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Archive for February, 2012

Tough Mudder Training Next Week!

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Hey!  Tough Mudder training starts next week.  The first session will be on Monday, March 5th, at 11:00 in the gym.  We’ll repeat that session on Saturday, March 10th for those that can’t make the Monday times.

Sadly, we will not be running through fire... yet.

Sadly, we will not be running through fire... yet.

Here’s the schedule and locations, so far.

Class 1: Monday, March 5, 11:00 AM / Saturday March 10, 6:00 PM:

The Cave.  Hanging, Climbing & Crawling Obstacles.

Class 2: Monday, March 12, 11:00 AM / Saturday, March 17, 6:00 PM:

Turtle Rock, Tiburon.  Hills & Trail Running.

Class 3: Monday, March 19, 11:00 AM / Saturday, March 24, 6:00 PM:

Location TBD.  Swimming & Water Safety

Class 4: Monday, March 26, 11:00 AM / Saturday, March 31, 6:00 PM:

Stinson Beach.  Water Obstacles & Hypothermia.

If you’re still interested, make sure you sign up!

Games WOD #1 Complete - Ninja Warrior Trials Coming

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Ok, so we have just done some burpees. Well, a LOT of burpees. A few hours ago CF posted that over 5.4 million burpees were performed by games competitors this week. I can just imagine the sadistic joy in the minds of the folks programming the games (yes I know who you are) when they threw this one out.

Now from the perspective of a super straight forward decent test of gross fitness this was pretty good. It was available for anyone to do. It required no equipment beyond an object 6″ above reach. So, as miserable as 7 minutes of burpees is, it was a great way to kick of the 2012 open. As Nick W. so aptly put it, “I’d rather punch myself in the face for 7 minutes”.

The efforts we saw in our gym were phenomenal. We saw athletes push beyond any sense of comfort because you can always do another burpee. We saw athletes working out pacing and strategies to improve performances. We saw people walking in the door and immeditately begining to cheer on the folks on the floor because we all knew the pain they were going through.

In addition to the games workout we had several staff members and key CF Games Open competitors travelling and also preparing for the Ninja Warrior regional competition next week. These folks went way out of their way to train and compete to keep everything going. We really appreciate the extra effort everyone put in to get this all together this week. We have one more week of double competitions, so if we’re looking a bit overwhelmed, we are.

A Day of Ninja Training

Sunday, February 26th, 2012
I headed down to Santa Cruz after our trainer’s meeting this morning to spend some time practicing on David Campell and Travis Furlanic’s course.  After a quick stop at the old CrossFit Headquarters (within a couple blocks of David’s course) I made my way into the woods south west of Santa Cruz. We have quite a few people from the gym that have spots for the American Ninja Warrior tryouts next weekend. Some practice on the actual obstacles was a huge help. I have been watching Ninja Warrior for years and have familiarity with the challenges, but have never had a chance to try any of them myself. David has built full scale replicas of many of the key features of the Sasuke course.

My first obstacle was the warped wall. Similar somewhat to performing a wall run I felt that I would be able to do this one with a little practice. It is a bit intimidating but the key is to just commit and run hard. I was sure to spend time on the quad steps, salmon ladder, ustable bridge, jumping bars, jumping spider and rope swing as they have all made appearances in the American Ninja Warrior tryouts. My hands are a little worn, but overall it was a great day. A huge thanks goes out to David, Travis and Richard.

There were many others that came down to train. One notable for me was Josh Horsley. He was one of my students in Davis. He’s now a stellar rock climber and capable of doing the ultimate cliffhanger backward. It is clear many who attended this training day will be able to complete the course next week. Roughly 35 of 150 competitors will make the finals and go to Las Vegas to compete on the new Ninja Warrior course. We are not entirely sure what to expect with new folks running the course, but it is sure to be a fun challenge.

American Ninja Warrior hopefuls go to David Campbell’s “Ninja Camp” this weekend

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Hey Cavers,

A bunch of our athletes have heard back from American Ninja Warrior and G4 TV casting and are down at David Campbell’s backyard course in Santa Cruz.  Some of the athletes who may be competing in Venice next week include, but are not limited to Roger Harrell, Rosanna Sansone, Andrey Pfening, Tom Hutchman, Caroline Lee, Jill Sprague, Michael Schinner, Miyoko Schinner (if she heals up), Rob Ellis, Ryder Darcy, Andres De la Rosa, and of course, Travis Furlanic.   Here’s a picture from last year’s “Ninja Camp”:

A little Ninja-ing in the woods...

