Posts Tagged ‘crossfit’

I feel like enough time has gone by for me to finally talk about this. People always seem to ask “what’s the worst thing that happened when you travel?” Expecting to hear a story like this (or of being poorly kidnapped).

In reality- more bad stuff has happened to me in the states/Canada (email hacked, credit card fraud, car broken into, held at needle-point, assault, sexual harassment, etc) than when traveling. I guess we’re programmed to ignore these facts and just believe that the rest of the world is far more scary than our own. Probably because it’s unknown and unfamiliar.

I’ll get back to that.

I got mugged because I was careless and stupid.

Let me back up.

  1. I was walking up an unpopulated hill in daylight (normally- this is fine),
  2. listening to Ted talks on my phone. (Again- normally this is fine)
  3. but I was trying to pick one I hadn’t heard before- therefore- I was paying more attention to my phone than to what was around me (fatal mistake).

I didn’t even see this hooded figure come up next to me. He tapped me on the shoulder and said something about money. I ignored him, thinking he was a homeless person and went to walk away until he grabbed me and stuck a knife in my side and uttered “don’t scream”.

You know that bit in your lizard brain that tells you to fight, flight or freeze? Mine must be malfunctioning because I thought all 3 at the same time.

He got impatient and grunted “Give me money.”

The thoughts that raced through my head were like a channel-flipper.

  • “What should I do?”
  • “Seriously? This is happening?”
  • “Eh- I’ll just reboot my day back to the last save point.”
  • “Oh crap……. This isn’t a dream”
  • “I should kick him in the balls.” (This wasn’t a possibility from where he was physically standing).
  • “Maybe I should just do what they always do- and give him everything.”
  • “Wait- if I do that, I’ll end up with nothing. And besides- that didn’t work out for Batman’s parents.”
  • “There’s no way this guy is getting everything. Not without a fight.”
  • “He’s looking at me funny…. I should probably do something.”

I had my book bag and phone. On the back of my phone was my my-city bus card (which, by the way, in Cape Town is a master card. So, technically, it’s money.) I gave that to him. He threw that down to the ground and grabbed my phone…. MY PRECIOUS!

To most people it’s just an out of date iPhone. To me it is my camera, my microphone, my journal, my budget notes, my translator, my itinerary… And was it backed up? No. Of course not. That would be responsible……….

(Another lesson learned… Moving on.)

Then he wanted my bag as well.

Here’s where it gets complicated. My brain was saying “LN, you always just give them everything. It’s ok. Nothing is worth your life.” Except my passport, cards, first aid kit and journal was all in that bag! Ok- the first aid kit is replaceable but the rest wasn’t! Not easily! My hand-written journal had all my notes from the past month in it. I hadn’t gotten around to transposing it to my google-drive file (super slow Internet…). Besides- I have almost 95 stamps in that passport! Do you know how much of a bitch it is to get your passport replaced?!? Especially after 9/11?!?

Believe me- it’s a pain. And if you have to pick an option of dealing with homeland security or get stabbed? I pick getting stabbed every time.

So I refused to give up my bag. I gave him my best “back the fuck off” lion-stare that I’ve mastered at bars and in the bush. He grabbed the bag and tried to cut it off me. And this was HIS first mistake- because this is when I found out that his “knife” was as sharp as an envelope opener. I started screaming at this point and jumped after him.

Luckily my bag was heavy with bottled water. He panicked and threw that at me and took off- still with my phone. (My precious!)

I mustered up all my CrossFit endurance and took off after him. (Wearing chacos….) He rounded a corner where, for some miracle of gawd, a bunch of triathlon trainers were sprinting the hills. I was screaming “mugger! Thief! Stop him!” They must have heard me and they, too, took off after him.

Confession: I was impressed by this guy’s stamina. And embarrassed by my own. (If only he ran races for a living instead of getting high off backpacker’s pawned stuff! Yep. I’m passing judgement and making assumptions. This asshat had My Precious. I’m allowed.)

