Categories
CrossFit

What is the Level Method?

We are always looking at the best ways to improve what we’re doing, and how we can provide an even better experience. It’s important to constantly evolve and evaluate how we can be better.  Just like we tell all of you!

We’ve had an eye on the Level Method for years, met with its founder and developer, spent multiple hours researching, interviewed multiple gyms, and truly believe it is a game-changer in the CrossFit world.

We are FIRED UP to implement the Level Method, and confident it will be an amazing addition to the Sycamore CrossFit community.  Be sure to sign up for your Level Method account (it’s free for you) here if you haven’t already: https://app2.levelmethod.com/login

How Does It Work?

The Level Method is a levels based system that measures your overall fitness by assessing 15 different categories. It’s a better way to objectively measure different areas of fitness to identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Think about it as a martial arts belt system for fitness.

There are multiple categories/assessments, some examples being: Lower Body Push, Upper Body Pull, Lactic Tolerance, Rowing, Weightlifting, and Flexibility. From the very beginner to the super advanced, there is a place for everyone. You’ll get an individual level for each category, and once you have completed all categories, you will get an overall level.

You’ll also be given a breakdown of your relative strength (your strength relative to your body weight) as well as your objective strength (how much can you squat bro).

Finally, you’ll see an ‘Energy Systems Breakdown’.  This is a topic for another whole blog post, but essentially this is a measure of raw strength/power, stamina, and cardiovascular endurance.  Keep an eye out for another post and/or video from Coach Carl or Nate on this piece.

Once we know your level and finish our month of assessments, this will help the coaches better identify how to help you achieved the desired workout stimulus for the day.  Your overall level is based on your lowest level (you get a bonus bump up in your 2 weakest categories!), so the fastest way to level up is to work those weaknesses!

How Will This Benefit Me?

Ever heard of Pokemon?!  We’re turning fitness into a real-life video game, except the character we’re leveling up is you!  We’re going to get you addicted to health and fitness and make getting better irresistible.  We’ll have promotion ceremonies and make you feel like the badass you are.

The system gives a clear picture of your current ability level and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.  It’s also going to help a ton with how to modify/scale correctly each day.

Level Method is another way for our coaches to recommend the ideal path to reach your goals. Which specialty programs should you do?  Want to attend an Olympic Weightlifting clinic (snatch) put on by Coach Nate specifically for Orange or lower-level Weightlifters?  This is the kind of thing Level Method allows us to do.  CrossFit is unparalleled in its ability to improve quality of life when it is implemented properly under the watchful eye of a caring coach. Level Method will help us better know our clients and make our service even better!

How Will It Be Implemented?

Beginning Thursday, September 12th we’ll have a month-long assessment cycle.  Assessments will be done in all regular CrossFit classes over the course of the month.  There are tons of opportunities to make up missed workouts like ADT, so no worries if you can’t make a certain day. Every Saturday at 9 am will be a ‘make up day’ and or ADT.  

Every 4 months we will have designated “assessment days” and will work to gauge our levels or see if we can improve. We will also have certain days where we will do a single assessment in our regular programming. For example, a 1RM Deadlift day would be a good chance to level up.

How Is It A Game Changer?

  • Accurate representation of current fitness level
  • Shows improvements in multiple areas
  • Visible path of where to improve & set goals
  • Clear communication and guidance from coachesMeshes perfectly with what we are currently doing
  • Better understanding of “why” behind training
  • Ensures correct safety & development
  • Scientifically developed & tested

 

Categories
CrossFit Programs

Conditioning Biased Programming

Why do you CrossFit?

 

Think about that answer.  Be honest with yourself. What was your intention when you started: losing weight, improving your fitness, enjoying life, being a competitive CrossFit athlete?

You will receive several benefits from joining a CrossFit box. You get to be part of a fun and motivating community.  You get coaching and instruction from qualified individuals. There is no guesswork about “what to do” at the gym. And the workouts are functional and applicable to everyday life. But, none of that would truly matter if you were not getting fitter.  

