Coach’s Blog

Cheaters Anonymous

January 17, 2018

By Coach Manny Alayon

 

Every CrossFit gym’s “elephant in the room”. Cheating on a workout is something that happens at nearly every CrossFit gym. It is something that as coach’s we see way more than we want to. We choose not to talk about it very much, as it takes away time from what we should be doing (coaching). But I do believe that it is something that has to be talked about it, since it can most certainly affect your community. The way I define cheating may differ from the actual definition or perhaps how others view cheating. I always like to define some variables before I get talking. So here we go:

 

Cheating is INTENTIONAL. I don’t believe in cheating by accident. In other words, the person cheating KNOWS he/she is cheating and has chosen to cheat. WOD cheating comes in two primary forms: rep shaving and ROM shaving. Rep shaving is the intentional “miscount” of repetitions or rounds in a workout. It is the most common form of cheating. This form is hard to catch a good athlete doing, simply because it is unbelievable that a high caliber athlete would do such a thing. Every now and then you may raise an eyebrow at a score, but convince yourself that perhaps you aren’t that good and that the other person is a Games athlete compared to you. As coaches we spot this easier than you think. We know the seconds per rep of nearly every movement in CrossFit. You are not fooling your coach when you finish 30 wallball shots in :45 seconds. We know this is actually impossible based on the amount of time it takes to perform 30 repetitions. What is ironic about rep shavers is the use of the “miscount” excuse. Over time we have found this excuse to be a very rare occurrence and is mostly invalid because, ironically, they NEVER do more reps than prescribed, they always do less.

 

The ROM shaver may look like a common WOD cheater except there is a vast difference between them and the people who are ignorant to the standard, have a lack experience or have a physical limitation. If you are experienced and are capable of achieving the standard and INTENTIONALLY choose not to, that is cheating. Here is an example to help paint the picture: Bob is newish to CrossFit, has the physical capabilities but may lack the body awareness because of his experience. Bob does air squats and is not hitting the full ROM. Coach comes over and corrects it. Bob is now aware and is really trying to hit the standard. Bob may miss a few reps here and there, but Bob is NOT cheating in my opinion. Bob may not really be able tell the difference between hitting the full ROM or not because of his lack of body awareness (due to his minimal experience). During that same workout, Jane is not hitting full ROM on her air squats. Jane has been CrossFitting for a few years now and is an above average athlete. Coach comes over and corrects it. Jane begins to do the full ROM but when coach turns around, Jane begins doing what she was doing before. When coach is looking, Jane goes back to full ROM. Jane is cheating. Jane was aware and chose to do the wrong thing. Jane is not being ignorant. We know this because of the thought process that went on in her head “when coach was looking”. Jane has her reasons for cheating. Let’s chat about that…

 

A person may cheat for various reasons. Since owning a gym and witnessing cheating from all types of people, I have really thought about the psychology behind cheating to understand the “why”. I’ve become very aware of people’s “why” just from normal daily interactions with them. I’ve gotten very good at knowing if someone has cheated v. someone who has “lost count”. There are characteristics that are extremely common between people that cheat v. people that do not. The most common reasons for our WOD cheaters are: competitiveness, anxiety and fear of discomfort. I am sure there are more, however, these are the most common ones I have encountered over time. The competitive cheater will rep shave or ROM shave to beat someone in a workout. Sometimes they want to be known as “top dog” in the gym. It is the most common type of cheater IMO. The anxiety cheater may rep shave or ROM shave because of self consciousness. They may feel an expectation from themselves or they fear what others may think about them. They do this primarily to blend in and not feel bad about themselves. The fear of discomfort cheater may rep shave or ROM shave towards the end of a workout. They work hard in the beginning, staying true to themselves, but then the “creep” starts settling in; shortness of breath, heavy legs and panic starts to overwhelm. To put themselves out of their own misery, the rep shaving or ROM shaving begins. This type of cheater is the hardest to spot. Those things don’t pop up on our radar as easily. Body language, composure and facial expression are big takeaways we have noticed from those individuals.

 

This post was not intended to be a witch hunt. I’ve actually given that up years ago when I realized that my purpose is NOT to count people’s reps. Even when brought to my attention, I have blown it off and I instruct my coaches to do the same. Our job as coaches is to give you the tools you need to be better. If you choose not to use those tools, than that is your own fault. It is something you must hold yourself accountable for and deal with. There are way too many people that are honest that want to improve themselves. It would be a waste of our time to call out every single person on cheating. The beauty of something like this is it may resonate with some of you reading this. It may make some of you upset, because let’s face it, no one likes to be called out on their shit. However, there is always room and opportunity to change. Cheating is a choice and as humans we have free will. You can read this and choose to change and reap the true benefits of what we offer or you can choose to stay in your shell until the day we actually call you out on it (or someone else does). Keep it real with us and you know we will always keep it real with you.


