You are hereMay 2010
This picture has nothing to do with my post today, but it is a great picture and I thought you all would like to see it.
Anyway, this week I would like to address Lydia's question from last week: How about that pitched nerve between the shoulder blades that can cause a shooting pain down your arm and up your neck? I have it and I know I've heard others talking about it but how do we stretch that?
Lydia, I am not a doctor and I don't know what is actually causing you pain. It sounds as though a nerve is being pinched or impinged upon somewhere in your neck (that is where the nerves that run down your arm originate). The first thing I would do is sign up for a sports massage. Someone needs to get into your neck and upper back muscles and help those muscles to relax.
If you are loathe to do such a thing, you can lie on a golf or lacrosse ball and try to release them yourself. Here are some of the ways to release your neck muscles with a ball:
1. Lie on back with your knees bent and with the lacrosse ball under you, just at the point where your traps and neck come together. With an exhale, lift your hips off the floor. This means you are putting all of your weight onto the ball. Hold for 5 seconds. (If it is too painful, leave your hips on the ground.) Repeat 10 times and switch sides.
2. With your head on a yoga block, put the ball under your neck on the left side; your head should turn toward the left side. Press into ball with an exhale and hold 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times and switch sides.
3. Lie on your back with a ball between your left shoulder blade and your spine. Lift your hips off the ground with an exhale and hold. Repeat 10 times and switch sides.
After you have done the trigger point release with a ball, you should then do the neck stretches that are in the READ MORE section of this post.
Also, I would recommend doing some neck mobility exercises. You would do this before you work out, or anytime during the day.
1. Extension and flexion: Pull your chin to your chest, stretching the back of your neck, then pull your head back, stretching the front of your neck.
2. Rotation--look over your right shoulder, then your left shoulder
3. Lateral flexion and extension--bring your ear as close to your shoulder as possible, looking straight ahewad, repeat on other side.
Sierra working on her overhead squat
The World's Greatest Scanner Tutorial Video
Because scanning your key card can be tricky business, we've put together, quite frankly, the world's greatest tutorial video on the subject. Ever. Enjoy!
After a month of messing around with a bunch of different software settings, we're now rolling out our card-scanning system. So what does this mean to you? Not a whole lot, actually. Basically, the only thing you need to make sure you do is hold your key card in front of the scanner until it beeps (just like in the video above). Once the scanner beeps, you're done. Simple as that. The scanner is located on the desk in the lobby.
If you don't have a card to scan, let Robyn or me know and we'll get you set up.
Brandon (left) and Serge (right)
The word was already out on Joseph's birthday today, but apparently Brandon thought he'd be able to pull a fast one on us and let his birthday pass by under the radar. He should know better than that.
Birthday wishes to Joseph and Brandon in comments!
******ANNOUNCEMENT: There will be NO OPEN GYM TOMORROW (Fri 5/7)! All other weekend classes will go on as regularly scheduled thanks to our amazing staff of trainers!! *******
The Athlete Spotlight this week is on Team CFO! Candace, Daniel, Tami, Manwell, Brandon, and Polly, along with Coach Mini and an amazing support team and cheer squad, will be heading to So-Cal this weekend to represent CrossFit Oakland in the Southwest Regional Qualifiers and compete for a chance at making it to the CF Games in July. The games have changed a lot since Team CFO took the Affiliate Cup in 2008. We caught up with Coach Mini and asked him a few questions in an attempt to get to know our team better as we head into what is sure to be a fun and fierce weekend.
What are the strengths of each athlete and the team as a whole?
Candace: Her ability to fit into tiny sweaters
Daniel: His ability to blind opponents when he goes shirtless
Tami: Her second gear
Brandon: His ability to get into the zone
Polly: Her wardrobe selection
Manwell: His ability to go to that dark place and tune out Lydia
What were you happy to see on the workouts (in relation to team strengths/weaknesses)?
That neither of the workouts involved handstand walks.
What advantages do you see for team CFO?
They have the coolest t-shirts.
OK, OK. On a more serious note...
