Finding Balance During the Holidays || Coach Wes Kimball

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Its officially holiday time. Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are now 10 days deep into December.  This also marks the time of year when the internet starts to tell you how to “Survive the Holidays.”  Basically there are a few schools of thought on how to manage holiday season.

 

  1. Go ape shit crazy, you deserve it! YOLO!
  2. Go against the grain and start your New Year’s Resolution today. Firebomb this holiday season with discipline and self-righteousness.  
  3. Find a balance that allows you to enjoy important time with friends and family with out completely undercutting your fitness goals.

 

As you can a imagine we’re going to make a case for number three. As I’ve stated here before many obstacles in life and fitness can be overcome by creating awareness around the things that are actually holding us back and devising a plan to overcome that obstacle. In my experience there are 3 main obstacles encountered over holidays that can negatively affect our health and fitness goals.

 

Social outings

While your social life always seems to be competing with you fitness goals, the shear volume of social events increases seemingly exponentially during the month of December.  Office parties, and Christmas parties with friends and/or family all squeeze themselves on to the calendar in December. Generally these parties include free booze and plenty of poor nutritional options.

 

Travel

If you don’t have to spend significant time in an airport or on the road  in December, consider yourself lucky.  Let me just tell you there are very few “healthy” options in between Wichita Falls and Amarillo and even less in the Amarillo airport. Couple that with the fact that you are away from the gym and normal training routine and we have potential holiday landmines here.

Big Family Meals

Finally, we all love our Mom’s delicious home cooking. Unfortunately that 5 lbs of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and pie isn’t going to help our six pack, or shave a minute off our mile time.

So what’s the answer? Well first of all I’m of the opinion that you should enjoy and maybe even indulge in all of the “problems” above. Why? Because they are all part of interacting with and participating in the lives of people that are important to us. We as humans are by nature social creatures, and the effects of isolation and loneliness can be just as detrimental to our health as lack of physical activity or poor nutrition.  Establishing and maintaining personal relationships is incredibly important and why the holidays should be enjoyed not stressed over.  So below are some ways to mitigate the damage done by the above obstacles while still enjoying and being thankful for the time we have with our friends and family.

 

Exercise Consistently

This is priority number one. One thing the holidays do bring is some extra time off from work, so commit to exercise 30-60 minutes 5-6 days a week. Trust me you have time. If you’re on the road go for a run, do one of our travel workouts , drop in to a CrossFit box, or even just help pops shovel snow for an hour. Exercise is the one thing you can have 100% control of during the holidays. Heck, you can even throw in some double days with Zone 1 work when you’re off from work.

 

Plan Workouts before and after big meals and social events

This is a simple, yet underutilized way to offset damage done by parties and big holiday meals. The post workout state simply put, allows the body to find productive uses for the calories we take in and mitigates the likelihood those calories will just be stored as fat (for a more detailed explanation of this check this article out). You should always train the day after (preferably in the morning) a big social outing or meal. While this doesn’t sound or feel appealing after a late night at the office Christmas party, it helps you mentally deal with “being uncomfortable” and not allowing that state of uncomfort to affect your training schedule. It also ensures that your training consistency is not negatively affected by social outings, and eliminates excuses from your vocabulary.

 

Reduce Calories outside of  big meals, and parties

Counting calories has a bad a wrap and rightfully so, but it does have some advantages especially this time of the year. The important thing to remember is that calorie counting on a micro level (per meal) is largely inaccurate. So stressing about the exact number of calories you take in per meal is counter productive. However, having an idea of how many calories you’re taking in over the course of the day has benefit to overall fat loss.  So on the days that you know you will take in a good amount of calories, reduce your intake by eating smaller meals earlier in the day or doing some intermittent fasting.

 

So there you have it! How to enjoy yourself over the holidays and not go completely off the rails! Enjoy yourself and your loved ones this month, and hopefully these tips will help you stay consistent with your training!

