"Cardiorespiratory endurance, stamina, strength, power, speed, flexibility, agility, accuracy, balance and coordination: you're as good as your weakest link.”
Greg Glassman ( founder of CrossFit )
So the Open is over. 5 weeks of intense, uncompromising workouts with plenty of success stories, the odd disappointment, many highs, some lows and the occasional splash of colourful language.
The Director Of the CFAM Intramural Open is on his third recount so we have to wait just a short while longer to find out which team has topped our inaugural competition.
Rumours of a tie and a live assault bike face-off are circulating but that’s all to be confirmed...
Whilst the Open is exceptional at taking us way outside our comfort zone and forcing us to try new things, it also has an even more important habit of brutally exposing our weaknesses. This exposition, although annoying, is exactly what is needed to progress our fitness.
CrossFit reflects the best aspects of gymnastics, weightlifting, rowing, running and more. It’s fun, it’s challenging and the fitness we seek will allow us to be better at EVERYTHING.
No matter how long you have been CrossFitting there is always going to be something more to learn and improve on. This helps keep us training and showing up for class and enables us to keep getting results.
This is a great time to reflect. Look back at when you first started CrossFit and take a look at how far you have come. It's also time to set a few goals.
A goal shouldn’t be ‘going RX’. It should be specific to you and measurable. It could be developing a new skill, being able to perform a certain number of reps unbroken or it could also be to lose some body fat. It could even be to compete in a competition.
The Open is over but it’s lessons don’t have to be.
“No, it doesn’t ever get any easier. You wouldn’t want it to either.”
We are now in March. Two months into 2018. Two months after we made our 'new year's resolutions'. Ten weeks ago, we decided we would never eat a chinese again, or a mars bar, or drink alcohol for 3 months, etc..... Nine weeks ago, a lot of these resolutions were kicked to the kerb. Maybe that is a little blunt and a little harsh, but if you look into it, you might just find it to be true. At least part of it anyway, and with good reason.
The main reason that these 'positive changes' do not stand the test of time is routine. It is simple, straightforward human nature to stick to a routine. So if your routine in 2017 did not involve 6am training then the chances of maintaining training at 6am in 2018 are probably slim. It may last 2 days, 2 weeks, even the entire month of january, but it won't be sustainable in the long run, simply because it isn't part of your normal, day to day routine. Probably a fairly crude example of what I mean, but you get the idea.
But this is where it becomes interesting. If you are held accountable for your actions, the entire landscape changes. For example, if you start a new job and you are required to get up at 5am instead of 7.30am, the chances are, you will get up at 5am every single day because you know that you won't keep the job unless you do. Your employer holds you accountable for this. When you are accountable for your actions, suddenly they become part of your routine, which becomes the norm. After a while, you get up at 5am whether you need to or not. Easy.
So how is this linked to Nutrition? Nutrition, like most of your other day to day things, is habit based, and we know how hard it is to change our habits. Our bodies, as a rule, don't take very well to wholesale changes. A big change can leave us very unsettled, particularly if it is a change we are not overly happy with. Another example. If somebody told you that you had to eat chicken and broccoli for lunch every day for a month instead of sausages and chips, you may initially think 'ok', but after a few days, that is going to turn into living hell, and you are going to stop it. And rightly so.
I have lost count of the amount of people that have said 'I can't get back into routine since the christmas holidays' but the reality is that this is your routine. This is normal. You have simply carried your habits from the end of 2017 forward into the beginning of 2018. It is very difficult to drop all of these habits at once, even when you are being held accountable. It is impossible when you are not accountable.
The first stepping stone (or stumbling block) for making a positive change, is that it has to be positive. You have to want it. You have to see it as something good, something you are happy doing. After all, this is something you will incorporate into your everyday routine. If these boxes are ticked, then its time to work out how you are going to be held accountable for this change. Are you going to record progress? Are you going to tell someone about it so that they can keep an eye on you? Are you going to seek the help of a coach to give you guidance and measure progress? The options are numerous. It all depends on the change you feel you need to make.
