Retreat, Regather, Regain.

Well, it’s been an interesting week so far. Filled with various stressors initially but, today at least, taking a turn for the better.

I’ll start with what most of you are probably wondering about: CrossFit Zenith. This week, after so much time getting to this point, we finally got a first draft of the lease. All thirty-one pages of it. In lawyer-speak. Ugh. But we looked through it, as did our attorney, made a loooot of corrections/changes/improvements and sent it back to the owner. Now the waiting begins anew.

In addition to the expected stressor of having to wait for a reply, being this close to a lease means other kinds of stress as well. Now it’s not only time to start making those final decisions on what equipment we’re getting and from where, but it’s also time for… the web site.

I wanted to put up a maintenance mode placeholder so I could tinker behind the scenes. Rather than tracking down all of the local tools I used to use to build sites, I figured I’d do it like a regular mortal and get a template that’s pretty close to what I want, customize it through the WordPress backend and be done. Sounds like a brilliant plan if you don’t take three things into account:

  1. I’m a PC person, not a Mac person. I need to be able to not only tinker under the hood, but I need to have obvious stuff hidden. If you give me a big red “Click to Do It” button, I won’t see it. If I have to dig through ten menus to find the “Do It” entry, I’m much happier.
  2. I’m a perfectionist. If you want to get a perfectionist away from you for a bit, give them a website with a logo that’s five pixels off.
  3. I’ve forgotten how much I really hate web programming.

So yesterday was quite a frustrating little day. After beating my head against a wall for much longer than I’d care to reveal here, I have a coming soon page up that I don’t actively hate. Assuming I don’t look at it on an iPhone, that is.

To add to the frustration, I haven’t slept well at all the past couple of nights. In addition to the mind racing through CrossFit equipment and grousing about CSS as I lay wide awake in bed, there was something even more insidious.

Last Tuesday, I had a CT of my chest and abdomen. My left collarbone has been doing weird things on clean & jerk days and is noticeably different than the right one. Back when I got diagnosed, they took a lymph node from the right side that’s right about where the left collarbone is poking out. My oncologist thought it was probably nothing, but since we’re going to be signing a very expensive lease someday soon, I figured it would  be best to play it safe and talked him into a CT.

The chest portion was fine, but there was something strange on one of the kidneys that was hard to identify. I discovered this when the Health Plan called to set up an appointment for an abdominal ultrasound out of the blue. That didn’t freak me out at all. To make things even better, that sono was scheduled for today, which means a week of “WTF” lurking in the back of my head. The past couple of days, it’s been coming to the forefront a little more often, so that means even less sleep.

This morning after another restless night, I drank my water and went to get my sono. She saw something a little indeterminate as well, so I got to go home to fret. Now I’ve got my health, our gym and a website all looming over me, weighing down my brain. It was then that I made the best decision of the day: time to lift.

I needed something to focus on, so rather than the scheduled metcon I decided I’d do the oly class’ WOD so I could lose myself in form and technique and blot out everything else.

Guess what you need to oly lift. Your brain and attention. I put my hands on 95 pounds for a snatch that… saying it didn’t work is putting it kindly. I mobilized a little more and still couldn’t get into the squat quick enough. Maybe if I switch to power snatches? Nope. Maybe if I grab a 15 pound bar and run through my technique? Nnnope. Now, not only am I diseased, frustrated, tired, overwhelmed and hating technology, I can’t lift either. Great.

Rather than throwing myself against the bar over and over and just pissing myself off, I took a step back and warmed up my brain muscles. Technique sucks today and going home now is not an option. That means it’s wheelhouse time: back squats.

The oly workout had percentage back squats in it, so I had already looked up my 1RM. The only problem was, I looked it up by looking at our gym leaderboard. There was my old 340# PR, lurking in second behind CoachPoach’s 360#.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

So I turned around to the rack and started loading up the bar. Made my way up the warm-up rep ladder feeling pretty good. A little creaky at 225, smoother at 295, smoother still at 315. Interesting. I throw 25 more pounds on the bar and easily tie the old PR. This could be a good day. However, I’ve moved a lot of weight so far, and I’m already thinking of how I’m going to get to that 360. Not wanting to waste time with a lot of building weights, I jump up to 355. Fifteen pounds over my PR.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

The 355 went about like you’d expect a fifteen pound jump over your PR would go: directly to the ground, where it stayed after I dumped it.

