Experience. Community. Results.
Family owned and operated Elite Athletic Development is home to CrossFit Arlington Heights, CrossFit Axis and Elite Training Camp. Our training programs are inspired by CrossFit and forged by results gained during almost 40,000 athlete visits. Our nationally certified fitness professionals develop high-intensity, constantly varied strength & conditioning programs for the competitive and everyday athlete. No training team in the Chicagoland area is better qualified and more experienced to help you improve sports performance, lose weight, build muscle, or simply feel and look great. Just ask the athletes who travel from compass points as diverse as Round Lake Beach to Lombard, Hampshire to Wilmette, and all towns between, to experience a community where people care about you, and create training programs with your unique goals and needs in mind.
The inaugural Athena Classic lived up to its billing Saturday, April 20 as 80 women from 24 CrossFit affiliates braved three fierce workouts to land a spot in the finals, where the top 18 warriors battled for bragging rights, trophies, and almost $1,500 in cash and prizes. The Athena Classic will return to CrossFit Arlington Heights Saturday, April 19, 2014.
The final workout — a spectator-friendly-but athlete-nasty combo of a 500m Row, 30 American KB Swings (30#), 20 Pull-Ups and 10 Burpee Box Jumps — capped a great day of competition, and determined the 2013 Athena Classic Champion in the Open (18-39) and Master’s (40+) divisions.
Liza Nelson, 43, CrossFit Carbon, took top honors in the Master’s division after posting a draw for Workout #1 with Thadine Zajac, 40, CrossFit Roselle; placing second to Zajac in Workout #2; and then besting Zajac in Workout #3. The difference between being crowned Master’s Champ and placing second came down to 43 seconds, with Nelson completing Workout #4 in 5 minutes, 14 seconds to Zajac’s 5 minutes and 57 seconds. Rounding out the podium for the Master’s Division was Sue Walton, 42, Cheetah CrossFit, in her first-ever competition. Walton placed third in Workout #1, fourth in Workout #2, first in Workout #3 and fifth in the finals. Also competing in the Master’s Division finals was Kaia Kraus, 40, CrossFit Barrington; Kristin Young, 41, FitBodies CrossFit; and Laura Channell, 42, CrossFit Barrington. Channell edged out Lori Lindahl, 49, CrossFit Arlington Heights, from a finals berth by just one point.
The top three finishers in the Open Division — Jennifer McDade, 35, FitBodies CrossFit; Emily Yates, 29, CrossFit Connex; and Lindsay Wilson, 25, CrossFit E-Town — consistently scored well throughout the day, but each had an Achilles Heel workout that kept them from a lock on the overall standings.
McDade, entered the finals in first place after third place finishes in Workout #1 and #2, and a first place finish in Workout #3. Yates came to the finals in second place after a second place finish in Workout #1, fifth place finish in Workout #2 and third place finish in Workout #3. But Yates peaked at the right time, and her blazing time of 4 minutes and 39 seconds in Workout #4 pushed her past McDade, and to the title 2013 Athena Classic Open Division Champ. Wilson rounded out the top three spots with a first place in Workout #1, second in Workout #2, and ninth in Workout #3. Also competing in the Open Division finals was Julie Curry, 35, and Kelsey Dipman, 30, CrossFit Construct; Erin Matta, 33, CrossFit Barrington; Kasey Pontarelli, 23, and Erin Rupsis, 32, CrossFit Darrien; Tomeka Coe, 37, CrossFit Bloomington-Normal; Michaela Ortega, 22, CrossFit Amplify; and Gina Ciannetti, 31, CrossFit E-Town. Kim Greenstein, 34, placed highest overall among the CrossFit Arlington Heights competitors, with Mary Tapia, 45, and Andrea Poffenberger, 45, placing in the top 10 for Workout #3 and #2, respectively.
In a day filled with stellar athletic performances, once of the most memorable moments came when the spectators packed into Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights poured outside to encourage Diann Grim, 32, as her fellow FitBodies CrossFit athletes and friends ran alongside her as she completed the Workout #3 800m run. Diann, like all competitors, had the option to scale one or more workouts, but she never did. Her gumption and grit inspired those around her, and elevated her performance well above the scores she posted.
