Author Archives: Alycia← Older posts November 6, 2013
In life, and in the gym, opportunities are abound.
Do you take them ALL? Probably not – that would be overwhelming.
Do you ignore most of them? Maybe. I don’t blame you – being content is easy and requires no work. Perhaps the most important question is,
Do you even know they exist? Well, they might not exist until you create them. You make your own opportunities, of course. Yes, some of us were born into a privileged life, just as some of us have great genetics and are naturally strong or lean.
After that, what happens in our lives, and in the gym, is completely up to us.
Being a victim of circumstance is easy. Just sit back and state the obvious and unfortunate situation to whoever will listen. Repeat.
“I hate my job.” “I’m not happy in my relationship.” “I don’t have time/money.”
“My front squat sucks.” “I can’t climb a rope.” “My hips are too tight.” “I can’t do pull ups.”
“SO I’M GOING TO….”
Bam. There it is. Your opportunity.
You CAN change an unfortunate situation into an opportunity to get better.
Take your #1 complaint about your gym performance right now…
and add “so I’m going to…” to the end of it, and watch your opportunities come to life.
Here are some quick ideas for how to get better at some of the more elusive skills at the gym:
Double Unders: Buy a rope, cut it to your size, and practice single and double jumps every single day at home.
Pull Ups: Pick an assistance level (banded, unassisted, or weighted) that you can do 5 reps at. Now do 10 sets of 1 with a 60-90sec rest in between sets. Do that 2-3 times/week for a week, maybe two. Then move to 8 sets of 2 when you can, then 7×3, 6×4, 5×5, 4×6, 3×7, 2×8…or skip right to a whole set of 10 whenever you can! Repeat at a lower resistance.
Olympic Lifting: Come to Olympic Lifting class on Wednesdays at 7pm for at least one month. Work on technique with light weight every time you are in the gym (before or after your class). Do 5 sets of 5 front squats when you have the time throughout the week.
Muscle Ups: Do all of your pull ups on the rings, concentrating on those last few inches at the top. Do 5×5 ring dips often, do transition drills from your knees.
Toes to Bar: Warm up your shoulders and hop on the bar for 5 sets of 5 kipping swings. Push your chest forward and kick back slightly, then reverse your body position so that your head, chest and shoulders are behind the bar and push down hard with straight arms.
Conditioning in general: Come to Run Club on Sundays at 10am. Throughout the week, run 4-6 rounds of 400m or 800m repeats with 2-3 min rest in between. Do 3 sets of 10-20 burpees whenever you have a free 5-10 minutes at home.
Reduce body fat and keep muscle: Eat LOTS of real food. Eliminate all sugar, grains, dairy and alcohol from your diet ASAP. Your meals should all consist of meat/fish and/or some type of vegetable.
BONUS life advice:
Job: Find a new position within the company or make your own position (find things you actually WANT to do and do more of them at your job). If that won’t work, update your resume and go on interviews even if the job descriptions aren’t a perfect fit. See what’s actually out there before you leave your ‘terrible’ job.
Relationship: If the person isn’t helping you become better or happier, and/or you don’t care much about their success or happiness either, then it’s time to move on.
Time/Money: No clue. Call me when you figure that one out…Posted in News & Events, Personal Stories | 1 Comment December 31, 2012
It seems like just yesterday that we were dragging mats across the floor of our ‘new, big gym’ in December of last year. Leaving our tiny gym behind, we settled into our big home and our family grew. More than doubled, actually.
This past year has been filled with some amazing moments, new faces, PR’s, fun, community and camaraderie.
We can close our eyes and remember the days when class didn’t know where to meet….the new gym was just…so….big! “Do we stretch up near the front of the room? Or all the way in the back? Which direction do we do our running drills? Where’s the chalk bucket? I can’t hear anything over the echos!”
In February, we did something completely different and entered into an indoor rowing competition. A few of our members even won their age group (ignore the fact that there weren’t any other athletes on the podium…).
February was also the start of our CrossFit Kids program. We began with a small group of 5-8 year olds, and grew from there. We now have over 20 kids enrolled in the program. They have all made such impressive progress from then until now, and we are excited to see where they’ll be in a year from now. Notable moments were Declan’s no-hand headstand, Braeden’s climb to the top of the rope, Gabby’s unassisted pull ups, Anthony’s handstand push ups, Craig’s improvement in running and coordination, Alex’s gymnastics abilities and technique, Kelsey’s strength and form and Josh’s 135lb deadlift.