I had already been thinking about doing some deadlifting after the squats, so it was convenient that the bar was lying there waiting to be picked up. But in the back of my head was that curiosity. What if I wasn’t a dumbass and just went up a little bit in weight to get an easy PR? Now I was faced with a decision: forget the PR for the day and start in on the deadlifts or strip a LOT of weight so I can get the bar back in the rack.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

Yeah, I stripped the weight down and went back to the rack, loading up 345 this time. Down and up, no problems. 350? Down and up, no problems. Remember me talking about superstition in the last post? Because obviously the only reason I failed at 355 before was because the 5 pound plates I put on were unlucky. So instead of a 5 and a 2½, I put three 2½ plates on each side.

New lifting rule: when in doubt, go with superstition. 355 wasn’t cake, but it went up and back in the rack. Now I start to look at just how small those 2½ pound plates look. It shouldn’t be too hard to do the lift again with two of those itty bitty plates on it, right? And just in case this is the last lift of the day, I’ll put these little ¼ pound rings for no underlying devious reason. That’s right, math wizards: 360.5 because I’m an asshole like that.

The late Col. Jeff Cooper observed that ‘the fear of sporting failure is worse than the fear of death.’ It is our observation that men will die for points. – Greg Glassman, “Understanding CrossFit”

I chalked my shoulders, tightened my belt and approached the bar. As always, that first moment is filled with no other thought than “Holy CRAP this is heavy!” Toss that thought out, squat down, stand back up, put it in the rack. Done.

What started off as a really crappy day that was only heading lower turned into a 20.5 pound back squat PR. The trick is knowing when to find the pattern to turn things around. Stop what you’re doing and take a step back. Think about what’s happening and why. Step back into it and succeed. Retreat, regather and regain.

And superstition. Always believe your superstitions.

To top off the day (since Barb pointed out I didn’t include it), I had an email from my oncologist waiting for me when I got home: the kidneys are fine. Booyah.

Stevie Wonder was Wrong

First, let’s get the casual readers up to speed.

Naturally, a lot of things happened between my certification and now, including becoming the gym manager at CFNH and the social media guy. Writing the CFNH blog every day took the vast majority of my CrossFit Creativity, so this blog suffered as a result. Eventually I became just the social media guy (as well as a coach throughout my tenure), which meant a little less responsibility but was still taxing on the creativity side of things.

What’s changed to justify dusting off the old blog? I’ve stepped down from my role as the CFNH blogger as one step along the path to running my own CrossFit box. I’ve given myself a bit over two weeks to let my brain recover and start thinking of more great things to say about CrossFit. I’ve decided that I’ll spend this blogging time giving you folks some insight on what it takes to open a CrossFit box nowadays (hint: expect lots of freaking out). The other thing that kept me offline for the past couple of weeks was not knowing where the box would be and letting my superstitious nature keep me quiet.

If you know any motocrossers or hockey players, it will come as no surprise to you that I’m more than a little superstitious at times. I’m usually okay with the generally accepted superstitions: no qualms about the number 13, black cats can walk wherever they want and the only reason I don’t walk under a ladder is because I don’t want something dropped on me. The majority of my superstitions tend to be personal ones, often of the “I was wearing this the last time something good happened” variety. One of the things I’m relatively consistent about superstition-wise is the feeling that talking about good things before they become a reality practically ensures they will never come to be. This was starting to become the case with our #1 location for the new box.

It’s hard to not be excited about something as momentous as opening your own CrossFit box as well as your first business venture, and with excitement comes loose lips and subsequent sunken ships. Especially when you find the PERFECT place for a box: an out-of-the-way gymnasium with its own baseball field which shares a gigantic parking lot with a referral engine Planet Fitness. You would actually have to drive past the Planet Fitness to get to us. Awesome.

We originally found the location on LoopNet, a site catering to commercial properties. When we first tried to find the place, we drove around in circles for a good ten minutes. Once we finally found it, a ray of light broke through the clouds and choirs of angels started singing. Even before talking to the realtor, I was already dreaming up prowler and wheelbarrow WODs for the field next to the gym.