The particular neighborhood that I was in has “neighborhood watch” towers. Little boxes where a paid guard sits, texts all day, and makes sure nothing happens during his shift. Normally I disregard them and think they are a waste of money. Not today! Before I knew it, a guard came running out of one, and sprinted after the guy. (Mental note: South African security guards do not eat donuts on the job!) They rounded the corner and the next thing I knew I saw the guard come towards me with my phone.

MY PRECIOUS!

I offered to buy the guard lunch- but he declined and took off for his guard post which was un-manned during his act of amazing heroism.

I don’t know what happened to the thief- this seems to be a big question for people. To be honest, I don’t really care what happened to him because I ended up ok and all he ended up with a my-city bus card with 3$ on it.

Don’t let my hyperbole fool you, though. Afterwards I felt violated. Hyper aware of everything (glances, bumps and bulges in people’s coats/bags, weird smells, my gut feeling) and felt foolish for being so careless. Cape Town reminded me so much of San Francisco mixed with Melbourne that I just took safety for granted and didn’t even consider myself in a third world country (see my craptastic Internet moaning above).

The irony is that bad things happen all the time to people who aren’t paying attention. More has happened to me at “home” because I take safety for granted- when, in fact, desperate people who are looking for easy marks are everywhere.

I realize that there are heaps of exceptions to this opinion. I also realize that it’s exhausting to be hyper aware all the time- and the thought that if you let your guard down for an instant you’ll be a target is enough to make people never want to ever leave the house. So I’ll leave off with the advice I follow and keeps me sane and keeps me traveling with limited fear:

  1. Never travel with your passport if you don’t have to.
  2. There is (usually) power in groups, or advantages to walking quickly.
  3. Always back up yer crap. (Phone, journal, whatever.) Make this a weekly ritual.
  4. If you are already drawing attention to yourself (ie- if you’re the only white girl around) draw MORE attention by screaming, barking, talking to yourself/a sock puppet/whatever. What do you have to lose?
  5. A life lived in fear is a life half lived.
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I read this article this morning.  So much of it rang true that I had to stop myself from screaming “YES! ABSOLUTELY!”.

But then I remembered another article I read– and remember the community of crossfit and how powerful it is. (Note: I’m currently working on a podcast about community).

With all this- I want to share a story:

Monday was “Memorial Day Murph”- which I’ve been looking forward to for months. It’s a hellacious workout (run a mile, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, run a mile). “prescribed” is to do it while wearing full gear (or a 20lb vest). I wanted to do it while wearing a gas mask until the final mile and then seeing how long it takes me to run a mile.

I’ve done “Murph” 4 times now. It takes about an hour. The story behind the hero is actually pretty amazing and inspiring. Even though I’m not a military person- this story hits me in the feels every time I read it.

I digress.

The gym breaks down into groups. The head coach, knows that I wanted to do this with a gas mask. He knows my physical goals (of wanting to climb mt. kilimanjaro, training with a gas mask, etc.) He has allowed me for countless practices to use the gas mask while working out. No problem. I know my limits, I’ve never had problems, etcetc.

That morning, his wife, who is “medically trained” told me that I couldn’t wear it because “she’s concerned for my safety”.

I told her that I signed a liability form.

She said “well, but your mother would sue us if anything happened.”

I didn’t feel like arguing. I gave up and started the workout without the mask, pissed off because my whole visualization was thrown off.