March kicked off our Olympic Lifting program which has become a sold-out weekly class with coaching from Olympic hopeful Darren Barnes. You’ll be able to pick out which members go to this class by looking at their form and improvements on the whiteboard. Congrats to all of our Olympic lifters for taking the time to work on a skill that has bought increased power and explosiveness.
In April, we hosted a Balanced Bites seminar with Diane Sanfilippo. She taught us a ton about food, nutrition, digestion and health. The seminar kicked off a gym-wide “30 Day Real Food Challenge” in which tons of weight was lost and gym performances increased. In the “A Day in the Life Of” feature, we got to see and read about what other people on the challenge were eating. It was a great way to connect, compare and start conversations about food throughout the challenge.
May was the Broad Street run 10 mile race, in which several of our members competed and got personal bests! The long run was something that was definitely not in everyone’s comfort zone, but completing the race was a great show of willpower and inner strength.
At the end of the month, some of us ventured up to the Northeast Regionals of the CrossFit Games to see the best athletes in our area compete. Wodify was just getting up and running at that time, and this was their first big CrossFit event!
Run Club began on Sundays in July, and Justin, Alycia, Wodify, Jon Maron and Jason Keesal made a trip out to California to see the CrossFit Games. No big deal. We were just in the same place as Annie and Rich.
At the end of the month, we decided to give everyone a chance to feel how great it is to compete, so we held our own In-House Competition, Superhero Sunday. Our members were split into beginner, intermediate and advanced, and competed against other members in their group. We saw some really impressive performances, including Liz Earle’s push press and Dan Mellor’s overall score. Dan Kirkpatrick also showed up his younger counterparts in the beginner group. Francine, Jamie and Liz W took the top spots in the female category, showing that hard work and consistent attendance pays off!
September kicked off another 30 Day Real Food Challenge. This time we had a lot of first-time challengers on board and we were happy to hear that so many people had success on and after the 30 Days. At the end of the month, we attended and competed in Beat the Streets, a fundraiser for Steve’s Club. It was a fun time, and our girl Brianna and Liz W. were the top performing female team nationwide!
In October we put our muscles to use for good when we volunteered to help build a house with Habitat for Humanity. We shoveled, and shoveled, and shoveled, and moved a huge pile of dirt the old fashioned way. It was hard work, but gratifying to say the least!
The end of the month was when Hurricane Sandy hit, and we were forced to hold daytime-only classes. We were so grateful for patient members who understood the situation. We also had a great Halloween Costume WOD!
November was our chance to get back on track. 30 of us ran the Turkey Trot 5k race and many got personal bests. Cathy, Dave DiValerio, and Alycia won age group medals!
The very next day, we competed with local Gymnasts and other CrossFit athletes at our “Showdown to Save the Shore” fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy Relief. All athletes showed off their skills on muscle ups, handstands, ring L sits, wall balls and rope climbs, and they competed in an 8 min AMRAP that included a row, pull ups, burpees and ring dips.
December has been hectic to say the least. Alycia & Justin have been working to get the new side up and running, with the help of volunteers at the gym. (Thanks, Ron, Ryan, Mike H, Marvin, Dan W, John D, Jay, Matt S, and John A!).
We also decided to donate gifts to 50 underprivileged kids from Camden. They each got a duffel bag stuffed with goodies! All of the gifts were wrapped at our Holiday party, which turned into Club Aspire by the end of the night. Good times were had for sure.
As we look back, it’s hard to believe that we did all of that in one year. Each month, we were able to coordinate our members to do something fun, compete, give back or make improvements. Our gym has reached the level it’s at now in such a short amount of time because of the ongoing support and enthusiasm of our members.
We would also like to sincerely thank our entire coaching staff for their enthusiasm, continual quest for knowledge, and ability to adapt and think on the fly when class are big, small, cold, hot and everything in between. This gym literally could not exist without your hard work.
We continue to reflect on the great things that go on in our gym every day, and it makes us happier than imaginable to know that we are helping people become fit, have fun, learn new things and meet other great people every day. It’s our pleasure to bring you together with other amazing people in the pursuit of hard work and fun.
We’re looking forward to 2013 being an even better year!Posted in News & Events | Leave a comment December 19, 2012
Sunday, Dec 23rd: Run Club CANCELED. Open Gym is still on.
