New Friday Classes Are Here!

We’re excited to announce that we have added two new classes times to our regular schedule – starting this week!
Members are now able to sign up for the following times:

Friday 5:30 AM – All Levels Group Class
Friday 5:30 PM – Level 2 Open Gym*

*Open Gym will last from 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM (1 hour) and you must sign up for it like a regular class. It will not be lead by a coach, but you will have all access to the equipment. Coach Shane will be around to monitor and make sure that everything is put back in it’s proper place.

**For a complete listing of class schedules, please click here.

A Culture Based on Values: The Zappos Happiness Principles

A Culture Based on Values: The Zappos Happiness Principles

At the end of every year, Boone and I review the Core Values of CrossFit Austin.  Core values are the principles most companies use to guide decision making throughout the lifetime of the business. Sometimes these principles are set forth from day one, or, as in our case, the core values develop and evolve through experience. The online retailer Zappo’s has one of the most famous sets of Core Values of any modern company.  In the book “Delivering Happiness,” Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh breaks down how following their fundamental set of core values has created a thriving unique culture.

The 10 Zappos Core Values resonated with me, and like most good ideas I come across, I immediately thought about how they apply to CrossFit Austin.  So, today and in the following weeks I’ll be exploring how to apply what I call the “Zappos Happiness Principles” to our little gym in South Austin.  I’ve adapted the list slightly to fit CFA; if you’d like to check out the original list or, even better, read the book Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh.

1. Attitude is everything.

Nothing trumps a great attitude. It’s number one on the list for a reason. If you can muster up a good attitude for a task, big or small, you can persevere regardless of how much adversity gets thrown your way. With a positive attitude channeled through perseverance, success is within your grasp 99% of the time.

2. Embrace and drive change.

Change is uncomfortable, but paramount  to growth. The world is constantly evolving – you can either spearhead that change in a positive fashion, embrace it with enthusiasm, or stand by idly comfortable with the status quo. CrossFit Austin prefers to spearhead evolution and we want you on board with us.

3. Create fun and a little weirdness.

This one is easy, we don’t take ourselves too seriously.  We always try to make our gym about  fun, which in turn gets a little weird, sometimes.  However the diverse group of personalities we work with every day makes this a slam dunk at CrossFit Austin.

4. Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.

Try something new. Play a new sport, lift instead of run, run instead of lift, play instead of train, train instead of play. Look outside the box: sometimes success lies beyond the obvious choice.  Being adventurous and creative, which in turn means being open-minded, allows for discovery both intrinsically and extrinsically.

5. Make growth and learning an endless pursuit..

Goals and actions steeped in education are purpose driven. Understand what you want to accomplish, understand why you want to accomplish it, create a path to get there, and understand what constitutes success. This is a fool-proof formula for success.

6. Develop open, honest relationships grounded in communication.

Relationships are the foundation of happiness. Without relationships, there will always be something missing – whether it be life, work, family, or training.  The only way to build and/or strengthen relationships is through open, honest communication.  The resulting trust and faith in the relationship is powerful beyond measure.

7 . Build a positive team (and family) environment.

One thing that CrossFit and CrossFit Austin has made clear to me is that unified pursuits of like-minded goals drive people. It drives them beyond what they believe they can do.  This team spirit and commitment only works when you strive to build the people around you up. Negativity permeates everything around it and sucks the life out of the room.  Do your neighbor, and yourself, a favor by choosing to keep the energy in the room positive.

8.  Work Hard.

Like I’ve said before, there are very few things that will beat hard work.  If you’re committed to the first 7 items of this list and you approach it by working your butt off, there’s no stopping you.

9. Have passion and determination.

These are both incredible byproducts of hard work, good attitudes, and a commitment to fun. Just try not to be passionate and determined when you’re working hard and having fun doing it. That, my friends, is harder than any workout I, or anyone else, can throw at you.

10. Practice humility.

Humility comes when we decide that there is more to this journey than ourselves and our egos. Humility is not only a result of many of the actions listed above, it’s something that some people have organically. But, more importantly, humility can be developed over time through experience.  Humility is hands-down my favorite quality a person can possess.