-Wes Kimball

Back to the Basics: The Strict Press || Coach Gen Schmidt

Last week, Coach Tim taught us how to lift a heavy load from the ground via the Deadlift. Today we’re going to break down a lift that allows us to move a load from the shoulder to overhead; the Strict Press. Being able to move a load from the shoulder to overhead and vice versa is a skill that transfers directly to daily activities. The most direct example would be loading a carry-on into the overhead compartment on a plane. The opposite is true when taking an item down from a high shelf. Without proper technique and support these actions could prove to be very difficult, in some cases even resulting in injury.

The Strict Press is a phenomenal lift for developing upper body pushing strength and mid-line stability. So, let’s take a look at the components of the Strict Press and how we can most efficiently perform the task.

We can also break this lift down into 3 steps as we did the deadlift.

  • The Set up
  • The Execution of the Press
  • The Return

The goal of the Strict Press is to move the weight from the shoulders to overhead in the most efficient way possible. The bar path should travel along a straight line both on the way up and during the return.  Proper execution of each step is crucial to a successful lift.

The Set up:

  1. Begin with the feet hip width apart and the bar resting on the shoulders in the front rack position. The_mg_4371 forearms should be vertical with the elbows slightly forward of the bar and hands fully wrapped around the bar with a tight grip. The hands should be slightly wider than the shoulders.
  1. Before executing the lift it’s important to make sure your body is prepared to move the load. With the feet planted firmly on the ground, squeeze the quads, the glutes, the core, and the lats creating tension throughout the body.
  1. Take a deep breath in and brace through your core in preparation to move the weight.

 

The Press:_mg_4379

  1. In order to keep the bar traveling in a straight line, we must first remove an obstacle; your head! Begin by pulling the chin back. Think ‘double chin’. This will create the space necessary to keep the bar on its path.
  1. Driving through the heels and using the torque you’ve created, push the bar upward, directly in front of your nose, until you’ve reached full extension. Make sure the bar is directly over your mid-line and you’ve returned your head to a neutral position.
  1. You should finish the extension with the elbows locked out and active, externally rotated shoulders. Be sure that you are still bracing through the mid-line by squeezing the core with the rib cage down and glutes tight._mg_4377

The Return:

Once you’ve successfully lifted the weight to a fully extended overhead position, you must bring it back down! Efficiency in the return is just as important as the initial press. We have the same goal in the return that we did on the way up; a straight bar path.

  1. Begin by pulling the chin back, once again creating the ‘double chin’ position.
  1. Keeping the external rotation in the shoulders, begin to pull the bar back down along the same path that it rose until it meets your shoulders.
  1. Finish with your head in neutral position. The elbows should remain slightly in front of the bar with the mid-line tight and feet gently screwed into the floor, repeating your strong set up position.

There it is! You’ve performed the Strict Press. This lift is a foundational movement that will transfer directly into more complex lifts like the Push Press and Jerk. By perfecting your movement in the Press you’ll be setting yourself up for success in future lifts.

The main points to remember are:

  • Create tension throughout the entire body to support the lift. It starts from the ground up! Mid-line stability is key!
  • Full range of motion is important. We want the arms fully extended in the overhead position with tight, active shoulders.
  • A straight bar path during the extension and the descent will result in the most efficient lift.

Happy Pressing!

-Coach Gen

8 Years, 8 Lessons

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I’m going to depart from our normal health and fitness related info to talk a little about life and business. Today is somewhere close to our anniversary (we’ve got about three different anniversary dates for when CFA “Started”) and I wanted to share with everyone some lessons I’ve learned along the way.  

