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4 Ways to Own Any Workout

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4 Ways to Own Any Workout
Written by: Coach Slater

If you’re new to Derby City, knowing how to tackle the day’s workout can help you be more successful faster. If you’re a grizzled veteran, with weathered hands callused by years of grit, creating better workout strategies can get you past that fitness plateau.

So, let’s look at four ways to own any workout:

Take Ownership of the Whiteboard
I like to look at the workout and ask myself, “How long should this take me?” I typically guesstimate the overall time by first estimating how many seconds it takes me to complete 1 rep of a particular movement in the workout, at that particular weight listed, while including typical rest time between reps. Do that for each movement in the workout, multiply those numbers by the total number of reps, and I’m beginning to get a ballpark time to shoot for. Based on the time you decide for yourself, you’ll know if this is a quick WOD (short, repeated bursts that require a lot of energy for each rep) or paced (longer, slower, more of a grind), and formulate a strategy from there.

Learn Your Speeds
Any workout longer than three minutes needs to be paced! Pacing is all about maximizing the value of a workout. Do you know what your 70% effort feels like? Can you feel your 20min metcon pace? Understanding your current exertion level is where I see a lot of people struggle. Mat Fraser has everything from an all-sprint to a three-hour pace, and he knows what all of those feel like.

You cannot approach every workout the same and expect to get better! Shorter workouts should hurt a lot more than longer ones. Back in my day, there was no pacing. We just attacked everything as hard as possible from the moment we heard 3, 2, 1, Go… and then tried to hang on. Turns out, that’s not really ideal all the time. You need to know a faster speed on your Wallballs, just as you need to know a slower speed with them. All Wallballs are not created equal. And if you *have* the same speed on your Wallballs, no matter what the workout is, you’re missing a chance to better yourself.

Focus On Your Weakness
Look at a workout and ask yourself, “Where do I expect to get in trouble?” You can do this one of two ways: a) generally and b) specifically.

A) From a wider, general perspective, maybe you expect the suck to hit in the 4th round of 5. But maybe, in the middle of the workout, you feel the suck hit in round 2? There’s a good chance you went out too fast. Duh. On the other hand, it’s possible that you make it thru all 5 rounds and never hit the wall. In that case, maybe you didn’t approach the workout with the right intensity. Maybe you’re a “pacer”, and you’re used to only going one speed, and struggle with shorter, powerful bursts. You should work at doing the opposite of what you’re used to doing. Simple, right?

B) From a narrower, more specific perspective, what if the WOD has a 15cal Bike, 12 Hang Power Cleans, and 9 Chest-to-Bars. Some may go casually thru first the two movements to be able to attack the C2B better, while a gymnast may push the bike harder knowing that they’ll kill the C2B easily regardless. So they wait to find out in round 4 or 5 that their strength (gymnastics) has now faded.

And what if you suck at everything? Scale it back to the point where you can crush it. Or, push to where your movement quality begins to fade. Or, scale the number of reps to exactly “one rep prior” where that movement usually falls apart (like chicken winging in a bar muscle-up).

Change the plan of attack based on your goals and what you’re trying to improve.

Plan for Pain
This part is arguably the most important thing for approaching a workout: preparing yourself for how bad it’s going to hurt when you get to a sticking point. Your brain has the ability to control you and will completely shut you down, if you let it. So if you think you can go as hard as possible, then go slow for a second, then go fast again, and slow again, you’re sorely mistaken. Establish a consistent pace and pay attention to it. Then, look to increase or decrease that pace as needed, but know that you WILL need to work at doing both. If you’re going the same pace all the same in all of your workouts, you’re leaving fitness growth on the table. A tip I use for helping my pace is focusing on my breath, using a rhythm of inhale-inhale-inhale-exhale.

Then, get your mind right for pain. No one ever got fitter by staying in their comfort zone. The most important part of being mentally prepared, is understanding exactly how you can be better by facing your fear. Know why you want to do this. Know you want to be better.

Meal Prep 101

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Meal Prep 101
Written by: Coach Slater

“Abs are made in the kitchen.”
“Weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise.”

You’ve heard the cliches.

The reality is that if you want to perform better in the gym and look better outside of it, you need to improve your nutrition. Meal prepping is a cornerstone of anyone who’s successfully done so. But meal prepping sounds daunting to many people, so I’m going to try to make it easier for you to tackle.