I'm really pleased with the progress each of these six competitors has made over the last month. We've really ramped up the intensity, holding extra team workouts over the weekend, in preparation for the double workout(s) we suspected would be coming down the pike in the Southwest Regional. Each of the six who is going down to Regionals (the CFO team is actually composed of twelve members, per my post on the subject last month) possess skills that contribute to the team as a whole.
There will be 70 teams competing over the weekend, and only 8 will move on to compete in the Games in July. The competition has gotten tougher and tougher every year, and the margins between the top teams will no doubt be razor thin this year. The competition will be tough. Period.
But we're ready.
Post your best words of motivation and support for Post your best words of motivation and support for Team CFO (as well as Steve P, our Masters competitor) to comments.
*****REMINDER: There will be no open gym session this afternoon (Friday May 7) from 3:30pm to 5pm. All other classes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will happen as usual.*****
(Also, for the most up-to-date schedule information, you can always check our schedule.)
Rip and TomC
We're excited to announce that beginning Saturday, June 5, we'll be rolling out a Saturday afternoon strength session with none other than TomC. Strength Saturdays will run from 3pm to roughly 4:30pm every Saturday. Tom will be coaching everyone on the five basic barbell lifts: the squat, deadlift, press, bench press, and power clean.
Tom recently attended Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength Seminar in Wichita Falls and passed the exam (practical and written) with flying colors. In addition to the technical coaching you'll receive from Tom on the five basic barbell lifts, which are essential to developing a foundation of strength, Tom will be able to answer questions related to programming for the lifts.
There will be an additional cost for taking the class, but we're looking at making it a nominal one (~$20/month). We'll have more details on the cost breakdown as we get closer to rolling out the class.
Southwest Regional Action
Besides checking this blog for updates on the weekend's competition here in Irvine (I'll be doing daily recaps on this blog on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), you can also follow the action online (Saturday and Sunday) here:
If you are reading this, you are probably sitting in a chair and looking at a computer. Many of you spend all day at a computer, so I thought this week I would post a few stretches you can do while you are at work or reading this blog. All of these can be done sitting in your chair, and you don't even have to hold the stretch for very long-- just 5-15 seconds!
Please do these stretches with an open and lifted chest, and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Your spine should be tall and erect.
First, stretch one arm up toward the sky and the other down towards the floor. Hold for 5-30 seconds and switch sides.
Steve P locking out a 180-lb thruster
Today the spotlight was on our lone CFO Masters competitor, Steve P. After a setback in the first workout, he came back strong in the second workout, putting up an impressive 180 lbs in the 1-rep max thruster workout (he had 10 minutes to work up to a 1-rep max thruster). He also came oh-so-close to locking out 185 lbs, getting it well overhead but failing to stabilize the load overhead.
I'm betting he'll destroy Cindy tomorrow.
All of the action moves to the campus of UC Irvine tomorrow.
Here's the Saturday schedule:
Workout 3: 9:40am
Workout 1: 8:50am
Workout 2: 2:30pm
Well everybody, most of this stuff has been discussed in the comments already, but here it is nonetheless.
Team CFO showed up today and brought their A game. After all was said and done after the Saturday workouts, we're sitting in third place, 4 points behind CF Invictus and 1 point behind CF San Francisco.
For up-to-date scoring, go here: http://scores2010.crossfit.com/scoring/southwest/
Tomorrow's workout involves tire flipping, log carrying, log squatting, and log pressing. Should be a great time! We'll be going in the final heat with our tent-mates, CF San Francisco (they set up camp under our giant Jameson tent). It was great having both squads from the Bay Area tearing it up and supporting one another.
Keep your fingers crossed, everyone!
Congratulations to Team CFO! They worked their tails off, and after all the dust had settled, managed to move up one spot and finish second overall.
Final results for team competition: http://scores2010.crossfit.com/scoring/p/129/
NorCal was well represented in the end.
5 of the top 8 teams are from NorCal.
3 of the top 4 men are from NorCal.
1 of the top 4 women are from NorCal.
And the two top placing Affiliate teams were under the same Jameson tent!