And the good news? Positive, sustainable change to an individual's routine can very often have a knock on effect. Good things happen. For example, some good food choices can lead to a more positive mental state. You will want to train. You will want to go out. You will have a greater work ethic. You might even be less grumpy!! And even better - one person making a positive change can easily rub off on others in close proximity. In this case, you have discussion and accountability without even looking for it!
So instead of trying to completely overhaul your routine and doing things your system isn't comfortable with, why not pick something small, make the change, find some way of holding yourself accountable for it and maintain it until it becomes part of the routine you already have. There's no time like the present......
Today is a non-whiteboard day. In other words although we will be completing our workout as normal (which happens to be the benchmark workout ‘Annie’) we won’t be recording anyone's times on the whiteboard.
The intention here is to remove the perceived ‘pressure' of the whiteboard, particularly for those of us still working on getting or improving our double unders.
We will still work hard, we will still do our best but today, it will be only you who knows your time and scaling options.
As Coaches, we use the whiteboard to relay the structure of the class, the intention of each workout and at the end of each day it provides valuable feedback which enables us to identify strengths and weaknesses across the gyms which can then be used to help focus on skills or weaknesses in future classes.
Although the whiteboard can add a healthy rivalry and motivate us to work harder and thus get fitter, it can occasionally have a negative effect on our performances and therefore achieving our long term fitness goals.
For example we may see that 'Sally' used 25kg for her Thrusters in the 3.30pm class and because I’m as fit as Sally I better use 25kg too. When perhaps 25kg is 5kg heavier than your Coach recommended to ensure that YOU achieve the desired stimulus of the workout.
Or maybe 'Jim' beat me on Tuesday and I see he got 127 reps in the 5.30pm class. Right, I better beat him today or everyone will think he is fitter than me.
So mid-wod maybe a few of your Wall Balls fall a few feet short of the target or you are a foot above parallel in your Wall Ball and instead of no-repping yourself, you decide to rationalise with ‘ I bet Jim didn’t no rep himself’ and continue on....
We don’t want someone else’s workout score to influence your decisions as neither of the above scenarios is going to help you or your Coaches improve your fitness.
The whiteboard can do weird and wonderful things with our competitive minds and how we approach each class so let's try today's workout without it.
Remember Kids, a whiteboard can’t judge whether you are getting better or not, only you can do that.
PS: Sally, Jim and all incidents portrayed in this post are fictitious. No identification with actual persons is intended or should be inferred and any resemblance to a real person or persons is entirely coincidental......or is it?
We are now only a few weeks away from one of the most exciting times to be a CrossFitter. The 2018 CrossFit Open.
If you are new to CrossFit, the Open is basically a five-week test of fitness. During these five weeks CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro will announce a workout each Thursday night. Then athletes have until Monday evening to complete that workout in the presence of a judge and enter their scores online.
Anyone can participate in the Open as it is designed to be accessible to all fitness levels and includes an option for scaling each of the workouts. There is a division for everyone including RX, Scaled, Teens and Masters.
If you haven’t signed up yet, here are 5 excellent reasons why you should.
LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF
It’s a great chance to test your fitness in classic CrossFit style workouts. Everyone who participates in the Open learns something new about themselves whether it is finding a brand new skill or discovering a weakness they need to develop.
BE PART OF SOMETHING GLOBAL
You get to compare yourself with the entire global CrossFit community. Over 300,000 CrossFitters around the world will also be doing the Open. Don’t get left out.
BE A PRO
You get to act like a professional athlete for these 5 weeks. You are trying to qualify for CrossFit’s version of the Olympic Games, so it’s actually the truth.
In the Open Tia Toomey ( her great granda was from the Shore Road) will be doing the same workout as you in a CrossFit affiliate in the presence of a judge, just like you.
