Diaries of a Coach 021 || A Different Kind of Check-Up

Alright, believe it or not – accept it or not – we are a fourth of the way through 2018. (Even though it feels like it just started yesterday.) The New Year is always the cliche time to talk about goals and what you want to do differently throughout the course of the year, and we did. We even made those resolutions tangible here in the gym on our goals board. But do you ever intentionally check back in on those goals and your progress toward them? I think if we did, we probably wouldn’t find ourselves setting the same goals, making the same resolutions, year after year.

So now is that time. Now is the time to think about the goals you set three months ago. Maybe they were goals in the gym, maybe they were lifestyle changes, priorities that needed to change. Whatever they might be, where are you now? Are you closer to reaching those goals? What have you done to create movement? Where have you succeeded? Where is there opportunity?

For me, my goals were to dial in my nutrition, more specifically through counting macros (I have been a long time calorie counter), and to diligently prioritize and improve squats and Olympic lifts. Here’s my honest assessment of both, in hopes that this fine community would continue to encourage and support me, but also hold me accountable when distractions and discouragement threaten. And I’m ready to do the same for you!

In regard to nutrition, I have definitely made progress, specifically with the use of Avatar and MyMacros+. However, that progress has stalled at times leaving me with still a long way to go. Anyone else find themselves letting the circumstances of life derail their best intentions? Even when I have meals planned and logged, the last minute invite for tacos and margaritas will get me every time! While I believe that’s ok at times (let’s agree to enjoy life a little bit!), my big picture progress toward my goals has to remain a priority. The difference comes down to how I feel each time measurement day comes around. If I’m disappointed in myself, knowing I could have easily done better, I know I let this goal take the back seat to life. In contrast, there are weeks when weigh in comes and I know I enjoyed life and made tangible progress. That’s the sweet spot that I need to find consistently.

I’m happy to report that when it comes to squats and Olympic lifts, thanks so Coach Dylan and the Olympic lifting squad that works tirelessly in that back corner, I’ve improved these lifts tremendously. Do I love squatting? No. But I don’t hate it anymore. Not to mention, both my front and back squat have improved, and I’ve set new PRs on both my snatch and my clean and jerk. There are days that have been extremely difficult and discouraging, but pushing through those days is an important part of the journey. I’m excited to continue to work hard and make even more progress.

So where you are? Maybe your goals need to be reset and refocused, and that is ok. Maybe you are knocking one goal after another out, keep at it! Wherever you are, know that community is the absolute best context to pursue your goals. You have people cheering you on and people that are here to help (talk to your coaches!). Let’s get after it, together, and accomplish great things.

Good luck out there, I’ll check back in soon!

Coach E

Diaries of a Coach 020 || The End of the Open

If I’m honest with you today, on Wednesday March 28th, 2018, I have to say I’m really not mad to see the 2018 Open come to a close. While it was a great test of strength and skill, I for one am more aware than ever that I have plenty to work on in the coming year… and I’m excited to get started. It really only took 18.3 to get me to the point of realizing the extent of my weaknesses and limitations (I think I’m in good company there, with all but two people in the entire world), so the final two workouts, for me, served as reminders. Reminders that I have come so so far… but still have so far to go. (humbling, right?!) Here’s a recap on the final two workouts, and my experience with both.

18.4

21-15-9

Deadlift

Handstand Push up

Then,

21-15-9

Deadlift (increase wt.)

with 50 ft. Handstand Walk between each set

Before I tackled 18.4 I said to a fellow athlete, “I’m going to scale the gymnastics and RX the weight… because that’s the kind of athlete I am.” Unfortunately it’s true, my strength is lopsided opposite my gymnastics skill. I know this. I think part of me tries to hide it in the midst of regular days and workouts. But the Open makes it blatantly obvious to me and to the rest of the world (Honestly, the rest of the world probably isn’t paying much attention but that’s the feeling I get. Anyone else?). So before the buzzer started on this workout, I knew somewhere in the thousands of goals I have for moving better this next year would have to be handstand work.

I actually impressed myself with my performance here. Coming off of a recent back injury, I was apprehensive to pull the heavier weight, and pull it well. However, when the time came, I was unhurried and focused on form and technique coming off the ground. Form truly did dictate my pace, and for that I am grateful to remain on the other side of this injury. Even in the heat of competition, the maturity to be smart, to pace where and when it’s crucial to our long term health and wellness, is invaluable. This workout was tough, the volume, both weight and reps, were absolutely exhausting. Go us!