After the run is pull-ups. A guy next to me was hammering out the reps and then, all of a sudden, slipped, fell off the bars and right onto his back. He spazzed a little, his eyes rolled back, he blacked out. My WFR training kicked in and I was first on the scene. I secured his head and checked for bleeding. I directed someone to call 9-11 (found out later that my dad was the one who finally got 9-11 on the phone… Not the head coach. Not his “medically trained” wife. She was “trying to” but “couldn’t get the phone to work”. Not the doctor who works out there…. My dad. A patron. An Eagle Scout. I digress again.) He came to, opened his eyes (they were PERRL) but he was still unresponsive to verbals. I asked someone what his name was and asked if he could hear me to open his eyes. He opened them. I pinched his ear, he winced. Good. I explained what happened in small, slow words (not hard for me seeing that my vocabulary is tiny, anyway). I asked him if he could move his fingers and toes. I asked him if I could palpate his body for injuries. I got down to his waist and the “medically trained” staff member came onto the scene and encouraged him to sit up and drink water (funny- I wasn’t taught that in WFR training….)

The paramedics arrived, I delivered my “SOAP report”. They seemed thankful that someone on-scene was trained enough to give such a report. (heh).

He walked to the ambulance and that’s when I continued my workout.

Where was the “medically trained professional”? She showed up on scene when the paramedics did- which was 10 minutes after the incident. The head coach- as soon as made sure that 9-11 was called, continued his workout.

I couldn’t be more disgusted by those decisions. The people who said, not 15 minutes before, that “our member’s safety is our number one concern” were too busy working out and not paying attention to what was going on.

Part of me is glad that I didn’t wear the mask because what would have happened if I *DID* pass out? Would the “medically trained” individual sat on me with a plastic bag? I shudder at the thought. I’ve been debating what to say to the head coach in explaination of why I’m canceling my membership. “Sorry- but I was (poorly) kidnapped in Ecuador and survived the worst Typhoon in history but what makes me really scared is your gym.”

I’ve been to 42 boxes in the world and as much as I didn’t want to agree with it, I find a lot of truth in the first article. It *does* only take 16 hours to get “certified” to teach crossfit level 1. In some countries in the world, you don’t even need that. The lack of safety and the push of “go bigger, go stronger” is prevalent and obvious. Sometimes, this is a key part of the culture. Personally, I had been lifting overhead stuff incorrectly for the past 3 years and it took a Clinical Myotherapist  (my flatmate when I lived in Oz) to diagnose what was going on after my arms went numb after running a 10k (not the 35 crossfit coaches that I had trained under at some point……)

HOWEVER! There is a sense of community that can’t be ignored. Crossfit is this place… this safe haven… where everyone wants me to do well. Where everyone is cheering for me. Where everyone experiences the same terribleness and gets through it, together. THAT is why I “do crossfit”. 

I think this paragraph (of this guy’s blog) sums up my attitude nicely:

CrossFit is a cult!

You’re damn right it is!  Look up the definition of cult.  CrossFitters DO care about what they do a lot.  We ARE very dedicated to our passion.  If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right!  I LOVE my CrossFit family.  There is no more supportive, more highly motivated group of people that I’ve ever met.  Go to a college football game and see all the ugliness from opposing fans.  Curses, derogatory names, threats of physical violence, all are very present.  Go to a CrossFit competition and watch everyone cheer for each other. It’s that simple.  CrossFit is love people.  If you want to hate on love, I guess you’ve told me everything I need to know about you.

 

 

Now… If only I can find a safer way to do it….

Crossfit Fuse was opened by Troy back in 2011. I was, (we think) athlete #12.  Now it has hundreds of people walk through the door.

I recently went back to Seattle for a visit and, of course, after 2 years of travels, I had to drop in on my old box. I felt like I was going home after being away at college for a year. Some familiar faces mixed with new- but all the expressions were the same: Glee, Bliss, Accomplishment.

The decor has changed slightly. There are more achievement-based plaques on the wall (Murph times, Cindy reps, etc) There are more racks for pullups. But the environment is still the same and the community is stronger than ever.

Troy actually does a bunch of really interesting things to build up the Fuse Community that I’m going to list in no-particular order:

1) He has special training class for aspiring coaches. Essentially, after you get your level 1 cert (1 weekend, 16 hours, 1000$USD) you are “certified to teach crossfit”. But anyone who has been to a GREAT crossfit vs a BAD one know that the coaches need to have more experience than just this weekend class. The things you need to know and see are athlete’s bodies. How they move, how they respond to cues, etc. Basically- you need experience. And that level 1 cert doesn’t give you that. Troy figured this out early and has an amazing solution to the problem that doesn’t involve unpaid internships.

