About six months ago I received a once in a lifetime invitation to backpack the Grand Canyon. My friend had the backcountry permit, trails mapped out, and excel sheets packed with information. I was in! I had never been backpacking before but I had six months to prepare, how tough could it be?
This month’s Member Spotlight is about the amazing Amber Hatfield. If you know Amber, then you know that she has a heart of gold. I regularly see her in my 5:30 AM class at Pacheco Valley and this week I had the opportunity to interview her so that we could get to know her a little more. I was amazed by every second of our interview during which we explored how Amber came to CrossFit, how she uses her training outside of the gym, and an amazing fact that few people know about her.
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.
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!
In our final post, we will discuss the importance of building strength in our teen athlete. We all know the importance of training your sport, working individual skills, and practicing with your team, but often times strength training is overlooked for the sake of more training on the ball or on the field, court, or pool.
When can you begin strength training? Strength training can start younger than you might think. At middle school age and even younger, kids can work on body awareness and control. This age group will mainly use their own bodyweight to learn how to move properly. During these years, kids are growing fast and their movement and body control can literally change day by day. Repetition is vital during these years.
As the kids enter puberty and have more control over their bodies, we can start to add some external load to the movements and some intensity. We still want to keep it simple, with movements like goblet squats, kettlebell deadlifts, pull-ups, and dumbbell rows. As their training age (time spent training) increases we can move into more advanced movements such as front squats, trap bar deadlifts, weighted pull-ups, and barbell rows.
One of the many benefits of strength training is reducing the risk of injury in our youth athletes. When athletes learn how to move properly, train how to jump and land (absorb force), and build their engines, they are less likely to get hurt on the field, court, etc. A player sitting on the bench recovering from injury doesn’t do the team any good and can put themselves at risk for recurring injuries.
Another benefit of strength training is becoming better at your sport. If you are stronger, you are faster. If you are more powerful, you can defend better. If you are more fit, you can last longer in the game. What athlete doesn’t want to get stronger and faster?
On a personal note, I have witnessed both of my daughters go through what I would call “many ups and downs” when it comes to strength training. I think it is hard to be parent and coach and over the years it may or may not have caused a few disagreements. Because this is my profession, all I ever wanted was for my kids to believe in what I believe and understand the importance of strength training. It was not easy in their younger years. Now that they are 14 and 17, they both are starting to put it together and see the benefits. Not only do they feel stronger in their sport, but also in how they feel. The confidence exudes in their smile after a training session. It makes them want to eat better, sleep more, and train more.
How long and how often do kids need to train? Of course, there is a pie in the sky answer to this question. If kids had the time, two days a week in their younger years and up to four days a week as they get older. Now, we all know kids are overscheduled with all their activities, school work, and their social life. Balance is important. When first starting out, it is important that kids are having fun while they are training. If they feel like it is a chore or something they don’t really want to do (re-read above paragraph) this can affect how they feel about training when they get older and even into their adult years. Start small, one day a week is great. Get them moving, teach them a few things each class and repeat. As they get older and can start to build muscle, two to four days a week would be great. Again, 1 ½ hours would be amazing, but if they can get in 30-40 minutes per session that is better than nothing at all.
If you learn one thing from this article, I would love it to be your understanding of how important and beneficial strength training is for your teen athlete. This four-part series is called The Whole Athlete, if they don’t have all the pieces in place then it is difficult for them to realize their full potential.
We have the perfect way for you teen athlete to begin or continue their strength training journey. We are starting our Equip spring session on Thursday, Feb. 28th, 2019 and it will run every Thursday until May 2nd. Classes will be one hour, 4:30-5:30. Here is the link to sign up, link.
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? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNL_DAI19_I
What if 2019 is the year that you finally decide to prioritize you? Let that question hang there a bit. I am talking about seriously prioritizing your life, along with growing curious about your health. To take it one step further. What if you decided that beginning in 2019 you were going to commit to living the best life possible? What might the best life possible even look like!? Where would you start?