Meriden Color BirdsEye
So much room for activities!

We created our LLC and submitted our affiliate paperwork and set up an appointment with the realtor. Turns out the inside of the place was pretty grim. It had been empty for the past 7-8 years and on the market for the past 5. There was a lot of disrepair and some downright creepiness, but Barb and I have rehabilitated old places before. After you’ve pulled fused-together dead rats out of a wall in a 1910 Victorian house, there’s not much that will faze you.

We got home, checked our financials and put together an offer. Since we called their realtor out of the blue, it was basically up to us to do the negotiating. Since there was a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo to go through as well and since our WODtime consigliere isn’t licensed in CT, we tracked down a real estate lawyer to give us a much-needed hand.

History and superstition were beginning to prove me right, as our negotiations with the landlord kept dragging out and getting bleaker and bleaker. The breaking point was when the landlord talked to some contractors and decided our list of tenant improvements (things like “fix broken windows, put on a fresh coat of paint, make showers less rapey”) would mean the price per square foot would need to go up an extra $2 from the original listing, close to an extra $1500 per month, or almost $87k over the span of a 5 year lease. Woof.

At that point, I decided that sadly, we wouldn’t be getting this space. Between my superstition and the interactions we had up to that point, it appeared that it was time to look elsewhere. We talked to a tenant representative (someone who tracks down places, shows them to you and does all of the lease negotiations) and it turned out he was good friends with the realtor we had been talking to about the property. He gave the realtor a call to see where their side of this negotiation stood, since we were reluctantly ready to walk away at that point.

That lit a fire and got things rolling again. I continued with the story that negotiations were falling through because again, superstitious. Superstitious for good reason, I might add, because we’re about to sign a lease for the new home of CrossFit Zenith in Meriden, CT.

Fuck yeah.

As I type this, we’ve just had an offer to meet in the middle price-wise, so we’re looking at signing a lease for this place soon soon soon. It’s now time for me to step away from the computer and dance.

Born to Coach

So in the midst of all of the house packing, I came across the “We’re gonna miss you” card from the company I worked for out in California. Among the varied roles I played at the company was the “Keeper of Knowledge” role. This is a continuous problem with tech companies in particular – all of the information winds up in the brains of just a few people. It’s also known as the bus factor – how many people would have to die in a bus accident to screw your company over?

I was reading through what the various folks wrote and trying to picture some of them, when I came across this inscription:

“Mr. Watts – You will be missed, even though the first two months we worked together you made me ask questions to a puppet.”

While that comment pretty much stands on its own, you might be thinking to yourself “Surely this is some weird sort of in-joke. It can’t mean what it sounds like it means, can it?” It can, and it does. As one of my “the answers are at your fingertips, do you really want to ask me the question?” tactics for teaching people to fish, I had a hand puppet named QA Cow. Kind of a fuzzy version of “Speak to the Hand.” If you had a question about how to do something in our little QA group, you had to go through QA Cow first. Yes, I’m just that wonderful to work with.


Okay, I know I said last week I was going to have a post about the Regionals, but this is not that post. If you’ve followed any of my other blogs, you’re accustomed to to the despair, heartbreak and broken promises that comes with following me.

Instead, this post is about one thing: Certification.

No Homer, not that certificate.

Last weekend was my Level 1 Cert up at Reebok and I kicked its ass. We had an awesome coaching staff headed up by EC Synkowski and composed of Heather & Ben Bergeron, James Hobart (AKA J. Ho), Dave Lipson, Austin Malleolo and Mr. Smooth Talker himself, Jon Gilson. As you’d expect, all of them were smart, friendly, funny and extraordinarily helpful.

The sheer amount of information covered in the two day cert is astounding when you look at it on paper, but everyone does such a great job of explaining things and covering all the bases that it doesn’t feel like a gigantic info dump. I wish I had kept a tally of all the times I thought to myself “Oh, so that’s why we do that.” Just in the first day, I was probably already in the teens.

If you haven’t taken it yet, it basically boils down into a combination of sit-and-take-notes lectures (on the more general things like what CrossFit, nutrition, programming, that sort of thing) and mini-lectures on a set of movements followed by a breakout into groups to practice the movements and try our hand and spotting flaws in form. I’m torn on which was my favorite. The breakout sessions were great and we learned a lot about the actual coaching side of things, whereas the lectures were fascinating and didn’t destroy my calves nearly as much.

