Mentality

Open Ourselves Up

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Open Ourselves Up
Written by: Coach Slater

Everyone keeps certain personal things to themselves. It’s not easy opening up about anxiety, apprehension, vulnerability, etc… but opening up at the gym allows us, your Derby City coaches, to help you be a better athlete.

The other day, while coaching an afternoon class, Megan Courtney said to me, “Are you on your happy pills today?” I guessed that she thought I was unusually cheerful (maybe?), as opposed to other days. I told her that, “Coaching makes me happy”. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff that’s monotonous to me, and oftentimes boring, but important for the growth of the gym, the employment of some wonderful coaches, and the betterment of many athletes at Derby City. To me, coaching is pure fun. I enjoy coaching others and helping them find something in themselves that they didn’t think was there.

But, I know what she was saying. I can come off as a quiet and aloof. And I *know* I’m that way in the mornings. I don’t bust out of that shell until after noon, usually.

I come from a background of quietness, showcased by men who never revealed too much of anything to anyone. At least, that was my impression of the men in my family. Nowadays, I have a habit of holding onto things, and I have some tendencies toward perfectionism. Sometimes I’m a little quiet or moody, but exposing those feelings and emotions actually helps me acknowledge and quickly overcome them. Other people always seem to notice because my body language tells all.

I tell you this because, as a coach, I try to read your body language every day. There are many variables in a class setting, and there are days that I need to coach you differently than the day before. I’m not going to ask, ever, for you to talk about something you don’t want to talk about. Some days you just need to be left alone. I get it. But, when I’m having a bad day, I know it’ll be better if I tell someone that I’m a little off, or if someone calls me out on it. Opening up and showing that vulnerability can help me perform better in the gym. So, if you’re having a rough day, tell a coach and we can respond accordingly. It takes courage, but opening up allows coaches to help you more directly and it might make our hour together easier on the both of us.

I’ll help call you out if, in turn, you help call me out. Be my AccountabiliBuddy. Let’s open ourselves up.

What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)

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What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)
Written by: Coach Slater

Newbie Gainz
When you first start at Derby City, it’s almost a guarantee to PR every time you step in the gym. In the first 8 months, you’re gaining muscle and losing body fat at a crazy pace. You’re exposing your body to new stimulus, learning new techniques every single day, and your body is physiologically adapting as a result. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that these gainz will continue in a linear fashion forever. You’re going to clean a gazillion pounds in six months, or you’re going to win the CrossFit Games in two years.

What’s happening in this newbie phase is called neurological adaptation, which means that you are causing a large number of neurons to fire rapidly in a more synchronized way, enabling you to rapidly lift heavier weights. So, your muscles aren’t necessarily growing yet, you’re just training your nervous system to create more efficient pathways. After your body begins to cement the neurological adaptations, then you’re able to push yourself harder and harder, triggering muscular adaptations, which is when muscles grow and get stronger. That’s why it’s important to focus on technique when just beginning, so you’re not neurologically adapted in poor positions. You want to give your body the ideal opportunity for future growth when those newbie gainz slow, to not create muscular imbalances by recruiting the wrong muscles in a particular movement.

So, when your typical neurological adaptations slow (aka, your newbie gainz stall), you begin to rely on muscular adaptations. This is the phase where discipline and dedication are needed, because you’re no longer setting new PR’s every time you walk in the gym. It “feels” like you’re flat-lining, but you’re not. You’ve just progressed to the next inevitable step in your training evolution. Now is when you need to find discipline to stay consistent with your workout frequency, nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction. Whereas you were once focused on achievement every time you first walked in the door… “first pullup, first bodyweight back squat, first snatch over whatever pounds”… you need to discipline yourself to focus on “progress” now. Achievement is so ingrained in our culture that we often ignore progress. But, you’re in this for the long haul, right? Now’s when you prove it with discipline and consistency. That’s what you do when you newbie gainz stall.

