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Archive for October, 2010

Halloween = Mountains Of Sugar

Sunday, October 31st, 2010
Look familiar

Look familiar

I hope you had a great halloween. I spent time out with my local community, visiting neighbors, watching kids in a wide range of costumes, and yes, trick-or-treating.

Unfortunately we and the candy industry have turned October 31st into the largest excuse to hoard pounds of candy and eat a massive excess of sugar. I am sure many of your homes have piles very similar to the one in the photo. Once the stuff is in your house it will be difficult not to consume it.

Now occasional candy isn’t going to kill anyone, but understand it does have a negative health impact. Don’t delude yourself to the contrary. We get into real trouble when it becomes regular, or in the volumes typically associated with halloween. Try to discard as much of it as possible. If you can’t bear throwing it away, bring it to work and give it away. Try to make it go away without consuming it yourselves. I care about you all, and the candy is simply damaging.

2008 CrossFit Games Dead-Lift/ Burpee WOD on Tues Oct 26th at CrossFit Marin

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Last Tuesday when we did the “Deadlift-Burpee” workout from the 2008 CrossFit Games, I decided to jump in with the 6pm class, since we had three of our best athletes performing the workout already and I figured it would be fun and motivating for all of us to do it with them.  Gabe has been getting really strong.  Before the workout Carlos and the “18-year old” were discussing what would be a good time for the WOD, and looking at some of the earlier results, they concluded that a sub-5 min time would be pretty good.  Martin’s time during the 3:30 class was 5:14 Rx’d, Roger did it in 5:02, but Mike Y. from the 6:15am class had the day’s top score with 4:47.  I looked at Gabe and Carlos and then back at Gabe and I told him.  “No way.  You’re shooting for between 3-3:30 minutes.  They were a little surprised.  I told Gabe that my time at the 2008 CF Games was 4:54.  It was my 3rd workout of that day after the horrid hill run and “chest-to-bar” Fran on very little sleep.  Also, Gabe is stronger and in better shape than I was then and he could score much faster than any of the earlier times.  I suggested to him to try to beat Freddy Camacho’s 2008 time of 3:26.  Freddy is the owner of CF One World, one of the first CrossFit affiliates (pre-2007).  Freddy is a great guy, but he’s old, (really, really, old- are you reading this, Freddy??) but very competitive, so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard for Gabe to take him down.  The top time for the workout in the 2008 Games was 2:33 by Matt Chan and Jason Khalipa’s time was 2:37.  Only 15 guys got sub-3 minute times, which would have put Gabe at well,… top 17 more or less.  Our beastly teenager is starting to get strong enough to be a real contender.  Among Gabe’s other stats are a 120kg front squat, a  a 90kg snatch and a 115kg clean & jerk, if I’m not mistaken.  Remember, he’s a gymnast and a metabolic engine.  His strongest suites are pull-ups, muscle-ups, hand-stand push-ups (freestanding, he probably sucks at the CrossFit Headquarters version) and any thing that has to do with triceps and deltoids.  Now if only my knees and other various injuries would heal up a bit so that I can give him some competition we would be set!

Notice that during the workout Gabe and I bounced the weights off the ground, as was allowed at the 2008 Games.  Bo and Carlos did it the hard way, light touch-and-go.  It’s actually a better workout, but it does slow you down, so if you’re gunning for Games-type times, you want to milk the edges of what they allow for the movements, but touch and go or catching the bar off the floor on the bounce can be absolutely brutal on your back if it isn’t strong enoght of if you have any issues, so be careful!  By the way, when you watch the video, make sure to pause it at 4:27.  Trust me, it’s the best part!

Here is a video of Chris Spealler’s performance for the same workout at the 2008 Games.  Speal looks like a cartoon character on the burpees- he goes so fast!   Notice that Spealer actually gets away with dropping the weight once, which he wasn’t supposed to, but gets called for it on the second instance.

Two in one day: Old Mill School Lapathon & Corte Madera - Larkspur Mom’s Club Holloween Bash 2010

Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Big Jump!