We're super proud of the team; they executed extremely well in the tire-flip-and-log workout and put in a great finish to tie for third in the heat and put in the 9th fastest time overall.
Awesome work, Candace, Manwell, Tami, Brandon, Polly, and Daniel!
And if you thought we worked hard leading up to the Regionals, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Steve P in mid-pull-up during WOD 3 of the Masters Competition
I asked Steve P to sum up his experience at this past weekend's Masters competition in Irvine. He competed along with our team from CFO.
He gave me much, much more than what I expected, and went way above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak. What follows is a little over 3 pages (pulled from a Word doc Steve emailed me), and I highly encourage everyone to read every word. It's well worth your time.
I'd also encourage everyone to take up Steve's advice on testing yourself in competition every so often (3 to 4 times a year). Ask me about ideas on how to make this happen.
Without further ado, here is Steve's story.
(Be sure to click on the "Read More" link below and read all of Steve's piece.)
Fitness Relativity and Quantum Leaps
Post-Regional Musings of a Master (aka “Old Fart”)
About 6 months after starting at CFO I remember commenting to Brandon one night about his incredible performance on one of the WODs. He casually (and humbly) answered “it’s all relative, man.” I doubt he gave it a second thought or realized how profound a statement he had just made. When I thought about it, I realized that our strength, skill and fitness are relative for each and every one of us. They’re relative to where we began, where we’re at and where we’re going. In the end, that’s what it’s about and what matters most.
We humans make and play games to compete with others for lots of reasons…fun and entertainment, ego, the satisfaction of pushing and testing ourselves. Many have said that the real competition is the one you’re having with yourself. The one that motivates you to put your heart into every move, focus on your form, stay in the moment and push yourself through it when that small but loud part of your brain is screaming at you to stop and rest or go home and push hard another day. Brandon’s theory of relativity is where it’s at. You go to the gym day after day, engage fully, work hard, sometimes (okay oftentimes) getting frustrated, tired and sore. And in the middle of the WOD when oxygen seems to be in short supply you think “why the hell am I doing this?!” But then someday when you look back 3, 6, 12 months later, you think “holy $#!^”, I never thought I’d be able to dead lift or clean or press nnn pounds. And before you know it, it’s “Wow, my first band-less pull up!” By the way, I couldn’t do one single chin-over-bar pull-up when I started two years ago. Now some of my favorite WODs are ones that are full of C2Bs.
Not many of you know this, but over the past school year we have had the pleasure of hosting a high-school intern, Elizabeth. This opportunity was offered by her teacher, Micah (of Micah and Wyatt fame). Elizabeth attends Impact Academy - "a small, high-performing public high school which focuses on project based learning."
I would like to think that under our wise and thoughtful guidance and surrounded by the complex inner workings of CrossFit Oakland, she has advanced well beyond her years and leaps and bounds ahead of her peers. Elizabeth is a smart, sweet, focused 16-year old, well on her way to accomplishing her goal of attending UC Berkeley when she graduates.
As part of her final project, Elizabeth wrote tonight's blog post. She explains in her own words what she has learned by working at CFO:
"CrossFit has changed my opinion on what traditionally, I would consider a gym. Unlike the gym I had in mind, CrossFit is small, the staff are friendly and helpful, and it is actually about helping you achieve your fitness goals, rather than taking your money.
From listening to and watching classes, I can tell that people are really close to one another because everyone encourages and supports each other. It is kind of like they work as a team to achieve their goals and overcome their struggles.
The classes offered are based on your skill level, although your limits will be pushed. Do not let this discourage you from trying CrossFit out because you will have support 100% of the time. The class sizes are small and everyone has a good relationship with one another.
In addition, the trainers also have a good relationship with each other and the members, which I feel allows CrossFit to be successful. It is obvious that everyone looks at each other as friends, not just work out or business partners, so bonds are built.
CrossFit is a great place for people to work out, especially if they like a small environment and actually want a good, rigorous work out or even if they just want to meet some amazing people".
