Monday
Sep082014

4 Common Exercises That Could Hurt Your Members


Popular Internet pastimes in the world of fitness include, but are not limited to: making blanket statements about various exercises or training programs, and providing specific recommendations to an invisible audience without context. Sometimes, these recommendations are based on science and backed up by common sense, such as the statement: "having novice lifters attempt rep maxes on their lifts is both dangerous, inappropriate, and an ineffective use of their training time." That particular blanket statement is sound advice and any prudent coach should at this point be nodding along in agreement. Other times, general statements require a little more nuance and context, and thus, become confusing and inconsequential. For example, a warning like: "If you bound your box jumps your calves will immediately explode upon making contact with the ground." Well, some people certainly shouldn't be doing high rep bounded box jumps, but depending on their tissue quality, technique, and the volume of reps being programmed, others will probably be just fine. Often the reality behind a recommendation falls in a grey area and depends on analysis of the situation sitting in front of you—not something you read about on the Internet.

The majority of training-related injuries any facility will encounter are usually progressive in nature, meaning they’re the result of inefficient technique, inherent orthopedic limitations, or overuse of a particular movement pattern. These issues are systemic and minimizing them depends on your ability to program intelligently  and make thoughtful and specific recommendations to athletes about how to modify or scale their workouts on a daily basis. Below, we address commonly-seen situations in CrossFit gyms that have the potential for acute or catastrophic injuries—and are often completely avoidable. To be clear, this article is not meant to condemn the movements themselves, but to offer some context as to how to implement them responsibly at your gym.

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Tuesday
Sep022014

A CrossFit Coach’s Guide to Working with New or Troubled Movers


A basic reality of any and all group exercise programs is that people are going to be working semi-autonomously for large portions of class. Often times, you'll come across individuals who need way more help than the average person—the kind of people that make you think, "Oh boy, can you do the exact opposite of all that??" If you plan on doing any group coaching, whether CrossFit or otherwise, you're going to deal with these people on a daily basis. And you, as the empathetic coach, may not be quite sure how to deal with troubled movers while also not ignoring the rest of the class. You need to learn some skills that enable you to triage these people so that they can remain safe and informed about how to handle themselves while you’re not there. In today's article, we're going to share some strategies and examples of how to work with people who need more than basic cues and corrections.

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Monday
Aug182014

How to Run a Dedicated Strength Program at your CrossFit Gym


When Earl L. began Strength Cycle at CFSBK in the early spring of 2012, he weighed 175 pounds and had been CrossFitting for three years—but knew he needed to get stronger. He already worked as a private military contractor, but decided to treat the program like another job, rather than just “going to the gym,” which meant he began eating more (viewing steak as a staple), quit drinking, and slept as often as possible. Within eight weeks, he took his totals from 275 on squat, 125 on press, and 335 on deadlift to 355, 165, and 405 (respectively). He also gained 23 pounds without altering his body composition. Earl’s story is a powerful example of the efficacy of Strength Cycle, and demonstrates why we stand behind this program so strongly. Last week, we discussed the origin and basic overview of Strength Cycle program run by coach Jeremy Fisher. If you missed that article, please check it out to gain a more context before digging into the logistics of how to run the program, which we’re sharing this week. 

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Monday
Aug112014

Why You Need a Dedicated Strength Training Program


By Katharine Reece

When Jeremy Fisher signed up for the 2008 CrossFit Games, there were no qualifiers and no stadiums—he was enlisting in a weekend at Dave Castro’s ranch in Aromas, California involving only four workouts: chest-to-bar “Fran,” five rounds of deadlifts and burpees, and as Jeremy describes it, “that fucking hill run.” Sunday was a heavy squat clean version of “Grace.” A lifelong athlete and intense competitor, he was both fast and strong, and he placed a respectable 33rd out of 196 male athletes. But CrossFit had begun its weave into the fabric of the mainstream fitness world and the following year, he only made it as far as Regionals. His main takeaway from competing and being part of the CrossFit world years before the 10,000-affiliate milestone and the Games airing on ESPN? There is no training adaptation more important than strength.

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Tuesday
Jul292014

5 Things I Know to Be True About Running a CrossFit Gym

As we’ve mentioned on Inside the Affiliate before, coaching skill is only a small part of what it takes to run an affiliate, and there are countless other qualities that are required to excel in this business. For starters: the ability to manage people, make tough or sometimes unpopular decisions, listen to your instincts, and the humility to know that you won't always be right. Two weeks ago, we talked about how to start a great gym. This week, I’m sharing 5 things I’ve learned since starting CrossFit South Brooklyn and growing it into a thriving affiliate.   