Monday, Dec 24th: 9am ONLY
Tuesday, Dec 25th: CLOSED
Wednesday, Dec 26th: Normal schedule *EXCEPT no 5:30am class
Monday, Dec 31st: 6:30am & 12:00pm
Tuesday, Jan 1st: CLOSED
Wednesday, Jan 2nd: Normal schedule
** The LITTLE KIDS: Tuesday classes for those two weeks will be rescheduled to Thursdays Dec 27th and Jan 3rd at 5pm.
** The BIG KIDS: Tuesday classes will be re-scheduled to Saturday Dec 29th and Jan 5th at 9am.
3 Power Cleans
3 Front Squats
3 Push Jerks
- start light, finish heavy
- Rest as needed between rounds
On the Minute for 7 Minutes
Split Jerk 2
AMRAP in 12
5 Split Jerks
7 Box Jumps
Back Squat 3×4-6
There is a LOT of room for individualization in this metcon. People can do everything strict to really work on their strength, or they can kip either/both movements to work on skill/gymnastic development. Today, time isn’t important, but skill and strength development is. Challenge yourselves. If someone is really far from doing HSPUs, I suggest they press heavy dumbbells instead, to really work on pressing/overhead strength
1000m Row Time Trial
The power is still out.
Noon class ONLY today
Kids classes and evening classes are cancelled.
Be safe on your drive here.
14 One arm DB Thrusters (7L/7R)
10 Burpee sprint
-Rest 1-2 minutes between roundsPosted in WOD | Leave a comment October 15, 2012
Mind over matter. There are times when our mind tells us ‘nah’ and our bodies listen. Other times, our inner monologue is a bit more optimistic, and we end up doing things that we didn’t think we could do. What do experienced lifters do when consistent training, real-food eating, and sleep/stress management aren’t enough to cause PR’s in the gym? We get them anyway. Here’s how:
1. Train with someone stronger.
When we head to the racks to lift, consider jumping in with a group of people who normally lift (a little) more than you. Yes, you’ll have to do a few more weight plate changes, but you’ll soon see the magic of observing how stronger people lift. You’ll notice how hard the last few reps look for them, and you might realize that your last few reps don’t ever look as difficult. Could you go up an extra five pounds and still make your lifts? Lifting with stronger people usually means that you are lifting with people who have been coming to the gym for longer than you have. They have probably seen the same plateaus that you are seeing, they also started out lifting less than they are now, and they will most likely be more than willing to give you some pieces of advice for how to make progress over time.
When we are lifting, make sure you check Wodify BEFORE going over to the rack. Know your goal weight for the day, know how much time you have, how many minutes one set + rest takes, and do the math from there. Use that info to determine your starting weight, your ending weight, and fill in the appropriate amount of gaps in between with numbers that make sense. If you normally find yourself lifting a moderate, but not-too-heavy weight as we move onto the metcon, consider doing fewer sets, and making bigger jumps in weight each time. If you are someone who fails a lift at almost every class, consider doing the opposite. Get stronger by getting in a higher volume of work at a lower percentage of your max.
When doing a metcon, make sure that you listen to the coaching points that are given at the beginning of the class. If the coach says” this should be a sprint” then you know that you have no business resting between burpees. Start fast and hang on for dear life. On the other hand, if the workout is 20 minutes long, and you are using 70% of your max weight for a lift that you don’t love to do, you will want to pace yourself to get more rounds done overall. It’s also important to know your personal style. Some people like to work in short bursts and take frequent, very short breaks. Others get through long stretches of work, followed by long stretches of time spent resting. Find your personal workout style and commit to getting 5-10% more work done in every metcon.
3. Don’t count.
This is the opposite of the last tip, and it’s for those who tend to use the numbers to their detriment. These people sometimes choose too few poker chips when counting rounds. They know their max numbers, and frequently won’t let themselves lift more than that because they aren’t sure that they can. For this group, it pays to listen to your body, and stop concentrating so much on the numbers. You may have noticed the 15lb rubber bumper plates that we now have in the gym. The first few times you use them, it’ll probably take an extra few seconds to do the math to figure out how much is on your bar. Why not skip those few seconds and continue to increase your weight in manageable increments until you can’t lift any more? If you keep saying that you ‘can only lift X amount of weight’, you’ll end up lifting only that amount of weight. If you lift those constraints and recognize the sky’s the limit, you might end up making faster progress.
In metcons, try to spend less time staring at the clock “We still have a whole ten minutes left?!” and start spending more time concentrating on your movements, your speed and minimizing rest taken between movements. You might just surprise yourself.
