CFNP Blog

The Grassroots Movement

Grassroots

 

*The next series of blogs we release will be themed with the early stages of CFNP. In a time where mega-boxes are popping up, there is no better time to revisit the grassroots beginnings of CrossFit North Pasadena; the early concepts and obstacles, and what it looked like for a 24 year old to chase a passion and allow life to provide the steps along the way. This is the third and final installment of our blog series. We hope you’ve enjoyed them!

Part 3
“The Grassroots Movement”

The grassroots movement is a concept that has been around forever. The tragic irony, is that once a grassroots fulfills its purpose and becomes well known, it is often times forgotten that it began as a grassroots movement in the first place. So in a catch-22, no grassroots movement ever maintains that passion and devout following that originated it. This my dear readers, is the final writeup about the early days of CrossFit North Pasadena, but in order to truly grasp what started CFNP, we need to go before CrossFit even began, not far past it, but just enough to see how difficult it is to hang onto a grassroots movement.

What is now globally known as the UFC used to formally be called the Ultimate Fighting Championship…and it was awesome. It was the modern day equivalent to how news travels around the world in sixty seconds, one person tells another person, who then invites a third person to come watch at their house; before you know it, enough people have shared the info that a little party in the living room takes place. But in order to watch it, you first have to run to the video rental store to check out the VHS tape…then the action ensues. To look back on those days, where my dad would get home with a stack of VHS tapes, my mother would leave the room saying it was barbaric, and the three Perez men would sit around the living room in our whitey-tighties, eating pizza, and squealing with joy as we picked our favorite fighters to win the tournament (oh yeah it was an actual fighting tournament back then). Now, if VHS tapes and white-tighties, didn’t age this story then allow me to expand on one of the least known, but most famous fights in UFC history…

Art Jimmerson, professional boxer, was riding a fifteen fight win streak and hadn’t lost a fight in five years when he heard about this fighting tournament. At the time (20 years ago) it was like a real life Street Fighter, and a fighter of his calibre just wasn’t going to turn down an event like this. His first opponent upon first glance was what Jimmerson describes now as “small, frail, and childlike.” Jimmerson now admits that he truly “felt sorry for” the man standing across the ring from him. Art Jimmerson was so skilled in his craft that he chose to wear a boxing glove on one hand, and keep his other hand free for anything he may have to defend against. Aside from protecting his own hand (boxers often break their own hands), he knew this fight wouldn’t last because his jab was the best in the boxing world at that time, so the glove stayed on. The man standing across the ring from him went by the name of Royce Gracie. The fight lasted a one minute and ten seconds with Art Jimmerson tapping out (quitting) and Royce Gracie winning the fight. In case you missed it, the Gracie name is one of the most famous names in the world for essentially owning the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sport itself. As much as Nike is synonymous with athletics, that’s what the Gracie name is to mixed martial arts. That’s what a true grassroots movement does, it welcomes ideas, shocks the world, goes against the grain, and along the way true arts and ideas rise to the top.

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The magic behind a grassroots movement is that before all the glitz and glamour, people who truly believed in it, don’t really stop. They become what we would call die-hard, they are the ones that stick around to tell of the early days. There is a reason Apple, despite firing it’s own founder, rehiring the same man, then losing him to cancer, is still a global name in the tech world. There is a reason that despite there being over a thousand martial arts academies much less a thousand different art forms, the Gracie name has withstood the test of time. There is a reason that despite being one of a thousand various training methodologies, the CrossFit name has only continued to grow. The grassroot movement does not discriminate against race, gender, or belief, it is a living breathing organism that simply obeys what the market demands. One of my favorite public figures is Gary Vaynerchuk, a no-nonsense entrepreneur, now consultant and overall business personality (and quite abrasive), he is huge on the concept of “The market is the market is the market” which couldn’t care less if you’re father is rich, or came from poverty, if your product or service is good, then the market will react accordingly. It’s hilarious to hear people call in to his show, complaining about their product not taking off, and all Gary does is remind them that at the end of the day, you can’t argue with the market, it’ll eat you up and spit you out if you think you’re entitled to anything. If you are confident your service is top-notch but the market doesn’t think it is then guess what, it sucks. A grassroots movement has a way of seeing through all the money, because the grassroots movement is fueled by people. Sure people care about money, but what they care more about is purpose. Although purpose cannot be measured objectively, its evidence can be observed in how strong grassroots stand in history, strong enough to become world famous. That higher level of belonging to a movement, is one of many things separate us from animals. It’s the same principle that keeps us from giving in to the basic instinct of essentially just grabbing whatever we want (eg food, goods, etc). This is why the grassroots movement is something you won’t see anywhere else, because it bucks the system of money, it makes no sense to our wallet, because it tugs at our hearts and passions.

Now earlier I had said that the tragic irony of grassroots is that upon their success, that local homegrown feel dissipates into fame; it seems inevitable. However, how have some pulled off keeping that inevitability at bay? How have some grassroots become world famous, yet not lost touch with those roots? I attained my MBA a few years back and decided to do literally every single case study on a company I felt was able to pull it off, Trader Joe’s. Despite having 474 locations all around the country, when you walk into a Trader Joe’s you know what to expect; a cozy feel, unique and intriguing items, a type of treasure hunt shopping experience. How did they pull this off? The answer is that the people that love Trader Joe’s wouldn’t allow it any other way, and Trader Joe’s knows it. The very people that bought into Trader Joe’s, single-handedly hold the company accountable, and as a result, the grassroots movement of Trader Joe’s has remained intact. In CrossFit, the same truth echoes across boxes all around the world. What people love about CrossFit is the simplicity to it. Will there be burning lungs, yes, will there be sweat puddles, absolutely, will you need to buy products, nope; all that’s needed is attending a one hour class and your best effort. People eat that concept up, and if it were to ever change, they likely would abandon the movement.

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Every once in awhile at CFNP we get a very well-versed athlete that comes to us. They fancy themselves “competitive,” and demand to know what training methodologies we use. The common question is, “So what kind of programming do you guys do here?” I usually give them a nice big smile and say, “Well we do CrossFit programming.” They usually seem a bit puzzled. The fundamentals that make CrossFit work so well is that they are just that, fundamentals. Unfortunately a lot of these athletes now come from a gym that does CrossFit “with a twist” (e.g. strength cycles, gymnastic programs, endurance programs). Now I am not bashing that, but to phrase it differently imagine your kid’s teacher talking to you and saying, “So I’m going to be teaching your child how to read, we are going to be going over the fundamentals, but I’m going to be putting my twist on how they read, just kinda how I like to read.” I’d bet most parents would suggest they just the child to master the basics first. “My child stopped peeing their pants last year, so what do you say we master Dr. Seuss first?”

