The Cave

The Cave Blog

Archive for June, 2010

Is It Simple, or Easy?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Beaner wondering what these strange humans are doing

Beaner wondering what these strange humans are doing

These days we are bombarded with the “easy way” to get in shape, loose a few pounds, reduce your “trouble spots”. Well folks. I hate to say this, there is no easy way. If there was it would make my job a lot easier. Every mechanism I know of to increase your health and fitness is hard. If you want to take that health and fitness to a high level then it is very hard.

As we’ve spouted repeatedly the foundation of  your health is nutrition. Here’s where the blog topic comes into play. Good nutrition is simple, but is not necessarily easy. Greg Glassman put good nutrition down in a fantastic simple sentence in his “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”. It is as follows (you’ve probably heard me say this, or a paraphrase)

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”

This is quite simple. Eat whole, real food keeping the focus on meat and vegetables, and stay away from processed crap. Now, is this easy? For most people not at all. This takes discipline. As stated in the “So What Can I Eat?” post eating right requires the right decision multiple times/day every day for the rest of your life. This is really hard. You are going to be tempted over and over again. If you are in the habit of eating well the cravings for the crap are minimal, but it is so easy to slip, and then it’s that much harder to clean up your diet again. Is eating right worth it? Absolutely. Fitness increases. Recovery times decrease. Your general health is drastically improved. There’s no question it’s worth it, but it is hard. Now, if we’re looking at truly optimizing our diet the simplicity reduces. We can make it as complex as we’re willing to deal with, but you can get most of the way there keeping it very simple.

How about training? Is working out easy? No way, especially the way we do it. Working out is brutal, uncomfortable and down right painful. Is it simple? Well, it can be. As with the diet if we truly want to optimize our performance and health it can get quite complex. The nice thing here (as opposed to nutrition) we do this for you. You have a very simple answer to working out. Show up. All you need to do is show up at the gym more days than not and we’ll take care of the complex stuff. Again, this is not easy. If you’re a morning class person you have to get up earlier. In some cases REALLY early. If you train in the evening you’ll have to come in after work, or a long day with the kids and train. You may not feel like it every day. You’re going to be sore sometimes. It’s hard, but simple.

Miracle Weight Loss Devices

Monday, June 28th, 2010

We’ve said it a hundred times already, but it’s worth repeating: there are no magic pills.  This is true for actual weight-loss pills and for random objects sold as exercise machines that promise great results for no effort.

Occasionally, I come across some amusing perspectives on fitness.  This one, while not entirely accurate, is close enough and quite amusing.


The entire article from can be found here.  A related article is here.  Just a warning, though, isn’t always work/ family safe.

Summertime, And The Living Is Hard?

Sunday, June 27th, 2010
Rosanna inverted on halfdome

Rosanna inverted on halfdome

Well, school is out for summer. People are already gearing up for summer vacations, or already gone on them. When I vacation, I tend to vacation pretty hard. I generally don’t take it easy much. I set out early, do something active all day, then crash and do it again the next day. I figure, when I take the time to do things, I’m going to do as much as I can. It does sometimes drive the people I’m traveling with nuts. Mind you, I will certainly take more time to read, hang out with folks, play cards and the like than I ever do when not on vacation, but the true joy of vacation for me is in getting out and being active.

These activities wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without the capacity to do them day after day without getting too exhausted. Also, recovering fast enough when I do push hard on a given day to go again the next day. I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post, but one situation that grieves me greatly is when someone is unable, or chooses to abstain from an activity because they do not have the physical capacity for it. Say you’re in the jungles of South America visiting a large ruins site. There’s a very large pyramid at the site and you’re allowed to scale it to see everything from the top. Do you storm up to the top to take in the view, or stay on the ground because climbing it is too hard? I want to ensure that you will never choose to stay on the ground. Take it in. Approach your vacations with gusto. Never miss out.

What are you doing this summer? Are there any planned activities this year that you would not have undertaken last year? Keep us up to date on your trips. Better yet, send us photos for the gallery so we can all share in the fun.

