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Archive for March, 2010

Emily’s Games Experience

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
Emily Working On Her Ring Dip

Emily Working On Her Ring Dip

Most of you know Emily. Because of the kids she can be found in our gym at varying times of the day. Her presence is always a good thing. Fun and high spirited, and always one to support anyone who is present. If you haven’t met her first hand, you have certainly seen her name on the board any time a workout requiring massive leg strength comes around. She holds the gym’s women’s deadlift record, and a completely uncontested women’s back squat record.

Emily came on board about a year ago. Her transformation has been spectacular. She is super consistent, works hard every time she is in the gym, listens to her coaches and has even adjusted her food intake to further improve her performance and health.

When the CrossFit Games were coming up this year we encouraged a lot of people to sign up. Our main focus was participation, not necessarily winning. These events are a lot of fun, and worth being a part of. Emily decided to sign up. I was thrilled. She was nervous.

In talking with Emily after the games, she was telling me what a great experience she had, so I asked her to write up something about it. I’ll let Emily tell the rest.

“The Three Best Things about the NorCal Sectionals

Many of you reading this already know me pretty well. I’m a plump but hard-working 43-year-old mom and I have been a non-athlete all my life – until now. Ten months ago, I started working out at CrossFit Marin and have progressed steadily from my weary, sluggish state (that was so last year!) to a fitness level I hadn’t imagined. So this winter, thanks to Roger’s and Andres’s encouragement, I decided to take a stab at qualifying for the 2010 CrossFit Games.

Although it was very freeing to go into this for fun, I was still nervous and uncertain what to expect. The trainers and previous competitors provided encouragement and tips, and Ben’s advice from his own competitive experiences ( provided tactical suggestions for the days leading up to the event. I kept “eating clean” and tried to stay relaxed and optimistic. Having a chance to do the workouts at the gym last week helped me to set goals in advance. Dean and I went down to San Jose without the kids, deciding to make a weekend of it. I packed my gear, snacks and cameras and tried to keep an open mind.

So without further ado, here is my number one takeaway from the Sectionals: I am a rock star.

No, I didn’t make the top 20. I didn’t even qualify for the Day 2 workouts, nor could I have finished the chipper before the 29-minute ‘mercy cutoff’ even if I had. But I went out there and did it. I got such a boost of confidence and energy from participating in this event that I am on a three-day high (and counting).

Thanks to my training and a certain amount of natural strength, I finished Day 1 at a higher ranking than I had believed possible: 65 out of 141. A top half finish for the day! My goal was just to finish in the top 90%. In fact, Adrian’s parting words on Friday were “Good luck, Mom, I hope you don’t come in last.” Me too, buddy.

During the event, the positive vibes we got from everyone – spectators, fellow athletes, trainers, staff and volunteers – made the experience a blast. I did better than I hoped, increasing my own self-confidence. And now I know what to expect for next year’s qualifiers.

My second takeaway is that CrossFit Marin is the best “whole fitness” affiliate out there.

I got to see first-hand the benefit that Andres and Roger’s gymnastics backgrounds bring to the CrossFit community. I heard time and again, “CrossFit Marin? They’re the gymnastics CrossFit affiliate, right?” and “Roger’s the guy who got me my muscle-up!” and even “You’re the ones that have kids’ classes too.” The community respects talent, and we are lucky enough to have a tremendous source of that talent in our own gym.

Also, while the majority of CrossFit folks I met this weekend were approachable, I sensed two types of division. First, between affiliates, at least for the top athletes, there was competitive ribbing on the field and in the blogs. But in humor is truth, and the ribbing didn’t always feel good-natured. And second, there was in general a barrier between CrossFit and outsiders – perpetuated unnecessarily by many in the CrossFit community. This is a sweeping statement, but it is not without truth. There were several situations I witnessed where simply extending a greeting could have allayed the obvious suspicions of local folks. It doesn’t hurt to make eye contact and say “good morning” to a stranger. It can make a sport a new fan, an affiliate a new client, or a person a new friend.

CrossFit Marin gets this. We welcome new people, strange athletes, strange not-yet-athletes, kids, dogs, and delivery people. I can’t even say it’s extending an olive branch, because there is no feeling of division there to begin with. We have great trainers, great athletes and great people working out in our gym, and we can say “we’re elite.” But we say it without the unspoken conclusion I felt at some other affiliates: “…and you’re not.”

