Good News/Bad News

So I was thinking about what I needed to talk about, for once I actually do not have much to say…go figure. I started my MBA program this week, and since it is all online it has chewed up a lot of free time that I used to reserve for blogging. So if I drop off the face of the WordPress earth, please forgive me and know I will be back soon.

Alright, lets get down to business here. Good News: We are coming up on the 6th month anniversary of me joining Crossfit. With that, I have some exciting facts to report. First, I am down 25 pounds since I started Crossfit. Secondly I am down 1 shirt size and 2 pant sizes. I am able to fit into clothes that I haven’t fit in for years. It is a very exciting thing when you are able to quantify the results of hard work and dedication.

What’s that you say? You wonder what the bad news could be? Well here it is: Bad News, I have fallen victim to one of the oldest overuse injuries in the book. Tendonitis, of the internal hand/thumb area. Well, technically speaking it would be more tendonosis. Seriously, a thumb. I had been feeling pain for about a week in my right hand and started to notice a very large decrease in my ability to support heavier weights that involve front rack, ie Front Squats, Clean, Snatch etc. I ignored it at first because I figured I was just working thru already established mobility issues in the same hand/wrist.

This is my brace, that I am supposed to wear “most of the time, but not continuously”

I got seen by a Phyician’s Assistant at my PCP’s office because my regular MD was not available. Want to know what was entertaining? Trying to explain to her, what Crossfit actually was, I was trying to gauge how much alteration to my routine I would need if any, and I am quoting what she said back: “Aerobics should be fine but I would caution you getting too worked, just make sure you get plenty of rest and hydration.” I almost had to laugh, well…I did laugh but that is neither here nor there. She wanted me to completely stop all physical activity and get occupational therapy for my hand. Well…I will go to OT/PT whatever it ends up being, but I am just going to modify the workouts so I don’t blow out my hand.

As you can see I am cursed to a semi-permanent brace for the time being. I did find it funny when they told me to wear it while at work and such but not to wear it 100% of the time. Me, being the wise ass that I am asked the PA what I should actually do at work with lifting. It was then that she asked me what my career was and I told her how I worked in Emergency Medical Services as a Paramedic. I explained how I had to lift, move, and potentially compress patients all day long. She then had a this brief pause, where I actually debated if she was having a stroke by the odd sideways glance she gave me. Then she asked me the question that really proved to me my copay money was well spent…”Well do as much as you think you can do.” Isn’t our healthcare system great? Her perfessional medical opinion was passed along to my judgement and telling me to do what I felt comfortable doing. Let’s be honest folks, that was going to happen anyway, but at least make it look like you care.

Most of the next week will be spent catching up on school work, and figuring out how to scale WOD’s so I don’t cause more injury. Until next time people, take care!

“Born to Run” By Christopher McDougall

So along with starting Crossfit, a lot of other things started changing in my life for the better. First of all, I started reading for fun! I never really did that before. It was all mindless entertainment on the television because it was just that, mindless.I am going to start a new section to this blog that will specifically have to do with book reviews. This is the first of what I hope to be many posts.

A few of us were casually chatting in the box about workouts that we could do while traveling. My coach suggested I read a book called “Born to Run” by Christoper McDougall. At first glance I had to laugh. The title in and of itself was enough to turn me away. I thought “Look at me, I wasn’t born to run. I was born to do anything BUT run.” Well, the next week I was flying down to Florida for a vacation with my girlfriend Catherine and then it happened. I got hooked on the book.

McDougall is a former war correspondent and currently is a contributing editor for the magazine Men’s Fitness. He is an avid runner who lives in rural Pennsylvania. Let me tell you, this book had me hooked from the first click open on my kindle. He talks about how his own personal running form had brought him to a point where he was suffering from chronic stress injuries, and was buying expensive orthotic inserts for his shoes. The story talks about his search for the Tarahumara people. You can read more about the Tarahumara people from WIKIpedia by clicking here.