Programming is vital to ensuring that all the benefits mentioned above come together. It sets the standard for a community to thrive and for coaches to excel. The programming should allow the coach to spend ample time warming up the athletes, coaching them individually through the more complex movements, and preparing them for the workout of the day.   

In one of its simplest manifestations, Greg Glassman’s (CrossFit Founder) prescription was illustrated as his Theoretical Hierarchy of Development. In that pyramid, nutrition provides a foundation for metabolic conditioning, and they combine to support gymnastics. Nutrition, conditioning and the ability to control one’s body then allow mastery of external objects. All the elements combine to support sports performance.

 

To increase your overall fitness, to live the longest best life out of pain, to lose weight and continue to function at our best we should prioritize the bottom of the pyramid.  Are we focused on what we eat and how capable are we at continuous movements over different time durations?

Conditioning-Bias programming is a focus on improving our ability to handle work across different time domains. This programming is suitable for the majority of people who don’t choose to compete in the sport of CrossFit but rather in the “Sport of Life”.   The main goal is to increase health, fitness and longevity. No matter your age, weight, gender or health-status, the consistency with this programming will make you fitter, stronger, and healthier over the course of years and years into the future. As coaches, our goal is to not only make you fitter than you are today in 3 to 10 weeks, but we also want you to be fitter 10 years down the road too! We want to add quality years to our members’ lives.

Now, Conditioning-Bias programming does not mean you will never work on a strength movement. Strength movements are regularly added into a day’s programming as long as adding the strength movement before or after the workout compliments the WOD and allows for ample time in a class for coaching and individual attention. We want you to do lifts safely and proficiently.

At Sycamore CrossFit, you will primarily see conditioning-bias programming with a sprinkle of strength biased programming days.  We have found that most people can train this way safer and longer as it doesn’t tend to beat up the body as much as continuous strength training.  They are both beneficial and both have their place. If you want to be competitive in CrossFit, additional weightlifting or an additional strength bias might make sense, and you should ask a coach for more information.

We are currently on a conditioning-bias program and intend on continuing down that path. Will you get fit regardless of the bias we are focusing? YES, but at what price? Our job as coaches is to continually improve the programming by monitoring our members’ results and overall well being, all while minimizing the downside of aches and pains.  We will always tweak various aspects of the programming to achieve the best results for everyone. The most important thing for our members is to keep showing up and working hard!

 

Categories
CrossFit

Working Around an Injury

A few weeks ago, I was playing pickup soccer on a Saturday with a group of people of all ages and abilities.  I was having fun and playing well for someone who doesn’t touch a soccer ball very often. I have made playing soccer more throughout the year a goal and a priority for me in 2019.  

 

Injuries plague all people who play sports or workout on a regular basis and they are unavoidable. Unless you don’t play.  They can be identified as acute pain or strains in the body that limit our ability to move naturally or with full range of motion.  Often, they occur when we least expect it and become a huge deterrent from daily activity and especially working out.

 

During the pick-up soccer game, unfortunately, I rolled my ankle outward as I was stepped on by another player.  Things like this were normal for me in my “soccer days,” so I continued to play. It was an immediately painful event that quickly went away and I thought nothing of it.  While playing later on, I felt it give a little again. I wanted to keep playing but I also had to tell myself “you need to be able to walk later to take care of kids, go to work, take care of anything at home that needs to be done,” so I relaxed and took a step back in the game.  I didn’t stop like I probably should have. Years prior something like this would not have slowed me down.

 

At the end of the game I felt great, a little discomfort from my ankle but nothing that seemed to be a major issue.  Little did I know that 1 hour later when I cooled down and had dinner with my family that I would realize my ankle wasn’t so good AND my left adductor was also strained.  My body did such a good job of masking what was going on that I could to play pain free…something I had taught myself years ago when I played injured for seasons at a time.

