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.

Handstand

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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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.

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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!

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I Don’t Want to Look like Her

It has been brought to my attention lately that there are several misconceptions surrounding the topic of girls and looking “muscular.” Here are a few of the statements that have crossed my radar, either directly or indirectly:

  1. You don’t need to get any more muscular.
  2. I don’t want to train with her because her legs are too big and I don’t want to look like her.
  3. I’m scared of getting bulky.
  4. I’ve gained too much muscle. I should go back to only doing “cardio.”

The list goes on.

I have a few thoughts…

1. Not everyone works out purely for aesthetics.

It is often assumed that everyone is working out for “toned” arms and a six pack. But the truth is, everyone has different goals. Some people want to be faster. Some want to get stronger. Some want to improve in a sport. Some want to prevent illness. Some want to socialize. Some want to sweat. Some want to fit into their jeans from 10 years ago. Whatever the case may be, everyone has different goals and motivations for working out.

My goal right now is to become a better Crossfit athlete. This involves getting stronger, faster and working on my olympic lifts and gymnastics skills. Is it going to give me the body I want? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my body over the past year but that has not been my main focus, simply a result of the way that I train. If I wanted smaller traps and leaner legs, I might train differently. I might eat differently too. But my workouts and my diet align with my goals and for anyone to tell me to stop getting more muscular just makes me want to get stronger.

2. I would never walk up to you and tell you not to get any fatter.

I might think it in my head, but it wouldn’t be an appropriate thing to say out loud. So why is it ok to tell someone not to get any more muscular? It comes off as insulting and is just as offensive. Think before you speak!

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3. Everyone’s body is different.

To say you wouldn’t workout with a trainer because you don’t like their body is just ignorant. Trainers are professionals. Their job is to listen to your goals and help you achieve them, whether that goal is to lose weight, gain weight or get stronger. What they won’t do is sculpt you body to look exactly like theirs. That’s not even possible so remove that thought from your mind.

I used to look at other girls’ bodies and think, I want to look just like her. I still find myself doing it on occasion and have to remind myself that my body is my body and nobody else’s. We are all built differently. We carry fat in different places. We gain muscle differently. We have different bone structures. Once you come to terms with that and focus on things that are within your control, you’ll be a much happier person.

4. It takes years to put on a significant amount of muscle.

Someone asked me after class the other day how long it would take before she looked like me. I’m not always sure how to respond to statements like that. One thing that people don’t realize is that I’ve been weight training for years. I may not have been doing as much heavy lifting as I am now, but since the age of 16 I have been incorporating weight training into my workout routine at least twice a week and I know that has been a solid foundation for where I am now, both aesthetically and as an athlete. Granted, none of my muscle really showed until I cleaned up my diet a bit and stopped drinking like a fish, but that’s its own topic…my point is, you’re not going to “bulk up” or “get shredded” overnight. It takes a little longer than you might think.

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And to add to that, just because you put on muscle doesn’t mean you’re going to get larger. Your body composition will change as well, which means that you’ll gain lean muscle mass while you shed some of the fluff on top of it. I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the past year (not all muscle but I like my ice-cream) and I still fit into all of my clothing. I just show a little more cheek in my booty shorts 😉 Oh and I can see abs for the first time in my life. I never thought that gaining weight would give me abs! Funny how wrong we can be sometimes.

5. It’s all relative.

When people use the word “bulky,” it’s very unclear what they mean. Are they referring to bodybuilders? Competitive athletes? Do they consider me bulky? Everyone has a different opinion. Below are some of the strong women that I look up to and that I’m sure have been referred to as “bulky” at some point in their lives. I honestly can’t understand who wouldn’t want to look like these women, whose bodies represent hard work, dedication, strength and beauty, but to each their own.