18.5

3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18… etc. (increase by 3 reps each round)

Thruster

Chest-to-bar pull ups

And then there’s 18.5. I voted for it and then when it came time to do it, immediately regretted that and every other decision in my life. Guys, we had a chance to completely avoid thrusters and we passed it up. What were we thinking?!?! At this point, my excitement and motivation for these workouts had gone out the window completely and it became more about finishing a commitment and getting a completion point for my team. And you know what? I think that’s ok. I committed to these workouts alongside a great, crazy group of friends and athletes, and I wanted to finish strong for them. Now, could I have done better performance-wise? Yes, I think so. (I’m pretty sure I took a minute rest somewhere in there and should have brought my folding chair over from the weightlifting corner!). But it was about finishing and I’m proud that I did, regardless of the fact that I had mentally checked out. Honestly, I was ready to get back to weightlifting and seeing through my commitment there.

So I would challenge you today, now that the dust has settled, reflect on these last five weeks. Reflect on the workouts, the movements and your performance, yes, but also on your character throughout this Open season. How you committed (or didn’t) to these workouts and to the competition here at CFA (which got a little heated, can I get an amen?!), on how you rallied together with your community (or didn’t) and how you persevered and finished strong (or didn’t). Hopefully there are things that leave you feeling encouraged and proud, but also elements of character that you can grow and intentionally cultivate moving forward. At times competition brings out the best in us. At times, the worst. What comes out under pressure is a great indicator of what’s really inside us. So let’s walk away with lessons to push us forward as athletes in a crazy sport, but also as humans in a crazy world.

 

Love y’all!

Coach E

2018 Intramural Open || How it all turned out

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for! For 5 weeks we’ve worked with our teams to gain points towards being crowned the winner of the Inaugural CrossFit Austin Intramural Open. There were a lot of laughs, some tears, some friends (and some frenemies) made, but here we are and we’ve all made it out alive!

If you gained NOTHING else out of this year’s Open, we hope that you gained a better sense of community within these walls. Yes, we are a CrossFit gym and we want to test our fitness, gauge and improve from year to year, and see where we stack up. But, we hope that you learned a little more about yourself than how many reps you could get in seven minutes.

About half way through this, we were talking about competition and character. I’ve heard people say competition builds character… but Tim made a good point that it also reveals character. We hope that whatever the IMO revealed for you helps and guides you forward in whatever comes next.

Ok, blah blah blah…. On to the points. Who won? So this week was a wild one. We’re going to give you a break-down of the points awarded and how things came to stack up.

 

The Funky Skunks –

This week Sayyed scored 2 points for his team with a heartfelt act of kindness that is continuing to grow. Sayyed fed and talked to a man named Mike who was “a good man in a bad situation.” After getting to know him a bit more, he’s connected him with Jose who works to help place the homeless in jobs and homes. Let’s all send good vibes that it pans out for Mike! Good work Sayyed.

Jose gained a whopping 20 points for his team by making 2 mascot steals at FNL. We could argue that it was a dick move and since this was #dontbeadick week we COULD have deducted 2 points…. But we didn’t. 😛 ALSO – y’all are killing me. These hashtags aren’t that hard! Since when did your team drop #teamfunkyskunks and start making up your own hashtags? That one was NOT included in the mascot steal post so if we’re getting into the nitty-gritty…. But, that 20 point swing makes it more interesting for sure.

Moving on from these damn mascots… Since no team was successful in getting 75% (10 people) of their team together for an outing, we chose to award points for how many of their team members DID make it. The Skunks gained 8 points for this past weekend’s axe throwing outing. Again…. Why did none of you post a picture of your group outing???? But… you still get the points for this one because I have the proof on my phone.

These combined with the participation and other weekly points gained the Skunks a collective 69 points for the week.

Hedge Of Allegiance –

After leaving their Hog to be taken care of by a dog…. The hogs lost some ground this week.

I will say this team definitely has some big players in regards to the fitness side of things. Their 3 major players, Aaron, Rob, and Jenni managed to score 3 points for their team all 5 weeks for being 3 of the 4 top athletes.

Ashley’s act of kindness came in liquid form with a coffee to her coach. It’s the little things sometimes, ya know?