 

This strain and pain plagued me for weeks after at the gym during workouts and I’ve been incredibly frustrated because of it.  It has felt like a significant setback because I have been unable to do all of the movements I’ve been training to get good at. BUT I didn’t allow it to actually hinder my progress.  As a coach, I tell everyone we can scale and modify to make a workout available to everyone. I needed to apply the same thought process to my own training.

 

I took a couple days to recoup from my injury and limited movements with running, jumping, squatting or lunging, but I continued to workout. I focused on the movements I could do pain free and modified the movements that would cause more damage or would slow down my rehabilitation progress.  I did this about a week and started to re-assess what I would be able to do. I tested out squatting again, I was ok if I didn’t travel all of the way to the bottom of my squat. I subbed inbox squats or I limited range of motion for all workouts and I adjusted to a power position on the olympic lifts.  All lunges were still completely out.

 

A couple weeks later my ankle felt better, but my adductor was still strained and only felt ok if i got really warm.  I continued to modify or scale as needed. I think there was one week where I wasn’t able to any of the workouts as they were intended due to my injury and I was ok with it because I wanted to get better sooner rather than push sooner.  Most strains will feel better in 2-3 weeks but often take 6-9 weeks to completely heal.  I’m cautious, but still getting intense workouts.I know I need to take a step back when the WOD, as programmed, could potentially extend my recovery time.

 

How do you handle injuries or setbacks in training?  Do you still play and enjoy sports? I do, love them but need to know I’m not bulletproof.  Did you know you can come into any class we offer with an injury and we can modify the workout or help you figure out how to recover from whatever you are going through?  No matter how diligent we are with our movement or coaching, injury is always a risk and we are bound to feel some sort of niggle. Remember, our coaches are here to support you and will have plenty of options to modify a workout for you that day – just let us know what is going on!  

Sincerely,

Carl Balentyne

Categories
CrossFit Uncategorized

Stop Whipping Yourself!

Double unders got you all twisted with whip marks all over your body? They are definitely one of those movements that you can’t out-strength your way into mastering. They take time and patience and can be a tedious skill to learn!

 

They can be incredibly frustrating because you can’t just pick up a rope and will your way to getting them. You also can’t just spend hours at a time practicing until you get them (trust me, I have tried that.) Your best plan of attack is a few minutes, every day.  For most athletes, it will take time and patience.

 

When I first started CrossFit, it took me quite a while to get double unders. When a workout came up with double unders, I would have to double or triple the number for single unders. I remember the first time the gym did Annie (50-40-30-20-10 Double Unders and Sit Ups). I did all single unders, 450 of them. It took forever.  

 

After this particular workout, I vowed to get better at double unders, I started by watching youtube videos on tips and tricks. I practiced almost every day after the workout was done for about 5 minutes at a time, sets of 3-6 in a row were very common.  Now, I get advice and help from a coach and receive immediate feedback on improving my technique.

 

Many years ago, I would practice double unders until I got decent enough to do them in workouts.  I got so used to double unders I could no longer do single unders. I was in a competition with my wife and thought I would crush the single unders and I was wrong. I couldn’t string them together because my muscle memory had become programed for double unders only!  Now I practice all kinds of jump rope movements… including single unders.

 

It never just magically clicked one day; however, over time I was able to string some double unders together and then finally work to improve my consistency, speed, and efficiency.

 

I have struggled immensely with double unders. And now I am pretty good at helping other people get theirs…only because I have tried and failed and tried some more.  I understand where people are at and how to get those first amazing successful jumps!.

 

So, I have some tips and tricks for you. I see a lot of the same mistakes as I Coach athletes on these.

 

  1. The rope movement comes from the wrist, not the shoulders or arms.

Your shoulders will get too tired too quickly. You also won’t be able to keep the rope pulling through fast enough if you aren’t flicking through your wrists.

