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Member of the Month: Andrea Duncan

Posted on by Alycia

Congratulations to Andrea Duncan, Aspire’s August Member of the month! Andrea came to our gym two years ago with her fiance. She was there for support and because she thought it would be a fun departure from her regular routine. She has always paid particular attention to form, and has been a great listener when it comes to taking tips from coaches.

Within the last year, however, she has gone from the quiet girl in class to one of our fastest improving women at the gym! Not only is she super speedy and great at the endurance workouts, she has really made some impressive progress to her lifts and her focus in the gym. You can catch her doing the extra credit or working on her goals while she isn’t killing it in the metcons! Congratulations, Andrea. Well deserved! We can’t wait to see your progress over the next year!

NAME      Andrea Duncan

AGE      26

YEARS doing CrossFit      Almost 2 years

Why did you first start CrossFit?       I heard about Crossfit from a friend and wanted to buy a month for my fiancé as a birthday present.  I went with him to a free class to check it out and really liked it.  I’ve always been active…with running and dancing…and had been on a belly dance team before I moved to South Jersey two years ago, but couldn’t find a dance class or team that had what I wanted down here.  I really wanted something to keep me fit.  I think Crossfit is perfect because I love the intensity, the mix of strength and cardio, and really need the structure of attending classes to keep me motivated.

What were your favorite movements when you first started? Have they changed over time?     When I first started, I really loved back squats because I understood the concept of them and didn’t need to think too much about what I was doing.  I hated any technical lifts that required speed and using momentum.  Now, I have learned to enjoy lifts like cleans and jerks a lot better than when I first started.  I still have a lot to learn, but enjoy the feeling when I have executed the movement correctly…it feels like a real accomplishment.

Which types of workouts are you favorite/best?  I love any workouts that involve a lot of cardio…runs, burpees, wallballs, box jumps, etc.  I also love/hate the crazy long metcons like 12 Days of Christmas and Filthy Fifty.  They are so awful, but there’s something great about feeling completely exhausted when you’re done.

You are a really fast runner. What do you attribute that to?  I learned how to run in high school on the track and cross country teams.  I’ve continued running since, but never on a team again…just on my own or with friends.  I think it’s just something I have to keep doing so my body never forgets how to pace itself and breathe.  The inhaler also helps.

Tell us about your strength gains/focus over time. When/why did you start to push yourself harder and make strength gains?     Compared to how I was when I first started Crossfit, I am lifting weights and doing things I never thought I could have done strength-wise.  I have come a long way not only with how much weight I can lift, but also with paying attention to good form.  I attribute all that to the coaches here…everyone is so awesome and dedicated to making every one of us improve, while still doing so safely.

What type of music do you like to listen to while you are running or doing CrossFit?    I usually don’t listen to music when I run only because I get so distracted by earbuds always falling out of my ears!  I like a lot of the music that’s playing at the gym, but love Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix”…I think that’s my jam.

What’s your favorite warm up to do?  There’s nothing like a little 400m run and some stretching.

If you could do a WOD with one celebrity or character from a TV show/movie, who would it be?  Thor, for sure.

What do you like to do in your spare time, other than CrossFit?   I like to paint and draw.  I’m kind of a granny and knit/crochet a lot.  Also, when I get the chance, I volunteer at a cat shelter.

How has CrossFit helped you in other aspects of you life?   It’s given me a lot of confidence.  It’s really addicting and I feel like the rush you get after a workout is always motivating me to want to do other activities and improve myself in other ways, too.

What advice would you give to a beginner who has never done any weight lifting before?     Two years ago, I was apprehensive about weight lifting…I had definitely never done it before (other than my little 5 lb. dumbbells in the comfort of my living room with my workout DVD playing).  I remember the night I went to inquire about joining and seeing lots of women lifting barbells full of weights.  I was so impressed and wanted to learn how to be strong like that!  Crossfit has been perfect for that.  The coaches will make sure that you learn at a pace that is good for you and will never put you in a position where you can get hurt.  You will find that if you put in the time and want to improve, you will.

 

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On Goal Setting…

Posted on by Alycia

We’ve all been there. We start a healthy habit, athletic endeavor, or skill-based hobby. At first, it’s going well. It’s all new and we love it. Then, somewhere along the way, we get frustrated and end up”taking a break”, never to return again.

What happened?

We didn’t plan for success.

We planned for the start, but not for the work that’s put into the middle and the end. 

Let’s change it up a bit.

Let’s start from the end and work our way back.

This week in the gym, you will be given a goal Setting Worksheet which will outline ONE main goal that you will accomplish by the end of the year.