If you’re new to meal prepping, I recommend starting off by cooking on two days of the week. Try Sunday & Wednesday. Doing everything on a Sunday can be burdensome and overly time-consuming for someone new to this process, and the last thing we want to do is associate any painful thoughts with meal prepping. We want our brains to associate pleasurable thoughts to meal prepping, so we’ll keep doing it, making it a habit. And, we’ll do so by keeping it simple, and sticking to recipes with few ingredients that are easy to cook.

How Much Time Am I Saving?
First off, know that investing three hours in meal prepping is saving you a ton of time the rest of the week.

Breakfast
15min in the morning x 5 days = 1.25 hours saved
Lunch
30-45min x 5 days = ~2.5-to-4 hrs
Dinner
30-45min x 5 days = ~2.5-to-4 hrs

Save all this time throughout the week and you can use it to enjoy the things in life that you love. Is one of those things Netflix? Cool, I ain’t judging. Check out “Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee”. It’s nuts.

Preparing to Meal Prep
Before hitting the grocery store, you need a plan in mind for your meals. I’ve already recommended keeping it simple with few ingredients, so just answer two questions: Who else will partake in the meals? And how many meals do you want to make?

Afterwards, your shopping list might include stuff like this:

Protein
Chicken breast, lean ground beef, ground turkey, flank steak, turkey breast, roast beef, salmon, tilapia, tuna, shrimp, pasture-raised eggs

Starches
Sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, whole-grain tortillas, and whole-grain bread

Healthy Fats
Olive oil, almond butter, coconut oil, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, organic peanut butter

Veggies/Fruits
Spinach, kale, arugula, green beans, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, pineapple, apples, grapes, strawberries, bananas, blackberries

And don’t forget food containers… Tupperware or Pyrex. You need something to store these meals in. At a bare minimum, you want something that is BPA free, microwave safe, air-tight, leak free, freezer safe, and easily stackable. I started with plastic tupperware and have since graduated to all glass Pyrex. It’s worth the money considering how many meals I eat out of them.

The Actual Prep
Now that you’ve brought your delicious items home, you begin the actual meal prep. I typically start with the meats. If you want to marinate them, get that knocked out now. Maybe stick with one flavor for the whole week, and switch it up the following week. As for actually cooking the meats, you’ve got the option to bake, fry, or grill. Pick whatever is the most convenient for you. Here are some tips I’ve picked up from master meal preppers:

Grill – Make sure it’s hot enough before cooking so the meat doesn’t take longer to cook, which leads to your meat being exposed to smoke longer.
Bake – Add a little water to the bottom of the pan before roasting. The water will help avoid excessive smoke when the oven gets to higher temperatures.
Fry – Make sure the oil is hot enough so a crispy shell can be formed around the meat. It will also save time.

Now, get the starches rolling: rice, sweet potatoes, pasta, or anything that needs to be boiled. Get the rice going while you work on the potatoes. Season to your liking, shove them in the oven once the meat is finished (or alongside the meat so you don’t waste any time). Or knock out the potatoes on the stove.

Then, move on to your veggies. Clean everything, cut it up now, even the stuff you don’t need to cook. I find it’s easier to snack on veggies & fruits during the week if everything is already cut and ready to eat immediately. That makes my decision-making easier, which is definitely the goal with meal prep. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to make a bad decision. Also, wait to store the veggies until they’re completely dry. They’ll get soggy if you put them in the fridge while they’re wet.

And, if you feel like cooking something fresh later in the week, you’ll already have the cutting process knocked out. By doing most of the planning and prepping on Sunday, your second day of prep (Wednesdays?) doesn’t take as long.

Lastly, knock out your fats and snacks. This is easy because you’re probably just have to portion your nuts/seeds into sandwich bags or tiny plastic containers, so they’re easy to grab-and-go.

Long Term Success
Successful meal prepping means keeping things manageable for yourself, so you’ll continue doing it in the long-term. If it becomes a pain point for you, it won’t work in the long run. So, we need the process to be easy, and the pleasure you get from doing so to be significant when you find your fridge full of your hard work.

Everything I’ve listed is planned and routined, but if you don’t do well on that, then leave room for spontaneity while still working to take out some of the necessary prep work. Just eliminating a few steps ahead of time makes the actual meal creation simpler during the week. Portion the meats and veggies if you want; you don’t have to pre-cook everything if that’s not your bag. But regardless, make the process of healthy eating easier and more consistent by automating some part of the meal prep.

Once you’re done with your meal prep, it’s time to reflect. What was your favorite part of the process? What was the hardest and needs to be reconfigured, shortened, or somehow retooled so it doesn’t risk sabotaging future efforts at meal prepping? Over time, meal prepping becomes natural because you realize how valuable the benefits are. You’ll pick up more advanced techniques and refine your strategy based off your experiences.