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Andrea Ager

Jackie Perez

Jackie Perez

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Christmas Abbott

I think a lot of it comes down to our surroundings. If you surround yourself with people that are obsessed with being thin, you’ll start to obsess over it too. I get it – I’ve been there too. I used to want to be skinny. I couldn’t have cared less how much I could clean or snatch. I just wanted to fit in my size 0 jeans. But then I found myself surrounded by people who valued performance over looks, who saw girls with curves and muscles as admirable and beautiful rather than bulky and manly, and my outlook began to change. And that has made me a much happier and healthier person.

So what is my point here? If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you should probably keep your mouth shut. Just kidding (kind of). I guess my point is that everyone has their own prerogatives and it’s not up to other people to tell them what they should or should not do. Do what makes you happy and let other people do the same.

How to Build a Resistance Training Program

As a trainer and fitness enthusiast, I’ve always had a lot of people coming to me with their questions about health and fitness (our main reason for starting this blog!)  One thing that I hear over and over again is that people like to strength train and want to be stronger, but they don’t know how to do that on their own.  If you’ve ever felt like this, don’t fear…we’re here to help!  We could go into depth and talk for hours about building a program or even just a single workout, but we’ll spare you and just provide a brief overview to give you a good starting point.  Below you’ll find a couple of key components to keep in mind when putting together your resistance training program.

1.) Exercise Selection & Weekly Split – There are countless ways to split your strength workouts.  For example:

  • Full Body
  • Upper Body vs. Lower Body
  • Push vs. Pulls
  • Legs vs. Chest & Tri’s vs. Back & Bi’s
  • Anterior vs. Posterior

No matter how you decide to split your workouts, it’s important to remember to stay balanced!  So what does that mean?  If you take a step back, and look at the major muscle groups in the body, you’ll find the following:

  • Legs – Quads AND Hamstrings/Glutes
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Core
  • Accessory muscles – arms, calves etc

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In order to stay balanced and give yourself the best shot at staying injury free, it’s so important to train all of these groups and keep in mind that you need to balance opposing muscles.  For example, if you’re training legs, make sure that you’re not only doing exercises that target your quads, but focusing on strengthening your glutes and hamstrings as well. If you work your chest, make sure to work your back that same week (or same day) etc.

This might not be perfect for everybody…we are all built differently.  If you have an imbalance or a weakness, you may need to focus more on one particular part.  I have found that most clients need help on their posture.   This may be from sitting at a desk all day, driving a car, typing on an iphone, holding a baby etc. Strengthening the back and stretching out the chest muscle are especially important for these people.  Because of that, I usually focus on two back exercises for every one chest.

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Another way to look at this is to balance your pulls and pushes.

  • Vertical Pull – Pull Down or Pull Up
  • Vertical Push – OH Press
  • Horizontal Pull – Row (Seated, Bent, Inverted)
  • Horizontal Push – Push Up or Chest Press

2.) Rep/Set Range & Rest Periods – The reps, sets and rest for your program will change based on your goals.  Below is a pretty simple chart that shows the parameters you should be lifting for your particular goal.

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3.) Weight Selection – Selecting weight can be tricky if you aren’t on a strict strength/power program and don’t know your 1RM (1 rep max.) If you are new to resistance training and you really aren’t sure what weights to start with, err on the side of light and increase from there.   It’s really import to ensure that your form is on point and you aren’t sacrificing it to lift heavier weights. (Read: challenge yourself with weights, but don’t injure yourself!)  I always tell my clients that if you can easily complete ALL reps on the final set with no problem, then its probably time to increase.  You should be struggling/failing on the final set.

4.) Progression/Regression – As you get stronger, exercises will start to feel easier.  In order to keep improving, you must continue to challenge yourself.  Obviously adding volume (reps & sets) and/or increasing the load (weight) will make an exercise more difficult, however there are a few other ways to challenge yourself:

  • Increase complexity – Try putting 2 moves together.  For example, add an overhead press to your squat (thruster.)
  • Decrease base of support – Stand on something less stable (BOSU) or take the exercise to single arm/leg (pistol squat.)

It Never Gets Easier

5.) Form – We recommend having someone critique your form before moving onto very heavy weights, but we’ll give you a couple of general rules that hold true to most training basics.

