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My Crossfit Journey: An “Old Lady’s” Guide To Crossfit by Sandy S

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

This is a repost from Sandy Shepard’s website. This is a beautiful post and I wanted to further share it with our community. Thank you Sandy! You are an amazing inspiration to us all!

I started Crossfit last year, on September 6th. As I type this post, that means I have been doing Crossfit for 9 months.

In the year before starting Crossfit, I had done a few marathons and half marathons (5), and a Olympic distance triathlon. The year before that, I did an Ironman, because I wanted to do an Ironman before turning 50.

This might sound like it makes me a bad-ass. Far from it. Look, someone has to bring up the back of the pack in the dark – that’d be me. Sure, I’ll agree with you – there are a lot of folks out there that don’t get off the couch to do anything . . . and in fact, if you look back in this blog going way, way back, you’ll see that was me.

But here’s the thing. After having some health issues, as my birthday came around last year (September), I found myself in the unenviable position of being almost 40 pounds overweight. I didn’t fit in any of my clothes, and all the biking/running /swimming in the world wasn’t budging it. I’d like to pretend that it was all “muscle,” but last Fall I had a fat “dunk test” (that I blogged about back there somewhere) – and I was 30% fat by weight. Oh and believe me, you knew it – my muffin top had a muffin top. I have recently been reading some great blog posts about gals who were transformed by Crossfit. HERE is one by a Crossfit franchise owner and competitor (Talayna Fortunato), HERE is one about “regular” Crossfit women by a gal who started out overweight (it’s long, but well worth the read).

When I read a lot of these articles now, I actually get a bit depressed. Why? Because here I am nine months along, and I’m nowhere near where everyone else is. In fact, I started Crossfit just two days after the gal who wrote the “Crossfit Women: The Truth” post linked above (the long one). And look at how remarkable she is now. I still can’t do a pullup, a proper pushup or burpee, or innumerable other things.

One thing you’ll get used to – chalk basically EVERYWHERE. Yes, this is me.

One thing you’ll get used to – chalk basically EVERYWHERE. Yes, this is me.

Okay, so she is young enough to be my daughter. But here I am, 9 months later, and I don’t have some dramatic “Before and After.” I go to Crossfit 3-5 days a week (yes, really), rain or shine, and you can’t really tell, compared to all the other “Before and Afters” – including the one at the top of this page (which is not me, by the way).

But that’s what I’m here to talk about. Oh sure, when I’m snuggled up in my bed and the alarm goes off, I think two, three, ten times about actually swinging my legs over the side and putting on my athletic clothes. But I do it. Because, dramatic “Before and After” or not, Crossfit is about community. And besides, I will not lie to you, it feels pretty bad-ass to lift a big metal bar above your head – even if it weighs a tenth of anyone else’s.

I suppose that we’ve all felt “community” at some point in our lives – whether it’s folks at Bingo who would rib you if you didn’t show up, or your Book Club, or even a Zumba or Jazzercise class you did for a while in your past. But the Crossfit community is a bit different.

Here’s an example: One of our coaches, Amanda Norton, recently made it to the Crossfit Regionals. You don’t need to know what that is, just know it’s huge. She wound up having a hard time on the second day of competition, though she had worked her way up to 11th in our Region the day before (awesome!). During this workout, she was only about 3/4 of the way through when the top 10 women (who were competing in her same Heat) were already finished. Did they leave the field? Continue to lie panting on the mat, after their own enormous efforts?

No. They surrounded her and cheered her on, coaching her, cajoling her. I talked to her about it afterwards – some folks might hate that and, like Garbo, ‘Vant to be Left Alone!” – but she said it was awesome. Here she is, surrounded by “Crossfitters whose names are known” – Crossfitters who compete for a living – giving her “Atta Girls” when she feels like giving up.

Crossfit is also the only sport where the entire audience generally actually does the sport. While a very small percentage of the audience of, say, a football game has ever had experience on the field, just about everyone at a Crossfit competition is doing their best to do the exact same movements that the competitors are doing.

That’s amazing, when you think about it.

Thank you again to Sandy Shepard for this fantastic blog post. This post continues from here and   You can read the full version here.

Let’s Talk About Goals!

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Amanda getting the HSPU done

Amanda getting the HSPU done

Goals tend to be very personal to the individual who sets them. Whether you want to squat more, or decrease body fat percentage or achieve a new tumbling pass, every one of us will benefit from setting a goal based on what we wish to accomplish.
Setting a goal for your workout or nutrition program is vital to  success! Setting goals is a great way to analyze your training program, see if it’s working or if you need a course adjustment.  Any one of the coaches here at The Cave are happy to help you set personal goals.
There are a few goals that would benefit just about every single one of us. By making sure you keep these in mind along with your specific goals tailored to you, you can get the absolute most beneficial results from your workout and diet program this year.


