Athlete Spotlight: Sandy

Sandy was actually our athlete spotlight in April, but I completely fudged getting her wod in, my apologies.

What made you choose True Athletics?
I wanted to try a fitness program that involved weight training and wasn’t always the
same workout. After the first week I was hooked!
How long have you been Training with us?
Roughly 2.5 yrs
What do you do for the short time of the day that you aren’t with us (i.e. a job)?
I’m the CFO/Director of Finance for a Homecare/DDS Company. I breakdown numbers
all day to analyze/manage the company’s finances, hence the reason my workout
notebook has records that look like “35 lbs each side, blue bar”. Breaking it down!
How is your nutrition? Do you eat a certain way? If so when did you make the
switch?
I could definitely do better in this area.
For now, I just try to be mindful of the
portions I eat.
Do you have a favorite exercise movement (gymnastics move, lift, etc)?
Push press and anything that works the abs.
How about a favorite WOD?
I like EMOMs, that way I can convince myself I can do anything for a minute
What is your favorite workout song?
Don’t have one
Have you changed at all physically or mentally since starting to train with us?
Absolutely! I am so much stronger and have more endurance.
What are your current goals?
Eventually, someday, doing a pull up
What is your favorite color?
Blue
What can you do now that you weren’t able to do before training at True Athletics?
Anything that required upper body strength. I even did a ring peg obstacle this past
weekend at a kid birthday party, woohoo!
Say something else, anything!
I really like the atmosphere that is at True and how everyone is very encouraging to each other.

Freedom

CrossFit gives us the freedom to move better, it gives us the capability to run, jump, swim, bike, and PLAY. If you ask the average American to run a 5K road race with you, they would be hesitant, they would say they can’t do that. Maybe after a bit of coercing you’ll get them to agree, but they need a running plan to get them there.

 

But if you ask a CrossFitter to do a 5k, they are more likely to reply with “okay..sure when”. Because they know they have the capability to do it. It might not be the fastest 5K and they might not love running, but they are confident they can finish.

 

When new members come to CrossFit True, we take a personalized approach. We want to get to know them, to know their goals, their motivation, and their limitations to better help them on their road to a healthier life. Often when we ask about their goals we get the same responses…drop a few pounds, gain strength, have visible muscle, to just be healthier, to not be out of breath.

 

After some soul searching, what it really boils down to for many is that they want to be able to do activities (bike, hike, kayak, swim, rock climb, trampoline park, pickup basketball, etc) . If their friends are going to do something they want to be able to say YES without hesitation. When their kids need a chaperone on the next hiking trip, they want to be able to say YES, I would love to go.

 

And that is the freedom we get from CrossFit; to be capable of using our bodies in a variety of ways at the drop of a hat.  

The Tipping Point

Are you familiar with the idea, The Tipping Point? Maybe you have read the book by Malcolm Gladwell?  Basically, it’s this:

 

“When an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

 

This idea can be related to most everything that is wildly popular whether good or bad. For instance, Podcasts began with the few early adopters, they recorded themselves talking about their passion and placed it on their website to get recognition.

 

But then all of the sudden……..everyone has a podcast. Any topic you want to know about, there is a podcast for it.

 

Your fitness has a “tipping point” as well. There is a moment when you are launched into another level. What use to be exhausting, is now your warmup. The dietary habits you were struggling to introduce into your life are now second nature. The movement/skill you spent months/years trying to obtain is now part of your regular routine.

 

One of my greatest “tipping points” was overcoming my struggle with the push-up. For years (just like the first 30 or so) I was the queen of doing the “worm” push up. You know the one…it’s where you push your chest up, but your thighs stay on the floor, then you lift the thighs only to flop them back to the floor and roll your stomach back to the floor.

 

I thought I was doing “real” push-ups, my arms felt like they were doing a lot of work, but then I got a coach, who informed me that indeed my push-ups needed some work. For a while I would go back and forth, one day trying really hard to perfect the push up and other days completely ignoring my coach and flopping around.

 

Finally, I decided it was time to get my push-ups under control, to learn how to properly excute a push-up. I will be honest at first I wasn’t as concerned with doing a better pushup or more of them. Nope, my goal was completely superficial, I wanted sweet arm muscles.