Ruining Your Newbie Gainz
Let’s go back to the beginner phase I mentioned earlier to talk about how you could be hurting your future progress by undereating. You can make gainz in that neurological adaptation / beginner phase while in a caloric deficit. You could come into Derby City, undereating because you think that’s what you have to do to maintain the body you want, while actually doing damage to yourself, and still make gainz. You could eat only 500 calories a day and still PR your back squat every week because your brain is just learning to do the movements efficiently. You haven’t really hit overload yet. But… when you finally do hit that point, you’re going to regress and you’re not going to like it. Now you’re under-recovered and going into a negative hormone state. Maybe you’re wondering why that awesomeness couldn’t last forever? Well, you have to adapt. What works today isn’t going to work next year.

This is the first time your body has done this kind of training, and your body doesn’t know any better than to adapt. Now the next bikini season rolls around and you think, “Well, 1,000 calories worked last year. Let’s do 800 calories this year.” But, you find that you can’t lose weight, or worse yet, you gain weight. Your body learned to create homeostasis at 1,000 calories, so there’s no longer a caloric deficit which will work. Your body is going to remember the stimulus that took you into adrenal fatigue and it’s not going to allow you to get there again. So, typically, you dig harder and add more volume via running or extra “cardio” outside of the gym, without fixing the real issue related to your recovery/nutrition. You’ve metabolically adapted to undereating and now you have to start from scratch to reteach your body how to eat and produce.

So, using this theoretical 1,000 calorie human, they can’t just start eating 2,200 calories tomorrow, like maybe they should have been doing the entire time. What if they’ve been eating 1,000 calories/daily for years now? Well, if they start eating 2,200 calories now, they’re going to gain weight incredibly quickly and lose trust in the process. Instead, they need to slowly adjust by gradually increasing calories, basically starting a metabolic repair program. Specifically, I suggest keeping your protein intake constant at around 0.8g/lb of bodyweight and adding 5-10% to your total carbs and total fats each week until you get to a “more reasonable” total number of macronutrients based on your lean muscle mass, body fat, and activity level. I like to suggest Carbs at 0.5g/lb of bodyweight for Off Days, 1.0g/lb for Easy Days where you’re moving slowly just trying to get loose for the day, and 1.5g/lb for Moderate Days at Derby City where you’re working hard, getting in a good sweat, etc… I typically hold beginners and intermediate athletes to “Moderate Days” and never progress to Heavy Days or something higher, because honestly, most people overestimate how hard they’re working.

Bringing It Home
To summarize, let me say that you needn’t be disappointed when those newbie gainz slow. It’s a natural part of your progress, and it marks the point in your fitness development where you need to learn discipline. Working out, eating right, and sleeping well should become a part of your daily regiment, just like brushing your teeth, showering, and going to work. I included “eating right” because you could be harming your future progress by messing up your nutrition during this beginner phase. In reality, I should have said “eating right” before anything else, because nutrition should be at the base of your fitness pyramid. It’s importance can’t be overstated. If your newbie gainz stall completely, the answer is always the same: you’re not eating enough, and you’re not recovering. Recovery is made possible by food and sleep. Set yourself on a path for future success.

References
Predicting metabolic adaptation, body weight change, and energy intake in humans”, Hall, Kevin.

Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans”, Muller, MJ.

The Truth About Metabolic Damage”, Teta, Dr. Jade.

Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy

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Don’t Be Your Own Worst Enemy
Written by: Coach Slater

You may have heard that Coaches Lexi and Steve had the opportunity to attend a special training camp in New York recently. Two of the big takeaways from the weekend were “intensity” and “mindset”. I asked Coach Steve if he’d like to write about what he learned, and he’s working on that article now. In the meantime, I wanted to touch a little on the “mindset” concept, because every week, I see someone having a string of bad training days, and I want to remind you: don’t be your own worst enemy.

Feeling like you’re in a rut with your training is frustrating. You know you can perform better, and you know how to perform better, but something just isn’t clicking. There are times when we need a confidence boost; a reminder that we’re much better than we think we are at that moment. Here are ways to break out of your rut.

Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself
I put this first, because it’s the easiest trap to fall into. If you tell yourself a workout is going to suck, you’re probably right. Your body can handle so much more than your mind thinks it’s capable of. When you feel like dropping the bar, knock out five more reps instead, then decide what to do next when you get there. Maybe you’ll tell yourself to do another three reps. If you take a break, don’t sit there and think about it. Don’t question your ability. Get back on the bar and move. Don’t leave the workout with regrets or questions.

