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Archive for August, 2011

Forgetting to Quit

Monday, August 29th, 2011

One of my favorite quotes related to training is by Emil Zatopek“When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn’t matter. Am I tired? That doesn’t matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem.”

Do you want to be this person?

There are no rainbows when you quit.

When you’re new to training, especially training the way we do, it’s shocking to your body.  Your body tells you to quit, to give up and do something easier– like sit down and catch your breath, or just go slower.  It’s easy to eat garbage or just not go to the gym.

But after you force yourself to workout a hundred or a thousand times, after you ignore the desire give up every workout, you get to a point where you forget that quitting is an option.  It’s not that you’re ignoring the voice in your head that tells you slow down, it’s not that you are resisting the urge to quit.  It’s that you’ve ignored that voice and resisted that urge so many times that you have completely forgotten that stopping is even possible.  You’ve temporarily forgotten what it means to quit.

If you know what I mean, then good for you.  If you doubt, don’t worry, you’ll get there.  Just be persistent, come to the gym when you’re supposed to and make yourself finish every workout– even if you’re the last one done.  Don’t let yourself be a quitter and before you know it, you’ll forget that quitting was ever possible.

Pursue Happiness Not Pleasure

Sunday, August 28th, 2011
Bill Pursuing Happiness Through Cleans

Bill Pursuing Happiness Through Cleans

This concept is based quite a lot on how these terms are defined, so be sure to catch my meaning.

Generally those who aggressively pursue pleasure end up pretty miserable. Those that swing the other way generally end up with enduring happiness. Let’s look at some concrete examples of these pursuits.

Eating a doughnut is pleasurable. The sweet fatty bread tastes good. However, the sugar is terrible for your metabolic and hormonal processes, the gluten is likely causing bowel inflammation and the caloric load with negligible micro nutrients (in addition to the screwed up insulin response) will likely lead to an increase in body fat. So eating the doughnut will lead to a reduction in happiness overall, even though the consumption increases pleasure.

We could take a similar look at many pursuits. Drinking, drugs, sexual relations are all things that are all pleasurable, but approached with abandon and without thinking through the consequences will ultimately lead to unhappiness. Denying yourself pleasure when appropriate will lead to enduring happiness.

Our workouts are generally not pleasurable. I often wonder what people think is going on in our facility when the doors are closed. It sounds something like a torture chamber. And yet, I get to work with some of the happiest folks around. People are smiling, live well, and enjoy the heck out of life.

These decisions also increase the happiness of those you care about as well. Often decisions to pursue short term pleasures can wreak havoc on relationships. Your decisions are often not just about you. Be sure to consider this when making them. Make wise choices and pursue happiness.

Here at Congress

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

No, not US Congress, but USAG Congress. USA Gymnastics holds regional and national congresses for professional members of the organization. I have attended dozens of these events in the past, but last year was my first congress attendance in several years. Our gym is now an official USAG Member club and now that our gymnastics program is building I am working to reintegrate with the USA Gymnastics community at large.

Congress is a collection of 1 hour sessions run by a lot of the top level coaches and gym owners in the business. It is a great time to pick up new information and drills. On the gymnastics side I have been training and coaching for a long time and have worked with most of the clinicians teaching this weekend so have picked up some from the sessions, but the biggest piece is getting back in touch with a lot of very key people in the gymnastics community that I hold long friendships with, but haven’t seen in a long time. I will be talking with a lot of people over the next few months to help improve the program we have going in the gym and possibly bring in these folks from time to time for seminars, or just to guest coach a class or two.  In any case, I just wanted to update you all on my activities this weekend. I heard the Saturday morning workout was great, and I’m bummed to have missed that one. See you in the gym soon.

Potential New Types of Classes at CrossFit Marin this Fall

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Hi CFM Crew,

   It’s the end of the summer, and for CrossFit Marin, it’s more like the beginning of a new year for a couple of reasons.  First, since the business was started on October 6th, 2006, that means our birthday is in the fall.  We may be planning some events around the weekend of the 7th, 8th & 9th of October so if you’re in town, you may want to keep those dates available.  Also, since we’re largely a community and family-centered operation and everybody gets back from summer travels and vacations around this time of year, for all intents and purposes we’re on more of a school-calendar year than the January-December type.  Now that we have a dance studio we may have the resources to start a few new programs this upcoming month.  We’d love to hear about what interest, if any, you or your friends may have for these. 

