Open season…

Registration for the 2013 CrossFit Open has been live for a few weeks now and the first WOD will be posted next Wednesday, March 6th at 8pm EST. This is an exciting time not only for the top CrossFit competitors but CrossFit schmoes like myself. You can read about my experiences with the 2012 CF Open WODs starting here. Last year was my first time competing in the Open and it was a great experience. Performing the WODs, logging them and then comparing myself to other people in my gym as well as around the world was definitely a very interesting and humbling experience. And it was yet another (like I really need another) way for me to gauge what parts of my body, movements and workouts I need to work on and improve.

The Open WODs were all tough in their own way and the starts of the WODs are programmed so that anyone can perform some of the movements. And it makes for a good story and it’s another way to bond with your fellow athletes and CrossFitters. That’s what we do as CrossFitter, “we embrace the suck….together”. One of the WODs last year was seven minutes of burpees. Seven minutes of burpees sucks no matter when and where you do it. I’m sure this conversation has been had in many a box:
Athlete 1: “Remember when we did 7 minutes of burpees last year?”
Athlete 2: “Yeah that was awful…really bad.”
Athlete 1: “Well, you ready to do 7 minutes of burpee box jumps today? (or whatever HQ has instore for us this year)”
Athlete 2: “Yep this is going to suck even more!!!”
Athlete 1: “Yep. Ready? 3-2-1…GO!!”

A cool new thing HQ has added is a certified Judges program. That said, I think CrossFit HQ could have done a better job of recording the videos for the test. Its hard enough trying to judge movement like hest to bar with no sound but then put it in a dark and dingy room makes it even worse. I finished the test in about two hours but had to review a few of the videos a number of times.

And in another bit of marketing smarts, Crossfit HQ will announce the Open workouts live each week from a different CrossFit affiliate. I was lucky enough to snag a pair of tickets for the announcements of workout 13.2 at CrossFit South Brooklyn on March 13th. Thanks to CrossFit Gantry for the heads up on tickets. CrossFit love all around!!

Also, here is a funny little video a few of the coaches at CrossFit Virtuosity came up with on why our members should do the Open.

Sign up and challenge yourself! You will be surprised at what you are capable of doing!

Paleo challenge finalist….

Is me!! I forgot to mention below that there was a $20 buy-in for the paleo challenge at Crossfit Virtuosity and the top man and woman get to split it! The finalists were picked based on before and after pictures, weight lost as well as their times on the Angie WOD. I have made it into the top three men and now its up to the other challenge participants to make their vote. Wish me luck against two other very worthy cavemen, Handy Dan and this actor guy…

End of paleo times…

Last night marked the official end of our first 2013 paleo challenge at Crossfit Virtuosity. From January 2nd through February 13th, 2013, I lost a total of 8 pounds. As a benchmark WOD, we used “Angie” (100 pull ups, 100 pushups, 100 sit ups and 100 squats for time). My Angie time improved by close to four minutes and resulted in a new PR for me.

We also had a paleo challenge at the start of 2012. That challenge lasted less than a month and the benchmark WOD was Cindy (complete as many rounds as possible of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 air squats in 20 minutes). It was my first real dive into the paleo diet and I was a lot more strict which resulted in me losing about 12 pounds. From January 2nd to January 28th. My Cindy rounds went from 14 to 19, a pretty marked improvement. I was pretty strict paleo with the only alcohol consumption being tequila.

An important part for me to understand after doing two paleo challenges is that I do not have to be Captain CCCAAAAAVEMAN and go strict strict paleo to lose weight and improve my strength and conditioning. I can still have what I consider “fun”. Over the past month and a half, I drank some beer (mostly light) and whiskey (occasionally) and had a slice of pizza (ok two slices but it had meat on it!!) I even had a slice of cake on my friend’s 40th birthday. But the important part for me is this is the type of diet and lifestyle I can sustain and will continue to maintain for the near-term. I may try and adjust things further to get even better results.

In the end, diet is a very personal choice. However, the lesson for me is that diet clearly matters, even small tweaks like not eating breads or rice everyday. Your diet can be vegan, paleo, the Zone, bugs or fresh cut grass. Find whatever works for you and I don’t mean the YUM brands (KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) diet cause that doesn’t work for anyone but YUM. I’m talking about real foods, preferably not mass-produced with sugar and preservatives or sitting in a pen full of other animals and eating each other’s excrement. When buying meat (especially red meat) try and buy grass-fed or organic. When buying vegetables, try and buy at a farmer’s market or organic. I know it can be a bit pricier but farmer’s markets are usually pretty reasonable and they sell what is in season. Also at the end of the day, nothing is more important than what we are putting in our bodies. **Gets off his soapbox**

Dreams of a CrossFit box…

Like many who have been bitten by the CrossFit bug, I would love to open and run my own box someday. Over the past year I’ve been researching the costs and options for becoming a CrossFit affiliate. Besides the monetary costs (to be covered in a future post), I would like to share some of the things one should consider before opening a box.

