Why Meal Plans Usually Suck by Molly Cohen

You’ve heard it a million times, “Abs are made in the kitchen”, or “It’s 80% nutrition, 20% exercise.”



Yes, these adages are over-used and, frankly, pretty annoying, but there is truth to it; you won’t see body composition changes just from adding exercise into your routine. Does it help? ABSOLUTELY. Beyond just weight loss, the advantages of moving your body for an hour a day are exponential. But I digress. Let’s talk about food.



One of the biggest things the fitness industry loves to sell is the idea of a “meal plan” or as I like to call it, “Prescribed Exact Eating.” In this meal plan you would be given a specific diet that, in an ideal world, you follow religiously for a short period of time in order to drop a specific amount of weight or reach a desired body composition. For example, I could give you something that looks like this:

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You eat only what is written on this plan, and you’ll get to the weight you want. Sounds great, right? Someone else tells you EXACTLY what to eat, when to eat it, and how much to eat and POOF! Washboard abs and delts for days! It’s the dream!



You might be thinking, “That sounds amazing! Why wouldn’t I want to do that?”



Well, maybe you would, I don’t know your life. Short term commitment to achieve a goal sounds great in theory, but the truth is, short term commitment almost always inevitably leads to short term results.


What I mean is, the meal plan isn’t the problem. It is, but it isn’t. The real problem is two-fold:



First, the mindset of a quick and easy solution to a problem that probably wasn’t a quick and easy path is not a mindset that sustains long-term results. Weight gain and changes in body composition happen gradually over time, which means the ideal solution would also warrant a gradual change. Makes sense, right?



The other main issue with Meal Plans is what happens after the meal plan ends. What happens after you frolic into the horizon with your new chiseled body?



The problem is, you don’t learn how to eat from that beautiful, potentially laminated, perfectly balanced meal plan; you just learned how to follow instructions. But you are not an Ikea couch. Your body doesn’t come with an exact instruction manual. Learning how to eat isn’t something you learn from blindly following a written checklist. It’s a skill you should take time to develop, and while meal plans can be a coach, you eventually have to be able to work the skill on your own.



So what do I suggest instead? Well, as you can probably tell since I already said it (Spoiler Alert), but you need to learn how to eat.



And by that I mean, put into action what you already know. You don’t need me to tell you that eating whole foods that don't come from a package in proper portions is what leads to an increase in health and a decrease in body fat. You’re smart! You know these things! But you also know that you’re a human and food is delicious and the chances of you eating only chicken breast and broccoli forever is unattainable and frankly insulting. Pizza exists!



So what do I suggest?



Balance.



We don’t need to have perfectly balanced macros to have a healthy (and sexy) body composition. We just need to have some balance in our lives. Eat the pizza. But don’t eat the pizza every day. Fill your plate with the veggies you know are good for you because you’ve been hearing about since you were 4 years old.



And when in doubt, try reaching for the “Next Best Thing”. Knowing what junk foods you’re eating and deciding to eat something that’s just slightly better is literally just as valuable as a meal plan. So if you usually reach for a Snickers bar at 4pm when your boss puts a new crisis on your desk and you realize you're starving, try grabbing an apple instead. Or, better yet, take inventory of what your body is actually asking for and give it to it. Do you want that chocolatey, peanut goodness, or are you low on fats that day and maybe popping a couple of almonds might do the trick?



It doesn’t have to be perfect to be progress. Making small but measurable changes in what you’re doing daily will go a long way, and eventually the next best thing will be perfect.



Then, and only then, do you need to start thinking about the perfectly balanced macros.



But don’t go on a meal plan. They really do usually suck.




It's Not About the CrossFit

It's Not About the CrossFit

“Go do that thing on your to-do list you’ve been putting off. It can’t be worse than thrusters.”

There's Nothing Ordinary About It

There's Nothing Ordinary About It

There's a common CrossFit tagline that describes Crossfitters as "Ordinary people doing extraordinary things." It sounds nice, but as I near 7 years of running a CrossFit gym, I've come to the realization that this tagline is completely false. 

Let's talk about the members that have been with us since the beginning- that's seven YEARS of dedication to a craft. It takes a different breed to get up at 5:30am every single day, day after day, week after week, year after year. There's nothing ordinary about that kind of internal motivation.

Let's talk about the members who started with a complete lack of mobility and are now able to complete a full snatch. It takes a different breed to put the ego aside and use a PVC pipe for months. There's nothing ordinary about that kind of humility.

Let's talk about the members who have hit plateaus and continued to push through them with determination and patience. It takes a different breed to not just set goals, but follow them through to the finish and continue to trust the process even without quick results. There's nothing ordinary about that kind of perseverance.

