Exercising vs. Training – What the Heck is the Difference and Why Should I Care?

I actually started writing this article last year, and for whatever reason never ended up posting it. Well I just rediscovered it, and thought it was pretty relevant, given the recent Nike campaign, so here it is.


@niketraining: Make 2017 all about Training. Set up a new plan just for you in Nike+ Training Club app. Link in our bio. #StopExercising #StartTraining #nike

When you workout, are you training, or are you exercising? Do you know the difference?




activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.




the action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.

The question becomes, at what point does our workout transition from exercise to training? And more importantly, why does it matter?

Let’s consider the life of a professional athlete. Not only are they in the gym each day, often multiple times per day, working towards their goals, they live a lifestyle that is conducive to training. Their nutrition is on point, they get plenty of sleep, alcohol intake is limited or non-existent. They live to train.

I realize that lifestyle is pretty extreme for the average person who has a full time job, relationship, children and maybe a social life. But, if there is something you are training for – whether that be a marathon, triathlon, CrossFit competition or a weightlifting meet – you are more likely to take your workouts more seriously, and alter other parts of your life to help you achieve your goal.

Now, what if you don’t have something you’re training for? What if you’re not a very competitive person, you always hated sports, and you really just want to work out because it makes you feel good and you know it’s good for your health. That’s fine! That is when small, personal goals become important. Being able to do a pull-up, swing a 24kg kettlebell, row 500m in under 2 minutes, squat below parallel, snatch your bodyweight. All of these things give you physical, attainable goals to focus on, rather than just mindlessly exercising. If you take classes, they give you a reason to try harder in class. If you workout alone, they give you a reason to push yourself a little bit more. Why is trying harder and pushing yourself important? Because it’s what makes the hour you spend exercising effective. You’re not wasting your time simply going through the motions without challenging yourself. To see change, we must push ourselves. And to help us push ourselves, it helps to set goals. Now we’ve shifted from exercising to training.

Let me give you an example. When I have someone that has been coming to class for a year, is still swinging the 10kg kettlebell, hasn’t seen any improvement in their times on the rower, and still can’t do one full range of motion push-up, then I know that person is there to exercise, not to train. They don’t care if they haven’t gotten stronger or faster or more mobile, the fact that they are showing up is enough for them. And for some people, that is enough. But the truth is, it’s the same people who don’t push themselves that wonder why they haven’t seen any changes in their body and that see working out as a chore rather than something they look forward to doing.

Some of you might be thinking, ok, but what if my goal is just to fit into my pants and look better naked? I get that. Deep down, I think we all want to good naked, whether we want to admit it or not. The question becomes, is that enough to motivate you? And even more importantly, will you ever be satisfied? I know that even when I ate super “clean”, exercised multiple times a day and was at my leanest and lightest, I still wasn’t satisfied with my body. I could always find something to pinch or something that jiggled. At some point, I realized that just wanting to look lean was never going to give me the same satisfaction as being a good athlete would. Sometimes, I like to ask myself, what do I want people to remember about me? The fact that I had a 6-pack and “toned” arms, or the fact that I was strong? I think about the example that I would like to set for others, especially young women who grow up thinking that everything should revolve around how you look rather than what you can do. I like to think about the physical aspect as a result or a bonus, not as the motivation or even the end goal.

But I digress. My point is yes, it may seem like semantics, but a simple word can in fact change your entire mindset and approach to fitness. You may not be training for the Olympics, but if you consider yourself an athlete in training and set specific goals on what you’d like to achieve, you’ll see the benefits trickle into other parts of your life. You’ll start to want to fuel your body properly, drink less, get more sleep, because you’ll realize how all of these things can make or break you reaching your goal.

So next time you walk into the gym, or into a class, ask yourself, am I here to exercise today or am I here to train? Pick up a heavier weight. Push yourself harder on the rower. Run faster. Do more burpees. You may find yourself sprawled on the floor afterward, gasping for air, every muscle in your body feeling assaulted, but I guarantee you’ll feel far more satisfied than if you had just “exercised.”