Did you trip up on a few box jumps? Did you miss a couple snatches? Did you no-rep yourself on some handstand pushups? Did you not get your toes to the bar this week, but last week you did? That doesn’t mean you suck at those movements, and it doesn’t mean you’re never going to get them right. An isolated incident doesn’t mean you’ll never improve. You can decide to keep a positive mindset and avoid an over-generalization. Stop yourself, recognize this negative feeling, and don’t do it again.

Don’t Be a Victim
Someone with a positive mindset doesn’t complain, cast blame, or find excuses. Negative mindsets are contagious, so one of the best ways to avoid that kind of helplessness is to surround yourself with positive, motivating people. They view events with positivity. They’re not victims. They express gratitude for small things… Did you get a PR today? Did you reach 90% with better technique than last week? Did you perform one more pushup when you didn’t think you could? Great work! You can teach yourself to not be afraid of success by building on this small win. Acknowledge how good this moment feels, so you can visualize it later.

Let Go of Your Ego
You can’t reasonably expect yourself to be good at something before you even try it. And, comparing yourself to others, or being worried about failing is just holding you back from doing your personal best. Get rid of your need to win, or lift something heavier than Jane Doe, or avoid being the last person working in a WOD. If you’re too worried about “putting yourself out there”, you’re going to avoid your weaknesses, and never give yourself a chance to improve. You know full well that the only way to grow is to try things out of your comfort zone. Improving is all about being better than you were yesterday, so have confidence in your ability to adapt.

Help Someone Out
The previous three issues are inward-facing, but this last one is about shifting focus from yourself to others. The way you act and think toward others has a big effect on how you act and think towards yourself. Be more kind to other people, and you tend to be more kind to yourself. Congratulate someone on their performance in today’s WOD, and you may find yourself being more accepting of your own performance. You can’t be your own worst enemy if you’ve changed your focus to help someone out instead. Self-pity is easy, but luckily, it’s also easy to be nice to someone else.

Trust the Process

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Trust the Process
Written by: Coach Shark

Excuses are like assholes. We all have them and they all stink.

When did we become a society of excuse makers? Our grandparents would have had a shit-hemorrhage if they heard some of the ridiculousness I hear from some people on a daily basis. And the worst part is, not that we are making the excuses, but rather that we actually believe them. I hear it everyday – “I’m following the diet, but I’m not making any progress.” “I only drink on the weekends.” “This programming doesn’t work for me.” “I’m insulin resistant.” Blah blah blah. I know these excuses, because I’ve used these excuses. Yeah, you read that correctly. I was that guy at one point in my life. Sure, I was nipping at the heels of a 600lb back squat and front squatting over 500lb, but I was incredibly unhealthy. Weighing in around 290lbs, I was the poster child for prediabetes. My resting heart rate was close to triple digits and my blood pressure was through the damn roof, and all I really wanted was to be lean.

But I was lying to myself. I was my own worst enemy.

I was one of those arrogant assholes that believed I was different, that the rules of thermodynamics didn’t apply to me. “It’s not that I’m gaining weight because my calories-in are greater than my calories-out, it’s that I don’t process carbohydrates very well.” Excuse me, but horse shit. Does this sound like you? If it does, stop what you’re doing and smack yourself in the head. YOU ARE LYING TO YOURSELF.

You can attribute similar excuses to the athletes that believe that they aren’t making any progress because of the “programming”, or the “coach”, or the “gym environment”, etc… Who exactly are you trying to fool? Yes, your coach may be an asshole, he might think he hung the moon, but chances are he’s actually looking out for you. So let’s look at the facts – you’re in the gym, you’re putting in work, and yet you’re not making any progress. Well, sorry to tell ya, but it’s probably because of what’s going on outside the gym rather than inside that’s hindering your success.

You think you need two-a-days? Nope. You think you need to squat 4 days a week? Nope. You think this Russian program is better than that German program and Misfit vs Outlaw vs Invictus yadda yadda yadda. You probably need to have fewer bourbons, fewer late night trips to T-Bell, a few more hours of sleep, or just take better care of yourself in general.

Love yourself. Stop lying to yourself. Stop placing blame on others. Trust the process. Do what needs to be done.

Coach, I Can’t Hit 80% Today (or, Gauging Your Rate of Perceived Exertion)!