CrossFit demands that we CONSTANTLY look our weaknesses in the eye. It demands a higher level of cognition to pursue skill work. It demands dedication through obstacles in life AND training. This is not an ordinary person. The follow through, the dedication to understanding, the humility- this is what makes you extraordinary- not your snatch, not your Fran time. 

I used to be surprised when someone who struggled with CrossFit physically stuck around. But now I'm smarter. I know that when it comes to people who stick with CrossFit, it very rarely has to do with physical prowess, but simply extraordinary character and drive to improve the WHOLE self, not just the physical one. 

Now, when you see, "Ordinary People doing Extraordinary things," remember this: You are not average. You are not mediocre. You are extraordinary. 

We're not all CrossFit Athletes, but we should be.

We're not all CrossFit Athletes, but we should be.

One of the most important things we can do at Synapse is cultivate athleticism. Athleticism means having complete faith that your body can do and move in any way you you need it to. If you need to jump, it can jump. If you need it to balance, you can balance. If you need to touch your toes, you can touch your toes. Athleticism doesn't just mean strength, or just fitness, or just agility. It's not just physical prowess or just mental prowess. It means all of it. 

CrossFit is a fantastic way to elicit athleticism. We work on our ability to jump, pull, push, crawl, and generally move better every time we come to class. One of the ways you can ensure you continue to make progress, however, is to focus on your standards and your range of motion

Range of motion means that "below parallel" isn't good enough if you can go lower while remaining active. Range of motion means that you descend all the way to a straight arm hanging position every time you do a pull-up.  Having correct range of motion encourages you to use MORE muscles, usually resulting in more intensity (and more results), and the CORRECT muscles (keeping you safe). This is the first step of proper progression. For example, if you DON'T usually go all the way down in your pull-ups, learning to kip, even a toes to bar, is going to be incredibly difficult and most likely injurious. Learning a bar muscle up is out of the question. We must use proper range of motion to develop correct movement patterns that we can build upon.

Standards are slightly different. Standards are what you hold yourself to in a workout or skill set. For example, if you can throw a wall ball to a specific target, you should always hit that target. When you're tired, if your wallball doesn't make it to that target, don't count it. If you're doing chest to bar pull-ups and your chest doesn't make contact, don't count it. Having proper standards may actually slow you down a bit, but that's ok. CrossFit is about working out with integrity so we can have some measurable results. It's about being honest with ourselves about where we are in our fitness journey.

Let's say Suzie's doing a workout with ring dips in it, but she never returns to a stable position at the top of her dip. But, she goes really fast. She finishes in 5 minutes. Over the course of the next 6 weeks, Suzie works on her ring dips a lot and improves her position at the top. She re-does her ring dip workout, excited to test how far she's come. She completes the full range of motion for each repetition, except for a couple, which she doesn't count, and re-does the repetitions until she shows the correct finishing position. Suzie finishes the workout in 7 minutes. Which was the better workout? 

One is building athleticism and one is not. One is using correct range of motion and holding correct standards, while one allows her to beat everyone in class and finish under the time cap.

It's really up to you which workout you decide to do, but I guarantee you the best CrossFitters, the best Olympians, even the best pro NFL stars -athletes who are trying to find ways to get the most out of their bodies as possible- are never going to shorten a movement to get through it faster, or count a free throw they didn't actually make. Being an athlete means being honest about our weaknesses and working hard to improve them by not taking the easy way out. 

Move INTO the challenge, not away from it.

 

I Stopped Competing and Here's What Happened

I Stopped Competing and Here's What Happened

When I quit weightlifting in May, I had broken two ribs and had just competed in the national championships for the 3rd time. I was turning 31 and felt a change in attitude that I couldn’t hold off anymore- I was finished, not just with weightlifting, but with competing in sports. 

 

A few years ago, I wrote a post about why it’s important to compete, and I still believe this is a necessary experience for most people- generally I think people choose not to compete enough, that we tend to shy away from challenge instead of move into it. Competing helps teach us grit and confidence in the face of adversity, and I wouldn’t trade in any of my competitive experiences. 

 

However, I’ve been competing since age 7, and that has had some consequences. First gymnastics, then competitive dance, then crossfit, then weightlifting, and coaching people through all these sports along the way.  I felt a kinship to people who also found value in competition; it felt like there was an elite club where only the strongest survived, and I got to be a part of it. I talked about how my future kids would be Olympians, how I would choose a mate based on Olympic potential, and do whatever it took to ensure their athletic success. I often put aside responsibilities to train in my sport, often at the detriment of relationships, friendships, and success in my jobs. Competing was simply the most important part of my life; it WAS my life, and often that attitude was perpetuated by those around me, including coaches. 