This worksheet will help you describe your MAIN goal, you current status at it, and how much time per week you plan on investing on reaching your goal.

On you’ve filled it out, hand it to your coach. We will collect and review all goal sheets and get them back to you with strategies, movements, mini-goals, and a timeline to help you reach your goal by 12/31/15.

Finally, you will be able to say that you picked something to accomplish, you broke it down into manageable chunks, you checked your progress and you accomplished your goal.

Your coaches will be checking in on your progress, asking you what you are working on, and will be available for extra help or assistance with your skills and lifts.

The best part of this is that you won’t have to sacrifice any other parts of your workouts to accomplish your goals. You’ll be getting PRs in all aspects of your training, in addition to working on your main goal!

Just as you won’t get fit by watching the CF Games on ESPN, you also won’t accomplish your goal by reading your assigned work. You need to DO THE WORK!

Let do this!!!

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June Events at the gym

Posted on by Alycia

June 6th * CrossFit Aspire * 12pm:  Free Functional Movement Clinic with Dr. Nelson. He will assess your movements and give you exercises that will improve your form and allow you to lift more weight! EVERYONE should take advantage of this free class!

Call 856-767-8800 to reserve your spot!

June 13th * CrossFit Aspire * 9am: IN HOUSE PARTNER COMPETITION! Rx and Scaled Divisions. This is all for fun! We’ll be doing 3 WODs, with different partners each time. We’ll pick for you. Just show up! RSVP here. 

June 21st * CrossFit DT1 * 10am: Gymnastics Clinic with Jess Saxon! RSVP here. 

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Shop for Aspire apparel online!

Posted on by Alycia

Want to work out AND look good doing it?

Check out our latest gym swag.

SHOP NOW!

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Memorial Day Schedule

Posted on by Alycia

We’re having one big “MURPH” workout at DT1 on Monday, Memorial Day at 10am, followed by a BBQ directly after. (All classes at CrossFit Aspire are canceled)

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Member of the Month: Chris Swiers

Posted on by Alycia

When did you first start Crossfit? I first started Crossfit last summer
(Summer 2014) right when I moved to NJ.

What is your athletic background? I have played a little bit of every
sport under the sun. Baseball, football, and basketball were my high
school days and golf from high school on. It wasn’t until late in
college, however, when I discovered
The school’s fitness center where I started basic lifting and the rare
cardio session.
What was your number one hesitation in starting? High intensity training
for speed and strength did not sound like my cup of tea. I was afraid I
would start too many workouts and not have the physical or mental
capacity to finish. That fear I perpetuated within myself was quickly
debunked.
You’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. Which movements
or areas of fitness do you feel made the most improvements? Olympic
lifting for sure. The clean & jerk and the snatch are so difficult for me
and I have put in a lot of time and work to improve efficiency and
technique.

How many times per week do you come to the gym? I try and come every
weekday for at least a class.
Ol has your diet changed since starting Crossfit? When I started
Crossfit, I wanted to maximize my experience both in the gym and in the
kitchen, starting to change my diet into a more Paleo basis. Since, I
have discovered that for me, it was more important to follow the idea of
Paleo as opposed to living by the book. Eating more of the
right foods on a daily basis like lean poultry, grassfed beef, greens,
natural carbs, and the good fats were more consistent with feeling good
and proving results than strict dieting day in and out. I have also tried
to cut down on the craft brews, so that helps too.

You recently got your first muscle up. Tell us about that! It was a
surreal moment for me. I was in between squat sets and I had been close
on a few recent muscle up attempts. I figured I would just jump on the
rings and not think about the components that make up the movement except
“hips”. I remember grabbing the rings then the next thing I know, I am holding myself at the top of the muscle up and not knowing how the heck I got up there. It was
invigorating and I was proud. The scariest part of the success, however,
was trying to figure out how to get down from up there.

What other skills are you trying to master? More consistent muscle-ups!
It is such a technical movement that challenges me to the brink of
my sanity. Some days they can be strung together and somedays I can’t
get over the rings. But more practice daily makes it more comfortable.

How has CrossFit affected you in your everyday life? I feel more
confident and capable. That is for certain. But most importantly,
Crossfit has influenced me to be more committed to achieving my goals. I
am committed to coming to the gym every day I can possibly make it in, to
getting one more rep or being one second faster, and to pushing myself
toward achieving my goals outside of the gym in my business life and
personal life.

What is your favorite music to work out to? Whatever is on the Marvin
Tan playlist. I never knew that listening to “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit
on repeat could be PR fuel, but it is.

