"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without."
Even when things are going well, it’s human nature to focus on the 'problem areas'. Although I’m talking about your fitness in the gym it’s probably also applicable to the rest of our everyday life.
A good example of this was a few weeks ago when one of our members got her first Toes To Bar. The next time I met her, I naturally congratulated her on her achievement, expecting a warm smile but instead I got ’Thanks very much but I can’t seem to link them’.
Unfortunately that’s the madness of the CrossFit mind. We are always seeking the next new skill, the next kilo and that one extra rep.
The positive side of this is that it keeps us showing up, working hard and gradually improving our overall fitness.
The downside is that we rarely take the time to reflect and appreciate how much progress we have made and enjoy the journey towards each breakthrough skill.
Everyone who has ever CrossFitted may feel like they occasionally hit a plateau. However when we explore further we realise there is no plateau.
Although it may be true that one physical skill or movement may have stalled, we are always able to find progress in another movement, a gymnastic skill, reduced body fat or an improved time in a benchmark workout.
So progress is still being made, workout by workout, day by day and inch by inch.
As Al Pacino famously said in his Inches by Inches speech in ‘Any Given Sunday’:
'You find out that life is just a game of inches. So is CrossFit.
The inches we need are everywhere around us.
That's CrossFit guys. That's all it is.’
'CrossFit is a lifestyle characterised by safe, effective exercise, sound nutrition and fun’.
The above is an updated definition of CrossFit. Ok, I added the ‘fun’ part but it’s just as important.
The 'safe, effective exercise' component is obviously critical though, which is why all our new CrossFit members start in a 1-1 setting. Just you and a Coach.
Starting anything new is hard. Starting a new exercise program is harder but starting a new exercise program in a group setting is perhaps the most daunting of all.
The biggest barrier to joining most gyms often isn’t the price, it’s the social barrier. Some people worry about embarrassing themselves in front of a group, that they aren’t fit enough, that they will struggle learning the movements etc.
We are able to dispel those fears through our 1-1 coaching program.
We recognise that every person that has ever walked through the doors of our gym is different. Whether that be training experience, strengths & weaknesses, likes & dislikes or goals. Some things work for some people, other things work for others.
As a result we have found a 1-1 coaching environment to be the safest, most effective and most enjoyable way for a new client to learn how to exercise properly.
Not just to learn technique and how to move, but learning how a class flows, class etiquette and enabling a new client to progress at a pace that is appropriate and comfortable for them, not the pace of someone else in their class. Plus it's easier to ask questions when it’s not in front of a group of people you have never met.
To be honest, for the first few years of our business group beginner classes were our modus operandi and it wasn’t particularly effective. No two people progress and learn at the same pace so you are either holding one client back or moving too fast for another.
Both of which make for a less than optimal client experience.
But most importantly of all, a client who starts their fitness journey with poor technique is simply building a house on shaky foundations.
Eventually one brick too many will stall progress whether that's through inefficient technique or even worse, the whole house collapses through injury.
So if you want to find out how to build a good house then ask our very own Andy Gribbin.
But if you want to find out how to get started with CrossFit, book a free No Sweat Intro with one of our coaches on the link below.
We founded CrossFit Antrim in 2013, just over 6 years ago. If I’m honest, in the beginning we weren’t sure if it would work. At that stage there were only a handful of CrossFit gyms in Ireland and all of them were based in the main cities or large towns with access to thousands of potential clients.
None of them were based in a predominantly rural area with an official census population of 781.
In fact, more than one person told us we were crazy, that there was zero possibility it would work and we were simply throwing our money away.
They were only partially right of course, there is no doubt we were a bit crazy but we weren't throwing our money away.
There’s an oft-referenced phrase in entrepreneurship called ’scratching your own itch’; it’s when you create a product to solve a problem that you yourself face.
For us, our problem was that we didn’t have access to a friendly, local gym that anyone could feel comfortable exercising in, where we could complete CrossFit workouts, be ourselves and have a laugh at the same time.
We knew that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year and 50% fail after five years. We knew that two large government funded Leisure Centres were within driving distance with their ever tantalising subsidised memberships. We knew their business model relied on their thousands of members NOT going to the gym and that that model wasn’t for us.
But most importantly we also knew that CrossFit was something special, that our wider community were too and despite all the risks, we did what all good CrossFitters do, the buzzer had started so we needed to stay the course, complete the reps and finish the wod.
Of course the gym could still go belly up tomorrow and become yet another failure statistic but hopefully not. I’ve always said that the best thing we will ever do for the health of our community is to keep our doors open and thanks to our members we have been able to do that.
