The Cave

The Cave Blog

Archive for January, 2010

Being Fit Just Feels Good

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
Healthy Musculature Is Attractive

Healthy Musculature Is Attractive

Several years ago I was doing conditioning after one of my gymnastics workouts. A coach at the gym I was training at walked up and asked me “Why do you do this to yourself?”. The first thing that came to mind was “Why don’t you?”. But the question was valid. I no longer compete, I have no real “reason” to train as hard as I do. One certainly doesn’t have to train this hard just to obtain moderate fitness, or loose weight, or be “in shape” as defined by our culture.

So, why do I train like this. Well, first off, I love the capabilities it gives me. I was not a naturally athletic kid. I was always picked last for games, was generally uncoordinated and inflexible. I had decent strength, but certainly nothing extraordinary, I just wasn’t noticeably weaker than my peers. Fast forward a decade after I had been doing gymnastics for a few years. Now I am coordinated, flexible and dramatically stronger than my peers. I can now pick up new physical activities pretty easily, and am willing to try just about anything. I’ve also developed an attitude toward working for something that will carry me through many trials.

Aside from the capabilities, being fit just feels good. Sure for about 10-15 minutes 5 or so days a week I am really, REALLY uncomfortable. I’m in pain, sweating, my heart is trying to pound out of my ribcage, my lungs burn, some days I’m nauseous. What do I get for those 10-15 minutes of severe discomfort? I get a hormonal rush that is awesome. Post-workout bliss. For the other 23 3/4 hours of the day I feel great. I can move well. I can sit comfortably just about anywhere. I sleep well. I can pick up and move heavy objects with little problem. I am rarely sick. When I am sick it is short lived and generally not as severe as those around me with the same illnesses. When put in balance feeling good all the time FAR outweighs the short discomfort of the workouts. Feeling good alone would justify the training. When also considering the increased capability, looking better and being able to do really cool things then it really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever not to train like this.

Running Barefoot Is Better

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Running barefoot, or at least with minimalist footwear reduces injury rates and encourages better running mechanics. We’ve talked about this quite a bit. Harvard just released the results on a study supporting this. Our shoes are causing problems. No big surprise, but it’s nice that research is backing up what we keep saying.

Booty Shorts: $45.99. One hasty bet at CFM’s end of the Year Christmas Party- PRICELESS!!

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Ok, so I have to admit, I admire the kid for being a man true to his word.  Here’s the story:

Some of you know that Rosanna Sansone hosted an end of the year/Christmas party at her new house in Corte Madera on Saturday Dec. 26th, 2009.  I wasn’t present first-hand at the time, as I was probably swing dancing in the living room, but by all accounts Rosanna had commented that she thought she would be able to get the four muscle-ups required to win the women’s muscle-up challenge.  This is a BIG DEAL.  Up to that date, we’d had several females come close, but no woman had actually gotten a muscle-up on rings, much less four.  Back on July 20th, after I helped coach (along with others) Annie Thorisdotir on muscle-ups during the final chipper of the CrossFit Games, I had posted the challenge on July 20th, 2009 to motivate our ladies to work on them and also offered some cool loot for the winner(s).  Some of the favorites were: Jill Sprague, Charmaigne Humphries, Amanda Norton, Rosanna Sansone, Seraphina Schinner, and Gillian Parker, who all have a good amount of pull strength and are plenty coordinated.  Rosanna, who we joke about being our whiney and high-maintenance gymnastics princess, proved, nevertheless, that consistency pays off when working skills.  A few days prior to the party, during OSTN on Christmas Day, she hit her cast hand-stand on the uneven bars, in booty shorts, no less!  She had been working this skill for years, and our trainer and Oly-lifting competitor, Ben Herwitz, was there to witness it as was Carlos and myself.  Here’s that video:

