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CrossFit for Kids and Our Health

CrossFit for Kids and Our Health

By Alana Clark

 

“CrossFit Kids” is a curriculum designed for children  in their elementary years. Visit CrossFit Inc.’s “CrossFit Kids” website and here’s what you will  find:

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Are You Ready to be Woman Strong?

Are You Ready to be Woman Strong?

By Gilly Boyd

We live in a time where people are becoming increasingly aware of the relationship between fitness and nutrition with overall health and wellness. However, in our pursuit of fitness and health, many are forgetting one of the most fundamental pieces of being human. That is Human Connection.

I am aware of a rising number of studies exploring the concept of loneliness and how the closely related lack of human connection may in fact be contributing to the rising rate of chronic disease conditions. This includes obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression! As the rate of chronic disease is on the rise, and as more and more people feel alone or lack human connection, we see the potential for a person’s health to decline even further. This decline in turn may cause antisocial behavior, thus creating the potential for a vicious cycle of declining health and increasing isolation.

In ancient ancestral times, individuals were supported by the entire tribe. A woman who gave birth had an army of sisters, aunts, mothers, and grandmothers to help care for her and her child, to teach and to guide her on her path through motherhood. Modern tribes and cultures that have these practices in place today report experiencing fewer instances of postpartum depression and chronic disease.

“Amazing things happen when women help other women.” – Kasia Gospos

At CrossFit Novato, we are on a quest to create spaces where women can visit and participate in health focused activities including thoughtful workouts, with the support of other women free from all judgements and fears. These are spaces , indoors and outdoors, where women can talk freely about their struggles, their triumphs, their defeats, their fears,  and their ever changing emotions. This one time “gym” community has evolved into a sacred place where people explore the concept of health, nutrition, and fitness without pressure or shame. A community where the core value is human connection; a place where people gather safely and are given the encouragement, support, tools, and a freedom to begin building relationships with themselves, their families, and others.

Phase I

Phase I of our Women’s Health program was our Postpartum Return to Fitness class series. This class was designed to connect new moms with their new bodies, re-connect them to their core and pelvic floor through their breath and to gently explore fitness and strength again.

Participants ranged from 3 months postpartum to 18 months postpartum. We worked with first-time moms to moms of multiples, from women with little-to-no athletic background to women with years of experience in a gym.

The most beautiful aspect of this class had nothing to do with how much weight people lifted or even how hard they worked. Instead, we focused on building confidence and human connection. Several participants initially reported feeling overwhelmed and unsure of themselves. In the end, participants reported a feeling of believing in their own strength and finally having time and a program that was “theirs”.

Frankly, when I started teaching this class, I was completely unsure of myself, unsure of my ability to connect and help other women.  I was lacking confidence in my abilities as a Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach. As the course came to a close, I felt a special bond and a connection to these women (we cried both tears of joy and tears of frustration together) and more confident than ever that I am on my best path.Thank you to these wonderful women who trusted me with their babies, with their fitness and recovery, and, most importantly, taught me more than I ever thought possible!

Phase II

I am excited to announce the launch of our next Women’s Health Program: Woman Strong. Woman Strong is a female-only, female-coached strength and conditioning class open to women of all ages and abilities. The programming includes basic strength movements; you will learn how to squat, press, pick something up off the floor, and pull yourself up on rings or bars. You will be exposed to dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, barbells, sleds, and medballs. The conditioning pieces will be fun and non-competitive. The coach will work with you to make sure the weight and intensity you choose that day is appropriate. There are no prescribed weights, you get to choose how much to lift in a given day. All movements are coached with consideration for female anatomy, and core/pelvic floor health. The strength you will build in this class will give you more confidence and independence in your life outside of the gym.

This class is a great compliment to traditional cardio-based training such as Cycling classes, Zumba or running. It is a great strength-training program for women looking to preserve bone-density and lead an independent life as they age. This class is appropriate for pregnant women or postpartum women looking to return back to fitness.