  • Stance – Feet should be shoulder width apart – This will give you a solid base of support
  • Weight in Heels – Ensure that your knee is inline with your heel – Your knee should not go beyond your toes   *Note: for power moves, your weight will shift to your toes throughout the move…as it will when you jump.
  • Toes – Parallel or slightly turned out
  • Knees – Pointing  in the same direction as your toes
  • Core – Tight
  • Shoulders –  Down and back – Keep your shoulders away from your ears & do not tense…unless you are actively performing a shrug
  • Keep a Neutral Spine –  Do NOT round your back – Head, shoulders & butt should all be in one line

Below is a sample workout that hits the whole body.  For more examples, check out some of our other past workouts on our instagram or facebook page.

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As we mentioned before, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to strength training, but we are hoping this gives you an idea of where to start!  If you’re brand new to resistance training, it’s always helpful to start out with a trainer to ensure that you’re executing everything with proper form. If you still are lost or are interested in a2a designing a program for you, contact us!

It’s Training Time!

So you’ve signed up for your first Civilian Military Combine. Congrats! Now you’re wondering, what did I just get myself into and how do I make sure I’m prepared? Well, that’s where we come in! We’ve got about 8 weeks to get you CMC ready, so we’ve put together an 8 week training program that includes conditioning, strength, endurance and skill work that will have you ready to crush both the Pit and the obstacle course on May 17th.

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The graphic above gives a breakdown of how each week will look. Each Friday, we’ll post the program for the following week in here.

Below is a description of each of the different program elements.

MONDAY

The Pit: This is your opportunity to practice the Pit. The first week, we will ask you to choose the Pit division (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, or Delta) that you think you’ll be doing race day. See the graphic below for a description of each. You’ll track your reps completed and use that as a benchmark for when you do the Pit again a few weeks later. After the first week, we’ll provide you with variations of the Pit (7 minutes instead of 5, heavier weights, etc.)

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Conditioning: This will typically consist of a shorter run or row or interval training. The objective is to get your body conditioned for the obstacle course as well as the Pit, and to test your work capacity after completing the Pit.

TUESDAY 

Strength: Tomorrow, we’ll be posting details on how to create a strength program, so stay tuned. If you’re relatively new to strength training and going to be doing it once or twice a week, we recommend that each session be full body. This will also ensure that you’re not focusing only on arms or legs one day so that you’re too sore to continue training the next day. Tuesdays we recommend performing fewer reps at slightly heavier weights to focus on building strength. Each strength session, we will recommend a movement that you should incorporate. For example, pull-ups, dips, seated row, etc.

Skill work: These will be focused on getting you ready for the obstacle course and will include things such as farmers carries, bear crawls, rope climbs, tire flips, etc. We know that everyone might not have access to all of these things, so we encourage you to get creative!

WEDNESDAY 

Endurance: This will be a longer conditioning piece. We’ve included recommendations – stairs, run, row, etc, as well as a time period or distance.

THURSDAY

Rest Day: This is just as important, if not more, as the other days! Your body has been working hard the past three days and needs to rest! Spend some time mobilizing. (we’ll post more on how to do this later) or get a massage. If you really need to move, go for a walk or a yoga class. Then rest up so that your body is ready to go hard for the rest of the week!

FRIDAY 

a2aWOW: We’re going to continue posting our a2a Workouts of the Week, and this time they will specifically be catered to getting you ready for the CMC.

Conditioning: Friday’s conditioning piece will usually involve stairs. The Poconos course is not flat and we want you to be ready to climb! As we progress, we’ll add objects for you to carry while climbing the stairs. These can be done on a stairmaster/stepmill or outside.

SATURDAY

Strength: This is your second strength session of the week and we recommend performing more reps with lighter weights to increase your muscular endurance. Again, we will suggest movements that you should include.

Skill Work: Similar to Tuesday, we will recommend a skill for you to practice.

SUNDAY 

Rest Day: You’ve worked hard this week! Spend some more time on mobility, eat something yummy, and get ready to get back to work on Monday!