What are your favorite ( and non favorite) lifts and why? My favorite
lifts are the Olympic lifts. The clean & jerk and the snatch just feel
right when you hit all the positions, and the feeling reminds me of a
well-struck golf shot. Non favorite? Thrusters. Thrusters are my
nightmare. I have literally had nightmares about Thrusters.

What is your #1 goal in the gym for 2015? To PR all of benchmark workouts
we come across this summer and to prove to myself that I am stronger and
faster than last year when I first started.

What would you tell people who are interested, but apprehensive about
starting Crossfit? Just do it. I was so nervous on my first ride to
Crossfit Aspire for class that I almost turned around. But after that
first hour, I just wanted to get back for tomorrow’s workout. Then the
next day, I left with that same feeling. After a while, I noticed that
the urge for tomorrow¹s workout wasn¹t going away. I got hooked on the
lifts, the metcons, the community, and the coaches. You are going to get
hooked, too. You just need to give it a try.

Click here to see Chris in our community video for Aspire!

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February’s Member of the Month: Jarrod Holzman

Posted on by Alycia

Jarrod Holzman

Years with CrossFit (and CrossFit Aspire) 2 years total, all at Aspire

Prior fitness experiences: Initially a cross country runner logging 50-60 miles a week circa year 2000. Post highschool was conventional globo gym lifting and “cardio”

Hobbies (other than CrossFit, which is the only hobby that matters):  Traveling, eating, and drinking beer in every corner of the world.

What made you get into CrossFit? I got pretty bored of conventional lifting and running, lost motivation, and the results, or lack of, came to a stand still. I was looking for that perfect combination of strength as well as endurance and CrossFit seemed to be the answer. 2 years later im still here and I feel like my overall fitness is more well rounded and continues to improve.

What was one of your earliest memories from the gym? Not sure exactly how early it was, but most painful may have been Justins infamous programming of Venom II followed the next day with Bear Complex.

What are your favorite and least favorite movements? Im in a love hate relationship with snatching. It involves alot of technical skill, as well as strength and mobility and i love the way it looks and feels when done properly. I think its the best overall single lift to test these skills. That being said, Im lacking a little on the technical side and have some shoulder mobility issues in the overhead position that have gotten much better but still not where i need them to be.

Have any of your least favorites become your favorites? Yes, hated cleans but eventually it clicked and they’re getting much better. Still hate power cleans

What is your favorite workout song right now? F*ckwithmeyouknowigotit – Jay Z and Rick Ross

Who do you ‘chase’ in the gym? When it comes to Metcons I chase Chris L, he’s quick and keeps it moving. Recently though, its been Casey, dude has some strong lifts and even though i havent worked out with him in a while, i always like to see what Brad Stadler is up to.

What gets your motivated in class?  Good music, attentive coaching and advice, as well as the constant drive and motivation to be better than I was last week. When i feel like a coach is fully invested in what im doing it pushes me to perform. All of these items can be found at Aspire

What is your “goat” ( the one movement that is your biggest weakness) and what are you plans for improving it in 2015? See love-hate relationship above. I plan on working on my technical skills, paying more attention to the nuanced movements that can make or break a certain lift.

You love to cook, and your Food Swap meals are always a favorite! Explain your experience with cooking, learning to cooking, and seeking/making new things? When i began CrossFit i was focused on getting the best results possible, and as we are all aware, eating the proper food plays perhaps the biggest role in getting the results we want. I always thought i was eating the “right” foods i.e chicken breast, whole wheat, and of course the low fat version of everything. I was getting nowhere fast with conventional exercising as well as conventional diet. With the inclusion of CrossFit I started getting results again; looking better, feeling better, and getting stronger. I  got very focused on the nutrition aspect of fitness and proper fueling for performance and health. With conventional exercise in my rear view mirror i left my conventional diet and found Paleo/ Primal. Over about 18 months of using the Paleo/Primal template i’ve learned not to be dogmatic about it and to eat what works for me. For example, white rice is my post workout savior where sweet potatoes just didnt do the trick (simple starch vs complex carb). All of these things led to my desire to control exactly what i was eating in order to get the results i desire, even if it is the occasional doughnuts and pizza, haha. What initially started as work is now routine. Im always trying to make new things in order to keep it interesting, sometimes to the point where i make more food than i need but i want to try a new recipe.

What are the most significant changes that you’ve seen since starting to eat Paleo/Primal? Results; I can see and feel the results of proper nutrition. My athletic performance has improved and i feel healthier than ever. I dont feel hungry all the time and maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day, no more riding the blood sugar rollercoaster.