 

  1.  The wrist movement has to be practiced and requires dexterity and endurance.

When you are spinning the rope for a single under it doesn’t take much to get it around.  When you do it for a double under it is going to take speed to make it around. You can practice wrist speed and endurance by trying to link 200 single unders in a row as fast as possible.  Then practice jumping higher with the same rope speed.

 

  1. We all have a strong hand and a weak hand.

Try a split rope (a jump rope cut in half.) This is a great tool to work on the rope rhythm and timing of the jump without the frustration of missing all the time. You will also be able to see that one hand has it all figured out, the other one doesn’t have a clue. I try to keep my mind on moving my weak hand, and have my strong hand relaxed while spinning the rope.  

 

  1. Keep your elbows tucked and bent to your sides.

The goal is for the rope to hit the floor each time it passes under your feet. We get excited and our arms come up and then the rope gets shorter and we are more likely to miss because we aren’t jumping high enough. One way to do that is to pick a spot a few feet in front of you on the floor and aim the rope to hit that each time.

 

  1. Jump through your ankles, not your knees.

Double unders happen super fast. The rope is spinning and you have to be able to jump fast enough to get over it. But you also have to prepare for the next double under, so you also need to be able to rebound fast enough to keep going and string them together. Keep your knees relaxed and jump through your ankles. It’s less energy expenditure and faster jumps.

 

  1. Stay on your toes and get back off the floor as quickly and get as high as you can.

Again, you have to jump fast and rebound fast for that next rep. Keep on your toes and think about rebounding as high as you can.  I practiced without a rope, building volume by doing 10 rebounding jumps as high as possible.

 

  1.  Not every double under has to be fast, cadence matters.

Jumping rope has a cadence that is ideal for your ability level.  When you are first starting you have to do them slower and jump higher, as you get more proficient you can jump lower and move the rope faster.  Practice jumping at faster and slower speeds and keep mixing it up so you can teach your body to adapt to your fatigue level.

 

The first goal is to get a few reps – try to keep your body in an ideal position. The next goal is to string them together. Do 1 double under 10x, then 2 double unders 10x and then 3x and so on until you can do 10 DU 10x without mistakes.  Then, you want to work on making the double unders consistent for bigger sets. Then you can work on making them more efficient, which means faster with less mess ups and whips.

 

Also, remember that double unders are usually easier when you are fresh. Once you get tired, things often fall apart. To help combat this be sure you are practicing when tired. After you become fatigued, you will notice technique tends to break down.

 

Try these tips and tricks and see how your double unders go!  If you really want to speed up the process, get professional coaching at Sycamore CrossFit’s Double Under Clinic (THIS WEEKEND and next weekend). If you really want to focus in on nailing down your double unders, but you can’t make it to one (or both) of the clinic dates, talk to Coach Eric about scheduling a skill session! If you can only make it to one day of the clinic, go ahead and register, we will will give you some additional skill homework that covers the other clinic day. Clinic Registration: https://bit.ly/2Fpe16Q

 

Sincerely,

Carl Balentyne

 

Categories
CrossFit

Mastery of the Basics

You start CrossFit.  You can tell you’re gaining endurance and starting to be able to do things you couldn’t before…but at some point you start to want more.  You see the person next to you doing pull-ups or muscle-ups or some other skill you haven’t mastered yet. You want to keep increasing the amount you can lift.  You long to hit the Rx button on a workout. This can be the most challenging part of CrossFit: Always wanting more. Everyone gets there; we all get to a place where we feel like we are so close to something but so far away that it seems impossible, or we don’t know how to cross off the next CrossFit bucket list item.

Gymnastic movements like toes-to-bar, or butterfly pull-ups, or ring muscle-ups tend to really get people fired up when they can accomplish one of them – as they should. However, once you have one single rep’ does not mean you have mastered the movement or can show proficiency at it.  In gymnastics, if you are not able to hit 20+ technical reps in a row, there is still plenty of room to improve. Now, I challenge all of you who have a few reps to think about how you are going to get 20 in a row. Are you going to just keep trying to do the same thing and eventually get there?  Performing “ok” (maybe even sloppy) movements just to say you “did it” will not improve you proficiency and is a quick way to get yourself very frustrated or even injured.