Now I can go on and on about fundamentals and about how often times coaches, athletes, gym owners, professionals in other fields, tend to skip on them and instead chase the shiny stuff, but I always make myself a personal promise to keep my blogs under novel-length. The purpose of this blog and series, was to bring to light how my gym, CrossFit North Pasadena was born, raised, and sustained. Our facility was formed in humble beginnings, thrived on hungry relentless passion, and now continues to grow on a steady unwavering focus on the fundamentals. Luckily those fundamentals are not found too far from today, simply by looking back on the grassroots days. As we have all learned from studying History in school, the whole purpose is to be able to look back on both past successes and failures, and to learn from those events or movements. May we as a grassroots movement continue to always push forward, but never forget to take a peek back at our history and remember what it took to get us where we are today.

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Humble Beginnings

*The next series of blogs we release will be themed with the early stages of CFNP. In a time where mega-boxes are popping up, there is no better time to revisit the grassroots beginnings of CrossFit North Pasadena; the early concepts and obstacles, and what it looked like for a 24 year old to chase a passion and allow life to provide the steps along the way.


Part 2
“Humble Beginnings”

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Lots of our members don’t realize it but one of our plyo boxes is the wrong dimensions. The 30” side is actually 31”, the 20” side is actually 21”, and the 24” side is actually 25”. I built it in my parents’ backyard (where I built most things), but I built the frame to the exact size I wanted to the box to be, THEN I proceeded to attach the ½” thick plywood on all sides, which also happens to add ½” to each side…and that my mathematician friends, is how you accidentally build a box 1” too big each way. The cuts were all crooked so I used wood putty to fill in the gaps and sanded them down, the idea was to cover the mistakes, but instead it sorta highlighted each botched part. To add to all this, I used the wrong type of wood, so the box, not only being too big, is also heavier than was intended. But this was my first plyo box for my gym that didn’t exist yet, and I loved it. We still have the box, amongst all the other later-purchased, precisely-machine-made, and lighter boxes. It sits there (standing out literally) as a nice little reminder to me of our box’s humble beginnings. I can get sentimental from time to time and this instance is no different, seeing that box makes me smile (just not when I’m the one that has to use it). I was just a kid, 23 years old, ready to take on the world with my passion for fitness and ready to change as many lives as I could…all that was apparently missing was basic carpentry.

Then there was the medicine ball, our infamous medicine ball; that is an entirely other story. You see an average 20# medicine ball (also called a “wall ball”) costs anywhere from $100-$120 (depending on how many you buy). Well I didn’t have that kind of money yet. So of course…I built one. I filled a sandbag up with sand and some small heavy rocks, to about 19lbs until it was about the size of a basketball. I then wrapped it in old beach towels, over and over again, duct taping each layer to the next. The size ended up a bit off, but the weight was surprisingly spot on. The tricky thing with this “wall ball” was that after a few days of being tossed up in the air and landing on cement, the towels became compacted and it well…reverted to being a 20lb sandbag with a “sort of cushion.” It was charming, in it’s last days it would leak sand while ten feet into the air, blinding you just before you had to catch the 20lb rock. All in good fun, our first equipment was perfect for what would be the shape that CFNP would take. No investors. One twenty-three year old owner. No fancy purchased equipment. The “gym” was literally run by energy and passion…and lot’s of sugar free Monster energy drinks.

You see, the near-impossible balance of starting a CrossFit gym the true grassroots style which people today may not understand, is that while you are starting up with no money, you have to build your own stuff, and in order to make money, you have to charge people to use said-crappy stuff. So there is a trust dynamic that your clients need to have in you. They need to be willing to get in on the ground floor and trust that as you begin succeeding, their money will get them even better equipment, and eventually a nicer facility. John Doe needs to see past that 20# sandbag-ball-thing, and patchy unstable plyo box, and see your passion; that is the true test. When you don’t have fancy equipment to hide behind, or top notch video equipment, all that is left is you, and that is what gets people to join a grassroots box. I can name plenty of times where I could see the look of disappointment on a potential client’s face when they saw the equipment I had, I would never hear from them again. I mean why would they call back? There were three other gyms in Pasadena (at the time) that had multiple owners or investors so they were able to buy the good stuff. You have two options at that point; one option is to feel sorry for yourself that you don’t have the buying power of those bigger gyms, or you put your head down and trust that your gym will rise above, despite its humble beginnings. CFNP rose. I still remember in our earliest days, one of our first members walked in one night while we were still laying down the rubber floors in our new building, three fans blowing on wet cement that was trying to dry, and old steel pipes on the floor that would eventually be cut and painted to look like a fancy pull-up rig, the place was a mess. She walked in and back-pedaled out, apologized “Oh I’m sorry I thought this was a CrossFit gym,” I ran out after her “Wait it is! It is I promise! We’re just still building it is all. But in a few days it’ll be CrossFit North Pasadena!”

Old PU Rig Build

You see nowadays, the grassroots approach is unheard of. You can literally go on the Rogue Fitness website, click on “Equipment Packages” and choose a price range anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000, which is a literal treasure chest of gear you can purchase to start your very own box. One huge shipment of top of the line equipment, and voila, a state of the art facility, click here to see what I’m talking about, many other brand new coaches have clicked on that same link. Wanna see another link that few people probably know about? It’s to an article that was written back in 2002 by Coach Glassman entitled, “The Garage Gym,” it’s almost elementary in its simplicity, until you realize it’s absolutely perfect for what CrossFit was meant to be. In the article the basic blueprints are laid out; intended for people that love CrossFit, that want to outfit their own garage. From a list of the bare necessities, to ideas on how to convert old stuff into “new” CF equipment, the article reads almost as propaganda to spur this new “grassroots” movement called CrossFit. It even includes links as to where you can buy equipment online, Rogue Fitness is nowhere on the list because it wouldn’t come around for another five years the link to the article can be found here if you’re curious but here is a great excerpt that summarizes the theme nicely,

“If you only had a bar and a place to do pull-ups, you could do an acceptable variant of the CrossFit Program. With this minimal amount of equipment you could do deadlifts, squats, push-press, push-ups, clean, and pull-ups. In fact the minimalist/low-budget approach to our program is to do deadlifts and tabata squats on day one, push=press and push-ups day two, and cleans and pull-ups on day three, resting on day four. Repeat. In minimalist/low-budget mode we derive our metabolic conditioning from running and jumping rope. You could get amazing results on this regimen.” Glassman, Greg (2002)

Now this does nothing to say a brand new facility with world class equipment doesn’t have passion, that’s simply untrue and unfair to state. Some gyms around the world have had some very fortunate beginnings. Some have investors that pour a huge amount of money into the budget. Some open their doors with multiple partners and are able to spread out the cost and responsibility. Heck I’ve seen some boxes open already having shirts and bags! We had to wait a solid 2-3 months before we had enough money to design our first shirt. But again, just because an affiliate is able to begin at a specific budget has no correlation with their quality of coaching or passion. But what I can say is this:

Every sleepless night that I spent, trying to fix the floor that crumbled under us…
Every 18 hour day of building the gym, coaching all classes during the day, only to stay the rest of the night at the gym with my dad building our homemade pullup rig…
Every member that joined, that looked past out startup equipment and trusted on our passion…
Every day that I spent haggling with other gym owners, trying to buy their old rusty stuff…
I wouldn’t trade a single day of it.

