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  • RX or Scaled?

    When workouts are posted, much more often than not there is a parenthesis next to the movement with numbers inside. Everyone that starts Crossfit always asks, “What is that?” The answer can be stated several ways but to be blunt, it is the suggested but flexible variable to that portion of the workout.

    Key word: Suggested. Another key word: Flexible

    “RX” = As prescribed.

    A quick, funny story. One of our OG members at Bison first started soon after we opened the doors. As he came to the gym night after night, he noticed that a few names everyday at those letters “RX” next to their name. Others did not. There was never any rhythm or pattern to it. The first seven people on the board had “RX” after their score, the next 2 did not, the next 3 did, the next one did not….and then the next day it was completely different. This OG member thought that RX stood for…wait for it…”Really eXcellent”. Ha…one of the funniest little moments we had that we still laugh about to this day.

    But the more I think about it, I think several crossfitters view RX as exactly what he perceived it to be. “RX means “Really EXcellent”. And if you did not RX, you are simply a step below. And I have to hammer this in to your head as hard as possible…that could not be further from the truth.

    To be blunt again, the RX standard of a workout is simply about the intended stimulus for that workout. It is a necessary piece of information to let the athlete and coach know what is the desired outcome, intensity, and level of volume. A coach that knows the athlete he or she is coaching should be able to give a suggested weight on a barbell by seeing the RX standards combined with a time cap. Let’s take the most famous Crossfit workout for example:

    “Fran”

    21-15-9

    Thrusters (95/65)

    Pull Ups

    In your average Crossfit gym, the fastest times are usually around 3 minutes. The time cap for this workout is anywhere from 9 to 12 Minutes. The intention of this workout is FAST AND AGGRESSIVE. Thus…if your 1 rep max is anywhere within 10-15 pounds of that thruster weight, YOU HAVE TO SCALE. Sure, you could stumble your way to the end, take 20 minutes…and get the RX next to your name. But you missed the intended stimulus of the workout. Your progress as an athlete took a step back. You probably got hurt. Still confused?

    This would be comparable to walking 4 miles with a weighted vest, taking about an hour, while I am trying to get you better at sprinting 100 meters. What was the point of that walk?

    I think the main issue with RX vs. Scaled is simple. It is ego. And in a gym…the egos are sometimes too much to fit inside all at once. Too often I’ve seen people reach too far out of their current capabilities just so they can pat themselves on the back with their “Really eXcellent” efforts. But their ignorance to the bigger picture and obsession with today’s image leads to injury and/or a halt in overall progression.

    Everyone, myself included, makes mistakes. I’ve walked away from workouts and was well aware I went beyond my means. But the real mistakes are the ones you keep repeating. If you are constantly finishing beyond the time caps, you need to take a step back. Go lighter, move faster, and try to understand the desired stimulus of the workout. If you are constantly unable to do the intended volume of a workout, take a step back. Go lighter, move faster, and try to understand the desired stimulus of the workout. I wish people would realize that there are several times you have to go backwards a tad in order for you to reach your goal.

    “RX” isn’t impressive. It’s really not. How well you move and you achieving the desired stimulus is. If you are having a hard time deciding between RX and scaled….or understanding what you should be doing…ask yourself this: Is my ego making my decision? If it is….you’re screwed.  Don't hesitate to ask a coach you trust what their opinion is but ask for honesty, not an answer this is complimentary.  

    I strongly believe your long term fitness goals heavily depend on this approach.

  • So....You Wanna Compete

    What is a Crossfit Competitor? A very well-known Crossfit Coach and Seminar Staff Leader once said….

    ”Unless you are doing Fran in under 2:30 and Elizabeth in under 4:00, don’t call yourself a competitor”.

    Because I have a lot of respect for the person that said this, I sort of agreed with it. Then about 15 seconds later, I thought the statement was absolutely ludicrous. If you participate at a competition, whether it be the Crossfit Games or a local level scaled comp, you ARE a competitor.

    Now that makes this a VERY broad group of people that should read this. A VERY broad group of ability and skill levels and that means, just like our workouts, what is said here is relative to the different goals and approaches you have with competing. So yes, not everything in here is for the “casual” competitor but there are still things to take from it. That leads to a ton of gray area but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to focus; gray does not always mean blurry. What works for this guy won’t work for that girl and vice versa. There is no designed template for competitors but I do think, no matter the ability or experience level, a few things need to be considered.

    1 – BE HUMBLE

     I’m putting this first because, naturally, I care about it the most. Since Crossfit and Instagram have crossed paths, I believe the amount of self-gloating has gotten out of hand. You can talk to me about sponsors all day and my views won’t change. If you want to compete so that you look good on social media, so that you get attention from other people, your days are numbered. I truly do wonder if some of you would tangibly be closer to your goals if social media didn’t exist. The time you spend on camera angles, hashtagging, thinking of captions, and looking at muscle-friendly filters could be much better spent on you becoming a better athlete and person (yes the two are tied together). Look, competing is very much about being rewarded but I think the best do it out of passion. If there was no such thing as a crowd watching competitions….if there were ZERO likes to be had on instagram, would you still do it? Honestly, ask yourself that question. Being humble will bring you, and others, things you probably never think about.

    I feel very strongly about this: If your daily workout routine includes a post about you working hard. You aren’t working that hard.

    2 – Determine your level of “Commitment”

     Getting this out of the way ASAP will be a huge help and benefit to you and everyone around you. Like I said before, a competitor can mean several different things. I’ll try to make this easy for you. Determine which one of the 5 levels fit you best. Being a mix of 3 different levels is going to drive you, and everyone around you, nuts. Be an adult. Pick one.

    A) – Regionals/Games Athlete. Ah yes…the top .0001% of Crossfitters worldwide. I’ll never tell someone they can’t get to this level. But know this….almost your entire life is going to have to revolve around your quest. Almost every day…20 out of 24 hours need to be about you getting there. I pulled that number out of thin air but it is my way of saying…it’s at or near the top of your priority list every day. It is….a job.

    B) – Qualifying Competitor. The Wodapalooza, Granite Games, East Coast Championship type competitions…where you can’t just sign up and go. You are going to be competing against hundreds, even thousands, of people around the world just so you can compete on a big stage. This also means you are not satisfied with being option C…below.

    C) – Winning/Podium Local Level RX Competitions. It seems like every other weekend now, some box in the area is running a competition. You’ll have your options to choose from. Some are more reputable than others, some are more competitive than others. But you fit in to this area if you are someone that wants to sign up a few months in advance with the aspirations of getting in the top 3 overall. Whether you do or not…. is not what I am talking about. It’s about YOUR goal, YOUR intentions.

    D) – RX Competitor: Very simple. You want to be able to participate in an RX competition. This means you are productive/comfortable/confident with almost every movement we see in Crossfit and can hit minimum strength requirements.

    E) – Casual/Need a Way to Stay Motivated: It’s hard to stay on fire for fitness 24/7/365. Signing up for one or two comps per year keeps you coming to the gym to maintain and maybe even improve your fitness level over time. RX or scaled….doesn’t matter.

    *NOTE…none of these are considered better than the other…this is more about what level of commitment you are looking for and what your end goal is.

     

    3 – What are you going to sacrifice?

     Anyone that has approached me and stated that they want to take it to the next level or get to the highest possible level of competing, my first question is this: What are you going to give up? What are you going to sacrifice? If the answer is anything remotely close to “nothing”, the conversation is over.

    Disclaimer: If you’re entering a competition merely for fun and have no cares how well you place, then this may not apply to you as much. But if you have any goal included, you too, need to think about this.

    If you want to get to a high level of competing, there will be things you need to give up. Video games, TV, nights out with your friends, crappy eating habits, quality time with the significant other. Do you need to go all cold turkey on those? Absolutely not. But if you want to get, you have to give. Ambitious, high-end goals are great but getting there isn’t always pretty. In fact, it rarely is.

    4 – Do you need special programming?

     In short, you probably don’t unless you are in option A or B above. The amount of skills, movements, strengths, energy systems that need to be trained for you to become your best possible competitor are countless. And you probably don’t have the time to do them all (stop thinking about leaving your job to compete in Crossfit).

    People often ask for extra workouts and/or extra programming to help get them to the next level. In some ways it helps, but more important than that is the effort and intensity you put in to the normal WODs. You’ll see more progress as an athlete if you put actual 100% effort in to the 60-90 minutes you have at the gym than you putting 75% effort in to those 60-90 minutes in addition to 75% in to an extra 60-90 minutes. Strive for more intensity, not more volume.

    5 – Accessory Work

     While you don’t need a ton of extra WODs or programs, what you should hone in on are those 8-10 hours per month spent on building and refining your base strength and skill sets. Handstand walks, banded muscle ups, strict pull ups, core work…I could go on. You won’t see those movements in the daily WOD too often, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. In most cases, 5-10 minutes per day on one of those will likely have several spillover effects and make you a more well rounded athlete. Remember, you don’t always need to be gasping for air at the end of a workout for it to be effective. I bet if you did 5 rounds of max effort strict pull ups with a 1 minute rest between sets 2-3x per week would do more for your muscle ups than you swinging around on the rings for 15 minutes in the middle of a WOD.

