The Neighborhood Gym

old_angle_boxing_gym_265.jpg

The Neighborhood Gym

by Kris Germain

There’s an image I have in my head of a neighborhood boxing gym.  It’s a brick building with a roll up door. It’s smashed in between a couple other small businesses, and around the corner from a few different connecting streets that make up a neighborhood.  The image is drawn from back in the day, before fitness was fully realized and commercialized, and marketed to the unwitting subconscious desires of the masses. It was before Facebook algorithms, Instagram follows, and hashtags like #gymmotivation.  The equipment was minimal and so was the space because the owner wasn’t trying to sell a million memberships to people who wouldn’t come in. The owner was trying to reach people in the neighborhood. His marketing campaign was to know people and be known.

When I opened CrossFit 310, there were not a lot of CrossFit boxes period.  CrossFit existed mostly in garages at first. There were more CrossFit garage gyms than actual CrossFit gyms where people would pay money to join. Now there are two CrossFit gyms with a half-mile of us and 20 CrossFit boxes within a 5 mile radius.  That may sound like a big problem for most businesses, but as the years roll on, the proliferation of CrossFit has forced us to scrutinize every detail of our approach to the methodology. Who are we and what do we do with people in a sea of fitness options?

Glad you asked.

In between the gym and my house (about 1.7 miles) are thousands of people who need fitness and nutrition help.  

They need help losing the 10-15 pounds to look a little better naked (yup, I started there because nearly everyone is looking for that).

They need help with figuring out what to do when their knees or shoulders ache, or their back is stiff.  

They need help with the 5k, 10k or Spartan race they signed up for.  Or the dream of that Marathon...one day.

They need help with helping their kids and their sports, or giving them some confidence to move and play even though they love art or playing the oboe.

There are hundreds of streets, a high school and a junior high with thousands of people.  I believe that what we do for our gym is good for everyone, but also know we’re not FOR everyone.  

But, out of those thousands of people, there are a hundred.  

There are a hundred people who are looking for exactly what we do.  They’re looking for a place that takes movement seriously, but never takes themselves too seriously.  

They’re looking for a group of people who don’t have it all together, but we’re working on it together, one day at a time.

They’re looking for trainers and members who will meet them right where they are.

They’re looking for a place to be challenged and people to laugh with.

And they’re looking for change.  Real change. Not a fad, not a quick fix, but a brave look at and a daring leap towards true health, and uncommon fitness.

I’ve lived with my family on these streets for 12 years now.  These are my neighborhoods and coffee shops (you’ll see me there for sure!).  

My main marketing strategy is to know people and be known.

We’ll see each other at a coffee shop.  Our kids will play soccer together, or maybe you’re in a Mom’s group with my wife.  Maybe we’ll meet at church, or on the volleyball court. Maybe our businesses are in the same building, or you have a friend that works out with us and CrossFit 310 just sounds intriguing.

However the conversation starts, I’m excited to say, “Why don’t you come by and see our place.  We might be able to help.”


Mad Scientists and Artists

by Kris "Koach" Germain

steampunk drawing for Mad Scientist and Artist.jpg

This is a quick shoutout to Tim Thackrey, the mad Scientist behind our programming.  And to the marriage of programmers and Coaches.  This is actually born from my short diatribe at the white-board today, and I thought it would be a beneficial post for those in the 310 universe.

It was a tough training day today.  The loads weren't heavy, in relation to our 1 Rep Max, but the effort was high.  Tempo front squats, Zercher Lunges and Broad Jumps fill 20 minutes of strength and skill where we were all hammering away, like Blacksmiths in the fire, on our own personal fitness machines.  After that, the WOD had us rotating through a Row, Toes to Bar and Man-Makers (That may need to be renamed "Personal Empowerment Producers" in the current social climate :) circuit. Yup, great training day. But be careful not to overlook it, or the craft and intention of the days and weeks that proceeded it.