An initial batch of event photos is now posted, and more photos will be added in the coming days. Competitors and spectators are encouraged to contribute to the event photo album. Please email photos to email@example.com. Event results and more event information is available on the Athena Classic event page.
The sold out 2013 Athena Classic was hosted by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights and supported by Road Runner Sports-Kildeer, The Paleo Baking Company, US Wellness Meats, Jack Alexander Salon & Spa, Nowicki Chiropractic, Raw Revolution, Progenex, Unbroken CrossFit Outfitters, and Tropical Smoothie-Arlington Heights. Admission to the event was free, but many spectators contributed to the event charity, The Northwest Special Recreation Association, an organization which provides outstanding opportunities through recreation for children and adults with disabilities.
Contributed by Coach Karen
It is amazing how an environment once so familiar becomes foreign. Sounds no longer resonate. Sights blur. Skin crawls. The feel defies translation, other than the sense that something is horribly, terribly, incredibly not right.
Owning and operating a small business is truly an all-consuming labor of love. Jim and I don’t get to spend near as much time exploring the world outside the confines of Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights as we’d like. That’s why we always pepper our athletes with questions after they visit another CrossFit during a business or pleasure trip, and check in with folks who drop in for a training session or transfer to EAD / CFAH from another CrossFit affiliate. We appreciate seeing what’s right – and maybe not-so-right – at other training facilities through the eyes of our athletes.
Jim and I ventured out Thursday morning for a Valentine’s Day adventure, but ended up in a place neither of us had seen in quite some time: the Globo Gym. The facility was filled wall-to-wall with the latest fitness gizmos, gadgets and wizardry. Equipment whirred. Flat screen TVs flashed. Music pumped. Trainers and staff scurried about. And even though there were hundreds of people working out, the facility felt empty. Lonely. Isolated. And eerily void of any human interaction. It made me sad. I stood in the middle of the very large space and wanted to click my heels three times and magically transport back to the Oz at 12 West College Drive where classes with far fewer people using much less equipment have an abundance of success thanks to four attributes: Courage, Conviction, Brain and Heart. Here’s what EAD / CFAH athletes demonstrate daily, and the people working out at the Globo Gym yesterday seemed to lack:
- Courage to step outside their comfort zone and accept new challenges, even when hard or scary; openly share their “been-there-doubted-that-then-defeated-it (and more)” stories with new athletes; hit each session with renewed intensity; welcome failure, and then kick it in the a$$; admit that they don’t have all the answers, and readily accept and apply coaching from seasoned professionals.
- Conviction to train their weaknesses with vigor; set performance goals, establish a training schedule to achieve them, and stick with it even when they get impatient; connect what they eat, how they sleep and why the choices made outside the gym impact their performance inside the gym; share their “hits” and “misses” to contribute to the success of fellow athletes.
- Brain to recognize that it is impossible to lift Heavy S*** or kill a MetCon on a 1,200 or 1,800 calorie per-day deprivation diet; decipher the nutrition “information” on packaged goods for the marketing spin it is; break up with the scale and instead track performance (… which will lead to body composition change); see through the BS shoveled by the fitness industry about the hot new trend that will change your life; know that training multiple energy systems yields dramatic results; recognize that the body is the best training machine around; and choose intensity over duration.
- Heart to never give up; get back up after a stumble; celebrate success; honor failure; embrace current ability, yet work toward athletic potential; cheer fellow athletes; say thanks to the performance coaches; realize that undoing years of less-desirable lifestyle choices happens over months, not days; and warmly welcome athletes new to EAD / CFAH.
Jim and I always envisioned that EAD / CFAH would be a place where people could become a better version of themselves. We know that means different things for different people. That’s why we’ve surrounded ourselves with the most qualified and experienced performance coaches in the area in Josh, Becky, Kristen, Alida and Ashley, and why we support their continued professional development. It’s why we track the techniques and methodologies used by the top collegiate and professional programs in the country, and innovate and adapt our programming and class offerings. It’s why we ask for your input and feedback, and then take action where there is consensus. It’s why we push, cajole, nudge and sometimes annoy you – because we see something in you that you may not yet see in yourself. It’s why we encourage you to eat clean & green (but not necessarily Paleo), and schedule recovery days so you can achieve your short- and long-term goals. It’s why we coach, coach, and coach technique, and enforce movement standards. It’s why we host free nutrition, running, swimming and other informational workshops / seminars. It’s why we form football, dodge ball, soccer and rowing teams, and travel to area races en masse. It’s why the performance coaches know the name of every athlete who trains with us, and why we encourage you to get to know them, too.