    6 – Train Smarter, Not Harder. 

     The Crossfit way, to most people, is “go hard or go home”. Sure, we strive for intensity and the environment of a typical Crossfit class can lead to people overdoing it. But if you want to get yourself to your own peak as a competitor, going all out while overlooking several details to your form, your approach, your strategy… can lead to a severe lack of progress. It can’t just be about being the fastest time of the day. You can’t just have the goal of getting more rounds than everyone else. Your shelf life will be short. Instead of basing your goals on other people, why not go in to a WOD with the mindset of doing all the wall balls unbroken so you can create awareness of what you’re capable of? Instead of trying to be the first one off the rower, put some thought in to what pace you can stick to on the rower without demolishing your engine for the rest of the workout. Remember, intensity has nothing to do with how hard you are breathing after the workout.

    Intensity = Force x Distance/Time

    Think about it from that perspective

    7 – What Are You Doing the Other 22 hours?

     Some of you workout multiple times per day. Some of you, once. Whichever the case…accept that the vast majority of your day is NOT spent training. If you spend 2 hours working out as hard as you can, doing everything right and just killing it…good for you. But the other 22 hours have as much, if not more to do with your progress. Nutrition, sleep, recovery stretching and rolling out, planning ahead…this is arguably the biggest separation between you and the people you are trying to emulate.

    8 - Training Partners

     The other thing most people are missing in comparison to some of the best competitors out there. You can be the most motivated individual out there. You can be a beast without the music on. You can be as diligent and consistent as it gets. But if you don’t have multiple outside beings pushing you during workouts, your output will be limited. My line I use for everyone that has a competitive streak….run with people faster and lift with people stronger. If you are always the best in the room…there is something wrong and that something needs to be addressed immediately. A group of people that can kick your butt here and there, maximizing your effort and intensity, is far greater than ANY program you’ll ever follow.

    9 – Consistent Long Term Approach

     Apologies for making one of these points extremely obvious but I’ll tell you this. This is where I’ve noticed the biggest shortcomings from myself and those that have discussed taking their game to the next level via competing. Training for such a broad sport that is evolving year by year is mentally and physically exhausting. There is SO much to try and cover. SO much to try and do. SO much to keep track of. And as a friend of mine recently said, “working really hard isn’t good enough anymore”. He’s right. A lot of people in our world work really, really hard. But I don’t know many people that work hard every day for a long time. A few months isn’t a long time. How long, is a long time? If that’s the question you are dying to know the answer to….your head is in the wrong place. There may be no end in sight and if you get discouraged by that, you’re like everyone else. And by everyone else, I mean inconsistent and short term greedy. Those people never last.

    10 – How Will You Respond to Adversity?

     It is coming. It could come in the form of injury. It may come in the form of a schedule overload outside of the gym. It may come in the form of a lack of training partners or equipment. You may be motivated now and maybe you can even run through a brick wall! (Don’t try). But this is a dogfight and you are going to wake up with a cold one of these days. You are going to have bad days at work that make you want to curl up under a blanket at home. You are gonna tweak muscles and joints. You are gonna have to train at a time you weren’t planning on, alone. Bad things happen to good, hard working people all the time because life isn’t fair. Be prepared for it and don’t be surprised. How you react to adversity is who you are. Who you are on those bad days is….well…who you are.

    Remember this…..THERE IS NO BLUEPRINT for training like a competitor and over thinking it usually makes things worse. The worst thing you can do is be hot and cold with your desire because it will, again, drive you and everyone around you crazy.

  • 6 Reasons Why You Won't Try Crossfit....and My Response

    From day one I have always said Crossfit is not for everyone. But everyone should try it. Thus, here are the 6 main reasons why you may have not started Crossfit. And my responses to those reasons are below. You need credible information before making a decision.

     -By David Syvertsen

    1 – “Crossfit hurts people” OR “I don’t want to get injured”

     

    Might as well start this off with the biggest, most overused misconception out there. I will begin by saying that any intense physical activity leads to a certain level of physical risk. You’d be silly to not acknowledge that. Even further, I know several people that have been hurt/tweaked/injured from a Crossfit workout. I have friends that have gotten rhabdo. I also know someone that threw out their back moving boxes. I also know someone that needed surgery from twisting his ankle playing basketball. I also know someone that has chronic knee pain from running. I also know someone that has brain issues from playing high school football. I also know someone that tore their Achilles from running sprints at a track. I also know someone that split their head open playing soccer with friends in a park. I also know someone that tore their pectoral muscle doing a set of 10 push ups at home. I also know someone that strained a muscle so bad that they had to be put on muscle relaxers for 3 months from doing shoulder shrugs at a globo-gym. I also know someone that can’t lift his hand above his shoulder because he was a pitcher in college. I also know someone with chronic back pain from her pregnancy 10 years ago. I also know someone that pulled their hamstrings (both of them) chasing after their child that was running for the street. Maybe we should try to avoid moving boxes, playing basketball, running, high school football, sprints at a track, playing soccer with friends, push ups, globo-gyms, baseball, pregnancy, and dashing after children that are about to run in to the street.

    I could go on…but you get my point. Physical activity can, and eventually will, lead to an “injury” here and there. If you’re goal in life is to never get hurt, go sit on a couch. Be careful when you get up though, it can be dangerous.

    There have been studies done trying to debunk Crossfit and prove it is more dangerous than other forms of training. Not one of them has ever proven that hypothesis true. Not one. As a matter of fact, some have been turned around to prove that running a few miles multiple times per week is more dangerous than Crossfit.

    Responsible programming, quality coaching, and a smart athlete can prevent a good amount of risk of injury. If one of those factors isn’t there, the chances can increase. Yes. But a lot of “injuries” I’ve seen are a result of things that have less to do with Crossfit, and more to do with outside variables that have nothing to do with the workout itself. If you are going to try and use the argument that Crossfit is dangerous, please have some credible information. Not the…”Uh well I know this person.” or “I got hurt when I tried it”. There is nothing worse than a person with minimal to no credibility making a strong statement about something they know very little about.

    2 – “It’s too expensive”

     

    This is touchy. Because I am nobody to tell anyone what to do with their money. We all have different circumstances and what we can spend our money on can go back and forth our entire lives. Finances are some of the worst stressors a person can deal with. I’ve had my fair share and there are very few things in life that can elevate someone’s level of anxiety more. So no, I’m not gonna tell you to suck it up and just pay. What I will say is there may be an opportunity for you to evaluate what you’re spending your money on. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but I do think there are those “extra” things you spend on that you simply prioritize more than your health.

    When I first to moved to Hoboken, I went from paying $0 to $1,500 in rent at the snap of a finger. I wasn’t making a lot of money. I was in a town where going out 2-3 nights per week almost seemed impossible to avoid. I saw the membership prices at Crossfit Hoboken and threw up in my mouth immediately. I had never paid more than $60/month for the gym. It would cost me $180. I no longer had mom and dd paying for my groceries (never did I realize how much I ate until then). Cable/Power/Heat/Water…all these things were adding up to a cost I could not afford.

    Not once did I consider convincing myself that the gym was just too much money for me. I decided at the young, immature age I was at, to go out less and use my money to improve my health and fitness. A lot of my friends gave me a hard time for not going out as often as them but I knew the only way for me to pay for my membership was to avoid the $30, $40, $50 bar tabs multiple times per week. Call me a loser. But that’s when I learned that something like a gym membership CAN be afforded if you prioritize and realize the long term gains from that way of thinking far exceeded the short term pleasure of going out and waking up with hungry hangovers 2-3 days per week.  At some point you're gonna have to spend money on your health...and the costs that come from being sedentary are a tad more than a monthly membership.

    All that said, I think it’s vital for you to really lay out what you spend on before you say it’s too expensive. And even after all that you can find the money to rub together, you may be surprised to see what an owner may do for you to help you out with that. We’re in the business of helping people, and if that’s where can help, so be it!

    3 – “I don’t want to get bulky”

     

    This is something I’ve heard several times, mostly from women. But I have also heard it from men, as well. I get it, trust me. I’ve coached more women in my life than men and I completely respect their fear on this. Going from never lifting weights to all of the sudden lifting weights WILL likely result in a gain of muscle. It may make your pants tighter around your legs and and your shirts tighter around your shoulders. The alternative? Don’t put any muscle on. Be weak the rest of your life. A decision I’m sure you will regret at several different points down the road.

    One thing you need to accept is this: Stop running away from your natural body type. Whether or not you want to believe it, your body is meant to be used. Picking things up, pulling/pushing your body around, partaking in physical activity. To do those things to maximum efficiency and safety, you need some muscle. No, you don’t need to put 30 pounds on and walk around looking like a juiced up bodybuilder. But some of you need to realize that you aren’t genetically put together like some of your friends. Some of you are bigger and carry more weight naturally. If you are constantly running away from that fact, you’ll never be happy or comfortable with who you are. And point blank, that’s an awful example for others to follow, including your kids.