2)I remembered the “monthly challenge” board where you put your name on a magnet and counted how many double-unders you did in the month. (10,000 was the goal). If you reached the goal, your name got put into a hat for a prize. The actual prizes weren’t nearly as awesome as the bragging rights you had when your name was at the top. 🙂 This still exists.

3) Whole Life Challenge. 

4) Fuse Throwdowns. (competition within fuse that is scaled and handicapped so everyone gets a fair shot).

5) Baseball/softball league signups

6) Paleo facebook pages. (to keep you accountable, people can post pictures of their food and encouragements. Changing your diet is WAY EASIER if you have a bunch of encouraging things on your FB feed- rather than pictures of drunk chicks.)

7) a PR (personal record) board (otherwise known as “the Brag Board”). A place where you can write down your personal achievements that you’re proud of.

8) The “Fuse Open”. During the Crossfit Open he divides everyone who has signed up for the open and divides them into 4 groups. The groups pick team names and colors, set up facebook pages and then a page of ‘how to earn points’. Teams can earn points in various ways:

a) showing up to class

b) wearing your team color

c) taking pictures of your paleo food

d) guessing what the open wod will be. (couplet, chipper, the moves, how many reps, etc.)

e) achieving 100 kettlebell swings = 1 point.

f) having friends come and do a workout.

g) having friends swing kettlebells with you (you need to get this on tape).

h) challenging other people in the gym to do crazy stuff. (like jump into Lake Washington… In March.)

 

There are heaps of ways to build community within your box and I may be biased, but I think Fuse does the best job of all the boxes I’ve been to so far.


 

I showed up on a Saturday and asked if we could do my favorite WOD of all time:

The Zombie Apocalypse team-wod

-divide group into 2

-everyone runs 200 meters. Slowest member’s group (zombies) needs to push a 400lb sled 200m first while faster group (humans) does “work”. Once the zombies are back, the group switches. Keep repeating until one group finishes.

WORK:

300-wallball (brain toss)

300 pullups (blood on the bars)

300 doubleunders (suppression fire)

600lb sandbag drag (50m) (injured buddy)

300 box jumps (jump high or die)

600lb “dead-body move” 200m (with or without sled).

 

(Note: It’s easier the more people you have in your group. You also have to pace yourself. With 8 people per group it took 32min. With 5 people per group it took 45 min.)

 

With all this said: I had someone ask me “You went to Fuse- but that was ages ago! Would you go back?” And the answer is a resounding “YES!”. If you want to be trained by athletes who LOVE what they do and are passionate about making you comfortable, stronger and better- then go check out Fuse.

Today I went to Jab Crossfit near the University District in Seattle, WA. My friend Carissa works here (I’ll be taking her kickboxing class next week- so wait on a follow-up blog on that!) and convinced me to do the last wod of the open with her.

14.5…. guh. 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 thrusters and burpees. I’ll kevetch about that later.

Alpha Martial Arts is a kickboxing, karate dojo and crossfit box all in 1. They have kid classes and multiple spaces so nothing seems chaotic, but it’s awesome that you can drop your kids off and go work out yourself. (FAMILY WORKOUTS!).

They are a small box, so my class size was perfect at 8 athletes and one amazing coach (Tyler) who’s take on crossfit is that it should be fun, “yes, we’re getting a workout, but it doesn’t have to be so serious.”

As far as the culture, Jab felt like a mini-family that was there to have fun. To work out and get the “that kicked my ass!” accomplishment feeling while smiling. Not many (if any) are there to compete, but instead to build a healthy life balance.