Ok, so there’s the reference to the booty shorts, which rumor has it that Rosanna wears when she takes pole dancing classes.  Wow, as if she wasn’t sexy enough already.  I know women in our gym that check out her legs and…. ahem, 30 push-ups for thinking of that word.  So, back at our Christmas party, Ben hears Rosanna mention in front of the CFM regulars and some trainers, that she thinks she can get the four muscle-ups during the next gymnastics class.  Not thinking that she could actually pull it off, Ben perks up that if she did, he’d do thirty muscle-ups for time in booty shorts.  I don’t know how many beers were involved in this conversation, as I was busy teaching the ladies how to swing dance to Brian Seltzer’s Orchestra’s “Dig That Crazy Christmas”, but in any case the bet was made, with witnesses, and Rosanna hit her four muscle-ups at the very next gymnastics class on December 30th, 2009, which Russell Bruel was coaching.  I think Russ wanted to see the 30 Muscle-ups in Booty shorts thing happen.  Here is the rest of the footage, for all you Twighlight fans:

Somehow, Ben made the “switcharoo” and ended up doing the WOD in Laura’s booty shorts instead of Rosanna’s Pole dancing booty shorts.  We wouldn’t want anything to fall out, you know!  So here’s the finae, because I know you ladies wanted to see the shirt come off!:

To all you Twighlight fans, please don’t watch this more than 15 times!  It’s just not right.  Hope you enjoyed the show!

Rosanna Sansone wins the first CFM female to get a muscle-up contest. (+ Schedule Announcements)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Well everyone, it’s official.  Actually, it’s been official for about a month, except there was stuff going on and the videos ended up on Roger’s computer instead of where I had ready access to them, but Rosanna Sansone officially won the “First CFM female to get a Muscle-up” contest back on Wed. Dec 30th, 2009.  For those of you who don’t recall, here is the link to the post: She didn’t quite start from a “regular hang” and then choke up to a false grip.  Instead she started from a false grip and then had someone pull out the box from underneath her, but the muscle-ups look so solidly beautiful and we’ve been waiting for long enough, so we’re going to overlook that small technicality.  So Rosanna takes the prizes, and she loves loot, so she’s very content, as we are to finally have not only one, but two CFM girls to have muscle ups.  Katrina Vaillancourt also hit one earlier this week.  (She is yet to do four in one day, however.)   I am also posting the “Booty Short Cast-Handstand” video.  You’ll all see how that comes into play later.

Ahhh…. the sweet taste of victory!

Schedule Announcements:

Btw, Kid’s Night Out is Feburary 13th and the sign-up sheet is on the door.  Sign up and pay by Feb 1st to get the Pre-Registration price.

We’re adding two new begnning (Level 1) adult parkour classes.   One is on Wednesdays at 6pm starting February 3rd (concurrent with the self-defense class) and the other is on Saturdays at 11am starting February 6th.  We are also adding Monday morning 6:15 & 7:15am classes starting February 8th.  You know there’s a recession, so we keep expanding to help boost the economy.

How Was Dinner?

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
Excellent Dinner

Excellent Dinner

Katie distributed dinner for a bunch of folks today. Easy pick up from the kitchen, bring it home and eat. Pam and I were included. We want feedback. We have a few questions for those that took advantage of the offer. Send the responses to me via email. We want brutally honest feedback.

How did the food taste?

Was the dinner satisfying?

How close does this come to matching how you eat normally?

Would you do it again?

Is there anything we can do to make the process easier?

Are there any specific requests for things to include, or not include in the meals?

We’d also like feedback from those who did not take advantage of the meal.

Were you aware the dinner’s were being served?

What kept you from trying the meal?

What can we do to make the offer more appealing, convenient, etc?

Thanks to all. Huge thanks to Katie for putting this all together.


Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

If you said that training for several months hasn’t changed you physically, I would doubt you.  If you said that training with us hasn’t brought about a psychological change, I’d call you a bold-faced liar.  The way that we train does some interesting things to our minds.  Our workouts are simultaneously one of the most humbling and ego-boosting activities that one can engage in.