Pep Talks

January 10, 2018

By Coach Cameron Hudson

Last month I was having a conversation with a member about their own CrossFit journey. This particular member told me that his goal was to attend classes three times per week for six weeks. At the six week mark, he would up to four classes per week. As he is telling me about some health issues from the past and all the shenanigans life can hurl your way, I was thinking how awesome it was to hear how motivated he was to turn stuff around and get back on track. As the conversation began winding down, he told me he has a small pep talk with himself prior to walking through the gym doors. It varies from day to day, but there is one phrase that always closes it out; shut up, show up, bring it. I can fully appreciate someone who shares my affinity for pep talks, as I frequently give myself ‘pep’ talks mid workout.

After our conversation, I kept hearing that phrase in my head. “Shut up, show up, bring it”. This can be applied to a variety of circumstances, but with respect to fitness, here’s what I interpreted it as:

Shut Up – You had a long day, you’re tired, you’re sore, I’m not good at those movements. Shut up. Quit trying to talk yourself out of going to the gym.
Show Up – You have gone through your checklist of excuses and found none are sufficient to skip out on class. Show up. Getting to the gym and making it a part of your routine is a huge part of the battle.
Bring It – Congratulations! You’re here, you made it. Why continue with the excuses? You’ve made it this far, you might as well give all you can for that one hour class. Who knows, you might learn something new or surprise yourself on something.
As we enter our second week of 2018, there might be those of us trying to find that missing ingredient to get back on track. Some of us might be looking to find something to keep us accountable and on track. That something is going to be different for each of us, but this phrase might be a good place to start.

Cameron “Just Tryna Stay Fit” Hudson

P.S- I had an amazing response to my last challenge for people to share their CrossFit journey with me. I truly enjoyed hearing all of the stories! So, for this week, I would like you to take some time and reflect on what your ‘pep’ talk might sound like on those days when excuses are easier to generate than reasons to get to the gym. Feel free to share with me! See y’all in class.


The Importance of Hydration

January 3, 2018

By Coach Debbie Leonti
Ever wonder why you are feeling more sore than normal?  Or maybe feeling a bit more fatigued than usual?  There are many reasons as to why we may be feeling this way, but when clients come to me and I hear these symptoms, I will immediately ask, “Are you drinking enough water?”  Some answer immediately with an easy “yes”, but as we dig a bit deeper, they are no where near the standard requirements for water intake.  It can be difficult when it is cold out, but here are THREE BENEFITS to drinking enough water on a daily basis:
1.  Fights Fatigue
Water is one of the most important sources of energy for your body. It helps cells complete important enzymatic activities which contribute to good sleep and the production of ample energy to get you through your day.

2. Speeds up joint and cartilage repair/ reduces muscle soreness

Most of the padding in our cartilage is made up of water, so if we don’t drink enough of it, our bones will feel stiff and our joints will take a beating. Joint repair after workouts or injuries is also expedited by proper hydration.
3.  Aids in Digestion/Helps jump start fat loss

Water can help eliminate and reduce the incidence of ulcers, bloating, gas, gastritis, acid reflux, and IBS. You also will experience less frequent constipation since water helps matter move more quickly through the body.  This will help also aid in fat loss as you are getting rid of excess waste in the body.

These are only three simple benefits to drinking more water…the list continues!  Please try to incorporate more water throughout your day.  Buy a water bottle, keep one at work, and be sure to have at least one full glass with each meal.  Generally, about 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce per pound you weigh (athletes, closer to 1 ounce or more).
Hope this helps some of you if you are experiencing any of these symptoms!  Looking forward to a productive and healthy 2018 with our NECF family!


How To Prepare For The 2018 CrossFit Open

December 20, 2017

 

By Coach Manny Alayon

 

It is that time of year again! The 2018 CrossFit open registration is on January 11th and the mass hysteria begins. The best piece of advice I can give is to spend the majority of your preparation on what we know will be tested and to not worry about the “what if” scenarios. We cannot be ignorant to the fact that the CrossFit Open has been the same type of test every single year since its 2012 introduction. It is meant to test the bottom of the CrossFit pyramid: Metabolic Conditioning. Sure, we may see a workout with slightly heavier loads, but we have only seen a 1RM test in 1 workout out of 31 total open workouts. Which ended up being a shitstorm with the leaderboard, so I would be surprised if we saw that again. But I guess the fact that every year we anticipate a massive change and there isn’t is the mindfuck about it.