 

But whatever my reasons were, it got me started. I began working on body position, keeping a straight line from head to toe, this required maintaining tension throughout my body. I set up a barbell in the rack (incline push-up) and I did 5 sets of 15. Once I was able to complete all of them with good form, I moved the barbell down a notch.

 

And then I hit The Tipping Point. I no longer did the worm, I didn’t even think about doing it. The worm was no longer an alternative. My push-ups kept getting better I was able to do 5 in a row, then 10, then entire workouts (and bonus….I started to see those arm muscles pop out)!

 

What tipping points have you experienced in your health? Leave a comment below

 

The Difference: Beyond the CF Open

We’ve just completed the 2018 CrossFit Open…what a wild 5-weeks it has been.

 

First off…..CONGRATULATIONS to all of you. Everyone pushed themselves to be that little bit better, to get that extra rep, and to be held accountable for the standards. The energy and excitement in the gym was unmatchable. And the extraordinary camaraderie was a thing of beauty.

 

But now what?!?

 

Well, this is where you take advantage of what makes CrossFit True unique, the coaching.

 

As you may have realized, the Open has a way of highlighting weaknesses. Most of us come out of the Open with a laundry list of things we want to improve upon; Olympic lifting, overall strength, gymnastic skill, aerobic capacity, etc. But what do you do with all those new goals?

 

You talk with a coach. You pick our brains. And we come up with an actionable plan.

 

This maybe scheduling a 1-on-1 skill session with a coach to pinpoint what changes would create the best results for you. Our 1-on-1 skill sessions have produced amazing results getting our athletes better rowing technique (which leads to less energy expenditure with faster times), working on proficiency in gymnastic skills for better pull-ups, muscle-ups, & handstands, and achieving better movement patterns in the Olympic lifts to produce greater power.

 

Your plan maybe as simple as including short 5-10 minute skill, strength, and mobility work before or after class. This will give you a bit more exposure to the movements you want to improve without taking away from your normal work in class.

 

Perhaps your plan isn’t so much about what you are doing inside the gym, but what is taking place outside the gym. Nutrition is key to performance. Fueling your body properly will give you the energy you need to execute the workouts. The foods you eat have a direct correlation to your body composition whether you are trying to gain strength, lose fat, or just look good for summer. Our 1-on-1 nutrition coaching can help you learn how to fuel your body, be held accountable, and gain results. 

 

So, what do you want to improve upon? Comment below and let us know!

 

Best Warrior Debrief

2 Weekends ago I was lucky enough to get to participate in the Connecticut National Guard’s 2018 Best Warrior Competition.  The competition was 4 days of physical and mental challenges designed to determine the best soldiers within the state.  The winners would be sent on to regional level competition where they would again be challenged.  The winners of that regional event would then move on to compete for the national title of “Best Warrior”.  I knew I wanted to participate in the event since I first heard about it last year.  I am super competitive and really love a challenge.  I have so many goals in life relating to long endurance events and other physical challenges such as mountaineering (I’m going to do it one day!).  This competition seemed like a perfect fit and something I knew would challenge me.

The competitors also have to select a mentor to help them prepare for the event and then provide support during the event.  They cannot help you complete any tasks but they can offer advice, help you strategize and even carry extra gear for you like dry boots.  The mentor is a crucial role and no one could win without an excellent mentor.  I feel I had one of the best. I spent the 4 months leading up to the event studying all of the manuals that would be tested, working on my land navigation skills and training for the ruck march. I talked with my mentor going over gear lists and he triple checked all of my uniforms and equipment. When the time came I felt ready to go mentally and not bad physically.  I had a nagging lower leg/tendon issue that started just 1 week before the competition that wouldn’t go away.  It was just going to be something I had to deal with over the course of the event.

Our 4 days started off on Thursday with a “showdown” for you nonmilitary folks that is just a gear inspection. We had been given a list of gear that we had to show up with.  They inspected our bags and made sure we had those items; if they were missing you would be deducted points.  We are not sure exactly how each event was scored but it seemed to be on a 100 point scale.  With first place getting 100 points, second getting 99, etc.  If you did not complete an event you received 0 points, which would put you out of the running for first place.  It was very important not to get a zero.

Following the showdown we had to conduct the army height and weight test to make sure we me the army’s body composition standards.  Because I am just too swole I always have to “get tapped”, which just means getting my body fat taken via neck and waist measurements.  This was our first go/no go event.  Meaning if you failed the body comp you would be out.