In regards to the community that it spawns: everyone knew everyone and the intimate details of their lives. Exhausted and out-of-breath cheering occurred during the WOD, everyone got fist-bumps at the end. I will say that I always feel like Crossfit is a great way of networking and this box is no different. I met a bunch of people that I wouldn’t mind grabbing coffee (hey! It’s Seattle, after all!) with at some point.

In general, everyone has to go through a fundamentals class so nothing is new/scary for the new victim athlete. Tyler has the eye and drive to make your form more efficient, effective and perfect before moving onto something more difficult which I greatly appreciate. He also loves to make his programming fun. Like incorporating the PeeWee Herman dance into kettlebell swings. (Yea, you read that right!)

The WOD we did was the Open’s 14.5. It was terrible. Awful. Dreadful. I’m going to do it again tomorrow. 😛

Lastly, I won’t spoil it for you- but the cool-down was my favorite part. Especially after that wod.

 

So if you’re looking for a box that will treat you like family and that you can have fun with- go check out Jab Cross(fit)! I highly recommend them. 🙂

My dad is in town for SXSW.edu (because it can still get bigger, apparently) and asked me to wake up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 to do a WOD with him at the box of my choice. I had been looking at Fortitude Fitness for a while and decided to give them a try.

Over the weekend they had moved to a new location that is freshly painted black and orange off of Airport road and we got to de-virginize the floor with our dynamic warm up, stretching and lift-prep before we tackled the Crossfit Total. (1-rep-max of strict press, back squat and deadlifts).

The class was 5 of us in total, which is great size for a 6:30am class. It may have been smaller because of the (weird/ungodly) weather that all of America (including Austin) has been experiencing lately. (The only sucky part of the WOD was that the bars were SO COLD that my hands felt like they were frozen to them. “Screw hook-grip! Wanna hold onto the bar? Just wet your hands!”)

Athan (the coach/owner who teaches at the Texas Officer Candidate School for the Texas National Guard) informed me that his subs are in the high-90s with 7-15 new members every month. They used to be a bootcamp for 18 months before opening Fortitude officially in early 2013. I asked him what made his box different and, for the first time ever, was surprised by his answer. (most people say “OUR COMMUNITY!” but they don’t really grasp WHY the community is the way it is.) Athan knows why his is awesome:

“The programming is done specifically with the intent to make my athletes feel awesome!” Basically he has a cycle of strength, endurance, cardio and hybrid. Between these the athletes will leave the gym that day feeling like they have accomplished something awesome. “That feeling carries over into their personal lives, too. Like if they are at work and their boss gives them a really hard assignment, they typically look at it and say ‘pfft. no problem!’ because they remember the wod they never thought they could do- but DID.”

And because Fortitude hones in on that “I feel awesome/accomplished” feeling and make that their goal, everyone joins in on the goal and all the members become a team. Just like in the military (or in any situation where you “go through the trenches” with a group of people) you bond. That bond is the community of any box.

After the WOD, I certainly felt accomplished. It has actually been about a year since I did a CF Total and it’s always nice to do benchmarks to see where your numbers stand in comparison to last time.

Another thing that Athan does is mix up the WODs to incorporate “odd” (unique) moves that he has used in the military. Things like “seated box jumps- for distance”, Good Mornings, and Stiff Leg Deadlifts.

Thanks guys! I’ll definitely come back (when you’re all painted/muraled up) to check out some of the more unique programming wods!

Crossfit Fogo (Austin, TX)

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Ex-er...size?
Tags: , ,

I recently went to Carnaval in Austin, which is a giant costume party with a ton of half-naked people all listening to cumbia music and doing a conga line through the hordes of people. Fun times! Besides the band there was also a bunch of Capoiera fighters/dancers in between sets and off in corners showing off. Apparently those dancers were from Capoeira Evolucao’s/ Crossfit Fogo’s Studio!