The 2018 leaderboard could read: 1. Tia Toomey, 2. Kara Webb, 3. You??
The buzz & excitement in the gym is always special during the Open, there is usually someone getting their first ever pull up, toes to bar, handstand push up, muscle up etc. It could be you….
YOU MAY AS WELL
We are going to do the workouts in class anyway, so you may as well be registered.
After all, it’s always better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do….
Registration is already open and the first workout, 18.1, will be announced on the 22nd February.
Sign up and participate via CrossFit Games Open Registration link below:
Sign Up for The Open
You may have heard the term.. 'You cannot out train a bad diet'.......or maybe not. It is a bold statement and a lot of you may shout back 'I train in the gym THREE times a week, I can eat whatever I like!!' Of course you can. but will you see real, progressive and lasting results with this outlook? Maybe initially by chance, but in the long run, the answer is no.
So you say to yourself, what actually is a bad diet? And that's a very good question, and a question with no straightforward, simple answer.
And the reason? Because we are all different. Different sizes, different shapes, different genes, different environments, different training goals................The list goes on and on. A bad diet for me could be a good diet for you. So, for example, a 40 year old lady that would like to lose some bodyfat and a few inches off their waist, will not see results if they follow the same diet plan as Eddie Hall, the current World's Strongest Man. And the same applies the other way around. This is an extreme example, but one that we can relate to.
There are loads of different situations that come into play. All you have to do is take a snapshot of a crossfit class with 10-12 people in it. Each person will have different targets in that class. Yes, they will all be doing the same workout but each person will be working towards something different. Someone will be working towards getting their first pull-up. Someone will be trying to lose a little bodyfat. Someone will be trying to improve their movement mechanics. The list of goals is endless. Pull-up guy (or girl!!) will not have the same nutrition plan as fat loss guy. Squat guy might not have a nutrition plan at all. The point I'm trying to make, is that each athlete requires a slightly different diet and lifestyle to prosper. And just because a diet is 'bad' for someone, doesn't mean it's bad for everyone.
So now that we have established that no single diet or nutrition plan will work for everyone, lets take a closer look at what actually constitutes as a 'bad diet', and what effect, if any, that will have on achieving our fitness goals. Back to the original question then - What is a bad diet? The simple answer - A diet that does not support your training goals. Across the board, this just about covers it. When you flip the question around and ask - What is a GOOD diet? - you will find a question that can be answered much easier and in greater detail, with more benefit to the individual.
An excellent start for most people trying to work towards some kind of athletic goal, will be to consume as many whole foods as possible, eat a sustainable amount of protein from varied sources, consume as much green veg as possible and eat a supportive amount of starchy carbohydrate and fat, whilst minimising the amount of processed foods, poor quality meats, and foods high in sugar. That is the ideal template to base the foundations of your diet on. If you can get this right, then you can set to work on fixing the smaller details, such as specific food groups, macronutrient breakdown and ratios, training days and non-training days, and meal times. Again, the emphasis is on the individual's own goals. If the main goal is fat loss, then a great starting point is to simply just eat a bit less. If you are attempting to make the crossfit games you will need to go into much greater detail than that! Above all else, a good diet must be sustainable. It has to fit into your lifestyle. You must embrace it, enjoy it, look forward to your dinner!! If not, guess what? Its a bad diet.
So actually, as an athlete, you are better focussing on creating a GOOD diet for yourself as opposed to focussing on the negativity of trying to stay away from eating a so called 'bad diet'. The big positive here, is that your 'good diet' may contain some aspects of said 'bad diet' without causing you or your goals any harm whatsoever! As previously said, a good diet for you is a diet that can support your health and fitness goals. If you refer to the foundations above, your starting point may simply be to cut back on something like a sugary dessert after dinner, or maybe add in a little protein to your breakfast. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was Coach MT, so you just have to be patient, make the small, consistent changes towards developing a diet that is good for you. If your diet and lifestyle are not good for you, you will not get the fitness and health results you long for. You cannot out train a bad diet.