Big Jump!

So we did 2 events in 1 day.  On Sunday October 24th we took the All-Star Crew of Ryan Fulmer, Andrey Pfenning, Russell Bruel, Marissa Lee, and myself to Old Mill School in Mill Valley to set up an obstacle course in one of the classrooms for the kids to run through.  The  “Lapathon” is Old Mill School’s yearly fundraiser.  What would CrossFit Marin want more than to support our local schools in their efforts to keep their various music, physical education and academic programs going?  Some of our families and kids who go to the school include Nathan & Adrian C., Maya & Scarlett W., Noah & Sammy A., Kevin S., and Benjamin G. among others.  Last report was that nearly 400 kids ran through the obstacle course (although I’m not sure if that includes kids that went through several times or not) and that the course raised about $850 for the school.  Here are some pictures of the action.  The obstacle course was a product of the cumulative genius of Aero, Russ & Drey.  Thank you to the CrossFit Marin parents who helpd hand out brochures and explain the program to the other parents. 

After the Lapathon, we had to hussle to load the truck and get back to the gym to coach classes.  Thankfully, Aero’s girlfriend Marissa Lee, was here through the whole thing to help and save the day, since we had to cover some of Ryan’s classes while Ryan and myself stayed to load the truck.  Once we dropped off some of the equipment (with a bit of help from Russell’s 3:30 CrossFit class, Thanks!), Aero stayed to coach I left again with Ryder to go the the Corte Madera Rec Center for The Corte Madera & Larkspur Mom’s Club’s Holloween Bash to run some of the little ones through a little gymnastics circuit.  Some of our kids were there too.  Alex & Maddie B. as well as LuLu and Julia H. and others were wearing some great Holloween costumes.  Here are some of those pictures:

Ryder spotting a forward roll off the low bar

Ryder spotting a forward roll off the low bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Maddie!

Hi Maddie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The line on the wedge mat

The line on the wedge mat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That looks like Lulu going for a forward straddle roll

That looks like Lulu going for a forward straddle roll

and here's a forward roll off one of the trapezoids.

and here's a forward roll off one of the trapezoids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are some great pictures from the Lapathon:

Finishing the rope crawl

Finishing the rope crawl.

 

Our little adventuress just got back from face-painting.

Our little adventuress just got back from face-painting.

Topping out on the scaffold

Topping out on the scaffold

Great landing!

Great landing!

Spread-Eagle on the scaffold jump as coach Aero looks on

Spread-Eagle on the scaffold jump as coach Aero looks on

 

 

Is that Kevin Satakee jumping off that scafold?

Is that Kevin S. jumping off that scafold?

Walking along the precision jump trainers

Walking along the precision jump trainers

Parent watches as kid balances on the precision jump trainers

Parent watches as kid balances on the precision jump trainers

I'll just follow these little balance thingies..

I'll just follow these little balance thingies..

Coach Aero approves of that Underbar!

Coach Aero approves of that Underbar!

lres-one-leg-over_old-mill-school-lapathon-2010_0032
Marissa gives some pointers on the scafold

Marissa gives some pointers on the scafold

Hello! Looks like a little kitten with pink socks training precision jumps.

Hello! Looks like a little kitten with pink socks training precision jumps.

Stay on that Rope!

Stay on that Rope!

Wraping up that rope crawl.

Wraping up that rope crawl.

Keep going!

Keep going!

This is how you smile at an obstacle course!

This is how you smile at an obstacle course!

Down the little balance trail...

Down the little balance trail...

The big picture

The big picture

lres-20101024_old-mill-school-lapathon-2010_0007

 

 

BIGGG JUMP!!!

BIGGG JUMP!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The little line down the obstacle course.

The little line down the obstacle course.

With the growth of the program and the gym’s expanded schedule, we’ve had less and less time to do our days at the park and other excursions, but if you’d like to have us involved in an event or fundraiser at your school or organization, you can always call or e-mail us to find out if we can make it!  The farther in advance it’s planned, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to attend.