Not many gyms would brag about starting off poor and with donated equipment, but I can be proud of our journey, and truth be told, I’m not sure many other gym owners could’ve taken the road we did. Every single story about our humble beginnings…has created a love story I wouldn’t write any other way.


*Stay tuned for our final part #3 of our Early Days and Humble Beginnings blog series

Location Location Location

*The next series of blogs we release will be themed with the early stages of CFNP. In a time where mega-boxes are popping up, there is no better time to revisit the grassroots beginnings of CrossFit North Pasadena; the early concepts and obstacles, and what it looked like for a 24 year old to chase a passion and allow life to provide the steps along the way.

Part 1 – “Location Location Location”

February 2011

Dad – “Gabriel put the things back into the patio once you’re done with them!”
Gabriel – “Dad why do they all need to go in the patio?! Just put them in the garage!”
Dad – “Put them away right now!”
Gabriel – “Dad I’m just going to have to pull them all out again tomorrow at 6 in the morning!”
Dad – “I don’t care! That’s where they go! This is my house, not a place for your little workout gym!”

This “conversation” occurred at around 11am every single day. Usually in high volume as we yelled and faced off across the backyard pool. We both had a point. My dad likes his house a very specific way, everything has it’s place and there is a place for everything; how could his own son not respect that? I knew that what I was on the verge of building was something great, a CrossFit gym that would someday change lives, how could my own father not respect that? So there we were every other day, bickering over the precious real estate that was our backyard patio. Looking back on it we can all laugh about it, but at the time a major shift was happening. I knew what I was building was something that my dad could not understand. Where he saw a few boxes and barbells for personal training, I saw the first pieces of equipment to a major CrossFit affiliate.

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I didn’t know in which city my gym would be built. I didn’t know what the gym name would be. I didn’t know what colors we would have. I didn’t even know if the plan would work. What I did know was that this was a vision that kept me up at night. “There’s going to be a kids program and there’s going to be wooden lanes for lifting, and there’s going to be benchmark boards, and and and….” The topic gave me goosebumps and raised my heart rate instantly. I knew this was something I was going to do. I knew it was going to be to change lives. Was there going to be money made? Hopefully. But there was not a single financial forecast made nor was there even the faintest idea of a goal for income. I knew that if I followed through with the plan I had, money wasn’t going to be an issue of discussion, good or bad. That’s the goal isn’t it? To be driven by a passion. A passion that burns inside you. The saying of passion getting you out of bed in the morning is so cliche…until you experience it. Until you find yourself working 7 days a week because well the “traditional work week” is just too short for all the things that have to get done. A lot of people use the term “motivated,” as in “I’m motivated so nothing can stop me.” However then that motivation runs into an obstacle, and suddenly things change. Motivation is a mere emotion, and a fleeting one at that. It gets you out of bed in the morning…as long as you’re somewhat rested. Motivation keeps you moving throughout the day…as long as you’re not too exhausted. The scary thing is that obstacles can never be predicted, and sometimes they can make it appear that your vision was absolute nonsense. Now passion…that’s something worth having. Passion drags you by the leg and pulls you out of bed because otherwise you’re mind won’t rest. Passion creates creative solutions that nobody would have seen coming because to not get the task completed would have been equal to losing everything. How did I know this dream for a CrossFit affiliate was a passion and not a motivation? Because before the gym was even open we were experiencing obstacles of having classes. Because I was willing to transform my parents’ backyard into an outdoor/patio CrossFit gym before they even know what that meant. Because at 6am I’d move bikes and chairs out of a patio, only to get yelled at and put them all back at 11am…so that I could do it all again for the “evening class” at 6pm. So it’s a good thing I got through that tough obstacle right? Man oh man that was bad wasn’t it? Not really, because the obstacle returned and in a very very very big way.

August 2011

I was so nervous. Every single landlord had laughed at my proposals. Some 24 year old schmuck wanted to lease their million dollar building with ZERO capital and no history of business. On top of that, I couldn’t afford to pay for the entire building so unorthodox offers were made such as paying for half of the building for the first year and then increasing the following years. I finally gave in and asked my dad to cosign for me, it took a lot of convincing, but he finally gave in and agreed. The offer was accepted. So there we were, signed copy of the lease in-hand, awaiting the real estate agent and landlord to show up, sign away, and off we’d go. The business license application was already set with Pasadena City Hall and expected at this location in 6 weeks. The business cards were already designed and ready to print. The website was up and running.  The grand opening was set for a month down the road, and the pre-registered members were already signed up. Nerves nerves nerves. I had never done anything in leasing real estate so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had already told my current CrossFit gym that I was fleeing the nest and starting my own box. They gave me their blessing and kept me encouraged when the paperwork was taking too long; it’s true, the paperwork had taken an awfully long time. Everybody took notice of it. Between opening of negotiations for this building and to today, the running joke became “Gabe get those keys already,” “Gabe you got those keys yet so we can go workout?” The answer was always no…until today. Today was the day. Over a month of painfully slow responses, but finally here it was, signing day. We waited for over an hour at the door of the building, nobody showed up. I called the real estate agent, no answer. Something wasn’t right. Did I get the appointment day and time wrong? I called over and over again, still nothing. We left, my dad was convinced it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t know what to say. Finally a phone call from the real estate agent, the landlord had gone missing, or out of town, he kinda went between the two reasons. I didn’t know what to say. I had waited for over a month with daily phone calls and emails, and here it came down to the signing day and it was still a “not sure.” The walk of shame was heading back into the gym to tell everybody that it didn’t seem like the deal was going to happen. The grand opening was going to have to be postponed and now I had no idea what city the gym would even be in. I had to begin looking again, from square one. A few days later another gym member told me he got a hold of the landlord (he happened to know him through other business contacts); and he was considering leasing the building for his landscaping company, he would gladly sublease to me. All the visions came rushing back as if they had never left. I wished him luck as I knew how difficult it was for me to even schedule a signing day much less actually get the keys. A few days later, the lease was signed, and the keys were in his hand. Nothing seemed right about it. The speed in which it happened, it wasn’t possible unless things had been in the works for a few weeks prior. He had me come by the building the following week to see the space I would sublease from him. Upon my measuring the area, all the while explaining where certain equipment would be installed, eyes wide and brain moving a mile a minute, he looked at me and said he was planning on opening his own CrossFit facility in that building, and would let me sublease it from him for 50% of what was to be my gym.
I. Was. Devastated.
I’ve never experienced tears of anger and frustration until that day, but I’ll tell you that they’re different. They have a heaviness to them. A warmth to them. As if the very blood boiling inside of you is escaping through your tears, slowly warming your face. I didn’t have a leg to stand on, I was outplayed by an sly experienced businessman, if that’s what you’d wish to call him. The gym had never seemed as far away as that day. It was as if somebody broke into your office and grabbed all your plans for success. I suddenly couldn’t see my visions anymore. What was this gym supposed to look like again? At this point that feeling of motivation ceases to exist. Those clever and inspiring memes on instagram do nothing for you. When you’re left with your own thoughts of disappointment few things can help; however if passion is there, few other things are needed. I scrambled for another location almost on auto-pilot, if there is ever a double-edged sword to my personality it’s that I am able to overlook emotions and see tasks through.