After the body composition measurements we began our second go/go no event, the PT Test.  This was a standard APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) which consists of 2 minutes of max push-ups, 2 minutes of max sit ups and a 2 mile run.  The push-ups and sit ups were done to the Army standard, meaning you could only rest in the plank position for the push-ups and the up position on the sit ups.  If you put your knees down on the push-ups or rested on the ground for the sit ups you would be done. I did fairly well on the PT test scoring 58 push-ups, 68 sit ups, and a 14:08 2 mile run.  Not by best 2 mile or my best push-ups but I felt good about it.  My shin was hurting pretty bad on the run but about 1/3rd of the way through it started to feel alright and I was able to push through.  I came in on the run 5th and everyone who was in front of me was way younger than me.  On the APFT you are scored based on age group brackets.  The older you get the more points you get for the same amount of work i.e. 50 push-ups for a 21 year old is less points than 50 pushups for a 31 year old.  So by being close to younger guys I had a chance to outscore them on the APFT. Those were the only events we had for that day.  On Thursday evening we attending a dinner and briefing of the weekend.  We were given a general overview of how the weekend would progress, what we could expect and who we could go to for information/assistance if and when it was needed.

Friday morning started off at 5am with us getting our gear ready for the day.  We would be traveling to the rifle range immediately after breakfast via helicopter.  The helicopter ride was pretty cool.  I had flown on helicopters several times when I was in the Coast Guard but this was the first time I got to fly on a Chinook.  That’s the big one in the photo.

After our morning commute to the rifle range we began our events for the day.  We started off by zeroing our rifles.  Zeroing is the process you have to go to in order to line up the sights on the weapon specific to your individual geometry.  Everyone holds a rifle slightly differently therefore everyone views the sights at a slightly different angle.  By zeroing the sights you are setting them up so that when you line the sights up on the target it hits where you are aiming, theoretically anyway.  There is a lot more to shooting than just pointing at a target.  Your breathing, trigger squeeze and focus all play a role.  Just because you have the sight on the target does not mean you will hit it, squeeze a little too hard and it could completely miss, breathe at the wrong time and again a miss.

I was able to zero my rifle and move on to the rifle qualification.  During the qualification you shoot 40 rounds at various targets which vary in size and distance.  After every 3 shots we had to get up and walk out to our targets to mark the hits.  I couldn’t push off of my toes while walking due to the pain.  I had to come up with this little shuffle, limp thing in order to do it. Your score for the qualification is how many targets you hit out of 40, with 40/40 being a perfect score.  Typically I score 37-39, I’ve never done 40/40, but during the competition I was only able to hit 33.  During the qualification is where I started to think something might really be wrong with my shin. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was the nerves.  Either way while not my best it was good enough to keep me near the top.

Once we were done with the qualification we moved on to my favorite part of the competition, the Stress Shoot.  Again here my shin was a distraction but during the event I was able to use the adrenaline to keep moving.  The stress shoot had several parts, some were completed for time and others were for score.  The first part of the stress shoot was completed for time.  We had to do 10 burpees in full gear then pick up a 40 lb. cratering charge and run it up to the second rifle range.  It was slightly up hill with a big kicker at the end and maybe 400m in total length from start to finish.

 

This is a picture of me at an Army school from last summer.  In the background you can see an example of what a 40 lb. cratering charge looks like.  The one we had to carry during the competition didn’t have the red tape and C4 strapped to it.  We were preparing to set off the one in the photo, that’s why it has all the extras.

At the top of the hill we dropped the charge and jogged on to the next area where we would perform an urban shoot.  We had to move through a range with vehicles, doorways and windows.  There were 4 targets we had to hit while moving but we could only attempt 2 shoots per target.  I believe I hit all 4 targets, I didn’t see the 4th one break apart but I put a hole in it so it should have counted.  After the urban shoot we had to drag a dummy about 50m and then search them for our pistol ammunition.  We then used that ammunition to fire our pistol at target from both the standing and kneeling positions.  Once we finished all of that we moved on to the final phase.  We ran up to a blanket covering something.  The grader told us this task was going to be timed and that we had to assemble the machine gun under the blanket.  He said go and I removed the blanket to find an M249 SAW completely disassembled.  I was able to assemble the weapon within the time limit and that finished my stress shoot. After the stress shoot we had about 90 minutes to rest before the helicopters returned to take us to our next event.  We used this time to eat some hot soup (it was in the 30s and low 40s), and clean our rifles.

