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CFN Programming: Here’s What’s Next

By Andy Boone and Gilly Boyd

As the 2019 CrossFit Open draws to a close, this blog post represents our time to pause and reflect on where we have been and where we are going! We find ourselves in a unique situation, heavily invested in providing two clean, well equipped fitness spaces at both ends of the same town we love and call home. When we pause long enough to zoom out a bit further and consider what we are building, there is a tremendous pride that comes with supporting two locations and offering enjoyable, evidence-based curriculum that’s available seven days a week.  One that produces results for all ages and ability levels. We very humbly sleep well at night knowing that our program works. We love and believe in our coaches and know that we have exceptional humans who make-up our client community. We are both grateful for what we have and committed to growing and getting better.

Over the past few weeks, we have been gathering opinions and suggestions about the program. Many people love having two locations within the same membership. Some love the coziness and convenience of the Pacheco location while others prefer the openness Downtown. Many people choose the gym that works best with the crazy schedules we all follow. If something is missing in the gym location you call home, please let us know.

Re: the CrossFit program, we’ve gathered some constructive feedback from several of you. As we move into April 2019, we are going to try and revamp the program in ways that will provide a little bit of something for everyone, while still providing a top-notch general strength and conditioning program. Starting this week, you will see the following changes:

1). The Endurance style philosophy ie longer metcons often reflecting sustainable, repeatable paced efforts, will now be programmed three days/per week. We will no longer have a designated “Endurance” day, however you can expect approximately 18 min to 40 min workouts designed to build aerobic endurance and increase metabolic capacity. These workouts will be constantly varied; sometimes involving interval work, sprint work, and/or long grinds. They will include monostructural movements classically seen in endurance training (running, rowing, biking, etc) along with a mix of gymnastic movements and weighted/barbell movements. We hope that this style will please both the people who loved the Endurance programming along with those who love long grinder CrossFit workouts.

2). Three days per week will be devoted to strength work. Two days per week, this will look like 20 min – 40 min of class time focused on learning about a barbell movement, working on efficiency, and then allowing lots of time to work up to the load of the day.  This will allow your coaches much more time to coach and cue each athlete. A conditioning piece at the end of class will either be very short or optional. The third “strength day” will often include a strength accessory piece followed by an eight min to 15 min conditioning piece.

These six days of programming will rotate, so that everyone gets exposed to every stimulus, regardless of the days they tend to take classes. And, as always, there will be some variation week to week (with holidays, special hero workouts, birthday workouts etc). For the most part, the above represents CFN’s basic weekly template.

3). The Fitness track will now be called the “Foundations” track. The Foundations track is returning to its original intention: a track written for the beginner CrossFit athlete building their base of fitness or for the experienced CrossFitter looking for a more foundational and basic approach to the workout of the day. In May, we are planning on hosting a month-long Open House event, and the Foundations track will allow brand-new athletes to feel comfortable in our classes. As always, athletes are still encouraged to scale the Performance track as needed or scale up the Foundations track as desired to meet their needs in a given class.

4). No more prescribed warmup. After two years of the guided, specialized warmup, we feel our coaches are well equipped to provide effective activating warmups on their own. The coaches notes will include some recommendations to the coaches on what to include in their warm-ups to make sure athletes are primed for the work they are doing that day, but the elimination of the prescribed warm-up allows them more freedom to dig deep into the curriculum and really teach the movements. We hope this allows for more learning, work and fun each 60 minute session.

5). An All-New DarkHorse Strength Program:

Previously, the DarkHorse Strength program included two days of powerlifting and accessory work, one day of Olympic lifting focused programming, and one day of Strongman Programming. We have decided to revamp this program to meet the needs of those that want more focused barbell work along with those seeking to advance their abilities in the competitive side of fitness.

The DarkHorse Program will now host two days per week of “Comp” training. This 30 min to one hour of extra programming is meant to supplement the regular class programming, allowing athletes to spend more time developing and honing their advanced gymnastic skills, their strength and extra volume to better prepare them for competition.

On Mondays and Fridays, this extra programming will be available to all athletes under the “DarkHorse” track included in the SugarWod app feed (if you need help finding this track, please ask a coach). Any Unlimited athlete can complete this extra work any time the gym is open, seven days per week. For example, if you take the 5:30 am PV class, you could attend the regular class on Monday morning and then stay after and complete the Comp training extra programming during the 6:30 am PV class. Or, if you take the 8:30 am DT on Tuesdays, you could stay after and do the extra work during the 9:30 am Tuesday class.

