Never Too Old to Climb

One of the first things people notice when they start checking out CrossFit, is that the tools and equipment we use for conditioning are a little bit different than traditional gyms. Of course barbells are everywhere, and you can usually find a place to do pull-ups in any fitness facility, but something like a climbing rope is usually only found in a CrossFit box! Maybe you can remember 6th grade gym class, when climbing up a rope might have happened once or twice a year. Perhaps, you went away to summer camp and they had a rope to swing on there. But rarely as an adult have there been opportunities to take to the playground in the spirit of fun and health.

Its CrossFit workouts like todays, which make me feel like a kid again. They make me think of long summer days running around and climbing on anything I could find. I’ll probably never get back to those days, but when I see a chance to capture a little bit of that in a 15 minute workout I always try to grab it. I’m sure over the Holidays; I’ll get the ever so common question from family of “why do you spend so much at the gym”? I guess it’s a fair question, they probably don’t know that I get to throw barbells to the ground, swing like a monkey and climb a rope to the ceiling, all before 10am on a Saturday morning…

So, in the spirit of Sarah’s Grandfather, Henry Lotto who turns 100 years old this weekend, we’re breaking out the kids toys for the grown ups at CrossFit Thermal. Happy Birthday, Hank.

“…when did we all resolve to growing up means stand aside?” – Go Radio

Crossfit and the Holidays

The holidays can be a crazy time for everyone. What once seemed like a far off date on the calendar is now less than a week away. As we get closer to the holidays everything seems to get amplified – you realize you aren’t anywhere near being done with gift shopping, you suddenly discover that your house is in no condition for visitors, you get the picture. The point is that what should be a wonderful, relaxing time is often very stressful.

We have a two part solution for you to blow off some steam – first, be selfish and second, move your body. Let me explain the selfish part… with all the craziness of the holidays we often get out of our normal routine. It’s really important to carve some time out of your day for yourself. Ideally, it would be an hour down here at CrossFit Thermal but it could even be locking your bedroom door to get some privacy.

The second part of the solution is to move and be active. You know you will be moving if you come to Thermal for a wod but you can also bang out 100 push-ups for time at home. Where ever you do it, I always find that taking a bit of time to get away from all of the holiday madness and letting myself be active helps reduce some of the stress. There’s no reason why the holidays should put a damper on your fitness or your happiness!

Benchmark WODs, Where Do They Fit In?

According to the national weather service, short distinctive given names, both written and spoken are quicker and less subject to error than more cumbersome identification methods. Since 1953, we’ve been giving these types of names to our storms, CrossFit, uses that very same idea in naming some of its more notorious workouts. You may have heard of them before, Fran, Cindy, Grace, Elizabeth and Karen are a few. You may even have a friend so into CrossFit that they named their dog after one of these workouts. I remember when I was installing the leaderboard here at Thermal, and one of my friends who hadn’t started CrossFit yet stopped in He said, “Man, you’re not even open and you already have a bunch of members” While it was a nice thought, if he would have read the rest of our leaderboard, he would have thought I had a member named “Jerk”. I quickly explained the benefit of naming these universal workouts and he was totally on board.

The benchmark workouts (including the ladies) are meant to be completed, tracked and repeated. This is one of the ways that we measure progress at CrossFit. The workouts are carefully designed to challenge everyone from the novice to the elite. No matter how proficient you become at the movements and skills required to do these workouts, there is always room for improvement. Personally the workouts tell me where I am from a competitive standpoint. Since the workouts are standardized, I can compare my results to the guy next to me, or to my friend in Portland, Oregon. Maybe you aren’t competitive about CrossFit, maybe you couldn’t care less about getting a sub 3:00 Fran time. If your goal is to look better naked or be healthier longer, the workouts are just as important to track. As your performance improves so do your bio-metrics, your body fat percentage, and your lean muscle mass. I know one thing for sure; if you pull a 5 minute Elizabeth time, you will absolutely look the part. Measurable progress all the way!