Odd Things About Reality

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Trying to push the earth down

Trying to push the earth down

I’m still cracking up about Nick’s post. It is amazing sometimes that people will fall into belief of things despite clear indications to the contrary. This is why we need to teach our kids to be critical thinkers. Learn all you can, but approach everything with some skepticism. I’m prepared and willing to back up our training techniques and program. If anyone can show us better training methods we’ll adopt them.

Warning, major science geek content follows.

So while laughing at the kiaijutsu master I got to thinking about our reality and how there are quite a few things that do force us to really question the reality that we exist in. Here are some well established concepts about reality that don’t generally fit with how we perceive existence. If you were not aware previous to starting CrossFit Marin I was a chemical engineer and grew up in a household that regularly discussed theoretical physics and other nerdy topics.

Most matter is 99.9999999% empty space. Yeah, most matter is basically nothing. The nucleus of an atom generally ranges from about 1-10 fm (femto meters, which is 10-15 meters). The electron orbits vary quite a bit depending on energy states and atom size, but let’s just be conservative. Average electron distribution is in the range of 10-12 meters. Or about 1,000 larger than the nucleus. So let’s put this in perspective. If the nucleus was a 1m diameter ball, then the electrons would create a cloud at least 1,000m wide. Think about this in terms of the gym. Let’s say the nucleus was a medicine ball (roughly 0.5m diameter). The electrons would create a cloud that would span past our 800m turn around palm tree. Everything else is just empty space. Nothing, nada. So even highly dense materials are basically nothing. So what happens if matter isn’t so sparse and actually packs together. This is what happens in a neutron star. This is what happens when there’s enough gravity to collapse atoms. These things have a density ranging around 3×1017 kg/m3.

Again, perspective. Our two red boxes are pretty close to 1 square meter. This much neutron star would have about 100 times the mass of Mt. Everest.

Now, let’s look at that electron cloud. Due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle we can not precisely know the position and velocity of these electrons. We can only know the probability that they may be somewhere at some time traveling some speed in some direction. In fact they exist as both a particle and a wave, which gets us to quantum mechanics and things get really strange. There are things in existence that behave both as a wave and a particle. Beyond that, their path of travel is indeterminate  until they are observed. This means, in a sense, that they travel in all directions simultaneously until they are looked at, at which point their probability waves collapse into a single particle path.

Some other strange things…

Matter and energy are interchangeable. This is the power found in nuclear weapons and power plants. Some (very little really) matter is converted into energy in these things. We’re talking 85 million tons of TNT per net ounce of mass. So 1 ounce of matter converted to energy releases 4 times the energy of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Mass warps time and space.

Time is not constant, but varies dependent on your speed.

We may exist in a 10 or 11 dimensional reality.

Two particles can be “coupled” in which state anything done to one, will be instantly reflected in the other, across any distance.

So, think critically, but don’t discount things out of hand just because they seem odd. There are plenty of things about our existence that we have a very limited grasp of. Many of these bizarre behaviors could cause things to happen that we would think of as impossible.

It’s Not Magic

Monday, October 25th, 2010

It’s SCIENCE!

We’ve all heard the conversations about some athletes being “inhuman,”  ”genetic freaks,”  ”beasts,” or my personal favorite, “mutants.”  Some people attribute superior ability to some quasi-mystical property, or claim that it’s all genetics.  To be fair, genetics does play a role, but more is gained by hard work in the gym and dedication in the diet than by winding up with a few lucky genes.

Another thing that goes a long way is a good understanding of how to properly use your body efficiently.  We can see massive improvements in our lifting abilities and in our workout times if we learn how to maximize leverage, optimize rest time and generally work as efficiently as possible.  Part of this is having a conscious understanding of anatomy and physics, and part of it is intuitive kinesthetic awareness, but none of it magical or unexplainable.  Nowhere is this more misunderstood than in the realm of martial arts.