In the last 3 weeks, we've seen tempo work, pause squats, empty bar timing repetitions, tons of OH stabilization work and raw strength reps.  If you look at it too quickly, you'll shrug it off and attribute it to variety for the sake of variety; Tim programs these things so we won't get bored you might say.  While that remains true, new angles and rhythms stave off boredom, take a closer look and you'll see the subtlety of his tinkering.  All the variety is pointing towards something in particular.  Today for example, teaches you to get comfortable in the bottom of a squat, and how to account for all the tension necessary throughout a full range of motion, and also drills a violent hip opening followed by the precision of footwork--and that's just your strength and skill.  All the cogs and sprockets, wind-up keys, and hand-cranks that fuel our steam engine of programming is impressive.  Honestly, it's complicated and beautiful.  And that's where your coaches come in.

The coach's job is to take the instrument Tim builds and apply it gracefully to everyone lined up in front of the board everyday.  The coach takes the powerful engine of our programming and doles out just enough throttle for you, where you're at.  The coach teaches you how to steer, when to gas, when to break, and when to let the engine cool.  This thing can go fast; CrossFit has tons of horsepower.  Let your coach guide you so you can drive it however fast you want, for however long you want.

But of course, all of this is sitting there for the taking.  You're welcome to grab handfuls and stuff all your pockets, or you can grab a teaspoon full and be on your way.  Everyone learns this differently, and we'll meet you where you are.

The real art of this whole thing is to have fun with it.  Driving this hog is fun--and not everyone gets to!  Enjoy the process.  Smile big and enjoy the PR's.  There should be copious amounts of high-fives and laughter. 

If we're not having fun, we're not doing it right!

 

 

 

 

Pick One Thing

Aim this potent principle at your Diet, and then the rest of your life.  By Jen McMahon

One Thing.jpg

 

Pick one thing

Aim this potent principle at your Diet, and then the rest of your life.  By Jen McMahon

“I just can't manage it all”

I remember about three years ago one of my personal training clients came in to see me. She was in her 60s at the time and she had recently lost her grown son to a sudden unknown disease.  She was not only mourning his loss, but she was now in charge of taking care of her grandson and her life had abruptly changed quite drastically overnight. She had always been healthy and vibrant and she really wanted to continue to take care of herself. She was coming to me two days per week to keep up her strength and she wanted some nutrition advice as well.  We had discussed all of the ways she could improve her diet, her hydration, reduce her stress and try to get more sleep, but each day she'd come in feeling more and more overwhelmed with all of the things she couldn't do right. One day she looked at me and said, "I just can't manage it all". This is understandable right? She had a lot on her plate and yet she had goals and needs and wanted to maintain good health in the midst of it all, but it was just too much at once.  I decided to ask her to forget about everything she had to do to be ‘perfect’ and reach her goals and I asked her, "do you think you could just focus on drinking five glasses of water today?" I told her that I don't really care what she eats for dinner and what time she goes to bed and I asked her to just stick with drinking her water and to report back to me the next day. She agreed and then took a big sigh of relief and she cried. She came to me the next day and was proud to say that she drank her water and she was willing to do it again.  She finally felt successful! We just kept her going with small and manageable goals, one at a time. She was able to accomplish them as she was ready and keep moving forward toward her goals. Her small wins kept her motivated and kept her from giving up on herself.

Pick one thing.

This is my favorite lesson about how to create and follow a custom nutrition or fitness plan that is sure to fit into your lifestyle.  This is a concept that is perfect for:

  1. People who are either super busy and don't feel like they have it in them to take time out of their busy lives to meet their health or fitness goals, or

  2. People who feel like their goals are so out of reach that they don't even know where to start.

Does this sound at all familiar? Many people want to live a healthier life and are wondering how to do it. The answers are out there, right?  There is no shortage of answers. The real trouble is your head could spin with all of the answers. To reach your goals you just need to… (deep breath) cut out sugar, drink more water, hit the gym in the morning, do sit-ups every night, lift light weights with high reps or heavy weights with low reps. Don't forget to minimize your carbs but don't have too much meat, eat smaller meals more often, reduce your wine intake and stop snacking at night. On top of that you need to remember to cook, meal prep and pack your lunches and eat plenty of leafy greens and don't forget to take your supplements and eat gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO and organic and and and and and. The amount of rules, restrictions and changes can just go on forever!

