Dear Box Jumps

We recently became acquaintances, perhaps even friends.  Seeing box jumps in a WOD is no longer an instant sign of defeat for me.  But today I found out that maybe I’m not as close to making the acquaintance and friendship of the RX 20 inch version.

My coach encouraged the other two (lovely) ladies that I was working with to try higher box jumps (20″ and 24″) but said nothing to me.  I can only assume that my 15″ box jumps were really fugly and not technically sound.  So, that was a little discouraging today but in the end it’s just one more thing to add onto the list of movements that are a work in progress.

Hope to meet you soon 20 inches!




This week’s entry into Why Have You Not Bought This Yet Wed is brought to you courtesy of The Crossfit Open.

First off, I know I’m late. These are actually harder to think of than you might realize!  There are so many good things out there, but in my mind, they tend to fall into broad categories and since I haven’t tested any brands for comparison, I prefer to lump them together instead of tell you to purchase THIS vs THAT. Now, if any of you want to send us things to test, you are more than welcome to do so and we will happily review them and post our thoughts!

Our coaches are always going on and on about how anyone can do crossfit and while I do believe there are so many workout options for everyone, I also firmly believe that anyone can do crossfit. I am living proof of this concept. I’ve been crossfitting for two and a half years, but I’m still scaling most things, still don’t have a good chunk of moves anywhere near to completion, much less at proficiency. Double unders are a fantastic way to see just how much I enjoy whipping myself; pull-ups are a wonderful way to practice jumping from a box; and, rope climbs are an endless source of frustration. This list goes on and on and on. I’ve even had to scale back other moves, such as push-ups to accommodate my still-healing shoulder.

And yet, despite my plethora of injuries, I’ve signed up for The Open. You guys know that I’ve not been doing crossfit since the beginning. But since I’m a rather geeky academic, constantly in search of information, history, knowledge and data I did some research into the history of this thing called The Open.

The Crossfit Games started in 2007 with a seemingly simple competition designed to find “The Fittest Athlete on Earth”. Each year, the competition strives to combine elements of gymnastics, endurance, strength and a surprise event. Ocean swimming, “heavy” workouts (meaning they take a known workout and make the weights even heavier than normal), pegboards, new equipment etc. The athletes don’t know what is coming until the end.

Since 2011, the first stage to get to The Games involves The Open. Top performers will then head to Regionals, and top performers there will go to The Games.

One of the complaints I heard from my coaches was the workouts didn’t provide a scaled option, which was always one of the things that crossfit always bragged about; anyone could do it, so why not the scaled options? I wasn’t doing crossfit at the time, but I can basically guarantee that anyone who wanted to participate would have found a way to do the workouts scaled; that is exactly what coaches have been doing for years! But now, crossfit releases official scaled versions for all the various age ranges.

I know there will be moves I cannot do (yet). I know there will be weights I CAN move. I know the workouts will suck, but in a good way. It’s possible there will be workouts I cannot do or modify due to injury and I will have to find a way to come to grips with this. But what I DO know, is that anyone can do crossfit; and thus, anyone can do the Open. Modifications can be the official modifications provided, or other modifications provided by all the wonderful coaches.

So go! Sign up for The Open. Do your best; scale as needed. Grind through the suck and enjoy that amazing feeling of accomplishment that generally goes along with any crosssfit workout. It will be the best $20 you spend on crossfit that isn’t gear; I promise.

What is Special About Our Box?

So I was privileged enough to watch the vast majority of our coaches competing in various levels at Wodapalooza this past weekend in Miami. Another one of our coaches was there with her phone so we could all watch through Facebook Live (about the best use of FB Live, IMHO) and finally, the coach of their second box subbed during our 5am sessions. So the entire coaching community came together to make this all happen. This got me thinking about all the things I love about our particular box and I would bet that those of you who love your boxes have these same things happening!

I love that each coach knows the athletes and pushes in their own different way. Coach Janine is the “toughest” of them all in the sense of pushing us well beyond what we might do for ourselves. She knows exactly how much each of us can lift. Not that I’m a double under master (I have managed 19 in a row – sign me up for an Rx competition…), but I wouldn’t have them at all if not for her. I was quite content doing one double and one single, but not on Janine’s watch! She said give it a go and so I had to. And I did it!

Coach JP is so calm and steadfast in his ability to impart his confidence into the athletes. He will spot you if you need it, suggest weights if you ask, and even in the middle of a WOD come over and stop you to make suggestions on how you can improve your form, your time, your technique, your whatever. There will be no bad form on his watch and he’s so calm, cool and collected that you simply believe that you can do anything! Plus, if you ask a geeky question on their FB page, he will happily give you a geeky answer!

Coach Sam isn’t around as often; she does a lot of the personal training and the marketing for both boxes and I’m sure that keeps her very busy. When she does come in to coach, she’s very vocal about your abilities, the fact that a lot of these moves simply don’t come naturally and they take time and practice. She has the loudest voice during the WODs and will cheer you on until she’s hoarse. She’s the biggest cheerleader there and she’s always ready with a celebratory hug, sticker and photo-op!

