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How I lost 20 lbs. since July 1st

It’s Coach Dan here, when you read below you will discover how I pulled myself together after my life got a little off track and I ended up gaining some weight around the mid section.

I am currently running a clinic where I am teaching many of these techniques I discuss below.  In only 2 weeks our members have been loving the class.  Here is what Danny had to say “I work on my feet all day.  When I come home and do the ball work and stretches you taught us I feel relaxed and sleep so much better.”  If you are interested I would like to share with you some of the tips and techniques that I used and am still using every day to help improve my health, feel better and look better.  There are still 4 weeks left in our mobility clinic where we are working on improving our positioning for complex exercises, relaxing and getting rid of that stress.  You will definitely see improvement in your squat and overhead positions but I think you will also be pleasantly surprised at what a little “me time” can do for your body composition.

We have a few spaces still available in this clinic which is held every Sunday at 8am for the next 4 weeks.  You will also get homework with routines that you can do on your own. The cost to register for the remaining 4 weeks is now only $40 and you can register by emailing monique@true-athletics.com

 

I am opening these final 4 weeks up to members and non members alike.  So if you know anyone who could use this let them know.

 

My Story…

My life got very busy and stressful over the past 12 months.  I was back in school working towards my Master’s Degree and I had several schools and training events for the Army National Guard that would take me away from home for weeks at a time.

I was working out at the gym 4-5 days per week but I couldn’t drop the weight.  In fact I just kept gaining and before I knew it in June of this year I looked at the scale and I was up to 231 lbs, the most I have ever been in my life.  I could not longer see my abs and my muscle definition was non existent.

So what did I do to go from tipping the scales at 231 lbs, the heaviest weight I have ever been to my current body weight of 210lbs?

The answer took some time for me to find out.  After experimenting with everything I finally found the key.  I found the reason I was gaining weight and not looking like the athlete I thought I was.  It was three things actually and non of them involved more exercise.

When I started focusing on these 3 things the fat started to melt off my waist.  Just ask my wife, Dana, my abs were back in what seemed to be overnight.  I felt better, had more energy and best of all my performance in the gym was going through the roof.  I feel like I am getting back into the best shape I have ever been, my prime from nearly 7 years ago.

So what are these 3 things that I began to do?  Again it’s not exercise more.  What I began to focus on was:

  • Stress Relief/Relaxation
  • Improved Recovery
  • Water Intake

I’ll start with the easiest of the 3 first.  Drinking water.  Being dehydrated by a measly 1% can have a 5% negative effect on your athletic performance (WOD times, weights lifted, etc).  Being dehydrated also affects your energy level (meaning you may not have as much energy to put into your WODs, meaning you will get less out of them). If you are thirsty right now there is some evidence that says you may already be on your way to that 1% dehydration level.

So what did I do to? I began actually tracking my water intake.  I thought I always drank enough water but when I started tracking it and writing it down (or using myfitnesspal) I realized I was short most days of my goal.

What you need to do: Be sure to drink 1/2 of your body weight in ounces of pure water each day.  Do not count the ounces you drink during exercise and do not count coffee, alcohol or anything else.

The next thing that I focused on was my recovery.  I remembered a little known fact about exercise that most people tend to forget.  Exercise beats you down.  You get better by RECOVERING from your sessions, not by putting in more sessions.

I took a real honest look at my life and realized I never relaxed, I didn’t stretch and my sleep sucked.  I knew I needed to fix these things.

So what did I do? I began stretching every single day (my goal is everyday, I miss a few here and there but I try to be consistent).  I now spend about 20 minutes either in the middle of the day after lunch or just before bed stretching.  I put on some soothing music, focus on my breathing and just stretch.  No distractions, just me.  It’s hard to find the time and/or the space but if you make an effort it can be done.

I noticed something right away once I started stretching again.  I felt great.  I was more relaxed, it was a major stress reliever (I didn’t think I was stressed but realize now I was).  I also started falling asleep sooner and my sleep was better.  I felt more recovered after hard training days and was able to come into the gym the next day recharged and ready to go.