1. Do it for the love: This should apply to most things in life, but especially if you are going to put your blood, sweat, tears and equity into opening a box. I was laid off from my job in finance in early 2012, and it was a blessing in disguise. Along with the worries and stress of “OMG! I don’t have a steady job anymore” came the clarity of realizing I wasn’t really about the work I was doing anyway. Sure, it paid my bills and some of the people were nice enough to work with, but was I really happy there? There was not much room for creativity and definitely even less room for fun and fitness, things I love and value about life. And when I think back about those days in my cubicle, what kept me going most of the time was knowing at the end of the day I would rush onto the subway and get to a class at Crossfit Virtuosity (“CFV”), hopefully on time, so I wouldn’t have to do the 20 burpee penalty for being late. Since I’ve been laid off, I have been able to refocus on things I really want to do with my life such as train people in CrossFit and learn some computer programming. You can read more about my programming path in some of my earlier posts.

2. Get certified, ASAP: A CrossFit Level 1 trainer certification is required if you want to open an affiliate, and the courses sell out very quickly. Trust me… I had been considering getting my certification since late 2011. “Should I get it?” “Isn’t $1,000 a lot of money to get certified?” I kept putting it off. Every time I saw the cert offered at a gym convenient to me, I would think about it for a day or two and by the time I went back to sign up, it would be sold out. If you are considering it and have the money, Just Do It! (Sorry Reebok). I (finally) received my CrossFit Level 1 trainer certification in October 2012, and recently started assisting coaching at CFV.

3. Locale and locals: Know about the area where you want to open up your box, and understand the demographics of the surrounding area so you can appropriately structure and price your classes.

I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about monetary costs but rent will likely to be your largest long-term expense so I thought it was worth mentioning. Your cost per square foot will depend on the location (basic real estate rules apply). A good knowledge of the neighborhood and surrounding area, as well as a good real estate agent, will help in choosing a location. While its nice to have a high-traffic location on a busy street corner, you may be able to get a larger space for less money if you can find a place a little off the beaten path. Also, if you focus on being a great trainer, people will find you no matter where you are.

Keep in mind, there are no rules to keep another competitor, be it another CrossFit affiliate or a globo gym, from opening up across the street from you. That said, if you have a good product and good community, people will find you by word of mouth or via the Internet.

4. Nothing wrong with starting small: You don’t have to start with a 5,000 square foot gym equipped with a Rogue rig and Eleiko Olympic Powerlifting set. You may want to or be able to but you don’t have to. Lots of people that open a box start small, often either in their garage, backyard or at a local park.

Also, make sure you have some experience as a trainer or partner up with someone who does. To get more experience as a trainer, I started training family and friends (usually for free or trade) in their homes and nearby parks, since I do not have access to a garage, working with the limited equipment I own. You will be amazed by the workouts you can perform with a couple of kettle bells, jump ropes and the person’s body weight.

5. Build community, not just bodies: The community is key to the CrossFit movement, as well as the lifeblood to an affiliate. CrossFit believes that “the fun is in the community”, and I agree with that wholeheartedly. The people I have met during my two years of CrossFit have been some of the most inspirational, genuine and down-to-earth people I have ever met. Nothing bonds people faster than suffering through a WOD together! Get to know other CrossFitters in your area, volunteer at events, reach out to other box owners in your area and plan some competitions or seminars together. Love and treat the community with respect and people will keep coming back for more of that good old CrossFit pain and suffering.

If you want to learn more about the business side before opening a box, offer to volunteer at your local box to see more about how things work behind the scenes. In addition to coaching, I work at the front desk at CFV a few hours a week in exchange for free membership. A sweet deal if you can get it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask affiliate owners about their experiences. You will be pleasantly surprised by how much box owners and business people are willing to share with you. I’ve learned a lot by picking the brains of people who are already running boxes or are in the process of opening one. The actual cost and numbers of starting up an affiliate is another topic in itself. I plan to get more into the specifics of what that entails in a later post but until then, there is tons of information on the Web. Google is your friend. Bottom line, know and love what you are getting into.