A New Adventure: Q&A

There are times in your life when you know you need a change and an opportunity presents itself that just feels right. For me, this is one of those times. When I graduated from college 7 years ago, I couldn’t wait to get to New York fast enough. And although I struggled to pay rent and couldn’t afford to feed myself some months during my first year here, I loved being here. A couple years later, when I finally got to a place where I was financially stable, I liked it even more. The only thing I didn’t love was my job. I wanted to work in fitness, although I wasn’t sure in what capacity, and I was scared to go back to making nothing and to being able to afford food. Nevertheless, I started seeking out opportunities. After interviewing for manager and social media positions at a few different studios, I found a listing on Craig’s List for an “Assistant Instructor” at the Fhitting Room, and by some miracle, I was hired. Finally, I had a job that I loved and that challenged me. And even better, I found a wonderful mentor to help me learn and an incredible family that inspired me to pursue my passion.



I was then introduced to the warm community of CrossFit Metropolis. I fell in love with community aspect of CrossFit, and discovered that I really loved coaching people to become better athletes. That in turn led me to CrossFit Solace (Solace New York), where I was fortunate enough to be a part of the original coaching staff when they opened their doors, and it’s been full speed ahead in fitness every since.


Metropolis Fam

In my 3 years at Fhitting Room, I’ve developed significantly as an instructor and programmer, expanding my role to include overseeing all programming at the studio. In the job department, I’m pretty happy. Doing what I love but still eager to learn and grow. Never bored. Never comfortable. However, New York is starting to wear on me. As huge of a city as it is, it can be an extremely lonely one. As somewhat of an introvert, I don’t always mind that. My job requires a ton of social interaction and that can be very draining. I treasure the moments where I can be completely alone. And being a part of great communities definitely helps appease some of that loneliness. But there is  something missing. I’m not sure if it’s the depressingly long and cold winters, the fact that people here have a lot of trouble slowing down, or just a feeling of being claustrophobic in a concrete jungle – probably a combination of all three – but I know that it’s time for me to say goodbye. The beauty of being a coach is that you can take your skill set anywhere, and there’s no reason to stay in a city that is no longer making me happy. I know there are so many things that I take for granted living here that I am going to miss once I move away – Seamless, 24 hour bodegas, taxi cabs, being anonymous, pizza, bagels, frequent trips to lululemon – to name a few. Who knows, I may come running back. But if I don’t go, I will always wonder what would have happened.


Solace Fam

One of the things I’ve learned over the past few years that makes this move easier is that when you are removed from your immediate family, the people that you work with and train with every day become your family. While I love my New York family and will miss them more than words can describe, I am excited for the new family that I am about to join. It’s time for a new adventure!


7 Mile Fam

While I am extremely flattered that everyone is so interested in my life, I am starting to feel like a robot answering the same questions over and over again. So I put together a little Q&A that hopefully covers all the most frequently asked questions.

What are you going to be doing in Grand Cayman?

I’m going to be coaching at CrossFit 7 Mile. I will be a full time coach as well as programming for their CrossFit Lite classes. Their business model is a little different than most gyms – when a new member joins the gym, they are required to do 15 personal training sessions with a coach before jumping into CrossFit classes. This ensures they have a good grasp on the foundational movements and also alleviates some of the stress of the coaches, allowing them to run a smoother class. As you can imagine, member retention is much higher under this model as the coach who did the 15 initial training sessions becomes that person’s “coach for life.” So I’ll be doing a mix of coaching classes and personal training. You can read more about this model here.

When is your last day at the Fhitting Room? 

My last day at Fhitting Room will be this Sunday, July 3rd. I am teaching 9 classes over the holiday weekend, so I hope to see everyone at some point – no excuses (don’t worry, the Hamptons aren’t going anywhere). Sign up.

When do you leave NYC?

I’m leaving the city on July 9th to go home to Houston for a few days, and I’ll be heading to Grand Cayman on July 14th.


That’s so soon! How did this happen? 

Two months ago, on a chilly April day, I was venting to a friend about how ready I was to call it quits on NYC, and she told me about a coaching opportunity in Grand Cayman. It sounded a little crazy to me – I mean, leave the country? That was a bit extreme, but I figured I would at least find out what it was all about and go from there. After a phone call and a couple of email exchanges, I was on my way down there to check out the gym, coach a few classes and figure out if I thought island life would be for me. Not surprisingly, I fell in love with the place.