Read this list a couple of times. I will be expanding on each item over the course of the next 10 weeks.  Ask yourself how you can apply these actions and traits, not only in the gym, but in everyday life.  The best thing about this list is it is not just something I see as a goal at CrossFit Austin, it’s a list of qualities that I see and love about everyone involved in our gym community. The principles clearly define what I love about our culture, and I’m hungry to experience this culture more with each and every one of you.

Wes

Push Up Man and Push Up Woman of the Year: Mikey Muna and Julie “Crash” Shamblin

If you missed the CFA Holiday Party, you might not have heard about our
2011 Push Up Man and Push Up Woman of the Year!

The Push-up Man and Woman of the year exemplify everything that we love about our athletes, our community, and the human spirit. Not only do these people walk through the doors of CFA day in and day out, and work hard to improve themselves; they go out of their way to lift up everyone around them. They make their friends and families a priority over themselves. They lead and encourage by words, actions, and example. They represent the burning spirit of what makes our little South Austin gym unique and special. We at CrossFit Austin can humbly bestow no greater honor on a person. We give our utmost heartfelt “thank you” for choosing to make our gym, business, family, and lives a better place!

Congratulations, and thank you, to
Mikey Muna and Julie “Crash” Shamblin
Push Up Man and Push Up Woman 2011!

Welcome to the Circle of Awesomeness, New Members!

November was another great month in our bigger and better box and we’re excited to welcome in even more new members! In case you haven’t had the chance to meet them yet, we wanted to take a moment to introduce the newest members in the Circle of Awesomeness…

Christopher Henze Megan Stephens Melissa LaRosa Joshua Chacon Eric Wood
Cat Brown Jeremy Wong Stacey Sparks Melissa Ruffino Richard “In-Line” Littrell
Helen Goman Misti Moyer Jason Moyer Brandon Crisp Marissa Sciore
Ryder Schoenborn Andy Hollister Greg Pepin Robby Ormand Daysha Palmasino

Welcome, new members! We’re so happy to have you here!

Training on the Road – Wes Kimball

What is “CrossFit”?  Back in the early days it was wrapped concisely up in two foundational articles Foundations, and What is Fitness.  These two articles describe a comprehensive and effective strength, and conditioning program. But times have changed and “CrossFit” has grown beyond just a incredibly effective fitness program.  The word CrossFit now extends beyond many things: a brand, definitely a sport, a career, perhaps a lifestyle, and a rapidly and almost exponentially expanding market of independent fitness instructors, and facilities*.

Two weeks ago one of our CFA family members was seriously injured at a CrossFit in McAllen, TX.  Days after I received another email from a CFAer recapping a unpleasant visit to a different CrossFit in the midwest while on the road. While we don’t hear them often, over the last 3 years there have been stories of folks being bullied, and mistreated at various gyms around the country.  This has made us take notice, so my aim of today’s article is to arm you with knowledge in terms of things to avoid when visiting other gyms.  Additionally we’ll use this article as a bit of a behind the scene look into what we do to avoid said problems here in South Austin.

1. Excessive “volume” in workouts
Volume simply put is the total amount of repetitions completed in a set, round, or workout.** When done correctly high volume workouts are especially beneficial for building strength endurance and aerobic work capacity.  The best way to accomplish these benefits safely is to gradually build volume weekly over a 4-8 week period.  Jumping straight into a ton of volume after a long layoff or with out a good ramp up period is a recipe for disaster.  While appropriate volume varies from person to person, workouts north of 75 reps per exercise or isolated muscle group*** tend to fall in the category of doing more harm than good. Take home message here is to progress into higher volume workouts over a period time like we do with the CFA programming. If you find yourself in a situation where you know the volume is inappropriate for you, opt out or scale down accordingly.