My third takeaway – yes, I did eventually remember that I had a list of three – is that CrossFit itself is run by a great group of athletes and administrators, and although there were some snags in the two-day event, the team was responsive to feedback, listened to their customers, and tried to fix problems on the fly. They’re not professional event coordinators, but they did their best. The sport is growing fast, and with some constructive input from us, they’re going to bring this successful training and conditioning approach to more and more people over the coming years. I for one am looking forward to helping spread the word.

I am a rock star.

And guess what? You can be one, too.”

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I would do a post about how the pressure of sport and competition drive us toward working harder and are a fundamental part of the CrossFit program.  However, I’m bitter about not being able to go to the Games sectionals, so I’m going to pour some hate onto HFCS, instead.

Corn - It's in pretty much everything

Corn - It's in pretty much everything

Have you guys seen those despicable advertisements for high fructose corn syrup?  It’s not so much an advertisement as it is straight propaganda.  Seriously, it’s stuff like this which actually keeps me from watching television.  But I digress.

We have a pretty good idea that processed sugar, in general, is something to avoid.  And many of us have had our suspicions that HFCS, in particular, is a nasty type of sugar that you really don’t want anything to do with, despite corporate propaganda.  So, in response to the above-linked video, here is what they say about it.

The above link is to an article from Princeton University, describing a study in which rats gained significantly more weight from a diet of high fructose corn syrup than from a diet of sucrose (table sugar)– even when caloric intake was the same.  This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to us, since we are aware that hormonal response to food, and not caloric intake, is the primary factor in weight gain. Interesting stuff, to be sure.

Day 2 Final Results

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Final results are in. The final workouts were clever. It required some strategy between the two to maximize the results. Roger ended up hitting 175 on the Squat Clean and Overhead with a Power Clean, Front Squat and Push Press (Saving his poor abused legs). Then completed the chipper in 22:37 (2 seconds faster than the overall winner) with a sprint at the end to pass 2 other competitors. Andres hit 200 lbs on the Squat Clean and Overhead with a Squat Clean to Thruster. He attempted 225 and 215 without success and went into the chipper with little rest. Even with the misses he completed the chipper in an admiral 20:00 even. He kept his trend of finishing CrossFit Games runs with a wipe-out and gets to keep a few really good road rashes as a souvenir. Final placements put Andres at 89th and Roger at 159th. The middle was really dense and a few extra reps on day one, a few more pounds, or seconds on day two caused a significant shifting of position. A lot of great athletes gave their all.

The weekend was great overall. The spectator situation was not fantastic, but the workout selection was a decent test, and it’s always good to get out and see old friends and meet new CrossFitters from all around. Start thinking toward next year. We’re looking for participation. Be there.

Day 2 Heats Are Assigned

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Roger (me) starts at 8:30am, then Andres is up at 10:00am. Bill didn’t quite make it in, and Emily was out by default because she had to scale the pull ups (She would have been in by placement, but you couldn’t qualify to the finals if you scaled anything), which is too bad because she would have come in around 23rd on the Squat clean to overhead. The max clean and jerk is a squat clean. So now it’s a max front squat? Great.

Day 1 Results Are In

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Day 1 is done. Our athletes performed pretty well overall. Here are the rankings. For the men, of 278 athletes Andres came in 72nd, Roger at 141st and Bill at 237th. For the Women, of 141 athletes Emily came in 65th. And yeah, she was worried about coming in last. Rock it Em!!

Anyone who has a mathematical possibility of coming in the top 20 can compete in tomorrow’s events. They consist of a max single squat clean to overhead. Athlete’s have 6 minutes to complete this task. Immediately following this effort is a chipper.

Sprint 50m
25 Burpees
100-yard Walking Lunge
Then 5 Rounds of:
- 15 Dumbbell Shoulder-to-Overhead (40/25lbs)
- 100-yard Dumbbell Farmers Walk (40/25lbs)
Then 25 Burpees
Row 500m
Run 450 yards

Sounds like fun. We don’t know yet if any of our athletes fall into this category. We’ll keep you posted.

Mid day results

Saturday, March 27th, 2010
Emily Sporting Her Deadlift Goal

Emily Sporting Her Deadlift Goal

First events are done. Emily was up first with the tripplet. Even with. Fighting with a kettlebell that was slick and liked flipping over at the top she completed 4.33 rounds. Roger was next with the couplet and completed 26 OHS. Then Dres hit 43 OHS but only 33 counted. Bill finished with14.