In the spirit of closing the chapter on the mascot debacle… we’re showing an act of kindness to the red team and giving them their 10 points from the 2 previous steals….  But… those are lost again anyway because they did not successfully recover their mascot from the Skunks which means 10 points deducted….

We are still not entirely sure how these guys all ended up together on a blind draw, but we know that morning crew is solid through and through.

Combined with their participation, etc… the red team earned themselves 32 points for the week.

 

The Trash Pandas –

The blue team has consistently been in the lead from week to week by keeping themselves relevant on the internet and doing goofy shit to win the team spirit awards. If nothing else, there were some pretty hilarious photos that came out of this one.

Page showed Coach E some kindness this week as well (girl made out like a bandit!) by bringing a special cookie just for her. You should all know he donated all those amazing cups/cookies/drinks to our FNL for 18.5 as well. Solid kindness from that dude. Thank him by going to chow at Henbit! (shameless plug – his food is amazing).

Stacey, the 4th of the top 4 pulled another point for the blue this week. Not only is she our top female, she’s 92 worldwide and 6th in the region in her division! Damn girl! We’re all still #ChasingStacey. Now we get to cheer her on through the qualifiers!

The Trash Pandas were the other team with a specially organized outing. They spent an awesome day at the park slacklining, grilling, and getting strangers to do burpees with them. They had a few tag-alongs, but ended up with 7 points for their team member presence at that outing.

Collectively, the Trash Pandas pulled in 46 points for the week.

 

The final standings:

While it was an extremely close call…… The Trash Pandas are walking away with the championship for the 2018 CrossFit Austin Intramural Open.

The Trash Pandas – 249 overall points

The Funky Skunks – 247 overall points

Hedge of Allegiance – 200 overall points

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who participated this year. It was a first for us and we are FILLED with love and gratitude for the support and the turnout we had. It was a massive amount of work and we’ve definitely learned some lessons so that we can continue to grow and make it better in the years to come, but it doesn’t happen with you guys. So thank you.

Now… let’s get on with our lives without imaginary points for a few weeks! We’ll play again on May 4th with Night of Champions || Bar Wars. Get those Co-Ed partners and get ready!

Big Love,
Gen & Tim

Life after the Open…. What comes next?

 

CFA has been immersed in the Open for the last 4 weeks. We’ve lived and breathed it. Talked about it every day. Thought about it moment by moment… In just 5 days we will be wrapping up the 2018 Open. All scores will be posted. We’ll have done & re-done 5 weeks of some of the most intense workouts many of us have ever done. We’ll have hit PRs, but also major roadblocks.

Many of us will spend the next few weeks looking back and talking about the wild standards and how crazy some of the workouts were. Those of us that participated in CFA’s first Intramural Open will be talking about the challenges, the friends we made within our teams, and the AMAZING videos that Julia put out each week… But how many of you will look back on the moments of opportunity and see them as so? How many of you will leave those opportunities in the midst of the Open and wait for them to resurface next year?

Yes, there was that WOD you couldn’t do RX because you don’t have ring muscle ups… or the one that you know you could have done better if you could only clean a little more weight… Whatever it was, we all had a moment that exposed a weakness and I see WAY more value in that than smoking a workout and moving on with life. It’s those moments that help us determine where to go next. We all have that rabbit we’re after, but if you don’t focus on going after it you’re never going to catch it. I promise if you just sit and wait for that rabbit to run by again next year, you’re going to still be watching it’s fluffy little butt pass you by.

Although some magical things can happen during the Open, we can’t rely on that annual excitement to truly develop the skill. My challenge to you this year is to make a list of your opportunities from this year’s Open. What weaknesses did you find? What would you like to improve on? Once you’ve made that list, let’s talk about it. Let’s make a plan and get some drills going so that you can achieve some of those things and turn those weaknesses into strengths! You have coaches and sessions available for precisely that reason. We want to help you improve so *cough cough* let us help you!

The other thing I challenge you to do is to keep this fire going! I’ve seen this community do some amazing things over the last 5 weeks! We’ve had people jump in to help, no questions asks. I’ve seen you cheer each other on to the ends of the earth. I’ve seen people getting together outside of classes to help each other and just to hang out. On top of that I’ve seen a bigger drive and focus in many people’s training. More questions are being asked in class and you guys have been taking bigger steps to improve.

Don’t let this flame die out just because the Open is coming to an end. Let us see what kind of things you’re capable of all year long!