What’s the gym like?

Hot! It will definitely be an adjustment getting used to working out with no air conditioning. The heat there is on a whole different level – in fact it reminds me of Houston weather – only with a beautiful beach to make up for it. The community at the gym is amazing. I immediately felt like I connected with so many of the members and coaches there.


How long will you be there? 

TBD. At least a year and if I love it, who knows what the future holds.

Are you moving alone? Do you know anyone there?

Yes, I’m moving alone. The only people I know are those I met while I was down there, but I feel like they are already my friends! And I’m excited to meet new people.

Do you know where you’ll be living?

Still figuring out that part…


How do your parents feel about you moving?

My parents were surprisingly calm about the whole thing. They are kind of used to me doing my own thing and making my own decisions at this point. Ultimately, they want me to be happy and I know my mom would rather come visit me at the beach than in the city any day.

Won’t you get bored there and miss the city?

I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing the same things that I do here – eat, sleep, train and go to work. In my free time, rather than sitting in a dark apartment or going to a park with thousands of other people, I can chill on the beach.

Will you make sure to wear sunscreen?


Can I come visit you?

It depends who’s asking. Just kidding, of course!

How long is the flight from NYC? From Houston?

4 hours from NYC. 3 hours from Houston. Direct flights!

Guest Post: Step up your Mental Game

This post is written by my friend, colleague and training partner, Eric Salvador. Eric is a master’s athlete, coach and personal trainer, who started doing CrossFit in 2011. His words of wisdom have guided me through many a WOD, and have helped mold me into the athlete that I am today.

“CrossFit is a sport, and each workout should be approached as such both mentally and physically, whether it’s practice or game time. Before every WOD, I create a mental checklist. It looks something like this list from Dawn Fletcher of @mentality_wod:

  • ‘Be grateful for what you can do & the opportunity
  • Trust your ability
  • Think about your strengths
  • Know what you’ll think about when it starts to get tough
  • Smile, breathe, dance…whatever makes you feel good!’

 I then devise a game plan and get ready to attack.Deadlift

Here are my three tips on how to step up your mental game and get ready to conquer any wod:

  1. Have a game plan. Before the start of 3-2-1-GO, whether the WOD is a 20 minute amrap or a 3 rounds for time, make a strategy. First, ask yourself, is this more of a burner (work capacity) or is this a strength stamina workout (lifting heavy loads for multiple reps)? Then, identify the movements that may give you trouble versus the ones that you’re proficient at and may come easier. Where will you be able to move fast? Where will you need to take your time? Next, think about how to break up your sets, whether it’s a longer chipper or a shorter sprint. Choose a rep scheme that will work for YOU. For example, Open WOD 15.5 called for 27 cal row followed by 27 thrusters. How many sets will it take you to achieve 27 reps without redlining, keeping in mind that you can recovery for a bit when you get back on the rower. Maybe you go unbroken, maybe it’s two sets of 16-11, or for some of us maybe it was three sets of 12-8-7. Which one should you do? Well what did Eric do? I’ll just do what he did. Wrong! Everyone has a different aerobic capacity. The key word being aerobic, the ability to breathe and control that breathing during workouts. Learning to find your zone is very important. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself out of breath because you went to hard in the beginning. Now you’re fighting to catch your breath as you stare at your barbell and your friends are yelling, ‘pick up the bar!’ We all have a breathing zone that will let us continue to work (roughly at about 80% ) without redlining. We call this threshold. The more fit we are, the higher that threshold is and the better we are able to perform. Each workout that you do will help you identify that threshold for future WODs and at the same time increase your threshold so you become more fit. On the other hand, you don’t want to work below threshold for the entire workout, game it too much and play it safe. We’ve all seen that person who gets has to go back to the chalk bucket every 3 reps, or stops to take a sip of water during a 7 minute WOD. They typically will say finish a workout and say, ‘that wasn’t so bad.’ Ha, try working harder next time! Remember the shorter the workout, the higher the intensity.
  2. ‘Improvise, adapt and overcome.’ This was a saying we used in the Marine Corps when things didn’t go according to plan. What if Plan A doesn’t work? This happens when on paper your plans looked like it would work, but then during the WOD either your legs, your heart rate or your grip are saying ‘hell no it’s not happening.’ Do you just give up? No!  First, improvise. Accept it, slow down, take a deep breath and say it’s ok, I still got this. Second, adapt. Two sets isn’t happening? Ok, I’ll do three. A good example was during open workout 16.4. Once I finished the 55 deadlifts, I had planned to break up the wallballs into 2 sets, but I could feel my heart rate escalating and didn’t want to start missing reps, so I dropped the ball, took one second to breathe, and did it in 3 sets. Third, overcome. Think positive thoughts like ‘it’s OK, l only have 10 more reps,’ or ‘I’ve done this before.’ Having a coach is important to help you remain focused and calm for the task at hand. This is also a chance to think back at the previous hundreds of metcons you’ve done. There was most likely a similar metcon where you had to improvise, adapt and overcome when your plan A didn’t work. What did you do differently? How did you adapt? What thoughts went through your head to help you overcome? Doing these three things will help you face adversity and make you mentally tougher.