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Coach, I Can’t Hit 80% Today (or, Gauging Your Rate of Perceived Exertion)!
Written by: Coach Slater

Not every day is the same. Not every day progresses the way we’d like. Maybe you didn’t sleep well because your kid was up sick all night, or you forgot to eat all day because your boss has you on a new project, or you drank too much over the weekend.

As a result, sometimes the percentages on the board just *aren’t* going to happen today. You try to make it happen, but you end up walking a few steps to catch that last power clean or kinda good-morning-ed that last back squat. But hey… you got the lift, right? Not really. We want every rep to look the same, just as it does for high-level CrossFitters, Olympic Weightlifters, gymnasts, track & field athletes, you name it. We want to see consistent mechanics in order to see progress. But, our bodies don’t always comply, and that’s fine. That’s part of training.

When 80% feels like 286%, go down to 70% and finish the sets/reps while moving well and ingraining that proper movement, rather than moving poorly and potentially starting a bad habit. Today’s workout isn’t the end-all-be-all. What’s more important is the hundreds of workouts you’ll perform over the course of a year.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (or RPE)
So, why does 80% feel like 286% sometimes? Let me now tell you a little about RPE. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says that “the RPE scale is a psycho-physiological scale, meaning it calls on the mind and body to rate one’s perception of effort… The RPE scale measures feelings of effort, strain discomfort, and/or fatigue experienced during both aerobic and resistance training.”

Said plainly, RPE is a subjective measure of how hard you feel like you’re working during a set or workout. While you may assume that 225lbs should always feel lighter than 275, 315, 355, 405, that’s not always the case. As mentioned before, if you slept poorly or didn’t eat, then that 80% is going to feel much heavier.

But, here’s where you can better use our listed percentages as a guideline to help you lift more efficiently, based on how you feel that day.

RPE Scale
Instead of seeing 80% on the board, think of it like an 8 on a scale of 10, in terms of effort.

Effort Level:
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight; “speed weight”, 4-6 reps left in the tank
8: Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed but isn’t a struggle; 2–4 reps left in the tank
9: Last rep is tough but still one rep left in the tank
10: Maximal, no reps left in the tank

Hopefully this scale can help you be honest with yourself and see that what’s important isn’t just the weight on the bar, but how the weight on that bar feels at this exact moment. The flip-side of this new knowledge is that sometimes your 80% will only feel like 60%. And on those days, crush it. Add more weight. Having the ability to increase (or decrease) you intensity based on how you feel is great for making better progress. Our programming will fluctuate percentages, but you have the freedom to adapt on the fly, based on how you’re feeling.

Nutrition & Mentality for Your First CF Competition

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Dividing this post into two parts, to give you some insight on what to eat before, during, and after your first competition, and to help prepare you mentally for what’s in store.

First, let’s look at NUTRITION.

Night Before
Don’t carb-load with a cheat meal in case your stomach doesn’t react to something well. Just eat a normal meal of protein, fat and carbs like sweet potatoes, rice, red meat, chicken with avocado, etc…

Morning Of
At least 2.5hrs prior, get in another normal meal of protein, fat and carbs. This meal is the last time you’ll have fats until the end of the day, so add some bacon to your eggs, sweet potatoes, or if you eat dinner for breakfast like me, then just have another meal of red meat and rice medley.

30min Prior to First WOD
I like to have a carb shake 30min out, to kind of top off the tank. So, I use dextrose here (25g of carbs) but if you don’t have time to buy dextrose and have it arrive before next week, then a mushy banana would work.

Post-WOD and Between WODs
Throw down a shake consisting of 2:1 carbs-to-protein immediately after your workout. Something like a protein shake in coconut water or Gatorade works.

If you have another 2hrs before your next WOD, then you may want to get some solid food down, like another banana or rice and a little chicken, but no fats. Fats will slow down digestion and we need to absorb these proteins and carbs as quickly as possible. If you’re not able to eat; if you’re like me and your sympathetic nervous system is too jacked up after a WOD, then going liquid is fine. Just get in the nutrients. If you’re sticking liquid, and you did your protein and carb shake post-WOD, then you may want to add another pre-WOD shake before each WOD. Also, be careful not to OVER-hydrate between WODs. So, don’t guzzle too much coconut water or Gatorade.