And do you want to know the most unexpected thing?  I was starting to look ripped again.  I realized it’s true that stress sits on your hips.  I focused just a small portion of my day on relaxing and my belly fat was melting away.

What you need to do?  Dedicate time for you.  A time at least once a week where you can zone out, relax and let all of the tension just ease out of your body.  I recommend using the beginning of this time to focus on any “hot spots” you have that limit you in exercises or in your life.  Then use the end to relax and de-stress.

I promise you that if you do these 2 simple things, drink water and stretch/relax you will notice an improvement in your gym performance but more importantly in your waistline.
If you are interested I would like to share with you some of the tips and techniques that I used and am still using every day to help improve my health, feel better and look better.  There are still 4 weeks left in our mobility clinic where we are working on improving our positioning for complex exercises, relaxing and getting rid of that stress.  You will definitely see improvement in your squat and overhead positions but I think you will also be pleasantly surprised at what a little “me time” can do for your body composition.

We have a few spaces still available in this clinic which is held every Sunday at 8am for the next 4 weeks.  You will also get homework with routines that you can do on your own.

The cost to register for the remaining 4 weeks is now only $40 and you can register by emailing monique@true-athletics.com

I hope to see you there,
-Dan

September Committed Club

What do I have to do to get into the Committed Club?

It’s easy! Just attend classes 12 times during the month or an average of 3 days/week and you’re in. 3 days/week is that sweet spot where you can really make some serious progress and not get burnt out. As you continue to develop as an athlete you will be able to handle more days and really accelerate your progress.

September 2017 Committed Club

Kristin 25 Classes
Jess T. 23 Classes
Nick 22 Classes
Raysa 20 Classes
Marc 19 Classes
Sue 18 Classes
Julia 18 Classes
Dave 16 Classes
Elaine 15 Classes
Dana 13 Classes
Lou 13 Classes
Jess S. 13 Classes
 Wil 12 Classes

Congratulations everyone who has made the choice to prioritize their health and fitness.  If you want to be a good parent, spouse or friend you have to be healthy.  If you choose to let your health suffer in order to take care of others you may not be around when they need you the most.  Just like on a plane put the mask on yourself first before putting it on others.

New to the committed club this month is Nick S.  He joined up last month and has started hot!  Great work man!

Back on the committed club and back in the gym this Month is Raysa, she is crushing it since she has been back with 20 classes!

Welcome back Julia after summer break from school!  Way to start it off in a great way!

Jess S. is back on the list after a month on the runners up list!  She is usually on the committed club so we will just assume last month was a fluke.

 

I have noticed a trend over the past few months.  The majority of our Committed Club comes from our very dedicated 5:30am crew.  They might all be very talkative but they sure are committed!  Let’s get it together night crew!

 

Big shout out to our consistent members Kristin, Jess T, Marc, Sue, Dave, Elaine, Lou and Wil for making the club at least 2 months in a row. Keep it up!

Runners Up with 11 classes.
Keep pushing and you all will be there next month!

Roz
Joe G.
Joe A.

The King of all Exercises

There is one movement which I think challenges your body in more ways than any other.  It involves Speed, power, strength, mobility, stability and coordination.  It works every single muscle within your entire body.  It is one of the most effective core strengthening exercises there is and will pack muscle on your abs like nothing else. It involves a pull from the floor, a squat and holding/pressing something over head.  It also happens to be my very favorite movement.

The Snatch, the full snatch….with a squat.

A snatch involves the athlete pulling a bar from the floor and throwing it overhead while simultaneously dropping underneath it and catching it in the bottom of an overhead squat.  From here they must balance the weight over their heads before standing up where the movement ends.  There is nothing else like it.

