What does a BodyLab Athlete look like?

We recently put a post up on Facebook from one of our Clean and Jerk Days.  As I flip through the pictures of all the people that train with us, I am reminded of how much fun it is to train athletes that are diverse.

The athletes that train with us are not all headed to the Games or to the next major competition.  Some of them are working out to chase their kids or grandkids around the yard.  We celebrate the diversity of our athletes far more than their desire to compete.  We celebrate a healthy lifestyle and the quest for new challenges.

The BodyLab athlete is not afraid of challenges and competing.  They are willing to run the obstacle course, learn to handstand walk and work on getting better in all areas of their life.  They will look at the whiteboard and say “I hate doing wallballs, but let’s do this!”  Then they will give their best effort and cheer on the person next to them.

I love our community of athletes and coaches because we embrace the “masters” athlete.  The one that has a few more years on them than your average fire-breather.  But don’t be mistaken, they can and will take you out back and give you a whoopin’ on the track, on Grace, or on Karen.  They put in the work and train to be the best they can be.  They compete and we show up to support them.

What does a BodyLab athlete look like?  They look like you and me.  They are the young and the young at heart.  The BodyLab Athlete is anyone who wants a better life and understands that they are in control of getting that life.  They understand that it starts within.  It starts with accepting the challenge to change and be better.

When you are ready to accept that challenge, we will be here.  We aren’t going anywhere!

Our Job and Your Job

One of the tricks that we all must accept as coaches is that our goal is to help you reach your goals.  We are here to make sure that you are progressing adequately and that you are seeing the results that you want.  We are here to offer tips, advice, and training protocols to help you get there.  We will talk to you about how often you are training, if that is too much, not enough or just right.  We will offer suggestions for challenges to take on (run that 5K, half marathon, sign up for the competition, take on an O-lift meet) and we will do our best to tell you what you might want to hold off on doing.

We also will encourage you to look at your nutrition and how that is helping or hurting your ability to maximize your progress.  Included in how we fuel our body, as coaches we will do our best to ask questions about what your recovery regiment looks like.  How much do you sleep?  How much recovery stretching and mobility do you do?  Our job is to ask these questions and provide opportunity and means for you to reach the goals you have set out.  BUT this is all that we can do…the actual work, the hard part is your job.

You must choose to take action!  You must choose what you are going to do with those suggestions and tips.  You choose whether or not you work on your lifts or not.  You choose whether or not you work on bodyweight movements and gymnastic skills.  You choose if you want to take training for those challenges seriously or not.  The choice is yours ultimately for everything that you accomplish in your time with us at the lab.  You have to draw some lines in the sand about what you are going to allow and what you are not.

What you eat, how much or how little sleep you get.  You choose.  Do you ask about stretches that help or look into mobility work or not, you choose.

The biggest not-so-small secret of coaching is that we love sharing what we know with you.  We have no problems with sharing knowledge about why we do something or why we tell you to slow down.  As coaches we love sharing if it will help you achieve success BECAUSE that is the only way we are successful.

But the action part of the equation is on you…so what will you choose today and this week, this month, this year?

Welcome Back!

Since we are located in a college town, our year begins for the most part in September.  It seems as good a time as any to use this opportunity to pull back the curtain a little and let anyone who is interested know what it is like for someone to start their training with us at the BodyLab.  After you contact us, this is what you can expect.

First off, we encourage everyone to take advantage of the Free Week that we offer.  We encourage you to start your week on a Monday so that you can get a good feel for what a typical week of training looks like. After one of our coaches has talked to you about your current training, goals, and answers your questions about our style and format, you will be tested.  No, really, you will take a small fitness test.  This test allows us to see several things.  Some of them are obvious such as how you move and what your starting work capacity is.  Some other things are not so obvious, where we will examine how coachable you are, whether or not you are a good fit for the gym, and help us start to see the style of motivation that you respond to.

Once you complete this test, you will be given the choice to call it a day or jump into the class workout.  The coach will offer suggestions on what is the best option for you based on your performance in the fitness test.  After this first day, we will be better able to help you figure out which plan of training is best for you.  We offer several options and the include, joining our regular classes, signing up for our next BodyLab Basics Class, or personal training sessions with one of our coaches.

A typical class at the lab will look something like the following.  Basic daily warm-up.  This is done on your own once you walk in the door.  After you have moved around for a little while, if you have some very specific mobility drills that you like to do (or that we have assigned you) this is a good opportunity to do those.  Once a coach is ready for you, we will bring you into a more specific workout centric warmup that will include mobility work for that day.  Once you complete this workout, you will be directed to the workout of the day.  It might be a single workout or a workout with multiple parts.  We will guide you through it all.  Once that is done, you will be given an opportunity to cool down and your time with us will conclude.  We encourage you to give us at least an hour to adequately get you through the warm-up and workout.

We want what is best for you and to make sure that you are placed in a position to succeed and not a position where you will be uncomfortable.  No matter what we suggest, you will be free to continue the week of classes with us and allow us to better gather information on where you are starting from.  We take great pride in what we do and the results that we are able to get from anyone who walks through our doors.