We hope this gives you a good picture of how we would recommend training for the CMC. Obviously, we know everyone’ s schedules are different. You might not be able to start your week on Monday and rest Thursday/Sunday, and that’s fine. Adjust how you see fit. Don’t want to skip out on your favorite spin class? Totally cool – there’s your endurance! High Intensity training studios such as the Fhitting Room (aka come to Julia’s class!) are also great ways to work on your conditioning and muscular endurance.

In addition to the training program, we will be posting weekly tips for you, which will include ways to be efficient in the Pit, what to wear on race day, nutrition, etc., so follow us on Instagram – @average2athlete and @Powercakes – to be kept in the loop.

Finally, be sure and check out our Meet-ups page, where you’ll find opportunities to come practice the Pit with us! For those of you in the NYC and Pittsburgh areas, once the weather breaks, which it looks like it finally might (finger’s crossed!), we’ll be hosting meet-ups outside as well. Stay tuned for more dates!

CMC 101: What is it and why should I care?

WHAT THE HECK IS THE CIVILIAN MILITARY COMBINE?

So, you’re thinking about joining our team for the Civilian Military Combine, but you’re still not quite sure what it entails. Well, beyond encouraging you to visit the CMC website and watch their awesome pump up video, we figured it was about time we wrote a post about it.

To give you the quick and dirty version, the CMC is a combination of a short, high intensity workout, known as “the Pit”, immediately followed by a 4+ mile race packed with military-inspired obstacles – climbing walls, crawling through mud, pushing sleds – that kind of stuff. The race was co-founded in 2010 by Matt Keller and Sean Rogers, two former college roommates. As mud races gained popularity, they participated in their fair share, and while they had a blast doing them, they felt there was an element missing. They wanted to add a piece that would require athletes not only to excel in speed and endurance, but also strength and power – enter: The Pit. Moreover, Matt and Sean both have close military ties, and they wanted a way to bring both civilians and military together to raise awareness and honor those who have or are currently serving. Thus, the Civilian Military Combine was born.

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HOW IS THE CMC DIFFERENT FROM ALL THESE OTHER MUD RACES THAT I HEAR ABOUT? 

Two words: The Pit. The Pit is the revolutionary piece that is completely unique to CMC. No other race has anything like it. The combination of the Pit and obstacle course has attracted thousands of hybrid athletes that do not specialize in one aspect of fitness, but aim to excel across the board – from power and strength to endurance, agility and speed. In other words, being well-rounded instead of specialized works to your advantage here.

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Another cool thing about the CMC is that 80% of participants register as part of a team. This doesn’t mean that you have to remain with your team throughout the entire race (yes, I know some of you are super competitive), but you all enter the Pit in the same heat and start the race together, and let me tell you that knowing you’re surrounded by a team of your biggest supporters as you walk into the Pit is HUGE!

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WHERE DOES A2A/POWERCAKES COME INTO THE PICTURE? 

Having participated in a couple of CMCs in the past, we were beyond AMPED and honored when Sean contacted us about creating a team and having a presence at the race this year. So we met with him (over a workout, of course), and were immediately blown away by his energy. Those who have run the CMC before might recognize him as “the guy on the mic.”

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His enthusiasm for CMC was infectious, and we could tell right away that this is going to be a huge year for them, and that we wanted to be a part of it. As we began putting a game plan together and reaching out to people about joining our team, we thought of our good friend, Kasey, AKA of Powercakes, and thought, why not team up with another fitness powerhouse, create a super team and race the CMC together?!

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HAVE YOU RACED A CMC BEFORE? WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

We were introduced to the CMC a year ago, by our good friend and trainer, Dennys, and signed up for our very first race in New York City last April. We weren’t really sure how to train, so we just continued working out like we normally do and threw in a “Pit Practice” once a week. It was a FREEZING cold spring morning and 7 minutes of the Pit left everyone sounding like avid smokers, but we powered through, pain faces included.