Coach Christy is fairly new and I’ve not had the chance to work with her as often as the others, since she generally coaches the later morning classes. BUT, I have worked with her enough and have watched her “come up through the ranks” from overweight mom, to fit mom, to Coach Christy (all around bad-a$$) and she is somehow a combination of all three. She will “make” you lift heavier than you want; she drips confidence out of every pore. I swear she is more confident in my abilities than I am! She’s the first to try something challenging and her voice can be heard throughout the WOD, even over the loudest music. She’s quick with the high-fives and the stickers and the phone pics and I’m fairly certain she’s the marketing genius behind many of the things that are happening online with this small box.

Coach Hannah is the newest to me because she generally coaches at their second location. But I’ve had the pleasure of being coached by her a few times now and she’s full of quiet smiles and encouragement. She’s managed to learn a lot of names (impressive since she’s only in our box a few times), walks around pushing us to keep moving through the tough WODs and never seems to stop smiling at everything that happens. Trip over a box? She’s still smiling all through her checking up to make sure you are okay. Struggling to breathe through 100 billion burpees (anything over 5 might as well be a billion)? She’s there, smiling, encouraging and clapping you on. It’s been a real treat to have her there the past few days!

I love how I started 2.5+ years ago simply wanting to do something different with my workouts (my home workouts were becoming stale) and found a community of folks, many of whom have become dear friends and we do things outside the box now! I actually have friends in this town (I did have friends before, but they all moved out of the town, so I spent a couple of very lonely years here)!

I love the Diaper WODs, fund-raisers and other community events they sponsor. I love how no matter who finishes last, there is always a group of folks willing to stick around to cheer, encourage and even help by doing extra work.

I love how the coaches live crossfit by making sure we are all safe, scaled as necessary, provide Rx+ options for those that need more, can make the moves harder or scaled and not only coach, but are incredible athletes in their own right. I believe that JP placed 4th in the Rx Men’s, Team DCF was 3rd in the Intermediate Team Women’s and Janine and her team, Beefy Butt Stuff, was 18th in the Elite Team Women’s divisions at Wodapalooza. Do you know who competes at these things? Games athletes, that’s who. So my bad-a$$ coaches are competing with the best of the best.

I’ve said it before and I will continue to believe this. The best athletes don’t always make the best coaches. To coach and to coach well, you have to get to know people. Learn their fears, their skills, their weaknesses and their strengths. You have to learn if they are there simply to get a good workout in, are there to really try to get better, or are there to become great athletes themselves. You have to learn not only how to teach the moves, but to teach them differently to different people when necessary, to say the same thing a zillion different ways. You need the ability to calm frustrations, celebrate achievements and gently coax people out of their comfort zones. Interestingly enough, our coaches are all not only fantastic athletes, but amazing coaches. I couldn’t have asked for more in a crossfit box.

More Musings

So one of the coaches said some things before class the other day and it has me thinking. The box started a pull up series. I thought it was going to be once per week we would work on the accessory work to get us to doing pull-ups. We did two weeks of these. 3-5 rounds of various exercises that should help us get pull-ups. This movement seems to be one of the “end all be all” movements in our box. So many women want them; so few of us have them.

For me, I’ve always wanted to be able to do a pull-up. And when we started, I stated that as a goal and the coach told me I wasn’t allowed to learn kipping pull-ups before I could do strict pull-ups. Now I’ve seen a lot of women in our box get kipping pull-ups and they don’t have strict, and I admit to getting a bit upset both with them and the coaches. Then I did some research and learned that it can be very tough on the shoulder joint to do kipping without he strength in the muscles to do strict. So basically I had to logic my way out of my anger. This usually works and for 2+ years I’ve been doing jumping pull-ups and feeling okay about this.

But the things the coaches said where this:

1. You will never get better at pull-ups by doing jumping pull-ups

2. How many people have been working their pull-up accessory work at home? (None of us raised our hands – and she basically told us we needed to be doing these things on our own if we ever hoped to be able to do them in the box).

Both statements have me thinking.

The first because when the head programmer is coaching, we always do jumping pull-ups. This coach was subbing and that is when the comment was made. So we all did banded pull-ups for the workout and basically a good chunk of us were lifting ourselves off the ground maybe 2″. It was very demoralizing (at least to me). Next time I will use the black band and not the green one.

Then I read another blog post over on Eat to Perform and the author mentioned there is a 240 pound woman there who can do all the variations on pull-ups. So my thoughts of “I’m too fat for pull-ups” are obviously wrong.

Which means I’m not strong enough to do them and that brings me to point 2.

I THOUGHT this pull-up series would be once a week. Nope. Apparently we did it for two weeks and we were supposed to keep doing it at home. I struggle with this for several reasons. First, not everyone has the equipment to workout at home. I happen to have a lot of workout equipment because I spent several years doing Beachbody programs, but a good portion of folks will join a gym so they don’t have to buy all that stuff!

Second, not everyone has the TIME to do another workout at home. I go to crossfit at 5am. That is the only time that really doesn’t interfere with the activities of the rest of my family. I’ve gone to a few evening things here and there, but that requires very careful planning and often rearranging of who does what in my household. I would guess hypothesize that a lot of folks are this way.