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We found a horribly unpromising coffee shop with a rat infestation and caving ceilings… and I dug in. Spending 16 hours a day cleaning and demolishing, sometimes through tears in my eyes and honest resentment in my heart, but I knew the task had to be done, I knew the older me would be thankful that I pushed through. A few months passed and we had our grand opening. The other box owner had the audacity to call me one day and tell me that my (voided) business license had arrived at his facility, he asked if I wanted to pick it up, I didn’t really have an answer for him. Ironically enough, to this very day, that facility is referenced to as “the old box” and people still talk about it endearingly to this day.

Old Box Before After

The earliest days of CrossFit North Pasadena tested me before I even knew I was to be tested; before the doors were even in existence to be open. Nowadays it seems that there would be a ton of phrases or terms people would say to me to warrant quitting. Some would scratch it off to being bad timing. Others would say it just wasn’t meant to be. My more religious friends may have said God was closing a door and saying no. Finally the business savvy peers would have said the business model was no longer feasible and warranted abandonment. And if they were speaking to a motivated person, they would’ve been right…but they weren’t. To be honest looking back at it, the passion I had (and still have) amazes me as to how much it accomplished. It is almost another entity you can give credit to “Oh that wasn’t me that did that, it was that lunatic Passion that did all that.”

In case you were wondering the other box owner’s name was Tom S. Since a few years back he has abandoned operating a CrossFit facility (go figure) and has since handed it to a far more driven and quality individual. It may seem odd that I am thankful to have run into Tom in such an early stage of CFNP, but since the events that took place with him almost six years ago, it has provided me a very strong image of the type of business man I would never want to be; and for that I am quite grateful.

The earliest days of CFNP may be seen as obstacles to make me stumble, but looking back, they were obstacles to show myself that the passion was genuine. I am proud to say our box began the way it did, with not a big-wig investor in sight, with not a high-quality brand within its walls, and with a passionate gym owner with a few black eyes.

 

A Master’s Focus

Masters Focus

“A Master’s Focus”

I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I began sports at the age of six, and am yet to stop competing. For the past twenty-four years I have viewed and treated my body as nothing more than a tool for competition. How fast can I make it go? How much more power can I produce? When I’ve suffered from an injury it’s just a quick repair job and back on the field I went. To say I’ve treated my body roughly is an understatement and I don’t have a single regret about that fact. In the twenty-four years of training sessions and competitions, I have noticed changes in how my body reacts to workouts and recovers from injuries. I no longer am willing to risk an injury for a new heavy lift (ok maybe a little bit), however if I do sense an injury creeping up, I know this is no longer a scenario in which I’ll roll the dice like I used to. Things change, the body you used to have is different than it was four years ago, and (spoiler alert) it will be different all over again in another four years. It is my firm belief that CrossFit has allowed itself to get caught up in the objective competition rather than relative competition. Sure people SAY that it’s “You-vs-You” but what do their actions say? Sure a coach will SAY one thing about scalability, but once the clock is running and the music is playing, what atmosphere does their box exude? Ladies and gentlemen it is a silly observation to make, but here comes Captain Obvious with a fact-drop; no athlete stays at the top, they age, they tire, and they will be faced with a very difficult decision; to continue breaking themselves trying to compete objectively, or to come to terms with basic biology and decide to compete relatively…as a masters athlete. This my friends is the future of CrossFit, the longevity, quality of life, fit life that we maybe didn’t see coming when we were twenty-three years old.

So as a result CFNP has been the first of it’s kind to have a specially tailored and specific class aimed directly at the masters athlete, and we have defined a masters athlete as any athlete over the age of 40. Understand it takes a lot of work to foster a program such as this, we have proudly been working on this program for over two years now and have continued to refine it. At CFNP we know that many “theories” and “promises” float around nonstop, but it takes another level to refine such a program in actions and daily maintenance. Welcome to the CFNP masters program

When taking on masters athletes we need to break the concept down into four major parts:

  1. Injury Prevention
  2. Smarter Training (80% Threshold)
  3. Recovery Recovery and Recovery
  4. Steady Distant Goal

Injury Prevention

Injury prevention requires the mind of a cynic. You always have to assume the worst and work backwards from there. Let’s say you have box jumps today, what can go wrong? Strained calf muscle? Maybe you hit the box because your legs aren’t awake yet? So thinking this way in the most paranoid manner; you better get some warmup hops in, and stretch out those calves extra! Back Squats today? Sounds like some knee pain can start up, quick let’s get the IT band rolled out and even do some lunges to open up the hips. Go a step further? What scares you the most? What is the one injury that could absolutely sideline you? From now on, choose an aspect of that fear and work on small bits and pieces of it during every warmup you do. To be preventive you have to know what is going to be under attack. Get to know your body, no body is the same, therefore a slightly unique warmup should be seen happening around the box before the masters athlete’s workout begins.

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Smarter Training

So how do we workout in this competitive high-energy environment, but also keep the training smart and safe? How do we keep the mileage low on our bodies? How are we expected to keep getting more fit, but have no breakdowns?! The key is to keep our output at a level high enough to improve, but not high enough to wear us down. Remember there are no trophies for doing well on a random Tuesday workout, so keep things in perspective. 80% is where we will live. Particularly in the weightlifting aspect. When it comes to less joint-intensive movements you push as hard as you can. When it comes to burpees, set a record! On running days, run like you stole something! Enjoy pushing yourself when your body feels good. However when it comes to weightlifting, very rarely do we need to go past 80% of our 1RM. Is 80% a strange concept to you? Maybe it’s a bit too much hassle to compute every time you get to the barbell; well we also have a system called “5-rep minimums” which is where the athlete decides the weight on the barbell with the rule in mind, that if it is a weight that they CANNOT do 5-reps in a row, then it is too heavy. You really wanna do Rx today, well can you connect 5x Front Squats with that weight? All this percentage talk seems simple doesn’t it? Push yourself when you can, but never too hard to risk injury; kind of moronically simple if you ask me. HOWEVER, here comes the kicker, what do you do when you see that 20-something year old athlete sliding on a little bit more weight than you? Or what do you do when you feel your form falling apart, but if you finish that final set of three reps you’ll beat that girl across the gym? This is where things tend to go astray. This where the contrast of Objective vs Relative competition comes to life. If you decide to roll the dice and gamble on that one lift, and an injury occurs, you end up in the valley of icing your shoulder/back/ankle/etc for a few days and missing an entire week of training. See how easily that valley can happen? So the plan is perfect, but the execution is dependant on an imperfect people. Too often I see people pushing themselves to an unsafe level, OR I see a masters athlete pushing well-past 80% and they need a friendly reminder. Leave your ego at the door because at a masters level of fitness, that is by far your worst enemy.