    Crossfit isn’t going to make you big. It can only if you want it to. What it does is change your body composition. Our society has definitely started to accept that hard earned muscles are attractive on anyone. Male or female. It’s a sign of legitimate hard work. You earned those. They’re YOURS. And want to know a fun fact? Muscle burns fat and calories. You need muscle . You need muscle. You need muscle.

    If you think Crossfit is making you big, or you fear it making you big, put more attention on what you are putting in to your body than what you are doing at the gym. Because I guarantee your nutrition has more to do with your “big-ness” than your workouts. I know several people that have been trying to get bigger for a long time. They do extra workouts. They do extra strength work. They eat an extra 2,000 calories daily….and they still can’t seem to get bigger. Getting bigger is so much harder than you think, a certainly not a result of lifting weights a few times per week.

    People. Men. Women. Listen to me. Getting too big or too bulky ain’t gonna happen unless you want it to.

    4 – “My gym/trainer does Crossfit-type training at my gym”

     

    I am pro-fitness. I’m not a “Crossfit or Die” person. Sure I have a bias towards it but at the end of the day, I’ll be the first to tell you that Crossfit isn’t for everyone. Everyone should try it, but it would be foolish of me to think you are out of shape if you don’t do it. I personally know several people that have never stepped foot in a Crossfit that are more fit than a lot of crossfitters.

    But I’ve had so many people come to Bison with the line “I’ve done crossfit at my gym before” or “my trainer taught me the same movements”. Cool. I watch them for a couple days and it’s blatantly obvious he or she has never done Crossfit. The issue here is rather juvenile. A lot of trainers and gyms out there will try hard to bash Crossfit. They have every reason handy why you shouldn’t do it. Now…we see the trend that those same trainers and those same gyms are slowly but surely trying to shove Crossfit in to their business. Ironic, but we saw that coming from miles away.

    There are very unique factors to a crossfit box that many from the outside just don’t understand. Whether it is programming /coaching /community /planning /organization or a combination of all those. I respect anyone that is trying to implement new things to their way of training people. But you, as a consumer, need to know the difference between someone that is doing this for financial gain and someone doing this out of passion and wanting to help you. Those trainers and gyms that used to mock Crossfit, but are now adding their minor-league version of it to their program, are doing it so they can make more money. Not because they’ve experienced the life changing aspects of it and want to share it with you. Beware of this because this will only become the norm more and more as time passes.

    5 – “My ego can’t handle it”

     

    I’ve never actually heard anyone say this. But I interact with so many different kinds of people daily and I do think I have an ability to read through some of their words. And this is one that I can nonverbally hear very often.

    When you first start out here, it’s likely you will have sea of people that will be lifting more weight and moving faster than you. That is not an insult. That has nothing to do with your lack of ability or strength. A lot of that comes from the confidence of knowing the movements and experience with them. But you’re gonna need to get over that. If you haven’t figured out how to be humbled yet, it’s time to learn.

    Comparing yourself to others non-stop will often lead to a life full of anxiety and disappointment. No matter what level you think you’re at, there is always someone out there faster and stronger. There is a sense of competition at the typical Crossfit gym, absolutely. That competition is not meant to create a “better or worse” environment, it is simply made to push you as hard as possible. If you weigh your self based on how many people you “beat” or “lose” to at the gym, your approach hasn’t matured yet. You haven’t figured out what we do. Get on it.

    Your success at your job or how good you were at sports 30 years ago or how great your social life is or how jacked you were in your 20’s literally means nothing to me. I care about everyone that comes in our door and want their lives to be as prosperous and happy as possible. But when you come to our place to workout, I care about your effort and approach to the workout and nothing else, including your ego. You need to be able to be told what to do. You need to be able to respect the words of a coach. You need to accept that you may not be able to safely lift as much as other people in the gym you are “stronger” than. If you can’t check that ego at the door, you have issues far beyond Crossfit. A person that makes decisions based on that ego won’t do well with this kind of training.

    6 – “I’m not in good enough shape to start Crossfit”

     

    I’ll end this with the second most popular reason why people are fearful of beginning Crossfit. I am more sympathetic towards this than anything and I completely understand. There is a good chance you’ve seen Crossfit on TV or somewhere on the internet and saw athletes do things you cant even think about doing. Action-figure looking people throwing 300 pounds around like it’s a feather and twisting themselves around rings as if they were in a circus. Please know this. Using them to say you aren’t good enough to do Crossfit is like watching Lebron James play in the NBA and coming away with the thought you aren’t allowed to go to the park and play basketball with friends or watching Rachel Ray cook on television and coming away with the thought you aren't allowed to make yourself dinner.

    I’ve had and/or have women 8-9 months pregnant do Crossfit. I’ve had people with cancer do Crossfit. I’ve had someone in a wheelchair to Crossfit. I’ve seen people with missing limbs do Crossfit. You are more than good enough to start this stuff and I don’t care how out of shape you think you’re in.

    Part of the beauty of this thing is that every movement of every workout can be scaled down to a level you are comfortable with while also pushing you to the next level. One of my favorite parts of coaching and watching a group workout is that no matter what strength/experience/confidence level you’re at, you are likely to have the same feeling during and after the workout as someone on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Former pro athletes can do the same workout right next to someone that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in 10 years. If the workout is properly scaled, they are in the same state right after.

    Sure, you may be running slower. Lifting less weight. Nobody cares. Nobody is looking down on you.  In all honesty, I am more impressed by the newbie that pushes through the self-made embarrassment and discomfort than I am by the "big time" athlete that is stronger and faster than everyone.

    Running around a track a few times per week won’t get you ready to start crossfit. Doing some air squats and push ups in your basement by yourself won’t get you ready for Crossfit. What’s gonna get you ready for Crossfit is, Crossfit. You are ready for this. You are good enough for this. End of discussion.


  • "So Many Things Keep Me Coming Back"

    By far the best part of coaching Crossfit is watching people progress in to doing things with their body they never thought were possible.  Living a healthy and fit lifestyle is often very difficult and stressful, but those that keep their head down and keep moving forward will get to where they want to be.  Jenn is a prime example of someone that just flat out works hard day in, day out.  She has several things going on in her life that could excuse her from coming to the gym (School, kids, full time job...etc) but she found ways to get it done and her results have been amazing.  Jenn's energy is contagious and her efforts have not only helped her, but others as well.  Here is her story!

     

    ______________________________________________

    1 - What originally brought you to Bison?


    I came to Bison 2 months after having my second child. I wanted to lose weight. I have always struggled with my weight; I was a yo-yo dieter and a cardio junkie before coming to Crossfit. My workouts usually consisted of a 45-minutes to an hour on the elliptical and 10-20 minutes of super light weight training. To me, being healthy was all about controlling calories and the number on the scale. I would sometimes weigh myself several times a day, and I would allow the scale to dictate how I felt about myself. I tried to workout 6 days a week. My husband was a member of Bison and had been trying to convince me to join for a long time. I had done Crossfit for a short time before I had kids, so I knew what I was getting into before I started.


    2 - What were you fears when you started coming?


    I was nervous about being the least-fit person in the class, having the worst numbers on the board, and not being able to keep up or complete the WODs. I had just had a baby, and during my pregnancy I did not work out at all. I was also really nervous to walk into a class because I didn’t know anyone; it can be intimidating to walk into a Crossfit class! I was worried that it might be clique-y or that the members would not be friendly. From the moment I walked in Bison, I knew it was the place for me. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly. That made it so much easier to participate in the Wod. I was also worried that I would not have the time to commit to Crossfit. I am a mom of two young boys, I work full time, and go to grad school. I wasn’t sure how I could possibly fit it all in. Luckily, Bison has an awesome schedule – and I could choose to workout before I started work or at night after I put my kids to bed. I also know now that some of my concerns about “fitting it all in” were excuses; I was able to excuse myself for not working out or not being healthy because I was “too busy” for all that.


    3 - How much has your body changed since getting in to a regular routine at Bison?


    Since I got into a regular routine at Bison, so many amazing things have happened. I am doing things I never thought possible. I really never thought I would be able to do a pull-up in my entire life and now I can do tons of them. I am 100% confident in my own skin. I never ask my husband “does this make me look fat?” anymore. I have lost a lot of body fat and I don’t stand on the scale anymore. We don’t even own one. Most importantly, my mindset about eating, exercising, and my body have completely changed. I don’t focus on “losing weight.” I focus on my improvements. I focus on how much I can lift, how fast I can run, how many pull-ups I can get in a row now. That shift in thinking has allowed me to get stronger, faster, and fitter. I’m shocked when I see pictures of myself now, I don’t even recognize my body. The best part is that I don’t worry about my calorie total at the end of the day. Thinking about how many calories you are eating and burning is a lot of work (and added stress!) I think about eating when I’m hungry, and choosing food that will give me energy for the workouts. If I eat a ton of cookies, I will feel sluggish and move slower through a Wod. I choose foods that make me feel good and give me energy so I can perform my best at the gym.


    4 - Describe the community we have here at Bison and it has helped you with your fitness.