The Tarahumara people are basically a forgotten tribe (by modern civilization) who resides in the canyon’s in northwest Mexico. They are now known for their long distance running ability. We are talking 100k plus running abilities here people. This was one of the most interesting thing’s I found about this book. I enjoyed hearing about how the Tarahumara lived off the lands, appreciated life, and most importantly their ability to run ungodly distances without as much as a slab of rubber and some leather around their feet.

It is impossible to describe the impact this one book has had on me. I am not speaking in a mushy emotional type way. I am speaking in a way that motivates you to perform better. It motivates you to go out there and accomplish your goals, and the only excuse that you have is yourself. It showed me a lot more about the kinesiology behind our running practices. Talked about how arch’s aren’t supposed to be supported, and how pronation within certain limits is natural and should be embraced. I have never had a book actually make me want to change the way I try to run until now. I am looking into transitioning into barefoot running and I cannot wait to see the results I could get out of it.

The book left me with a bunch of favorite quotes, which are all neatly bookmarked and highlighted in my Kindle Fire. For now, I am going to leave you with one quote. It is my favorite quote.

But the American approach—ugh. Rotten at its core. It was too artificial and grabby, Vigil believed, too much about getting stuff and getting it now: medals, Nike deals, a cute butt. It wasn’t art; it was business, a hard-nosed quid pro quo. No wonder so many people hated running; if you thought it was only a means to an end—an investment in becoming faster, skinnier, richer—then why stick with it if you weren’t getting enough quo for your quid?

This quote goes so far beyond being applicable to running. It’s applicable to our societies approach to fitness in general. All too often are we simply concerned with the immediate effects of what we do, we want it done quickly for the least amount of work possible. In some cases, there’s pills to make it happen for us. Picture fitness as an art, something to be enjoyed, and the benefits will follow. Trust me.

Something’s missing….

Good Sunday Morning everyone!

To all the Father’s out there, Happy Father’s day.

So I started at a new box at the beginning of this month. It has been kind of a rough transition for me for a bunch of different reasons. I am going to talk about atmosphere, equipment, facility, and coaching. I can’t decided if this place is too “post-bok” for me or what.

Atmosphere is interesting. Due to my schedule I am usually restricted to the morning WOD’s. I call it the hour of the soccer mom’s. I usually go for a 0900 hrs WOD. The class size is extremely manageable and allows for individual coaching with little effort. It isn’t really a social group, but that may also be because I am the new guy. Definitely a problem I didn’t have at my last box. That is starting to improve, but it is frustrating.

Since AE Crossfit is part of the Athletic Evolution training facility, the equipment is new and expansive. Options are endless, thanks to their two different indoor turf areas. The only thing I could really complain about their equipment is that they have no rowers. I didn’t really think about it until I was craving some rowing work and I looked around for them in the box (and their training side). I couldn’t find a single rower. Now, AE Crossfit is a new box, it opened back up in Nov/Dec of 2011. I understand that you need to work out the kinks in the process, but I was beside myself that there were no rowers. Luckily the WOD’s have successfully distracted me from that.

Finally, coaching. I have only worked with one of the coaches for the gym. That beings said my opinion of the coaching can be a bit one-sided and may not be fair but its my experience thus far. I have worked with a coach who appears to be very knowledgeable in the ideals of Crossfit. He has a strength and conditioning and sports medicine background (at least that’s what he says). He is helpful when he notices a problem with your form or technique. The only thing that bugs me, and I mean REALLY grinds my gears about him is the cell phone. In 5 out of my first 6 workouts, after the WOD is done, and he shuts the music off, he is texting while leading stretching. It would be fine if he was able to master the art of multi-tasking but it seems like this is a skill that he needs to practice. He can get very easily distracted (via the phone or talking in person) and will leave us in a stretch longer than needed.