Pilates (Mat) classes.:  We’ve been planning on starting Pilates Mat classes taught by Kristen G.  Some of you may want to take a break from the heavy lifting and ultra-intensity of the CrossFit classes and do a little core work with the Pilates classes.  There may be some other CF Marin gymnastics and parkour moms that aren’t interested in the CrossFit classes but may find the idea of getting a pilates class in while their kids are training too tempting to resist.  These classes might be offered on Tuesday or Thursday mornings come September.

Pole Dancing Classes:  Rosanna S. has been asking us to look into installing the fixtures for a removable pole in the dance studio.  Pole dancing can be very athletic and artistic- it is quite incredible, and no, you do not have to take any clothes off while you’re dancing.  Please post to comments if you would be interested in taking such classes.  They would likely be offered late Tuesday or Thursday evenings.

Zumba Classes:  I recently took Jasmin to a Zumba class taught by a couple of girls that I know.  We were both rather blown away by the experience and we’re both pretty excited to bring a piece of their program in to CFM.  IF the logistics work out, we could have at least one class a week.  After, all, what good is fitness if you can’t shake it on the dance floor?  Please post to comments if you would have any interest in attending.

Modern Dance Class: Lindsey Herrera, our ballet teacher, has metioned several times that she would love to teach an adult modern dance class at CFM.  I only know a couple of CFM boys that would like to take that class.  If anyone else is actually seriously interested or knows someone who would be, please have them contact us to see if it would be viable to get such a class up on the calender!

Olympic Lifting & Stregth Training-  Specific class offered weekly or bi-weekly for Olympic Lifting and Strength Training.  We know that this one has been in demand for a while, and it’s more of an issue of staffing it than whether there is any demand for it, but if you’d like to see this added to the class offerings, please post to comments.  It would accelerate the process and ifluence any decisions made, ’cause after all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Remember that part of the CrossFit fitness protocol is to constantly play and engage in new sports and activites.  Movement is life!

See you all in the gym,


Simple Nutrition for Health and Performance

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Debunking Fasting Myths

The mainstream fitness and nutrition industry would have you believe that the best way to lose pounds or maintain a healthy weight is to eat many small meals throughout the day, ideally all of which are low in calories and fat. This method is incredibly painstaking and requires a lot of preparation, which is why many people ditch it completely and opt for meal-in-a-box programs like Nutrisystem or Weight Watchers. These diets follow the same small meal/low fat prescription, except with expensive, prepackaged, poor quality ingredients.

What’s unfortunate is that people go through all of the trouble to heed this type of diet advice when it really isn’t necessary to eat that frequently. Unless you’re trying to gain mass or you’re a world class athlete training most of every day, there’s no need to eat constantly. The following are a few myths which are continuously perpetuated regarding meal timing and fasting. Martin Berkhan over at Leangains does a tremendous job debunking them in this article.

  • Eat frequently to stoke the metabolic fire
  • Eat smaller meals for hunger control
  • Eat smaller meals to keep blood sugar under control
  • Fasting tricks the body into ’starvation mode’
  • You need a steady supply of protein every 2-3 hours
  • Fasting causes muscle loss
  • Skipping breakfast will make you fat
  • Fasting increases cortisol (the stress hormone)

Martin deftly shoots holes in all of these myths that are often thought of as stone cold facts by a lot of people. The truth is that we evolve from ancestors who never had a clear idea of when their next meal would arrive. While they could get by on berries and grubs, it may have been days between large feasts on hunted game. Our bodies have developed an excellent mechanism of controlling blood sugar and energy even in the absence of food. Through the process of gluconeogenesis, our bodies can synthesize glucose from protein and fat, so we’re able to maintain sustained energy even through long periods of fasting.

The key to making this process work effectively is by eating the right food and controlling your insulin levels. The reason most people need so many small meals throughout the day is because they’re addicted to sugar and grains, which wreaks havoc on their insulin sensitivity and hormones involved with hunger. They spike their insulin with large hits of carbohydrate and experience a crash a few hours later that is accompanied by pangs of hunger. If instead you base your meals around protein, vegetables, quality fat, and natural starches like sweet potato and rice, you’ll slowly improve your insulin sensitivity over time. By eating this way, you’ll be able to take more and more time between meals without feeling hungry or even thinking about food. This is a very freeing experience because you don’t need to always be concerned about where and when your next meal will be. You can have a large, healthy breakfast and potentially work all the way through lunch and not eat until dinner without much ill effect on your energy.