    “You have what it takes inside you. You just gotta be willing to dig a little.” Coach Dawn Fletcher

  3. Learn how to push and when.  Also known as redlining, going all out, emptying the tank, max effort. Go to that dark place, as my friend and mentor Eric Love would tell me. This is usually at the end of the WOD, and it will leave you floored. Literally. It won’t last long, but when you go there, you’ll know. Yes it’s going to hurt but knowing you gave it your all is the best feeling of gratification. It’s hurts so much, but that’s what is so addicting and that, my friends, is CrossFit.

I hope this will help you as it has helped me prepare for numerous competitions and Open workouts.”

15 Ways to Avoid Pissing off your Fitness Instructor


Before you begin reading this post and thinking, geez, this girl must hate her job, I should probably clarify a few things. I love being a fitness instructor. Teaching people how to move well, coaching them through workouts and helping them achieve their goals is what gets me out of bed at 4:30 in the morning, and what keeps me at work late at night, only to do it again the next day. I wouldn’t choose this lifestyle if I didn’t love my job. Nothing makes me happier than watching something suddenly “click” in an athlete’s brain, or having someone tell me that coming to class has literally changed his or her life.

Group fitness is a rapidly expanding industry and there are many people, especially in New York City, who no longer have gym memberships, but instead get their fitness on through classes at boutique studios 4-5 days a week. I think it’s great for several reasons. The most obvious being that when you’ve signed up and payed for a class, it’s hard to justify not showing up. Additionally, when you’re in a group setting, you tend to push yourself harder because you see others around you pushing themselves. Adding to that, there is an instructor telling you what to do and correcting your form, and while it’s not the same as having a personal trainer, it’s a much more affordable option. Finally, group fitness builds community, particularly for those who frequent the same studio on the same days/times each week. There is nothing better than having a class full of “regulars” who work hard and push each other. It motivates me to do well at my job.

However, when you’re working out with other people, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one in the room. There are certain things to consider when working out in a group setting. Some of these may seem like pure common sense, but you’d be surprised at what we witness on a daily basis.