    Being a member at Crossfit Bison is like being part of a family. Everyone is supportive of each other. We celebrate each other’s progress, help each other when we are struggling with a Wod, and encourage each other to work toward our goals. If you are the last one finishing up your burpees, you are never doing them alone. Everyone is right there with you; that is part of the positive culture that Dave and the coaches have fostered at Bison. It is so important because it helps you to keep going when you don’t think you can go anymore. We have incredible coaches at Bison. Having been a member of another Crossfit gym and also having dropped in at other boxes, I feel that the coaching at Bison is very unique. The coaches truly care about our progress; they give us constant feedback and encouragement before, after, and during the Wod. At Bison progress and improvement is celebrated more than having the fastest time and lifting the most weight.


    5 - What would you say is your favorite part of Crossfit style training?


    The intensity – which is something I was initially worried about. Crossfit workouts are quick – some of our workouts are 5 minutes long, some are 20, the longest are around 30 minutes. It is incredible that we can work out for such a short time and accomplish so much. I have become more fit working out with intensity for a short amount of time than when I working out for an hour or more a day. I used to spend an hour a day on the elliptical or in a Zumba class; now I work out 3-5 days a week for 5-30 minutes at a time and I am in the best shape of my life.


    6 - What would you say to someone that feels too intimidated to try Crossfit?


    I always hear people say either that Crossfit is too intense for them or that they need to get in shape before they can do Crossfit; neither of those is true. I didn’t think I would be a good Crossfitter because I never did a sport when I was a kid, (I was always last-picked for team sports in gym class), and I also have always had a “bad back.” I was not athletic and I was not in shape when I joined. I would tell someone that is intimidated to go to Crossfit to give it a try! There is no need to worry about getting in shape before you get there; you will get in shape quickly if you start Crossfitting! At Bison, there is a free-trial day, and there are beginner classes to help you learn the movements and get you ready for the regular classes.


    7 - What keeps you coming back?


    So many things keep me coming back to bison – the community, camaraderie, and the fact that I really have fun doing the Wods. No matter how daunting the Wod may seem, I always enjoy it; I always leave feeling like I accomplished something. I could never go back to my regular old workouts.


    8 - How would you respond to Someone that says that Crossfit is too hard or dangerous?


    Any kind of working out is dangerous if you are not doing it right. The coaches at Bison warm us up before the workout and go over each movement to make sure that we all know what we are doing. They never have someone do something that they feel is unsafe. After having children, I herniated two discs in my lower back. When I came to Bison, I let my coaches know about my injury and they helped me to modify the WODs so that I wouldn’t reinjure myself. They also gave me advice about what weight I should be lifting. I think people that say that Crossfit is dangerous are most concerned because of the heavy weights. The weights are heavy, but the coaches will never let you lift anything that you can’t handle and during the workouts they are constantly monitoring and correcting you to make sure that you are lifting properly. Good form is really emphasized at Bison to ensure that everyone is working out safely.


    9 - What is one piece of advice you would give to someone that is just starting Crossfit?


    I would tell a Crossfit newbie not to worry about their score on the whiteboard and not to be discouraged if they can’t automatically do all of the movements. Just keep at it, have fun, stay focused, and celebrate small improvements. Those small improvements will add up very quickly and pretty soon, they will be doing things they couldn’t do before. I would also say not to be afraid of the partner workouts on Saturday. I used to worry about working out with a partner because I was afraid I would slow them down; no one cares about that. The way the workouts are structured, everyone gets an incredible workout regardless of the pace their partner moves at. And also, they are really fun. Saturday wods are usually my favorite wods of the week now because they are so fun.


    10 - What kind of person likes Crossfit?  And on the flip side who do you think Crossfit isn't for?


    I really can’t pinpoint one type of person that is attracted to Crossfit. I think that most people that step into Bison get hooked almost immediately. We really have a wide variety of members that Crossfit at Bison from various age groups and fitness levels. Crossfit truly is for everyone. Any workout can be modified to meet your needs.

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    Congrats on your hard-earned results Jenn and this is only the beginning!  Can't wait to see what else you accomplish at Bison!


  • YOU Be the Energy in the Room


    One of the decisions we made prior to opening Bison was to get and keep a full schedule no matter the member count. When Bison did first open, I think we had something like 5 members. Within a month, we had like….10 members. Despite the slow but sure rise in membership, we never waivered on the 11+ classes per day. We wanted to make sure that a lack of classes at certain times of the day was never a reason why someone couldn’t give Bison a shot. Not everyone agreed with the decision but whatever, it worked.

    With that being said, there was a glaring negative. We very often had classes with just 1 athlete. Sometimes 2. A big class was when we had 4 people there. There are always positives to a situation like that; mostly revolving around the extra attention you can give to the teaching aspect of a class. However when the “3-2-1 GO” came out of my mouth, I always found those tiny classes were sometimes missing the necessary intensity that crossfitters desire. Fast forward a couple years and the average class size hovers around 8-10 athletes. Sometimes the busier times will see a class size of 20+. Those classes never lack the intensity because the sum of the collective efforts being thrown around just makes the room jump. There are usually people healthily competing with each other on all different levels. The music is loud, the collective moans, groans, and screams are loud, and the multiple barbells hitting the ground are loud. It’s an environment that easily becomes “intense”, which is one of the crucial foundations of Crossfit.

    Now that those kinds of groups are the norm, you still have the occasional class where the numbers are down for whatever reason. What was expected to be a class of 10+ will sometimes be 2 or 3 people. Whether it was a nasty traffic situation or bad weather or burpees in the WOD that prevented a few athletes from getting to the gym, I’ll see the disappointment in people’s eyes or hear it in their voices when they come to realize that “easy intensity” won’t be there. “Oh man, small class today”…“Ugh looks like nobody wanted to WOD today”….”I really didn’t wanna do this alone today”….blah blah blah cry me a river.

    I can understand the desire and excitement for big classes that can make anyone and everyone pumped to workout. That’s easy. But take it from someone that has had to workout alone more often than not the past few years….YOU need to figure out how to be the intensity in the room. YOU need to figure out how to be the person that others enjoy working out with. YOU need to figure out how to not depend on outside variables for the vital intensity that is needed. And YOU neeed to make sure you aren’t bringing the negativity in to your, and other people’s, head.

    There is a certain energy in the room when you see some specific people walk through the door for the workout. I notice it daily. I also notice the lack of energy in the room when that someone doesn’t walk through the door. This has nothing to do with their ability. This has nothing to do with how “good” they are at Crossfit. This has nothing to do with RX or scaled. This has nothing to do with how strong or weak they are. It has everything to do with their approach and their attitude.

    I’ve had a lot of people ask if they could help Bison out when it comes to working here, mostly on a coaching basis. Obviously we can’t have 50 coaches roaming the place but there is indeed one thing you can help out with. How about YOU be the person that brings the intensity. No, you don’t need to scream. No, you don’t need to try and throw your barbell through the floor. No, you don’t even need to say a word. But if you can be the person that simply works really hard, attacks workouts, challenges themselves, and doesn’t complain…you can bring an aura of energy to a room that needs it. You can have an extremely positive impact on someone else’s workout, their day….their life by doing that.

    Coming to the gym after a long day of work or a stressful day with the kids is really, really hard. We know. Coming to the gym at 4:50 AM is really hard. We know. But if you add to that level-of-hard by bringing negativity and complaints in to the room, you could easily screw someone else’s workout up in addition to your own. Don’t be a buzz kill. You’re at the gym already…might as well get after it, we both know you’ll be glad you did afterward and the people around you will be too.  Some of the most intense classes I've ever seen have had 2 athletes.  It isn't the quantity...it's the quality.  Quality being your effort, approach, and attitude.  All things that can be controlled by YOU.

  • The End-of-Summer Rut and How to Get Out of It


    I’m not going to throw statistics out there or “studies” that have been done to prove my opinion right. I’ll save that for those that are making it their life mission to sell you on Hilary Clinton.

    It’s the end of August. It’s been hot, really hot. Your crossfit gym is likely even hotter. You’ve been on a couple vacations or weekend trips. You’ve kinda let go of the strict dieting and threw down some extra booze. You’re more dehydrated than you want to believe (a few glasses of water ain’t cutting it). The routine of the fall, winter, and spring have been gone for too long and you’re just tired. Weak. Drained.

    I’m not a 20 year veteran of the industry but I’ve coached a lot of athletes young and old, tall and short, skinny and fat, men and women, weak and strong, single and married, parents and non-parents….and everyone in between. I’ve noticed it every year and 2016 is no different….this is THE time of year where people are spent. Most people will go on vacation at some point in July/August…whether it’s a week or a month….needing the time to kick back and relax. I always hope they come back with this refreshed approach to their health and fitness quest but more often than not I see it go the other way. There are countless possible variables as to why that is the case that I don’t want to go in to…but the fact is I have observed this across a really broad and diverse audience. If you are coming back from vacation and/or a long summer of bending your nutrition rules, you’re not alone. And you’ve done nothing wrong. And you haven’t “lost” anything. Here are a few things I want you to consider to prevent yourself from going home wanting to punch a hole in the wall and feeling bad about yourself.