Recovery, Recovery, and Recovery

Bodybuilding is a game of breaking down muscle, and then rebuilding it. For teenagers in puberty this rebuilding is a non-issue; it literally happens as soon as they complete working out. Human growth hormone is running through their body at a rate that any adult athlete would be envious of. Then it begins decreasing, sure it sticks around for normal bodily function, but that edge is dulled and before you know it, you are sore from almost every workout. The issue with a masters athlete is that what used to be an equal [breakdown = rebuild] ratio becomes an unbalanced more [breakdown > rebuild] ratio. So what does this mean? Recovery must become more important than training itself. Using the example of the car, what good is it to have a lamborghini if you decide you’re never going to service it enough to keep driving it? A warmup is no longer enough for successful training, a cool down must now become mandatory for yourself. Sleep becomes more important than eating. Recovery is the only thing that will enable the long steady athletic growth we are looking for. It does no good to have three great training days only to not recover enough and rest the remaining four days due to excessive soreness. The foam roller and lacrosse ball must become as familiar as the barbell. The yoga mat must become just as cozy as the squat rack. Recovery is the key factor to prevent almost any valleys in your fitness journey. Here is a great  standard rule of thumb for recovery. Your cool down is always 20’ minus the amount of time you actually trained. This means if you do a super intense 8’ workout, you have earned yourself a 12’ recovery session.

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Steady Distant Goal

As an older athlete (again this is a relative term), our focuses must change or else we get injured. Consider the car analogy again, yes you know how fast your car can go; you could peel out at a red light if you really wanted to…but you don’t do that anymore. It’s not great for the car, it wears out your tires, and overall we now see it as a silly thing. You can get those RPMs to scream if you really wanted to, but we all know to save that for dire moments; in younger years you could get away with it, heck you could have a break down on Monday, and feel great by Wednesday, that is no longer the case. Living life with your engine revving at it’s redline every single day is no longer a wise decision. Learning when to visit that redline and push yourself, that my dear friends is what makes an athlete…a masters athlete. I’ve always told our older athletes that your fitness life is not meant to be peaks and valleys of being super lean and trim vs. being injured and overweight. Your fitness life needs to be a slow and steady climb of fitness, with no valleys (injuries) along the way. The fitness terrain begins to look different, it’s no longer about having a six-pack, it’s about feeling good Monday-Friday, and then using your fitness to do something fun Saturday-Sunday. The brutal truth of the matter is that when we are in our 70’s and 80’s our grandkids aren’t going to care how shredded we were in our 30’s they’re just going to care if grandpa can walk or even jog alongside them when they are riding their big wheel down the driveway.

Conclusion

I don’t care where you are in your fitness journey. I don’t care if you’re in your 30’s and in a valley of injuries, or if you’re in your 50’s and experiencing a peak of fitness. You are either a masters athlete or you are a decade from it and it’s time to acknowledge the changing of the game. If that day hasn’t come, hopefully you’ll see it in the horizon before it hits you, but one day you will need to decide that feeling healthy finally outweighs looking good (disclaimer: when done correctly, you can look good and feel good). One day your motivation will need to go from being the fastest runner, to being able to run every weekend period. The times are a changing, and soon enough, Fitness will be defined as not only who’s still walking, who’s still standing, but rather who is still squatting, who is still deadlifting, and who has been able to stay the course over the long steady goal of being a masters athlete.

Challenge to the Reader

As usual a write up isn’t a write up without a challenge to the reader (yeah that’s you). For starters, identify where you are in your fitness journey and don’t pull any punches. That shoulder ache that has lasted over a year, yeah that’s not going to passively get better. Once you’ve identified where you are, then it’s time to figure out your plan of attack. At CrossFit North Pasadena we have been catering to masters athletes for over two years with specialized programming, private masters classes, and an ever growing knowledge-base of what to expect in the long run of CrossFit and how to navigate that journey. For the remainder of July and all of August we are offering free attendance to our Masters 40+ class for any individuals qualifying as a masters athlete. All we’d ask is for you to email us at info@CrossFitNorthPasadena.com to reserve your spot and provide us with a brief health history.

Pride in Effort

Pride in Effort

Pride in Effort

You won’t hear a sold-out stadium cheering and screaming. There is no announcer narrating each rep as the music blasts over the arena. You won’t see top notch athletes alongside him. There is no camera crew gliding alongside trying to get the best angles of each lift. The equipment he’s using is four years old at-best. If he’s lucky he grabbed one of the good Rogue bars, but he’s scaling today’s WOD, so it’s likely one of the six year old training bars that the owner bought from China when the “box” couldn’t afford much. It’s his lucky day, there is no jumping required in the workout today, so the strained ligaments in his left foot get a rest (he is a master pianist and has been playing concert piano for longer than our CrossFit kids have been alive) so his foot has developed an over-usage injury from hitting the pedal on the piano; often times causing him to modify the workout beyond recognition. However today is his lucky day, no jump ropes, only the Karen workout. He had no idea who Karen was or what it entailed, as usual he simply asks when he arrives at the gym. So on a brisk Wednesday morning at 9am he begins his warmup, it’s the same warm up it’s been for a week, but he’ll still ask for details on how to improve the same movements, every time repeating an “Ohh I see” as he instantly attempts the cue provided to him by the coach. Once the workout is over, as usual, he forgets to look at the clock for his score, frankly he doesn’t care about his time, he just likes finishing the workouts. He just wants to know that he did the movements correctly (as he is usually so insistent on asking mid-exercise). Usually as soon as the workout ends his priority is to go around the room and ask how people did in the WOD, and comment “That workout was an absolute killer.” Larry Evans won’t ever make it to the CrossFit Games. There I said it. You hear that no coach should ever “limit” their athlete’s potential with the word “never”, but to be honest you couldn’t pay the guy to workout in a stadium under the scorching sun, in the middle of July. Instead, every Mon/Wed/Fri morning at 9am you will find Larry working hard at CrossFit North Pasadena. No, Larry won’t ever make it to the Games, he may need another year before he even completes a WOD as prescribed, but regardless every other day you will find the pianist sweating and gasping for air as he tries his best to complete the day’s training. He doesn’t need a packed arena cheering him on, he doesn’t need an announcer narrating what rep he’s on, the camera crew might be a member with their iPhone recording his movements to share with him later, and he definitely wouldn’t want world class athletes around him as he struggles.

But that won’t ever discourage him from pushing his hardest, and for that, the small crowd of 9am athletes (maybe 8 athletes on a high attendance day) slowly surrounds him as he completes his final reps. They cheer him on through the finish line. You would think somebody would be embarrassed when others (that have already finished) surround them and root them on, but CrossFit tends to bring a nice plate of humble pie that we all partake in, and as a result, there is no shame in finishing last, it just means you get the cheers from your fellow teammates. They aren’t world class athletes, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. So why does he get the royal (scaled down) treatment that elite athletes get at the CrossFit Games? Effort. CrossFitters are drawn to the glitz and glamour of top athletes yes, but in most boxes around the world, there are no elite athletes to be found. So if there are no endorsed athletes sitting around, what earns respect in a typical box? I mean we are in the sport of fitness aren’t we? The type of culture that tends to put elite conditioning on a pedestal and worship the almighty six-pack, so why do we find ways to respect one another if more than half of us scale workouts? That simple, short, and incredibly powerful word, Effort.