jen running.jpg

 

I think about this lesson often, even in my own whirlwind of goals and I remember that we all just have to start somewhere.  In less than a week I'll be running the American River 50, a 50 mile race, and my biggest running goal to date. I started training about six months ago and I was nowhere near ready to run a distance like this.  In fact, even though I was running regularly when I started my training, I hadn't run a full marathon (26.2 miles) in almost 10 years, before I had my two kids. I simply had to start where I was. I slowly built up my weekly miles and gradually increased my long distance runs.  I took recovery weeks when I needed to (and when my training schedule called for it) and I literally took it all one step at a time. Now that I'm so close to the race and I have hundreds of miles under my belt, my confidence is high and I feel prepared, all because I started with one thing.

This is where you come in.  

I'm here to simplify life for you.  Start with ONE thing. Yes, that is all, just one.

It could be improving your sleep, increasing your water intake, going to the gym one day per week, or adding veggies to your breakfasts (one of my personal favorites). Just start.  Pick one thing and make it your focus until you're ready to add more.

If you'd like to chat further about where and how to start, I'd love to hear from you!

[Want a conversation with Jen?  Find her here, under "Nutrition Intro" https://www.crossfit310.com/signup]

The Four Invisible Pillars

 After CrossFitting for nearly a decade and owning an affiliate for 8 or more years, you get to watch a lot of workouts.  On the count of 3, 2, 1, go!, I’ve watched thousands of people launch into the throws of three rounds for time. I’ve seen countless 20 minute AMRAP’s, ascending and descending ladders, Murphs, 12 days of Christmas iterations, Open WODs, and other monstrous CrossFit Frankenstein workouts.  I’ve learned the general timelines of growth, tendencies of energy expenditure, and the nature of injury in regards to the prescription of adventure we dose to the common man.  In the last decade, the sport of CrossFit has radically changed, but when people are looking to make breakthroughs, I walk them over to the invisible pillars of CrossFit.  We walk right by the obvious pillars, the ones we already know about.  We nod respectfully at the Strict Pullup, Presses and the Dead Lift. We slow a little to pay homage to both of the Squats: the twin titans; and then we actually pause for one moment and stare at the beauty and power of the Clean and the Snatch.  But, we keep moving and I lead them back to exercises they know well, but maybe didn’t know carried so much weight.  Here’s the hack for your CrossFit.  Determine in your mind first, and then your daily practice, that you will master:  Burpees  Wall Balls  Double Unders  Toes to Bar  This is a way to level the ground in 80% of the WOD’s you come across.  It can take a beginner who’s got a lot of work to do in Strength and Oly Lifts, and let them run with the pack.  A veteran without these four pillars dug deep and set in concrete, will likely have lost ground at some competition or watched their position plummet on the CrossFit Open Leaderboard.     Burpees:   This is mental, and you must start with your mind.  Everyone hates burpees. You don’t have to like them either, but you need to determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.  This is not a technique heavy movement.  It does not discriminate gender. Revolution.   Wallballs:   This is mental, and you must start with your mind.  Everyone hates Wallballs. You don’t have to like them either, but you need to determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.  This move discriminates against the immobile, and short people, but if I can do this, you can do this.  Revolution.   Double-Unders (a.k.a. “Anger Makers”):   This is mental, and you must start with your mind (You’re getting the point right?).  Everyone hates Double-Unders. You don’t have to like them either, but you need to determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.  This move does not discriminate gender, or strength, but your anger keeps you from practicing.  You’ve got to devote time with the rope. Stop watching YouTube videos, you don't need any more cues, and set a three minute clock to practice after every class.  Revolution.   Toes to Bar:   This is not all mental--you’re not crazy--but it’s still no excuse.  This move takes some strength and coordination to learn. If you have your kipping pull-up, then you should have your toes to bar—you just haven't put enough value on it.  You need more time on the bar, like when you couldn’t stop trying for your kipping pullup because you wanted it so bad. And you know what’s coming next...at some point you must determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.  Some of you reading this just need to dedicate regular time to these pillars.  Your strength is there and the coordination will come with repeated attempts and play. Others need a coach to cue you, film you, take you through hands on gymnastic patterns and identify efficiency issues--maybe even just tell you when to show up and what to do to get one of these.  Most people reading this will continue to avoid the vegetables I’m telling you to eat.  Test the idea though, I dare you. Keep an eye out and see how many people suffer when you are missing one or more of these pillars.  You can cover up for a while if you've only got one of these weaknesses. But, if two of these pillars show up in a WOD, you're in trouble. If you get triple whammied in one WOD, you're likely gonna find something to watch on Netflix instead hitting the 5:30 class.  Master these four moves and it will serve your whole CrossFit life. More play. More fun!