Please remember, freedom to access the gym during additional class times requires an Unlimited membership. Two day/week and Three day/week memberships allow you access to instructor led class sessions including Olympic Weightlifting and Open Gym.

The DarkHorse Program will also include two days of strength-specific programming, along with two classes devoted to the programming! The two days of strength-focused programming will be in SugarWod under the “DarkHorse” track on Wednesdays and Saturdays. For Unlimited members, this work can be completed any day, any time that the gym is open. However, most athletes are encouraged to attend the DarkHorse Strength classes on Wednesdays at 6:30pm Downtown and/or Saturdays at 10:30am Downtown (NEW CLASS launching this week!!). This strength programming will by Olympic lifting focused, with some Powerlifting and Strongman mixed in. You will tend to see more Powerlifting on Wednesdays and more Strongman on Saturdays. Any unlimited athletes interested in getting stronger and spending more time under the barbell are encouraged to attend class or do the work on their own. Athletes with Two day/week and Three day/week memberships can attend these classes, but it does count as one of their weekly classes out of their limit of 2 or 3 classes.

In summary:

CFN has evolved into three days of longer, endurance style metcons. We are offering three days of focused strength work. We also have four additional days of programming for those interested in Comp training and more Strength. Our Unlimited members have unlimited access to two facilities. We have over 20 coaches ready to answer questions and offer advice. Simply reach out to any of our coaches via email and ask away. We really, really, really want to hear from you!

Are you willing to reach out to a coach and wrestle nutrition as a topic? What about prioritizing lifestyle changes or maybe you want to discuss setting a few goals with a coach?

We hope that you give these new changes some time to settle on you and your body and mind. We hope that you are willing to shift and evolve with us! Not sure how this all feels or have more questions? Reach out to Andy and let him know. He can be reached at andy@crossfitnovato or 415-290-2964

If you would like to learn more about the science of programming and the “Why” behind what we do, please attend the next Educational Series on Tuesday, April 2nd at 7:30pm Downtown with Coach Gilly. Bring questions, bring curiosity.

And please give our newest CFN7 Podcast (listen here) episode a listen for more background on programming and the most recent changes! Thank you, thank you again for sharing your thoughts and supporting CFN. We are grateful for you!

The Whole Athlete Part 3 of 4: Mindset

The Whole Athlete –
Part 3 of 4: The Power of The Mind

By Julie Shepherd

Today, we will continue our conversation on the whole athlete and talk about the power of the mind (if you missed part one and two you can find them here and here).

MIndset. What does it have to do with sports, athletic ability, or training? It actually has a lot to with all three. The famous Willie Mays said, “What you are thinking, what shape your mind is in, is what makes the biggest difference of all”. How you think and feel during training and on game day can affect your performance.

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., two types of mindsets are discussed; a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is someone who is not open to learning, does not take constructive criticism well, and thinks they have all they need to succeed without the help of others. Athletes with a fixed mindset seem to place blame on others and don’t take the time to look inward and see how they can improve. On the opposite spectrum, an athlete with a growth mindset is always looking to learn and grow. They seek out advice on how to improve and then actually do what is suggested. Athletes possessing a growth mindset understand they have to continue to work in order to be the best and not just rely on their talent.

Another area of mindset that can affect your performance is how you prepare your thoughts before a game or training. Are you positive and do you think about how you are going to win or train to the best of your ability? Or are you negative and think about all the things you are bad at or might do wrong? Do you tell yourself you are going to be great? Or do you say there’s no way I can beat that team? It seems trivial, but your chances of beating the team decrease when you put negative thoughts into your head. Now I’m not saying you will beat a team just because you tell yourself you can, but you definitely have a better chance if you have positive thoughts.

Meditation is all the rage right now, and I believe it has a place in the sports world. If you have the ability to clear your mind and create a vision in your head of how you are going to play, your chance for success can increase. We see athletes with their headphones in before the game, listening to music, a book, or maybe a meditation app to help prepare themselves to get into the right mindset. They might need to calm down, they might want to get pumped up, or maybe they are listening to themselves saying a mantra over and over again.

We have all heard from our own mouths or the sidelines, “Get your head in the game” and this can mean many things. One thing is for sure, if mentally you are somewhere else besides in the moment, the outcome is not going to be something you want. Next time you are heading to practice or to a game, check your thoughts, focus on a growth mindset, and take your game to a new level!