Structuring Meals Around Workouts

Once you’ve established the fact that the frequency of your meals is not the end all, be all for your health and energy levels, you can start structuring your diet more toward performance. If you CrossFit on a regular basis, it’s important to use your meals as a good recovery tool so you can repair your muscles and connective tissue after a workout. In the post workout window, the muscles are also very sensitive to glucose, so getting a good dose of carbohydrate will help fill them with glycogen, ensuring more adequate recovery.

Through trial and error, I’ve found that one of the best ways to maintain great health and performance is to take in a majority of my daily calories before and after training. A good meal of protein, carbs, and fat about 2-3 hours before a workout won’t leave you too full, but will give you a good dose of energy to tackle the WOD. Afterwards, try to get in some high quality protein and starch as quickly as you can, with a bit of fat. Steak and sweet potatoes is a great option, as is chicken and rice. Have either with a bit of olive oil or butter. A large protein filled salad with a few pieces of fruit will suffice too. If you’ve been eating the right way for a while, this meal should hold you over for a while and allow your body to recover the right way. As you get further from the workout, the meals can be more and more sparse, consisting of protein and veggies. Some paleo folks have gotten to the point where they eat about 80% of their carbohydrates either before or after their workout, having very little for the rest of the day. This can be a great way to maximize performance and recovery while also maintaining a very healthy diet.

Camping and Chia Fresca

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

chiafrescaI spent this past weekend in Lassen where there was still ice in the lakes and snow on the mountains. Tons of snow. We threw it. Juggled it. Went sledding in it. And ate it. I felt so virtuously Paleo serving bowls of August snow with berries and honey to kids who readily agreed it was better than cookies and cream. But I recognize that’s a hard recipe to duplicate at lower altitudes, so instead I will post another camping success that’s easy to do at home:

Chia Fresca

  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon, lime or grapefruit juice
  • 12 oz warm water
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

Place all ingredients in a tall glass, stir well and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. The chia seeds turn the water into a refreshing gel by infusing the water with their soluble fiber. Chill in the fridge or snow pack if desired. Popularized by Christopher McDougall in Born to Run, this hydrating and energizing drink will keep you going in anything from a hike in the mountains to a 5k run challenge!

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You

Sunday, August 21st, 2011
Jumping From Heights

Jumping From Heights

This quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt is a great way to ensure you are always trying to move forward. Clearly in our facility this would often apply to physical endeavors. On the CrossFit side it may mean trying a heavier snatch than you ever had before. It may mean pushing that much harder on a workout knowing well the pain that will induce. On the gymnastics or parkour side it will generally mean trying a new skill.

Doing something that scares you does not mean doing something foolish. With physical endeavors you need to ensure that your progressions and set up are correct to prevent injury. Leaping from a building with no rigging would certainly be something that scares you, but would not be a wise application of this quote. Bungee jumping could be however. Proper progressions, learning proper technique and being sensible about the things you are doing will enable you to continue to do scary stuff safely. Proper progressions will reduce fear, but can not completely eliminate it.

This idea can equally be applied to social, professional and other situations. Is there someone at work you need to confront about an issue? Do you need to ask a boss for a raise? All of these things can be scary, but generally taking that step ends up be beneficial in the long run. There will be times when it doesn’t work out, but it will more often than it doesn’t. Take risks, move forward.

Working through fear changes us. Accomplishing something scary makes the next time easier. In time your overall confidence will build. This will then start to pervade everything you do. You will be perceived differently because you are truly confident. When you are truly self-confident you will also be able to help and love those around you better. You taking risks will have wide reaching consequences. So “Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You”.

When To Get Personal Training

Saturday, August 20th, 2011
Emily and Debbie training hard together

Emily and Debbie training hard together

The gold standard for celebrities, CEOs, doctors and other folks with significant financial resources is personal training. If you can afford it then your best option is to hire a personal trainer and you will get in the best shape of your life right? Wrong. First off, unfortunately, there are a lot of personal trainers out there that don’t really have a clue how to train people. Now, before I get any hate mail, understand that there are also a lot of personal trainers out there that are incredible. They do fantastic work for their clients, serve them well and dramatically improve their lives, but the other segment generally waste a lot of their client’s time and don’t really help them make progress. Even with a great trainer personal training isn’t necessarily the best option. It is great it certain situations, which will be addressed later, but for your day to day training small group sessions are more effective.