Lots going on….

So its been an exciting and busy couple of months and the last few weeks have built on that. The Learn to Code panel went really well and I met a lot of cool and interesting people. Many of them are in the same boat or similar situation as me. Working or formerly having worked in the financial world and pretty much fed up with the system and how we are treated like cogs. Many are learning to code or beginning to learn and I wish them all luck and success. My path down the coding world continues and I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the Rails structure and Ruby continues to be a work in progress.

On the CrossFit front, I passed my Level One trainer certification in October in Morristown, NJ. Great gym, thanks for hosting. It was also an awesome weekend cause the cert class was being taught by two great athletes and CF Games competitors, Jason Khalipa (2008 CF games champ what what!) and the Manimal himself, Pat Barber. Both of these guys are out of Crossfit Norcal which Jason owns. Also running the lead for the class was Joe DeGain, super nice guy and talented athlete (and college wrestler from my googling) and he owns Crossfit 810 out of Michigan.

This past weekend I participated in the Crossfit Gymnastics certification at my usual CF gym Crossfit Virtuosity. The cert was run by Julie Barnes Maurer (not sure what box she’s out of but it’s in Michigan), Sean “Iron Palms” Velas who coaches at Crossfit Soul in Miami, FL. Also helping teach this weekend was my “usual” coach, Keith Wittenstein. We did a lot of ring work and it was exhausting but totally awesome! Came close to getting my first muscle up (ok not really, it took two other people lifting my butt for me to get it but hey, it’s a start). Learned so much and met some great people.

Speaking of Crossfit Virtuosity, I’ve been invited to be an assistant coach at the gym. This is something I’ve been wanting for a while now and have been working hard to get so I am super happy and honored to get the nod. Lots of work to be done but I’m elated to start this new journey in my life. More to come…..

Oh Bahhhbara…..

Another Wednesday, another Ladies night at Crossfit Virtuosity. Our WOD was Barbara who I have never encountered before. Barbara goes a little something like this:

Five rounds, each for time of:
20 Pull-ups
30 Push-ups
40 Sit-ups
50 Squats
Rest precisely three minutes between each round.

Looking at the whiteboard before class all the times were north of 30 minutes (including the 12 minutes rest between each round) so I knew to expect a long workout.

Started out pretty strong, with my first two rounds at 4:02 and 4:23, respectively. Then, Samantha, the co-owner of CFV came out and started riding me, first about “going deeper” in my squats and then about a “hand release” at the bottom of my push up. I wasn’t told that this was a requirement and my chest was hitting the ground in the first two rounds, but the hand release takes away my “bounce”. Is using the bounce off a push up cheating? I don’t think so cause weightlifters use the bounce off the bench press all the time.

Anyway, hand release and fatigue took my third and fourth round to 6:25 and 6:22, respectively. Pretty big increases as I was taking more breaks during pull ups and pushups than I was in the first two rounds. In the final round I bucked up a bit and pushed a little harder with a goal of a time under 40 minutes. I finished the fifth round in 5:46 resulting in a total Barbara time of 38:58. Not happy with the time but my first go around with the Ladies is usually not pretty…

Barbara uses pretty basic movements to blast your body for five rounds…but I’m looking forward to our next rendezvous.

Get your beach swole on….

So Wednesdays are “Ladies night” at Crossfit Virtuosity here in Brooklyn. The Ladies are workouts (named after women) used by Crossfit as benchmarks for fitness and progress. Today’s special lady was Lynne. She goes like this:

5 rounds for time of:
Max Reps Bench press, bodyweight
Max Reps Pull-ups

We don’t call this the “beach muscles” workout for nothing….
We turned them more into rounds for reps. I used 205# for my bench, not exactly my bodyweight but close enough.

So my reps broke down like this:
Bench / Pull ups
rd1: 10 / 20
rd2: 8 / 15
rd3: 7 / 15
rd4: 5 / 13
rd5: 4 / 11

Total reps = 108

My goal after the first round was to stay close to 20 total reps per round. My chest fatigued pretty quickly (as does the rest of my body lol) and I will obviously never be a distance runner nor do I have any desire to be one. The main problem with the pull ups is grip strength. I could crank out more in a round if I was allowed to drop and rest for a few but the rules of this game are, let go of the bar, round over….

Lynne and I have met twice before and I’m happy to say this was a new “pr” for me. I think the key was not burning myself out on the first round of bench and pull ups. I could have done a few more reps on both but I think saving a little in the tank let me know be more consistent in the later rounds. Here are my other two rounds of Lynne and you will see what I am talking about.