I wanted to share with you a video that I saw many years ago but has stayed with me until this day. If you have some time, take a look and ask yourself, are you ready for The Grind?

‘Tis The Season

By Michael Crespo

The holiday season is in full swing. Welcome to mid-December 2018!

With the season comes the opportunity to make lots of memories with loved ones. For the health conscious person or the person just beginning their journey into health and fitness, it can be an intimidating time of year. Living among us are a few ‘Saints ’who would n’t consider touching a drop of alcohol or eating a grain of sugar. More commonly, however, there are mere mortals perhaps like you and me thinking we will hold ourselves to a standard. The problem is, there is often a lot of guilt and self-shaming when we fall short. So, how might we think differently about this holiday season?

I have been on a journey of self-improvement for about 6 years now (about 2 years before I began CrossFit) and I would like to think I know a thing or two that could be of use to you. One of the biggest things to consider and not just this holiday season, but every day is that our health is a continual journey. If you happen to have a rough holiday season where you eat a lot of junk, it does not mean that you are not a healthy person, and or you should give up the pursuit of better health and nutrition altogether! All it means is that you are human. If you are on the way to Tahoe and you take a pit-stop in Vacaville at the steakhouse or make it to Auburn and indulge deeply into In & Out Burger, do you stop driving to Tahoe? Our health is like this! If you take a pit stop during the holidays to enjoy them, don’t stop your journey to better health. The greatest reward with health comes with continued effort. Health is gained best through long-term consistency. So, let’s all take the macro view!

Yes, the small individual choices that we make contributions to our overall successes and results, but when you make a mistake don’t let it throw you completely off course. Life is full of different seasons much like the year. This time of year is dark and cold outside but made warm by the extra time we spend with our loved ones. It is a time for celebrating successes and mourning the death of 2018. January will be a time of renewal. It will be time to continue your upward progress once again. So to make a long story short, do your best! Don’t deprive yourself of what you feel you need to do for you. Enjoy the moment and realize ’tis the season. Take notice of how your bodies feel, and see if what you consume serves you. If it does not then you can take note for the next time.

Stress and Guilt weigh us down. They keep us from showing up and being our best self! This reality perhaps is worse than consumption of too much sugar and alcohol! I like to enjoy sweets during the holiday (ice cream most other times of the year). I have learned that for me the second and third pieces of cake often do not taste as good as the first piece. Knowing this I still sometimes slip up. I also know that overall I set a pretty good foundation with my nutrition about 80% of the time, so if I go a bit overboard on the holidays it is not the end of the world. Find what works for you. If you “mess up” take notice. Health is a mix of several factors, along with exercise and nutrition, social interaction, fun, and self-compassion are amongst three of the most important. During the holiday season, our nutrition and exercise may dwindle, but our social interaction and fun elevate. Enjoy it take your fill, and above all be compassionate to yourself. There is a season for everything and learning to be kind to ourselves just might be the key to a more healthy 2019

The First Ever Coach’s Derby

By Rick Wedge

The first ever Coach’s Derby will be contested Saturday, December 15th from 11:00 am – 2:30 pm. If you have been a member for a long time or even if you are brand new you quickly realize Crossfit Novato is more than just a place to work out. Join CFN and you end up becoming part of a very cool extended family.

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The Whole Athlete (Four Part Series) Part Two of Four: Sleep

By Julie Shepherd


Sleep, good-old-fashioned sleep.  Can you remember the last night you had a really good sleep?  Your head hit the pillow and you didn’t wake up until the next morning.  You got out of bed with a smile on your face, full of energy, eager to start the day. Now compare it to a night when you hit the pillow, tossed and turned, eyes wide open, and barely got any sleep.  How did your mood compare? Maybe no smile, maybe grumpy wishing you could go back to sleep.

Today we are going to continue our conversation on building the whole teen athlete (if you missed part one on nutrition you can find it here).  We will explore what happens to your body when you sleep and why sleep is so vitally important.  We will also look at how sleep or lack of sleep can affect your mental and physical game and some strategies on how to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.  It is recommended that teen athletes between the ages of 14-17 should sleep between eight to ten hours. During sleep we cycle through four to five phases several times during the night.  The first few phases occur while we are falling asleep, perhaps still aware of our surroundings, but our awareness fades and, our body temperature starts to drop until we are finally asleep.  The next two phases are where the magic happens. This is when we get our deepest and most restorative sleep. During these phases, the body repairs muscles and tissues, releases hormones, such as human growth hormone, and restores energy.  Some research has also found that during this phase your brain prepares for new learning when you wake up. This is the time when your brain transfers short-term memory into long-term storage.