Their support has been nothing short of exceptional since we first opened. Our business model relies upon our members actually going to the gym and thankfully they have always shown up.
This gym just isn’t like other gyms. Our member base spans all ages and all fitness levels and all of them ( usually! ) leave with a smile on their face.
There aren’t many gyms that can boast multiple generations of the same families working out in the same gym at the same time. Yet it is such a normal, everyday occurrence that no-one even sees it as being remarkable, yet it is the very definition of the word. We have siblings, parents, husbands and wives, in-laws, even grandparents who all train together on a daily basis.
There also aren’t many gyms whose members regularly share stories of how much CrossFit changed their lives and we don’t just mean regarding physical fitness. They talk about their improving mental health, coping with stress and how CrossFit has helped rebuild important relationships.
The relationship stories in particular are incredibly special. We hear about how families have reconnected through the gym, whether that’s siblings, parents or couples who may have drifted through the years and because of CrossFit, a shared passion has emerged. Regular CrossFit builds and reveals character so an inevitable bond will strengthen when you workout together.
Our 2013 implementation of the CrossFit methodology definitely wasn't the same as it is now. We had a MDF whiteboard, a concrete floor with cow mats, 2 rowers and 12 of the cheapest barbells on the market. It was tough but it was fun and effective and we loved it.
We have come a long way with our 14 bays of rig, 50 competition barbells, over 20 rowers and assault bikes, full suites of dumbbells & kettlebells and thousands of kilos of bumper plates. Our professional coaches are experts at tailoring workouts for the individual, regardless of fitness level and goals. Anyone can do CrossFit in our gym and because we insist that beginners are coached in a 1-1 setting we are able to help them progress at a pace they are happy with.
We love being a CrossFit gym because CrossFit works better than any other fitness program on the planet.
We are now in our 7th year as a CrossFit affiliate. There are over 15,000 CrossFit gyms around the world and thousands more who claim to offer CrossFit. But just because we are affiliated doesn’t mean we’re the same as every CrossFit gym. CrossFit is not a franchise; we can do whatever we want.
And despite all our jokes, we are here because we want to help change lives. 🔥🙌🏻
It’s a Thursday morning in July. It’s supposed to be sunny and warm. It isn’t. It’s dull and uninspiring. You look out your window and think, I can’t be arsed going to work, or I can’t be bothered making breakfast, I’ll just grab a sausage roll from Boyd’s or a cappuccino from Grans. You know what, I’ll just hit snooze on the alarm and go to the gym tomorrow instead. Has this been you over the last few weeks? Like the weather, have you lost that flame that was burning brightly not so long ago?
Well you aren’t on your own. Particularly if you are new to CrossFit. When you start CrossFit (or anything new), after the initial few weeks of settling in and getting your head around the movements, you start seeing dramatic improvements in a lot of areas. Your movement quality gets better, your fitness levels increase, you get faster and stronger. You probably feel pretty good about yourself. Then there can be a dip. ‘I was able to do 10 double unders last Friday and I can’t do any today’ or ‘I did 4 pull-ups last Monday and now I can’t even do 2 this morning’.
This type of thing happens to every single one of us. From the beginner, right through to the elite. It just happens in different ways. You could have someone that does 25 pull-ups in a row in class. Everyone is probably looking on and thinking to themselves, ‘that’s impressive, I wish I could do that’, but what they don’t know is that the same person did 40 in a row the previous week and is unhappy with their 25. Get the idea? Fitness works in peaks and troughs.
It’s hard when working through a dip in form, particularly that first one you hit after you start! You wonder to yourself ‘what have I got myself into??’ And consider giving it all up. Sometimes you need to take a step back and firstly look at what you’ve achieved up to now and then look at where you are going and what you want to achieve. A common mistake that people make is that they seek perfection. In health and fitness I don’t believe there is such a thing. It’s unachievable. Has anyone ever seen a perfect air squat? I haven’t? And for that reason, we never seek perfection in CFA. Instead, just like Ben Bergeron, we seek excellence. Huge difference. Have you ever seen an excellent air squat? I have, regularly.
Excellent is good. But it can be improved upon. What we strive for is improvement across the board. We want to you be 1% better this week than last week. That can be 1% more consistent with your sleep. 1% better with your nutrition. 1% more accurate with your deadlift technique. These are all incredibly small margins, but just like the 80/20 rule, the small things make all the difference. We don’t care if your performance dips. We do care that you continue to make the same effort through the dip as you would the peak. This is when the effort pays off. The hard yards. Going outside in the rain. Hammering out and extra few calories on the bike when all you want to do is go home. Getting up 5 mins earlier to prepare your oats.