January 4, 2012
rd1: 13 / 21
rd2: 4 / 13
rd3: 3 / 12
rd4: 3 / 8
rd5: 4 / 8
Total reps: 89

You can see the marked drop from the first round to the second round as I used all I had to get 3 more reps up vs. today’s version.

September 15, 2011
rd1: 12 / 26
rd2: 6 / 20
rd3: 5 / 14
rd4: 2 / 11
rd5: 1 / 7
Total reps: 104

Again, balls to wall first round results in me crapping out the last couple of rounds. I was also cranking out more pull ups until my shoulder injury.

Another Ladies Night complete….Ok gotta go get ready for my fantasy football draft!

Filthy Fifty, we meet again…

So when I see those two words: Filthy Fifty, I know I am in for close to half an hour of torture. For those of you not familiar, here is the workout:

The Filthy Fifty
For time:
50 Box Jump, 24″
50 Jumping Pull-ups
50 Kettlebell Swings, 16kg
50 steps Walking Lunges
50 Knees to Elbows
50 Push Press, 45lbs
50 Back Extensions
50 Wall Ball shots, 20lgs
50 Burpees
50 Double Unders

This WOD is a chipper, meaning you cannot move onto the next exercise until completing the current reps for the exercise you are working on. I completed the Filthy Fifty in September with a time of 28:32. Today I added :24 second to my time finishing in 28:56. The humidity and lack of consistent Crossfit related activities definitely did not help my time. I was sweating so much I actually took off my shirt during burpees. I am definitely not someone who takes off my shirt at the gym very often but the weight of my sweat on my shirt was not making me a very happy camper.

Box jumps is one of my least favorite CF activities but I am glad to get them out of the way early on. Jumping pull ups, KB swings and walking lunges are all pretty manageable. Knees to elbows is where I hit my first real hurdle and slowed down my time considerably. I was linking together 5 at a time in the beginning but that quickly turned to groups of threes and twos with multiple trips to the chalk bucket to help with my sweaty grip. Push press and back extensions were not too tough, splitting the push presses into two sets of 25 and the back extensions into three sets of some kind.

The combo of wall balls and burpees near the end are the true test in my opinion. I grouped the wall balls into sets of five and those were pretty miserable. The burpees had me on the cusp of tapping out. Burpees are all mental especially at the end of all this other work and stringing together sets of 5s and 3s is just pure hell but I took off my shirt and muscled through at a slow and steady pace. The double unders were a pleasure after that and I strung together sets of between 10-15, finishing in four sets. As usual, not happy with my time but I’ll take it.

Until we meet again Filthy…….

Cleans, dead lifts and box jumps, oh my….

So I took the lunch time class at Crossfit Virtuosity today. I decided not to look at the workout prior to showing up for a nice lunch time surprise. Here’s what I walked in to:

Muscle Clean + Power Clean + Squat Clean
1 OTM for 10 minutes
As heavy as possible

5 rounds:
5 Deadlifts, 275#
10 Box Jumps with step off, 24″/20″
15 Push-ups

So Olympic lifting is still pretty tough for me as I had never clean & jerked or snatched before joining Crossfit last year. I did my first three rounds of the clean complex at 95lbs, next three rounds at 135 and three rounds after that at 155. My last round I jumped up to 185lb but couldn’t get it done. Gotta keep working at it!!!!

The Metcon was a bruiser! Anytime you combine dead lifts and box jumps its going to be fun fun fun! The pushups are a bit of a breather for me generally although by the third round I was dividing the pushups into groups of 5 at a time. The Metcon took me a total of 8:58. I was aiming for sub 8 minutes so I wasn’t too happy with my time but is any one every happy with their time?

Bitches bday WOD!!

So I started August out in a good way…or a painful way depending on how you look at it.
Wednesdays at Crossfit Virtuosity is “Ladies Night” and if you crossfit at all you know the “ladies”. But we also like to celebrate members’ birthdays on occasion as well and tonight was one of those special nights.
Michelle, affectionately know as “Bitches” is turning 39 so the workout is based around that number…

As many rounds and reps as possible in 39 minutes:
39 Calorie Row
39 Double Unders
39 SDLHP, 53lbs kettle bell
390m Run

Anything with a run in it will result in a slower time for me so I was ok with three completed rounds plus the 39 cal row, 39 double unders (had a lot of trouble stringing these together tonight, need to get my cardio up!!) and 39 sumo dead lift high pulls with a kettle bell. You can tell I wanted no part of another run.