    1 – Stop evaluating your performance daily, especially against other people

    Look…I am the first person to say fitness to me is about what you can do, not what you look like. So yes, a huge part of crossfit is performance-based. We record results and study them and compare them and worship them and hate them and love them and cry about them and celebrate them. Straight up though…you’re a fool if you think you’re gonna “kill it” day in, day out. 99+% of crossfitters are in this for health and fitness, not competition. Being the top or bottom score on your gyms whiteboard at the end of the day MEANS NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. Scores and recording are for YOU and the COACHES to help keep track of where you’re at. You didn’t “lose” or “win” anything at the gym today when looking at your numbers against someone else’s. They didn’t have a judge and neither did you. It wasn’t a competition. The amount of variables included in workouts between you and other people are far too many, stop stressing about that. The longer you Crossfit, the longer it will take to see big jumps in progress. Just keep plugging away and realize you’ll miss more than you hit…and that is perfectly fine.

    2 – Work on skills, mobility and form (Boring, I know)

    You don’t need to crush yourself in a WOD every day to convince yourself that you worked hard. A good coach should be able to create a mini-program for you to work on toes to bar on the side. Or handstand push ups. Or muscle ups. Or Double Unders. Or handstand walks…we could go on. Or a mini program to work on your running form, rowing form, squat form, Olympic lifting form. None of these needs put you through the floor. Controlled pacing and focusing on perfecting the movement without reaching sheer failure could go long way for you down the road.

    3 – Come up with realistic intra-workout goals

    Instead of trying to blow it out in a 20 minute AMRAP to a point where you will be unable to workout the next two days, come up with an attainable but challenging goal other than “I want to get a lot of rounds”. Maybe try to make each set of pull ups unbroken and pace the rest of the WOD at 60-70% of your normal effort. Maybe try to get that set of 30 wall balls unbroken and know that it will be okay to go slower on the runs and burpees. Maybe try to keep that row-pace at 1:45 for the entire 600 meters and screw going RX on the deadlifts. Maybe try to get all 12 box jumps done in under 20 seconds each round and force yourself to slow down on the push ups. There are countless ways you could approach this. It may require some thought but it could get you away from putting so much freaking focus on how many rounds you got compared to the dude you compete against at the gym every day.

    4 – Nutrition clean up

    Almost everyone rolled their eyes when they saw this too. Don’t worry you aren’t the only one. I’m not an expert on this and won’t pretend to be. But I can promise you this…you won’t ever out-work bad eating and drinking. It’s not possible. All those days you were yawning mid-workout or you were just SO TIRED…I bet it had less to do with the screaming babies at night more to do with what you eat and drink. I’ve been on both sides and trust me, there will always be a direct correlation to your nutrition and how you feel at the gym. You know it too. The mind plays tricks on us often and we can easily convince ourselves we “deserve” this treat or that drink but it’s going to catch up. On the flip side if you are making conscious decisions at each meal, nothing over the top or crazy, about what you’re eating and how it can help/hurt you, I bet you feel better when you workout. No one is asking you to go carb-less or to never again enjoy some fried food and ice cream but I bet you and I both know when too much is….too much.

    5 – Be nice to other people, even the ones you don’t like

    What does this have to do with working out?!? I know I know. But when you are in a bad place mentally because you don’t feel great at the gym or factors outside the gym are impacting your performance, you may not realize how big of a douche you are. I don’t think you need to be everyone’s friend but it just seems to me some people this time of year need more positive energy in their life to get them back on track. You can be that positive energy by simply being supportive and encouraging. And on the flip side I don’t think you deserve any positive energy from other people if you aren’t gonna give it out. Would it kill you to start a conversation with someone you don’t normally speak with? Maybe you actually learn something about them that changes your perception in a positive way? A lot of people, more than you think, wish they had more people at the gym that they could talk with. How about you be that person? Those days where YOU need the extra push and/or support…it will only come if you do it for others. How you treat people when you are in a rut says a lot about your character, whether it be positive or negative.  And treating others with an overly nice attitude will most certainly help you get yourself back to where you want to be physically.  It's all tied together. 

    At the end of the day, there is gonna have to be a hard decision on some of these things. To get yourself back on the track you want to be on, you’re gonna have to put your head down and go for it. You aren’t alone….and you have more people in your corner willing to help than you think. Progress is found in the small details. Find a few and go!


  • Your Approach to the Open and What to Expect

    I think everything in life is about approach.  Positive or negative...how you look at something and apply it to yourself dictates almost everything that happens.  If you signed up for the Crossfit open or you are still on the fence...take 10 minutes away from your news feed and read this.

    10 things about the open that may not be so obvious:

    1 – You’re in a rut. You’ve lost motivation. You hate working out. It sucks. It’s annoying. I feel out place. I feel like everyone else is progressing and I’m stuck in the mud.

    Guess what. I hear those words from almost everyone throughout the year. Yes, even the “top” athletes that seem to be all about Crossfit and working out and looking like a GI-JOE. There isn’t a person that constantly avoids the lows of trying to be fit. It’s mentally and physically draining. It’s very demanding. We’ve all been there and we will all be there again. With that in mind…consider the open your re-birth in to the world of motivation and goal setting. The open workouts always have a sense of intensity and “seriousness” that we can rarely emulate throughout the year. It’s near impossible to do an open workout without an extreme level of motivation. And we all know…sometimes it only takes that one workout to flip the switch and realize that your dedication to exercise IS indeed still there.

    2 – Where else can you do something like this?

    An online competition that tests several areas of fitness where you and 300,000 other people log scores for five straight weeks and see where you stack up? What kind of fitness program offers that? For those that used to play sports and really miss competing, this can easily fill the void. For those that have never physically competed in anything and want to feel what its like, this can easily fill the void. When you watch the Crossfit Games in July, you can look at each of those action figures and know that they had to do the same exact workout as you to get to that level. You need to understand how incredibly unique these 5 weeks are.

    3 – It ain’t just about you

    I promise there is someone sitting at home that wants to sign up for the open. But they are scared and/or embarrassed. Even though we have created a sense of community that promotes teamwork and everyone being on the same tier regardless of fitness level…there are fears. “I just started” or “I don’t have a muscle up” or “I can’t do Double Unders” or “I never RX the workout”. There are several people with those reasons. But you know what? Someone in the gym looks at you and sees themselves. They see your fitness struggles and relate to them. They look up to you and you have no idea. If they see you do something, they could be much more inclined to follow. The leaders of the gym go far beyond the coaches and owners. If you put yourself out there and sign up, I bet someone else will too.

    4 – You’re putting yourself out there

    I don’t know anyone that goes through the open without at least a little amount of fear. The athletes that make the games, even they are scared inside. If something goes wrong in just one of the open workouts, they could lose their shot at making it to regionals at the snap of a finger because of how competitive this thing is now. The fear does not only reside in the newcomers, we all have it. But by signing up, putting your REAL scores out there for everyone to see takes an amount of courage. At the end of the day, very very very few people care how “well” or how “poorly” you do in a workout. The respect is given to those that neglect the fear and anxiety and put themselves on a stage (if you will) for all to see.

    5 – What do you need work on?

    Every year I’ve done the open, I’ve been smacked in the face at least once by a workout. Meaning at least one of the workouts showed me what I am incredibly weak at. You get a ranking for every workout. If you are pretty consistent across the board, then you are one of the few that doesn’t have a glaring weakness. But I bet when all is said and done, you have at least one workout that shows you there is some serious work to be done if you want to improve. My first year doing the open, I ripped through 150 wall balls in under 7 minutes. The next 5 minutes….I did a grand total of 36 double unders (yes that’s an average of 7 per minute....let that sit for a minute). Was I embarrassed? Extremely. Did I want to quit? Absolutely. But after my pride switch was turned down a bit, I understood and respected that the open just told me to stop avoiding the grunt work that was necessary to get those. Even last year (2015), I had a workout that exposed a major weakness that I didn’t even know I had.

    6 – What are you awesome at?

    On a positive note, it’s always fun to see where you stack up against the world in a workout that you feel very confident with. I bet if you do enough of these workouts, you eventually find one that you far out-rank your other workouts. Love to lift heavy weight? You would have loved 15.1A last year and its possible you could have been in the top 10% of your region. How cool is that? We will all have movements that we are confident in over time, and to see how much better you rank in those opposed to what else is thrown out there is really cool. Again….you aren’t gonna find that anywhere else. They don’t keep track of how many times you can hit a punching bag compared to the rest of the world anywhere. There aren’t any logging systems for how much you bicep curl compared to people in South America and Asia.

    7 – Legitimize yourself

    Every open workout we do needs to be counted and judged by someone else. Whether you think you are going to Regionals or not, you aren’t counting your own reps. On a daily basis at our gym, you are responsible for keeping yourself accountable. If the workout says do 100 Double Unders or 250 single unders, you do that many. Even if people are running laps around you. You do NOT short the reps so you can tell people you did better. That is pathetic. When you have a judge, there is no hiding. You will be no repped (it happens to literally everyone so stop crying). But you know what? At the end of the workout your number is what you actually achieved. No questions. No doubts. A real number. A legit number.

    8 – Want to achieve a milestone?