My Level 1 Experience

I am so excited to write to our community about my experience at the CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course. For anyone wondering what that is, it’s a weekend long course that delves into anything and everything you want to know about being a CrossFit coach, owning your own affiliate, and how to become a better athlete yourself. You can also read about the course here. Unfortunately, a weekend isn’t long enough to cover everything you need to learn about CrossFit, but it’s a great start.

I was hesitant about taking this course, mostly because I am not a great athlete, and I was worried I wouldn’t belong. I thought, “Will they laugh at me because I still scale most workouts?” One minute into the certification, I knew just how wrong those thoughts were.

The seminar staff was a group of warm, friendly, knowledgeable CrossFitters who love CrossFit, and love sharing their passion of CrossFit. The weekend was full of lectures, including “What is CrossFit?” “What is Fitness?” and “Nutrition”, but more than that, the weekend was full of hands-on movement. We spent hours doing the movements, not just learning how to do them ourselves, but also how to coach the movements to others. We learned how to keep athletes safe, but at the same time ensure that they are getting a good workout. All of the movements we did were with a PVC pipe, weighing 6 ounces, but I can promise you, we were all sweating like we were lifting heavy weights.

Not only did I learn a ton about CrossFit, and about what will make me a great coach at Thermal, I also made new friends. And that’s what CrossFit is about…the community. We pushed each other during workouts and hugged each other when the workouts were over. I’m looking forward to visiting my new friends at their boxes, and look forward to having them drop in at Thermal.

It was such an incredible experience, one that I’ll never forget. I was fortunate enough to learn from amazing coaches (including 5th Place Games Finisher Garret Fisher).

I am looking forward to furthering my CrossFit education, but in the meantime, I’m excited to start my journey as a Coach in Training here at Thermal. I will be writing more bog posts about my experience at the Level 1 Cert over the next few weeks as well!

12/17/2013 WOD


Thruster – 15 minutes to work on the thruster

As many rounds as possible in 12min of:

18 Thrusters (95/65)

12 Burpees over Bar

6 Chest to Bar pull-ups

The thruster is a huge piece of the CrossFit puzzle. Being efficient with it can make or break your workout. Today we will spend some time optimizing what I call the “launch” portion of the thruster. If this is your first time trying them, this will be a great way to learn the movement in detail.

What the Heck is the "WOD"?

I was having lunch today with my friend John, who was excited to hear about CrossFit Thermal. He had some basic questions about how CrossFit worked and specifically about Thermal. One of his questions was, “well can I come in and just do whatever I want?” When I said, “No” he stared at me puzzled for moment as if to say, “Why won’t you let me do whatever I want if I am paying you?” Of course I answered his question and explained everything from coaching to community, but as I was driving back to the box, I wondered how many more people had some 101 style CrossFit questions. As I was thinking about what to do, I got an email from a member that read something like “uh the workout looks….interesting”. I could tell that she had some questions too. I sat down and thought to myself, I really want everyone to know what to expect when they come in to work out, so here is some basic info on what we do…..I’m calling it, “What the heck is the WOD?”

The “WOD” or Workout of the Day is the day’s workout. Everyone who comes to class on a given day will perform the WOD.

Obviously the loads and other factors will be altered to meet everyone’s specific abilities and goals, but this ensures that we all are all battling the same workout together. When loaded movements are required, the weight selection will be listed as “men’s weight/women’s weight”. These numbers are considered to be the recommended loads for most of our experienced members. The workouts we post are designed to challenge even the most experienced athlete. Not everyone can complete a workout as prescribed, and some never will, but this should not discourage you.

Each person’s goals, abilities and experiences are different, making each workout different for every athlete. Intensity is the lone variable. We will set you up so that you are able to move quickly through every workout, while taking minimal rest.

Every workout can be scaled according to load, time, volume (repetitions) and distance, and exercises can be substituted for another. We emphasize each athlete’s strengths, not his or her weaknesses. In other words, we value what you can do, not what you cannot.