The other two things involved over the weekend are one WOD per day (three guesses what one of them was and the first two don’t count) and… The Test. The most interesting thing about the test was that for about 80% of it, I could look at the question and recall just who covered the answer for it in their lecture. The moral of the story is, when someone with a red shirt is talking to you, pay attention!

So my recommendation is, start saving your pennies and go to the first Level 1 cert you can. It’s worth the money for the education alone, then you have fun on top of it. What could be better, right?

There was also one other little bit of stress to add to the whole certification process: Today at noon was my first class coaching all by myself at CFNH. And what better day to start your coaching career than a WOD with a max effort power snatch? It’s not like that’s a complicated movement to teach or anything, right? Then we had a max effort weighted chin-up, which was much easier to teach (do a chin-up, but with weight. Go!) and we finished it all off with Isabel – 30 snatches for time.

Pictured: Eagle Eyes.

My first class went okay. I had all my steps in my head as I drove to the box, going from ground to overhead. Then I see Dan as he’s leaving and he tells me how he teaches it, which is head to toes. Now I’m starting class with this mixed bastardization of down-to-up and up-to-down steps boiling in my head. Fortunately there were only four folks at the class, yet somehow we still managed to span the full range of abilities in those four people. I’m proud to say that by the end, I’m relatively sure everyone was snatching better by the end of the class than they were at the start and no one died so, Mission Accomplished.

Next class: Friday at 6AM. And this time, we’ve got back squats and deadlifts. Those of you who really know me can imagine the smile on my face when I say that. It’s wheelhouse time, baby!

Does the ground feel cold to you?

Holy crap, three days in a row.

This one will be a little scrambly just because that’s how my brain is this morning. Last night was a late night, but it fell under CrossFit’s motto of “Try new sports.” Assuming that trivia is a sport. Three of my fellow CFNH Honey Badgers (Barb, Mark & Taylor) and I descended upon Anna Liffey’s last night to take on their weekly trivia contest thingie. In true honey badger fashion, we smacked the shit out of it. We attacked the bar two weeks ago and placed second, but last night we steamrolled over the competition to take the win.

Today’s lesson was the shoulder press, which I did… let’s say “okay.” Out of a hundred, I’d give myself a 63. Totally forgot about shoulder positioning and the subsequent arm position at the top of the lift. D’OH! After class, Jay had me teach the push jerk (which was the actual movement in today’s workout) to Adam (one of the other coaches).

Not to be confused with The Jerk. Also, SafeSearch is your friend.

I did okay, better than I would have expected when I woke up this morning. The biggest problem I had was in my own technique. I’d do an okay job of explaining what I wanted Adam to do, but then my own example would be, shall we say, lacking. I need to work on my own hip extension, as I’m usually thinking hard about it when I’m lifting, but can’t use all that brainpower when I also need to be talking about it.

One other thing happening in my world lately has been my stupid right shoulder getting impinged again. It re-happened a couple of weeks ago and I’m slowly creeping up into that “It feels better” danger zone. Today’s workout had a nice little 500m row sprint in the middle of everything and I manged to tear off a callus. That’s right. 500 meters of rowing shredded my hands. I can only imagine what’s going to happen to them once I can start doing pull-ups again.

Kinda like this, but hand-shaped.

One last note – I’ll shortly be packing up so Barb and I can head up to the Northeast Regionals. Right now you’re thinking “Oh my God, Brian! I didn’t know you were such a bad ass firebreather!” First, thank you. Second, Barb and I are going up to volunteer for the weekend, so don’t get too awe-inspired. I’m dragging my laptop along so I can keep up with the daily posting thing, but the post times are probably going to shift into the evening so I don’t have to lug this thing around Reebok headquarters all day.

Also, with that in mind, I’ve updated the “Follow” link for Facebook over there on the right, so it should actually take you to the From Couch to Coach Facebook page rather than, well, nowhere. Go like the page, then you won’t have to sit here hitting refresh all day. Plus, it’ll make me feel special.