Post-Comp
I’m of the belief that you can go full-bore once the comp is over. You basically haven’t had much food all day long and this meal is your first opportunity to add fat back, so go for it. A triple cheeseburger and a shake or four root beers isn’t uncommon for me after a competition. Your next meal can be more inline with your normal protein, fat, carb healthy meal.

Second, let’s look at MENTALITY

Be Ready
No one is going to call your name out when it’s your time to go. Be aware of which heats are going and what time you go. It can be chaotic at a competition, so pay attention. Get there early, look for the other Derby City folks, throw your stuff down together, and familiarize yourself with everything going on around you.

Relax
I can’t stress enough the importance of relaxing. Don’t over-hype yourself before or between WODs. Your body is being exposed to an unusual stimulus with this many workouts in one day; so, you want to get it UP as you walk out on the floor for your WOD, then you immediately want to begin to relax afterwards. You may even want to lay down between WODs, by getting off your feet and calming down. When it’s close to your next WOD, warm up again, but keep your adrenaline in check until it’s go-time. Then unleash hell when the WOD starts.

Have Fun
Enjoy the experience. Don’t forget to cheer. Be a supporter of the athletes around you. Don’t get mad if an athlete in a nearby lane bumps you on accident, or takes a spot you had eyed on the pullup rig. It’s tight quarters and everyone’s just trying to move quickly. Also, don’t get mad at a judge if he/she miscounts a rep or two. Just move on and focus on the next rep.

Lastly, you’re likely to perform much differently than you expected in this competition environment. Likely, much better. So, enjoy it, throw out some high fives, and smile.

Use Your Heart Rate Monitor to “Go Harder” in 2016

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I was asked recently about how to set a goal to “go harder” in 2016. If you’ve picked up your Goal Setting Worksheet, you know that this is a vague goal that we wouldn’t want you to set for yourself. We want goals that are objective and measurable. So, I suggested to this DCCF-er that he use his heart rate monitor and shoot for a “higher” heart rate at least once a week for the first two months, then twice a week for the next two months, and so on… I wanted to follow-up on that thought to give him (and you) more info on what these heart monitors are doing for us, so you can adjust your goals accordingly.

Put simply, they’re providing an objective measure of how your cardio-respiratory system is working, which you can use to gauge your intensity and either scale it back or crank it up.

Of the five heart rate zones our monitors show on the screen, here’s a quick breakdown:

Zone 1 (Gray): 50-60% – This is a comfortable zone for warmup and cool down.
Zone 2 (Blue): 60-70% – This is “average” effort which should allow you to maintain a conversation. This zone is good for maintaining your aerobic conditioning and recovery between our higher intensity interval WODs.
Zone 3 (Green): 70-80% – This “above average” effort is good for making improvements to your aerobic capacity.
Zone 4 (Yellow): 80-90% – You’ve now entered the “hard effort” zone which is good for maintaining anaerobic capacity.
Zone 5 (Red): 90-100% – This zone, where you’re going as hard as you can go, develops your anaerobic capacity.

CrossFit taxes the anaerobic system pretty regularly, so that’s why you need to be comfortable spending time in zones 4 & 5. However, some of us may find it easier to stay in zones 2 or 3, but upping the intensity to zones 4 or 5 will put our anaerobic energy system to the test. So, if this person is you or if you’re trying to “go harder in 2016”, you can use your heart rate monitor to work yourself into the red (zone 5) then stop and rest until your heart rate returns to the blue (zone 2). If you’re adding a new day to your workout week, say going from 3x/week to 4x/week, then this pattern of working to the red then resting to the blue can also help you slowly get accustomed to the additional volume. As you adjust to working in zones 4 & 5 more often, then you can stop resting once you hit red, and begin spending more time in those zones.

Keep in mind that being dehydrated can increase your heart rate by up to 7.5% and heat/humidity can increase your heart rate by 5%. Luckily, it’s the middle of January and it’s freezing outside, so you can’t use the second excuse for why you’re in the red during Monday’s workout.

Derby City Guide to Success

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We’ve just entered a new year, and we’re seeing a bunch of new faces at DCCF. Accordingly, we thought it would be good to refresh our Derby City Guide to Success… part House Rules for making all of your health & fitness dreams come true at Derby City. And part old man’s rant.