 

For the past 6 months I haven’t competed in anything. I haven’t trained towards anything. I’ve had goals and things to work towards, but the milestones are now much further away with less validation in the meantime. I’ve had to rely on my own self confidence in my character to get me through obstacles and challenges. It may sound strange, but choosing to live with integrity, honesty, and compassion without anything else to bolster my belief in myself has not come naturally to me. 

 

I’ve heard it my whole life: Character matters more than medals. Duh, everyone knows that. But for me, the words didn’t truly sink in until I stopped being an athlete. 

 

Before, I could place validation in the fact that I competed at regionals, or snatched 90kg, or I coached someone in the crossfit games. I can’t rely on that now for confidence.  I had to take a better look at myself and figure out if I was happy with what I saw. Since then, I’ve had more personal accomplishments in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years. I’ve lived more honestly, fostered more relationships, and created more opportunities for myself. I have lived more boldly and done many things I used to be afraid of. 

 

The funny thing is, I think I would have competed better with this mentality. I think I would have performed better if I knew (in my soul) at the end of the day what mattered was how I lived in each moment, not just the ones on the platform.

 

I think everyone around me knew these lessons, and in fact writing them now seems silly, as I’m sure everyone already knows this stuff. But as an athlete with her head stuck in competition for so long, this is a lesson I never truly internalized and lived by. 

 

I have only one regret about my athletic career. I don’t wish I had gone to the crossfit games, or stuck with gymnastics longer, or gotten a college scholarship. I do wish I would have found Sean Waxman (Waxman’s Gym) sooner. In my entire athletic career, in all sports, I can say without a doubt he was the best coach and created the best gym I’ve been to. He understands the importance of character and living with integrity, and that’s the way he coaches. His way of living honestly and authentically and compassionately is by coaching, and I was truly lucky to experience that. I just happened to find his gym at age 30, after training in sports for 25 years. I am truly thankful I held out long enough to experience it and truly sorry I don’t still get to be a part of the magic. 

 

So what’s the lesson here? Why am I writing this? To remind you that there’s a middle ground available to you that I never found- a way to continuously work on yourself, value the work you put in, AND find a competitive outlet to condition the fight within. Your ability to compete will be based on the foundation of habits and mindset you develop on a daily basis, but with the end goal being strength of character, not simply strength on the platform. It was these two end goals I unknowingly switched, to my own detriment, until I did not know how to value myself without athletic accomplishment.

 

Competing is not a substitute for character. If you want a life full of magic you have to create it, and it starts inside you. I’m thankful I get to witness some of your magic on a regular basis at Synapse, but it goes well beyond our little gym. The gym is simply a mirror, a tool, for the rest of your life. Your confidence can’t be based on your PRs; in fact, you’ll probably PR more if you have the confidence first. 

 

Thanks for reading; now, let’s talk about it.

The Exercise Regimen for Successful People

The Exercise Regimen for Successful People

CrossFit is for smart people. Successful people worldwide, including CEOs, top lawyers, entrepreneurs, and high level students are choosing CrossFit, for a few specific reasons. Here's why, and why you should as well.

 

1. Exercise that Evolves

The first time I heard about CrossFit, it was from CEO Greg Glassman, who teaches that CrossFit works because it is results driven. Glassman encourages coaches to treat their programming like the scientific method.  We must constantly test our students to ensure our methods are working, and if something isn't working, we must change our approach or learn how. This means owners and coaches have to treat their work with humility, question their work often, and commit to learning. This is the epitome of the growth mindset. This also means that CrossFit, as an exercise regimen, isn't stagnant. It evolves as we find out the best possible ways to exercise and attain the best results. CrossFit today is different than what it was in 2010, largely due to the fact that those involved are continuing to learn and grow- not just teaching the same mindless 45 minute HIIT routine they were 10 years ago.  This growth mindset mimics the journey of most successful people in their fields.

 

2. Gyms that evolve

Greg also favors the affiliate model for his CrossFit gyms, meaning each owner has complete control over what he or she teaches. He doesn't care if there are 10 gyms within a mile of each other; instead, he states that the "cream will rise to the top." We believe competition makes us better; we have to constantly have a better product. Gyms must constantly improve, hone their craft, study harder, offer better services and run a better business. 

This kind of business is going to attract quicker, smarter, more competitive people to run successful affiliates and coach within them. In Synapse alone, we have 3 masters degrees, an engineer, and a PHD on the way on the coaching staff, most of whom is part-time.  These are smart coaches looking to become experts in their field, an abnormality in the fitness industry. If the affiliate and its owners/coaches don't continue to evolve, they're going to be left behind by gyms that value growth and learning more, and aren't afraid to continue competing. 

