Why Nicole Chooses CrossFit

Why Nicole Chooses CrossFit

I’ve never been a A+ student.  During my undergraduate program I was more of an ‘athlete-student’ versus a ‘student-athlete’, and to be frank, I’ve never really enjoyed “going to school” very much. Learning, however, is something I've deliberately sought out throughout my athletic endeavors. Through high school, college, post-college, and now my past 7 years as a member at Synapse, seeking perpetual learning has kept me engaged and feeling fulfilled.



My first experience with CrossFit was during off-season training for women’s water polo. Our strength and conditioning coach, Keysha, who now owns CrossFit Madtown in Wisconsin, utilized Crossfit to combat off-season weight gain.  We endured overhead plate lunges across the hot sunny soccer field, bleacher stair sprints, and 400 meter group jogs where no one was allowed to walk, or else we would start all over.  


After I “retired” from competitive swimming and water polo, I still participated in both, but on a recreational level, and without any strength regimen.  Realizing that my body, and perhaps my mind, needed something more, I then had my second experience with CrossFit.


I dropped into a local CrossFit gym I had driven by many times on my way home from Masters swim practice.  The workout was “Cindy” - a 20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, and 15 squats - and I used the thick blue band for pull ups, as I had no idea how to kip (or what a kip was, let alone do an unassisted strict pull up).  It was a challenging and sweaty 20 minutes, but I got through it, and when I came back the next time, the workout was completely different, and full of new challenges.  These challenges have never gone away, and always present the opportunity to learn and practice something new, from properly engaging for the “catch” on a squat clean, to landing softer on a box jump, to maintaining ‘hollow-body’ during butterfly pullups.  


For me, CrossFit has been learning something fairly foreign.  From 11 years old through 24, much of my time was spent exercising in a pool, and I had never heard the term "hollow-body," never spoke about ‘staying stacked’, and dorsiflexion was never top-of-mind.  Don’t get me wrong, I miss water polo (not so much swimming), but something that has helped me stick with CrossFit is the process of learning, improving, and being able to track my progress.  


Thanks Nicole!

Why do you choose CrossFit? We want to know! Email us your story!

What's In a Name?

What's In a Name?

"You are your synapses. They are who you are."
--- Joseph LeDoux, 2002 (in Synaptic Self)

What's a Synapse?

A Synapse is how neurons communicate to one another. They are connections between brain cells used to send chemical and electrical signals through the brain and create neural circuits. We form new synapses and circuits as we gain new experiences, learn new skills, make decisions, meet new people, have interesting conversations, and move our bodies- basically, the more variety and life we live, the more synapses and circuits we create. Our experiences shape what neural circuits exist, how many circuits exist, and when we use them. Our synapses literally shape who we are. 

Why is our gym called Synapse?

We honestly believe you're here for more than just exercise- you're here to improve your life and better yourself. Our goal is to give you an amazing array of experiences for your brain- challenges, new skills, friendships, obstacles, accomplishments, emotions - that the rest of your life changes too.  By coming to Synapse you're refusing to simply endure the monotony of "exercise" and solitude, and instead surround yourself with something present and something adventurous every single day. Our goal isn't just to give you a six pack, but to literally to give you LIFE. 

Your experiences, your knowledge, your skill- these are how you create Synapses, and that's why Synapse, our gym, exists for you.


In what way has Synapse helped shape your brain? We want to know! Email us your story!


Why I Stuck with CrossFit

I always tell people that I started CrossFit because I was fat. This is true. I was really chunky and really uncomfortable with it. It was hard to tackle my weight on my own and I needed help. I signed up for a full year of CrossFit on my first day and literally told my coach to change my life.  The real story, though, is why I STUCK with CrossFit and eventually wanted to own a gym. I had never stuck with any sort of exercise or class for longer than a couple of months… So why was CrossFit different?