  1. Change is constant, change is inevitable. People change, people’s priorities change, markets change, new knowledge and experiences are gained, and the landscape will never remain static. People generally do not like change and clients and coaches have come and gone over the years due to change. But I’ve learned to embrace change and some of the most successful people I’ve met have seen the need for change far before the masses recognize it.
  2. Humor is the great equalizer. If you can make someone laugh and / or smile many of your other flaws will be overlooked. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing but it seems to be a thing.
  3. Priorities are shown through actions, recognize if your words and thoughts match your actions.   My priorities are in order my family, my employees, and our clients.  My decision are always processed in that order, and I believe that ultimately business owners have to think in this matter for long term success.
  4. Most people are under competitive or over competitive.  Most under competitive people don’t push hard enough to find their true limits. Most over competitive folks bite off more than they can chew and eventually stall out or burn out.  Its rare to find the sweet spot between the two. My theory is that once you realize that immersing yourself in the process and journey is more powerful than being motivated by competition you start to make lasting meaningful progress.
  5. A Toyota Prius is an incredibly valuable asset to own. Mine has a 150,000 miles on it and never once had to be worked on. You only have to change the oil every 10,000 miles and can drive 450 mile on about $15 – $30 depending on gas prices. I can confidently say CFA would not exist in its present state if I did not own a Prius.
  6. Being the smartest person in the room is far less valuable than being the most effective person in the room.  Nobody gets paid for their ideas or their IQ. People get paid for results.
  7. To this day the greatest piece of advice I’ve ever received is this: “Expect the expected”.
  8. Lastly Success seems to mainly be a product of motivation, consistency, and hard work. It’s a simple concept that applies to business, training, nutrition, work, parenting, the list goes on and on. Gadgets, hacks, “going down the rabbit hole”, “deep diving”, etc only seem to be aids that can speed the process along. These things (and myriad of other concepts designed to help one succeed) are 100% contingent on a person’s ability to stay motivated, to work hard, consistently, forever.

December Athlete of The Month: Daniel Arredondo!

Each month we spotlight a different CFA athlete who stands out and shows just how awesome they are. What is it that makes up an Athlete of the Month? It may not be the person that finishes the fastest, Rx’s every WOD, or gets a PR every time they walk in the gym. Although we love and celebrate when those things happen, the Athlete of the Month is made up of much more than physical ability. This person shows up, gives their best every time, and then gives a little more. They are hungry to learn and always ready to do the work. They support their fellow classmates and encourage them to reach their goals. This athlete embodies what we believe the CrossFit Austin Community should be about.

Our December Athlete of the Month is Daniel Arredondo! He has been with CFA since March of 2016. Daniel bounces around in his class times, but usually ends up with the lunch time crew. Daniel is a go-getter and has been from the start. As he continues to grow in his training he is always seeking more knowledge with consistent group classes and additional personal training with Tim. All that work has certainly paid off in his short time here. Daniel is always up for the next big thing, even participating in his first competition just 6 months into his time with us! We’ve enjoyed watching him make continuous gains over the last few months and we’re excited to watch him continue to progress for many more years! Daniel, we are proud to have you as our December Athlete of the Month and as an awesome part of this community. Thanks for all your hard work and the smiles you bring us on a regular basis! Congratulations!

State your Name and/or Nickname please: daniel3
Daniel Jose Gonzalez Arredondo II – My best friend calls me “tiny dancer”

Words to live by?We can’t control the world around us.
We can only control our reaction to the world. Leave the world a  better place by being the best version of you while loving and helping the people we share this world with.

What is your fitness background?
Back in the day, I did summer track and took up running again in 2015.  I have a minor in dance and love ballet, Latin, and country dancing!  I also play sand volleyball.

How long have you been CrossFitting?
9 months


Take us back to your first day of CrossFit… How did you feel? How do you compare it to workouts today?daniel2
I was so afraid of hurting myself and doing workouts that involved “legs”. I was concerned I would not be able to handle the intensity because of all the terrible YouTube videos that give CF a bad name. I had no clue what the acronym-ically (not a real word) challenged…WOD=want one doughnut…
Now I definitely got the crossfit alphabet down and look forward to each workout and getting closer to RX and new PRs!

What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?
I love the community of friends and family I now have to promote and encourage health and to socialize with outside of the gym. Love each coach and their unique take on coaching while still being united in a philosophy of physical health and training. It’s amazing!! I also like that we are very supportive during workouts and that the competitive atmosphere is friendly. Also there are so many times a day to come work out! I love that with my schedule!