1. DON’T CHEAT! No one cares what your score was. Everyone cares if you cheated. The whiteboard is meant to inspire your best effort but it does not mean anything. You are only competing with yourself. Use the group to motivate your effort. Be honest with everyone else, and be honest with yourself. You know what full range of motion is, so there’s no excuse for shoddy reps. If someone calls you out for doing something wrong, listen to them. You’re suffering through a workout, so you might not be critiquing yourself as hard as you would normally. The person standing around watching you workout is breathing gently and probably has sub-60 heart rate. You’re halfway through Fran. You’re biased, trust us. If you lose count, the next number is always 1 minus whatever you last remember. If you know you have trouble keeping count, ask someone to count for you. If you want to get on a leaderboard, you must have someone count for you. If no one saw it, it didn’t happen.

2. BE UNCOMFORTABLE! Effort earns respect. Work hard. Go heavy or go home. The only way to get stronger is to increase the load. Always strive to go a little heavier and a little faster. Never say, “I can’t.” When you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. Push your limits. Intensity is what makes the program work; and what you get out of the program is directly related to how much discomfort you can endure. But, don’t forget that technique matters! You need to be good at the movements to get a great workout.

3. CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR! Somewhere a high school kid is warming up with your PR. Also, don’t drag people down with a bad attitude. Be optimistic, have fun and push yourself and those around you to do better. You are in total control of your behavior. No excuses!

4. TURN UP! Frequency and consistency of training are super important, so come to class. If you come 2x/week, try coming 3x. If you come 3x/week, try coming 4x. If you come 4x, trying coming 5x. For newbies, make sure you’re staying consistent. For old hands, don’t start thinking that it’s okay to just do your own thing whenever you want to. There’s a myriad of reasons we have class — you’re less likely to bias yourself towards the things you’re good at; you’ll get some competition; and no matter how experienced you are, you still need coaching and you can still stand to work on the basics. If want more, we have additional competitor programming at night.

5. TAKE OWNERSHIP! Be responsible and respectful and take pride in your gym. Don’t let others get away with things that are bad for them or bad for the gym. Remind people to take their clothes with them and pick up their water bottles. If you see someone doing something that you’re pretty sure will hurt them, tell them to cut it out. We don’t care who it is. You call them out. Safety first!

6. BE SOCIAL! Connect with the community. Learn names. Find friends. And do not ever… ever… ever… put away your weights because you finished the WOD but there are still others working. The first person to finish a WOD is the first person to cheer on others. There is nothing more disheartening than the rest of the class putting weights away when you have two more rounds to go. So, the next time you’re done with the WOD, look around and cheer on the person next to you. We’ve all been there before, the last person working. We all know that extra push is invaluable. Don’t be shy. Root on your fellow athletes, LOUDLY. That’s what Derby City is all about.

7. DON’T LIE TO YOURSELF! If you’ve plateaued or been in a training rut for over 6 months, then it’s your fault. There are no exceptions to this rule. It’s not the coaches. It’s not the programming. It’s not your work schedule. It’s you. You are your own worst enemy and you’re standing in the way of your progress. Cut the excuses. Listen to your coaches. Improve.

8. BE EARLY! If you’re not early, you’re late. Give yourself enough time to sign in, hit the bathroom, change clothes, and move around a little before class starts. Most likely that means showing up at least 10 minutes prior to class.

9. CLEAN UP! Put away your toys. Clean up your sweat. We wish we didn’t have to say this, but don’t spit on the floor. Don’t chew gum, and really don’t spit gum on the floor. Pick up your used tape, pens, notebooks, scrap papers, band-aids, water bottles and sweaty clothes. Put away all the equipment you used back where it belongs. Stack the boxes neatly, put the bars in the racks, stack the plates tightly in order, hang up your jump ropes correctly.

10. CHALK STAYS IN THE BUCKET! Don’t take it on a field trip around the gym and don’t use it to write on the floor. You can walk over three feet and bend over another two feet to put your hands in the bucket and *gently* apply some chalk before continuing your set. You don’t need it next to your bar, pullup station, or wherever else. Keep it in the bucket. Both the chalk blocks and the chalk dust.

