Wednesday
Jul082015

How to Properly Spot the Bench Press at CrossFit Gyms

I recently visited an affiliate while traveling and the instruction on bench pressing itself was excellent, but there was no mention of how or when to spot. Everyone in the class seemed to be doing something completely different. Some were a mile away from their partner having conversations with other gym-goers, some were hovering over their partners basically tea-bagging them, and one girl was "spotting" her partner by standing next to her. Yes, like next to her—on the wrong side of the bar.

Bench pressing is the barbell lift most of the general population has been exposed to—and more often than not, exposed to incorrectly. When spotting, it's important to teach your members how to do it correctly so that no one is put at undue risk. Partial reps and sloppy set-up positions aside, the worst habits you might see in any given gym are a spotter who either is too handsy—assisting the entire movement and thus invalidating the lift—or a spotter who isn’t engaged and would only have front-row tickets to an accident were one to occur.

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Monday
Jun222015

How to Prevent CrossFit Injuries: A Guide for Coaches and Athletes 

This article was originally published on Breaking Muscle

If you’ve ever experienced an injury, you know it can be emotionally devastating. You think the world is ending and you feel claustrophobic in a body that no longer performs in a way you’ve come to expect. As a CrossFit coach, your own injuries (or imagining your way into what such an experience feels like) should cultivate a disposition of empathy for your athletes—which should also lead to taking your responsibility as a coach even more seriously. 

Injury is an unfortunate reality inherent in all rigorous physical activity and no gym will ever be injury-free. But there are injuries I would consider preventable or easily avoided if coaches and affiliates adhere to some basic principles.

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Tuesday
May122015

Why Your CrossFit Gym Needs a Front Desk

In the early days, CrossFit South Brooklyn’s “Front Desk” was a broken and badly worn desk I found in the Brooklyn Lyceum, the facility where I was renting space by the hour. On that desk, I kept a pencil pouch with a Post-It note on it that said, “Please leave $20 for class.” There was also a composition notebook where people logged their names as they came in. The pencil pouch was our honor-based payment system, and the notebook was my clumsy attempt at tracking CFSBK’s membership.

This arrangement was the extent of our “Front Desk” for several years until we transitioned over to a software system called Mind Body Online. Then we moved to Volusion, and finally found Zen Planner. Even with the software, and for years after we moved into our current location, our initial point of contact with our membership remained that same pencil pouch full of $20 bills, and our composition notebook upgraded to a three-ring binder.

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Wednesday
May062015

Elevating the Push-Up


Here is our second installment in our "Correcting Common Errors With the Push-Up" series! In this video, I discuss two easy ways to modify push-ups for someone who is on the verge or getting their strict push-ups but not quite there yet.

Elevated Push-Ups

If possible, use an adjustable rack so that the athlete can quantify their progress and adjust over time (lowering as they get stronger). Also, for new athletes, set them up at the bottom of the push-up with their sternum on the horizontal support so they can walk their feet out to the exact point they'll need to be at. Often people arbitrarily set up their feet on elevated push-ups and end up incorrectly aligned as they initiate their descent.

Banded Push-Ups 

Setting up a jump stretch band just below their anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS) allows them to scale how much force they need to produce in order to move through a full range-of-motion. This is also great for people who struggle with the bottom few inches—where more of their body weight is being shifted toward their arms—because as they descend, the band is stretching out, creating more tension and thus more support as they descend.

We'll be back soon with another ITA video!
Monday
Apr202015

How To Fix the Push-Up

Above is a video demonstrating some common cues we use for our general population CrossFitters as they execute push-ups. Check it out and see if it helps your athletes move more correctly! We wrote out the cues below, too. 

Sagging Midline

Verbal cues
"Belly-button touches the floor last."
"Lead with your belly-button off the floor." 

Tactile cues
+ Place your hand on their lumbar vertebra and ask them to "Lead here" as they come up.
+ If your athlete has been doing push-ups with a soft midline they will say this version feels harder. Say "Good!" 

Sagging Neck/Shoulders

Verbal cues
+ Getting your athlete oriented vertically and having them experience the sensation of trying to be taller with good posture is a much more readily available sensation most people can quickly organize. Set that as the default position to think about before getting into a prone orientation. "Get long" or "get tall" could encorage this while doing push-ups.

+
Initially explain that they need to keep their chin and nose behind the wall on the way down. I find that specifically mentioning to push their chin and nose back prevents cervical overextenion which many would otherwise default to. "head back" or something similar would work as a briefer cue once they get the concept.

Tactile cues
From a kneeling or standing position, use your arm or PVC to create a line from their sternum up to their nose and have them imagine saying behind it on the way down.

If they're too weak to organize this, you may want to elevate them. More on that soon!

Monday
Mar162015

Why Your Gym Should Program Rest Days

Any effective strength and conditioning programming has to account for work-to-rest ratio in order to manage stress and allow the body to adapt to training. CrossFit often teaches the three-on/one-off template, as well as the five-on/two-off template. At CrossFit South Brooklyn, way back in 2008, we started using a three-on/one-off, two-on/one-off template, which has worked extremely well for us. This schedule allows our athletes to train at high intensities throughout the week while not overextending themselves, and it provides our gym with a consistent programming template and weekly schedule.

We all know rest is important, but an obstacle to rest for many affiliates is accounting for programmed rest days while remaining open seven days per week (which is a practical and financial necessity for most gyms). The two most common solutions we’ve seen affiliates come up with include either offering seven days per week of novel programming, or running alternative, low-intensity programming on particular days—perhaps a skills class, Active Recovery, or just open gym time. We’ve also seen gyms simply close on Saturdays or Sundays, which creates a mandatory rest day for their populations. At CFSBK, our membership options and three-on/one-off, two-n/one-off template allow athletes to take up to five CrossFit group classes per week. We additionally provide various skill classes (yoga, Pilates, etc.) and open gym time. This allows us to offer seven days per week of attendance options without compromising our programming, and this precludes overzealous members from coming in every single day and training themselves into the ground.

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Monday
Mar092015

CrossFit Solace: Inside a Manhattan Gym

Basic Statistics

Affiliate name: CrossFit Solace

Location: 38 East 32nd Street, New York, NY

Year started: October 2014

Estimated number of members: 300 and growing

Square footage: 11,000 square-feet

Gym owner’s name/s: Tristan Keeffe, Jim Loperfido, and Chad McDonald

Number of full-time and part-time trainers: 16

ITA: Tell us the story about how your gym started. 

Tristan Keeffe: Jim and I initially met working out at EVF on the Upper East Side in 2012. We began discussing the idea of opening a CrossFit gym after investors showed interest in providing capital for Goattape, a company Jim was a major owner of. In January 2013, we set out in earnest to raise capital for our vision of what a CrossFit gym could truly be. 

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Friday
Feb272015

Will Lifting Make Me Bulky? Answers to Common CrossFit Questions


I've owned a CrossFit gym for almost eight years, which means I've fielded my fair share of questions, not just from my members but also from those who are curious about CrossFit. As I wrote in "Free Intro Classes at CrossFit Affiliates," we shouldn't be cynical or defensive when a woman yet again asks if she’ll get too bulky by lifting weights, or if a guy worries CrossFit is dangerous. Remember: they’re new to this stuff, and it’s on us to answer honestly and with empathy. If we want people to join our gyms, we should act like it. 

But now, maybe you can just direct the CrossFit Curious to this interview I did for The Homeopathoholic, a blog created by Liza Behles that is dedicated to exploring different types of exercise, diets, and health-related issues. Liza asked a bunch of common questions about CrossFit, and I hope my answers will be useful to you, whether you've never set foot in a gym, are just discovering CrossFit, or have been doing this for years and need help answering a friend's questions. We reposted the interview below, but you can also read the original on Liza's excellent blog.

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Monday
Feb092015

Turn Off the Clock: Why You Should Program Not For Time Work at CrossFit Gyms


In today’s article, we’re going to talk about how and why CFSBK regularly programs “Not For Time” (NFT) assistance work into our weekly group classes. The purpose of these segments is to supplement our primary lifts and conditioning tests, and also provide an opportunity to approach movements not typically seen in WODs and/or develop movements we typically see in timed formats.

Before getting into the details of NFT work, it’s worth noting what it is not. Our NFT assistance segments are not warm-ups and always happen after the primary lift for the day, usually instead of a traditional metcon. In a previous article, we talked about how we program standardized warm-ups, which unlike NFT work, require simpler movements that people can jump into cold or after some very basic movement prep. This is also not necessarily dedicated “skill work,” which would involve refining more complex motor patterns (such as taking 10 minutes to practice double unders or handstands). That being said, NFT does not exclude skill-based elements and they can easily be incorporated into NFT segments.

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Wednesday
Jan282015

How To Become a Grown-Up CrossFit Gym


I recently had a guy visit my gym who was part of a relatively new affiliate. He told me he was really impressed by all of CFSBK’s programs, staff members, and systems, and he kept comparing our gym to his relatively minimalist set-up. I was quick to tell him that things have not always been the way they are now. Our “Front Desk” used to be a pencil pouch with a note scribbled next to it that said, “Please leave $20!” and I used to be the only “Admin,” which meant people were lucky if I answered their email in under a week. Over the past seven years, our business has grown considerably and we’ve been able to expand our staff members, facility, and infrastructure. In today’s article, I want to share all the different professional roles we’ve created over the years at CFSBK. I hope this information gives you ideas and inspiration as you expand the size of your gym and the kinds of services you offer, or perhaps just reorganize who does what.

A caveat though: size doesn’t matter! It’s important to keep in mind that larger doesn’t always equal better, and a small affiliate should in no way be considered immature or under-realized. The point is to have enough people on-board so that you’re not burning the candle at both ends and can interact with your business the way you want to—not the way you have to. Defining roles and delegating responsibility allows more motivated and qualified people than yourself to take on what you’re incapable of or unmotivated to do, which inevitably benefits both you and everyone involved with your business.

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