The thing that I like the most about the snatch is that getting stronger does not necessarily improve the weight you can move with this lift.  The real sticking point for most people is getting into the overhead squat position at the bottom what is known as the “catch position” of the lift.  The athlete has to have the MOBILITY to get into that position and then they must have the STABILITY needed to support weight while there.  This is why in the Olympics you will see tiny women snatching huge weights.  Yes they are STRONG AS HELL but they also have incredible technique and the mobility needed to get under that bar.

That catch position, the bottom of an overhead squat, is a good place for athletes to start when building the base for their snatch.  An overhead squat with a PVC pipe can humble you like nothing else.  If it is difficult for you then the PVC pipe will most likely show that you have one if not all of the following: tight calfs and/or ankles, your hips are all locked up and that your thoracic spine and shoulders are stuck in a forward hunched position.

Improving your squat strength alone will not help you here. To improve this movement you need to spend time working these positions.  For most people it took you years to get tight.  You went from being a baby who could touch their toes and sit on the floor no problem, to where you are now where you might have difficulty putting on your shoes and socks. It took years to develop these issues and it will take time to reverse them.  A consistent steady approach is the only way to improve your movement and get better at these positions.

If you are finding yourself having difficulty getting into this position (how did your overhead squats go today?) let me show you some tips and tricks you can use to improve those tight spots.  I am coaching the upcoming mobility clinic and improving your overhead squat is exactly what I intend to do.  It starts Sunday October 8th at 8am and runs every Sunday from 8-9am for 6 weeks.  Email monique@true-athletics.com and tell here you want one of the few remaining spots.

See you there!

-Coach Dan

Only 6 days left

That’s it.  only 6 days until our next clinic starts up.  The 6 week mobility clinic starts this coming Sunday October 8th @8am.

We are limiting this clinic to 10 spots so be sure to email monique@true-athletics.com to reserve your spot before it sells out.

 

Do you have trouble getting into a good front rack position in the front squat or clean?

Can you get full depth in your squat easily?

If I asked you to sit at the bottom of a squat for 60s could you stay in that position with ease?

How is your Overhead squat?  Can you get into this most challenging position easily?

If you answered no to anyone of these questions then this clinic should be something for you to consider.

 

One other benefit that I want you to know about is the relaxing/stress relieving aspect of these classes. You will leave feeling refreshed, destressed and ready to take on the week.  You will feel better and as your positions improve your workouts and fitness will improve.

 

Hurry and get your spot today before it’s too late!  I can’t wait to see you there.

 

6 Week Mobility Clinic

Our 6 week strength clinic just finished up last week and everyone got some amazing results.  There were PRs everywhere!  We are going to be offering another 6 week clinic but with this one we will be switching gears a bit.  This next clinic will focus on mobility.

This will be a 1 hour session each week where we meet to focus on getting into better positions for our lifts and other demanding exercises.  The primary focus is going to be on improving hip and shoulder mobility and we will be looking at your overhead squat positioning to measure our progress.

Here is a rundown of how each class is going to look:

  • dynamic warm-up to get the blood flowing
  • foam rolling session
  • some kind of “tool” work
    • Lax Ball
    • Band
    • Box
    • etc.
  • stretching session
  • You will also be given some homework to complete throughout the week to increases the effectiveness of the sessions

Each class is going to be different but will follow a similar template to that.

 

Here are all the details you need to know:

  • When is this awesome, amazing, super class?
    • Sundays @8am
  • Great! When does it start?
    • Sunday October 8th and runs through Sunday November 19th
  • Wow! How much is it?
    • $55
  • Sweet! How do I sign up?
    • Email Monique@true-athletics.com and let her know you want to be more awesome!

Training Through Injury

It happens to all of us.  We are going about our normal lives then….BAM! We get injured.  It could be something chronic that has slowly built up over time or something acute such as a broken leg.  However it happens is irrelevant.  What matters is that it happened and now you have to figure out what to do. The way I see it you have 2 choices:

  1. Act like the world has ended and hide in your home eating oreos and brownies until the injury heals
  2. Figure out ways to work around it

Personally I have tried both approaches and I can tell you that option number 1, though it feels great at the time, is not the way to go.