  1. The feeling of being “in the zone.” Anyone else feel their heart beating a little faster when the clock starts counting down from 10? Anyone love the feeling of momentum when the whole class is PRing and cheering each other on? Anyone else love the feeling of pushing in the middle of the workout, even when you’re tired, when time doesn’t matter, and you’re doing your absolute best? That’s being in the zone, and I LIVE for this feeling. As a coach, I live for making YOU feel this feeling, and that in itself is just as satisfying and energizing.
  2. Accepting my faults and weaknesses. Everyone sucks at something in CrossFit, and everyone sucks at something in real life too. I am no longer afraid of being weak at something or identifying it. These are just the things I have to work on. It’s really simple. If I suck at something in real life, for example in my friendships or relationships, I need to get better at that too. And that’s fine. I can’t learn to be great at something if I don’t know how bad I am at it first.
  3. Learning is the fun stuff. Knowing what I’m bad at is actually a fun thing: It means I get to learn more stuff. Most CrossFitters understand that there are no shortcuts, in CrossFit or life. The best results happen with good old fashioned hard work.  This is why CrossFit works- you actually have to work hard. So if something in life is hard, it doesn’t really matter- the harder the better, because THAT’s when you actually change and find results. This really helps me not shy away from a challenge.
  4. I’m a better person. The amount of change I’ve gone through personally in the last 6 years is kind of monstrous. I’m nowhere near where I want to be, but I’ve transitioned from a flighty 24-year-old to someone I have a lot of respect for. I am much more aware of and deliberate in the decisions I make, I care way less about society’s and other peoples’ expectations and instead listen to myself more, I am bolder, grittier, understand consequences better, and place higher importance on strong values. While you could make the argument that I simply got older and wiser, I attribute the strength of a lot of these changes to CrossFit.

These are the things that make me excited to come the gym every day. I know that what’s happening inside the gym is directly related to what’s happening outside the gym.

What reasons do YOU have for sticking with CrossFit? We want to know. Write down your story and share it with us!


The Real Reason Women LOVE CrossFit


The Real Reason Women LOVE CrossFit

When women first start CrossFit, their bodies change, and they become CAPABLE. 

To begin, women's bodies optimize for their training: If a Crossfitter is stick skinny and is unable to squat without her knees collapsing in, she will most likely grow lean muscle to allow her to perform a squat. If she'ls overweight and unable to run a mile with her excess bodyweight, she will most likely shed weight until running a mile is more efficient. Regardless of how a woman’s body changes, whether it becomes bigger, smaller, denser, or lighter, her body adapts to be able to perform the training required. She is now able to do things she couldn't before.

Ability feels good; in fact, ability feels better than almost anything, and when a woman feels capable, her confidence soars.

All of a sudden, a formerly heavyweight woman is able to climb stairs without getting out of breath, and a skinny woman isn’t shying away from physical tasks. The gym becomes less of a place she goes to in order to look good, and becomes a place where she discovers more things she can accomplish.  Often, the desire to be skinny starts to fade away, and becomes less important than the next accomplishment. Women in CrossFit end up embracing a stronger, more capable figure. But a woman’s transformation in CrossFit goes beyond this.

Most women end up loving the way they look. even though it does not fit the female archetype.

The more successful they become in Crossfit, the less important mainstream society becomes. So, if these women are anything like me or the women I’ve trained, they stop doing these things. They spend their time on CrossFit websites rather than Cosmopolitan, they shop more at Lululemon than Bloomingdales, and they begin to doubt the society that shaped them and those around them.

This is GREAT, but this is also why sometimes CrossFit women become obsessed. They start to forget that they were told women shouldn’t have calluses. They start to enjoy how strong-willed they feel pushing through a tough WOD.  They feel powerful putting hundreds of pounds over their heads.  They start to feel beautiful without a product in a magazine. All of a sudden, they see a world that appreciates their strength, will power, and ability versus a world that appreciates their…small pores? No, thank you, I’ll stick to the CrossFit world.

In essence, CrossFit is a gateway to removing the superficial expectations of society.  We start to live in a different kind of reality, one that we have shaped for ourselves.  Character matters more than facebook posts. Hard work is valued more than instant gratification. Getting to the gym matters more than TMZ. The superficial falls away and what we are left with is quality women that are figuring out who they REALLY are, instead of what they thought they should be.  The ability to see past societal influences and then, eventually, not succumb to societal influences takes a long time, but is a worthwhile and valuable journey.