So if you are interested in trying us out, seeing what a truly healthy lifestyle looks like and feels like, click the contact us link and let’s get you scheduled for your free week!

Control What You Can!

I just got back from vacation.  It was a much needed break from everything.  As I was driving back, my mind wandered…9.5 hours in a car will do that to you.  I thought about many things, but one of the prevailing themes on the return drive was that:

We do not control success…all we control is our preparation.  But in 99% of cases we do control failure!

As coaches and as a training facility, we cannot guarantee you anything outside of our best.  We will take all of our skills and talents and tools and put them to use for you.  We will provide advice on technique, nutrition, sleep, and anything under the sun.  But we cannot control you and what you do.

You can take the advice, you can discard the advice.  Either way, it does not guarantee success.  On any given day when you walk into the gym, you might be successful…you might not.  You cannot control the outcome.  You can control your effort, your preparation and your mindset.  That is all.

You cannot guarantee yourself a sub-five minute mile time on any given day, but you can train to have one.  And continue to work towards and then maybe one day, you have it.  Any coach cannot guarantee that you will be able to deadlift 500 pounds, but they can give you the tools and programs to help you achieve it.  But ultimately the outcome is a matter of not giving up.

Success as an outcome is a process of smaller steps.  The only guarantee that we have in life is that there will always be another step to take.  We control ourselves and that is it.  We control how we react to a great day of lifting and how we react to a terrible day in the gym.  We control what happens between our ears and in our hearts, but that is about it.  We control when we give up and when we continue to fight.

Control what you can…let the chips fall where they fall and move on.  Take the next step, your journey starts now!


Break Out of a Rut!

Every once in a while, you will find yourself in a training rut.  You won’t want to get up in the morning or workout in the afternoon.  It might be hot, rainy, or completely not related to the weather at all.  It might just be a feeling you have that says, stay home.  How do you break out of these ruts?  How do you set yourself back on a track that is excited about fitness.

Try changing it up!  A lot of times we get bored.  A lot of times, we see the same patterns and elements in our workouts and just stop really wanting to do those things.  So find a different way to get the same response…increase the difficulty level a little bit.

How do we do that?

For one, step away from the barbell for one workout and try doing kettlebell presses or kettlebell snatches.  Grab a sandbag for those thrusters that you hate.  Add in one of your favorite movements to your warmup prep work (Turkish Getup Anyone?)

I am not going to lie, for some elements you just have to put in the work and suck it up if you want to consistently gain and grow, but other times, you can have that day where you allow yourself to find something new to enjoy.  Call up your coach and ask for one private session and do something different.  Focus on a skill you really want to get better at.  Work with that coach at a different pace and laugh while you train.

Try a workout from DBWod, or gymnasticWOD.  But find something that allows you to have some fun while still meeting your goals.  Give yourself, as bad as it sounds, a cheat workout.  One that you just enjoy doing because you are going through that rut.  It is better to do that, then to sit it out.

How do you break out of a rut in your training?  Tell us on Facebook!

Smaller Circles and Making Decisions…

We all have goals.  We all have things that we want to accomplish.  And if we are honest with ourselves, we all know what has to be done in order to achieve those goals.

If your goals involve looking a certain way, then more than likely you know that you need to adjust your diet.  That could be consuming more food, consuming less food, cutting sugar, removing sodas, etc.  It could also mean that you simply need to be more aware of what you are eating.

If your goals have more to do with abilities, such as feeling good when you clean, press, snatch, on the rings, with a kettlebell; you probably know that you need to be working with those elements and might even need to look into private training sessions that focus on those movements and those goals.

It does not matter the goal that you set your ability to succeed in it comes down to two things (and unfortunately they are not things that any coach can do for you).  The first is the easiest and the hardest at the same time.

You must DECIDE what you are willing to do in order to succeed.  You have to make some decisions and stick to them.  That is the hard part…sticking to them.  If you are wanting to achieve a pullup, then you have to decide to work on the necessary skills to get a pullup, possible get with a coach, and then you must do those drills and exercises.  If you are wanting to lean up, but know that you have several dozen cookies sitting at home tempting you, then you must decide NOT to eat them and then NOT eat them.  But make the necessary decisions that have to be made.  It is not just about willpower, it is about the power to stand by your word.  Make it bigger than saying, I will do my best or I will resist.

Make the necessary decisions and then stand firm on them.  If you have kids, you know what this looks like.  You tell them no, and then you have to remain strong.  You cannot waiver or falter.  That is how they learn and how they learn to respect you as their parent.

How do we know what decisions we have to make?  How do we figure that out…that is the second part on this journey.  We look for smaller circles. This term, I first heard from Josh Waitzkin in his book, The Art of Learning (if you have the time, read it or get the audio version on itunes).