4. Pick someone to beat.
CrossFit is your own sport. It’s you versus the clock. You versus the weights. You versus yourself. BUT you have a room full of people who are also trying to do the same thing. Use that to your advantage! First, get used to using the Wodify whiteboard to find a person who consistently lifts a little more than you, and another person who consistently goes a little faster than you (and uses the same weight) in metcons. These are you point people. For the next few weeks, use these people as gauges for your own progress. You might notice that your point people all of the sudden make some big improvements to their game. Once the bar is raised, your own goals and aspirations may also get bigger. After all, someone just proved that it can be done. If he can do it, so can I.
Similarly, when you are in class, choose to set your bar up next to someone who consistently goes a little faster than you, and try to keep up with them. You might not finish as fast as that person in the end, but you probably moved a bit faster than you normally would, thus making personal improvements to your own performance. SIDE NOTE: You never know who is using you as their point person. Most of us in this gym who are naturally strong, fast or who have been training here for more than 8 months are someone else’s point person. Someone out there is stalking your numbers on the Wodify whiteboard, or peering over at you during metcons. Use that knowledge to help raise the bar for yourself, and for everyone in the gym.
5. Practice at 80%.
This tip is not just for the mental game – it’s a physical tactic for making real gains. At CrossFit Aspire, we are more concerned with creating strength than testing it. We spend more time doing sets of 5 reps than sets of 1. Because you don’t get strong doing single reps. You get strong doing 5’s, and occasionally you test your strength to see what you can do for one. Using that thinking, you can apply this to your lifting by picking a month to train at sub maximal weights, knowing that you will have perfect form on all reps, and will never drop the weights. Forcing yourself to concentrate on form and consistency over the number of pounds on the bar, will get you stronger and will give you the confidence you need to try more in the future. If you drop the bar in almost every class, then you are telling yourself that you are someone who fails every day. That’s not a good place to be. Drop your weight down a bit, hit your lifts (all of them) for a month or so, and then try to lift more. We guarantee that you will be stronger.
The same principle applies to conditioning workouts. If you take a few days each month to ignore the clock and concentrate on efficiency of movement (doing perfect, fast, short-dip push presses, rather than back-bending, pressing-out quasi push presses), getting all reps done in one big set (which would require slowing down) or not resting at all between movements (ie: picking up your jump rope less than 2 seconds after putting down your kettlebell), you’ll be improving your chances of going faster and getting more work done in the future.
To reiterate, these are useful tactics for getting yourself out of a strength or conditioning slump. They are not long-term solutions, but rather short-term bright spots in your training that will help you get to your next mini-goal along the road to fitness. Consistent training, clean eating, extra sleep and stress management will do a lot more to cause actual fitness level improvements. But when all else fails, or if you’re just having a bad day, turn it around in the gym using these simple, but effective mind games.
Posted in News & Events | Leave a comment September 14, 2012
I heard a story on the radio last night about a journalist who had the unique opportunity to follow around the president from the moment he woke up to the minute he went to bed. During his time, he had the chance to sit in on a few basketball games that the President played with local guys. He learned that Mr. Obama was a shrewd player, he demanded to be treated no different than any of the other players, and he took calculated risks on the court – all traits that he had shown in his job and life as well.
At the end of this story, the journalist make an excellent point – you can learn a lot more about a person by doing something with them, than just by asking them questions. I’d say that is spot on. Actions (and reactions) speak louder than words.
You might not have realized it until now, but the people around you have learned A LOT about your personality from the way you conduct yourself in the gym.
Some of the best CrossFit athletes in our gym will tell you their profession or their accomplishments if you ask them, but they never, ever carry and air of authority about them. They also never act like a ‘know-it-all’ even if they do, in fact, know every nuance of every lift we do.
The best CrossFit athletes are humble students while they are in the gym. Regardless of their profession, their outside expertise, or their former accomplishments, they treat themselves as the new student that they are.
It’s obvious that these people are genuinely interested in learning , and aren’t here to show off. They respect the authority of the coach, and understand that they are there to learn a new skill. Until they have mastered that skill, they will remain a model student.
One unique trait among some of the smartest and most successful people in our gym is that they have also managed to make incredible progress in a short amount of time. While some people thoughtlessly lift weights until the timer beeps, these people are asking questions. “hows my form?” “Why do you teach the lift that way?” “What’s the purpose of this?”
They are closer to mastering the lifts than others because they are ALWAYS asking for tips, form corrections, and are genuinely concerned with making improvements to their performance.
It’s no wonder that these are some of the most successful people outside of the gym. You won’t get very far without asking a bunch of questions along the way.
CONSIDERATE HUMAN BEINGS.