A little Ninja-ing in the woods...


Wish us all luck!!

Be Safe, Be Smart

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

rutger_be_safeAs you are all sitting in your beds unable to sleep because your tummies are all a flutter, as your hearts are thumping and the visions are racing through your heads, as your palms are sweaty and your sighs get a little deeper, and you can’t relax because you are excited but nervous, I want you to think for a moment…be safe and be smart.

I could go on and on with the dramatic introduction. There is no hiding that the first CrossFit Games Open workout is within hours of beginning. For those of us who are signed up, I congratulate you for joining the team. If you aren’t, there is still time!

Regardless of your stance on the whole event, there are some things we can all get out of this madness. Things we all need reminding of, not only while we are competing, but also during our every day trainings. Be safe and be smart. Listen to yourself and to your body. Have fun.

Here are a few things I want you (myself included) to think about as we endure this long process:

1) Prepare: Get a good night sleep; we all perform better with more rest. Roll out and loosen up. I like to do a long session of mobility at least a day before. Get on a roller and dig into those tight places. Pay attention to the areas you most stiffen up and work them out. We all need some pre-hab before a big event (or before a simple day to day workout). Communicate with one another. Get an idea from your fellow competitors of techniques, tricks, etc. that worked or didn’t work. Tell others if you uncover some good information.

2) Pace: If you are like me, who I know some of you are, you will want to do these workouts over and over again. This is a fine line. Know where you can do better, and realize your limits (don’t obsess). Listen to yourself. If it comes down to one extra box jump, maybe it’s not worth a third or fourth attempt (especially if your body is worked and your calves want to kill you), but if it’s a matter of one muscle up (putting you into a whole new category) then maybe its worth another shot.

3) Recuperate: Stretch after every workout! Ice when something hurts (seriously people…icing is not that hard. I am the first to admit that I am not the best in the icing department, but it is just so simple!). Rest appropriately.

Most importantly…have fun! Although some of us want to push hard to get a team to regionals, we are doing this because it’s fun. It’s a challenge. It puts our daily training to a test.

It’s go time!

Cal Gymnastics Meets

Sunday, February 19th, 2012
Golden Bear

Golden Bear

So we’re part way through this year’s collegiate gymnastics season. The Cal men’s has a home meet on March 24th. The event is free. So lets get a group together and head over. Its close and a great way to see some really great gymnastics first hand and close up. The women have a meet on March 18th at 2pm. Head over and show your support for this great sport.

Additionally we have the fortune to have the Olympic Trials coming to San Jose this year. Currently only all session (4 days) tickets are on sale. Individual day tickets will be on sale soon. Come out and see the top gymnasts in the US compete for a shot at the Olympics.

Seeing gymnastics live is a very different experience from seeing it on TV. You will get a much better sense of what these gymnasts are capable of. Lets get some groups together and head out to these meets.

Nutrition Seminar Success - March Challenge

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

paleo_plateAbout 20 folks joined us today for a 2 hour nutrition workshop. We covered some basics on the chemistry of metabolism, the biological processes involved and ideas behind the eating patterns we recommend. There was a great group of folks present and a lot of really great questions and dialog were brought up. We hope that all who attended learned a lot and can start to implement some of the ideas.

On the point of implementation I’m going to give you a heads up on the March challenge. It is not a physical feat, but a lifestyle decision. We’re going to have a nutrition challenge. Look at your food, pick something you want to change, and put it on the board for accountability. You may pick strict paleo/zone, just paleo, just zone, or just eliminating gluten or other anti-nutrient. On March 1 put your name on the board and what your plan is. Each day you stick to it, put a tick mark next to your name. We strongly encourage you to make some significant changes because then you will see significant benefit. Start thinking about how you want to improve your nutrition. You have a little over a week to plan. 3,2,1… GO!

Grip Strength

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Hey Crew,

I wanted to point out (once again: the importance of grip strength.  Grip strength is consummately useful in real life situations, if you’re overcoming obstacles, grappling, rock climbing, getting up a tree, moving heavy equipment, doing construction work, navigating a “Ninja Warrior” obstacle course, or fighting through a grip-intensive dead lift /Rope climbing CrossFit metcon, it’s going to come into play.  In my view, one of the coolest, most interesting pieces of equipment that we have in the gym would be the hang board.  It’s that weird-looking pull-up thingy that we have between the two blue pull-up bars under the mezzanine.  Here’s a picture:

"Hang Board" or "Campus Board"  Great for finger & Grip Strength!
“Hang Board” or “Campus Board” Great for Grip &

finger Strength!