Thank you, Elizabeth for all of her work in the office and gym floor and best wishes for your future!
Post questions or wise thoughts for Elizabeth to comments.
The following YouTube clip has been making its rounds in CrossFit circles. In fact, Kelly Starrett does a nice job writing up a piece on this very same video on the SF CF blog here: http://sanfranciscocrossfit.blogspot.com/2010/04/two-wordsfuzz.html
The bottom line is that you need to take care of your mobility. And if that isn't made clear after this video, I'm not sure what else I can show you.
Be warned! This video is not for the squeamish.
Serge hamming it up
In case you haven't already heard, UC Berkeley has decided to let Serge graduate. He finished his last piece of schoolwork yesterday, and is set to graduate on Monday.
But we can't let Serge just ride off into the sunset without a proper send-off. So with that in mind, we're going to be holding an impromptu going-away party for the Serge this Sunday night at 5pm. We'll be meeting at the Mallard on 752 San Pablo Avenue in Albany.
Come join us as we send Serge off to the grown-up world!
Where: Club Mallard
Club Mallard Info: http://www.clubmallard.com/
Low back pain can be caused by many different things--improper form when deadlifting, poor posture, a lousy chair or mattress. Often it can come from having tight hamstrings. This week I would like to show you a series of stretches to do when your lower back is feeling tight or after a deadlift workout.
Start by lying in the ground and facing the ceiling. Pull both knees into your chest. Keep your head and shoulders on the ground. Hold 30-60 seconds.
Everyone's favorite spotlight athlete, Lydia, is celebrating her birthday in style this Thursday, May 20. And CFOers are invited, of course. We'll be meeting at Fenton's Creamery at 7:30pm. Come on by and wish the Lyd a happy birthday and get your cheat meal in at the same time!
I was on the CF Sweat Shop blog last night and came across a video Nabil had posted on lower-body mobility by CF coach and physical therapist extraordinaire Kelly Starrett (K-Star). I will be posting that video on this blog very soon.
But tonight I wanted to post a piece K-Star did on upper-body mobility, since more of the questions I receive these days relate to how to use the lacrosse ball for upper-body issues (tightness, movement restriction, etc.). So take the time to watch the video; you'll see it's pretty intuitive. You basically put the ball on or around the areas where you have issues. The most common problem areas are the traps, lats, and subscapularis, in addition to the muscle and fascia around the thoracic and lumbar spine.
Bottom line: Get on that lacrosse ball and work those problem areas!
Dawn working Sean through a Handstand Push-Up progression
Do you ever feel like you would be delighted if you were the only one who showed up for class and commanded 100% of your favorite coach's attention?? I personally am a big fan of group classes, but the thought of 1:1 training on the weakest of my many weaknesses does smack of luxury…
Did you know that most of our coaches are available to train you 1:1 or in small groups? Anytime you like, you may log in to Mind Body Online and check out coach profiles and the time slots in which he or she is available to meet with you 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 or 1:4, just in case you have a friend or two you'd like to bring along.
Speaking of friends, private training is an excellent way to train with your buddies who are not interested in our group classes (shocking, I know), or who may be visiting the area. Private training makes a great gift for birthdays, graduations, Mother's or Father's Day or any milestone or even just because. Give the gift of fitness! Ask us how - we'd be happy to work with you.
If you were given a private training session, how would you use it? Post to comments.
Here's another YouTube video of K-Star discussing knee issues. The key source of knee pain relates to squat mechanics. Generally, if you find your knees traveling forward excessively, you're probably going to have some knee pain. The fix for knee pain is to fix your squat, keeping those shins vertical or close to vertical (the positioning will differ slightly for other squats like the front squat, but that's another discussion).
Part 2 of this discussion can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a72IhKe_2cs&feature=related
Biggie's Friday Outfit
Post caption ideas to comments.
Most of us think warming up prior to exercise is somewhat important--though there are a few of you that don't. The New York Times recently published an article about the benefits (or lack of) warming up before working out which you can read here. We changed our warm up protocol some months back so that now the warm up is shorter and involves more dynamic mobility and less bar work than it used to. Have you noticed an effect on your performance during the w.o.d.s? Do you have certain things you must do before you get into a workout? Please post reflections to comments.