  1. Be on time. Especially if it’s your first class. Your instructors want to have a chance to learn your name, injuries and anything else you may need them to know. Even if you’re a regular, don’t be that person running in late and risk getting slapped in the face by a classmate doing jumping jacks when you’re trying to get to your spot.
  2. Tell your instructor if you have any injuries. Do this before class starts, rather than forcing them to modify for you on the spot. It takes away from the rest of the class when your instructor has to follow you around, basically creating an entire new workout for you. That’s called personal training. We are happy to modify for you, just give us a heads up! And, if something has been nagging you for a while and and is not getting better, get it checked out. It may be somethig that needs to be addressed before a more serious injury occurs.
  3. Have spacial awareness. Stay in your own spot. There is room for everyone. No one wants a kick in the head when you’re going down for a burpee.spacial
  4. Pay attention. Just because you’ve come to a class so that you can be told what to do does not mean you can turn off your brain. When the instructor has to repeat things over and over again because you were zoning out or talking to your friend during a demonstration, it slows down the entire class unnecessarily.
  5. Don’t interrupt your instructor. There will be a time and place for questions, but interrupting your instructor during a demo or while they are explaining the workout is just rude. Wait until they are done explaining, and if you have questions, then you may ask.
  6. Trust your instructor. I would never tell someone to pick up a weight that I didn’t think they could handle. If you’re new to class, we might encourage your to use lighter weights because we don’t know your capabilities yet, but we typically know what weights our clients can handle with good form, and when they’re ready to progress to the next level. Each workout has been designed with a specific stimulus in mind, and we recommend the weight that will give you the best workout depending on your strength and skill level.
  7. Be patient. Sometimes people get antsy in class because they think they need to move continuously for an entire hour to get an effective workout. Let your instructor demo the movements and explain the workout. Please please please do not jog in place or do jumping jacks in the corner. It’s basically equivalent to interrupting the instructor as it’s distracting to everyone.
  8. Move with integrity. If you have “tight hips” or “bad knees” find out why. Talk to your instructor, or a trainer, or a PT. Good mobility is key to functional training. You’re more likely to avoid injury, get a better workout, and function better in life if you are able to move well.
  9. Clean up after yourself. Put your weights away in the appropriate places. And nicely. No one wants to have a dumbbell fall on their foot because you threw it onto the shelf haphazardly.badkb
  10. Stop whining. It’s not cute, and it definitely won’t get you special attention, at least not from me. If your instructor or coach tells you to do something, suck it up and do it!
  11. Stop cheating. As the saying goes, “you’re only cheating yourself.” If we say squat all the way down, squat all the way down. If we say do 50 burpees, do 50 burpees. If you are struggling, we will modify for you. 
  12. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. If you know someone is not moving well or is cheating their reps, just continue with your workout and don’t worry about them. Leave that up to the instructor and know that you’re the one who is going to get better results.
  13. Do the workout that the class is doing. Obviously if you have an injury, it’s ok to modify. But don’t come to class and do an entirely different workout that you made up for yourself, just because you feel like it. That is what gym memberships are for. It confuses other people in the class and is also disrespectful to the instructors who wrote the workout.
  14. Wipe up your sweat. We know it gets hot and people get sweaty. But use your towel to wipe up your spot, especially if you are in a circuit and someone else is right behind you. No one wants to bathe in your sweat.
  15. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Laugh at your instructor’s dumb jokes. We are trying! You can have fun and work hard at the same time.goofy

15 Life Lessons from 2015

2015 has certainly been a roller coaster of a year. I thought that by 29, I would have my life somewhat figured out, but it turns out I still have a lot to learn about myself as a coach, athlete and person. In the spirit of reflection, here are 15 random realizations that, although I may have known before, have become very obvious to me over the past year, in no particular order:

  1. If you want something, go out and get it. Don’t wait for it to come to you. And certainly don’t wait for someone else to get it for you, or you could be waiting for a really long time.
  2. Surround yourself with people that make you laugh. Laughter is the best medicine. Laughter and puppies.
  3. There is nothing more important than sleep. And paying for a cab to get to work at 5:30am is totally worth that extra half hour.
  4. Getting big and strong requires more food than you could ever imagine.
  5. Watching HGTV is the best way to unwind before bed.
  6. Following your heart is good, but be aware that it often leads to heartbreak. Don’t be foolish.
  7. Always end your workout on a good note, never leave the gym feeling like you suck.
  8. Half ass effort gets half ass results. If you want to win, you have to be all in.Snatch 




  9. If you believe that everything happens for a reason, it makes the tough times a little easier to handle.
  10. If you don’t fold your laundry in the laundry room, it will never get folded.
  11. Never expect anything from anyone, and you’ll never be disappointed.
  12. People are much more likely to call you out for why you did wrong than for what you did right. Aim to do more things right.
  13. Sometimes it’s just best to smile and pretend that everything is OK. Keep yourself busy and try not to think too much.