After CrossFitting for nearly a decade and owning an affiliate for 8 or more years, you get to watch a lot of workouts.  On the count of 3, 2, 1, go!, I’ve watched thousands of people launch into the throws of three rounds for time. I’ve seen countless 20 minute AMRAP’s, ascending and descending ladders, Murphs, 12 days of Christmas iterations, Open WODs, and other monstrous CrossFit Frankenstein workouts.  I’ve learned the general timelines of growth, tendencies of energy expenditure, and the nature of injury in regards to the prescription of adventure we dose to the common man.

In the last decade, the sport of CrossFit has radically changed, but when people are looking to make breakthroughs, I walk them over to the invisible pillars of CrossFit.  We walk right by the obvious pillars, the ones we already know about.  We nod respectfully at the Strict Pullup, Presses and the Dead Lift. We slow a little to pay homage to both of the Squats: the twin titans; and then we actually pause for one moment and stare at the beauty and power of the Clean and the Snatch.  But, we keep moving and I lead them back to exercises they know well, but maybe didn’t know carried so much weight.

Here’s the hack for your CrossFit.  Determine in your mind first, and then your daily practice, that you will master:

Burpees

Wall Balls

Double Unders

Toes to Bar

This is a way to level the ground in 80% of the WOD’s you come across.  It can take a beginner who’s got a lot of work to do in Strength and Oly Lifts, and let them run with the pack.  A veteran without these four pillars dug deep and set in concrete, will likely have lost ground at some competition or watched their position plummet on the CrossFit Open Leaderboard.  

Burpees:

This is mental, and you must start with your mind.  Everyone hates burpees. You don’t have to like them either, but you need to determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.

This is not a technique heavy movement.  It does not discriminate gender. Revolution.

Wallballs:

This is mental, and you must start with your mind.  Everyone hates Wallballs. You don’t have to like them either, but you need to determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.

This move discriminates against the immobile, and short people, but if I can do this, you can do this.  Revolution.

Double-Unders (a.k.a. “Anger Makers”):

This is mental, and you must start with your mind (You’re getting the point right?).  Everyone hates Double-Unders. You don’t have to like them either, but you need to determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.

This move does not discriminate gender, or strength, but your anger keeps you from practicing.  You’ve got to devote time with the rope. Stop watching YouTube videos, you don't need any more cues, and set a three minute clock to practice after every class.  Revolution.

Toes to Bar:

This is not all mental--you’re not crazy--but it’s still no excuse.  This move takes some strength and coordination to learn. If you have your kipping pull-up, then you should have your toes to bar—you just haven't put enough value on it.  You need more time on the bar, like when you couldn’t stop trying for your kipping pullup because you wanted it so bad. And you know what’s coming next...at some point you must determine that you will be as good or better than most of the people you’re standing next to.  If you do this, if you master this move, you will mentally be ahead of most people in the box even before you start the workout.