You see, there is no man behind the curtain. It is just a gathering of strangers-turned-adventurers who care, and want to be in the center of something bigger, better, familiar and incredibly right.
Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights was honored by the Village of Arlington Heights February 9 during the 15th Annual Hearts of Gold Awards. The ceremony, attended by local and state dignitaries, recognized EAD / CFAH with the Business Leader Heart of Gold for going “beyond its responsibilities to make our village a better place to work and live through participation and / or philanthropic support of community organizations and programs.”
The Hearts of Gold selection committee called EAD / CFAH founder and head performance coach Jim Inman “an active civic volunteer,” and applauded his aim to amend the Village tagline from the “City of Good Neighbors” to the “City of Fit Neighbors.” The committee also noted his involvement in local athletic and academic events, and that EAD / CFAH “creates a supportive environment where individuals of all ages and skill can develop and reach personal fitness levels.”
Coach Jim accepted the award on behalf of EAD / CFAH athletes, and his superb performance coaching team. “I’m very honored and humbled as the front man for Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights to be able to accept this award on behalf of this organization,” said Coach Jim, prior to acknowledging “my amazing team — Karen, Josh, Becky, Kristen, Alida and Ashley” — who joined him at the event.
Jim told the standing room only crowd that he believed the people of Arlington Heights — whether they are a student or senior, experienced athlete or someone just getting off the couch — deserve access to the training systems used by elite-level athletes to help them achieve their health and fitness goals.
Elite Athletic Development joined the Arlington Heights business community in 2006 and expanded to include CrossFit Arlington Heights in 2009. The business helps “every day athletes” from across the greater Chicagoland area achieve a staggering array of results thanks to innovative strength and conditioning programs, a top-caliber coaching staff, and a unique ability to understand the needs and motivate each athlete.
“We’re honored to give back to a community which has given us so much,” said Jim when referencing the many athletic events EAD / CFAH has created and run to raise money for area charities, work with school districts 25 and 214, and area residents. “We’re very proud to be part of Arlington Heights.”
Contributed by Coach Becky
“I can’t squat. I have bad knees!”
What exactly does “bad knees” mean? Well in my experience in both a rehabilitation and exercise setting, it usually all boils down to the same thing: muscle imbalances.
There are several structures that make up your knee. First, you have the bones: femur (upper thigh), tibia (inside lower leg), and fibula (outside lower leg). They are joined together by four ligaments: ACL (front to back), PCL (back to front), MCL (inside), and LCL (outside). Then you have the muscles that surround your knee joint: quadriceps (in front), adductors (inside), hamstrings and calves (in back), and TFL, IT band, and glute min/med (outside). You have a meniscus and bursa sacs that provide extra cushioning, along with your patella (kneecap) and the patellar tendon that it is attached to.
When all the pieces of the knee are working well together, you can squat and lunge and jump without any problems. However, when one of those pieces begins to fail, things start to do downhill and then the “bad knees” develop. Here is an example of what I will typically find in someone complaining of bad knees: The VMO (inside quad muscle) is not firing very well or even at all + the IT Band and lateral quad muscles are shortened (too tight).
These two things alone result in your patella being pulled toward the outside every time you squat, lunge, or even walk. Over time, this lateral tracking of your patella will create too much inflammation in your patellar tendon (because its no longer fitting into the grove it was meant to), and you will begin to have pain and tenderness in the front of your knee. This problem can be even worse if your glute med/min aren’t firing well. If you ever notice your knees falling inward while you squat, then chances are those lateral glute muscles aren’t doing their job. This creates even more inflammation in the knee joint, and it can begin to affect the other structures and lead to further problems. Throw in weak hamstrings and tight calves and you can see where this whole “bad knee” thing comes from.