The first goal you should set is to make an effort to drink more water each and every day, especially with the hotter weather approaching. We hear this specific advice over and over again but very few of us actually take it to heart.
Did you know drinking enough water impacts everything from the amount of energy we have on a daily basis, to hunger, our ability to concentrate, and how quickly we recover from workout sessions?  Make it part of your daily routine; carry a water bottle, even two; fill them up every time you see a water fountain and don’t leave home before they’re full again!


You should also be absolutely sure you are resting enough. It’s very easy, especially for the highly motivated to underestimate how much recovery is necessary for optimal progress and to push through fatigue with the thought process that working harder will only make you stronger. This isn’t so. Working harder, when the body can’t keep up, will actually only make you weaker, because when you’re doing additional exercise before recovery has taken place, you’re just further breaking down tissues rather than building them up.
Do this over too long of a time period and you’ll really be facing some dire consequences such as lean muscle mass loss, a slowed metabolic rate, a lowered immune system, and over-training in general.  Trust me, it isn’t pretty.  Make a conscious effort this year to listen to your body more often. This is the toughest goal for me, one that I constantly struggle with.  If there was an “Over Trainers  Anonymous” group, I would be first in line for it !


Third, the next important goal that you should set and make a priority during your workouts is:  Listen to your coaches.  It’s essential that you’re always using proper form and your coaches are there to help you.  Listen to them.
If you aren’t using proper form as you execute your lifts, or skill work, there is a much higher chance that you’re not going to work the correct muscles and could very well end up sidelined with an injury.  Once again, trust me– this isn’t pretty. Even if it means you’re lifting lighter weights, using proper form is a must. Listen to your coaches.  They have the wisdom and experience necessary to help.


Finally, you should choose at least one overall health goal. While it’s great to set aesthetic goals that you will be able to see on the outside, it’s also critical to remember the impact of regular workouts and a good diet for the inside.
The big issue for some people who have set an extrinsic, aesthetic goal is that once you achieve that goal, the motivation to keep working out starts to fade. If you set a goal to make  living healthy a lifestyle, you’ll achieve a greater, long-term reward from your effort, which can also help maintain motivation.
If you’ve ever suffered from, or someone close to you has suffered from, a serious health concern or illness, you will likely find that the health rewards really hit home and serve to keep you going when you’d rather not.  If you haven’t suffered from a health concern yet, it would be wise to make a list of all the health benefits that you know you’ll receive from your workouts and look over this list frequently. This will remind you of what you can achieve by sticking with the lifestyle goal.
So, as you plan your training program for the coming months, be sure you keep these goals in mind. Goal setting is one of the most critical things you can do to make sure you see success…and it shouldn’t only happen at New Years!

This Week’s Happenings in The Cave!

Monday, April 21st, 2014

cave_client-bbq6_webCave Community BBQ!
The Cave is hosting a Client Appreciation BBQ event on May 3rd from 1:00-7:00PM.  All are welcome to attend, though we will be paying extra special attention to our CrossFit community! They have worked very hard this year and deserve some home cookin’ and some fun!
If you’re looking to show off your awesome paleo (or non-paleo) cooking skills, you’re in luck for this is a pot-luck event.  The Cave will provide the bulk of the food and drink, but feel free to bring a dish to share! Come prepared to participate in some fun games and contests for prizes.  Who doesn’t love an old fashioned water balloon toss or three legged race? It is important to note that The Cave will NOT be providing child care at this event, however, children are welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!

Kid’s Night Outkno_hotdog
Next Kid’s Night Out is April 26th.  It’s Sports Night, with hot dogs for dinner!

At Kid’s Night Out your child will have 4 1/2  hours of non-stop activities! Children will play themed games, win prizes, enjoy free play and/or skill work, do crafts, eat a gluten-free meal, and settle in for an age-appropriate movie at the end of the night.

Reserve your space now by e-mailing or calling (415)927-1630. $45 at the door or $35 in advance. 25% off sibling discount

Fantastic Acrobatic AcroYoga Workshop
May 18th 1:00 - 3:30PM

Combining partner yoga, partner acrobatics, and healing arts, AcroYoga helps build strength, confidence and trust.  Who wants to be fantastic when you could be Acrotastic?!  This workshop is guaranteed to make you work hard and gain skills while having a blast!  Come learn the ways and leave happy!  Space is limited so please register early!   AcroYoga beginner and intermediate levels welcome.