 

Here’s some of my best advice on how to prep for the CrossFit open, based on some things we already know.

  1. Prep for movements that have been used a lot. The thruster, burpee (various styles), deadlift, chest to bar pullup, toes to bar, muscle-up (bar and ring), double-unders, wallball shots, box jumps and toes to bar have literally been a part of nearly every CrossFit Open. Movements that have not been in just about every CrossFit Open but have a high probability of showing up are the row, handstand pushups, lunges and OHS.
  2. Be proficient in every variation of the snatch and clean & jerk. A variation of both of these movements will be tested.
  3. Practice dumbbell variations of anything you can do with a barbell. It is no secret and we have already been warned!
  4. Retest workouts that have not been retested in the open already. I doubt they will repeat something that has been tested twice.
  5. Build a solid aerobic base! This is most important! Knowing all the movements is great, but not having the lungs and muscular endurance to support it makes it all useless.
  6. Look through the WOD on CrossFit.com and you will get a very good idea of what movements they will be leaning towards. Believe it or not, there aren’t that many surprises if you follow CrossFit.com and regularly practice constantly varied CrossFit in your training.

 

Overall, don’t sacrifice time on building you engine, for the “what ifs.” Unless you are a Regional-bound or Games competitor, spend your time “performing the common uncommonly well,” aka virtuosity. Get away from the  “what if it’s heavy this year? What if there are pistols? I need to practice everything!” mentality. You will have a more successful CrossFit Open by prioritizing the things that have been tried and true.


My CrossFit Journey

December 13, 2017

By Coach Cameron Hudson

 

We all have a story of how we ended up where we are, so today I wanted to write about how I first found Crossfit and some things I have learned along the way.

 

I have always been a very active person, but my athletic background consists mostly of playing water polo and swimming. I was fortunate enough to play collegiate water polo and swim. I always loved practice and training; pushing myself in any way I could. If you lived in Houston, you might have seen me running through the neighborhood with a cinder block on my back or doing push ups next to a stop sign. I was never one for conventional gyms.

 

As I hung up my speedo and became a NARP (non athletic regular person), I started doing circuit style workouts on my own at the college’s gym. One day, someone came up to me and asked if I was doing Crossfit. Never having heard of Crossfit before, he had to explain to me what it was. Instantly I was intrigued and went to YouTube to see what all this Crossfit stuff was about. This was in January 2013, just before the Open. I began doing the WOD from Crossfit.com on my own. As I would look on the website, I kept seeing announcements for the upcoming Open. Not really having much clue as to what I was doing, I thought the Open was something you had to do. So, I signed up. You have a couple choices; either perform the Open WOD at an affiliate or video yourself and submit it for peer review. Week 1 was a 17 min workout and FitCam Photo had not yet been born, so I had to find a place to do the Open. I called several gyms at 7am on a Saturday, Manny was the only one to answer. I woke him up and begged to let me do the Open with him. It’s been love ever since.

 

Since the 2013 Open, there have been several lessons learned. The biggest lesson, was that my craptastic form was not going to last. I had some of the most horrendous movement, no matter what it was; quarter squats, rounded back deadlifts, you name it. Imagine the funny videos you see of people exercising online, that was me. Just ask Manny. The second biggest lesson, which took me longer to realize, was that I wasn’t playing water polo anymore. Every WOD was not some cut throat competition in which I had to prove myself. I see lots of people, not just at NECF, who’s first move at the gym is to look at scores for the WOD. I was just as guilty of this, and sometimes still find myself looking at scores from time to time. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter what someone else’s score is, only that you put forth your own effort and left the gym a little better than when you came in.

 

The 2018 Open will be my sixth year doing the Open and there have been plenty of lessons along the way. I like to think my movement is much better than when I first started; I like to think I don’t let my competitive ego get the best of me, but the truth is that I’m still learning. That’s part of the beauty of Crossfit. You’re never done learning or improving. Ask any top athlete and they can rattle off a laundry list of things they still need to work on both in and out of the gym.

 

No one took me up on my last challenge, maybe y’all got bored of my rambling, but this week I challenge you to take some time and reflect back on how you got into Crossfit, some things you’ve learned along the way and a few areas that you are still working on. Write it down and share it with me.


