Is the Grass Really Greener?

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Almost seven months ago, I made the decision to move from the crowded, concrete jungle of Manhattan to the tiny, tropical island of Grand Cayman. Is this where I envisioned myself living at the age of 30? Not at all. I mean, who gets to just drop everything and go live somewhere beautiful by the ocean? You could say lucky people. Or you could say people who are granted an opportunity and seize before it disappears.

You only live once, right?

The friends from New York that I’ve spoken to since moving here seem to be divided into two groups. There are those who envy my move. Who tell me they long to leave the city for a simpler life full of warmth and sunshine but can’t bring themselves to do it, whether because of family, friends, jobs, fear – everyone has their reasons. Then there are those who ask me when I’m moving back. Or how long my pretend life is going to last. Those are either the people who can’t imagine a life, at least not permanently, outside of New York City, where you can literally have anything you want delivered to you within seconds. Or the people who can’t imagine life outside of the US, where endless opportunities await (although in light of recent events, there might be less of those people now).

I understand both perspectives. I was that person who was scared to leave New York. I had a great job, great friends, and wasn’t sure what I would do with myself if I suddenly had enough time to sleep 8 hours a night and maybe even have some down time every once in a while. More than that, I was scared of missing out. If I didn’t live in New York, I wouldn’t be given the same media opportunities or receive free Nike or Reebok shoes. But were those things really adding value to my life? Were they enough to make me happy in a city where I had started to feel so alone despite being surrounded by so many people?

When I took a step back and examined the things that were keeping me in New York versus the things I stood to gain by moving to Grand Cayman, I knew I had to make the move.

This post is by no means meant to be a bash on New York. I love they city and I loved living there. I miss my friends, my clients, the convenience, the energy, the randomness, the endless food options, the sense of community. There are days where I see cool things happening at my old job and wonder if I made the right decision. I think, aw man, I wish I was a part of that. But then I think about what I have here, the new friends I’ve made and community that I’ve found, and remember that the grass is always greener.

I can’t say for sure how long I will stay here. Just like when I moved to New York, I would not have been able to tell you that I would end up living there for seven years.

We have no way of predicting where life is going to take us, and if we set a rigid path and don’t allow ourselves to tread off of it, I think that we can end up pretty unhappy.

I’m 30 years old, and I don’t intend to wake up when I’m 40 and wonder about the opportunities that I let pass me by. I have my ups and downs, just like anyone, but I’m happy. And I feel like I’m making a different in people’s lives. And for now, that’s enough for me. If those two things change, then I’ll know it’s time to reassess.

So, you may be wondering, how is life different in Cayman than in New York (aside from the obvious change in climate)? To name a few…

Life is simpler. When you move somewhere new where you don’t know anyone and have no history, life immediately gets way less complicated. It’s kind of like having a clean slate, or starting over, both physically and mentally. For starters, I moved here with two suitcases. That’s it. So I have way less clutter, and I’m making it a point not to accumulate tons of random crap again. It also helps that when it comes to shopping, we are basically cut off from the rest of the world. Not that I was ever a big shopper, but I can’t walk down the street and wander into Nike or Lululemon and spend money on yet another sports bra, and I can’t have things shipped to me without paying exorbitant amounts of duty. And that’s ok! I’m learning that there’s more to life than having the latest pair of training shoes…who knew?! On the mental side, I feel like I have a clear head here. Maybe it’s from leaving the chaos of NYC, maybe it’s something about being near the ocean, but I feel like things that would have really upset me before just don’t bother me the same way here. That’s not to say that I’m happy all the time – I definitely still have my moments – but I’m able to move past them easier, whether that’s finding a solution to the problem or just realizing it’s not a big deal and moving forward.