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Friday
Jul252014

Inside the Affiliate at the 2014 CrossFit Games

Hey everyone! This is just a quick note to say I'm going to be in Carson for the 2014 CrossFit Games this year. This is my first time back to spectate the Games since 2009 in Aromas, so I'm pretty excited to see how much it's evolved in only a few years. On that note, if you see me, please don't hesitate to come over and say hi! I'd love to talk shop and meet anyone and everyone who reads the blog. One of the best things I've experienced since starting ITA is all the great conversations I've had with other coaches and owners about running an affiliate, programming, and everything under the CrossFit sun. So again, please don't be a stranger!

—David

Tuesday
Jul152014

Your Fran Time Doesn't Matter: Starting a Good CrossFit Gym 


When I decided to start CrossFit South Brooklyn, there wasn’t another CrossFit gym within the 97 square mile span of Brooklyn. Now, if you want to affiliate, it’s more likely than not that there are already other gyms in your area, since we just hit 10,000 affiliates around the world. The ubiquity of CrossFit provides you with a number of examples that can inform what you do or don’t want your gym to look like. It also means that the number of resources to help you along the way is increasing exponentially, this blog being one of them! Plenty of those resources break down the costs of affiliating, and I will certainly address those. But this article will be a response to the questions I’ve historically gotten from people who are interested in starting a gym.

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Monday
Jul072014

This is What You Need to Know About Choosing the Right CrossFit Gym


Choosing the right CrossFit gym can be a major decision in your life. A bad experience can taint your perceptions about CrossFit as a whole and discourage you from finding a box that suits your needs and interests. In CFSBK’s weekly Teaser classes, I always tell people that they should be informed consumers and shop around at different gyms before signing up. I do this for two reasons: first, as a sign of good will toward the other local affiliates, and second, because I'm confident enough in our program that I don't feel the need to horde potential members. If our Teaser participants like our vibe, they'll sign up; if not, maybe a different affiliate is better suited for what they want.

But as a consumer, what should you be looking for in a gym? I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for over a decade and I'm consistently shocked by the lack of research or expectations consumers have before signing up for fitness programs. Below, I've outlined a few things that I recommend people keep in mind when shopping around for a CrossFit affiliate. If you're already happily training at an affiliate, we hope you'll send this to friends and family considering starting CrossFit in a different region.

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Monday
Jun302014

CrossFit Group Class Coaching Expectations: How to Work with Another Coach


Growing up, I hated team sports. I didn’t like being responsible for the outcomes of other peoples’ experiences, and I didn’t like other people being responsible for mine. This disposition was part of why I wanted to become a coach, have my own business, and do it without partners. I loved that every class and aspect of the gym came out of my own expectations and intuitions. But as our gym got bigger, one of the skills I had to acquire was being a better team player. Most CrossFit coaches have pretty strong personalities, which can lead to wanting to control everything—especially when it comes to running a group class. Working with people isn’t always intuitive, and requires practice and clear expectations about each person’s role.

Continuing on in ITA’s series about CrossFit group class coaching expectations, I’ve outlined basic guidelines that allow my coaches to focus on working as a team, and not be sidetracked by logistics while running classes. There aren’t assistant coaches or interns at CFSBK, and everyone has an equal share of work. We ensure that there is transparency and balance between who does what, which goes a long way in avoiding disputes or ambiguity regarding roles and duties. This also provides good guidelines for feedback if there is an imbalance in how coaches are working a class together.

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Tuesday
Jun242014

CrossFit Group Class Coaching Expectations: Coaching


CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman once said: “I can tell you what it is that makes you successful in business, more specifically as a CrossFit affiliate. It’s the blind and relentless constant pursuit of excellence.” On ITA, we never get tired of talking about what we think makes an excellent CrossFit coach. Last year, I wrote about how as an affiliate owner, your coaches are the most important resource you can leverage—they are the brick and mortar of what will make your business solid. Earlier this year, I wrote an open letter to new coaches, emphasizing a few basic principles for getting started on one’s career. And a few months ago, ITA profiled one of CFSBK’s coaches, who shared 10 pieces of advice for other coaches.

Today, we’re continuing on in our series about the concrete expectations I have for CFSBK’s coaching staff during group classes, and these six categories below cover all the behaviors—specific to the unique, complex art of coaching—that I believe every professional CrossFit coach should embody during classes. Each of these categories reflects CFSBK’s own constant pursuit of excellence, and hopefully there will be plenty of crossover for your situation as a coach or affiliate owner.

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