Ok, we’re off. IT’s the CrossFit Games Northern California Sectionals, after all…

Saturday, March 27th, 2010
Ryan Wooley locks out the jerk for the Row/Burpee/Shoulder-Overhead WOD

Ryan Wooley locks out the jerk for the Row/Burpee/Shoulder-Overhead WOD

We’re leaving tomorrow morning.  Roger, Emily, Bill, and myself will be competing from CFM.  Martin signed up, but he is recovering from the flu or something.  Some of our other girls and boys will be competing at the Affiliate Cup, but that’s not until May.  I, honestly, have quite a few aches and pains.  My knees are especially unhappy right now.  I’m probably going to go to CrossFit Hell because I’m dealing with some of the stress by eating Haagen Daz.  Vanilla Swiss-Almond goes especially well with Chocolate Peanut Butter.  What a hypocrite.   (Well, sort of, cause I don’t really hide it.  Roger sometimes makes me eat my ice-cream in private.)  Well, I’m  going to give it a good go despite the minor injuries and discomforts.  Having hurt my backin November and gotten sick in Feburary set me back quite a bit.  It will be hard to keep up with the other monsters who will be at the top of their game.  There comes a point where the feelings of nervousness and apprehension give way to a sense of single-minded determination because now it’s game time, so excuses don’t matter for crap and we’re ready to rev it up.  Besides, the best part of going to the CrossFit Games is always hanging out with your friends from other affiliates who you don’t get to see very often.  When you’ve been in the community a while and have gone to inter-affiliate events, you end up meeting a lot of great people, making new friendships, and then you try to crush each other in a workout.  That’s how we roll.  Whish us luck!  =D

Tom W. at the 2009 CF Nor Cal Qualifiers: Clean / Muscle-up WOD

Tom W. at the 2009 CF Nor Cal Qualifiers: Clean / Muscle-up WODThose aren't bent arms, are they? Clean / Muscle-up WOD, Amadraeus at 2009 Nor Cal QualifiersRoger on the Row/Burpee/Shoulder-Overhead WOD 2009 Nor Cal


Roge-Air sends another Muscle-up @ 2009 Nor Cal Qualifiers

Roge-Air sends another Muscle-up @ 2009 Nor Cal QualifiersBill Locks one out

CF Baby working on her OHS, preparing for the 2025 CF Games

CF Baby working on her OHS, preparing for the 2025 CF Games

Bill at the bottom of a Jumping Muscle-up 2009 Nor-Cal Qualifiers
Bill at the bottom of a Jumping Muscle-up 2009 Nor-Cal Qualifiers
Tom & Bill Post Muscle-up Clean WOD 2009 CF Nor CAl Qualifiers

Tom & Bill Post Muscle-up Clean WOD 2009 CF Nor CAl Qualifiers

I couldn’t find any pictures of Blair or of our favorite Golden Boy that weren’t too high res to upload to the blog, and I don’t have time to change the res, but here’s the 3rd video in our 2009 Games series: 

What is Parkour? What is CrossFit Marin??

Friday, March 26th, 2010

A little over a week ago, on March 17th, I wrote up a blog post detailing the little exchange I had with Kevin and Rebecca Gann regarding “what is gymnastics”.  The post titled, “What is Gymnastics? Inside the Gymnastics Life- Stanford Men’s Team & Other Videos“, was intended to shed a little light on the life of collegiate gymnasts as well as a little piece of the experiences and struggles of competitive gymnasts growing up.  So on a similar theme, I’ve found this video to illustrate another question:  ”What is parkour?”  I like this video because it’s about the movement.  It really illustrates parkour as dymnamic, ideal, flowing, and even poetic.  There are a lot of videos that show off flips and big tricks, but this one is more philosophical, and has beautiful transitions.  It’s about the parkour life.  If I find any faults in it it’s that a few of the stanzas are a little condescending.  “…while the average guy lives an elaborate lie…” is too vague a generalization.  Also, “A place to see what separates you from me” is much too patronizing and self-absorbed.  I often get the impression that people have the tendency to become very centered on the activity that they’re into and almost become telescopic, overlooking that the activity that they’ve chosen is only one of many and that there are other universes of experience to explore.  (Besides, there’s a rock climber, a gymnast, an MMA fighter, a swimmier, a cyclist and a snowboarder right next to the traceur who all think that their chosen activity is at the center of the universe.)  However, I find the rest of the poem awesome and inspiring.  I love the quotes from George Bernard Shaw as well as Lance Armstrong.  I decided to post this video because it already says what I feel about the parkour life.  If I were to add anything, it would be regarding the social connection and relationships that you make with other people through practicing parkour. 

If you do parkour either outdoors or in our classes, what is it like in your experience?  What is the parkour life to you?