CrossFit Inc. makes a strong case that points to health parameters that sit well ordered on a continuum of values ranging from “Sick” to “Well” to “Fit”. For example;
High-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol or what we think of as good cholesterol). Less than 35 mg/dL of HDL cholesterol and you may have a problem, 50 mg/ dL is nice, and 75 mg/dL is a whole lot better.
Blood pressure: 195/115 mm/Hg you have a problem, 120/70 mm/Hg is considered healthy, and 105/50 mm/Hg looks more like an athlete’s blood pressure
Triglycerides, bone density, muscle mass, body fat, hemoglobin A1c all can be plotted relative to the above values.
The significance is that these are the predictors, cause, and manifestation of chronic disease. Chronic diseases include obesity, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, many cancers, Alzheimer’s, peripheral artery disease, and advanced biological aging, among others (above examples from CrossFit Inc. L1 Training Guide and talks by Coach Greg Glassman).
Perhaps you’ve already made your commitment to your health. You have a physician you trust, you test important markers and the above values and metrics sit very nicely within “Well” and “Fit” ranges. Maybe you turned to our CrossFit program or another fitness program you love, you’ve dialed in a nutrition plan and you sleep soundly among other healthy behaviors. You manage stress well and don’t feel a struggle with rumination or overly anxious worry. You are living what feels like your best life and you even have data to support it. Keep rockin!
Or maybe that’s not quite it. Perhaps it still feels, you feel, like something might be missing? Maybe you know something is missing, but just not sure what.
I pen this in the spirit of a new year, but it’s more than that. Your health, your life, and the opportunity for you to live the best life possible is what motivates me. It’s my personal Why. It’s why I spend so much time thinking about this place. It’s why I try to empower and create opportunities for coaches. It’s why I’m committed to this level of transparency! I am determined to create a space, program and a team of coaches that can support you in evoking a massive life change. Consider this your invitation to get curious about what’s possible!
I’ll reach a bit and attempt to connect said invitation to the Buddhist concept of Impermanence. According to the teachings of The Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a series of different moments joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause and effect to effect. It moves from one point to another, giving the outward impression that it is one continuous unified movement. In reality, it is not. As they say, the river of yesterday is not the same as today (adapted from urbandharma.org). Today is a new day. A new opportunity.
So much of our physiology and our health is the result of the lifestyle and behaviors we choose. As I have written about in the past, if we are willing to first examine and then potentially say NO to certain aspects of our life, especially with habits we’ve developed over many years, where then can we finally say YES? If we can develop the strength to let go of the stories we’ve told ourselves for many years, then what? What new doors can we open?
A few years ago I found a physician who helped me begin to get really curious about my health. Perhaps more importantly, he helped me begin to pay attention to the life I was living. How did I want to show-up in this great game? Where was I willing to make changes beyond showing up and consistently taking CrossFit classes?
I am certain that each one of us has the power to stop telling ourselves the same old story. My certainty comes from my own experience. 1/1/19 marked achieving a personal goal of 12 months alcohol-free. I pondered this potential lifestyle change for a couple of years. How would I be able to hang with friends? Enjoy happy hours? Survive at a cocktail party!? Alcohol consumption may not even be on your radar, but perhaps there is an area in your life where you might benefit from evoking a change.
Here’s the point I want to make: if we can stop long enough to hear the stories we’ve been telling ourselves for years, the power to choose otherwise and make big shifts lives in each of us. This includes perceived fate, no matter our age, condition or current physical shape. Even genetic predispositions passed on from our parents are only part of the story. Humans possess the ability to turn genes off and on via lifestyle and behavior changes. Simply put, you have the opportunity to take charge of your health and wake-up to living a different life.
Stay-tuned next week as we begin to preview a couple very cool 2019 programs launching soon. This includes the “Take Charge of your Health” program that will include all access seminars, as well as small group health coaching sessions. Our goal is to create opportunities for us all to dive deeper into identifying our own stories, listening to self-talk, understanding behavior change, setting attainable and sustainable goals and truly waking up what’s possible.
Happy 2019 from Portobelo, Panama. Let us all celebrate the opportunity to finally Take Charge of Our Health!