Current Training Goals/PRs?
To one day be RX on all workouts….This year…250 deadlift, 120 strict press, 12 strict pull-ups, master butterfly pullups, 200lb back squat…i’ll stop there for now..oh and beach body!

What advice do you have for folks just starting out in CrossFit?
Don’t give up…results will come, I promise!  I was just using the bar for some exercises and once you get technique, you will exponentially improve.

What is your cheat meal go to?
There are too many…but I love getting chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, corn, pecan and apple pie, and a coke from Luby’s…yes I’m a southern boy!

Tell us about a moment you felt most proud of yourself during a workout.
daniel4
There are 4
When I finally got 10 strict pull ups. It had been a life goal

When I competed in Night of Champions and finished!

The time Wes said “good job Daniel” because I had finally received his approval

When Tim did the MURPH workout with me because I was out of town. Yeah, Team “34”!

If you could create a WOD and name it for yourself, what would it be?
Tiny Dancer
10 pullups
5 power cleans
5 push press
10 burpees
800 meter run

daniel1What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
I love music. Singing and teaching choral music is what I do for a living. I love to dance, play sand volleyball, have now taken up boldering, and running.

Tell us something we don’t know about you...
I use to be a very shy guy, I have a Phd, and I don’t like the dark.

Longhorns or Aggies? Is this a real question?

Blood runs burnt orange!

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
Each day is a gift and a new beginning. It is another chance to reflect on who you are and who you will choose to be.

One step at a time

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Yesterday we posted a video on Facebook recounting the story of Kyle Maynard scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro without the luxury of being born with hands and feet. The most powerful part for me is when Kyle began to describe the mental struggle with what seemed like an insurmountable task. Paraphrasing he said “I had to remind myself to not look up and think about how far there is to go. Instead look back and see how far we’ve come. One step at a time.”

 

I want to explore this attitude in the context of all of our fitness journeys. There are many things we see people do in the gym that may seem unattainable.

 

“I want to get a pull-up.”

 

“My goal is to be able to do a muscle-up.”

 

There is no question getting your first pull-up and your first muscle-up are incredibly rewarding moments. They also can be an intimidating or seemingly

But sometimes by putting so much emphasis on such tangible milestones, we forget to look back and appreciate the smaller personal bests—and the equally as important milestones—along the way. Sometimes we even get ahead of ourselves trying to skip steps, and move further along in the process than we’ve earned.

 

The attitude of “One step at a time” is the surest path to obtain goals. For example think about your pulling strength (your eventual road to a pull-up and muscle-up) as being on a 100-step staircase. In this way, pull-ups and a muscle-up are simply just two other steps on the staircase, no less, or no more important, than the step before or the step after.

 

Using this analogy, let’s say a ring row with a perfectly horizontal body is step 25 on the staircase, while a pull-up is step 50, and a muscle-up is step 75.

 

he pulling strength you gain going from step 49 to step 50 is equivalent to the strength gained moving from step 50 to 51 (where step 51 might mean you can do 2 consecutive pull-ups), yet we’re more likely to celebrate reaching step 50 than 51. But why? Why is getting a pull-up somehow more important than being able to do two consecutive pull-ups?

 

It comes down to ego and our perception of what is important.

 

But if you change the way you think and your attitude about what you should or shouldn’t be able to do you’ll have way more to celebrate along the way. You can also look back and appreciate how far you’ve come, instead of fretting over the fact that you’re not quite to that 50th step yet. You also won’t get as frustrated and impatient waiting to reach step 50 because you’ll also get enjoyment reaching step 46, 47, 48, and 49, too.

 

 

Here’s a challenge:

 

Set 5 small goals along the way to your ultimate goal, and remember to pat yourself on the back when you reach them.

 

Because the journey is always more fun than the destination!