Good luck with your meal prepping journey. Don’t hesitate to shout at me, or any Derby City coach, if you have any questions!

Why Follow Our Run Programming (Even Though You Hate Running)?

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Why Follow Our Run Programming (Even Though You Hate Running)?
Written by: Coach Slater

…because in the words of Chris Hinshaw, revered endurance Coach for AerobicCapacity.com, “We’re not trying to create runners. We’re using running to create fitness.”

Running is about training different muscle fibers and different energy systems to maximize your athletic potential. Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet was skeptical about the benefits of “just running” until she won the CrossFit Games in 2014 after making Coach Hinshaw promise to *not* work with fellow competitor Sam Briggs. (Jason Khalipa made a similar pact with Hinshaw regarding Rich Froning back in the day.) Briggs was the best female runner at the Games that year, and didn’t think she needed to train running. Hinshaw convinced LeBlanc-Bazinet that running isn’t about running. That’s the same message I’ve been learning and why I encourage you to follow our two-day-a-week run programming.

Lemme try to explain some science for a second… when working at a high intensity, your energy systems provide/release energy and convert glucose into pyruvate, which can only be used for fuel if there’s enough oxygen present. So, if your muscles are aerobically-trained (convert oxygen efficiently), then they can use this pyruvate as fuel. Otherwise, it turns to lactate, which builds up in your muscles, acting as a defense mechanism that limits your ability to contract the muscle. But, when you’re more aerobically fit, you can clear the acidity better, so you’ll continue working when you previously couldn’t.

So, running is about developing the largest muscle group in your body to clear fatigue more efficiently so you can do more work in everything else. If your legs are aerobically developed, your ability to pull that lactate out of your system has improved. Through running, you’ll find that you can do more pullups, more handstand pushups, more snatches, more thrusters, more everything. Got it?

Maybe you’re reading this and wondering why you need to worry about any of this or you don’t care about going faster in workouts. After all, you aren’t super competitive. You’re just here to be healthy. Well, this concept is important for you because improving your body’s energy systems is going to drive adaptation quicker, which means you’re going to improve and see results faster. You’ll look better, feel better, and you’ll be a more well-rounded, healthier human-being.

Or, maybe you’re asking if you can row/bike instead? Sorry, no. It’s not the same, according to Hinshaw. Running makes you support your own bodyweight more than rowing, or even swimming. Rowing or biking will tax the heart, but with running, you’re going to get more stress on all the muscles of the body, which will lead to more adaptations.

So, let’s sum it all up.

Our run programming is built directly off of Hinshaw’s Aerobic Capacity template. It’s designed to be completed twice a week, on top of our existing class programming. It doesn’t take place of anything; it merely adds to the work you’re already doing. You can complete the runs on the days it’s programmed, or fit it in wherever is more convenient for you.

See you out there!

What 10 Years of CrossFit Has Taught Me

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What 10 Years of CrossFit Has Taught Me
Written by: Coach Slater

The end of the Open has spurred plenty of DCCF-ers to reflect on their progress from the past year. Hopefully everyone has done so in a positive light. Don’t examine your Open performance and criticize yourself for a skill you’re still working to improve. The reality is that this damn thing takes patience. A lot of it.

And in that light, I want to tell you a little about what things were like when I first started CrossFit, over 10 years ago, way back in 2008 in an Urban Active off Preston Highway (but is now closed). Why should you listen to what I have to say?

To learn from my mistakes, obviously.

Don’t Do It By Yourself
I was doing some interval-style weightlifting stuff back in those days, kinda rudimentary-CrossFit, and I went looking thru the Internet for some additional programming ideas. I came across crossfit.com. I tried a few workouts, and immediately sucked my younger cousin into joining me.

We push ourselves harder in the presence of others, even if we’re not competing with them. You know it’s true, because you’ve experienced it here.

I discovered this fact at my second Fran. My first Fran (21, 15, 9: Thrusters/Pullups) was completed at that Urban Active on Preston Highway, at a time of 10:41, by myself. I would bet that a wide majority of DCCF-ers can beat that score this very instant. Unfortunately, I don’t exactly know what date I did this; but my second Fran was performed on September 15, 2008 with my cousin. I logged the date and mentioned that I beat my previous attempt by 3:11. So, my first Fran must equal 10:41. Second Fran = 7:30. Did I get that much fitter in the span of a few months? No way. I simply had someone to push against/for. It doesn’t matter that I did these with strict-ish pullups because hadn’t figured out the kip yet. What mattered was that I learned the power of not doing this sh*t by myself.

