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Author Archives: Alycia

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In Search of Happiness

Posted on by Alycia

 

“What is your aspiration in life? Oh, my aspiration in life would be to be happy.” – “Pretty Hurts”, Beyonce.

Success. Friends. Money. Love. Experiences. – we crave these things because they are a means to happiness.

Are you happy?

What would make you happier right now?

If you know the answer, go out and do what you need to do. Make happiness happen.

If you drew a blank, then consider this:

BIG bursts of happiness (professional success, new love, a newborn child) will probably only happen a few times in your entire life.

Instead of waiting for the next big thing, take a close look around you and notice the slow, steady stream of happiness that makes it into your life every day.

Every single week, you go to a place that welcomes you with open arms, regardless of how you feel, your attitude, how you look, or how your day went.

You see familiar faces from all walks of life and you expand your social circle whenever you want.

You learn new skills that other people your age have long given up on, or don’t even know about.

You can see (in Wodify, in the mirror, in your muscles) how much you’ve improved recently.

People who care about you stand next to you and cheer your name. They clap for you, pat you on the back and tell you you’re doing a great job.

You motivate others to do better, and you are thanked for it each and every time.

When stop and think about, that’s pretty amazing. Lucky you!

You belong to a group of positive people who are getting better every day. And you go to a place with these people where only good things happen. And at the end of the day, you are happier person because of it.

So when you feel like times are tough, stress is overwhelming, or you just aren’t quite as happy as you want to be, try to recognize the small doses of happiness that are all around you.

If you can’t see the bits of happiness in your work or home life, then just go to your happy place. We’re open every single day and we are here to make you happy.  :)

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30 Day Challenge Announcement!

Posted on by Alycia

We are less than 4 weeks away from our next 30 Day Challenge!!

Starting January 3rd, we’ll all be eating clean and abstaining from alcohol for 30 days. Sounds like a party, right?

At this point, you are probably having some type of reaction to this news.

FIND YOUR REACTION AND READ ON!

IF YOUR REACTION IS,                                                                                                      

“WHAT THE HECK IS A 30 DAY CHALLENGE AND WHY WOULD I DO IT?”

Your answer is,                                                                                                                            

It will make you look better naked. That’s most likely why you joined the gym in the first place, right? Oh, and in addition to that, it’ll make you so damn healthy that you’ll feel better all day every day, recover faster from workouts, perform better in the gym and you will live longer. Those are some pretty good side effects!

It’s a cleanse of sorts, as it will help rid your system of common toxins that are found in the foods you eat now, but instead of restricting what you eat, it allows you to eat ANY FOOD or DRINK YOU WANT.*

* FOOD: All animals and fish, all vegetables (little to no white potatoes), all fruits, nuts and seeds (in moderation) *DRINK: Water/Seltzer Water, Tea or Coffee

If doesn’t fit into the above categories, it’s not a food, and you won’t be eating it for those 30 days.

WE KNOW YOU HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS, such as “Is this Paleo?!”as you hold up a can of beans. We’ll address all of that in another post. For now, just know that if it’s a grain (flour, rice, corn, etc), legume, sugar or sweetener, dairy product or alcohol, you won’t be eating it during those 30 days. Just about every packaged item in the food store fits into this category. On the other hand, if the ingredient list has 1-2 ingredients and doesn’t come in a package, it’s likely a food and you can eat it. If it was alive at some point, it’s likely a food.

YOUR HOMEWORK: Start collecting recipes that use only ŕeal foods’. A good place to start is by typing in the names of your favorite meats and veggies, and also the word Paleo. (ie: Chicken + spinach + garlic + Paleo)

Also, check out our Member Resources page for cookbooks, websites, local restaurants and Paleo food options. Also look at our Nutrition Page for lots of articles, recipes, and testimonials from people who have done this challenge before.

Also, talk to people at the gym about what they typically eat and how they cook it. USE YOUR RESOURCES to come up with a big group of recipes so you aren’t lost on Day 1!

 

IF YOUR REACTION IS,                                                                                            

“AGAIN?? OK, I’LL DO THE FOOD PART, BUT I STILL WANT TO DRINK EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE. AND I WANT TO KEEP THE CHEESE IN. AND MAYBE SOME DARK CHOCOLATE.”

The answer is,                                                                                                                          

OH HELL NO. That’s not even very challenging. You know as well as we do (or you should) that going 100% clean is the only way to reap the benefits of a 30 day challenge. Exceptions for a wedding or something that’s truly one-in-a-lifetime are possibly acceptable, but birthday parties, happy hours, Saturday nights, Sunday football,’a bad day at work, or other weekly occurrences are not.

