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!

 

Mix It Up…It Makes You Better

One of the most common questions we hear at the lab deal with training cycles and progressions.  That is to say that people want to know a little about how we do strength training combined with metabolic conditioning.  The truth of the matter is that we do follow cycles of strength and conditioning as any good program should, but it is within these cycles that we break out a little bit.

We do not always put a barbell in your hands to make you stronger.  Sometimes we put a sandbag in your hands.  Other times, we will put you on some Atlas stones and introduce you to the world of strongman training.  We work hard to introduce odd objects into your training because that is what you deal with in real life.

Life is not always neat and balanced.  You do not always get the luxury of everything being perfect and you have to learn to deal with these ups and downs.  You have to deal with the fact that, for most of us, one side of our body is stronger and one side is weaker.  So we lift objects that force us to deal with those discrepancies.

As I have worked more and more with different people and different groups, you find that the variety that we offer in our training models is something that always keeps you fresh and new.  We take pride in the truth that we do not want you to be a great CrossFitter, but rather we want you to be great at whatever life throws at you and whatever you want to do with the rest of your life.

So we make you lift sandbags that only weigh 70 pounds but feel like 170 because it is odd.  We ask you to run an obstacle course because life does not always come at us on a perfect track.  We push prowlers, pull sleds carry yokes.  We attack far more than a barbell and a pull-up rig because for most of us, life really isn’t that simple.

So I welcome all our new faces to the lab, and encourage everyone to embrace their inner strongman!

What’s In Your Gym Bag?

Let’s get a little practical today with some information for you.  Many people wonder what equipment they should have.  This has become more and more of a pressing question as CrossFit has grown and developed.  When CrossFit was in its infancy, there was nothing that you had to have in your bag.  You showed up in a pair of Chuck’s your favorite worn out shirt and got ready to jump on the pain train.  Warm up was a couple push ups, some situps, maybe squat some.  A few light lifts and then it was go time!

If you remember those days…you can classify yourself as “old school”.  Pat yourself on the back…there are not a ton of us around!

As our sport, and yes it is a sport, has grown so has our understanding and knowledge of the human body.  So, for today, I wanted to give you an idea of what should be in your gym bag for each and every day.  Then I will close it with some other options that you might want to have based on your individual situation.

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Image from King Kong Bags

 

Outside of the latest gym shirt, you will want to consider having the following items with you at all times:

    1. Water Bottle – this one is pretty much a given.  You need water, daily and quite a bit of it.  You should have one with you in the gym and with you pretty much at all times.  If you have a water bottle, you will be more likely to drink water and not go get a sugary drink from the vending machine or fridge.
    2.  Jump Rope – Generally I recommend having your own jump rope for several reasons, but first and foremost, is that if you are working on getting the elusive double under, triple under or quad…you will want to be consistent in the rope that you are using.  It is also worthwhile to have this if you travel or just in case you need a quick warm-up.  They do not take up a lot of space and are a valuable fitness tool.
    3. Lacrosse Balls and Foam Roller – There are several options here, but I recommend having at least 3 lacrosse balls in your bag.  One individual and 2 taped together to form a peanut.  These coupled with a foam roller or a supernova help with pre and post workout maintenance.  After the lacrosse balls, you will want to have either a foam roller or supernova.  for in your bag, I prefer the supernova or orb.  See pics below.  Both of these items can be purchased from Rogue.  The orb and supernova work similar to a foam roller, they just take up less space.  And in a gym bag, space is precious.

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      Supernova
    4. Journal – This one could be number 1!  You need to be able to log where your lifts are at and what you are doing.  Knowing your numbers is important.  This does not have to be anything fancy.  It can be a $1 notebook that you write in everyday.  Keep it in your bag and enjoy seeing your progress!  Log anything that is important to you.  Looking to lean up, log your meals.  Looking to see your progress, log your maxes and benchmark times/ rounds.
    5. Special Equipment – This one is going to be the catchall category.  This are the items that you specifically need to be successful.  You can think of items 1-3 as things everyone should have.  The special equipment are going to be those things that are specific for you.  These might include olympic lifting shoes (recommended once you have a solid foundation in the lifts.  These are not necessary if you are just learning the movements).  This could also be weight belts, knees sleeves, elbow sleeves, and wrist wraps.  What you are looking for here is just the equipment that allows you to perform at your best and is unique to your struggles.  I tend to get pain in my knees when I squat heavy, so I always have my knee sleeves.  Again with this special equipment you want to have it after you have a strong foundation in the basic movements and understand how the movement should feel without the aid of an outside device.  Knee sleeves will not fix your squat.  Learn to squat correctly first.  Always learn proper positioning before relying on outside equipment.  A lack of technique knowledge leads to an increase in risk of injury!

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!

 

Recovery

Alright, everyone should have a training journal…I want you to take it out and find a blank sheet of paper in it.  On that top of that page, simply write the word “Recovery”.  That’s it.  Now take ten to fifteen minutes and write down what your recovery protocol actually is.  Then we will move on.  Does your paper look something like this?

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For many it will and it does.  For many we forget that our recovery program is just as important as the weight we are putting on the bar.  What are the important pieces of your recovery protocol?