Also, I just want to add to the K-Star post on upper body mobility. It is great to roll around on the ball and break up scar tissue, but it is really important to STRETCH those muscles after. When you stretch AFTER you perform myofacial release, you can bring the muscle back to it's original length (or close to it). Part of the reason muscles get bound up is from doing exercises with imperfect body mechanics and posture. If you do not change the mechanics and posture, the problem area will remain a problem area. Ideal treatment for a persistently tight or painful area would start with myofacial release and be followed by stretching and corrective exercises to treat the mechanics and posture issues.
High-level coaching at its best
A couple articles for you...
Woman's Day: 7 Weight Loss Transformations
7 couples are profiled in this article on successful methods of weight loss. One of the couples, Timothy and Eileen, went the CrossFit route, regularly committing to training at CrossFit Chicago, along with eliminating processed food from their diet. This 1-2 punch led to their losing a combined total of 54 pounds.
They're the couple in the article who are going PSR in the photo (a CF tradition).
Read the full article here: http://health.yahoo.com/featured/110/7-weight-loss-transformations/
(Thanks to Sagnik for passing along this article.)
Increase in Police and Fire Candidates Failing Fitness Tests
This article discusses a trend in various police and fire departments around the country that are seeing an increase in the number of police or fire recruits failing the physical fitness test that's administered in order to get into the academies.
Read the full USA Today article here.
Here's our schedule for Memorial Day Weekend:
Sat May 29: 8am & 9am Group Classes, 10am Open Gym (same as normal)
Sun May 30: 8am & 9am Group Classes, 10am Open Gym (same as normal)
Mon May 31: 8am & 9am Group Classes, 10am Open Gym (no afternoon or evening classes)
Agent X & the lovely Jennifer
This week's Athlete Spotlight is a rather sad one for me to post. Two of our beloved clients are leaving us for at least a year to move to the D.C. area. These two are great people on their own and rather fabulous as a spousal team.
Agent X came to us with deadly stealth almost a year ago and has really made his mark, particularly at 6am where he endures no end of grief from the regulars. He is a tough competitor and always pushes himself to the limits in an effort to dominate his rivals. This is what he is trained to do. I'd love to tell you what that training is and how X spends his days, but if he told me he'd have to, well, you know…. Needless to say, he is a bad-ass at the gym and beyond.
However, there is someone tough enough to take on Agent X: His wife, Jen, who came to us via one of our inaugural On-Ramp classes. Jen is a force to be reckoned with and has been a stellar addition to CFO. She is a fabulous athlete and formidable competitor, but mostly she is just a lovely person with an infectious and ever-present smile. It is going to be fun to see what she brings back to CFO after another year of CF training under her belt.
We will miss you two! Take care of one another and keep in touch. Post best wishes to Jen & X to comments.
Name: Jennifer Lucero
Q: How long have you been a member at CFO?
A: 3 months
Q: What is your day job?
A: Paramedic, ACLS and CPR instructor
Q: What is your athletic background?
A: I was a competitive swimmer for 11 years.
Q: What is your favorite strength move?
A: Back squat.
Q: What is your favorite met-con
A: What's a met-con?
Q: What is your proudest achievement?
A: Being able to do a WOD as prescribed!
Q: What is your most desired goal?
A: Being able to do ALL WODs as prescribed.
Rant or Rave:
Rave: LOVE CFO!!
How about if I come back with some next year!
Name: Agent X
Height: 5'9" or 6'3" with the fro
Q: How long have you been a member at CFO?
A: 10 Months
Q: What is your day job?
Q: What is your athletic background?
A: Wrestling, Football & Jiujitsu
Q: What is your favorite strength move?
A: Bench Press. It's the only lift I can do with good form.
Q: What is your favorite met-con?
A: Nasty Nine 8 - For me this was the hardest WOD ever!
Q: What is your proudest achievement?