So the next question is how do you fix it? Well the simple answer is this: squat more! Yes I said it, SQUAT. But you can’t…you have bad knees, right? Wrong. You can squat, you just may have to do some mobility first. Getting on a foam roll or lacrosse ball for your IT band and lateral quad will help to loosen up those muscles. Once they begin to loosen up, it won’t pull so much on your patella. Next up are the squats. Squatting helps build up strength in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. If you focus on good form, it will also help create some muscle memory patterns that will get the right muscles to turn on when you need them. It won’t happen overnight, but I promise with a little effort, you can literally move past your bad knees and squat until your hearts content.
Need help getting started? Check out my mobility and recovery class Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. I go through a variety of techniques and exercises designed to correct common muscles imbalances, such as the ones creating your “bad knees.” Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by Coach Becky
Imagine that you are an engineer in charge of building a big skyscraper. You plan out different phases of the project, make modifications along the way, and the end result is usually pretty spectacular. When it comes to actual construction time, the first step is to pour a solid foundation. This provides a stable base of support for the entire rest of the building. Without this foundation in place, the building will eventually crumble.
Building your body, or “getting in shape” as its commonly called, is no different. You can have all these great plans and goals set up, but if you don’t have a solid foundation to build upon, you won’t reach your full potential. This foundation I’m talking about is quite literally what you stand upon…your feet!
If you have flat feet, or if your arches tend to fall inward, it can lead to problems in other areas such as your knees or hips. When your feet collapse in, it will also cause your knees to fall inward. This creates a too much pressure at the inside of your knee joint. This, in turn, will create too much pressure at your hips, which puts more tension on your pelvis and back. If your foundation isn’t solid, it can lead to problems all the way up your body. Initially, you may experience symptoms such as pain or soreness and attribute that to your workouts. Overtime, your body will compensate for these new (and incorrect) movement patterns and it will become your new “normal”. Unfortunately, because our bodies are designed to be balanced, they won’t work as efficiently when muscle imbalances, such as excessive tightness, are present.
Because most of us aren’t blessed with naturally perfect arches, we need support to keep them from collapsing. A simple test to see if your arches are falling is to stand barefoot and have someone try to put two fingers under your arches. If they can’t, then your arches are falling in. This means you need support. This support can come in the form of arch supports, orthotics, and even the type of shoes we wear. With all the craze about “natural” running shoes these days, it is still important to remember that they may not offer the type of support your need if your arches fall inward.
Like anything else, shoes will eventually break down. The time frame can be different for everyone, depending on the frequency and intensity of workouts, outside of the gym shoe wear, etc. So how do you know if your shoes/arch supports/orthotics are doing their job? You can do a simple test to see if your feet are being supported and giving you a solid foundation to lift on. Stand barefoot on solid ground (not carpet) and extend your dominant arm out to your side at shoulder level. Have someone apply downward pressure to your upper arm while you try to resist. Now repeat that test while wearing your gym shoes/orthotics, etc. You should feel “stronger” in your shoes. If you don’t, they aren’t putting your feet, and consequently the rest of you, in a good position. If you aren’t as strong in your shoes just holding your arm up, imagine what happens when you wear them while lifting some heavy weight over your head.
The moral of the story is that a bad footwear can lead to decreased strength. The good news is you can easily and quickly determine if your foundation is doing its job and make the necessary support corrections if needed.
If you have any questions or need specific help determining the wear and tear on your shoes, email Coach Becky at email@example.com.
Contributed by Coach Karen
Make 2013 the year you squat squarely with the 25 percent of people who keep their resolutions to Day 8 and beyond. Join the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights Community as we Resolve to change.
We selected the six areas of focus of the EAD / CFAH Resolve program based on more than 60,000 training hours with athletes ranging from student to senior and “every day” to elite, plus the latest training protocols from collegiate and professional sports research. If you commit to Resolve, we’re confident you will achieve sustainable change—within the confines of EAD / CFAH, and throughout your life.