If you let it, the Derby City community can help push you to new heights, both members and coaches alike.

So, I implore you to keep learning people’s names, ask about their weirdness, share your weirdness with them, and find common ground (even if it’s just talking about how much yesterday’s WOD sucked). In the words of famed CrossFit-coach, Ben Bergeron, “Programming is overrated.” Community will make more of a difference in your overall fitness than how often you do clean and jerks. So, train in a group and then talk with us about filling in gaps in your fitness.

Which brings me to my next point…

Don’t Hide From the Stuff You Suck At
On July 11, 2008, I maxed out my full-depth squat at 315lbs. Apparently, I had been doing quarter-squats for years because that’s the range of motion that basketball/volleyball players needed, right? No. In reality, full-depth squats are hard and I hadn’t bothered to learn how to do them properly. I also had knee problems all those years ago. 10 years later, I can squat 315lbs for 20 reps and have zero knee problems. Go figure.

In August 2008, I logged in my journal that I suck at double-unders. Sound familiar?

Everything gets easier if you focus first on moving well, and only afterwards, moving quickly. No one really cares what your WOD time is. Seriously. So, you can use the WOD to practice a new skill at a reasonable speed, weight, or rep number.

Even if you never intend to participate in a Novice-level competition (or Regionals, for that matter), you can use this Derby City experience as the general fitness program it’s intended to be. Train 4-to-5 days/week and live a long, healthy life free of chronic disease while looking years younger than any of your non-DCCF friends.

The Bigger Picture
September 10, 2008, a random guy at Urban Active asks me “what are you training for?” I hope that everyone’s had that moment, either at a non-CrossFit gym or amongst their friends & family. That is a proud moment that you should relish. You’ve decided to participate in a fitness regiment that bewilders people.

Hopefully you’ve taken that opportunity to invite that person to join you at a Bring-a-Friend WOD or referred them to start Elements. Let them know they have the same potential. Tell them how you started, and let them know that they too, can be 10 years down the road and feeling better, stronger, faster, and fitter than they’d imagine.

What we do is counter to *everything* they’ve ever seen in Fitness & Shape magazines. We’re investing in our future by investing in our fitness. And to commit to it for the long term, “exercise” has to be about more than seconds and pounds. External motivation might not last, because the longer you train, the more time you will spend between PRs. You have to be disciplined; but don’t let the thought of “10 Years of CrossFit” daunt you.

Progress is simple if you just keep moving forward.

Work out consistently every week, every month, every quarter, every year. Focus on small goals over a long-period of time. Work first on mechanics, then consistency, and then intensity. Commit to repeating these steps over and over and over. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the opportunity and the process. If you do, your success is guaranteed.

Turning Weaknesses Into Strengths

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Turning Weaknesses Into Strengths
Written by: Coach Phil

With the Open now behind us it’s time to take a breath and evaluate where we are; and more importantly, where we want to be. Did the tests of the Open expose a weakness in your fitness? Did you feel hindered by a movement? The Open has a way of giving focus and purpose to our fitness. I was speaking to one of our members the other morning and she mentioned that before doing the Open she just “kind of showed up and did things”. After doing the Open, she has a drive to not only improve herself, but also keep up with her peers.

So, how do we bridge the gap between the athlete we are to the athlete we want to be? It’s simple! A lot of very unsexy, methodical, and diligent work on our skills and weaknesses.

If your limiting factor this year was aerobic capacity and you felt like you just couldn’t breathe during the workouts, then perhaps our twice a week run programming is what you need to build those lungs! The best way to build your engine is to use the one you’ve got! Before I started CrossFit I smoked two packs of Pall Mall Menthols A DAY. Building my cardio endurance was a very arduous process and took a very long time before I started to feel like I could exert myself for extended periods of time. I couldn’t run an unbroken 200m run when I started. It was bad. But I spent a lot of time both by myself or with a few friends after class doing rowing intervals when the equipment was available. Sometimes Slater would let me take one outside to get some sun with my fun. And when the equipment wasn’t there, running was the solution. If you want to have a motor like Kristy Rizzo, you gotta work for it. The programming runs (Hah!) on Sunday and Thursday each week and is available on the app.

Maybe what held you back was your mental game. If you found yourself second guessing yourself or letting that little voice in your head tell you that you couldn’t do it, then that’s a good place to start strengthening for next year. Perhaps some mindfulness with our resident yogi Jessica Sharpenstein on Sundays at noon will help find your center and get your focus back. Perhaps you just need a battle buddy! The social page is a great place for reaching out and finding a Fitnemesis to help push you in class. Or, make a group chat with your friends and talk about the workout! Help each other succeed and then go out and celebrate them! Community is the largest part of what makes Derby City great in my opinion, so don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage!