Many self defense methods emphasize mind over matter, channeling a warrior spirit or the flow of chi along meridians.  And while those might be useful models to gain confidence and learn some techniques, in the end anatomy and physics wins.  Take this video, for example.  This master of kiaijutsu (the art of using the “spirit shout” in combat) underestimates the effects of Newtonian physics.

Our friend the kiai master isn’t particularly efficient.  Sure, he puts very little into his fighting, but he also gets very little effect out of it.  His rival, on the other hand doesn’t put out too much energy either, but you can’t doubt its effectiveness.  Efficiency is important– whether in fighting or in a workout– and will help you go a very long way in your training.  Always strive to get the maximum effect for the minimum amount of energy.

Everyone Deserves A Chance

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

This video was posted on CF LA’s blog a few days ago by my friend Becca. I am a strong proponent of allowing everyone to participate. There are cases where we need to select the clear best performers, but there are times where we need to allow everyone an opportunity to try. Our preconceptions should not dictate our behavior. We let big people do gymnastics, little people lift heavy things and everyone train. Usually the participation will be a personal achievement and won’t be setting any records or making history, but sometimes it will. Participate in everything, and allow others to do the same.

Study in Chaos?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
Carlos Studies the Mat

Carlos Studies the Mat

Most people have been instructed to some degree how and where to study. Find a relatively quiet place with few distractions. This is the best way to retain the material you are studying, right? Well, research is not bearing that out.

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

Studying in different locations helps with retention. Clearly we can’t have too many distractions but a little bit of chaos can help anchor study materials in our brain. Some people retain material better with background music. Interestingly if you regularly study to the same music, then you may be hampering your retrieval of that material in the absence of the music.

Just like our workouts you want to mix things up. Another thing that correlates with our training concepts is that frequency is far more important than density. Cramming for a test only help you learn the material for a short time. Frequent short bouts of study will creating lasting retention.

How is CrossFit different than a regular gym?

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Today, towards the end of the 5pm CrossFit Friday class, I mentioned to one of the newer parkour moms that she could do the fitness class while her kids were in the parkour classes.  Of course, what followed was a slew of follow-up questions, one of which was, “…how is CrossFit different than a regular gym?”  I was about to go off on a rant about “functional fitness performed at high intensity” and elaborate on the “ten general physical skills”, but instead I decided to keep it simple.  I told her that CrossFit uses compound movements that are useful in real life instead of isolation movements that you see people working on in the gym.  She asked me “what do you mean?  What are compound movements?”  “In real life, when you actually do stuff, you use more than one muscle group at a time, as opposed to isolation movements that you see in a typical gym, where you’re only moving one joint.”  I demonstrated a bar muscle-up, cast on to the bar in order to get up into Roger’s office.  Then I turned around and did a forward roll off the bar in order to get back down.  A little demonstration usually has a much stronger impact than a long explanation.  Then I asked her if she saw how that would be different than bi-cep curls, which I also proceeded to demonstrate.  She nodded approvingly.  I also demonstrated a clean with a sand bag and contrasted it to a leg extension that you commonly see in a globo gym.    When she asked me how else CrossFit is differnt, I told her that the majority of people are bored to death in regular gyms, so after a couple of weeks they stop attending whereas here, it’s the highlight of their day and they actually blog about it on FaceBook.  At that exact moment, Kaveh, who recently finished his foundations sessions, walks in and says “I haven’t been here in six days since I left on my business trip.  I’m going through CrossFit withdrawls!”  I almost started laughing.  Nice timing. 

Who knows when YOU may have to carry your friend out of danger?!  Although Matt doesn't look like he's in danger, he sure looks like he is having fun.

Who knows when YOU may have to carry your friend out of danger?! Although Matt doesn't look like he's in danger, he sure looks like he is having fun.