Regardless of your current fitness level and/or limitations, Crossfit Thermal will improve your overall fitness and health. So come check out a WOD, even if you don’t know what the heck it is…

Why we use Olympic Lifting in CrossFit – Part 1

I’ve heard people say “I’m never going to compete in the Olympic Games, why should I bother using Olympic movements when I work out?” There is no question that Olympic lifters are the strongest athletes on the planet. So by borrowing some of their techniques, and filtering these lifts systematically into our program, we can also get stronger, faster and become more accurate. There are 2 Olympic lifts; the snatch, and the clean and jerk.

First, practicing the Olympic lifts teaches us how to “explode”, or propel ourselves in a desired direction. For example, if you are playing an on field sport and you suddenly want to change direction to make a play or be in a better position, it helps us react explosively. These movements will help you reposition yourself as quickly as possible and therefore increase your sport specific skills. In addition to being able to generate this type of force, we also become conditioned to receiving similar external forces. This is extremely helpful in contact sports, combat, and other physical situations like carrying objects.

There are countless other benefits from Olympic lifting, and I’ll touch on them in future posts. Sadly, I’ve never seen any Olympic lifting in the typical “gym scene”. It is thanks to CrossFit that these movements have become more mainstream and many more people are now able to benefit from them.

What is Make Up Day

At CrossFit Thermal, we realize everyone can’t be at the box every single day.

Some days are rest days, others are filled with work or with family obligations. We feel that having the opportunity to make up missed workouts is a valuable thing! So every Sunday, you will have the opportunity to chose the workout that most fits your needs and that you couldn’t attend earlier in the week.

If you missed out on something that you would have really enjoyed, or saw something challenging that you wanted to tackle, this is your chance.

At the 9 and 10 am sessions, you’ll be coached through a full warm-up and through the workout of your choice. If you’re not sure which one to choose, we will be here to help you out!

Drugs vs Exercise

I came across a fascinating post on the other day (“Exercise as Potent Medicine”, NYTimes Blog Post) . It was really buried on the website but the title caught my eye – “Exercise as Potent Medicine”. The quick summary is that a recently published study compared –

i) how well various drugs succeeded in reducing deaths among people who were diagnosed with several common and serious conditions (such as heart disease and diabetes), versus –

ii) people who didn’t take drugs and just exercised.

The outcome of the study was that the results consistently showed that drugs and exercise produced almost EXACTLY the same results. As with most medical studies, this emphasized the need for further study and larger sample sets but even on a small scale, but the finding is pretty powerful.

We at Crossfit Thermal have been preaching the benefits of exercise as being a life changing process. Every day we get to help people gain strength, increase their lung capacity and even fit into that pair of smaller jeans. One of the other, less obvious benefits is that exercise is a powerful tool in maintaining a level of health that can remove the need for certain medications or even getting people off of existing medications. Don’t get me wrong, there are clearly situations where medications have a material and proven benefit. What we provide here is an option or supplement that your doctors should be prescribing as frequently as they prescribe statins.

In today’s world when we are faced with a health problem, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s really easy to just take a pill from our doctor and keep on living life like we always have. Well, sometimes there is an option that will get you the same result as the medicine but will improve your life in countless other ways. Sometimes the easy way isn’t always the best way.

Myth – I'm Too Out of Shape For CrossFit

Some of our new members were a little hesitant to give us a try. We had to explain to them, its not all what you see on ESPN.

The top finishers at the CrossFIt Games are the top one percent of athletes who do CrossFit; the fittest of the fit. Our own needs only vary by degree.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and everyone has potential. No matter what your fitness level or ability, we can get you on the path to your goals. Our classes are structured so that everyone gets the most out of a particular session for them. We ensure this with appropriate scaling and adjusting of workouts on a daily basis.

Here at CrossFit Thermal it’s all about relative intensity. We make sure the workout is appropriate for each individual’s needs. As skill and form improve, we ramp up the intensity and watch the progress soar. Were you a high school football player? A swimmer? Do you do triathlons, or maybe just want to keep up with the kids? We have a program for you, your neighbor, your best friend and your grandmother.

And a year from now, you will have wished you started today!


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