    In 2015, the second part of the Open’s first week had the athletes perform a 1 rep max lift AFTER a 9 minute AMRAP. Out of our 52 athletes that worked out that day, we saw 47 PR’s. Coaching? NOPE. Something we ate that day? NOPE. The music? NOPE. The reason we saw something like that was the environment and the fact that it was a workout that had extra meaning. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you try to convince people you “don’t care, I just want to workout”….there is a major sense of fulfillment when you achieve something you never have before. We see them all the time during the open.

    9 – Prove to yourself that you DO care

    You know those nerves you get right before a workout? The stomach in knots feeling? The dry mouth. The urge to pee like 11 times before the workout begins. Weird, right? Take that as a sign that you do care about your performance. You do take pride in your fitness level. You do want to get better. If you are some deadbeat that never thinks about getting better, it will trickle in to other areas of your life if it hasn’t already. You aren’t some couch potato eating themselves in to disease every day. You have already made some sort of commitment to your health by signing up for crossfit because you do care. This strengthens that notion and you should take pride in that. Millions have already given up on themselves. Don’t add to that number.

    10 - You earned it!

    You know those times you didn’t want to workout, but still did? The time you stood in the corner for 15 minutes whipping yourself with a jump rope? The amount of failed muscle attempts? The battles you fought in trying to improve your front squat by 5%? I bet you’ve asked yourself “Why am I doing this?” at least a few times since you began Crossfit.  One of the answers points directly to the open. It’s the greatest overall fitness test in the world and it rewards those that stayed consistent during times of negative thinking and stress. You’ve had several workouts where things just weren’t going your way but you toughed it out. This is a reward to yourself, and yourself only.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Training While Injured

     

    Deciding to workout while injured is either the best or worst decision you can make.....

    One of my favorite parts of interacting with several Crossfitters on a daily basis is watching their mental growth. At multiple points, they accomplish things they never thought they could do. They lift a barbell above their head that they used to struggle picking up off the ground. They do muscle ups less than a year after thinking they could never do a pull up. They complete a workout with 45 handstand push ups soon after they couldn’t do half that many regular push ups. I’m confident in saying a Crossfitter won’t ever make progress without that point where you just have to grit your teeth together and go for it. It becomes the daily norm after awhile. The daily battle of fitness isn’t easy for anyone. There are struggles everywhere. That is simply why when I see an athlete progress from Point A to Point B, there is a true sense of respect for him or her because I know they put their head down and just worked despite the voices in their head that were screaming “Stop”! Mental toughness is a trait this breed of people all have whether they believe it or not.

    With that toughness, however, comes stubbornness. The kind of stubbornness that makes us addicted to getting better, fighting through pain, “sucking it up”. That approach can help, but it can also equally hurt.

    Speaking of hurt….if you partake in intense physical activity repeatedly for long enough, odds are you will eventually tweak something. Crossfit, running, basketball, dance…you choose the activity. If you get after it really hard day after day, something is going to eventually happen. Hopefully for you it won’t ever be anything serious. Knowing the pain is inevitable, having a plan and/or being able to react safely could make or break your long term health. I mean it.

    I think the most common tweaks I see have to do with the shoulders and/or wrists. Very few movements in Crossfit give your shoulders a break. They get worked a ton. How you react to when something gets hurt can really go one of two ways. You can be stubborn and fight through the pain. Sometimes the pain goes away, usually it does not. Or you can view the injury, whether it’s serious or minor, as an opportunity. What do I mean by opportunity? Again, I can go a few different directions with that.

    Education of how the body moves and what actually causes an injury is something most people do not understand. The answers are usually complex and it drives them away from wanting to learn. Time is tough to come by as it is, therefore spending hours on reading about how joints and muscles interact with each other during a Clean & Jerk doesn’t appear to be very friendly. But I’ll tell you this, the more you learn the safer you will be. The safer you are leads to avoidance of serious injury.

    Another opportunity I look for when dealing with injury is much more fun. It’s workout related! More often that not that shoulder tweak that I often see is simply the body telling you to relax on overhead movements for awhile. It’s a warning. Well lucky for you, you still have a lower body to improve. Look at you shoulder tweak as an opportunity to improve your back squat. The benefits of an improved back squat are far more than making your legs stronger. What about working on your posterior chain? Ever play with the Glue-Ham Developer? Hip Bridges? What about rowing? I have met very few crossfitters that enjoy to row. But you know what? It’s something you can get a lot better at if you simply spend time on improving mechanics and approach. The dreaded double unders? In almost all cases, a shoulder tweak doesn’t have any impact on you and the jump rope. Maybe the fact that your shoulder kills every time you put it above your head is a smack in the face from the Crossfit Gods to get your freaking double unders!!!

    Fighting through pain is part of Crossfit. However fighting through an injury is not. If and when you deal with an injury, view it as a sign. A sign to work on something else. Crossfit has no limits when it comes to what you need improvement on, because the program itself has no limits. I respect your toughness and grit, I really do. But when you’re hurt, work on something else!


     

  • "Will Not Stop Me!"

    We all have role models.  We all have those that we look up to.  But finding someone that truly inspires you day after day can be hard.  Well how about you meet Rita....and you will no longer be searching for inspiration on those days where you think...."it's too hard".  

     

    Can you give us a fitness background and what you have been involved with?

    I have been involved in fitness for over 23 years. I began with Bally’s and did treadmill and weight machines. Through the years I evolved and wanted more challenging workouts. Therefore, I became a certified Personal Trainer and this helped me develop programs for others and myself. Finally I was introduced to Crossfit and that is where I am today.

    You have quite the story to share, can you please share what you have been personally going through with your health?

    I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. I underwent surgery and chemotherapy. Everything was going great until 2011. A routine blood work and scans confirmed that my cancer had metastasis to my bones. Lucky for me that I had been working out doing weight bearing exercises and my bones were strong and free of fractures. Then in 2013 routine scans showed that again my cancer had spread to my liver. I have done different chemotherapies to control the tumors in my liver. After 2 ½ years my tumors shrank a bit but chemotherapy as well as oral chemo will continue indefinitely.

    How are you still able to workout as often as you do while undergoing treatment?

    Exercising and clean eating have always been a top priority for me. I firmly believe that working out has allowed me to recover faster from any symptoms’ related to chemo. I feel that the workouts keep me healthy and strong. Chemo may sometimes slow me down but will not stop me!

    For those that like to put an unsafe label on Crossfit, what are your thoughts on that?

    Crossfit has been given an unsafe labeling perhaps my people that have gone into it without really knowing their parameters. I have a lot of friends that have been injured while doing Crossfit however it was due to their lack of judgment and by not leaving their egos at the door. People want to lift heavy without first having proper form and then they tag on heavy weights and the injuries arise.

    What would you say to someone that thinks Crossfit is too hard for them to try?

    I would definitely tell people that Crossfit is challenging but it can always be modified or scaled to the level of fitness that person is at.

    What originally brought you to Crossfit Bison?

    I had read about Crossfit and tried it about 3 years ago however due to medical issues I had to stop going. As my health improved I decided to return and was happy to learn that Crossfit Bison had opened. I felt I had to give it another try especially with Bison being minutes away from house.

    Describe the community and environment at Bison compared to other gyms you have been to.

    I have worked in various gyms and noticed that people are on their own not knowing what to do while they work out. Sometimes people look at you strangely if you are doing something out of the box. I feel that the classes that are offered for example kickboxing or Zumba are repetitive and not challenging. I love going to Bison because everyone including the coaches are caring and supportive. I like that everyone at Bison knows each other and work together to get the job done. The workouts are different and always challenging. Teamwork permeates Bison.

    And lastly, what keeps your motivation going day to day?

    My motivation comes from being surrounded by people that want to be challenged and are striving to reach the next level. I feed from their energy!! I am also a very determined individual wanting to master the pull up, double under, toes to bar just to mention a few.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Thanks again to Rita for taking the time to share her story in an effort to help give us that extra push when we need it.  We are lucky to know you and even more lucky to have you as part of the Bison Community!

    !"

     

     


  • How to Approach Your Post-Open Training

     

     

    The 2015 Crossfit Open has come to a close. No matter what kind of athlete you think you are, these 11 steps will help you get to the next level.

    1 – Figure out if you care

    I could write this entire piece about this alone. Unfortunately the quest for an upgrade in one’s personal fitness is talked about more than it is acted upon. I love it when someone approaches me with a goal or a list of goals. But even being the positive person I am, a part of me knows that it actually makes people feel somewhat accomplished, somewhat better about themselves by saying they are going to make changes. You may get a short term high off that; maybe even eat a salad for lunch! But once the going gets tough, your plan is all of the sudden forgotten and you are back to where you were in the past. My reply to that scenario is blunt, but not intended to be disrespectful. You don’t care. Because if you actually do care, you are willing to make major sacrifices. And no, coming to the gym three or four times per week doesn’t count as a sacrifice. If you do care about becoming better, you will throw this closer to the top of the priority list and it will force you to make changes and maybe one of those changes is you stop using the first 10 minutes of your class to chat with friends rather than focusing on your warm up and mobility. Trying harder at the gym is a start, but not where it ends. Changes to your lifestyle need to occur if you want to prove you actually care. Period.

    2 – Learn about intensity.