Track Your Progress

December 6, 2017

Track Your Progress

By Coach Debbie Leonti

Most of us are coming in to train at least 3 times per week. Our head coach and main programmer, Manny Alayon, spends ample time programming our fitness and sport workouts. These training sessions are not just your daily “I just feel like doing this today” type of workout. The programming has a purpose. These workouts are meant to improve our overall fitness in strength, Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, and endurance. They are meant to take you from point A to point B in a safe, progressive manner.

We can only do so much as coaches and guides; we provide the tools, but it is up to you as the individual athlete to build with those tools. A good way to start is to just  “track your progress.” Buy a cheap notebook or download a CrossFit app on your phone (Ex. MY WOD) and record EVERYTHING.  After coming in for a few weeks, you should have a good grasp on weights that you been using and weights you are looking to build up to; it is all progressive! For example,  during our strength sessions, you should not be using 95lb. for a 5×5 back squat if  this was the weight you accomplished during the week’s before strength session! If you are looking to get stronger, you have to increase the load. Get out of that comfort zone. Utilize us as coaches and guides, but have your material and data ready so that we can help assist you. You can even go as far as writing whether the sets or workouts were easy or difficult. Scale the difficulty of your working sets on a scale of 1-10 to have an idea for the next time you attack something similar to it. We try our best as coaches to know you well enough as an athlete, but we are not YOU. Was that workout really hard or do you think you could have pushed a little more? We can only see your movement, we can’t feel what you are experiencing. Become aware of your capabilities and understand what you have done and strive for better!

I hope this helps with your training! Please use us as guides as we are there to help you any way we can. It is your responsibility, however, to track your progress to grow into a better athlete and CrossFitter!


We Are Here To Motivate, Not Be Your Motivation

November 29, 2017

We Are Here To Motivate, Not Be Your Motivation

By Coach Manny Alayon

As coaches we are here to motivate, not to be your motivation. We are here to get you prepared, excited and to guide you through your journey. A good coach can help motivate, but should not be the reason for your motivation. Relying on something external (extrinsic) for motivation can work well in the short term, but will fizzle out as time passes. Real motivation is a desire or that indescribable “thing” that drives you to succeed or accomplish a goal, and it comes from internal sources (intrinsic).

Typically, we see people lose motivation during stressful periods. The holidays, the cold weather, event planning and work are all very common stressors that can lead to a loss of motivation. Some common signs of losing motivation are making excuses, inconsistent attendance in regular activities, lack of self control, mediocre effort, and a general feeling of wanting to watch Netflix under the covers.

We also see motivation drop due to not seeing immediate success. We are unfortunately a species that is programmed by society to expect fast results. Our expectations are not truly realistic because of how ads have influenced our perception. We have grown up being influenced by commercials, magazines, social media and that 1 friend who lost 50lbs in an hour that one time. All of these things have greatly contributed to our extremely skewed expectations. Many people fall victim to this mentality, even though they claim they are committed to the long game approach. One of the most common examples of this is joining a nutrition challenge and after 1 week of not seeing the scale move, going back to your old habits. Most people know that change takes time, but for some reason the motivation gets completely lost because there was still a great expectation.

In order to truly stay motivated, an individual should have their motivation be exclusively intrinsic (vs. extrinsic). Intrinsic motivation stems from within. It is the purest and most rewarding type of motivation. It is the motivation that no matter what external things are going on in your life, you never forget your true “why” or purpose. Keeping yourself motivated to get to the gym sounds simple for some and impossible for others. A good starting point is to remember the benefits of making time for your health. It will allow you to enjoy the things you already love doing. It will keep you around longer. It gives you the power to be independent and the confidence to go to a nude beach. As much as we want you to be at the gym, we want you to do it for you.


Finding Your Why

November 22, 2017

Finding Your Why

By Coach Cameron Hudson

Fitness is hard. Just when you think you have it all figured out, coach makes you go a little heavier or introduces a new skill. So, why do we do it day in and day out? Are you training for an upcoming spartan race? Getting ready for the Open? Or just exercising so you can post videos of you lifting in a crop top? Whatever the reason is, only you can answer that question.

“He who has a why can endure any how”

-Nietzsche

Your why is what keeps you coming into the gym each day and allow you to strive to be a little better than you were yesterday. Unlocking your why can help you set goals to keep your progress and enjoyment on track.

My challenge to y’all this week is to take some time to reflect on your why. Write it down and then come up with three goals that pertain to the gym. Yes, write them down! Once you write them down, feel free to share them with one of the coaches so we can help you get there. That’s my why. I come in each day to help make each person better than they were yesterday. From getting their first muscle up or hitting a new PR on their back squat. That gets me fired up!