11. RESPECT THE EQUIPMENT! Drop as a last resort. Put things down gently. Dropping weight should be a necessity, not a convenience. If you only have 15s, 10s, or 5s on your bar, then you can’t drop. 25s and up only. ALWAYS keep your weight under control. NEVER drop an empty barbell. NEVER drop a kettlebell or dumbbell.

12. SPEAK UP! If you notice that equipment is broken, there’s no toilet paper, bring it to our attention so we can do something about it.

Welcome to the Fold

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-by DCCF Member, Elizabeth Ann Duncan

The other day I ran into a friend of mine who is going through some big life changes. We’ll call him Tyler, because that’s his name. One of the first things Tyler said to me was “So you’re still really into the CrossFit thing, huh? And you’ve made lots of friends? And you enjoy it? Can I call you about this soon?” Later that week I spent close to an hour preaching the gospel of CrossFit. This was very fun for me because I was at a point in my 3 years with the cult where I wasn’t … blissfully in love with it. I’ve had a nagging wrist injury and a packed work/travel/social calendar so I haven’t been seeing any big, flashy improvements this fall. But my conversation with Tyler reminded me: this place is so. much. more. than somewhere I go to workout.

He told me that he’s been working with a personal trainer lately and that he dreads going. I was being 100% honest when I said I look forward to coming to the gym, even if I dread the workout. In fact, I get pretty salty when life gets in the way and I can’t get there when I’m planning on it. The main difference I see in these two scenarios is community. To remind you, I didn’t join Derby City with a buddy or because a friend already belonged. In addition to wanting to get a workout that actually made me sweat, I’d heard of the strong communities in CrossFit gyms.

I recently read and underlined this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic:
“Whether we make a profession out of it or not, we all need an activity that is beyond the mundane and that takes us out of our established limiting roles in society (mother, employee, neighbor, brother, boss, etc.). We all need something that helps us forget ourselves for a while- to momentarily forget our age, our gender, our socioeconomic background, our duties, our failures, and all that we have lost or screwed up. We need something that takes us so far out of ourselves that forget to eat, forget to pee, forget to mow our lawn, forget to resent our enemies, forget to brood over our insecurities.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

I appreciate so much that I’ve found my activity that strips away our backgrounds, and where I forget about work and stress and responsibilities. I am so grateful for the friendships I never would have had the chance to make away from Derby City. We all bring such different things to the table, and if I don’t say it often enough, I love that about this place. I told Tyler that it’s the easiest place to make friends I’ve found in post grad life. I told him I usually text my gym friends on Friday laying out all the things we plan to do together on the weekends. Only a few of those hours we will spend working out. I’ve been to more weddings, baby showers and birthday parties than I can count, all for people I never would have met but for the gym. I explained that if you don’t show up on a night you normally come, people will wonder why and ask you about it. It’s not pushy or accusatory. It’s genuine. We like to see each other and we miss people when they’re gone. I’m convinced there’s a weird time warp within the walls , because I can go months without seeing some of my other friends, but if I go a week without seeing Derby City friends it feels wrong. And it all started with simply showing up.

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I warned him that it’s normal to feel intimidated at first, but that he had to believe me that people will be excited he’s there. I told him that I couldn’t explain how or why I was so instantly hooked, but it seemed to be a common occurrence. I told him even if he didn’t feel an instant addiction, he should stick it out and keep going, even when (not if, when) he was sore. Tyler doesn’t live in Louisville and I have no affiliation with the gym I told him to check out, other that I know there are great coaches, athletes and people there. Yet here I was, promoting it all with nothing to gain, besides hopefully another friend who wants to nerd about this stuff. It just wouldn’t be right to keep to myself a place that replaces the mundane and the stress in our lives and makes us forget our crap, even if just for an hour of the day. I think most of us would agree that it’s more than just that hour that our lives are improved.

Last night I got these texts:

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Welcome to the fold, Tyler.

Elizabeth Ann Duncan (“E.A.”) is an attorney by trade and an amateur CrossFit nerd by choice. She is grateful for the gym, for its community, and for her hobby-within-her-hobby: writing for the gym. Tyler said she could use his name as long as she made sure to tell you that she heard he ran out weight to lift at the gym.