    Intensity comes in several forms. You don’t need to scream your head off after every heavy rep. You don’t need to slam the bar through the floor. You don’t need to look like you are on the verge of going to the hospital after a WOD. Intensity to me is really about a certain level of focus and passion to beat your former self and fulfill your physical potential. Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, says it best: “Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing the rate of return of favorable adaptation”. My reply to the athletes that always want to add weight to a workout or “make it harder” is simple…”Why not just do it faster and with cleaner reps?” There IS a time to scale up. There is a time to take your workouts to another physical level. However, to quote Glassman again, “The path to intensity: MCI. Mechanics, consistency, then (and only then) intensity”. To go back to my original point, intensity is what takes your fitness program, and in turn you as an athlete, to the next level. But that intensity is more about what is going on between the ears rather than what you look and/or sound like.

    3 – Surround yourself with the right people

    So you have been crossfitting for awhile. You even made a social media post or two about yourself hitting a PR and you started to purchase some gear. Shoes, jump ropes, stretching bands….etc. Then all of the sudden your spouse, your best friends, your co-workers have began to feel insecure because it is something they are not involved with. Their reaction turns sour and they start making fun of you. Then it turns in to being critical of you. Then it becomes a weekly, perhaps even daily, fight about you caring too much about your body. In the most respectful way possible, screw them. (No, don’t move out or leave your job or get in to a fist fight over it). But in all honesty, if your desire to become better at something you truly care about bothers someone else, does that person actually care about you? If you do care about getting better there is a good chance sacrifices need to be made. I’m not saying you should cancel your family vacation in August because your gym is doing “Fran” that week. But you all know this….when you surround yourself with like-minded individuals, you make each other better. Maybe this simply means you find a class at your gym that has the athletes that push you the most. Perhaps you find a friend from another gym that you can text/call about your workouts and compare results. If you put yourself out there, I guarantee there is someone that can help push you and in return, you help push. Everyone needs that.

    4 – Learn and practice standards

    This one will hit home for me and I will try my best to not be bitter but no promises will be made about that. The Crossfit Open may very well be my favorite 5 weeks of the year on the “Crossfit schedule”. My biggest gripe about it is unfortunate. We have tens of thousands of athletes submitting their own scores online weekly. If you know anything about human nature, then you understand that the bigger this becomes, the more people that lack integrity will be involved. Tell a large crowd with a competitive mindset to uphold specific standards of movement and you will find several that cut corners to enhance their public image. It happens in almost every realm of life. It sucks a lot. Crossfit is pretty basic and simple about what they expect out of reps. Their standards are not difficult to understand. However there are a lot of athletes that will obsess over their rankings/scores more than they care about the integrity of the Crossfit Open. I’ve seen athletes, coaches, even “doctors” that continually short standards with the intention of making themselves appear better than they are. It is pathetic to be frank, and it’s something that holds the open back a little. If you are one of those people just understand that you are making yourself look like a complete and utter joke, obviously. But you may not realize that the gym you represent and work for or workout at is being diminished as well. When I see a coach at a specific box in North Jersey put up scores that I know are bogus, I immediately look at the athletes from that gym and discount whatever they put out there. It’s unfair to them but if a coach shorts the standards, why won’t his or her athletes do the same? Fix that broken WOD!

    5 – Mobilize. Stretch. A lot.

    There are countless examples of athletes at Bison alone where the flexibility/mobility of an athlete has proven to be an enormous impact on their performance. There are obvious differences with the overhead squat, handstand pushups, and thrusters when looking at flexible athletes and those that lack flexibility.. But what a lot of athletes don’t realize is that extra attention spent on the mobility and pre-workout pieces we do can have an enormous impact on how well and how fast you can do pull ups, power cleans, box jumps, rowing…and every other movement in the book. I have seen some of my “weaker” athletes snatch more than 90% of our athletes for the lone reason that there is nothing restricting their range of motion. There is a dedicated amount of time towards mobilizing and stretching, but it’s often where I see people staring up at the ceiling wondering what they are going to eat for lunch in two days and/or chatting about the weather. I guarantee if you put the intensity in to your mobility that you usually put in to your workouts, every movement will improve. It may not be as rewarding as getting a PR on your front squat, but it’s probably more important.

    6 – Work on skills

    The 2015 Open was a smack in the face to a lot of us, myself included. The amount of skills required over 5 weeks were far greater than any I can remember. Some people have talent, good for them. Some athletes are incredibly gifted through genetics, good for them. But skills? You only improve your skill set by practicing them over and over and over and over again. There is a lot you can do to enhance your muscle ups, toes to bar, handstand push ups…etc. You don’t need to do 100 of each every week and watch your shoulders disappear. But a simple 3-5 minutes daily on top of your program’s workouts can make you more than just an athlete with a tool set, but also one with a group of skills.

    7 – Find your weaknesses and learn to love them

    This is a big one that often separates the people that improve and the ones that eventually get stuck in the mud. First off, you need to locate your weaknesses. You may need to ask your coach or a fellow athlete. But keep in mind that when you do ask, be prepared for an answer that may hurt your feelings. In order for you to improve these weaknesses, you need to accept that you suck at something. It hurts, but it is supposed to. You can also go look at all of your rankings from the open. If there is one thing I really like about the open in general, it shows you where you stack up against the general population. You may have similar rankings each week, but all of the sudden….BAM! You had a week or two where the rankings dropped enormously. The movements or style of that workout is a good place to start. If you are serious about improving, you need to spend extra time on the stuff you are bad at. And most likely that will be filled with things you really don’t enjoy doing. Too bad.

    8 – Sign up for a competition

    You are a human being. You have things going on outside the gym that are more important. You have hobbies outside of the gym that occupy your time. That is all good and understandable. But with all of that, we all have those training lulls where you just don’t have “it”. I hear it weekly if not daily, “Just not feeling it today” is another way of saying “I’m not motivated”. It happens to everyone. You need to find ways to keep throwing fuel in to the fire because honestly, you will eventually burn out of any fitness program unless there is something putting some extra juice in the tank. There are SO MANY local-level competitions all over the place these days. You don’t need to be Rich Froning to enter. There are almost always scaled options for any kind of athlete out there. You don’t need to win, you don’t need to make the podium. But watch what happens to the intensity within your daily workouts we discussed earlier. I’ve far exceeded what I believed to be my physical limits at competitions and I’ve seen it happen to countless others as well. You will achieve things there that you can’t within your daily workout routine. If you have too much pride to accept that many people can “beat” you in a competition, you are putting a limit on yourself. Is that what you really want?

    9 – Think long term

    46+ weeks. That’s how long you have. I love short-term goals, I really do. I like it when people go on a diet as well, I really do. But sadly they usually aren’t sustained. I think people get overwhelmed too easily, in turn think they are running out of time, and they just give up. Look at what happens when a big group of people partakes in some sort of 45-day nutritional challenge. My experience is that more than half don’t make it to the end. They had a rough weekend and really just needed to kill some good old-fashioned pizza and wings washed down with beer and topped off with ice cream. Again, you are a human being. You aren’t perfect. But that shouldn’t be the end. If you have something tapping on your shoulder for an entire year, it’s going to continue to speak to you. Some days that voice will be louder than others but life is full of roller coasters and your mission to be an improved crossfitter is no different. You can make yearlong progress and you can meet those long-term goals as long as you have those eyes locked on your road. You’ll hit the stop signs here and there and you may drive in reverse for a short stretch, but if you get re-focused you’ll be heading in the right direction again.

    10 – Stop being a baby

    I know I am insensitive. Get over it, it’s my blog! Ha. In all seriousness we all have a physical limit. We can’t all snatch 300 pounds or run a sub 5 minute mile. But I will guarantee this; most of you have not even scratched the surface of what you are capable of as an athlete. You hit a point of struggle and call it quits. You feel your muscles ache and you stop. You see other people making more progress than you and you cry. You did a workout slower than last time and you have lost faith. I’ll tell you what. If you were able to find/create/improve your mental toughness during, before, and after workouts, you will get better. I would bet my life on that notion alone. I wish there was a transcript created of what your brain was telling you during workouts. I bet you would laugh at them after the fact. Your brain is incredibly powerful and physically influential. It will help or hurt your results. There are a lot of factors in life you can’t control and it blows. But how strong you keep your thoughts together will bring you further along than anything you ever lift. I promise you that. You have full control of it. Think about that for awhile.

    11 – Get something out of every workout you do

    Over the course of 46 weeks, the average athlete will participate in maybe 135-300 workouts. Good for you if its more. As we said earlier, not all of them are gonna make you feel like you just conquered the world. You may not do as well as you hoped. Your legs were extra sore so the back squat weights had to be tailored. Your elbow has been bothering you so you couldn’t do the overhead portion of a thrusters. Your hands are ripped so you had to do ring rows instead of pull ups. You should walk in to every workout with a specific goal of improvement. Doing 30 clean and jerks for time? Sure go for that PR but maybe you should try to improve your transition from the clean to the jerk in one fluid motion. How about a 2k row? Try to see if a slightly different kind of pull and return can increase your speed of the pace while maintaining the strokes per minute number. Burpees! What the freak can I learn about doing 100 burpees for time? Use it to reach yourself how to remain positive during a workout you hate doing. There is something in every single workout you’ll ever do that you can learn from. If you apply yourself and make the effort, consider it a small victory in your ongoing quest to being a better crossfitter than when you walked in.