You see even if you don’t realize it there is something powerful about coming to the gym.  Including it as part of your daily routine is more important than you may think.  When you come in each and every day you give yourself that 1 hour to unwind, to relax and to release stress.  You get to socialize and hang out with all of your like minded fitness friends.  Last but not least exercise releases a boat load of beneficial hormones that help you feel great. If you stop coming to the gym because of an injury all of a sudden you lose all of that.

The trap that I see a lot of people fall into is that they focus only on what they CANNOT do.  I broke my leg so I CANNOT squat, I CANNOT deadlift, I CANNOT run. So they don’t come to the gym because in their mind they CANNOT workout.  Before you know it you are depressed and feeling miserable.  And guess what happens next?  Your mind starts playing this interesting game.  You start to get this little voice in your head saying “If I can’t workout I might as well just eat whatever I want.”  You know you’ve heard that voice before.  Now all of your progress and hard work goes down the drain in this cascading of unfortunate events.

But…it doesn’t have to be that way.  Just because you are injured doesn’t mean you cannot work out.  You need to shift your focus from what you cannot do to what you CAN do.  Have a broken leg?  Great!  Now you will finally have the chance to focus on nothing but upper body strength work to get that muscle up you have always wanted.  Broken arm?  Sweet! You will learn to love the airdyne and get really good at pistols or pulling the sled.  I have had people row before with broken legs, the broken leg is off to the side on a skate board and they row 1 legged.  Other than the initial recovery after a surgery or traumatic injury there is no reason you cannot continue to stay healthy and make progress.  You just might have to shift focus for a bit.

By continuing to train you can actually increase recovery time and lessen the time it takes you to get back to 100% once you are fully healed.

So stay healthy, but if something happens remember: It’s not the end of the world.

Spartan Race Team

I have been wanting to do a Spartan Race for some time now but doing it alone is never fun.  So in my infinite wisdom I have decided to grab all of my favorite friends (you guys!) and make you do it with me!

We are going to be doing the Spartan Super at Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, NJ on November 4th.  Now I know what you are thinking….”Dan, can I do this?”  Hell yes you can. The race is 8-10 miles in length but you won’t be doing it all continuously.  There are 24-29 obstacles scattered throughout the course.  So that means you will do some running, then hit an obstacle, then move on.  If you train with us 3 days/ week you will be fine.  If the running makes you nervous adding in an additional easy run day once per week will help relieve those fears.

The goal of this group event is to have fun as a team.  We plan on staying together as a group and making sure everyone makes it through.  Depending on how many people sign up we might be able to break into 2-3 different groups based on ability level and pace.  However we will NOT leave anyone behind.  I don’t want to have groups of less than 3-4.  This way we can all help each other out as we make our way through the course.

Because it is a 2 hour and 15 minute drive we will be doing the afternoon heat which starts at 12:15.  We can iron out all of the details as it gets closer to the event but to give you an idea of the day here is what it will probably look like:

  • Meet at gym around 7:30am to carpool
  • Leave gym by 8:00am
  • Arrive at resort by 10:30am
  • It’s a 20 minute shuttle from the parking to the race, so get to race location by 11:00
  • Sign in
  • Wander around
  • Race!

Plan on it being a full day, we can stop and get some food on the way home.

The cost right now is $129 but the price goes up the longer you wait. When you register join our team “CrossFit True”.  Check out the race page here for more information and to sign up.

It’s gonna be awesome!

End of Summer Committed Club (Jul & Aug 2017)

With all the craziness going on this summer I realized I never posted the committed club results for July.  So today you get the totals for both July and August in one shot!

What do I have to do to get into the Committed Club?

It’s easy! Just attend classes 12 times during the month or an average of 3 days/week and you’re in. 3 days/week is that sweet spot where you can really make some serious progress and not get burnt out. As you continue to develop as an athlete you will be able to handle more days and really accelerate your progress.