What would you say to a person who wants to ‘get in shape’ before starting CrossFit? I would ask them if they “get in shape” for football by playing tennis. Point being, you get better at a sport by performing that specific sport and associated movements. There is nothing wrong with cross training, in fact its great, but CrossFit is scalable for every age and ability level so there is no reason to “get in shape” prior to starting because “getting in shape” is an inherent characteristic of CrossFit. Plus its nice to look back at where you started and see how far you’ve come.

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This week…

Posted on by Alycia

Dear Week,

I’m ready for you. Whatever you have planned, and whatever you throw into the mix, I’m ready for it.

52 times this year, I will do the following things to get me ready for you. Each week I will be a little better than the last. And this will be my healthiest, happiest year yet.

This week, I will buy clean food and cook for the week. All of my meals will be prepared at home. Those that cannot, will be purchased with careful consideration and attention to ingredients.

This week, my workouts will go into my calendar as non-negotiable events. I will not ‘make time’ to work out. My workouts are part of my pre-existing plan. They will not be missed.

This week, my workouts this week will include at least one movement that I need to work on. I am committed to turning this weakness into a strength of mine.

This week, I will help someone in the gym. If I see someone struggling, I will be there with an anecdote, a personal story, a sympathetic ear, or a helpful piece of advice.

This week, I will not settle for anything less than perfection in my technique. I might not lift the most weight, but I will do it better than everyone else in class. I will be a good example for the others.

This week, I will say ‘No’ to a sweet treat or unwarranted food cheat. I will continue to do this until it feels natural ad becomes my default reaction.

This week, I will turn off the TV or computer 10 minutes earlier than usual at night.

This week, I will write down one reason why last week was great. (Review at the end of the year for maximum happiness)

This week, I will become a better person.

For my family, my gym friends, my coaches, and myself.

 Sincerely,

(your name goes here)

 

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Choosing Your Weight

Posted on by Alycia

 

Do you struggle with how many reps, sets, or what weight to use in class? That’s probably because there is no one correct answer. Rather, it depends on you, your past, your goals, and how you are feeling THAT DAY.

Here are Justin’s notes on how to select the right weight for yourself, when strength training.

Most days our classes follow a simple template:

1)      Warm-up and mobility work

2)      Strength training and/or skill work

3)      Metcon

4)      Extra Credit

In the “strength training’ portion of class, the goal isn’t to lift the heaviest weight possible every day, but rather to lift with good technique a weight that is appropriate for the day. In a perfect world, the appropriate weight for the day will be a new PR, and if you are very new to lifting, this will often be the case. But once you have some experience with strength work, you quickly learn that not every day is a PR day. So considering this, I want to discuss how to properly choose your working weight for your strength work.

Technique is more important than weight lifted. Always. Go up in weight only if your technique is excellent, and don’t increase the weight if you expect technique to suffer.

Some days you’ll be stronger than others. Many factors will affect how strong you are on any given day.

-          Sleep. Nothing can affect how you perform in the gym more than a bad night of sleep. And nothing can prepare you more for consistent progress and improvement in the gym than lot of sleep.

-          Diet. After sleep, diet has the biggest effect on your training. If you’ve been eating clean and eating enough, expect your numbers to increase. If you’ve been eating junk, not enough, or you’ve recently cut out a lot of carbs, expect your numbers to drop.

-          Stress. At work, at home, kids, relationships, etc. Any and all stress can interfere with a good training day.

-          Previous workouts. Yesterday’s running will affect today’s squats.

-          Time of day. I feel much stronger after work than I do in the morning. For you, the opposite might be the case.

-          A change of routine. Have you recently started doing yoga? Training more times a week? Upped your mileage to get ready for an upcoming race?

-          No good reason. Some days you walk in to the gym feeling weak and crappy and you have a record setting day. Other times you feel good, but your just don’t perform well. It’s the reality of strength training and fitness in general. Some days are better than others.

-          Complexity. When performing the more technically challenging lifts, like Snatches and Clean&Jerks, you can expect a huge variance in your numbers from day to day. The less technical lifts, like shoulder presses and back squats, you will have more consistent numbers.

-          Explosiveness. Much like with the more complex lifts, you’ll also see more variance with the more explosive lifts. Some days you’re faster and more explosive than others. So expect more consistency with your shoulder presses and less with you push presses.

So, knowing that there are many factors that will affect your training, let’s talk about how to approach choosing your weight.

-          Don’t chase PRs just to get a new PR. I can’t stress this enough. You will not PR every day.

-          Only go up in weight if technique is good. This decreases the chance of injury and teaches the body to move better. We want to reinforce good technique until it becomes automatic. Only then do we chase maximal weights.