I read more books. This kind of goes along with the clear head things. When I was living in New York, I rarely read. I might go through stages, but I was so tired all the time that reading usually put me to sleep, or I just wasn’t able to focus on whatever it was I was reading. My mind was all over the place. I have read 15 books since moving to Cayman last July. That count would probably be even more had I not stopped to watch a few shows on Netflix like Stranger Things and the OA). I mostly read fiction, but who cares, I’m reading more, which is something I always loved to do, and that makes me really, really happy.

I have to drive places. For the first time since college, I own a car. I actually love driving. It was one of the things that I really missed while living in NYC. Traffic sucks, yes, but at least I can sing at the top of my lungs in the privacy of my own car – something that you can’t do on the NYC subway without getting some death glares. We do drive on the left side of the road, which takes some getting used to, but I actually adapted much quicker than I thought I would. It helps that I sit on the right hand side of the car when driving.

I’m not sleep deprived. This is a HUGE one for me, and probably the change that has impacted me the most. I was ALWAYS tired in New York. I know there are people who say that they can survive on 5 hours of sleep per night, but I am not one of them. My mood sufferes, my workouts suffer, my immune system hates it. And honestly, I think the people who say they are ok with just a few hours of sleep per night are so used to be sleep deprived that they don’t remember what it feels like to not be tired, that’s just their state of being, and they’ve come to accept that as normal. I digress. At our gym, we have AM and PM coaches. Being a PM coach, I coach in the evenings and book personal training sessions starting around noon, so the mornings are mine to do as I please. I typically go to bed around 10pm and wake up around 6am (in New York my wake-up call was usually 430am and I was lucky if I got to bed before 10).

I’m no longer Vitamin D deficient. This one doesn’t really need any explanation. And I don’t think I was Vitamin D deficient before, but a little sun definitely does a body good. I also don’t get sick as often, and if I do, I’m able to get well a lot faster because I’m not cooped up in my apartment while it’s 20 degrees outside. I try to make it a point to get out the beach at least 2x per week, even if it’s just for an hour, because what’s the point of living on a beautiful island if you don’t take advantage of it, right?

I cook more. This is definitely something that I could have made more of an effort to do in New York, but the endless food options available basically 24/7 made me super reluctant to cook my own food. Here, I don’t have much of a choice. There are some pretty good restaurant options, but they don’t always have idea hours and they aren’t all the healthiest of choices. I will say that groceries are just as expensive here as in NYC (no Trader Joe’s here), but just like anywhere, if you shop smart you can figure out how to not break the bank on food.

I’ve learned how to be patient (well, kind of…). Coming from a place where everyone is always in a rush, and everyone is go, go, go all the time, an island with the mindset “what’s the rush?” can be a frustrating place to live. Checking out the at grocery store, cashing a check at the bank, going to the DMV, driving through town, waiting for your check at restaurant, to name a few, are all things that have the potential to cause a panic attack on a daily basis. However, I’m learning to accept it. Everyone always says that New Yorkers are angry and rude, and I always thought that was an untrue stereotype. However, after being away for 3 months and returning, I found some truth to that statement. Not that people were necessarily angry and rude, but people do tend to have a sense of self-importance and “get out of my way” attitude that you just don’t find here. People here take their time doing things. Which can be frustrating when you need something done IMMEDIATELY, until you sit back and realize that nothing is actually as urgent as we make it out to be (assuming we aren’t talking about a medical emergency). Things will get done when they get done, and I’m learning to accept that. I still catch myself in that old mentality sometimes – I need this and I need this NOW! – but I’m usually able to catch myself and calm down, whereas before, I would have let it ruin my whole day and whined about it to anyone that would listen.

I guess those are the major differences. I am the same person, despite living in a different country. I l still love to coach, training is still a huge part of my life, and I still love ice-cream (thank goodness they have Ben & Jerry’s here). I just have a much better tan now.

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.

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@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?

 

ex·er·cise

ˈeksərˌsīz/

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

train·ing

ˈtrāniNG/

noun

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.

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FHIT Fam

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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

Duh!

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.

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    “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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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