After our second helicopter ride of the day we began our Warrior Task Testing.  We went on a simulated mission where we were evaluated on our ability to conduct radio communications, reporting, visual signaling and protecting ourselves from a gas attack by applying our gas mask and other protective clothing.  During the mission we were “attacked” by a chemical gas weapon and had to react to it.  You were scored on how you reacted by protecting yourself with a gas mask as well as how you reported the situation via the radio.  Following the mission we were tested on 37 hand signals for both day time and night time. This entire thing was my worst event of the weekend.  I know I need to work on my visual signaling (hand signals) and my familiarity with reporting.  The only thing to do is learn from it and try to improve in the future.

After the Warrior tasks we headed back to our barracks to turn in our weapons, eat dinner and get ready for an early morning.  We would be up at 1am to start the next day’s events.  My shin was in pretty bad shape so my mentor went out in town (competitors could not leave the base but mentors were allowed to) and bought me some nice pink and yellow athletic tape so that I could try taping it up for the next day’s events. I iced my shin, took a hot shower, and then iced it one more time before taping it up and going to bed.  I was in bed around 8:30pm with a scheduled 1am wake up.  O boy…

(I’ll finish up with days 3 and 4 next week since this got so long. Stay tuned!)

3,2,1 GO MD

While writing my blog post for last week I came across this awesome website: 321GOMD.com

The site is the blog of Dr. Sean Rockett.  Dr. Rockett is a long time member of CrossFit New England up in Massachusetts and also works on the medical staff for the CrossFit Games at both their regional events and the Games.

Within his blog he breaks down a bunch of medical issues that he has seen occur to his friends and CrossFitters.  Reading his blog is a great way to educate yourself and get an idea of what may or may not be going on within your body.  He also discusses things you can do to prevent injury and improve performance.

Save it to your favorites and add it to your toolbox of resources.

2 weeks vs. a lifetime

In any training program there is always the temptation to overdo it.  You can easily get sucked in to the mindset of: “If pull ups are good for me, then 50 pull ups every day must be great for me!”.  We all have done it.  Sometimes it’s not even just with exercise.  It can be with nutrition also.  You start to think “apples are good for me, I’m going to eat 10 apples a day!”.  Soon you realize though that too much of a good thing can in fact be a bad thing.

The same is true for our training program.  You get better from training by recovering from the training stimulus that you exposed your body to.   You do some pull ups, your tendons, ligaments and muscles breakdown. Then after a recovery period they grow back stronger then they were before.  The problem with over doing it is that you do not give you body the required recovery time.  Instead of breaking down and rebuilding stronger they break down, build back up a bit (but not fully), then you stress them again too soon and they break down more, then more, then more, until finally something gives.

A lot of times I see this in people in the form of tendonitis.  You can think of tendonitis as a bunch of tiny microscopic tears within the tendon.  It usually develops from some sort of overuse.  You are most likely familiar with the terms golfers and/or tennis elbow.  These are forms of tendonitis that manifest due to the repetitive nature of those sports.

People can get tendonitis from exercise as well.  They will begin to notice a small ache on either the inside or outside of the elbow, or below the knee.  It can happen in others areas but those seem to be the most common.

If you pay attention to your body you can easily remedy this situation.  As soon as you notice it beginning you need to back off of any exercise that was making it worse.  If it is an upper extremity issue you should avoid any upper body work for 2-3 weeks.  Focus on your core, low back and lower body.  You can run and ride a bike but no pull ups or push ups.  After the 2-3 weeks of rest it usually goes away and you are good to go.  Just start slowly reincorporating those activities again.

The problem is that most people do not take that 2-3 break from those exercises.  They continue to push for 2-3 months or even longer.  At that point sometimes the issue can become permanent or so hard to fix that it may never go away.  It is a shame that by not listening to their body they allow this to happen.  A really common form of this occurs in runners.  Runners seem to be obsessed with more and more.  They think more is better at all costs.  Because of this they get Achilles or patella (under the knee cap) overuse issues.

Don’t be like those silly runners.  Listen to your body.  Take the rest and recovery time when you need it.

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