The transformation that most women go through upon entering the world of CrossFit specifically is important, meaningful, and deserves attention.  

The changes in the confidence levels, attitude, and mental fortitude are my favorites to witness as a coach.  Women do not CrossFit just to look good; We CrossFit to ground ourselves in what matters, revert back to the time we didn't know who the Kardashians were, and give a big middle finger to the meaningless limitations society places on our gender stereotypes and expectations.  And that feels really, really good.

If you are a woman that has gone through this or you can feel yourself starting to, i urge you to explore it. Challenge yourself to look closely at what is shaping you, and don't be afraid to turn your back on ideas and lifestyles you once blindly accepted. 



The CrossFit Experience

When you started CrossFit, did you have a transformative experience? I know I did. All of a sudden, it felt like I had pressed a giant reset button on my life.  I look back at myself pre-CrossFit and remember it as a time when I was continually going through the motions, without direction or purpose. When I started doing CrossFit, it was like a lightbulb turned on. This is common, and a good reason people become so obsessed with it when they start. Personally, I became so obsessed, I decided to quit my job, become owner of a CrossFit gym, and devote my life to figuring out how and why this fitness regimen is transforming so many peoples' minds and bodies. (Disclaimer: This entire article can be applied to weightlifting, so Oly Guacamole kids, this one's for you too!)

While I think there are many reasons CrossFit is so appealing to so many people, I think the most intriguing ones are the psychological benefits. 

1. Being present

What other time of day are you cell-phone free for an hour? For many of us, this rarely happens, and having a set time to disconnect from your electronic life can be extremely therapeutic. Crossfit forces us to think about the task at hand- the bar in your hands, how many wallballs you have left, how much more you can push in the WOD. How many of you come to CrossFit so you have a way to NOT worry about that test coming up, or terrible fight you had, or that rough project you have at work? When you're at CrossFit, the only thing you can think about is CROSSFIT, and this forced present-ness is not only a welcome relief from your life, but it can actually help you think clearer about your problems once you come back to them.

2. Today MATTERS

Because our training is PROGRESSIVE, it has to LEAD somewhere.  We work in cycles and create goals for weeks, months, even years from now- whether it's a weight you want to lift, a skill you want to acquire, or a time you want to hit in a workout, every day you come to train is leading to that goal. It creates purpose in TODAY. Today matters, because something you do today is going to help you tomorrow, and the next day, and six months from now, and 5 years from now. That's an incredible realization to have in your life- that there is value in today.

3. Process

My favorite part of CrossFit is watching newbies discover that there is a process to improvement. At first, we think that one tip, or one cue, is going to make our lifts perfect, and then we'll just "have" that skill or lift forever. As it turns out, we're going to be seeking that perfection for YEARS. Even more frustrating, there is no perfect tip or cue. There are only things to work on for many reps, and many sets, and many days, and many cycles. This is why our weightlifting class is run somewhat differently. Movement patterns have to be perfected, then strengthened, then added into the full lifts. This can be very frustrating if you're looking for a 1-hr class on how to snatch. You're not going to get that. You're going to have to put in work over a period of days, weeks, months, and possibly years. This is a wonderful skill to take with you outside of CrossFit and weightlifting. Learning how to work hard at something without seeing immediate and immaculate results is incredibly valuable in your life. Learning to have patience, diligence, consistency, and discipline in any process, CrossFit or otherwise, is going to result in long lasting, satisfying results. 


You came to this gym for a reason. For some reason you decided that a regular globo gym isn't for you. If you are not actively seeking out these lessons, WHY ARE YOU HERE? What are you getting out of your workout?  Stay off your phone for an hour. Read the programming blog. Appreciate and attack the process with passion, awareness, and discipline. And recognize that everything you do today is impacting your tomorrow- why not make that impact a positive one?


Gymnastical Fantastical

Gymnastical Fantastical

it was probably in my best interest to see a physical therapist and devote a lot of time to yoga, but as many of you already know, I dislike most physical therapists and yoga makes me want to stab myself