Limits of Human Potential

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

What are the limits of human potential? Historically we have not had a great grasp on this. Many things that were deemed “impossible” in the past have been accomplished. In some cases accomplishing the task becomes the norm for high caliber participants in the sport or activity. The video clip is of a tripple back flip on floor. There were biomechanical studies in the 70s that deemed this skill impossible, then Valeri Liukin (Nastia Luikin’s dad) pulled it off in the mid 80s. It’s not a skill you see regularly on floor, but not because it’s all that difficult for high level tumblers to pull off, but it’s too difficult to land well enough for competition. A double twisting double layout (two flips, two twists with a straight body) is actually a more difficult movement, but significantly easier to land, so that’s seen more commonly in competition.

Other examples of ridiculous achievements include the 4 minute mile. Also once deemed impossible is now accomplished on a regular basis. The deadlift world records are 1,100 lbs strongman rules (bar is slightly higher and lifting straps are allowed), 1,009 lbs with a lifting suit, and 953lbs raw. The back squat world record in a squat suit is 1,008 lbs. In 1912 the 100m record was 10.6. It is now a full second faster at 9.578 by Usain Bolt, who has crushed the old world records repeatedly, and as far as I have seen hasn’t yet run his fastest 100m in competition because he never needs to. The clean and jerk world record sits at 580lbs. Imagine, near 600lbs overhead.

So, these steady progressions beg the question, what are the limits of human potential? Training methods keep getting better. We have a larger population to pull from, so the occasional genetically gifted freak comes around, and has the luck to have access to train their gift. Understanding in nutrition can make a difference. And of course pharmaceuticals are making a difference regardless of the testing. Even with all of this, there must be a limit. At some point the human musculo-skeletal system will not be able to improve on efforts of the past. Every time we think we are there for any given activity, someone bests it. Gymnastics was being viewed as reaching this potential in the early 90s, but the elite gymnasts of today are significantly better than those 20 years ago.

Here is another pertinent question. What is YOUR potential? Are you anywhere near your genetic capacity? For virtually all of us, the answer is a resounding no. What can you do to get closer to that potential. This goes for things beyond fitness as well. The key is to keep striving for better. Enjoy the journey, but strive for more. Take joy from the small improvements day to day. Set lofty goals and shoot for them.

If you log onto our discussion area and see a few folks current goals and progress. Post your own. Put these things down and work on them. We will help you on your way.

Dash Vault Tutorial- (Tomorrow’s Skill Training is Basic Parkour Vaults)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Here’s a nice dash vault tutorial from Ozzie from Urban Current.  You can study it and maybe hit some Dash Vaults during tomorrow’s CF classes during the skill training segment.

What a Place

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
The view from our back door

The view from our back door

So a few months back after one of the morning classes we walked outside to see this. A fantastic double rainbow over the marsh. I have a bunch of photos that I plan on stitching together to show you the whole thing, but the lower rainbow was bright enough that it was mildly painful to look at.

Nothing terribly profound to speak about today. It’s just nice to appreciate the place we live in. We have quite a county here, and we have quite a place within Marin to train, sweat and lie gasping on the floor. Thanks for being a part of it.

It’s Summer!

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Summertime is awesome.  It’s the perfect season to put to good use the fitness that we acquired over the long, cold and wet winter.  This time of year always brings up memories of biking, hiking/backpacking, swimming, climbing and generally enjoying the world.  Of course, all of these things contain an element of danger, but that’s what makes them so fun.



However, nothing can take the fun out of Summer like a preventable injury.  Here’s how to avoid some of the more common but lesser-known hazards of physical activity in the summer.