AcroYoga is an incredibly fun way to bust through fears, build trust in one’s abilities, form powerful friendships and large amounts of confidence. Crystal Hatzimichael is both an experienced AcroYoga teacher and a Thai Yoga Massage Therapist. Reserve your space now by e-mailing or calling (415)927-1630. $35


Summer Camps

If you like the idea of keeping the kids healthily active during the summer (while giving parents a few hours break),  check out our Summer Camp schedule below!  Then be sure to register NOW as these classes fill up FAST!

Summer Camps:

What to Bring to a Paleo Barbecue!

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

What to Bring to a Paleo Barbecue!
slaw1I love a party and especially enjoy making food to share, so reading Dana’s post yesterday about the upcoming Cave barbecue got me thinking about what I might bring. My mind jumped immediately to the coleslaw recipe below that I got from my sister-in-law last year and have been making just about every week since. It makes tons and is equally great for a summer soiree or a virtuous snack because despite the quantity, it disappears almost as quickly from the fridge as it does from a party, it’s so delicious!


  • half a head of a small red cabbage
  • half a head of a small Savoy cabbage (alternately you can use 3 - 4 cups shredded Napa or Green cabbage)
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled & trimmed
  • 2 ripe red bell peppers, washed and seeded (omit if strict Paleo as these are nightshades)
  • 1 bunch cilantro


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (for strict Paleo use 2 T fresh lemon juice and 2 T fresh lime juice plus 1 T lemon and/or lime zest)
  • 1/4 cup tamari (for strict Paleo use coconut aminos, can be found at Whole Foods)
  • 1 T prepared mustard

1. In a food processor fitted with a slicing blade, thinly slice both cabbages. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. Swap slicing blade with a grating blade; grate carrots and transfer to bowl with cabbages.
3. Slice bell pepper into easy bite-size bits; add to cabbage.
4. Loosely chop cilantro and add to the big bowl. Mix well.
5. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well and pour one third of dressing into bowl at a time, mixing well after each addition and stopping when flavor suits your taste. If any dressing is left over at this point, save to drizzle later over individual servings as desired. Will keep a week in the fridge, but I guarantee it will disappear well before then!

Ogar Strong — The T-shirt

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

1528588_300947620052814_1530693483_nOn February 4th, The Cave participated in the Kevin Ogar WOD and participants generously raised money to help put Kevin on the road to recovery.  Kevin Ogar was paralyzed in a freak accident that occurred at a CrossFit competition.  His story is heartbreaking and his strength is equally inspiring.  Since his accident, he continues to train and he even participated in a modified version of the Open. 1613798_314835318664044_439002557_n Kevin continues to show grace with his positive outlook and motivation.

We can follow his journey through the Ogar Strong Foundation page on facebook:

Now, there is another way we can support Kevin by rocking the official Ogar Strong tee! 100% of all sales from each shirt will go directly to Kevin. Let us know if you get one so we can plan a group picture!

14.2 — So, how are your hands feeling???

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

After 14.2, I am torn up!  I ripped 3 times on Friday’s first attempt, and 2 more times on Monday’s final go at it.

To the athletes who gave 14.2 a try (or several):  Congratulations!   This was a tough workout.  Not only was the overhead squat a bit heavy for some of us, but it is highly dependent on mobility.  Some of you (you know who you are) have a hard time with open shoulders and an overhead squat is sure to expose mobility limitations.  Others of you might not have been able to get that weight overhead.  Then, there was a chest-to-bar pull up…not an easy thing to do.  But, with all that said, there were A LOT of PRs on this workout!  Great job everyone!
Here is our leaderboard:

My Recap on 14.2:
My hands hurt!   My goal was to hit 200 reps, which I fell short by 2.  Fortunately, this workout put me back in Regionals contention, finishing at 44th overall (33rd on this workout).  My first attempt was 195.  Total hand and forearm failure.  My second was 198.  I don’t  think I could have done much better.
I had a feeling that overhead squats were coming, and they did!  My thoughts on having a Fran come up though, have been changed…I don’t think we’ll see pull ups again.

My Predictions:
This week we’ll see the “something heavy” or the “something long”.  Things we have yet to see are:  the wall ball, burpee, deadlift, box jump, muscle up, clean and/or clean and jerk, thruster, toes to bar, etc.