There may have been some movements that held you up. There are solutions there as well! On a six-week rotating schedule on Sundays at 10:30a we have a skills class covering a different set of movements each week. It’s a free class offered to everyone at Derby City if you’d just like to polish up some movements or dip your toes into the waters of a new movement you haven’t tried before!

If the skills class doesn’t come around enough for your liking to get you to your goals, we are now offering a personalized template program to target specific weaknesses. The templates range from the general (posterior chain, shoulder stability) to movement specific work targeted at your individual needs to polish the rough edges on your game before the next Open rolls around. The accessory work is designed to be completed in 10-15 minutes before or after class on training days or worked into your regular class workouts with modifications to give you an opportunity to work on technique under fatigue.

If you are interested in additional programming, please reach out to me at [email protected] and we can get you on the road to nailing those movements down before the Open rolls around again next year!

The Business of Chronic Disease

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The Business of Chronic Disease
Written by: DCCF Member Sam Garas

“We sit collectively in unique possession of an elegant solution to the world’s most vexing problem. The problem is chronic disease.” – Greg Glassman

Now that football season is over, none of us will be surprised to know who the top advertisers are for those games that we so religiously watch. The list is a tower of major corporations including Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Papa-Johns, Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Mars and so on. Those companies are in the business of selling as much of their product as possible to consumers that are making free choices. Those consumers are willingly and unwillingly contributing to a growth economy that will continue for decades to come. That growth economy is driven by chronic disease.

What is chronic disease? Greg Glassman, co-founder of CrossFit, describes chronic disease as one of the major categories of conditions that eventually lead to a human beings death. Those categories are: genetic, microbic, kinetic, and toxic. Genetic would be your parent’s fault, microbic would be a microorganism/bacterium that causes disease, kinetic would be an accident like a car crash and toxic is some kind of poison that causes disease and potential death. By all accounts, chronic disease contributes to 65-75% of all deaths in the United States. The list of chronic diseases (hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, type 2 diabetes, cardiomyopathy, etc.) is being serviced by some of the biggest corporations in the world. Pharmaceutical companies, major cancer and heart centers, wellness clinics, immediate care centers and others are all in the business of profiting from chronic disease.

The major dilemma the US healthcare system is facing today is deciding on which way to pivot in the chronic disease business. Will the industry pivot towards prevention of chronic disease or servicing chronic disease? Unfortunately, all signs are pointing towards servicing chronic disease with the daily barrage of new drugs to help you live and cope with chronic disease without regard to the side effects of those drugs. Chronic disease drugs help people every day but they obviously only treat the symptoms and do not get at the root cause. As Glassman so simply explains, the solution is to “get off the couch and get off the carbs.” Once you squat and eliminate that sugary soft drink, the root cause has been eliminated. Do that consistently and your chronic disease has been cured.

Health Insurance companies understand that eliminating the root cause of chronic disease will reduce medical expenses and keep their members out of the hospital, where the major medical expenses obviously occur. Advances have been made with predictive analytics to identify at risk individuals and drive them towards clinical programs to keep them out of the hospital, but those are mostly geared towards treating the symptoms. Health Insurance companies are also hedging their bets that chronic disease will only continue to increase by investing in pharmacies and wellness clinics. The most recent potential merger between Aetna and CVS is only the first of many mergers to come that will service chronic disease.

We as members of Derby City CrossFit and others that follow a fitness program with varied functional movements at high intensity along with a proper nutritional approach have found the cure. Many argue that group is less than 5% of the overall global population. Will that number grow over the next few years to more than 10%? Maybe, but all indications are that businesses are pivoting towards being leaders in the business of chronic disease and not prevention. That might actually be the smart business decision but where does that leave our society in the decades to come? It most likely will be a society dependent on emerging chronic disease drugs that keep people alive but not with a great quality of life. There is hope in knowing that a decade ago CrossFit had a few members at a small amount of affiliates that has now grown to millions of members and thousands of affiliates around the world. The message is getting out, it just needs to go faster before chronic disease and pre-mature death win out.

Relax, It’s Time for the Open

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Relax, It’s Time for the Open
Written by: DCCF Member EA Duncan

Ahhhh, The Open. Everyone’s favorite time of year to freak the [email protected] out; lash out; panic; become irrational; nearly kill themselves trying to acquire a skill in 5 days time; grovel and barter with Dave Castro from afar. I totally get it. The whole deal gets in your head. Let’s all take a deep breath.