Whether you’re doing IMO or not, please join us this Friday for our final Friday Night Lights with 18.5. We’re going out with a bang with DJ Kay Cali, Airrosti, and bites from Henbit. BYOB and come cheer on your friends for 18.5. See you there!

-G

Diaries of a Coach 019 || Me and 18.3

Let’s talk 18.3.

Let’s talk about all the double unders in the entire world put into one workout.

Let’s talk about the fact that only two people in the world finished it.

Let’s talk about all the great PRs that were set for many, after years of diligent practice and hard work.

But let’s also talk about how frustrating it was for a lot of us to see this workout announced movement by movement.

I’m with you. I was SAAAAAAAALTY post WOD announcement last week. I admittedly gave into the temptation to be frustrated that this workout would expose my weaknesses and my inabilities, that it would alienate me and thousands of other CrossFitters who just aren’t there yet from participating in the competitive spirit of the Open last week. Being unable to perform even one rep of a movement in a workout forces me to scale and/or modify, and consequently disregard the workout as a whole. Anyone else? I end up telling myself, “It doesn’t matter anyways.”

Wrong guys. That is all wrong. But it’s so hard not to think that way, right?!?

Here’s what I realized.

I don’t know about you but I am my own worst critic. I’m frustrated by my failures and shortcomings, discouraged by any set backs, and horribly competitive with myself and others. Sometimes, if I’m really honest, I flirt with giving up altogether. But when I step back, take a look at what is really important, I realize there is so much to be learned in the long haul. So much that it makes it better for us to wrestle with things, to struggle and come out on the other side.

This journey that we call CrossFit is not for the faint of heart. We have to work hard, show up, stay consistent, but also and maybe most importantly, give ourselves grace along the way. Let bumps and bruises motivate us.

The other thing I had to realize last week was that it’s not just about me. Turns out I’m being pretty selfish when I get caught up in my own ability or inability with no regard for what’s going on in the lives of those around me. Those that, with their own weaknesses to battle, show up and work hard right alongside me. Why would I not be grateful for those dang ring muscle ups being in that workout simply to witness and celebrate the accomplishments of my friends, and maybe one day, they will celebrate with me. These are my people, my fellow warriors. Man, I want to witness more moments like I did on Friday night and not be blinded by a bad attitude because I have more work to do.

So this week, let’s change perspective. Let’s find something in this workout, whatever it might be, to attack with everything we have but remind us that this is a journey. But let’s also find something to cheer on and celebrate with someone else. Let’s all take on THAT perspective this week. One that looks outside ourselves and into the lives of others. Let’s admire and encourage and challenge each other. After all, that’s what this whole community thing is about.

-Coach E

Diaries of a Coach 018 || Lessons from 18.2 and 18.2a

Alright CFA, another recap from CrossFit Open workout number two! Here’s a little glimpse into my experience last week, my shining redemptive moment and the lessons I’m taking away. Enjoy!

I completed the second Open workout, 18.2 and 18.2a, on Friday afternoon. Immediately following this workout, I was severely disappointed with my performance. I knew the conditioning piece, DB squats and bar facing burpees (which I lovingly refer to as barfing burpees), would be difficult with my training focus having been on primarily Olympic lifts for the last 12 weeks. I decided to pace this portion, knowing my endurance would be crucial. That decision resulted in a time above my sub 10 minute goal. I simply knew I could do better. On the lifting portion, a max clean, my time was consequently extremely limited. I hit my starting weight with ease and with only enough time left for one more attempt, I made a big jump, a 20 pound increase, and failed.

Post WOD I knew in my gut I needed a redo. Unfortunately, my only experience with redoing an Open workout was 17.1… and it did NOT go well. The last thing I wanted was to waste time and energy to not improve. Still, the score haunted me and when Monday rolled around, I knew I had to at least try.

I’m proud to report, I redeemed the shit out of that workout! Shaved 90 seconds off my time on 18.2 and made the lift I failed the first time, increasing my weight by 20 pounds from my first score, on 18.2a. But more than overall improved numbers, when all was said and done, there was much to learn and take away from my experience.

1) Rest up.

Ya girl was not well rested before my first attempt. The day before, I had done Olympic lifting programming that included high rep sets of back squats, specifically aimed at added conditioning. Muscle fatigue set in quick with such high volume the day before. All I can say is, rest up y’all. These workouts are intended to test our skill, our capacity, our efficiency… so we have to bring everything we have to the table if we want to truly know where we are. I can promise you this, Thursday I will be “moving” but intentionally resting for whatever 18.3 has in store.