We need to take the time to be mastering the basics. Being humble enough to look at what we can do vs what we want to be able to do is an important part of this.  The basics is how we get to 20+. We master movements to a point where “the complex” becomes “the basic.”

“The fools in life want things fast and easy – money, success, attention, CrossFit movements. Boredom or failure is their great enemy and fear. Whatever they manage to get slips through their hands as fast as it comes in.  You, on the other hand, want to outlast your rivals. You are building the foundation for something that can continue to expand. To make this happen, you will have to serve an apprenticeship (you have to practice the basics.)  You must learn early on to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure – mastery of a craft and of yourself.” -The 50th Law

How do we master the basics at Sycamore CrossFit?

First, you come to class and allow your coach to guide you through scaling options.  They will help you focus on what you are able to do now vs what you think you are capable of or what you think you should be doing.  They make recommendations on how to scale the workout because they are looking at the long term, your safety, and the desired training stimulus.

Second, wait for a clinic or program specific to what you are looking for help with becomes available.  Movement clinics allow our coaches to focus on one specific movement and offer you drills, individualized coaching, and strength-building exercises to get you where you need to be to master that movement.  You might work on double-unders for 10 minutes before a workout every week or two, but devoting 1.5-2 hours to that one skill with even more coaching attention can (AND WILL) make a huge difference.

Finally, schedule a skill session with a coach.  This guarantees to shorten the amount of time it takes to learn or master a movement or skill.  Spend 30 minutes to an hour focusing on one particular movement and allow the coach to help you determine the best course of action moving forward.  This one-on-one attention is the quickest way to improve form, figure out weaknesses, and develop a plan to turn them into strengths.

Has there been a movement you have wanted, or a movement you think you could be better at than you already are, or would you like to work on something new?  If so, tell us what it is! We look forward to hearing what it is you’re working on next! If you need help deciding how to accomplish your goals schedule an athlete check-in.  

Categories
CrossFit Programs Thrive

November Committed Club

The Holiday Season is in full swing, but the busyness of November did not stop our members from making progress and staying committed!

This month we have expanded our club to include extra programs like The Strength & Power Program, so now there are even more ways to join the club!

While not every athlete needs to be at the gym every day of the week, many of the goals our members have can be reached much faster by staying consistent with gym attendance.

We are so proud of everyone who comes into Sycamore CrossFit to reach their goals, but we are especially proud to celebrate the dedication of the individuals listed below

  • Mikalah Blomquist – 31
  • Nathan Fowler – 25
  • Anna Mommer – 24
  • Joe Schuld – 23
  • Chris Walters  – 22
  • Mallory Kapitanoff – 22
  • Rebecca Loomis – 22
  • Emily Ordlock – 21
  • Carl Balentyne – 20
  • Eric Wiersema – 20
  • Laura Harcar – 20
  • Phoebe Balentyne – 20
  • Ashley Hartmann – 19
  • Augustine Kim – 19
  • Baylee Foresman – 19
  • Bill Donner – 18
  • Lori Hawkins – 18
  • Nate Johnson – 18
  • Kalie Pesek – 17
  • Lynne Johnson – 17
  • Jeff Johnson – 16
  • Linda MacCulloch – 16
  • Pam Detzner – 16
  • Rachael Abell – 16
  • Alecia Rudisill – 15
  • Chris Johnson – 15
  • Dan Pevonka – 15
  • Joan Brandon – 15
  • Julie Bowker – 15
  • Kathy Siemianowski – 15
  • Nik Davis – 15

 

Categories
CrossFit Programs Summer Shred Thrive

August Committed Club

Introducing Monthly Committed Clubs!

We are excited to be adding a little something special to our Bright Spots Board. The Committed Club is designed to celebrate members who have attended 15 or more group classes in the previous month.

