Own the Weight: Moving Beyond PR-Dominated Thought in CrossFit

By Noah Abbott

Originally published on CrossFit South Brooklyn's blog

A world-record mile. A half court shot to win a million bucks. A hit single that rules the airwaves for a month or two. Society has become more and more obsessed with the rare and extraordinary, celebrating and venerating the “once-in-a-lifetime” moment over the slow and steady grind of dogged hard work and incremental progress. Seen through this lens, greatness becomes a montage of single-frame snapshots instead of long form cinema verite. 

CrossFitters are not immune to this type of thinking. We celebrate PR’ed lifts and WODs, then cling to the numbers as though they are immutable testaments to our continued performance. This partially attributable to CrossFit’s complicated balance between training and sport.Singular numbers matter during competition, as they may be the difference between a win and a loss. They matter psychologically, as the tangible and obvious payoff from long hours of toil and sacrifice. However, confusing PRs with overall fitness, or becoming too reliant or attached to them, is folly. Consider this statement:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

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CrossFit Oahu: Inside a Hawaii Affiliate

As told to Katharine Reece for Inside the Affiliate by CrossFit Oahu owner, Bryant Powers. 

Basic Statistics

Gym name: CrossFit Oahu

Locations: 5 locations, in Honolulu, Kailua, Waipio, Kaneohe, and Pearl City

Affiliation year: 2006

Estimated number of members per location: 808… Not really. People come in and ask how many members we have, but that’s not really the right question. You get a lot of members by being good, sure, but you could also set up a system where there is no Elements class and people could join on contract like at a globo gym, and you could technically have 2,000 people. We have a lot of members, but I don’t like this metric as a measure for how good a gym is.

Square footage per location: Our main gym in Honolulu is almost 15,000 square feet (not including the upstairs); Kailua is 2,000; Waipio is 4,000; Kaneoat is 1,500; and Pearl City 4,500.

Gym owner's name: Bryant Powers

Number of full-time and part-time trainers: 10-12 fulltime and 20 part-time 

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A CrossFit Coach’s Guide to Training Pregnant Women

By Katharine Reece

Every few months, the CrossFit blogosphere explodes with articles about pregnancy and CrossFit. “People often don't realize how scalable CrossFit is,” Nicole Crawford, an associate editor at Breaking Muscle (and the site’s resident mom-doula-pregnancy-exercise expert) told Inside the Affiliate. “We see pregnant women squatting with what look like heavy weights and all social media hell breaks loose." As Nicole points out, "'Listen to your body’ is the mantra for pregnancy fitness, and for good reason. Women do need to listen to their bodies and be safe, during pregnancy more than ever. Over the last decade, it seems more and more women are listening when their bodies say, ‘I want to keep CrossFitting.’” 

For those women, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of conflicting information—not just on the Internet, but also from doctors and well-intentioned friends and family members. In the interest of caring as well for CrossFit South Brooklyn’s community of women and parents as possible, our staff decided to enter the conversation from our perspective and experience. To that end, on CFSBK’s blog, we are publishing a series of three articles titled “CrossFitting While Pregnant: An Interview with Four Women and a Coach” (read Part 1 here, Part 2 will be published tomorrow, and Part 3 on September 30). The article is comprised entirely of interviews with four CFSBK members who became pregnant during their training and one of CFSBK’s coaches, Chris Fox (who you've heard from before on ITA). Our approach is simple, and acknowledges that everyone’s experience is different—and that the most important thing for women is to listen to their bodies.

But on Inside the Affiliate, we want to help you, as a coach and affiliate owner, by sharing more of our guidelines for training these women. Coach Fox created a document that CFSBK will now use as guidelines for both our coaches and pregnant women. We’ve included that document below. 

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Standardized Warm-Ups at CrossFit Affiliates

Back in July of 2011, CFSBK started noticing that while people were making good progress on their barbell lifts, we weren’t spending enough time developing basic gymnastics capacity through direct practice of foundational calisthenics. We noted that people could pull a lot of weight off the floor, but still struggled doing a set of 20 unbroken push-ups. To curb this trend, and in the spirit of the original 2003 "CrossFit Warm-Up," we implemented "Standardized Warm-Ups" (SWU) after intros and general movement prep. The intention was to dedicate eight to 10 minutes of class to training these movements while also performing an effective warm-up routine before the more rigorous training ahead. Before 2011, we usually wrote a novel warm-up for each class. We soon found that having a more consistent warm-up regime made running classes more efficient, and was a more effective training stimulus. Today we're going to talk about how CFSBK implemented SWU and provide some examples of templates we've used.

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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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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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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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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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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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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!


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