Am I the only person here excited for January?
I'm not so sure about that actually…as a lot of us (myself included) have now had their fill of turkey dinners, double desserts, fancy coffees and alcoholic beverages, a certain amount of reality has kicked in. We are in 'no man's land' at the minute with regard to our nutrition and our training.
With another holiday weekend coming up, it's very easy to just let yourself slide on into the weekend without even giving the slightest thought to your nutrition and exercise goals for the new year. If you let this happen, you will be regretting it come Tuesday. Even one gym session this week, a couple of regular sized, healthy meals and maybe even an alcohol free night will stand you in good stead for a strong start to the new year.
If you get the chance, you could maybe even take some time to clear your head and make some notes or possibly jot down some ideas for your meal prep for next week. Maybe even do some of said prep and stick it in the freezer. Get yourself a 2018 diary and write down your goals. Write down your plan and how you plan to execute it.
If these small details are in place, and you get yourself to the gym between now and Saturday to blow out the cobwebs, you will be primed and ready to go on Tuesday.
You have the opportunity to become a better version of yourself this January. The difference is, we don't stop at the end of January. We offer a sustainable program that is designed around long term, lasting results. Results that will change your life for good.
Here we are folks, incredibly less than a week away from Christmas!
Work Christmas parties are well underway and family and friends get togethers are happening on a daily basis.
So you're thinking, 'right, so he surely isn't going to try to advise people to eat well over the festive period!?' and you're right, I'm not. Well not completely. This is a time to let your hair down a bit. Have the beer, eat the sweets, have second helpings at the dinner table. At the end of the day, a week off plan over the period of a year isn't going to make a difference to your long term goals. Even professional athletes will be 'taking it easy' over Christmas.
But that doesn't mean you have to eat the full box of celebrations on your own, in a single sitting! What I would say though, would be to definitely make conscious decisions around your eating around this period, and don't feel guilty about it. Consciously eat the mince pie and savour every bit of it. Eat it slowly and mindfully, and then move on.
Mindlessly eating everything in your path at this time of the year is where a lot of people undo their good work. This is an emotional problem that people have with their food. The guilt will quickly set in after this and eating can spiral out of control as a more negative mindset takes hold. This will probably lead to some kind of 'quick fix diet' in early January. That is not what we are about
We don't want you to eat grilled chicken and steamed broccoli every day. We don't want you to eat cardboard like crackers with fresh air for breakfast. Who actually enjoys eating like that? We want you to eat foods you enjoy, foods that are sustainable, and foods that support your training and fitness goals in the long term. And at Christmas, that just happens to be mince pies, turkey, and possibly some wine.…enjoy it while it lasts folks, and keep and eye out for what we have in store for the new year!
It is also the most enjoyable exercise plan in the world, ever…..
Why do we say that? Regardless of the huge physiological benefits which CrossFit can deliver such as improved strength, stamina, endurance, reduced body fat etc etc ( the list goes on and on and on…) one of CrossFit’s major strengths ( no pun intended) is adherence.
In other words you will actually go.
You could obtain the most thorough and detailed exercise program created personally for you by the most qualified, experienced fitness expert on the planet but if you don’t go to the gym and follow it to the letter then it is worthless. Typically you may last 2/3 weeks and then as boredom sets in you will either jump to a new, shiny program or worse, just stop completely.
In fact, that’s how the traditional gym model works. It is totally reliant on members NOT showing up. If you are a large gym chain or government fitness centre with 3000+ members, what happens if all it’s members show up on a Monday? Chaos.
But don’t worry, that will never happen as the success of their volume based, budget priced business model is completely reliant on absentee members. That’s why we see all the January memes and jokes about getting a space on a treadmill.
CrossFit gyms are different, we want and need you to attend for both us and you to be successful.
With CrossFit you show up.