14. Good friends are priceless. They are the ones who will pick you up when you’re down, pull you out of your slump, distract you when you need to forget. The times when you want to shut everyone out are the times you need them the most.

15. Never take yourself too seriously.

Now it’s time to set some goals for 2016. Another year will be gone before we know it!

My Love/Hate Relationship

Competitions and I have a love/hate relationship. I love them because they give me a reason to train every day, bring together lots of talented individuals and of course, provide for some great photo ops. And I hate them because of the nerves, the pain and the inevitable realization that I am never going to win.

Let’s start with that last one. Every competition that I have done has started with a max lift of some sort. I know this is not going to be my strong suit. Not only am I a new lifter, I also weigh 120lbs on a “heavy” day and I know I’m not going to put up the same weights as bigger, stronger girls. But that’s the beauty of CrossFit, right? You don’t need to be great at any one thing, you just need to be pretty good at everything! And throwing around massive amounts of weight doesn’t necessarily transfer over into being good at pull-ups, handstand push-ups, or burpees. However, I’ve noticed at each competition that I’ve gone to, even the smaller girls seem to be immensely strong, putting up some huge numbers, and they are ALSO great at the bodyweight movements.


This is the moment when I start to battle with that demon known as self-esteem. Why do I work so damn hard every day if I’m only going to be mediocre? Seriously, what’s the point? And what can I change to get better? Stay more on top of my nutrition? Get more sleep? Take more supplements? Spend more time in the gym? Spend less time in the gym? Follow different programming? Hire a coach? The list goes on. I have flash backs to my middle school and high school days, where I pretty much quit every sport that I ever played if I didn’t feel like I was one of the best. Gymnastics, soccer, volleyball. I was way too competitive and hard on myself to settle for being mediocre, so I would just take the easy way out and quit.

Yesterday I competed in a team competition called Flex in the City. Team competitions aren’t so bad because you’re all in it together. You can’t get too down on yourself if you don’t do as well as you had hoped, because you know it was a group effort. However, I still found it hard to get out of my own head. Rather than looking around at all of the strong athletes and being inspired, all I could think about was how I’m never going to be as good as them. A terrible attitude, I know!

So how do I make myself feel better? How do I get myself back in the gym to train on Monday and not feel like I’m wasting my time? I remind myself of the reason that I fell in love with the sport of exercise. It’s having fun while you’re training and doing what you love with the people you love.


It’s inspiring others not with your ability to win, but with your passion and no-quit attitude.


It’s setting goals and looking at how far you’ve come. Over the past year, I’ve added 23lbs to my snatch, 20lbs to my clean, 30lbs to my overhead squat and 15lbs to my back squat. I’ve gone from not being able to do one muscle up to stringing 3 together in a workout. To being able to do strict handstand push-ups and chest to bar pull-ups. And I’m not going to let one competition make me forget that.

So will I do another competition? Of course. Will I go through the same internal battle of thinking I suck? Without a doubt. But will I continue to push myself to get better? You bet your ass I will. And I know that one day it will all pay off.


The Secret to Getting Better at CrossFit

This entire post is written to explain a very fundamental concept (and also to post some of the awesome shots that Super Cleary Photo took at our comp last weekend): to get better at CrossFit, you have to…CrossFit. That means showing up. That means practicing skills. Seems obvious, right? But I’m always surprised by the number of people that seem to forget this concept, myself included.

I’ll give you an example. Like every other crossfitter, I wanted to be able to do a muscle up. So every once in a while, I would jump up on the rings, attempt one, and get super frustrated when I would fail over and over again. I didn’t understand! I used to be a gymnast, how hard could it really be?! I knew I was strong enough. I could do pull-ups and dips for days. And anyone who looked at me was always shocked when I said I wasn’t able to do one. They would say, “That can’t be right. Just try it!” That would only add to my frustration and before I knew it I would be down on myself and ready to quit trying all together. It wasn’t until I finally checked my ego at the door, starting doing drills and working with a spotter, that I began to see progress and before you know it, I had one! And then I had two! A week later I completed my first workout Rx’d (as prescribed) with muscle ups and even though it took me longer than it should have due to a few failed attempts, I was beaming with joy afterwards.