The help with putting away weights, the high fives, the pats on the back, the words of encouragement – these are things that we see over and over again from a large group of our members.
These are the same people who are first in line to sign up to do volunteer work, to help clean up the gym, to donate their time to help make a difference. They bring a little something extra with them to class – the human touch, and they leave a mark when they leave. Their presence makes our gym a better place to be.
Being a natural introvert, I realize that being the loud cheerleader for other people isn’t always possible. Raising your hand to ask a question or ask for a correction on form isn’t always something that everyone feels comfortable doing. But some of our most active participants aren’t the ones that yell the loudest at all.
The active participants are the ones that make the most of their time here at the gym. If they can get here early or stay late, they are working on their weaknesses. Everyone has a choice to sit on a chair or practice their double unders. These are the same people who attend our BBQs, sign up for competitions, or show up to events to support our other athletes.
These people are also the ones that tend to have the fullest and most satisfying lives. They manage to balance work and family, while making sure to have fun along the way. They are also the same people who are never satisfied with the status quo. They are always looking to do more.
So, in closing. WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE. We can spot you a mile away. We see you there…achieving, learning, trying, focusing, and making the most of your time in the gym. You are humble, you are positive, and you care about other people. We caught you red-handed. Your actions in our gym speak louder than any words. And for that, THANK YOU.
The next time you are working out in the gym, ask yourself – What type of person am I being right now? The answer might surprise you.Posted in WOD | Leave a comment September 5, 2012
September is BENCHMARK month at CrossFit Aspire! Almost all of September’s workouts will be CrossFit Benchmark workouts.
What is a benchmark workout and how is it different than what we normally do?
On any given week, Justin will put together a series of workouts that he feels would best benefit the general population of our gym. The workouts can be modified for new people, and everyone uses a weight that is a % of the weight they lifted in the strength part of class. Essentially, you are doing your own version of the workout, in a group setting.
A benchmark workout is one that CrossFit Headquarters devised, and is done by the hundreds of thousands of CrossFit athletes around the world. Some of these are named after the original women of CrossFit, back when it was just a single gym out in California. Some are named after fallen soldiers and the workout is CrossFit’s way of honoring their service.
Just like regular workouts, some are long, some are short, some are heavy, some are light, etc. They differ in that instead of using a % of your strength weight, the weights are usually ‘prescribed’. Again, just as in any workout, you are encouraged to scale the weights down to accommodate your strength levels. If you are unsure of what weight to use, please ask your coach!
Why are we doing this?
TO MARK PROGRESS: Benchmark workouts are great for doing just what their name says – for benchmarking your progress. As fun as it is to do random workouts all of the time, it makes sense to repeat the same ones to see how much progress you’ve made.
We will be repeating these workouts in January to see your progress. Over the winter months, you’ll be making progress, getting stronger, doing a 30day nutrition challenge, sticking with CrossFit over the holidays, and we’ll use the re-test to see how far you’ve come!
TO COMPARE: You can also use these workouts to compare yourself to CrossFit athletes around the world. A simple Google search will tell you the top scores for just about all of the CrossFit benchmark workouts.
Since these workouts have been done by other CrossFit athletes before, feel free to look up videos of other people doing the workouts. You’ll be amazed at the human potential to move heavy weight quickly!
TO ASSESS: These workouts will give us an idea of where the weaknesses and strengths of the entire gym lie. This month will give us an opportunity to see if we can make bigger efforts towards working on a few specific skills or movements over the next few months.
TO HAVE FUN & LEARN CROSSFIT: After this month, you’ll be able to carry on conversations with CrossFit athletes around the world, as you’ll all be speaking the same language. If someone comes up to you and asks you what your “Grace” time is, or what weight you do “Jeremy” with, you’ll know how to answer them! This will deepen your knowledge of traditional CrossFit workouts and you’ll have fun doing them!
We hope you enjoy Benchmark September!!
Other Upcoming Awesomeness:
Oct, Nov & December 2013: Assess and improve upon gym-wide weaknesses. Get stronger. Continue to make progress on all CrossFit skills.
January 2013: Benchmark Re-Test month. See how you’ve improved since September.
February 2013: Next SUPERHERO SUNDAY event at the gym! Exact date TBA.
Jan/Feb 2013: Post-holiday diet assessment and clean up.
February/March 2013: CrossFit Games Open. (The first round of competition that leads to the CrossFit Games in July. You’ll be competing in our gym and posting your scores online to see how you stack up against CrossFit athletes worldwide!)Posted in News & Events | Leave a comment ← Older posts