  • Heat illnesses.  There are a couple, but the distinctions are irrelevant.  It’s best to avoid this by paying attention to when and where you are exercising.  Stay in the shade as much as possible and wear loose clothing.  Rest when you start feeling hot and make sure to stay properly hydrated.  Symptoms are pretty typical of most maladies:  nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, lethargy, weakness.  You’ll notice flushed skin and profuse sweating in the early stages.  Later stages may include muscle cramps or spasms.  The earlier stages are relatively easy to treat: remove the person from heat.  If they get to the point where they stop sweating and/or are confused or losing consciousness, they need to get to a hospital and be actively cooled as soon as possible.
  • Hyponatremia.  The term for low sodium levels.  This is one that is actually more common among athletes because we’re always told to drink lots and lots of water.  Staying hydrated is good, but over long periods of time you will sweat out a significant amount of your electrolytes, including sodium.  Drinking excess water can increase this process.  Symptoms for hyponatremia are very similar to the symptoms of heat illnesses, but usually don’t include flushed skin.  It’s really better to avoid this rather than treat it.  Thankfully, avoiding it is easy: eat something.  Make sure that you don’t neglect your nutrition after your workout or during your outdoor activities and you’ll be okay.
  • Hypothermia.  This is when your body temperature drops below normal levels.  And you’re asking how you could possibly get too cold during this season.  It’s actually much more common than you think.  Typically, people set themselves up for hypothermia when hiking or swimming.  You’ll hike all day in the heat and get sweaty, then as soon as the sun goes down you’ll start shivering… and you forgot to pack a jacket.  And it may feel great to stay in the lake to avoid the heat, but mild hypothermia can creep up on you, even in such seemingly benign settings.  And the most insidious symptom of hypothermia is mental confusion, which can present in the earlier stages.  Another very common contributing factor is use of alcohol.  Alcohol is a vasodilator, it opens up the blood vessels (one reason that some people appear flushed when drunk).  If the blood vessels are bigger, more blood can flow faster and closer to the skin’s surface.  Thus you lose heat faster when drunk, but you don’t feel it… because you’re drunk.  Many drugs can do the same thing, so check the labels if you’re on any prescription meds.  Oh, and don’t do speed.

Enjoy your summer and stay safe!

Happy Father’s Day

Sunday, June 20th, 2010
Dad's Setting An Example

Dad's Setting An Example

I hope everyone had a fantastic father’s day. In the spirit of father’s day I want to talk about the role of father. We have all learned something about health and fitness from our fathers. What we have learned may have been good or bad, but in either case most of us carry some of our opinions about how to live from our fathers. Some of us learned that nutrition and exercise were important parts of life. Others had no exposure to even thinking about what to eat, or how to stay fit. Was health and fitness an important part of your household growing up? Was it even considered? Were family activities and vacations active, or sedentary? All of these things factor in to how we approach fitness today.

As a father I have a huge responsibility to teach by example. How I eat, and train directly impacts how my kids view food and fitness. If I behave as if it is ok to eat processed food and a ton of sugar, then that is the opinion my kids will carry. It doesn’t matter what I say if my behavior does not mirror that. The same goes for exercise. If I say exercise is important, but do not do so then my words won’t carry much weight. As fathers we need to exemplify the life we want our kids to live.

CFM Has Grown and Needs Your Help

Saturday, June 19th, 2010
DBs in order, Rowers stowed.

DBs in order, Rowers stowed.

With the expansion we have a lot of new equipment. We also have new homes for most of the equipment. As we settle things in to place we will need help to make sure that it stays that way. If you get something out, return it to where you got it. If you are not sure where something goes, ask. Your trainers are going to be picky about placement. Plates are not to just be thrown in a stack, they have designated piles, and those piles should be orderly. The dumbbells should be placed properly, not just piled in the general vicinity of their proper location. A few extra seconds at the end of your workout putting equipment back properly will save a lot of time getting things back out in your next workout. We appreciate the help.

Top 10 Biggest and Best Jumps Ever & Additional 10am CF class starting 06/21. 9am weekday Kids class starting 06/28

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Ok, so what does this have to do with fitness?  Well, absolutely nothing- almost.  As a matter of fact, doing this stuff will very likely get you killed, but we’re a bunch of adrenaline junkies here anyways, so I may as well throw up stuff like this.  The one thing that this does have to do with fitness, is that if you hit a 60 foot ski jump, ride off a building onto a ramp on a motor cycle, skim down a mountain on a squirrel suit, or hit a double back off another motor cycle, the girlies are almost certain to invite you over for dinner afterwards.  Then your work capacity accross broad modal domains isn’t nearly as important.

By the way, we’re opening up a 10am CF class every weekday starting next week, Monday the 21st and planning a 9am kids class at least for the summer starting the following Monday, 06/28.  Final details on the kids’ class have not been finalized.