I am gonna take some time and walk through a typical hour at AE Crossfit. We all come into the box, put our names up on the white board, and move over to the turf for a dynamic warm up. The warm up usually consists of running laps, with burpees, jumping jacks, air squats, spider man stretches, and inchworms. It definately gets your heart rate up, and gets you ready for the WOD. Next we move onto the skill/strength session. This is usually the only part of the workout that leaves me unsatisfied. There is usually one strength movement (bench, squats, snatch, push press etc) with a weight of your choosing, combined with a mobility component. I can see the value in it for beginners, but it seems to be a bit lacking. I am also used to doing Wendler Cycles at my old Crossfit Box which I LOVED.

Now with that being said, it should be known that I don’t really want to leave. I just would like to see some improvements at the box that could really improve their performance as a box. Also, they all gave us new scan tags to check in when we come to the BOX. I think they are pretty funny, despite the globo-gym feel it gives off…take a look.

I am happy to say that I am member # 047!

Now, with all this bitching and moaning. My question is how do you approach the owner/coach about where the programming is going? This is something I haven’t had to deal with at my previous box. I was lucky to have a myriad of coaching styles and knowledge bases to pull from. Some were really good with nutrition, some with strength and conditioning, and some have it all going on.

Maybe I am just being hypercritical?

New Month, New Box

I can’t recall a time P.C. (Pre-Crossfit) that I ever spent so much time analyzing and interpreting a box. I went to a new box this past Monday. It was only 5 minutes from my house, so it was super convenient.

I haven’t decided yet if this box is for me, or if it is just one that will become a memory. It is AE Crossfit in Woburn MA. The manager (Erik) was super responsive to emails. I informed him I was looking into finding a new box, and he was very accommodating with getting me in to try out some WOD’s.

What’s that they say about first impressions? This Crossfit box is part of a larger athletic performance training facility. I was not sure what the actual square footage, but there was plenty of impressive equipment. The people in the gym, were a little standoff-ish at first, but after a quick introduction on my part that was no longer an issue.

Programming was pretty solid, we did a dynamic warm up (which was a pretty fun way to do it if I do say so myself) then we did a mobility skill session prior to the WOD. The WOD was challenging but not overbearing.

Pricing was also very reasonable for all the boxes in the area. First Responders/Millitary can get an unlimited membership for $125 a month. Most box’s in the area have prices ranging from $150-200 for unlimited sessions.

Overall, I would say that I definitely enjoyed my first visit. I am going to keep going back until I realize one way or another if I will make it my home Box.

Until next time, Keep Calm, and WOD on.

EDIT 1: So I have been here a few weeks now. I am not super impressed with the strength and conditioning, but the WOD’s are still pretty solid. Still on the fence as to if this place is for me. I will definitely enjoy it for now.

An Open Letter to Crossfit 508

To all the members and coaches at Crossfit 508:

Thank You.

The end of January of this year, I failed my third attempt at a PAT Exam for a job. I finally decided that enough was enough. I have had several friends who were already into Crossfit, and I simply reached out to them for information. I paired that with endless hours of aimless YouTube clip browsing, and main site perusing. It was settled, I was mentally ready to “TRY” Crossfit.

A quick Google search would bring me to an affiliate map, and I found the closest box. I remember my first night like it was yesterday. I got to the Box about 15-20 minutes early, so nervous that I was feeling like my bowels would turn inside out and eject out my…well…you get the picture. I walked into the gym, and then it hit me…

HOLY SHIT, I AM ACTUALLY DOING THIS.

At first, I felt like the fat kid in gym class that no one wanted on their matball team. Then the first member came over and introduced themselves, and it was like I was instantly welcomed into the club. Throughout my foundations program, I worked with Ditano as she showed me the ropes. Kicked my ass with…motivation when I needed it. I will always remember the little short winded shouts of encouragement form people doing the regular WOD. After that, I worked mostly with Dawn-Marie during the daily WOD’s and I didn’t get to work with the other coach’s all that much, that is probably the only thing I regret.

Thank you for inspiring a positive change in my life that was long overdue. Good luck in achieving your goals from here on out. I will miss you guys!

~Ryan