In order to make the necessary decisions and make smaller circles you start with the larger goal and break it down into smaller parts.  For example if you are fighting the challenge to lean up…you might start a process that looks like this:

Goal – Lean Up

What is stopping me from that?  I eat ice cream every night

Why?  It’s in the freezer

Can you decide not to eat it, knowing it is there? No

What do you need to do in order to be successful with ice cream in the house?  Get it out of the house

Can you throw it out? Yes (But it will hurt…)

First Smaller Circle – Throw Out Ice Cream

Is that all that needs to happen in order to be successful in this goal?  No

What else needs to happen?  Eat more green vegetables

What is stopping you?  Eat out at places that don’t serve green vegetables

Why?  Always on the road

Can you change where you eat out?  No, but I can eat out less by packing a lunch with green veggies

How often? 3x a Week

Smaller circle number 2 – Pack a lunch 3x a week with green vegetables

And so on and so on down the line.  Think through what the smaller issues are that make up the bigger problem.

The same can be done on the learning a new skill or perfecting a skill or lift.  If you want me to walk you through that process, send me an email.  More than happy to.

So what are you going to decide to do today and what is the first smaller circle for you to be successful?

Frustration or Learning Opportunity?

Yesterday, I got to jump in with a class and do the workout with them.  It fit with my training schedule and was a nice diversion.  The goal of the day was to work on the power clean and hang power clean.  1 couplet every minute for twenty minutes.  Adding weight periodically as you felt comfortable.

My plan was to make jumps every 5 reps.  I started out with a goal in mind and that goal had nothing to do with the weight on the bar.  It had everything to do with feeling the right positions at the beginning of the lift, feeling the hips open up, and ultimately being successful.  If I did five reps and felt good with how they felt, I could allow myself to add weight.

I made it through the first five, and added the weight.  Made it through the next five, and added weight.

Then I struggled.  My elbows felt like they got stuck but I completed the lift.  The next set though, I was in my own head and failed on the hang clean.  I got mad, frustrated and angry.  I tried another attempt and failed on the hang again.

It wasn’t the weight though.  I deviated from what my goal of the training session was.  My goal was not to successfully get every rep or build the biggest bar possible.  My goal was to feel every part of the lift and be successful.

I lost sight of how I felt.  For all my successful lifts, I would look at the clock and get set up when there was 6 seconds before the beep signaled the next round.  After I failed, I did not pay attention to the clock or what I was doing.  I had been pulled out of my mind and lost site of my goals for that session.

I dropped weight to a middle ground between my successful attempts and my failed attempts.  I got another 3 rounds successfully and then I failed again.  My focus was gone.  I took off the weights and put my bar up.

Was my training session successful?

After walking around for a bit, I figured out that I had lost sight of what I was trying to do.  My focus was lost and so I learned something.  So it was a successful training session.  I learned something and knew that next time, I had to keep my focus better.  I have to not let a missed rep pull me away from my goals.

I have to be mindful of the goals of each session and focus on those, not the weight on the barbell.

I share this story because as a coach we often see people frustrated because they fail on a rep or don’t lift as much one day as they did a previous week.  But success in training is learning something every time.  It might be a new drill, a new mobility technique, a new skill or just something about yourself.

Results come from what you do with all those lessons.

So next time, make sure you see every frustration as a learning opportunity.

Why Do We Have to Do Gymnastics…It’s Thursday!

It happens almost every week…Thursday rolls around and some people get excited and others dread it. You would think that magically Thursday became another Monday in the week. That’s right, it is gymnastics centric training day. Why is this day important? Why even have it? Why can’t we all just lift heavy things every day?

The answer is simple…gymnastics is about mastery of skill!

The beauty of gymnastics is that it is a day to focus on the perfection of movement. It is about mastering the skills necessary to do anything and everything else. It is not about max reps or even max effort, it is about self mastery and being able to maintain a standard of movement. It is the “perfectionist” component of training.

Most people grumble at gymnastics because they are not good at it. Many others because it is not nearly as sexy as picking up a weight with a couple 0’s on the end of it. BUT gymnastics is a key component to being better at your lifts and with your life in general. It promotes body awareness and understanding where you are in space at all times.

It is about developing the skills that you need to be a better all-around athlete. CrossFit was originally built around a gymnastic mindset. Somewhere that mindset tried to remain, but the focus has moved to lifting and getting stronger. Again, though, you cannot be a great lifter without great body awareness. That does not mean that everyone needs to be able to perform the perfect ring routine or even walk on their hands, but you need to know what an activated shoulder feels like or what it means to have a solid squat with no or minimal load. You need to be able to be aware of why you are pitching forward or falling backward under load.

Gymnastics work at the gym is about gaining this awareness. It engages the Central Nervous System (CNS) so that you can get into better positions over time. So that even as your muscles grow stronger, you are becoming a better lifter and your maxes continue to rise.

The other reason that we do them. They help to promote recovery and developing a better range of motion. This is critical as we all get older. No matter how much we do not want to admit it, there is a need to be able to move fluidly as we grow. Gymnastics promotes this ability.

So the short answer about why you need gymnastics and why we devote a day a week to them is that it helps to develop a mindset for your training, helps you with your lifting and forces you to take a little break from the barbell and still grow!