A world-record mile. A half court shot to win a million bucks. A hit single that rules the airwaves for a month or two. Society has become more and more obsessed with the rare and extraordinary, celebrating and venerating the “once-in-a-lifetime” moment over the slow and steady grind of dogged hard work and incremental progress. Seen through this lens, greatness becomes a montage of single-frame snapshots instead of long form cinema verite.
Now that I’m a card carrying member of the “can’t roll out of bed and Fran” crowd (also known as the Master’s division), I have begun to value warmups more and more. While there’s definitely days when a few swings of the arms and legs will do it, warmups can be a valuable time for athletes to prep, learn & practice new skills, and receive coaching before the bar is heavy and/or the clock is ticking. Here are some elements I utilize, or at least consider, in every warmup.
📷:CrossFit – Sam Dancer at the 2016 CrossFit Games
Pop quiz, hotshot- what’s your Deadlift 10RM? Do you know it without looking at your CrossFit btwb app or notebook? Before you check, what’s your Deadlift 1RM? I bet good money you know that one. Maybe you even have it tattooed on your chest, Memento style. If you are a CrossFit btwb member, that info is super simple to find and here’s why it’s important to check.
📷: Uri Gonzalez of CrossFit Sant Martí
Most CrossFit coaches and gym owners began their CrossFit “life” as a member at a gym, taking group classes while slowly learning and realizing their passion for fitness and helping people. As many coaches grow in experience, their understanding, ability to program for themselves, and fitness goals tend to grow as well. Often this can lead to a coach or owner stepping away from group class to work on their own goals, take advantage of the free reign they have at the gym, or to seek outside help from a group or individual who does custom programming.
Sadly, this very understandable desire can sometimes take away from the culture and connection at a coach or owner’s gym. With some exceptions (notable regional level+ athletes, recovering from injury, etc.), I’d advise coaches and definitely owners to try their hardest to take group classes at their affiliate- even if it’s just a few a week. Here’s why:
My affiliate, CrossFit Lumos, is housed in a fairly unique space. We converted a building that housed a veterinarian and a hair salon, tearing out all the walls to make one big contiguous space. It looks pretty cool, with tall vaulted ceilings and big glass windows, different from the typical warehouse or strip mall spaces that most gyms seem to inhabit. (Note: while I’m definitely happy about it now, during our long build out I wished for a warehouse and a simpler build process!)
Along with that space came a fairly sizable backyard that hadn’t been used much since the building was built. Just the initial weed-wacking to clear it of overgrowth took some time, but the backyard runs the length of the whole gym, and gives us about 1,000 square feet of outdoor space. On my agenda from the beginning were plans to make the backyard both an attractive “chill” space for people to hang out before and after class (especially since space in my gym is already pretty tight) and the use part of it as a workout area.
I blame Instagram. In the early days of CrossFit, if you found out a friend of yours from high school was into functional fitness, the only way to know who was fitter would be to show up at their gym and throw down. At some point, a guy named Dave (and some others) took that idea, and made it into the CrossFit Games.
That was a great idea! Knowing how you stack up versus your gym, the world, etc. is great- when you are collecting enough data to make that comparison worthwhile. However, social media makes it all too easy for people to post the highlights of their training- their best lifts, that one time they were able to handstand walk 50 feet, etc. without any context of what it means. Further, since most social platforms have time restrictions on video content (and since we have our own natural attention span restrictions) people tend to post a lot of heavy lifts, some high level gymnastics, but not the balance of what their training is and/or should be.
If you’ve been going to an affiliate for a while, you’ve likely noticed people pulling out strange props before class- all sorts of bands, balls, sticks, lengths of foam- and then sticking them in strange places. While there may be deeper individual reasons for doing this, most of these people are trying to prep themselves for the workout by making sure their muscles feel a little fresher or joints move a little easier. These implements all fall loosely under the term “mobility tools,” and today we’re going to dive into what they (broadly) are, why people use them, and when they are (and more specifically when they are NOT) appropriate.
After being a coach at CrossFit South Brooklyn in NYC for 6 years I moved halfway across the country to open my own affiliate, CrossFit Lumos, in Austin, TX. This series will chronicle my experience opening the gym and what I am learning along the way. This article is the final piece of the adventure, before I’m a real live gym owner. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. Part 9. Part 10. Part 11. Part 12. Part 13. Part 14. Part 15.
CrossFit affiliates are beautiful little unicorns. The fitness space is littered with sages, trainers, and gyms that see their clients as little more than dollar signs, but affiliate owners tend to practice what they preach. Almost all of them had their own powerful experience with CrossFit and wanted to share that with their community. You can see that in the ways gyms operate- extremely member focused, with a lot of “perks” that often don’t come at extra cost.
One of the things that separates CrossFit coaches from disinterested Globo Gym trainers is their level of professionalism and care for their members. First, we coaches pride ourselves in running a “tight ship” where every class runs like a tightly scripted and choreographed dance, with little to no “surprises.” Secondly, we know our members by name, work out alongside them (I hope- that’s its own article!), and build friendships with them that endure outside of the gym. Read More
Saved by the Barbell is an annual, world-wide CrossFit community Labor Day workout and fundraising effort to bring CrossFit to more kids everywhere.
Each year, rates of chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes, obesity, and liver disease – conditions once associated with the sick and elderly – rise among children, from toddlers to teenagers.
And yet each year, more schools reduce their physical education programs. Recess is becoming a thing of the past. Cafeteria food, deeply flawed nutrition education, and sugar-stocked vending machines only contribute to the problem. And schools where children grow up in poverty, food deserts, and disadvantaged communities pose even greater challenges to kids’ health.