Here’s a little video by metolius for some hang board workout ideas:

Quite honestly, in my opinion the absolute best way to train grip strength is by rock climbing, and you also get the added benefit of getting better at rock-climbing!  Nevertheless, since many of us don’t have an extra 2-3 hours a couple of times a week to spend rock climbing, a ten-minute hang board sequence two or three times a week will go a long way towards acquiring the type of  unnatural super-mutant grip strength that can make so many seemingly impossible tasks almost trivial.  In some unique situations grip strength can come in so “handy” that it can even save your life!  But how to start training on it?  Well, thank our friends from Metolius for these concise and effective training sequences:

Time (minutes) Task
1st minute 15 second hang, Jug
2nd minute 1 pull-up, Round Sloper
3rd minute 10 second hang, Medium Edge
4th minute 15 second hang w/ 3 shrugs, Pocket
5th minute 20 second hang w/ 2 pull-ups, Large Edge
6th minute 10 second hang, Round Sloper
5 knee raises, Pocket
7th minute 4 pull-ups, Large Edge
8th minute 10 second hang, Medium Edge
9th minute 3 pull-ups, Jug
10th minute Hang as long as you can, Round Sloper


Time (minutes) Task
1st minute 15 second hang, 3 pull-ups, Large Edge
2nd minute 2 pull ups, Round Sloper
20 second hang, Medium Edge
3rd minute 20 second hang, Small Edge
15 second 90º bent arm hang, Pocket
4th minute 30 second hang, Round Sloper
5th minute 20 second hang, Large Edge
4 pull-ups, Pocket
6th minute 3 offset pulls each arm (high arm jug, low arm small hold), Jug/Small Edge
Change hands and repeat
7th minute 15 knee raises, Jug
15 second hang, Medium Edge
8th minute 25 second hang, Medium Edge
9th minute 15 second hang, Slope
3 pull-ups, Jug
10th minute Hang as long as you can, Round Sloper


Time (minutes) Task
1st minute 20 seconds straight arm hang, Large Slope
3 pull-ups, 4-Finger Flat Edge
2nd minute 20 seconds slightly bent arm hang, Large Slope, stay on
20 seconds L-sit or 20 hanging knee curls
3rd minute 5 pull-ups, 3-Finger Pocket, stay on
25 seconds straight arm hang
4th minute Use every hold starting at the 3-Finger Pocket and working up, staying on each for 5 seconds (don’t get off to change holds)
Finish on Large Slope with a 20 second hang
5th minute 20 seconds single arm hang, Four-Finger Flat Edge
switch hands and repeat
6th minute 5 offset pull ups, Large Slope (top hand) 3-Finger Pocket (bottom hand)
change hands and repeat
7th minute 30 seconds 90 degree bent arm hang, Four-Finger Incut Edge
15 seconds straight arm hang, 3 Finger Pocket
8th minute 3 L-sit pull-ups (bend knees if you have to)
5 seconds front lever or 15 seconds straight arm hang, Large Slope
9th minute 20 seconds straight arm hang using only 2 fingers on 3 Finger Pockets
3 power pull-ups (use weights or helper for resistance, should just be able to do 3 pulls)
10th minute maximum slightly bent arm hang, Large Slope (go ‘til failure) no rest
maximum straight arm hang - Large Slope

Warning All Training Board Users: Training on a hangboard carries risk of injury to fingers, arms, shoulders and the joints connecting them. Take every precaution to avoid damage to yourself; warm-up, stretch, don’t overtrain and listen to your body. Remember, even under the best of circumstances, injuries can occur. In addition, however you mount your board, be sure that it cannot move in any direction. There should be no possible way for the board to come down while training.

…which we happened to post up under the hang board here:

The Metolius hang board training sequences are on the ceiling right under the hangboard.

The Metolius hang board training sequences are on the ceiling right under the hangboard.

Remember that grip strength is of great importance to not only your Ninja, Judo, Parkour, and climbing abilities, but it comes in extremely handy for a lot of CrossFit workouts as well, especially in competition.  Just like anything else, ease into it slowly and consistently at your level and if you keep at it before you know it you’ll see vast improvements!