Let’s see now. Socks? Check. Underwear? Check. Fanboy eyes with optional Gaze of Wonderment? Check. Extra underwear in case of excitement peeing? Check.

Another Pictureless Post

Today, I’m writing from the table at CrossFit Milford, since my eye was messed up all day and I neeeeeed to get on a daily posting schedule. The downside to that is, I’m posting on my phone. That means no multimedia and slooooooow typing. Especially since the WordPress app doesn’t have autocorrect, let alone the “two spaces equals a period and a space” feature. Bastards.

Yesterday went quite well, teaching the back squat. There’s a definite difference when you’re teaching a movement that you’re 100% confident about. I could just focus on talking about the movement, since I knew my body could do it right on autopilot.

Today is all about deadlifts, though I haven’t heard if I’m teaching it yet. Then tonight is Anna Liffey’s to kick some more trivia ass.

Oh, I also stopped by CFNH last night to follow Dan around for the last class. Dan had posted about me being the new intern on the CFNH blog, so I got an “I know you! You’re the trainer in training!” from one of our on-rampers. Yes, I’m THAT famous.

The Highlight Reel

Well, things have been going a little crazy around here off and on, both in my coaching life and non-coaching life. That gives me more stuff to write about, which then makes me want to put off writing ’til the next day, then something else big happens to add to the update pile and the snowball starts rolling. So before I go crazy trying to write a gigantic day-by-day update post to get everyone up to speed, I’m just going to try to hit some highlights for now to get something out here, then try to stick to more of a daily schedule. Otherwise, I’ll never get around to updating this thing.

Last week, I started actually teaching some movements! Well, that’s probably not quite accurate in some of the circumstances. The first movement I taught was a shoulder press, which went okay explanation-wise. I mainly needed to walk around and have people repeat the movement a few times and correct some form here and there. Also had some issues with being a little scramble-brained in the explanation. Like, demonstrating how their heads should be pushed back when pressing the weight up and suddenly realizing I hadn’t mentioned foot positioning. Then back to the arms. And did I mention the knees? Oh, and the back!

Next up was the front squat. I explained possibly everything there is to know about the front rack position, using about ten minutes’ worth of words in about two minutes. Then, after purging everything I know about front rack, followed it with “… and then you squat. GO!” As Jay told me shortly after, if you’re teaching the front squat, it’s kind of important to teach the “squat” part of the equation.

I think the biggest thing for me is figuring out how to narrow things down to key points and cues and get them straight in my head before I open my mouth. Like my friend Dave told me, “Think of it like a bartender. Somebody orders a drink, they don’t start measuring out one ounce of this, two ounces of that. It’s just tequila, rum, juice, blam! Done!” Sure, he could have used a cooking analogy too, but hey, we’re CrossFitters.

I also attended an Olympic lifting clinic held by EC Synkowski & James Hobart which was awesome from an athlete perspective and overwhelming from a coaching perspective. First off, these two are astounding in how quickly they get everyone’s names figured out. My house consists of me, my wife and our dog and I’m only certain about their names 70% of the time. The big stunning thing was going over the snatch for an hour and a half or so, then realizing that this was the same thing I’d occasionally have to teach in only a few minutes’ worth of class time. If I start to think about it too much, I need a paper bag nearby to breathe into.

On Saturday, I taught all of Fight Gone Bad for one class. I felt most comfortable there, as it was more of a “watch me while I demonstrate, ’cause you’ll be doing this in a couple of minutes” kind of class. I do well in front of crowds, but something about having twenty people staring at me with PVC pipes on their shoulders makes my brain go all jangly. Oh well, with time and practice comes confidence and less jangliness, right? RIGHT?

This afternoon’s movement to teach? The back squat. Those of you who know me can imagine the grin I have on my face. Now we get to see how well I teach from my wheelhouse.

Great. Now I just freaked myself out again. Tune in tomorrow for the results!

It’s only been one week?

Wow, I really need to come up with some sort of schedule for getting these things out. Either that or I need to take much better notes, ’cause a week’s worth of stuff is hard to remember. So here’s a recap, random-style!