While not everyone needs to attend 15 times per month to reach their goals, many of our goals can be reached faster through more consistent attendance.

We are so proud of everyone who comes into Sycamore CrossFit to reach their goals, but we are especially proud to celebrate the dedication of the individuals listed below.

  • Mikalah B. – 23
  • Augie K. – 22
  • Conar D. – 22
  • Rebecca H. – 22
  • Eric W. – 21
  • Lori H. – 21
  • Anna M. – 20
  • Kalie P. – 20
  • Hannah S. – 19
  • Meg. R – 19
  • Baylee F. – 18
  • Carl B. – 18
  • Jeff J. – 18
  • Alecia R. – 17
  • Chris W. – 17
  • Kim P. – 17
  • Laura H. – 17
  • Clay H. – 16
  • Jenni L. – 16
  • Joe S. – 16
  • Lauren W. – 16
  • Mallory K. – 16
  • Nate J. – 16
  • Pam D. – 16
  • Phoebe B. – 16
  • David L. – 15
  • Julie B. – 15
  • Lynne J. – 15
  • Mac M. – 15
  • Nathan F. – 15
  • Sandy H. – 15
  • Tony S. – 15
Categories
CrossFit Nutrition

Maximizing Recovery

One of the biggest mistakes I see among our athletes is they forget this core truth: we get fitter not from training, but from recovering from training. Some of the most experienced, hardcore athletes I know fail to heed the importance of recovery.

Genetics is a factor we can’t control.

Researchers have found genetic variants of genes that increase or decrease the rate at which we recover from exercise-induced muscle damage.

Age is another factor out of our direct control.

Living, eating, and training right can stave off many of the worst effects of aging. However, after intense exercises that damage the muscles, like sprints, heavy lifting, intervals, or longer race-pace runs, older athletes recover more slowly than younger athletes.

If you’re sick, you won’t recover as quickly.

Fighting off an illness takes some of the resources that would otherwise be used to recover from training.

If your hormones are out of whack, you’ll likely recover more slowly.

Hormones are the messengers and managers that tell our cells what to do. That includes muscle repair, muscle growth, fuel replenishment, and every other cellular function related to recovery.

Manage your stress.  

As far as your body is concerned, stress is stress. Traffic is a stressor. A job you hate is a stressor. Procrastinating until you absolutely must get working is a stressor. And yes, exercise is a stressor. Too much stress impairs our ability to recover from exercise-induced stress. Some stress is unavoidable. But most of us create additional stress in our lives and fail to do enough to counter or manage it.

Poor Sleep. 

Sleep debt impairs exercise recovery in many ways: it increases cortisol, decreases testosterone and growth hormone, and slows muscle building/repair. Sleep loss also increases the risk of injuries by decreasing balance coordination, and postural control. If you trip and fall, or throw out your back due to poor form, you won’t even have a workout to recover from.

A bad night of sleep happens to the best of us from time to time, but that isn’t going to significantly effect recovery. The real recovery killer is chronically bad sleep, and that’s the kind most people can avoid.  Start a good sleep hygiene routine and stick with it.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Zinc:  Zinc is key for the production of testosterone; research indicates that exercise increases the need for zinc.

Magnesium and Other Electrolytes: Magnesium is necessary for a plethora of bodily processes related to workout recovery. Unfortunately, a significant amount of magnesium is lost in sweat during exercise, making magnesium deficiency a common problem that contributes to slower workout recovery.

Iron: Intense exercise diminishes iron stores. Iron is necessary for the formation of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your tissues during training and recovery.

Low Fuel Availability

Working out expends energy. That energy needs to be replaced before you’re fully recovered and prepared to do another workout. If you’re coming off a long WOD that left you gasping on the ground in a puddle of sweat, you have some glycogen stores to refill.

Insufficient calories, coupled with intense exercise puts too much stress on the body, which decreases muscle building hormones. Instead of growing muscle and burning fat, it promotes muscle wasting and body fat retention. This is a common issue for people trying to lose weight through diet and exercise.

