spent the latter half feeling like an immature, ill-prepared kid. What a head case I am huh? Sometimes I just feel as if I’ve left some well-worn path of continuity somewhere and no longer know how to measure or judge my place or success at what I’m doing. Does this make sense to anyone? Is it just a “woman” thing?

Can rules and progress play nice in CrossFit?

By | CrossFit, Goals, Jessica | No Comments

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A few weeks ago, I incurred my first semi-injury since starting CrossFit. Nothing serious — a tweaked hamstring — but it hurt and I know it could have easily been much worse. Talking about injury is uncharted territory for me. On one hand, I know it’s just a part of fitness that many people deal with at some point. You play hard and sometimes you get hurt. On the other hand, it still feels like I failed because I made a mistake and suffered a consequence. It’s a humbling reminder that I still new have a lot to learn.

I hurt myself while attempting a max dead lift (80 pounds at the time) during a strength session. I love days we do max lift exercises in CrossFit. For someone who has spent the better part of her life ashamed of her numbers — whether it was that 15 pounds of extra weight, or slow running times — I love even my worst numbers in CrossFit because they are always improving, which means that for better or worse, I’m getting stronger. Even though the dead lift is one of the more mechanically simple lifts we do, lifting exceptional amounts of weight requires close attention to form throughout the entire rep. I didn’t tweak my hamstring while I was lifting the weight, but rather when I was putting it down. I let it down too fast, but tried to hold onto the bar the entire way down when I really should have just let go and let it drop.

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My leg is getting better, but the experience has definitely knocked a little wind out of my sail. It has also forced me to look at my lifting and fitness goals with new eyes. One of the biggest reasons I love CrossFit is that for someone as busy as me, I never have to worry about my workouts, they are designed for me. I simply just show up. However, I think I think I took that perk further than I should have. Proper understanding of my movements, as well as a proactive role in my own rest and recovery (which is just as important as the workout) is my responsibility and I had dropped the ball. I realize now that I made not one, but several mistakes along the way.

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So I decided to give myself some rules — guiding principles — to make sure I’m not going too hard or too fast and that my recovery time is as productive as my workouts. Some people my not need to formalize such things, but I do, as I am very much the type to constantly push to do more and better at something, even if it is to a fault. Here are a few of the guidelines I’ve given myself:

  1. Never increase weight before a WOD Because WODs tend to focus on final times or AMRAP and involve multiple types of activity, I now only introduce new, heavier weights in a low-repetition situations to maintain focus on form. As an added precaution, I don’t introduce the new weight into a WOD until I’ve done it in 2-3 strength sessions without failing.
  2. Never lift cold: I never lift my current max weight, or even my previous max weight without a warm-up, slowly easy my way to more difficult weights by adding them incrementally until I reach my max or the prescription for the session. For example, my new thruster max (is that Jason Khalipa!? — inside joke) is 65 pounds. To get there, I first practiced with a PVC pipe, then an empty 35-pound bar, before adding 10-pound weights, and finally the 5-pound weights. At each increment, I practiced my thrusters by doing 3-5 reps.
  3. Don’t go in blind:As good as any trainer can explain an exercise in the several minutes before a WOD, it’s never enough to be fully prepared. Be proactive and preemptive and not only learn proper form, but the pitfalls for injury as well. You might be surprised to learn that small tweaks in form can not only help you avoid injury, but improve performance! And it’s easy, there are literally hundreds of resources out there, from YouTube demonstrations, to support forums. Never be afraid to ask for help!
  4. One rest day for every two workouts: This is really a matter of personal preference, but for my body’s needs, as well as my experience level, I never exercise more than two days without a rest day. There is a point to where exercise becomes overtraining and performance stops improving. Typically our week breaks out like this:

     

    • Monday: CrossFit
    • Tuesday: CrossFit
    • Wednesday: Rest/Long easy dog walk session
    • Thursday: CrossFit
    • Friday: Rest/Crossfit (if a run is planned for Sunday, I rest)
    • Saturday: Rest
    • Sunday: Rest/Long run (if no CrossFit on Friday)

     

    Achieving this frequency did not happen overnight. When we first joined CrossFit United in September, we could only handle 2x a week. Around December we moved up to three days a week, and then in February, we moved to 4x a week. Depending on the workouts, sometimes we end up scaling back if we have a particularly tough workout. Luckily, our gym has a somewhat consistent ebb and flow to the workout schedule, so tougher workouts, like Hero WODs typically fall on Saturdays, etc.

  5. When in doubt – know how to drop it safely: For me at least, achieving new weight always comes with several missed passes. When this happens, it is just as important to know how to drop the weight as it is to get it up.
  6. Don’t discount proper mobility and stretching: One of the biggest mistakes I made was to underestimate the importance of proper mobility and stretching exercises. I would show up, do the prescribed warm-up, complete the WOD and walk out the door and resume my day. Not properly taking care of my muscles can easily inhibit the work I put toward them by decreasing my range of motion and increasing my chance for injury. How stupid of me! I now take the time to properly mobilize and stretch not only after workouts, but throughout the day, even on rest days. I especially like the Mobility WOD Series.

I returned to the dead lift last week after taking a few weeks off. I was apprehensive about trying to add weight to my max, but decided to give it a try and PR’d! with no pain! I’ve since beat that PR and can now dead lift a whopping (for me) 150 pounds! Carol, one of my fellow CrossFitters was sweet enough to take some video of my 135-lb lift. It’s a proud moment to not only say I can lift the weight, but that my experiences — both good and bad — are making me feel like the well-rounded athlete I’ve always wanted to be.