 

CrossFit Austin’s 8th Anniversary // Holiday Party

8th-anniversary

 

Hey CFA! It’s time to celebrate!
8th Anniversary WOD + Holiday Party + Celebrating with our CFA Family!

Join us on Saturday, December 17th to celebrate CrossFit Austin’s 8th Year down here in South Austin!

Part 1: Anniversary WOD – Regular class times – 9 & 10 am at CrossFit Austin!

Part 2: Meet us at Texas Keeper Cider where the real party starts! We’ll meet at 11:00 am for drinks, food, & CFA awards {Bitter Burpee awards & Push Up Man and Woman of the Year!}

Bust out your favorite holiday duds {or} tacky holiday outfit to WOD in and let’s have a Holly Jolly Holiday Party!

Recap of Some Key Components of the Deadlift

Anyone that has performed the deadlift, knows that it can be an extremely gratifying lift. The picking up of heavy objects can produce a feeling of empowerment. Performed properly, the deadlift is a lift that allows us to maximize our strength potential and physically express that potential. Notice I did say “performed properly”. This is important because while you may get away with sub-par reps every now and again, you will never know your true potential because the injury bug will eventually bite you. Even if maximal strength is not on your radar, these key points should be of note for you, if longevity and living that happy, healthy life are of import.

We can break the deadlift down into 3 critical phases.

  1. Set-up
  2. Execution
  3. Finish

If one of these areas is not up to standards, you probably won’t be training long or you will be chasing your own tail through a pattern of  “every time I get close to a new PR,  my back starts acting up”. So let’s take a closer look at the the aforementioned phases, and some key points for each phase.

Set-upstep1

The set-up is crucial for all multi-joint lifts. It is the foundation for us to build upon.  The “Frankenstein Monster Set-up”  is a quick, effective way to prepare
yourself for the deadlift. Without exhausting every “trick in the book” or “cues”, we can break this phase down into several key focal points.

  1. Stand with your feet in a comfortable stance, somewhere around hip-width, and shins touching the bar.
  2. Lift your arms in front of you and rotate your thumbs towards the ceiling.
  3. Pull shoulders back and down.
  4. Glutes tight, ribs tucked.

This initial position, even before attempting to grab the bar is important. For the beginner, it helps us recognize or “feel” a solid position. Next…

  1. Send your hips back without surrendering your neutral spine. This is referredstep4step2 to as the “hinging” or “hip hinge”
  2. With a soft bend in the knees, grasp the barbell with one hand, then the opposite hand.
  3. Lifting your chest to remove any slack out of your arms, should consequently remove any slack out of the bar.
  4. Maintain solid grip on the bar, push your butt toward the ceiling
  5. Maintain vertical shins and pull with your hamstrings to ratchet your hips down into your starting position.

Executionstep5

Once we have established a proper set-up, we can begin to execute the movement.

  1. Gently screw your feet into the floor.
  2. Maintaining a neutral spine, take a deep inhale.
  3. Squeeze your knees back and drive your hips up.
  4. Once your the barbell clears your knees, keep the bar close to your body  and your hips begin to come forward to meet the bar.

Finishstep6

The finishing position is simply standing upright and squeezing your glutes, ensuring that your shoulders are on top of your hips. Finishing with tight glutes can’t be stressed enough. It helps us perform the lift properly, but more importantly it helps us perform the lift safely. Athletes that are unable to squeeze the glutes at the top of the lift all too often experience either some acute or chronic low back pain. This pain is experienced  because the athlete moves the fulcrum from the hips (hip hinge) to the low back. Thus the load is shifted to the low back.

A few key takeaways;

*Maintain a neutral, braced midline from set-up to finish.

*Knees back, drive hips up.

*Squeeze glutes to finish lift.

Stay tuned for a video in the coming days! Happy and safe lifting!

-Coach Tim

Reebok Box Crawl || November 9th

THE 2016 REEBOK BOX CRAWL is coming to CrossFit Austin! Make sure you come to class on Wednesday, November 9th to get in on the fun!