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There are a few clever maxims around the fitness world that I like, one of which is, “Nobody cares what you got, but everybody cares if you cheated.” Now assuming we are not talking about cheating, the theme is that people don’t care what score you got, they care what it took to get that score. The more you are around the same community the more you learn about one another. On days where pistols are programmed, I already know Ben is going to have to dig deep. On days where deadlifts are programmed I know that Gina and Cheryl are going to have to get a bit uncomfortable. You learn what one another can do, and when they push extra hard, it goes very noticed.

In today’s workout Larry got smashed by the Karen WOD. On the whiteboard his score was very average, but (and I spoke with him later about this) a new grit showed up in him today. He was clenching his teeth and connecting reps like he had never done before, and the other athletes noticed. Larry has nothing to be proud of in objective scoring, he was average at best in the gym’s scoring, and (like most of us) near the bottom in the worldwide spectrum of scores. But in effort and personal abilities Larry earned a ton of respect today, and as he drove away he knew that his effort was both noticed and respected.

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“Pride in Effort” is a concept that took me a very long time to come to terms with. Growing up I played on a football team where effort was loser-talk. You got the job done or else we lost. As a team captain I didn’t care if one of my lineman tried really hard, he needed to get the job done. Oh you have a dislocated finger? I don’t care, get the job done or I’ll grab somebody off the bench to do your job for you. [This actually did happen and I did end up bringing another lineman onto the field that I could depend on.] Don’t give me “try” give me results. Getting into CrossFit was upside down culture shock. The goals changed dramatically, now there was no giant scoreboard that you either won or lost, the score is now how your quality of life can be changed and improved day to day. There is no trophy for winning a workout or hitting a PR, the motivation is much more intrinsic and I love that. In athletics, if you are winning you run out the clock and collect your Win. In CrossFit, if you are ahead of your goal great, now pull away even more and smash your personal best. Effort is a concept that is in no way limited to CrossFit. With some limits of course, most employers when deciding between two employees will almost always fall back on attitude and effort. The great John Wooden will forever be quoted as saying, “Hard work beats talent, when talent isn’t working hard.” This quote is echoed throughout high school and college locker rooms all around the country both before championship games and before daily practices. However, this quote is never more relevant than later in life, when the sea of competition grows exponentially and we see how very rarely we are at a predisposed advantage amongst our peers. At that moment my dear friends, is when effort begins to differentiate the tough from the weak, the gritty from the soft, the excuse makers from the go-getters. That is where you can choose to back down because life’s not fair, or step up because you know every bit of effort can lead you a mile. Sure sometimes you’ll have to scale back a bit, but don’t you ever quit. As the line goes in the Count of Monte Cristo, “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you.”

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Challenge to the Reader:

In everything you do. From your 9-5 job, to mowing the lawn, and all the CrossFit stuff that happens in between. What does your effort say? The starting point is one thing, the ending point is another, but the effort that lies between, that’s the good stuff. What does your effort say about you? Can you take pride in that effort? When you sit down to eat a meal, how much effort is going into eating healthy? In everything you do, there is effort, the question is, how much is being put forth. Make each task your masterpiece, and “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”

A Year in Review – by Corina Powell

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Last year was the first time that I had ever competed in the Open. It was something I knew I would “eventually” do but it just wasn’t high on my priority list. I had just moved for the second time, acquired a new job and I hadn’t been CrossFitting for long enough to feel like I would do well. I went into the workouts thinking, “Well hey I enjoy CrossFit and I’d like to know where I am so let’s give it a whirl.” I did each of the workouts twice at Gabriel’s recommendation and ended up placing 352 in the Southern California Region. For my first time ever competing in the Open I was pretty proud of my accomplishment but it was also what lit a fire for the year to come.  

Ending that Open, I reflected on my fitness and my goals and decided that overall, my biggest goal for the year was to just “get better at everything!”. Now to anyone who coaches goal setting, I know that my goal was not even remotely what it should have been. It wasn’t descriptive, it wasn’t measurable and I had no idea how at the end of the year I was going to assess whether or not I had accomplished that goal other than to say to myself “yep, I got better.” Lucky for me, I’ve got a coach who also happens to be the love of my life who is (in an adorable way) obsessed with the creation of goals and how to set goals that you can measure. He asked me what my goals were for the year and challenged me to define a goal that would push me for the entirety of the year. After creating small measurable goals focusing on specific movements (I still hadn’t mastered a muscle up) we came to the conclusion that my overall goal needed to focus on where I wanted to end my Open season.

Break into the 200’s by placing 299 or lower in the Southern California Region. I knew it was an ambitious goal, jumping even a few spots when new and amazing athletes are breaking onto the scene everyday and the veterans seem to just keep getting better would be an accomplishment. I knew there was  a good chance I wasn’t going to get there but I decided that deep down in my heart and soul that is what I would be striving for. A couple of months ago, Gabriel wrote a blog where he talked about not being a coward when setting goals for yourself and embracing the challenges that truly scare you. The goal that I had set scared me, I didn’t want to fail, I didn’t want to be embarrassed if I didn’t reach my potential and I didn’t want to admit to myself that the only person to blame for not reaching my goal would be myself.

After one year of work here is the summary:

I didn’t reach the 200’s, I ended the Open season in 302nd place in the Southern California Region.

Now while I know it is still an accomplishment and I am still proud of the progress that has been made, to me it is significant to tell myself that while 302 is better  that 352 it isn’t the best and I am still unsatisfied. I place the failure in bold as a reminder that it is my goal and the only person who can change the outcome of the goal is me. A new goal looms  ahead of me to make it under 225 in the next Open and while it is again a huge jump and maybe one that I won’t reach, I will be damned if I don’t give it my all trying to get there. Whatever your goals are, I hope that you keep making new ones and I hope that in the beginning those new goals seem impossible because if that isn’t how far you’re reaching or how far you’re pushing yourself then how will you ever improve?