July 2017 Committed Club

Kristin R. 21 Classes
Jess T. 21 Classes
Sue 17 Classes
Marc P. 15 Classes
Wil 13 Classes
Lou M. 13 Classes
Meg F. 12 Classes
Tracy 12 Classes
Roz 12 Classes
Jess S 12 Classes

July was a busy month for most of us but I love seeing that you all choose to commit to your health and commit to your fitness.  Congratulations to our two top athletes Jess T. and Kristin who both tied at 21 classes.  And a big shout out to Sue for climbing up the ladder into the third spot after being a runner up last month with 11 classes.

New to the committed club for the first time in July or back after a month off were Tracy,  Meg F & Sue. Great work you guys!

Big shout out to our consistent members Kristin, Jess T, Marc, Wil, Lou, Roz and Jess S.Jess S. for making the club at least 2 months in a row. Keep it up!

Runners Up with 11 classes.
Keep pushing and you all will be there next month!

Jess H.
MG
**thats 2 months in a row at 11 classes for Jess and MG, come on you two you can get to 12!**
John S.
Joe A.

August 2017 Committed Club

 Jess T. 25 Classes
Dave 17  Classes
Marc 17 Classes
Sue 16 Classes
 Kristin 14 Classes
Dana 14 Classes
Lou 13 Classes
 Elaine 13 Classes
 John S. 13 Classes
Ben 12 Classes
Roz 12 Classes
Wil 12 Classes
Jess H. 12 Classes

August was a great month, we had lots of people on the committed club.  It’s great to see how motivated everyone is. Congratulations to Jess T. for dominating the month with 25 classes.  That’s two months in a row in the top spot for her.

New to the committed club for the first time in August or back after a month off were Dave, Dana, Elaine, John S, Ben, Jess H (great work getting here Jess!  After 2 months in the runner up spot it is awesome to see you here.) Great work you guys!

Big shout out to our consistent members Jess T, Marc, Sue, Kristin, Lou, Roz and Wil for making the club at least 2 months in a row. Keep it up!

Runners Up with 11 classes.
Keep pushing and you all will be there next month!

Gina
Rob
Shannon
MG (that’s 3 months in a row at 11 Meg, come on you can do it!)
Jess S.

Don’t see your name on the list? Make sure you sign in to each and every class.

The benefits of long, slow cardio

I am sure you have all heard the many touted benefits of endurance or cardio vascular training before.  How it effects heart health, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I don’t want to discuss just the physical benefits of the training today (though I will mention it in a way you may not have heard of before).  Today I want to take a look at the mental benefits and then how those mental benefits can interact and work together with some physical ones.

So before we start, what exactly is long slow endurance work?  I try to look at it as an effort that can be maintained indefinitely.  Going for a walk for 30 minutes at an easy pace might be this, or even an easy run or bike or swim.  The catch is that the pace needs to be a sustainable one.  So if you went out for a 30 minute run and then at minute 25 I told you to keep going for 60 minutes you should be able to keep on rolling at the same pace.  If you can’t then it wasn’t truly sustainable work.

Now that we know what sustainable endurance work is how can you train it?  It’s easy really, go out for 30-60 minutes and do something.  Walk the dog, walk, run, ride the airdyne while watching TV at night, whatever!  To progress you can either increase the time you go for, the number of sessions per week you do or slightly increase the difficulty i.e. walking with a small backpack.  You don’t want to go crazy and make it “hard work”.  You should feel refreshed after this type of work, not tired or beat up.