Now that you understand a little more about sleep and what happens while we sleep, let’s dive into why sleep can affect your physical game.  As a teen athlete, your decision making and reaction time must be quick. If you take too long to decide who should get the ball or if you should take a shot, the other team can take advantage which may be the difference between a win and a loss.  Sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively impact your decision-making skills, decrease your reaction time, and inhibit your ability to recover properly. All of these deficits, either alone or together, can increase your risk of injury.

Stanford University Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine has conducted many studies examining the effects of sleep on athletes.  In one particular study, they examined the effects of extended sleep on several different athletic teams. Each group was given a goal of 10 hours of sleep per night during a five to eight week period.  The results showed basketball players achieved a more accurate shot, swimmers improved turn times and kick strokes, and football players improved their 20-yard shuttle. In another study, they found that athletes who slept at least 8 hours a night decreased their risk of injury by 68%.  If you are looking to improve your game at all, this research shows you how important sleep is to performance.

We all know the importance of your mental state on game day.  I’m sure you know how off you can feel if you are having a bad day, didn’t do well on a test, are experiencing relationship issues, or any other plethora of reasons you can feel off.  These life issues are typically something we deal with on a daily basis on some level or another. Now add how you feel when you wake up from a restless night of sleep. A little groggy, spacey, maybe you have some difficulty making decisions and perhaps a little grumpy.  How do you think that affects your play and ability to be a good teammate? Sleep deprivation can make you more irritable and decrease your ability to cope with stressful situations. A teen athlete’s ability to manage a bad call or poor decision by a teammate can be negatively impacted if they are sleep deprived.

Now we know why we need to get a good night’s sleep, but how do we do our best to make it happen?  First and most important, put down your electronics; phone, iPad, Kindle, video game, etc at least two hours before going to bed.  The blue light emitted from these devices can trick your mind into thinking it is daytime. Second, try and be consistent on what time you go to bed and when you wake up.  An irregular pattern can affect your levels of melatonin, a hormone which helps you fall asleep. Finally, relax your mind. Listen to music, read a book, or meditate.

Getting a good night’s sleep has many benefits.  When a teen athlete gets the recommended eight to ten hours of sleep, they are better equipped to recover, restore energy, and help transfer short-term memory to long-term storage.  Mentally they can also handle situations on the field appropriately and ensure their speed, reaction time, and decision making are at it’s best.

Next up, part three – Mindset










Pearls of Wisdom

By Michael Crespo

Last Saturday I had an amazing experience. I attended my first daylong meditation at Spirit Rock Meditation center in Woodacre, CA. Attending a daylong has been on my bucket list for awhile because I believe in meditation/mindfulness as a potent skill to cultivate a deeper knowledge of yourself. I am somewhat of a super spiritual person, but I perceive myself as being very practical/rational at the same time. I say all that to say that what attracted me to this particular day long meditation was the title of the event. “True Nourishment From Mind, Heart, to Cell”. As a practicing health coach looking for tools to better serve my clients, this had my name written all over it. If there was ever a time to attend a daylong, the time was now.

Saturday finally came. Armed with a good pen and notebook, I left my cell phone in my truck and prepared to immerse myself in this new and exciting experience.

Our speakers for the day were three amazing ladies. One speaker was a buddhist monk of the Gelugpa Tradition (The same order as the Dalai Lama). The second speaker was an amazing meditation teacher and mindful eating nutrition coach. I gained something from each speaker but the one that spoke to me the most was the third speaker, Dr. Elissa Epel, PhD. Dr. Epel is a Professor in Psychiatry at The University of California San Francisco and she is one heck of an amazing human being. Dr. Epel leads many research studies on stress and the effects it has on our health and longevity. It was from Dr. Epel that I gained many pearls of wisdom.

I know many people who don’t believe that meditation works for them. The cool thing about meditation is that there are about a million different practices. Also for the purposes of this article I will use the terms mindfulness and meditation interchangeably. Mindfulness equates to being fully in the present moment. Practices can range from sitting alone in silence for extended periods of time, to going for a walk in nature, or even playing sports (entering the zone). People practice mindfulness in many different forms sometimes without realization.