In a similar vein, we can revisit an older question.  What is CrossFit Marin?   What are your experiences here like?  Is CrossFit Marin mainly about fitness, or is it about something else, or a combination of things?  Are you absorbed by one of the activities in our gym, or do you practice more than one of the disciplines offered?   What is the “main discipline” offered at CFM: CrossFit, Parkour, Gymnastics, or Self-Defense?   The video featured on our home page, “What is CrossFit Marin” is about a year old and was created by a traceur nick named “Street Mirage”, Edgar Yudkevich.  What do you think of this video?  Does it reflect your experiences at our gym, or does it need updating?  Is the name “CrossFit Marin” an appropriate name for this place, or should it be named something else, and if so, what should it be called? 

Please submit your 16 page essay to me next time you attend one of our classes, or you can just jot down some thoughts in a couple of sentences on this blog.

Improved Health Through Taxation

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
The Next Tax Target?

The Next Tax Target?

If you haven’t heard there are proposals for a tax on sodas. This “sugar” tax is similar to the various tobacco taxes. From experience with taxing tobacco it is pretty clear that taxation reduces usage. The taxes would lead to price increases in all sodas and, potentially, other sugary soft drinks.

Rise in Soda Prices Linked To Better Health

An article on price-usage correlation for tobacco

Tax Essential Facts

So we increase the price, reduce consumption and we see an improvement in health. Sounds like a good thing, right? I don’t know. I’m split on this.

Here’s what I like about this.

  1. The taxes will reduce consumption. This is great. Fewer people drinking soda, and those drinking soda drinking less. Fantastic!
  2. Tax revenue can go toward treating those that continue to consume. Like a portion of the tobacco tax revenue going toward lung cancer research and treating those with cigarette inflicted bronchial problems it eases the burden of these folks choices on the rest of us. If you’re going to do something inherently unhealthy, you should pay for the consequences.
  3. It is another indication that soda is a bad thing. It’s tough to continue to argue that consuming soda is ok when the US government is taxing it in an effort to reduce consumption, and taxing it to pay for treatment of soda inflicted illness. The US governments health recommendations are not always in our best interest, but they certainly can sway public opinion.
  4. It increases the consumer price on one of the cheapest drinks available. Businesses love soda sales because they are so profitable. Production cost is negligible and depending on the situation businesses can see thousands of percent margins on the stuff. The taxes would help curb that.

Here’s what I don’t like about this idea.

  1. I find it disturbing that people will continue to consume something (tobacco, soda, etc) regardless of how often they are told they are killing themselves, but once you increase the price by a few percent, they will reduce consumption. I guess money is more important than life.
  2. Personal responsibility shouldn’t be legislated. If someone wants to do damage to themselves, we should let them (barring psychological problems). The trick is ensuring that the rest of us don’t have to pay for the aftermath.

All in all this is an interesting concept. It seems taxation works better than prohibition, so let’s make soda cost $4 for a 12oz can.

Elite Fitness

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

One of the slogans you’ll here/ see in CrossFit is “Forging Elite Fitness.”  We’ve pretty much beat the definition of Fitness to death (increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains).  But  what do we mean by elite?  The dictionary definition of elite: selected as the best.  Does that mean that CrossFitters are the strongest or fastest people in the world?  Not at all.  I suppose you’d have to define what you meant by best, too.  In terms of fitness programs, CrossFit is among the best in that it does a great job of
balancing three things, safety, efficacy, and efficiency.

Training for the elite, or an elite training program?

Training for the elite, or an elite training program?

First, safety.  How high is the injury-induced wash-out rate?  How many people get seriously injured, crippled or killed?  CrossFit’s numbers in this area are really low, especially when compared to sports like soccer.  Roger did a post on this topic a few weeks back.

Efficacy.  Does it produce results?  Well, to know this, you actually have to record what the participants do and how well they do it. We’re all familiar with recording our scores and most of us can track our progress as our times get lower and loads are get heavier.  We could take it one step further and actually graph our increase in work capacity, and use programs like the Athletics Log to help us keep track of our progress.

Finally, Efficiency.  Personally, I think this is the quality that makes CrossFit among the best fitness programs out there– truly elite.  There are plenty of other programs that do work and are safe, but the intensity of our workouts make what we do particularly efficient.  You get a huge return in increased fitness for a relatively low time cost.  An average workout takes about 20 minutes.  If you add in 5-minutes to warm up and 5-minutes to stretch, you’re looking at 30-minutes per workout.  In our gym, we add skill work to get you an hour worth of training, but when you look at the type of workouts that other athletes do, we actually spend very little time training.

We may not be Olympians or Navy SEALS, but we participate in a fitness program that is truly elite.