Our high school team really seems to be digging our CrossFit workouts. Thursday and Friday we started them off by teaching cleans, specifically hang power cleans, power cleans and squat cleans. After the skill work was done, it was outside to the field for… TIRE FLIPPING. Dan decided that since I had attended Rob Orlando’s Strongman Seminar back in April that I should teach the kids how to flip a tire. Of course, he tells me this as we’re all gathered around the tires looking at each other.

Even though my brain was scrambled, I’m pretty sure I hit all of the important points. I showed them how to flip it once in one direction with no problems, since it was probably only a 400 pounder. Flipping back? Let’s just say that rubber tires on rubber mats handle differently than rubber tires on artificial turf. I got about a quarter of the way up and the bottom edge of the tire broke loose from the ground and slid, thereby cracking my chin on the tire when it smacked back onto the ground. “And there you see how NOT to flip a tire,” I said, while pretending that I wasn’t seeing sparklies everywhere. I may not be quick, but at least I’m quick on my feet.

And then I taught them how to use a quarterstaff.

For the workout, we had them in two lines behind the two tires, flipping them in teams of two. They’d flip 20 yards, then sprint eighty. My team destroyed Dan’s team. Though, to be fair, Dan might not have realized we were racing each other. We did the same workout on Friday with the other half of the team and my guys came from behind to win again. The best races are the ones where your opponent doesn’t know it’s a competition.

I did a lot more shadowing at Milford and Jay officially introduced me to one of the classes, so for a few people at CFM I’m no longer that creepy quiet guy who’s watching everyone work out. Jay also told me I might be leading some warm-ups and cool-downs this coming week.

Saturday was the big four oh. I’m slowly creeping up on Master territory, depending on whose age ranges you’re looking at. CrossFit’s definitely given me a reason to look forward to getting older. The older I get, the less chance there is I have to compete against the young whippersnappers. Started out the day with a Thruster Gauntlet, which gave me a 60 pound PR for my birthday. Of course, that’s primarily because I’ve never done a max effort thruster and my previous high was 115, but I’ll still take it. I skipped the metcon part of the workout because Barb let the cat out of the bag the night before and told me my big Birthday Surprise. We were going up to the Catamount Aerial Adventure Park to do some rope climbin’ and ziplinin’. I still had to do my forty birthday burpees thanks to Whitney. Oy.

Holy crap, this place is awesome. We’re already putting plans together for a larger CrossFit outing to this place in July for my fifth re-birthday (the day I got my stem cells back and was officially cancer-free). There’s a video in the upper right-ish corner of their site that gives a pretty good rundown of the place. A word of warning – don’t wear Merrell Trail Gloves when you go. They seem like a good idea when you think about it, but there are a few different obstacles that consist of walking across steel cables. And holy hell, do they hurt when you don’t have stiff soled shoes. For that matter, you’ll probably want to leave your Vibrams and Inov-8s at home too. Another tip – don’t do a max effort thruster workout before you go. Or maybe it was the wall balls a couple of days previous. Just make sure you’re prepared to squat-walk across things occasionally.

The rest of the evening went well, with dinner at Prime 16 with some CrossFit couples and a follow-up at the official CFNH watering hole, Christopher Martin’s. Mark tracked down some candy for me (more on that in a later post) and Barb, in addition to monkey time in the trees, got me a sweet poster that has pretty much been the theme of this year.

Any lines jump out at you?


And they’re off!

I’m fully underway in Intern mode now and, since one of my rabid fans has been insisting, it’s time to bring you guys up to speed.

Friday was the last day of work with very little fanfare. It occurred to me in my last couple of weeks that I had approached my last job almost like a reality show villain: “I didn’t come here to make friends.”

Plus, I was known to snatch out a bitch's weave on occasion.

Not that they were necessarily bad people, mind you. But most of them lived close to the office, meaning they lived close to me and, most importantly, they weren’t CrossFitters.

Saturday was my first official intern day, which worked out a lot like before – shadow time! We didn’t have any late seminars this time, so I was only at Milford for the first half of the day. It was an action-packed day, being our second annual First Responder Throwdown. Each class in the morning did the same set of workouts, and a LOT of work was done all through the morning. By the athletes, that is. The way Jay set up the workouts, there wasn’t a real need for setup and breakdown people, as those tasks became part of the workouts. Now that’s some genius programming.