I see this with a lot of beginner crossfitters. They start going to classes, and immediately want to be proficient in all of the Olympic lifts and gymnastics movements. When they can’t do something, they get frustrated and decide that they’re just never going to be good at certain skills. They act as if everyone who is able to do double unders, pull-ups, handstand push-ups or snatch over 100lbs is just naturally gifted and was able to do everything overnight. Ha, if only that were true. I repeat: to get better at something, you have to practice. That means a few things:

  1. Show up, regardless of the workout. “I’m not going today because there are cleans and I suck at those.” Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’re always going to suck at them with that attitude. 56811197-2014-11-16-01109
  2. Put in the work. Want to get better at the Olympic lifts? Go to barbell club or oly class or whatever supplemental class that your gym offers. If you gym doesn’t have one, find one that does. Or ask a coach to work with you. Take a seminar. Sign up for private training. Practice drills in your apartment with your broomstick (I’m guilty of this). There are countless options.
  3. Commit. If you want to get better at CrossFit, you’re going to have to CrossFit. You can’t just show up once or twice a week, on top of running and spinning and barre class or whatever other forms of exercise you’re holding on to. I’m not saying that you have to quit everything else that you love, but you’re going to have to make CrossFit your main focus if you want to get better. “But I don’t want to just CrossFit, I’ll get bored and my body will get used to it.” If this is your mindset, then I guess no one ever explained the definition of CrossFit, particularly the constantly varied part. If you belong to a gym with good programming, you’ll find plenty of variety.  When I first started, I held on to my old gym membership for the longest time, afraid, as most people are, to totally commit to CrossFit. After a couple of months, I four that I was using it less and less, and even when I was going to the gym, I was frustrated by the lack of adequate equipment (how does a gym not even have a pull-up bar) and pointless exercises I saw people doing. I finally cancelled and put that money to better use…new oly shoes and barbell!
  4. Prioritize strength. Many people who begin CrossFitting will find that their endurance builds up quickly. Rowing, burpees and box jumps? No problem! Everyone loves a good sweat and associates that with an awesome workout. But that is only part of it. Add any barbell movement, and their numbers haven’t budged a bit. At first, this is totally normal. You must learn how to clean and snatch properly before you can start throwing around heavy weight in a workout. But if a year later, your technique is somewhat dialed in but find yourself lifting the same exactly weights, you may need to rethink your priorities. Hopefully your gym will program strength and you’ll find gains there. But if you’re only showing up on squat day every few weeks, with no increase in weight because you really have no idea of your numbers, you’re not likely to get any stronger. Why does it matter if you’re strong? Well, the lighter the weights feel during a workout, the faster your times are likely to be, and the less fatigued you will feel for the other movements. Think about it.


Listen, I know it’s hard. I have had countless frustrating days in the gym, lately more than I’d like to admit. But each time I have to take a step back, remember how far I’ve come, and keep pushing forward.

Don’t believe me? The first video below is from June 2013 and the second is from August 2014.

In the top video, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t overhead squat at all, had no idea what the hook grip was and didn’t really understand what the snatch was other than ripping the bar from the floor to overhead. How did I get better? I signed up for a snatch seminar taught by a couple of great coaches. The first day was spent doing drills. In fact, I’m not even sure if we touched a barbell, which can be frustrating when you know you’re strong enough to lift more than a PVC pipe. But each Saturday for about 6 weeks we would meet and each week we would see improvements. I can proudly say that my snatch is my best lift and I feel comfortable teaching it to anyone because I learned it from scratch. And while I can sympathize with the frustration of feeling like you’re never going to get it, I have video proof that if you put in the work, that is 100% not true. And the best part is, there’s always more to learn. Once you think you’ve mastered something, you find out another way you can improve. That’s what keeps me coming back day in and day out.

Bottom line: If you want to improve at something, you have to practice. Want to run a marathon? Get out and run. Want to be a body builder? Start doing your curls and weighing your food. Want to become better at CrossFit? Get your ass in the gym and….CrossFit!