A Few Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

November 15, 2017

A Few Tips To Stay On Track During The Holidays

By Coach Debbie Leonti

Can you believe it is already the middle of NOVEMBER? Time is flying by and pretty soon we will be approaching a new year!
With a new year brings a “NEW YOU.” We set goals for ourselves and sometimes get carried away with setting such high expectations of ourselves even if we know that these things are unattainable from the start. Now, I am not saying to not set goals, but start with some realistic, short term goals to keep you motivated going into the new year.

With that being said, attack the holidays this year with some helpful tips to help stay on track toward reaching those fitness goals you set for yourself for that “NEW YOU.” So many times I have heard from clients, “I am going well off the deep end for the holidays, I don’t know how I will stay on track with all of the parties… the food and alcohol is everywhere!” Yes, the temptations are much higher around the holidays and I understand that! This does NOT mean that you have to go well off the deep end! Learn to survive and balance throughout the holiday season with some of these thoughts:

1. Plan ahead!
Not all of your meals throughout the day have to be “terrible” because you are going out later that night. Prep some healthy meals for the day to get your nutrients in so that you are not completely starving by the time you get to your later meal.
2. Stay hydrated.
Alcohol will be more readily available and tempting to indulge in. Drink as much water throughout the day as possible as well as the day after. Staying up with water intake helps with that hangover too. (Not that I am encouraging it!)
3. Practice sensible eating.
Try and SIT at a table while you are eating, enjoy your company and conversations with your family and loved ones. You don’t necessarily have to stuff your face to the point of wanting to throw up in order to enjoy your holiday.
4. Don’t deprive.
You don’t want to be miserable and turn down everything. Enjoy the meals, enjoy the desserts, but understand balance. Make yourself a plate of food or dessert and walk away from the rest.
5. Move around!!
This is so important! Try and promise yourself to make it to those class WODS a few times during the week of the holidays. Spend a little extra time walking the puppy or playing outside with siblings, cousins, loved ones. The more active you are, the less likely you will be tempted to overindulge in other things.

By no means am I trying to preach or make you feel miserable about splurging on things you love! I am just trying to help lessen the burden or stress of “falling off” and having a difficult time hitting that reset button. You don’t have to start from scratch at the start of the new year. You CAN have your cake and eat it too; just try and make a game plan to do so! Hope this helps you in your prep for the holidays!


Winter Is Coming…

November 8, 2017

Winter Is Coming…

By Coach Manny Alayon

A famous Game Of Thrones reference, to a long cold winter. For us in the Northeast, the sun is down earlier, the temperature gets cooler and the stresses of the holiday seasons vastly approach. During this time it can be really easy to make excuses for not making it to the gym. It is easy to lose motivation, direction, and “mojo.” This is something that I struggle with when I see the sun less and I actually have to have a thorough warm-up to break a sweat. The holiday months seem to be the slowest at the gym. Let’s talk about some ways we re-spark motivation to keep you getting warm in the cold winter months!

  1. Set a realistic goal. If you have not yet, I can tell you this is probably the #1 reason why members will lose motivation. When you don’t set a realistic goal, you begin to contemplate your “why” and question the purpose of being in the gym. It is easy to lose sight of your “why” when you don’t write it down. Remember a goal is not just a statement. Everyone has that Aunt that has been trying to lose 10lbs. for the past 10 years. Don’t be that Aunt! Your goal should have a specific start and end date. From there, set checkpoints to keep yourself on track with your goal.
  2. Appreciate life. Right now, most of us are pretty healthy or at least working on it. There are many many people out there who WISH they could exercise to their fullest potential. As much as we want to believe and hope, our life clock is ticking. We only have a limited amount of time to do the athletic things that we can do now. People age and unexpected things in life can occur. So if you have working legs, run. If you have working arms, throw. If you have working lungs, breathe.
  3. Have fun! What has ever made fitness enjoyable for you? Was it the community? The post workout high? The feeling of accomplishment when you hit a new personal record? There is no way you’ve come this far being unhappy. Take a moment to reflect and think about the happiest moments at the gym. The laughs, the communication, the hard work, the results. At the end of the day, we want fitness to be fun. If you cannot find the joy in anything you do, you’ll never be able to do it well.

The winter is coming weather (see what I did there) we like it or not. Take some moments to reflect and don’t let the external factors be your excuse. We are not bears, so don’t hibernate in your homes this winter. Make it a point to stay consistent, stay the course, achieve results and enjoy the process. We are all up in here “just tryna stay fit.”


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