Sunday was our first Purge Morning, trying to whittle down our possessions to better fit into our eventual apartment. Barb’s a purging machine when it comes to this stuff, but I can only do it a little bit at a time. I start off detached and ready to ditch things, but the sentimentality starts to build up after a bit and I have to stop where I’m at before I become totally useless and overwhelmed. I did good though – in addition to setting aside quite a few big boxes for Goodwill or eBay, site unseen, I also did an item-by-item search through eight other “Stuff” boxes. Those are generally composed of random things that happened to be near each other which all got thrown into a box during one clean up or another. In the end, I had narrowed the eight boxes down into one and a half keep boxes, one eBay, three Goodwill and half of a big trash bag.

Sunday night was party time – one of the owners of our box, Eric, was having a 40th birthday shindig. This makes him so much unbelievably older than me, since I don’t turn 40 until Saturday.

I still remember the day I first met Eric.

This brings to mind one of the really wonderful things about CrossFit – the Family. The next time the owner of your box is throwing some kind of shindig, mention it to someone who doesn’t know what CrossFit is. I did that one time at the dentist. “So, wait. The person who owns your gym is having a party, and you’re going to it?” What seems so perfectly normal to us is completely foreign to everyone else. Put yourself in their shoes – can you really imagine hanging out with anyone else who goes to your Planet Fitness? Can you imagine hanging out with the owner too?

Monday was a happily full day of wandering. I started with Ye Olde Six AM class to get my WOD in, then I was due at Milford by 9:00. It’s amazing what a difference a half hour and a shorter commute makes. The old job was at 8:30, and I had to race home from the box, shower fast, then hit the road to try to make it on time. Yesterday I came home, took a loooooong shower (stupid kettlebell swings) and actually sat down and ate breakfast. Hot damn!

Got to Milford and caught the tail end of Jay’s class then followed Adam around for his class. Adam’s a great coach and entertaining to watch. I’ve trained with him before, but that was back when he was still new to coaching and figuring out what’s what. Now he’s got it down and really connects with his athletes. Seeing his easy rapport and confidence keeps me going, since I knew him back when he was more like I am now.


Pictured: The Author

During the class, I received a text from Dan, another one of our trainers. He has a gig doing strength and conditioning training at an area high school and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along and help. I checked with Jay and since he didn’t need me again until the next day, it was all systems go for high school football in the afternoon.

I had a few hours to kill at that point, so I gave Carla, Eric’s wife and our box’s webmistress (that’s sure to turn up on some interesting Google searches) a holler to talk to her about our current site. It is, shall we say, less than optimal. It’s great on the front side of things, but the back end is the very model of user unfriendliness. We agreed that I’d meet up with her after her noon class so she could point out all the things that drive her crazy. Since that gave me a couple of free hours, that meant I had plenty of time to do Highly Important Work.


...or something.

Yes, it was time for lunch and a nap, then off to CFNH. I watched the last half of the noon class with both O’Briens, then sat with them to go over the current site. To say things could be better is an understatement. I can see a lot of areas we’ll be able to make it much easier for the folks posting things on the site, and hopefully I won’t have to keep my Web Developer hat on for too long to get us there.

Dan arrived after that and it was back to school. This team has fifty kids on it, all working out in a room about a quarter the size of our box. It definitely keeps you on your toes when you’ve got a lot of kids throwing around weights in there. Dan’s been working with them for a couple of weeks and takes half of them one day and the other half the next. Monday and Tuesday, we’re teaching them deadlifts and sumo deadlift high pulls.


Ummm... no, not quite.

It was rewarding to see just how quick most of these guys picked up the techniques. The only deadlifting they had done up to that point was using a trap bar:


Shorts sold separately.

It was great watching Dan work through a large number of people in a short period of time in such a confined area. I also learned one of the important lessons of being a coach: only one cue at a time. Being Dan’s Little Helper, I had to correct the form of the guys near me and the first couple were more than a little overwhelmed as I tried to correct ALL of their shortcomings at once. “Pull your knees back. Pick your hips up. Think like you’re sitting back into a chair. And pull your shoulders back. Think like you’re trying to put your shoulderblades in your back pockets. And keep your focus in front of you on the floor over there. And keep your core tight. And get a haircut. And yellow’s really not your color.”