They should consist of the following items as a minimum:

  1. Mobility Work
  2. Nutrition
  3. Sleep

Those are the bare minimum of things that you need to be exploring when you begin to diagnose why your workouts seem to be slipping as you go through the week.  Are you taking care of yourself by getting adequate mobility work done?  Even a basic (read: the same everyday) set of stretches for your problem areas is better than nothing.

The second piece…what are you eating post workout, pre-workout?  Are you even eating?  The body needs to replenish all the lost glycogen in the muscles.  It needs protein to repair the micro-tears we put into muscles through working out and it needs fats to facilitate the process.  If all you are doing in slamming a protein shake, you are leaving some key components to your recovery on the table.

And finally, are you sleeping enough hours to focus during your day and your training sessions?  Are you giving yourself at least one rest day during the week.  Are you allowing yourself to not be a hero everyday and recover.

In addition to these things there are other areas of life that can inhibit your recovery.  The biggest of these is stress.

What stops you from having a solid recovery program?  Can you make the changes necessary to see better results?  Need help figuring it out…that’s what we do.

Drop us a line and we will set up a plan to help you out!

What Do You Want?

It has already been a busy year.  We are wrapping up the Open, wrapping up the Frozen Chosen and are hopefully out of the cold and into Spring (we will not discuss the rain at this time…let’s try and stay positive).  We are moving out of one season and into another.

At home, many of us will go through a process of Spring Cleaning.  We will pull everything out and assess what needs to stay, what needs to go.  We will scrub everything and we will vow to keep it that way.  If you have kids, you will vow that they will clean up after themselves.  As we think about our Spring Cleaning at home, it is also a good time to step back and look at ourselves in those pristine sparkling mirrors.

We are not looking to find our flaws, but to be honest.  To look into the mirror and ask ourselves the hard questions about what we want out of our training.  Do we want to get stronger?  Faster? Better Conditioning?  What is it deep down that you want?

Get out a piece of paper, or schedule to meet with a coach to talk about these items.  Make these goals the items that you want.  Then once you have them…you have to ask yourself one more question…

What am I willing to do to be successful?

That is the tough one.  What are you willing to do in order to achieve it?  Are you willing to stay an extra 20 minutes to put in a little more work?  Come to open gym and work on what needs to be done in order for you to be successful?  What about changing your diet?  Are you willing to get out of your comfort zones and fun zones to accomplish these things?

You answer to these two questions NEED to be written down.  You need to see them frequently and be reminded that success in anything rests on you and your decisions.  We can help, we WILL encourage and give you a PLAN to reach these goals.

It is time to take action…get out a pen and a notebook.  On the first page or back cover write these two questions and answer them:

  1. What Do I Want?
  2. What Am I Willing to Do to be Successful?

Then schedule an appointment and let’s put a plan together!  Let’s get YOU to YOUR next level!

Thoughts on the CrossFit Open

The open is almost over.  It is that final week and we have one more workout to be revealed on Thursday.  If history is any indicator be ready for Thrusters and burpees and it won’t be an AMRAP.

Some of us have enjoyed the workouts, some of us have cussed them and felt they were not a good indicator of where we truly are as athletes.  Speaking for myself, I have been frustrated as the rules of the game have changed from week to week or workout to workout.

BUT let’s take just a step back and see if maybe we could learn something from this adventure.  First and foremost it is obvious that many people are highly competitive and want things to fall their way.  They want to make sure that every domino that can fall in their favor does.  Whether it is a battle about muscle-ups at the start of the workout, pull-ups being a “scaled” element or anything like that…we all want something to help us win and be viewed as better than everyone else out there competing.  We look for loopholes in the system and want to tear it down so that we can build it back up in a manner that best suits our individual tastes.

Some people want more gymnastics, some want all gymnastics thrown into the heavens.  Some want more lifts and challenges on the platforms.  Others want new elements introduced and not the same 15 year in and year out.

To everyone I would encourage you to find a mirror and look in it.  I would encourage you to take a minute and really ask about the frustration you feel and see if it is because of the workouts or because you’re mad that a weakness was exposed.  Take a long hard look and see if you focused a little too much on what you enjoyed and tuned out a coach or advisor when it came time to work on those elements that you don’t dominate the gym at.

Or are you just not there yet?

It’s okay to need to keep working on getting from point A to point B.  It’s okay to be exposed and have weaknesses brought to the front of our consciousness.  We can all stop making excuses about everything and just admit that we are a work and progress.  And you will be next year when the Open rolls around.

Never stop growing and learning.  Never stop being tested.  It is good to have someone else design the test every once in a while.  It helps remove our personal biases.

Use the Open and the workouts to re-assess your goals and dedicate yourself to getting there.  Make the changes necessary to your training and your nutrition (why hello pot, I’m kettle).  Or find peace with where you are and move past the Open.  Move on, know yourself and be proud of what you have accomplished and what you want to accomplish moving forward.  If you want that pull-up, go get it.  If you don’t…let it die and go get stronger doing something that keeps you motivated.

I didn’t love the open, I didn’t hate it.  I just accepted it for what it was…a test.  It did what it was supposed to do, exposed the things that I did not know and things I needed to work on.

And now, I prepare to move on.  No anger, no frustration…it is what it is.  It’s time to keep pushing forward, I have more to accomplish and more work to put in!  See you all at the gym!