When people ask about the protocol, or “what is CrossFit?”, how is it different,  you can go into so many aspects about CrossFit that you can make people dizzy with excess information until they go “think about it” and leave with a headache, but one of the coolest ways to relate to people is to illustrate something that you did where the skill set was useful.  Jeff Nicholes, one of our first clients, has related a couple of stories, both of which Roger loves to tell.  One time he had to climb up on a roof top in order to retrieve his electric plane which had inadvertently landed on a barn.  Jeff had never been athletic, and was about to call for help or go get a ladder when he realized that he could just climb up and get it himself.  Prior to his training, he would have never even entertained the idea, and he actually found it rather simple to do so once he tried.  On another occasion he was hiking in the dark and he stepped over a lip with a sharp drop.  He attributed his good, safe landing to all the practice that he had at CrossFit Marin from box jumps, squats and parkour skill practice.  He insists that had it been prior to his CrossFit training he would have probably gotten hurt severely and possibly tumbled headlong down the rest of the embankment.  Do any of you have any stories that illustrate how your training has come in useful in solving a real life problem or helped you get out of a difficult situation?

Paleo in a Nutshell part III: Sunshine & Vitamin D

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Here is the 3rd in the series of “Paleo in a Nutshell” videos.  It seems that a lot of our health problems stem from the implications of civilization on the lifestyles we had when we lived in the wild as opposed to the lifestyles we have now.  Maybe  it’s our office jobs and artificial caves with all the comforts of not having to go hunt our own food that wreck us.  Well, in any case if you believe the information as presented in the video, it seems like extremes are dangerous.  If you never get any sun, you can run into health problems and if you get too much sun or too much all at once, you can get sun burn and run into health problems.  To make matters worse, don’t forget about the thinning ozone layer that is supposed to protect us from the sun’s truly harmful rays!

I know the video is a little ironic considering who’s writing this post.  Don’t worry, I’m not working-out any more on purpose.  The idea is that I’m going to get really small and skinny so that I can take off my shirt when it’s sunny and produce vitamin D in peace, without anybody harassing me anymore.  What do you all think of that!?   There are also a couple of our members that don’t do too well in the sunlight.  Dawn actually has a shirt that says “Do not expose to direct sunlight.”  It’s pretty funny.  I for one love the sunshine and I feel great when it is hot and the sun is falling on my skin.  It actually makes me feel stronger, more energetic, alive, alert, and healthier and I seem to heal faster (as long as I don’t get sunburn, of course).  Unfortunately it’s starting to get cold and I’ll probably not only be wearing a shirt, but a beanie as well.

Does anybody have  any view points or know any evidence that would contradict what was presented in the video?  If so, please explain and back up such viewpoints with a sound argument.

Raising the Bar

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Noah G. Knees To Elbows

Noah G. Knees To Elbows

If you haven’t noticed there are some crazy fit people walking into CrossFit Marin on a regular basis. When I look back over the history of our program I see a steady increase in the top point of work capacity, loads and technique. Now what is also interesting to see is that the average is also increasing. We are steadily adding new people (at a faster rate) so this means that people are stepping up and improving faster than they used to.

There are a few reasons for this. First, our program is a touch better as we do keep improving our systems, programming and training. Second, and this is the important one. With the top bar being raised, expectations are also raised. When you consistently walk in the gym and you see people putting down freakish times, reps, rounds, loads, whatever they gradually don’t seem so freaky anymore. Once they don’t seem freaky, you start to believe that you can obtain them. Then you do obtain them, and set the bar for someone else. As my post Limits of Human Potential indicates, that often once a barrier is broken, suddenly it is broken by a series of people. It’s not that suddenly human physiology changes. What changes is peoples perception of the achievement.

We see this a lot in the gymnastics world. If you train in a gym with high caliber gymnasts it’s easier to progress through difficult and scary skills. If you’re seeing this stuff every day it doesn’t seem so impossible. It’s just part of the program.

So achievements of note that are raising the bar. Karen L’s 4:44 grace. Gabe T’s 2:27 grace. Now that one is just crazy. On Grace day Noah G. did Grace in 4:26, which would have been the new gym record, but instead he is a FULL TWO MINUTES shy of the gym record. Almost every time we do a workout the gym record on the workout is broken. Often times by a huge margin. I’m proud of you all, and am just excited to see what you will continue to achieve in the coming months and years.