Reebok will be bringing a full Nano 6 try on experience where you will be able to try on the Nano 6 for your workout, a fully stocked Reebok Recovery Bar that is loaded with Progenex, Kill Cliff, Goat Tape, WOD Repair Lotion, Vita Coco, Caveman Coffee, and much more as well as a Reebok Survival Outpost packed with body wipes, hair ties, and plastic bags for your dirty gym clothes…you know, all the must haves!

They’ll be hanging out with us all day so be sure to reserve your spot in class!

#Reebok #BoxCrawl #UDGUDE #GetAllTheSwag

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November Athlete of The Month – Irene Kirschenbaum

Each month we spotlight a different CFA athlete who stands out and shows just how awesome they are. What is it that makes up an Athlete of the Month? It may not be the person that finishes the fastest, Rx’s every WOD, or gets a PR every time they walk in the gym. Although we love and celebrate when those things happen, the Athlete of the Month is made up of much more than physical ability. This person shows up, gives their best every time, and then gives a little more. They are hungry to learn and always ready to do the work. They support their fellow classmates and encourage them to reach their goals. This athlete embodies what we believe the CrossFit Austin Community should be about.

Our November Athlete of the Month is Irene Kirschenbaum! Irene has been with CFA since September of 2015. You’ll typically find Irene putting in the work in the afternoons/evenings. This girl’s attention to detail and her dedication to doing it right is incredible. She kicked off her CFA career with some very focused personal training and she has set herself up for success in so many ways. If you want a good example of how doing your homework can help you succeed, she’s it 😉 Not to mention she’s just super fun to have in class! We’ve enjoyed watching Irene make continuous gains over the last year and we’re excited to watch her continue to progress for many more years! Irene, we are proud to have you as our November Athlete of the Month and as an awesome part of this community. Congratulations!

 

State your Name and/or Nickname please:
Irene
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Words to live by?
Be kind. Be joyful. Be present.
What is your fitness background?
I’ve always been fairly active, but have never played sports or done any kind of training before.
How long have you been CrossFitting?
A little over 1 year
Take us back to your first day of CrossFit… How did you feel? How do you compare it to workouts today?
Because of my neck (car accident and severe whiplash), I started out with personal training sessions for about a month before the prep course, which happened to be just me that month. By the time I jumped into a class, I’d been working one-on-one with coaches for over 2 months. I remember being so excited to be moving with the group, and also realizing how much I had to learn. I still feel pretty similarly, but I’m a lot less scared. I’m getting stronger, and starting to feel more capable and confident. irene-4
 
What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?
The people. This is such a terrific community of people — genuinely supportive and encouraging of each other. And the coaches are such an invaluable resource — knowledgable, patient and willing/available to help.
Current Training Goals/PRs?
My goal is to just keep putting in the work. I’m totally fine with slow, incremental gains as long as I’m making progress and my form keeps getting better. (Also, to hit bodyweight on all my lifts.)
What advice do you have for folks just starting out in CrossFit?
Show up. Just keep coming. And know that the people around you are glad you’re there and are ready to cheer you on.
What is your cheat meal go to?irene-1
Definitely queso… or, does whiskey count as a meal?
Tell us about a moment you felt most proud of yourself during a workout.
Anytime I hit a PR, even when it’s tiny, is pretty fantastic. Honestly though, my biggest challenge is around the mental game. I’m most proud of myself when I get out of my head and out of my own way, and trust myself.
If you could create a WOD and name it for yourself, what would it be?
Wow, I have no idea! Except that it would be for quality, not for time 🙂
 irene-3
What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
Music is a big part of my life too; I currently sing in two different choirs. I love anything that gets me outside, especially hiking. I’m also a proud cat-mom to my Benny, and will gladly tell you all about him any time!
Tell us something we don’t know about you…
I have a birthmark “L” on my left foot.
Longhorns or Aggies?
O-H-I-O! Go Buckeyes!
Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
 Who I am is what fulfills me and what fulfills the vision I have [for the] world. Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being… a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not? – LeBron James
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