Luckily I have a lot of experience confusing people, so I recognize the symptoms when they appear. I narrowed down my cues and kept them as simple as possible. In the end, it went pretty well. I’m going to go over there with him again today before I have to rush over to Milford for my next bout of shadowing.

When we got back to CFNH, the 4:30 folk were just starting to arrive, so yeah – I stuck around and shadowed for a couple more classes. Plus, I got to be Designated Camera Boy for awhile as well. Good Times. One more full day of following and watching in the books, which led me to my current, hectic morning.


...or something.

One Week Remaining

Not a tremendously eventful week, at least right until the end.

Around midweek, I signed up for my Level 1 cert. I’m taking it up at Reebok at the end of June, so if you need your Level 1 and you wanna hang out, sign on up and we’ll lift things.

Friday was Trivia Night for CFNH at St. Rita’s and of the many tables there, we had two full of thirsty CrossFitters. Naturally, our table (composed of celebrity couples Maylor, Marin, Carlic and Brarb) was the victor. Of the two CrossFit tables, that is. We wound up coming in third due to a surprising lack of religious trivia knowledge in the last round. But hey, we were the top CrossFit table there, so that counts for something, right?

In keeping with the “Hey, we were there at least” theme of the weekend, the CrossFit New Haven Honey Badgers attacked the Metro Dash in New Jersey on Saturday. I was racing as an individual/scout and Barb, Maylor and Dags were racing as a team. This was my first real race of sorts, at least on foot.


Yes, I said that just to post an old motocross photo.

It was definitely… interesting. Above all else, it was deceptively difficult. As we walked around the edges of the track, watching the earlier heats go through the obstacles, we were convinced that the organizers had told everyone they had to walk – no running allowed. From what we saw of the track, there was no other plausible reason for all these people taking their time everywhere. Sure, they were breathing hard, but come on.

I was the first of our group to experience the beast that is Metro Dash. The first obstacle out of the gate was a rope ladder climb.

That's me in the blue. Lets say those are badass firebreathers I'm ahead of and not two ladies who didn't know what a burpee is.

Looking at a rope ladder, it seems really easy. I’ve climbed ladders. I’ve climbed ropes. This should be a breeze, right? It wasn’t necessarily hard in a physical sense, but exceedingly difficult in a “where in the hell are my FEET” sense. Right off the bat, all I can think of is how I have no idea where my body actually is in relation to everything else. Clever setup here – I think they have some kind of evil psychologist working on the order of these things.

Next up, you pick up a medicine ball, race it back and forth, climb a wall and run through some tires, football training montage style.


Finally! I'm POSE running!!

Then you climb another wall, slide through a tunnel and hit the killer – the big ass cargo net.


Exhibit A: Shit getting real.

Aside from it being way the hell off the ground and held up by a lighting rig from one of Def Leppard’s tours, it was a gigantic mental and physical energy suck. The physical part’s pretty obvious – you’ve got a big ass cargo net to climb up and another one to climb down. The mental part, though – the rope ladders have already proved to me that I don’t know where my feet go when I put them places. Now suddenly I have a LOT of places to be putting my feet. I’m concentrating on my feet so much that I’m not thinking about breathing. Or relaxing. Or pacing. Or any of that other stuff you’re supposed to be doing when you’ve got over twenty more obstacles to get over.

Guess who started walking right about now.

At the end of it all (15:50 after I started) I was as impressed with the Metro Dash as I was disappointed in my endurance. Regardless of the Navy Seal stamp on their site, you can tell CrossFitters had a hand in this thing. This was so much like one of those oh-so-deceptive WODs where you look at it the night before and think “Oh, it’s just power cleans, wall balls and a run. Easy!” Then you show up the next day and get your ass handed to you.

Team Honey Badger made it through later as well. We have no idea where they finished team-wise, as the results are really screwy for teams and there’s not much of a way to figure out where the team placed if you’re not in the top three.

Like everything this past year, it’s one more learning experience on the board. We’re already making plans for the Boston Metro Dash (once they actually decide where & when it will be) and we’ll make sure to have a full complement of Honey Badgers at this one. There has been talk of a bus. Hell yeah.


CFNH Honey Badgers after smacking the shit out of it.