Alcohol

Drinking directly reduces muscle building/repair, reduces sleep quality, and puts increased stress on the body. It also decreases the ability of your muscle cells to use testosterone.

 

Things You Can Try

Get good sleep, minimize (or eliminate) alcohol, get a handle on your stress, eat enough food, eat enough protein, and get your micronutrients. What else?

Massage

Massage feels great, and it’s great for recovery from exercise. It alleviates muscle soreness and speeds up the recovery of muscle strength.

Whey

Whey protein is generally digested and absorbed extremely well by the body. It speeds up muscle rebuilding and adaptation to exercise.

Creatine

Although we get creatine from red meat and fish, additional creatine can boost our performance and recovery from exercise. It increases our phosphocreatine stores, which is what our muscles use for quick bursts of maximal effort. It also helps increase muscle glycogen content without increasing insulin resistance.

Fish Oil (or Fatty Fish)

Fish oil can be taken at any time, but has been shown to decrease muscle soreness when taken post workout. It can also enhance muscle recovery from and adaptation to strength training.

More Carbs

I always say eat the amount of carbs that your body needs to fuel your high intensity activity. While that definitely means eating fewer carbs than the USDA’s recommended 45 to 65 percent of the calories in your diet, you still need to eat enough carbs so that your body is ready for your next workout; especially if that workout will be in less than 24 hours.

 

 

Focus on the Basics first! Before taking ice baths, dropping $500 on massages every week, taking a long list of expensive supplements, and walking around in a full body compression suit, make sure you’re sleeping, eating enough food, and giving yourself enough time between workouts.  For most, handling the basics will be enough, and you’ll certainly get the most bang for your buck from them.

What have you found to be the best way to recover from your workouts? What are the biggest roadblocks? Share your experiences on the Sycamore CrossFit Facebook page or in the HSN group message board!

In health

Coach Chris

 

Categories
CrossFit Getting Started Programs Thrive

Olivia V.’s Story

Before you read this letter, think of the qualities of someone (real or imaginary) who you think would should consider doing CrossFit.

 

 

We all love CrossFit because we want to be healthier, stronger, more mobile, maybe even just to look good! CrossFit can do all those things for us as long as we trust the system and put in the effort! CrossFit shows the benefits in the mirror, and our bodies physically show the hard work we put in each week and we can see that with our own eyes. But what about the things we can’t see?

CrossFit can do more than we realize for people, in Olivia Vollmar’s case it saved her life.

In an article by Brittney Saline called “Snatches Over Suicide,” she discusses the life of Olivia and all the constant struggles she had to face, that lead her to believe the only way out was to take her own life.

Olivia lost her mother when she was 7 years old. Her mother was constantly in and out of the hospital with a condition that caused her organs to dry up and die. This lead her at a young age to reject any kinds of religion because she couldn’t understand how God could love her and take her mother away. Olivia also struggled with her weight as she was growing up, at the age of 13 she weighed 281 pounds. This was due to the lack of control when it came to the nutrition and the amount of food that was being served to her by her father. Providing food was his way of showing his children that he loved them, he did not think he was doing anything wrong.

When Olivia became a senior in high school she was taking medication for anxiety and depression and experienced anxiety attacks. In December of 2015, her dad had 3 heart attacks with 3 hours, leading Olivia to take on the task of caring for her father. Four months later she was put on bed rest for complications with her ankle. After physical therapy she was still experiencing pain in her ankle, but she noticed the pain was spreading to other places too.

Doctors ran autoimmune tests and everything was normal, but Olivia knew something was wrong. She was then diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is a syndrome where the brain will mistake nonpainful sensations for painful ones and is widespread throughout the body. This condition is hard for some people to understand which in turn caused them to think Olivia was lying about the pain just for attention.

All these components took her into a vicious cycle of feeling anxious, which made her feel physical pain, which made her more anxious. She could not stand this constant anxiety, pain, and uncertainty of maybe never feeling normal again. Olivia had plans to take her own life.