The most important aspect of this class is the community of women it will build. Babies and toddlers are welcome to come with you to class and we are a breastfeeding-friendly facility. While there is no specific child-care provided, the women in the class and the coach work together to help care for each baby and child so that every mom gets the space and time to get a workout in. This isn’t a class to come in and beat yourself down with a crazy-hard workout. It’s a place to come in and discover your own strength, a place to wake up to your potential. Are you ready to be Woman Strong?

Our Woman Strong class will run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:45am-11:45am at our Downtown location, starting on Wednesday September 5th. The class is open to all fitness-levels and abilities.

If you are new to our facility, please contact Head Coach Gilly Boyd at gilly@crossfitnovato or (831)234-3506 to come in and try a free class.

The rise of ACL injuries among our female student athletes; Equipped with information, are we willing to change the way we train?

By Andy Boone and Julie Shepherd

 

We’d like to kick-start a discussion around the rising number of Anterior Cruciate Ligament (“ACL”) injuries among our female student athletes. Equip Sports Performance is aware of at least 12 Marin County female student athletes who suffered ACL injuries in the last three years alone. Although we cannot prevent all ACL injuries, it’s been shown that there are in fact steps we can take to reduce the rate of occurrence. So, what do we know, and what steps can we take to address this problem?

This is by no means intended to be a scholarly paper, but rather anecdotal and again, our effort to begin a conversation. Why do so many ACL injuries occur? Are females at greater risk than males? What steps can individual athletes take to help mitigate risks? Are there training principles and activities whole teams should implement and prioritize?

For starters, let’s first make sure we are all on the same page. What is the ACL and what are the most common injuries?

The ACL is one of the key ligaments which helps stabilize the knee joint. The ACL performs this function by attaching to the femur on one end, and to the tibia on the other. It is the primary restraint to forward motion of the shin bone or tibia. The ACL prevents the tibia from sliding too far forward and also helps stabilize other movements at the joint, including angulation and rotation.

Student athletes typically sustain ACL injuries one of two ways. The first is through contact. An athlete may run into another athlete resulting in player to player contact or on more rare occasions, he/she may run into a stationary object ike a goal post. Rare indeed, but it does happen.

The second and more common is the non-contact ACL injury. Non-contact ACL injuries typically occur when athletes cut, change direction, jump, land and/or abruptly decelerate. We believe the most common event causing ACL injuries is landing and/or abrupt deceleration. It is estimated that this event causes about 70% of all ACL injuries.

It’s been shown that female athletes are approximately eight times more likely to injure their ACL when compared to same-age males. It’s also believed there are several reasons female athletes are more prone to this specific injury. First (and as strange as it may sound), female athletes may naturally over develop quadricep strength compared to hamstring strength. On its own and under normal demands this is neither unnatural nor problematic. However, under high demand activities involving high stress on the knee joint, balance between the quadricep and the hamstring becomes essential as both must contract working together to help stabilize the knee. This co-contraction is especially important during activity which include cutting, pivoting and changing directions. If the hamstring muscle is not strong enough to assist and/or absorb impact, it cannot stop the tibia (shinbone) from moving too far forward, which very simply overextends the ACL increasing the risk of a potential tear.

In addition to overdeveloped quadriceps combined with poor hamstring strength, it’s been shown that many female athletes are prone to landing with hips and knees extended or straight and often with their knees turned inward or what’s referred to as a valgus position. Landing in this position increases tension on the connective tissues of the knee and is linked to a higher risk of ACL injury.

With the above challenges in mind, supporting a large number of Marin County female student athletes across a variety of demanding athletic environments, Equip Sports Performance has set forth a basic program philosophy. Our training program aims to reduce the incidence of ACL injuries which occur during both training and competition.

Ideally, sports performance and training programs should focus on repeated activation and strengthening of the hamstring musculature and supporting soft tissues. Activating and strengthening the hamstring musculature should be prioritized, built into in-season and off-season training, daily warm-ups and never neglected on game day.