A: Any time I can beat Peak (the Pirate), it's a good day
Q: What is your most desired goal?
A: To power clean with perfect form, yeah I suck at it.
Rant or Rave:
I'll miss the gym and the people. It's been a great experience.
Journey in full stride on the St. Mary's track
Let's wish Journey, everyone's favorite tatted-up CFO firebreather, a great birthday in comments! Happy Birthday, Nurse Meadows!
The 5pm class prior to doing the Michael G workout
The 5pm class turned out in big numbers today, participating in Michael G's Birthday WOD, along with Michael G himself (front and center in picture, flanked by various females). It was a blast...thanks to everyone who came out!
This morning Sierra and I decided to start a 30 day no sugar challenge. As we talked, several people decided to join us. So we thought we would open up the option to the whole gym.
For the month of June, we will swear off refined sugar from our diets. This can mean a lot of things, but let's make it simple to start. (You can take it as far as you want). No desserts, sodas, candy--anything with sugar or high fructose corn syrup in it.
In order to participate in the challenge, we want you to sign up by Tuesday, June 1st. You can either post to the comments here or sign up at the gym.
To make this challenge actually mean something, we decided on a $100 buy in. If you make it through the month, you get the money back; if not, the money gets divided between those who finish the challenge. I know this sounds like a lot of money, but we want you to stick with the challenge, and sometimes having $100 dollars on the line can push you through a weak moment. (You will be able to ask yourself if you really want to pay $100 for a scoop of ice cream.) I will take your personal check and hold it for the month. You will get it back when you complete the challenge.
I am sure there will be a lot of questions about types of sugar. This challenge starts with refined sugar. If you want to take it farther, you can eliminate all other types of sugar:
Who's in for the challenge? Post to comments.
Marc's Before Shot
Marc's After Shot
Marc in Action
About six months ago, I offered clients at CFO a free diet evaluation allowing them take a closer look at their eating habits to see what areas may need improvement. Marc took me up on the offer and quickly got to work on making some significant changes to his diet. I'm really excited about all the progress that he's made and I'd like to highlight his hard work and success in this week's post.
1. What kinds of changes have you made to your diet since you joined CFO?
The first major change I made to my diet was to go on the Zone around July 2009. I started with the 40:30:30 proportion and I immediately saw rapid fat loss. However I knew I needed to address food quality as well. At that time the majority of my protein came from dairy. I slowly moved toward eggs, meat and fish. Since the beginning of the year, I've completely eliminated all grains, dairy and alcohol.
It took me some time to settle on the amount of protein I need. When I started I had no idea what my lean body mass, so I started with 16 blocks. In October I got fat tested and from that I determined I needed 18 blocks. I upped it to 20 grams early this year, based on activity level.
The biggest amounts I've played with are the carbs and fat. Initially, I halved the carbs, mainly because it got tedious trying to find so many carb blocks. That ended up producing better results. Then I reduced it again to a quarter of my protein blocks. So now I'm at 20 Protein 5 Carbs 40 Fat.
TomC Working Hard
We're pleased to announce that this Saturday, June 5 at 4pm, we'll be rolling out our Strength Saturdays class. Strength Saturdays will be led by whole milk and Rippetoe devotee TomC. In this class, you'll receive technical instruction on the five basic barbell lifts: back squat, deadlift, shoulder press, bench press, and power clean.
Tom recently attended Mark Rippetoe's greatly expanded Starting Strength Seminar and passed the exam with flying colors and accolades from Mr. Rippetoe himself. He's passionate about the system Rippetoe has laid out for teaching and performing the lifts, and is now the most current trainer in the gym on these methods.
Each class will focus on the squat and one of the other lifts. This is a program that is driven by the squat, and the general strength you'll acquire from this classic lift.
I highly recommend this class to anyone new to the lifts, anyone stalled in their strength gains, or anyone curious about how strength training can fit into the larger sphere of general conditioning.
The cost of this class is $40/month for CFO members and $60/month for those who are not a part of CFO.
If you're interested in participating in the class, drop us a line at email@example.com.