You may just surprise yourself with the Skills you’ve Learned

Friday, February 17th, 2012

As many of you know, last Sunday we had open casting for American Ninja Warrior 4 at The Cave.  There were many attendees, both spectators and ninja hopefuls, showcasing their “skillzz”.  One of the reasons our gym was targeted as the audition sight by G4 TV was because we are one of the main parkour gyms in the San Francisco Bay Area, nevertheless, Ninja Warrior isn’t a parkour competition.  It is however, an all-around crazy creative obstacle course, and since parkour is about overcoming obstacles, it does help quite a bit to be proficient at it, but any physical discipline can contribute to success at Ninja Warrior.  Some of our featured athletes were showcasing thier CrossFit movements, Olympic Lifting, soccer ball juggling, rock-climbing, dance, or gymnastics skills.  One of the athletes that was stressed out about what to do was Anna Tom.  She whimpered  “But I can’t do any of these things that these other people are doing!” and decided that she shouldn’t try out.  After pointing out that she was going about it all wrong she changed her mind.  ”Anna, don’t think about the things that you can’t do that the other people are doing, but just come up with things that you can do!”  ”Like what!?”, she replied.  I pointed out a few basic things that I knew she was good at and suggested a couple of ways of connecting them.  She perked up and said “well, I guess I can do that…”.  Later on she came back to me a bit more upbeat and visibly happier because she had a few routines that she worked out.  Then later still she came back and couldn’t stop talking about all the things she realized she could do and skills she had that she hadn’t thought of.  ”I’ve picked up so many skills!  I can’t believe I can do all of these things!”  She whent on.  ”I really know a lot!”.  Anna has been training here for a couple of years and has slowly collected a myriad of skills and abilities, but it took an open casting call for Ninja Warrior for her to realize it herself!

For her audition, Anna mixed in different parkour elements and climbing with Dylan Tom, her son and finished up with a bit of Olympic Lifting to showcase herself as the athletic mom with the little aspiring Ninja son.

If you’ve been taking CrossFit classes only you may think that you can’t do that many things, or at least not enough to try out for Ninja Warrior.  Nothing could be less true.  The whole purpose of doing CrossFit is to be versatile and try different things, and besides, if you’ve taken our classes for any length of time at all, you’ve practiced some gymnastics, a bit of parkour, carrying other people, judo & self defense, carrying people out of dangerous situations, juggling, etc.  If you actually tried to make a video of your collection of skills, you may just surprise yourself with everything you can do, and if you just got here recently, well, just be patient.  It won’t take very long!

Tom Hutchman’s is a good example.  Here’s his abbreviated (5 min cap) audition video that we submitted to the G4 casting crew for this season’s American Ninja Warrior season:

This is the same video, but with bloopers.  If you know Tom, have some extra time and want to get a couple of chuckles in, you may want to check this out.  It has a couple of charming and funny extras.  Otherwise it’s the same video.

This Place is Exploding!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Our once tiny gym has been getting bigger and bigger.  We’re finding ourselves nearly at capacity during peak times.  In addition to full classes, we’re busy planning and delivering a bunch of new events, workshops, and seminars.  We’ve got a few things in the works for the near future, two of which are the Nutrition Workshop and the Tough Mudder Preparation Course.

ascentobeselift-black-copyFirst is our Nutrition Workshop, coming up THIS SATURDAY.  The event will be held from 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM, which gives you enough time to do the Saturday morning, classes, get some lunch and come back to the gym to learn some good stuff.  Roger and I are both excited to be working with the gym’s own certified nutritionist, Susannah Wallenstrom, on this endeavor (Susannah knows her stuff!).  The workshop will cover some basic nutrition concepts, but will be focused on how to implement sound nutrition practices into your life.  We’re looking at nutrition like a workout– some people can do it as Rx, and some people will need to scale it.  The point of this workshop is to help people figure out what scaling is appropriate for their goals.

Cost is $40.00.  Child care will be available for $25.00, and family discounts apply.  Sign up in advance by filling out the form in the gym, or stopping by the office.  Drop-ins are welcome, too.

Also, starting next month Amanda and I will be hosting an off-site Tough Mudder Preparation Course.  This series of four classes will introduce you to movements and situations that you’ll face on the Tough Mudder– everything from scaling high walls to surviving freezing water (oh, we’re not going to electrocute you, though).  There will be two sessions, one offered Mondays at 10:00 AM, and another offered Saturdays at 6:00 PM.  You can sign up for both, if you’re a glutton for punishment.  Look for the sign-up sheet, soon!

Cost will be $80.00 for the series, or $40.00 if you want to do a drop-in of just one class.  $120.00 if you’d like to attend both Monday and Saturday.

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for new classes, events, seminars, or workshops?