Training sessions with these principles may progress to weighted single leg deadlifts and weighted trap bar deadlifts. However, when athletes begin a strength program they should work with a coach who understands bodyweight movement progressions in advance of weighted options. For example, the deadlift begins with first learning how to brace and activate musculature to ensure spinal integrity. This happens unweighted while an athlete lies on his or her back or holds a static plank position. Once proper bracing is mastered, athletes learn to correctly hinge with the hip as a prerequisite to lifting weighted implements from the floor. Once an athlete learns to hinge correctly, he/she may begin lifting light kettlebells and one day they may progress to a trap bar or barbell lift, both more complex movements.

Sports performance and training programs must teach jumping and landing techniques including learning how to load the posterior chain properly in advance of box jumps and other multidirectional jumping activities.

At Equip Sports Performance, it is not uncommon to meet high-level athletes including collegiate, high school, club lacrosse, basketball and soccer players, who have never learned to jump and land correctly. We also observe coaches, parents, and other well intentioned adults incorporating advanced plyometric training principles (the box jump!) into training programs, however likely unaware of the above foundational movements, and inherent risks that may result from these training efforts.

Not unlike the above hamstring strength principles, training sessions aimed to teach jumping and landing may first begin with bracing and activating the correct musculature to ensure spinal integrity. Following this, hip hinging is learned. Once mastered, athletes may then progress to low box jumps, jumping and landing in place, and broad jumps. Advanced plyometric training may include hurdle jumps, and single leg bounding, but only after beginning jumping and landing techniques have been mastered.

ACL injuries are an unfortunate part of sport. These injuries will occur during both training and competition. However, if there are in fact steps we can take collectively to help reduce the risk of these injuries, isn’t it time we consider how clubs, coaches, and our student athletes spend time training?

A reduction in time spent teaching and learning the technical side of a given sport may increase time spent building sound movement progressions aimed specifically at reducing occurrence of injuries. By including thoughtful, intentional, and progressive strength training along with progressive jumping and landing techniques, we believe a student athlete reduces the risk of facing ACL woes. Perhaps more than an opportunity to train this philosophy, it may be our collective responsibility.

We’d like to know what you think! To learn more about our program or if you’d like to share your thoughts please email Julie Shepherd at 415-686-1493 or julie@equipsports.us.

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acl-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20350738

https://www.nebh.org/news-and-events/live-in-motion/2016/why-do-female-athletes-suffer-more-acl-injuries-than-males/

http://www.contemporarypediatrics.com/modern-medicine-feature-articles/prevention-acl-injuries-adolescent-female-athletes

http://www.scienceofsocceronline.com/2014/07/hamstring-strength-fatigue-and-knee.htm

High on Sobriety; A Few Things I’m Noticing

By Andy Boone

A few years ago I was talking to a close friend about his journey to sobriety. He was approaching his 20th year completely sober and I was fascinated with my constructed idea of the discipline it would take for me to get sober; completely sober as a way of life. Not a drop of booze, no other substances whatsoever. In his case, not even Advil. Why did that seem so ridiculous? This idea had me spinning.

Within a week I reached back out to the same friend. I had questions. Why had he made the decision? Was it a single incident? How had the decision changed his life? Any regrets? Any temptations? I shared my typical consumption patterns and routines. For me, consuming alcohol had more or less become a way of life. A part of most social events. Included in most restaurant dinners. Was it time for me to take a break? If I reduced the quantity and frequency, would that be a worthy exercise?  Could I be the guy that just had a few beers now and then or should I test what it was like to go without?

His simple response set me on a new course and it went something like this: “If you are connecting with so many honest thoughts and questions about the subject well, maybe there’s your answer.”

Alcohol and the connection to my overall health was on my mind much of 2017. Could I make it Sunday through Thursday with no alcohol and then ‘back to normal’ with a green light to have a few drinks Friday and Saturday? Should I not drink during the week, but allow myself the obvious few at the organized social events? Could I make it through a weekend without a drink? How many was too many?

All the while, my friend’s comment kept spinning in my head. “If you are connecting to all of these questions well, maybe there’s your answer”. Maybe I did in fact have my answer.

With a few failed stop then start attempts during 2017, I took my last drink this past December. As I approach nine months sober, I thought I would use this week’s blog post to share some of what I’m noticing. This IS NOT an ‘everybody needs to stop drinking and get sober’ post. The last place you will ever find me is standing on a box preaching the way your life should be. If alcohol is a substance you are curious about and you’ve wrestled with the idea of making a change, here are a few things I’m noticing.