I (STILL) *Get* to Compete: An Update

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by DCCF Member, EA Duncan

Article originally posted 9/23/13:

Lorne Michael is known to have said about his TV program Saturday Night Live “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; the show goes on because it’s 11:30.” I am competing in Kentuckiana’s Fittest this weekend, because though I may never be ready, it’s time.

Around the time I turned 1, I wrote Case at 4BCF an email that said, in slightly different wording, “I am basically terrified but I’m still thinking about signing up for Kentuckiana’s Fittest anyway… is that stupid?” Case wrote back an extremely soothing version of “You will be just fine. Come on out.” In my defense, and his, I am capable of doing everything on the event’s standards list. However, those of us familiar with soul crushing benchmark WODs know that it is one thing to look at the words “unassisted pull ups” and “65# thrusters” and think “Yeah, got that.” and QUITE another to be able to do Fran. I am more than a little nervous. I will likely be having second thoughts until the moment I am finished with my last workout. (I might have written this article in part so that I really cannot back out…) So you’re thinking “E.A., you are anxious and concerned about your ability and yet you’re going to pay someone to do Fran and some other workouts on a Saturday? WHY?!”

  • I am going to compete because I am able. There are people who want to be as healthy and capable as I am. There are people who wish they had the time and dedication I do. I choose to look at this way: I get to compete. Some people aren’t as lucky. I am competing for me and for them.
  • I am going to compete because I am proud of how much more I can do now than I could three months ago/six months ago/a year ago. And because hopefully next year I’m going to look back and think “Remember when I was scared of seeing X in a competition workout?!” (Ok, ok: X is Double-Unders. If you are DUs guru please email me immediately.)
  • I am going to compete because so much of what I love about this cult is that my inner athlete is no longer screaming to be let out. Admittedly, I’m dragging her to this level of competition somewhat unwillingly, but I’m hopeful she will surprise me once she’s there. I do a lot of preaching about this community, and competitions are such an important piece of the camaraderie building. Putting yourself side by side with athletes of all levels earns respect. In addition to your own personal breakthroughs, it gives you a chance to be part of other people’s big moments.
  • I am going to compete because then I’ve totally justified buying yet another CrossFit shirt. Oh, and I’m going to get a shirt for competing. I need more t-shirts like I need a hole in the head, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting and acquiring them. Same goes for the various CrossFit toys/accessories I have purchased and will continue to purchase. It all seems a little less ridiculous when it’s done in preparation for a competition.
  • I am going to compete because, as trite as it may be, the journey truly is the destination. When I officially signed up for this competition it may have seemed like a looming, harrowing event, but in reality it will just be another day, another stepping stone, another memory made.
  • Prior to now I have done two Friday Night Throwdowns and two WODs for charity in friendly but competitive atmospheres. I’ve also gone to watch/cheer at an additional handful of comps of varying levels. I have some idea what I’m in for. Come out Saturday and watch so that next time, you’ll be ready to compete. Well, like me, you might not feel *ready*. But it’s 11:30. Showtime.
  • Update!
    As I head into the final month before Kentuckiana’s Fittest 15 I decided to call up this old article I wrote about competing for the first time in 2013. I love what I found for many reasons. First, I love it because I did it. I was out of my league, but I did it all and I did it RXed. This was before the days of a beginners division even though that’s likely what I needed. Guess what? I didn’t die. I don’t think I even cried? We are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for sometimes.

    Additionally, I love that even the name of the article gave credit to competing because I am able, because it turns out one year later I would have to forgo participating in the same competition to recover from surgery. I continue to work out, train and compete for those who can’t and wish they could. We able bodied people owe that to ourselves and to each other.

    Finally, I want to say that I still never feel ‘ready’ to compete. I always wish I were better at [X]. (I STILL wish I were better at double unders, although I am happy to say I’ve come a long way from the utter dread I felt towards them when I wrote in 13.) It saddens me when people say “I will try that [level of competition] next time/month/year.” because I think it takes away from how far you’ve come, and puts too much pressure on where you hope to be someday. If you’re still on the fence and there are spots open in your division, join me. Admit that “ready” isn’t a prerequisite, and come out anyway. It’s almost showtime…

    Elizabeth Ann Duncan (“E.A.”) is an attorney by trade and an amateur CrossFit nerd by choice. She can’t believe time is flying by and she’s now 3 CrossFit years old. She still can’t resist buying CrossFit tshirts.