2) It’s go time.

Gosh if you’re like me you’re usually adamant about setting a smart and efficient pace in any given workout. Finding that pace helps me maintain good technique and not “empty the tank”, so to speak, too quickly. However, we train for “competition”. That may not mean the CrossFit Games or even an official CrossFit competition, it may just mean moments where we are testing our performance, attempting to set a new PR, or a friendly competition with another athlete’s score on the board that day. For many of us, the Open can and should be that. In a workout like this, pacing was the enemy. My doubt in my capacity kept me from pushing too hard and I ended up not pushing enough. Know the overall goal, in this case, competition, and perform. Now is the time.

3) Practice well.

Shame on me for always opting out of the jump over the bar. I’m a bar stepper, I admit it. Having not practiced a skill I am completely capable of definitely set me back on this. (I told Coach Aaron that morning I was seriously contemplating scaling just to step over the bar. Don’t worry, he was quick to deny me the luxury.) Don’t let that happen to you. Use regular training days to intentionally practice good movement, both in terms of technique and capacity. If I don’t push myself with these when I train, they will never get easier or more efficient, and are sure to keep me underperforming.

4) Do it for you.

With the stigma attached to Open redos for me, I was extremely hesitant to reattempt this workout. I would have been proud to submit my first score had I known it was the best I could do. But knowing it wasn’t my best, I redid this workout for myself, to prove to myself I had more in me. My biggest encouragement would be to simply make yourself proud. Redeem it if you need to, even if its not judged or scored or submitted. No matter the score, leave these workouts with your head up, knowing you gave it all you had!

March Athlete of the Month – Brenda Maldonado!

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 March Athlete of the Month is Brenda Maldonado! Brenda joined us a year ago this month and became part of the family right away! She’s one of the #BadassBabes of the 4:30 pm class and has recently started her journey in the Olympic Weightlifting classes. Not only is Brenda an awesome athlete, but her kindness and willingness to jump in and help anyone in this community is another one of the many reasons we love her! She exemplifies so many of the qualities we look for in an AOM and has shown really amazing progress in her time here. Brenda, the CFA Team is proud to honor you as our March Athlete of the Month and as an awesome part of this community. Thanks for your all your hard work and we look forward to seeing all you accomplish in the years to come! Congratulations!

 

State your Name and/or Nickname please: 
BRENDA RENEE / BREN

Words to live by?
Be patient

What is your fitness background?
I was a dancer when I was a teenager. Then, I did a little bit of everything like pilates, yoga, muay thai, softball, etc. but nothing really serious until I found CrossFit.

How long have you been CrossFitting?
4 years (I should be better, I know)

Take us back to your first day of CrossFit… How did you feel? How do you compare it to workouts today?
A friend took me to the class against my will. The WOD was box jumps, wall ball shots, and running. I could not do box jumps and the wall ball shots I had to do one by one. At the end of the class, I really like it and started to train the next day.

What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?
The vibe of the 4:30pm class

Current Training Goals/PRs?
My goals are to better my weightlifting technique and my gymnastic skills.

What advice do you have for folks just starting out in CrossFit?
Do not be afraid of starting your journey with CrossFit. You will not be the best the first day, but if you leave the frustration outside, you can achieve great things.

What is your cheat meal go?
Hopdoddy’s hamburger with green chile queso, french fries, Hershey’s chocolate bars and of course TACOS!!

How do you use your fitness outside of the gym?
I like to try new outdoor activities. Anything that gives me a little adrenaline rush.

Tell us about a moment you felt most proud of yourself during a workout.
Everyday, because always in my mind I think about quitting, but when I finish it, I feel great and proud of myself. Especially when we have to run.

If you could create a WOD and name it for yourself, what would it be?

Say what…?
21-15-9
burpees
box jump overs
push jerk

What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
I love to dance, outdoor activities, and cooking.
Being surrounded by my old friends always brings me lots of joy

Tell us something we don’t know about you…
I have a chemical engineering degree and I worked for 7 years in the oil field.
This month will be my one year mark living in the US woohoo!! and i’m totally in love with Austin Tx.

Longhorns or Aggies?
mmm?? Texas Longhorns??

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
I am so much funnier in Spanish 🙂

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