     ___________________________________________________________________________

     

    That’s all folks. Write your goals down. Find a coach and a group of athletes to share them with. Get to work now, not tomorrow.

     


  • "Just Get Here"

     

    A lot can happen to your body in a year. With that in mind I want to share a story that could inspire you, motivate you, and/or make you look in the mirror and give the kick in the butt that you need.  In the spring of 2014, two of our athletes stepped in to Bison, fearing an environment that was “too intense” for people that haven’t worked out…..ever.  Liz and Brian had the courage to put their best foot forward and give Crossfit a shot.  They continued with that courage day after day, week after week, month after month.  I can recall telling them to ignore the voices in their head that told them Crossfit was too hard, that they weren’t good enough. I said, “Guys, just get here and watch what happens.”

    What did that consistent approach get them? Let’s find out…..


     1: What originally brought you to Crossfit Bison?

    Liz – I saw an invite to 'like' the Crossfit Bison page on facebook when the gym first opened. I had never heard of crossfit before so I clicked on the page to see what it was all about. It looked intimidating but I had some questions..I reached out to one of the coaches (Dave) who was more than willing to answer my endless questions of curiosity. I learned there were free trial classes on Saturdays and figured I had nothing to loose. After a little procrastination here and there, I finally dragged myself to one of the trial classes & since that day.. I only started going more and more.

    Brian – I was interested in losing weight and getting in shape.  I knew going to a regular gym was not going to work for me. 

    2: What were your fears as you were starting out?

    Liz – I had a lot of fears starting out. I had never been part of a gym before so the whole idea of a gym was intimidating to me; I didn't even know what to wear to the gym honestly.  I didn't want to be that person in the gym trying to figure out what to do while someone was waiting to use the equipment on a time schedule. I didn't think it was possible to transform my body and I definitely didn't believe I had what it took to get there, and I didn't think I would like working out with all these 'experienced' people at the level I felt like I was coming in at.  When I finally decided to join, the first few weeks felt like the warm up exercises were going to be too much for me.  I knew it would be a long time before I learned half the movements I know now. Even the names of the movements were challenging to remember!  Let's just say I knew if I was going to sign up for this it was going to be the greatest challenge I ever gave myself physically and mentally.. and it was, but I am SO glad I did it!!

    Brian – I was not really sure if Crossfit was going to be for me.  The class like setting is something I was not sure I was going to like. 


    3: How much has your body changed since you’ve started?

     Liz – I can actually see and feel the difference in my body. In the first 2 months I lost 27lbs and now up to 39lbs!  I have a completely different body from when I first started crossfit.  Everyday I feel stronger and stronger; I actually amaze myself sometimes with what I can lift at work. I went froma size 8 In pants to a 4, sometimes 2! My tops went from a Large in most stores to a small. I attached pictures because I can't even describe how big the difference is in only a few months.

    Brian – I have lost around 30 pounds.  I have much more energy, I eat a lot more, lost a ton of fat, put on some muscle.   

    4: What is your favorite thing about Crossfit Bison?

     Liz – I have too many so I will just pick three.  The atmosphere- You honestly couldn't wish for a nicer group of people to work with.  There is such positive energy in this place; it just makes you want to keep going! Something about this gym makes you want to come back; I look forward to being here after work. I love how we all don't have to be on the same level of fitness to do the exact same workout.  The members- They are amazing people. We all help each other and learn from each other. I thought I was going to be in this alone when I started.  I had no idea I would have an entire gym of people that were willing to help me because they want to.  The Coaches- I honestly thought you guys were about to experience your first untrainable member, I thought I was basically volunteering to come in and give you guys a few laughs because you had never met someone so uncoordinated and out of shape; I could never have been more wrong.  You transformed me physically and mentally.  You guys set the bar high. You keep an eye on us and make sure we're moving correctly. You notice if we need to change something or why we are not getting the movement. I just simply feel you are coaches that have the knowledge and passion to get us where we want to be and you care about our success.  I like that all the movements we are using that day are re-taught every single class.  I like that each class is on a time schedule of an hour, and I love that there are scaling options for every single movement.  In such a short time some of my fears about Crossfit turned into my favorite things about crossfit.

       Brian – I like the atmosphere.  Its is very easy to work out in.  Even though you are participating in a class your so busy and so concentrated on your work out that you hardly realize it. 



    5: What would you say to someone that is nervous about starting?

    Liz Its ok to be nervous but go for it! Trust these coaches, trust the movements, trust yourself; that was the best advice I ever got.  There is so much more in you than you even know before you start. This sport is for everyone with a willingness to try.  If you show up and try hard these coaches will do the rest; your gains will motivate you to come back for more! Another good piece of advice I got when I was starting and very sore was that 'it gets better' and 'the first few weeks are the hardest' because it was the truth. It does get better if you stick with it; physically and mentally.  When I first started, any movement holding 15lbs was extremely tiring for me.. now I can get 95lbs over my head, front squat over 100+lbs, back squat 180 X1,and not only get one kipping pull up finally but now 21 in a row!  I can't tell you how many times I fell in my first few weeks only to find out it has happened to all of them.  So, if you think your going to embarrass yourself just ask me to tell you the story about my first few burpees and what it looked like, and then trust that in time you will just start getting it; patience and practice.  Most of these movements I learned that I use every single day without even realizing it; that alone is a reason to try crossfit.

    Brian – I would say that if your really interested in losing weight and getting into a better and healthier life routine, then you should give crossfit a try.  It is a great personal challenge because some of the workouts can be tough and intense.

    6: What keeps you coming back?

    Liz – The coaches! I look forward to seeing them every class I go to. Their energy level keeps you going. They have fun personalities and they care! I remember when I first started and asked my 100 questions my coach promised to keep an eye on me and bring me along safely if I decided I wanted to give it a try.. and he has done just that. These coaches are very knowledgeable!  They will show you the difference between practicing a movement safely and what unsafe would look like. They have had so much patience and faith in me even when I didn't even have faith in myself.  They have taught me that gains don't happen overnight. Some progress can take months but patience,practice and dedication will get you there.  They have taught me that fitness is important, and when you learn that you see how it changes every aspect of your life; more than just your physical appearance.

    Brian -The results have kept me coming back.  I also like the fact that the workouts are always different each day.  Your never doing the same routine. 

    _________________________________________________________________

    On May 15 2014, Brian and Liz did a workout that we repeated on February 25, 2014, about nine months between.  Want to compare their times?

    5/15/14  

    Liz - 33:29

    Brian -  33:26

    2/26/15

    Liz - 23:52

    Brian - 23:32

    Oh and not only did they do the SAME EXACT workout 10 minutes faster...Liz did it the second time with a broken toe and a walking boot on!  And Brian scaled the workout up by doing his 100 box jumps on a higher box!  

    These two are a prime example of what consistent approach brings you in terms of results.  Physically and mentally these people have changed their life through a workout routine.  No fluff here, just results.

     

      



  • "Feeling Fat"

     

    By Chris Tafaro

    Every December I hear the same thing in the gym. “I feel so fat.”

    Well, you are not alone. Guys and girls alike get that feeling at this time of year and there is a good reason why. It is probably true. You probably did put on a light winter layer. And while it may bum you out that the scale is a few pounds higher and your pants are a little tighter. I am here to tell you that it is no big deal and I will tell you why.

    It is impossible to keep the petal to the metal all year long. You aren’t going to love the way you look 365 days a year. Bodybuilders in competitions, models that have photo shoots, professional athletes in season (the list goes on) do not look the way they do when they are not at the peak of their event. Not even close. The same goes for you. Your weight, your body fat percentage, and your muscle mass will constantly fluctuate for the rest of your life. That is a fact.

    This does not mean that all you have worked for this year is gone. In fact it is quite the opposite, especially in the sport of CrossFit. Did you recently PR your squat, clean, shoulder press, push press, Jackie , Cindy etc.? Yes, you did. YOU DID A PULL-UP THIS YEAR. So you weigh 4 pounds more because you had some fun, drank some wine, ate some cookies and strayed from your usual diet. Who cares. Not a big deal.

    All of us share a similar mindset. We are willing to work our asses off for what we want. When you renewed your first month of CrossFit you made that decision. It is very hard to casually CrossFit. I’ve never heard anyone say they aren’t interested in PR’ing or beating their previous time, or beating their friend. You want to get better and you will push yourself to do so. If you weren’t serious about it, you would be paying $19 a month at Planet Fitness.

    This is why you are no longer going to worry about feeling fat in December and you are going to go out there and destroy the buffet table at your next holiday party and not give a shit about it because you know yourself and you are going to bounce back.

    It's not a very far bounce at all. You have built more muscle and are burning more calories than ever before. All of us are just a few WODs and a few smart eating days away from being right back in that body that you felt comfortable with a few months ago. So stop stressing. Keep working out and enjoy the next week. You deserve it

     

     

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