At the end of the day The Open is just a few workouts. Once a week for five weeks you’ll complete a work out in our home gym. You already do that! You do that all the time! You do hard things more than once a week within our friendly walls! It’s really nothing more than that, and if anyone tells you differently, ignore them. And if you’re reading this you are unlikely to be a paid CrossFit athlete. (If you are, what’s up and disregard the next sentence!) These work outs do not determine…. literally anything in your life besides pride in your efforts. Relax. Turn off your negative self talk. Get ready to to the dark place. Try not to cry.* (Note I did not say ‘do not cry’ because, been there. (#14point5 #15point5))

These workouts will be mentally tough. The good news is if you choose to do them at Friday Night Lights there will be even more support than usual. The cheerleaders will be out in full force. (Hi, I just come to FNL for the beer and the company and to count reps when needed.) The gym will feel more like a Team than ever before.

Another added bonus is the chance to really nerd out and embrace the bigger CrossFit community. Hopefully you’ll have the experience I’ve had where you realize which of your friends across the country have found this CrossFit thing. They’ll reach out to strategize and encourage you. You’ll get to marvel at the top athletes being genetic freaks who can destroy your scores. You can get in on my patented group text where every week I go through the leader boards in search of people we’ve seen in area competitions or promising new stars on the rise, while following our own current/former Coaches, near and far. The sport is fun to follow! And it ultimately has no bearing on your weekly workout.

Now, let’s all hold hands for a round of kumbaya while I give you one more nugget of tough love: if you have the urge to comment about anyone else’s score and/or whether they scaled or not in a way that could even possibly be perceived as negative… how bout don’t.

I will leave you now with my favorite CrossFit quote from my guru:

“The goal is simply to get fit. Make it the best part of your day. Stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people, and blow off some steam. So remember that. Relax. Have fun. Workout.” – Pat Sherwood

Let’s not lose sight of this goal. Enjoy the ride.

Elizabeth Ann Duncan is an attorney by trade and an amateur CrossFit nerd by choice. She loves that her hour at Derby City is often the best part of her day. She’s happy to count your reps while she drinks beers at FNL.

Accountability: Because We Care

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Accountability: Because We Care
Written by: Coach Phil

Fitness is a personal journey, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. At Derby City, we feel very strongly about community, and the bonds of friendship and family have the power to help us become our best selves. We can’t go lift the weights for you, or move your legs for you when you run. But what we can do is lift spirits. We can celebrate our successes. We can help learn from our failures. We grow stronger together to help lift each other up to new heights.

In 2017, we dedicated ourselves to this ideal, and started an accountability program. In 2018, we hope to improve and refine the program to provide even more support for all our members. The program is simple. Periodically, I’ll check in with you to make sure that your journey is going well, and that we are helping you accomplish your goals in any way possible. Whether that’s with nutritional help, personal accessory programming, or just a sounding board for issues or questions you may have. I’m here for each and every member.

So, why is this important? And why should you care? No other gym in the city, and very few nationally are investing this much effort into ensuring that each member is receiving the time and attention that they deserve. Most gyms are satisfied to just take your money and don’t care if you ever walk through their doors. That’s not so here. We love having the opportunity to make you both fitter and happier. If we are able to make your hour inside our walls the highlight of your day, then that’s when we know we are doing the right things.

This program only works if you also invest in it. We can’t help you reach goals that you don’t tell us about, or fix problems you don’t bring to our attention. I can’t say that every idea or suggestion will be implemented, but they are all acknowledged and discussed in our coaches meetings. If we see trends in a desire amongst the community we always strive to fulfill it.

Check your inbox, make sure that I didn’t get relegated to the junk folder. Add me to your whitelist and take advantage of the channels of communication! If you saw the e-mail and thought, “I’ll message him later” and never did, take the time to shoot me a line. Even if it’s just to say that all is well and you’re pleased as punch with everything we’ve done so far and you’re satisfied! We value your feedback and want to hear from you!

We take a personal interest in each and every member who comes through these doors whether your goal is to make it to Regionals, or just be able to pick up your great grandkids at 95 and still give them the biggest bear hugs imaginable. Your reasons for being here are important to us, and we want to help you be anything and everything that you have the desire and drive to be.

So, check that inbox. You should have an email from me within the last month letting you know about the program. If you don’t, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] and we can get started!

The Open & Friday Night Lights

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The Open & Friday Night Lights
Written by: Coach Slater

What is this “Open” you keep talking about and what the hell is “Friday Night Lights”?

Great questions! Let me try to explain it as quickly & simply as possible.