How to Prepare:

You might want to practice any and all of the above movements.  If wall balls are coming, there will be a lot of them.  Do an extra EMOM of wall balls to get your volume up.  If burpees are coming, there will be a lot of them.  Do a 30 sec on 30 sec off of burpees and box jumps, or burpees and toes to bar.  Either way, being familiar with all of the above movements will serve you well.

Shout Out:
Big shout out to Rich L. for KILLING IT on this workout!  His final score was 243.  Way to go Rich!  Rich is great at pull ups and this workout really showed his strength.

Another shout out to Mark R.  Mark probably shouldn’t do overhead squats at all.  He has been working really hard to fix his shoulder mobility, but its not quite there yet.  Mark did 3 overhead squats, 3 more than he has probably ever done.  Great job Mark for signing up and PRing on lots of things!

Until Thursday at 5pm, continue training hard and keep up the good work.  Stretch your parts and ice your bits.  3 more weeks of competition to go!

The Movement Gym Revolution Part 1: CrossFit.

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

I consider CrossFit to be a part of a larger “Movement Revolution”.  CrossFit uses the slogans and catch phrases that actually apply to several other physical activities and interests that resemble it  in theme, at least in terms of “functional fitness and compound movements” vs. “isolation movements”.  The Mixed Martial Arts revolution developed in full force in the 90’s and MMA has often been referred to as the fastest growing sport in the world, at least until recently.  Now parkour and freerunning are claiming their own explosive niche in the functional movement revolution, but more on those two in a subsequent blog posts.  CrossFit is the most accessible of these activities, presenting itself as a protocol for elite fitness, yet a viable gateway to entry-level training through the scalability of the movements and exercises involved and as such, has the broadest potential market.

Let’s take a look at the explosive growth of the CrossFit community by the numbers:

Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:

History and contributors

Greg Glassman founded CrossFit, Inc. in 2000.[16][30] … Coaches associated with CrossFit include Louie SimmonsBob Harper and Mike Burgener. Another CrossFit subject matter expert is Dr. Nicholas Romanov, inventor of the Pose method of running.

[I'd also like to add that The Cave's co-founder, Roger Harrell, was also considered an early contributor to the CrossFit community in the gymnastics arena, as was Jeff Martone in kettle bell training, Mike Rutherford in dumb bell training, Rob Wolfe in nutrition, John Hackleman in combatives, Jesse Woody in Parkour, and Mark Rippetoe in power lifting among others, even though they aren't mentioned on the wikipedia article.]

Also from wikipedia:

“The first affiliated gym was CrossFit North in Seattle, Washington; there were 13 by 2005 and more than 4,300 today.[31]

A more recent count of CF affiliates (Nov. 11th, 2012) according the the affiliate finder map shows the following breakdown of affiliates by region:

Australia, New Zealand & Pacific: 327

Asia:                                                             40

Africa / Middle East:                              62

Europe:                                                      388

South America:                                         60

Western United States:                      1599  (very rough East / West breakdown)

Eastern Unites States:                        2213   (very rough East / West breakdown)

Total:                                                    4,689

This month (Nov. 2012) there were 22 new affiliates.  I have a vague recollection of someone asking Greg Glassman at the 2010 Filfest (affiliate owner gathering) where he saw the growth of world wide CrossFit affiliates peaking out at.  Glassman’s response was something like:  ”I don’t know… 10 thousand?? 15 thousand??  I honestly don’t see a reason why 30 or 40 thousand affiliates world wide would not be sustainable.”

It is notable that CrossFit Marin (Now The Cave) was roughly the 127th affiliate (according to my vague recollection, we may have been the 105th??)   We are currently listed as 103rd in the CrossFit main page, registering our affiliate in the fall of 2005.  At it’s inception CrossFit Marin had two trainers, myself and Roger Harrell working part time.  Today The Cave employs  about five full time and six part time staff members and has hundreds of clients including the gymnastics, parkour and judo programs.  In July 2007 I dragged Russell Bruel down to Aromas, Ca with me to compete in the first CrossFit Games.  We were the only two athletes from CrossFit Marin.  I came in roughly 20th out of a field of 40. This year we had dozens of athletes who competed in the CrossFit Games Open with a couple of our girls going to regionals and one athlete going to the CrossFit Games Finals in the master’s division.

Here are some videos relating to the growth of the CrossFit community.  There are six in all, so maybe just pick a few to watch so you don’t get bored.  It will be interesting to see for how long CrossFit can sustain its current growth and to see how it will compare to the other disciplines that are rapidly gaining popularity and exposure.