Help US, Help YOU!

There are a few things I’ve noticed in the gym lately that I want to address as a group before they cause any major issues with our overall service. Since Laura built this hot new interactive website with comments, one of my goals has been to discuss ways in which we can continually strive to improve the quality of the service. Ultimately, that’s our main focus – continually striving to improve the quality of the service for each one of you so that everyone can have an equally life-changing experience through CrossFit like I know it’s done for me. So, I thought I’d take a minute or two of yours and share some of my ideas.

First of all, I’m sure some of you have already noticed a few new trends – like the mini-WODs as a warm-up before our “3…2…1…GO!” My rationale behind this one in particular was a lack of intensity in the warm-ups. And don’t get me wrong, I’m the worst of them all when it comes to jumping into a WOD cold.

There are a few members like Ashley Kubiak, Shannon Farnham, the Schiebers, etc., who come in and attack the warm-up everyday. Then there are several of us, myself included, who get sick of doing the same thing everyday and find it pretty hard to get a good sweat going before we hit the WOD.

My goal here is not to exhaust you out before the workout starts, nor is it for you to walk through these aimlessly – you should be working 75-80% as hard in these as you are in your WODs. Hopefully we’ll see this prevent injuries and increase everyone’s work output going forward. But feel free to smack me around if we need to dial up or down on intense-ometer.

Second on the agenda – CLASS SCHEDULE! As a trainer, getting everyone on the same class schedule can be maddening at times. This past week was a little crazy with some people hitting the benchmarks and other folks on alternate workouts, but if we’re going to keep a high level of coaching as we grow, we need to tighten up on this somewhat.

The best way you can help us achieve this is simply to show a few minutes before the class is scheduled to start, or earlier if you want more time to stretch. From now on, the first 10 minutes of class is always going to be your time – on your own – to hit your joint mobility and Samson stretches, and attack your warm-up.

If it’s scheduled on the site, and most every day it will be, the next 5 to 10 measly minutes of class is going to be devoted to skill work. If you’ve practiced a power clean with an educated coach and your PVC pipe 19 times in the past 6 months, honestly, you’re probably getting to a pretty good beginner’s level with it. Point being, nobody needs to feel like they’re too advanced to go back and hammer these fundamentals home every chance they get. I’ve met several Olympians in various sports who still practice the same fundamentals on a daily basis that they learned their first week of practice.

Even if you’re on a separate program – like OTP’s or CrossFit Football – I’d still like it if you would join the group in the skill work. Nobody in our box is close to perfect yet, and each of the trainers would be the first to tell you that’s the truth.

At the very latest, by the twenty-minute mark of class you’re going to move into the lift or WOD. By now, you’ve probably picked up on the trend that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are a Max Effort lifting day before the typical CrossFit-style WODs.

On lifting days (M, W, F) it is imperative that we stay on schedule if we’re going to be able to start the next class on time!! This is actually a mini-issue inside of the larger scheduling issue, because on the Max Effort days, I’ve noticed that it’s easy for us to lose focus on the lifts and lose out on our intensity when we get distracted in conversation, or whatever’s going on around.

A handful of other pure strength coaches may disagree with me, but in my opinion there really isn’t ever a reason to wait more than 90-seconds to 2 minutes before you perform your next set of reps.

If the Max Effort looks like this ‘Front Squat 3-3-3-1-1-1’ and I know my max is around 250# the last time I tried it, then I’d probably add a set of 10 reps in there in the beginning in addition to the recommended lifts, around 135# (54% of my 1-rep max). Within 90 seconds I’d jump on my first set of 3 at around 175# (70% of my 1-rep max), moving up if I maintained form until I hit 190# (76% of my 1rm), and 205# (82% of 1rm). I’d rest around 90 seconds in-between each of those sets.

For my first attempt at a 1-rep set, I’d rest 2 minutes from the previous set and start at 250# (my previous 1rm). I’d rest 2 minutes again and assuming I made the lift, I’d move up to 255# (102% of previous 1rm) and 260# (104% of previous 1rm).

As you can tell, recording your maxes and knowing where to start is a big part of your personal responsibility. It’s impossible for a trainer to look and see where you should start if you don’t know yourself! If it’s your first time doing a lift, start with a little less weight than you think you could do and feel it out. Avoiding the injuries and living to train another day is far more important in the long run.

And with 3 minutes allotted to a barbell setup, the addition of another set, and the time it takes to actually perform the lifts, I’m still only looking at 13-minutes total time to knock these out!!

O.K. – enough of my rant on the lifts – back to the class schedule… We’re going to be starting the WODs in-between the 35 to 40-minute mark of class time (at the absolute latest!), so we need you to be wrapped up with your lifts and getting your equipment/stations ready to go for the “3…2…1…” count as soon as you finish your lifts.

The WODs we’re programming on these Max Effort days are typically going to be short and sweet (and by sweet, I mean awesomely awful!), and they probably won’t take you too long.

On the days without the Max Effort lifts, we’re going to keep the same schedule for your warm-up (first 10 minutes of class) and skill work (second 10 minutes of class). The only difference is that we’re going to start the “3…2…1…” at the 20 to 25-minute mark of class since there’s no lift involved here. These are our standard CrossFit days and you’ll have approximately 5 minutes to set-up your equipment & stations before the countdown.

Third – I’m almost done, I promise – post-WOD STRETCHING, foam rolling, and icing is something I’d really like to see more of around the gym. I understand if there are days where you’ve really got to run and get on to the rest of your day, but I it makes my day when I see people take the time to stretch out after WODs.

This is your responsibility – on most days your trainer needs to be worrying about getting the next class going. You know you need to do it and we shouldn’t have to ask everyone to come together to get people stretching everyday.

We’re going to be offering a free once a month open lecture on a variety of different topics (nutrition, supplementation, weight lifting, gymnastics, etc.) after the last class ends starting next Saturday. I’d like to include a lecture on PNF stretching in there in the very near future. For the time being, you can ask any of the trainers (but I’ll tell you now you’d be better off talking to Ben, John, Jerome or Laura, this is a habit I need to get into myself!!).

Lastly – and perhaps the most important – the freakin’ music is changing within the next week or 2 – that, I promise you. One thing you can do to help me out with this – in addition to sharing your thoughts/questions/comments/ideas on the rest of my rant, I’d love it if you included 5 legit artists you’d like me to try and track down to put on the iPod. At least if you do this I’ll know you read through the end of the post! And if you suggest The Weather Girls, Dixie Chicks, or Hanson, I may be forced to put it on there and let everyone know who wanted it! 😉

I hope I heard Craig Pake blare out Ghost Busters Techno remix for the last time today 😉 Well, actually we may have to keep that one on there for him to keep his “Fran” time down!

Thanks for taking the time to read through this and for your increased awareness of the service we’re trying to maintain for you!

Love you all,