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The 2017 CrossFit Open – A Debreifing

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Well, that was interesting. An Open unlike any other seen before, countless movements were added, new toys used; to say box owners were knocked back on their heels is an understatement. Nothing says “caught with your pants down” like gym owners all around the world running around trying to borrow or purchase equipment. Despite all the moving parts and intricacies that we may have seen, the settled dust revealed the same resulting question, “How fit are you?” For many of us it is a question that answers with one brutal cold hard number. “Despite your efforts you sir are officially ranked #451 in Southern California” or “good job madam here is your worldwide #3,273 ranking, good day.” It almost makes you cringe at the number. How can five weeks of obsessing over workouts, hours of practicing skills, a month of nerves and stress, all boil down to one measly number? I have mentioned before in my writing that we now live in a society that doesn’t like the cold hard truth, if people could give out decimal points for effort in workouts I guarantee they would fight for that. It hurts to put yourself out there, for the world (or your gym) to see you legitimately try your very best, only to get smacked in the mouth, shoved on the floor, and have a number slapped on your forehead. So why on God’s green earth do we do this to ourselves? Why do put ourselves through this? Well the answer is the same as why you come limping back into the box day after day, because it’s not only about that number to you, it’s about the intangibles and you understand that. This Open alone, I witnessed multiple new 1RM lifts, newly acquired skills, and have already heard three stories of the Open helping people through life difficulties that they were experiencing outside of the gym; you can’t put a number on those things. Now before you go off into #hallmark land and get all fluffy, let’s stay on track. The CrossFit Open in my opinion has never failed in it’s ultimate task. It does a fantastic job of overall testing “general fitness” and as a result, that number you got after 5-weeks, yeah it’s pretty accurate as to how fit you are as an athlete. The question to ask yourself regarding this number is “What are you going to do about it?” I’ve already seen people attacking skills that they never dared before, because looking at 2017 they see how much better their ranked could’ve been had they focused on it sooner; so for them it is “Look out 2018, you’re mine!” Fantastic! Now here come the intangibles that I was talking about that you can’t really put your finger on. For some athletes it may not be quite so simple as to “I need to learn DUs,” they flat out may need to face the harsh reality that they simply need to spend this next off-season getting more uncomfortable. Maybe pushing the pace just a tad-bit faster on their rowing, maybe connecting just a few more reps of Pull-Ups from here on out. Whatever weaknesses the Open exposed in you, be prepared to face them. The common joke that I hear said regarding the Open is, “if you want to do better on 17.x then jump in a time machine, go back a year, and simply CrossFit harder.” Although facetious, it’s the truth. Sure once a WOD was announced we all took to strategy, but miracles aren’t going to happen every week, at the end of each week, your strengths and weaknesses will be exposed. If you have spent the last year sandbagging the rowing workouts, it will be exposed, and it will be exposed in a way that may possibly sabotage the following movement that you are good at. Embrace the truth of what this Open has shown, there is no shame in weaknesses. As my favorite author said, “There is more beauty in truth, even if it’s a dreadful beauty.”

 

Challenge to the Reader

Make a list of which movement truly made you uncomfortable or ditch your plan. If there was a movement that knocked the wheels off of you, identify it, ask a coach, decide that come the 2018 Open, that movement is going to be “yours.”

 

Open 17.5

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A few of the primary prescriptions of CrossFit methodology are:

  1. Couplets and Triplets (meaning “rounds” of only two or three movements)

And

  1.  Task based (meaning to complete a specific task “for time”).

As a gym we fancy ourselves as CrossFit purists. Metcons are usually what does the body good, and too often people get caught up with new bells and whistles. Bless Dave Castro for bringing the old school style back into the Open. Now here comes the rub, the reason why old school couplets work so well? Because they burn like a son-of-a-gun and require some good ole fashioned sweat and tears. Think about Fran, no real place to hide. How about Diane? You’re either deadlifting the barbell or on the wall. Most famous workouts are surprisingly short and simple; and once again that’s where the magic lies. Let’s get started in breaking down an already very simple workout.

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The Thrusters
Break em up. For a very small population this workout is a sprint, if you’re not in that group, then think long term and break these Thrusters into sets. We’re not a fan of doing WOD-math, but here comes the harsh reality, this is a double-Fran; and just like Fran, you do not want to pick up that barbell until you’re prepared to do a decent number of reps. In other words avoid doing singles at all cost; lest you simply add a dozen extra squat cleans to this workout (ain’t nobody got time for that).
Suggested rep schemes would be limited to:
9
5-4
3-3-3

Double Unders
Well we knew these were coming. And as usual they are simply being treated as the mortar that fills the gaps between movements. However don’t overlook these, they are intended to punish inefficiency and fatigue the shoulders if done incorrectly. Therefore the cue to combat this pitfall will be “keep your hands close,” this means avoid the arms wide out (wing-flap) during your double unders. If your hands stay close to your body then your wrists will be forced to rotate the rope and those lovely shoulders will be just a little less tired for the thrusters. Lastly, although an unorthodox way of approaching double unders, don’t be shy to take a 3-5 second break during the double unders. Too often we go all-out on double unders to the point of exhaustion and only rest once we’ve begun failing; we have 350 to do in the workout, so treat these like you would any other movement and consider breaking these into sets as well.

In summation, congratulations on making it to the last workout of the 2017 CrossFit Open! A surprising amount of people don’t make it through all five weeks for a number of reasons. You however have persevered and taken each WOD head-on. So for that we applaud you. Now that you have no week six to look forward to, empty your tank. Push as hard as you can and finish this Open with a crescendo of effort. You’ve made it this far, might as well sprint the last few meters. Best of luck to all you athletes, and go win, because winning is fun 😉

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Open WOD 17.4

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I’ve said it hundreds of times, there is no better way to test yourself, than to repeat a workout. Here you have it, the longest interval rest ever, one entire year! Same movement standards, same weight on the barbell, a more fit version of you from one year ago; so let’s smash that score. You have something to chase, this workout is not some abstract concept from which you can create a vague goal; now you have an exact score to chase, so go get it!

The WOD

I strongly feel that there are three ways to test a person’s form on specific movements found in CrossFit:
1. Adding load
2. Adding speed
3. Adding fatigue
Welcome to a test of #3, fatigue. Sure you can do a few HSPU, but can you do fifty-five reps? Oh you did “Diane” last week with 155lbs, that’s cute, here are fifty-five DLs in a row for you to do. If you want to see how well a person can pace a row, put them on that rower for fifty-five calories and watch that pace go up and down like a heart rate monitor. Sure we may not like it, but this workout has some magic to it. This WOD, by nature tests one movement at a time, with deep reps, intentionally revealing what happens to people’s form under fatigue. SO now that we have an idea what the Evil Genius Dave Castro is looking to get out of this, let’s plan ahead and form a strategy.

WOD Strategy

DeadLift (DL)
Regardless of what weight you are doing on the DL (Rx, Scaled, Teen, Master, etc), you are going to be tempted by the same thing as anybody else. Picture this, “3-2-1 Go!” The music blasts. The judges are yelling out reps. Weights are banging on the floor. That voice in your head begins telling you to slow down, but nobody else is…and oh snap my boy Justin Timberlake just came on the speakers with some fire, there is no way I’m stopping now…and that’s how you die.
Listen up, everybody is going to feel pretty good or amazing at the beginning of this workout, the reps happen fast, your adrenaline is off the charts; you need to stay calm. Last year when doing this workout I broke the reps up as a rough 15-10-10-10-10 because I knew that just because I could do larger sets, didn’t mean I should. You need to have an idea of how you’re going break up these reps, keep them small and DO NOT reach muscle failure here. You should not be dropping the barbell because you can’t hold on anymore, we are trying to avoid reaching that point of fatigue.