Until one day, and friend brought up CrossFit. It took a little bit of convincing, but she decided to give it a try. After she stepped foot in CrossFit 1808, the community welcomed her with open arms and kept her in when she wanted to quit. After 3 months she noticed her life finally turn for good. Olivia was excited about going to the gym, she started doing better in school, her confidence and drive was back, and she felt great about herself.

Today Oliva lost 85 pounds and no longer has any symptoms of fibromyalgia. CrossFit had saved her life, but how did it do it? It makes sense to us that when we exercise and eat right, it makes our bodies healthier. Although we never think about what it is doing to our brains because we can’t see the results in the mirror.

Have you ever noticed after a workout that you actually have more energy throughout the day? Have you ever felt like you slept better at night on the days you worked out? Have you ever noticed that you manage everyday BS better? This is no coincidence.

Hearing Olivia’s story and this topic is very close to my own personal experiences. I have struggled with anxiety and attacks before, but I have never been diagnosed with a disorder. These attacks are something I would not even wish on my worst enemy. Very similar to how Olivia describes it in her article, it does feel like you are drowning and nobody – not even yourself – can save you. At 18, I had finally realized that my anxiety was an issue and that not everyone constantly felt the way I did. I could never relax, and I would constantly be tired but never could fall asleep.

There were times where I would need to be somewhere in the afternoon, and I would wake up at 8 in the morning and I would count the hours before I had to be there.

I would wake up, check my phone: “It’s 8:04, I have to be there in 7 hours”

I would make breakfast, and I would check my phone again: “8:28, I now have 6 and a half hours”

Watch TV for a while, and I would check my phone again, “9:20, 5 and a half hours left.”

This would get worse and worse as the time got closer to my time to leave the house, and my anxiety would build. “What if I forget to leave?” “What if I’m late” “Will traffic be bad?” “Do I know what to do when I get there?” All these thoughts rushed into my head and I think about them the entire time before I actually got up to go to wherever I needed to be. This took a toll on me.

I would get irritable and lethargic and it got to a point where I did not want to do anything with myself because I did not want to deal with the anxiety. I just wanted to sit at home all day and do nothing, but even that made me more anxious because I felt unproductive and I was scared that I wasn’t doing anything with my life while everyone else was. It seemed like I could never escape it.

This is when I found CrossFit, and it makes me a totally different person. After I do a WOD that really kicks my ass, I feel phenomenal. You know that feeling when you can finally breathe again, that feeling of euphoria. You feel this way because after you put all that stress on your body, your brain releases chemicals called endorphins that are a natural pain reliever. These endorphins do not only help you feel good after a workout, but the also can change your brain in the long run.

Studies with exercise and its effect on anxiety, depression, and even memory loss have shown to be an effective cure over months. In short, exercise promotes the development of neurons in our brain that improves cognitive functions, but all you feel are the endorphins. As a result, your brain over time physically changes to adapt to the constant stimulus of exercise. When you routinely come to the gym, you’re not only physically changing your body to be healthier, but your mind as well.

After years of CrossFit, I feel like I can actually breathe. I can actually relax, I get things done that I need to get done, and I feel better about myself! CrossFit not only changed Olivia and I physically, but it has changed us mentally.

Think again of the qualities of a person that should consider doing CrossFit. Did you think of someone who is bored of their daily gym routine, out of shape, someone who wants to look good and so on? You’re right, but we forget to consider those who lack motivation, those who are going through a lot in their life, and those who don’t see a point anymore. CrossFit is for them too.

CrossFit is not just working out. CrossFit is a cure.

Sincerely,

Coach Nate

 

Learn more about Olivia’s Journey:

https://journal.crossfit.com/article/vollmar-saline-2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kQQbEcHCow&t=3311s

 

Other Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurobiological_effects_of_physical_exercise

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/exercise-depression#1-3

https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety