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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Monday
Dec222014

Why Are CrossFit Gyms So Expensive?


As 2014 has passed and everyone starts planning the 2015 version of themselves, an inevitable first step for many is researching and purchasing a gym membership. Whenever curious friends or family ask me how much my gym costs, their typical response is surprise at our $230 a month price tag (for 5 times a week). The next question is invariably, "Why are CrossFit gyms so much more expensive than regular gyms?"—which is a valid question if you’re comparing CrossFit affiliates to whatever’s considered standard for a “gym membership.” But the answer to that question requires assessing what you’re actually paying for—and the fact that while there are many similarities (a gym is, after all, mainly just a place where you work out), the range of services and support you get will vary greatly, and may ultimately determine whether you’re back to binge watching New Girl on Netflix instead of showing up to the gym on February 1.

In this article, we’ll discuss how the prices of traditional gyms versus CrossFit affiliates are set in the first place, and evaluate what’s included in any either membership using three straightforward criteria: facilities, training services, and atmosphere. We’ll inevitably have to make some generalizations and of course, I am openly attempting to build the case for the merits of CrossFit gyms, but by answering this question, I hope you’ll be able to better evaluate what’s important to you when choosing a gym and what you’re actually paying for.

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Tuesday
Dec092014

How To Get the Most Out of CrossFit Group Classes


By Noah Abbott, with an introduction by David Osorio

A professionally run CrossFit group class requires orchestrating a lot of moving parts. On ITA, we've talked about how and why coaches should use time stamps to organize classes, discussed how to intelligently organize lifting segments, and even described how introductions in group classes help facilitate a sense of community and set the tone for training. It is absolutely the responsibility of the coaches running each class to make sure things are clear, smooth, and safe for everyone. But group classes are also a dance of sorts, that require members to also hold up their end of the bargain by being prepared. In one of our previous articles, "A Letter to New CrossFitters: Good Training Habits," we discussed some fundamental and conceptual perspectives regarding how to get the most out of your overall CrossFit experience. In today's article, we're talking to athletes, about what you can do to be a proactive member of your affiliate and get more out of your CrossFit group classes—and win the admiration of your coaches in the process. Enjoy!

Fresh out of Foundations, the world of CrossFit can seem a bit overwhelming, full of jargon, percentages, and acronyms only a government employee could love. (“This is an AMRAP WOD of T2B and DUs!!!”) While things can seem to move pretty fast, there are some specific strategies and considerations that will make your daily hour of fitness better spent. Equally important, it will make for a more pleasant experience for your fellow members, and allow your coaches more time to spend doing what they love (yelling “Knees out!” for instance) and less time in an administrative or cat-shepherding function. To be fully awesome, do this: 

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Monday
Dec012014

STRONG Gym: Inside a Strength Training Gym

As told to Katharine Reece for Inside the Affiliate by Strong Gym co-owner, Matt Reynolds. 

Basic Statistics

Gym name: STRONG Gym

Location: Springfield, Missouri

Year started: July 2008

Estimated number of members: 900

Square footage: 14,000 square feet

Gym co-owners: Matt Reynolds, Paden Stringer, and William McNeely (read more about them here)

Number of full-time and part-time trainers: Four full-time staff who are also coaches, three full-time coaches, and three owners, who also coach 

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

MR: After training out of my two-car garage from 2001 to 2008, our group of competitive powerlifters and Strongmen had outgrown the space. We weren’t a business, but rather a group of training partners. William McNeely and I opened STRONG Gym, in 2008, in a typical industrial space—10,000 square-foot warehouse with no heat, no A/C, no business plan, no insurance—and with no delusions of grandeur. We weren’t starting a business, we just wanted a place to train. And then people started showing up.

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Monday
Nov172014

How to Program Deadlifts at CrossFit Affiliates


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit another gym while on vacation. I was excited to go and especially since starting to write ITA, I've become even more curious about how other people run classes and write their programming. At this affiliate, the strength segment called for a 3RM deadlift, followed by 10RM deadlift. At the whiteboard review, there wasn't a lot of context provided for the less experienced athletes regarding how to organize their lifting to meet the two goals. Curious about the intention of the programming, I approached the coach and asked her three relatively basic questions: 1) Are these touch-and-go or dead start deadlifts; 2) How many attempts at the 3RM and 10RM are you expecting us to do; and 3) Do you have any guidance as to how to pick a 10RM weight based on the 3RM. In a noncommittal tone, she told me to do whatever I felt like doing since it wasn't specified.

Looking around the room, unable to turn off my coaching eye, people seemed to be just winging it, making multiple attempts at 3 and 10RMs, dropping the bar frequently, and some were losing their positioning from the accumulated fatigue. Without proper context and guidance, people were more or less left to their own devices to figure out the programming and a few were overextending themselves beyond what they could organize and handle. The coach was walking around trying to help people with fault corrections, but refining movement is only one part of what makes an effective and professional coach. Understanding the intention of your programming, communicating it effectively, and then being able to scale or modify based on what you see are equally important, and unfortunately were in short shift during this segment. 

I've wanted to write an article about programming deadlifts at CrossFit affiliates for a while and my experience at this gym brought it back to the forefront of my mind. Executed correctly, the deadlift is the most effective exercise for overloading hip extension and developing a strong and stable back. But done incorrectly or programmed haphazardly, the deadlift is an extremely effective way to fuck yourself or your members up. In today's article, we'll discuss how we program deadlifts at CFSBK for strength versus using them in metcons, and we’ll share some additional thoughts related to basic execution of the lift and context of usage.

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Monday
Nov102014

Collective Learning and CrossFit


Inside the Affiliate’s first birthday was yesterday, and I’m proud to say that we’ve written over 50 articles, with almost 200,000 pageviews. Writing this blog has helped me connect with people from all over the world and even refined how I approach practices at my own gym. I originally got into CrossFit back in 2005, and continue to be thankful for the huge network of people and training philosophy that CrossFit provided, both of which served as a jumping-off point for me to build a successful business. As I’ve mentioned before, I started ITA in large part because I want to give something back to the community and create the resource I would have wanted back when I was starting out. 

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