Wall Ball
Again with the principle of “Could vs. Should.” Yes we are all sure you can do tons of WBs in a row, but that doesn’t mean you should. With a lot of reps comes early and quick breaks. Don’t concern yourself with the pacing of others. Have your plan of small sets of reps, and stick to it. *If WBs are a strong point for you then at the end we will discuss another option.

Handstand Push Up
Oh boy, good ole’ HSPU. Nothing will make you understand muscle failure like the HSPU. When those dinky little shoulders run out of juice, you my friend are SOL. I have seen many a great competitors push it just a little too hard, and spend 3 minutes getting just one last rep. The HSPU is often times failed near the top of the lockout which means it uses just as much if not more energy than even getting a good rep. Listen closely because I’m about to drop some Gandhi wisdom, “Whatever you do, do not risk a no-rep.” This means as soon as you feel shoulder fatigue that makes you even question your next rep, kick down and let the arms relax for a bit. You do not want to throw any of these reps away. Last year there were thousands of points sitting in the 1x HSPU to 49x HSPU range. Meaning every single rep equated to hundreds of leaderboard points. So again treat each fatigued rep with great caution, be sure to listen to your body, sometimes it feels better than we thought it would, still stick to your plan.

Pacing
Aside from the obvious theme of me pleading with people to pace this workout and “no matter what” do small sets of reps. We are going to speak to the more advanced athletes for a second that maybe still wanna push it and gamble a bit. Decide which movement is your home run movement; the “smack it out of the ballpark” movement. THAT movement is when you go all out, now understand if that is the DLs I stand by my words of caution, but if it is any of the other movements, then that is your chance to smash it in 2-3 mega-sets. Notice I said ONE movement, I meant it, choose one, that’s it, no more than that. If you were to even go hypothetically unbroken on one movement, that would be enough of a boost to keep you ahead of any pack for a while. So if you decide to pick a home run movement then make it good, because that is when you are going to be turning heads.

As usual guys, have fun, if you’re not having fun then you’re missing the point, if you’re not nervous you need to take it more seriously. Find that balance, that’s what CrossFit is all about. Oh and by the way, winning is the most fun, so go do that.

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About the author:
Gabriel Perez is the owner of CrossFit North Pasadena in Pasadena, CA. He has owned his affiliate for over 5 years and owns the oldest running CrossFit gym in Pasadena. He has been competing in CrossFit since 2009 and has qualified for Regionals in 2012 and 2013, and finished top 60 in 4 of his past 6 CrossFit Opens.

Open WOD 17.3

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CrossFit Open WOD 17.3

You happy now? No dumbbells for week #3, enjoy that barbell thrown at your face. Good Sir Castro has heard your whining and has given us exactly what we wanted, a lovely barbell >:)
Now before we go into a panic, take a deep breathe, and let’s figure out our game plan; and let’s also chat a bit about technique while we’re at it.

The WOD

I’ve already heard people belly-aching about shoulders. “Oh this is so dangerous,” blah blah blah. Look, in the past three weeks you have been asked to do ONE workout with DB snatches, and a second workout with Bar-MU (if you went Rx), in those three WEEKS I’m sure you’ve recovered just fine, and if you haven’t then there are much more pressing mechanical issues that need to be addressed. This WOD is programmed brilliantly whether you like it or not. How you may ask? Well let’s look at the mechanics involved, a Snatch should be a leg driven movement with shoulders as a secondary mover and stabilizer, while the PU tends to be primarily a pulling movement. Therefore, when done incorrectly, an athlete will pull the barbell early with their arms, couple that with the pulling on the PU and viola, your arms fall off. This means anybody that has a bad habit of pulling the barbell up primarily with their arms rather than using their legs, will be punished exponentially as the workout goes on.

WOD Strategy

Snatch
A few definitions need to be cleared up before we begin. Green weights are light and easy. Yellow weights are moderate and can be approached with confidence. Red weights are at/just under your 1RM. Looking at the weights identify when the weight goes from green to yellow to red. Your job is to go as fast as you can through the portion of the workout that contains your green weight (touch-n-go if possible) this will save you extra time on the clock and give you a good tie-breaker score. Once you enter the portion of the workout tat contains your yellow weight you are still trying to get through it quickly (specifically the PUs) for a good tie-breaker with the emphasis of a short break between snatch reps and a fast full-depth drop under the barbell. Once you are in the WOD portion that contains your red weight you hit the breaks! Now the workout changes. We need long breaks. This workout suddenly becomes a matter of which athletes can avoid missing the most reps. Expect to see a ton of athletes feeling rushed, attempting reps too soon, only to miss the reps and feel even more flustered. This is your Red weight so don’t necessarily expect to get out of this round, each rep needs to be approached with rest and focus, this is not the place to rush.

Chest-to-Bar PU / Jumping-PU
In the CrossFit world the running joke during the Open is: If you want to do well in the Open, you need to go back in time a year, and CrossFit more. In CrossFit we focus on General Physical Preparedness (GPP), this means we don’t necessarily focus on any one thing, we simply try to get better at everything at a steady rate. This includes Pull-Ups, and in CrossFit the Pull-Up is like the cement to your house, they’re everywhere, no matter how much your fitness improves, they need to always be there; do they get any glory? Nope. How many of you are dying to post a video of yourself doing Pull-Ups (sexy right?). They are the unsung hero of fitness and they aren’t going anywhere. There are no major tips on the Pull-Ups other than they are your key to saving time for more lifts at your barbell. Stay close to the PU Rig, don’t wander, as soon as you come down from a set of PUs, be prepared to get right back up there and knock more out. When the clock’s ticking and your staring at your snatch bar later in the workout (with a weight that’s close to your 1RM), you’re gonna wish you had rushed on the PUs just a little bit more. If your Pull-Ups aren’t where they need to be then do your best, but no, there is no magic tweak to suddenly add thirty reps to your PUs. If you don’t have them down yet, take note, and as soon as the Open ends, start working on them.

Clock Management
Hopefully you remember this WOD format from years past (it’s been used a few times) but you do NOT have to stop and wait for the clock to begin your next rounds. So if you are a few minutes ahead of the CAP time, then great, move faster and get even further ahead of the clock! When you are at your heaviest weights you are going to need that buffer-time to rest up. Take advantage of the lighter weights and knock those out (along with your PUs) as fast as you can; although it may seem short-sighted to sprint, this workout is not about the early rounds as much as it’s about how much time you give yourself once you’re at your heaviest snatch weight.

As usual guys, have fun, if you’re not having fun then you’re missing the point, if you’re not nervous you need to take it more seriously. Find that balance, that’s what CrossFit is all about. Oh and by the way, winning is the most fun, so go do that.


About the author:
Gabriel Perez is the owner of CrossFit North Pasadena in Pasadena, CA. He has owned his affiliate for over 5 years and owns the oldest running CrossFit gym in Pasadena. He has been competing in CrossFit since 2009 and has qualified for Regionals in 2012 and 2013, and finished top 60 in 4 of his past 6 CrossFit Opens.

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