Some of you reading this just need to dedicate regular time to these pillars.  Your strength is there and the coordination will come with repeated attempts and play. Others need a coach to cue you, film you, take you through hands on gymnastic patterns and identify efficiency issues--maybe even just tell you when to show up and what to do to get one of these.

Most people reading this will continue to avoid the vegetables I’m telling you to eat.  Test the idea though, I dare you. Keep an eye out and see how many people suffer when you are missing one or more of these pillars.  You can cover up for a while if you've only got one of these weaknesses. But, if two of these pillars show up in a WOD, you're in trouble. If you get triple whammied in one WOD, you're likely gonna find something to watch on Netflix instead hitting the 5:30 class.

Master these four moves and it will serve your whole CrossFit life. More play. More fun!

Raising The Well Balanced CrossFitter

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 11.23.51 PM.png

As a father with young kids, I am always on the lookout for tips on parental guidance. As ridiculous as it may sound, I approach parenting with some of the same perspective  that I approach CrossFit. I feel like I'm always training for the unknown, and if I don't get comfortable with being uncomfortable, I may miss out on the joy of being with my family. With a  parenting Suck List a mile long, I'm always looking for progressions and scalings and principles to give me greater insight into partnering with my wife and raising all these little people we love. Recently, I was listening to a radio program on parenting and the points being discussed were so salient, I couldn't help but lay them over the template of CrossFit. These points should be read and understood as guidelines for development; setting the stage for the best kind of growth.

Excellence is attainable, perfection is not.
Begin here with most things in life. Whether it's athletic, social, or spiritual, perfection will not be possible. Striving to get a little better every day means everything. Celebrate the days when it all feels like it comes together, and don't put your head in the oven when nothing goes right. You will have both days. Do not be satisfied with imperfection; excellence is a fight. Understand that the accumulation of days is the currency of excellence.
How does a healthy, well balanced teenager spell Love?: T.I.ME.
How do you get a healthy, well balanced Overhead Squat: T.I.M.E.

We have to make failure a safe thing in our home.
One of the greatest social agendas inside of CrossFit 310 is the conquest of taking the fear away from failure. Complete transparency is a primary reason why we post our numbers on the boards. You need to see my paltry squat numbers, Kyle’s non-existent Muscle-Up, Nathan and Jacob’s infant Handstand Push-ups, and Chastity’s mind bending battle with Double Unders. It's encouraging to know we're all working on something. You are supposed to fail over and over again as you come to class and WOD with your friends. You have to get those failed reps under your belt. You have to experiment and calibrate and overcome! This is what we do. We Teach, Practice, Play. Teach, Practice, Play. Inside of the radio program I was listening to, one of their quotes was, "When your kid spills his glass of milk, he doesn't need a lecture, he needs a rag." Take advantage of an environment that praises the process of failure to success. It's intoxicating.


Raise the kids you were given, not the kids you wish you were given.
This last point may not seem to cross over as easily as the other two points, but from my perspective of coaching hundreds of people over the years, this is one of the most profound points,  and I spend a lot of time talking and writing about it. The kid you were given in CrossFit is you. Your body type, your skill level, your strength, your mobility, your schedule, and your age, is exactly what it is at the moment. Some of these things  can be changed! You can change your shape, and your strength, your skill level, and your mobility! Wait long enough and usually your schedule changes too. The danger comes when you start comparing yourself with someone else. Frustration and irritation fester when I start to question why I can't squat like DJ, or pull as much weight as Alex, or develop as fast as Jacob. Everyone must reckon with what they are and build from there, otherwise growth will only take longer.

If you're at CrossFit 310, then you've found a group of people who are trying to move better, live healthier, and have as much fun as we can on the way. Keep playing and fighting for excellence. Listen to stories of profound change and look for any encouragement available. Use your story to encourage someone else.

This stuff is fun.
—Koach