Training in small groups has a lot of advantages. The obvious one is that it is far more economical. When you hire a personal trainer you have to cover that person’s time and gym usage costs by yourself. in a small group you have other people helping to provide resources for the session. Not as obvious, but even more important is that small group training is more effective. We see significantly better results in group sessions than personal training sessions. This isn’t immediately clear, but there are clear reasons for it.

  • Training in a group is more fun. - It is much easier to come in day after day for a long time to see tremendous gains when you have friends that you know are going to be there and suffer along side you.
  • Training in a group is more motivating. - People tend to work harder when other people are around. Particularly if those other people are doing the same thing. We have very strong psychological motivation to perform around other people.
  • Training in a group can induce competition. - Being competitive often has negative connotations. We tend to picture athletes storming off or breaking things when they don’t win. These behaviors are not being competitive, but are being a prideful, spoiled child. Being competitive is simply having that drive to win. We want you to try to win. It really doesn’t matter who wins, but what matters is that everyone is trying to win. In striving to win you will endure more discomfort and push harder than you will by yourself.
  • When you train in a group you can learn from others.  - In observing other athletes perform movements you can see correct technique and flaws in technique that will help you improve your own movements. If you can learn from other people’s mistakes you can avoid ever making those mistakes yourself.

There are times when personal training is the best option. The primary reason would be to address specific skill work needs. Are there any movements that you are struggling with? Find one of our staff members that has particular knowledge in those movements and hire them for a one on one session to coach you. You will have a session that will likely dramatically improve your technique. Additionally you will walk away with some drills to address your specific needs. Another reason would be to get in a training session at a time we don’t have classes. We have the broadest class schedule of any CrossFit affiliate in the area, and one of the broadest schedules in the world, but even so, there are times we do not have classes. If you need to come in at an off time and need coaching you can hire a trainer to make that work for you. If you have injuries, or physical issues that need to be addressed you can hire a trainer to help you identify what movements are going to be a problem, identify options for alternatives and help you develop a plan for rehabilitation. You can talk to any of our staff members directly about personal training, or call the front desk to ask who might be best to address your needs.

The bulk of your training should be in group sessions. Come in, train hard and have fun in our group workouts. From time to time hire a trainer to address specific needs you may have. This is the optimal path to true fitness and athleticism.

Ninja Warrior Course at CrossFit Marin with David Campbell & Travis Furlanic Guest Appearance

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

American Ninja Warrior fans (ages 7-12y/o) can come in to CrossFit Marin on Sunday August 21st and run an American Ninja Warrior inspired obstacle course.   The CrossFit Marin parkour staff along with guests David Campbell and Travis Furlanic will be assisting or coaching our young athletes through the obstacles in their quest to beat the course and achieve Total Victory!   Heats will be assigned between 11am-2pm and there will be other concurrent satellite clinics.  Please call the front desk at 415.927.1630 to pre-register if you are interested in attending.  The cost will be $20 per athlete.

David Campbell in Venice Beach at American Ninja Warrior II

David Campbell in Venice Beach at American Ninja Warrior II

Be sure to watch the conclusion to the American Ninja Warrior boot camp on G4-TV on Sunday August 21st 6pm Pacific

Be sure to watch the conclusion to the American Ninja Warrior boot camp on G4-TV on Sunday August 21st 6pm PacificNinja Teams

Don’t miss the exciting conclusion to the American Ninja Warrior Boot Camp on G4-TV on Sunday August 21st at 6pm Pacific as well as the Finals on NBC on Sunday July 22nd!

New Gymnastics class at CrossFit Marin On Fridays

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Hey Crew,

   As many of you already know, CrossFit Marin has two scheduled weekly adult gymnastics classes on Mondays & Wednesdays at 7pm.  I’ve realized in the past few months that we have many members who would be interested in taking the gymnastics classes if they were scheduled at a different time, therefore, we’ve decided to open a new adult gymnastics class on Fridays from noon to 1:30pm (with an opitonal extra 15 minutes to stretch if you wish to stay and work on your mobility) starting Friday Sept 9th.  The class will be included in the unlimited everything & unlimited Parkour/Gymnastics memberships.  Otherwise, it is also open on a drop-in basis to anyone interested.  There are no pre-requisites or athletic requirements.  Noobies / Rooks / Intermediates / Advanced / Elite athletes all welcome.  Bring your grandmother if you want.  I’m excited, cause I might actually be able to take this one myself…  WOOT!!  =D

My favorite super-hero...

My favorite super-hero...

See you in the gym,


If you're doing gymnastics, you want this guy coaching you!

If you're doing gymnastics, you want this guy coaching you!