These small little things will shine through when the peak comes. And it will. And you’ll be happy that you stuck with the process. Don’t forget that your own level varies week by week. A bit like the weather. It’s raining here at the minute but the sun will shine again. And pretty soon.
CrossFit Antrim is not like other gyms.
We believe that exercise is a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate.
We believe exercise should benefit your mental health as well as your physical health.
We believe exercise should give you confidence, that it should be fun and that you have to find something you love before you’ll ever be motivated to exercise or eat properly.
We are a coaching gym because we know that coaching is the only thing that works. We know that coaching solves problems and gets results.
And CrossFit is one of the greatest tools that our Coaches use.
Now, CrossFit at CFA might not be the same CrossFit you see at other gyms. It’s definitely not the CrossFit you see on Netflix.
Almost everyone who comes to CFA have been to other gyms. And common feedback is ‘I wasn’t enjoying it’ or ‘I didn’t know if I was doing things right’.
Often they had looked for the cheapest option or had completed a transformation program that yielded a short term result but required a lifestyle unsustainable for normal life.
Some had been drawn to the variety of classes, a sauna or even the long line of cardio machines. But eventually, when they decided they needed long term results, they went looking for a coach.
The broad definition of CrossFit is “Constantly-varied, functional movement performed at high intensity.”
'Constantly varied' means the classes are different every day which makes it fun but this doesn’t mean random. Our workouts are balanced and focused.
We have been a CrossFit affiliate for almost 6 years. CrossFit isn’t all we do but it’s definitely one of the most effective tools we have.
Members of our group CrossFit program are coached through workouts that consist of constantly varied, functional movement performed at relative high intensity every day.
This is the best broad prescription for fitness in the world and we optimise it for our members.
We believe in CrossFit.
- the state or quality of being perfect.
- the action or process of improving something until it is faultless.
The main focus of today’s class is the Snatch. A very basic description of the Snatch would be a movement where the bar is pulled from the floor to a locked arms position in one continuous move.
However, for anyone who has Snatched, this barely snatches, sorry, I mean scratches the surface of its execution.
The Snatch requires a combination of strength, explosiveness, coordination, mobility and stability that is rarely seen in any other exercises.
The word ‘Snatch’ means “to quickly seize something” yet paradoxically it can take significant time to become accomplished.
It also requires courage - propelling anything above your head can be quite daunting.
So why do we perform it?
The Snatch is the most explosive movement in all of sport and the aforementioned combination of strength, speed and coordination make it one of the best exercises available for improving athletic performance.
Plus, let’s be honest, being able to perform a Snatch looks cool and practicing it is fun!
So if you need a new instagram or facebook profile pic, then today’s class is for you…..
On a more serious note, when a Snatch is performed properly it provides a real sense of achievement, is beautiful to behold and athletically becomes unparalleled in its ability to build explosive power.
In saying all of the above, don’t worry about not yet being able to perform it 'perfectly', true perfection in the Snatch or CrossFit for that matter is never attainable and anyway, where would the fun be in perfection?
PS: All our Coaches are British Weight Lifting (BWL) certified so you will learn and practice a progression appropriate to your skill, strength, mobility and level of experience to ensure that you participate safely in class.
An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction. What is even more interesting is that the actual word oxymoron is autological ie. the word itself an example of an oxymoron. It is derived from the greek word oksús "sharp, keen, pointed’ and mōros "dull, stupid, foolish”, so it basically means "sharp-dull” or "pointedly foolish”.
Exciting stuff indeed…..
Another phrase that is along similar lines is ‘I’m not fit enough to do CrossFit’’.
We hear this all the time or something along the lines of ‘Once I lose a bit of weight, I am going to start CrossFit’.
CrossFit is a fitness program specifically designed to IMPROVE fitness and health so you don’t need to be fit to start the program.
You get fit by doing CrossFit.
While it is true that CrossFit will challenge the fittest person in the world, our program is designed for universal scalability meaning that we can adapt it for anyone, regardless of fitness or experience. You will be pushed in class but never beyond your limit.
One of Greg Glassman's famous quotes is 'The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind.’
Our youngest CrossFitter is 6 and our oldest is 66.
We modify the workouts by adjusting the duration, number of reps, loads, distances and even movements to ensure that you move and progress at a pace that is suitable for you.
When people think about CrossFit they envision heavy weights, 100s of pull ups and being forced to do the same things as the athletes in the CrossFit Games.
You wouldn’t think twice about going out for a run without having a 4 minute mile so why would that stop anyone starting CrossFit?*
( The above is a rhetorical question...the definition & history of the word is a subject of another post)
"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?