The Open
What: Starting Thursday, February 22nd, and lasting for the next four Thursdays, CrossFit, Inc. will unveil an unknown workout to us at 8pm EST. Everyone in the CrossFit community has until the following Monday to complete a version of that workout (Life or Rx / Life or Sport) and post their score on games.crossfit.com.

Friday Night Lights
What: Once we determine the time domain and equipment needs of this unknown workout, we establish “heats” for Derby City athletes to complete this WOD sometime on Friday night. Our first heat typically goes at 4:30p, and the last is usually around 7:30p. If the WOD is 9min long, we might run heats every 15min to allow for people to complete the workout, with extra time for the next heat of athletes to come workout area and claim a spot on the floor.

We setup the night like we’re hosting a competition to up the excitement factor. This year, we’ll have separate people acting as Head Judge to verify movement standards, an dedicated photographer to capture your next great profile pic and hopefully your first bar muscle-up, and an official MC to increase the hype before & during your WOD.

Furthermore, we build these heats into our class Scheduler so you can select which heat you want to join. Maybe you want to go head-to-head against a friend, or maybe you want to be next to an specific athlete for inspiration, all are great. Pick whatever works for your schedule. It’ll be your responsibility to warmup and be ready to go when your heat time comes around.

If you can’t attend Friday Night Lights due to a schedule conflict, you can still complete the workout during our 5a, 6a, 8a, or 12p class on those Fridays, as we’ll schedule that week’s workout for Friday’s class WOD. Or, if you need to complete it over the weekend, you can do so on Saturdays after the 10:30a class or Sunday during Open Gym (9:30a-11:30a). In either of those instances, you’ll need to secure a judge ahead of time to track your good-reps and no-reps.

Why should I sign up for the Open and Friday Night Lights?
Anyone who signs up for the Open at games.crossfit.com gets drafted onto one of four Derby City teams that fight for year-long bragging rights. And, simply by completing the workout and logging your score, you earn a point for your team. This year, we’re also adding more opportunities for you to earn points for your team (see below). But, maybe best of all, we’re adding a penalty for the Coach of the losing team. If you allow yourself to have a little fun with the team concept, Friday Night Lights is a great experience. Trust us.

And, on a macro level, the Open helps us navigate our year and give us something to plan for. It’s like a lighthouse in the dark. The Open is inspiration. A reason to give a little more and cheer a little louder. The Open is an annual event marked on the calendar of CrossFitters all over the world, from Games athletes to the mother of three who’s still gunning for that first pullup.

CrossFit gave us the Open back in 2011, meant as a screen to find the fittest people in different regions throughout the world. For those without hopes of moving to its next level (Regionals), it’s simply a chance to test our fitness against a few hundred-thousand participants and see how much fitter we’ve become in the past year.

Derby City rookies workout alongside veterans and post their scores on the same leaderboards as CrossFit Games Champions. We compare with friends in different states. And, from year-to-year, we watch our strength increase, our skills improve, and our determination sharpen.

A lot of us train because we love the way it makes us feel and the people we train with. We don’t have any specific hopes of fitness greatness. The Open is simply a challenge for ourselves. Us against the workout.

While loving how we feel and who we train with is reason enough to keep doing it forever, specific feedback that has a start and end date is priceless. Ultimately, we may not care about the leaderboard, we may not even look at it, but having something to shoot for every year livens even the least competitive among us. You’ll experience it at Friday Night Lights.

Also, the Open slows us down. Often, we hurry into class just before/after work, fist bump and smile, hit our workout, then take-off. We miss the conversation. The connection. The Open brings back that CrossFit connection we can take for granted at times. For five simple weeks, we can train our asses off and cheer for our friends. Just us and the crew that helps us be better today than we were yesterday.

So, are you in?

The Best, Worst 5 Weeks of the Year

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The Best, Worst 5 Weeks of the Year
Written by: Coach Phil

Ah, the Open. Every year when the snows of winter melt, a glorious time in the CrossFit calendar comes. If you’ve been in the community a while, the Open needs no introduction to you. You are familiar with its joys, triumphs, failures, and revelations. You know all too well the anxious anticipation of waiting for Dave Castro’s slooooooooooooow crawling announcements of the workouts to build suspense before we learn what fresh hell awaits. And you know that sickly sweet burn on your lungs as you’re gasping for air after what you will swear for weeks was the hardest workout you’ve ever done. And you’ll bargain with yourself that you’ll never do it again. (Spoiler; you almost always will do it again.)