It’s been said before that 90% of a workout is mental and training at high intensity definitely has an impact on how we view things.  After a few months of “embracing the suck,” little challenges and pains don’t seem so major.  Many of you might not even be aware of this, but before working out at CrossFit Marin, how many of you would have had the mental fortitude to run 3/4 of a mile in the rain and wind?  Last night I watched class after class of our athletes go charging out into the dark and stormy night to complete the WOD.  At least one of them ran barefoot.  And not a single word of complaint.  That’s a good demonstration of the mental–not just physical– toughness that becomes normal when you push to your limits in every class.   The physical toughness– fitness– that we develop also has a huge effect on our mindset.  Breaking PRs, accomplishing goals and completing feats that you never imagined definitely tends to make a you feel proud.

Showing off or showing what's possible?

Showing off or showing what's possible?

There’s nothing wrong with a little pride, but we’ve got to keep things in perspective.  It’s really easy for other people to become offended by our pride or to think that we’re some sort of cult.  That video that Andres linked a few posts back, while hysterical, was a a reaction to some CrossFitters who’s heads had become a little too big.  ”I’m like a Navy SEAL and an Olympic gold medalist wrapped in a suit of body armor!”  We shouldn’t be trying to give people the impression that we are the pinnacle of human perfection, performing tasks impossible for mere mortals.  We should be showing people what is possible with a little hard work.

This stuff is quite humbling, too.  No matter how fit you are, the workouts are always hard.  That’s right, nothing gets easier.  And there’s also the fact that no matter how good we perform across broad time and modal domains, there’s always a specialist better than us at any one thing and frequently there are people better than us at many things.  I think it’s important for us to keep this in mind while in the gym and while out in the rest of the world.  Be proud of what you can do!  Show off a little, if you must, but do it with the goal of showing people what is possible.

An announcement completely unrelated to the topic:    All lost & found items in the back are officially fair game.  Take a look through the pile and take anything you want.  Everything left in the next few days will be donated.  That is all.

Do Something That Scares You Everyday

Sunday, January 24th, 2010
What not to do

What not to do

As stated by Eleanor Rosevelt “Do something everyday that scares you.” This concept helps us step out of our comfort zones. Often at CrossFit Marin we ask you do do something that scares you. Sometimes it’s just intimidation from the written workout that’s looming. Sometimes it’s asking you to try something where getting hurt is a possibility. Sometimes it’s confronting you with a deep seated fear from a past experience. Either way being scared is normal. Fear is good. It keeps us from doing stupid things.

However, fear can also severely limit our lives. Many people live in constant fear. They never overcome this fear because they never step through whatever they are scared of. They get trapped in a prison of their own making. Extreme cases involve disorders such as agoraphobia where people are scared simply to leave their own homes. Do not allow your fears to limit your accomplishments.

One of my greatest joys is when a student breaks through a major wall of fear. When the only thing holding them back is fear and they make the hard decision to do it anyway. Once that success is made the freedom that comes from that is priceless. Sometimes it only takes doing something once to completely eliminate the fear, more often it will take repeated exposure to the fear. We have to create scenarios that confront these fears in a safe manner so that we can overcome them. We break things down into smaller components to work through pieces, rather than having to just jump in. These progressions allow us to accomplish amazing things.

Any time you allow yourself to “balk”, to walk away from something you want to do, but “can’t” because of the fear actually increases the fear. You have just justified the fear and given it more strength. If you simply can not make yourself take that last step, then take a step back. Try to work out what exactly you are afraid of. Is this a rational or irrational fear. Can you break down the situation into smaller chunks that you can take on one at a time to later integrate to it’s whole?

Doing something that scares you at CrossFit Marin generally means something physical. Making a big gap jump, snatching a heavy load, trying a new skill. Things that scare you do not necessarily have to be physical. Asking for a raise at work. Walking into a new situation. Talking to someone you are interested in. Sure, failure is always a possibility, but generally if you go after these things on a regular basis, your successes will far outweigh your failures. Avoiding the scary situation is a failure in and of itself. It is exceedingly rare that the outcome you desire is just going to happen on it’s own. It takes action. Action is scary.