When you just start you will usually have made friends after a few weeks and also seen some initial results and progress. Your Coach knows your name, knows what you are good at and what you need to work on. ( As will your friends!!)
This community environment with everyone doing the same workout under the guidance of a Coach ensures a level of accountability that will keep you coming back.
You measure your progress through recording your lifts & workout times so you know you are making progress without guesswork and with our constantly varied style of programming we ensure that boredom won't set in.
After you CrossFit for any significant period of time, it is virtually impossible to return to any other style of training or class unless you happen to have the motivation levels of Tony Robbins.
Which is highly unlikely, otherwise you wouldn’t have tried CrossFit in the first place.
In the words of one of CrossFit’s most famous competitors Samantha Briggs:
"When you have worked hard all day this is your own time when you should be having fun and getting fit. Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should be fun. This is your release."
With CrossFit you show up, have a laugh, get fitter and be happy. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat.
In the first of our 'Client Stories' features, we caught up with Brenda Murray. Brenda has been a member of the 7:30pm crew for some time now though she is know to drop in to a few other time slots every now and again.
What made you join CrossFit Antrim?
I wanted to loose weight as I was always tired and felt very uncomfortable, I seen CrossFit as an opportunity for me and wanted to attempt this as I wanted to get a healthier lifestyle and increase my fitness.
I found myself very stubborn and always wanted to show people that I can do it, I also wanted to show myself that I can't beat anything that comes at me.
I found it as a challenge for me to step over the door into a whole new different surrounding. A very nervous day for me but I overcome the nerves and got signed up for the onramp. Once I done this I felt totally different as I knew I was ready for this challenge ahead.
I completed the onramp and enjoyed every part of this as it was something different, learning different movements etc, I then decided that I would like some PT sessions as I felt this would help me gain more confidence when being in the CrossFit class.
I completed the PT sessions and I found myself ready for the classes and from that point to now I have enjoyed my journey but this is a journey I am not ready to stop.
What were your first impressions of CrossFit Antrim?
My first impressions of CrossFit Antrim was that I felt I wouldn't be able to do any of the movements during my onramp, but to my surprise I beat this and was capable of doing all.
I love the whole concept of this as this is not just your normal boring running on a treadmill, CrossFit is totally different from anything I have ever done before.
Another impression of CrossFit Antrim/Magherafelt would have to be down to the coaches and staff, each one of them are all very helpful and are always close at hand during the classes etc.
Even outside of the gym I would generally receive text messages, these just being your normal check up message to see how I was getting on with the PT sessions.
With being in a gym like Crossfit I find it great as I have met and became great friends with alot of folk. I believe this is what a gym is all about meeting people and having everyone there to help each other out.
Why have you stayed?
This is easy......I love it, love how it makes me feel, love how my body has changed since I joined up (even though that was a nervous day), I find myself being more positive in thinking about my health and not having to worry as much as I previously did.
Another reason as to why I have stayed would be down to the CrossFit family - I love them all, every coach, staff, members in both Antrim and Magherafelt they have been a big part of me staying.
You feel welcomed every morning or evening depending on the class you have booked into, you feel accepted as everyone else.
During each class it's all team work in the strength parts, but down to your workout if you are the last person to finish other members come over and encourage you to keep going until you have all the reps completed and also the coaches would be over to encourage you also.
The coaches and the friends I have made are another main factor as to why I have stayed with CrossFit, you really are a valued part of CrossFit Antrim and I am please to be part of an amazing CrossFit family.
What is your next fitness goal?
My next goal in CFA would be to get my double unders, to get these would be a massive goal for me and eventually get my pull ups.
Another goal or goals I would like to keep on achieving would be to do more or the announced workouts in "RX" form and also increase my PB's.
I was once told that I was not allowed to lift anything heavier than 2.5kg, but with being in CFA I have proved people (doctors) wrong and here is some of my PB's I have achieved during my year in CFA.