This is a great environment for smart, successful people; this is the environment you want to surround yourself in. We are all pushing each other to be better, in the gym and out.

 

3. Skill Instruction

Successful people know that success, in anything, takes sustained effort over long periods of time. CrossFit embodies this mentality. Students work for years on complicated movements that aren't going to be perfect on the first day, or the 50th day, or even the 1000th day. These movements require constant work in a variety of different modalities, and often require significant brain power to accomplish. Learning to snatch requires the patience, attention, and coordination of someone who understands the value of learning. To perform a great snatch, you have to understand how and why the snatch works, encompassing principles of physics and physiology. Anyone can shut off their brain and go for a run; it takes someone who values the brain to train the snatch. CrossFit is not interested in appealing to the lowest common denominator. Not everyone wants to put in the time to understand the snatch. CrossFit, by nature, appeals more to the above-average thinker.

 

4. Flow State

The idea of being in "flow" or as many athletes call being "in the zone," is an intrinsic part of CrossFit. Successful people know the benefits of being in flow. Being in flow has been claimed to increase productivity 500%, boost creativity, and decrease stress. Flow allows individuals to block out the rest of the world and focus on the present, and experiencing the feeling of flow can help people push the limits of what they're doing further, and actively seek flow experiences in other areas of their life. Flow states elevate the quality of the human existence, and CrossFit is a natural flow conductor. 

The hard part about flow, however, is that it requires the involvement of challenge. Those who want to be in flow have to be ready for, and actively seek out, challenge. This attracts a higher caliber mindset- and CrossFit is a breeding ground.

 

While there are smart people doing all sorts of exercise regimens, CrossFit seems to attract high level individuals for the lessons CrossFit teaches intrinsically- humility, growth, and grit.

 

If you're ready to start your CrossFit journey, click here!

 

 

How CrossFit Makes You Happy

How CrossFit Makes You Happy

There's no magic pill to make you happy. There's nothing you can buy, no special person, and no level of success that can individually make everything better; however, there are certain factors that, over a period of time, if instituted with mindfulness and dedication, can contribute to a mindset of happiness and satisfaction. CrossFit seems to encompass these qualities, and packages them up into an hour-a-day dose of happiness medicine. There's a good reason people become obsessed with CrossFit- it can literally feel like CrossFit creates happiness. Here's how:

1. Connection.

One of the most important factors that helps people with addiction, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety is CONNECTION. The CrossFit gym is a great place to find this. Over time, when you see the same people day after day, week after week, year after year, you create relationships that are based on real conversations, about real things; it's almost impossible to put up a front when you've shared such an intense experience together. We've even had 4 marriages that MET at our gym, and countless more that have been strengthened by it. That's not to say we're just a place for single people; we're a place for real connection.

2. Community

Community is different than connection. Community means that there exists a give and take. One of the most important contributors to happiness is giving to others. A community allows you help when you need it, and an opportunity to help when others need it. People hire each other, watch each other's pets when they're out of town, provide a table at Thanksgiving when loved ones are far away. Not only do we bring each other vegetables from our gardens, and connect people to friends and businesses, the gym is also a pinnacle of energy, positivity and motivation to draw from when you need it. I can't tell you the amount of times I've had a bad day, and then walked into the gym to coach or take class, and within minutes felt the bad day just slip away. 

3. Flow

When you're holding a barbell, you can't think about bills, you can't think about that breakup, you can't think about that thing your boss said. It forces you to be present, which is a gift in our day and age. We don't allow cell phones. We take the word "class time" seriously and give you things to learn and practice. We give you daily goals and challenges. All these things create a very unique experience and state of mind called "flow" state- or as athletes call it- being "in the zone." This state has been proven to release FIVE amazing neurotransmitters at once, making it an extremely addictive, exciting, and even stress-relieving.

4. Endorphins, DUH

In the words of Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don't kill their husbands." In all seriousness, the most important part of CrossFit is intensity. Intensity is a great endorphin producor AND most individuals will experience a drop in cortisol (stress hormone) the next day. Cheers to less stress and our favorite natural high!

Now, I'm not saying everyone at the gym is happy all the time. What I am saying is that belonging to a gym like this, with the community, the quality of people, and the quality of the workouts sets you up for success, as long as you take advantage of it. 

Are you ready to take a step towards happiness? You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. Check out our beginners program here.

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!

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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!

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The Real Reason Women LOVE CrossFit

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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. 

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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?

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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