Just (wo)man up and do this the RIGHT WAY. If you half ass the challenge, then you won’t get great results. You know this already. Its only 30 days out of your entire life. Just suck it up. Weŕe all in this together.

YOUR HOMEWORK: Write down your reasons for doing this challenge. You won’t want to stick to it if you aren’t doing it for a specific reason. Stick this reason or list of reasons to your fridge, or set it as a reminder in your phone, or your desktop background. The point is, if you know WHY you are doing this, the HOW becomes a lot easier.

IF YOUR REACTION IS,                                                                                                    

“BUT IT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME LAST TIME. WHY SHOULD I TRY IT AGAIN?”

Your answer is,                                                                                                                

Everyone is different, and if your body, genetic makeup, autoimmune health, or lifestyle dictate that you need a different solution, there are plenty of ways to tweak this protocol. Before claiming that it didn’t work, though, think back to other factors in your life such as stress or sleep schedule. If those are way off, your attempts to change your body composition via food and the gym won’t help you reach your goals.

After doing the homework below, we may recommend alternative solution that will likely be a variation of the Paleo diet. It might be stricter, or might even include additional ingredients that will allow you to reach your goals and stay healthy for the 30 days.

YOUR HOMEWORK: Outline a typical 1-3 days of eating from the last 30 day challenge, as well as a 1-3 days of how you currently eat. Bring this to Alycia, Justin or Steve Kirsch before January 1st, along with a clear goal for this challenge, and we will help you!

 

IF YOUR REACTION IS,                                                                                                    

“OK. I’VE DONE THIS IN THE PAST AND I’M TOTALLY DUE FOR ANOTHER CHALLENGE. LETS DO THIS!”

Your answer is,                                                                                                                  

Great! Do it right,and consider taking a new challenger under your wing. We will have a list of challengers on the whiteboard. We will note who is a first time challenger. Try to meet someone new and help them through their first challenge. Often, setting a good example for others is a great way to make sure you do the same for yourself. You’ve already reaped the benefits of a challenge, so use this as an opportunity to help others do the same. This is a community. Do your part to help it thrive!

YOUR HOMEWORK: Find NEW recipes. One of the reasons you aren’t eating 100% paleo right now is that you are bored with the food you have at home. Spice things up a bit, literally. Buy a new cookbook (Well Fed 2 and Nom Nom Paleo are great new options!)

Encourage new people at the gym to join the challenge. The more people that are talking, sharing recipes, etc, the easier this challenge becomes!

MORE INFO WILL BE POSTED SOON. STAY TUNED. FOR NOW, BE QUIET AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, News & Events | Leave a comment

SO I’M GOING TO…

Posted on by Alycia

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.
TAKE IT.

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

CrossFit Aspire in 2012: The Year in Review!

Posted on by Alycia

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!

In June we hosted the CrossFit For Hope fundraiser for St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Over 60 athletes showed up, gave 100% effort, and donated toward a great cause. Plus, it was a ton of fun!

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.

We also sent about 30 of our athletes to the “Test Your Metal” event in Allentown, PA. Everyone did really well, and Alycia, Brianna, Alex and Jon made it to the final event!

August saw more competitions – we sent some competitive athletes to the Summer Classic at the Piazza in Philly and they did really well and Justin and Mike made it to the 2nd to last event!

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!

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Holiday Hours 2012

Posted on by Alycia

Holiday Hours
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.

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Monday, December 10th

Posted on by Alycia

Strength/Metcon:
10 Rounds
3 Power Cleans
3 Front Squats
3 Push Jerks
- start light, finish heavy
- Rest as needed between rounds

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Saturday, December 8th

Posted on by Alycia

Strength:
On the Minute for 7 Minutes
Split Jerk 2

Metcon:
AMRAP in 12
5 Split Jerks
7 Box Jumps
9 Sit-ups

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Friday, December 7th

Posted on by Alycia

Back Squat:
Back Squat 3×4-6

Metcon:
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
HSPUs
Pull-ups

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

Cash Out:
1000m Row Time Trial

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WOD: Tuesday, October 30th

Posted on by Alycia

The power is still out.
Noon class ONLY today
Kids classes and evening classes are cancelled.

Be safe on your drive here.

Strength:
Thruster 3

Metcon:
5 Rounds
250m Row
14 One arm DB Thrusters (7L/7R)
10 Burpee sprint

-Rest 1-2 minutes between rounds

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Get in the Game – The Mental Game

Posted on by Alycia

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.

2. Strategize.

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.

 

 

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