~Back Squat 55kg
~Front Squat 50kg
I would love to beat my above PB's and achieve more!
I have vowed to keep going and achieve more, I feel getting PB's make you feel great and give you a positive thinking as I previously mentioned "I can do it"
What changes have you noticed to your health and fitness since joining?
Some folk may be aware of this and some may not, but I was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015. A very big shock to me, my husband and both families and including my friends. I never smoked, never consumed alcohol and understood I was healthy.
During the time of my treatment I gained a lot of weight (which I couldn't help) but my treatment ended in December'15.
My doctors recommended that I was to get fit and loose body fat to minimise the risk of it coming back.
This is why I plucked up the courage and being nervous stepped over the door of CFA and spoke with MT and signed up in July'16.
From being diagnosed up to present the doctors are very happy with my progress and have also noted the determination I have shown.
Would you recommend CFA to a friend?
I have mentioned CrossFit to my family and friends in numerous occasions about getting them on board and getting fit and healthy.
I would love to see a lot more of my friends in CrossFit as I am proud of how far I have come from day 1 to now.
I enjoy doing CrossFit and especially everyone in here. This has been the longest I have ever stuck at a gym as I love it.
This is not like anywhere else where you are left to work at it yourself.
With CFA you have the help from everyone around you.
CrossFit has changed my life in a very big and positive way. It is so much fun and incredibly supportive and motivating place to be.
As I said at the start "I can do it" and I am proof of that.
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you know you are training consistently, but you are just not making the strength gains you should be? Or your endurance is lagging behind a little? Maybe you have retested a workout and the result wasn't quite what you had hoped? These are all fairly common occurrences with amateur athletes and the common ground here is generally fuel. What we put into our bodies will determine what we get out of them. An extreme example, maybe, but if you put diesel into a petrol car, and then try to break the land speed record, what do you think will happen? Not much!
The same applies to an athlete. If you constantly fill yourself up with poor quality food, with no consistent ratio of the macronutrient content, the likelihood is, that your metabolic system will be working at a rate that is nowhere near its true potential. This has a number of knock on effects.
Tiredness - excessive amounts of any food, never mind junk food can leave us feeling lethargic, tired, even moody. When our blood sugar level spikes, the inflammatory reaction in our cells actually prevents us from absorbing energy and therefore burning it efficiently. This leaves us in a constant state of tiredness and hormone imbalance. The main culprits here would be foods high in sugar. Artificial sweeteners are also guilty (That's a topic for another day!)
Weight gain - even if you are training every day and becoming stronger, if you are consistently making poor food choices, the chances are, that you will continue to gain fat. There are a few reasons for this, but put simply, your body is unable to efficiently use the calories from processed foods. Going a step further from the first point, if you have excess calories in your system, and your cells are unable to absorb and use them, they will simply turn into fat.
Both of these have a direct link to your athletic performance. When you are tired or lethargic, it is both physically and mentally challenging to get the best out of your workout. If you don't feel particularly good on your way into the gym, chances are, you won't feel great during your session either. The same thing applies to weight gain. If you are carrying a little extra bodyfat, and you are aware that it's down to poor decision making at the dinner table, it can be difficult to perform at your best. This can be quite a tough place to be, particularly around this time of year, when the mornings are dark, the weather is cold and the people around you are generally eating and drinking for comfort.
So what are your options? Quite a few actually. Taking a bit of time out for yourself and working out some small improvements to your diet would be a great place to start! sometimes a small change has a big impact. Maybe you could reassess the amount of water you are drinking. Or take a look at the amount of protein you are consuming throughout the day, and whether it is enough to support your training.
The end goal for you would be to get yourself into what we call 'The Zone'. The is when your body goes into the perfect hormonal balance which allows for the most efficient rate of fat burning and muscle growth. and guess what? - It is determined by the amount of food we eat, its quality and its ratio of macronutrient content. If you can get into this zone, you will see good things happen pretty quickly.