Third, if I were motivated enough to push myself at home, I wouldn’t need to take classes 5 days a week! I could go on crossfit’ website, do their WOD, or head to YouTube, or and follow one of their programs.

Finally, I get a little annoyed when I’m told that 5x per week isn’t enough. That now I need to spend extra time practicing “insert move” or I will never get it. Five days a week isn’t enough? If this is really true, then I might as well give up, go home, and simply walk my dogs around the block for a hour at 5am.

End rant.

Great Coaches

I’ve said for years that often the star players don’t make the best coaches. Great coaches need a completely different skill set than great players. Leadership, motivational skills, game planning, and an ability to understand your players, the stars as well as those players who will never be stars, but can be counted on to do anything.

Our box not only has star athletes, but they are all great coaches as well. Each one of them with the ability to push us past our limits. Somehow they know all of our abilities, our strengths, weaknesses and how to help us learn to overcome, challenge ourselves. But pushing isn’t enough. Anyone can be pushed and pushed and pushed until hey break or quit. A truly great coach knows when to stop pushing. And I’ve seen time and time again where I’ve been pushed much further than I would have pushed myself, but when I got to that breaking point, they knew!

Guys, find yourself a great coach, or better yet, an entire box full of them!

Double Under Challenge

At my box, for the month of November the coaches have challenged us to get 1000 double unders (forces us to practice). We are half way through and I only have 220. I’m actually quite proud of this 220 because they are probably the hardest fought 220 double unders anyone has ever completed. It took me a week to get to 50. But now I’m doing 1 DU, 1 single, 1 DU, 1 single etc etc … And I can get about 15 before I get stopped because they are EXHAUSTING!!!

I’m fairly certain they aren’t supposed to be this exhausting. So I assume I’m 1. not doing them efficiently (duh…) and 2. tensing all my muscles and 3. I still suck at cardio.

I really want 1000, but I’m probably not going to get there. I’m fine with this. But I will still try to get as far as I possibly can toward that 1000 and hopefully, get a little better every time I practice.

As an aside, I was practicing on Monday, and smacked myself with that dang rope so hard I was bleeding. I took that as a sign I needed to stop…

The Power of Coaches

There are a lot of people who hate on CrossFit. People claim it’s: expensive, causes injuries, forces you to eat Paleo, pushes you past your abilities, the coaches aren’t competent, and will ultimately give you Rhabomyolysis thus leading to your death.

I have a beef to pick with all of these. But anyone who participates in any sport could run up against any of the things on that list. There aren’t injuries in football? Olympic athletes don’t have a nutritional plan constructed by a coach? If all coaches were created equal, there wouldn’t be such a huge fuss when a college football coach is replaced. Rhabo can show up for a variety of reasons and any extreme workout can induce it (marathon runners anyone).

The cost is something that is hard to get around. Yes, it IS more expensive than some other fitness gyms and yes the equipment can be expensive if one sets up their home gym and proceeds to complete the workout that CrossFit releases daily (go to CrossFit and you will see for yourself). It is less expensive than personal training, however. In a CrossFit class you get some personal attention. At our box, if the coaches see your form slipping, they will reduce your weights, or come over to offer suggestions on how to improve. We do spend time working on drills. They show us common mistakes and how to correct those mistakes. It’s not the same as one-on-one coaching, but it’s darn close. So you are paying for more personal attention. I know that for me, I would never have learned to properly execute a snatch from watching videos alone. The coaches are there to ensure your safety.

Injuries happen in every sport. I have spent the past 2-3 months dealing with a shoulder issue. This isn’t CrossFit’s fault. It happens; professional athletes get injured. You can trip going up/down the stairs and get injured. Heck, my husband required major surgery this past winter because he slipped on the ice and tore his quad ligament. Coaches are there to ensure your safety, so poor mechanics don’t cause injuries. Coaches will make sure you don’t put too much weight on the bar until your form is good. Coaches are there to help you scale and work around injuries should that be needed. They are there to help do rehabilitation if required.

Do a lot of CrossFitters eat Paleo? I don’t know. I know a few at my box who do. I know a lot of the athletes eat “mostly Paleo”. I also know folks who try to not eat so much junk and some folks who do CrossFit so they CAN eat some junk and everything in between. Most of us seemed to start by eating less “junk”. How far you take your nutrition is really up to you.

The coaches are there specifically TO push you. A good coach (and at my box they are all good coaches) has an uncanny ability to push you just past your comfort zone. This is someplace that most of us won’t go by ourselves. The coaches provides that last little nudge. Our coaches all have the ability to know our strengths, our weaknesses and those places where we’d rather not spend any more time. And yet, they also know when to back off, when we really have given our all. I’ve never seen anyone harassed for slowing down, dropping weights, or even stopping. Are there bad coaches out there? Sure, as in all sports some are better than others and it’s possible the box near you has one that isn’t quite as skilled, or willing to get to know their athletes’ abilities. If this is the case, find a new box!

The reason CrossFit works is down to the coaches. Their dedication, skill, hard work and love for both their sport, their livelihood and their athletes. The power of CrossFit lies in the Power of the Coaches.