-          Base your weight increases on how each set feels. Go up in weight only if you perform a set that feels good and that you know you can improve upon.

-          Have a realistic goal and a plan. If you’re feeling good, aim to hit around 90% of your PR (for that rep scheme) with enough time to lift for 1-2 more sets. For example, if you have 15 minutes to do Deadlifts x3, and your 3 rep PR is 305, aim to lift 275×3 with enough time to do 1-2 more sets. An example lifting session based on a 3×305 deadlift might look like this:

  • 10 x 45
  • 5 x 135
  • 5 x 185
  • 3 x 225
  • 3 x 275
  • 3 x 295
  • 3 x 315 (10lb PR!)

-          Or, if you’re tired, sore, or haven’t deadlifted recently, you’ll want to back off a little, so your training might end with the 3×275 or 3×295 set.

-          As the weight gets heavier, rest longer between sets. Again, using the above deadlift example, you only need about 30-60 seconds of rest between each of the first four sets. Then, as the weight gets heavier, aim for 1-3 minutes of rest between sets.

-          Small improvements over time add to huge increases in strength. Adding 5lbs a month to a lift is a 60lb increase in a year. If you’re feeling good, aim to get a 5lb PR.

In conclusion, before lifting you should be thinking about external factors (sleep, energy, eating), your body THAT DAY, your immediate and long term goals and the time allotted. These factors will allow you to determine the BEST possible course of action when lifting.

Remember that this is YOUR strength training session. The whiteboard is neat to look at, but remember this is a training session, not competition day. You work out to GET stronger and you compete to TEST your strength. Make smart choices, even if it means lifting less weight or taking a rest day to recovery. And keep getting stronger…everyday. 

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Gym Superheroes: John Ahern and Anne Ibay

Posted on by Alycia

Members come and go, but the ones who display CONSISTENCY in their training are the ones that make the most progress and are least likely to get injured. The most recent gym superheroes are named so because they have been committed to coming to CrossFit consistently for 3 years, and have strength gains, overall fitness improvements, and a low injury rate to show for it.

Anne is a physician and John is a business owner with a family. Both are busy, yet they have had a standing appointment at CrossFit 3-4 times per week for years. They have make steady gains over the years, and continue to quietly sneak up on some of our other high level athletes. If you’re not paying attention (or coming to class regularly), John will easily out lift you and Anne will metcon circles around you.

Congratulations to the new Aspire Superheroes!

JOHN AHERN
Member since September 2011
What got you into Crossfit? The frustration of trying to find the right mix of cardio and weights from a local gym without spending 1 ½- 2 hours for a full workout. The time compression at CrossFit really appealed to me, and that both can be achieved with much better results. I’ve never felt better.

Name a fitness goal you have. A fitness goal I have is to get better every day. Make each workout better then the day before and so on…Another goal is to never get out of shape. The variety of workouts CrossFit provides not only maintains a steady interest as opposed to running on a treadmill but also allows your body to recover faster because it is not focused on one muscle group day after day.

Favorite Benchmark, WOD and/or Lift. My favorite benchmark is Grace. Favorite lift when I first started was Farmer’s Walk since it was simple and heavy as opposed to more technique focused and lighter weighted lifts such as overhead squat.
What are your favorite and least favorite movements? I kind of gravitated towards the lifts like the overhead squat because I was so bad at them from the beginning and look forward to the progress being made. My least favorite lift is front squat. Least favorite metcon is Air Force workout…it’s the burpee intervals on the minute that kills me.

How has CrossFit impacted your life? For starters, it has given time back to me. Time I would have been wasting at other gyms. Second, it has given results. If your goal in mind is to actually improve your fitness and health, CrossFit is for you. Third, it has impacted my diet which is something was done wrong for years. At Aspire, there is a strong focus on eating healthier and there is a direct correlation between performance and diet.

ANNE IBAY
Member since April 2011
Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody knows about you. I am a huge fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), and I have attended over 50 live UFC events. Also, I wear a lot of pink, but my favorite color is green. All shades.

What is your athletic background? Does high school Marching Band count?

Favorite Benchmark, WOD and/or Lift. Death By Power Cleans/Front Squats (20 min max)!! Least favorite – Fight Gone Bad-ish

What are your favorite and least favorite movements? Favorite movement – cleans. So much to learn and remember and improve! Least favorite movement – running.

How has CrossFit changed your outlook on life? CrossFit has made me realize that despite vastly diverse personalities, professions, beliefs, backgrounds, cultures and interests, if you have a group of people who share a similar passion, you’ve got yourself a tight-knit community. Strong connections can be made even if you only have one single thing in common.

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