There are some really great benefits when you do this type of training regularly.  First off it gives you a chance to “unplug”.  I would challenge you to try to get it done without your cell phone, no music, just you and nature.  If you can’t get outside ride the bike inside and read a book.  You can get in a nice rhythm with your breathing, the cadence of you step and all that is around you.  For me this is something I used to do a lot of years ago and have just recently started doing again.  I forgot how great it feels to actually breath and just relax.  It becomes a form of meditation for me and I am just realizing how much I have missed it.  I have started riding my bike to the gym when I workout, except for Wednesdays where I have been running.  It’s about a15 minute bike or a 30 minute jog  each way and gives me just the right amount of time to relax my mind and get ready to work.  The way home is a perfect cool down. Once it starts getting cold/dark early I am going to have to move my training indoors.  Below is a sample of a multiple modality “around the world” style piece I used to do a few years ago in the morning:

20 minutes at an easy sustainable pace:
250m Row
20m bear crawl
20 cal AD
40 single unders
200m Jog (outside or shuttles in gym)
30s Plank
*every single round you get should be EXACTLY the same time.  you should feel good throughout and after.  Over time you can slowly increase the total time and/or mess with the distance/reps of each individual exercise.

Just remember no matter what you choose it must be sustainable work that you could maintain for a very long duration (over an hour).  The goal is not to go hard and be exhausted but to get blood moving and feel good.

There are also some great physical benefits from this long slow work as well.  For CrossFitters it allows us to flush our systems, literally.  While you are moving you are pumping blood and moving nutrients into your muscles and waste away from them.  As long as you are truly doing sustainable work you will notice the recovery benefits quickly.  At the same time you are also building your capacity or “engine”.  At a cellular level your body is becoming more efficient at moving oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the cells respectfully.  This transfers to all other facets of your training.

So I challenge you to do some long slow cardio work 1-2 times per week this month and note your results.  Remember this doesn’t mean go for a 1 mile run after class where you are pushing it.  It should be a pace where you can carry a conversation and laugh without effort.  You can hop on the rower and do a nice easy 20mintue cool down working on technique after any class or even as a warm up before class.  The airdyne is also an option.  Are you a cyclist?  Bring your trainer into the gym and do some easy work before or after class while hanging out with all the amazing people we have here.  During the winter I am going to go back to doing 12″ box step ups for 20+ minutes continuously and slowing increasing the time and possibly eventually with a light weight vest.  Then towards the end of the winter season maybe even up to a heavier vest as long as it is truly sustainable work. There are multiple possibilities just use your imagination and find something that works for you.

So here it is again lets make it official and try to do 2- 20 minute+ sessions of truly sustainable aerobic work each week for the month of September.  Your rest days from the gym are a great time to fit these in.  Think about it as “Actuive Recovery” and not exercise to keep the effort low.  During the summer I mow the lawn on sundays with a weight vest as my active recovery day and its great.

Have fun!

Virtuosity

Back in 2005 CrossFit founder Greg Glassman wrote an article titled “Fundamentals, Virtuosity, and Mastery”.  It was written as an open letters to the current CrossFit trainers of the time however the article still has relevance to this day.

What is virtuosity?  Virtuosity is defined as “performing the common, uncommonly well”.  To me it comes down to basics and reminds me of the old saying “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”.  If you want to truly excel at something you need to master the basics.  You need to do the fundamentals so well that they look effortless.  I think too many people get caught up in fancy exercises or the next big thing.  They try to move past the basics too quickly because they are boring.  They can barely do a push up but they want to do ring dips and muscle ups.

This also goes for advanced athletes.  If you are trying to get that muscle up or improve the one you already have maybe what you need to do is to take a few steps back and work on improving your basic movement.  Again staying with the muscle up if you cannot perform a beautiful perfect push up and pull up then you muscle up (if you can even do it) is going to be ugly.  As you move down the continuum of more difficult movements your movement patterns will continue to degrade until you fail.

So I challenge you to open your mind while you are working out and think about your movement.  Strive for perfection, knowing you might never reach it, but working towards it nonetheless .  If you want to get better work on the foundational movements, work on making them beautiful.  A saying from the military is “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”.  That should be your goal with movement development.

Here is a link to the above mentioned article if you wish to read it.

 

Stay virtuous!

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