For those new faces in the world of CrossFit, I bid you welcome! Welcome to the circus that is the Open. The 5 weeks of the year where every man, woman, and child who has the desire can stand among their peers and be measured by their effort.

Each Thursday night a new workout will be announced to be completed by Monday afternoon the following week. By performing these 5 workouts, you’re testing your fitness against everyone. Games champions, your classmates, soccer moms, hockey dads, coaches, businessmen, and any and all in between. In the Open you see where you are. Where you’ve been. And where you’d like to go.

There are a few key things to know about the Open. If you’re fresh out of Elements or a grizzled veteran of 10+ seasons, I hope that this information proves useful in the weeks ahead.

1. Dave Castro Is a Prick

Josh Bridges, Rich Froning, and Dan Bailey all know it. So does every Open competitor ever.

Dave Castro is the Director of the CrossFit Games. In that capacity he’s responsible for all the programming of the workouts for the Games Season. He loves heaping suffering upon the CrossFit population almost as much as he loves himself, which is A LOT. The workouts are usually difficult and intentionally so. The Open is the first step on the road to competing at the CrossFit games, so to glean the best of the best from the world-wide population the tests must be varied, measurable, and provide a way for folks to demonstrate if they have the grit, skills, and determination to make it to Regionals.

2. It Is Just CrossFit

There’s no tricks or fakery in the Open. Although Dave loves to throw curveballs; at the end of the day it’s all the same things that you do day in, day out. Pick up object, Move object, put down object. That’s pretty much the sum of all CrossFit workouts. How it must be moved, what it is, how many different things, and how many times is where Castro gets to have his fun. BUT YOU ARE CAPABLE.

3. The Divisions

In the Open, you have the ability to see where you rank amongst your peers, from right here inside Derby City, to within the City of Louisville, State of Kentucky, Central East Regional, United States, THE WORLD. You also have the ability to see how you stack up based on your age group, they have divisions for teens, the 18-34 group, and then masters divisions for every 5 year bracket thereafter up to 60+. LEO, Military, Firefighters, and EMTs also have a way to compare their scores against each other. So as fine and refined as you like, or as broad as you’d like it to be, the Open can tell you how your fitness stacks up.

4. Friday Night Lights

This is by far my favorite part of the Open. Every Friday we’ll have heats and judges available so you can compete against your classmates, and share in the vibe of the evening. There’s so many folks cheering and celebrating, it’s really an experience. When you see someone hit that new PR in the workout, or get that first muscle up, it’s electric. It’s all the hype and excitement of a competition, with none of the pressure. We are all just friends pushing each other to be our fittest selves. So just another normal day in the gym, except if we’re lucky, Shark will be grilling out all night.

5. You Can Scale

If you’re saying to yourself that there’s no reason to do the Open because you can’t do XYZ movement, well I’m here to squash that horsepucky. If you are breathing, you can perform the workouts. There are two versions of the workout, RX and scaled, and you are not beholden to one of the other for all five weeks. If there’s a movement that you just can’t do, and you have no desire to try, that’s OK! Do the scaled workout that week, and you can do RX next week!

I encourage everyone to try to step outside their comfort zone during the Open though. Go for that first pull-up! Attempt that new PR snatch! If you never try, you’ll never do. And what better time to try than surrounded by your friends and family, cheering and offering words of support and encouragement. Ride that wave into new heights!

6. You Will Learn Something About Yourself

There is one constant in every year during the Open, there will be a moment of self-discovery. Whether it’s found on the top of the rings, face down on the floor after a 12 minute AMRAP breathing hard and drenched in sweat, Or so deep in the dark recesses of the pain cave on round 8 of 20 that the world has faded away to grey around you. Inside your head at some point during the Open you’ll have a moment. Where you do something you never thought possible, pushed through some task that seemed insurmountable, A voice inside told you to quit, and through sheer determination you told that voice to kick rocks. You weren’t going to be defeated.

Or maybe you expose a weakness. Perhaps your double unders aren’t as good as you thought. Maybe all the times your coach told you not to yank the dumbbell off the floor because it would blow up your lower back creeps into your mind as you foam roll after finishing a workout with 100 dumbbell snatches.

In any event, you learn something about yourself. How do you handle the unknown? Can you push through when you want to quit? Were you stopped by fear or did you rise to the challenge and attempt something new?

The one lesson I guarantee you’ll learn from participating in the Open at Derby City, you’ll have a family screaming so loud for you to succeed your ears will ring. Even if they can barely breathe from the workout in the previous heat, they will raise their voices to let you know you can achieve anything. But don’t take my word for it, get signed up and meet me in the gym for Friday Night Lights.