2. Movements that tax the muscle over the energy systems
This is another common mistake that goes hand in hand with rule one. Simply put different movements have different effects on the body.  Some movements tax our energy system holistically when repeated (think running and rowing) while other simply isolated muscle groups (thinks dead hang pull-ups, and back squats).  In the context of a CrossFit “Metcon” the goal is always to tax and therefore improve an energy system either aerobically or anaerobically.  Using movements that cause you to repeatedly hit muscle failure in this context do nothing but cause muscle damage and fatigue.  That will at best impede progress and at worse end an injury.  Be particularly weary movements with and pronounced lowering or “eccentric” phase****.

3. Know yourself and know your numbers
While we give you guys a variety of ways to appropriately load your workouts,  some trainers and gyms live by the “Rx or nothing” philosophy. This philosophy is incredibly stupid, and should be avoided at all costs.  The best ways to combat this is to know yourself and your numbers so you can adjust a workout with an “Rx” weight accordingly.  If you’re not sure how to convert your 1 RMs into appropriate weights here is a good chart that will help.  Don’t let your ego get you in trouble, and more importantly don’t let some idiot bully you into something you know isn’t appropriate.

4. Avoid high risk movements
If you’ve followed my first 3 rules, 99% of the time everything should be fine. However one movement stands above the rest as a particularly risky in CrossFit workouts: GHD sit-ups.  We have one GHD machine in our gym and we use it primarily in strength and individualized programs.  The GHD sit-up has the highest potential of Rhabdo***** in CrossFit workouts, and does little to make you better conditioned.  GHD sit-ups while useful in a controlled enviroment, are not a good movement use for “Metcons” or conditioning/energy system  focused training. Take home message: Don’t do GHD situps in the “WOD”.

Alas we at CrossFit Austin Strength and Conditioning put effort, intelligence, common sense, and allot of hard work in designing and delivering programs to our clients. In short we offer a comprehensive and effective strength and conditioning program the way it should be everywhere. While your experience with us may not be indicative of what you receive at every CrossFit facility, the majority of CrossFit gyms and coaches do the right thing. So in an effort to end on a positive note I will include some of the best gyms that I’ve visited nationwide in the comments. I’d appreciate anyone who has a good gym that they visit on the road to do the same.  Safe travels to everyone this week, and happy Turkey Day!  One final tip when training on the road or at home  don’t be “that guy” (see below)

*Estimates say that 5 new independent CrossFit affiliated and branded gyms start every day. To put that into perspective in the heyday of Starbucks growth they were adding an average of 6 stores a day.

**Total volume can also be calculated over training weeks, months, and years to analyze training effects

***Muscle groups defined as an area of the body and its plane of movement: upper body pulling (chin-up, curls) upper body pushing (push-ups, presses), lower body Squatting (squatting), lower body hip Bending (Deadlifts)  etc.

****Negative Pull-ups are a big culprit on this front. While effective in a strength building context of low reps with lots of rest, they should never be used in a “Metcon” or conditioning workout.

*****Rhabdomyolysis is a dangerous condition that can be induced via intense workouts.  What it is and how to avoid it is covered extensively in the CrossFit certification, and the CrossFit Journal.

Welcome New CFA-ers!

Welcome to the Circle of Awesomeness, New Members!

October has been such an exciting month! We opened and celebrated our new spacious addition, raised money for those affected by the recent fires, enjoyed a happy hour, celebrated our members as they competed in various activities, and welcomed a large group of new members to CrossFit Austin!

We know there’s been a lot to keep up with, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce our new members and let everyone know about our expanding circle of awesomeness…

Albert Pomales Anita Uresti Becky Carter Charlie Koehn Chris Boling
Chris Geck Christina Torres Cory Duck Cynthia Clark Eric Reis
Gadiel Arellano Gary Kanning Haley Hunter Jennifer Irlbacker Jerry Gregoire
Jessica Buck Jordan Pellien Jorge Gonzalez Kelley Davis Kristin “Bubbles” Wallner
Lamar Young Laura Leukhardt Lawrence Celedon Lola Garcia Maria Leyendecker
Martin Goman Mel Romero Meredith “Mer” O’Brien Michael Oakley Mimi Stewart
Monique Lalonde Patrick “Paddy Ice” Breland Robyn Taliaferro Ruth Untermeyer Ryan Bailey
Sarah Hunter Siddharth Sundar Tierra Thomas Tiffany Syfan Kimberly Hendrix
Mike “Greybeard” Flury Elivra “L.V.” Johns Leah Alter

We’re so glad y’all are here!