What was amazing about Dr. Epel is she was very thorough in explaining the science behind mindfulness. The how and the why. By definition the mind is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences moment to moment, which includes their environment, their bodies, and thoughts. It is everything that we feel from the temperature outside to the self criticism inside.

I often discuss with my colleagues the connection between the mind and the body. Much like the chicken and the egg one of the questions I wrestle with is what comes first, the feelings of the body or the emotions of the mind? According to Dr. Epel the feelings of the body shape the mind. The mind is also something that is not easily measured. We can measure pieces such as blood flow, attention, and even compassion but these are all parts of the sum. My intent going into going into the daylong was to walk away with something to share, the following bullets are key takeaways I learned from Dr. Epel;

    • “Context shapes cognition” we are easily influenced by our environment (people, places, and things) this perhaps explains why the community aspect of CrossFit is so integral
    • Our natural state of being (default mode network) exists in the midline prefrontal cortex of our brain. With regular mindfulness practice (about 7 months) our thinking shifts to being more aware of actual reality you can see all of this via brain signatures (neuroscans)
    • “Selfing” one of Dr. Epel’s terms creates the illusion that we are separate and leads to feelings of depression and ruminant thoughts (a wandering mind) in the mind which leads to loneliness which she stated is a “sickness of the mind and body”
    • Stress in the body = unconscious stress. We can trick our minds into thinking everything is okay but our bodies hold onto that stress and elicit a stress response
    • When we sleep at night our stress response is supposed to “dip” but if our bodies still feel stressed and do not dip. This has been associated with more occurence of chronic disease.
    • Positive stress (exercise), breathing, and meditation, are ways that you can activate your parasympathetic nervous system to to control your physiology in a better way and lower the stress response.
    • Situations that we know have an end and that we are in control of are positive stressors that add to our lifespan (Hour long CrossFit class anyone?)
    • You can remind yourself you are safe by giving yourself safety cues, it is as simple as being in an environment that you feel safe in and actually telling yourself you are safe and trying to feel it in the body
    • We need more self-compassion in the west. Unique to our western culture is our vulnerability of social stress and our inner critic. Social stress is our common condition
    • Overcoming social stress is about finding emotional independence and not being attached to conditions
  • Loneliness is as dangerous as smoking and causes inflammatory responses in the body

Dr. Epel has a book “The Telomere Effect” which I purchased and am currently reading. In it she discusses her work on telomeres which are parts of our cell whose lengthening and shortening are associated with aging. Behaviors that are detrimental to our health = shorter telomeres and in effect, shorter healthspan and quicker entry into chronic disease. On the other hand behaviors that are beneficial to our health can stall the shortening of our telomeres and in some cases even lengthen them. Now more than ever the reasons for living a healthy life are backed by science. So why don’t we do it?

The truth is it is not as simple as it seems.Turn on the television and within half an hour you’ll see 5-6 different fast food ads. Exercise can be a very vulnerable activity. Without support, a person that comes from a family that suffers from chronic disease may not be able to make the necessary changes to live a longer more quality life. Why should they? Their family and friends likely struggle with making healthy choices themselves and thus the cycle continues.

Health Coaching is one of the newest and fastest growing professional fields. One in two americans has a chronic disease, one in four have multiple chronic diseases. The need for a collaborative health model that is client centered is needed now more than ever. What do I mean by client centered? I mean that the client needs to take charge of their own health. Intrinsic motivation (or self motivation) is the key to reversing this most vexing problem that we face in the US. Were everyone to have enough will power to make the changes necessary to lead healthy lives there would be no need for the health coach. This however is not the case, and as it turns out willpower is a finite resource.

After Saturday the fire in my heart grew tenfold and a lot of pieces came together. The journey to better health is not easy but it is possible. “Many hands make light work”  this is where the health coach comes in. The client holds the keys within. It is our job to help evoke the person that our clients truly are and wish to be for themselves, and their loved ones. Their best self. Through, accountability, support, and compassion. I believe we are in the middle of a health revolution and not only is the future fit, but the future is one that is full of health, self-love, and compassion.

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CrossFit Novato - Downtown

Address: 7427 Redwood Blvd
Novato, CA 94945

Phone: (415) 290-2964
Email: andy@crossfitnovato.com

CrossFit Novato - Pacheco Valley

Address: 5420 Nave Dr
Novato, CA 94949

Phone: (415) 290-2964
Email: andy@crossfitnovato.com

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