Part of my personal goal of 2014 is to get enough core strength to do this:

Spoiler/confession: I have a long way to go. :-\

So I went to Fogo Crossfit expecting a new crossfit experience- one based on calisthenics- and I wasn’t disappointed. The WOD was a twist on an old favorite: “Deck of Death”- but everyone got their own deck and got to cycle through the hell/death/deck on their own pace. (I appreciate this!)

The 4 elements were

    • Burpees,
    • “hard-core situps” (kinda like a reverse burpee: with a weight above your head, you lay down on the ground, do a situp/stand up and put the weight over your head).
    • jumping lunges
    • ball slams
    • 100 mountain climbers when you hit a joker

The class was small (4 athletes plus 1 coach) and the gym itself has hard-wood floors and a full-wall mirror (used for the Capoeira class) along one wall and a beautiful mural on the other. It’s a slightly smaller space, but for the amount of people that are there for crossfit, it’s perfect.

(Note: They are moving this summer to a much larger location, which I hope to see someday! Individual sections for Crossfit, Capoeira and Yoga!)

In probing the coach, she admitted that this box has a does a lot of creative movement lifting. Like “bent over press
and doing hellacious workouts on Thursdays. (like 10 burpees, EMOTM for 30 minutes).
/wrists
I will give them credit, though, it seemed that the most important thing that they focus on is technique and form. The head coach (Brian) will work with you and stress getting great/perfect technique before you are allowed to move up in weight- which is really refreshing.

They also really encourage you to get “whatever you want” out of your workout. Do you want to be faster? Do you want to be stronger? Do you want more of a cardio or weight-lifting workout, today?” It’s up to you to scale it however you want to and set goals for yourself.

The coach that I trained with was Kelly- who was a ray of sunshine and happy to answer all the questions that I pestered her with. Alex, the owner (and the coach of Capoeira) also had an infectious happy attitude and just wanted to make people happy and healthy (using any exercise he could). After my Deck of Death, though, I couldn’t move, let alone do another class that required coordination- so I’ll be joining them again for the (free-first time) drop-in Capoeira class.

For those who don’t know what Capoeira is, here is a video. It’s basically martial art fighting, but without touching the other person while looking graceful.

If you are looking for something different than your average crossfit/work out regime and want to feel like a graceful badass, I would highly recommend checking these guys out! 🙂

 

 

Philip Tamez was sick of working in corporate America and needed something else in his life. He started a box in his gym and then inspiration hit him one day that said “I enjoy helping people get better. Improving people’s lives. I’m doing it for fun, I should do it as a career!” So he quit in July 2012, moved the box down the street to a bigger location and that was the birth of Crossfit Bulletproof. Now they have 135+ monthly members. Truly a success story.

I won’t lie- this is very parallel to my life as well. Wanting to just better people’s lives that are around me instead of working for some scmuck in an office that I can’t wait to exit from so I can go to the gym and hang out with my friends. It’s the last part that Bulletproof has acknowledged and made sure to emphasize.

Sure, it’s a gym, but it’s a social hour. Not in the aspect of talking- I think I gasped a few words to a few people during the rests- but there was a softball-team sign up (with 36 names on it), rockclimbing events, happy-hour nights and kid-days posted on a littered cork-board on a wall.

I had come early and watched the 20+ “newbie” class knock out the “Grace + Elizabeth” wod. People of all sizes and shapes were there lifting, panting, possibly happy-crying, while 3 (sometimes 4) coaches walked around, gave tips, corrected forms and broke down the movements for the other athletes.

They have a “level 2” class, which is designated for people who have been doing crossfit for a while and need minimal help on the movements. This is the class where the other coaches train and Philip was the main/master coach during this WOD. It was exciting to work with Austin’s elite. (A team is made out of these guys and then taken to competitions that random boxes around Austin hold. There’s about one every month, apparently!)

All in all, I’m glad I visited/sweat with these guys- and I would definitely check them out if you’re looking for a long-term stay. Short-term won’t cut it here… This is a family that you will become part of once you join. 🙂