The Training Balance: Essentials to Improvement

Training is a funny thing: at times, pure and complete common sense rule the roost, while other times the most backwards unnatural thought processes are necessary to overcome plateaus and continue to improve. As the journey winds further and further along, striving for balance ensures continued progression, and can help us assess what is holding us back. Today we’ll stay in the realm of common sense and explore three essentials to training that must be balanced to ensure we stay on track and continue to improve.

Work Hard. Although this seems like a given to anyone that’s put a sweat angel down on the mats at CFA, it’s generally the biggest obstacle to folks when they first set out on the journey to change their fitness and health. We live in a world that revolves around convenience and comfort; this has created a prevailing mindset that very little effort yields satisfactory results. Well I hate to break it to you but 99.9% of the time that’s not how it works. Hard work and high effort are the only things that elicit change, period. If your training doesn’t involve you being uncomfortable, or challenged consistently, then chances are you are just running in place (some more literally than others).

Recover Well. So I know what you’re thinking…“Boom this is in the bag, I’m working my butt off every day, I can sleep when I’m dead, stack the weights on and start the clock, punks!” As Lee Corso would say “Not so fast my friend.” Our second essential to improvement is not rest, it’s not even recover, it is recover well. This is of paramount importance as the recovery process is actually what yields results. Let me break it down…The stress from our hard work breaks our bodies down, which in turn forces them to adapt and rebuild. If this process is repeated correctly, each time we work hard or stress the system we should have a bigger stronger machine that requires more stress to drive adaptation. But what happens if we don’t give ourselves time to rebuild into that stronger machine? Not to be dramatic but it’s pretty easy to see that if you constantly break something down it will eventually be destroyed. In the training sense, destruction at best may show up in the form of lost motivation, plateaus, and/or diminished results. At worst it manifests itself as an injury. That said, we have two choices when it comes to recovery: If you put some effort into your recovery, you’re building a solid sturdy foundation that will be there to support you for years. If you choose to half-ass your recovery, you’re building on shaky ground that can crumble at any time. What constitutes recovering well and recovering poorly goes beyond the scope of this article, but let common sense guide you here. If you’re not confident in your common sense skills ask a coach for some tips!

Consistent Consistency. So we know that we have to work hard to drive change, and we must recover well to see the results of that change. Unfortunately that’s still not enough, one can work hard, recover well, and still fall short. Why? Well consistency is the glue that holds this cycle of improvement together. If we train hard once a week we will no doubt stimulate the system, and also be very recovered from week to week, but unfortunately by the time our next training session rolls around, most of the benefits will have walked right out the back door. Along the same lines, hitting it consistently 3-4 times a week for a month straight will yield some killer results, but those results will be fleeting if your month of consistency is followed by bouts of inconsistency. So what’s the reality of all this? Well, good training isn’t just an every once in awhile kind of thing, it’s an always and forever kind of thing—both short term and long term. Just like any habit (good or bad) it will stay with you forever if you make it constant part of your life.

There you have it, the three essentials: Work hard, recover well, and consistent consistency. These concepts go beyond training and can be applied to any aspect of your life, just sub the word training with work, nutrition, or family and the same concepts still apply. These are macro concepts but they can also be applied at the micro level as well, i.e.:

  • Are you working hard at improving your snatch? (hard work)
  • Are you allowing adequate rest and reflection times between the bouts of hard work or are you trying to force it by doing it non-stop? (recovering well)
  • Are you practicing your snatch consistently enough to maintain the cycle of improvement? (consistent consistency)

These are the essential folks, so now it’s time to put them into action. Take one aspect of training—or life—that you’d like to improve. Ask yourself, are you applying all three of the essentials? If not, find which ones are lagging behind, and make a concerted effort to improve in that area. Then let us know how it goes. Training, just like life, really comes down to the simple things.

Yours in Awesomeness,

Coach Wes