As fear goes the worst hindrance due to fear I have ever had was mid-way through college. In early college my dismount off high bar was a double flyaway. That is releasing in the front swing, flipping twice and landing. Working up to this was scary, but not horrifying. That came later. Sometime early sophomore year I was working high bar and threw a dismount. Unfortunately I released early. This wouldn’t have been a major problem except that there was a trampoline about 20′ away from the high bar. If you release early you are going to travel a lot further than normal. I made the flip around, but crashed into the steel frame of a competition trampoline. I was fortunate that I did not break my arm because it was the first thing to hit. I tore up my forearm badly and couldn’t grip anything for about 3 weeks. After recovering it was time to get back to high bar dismounts. Not such a simple thing. I was terrified. I could throw them in the belt, but 1 in 4 dismounts I would panic and release early. It was severe enough that I could not overcome it before the next competition season. I shifted to dismounting rearward. I competed a Jager so the release and swing was already learned. This was a much more difficult dismount to land, but it got me away from the flyaway. For a long time on days I knew we were doing high bar I would actually be shaking in my other classes because I knew what was coming later in the day. It took a long time to get over this. It took other people pushing me to just start working on them again to get over it. I would never have gone back to flyaways on my own.

Step out of your comfort zone. Try something new. The most difficult part is not the new thing, but the fear of the new thing. In most cases this comes down to a choice. Fear is ok. Fear won’t just go away. It’s stepping out and doing the new things that will make the fear go away. Do something that scares you everyday.

You Don’t Have a “Stomach Flu”

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
Bacterial causes

Bacterial causes

Most stomach and intestinal ailments are caused by bacteria. Flu is a resperatory virus and will not cause gastro-intestinal distress. More often than not vomiting and diarehha are caused by bacteria in food. Yup, food poisoning. It is far more common than you would think. Most of us have had mild cases of it at some point. The last time I vomitted was a pretty significant case of food poisoning. This was 18 years ago. It is the worst I have ever felt in my life. Proper food handling and paying attention to the sources of your food can go a long way to help prevent food poisoning, but it is not completely avoidable.

There is a virus that causes pretty much the same symptoms as food poisoning. The only way to verify one way or the other is to perform cultures. In either case treatment is pretty much the same anyway. Keep hydrated and ride it out. In severe cases hospitalization is necessary, but this is rare.

This comes up because I am dealing with a mild case right now. Hanging in, but feel pretty awful. I still haven’t broken my 18 year streak…

Stomach Flu vs Food Poisoning

Why Aero started learning Parkour

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

These are the first two Parkour videos I ever saw.  I think I was in 8th grade at the time living in freezing cold Michigan.  It would be 5 years later before I would even attempt it.  So if youve been looking for awhile come stop by for a PK class TUESDAY,THURSDAY, FRIDAY or SUNDAY at 545pm.

Both are of the OG master DAVID BELLE.

Reminder to sign up for an awesome prepared 5 block chicken meal. There’s a sign up sheet on the back of the front door. $10. Pick up from the gym on the 26th. Sign up by the 24th so Katie knows how much to make. This is a great deal for some great food.

The Faces We Make

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
An Array of CrossFit Marin Faces

An Array of CrossFit Marin Faces

Our facial expressions give a very strong indication of our current mood. Very interesting recent research also indicates that our facial expressions directly affect our mood.

A Feel-Good Theory: A Smile Affects Mood

This applies to smiling, frowning, cringing, etc. If you scrunch your face up during a workout or exertion it actually makes you feel worse. If you try to just focus and keep your face relaxed, or better yet, smile it will make you feel better. Clearly genuine life situations and immediate environment have a much stronger impact on your mood, but even if we can induce a subtle mood shift by consciously smiling it is beneficial.

Additionally, our facial expressions affect the spirit and mood of those around us. It is known as emotional contagen. So now you have a responsibility to others in your classes to keep up a happy face.

Just like everything else we train, initially this will take a lot of conscious thought to start doing. You will have to be reminded. But as you practice deliberate facial expressions it will become more patterned and will require less deliberate effort. If we all do this then the general mood during our workouts will be lifted. So smile. You, and your friends will feel better.

Reminder about Katie’s meals. There is a sign up sheet in the gym on the back of the front door.