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The obstacle race for this one was short and sweet, just like we like it! A prowler push immediately followed by a sandbag carry up a gazillion flight of stairs, a few walls, farmers carry, cargo net rolls, and BOOM, we were done!

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Once we finished the race, all we could think about was signing up for the next event in September, which we did immediately (after a little post-race celebration…)

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September rolled around and we were stronger, faster and ready to rock. It was a much nicer day, and the atmosphere at the venue was infectious. There were dozens of teams getting amped up to compete – from gyms, Crossfit boxes, and random groups of friends. The energy was pretty incredible. As they called our team into the Pit, we each jogged to our stations, where our judges introduced themselves and reviewed each of the movement standards with us. As the countdown began – 3, 2, 1…GO!, the butterflies in our stomaches were in full force, and we once again why the heck we signed up for this. Once we started though, adrenaline kicked in, we found our own grooves and we kept pushing. Each time we wanted to stop and just lay there on the ground and catch our breath, we told ourselves, it’s only 7 minutes! You can do anything for 7 minutes! Plus, our judges were super encouraging and kept telling us what a great pace we were keeping, which helped a ton. Julia ended up going well beyond her expectations, outperforming her April performance by a long shot with 161 reps! Kayte rock in with 153 – a solid performance by average2athlete and our entire team!

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We then had about 2 minutes to recover before we were sent off into the obstacle race. The beginning was a nice jog, which most of us used as active recovery as we were still coming down from the Pit. We were then faced with about 3 miles of obstacles, from hopping over walls to crawling through mud, climbing cargo nets and pushing heavy sleds. It seemed to fly by because we were having so much fun. Even though our entire team got separated during the course, we were surrounded the entire time by athletes who were in the same boat, facing one obstacle at a time, helping each other over walls and coaching each other along the way.

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Crossing the finish line was a great feeling, especially knowing we had a cold beer waiting for us, but the best part was watching the other athletes coming through and seeing the combined look of pride, relief, and exuberance on each and every person’s face. Pretty awesome.

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We can’t wait to race again this year – not to compete, but to run alongside our teammates as they get to take part in this same incredible experience.

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And of course, to enjoy a post-race beer with a bunch of awesome athletes!

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OK, I THINK I’M INTERESTED…BUT WILL I BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT? HOW DO I TRAIN?

Don’t worry, we have you covered! To start, this year’s Pit includes 4 different variations of increasing difficulty, so that any athlete can participate, regardless of their fitness level or limitations.

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The folks at CMC will be posting videos with the movement standards for Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta very soon, so stay tuned.

As far as training, there are several things that you can do, and we’ll be helping you along the way:

  1. a2aWOW: Those of you who follow us on Instagram may have noticed that for the past several weeks, we’ve been posting workouts that people can do at home, requiring little to no equipment. These are typically meant to increase “metabolic conditioning” – aka get you read for the Pit. So take a look and start doing these if you haven’t already.
  2. Training Program: Taking the a2aWOW a step further, we’re going to be creating a training program for you guys. We’ll put together a calendar that will most likely include a day for the a2aWOW, a day to practice the Pit, a day of strength exercises (designed to increase your pulling strength for things like climbing over walls) and an endurance day, to help you conquer the obstacle course. Be on the lookout for this to appear mid-March!
  3. CMC Meet-ups: CMC will be hosting a series of meet-ups throughout the New York area, which will give participants the opportunity to practice the Pit and meet others who are doing the race. We will be attending several of these, and will let you know the exact dates and times.
  4. a2a-Powercakes Team Meet-ups: We will also be hosting our own meet-ups and will keep you informed via social media on dates/times.
  5. High Intensity Training – Learning how to push your body to maximum capacity and increasing that threshold is going to be the biggest factor in training for the CMC. Whether you are following our workouts, training on your own or with a trainer, taking classes or CrossFitting, high intensity training is key.

THIS BLOG POST WAS SO CONVINCING, I’M IN! WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

It’s pretty simple – all you have to do is follow this link to our team page and SIGN UP!!! Use the code CMC20 for $20 off. And stay tuned for more updates!

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