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!

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?

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!