I Feel Better

I’m not sure how best to describe this one, so I’ll just sort of lay it out there. I feel better. I don’t feel the low-low energies that I used to. I don’t despise Monday like I used to. My outlook on my own health and life is generally more positive. I feel more patient and I feel more loving. It feels good to feel good.

I Ruminate Less

I’ve spent many years of my life living in my head. The voice that never quiets. I suspect that a mindfulness practice and consistent exercise are also factors that reduce rumination. I also know that after even the most enjoyable alcohol-fueled social event, the morning after is filled with reflection and rumination and sometimes regret. Quitting drinking has helped me to step out of my head.

I Sleep Better

For many years of my life I would wake at about 1 AM. Often times when drinking alcohol I would wake at 1 AM and have a difficult time going back to sleep. Even when I quit drinking during January and February this pattern would sometimes continue. Then in months three and four something shifted. Today it’s not uncommon for me to sleep through the entire night. I experience lucid dreams and awaken feeling rested like I didn’t know was possible.

More Present in Relationships

I especially notice this one with my wife, children, good friends and even teaching classes. I’m more engaged in conversations and am naturally and authentically more curious about what’s going on around me. When we feel better about ourselves and the life we are living, I believe that opens the door to show-up with others. 

I Feel Strong (again) During Workouts

I found myself in the gym discouraged with how I felt during workouts. Something wasn’t right. I didn’t feel like I could really face intensity. Also in a scary sort of way I started feeling like I couldn’t recover. Thus, my participation suffered. I’m enjoying our program more than I ever have.

I Make Better Food Choices

When we drink alcohol, our propensity to choose the sweet and the super savory only increases. Our guard comes down, we crave the garbage and don’t hesitate to dive-in. I don’t crave sugar like I used to.

My Kids Notice

I know that they’ve noticed because they are old enough and they tell me so. They like this dad better. They tell me they are proud of me. That about sums that up.

I’m More Curious About the Long Term Impact

In one of Peter Attia’s recent “Drive” podcasts, he summarizes the physiological effect of alcohol on the body. I encourage you to checkout Attia’s podcasts and, in general, his work on Health and Longevity.  

With respect to “alcohol” we are really talking about the physiological effect of the molecule ethanol on the body. Attia points out that ethanol is in fact a toxin, and that the dose makes the poison.

Many people (not in the world of toxicology) forget there is a probability distribution that drives the impact of a toxin on a population. There are going to be some people at one end of the spectrum who are largely impacted by certain toxins and there are going to be others who are not.

Ethanol is no exception. Like Attia, I don’t believe that there is a single benefit to ethanol, the molecule, in the human body. Ethanol in its metabolic pathway is metabolized by the liver and has an effect on both the liver and the brain. The effect on the brain is what people drink alcohol for. So we can feel deliciously buzzed. You know, that “Oh, heyyy…” feeling. But it also acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and this kicks up some euphoria. So, it’s a depressant, but also excitatory and thus why it feels uniquely yummy and allows us to feel like we can let go of our stress AND feel good.

The effect on the liver is not so yummy. Even though this varies by individual, Attia points out alcohol is metabolized very similar to fructose. They share similar metabolic pathways. Not identical, but not surprising that they overlap given fructose is fermented to make ethanol. Just like sugar, different people tolerate different amounts. Over time, I believe many of use lose our ability to metabolize alcohol, just like we do the refined carbs and sugar.

Writing a New Chapter

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? Where did I need to let go?

Today I am connecting with myself and others more deeply. For the first time, I’m seeing where I want to show-up bigger and stronger, as well honoring opportunities to rest and just be.  The fight, the persistence, the courage as well as honesty and transparency feels right. I am inspired to share my journey with you. 

CrossFit Novato: Our Space, Your Space

CrossFit Novato: Our Space, Your Space

By Michael Crespo

For those of you who don’t believe in magic, science confirms that exercise performed at a high intensity and social connection are two of the best things you can do to improve your quality of life.

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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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