Goal Setting. Research shows that people who set aggressive—yet realistic—goals, accomplish more than those who set more modest goals. Take time to consider what you’d like to achieve over the next 12 weeks. Then visit the EAD / CFAH Athlete Center and complete our proprietary 3-2-1 Goal! Worksheet.
Once you set your goals, use the 3-2-1 Goal! Training Program Template to help you schedule the most effective mix of MetCon, Strength & Power, and Mobility & Recovery classes to support goal achievement. Be sure to see one of the EAD / CFAH Senior Performance Coaches—Jim, Karen, Josh or Becky—if you’d like suggestions on how to set goals, or if you have questions on how to build your 12-week training program.
Performance Fueling. Most people in this country are overfed—on all the wrong foods—and under-nourished, and many people fail to fuel properly before and after their WOD. Don’t be one of them. Visit the EAD / CFAH Athlete Center and check out the Performance Fueling Guidelines, register for the next Performance Fueling Workshop, or schedule an individual nutrition assessment with Coach Karen, a certified sports nutrition specialist. Also, consider signing on for the Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge. For more information on Performance Fueling, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Strength Training. Strength training is unique in its ability to increase power, force and speed; build muscle mass; drive metabolic efficiency; and improve body composition. Shake up your training schedule and commit 10 weeks to the Winter 2013 EAD / CFAH Strength & Power Program. You’ll be glad you did.
Mobility. Mobility plays a key role in athletic performance; you can never be too strong or too mobile. If you haven’t tried Coach Becky’s Mobility & Recovery class—a mix of core stability progression, band stretching, self-myofascial release, dynamic stretching and more to support recovery and prevent injury—don’t wait another day. Join her Thursday at 7:30 p.m. or Saturday at 8 a.m.
Recovery. The EAD / CFAH Training Imperative is Work + Recovery = Results; cheat either side of the equation and your results will suffer. Period.
Quality. Strive for exceptional movement quality, form and technique, and full-range-of-motion from the minute you start the Dynamic Warm Up to your very last rep in the WOD to Cool Down.
Making change—any change—requires organization and perseverance, and demands grace. Take full advantage of the resources available to you throughout the EAD / CFAH Community. Regularly check in with Performance Coaches. Connect with fellow athletes. Acknowledge progress. Celebrate success. Seek out support to help you recover from potential setbacks. And most importantly, Resolve that 2013 will be the year to achieve your best.
Contributed by Coach Jim
When it comes to fitness, every athlete can use more strength and power. Along with good mobility, a stronger athlete will move quicker, more efficiently and get better results from their overall training program.
CrossFit shook up the world of traditional strength and conditioning with its constantly varied functional training done at high intensity. Unfortunately, too many athletes (and some coaches) failed to realize the difference between training and testing.
You’ve heard me talk time and again about the training imperative:
Work + Recovery = Results
Without question, you need the both Work and Recovery to deliver Results. Too little work—or as we more often see, inadequate recovery—results in minimal adaptation and therefore, less-than-optimum results. We’re confident our new Strength & Power programming, which launches January 2, is a great mix of Work, Recovery and Results.
We had five primary goals as we developed the new Strength & Power programming:
To read more, please visit the EAD / CFAH Athlete Center.
Contributed by Coach Josh, EAD / CFAH Senior Performance Coach and Athlete 001.
What do the numbers 2, 3, 3, 2 represent?
I’d be willing to bet that you could guess and guess and still never come up with the answer I have in mind. But before I get into the meaning behind those particular numbers, I’d like to tell you a brief story. One that some have may heard, but others may not know.
I discovered and joined EAD / CFAH in mid-2008. I can remember my first workout like yesterday. We did Push Jerks in sets of five, and man, was my form terrible. From time to time Jim will post a picture on the EAD / CFAH website from that day and it always takes me back. It wasn’t long after that first workout that I realized just how special this “warehouse” in Arlington Heights was.
To fast forward the story a bit, in November of 2008 I drove to Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. for my Level 1 CrossFit Certification. Shortly after returning, I began teaching classes at EAD / CFAH. That is where the numbers 2, 3, 3, 2 come into play — they represent the class sizes for three days in November 2008. This is not in ONE day mind you, but four classes over three days. How the times have changed.
It is surreal to think about where everything began. Over the course of the last couple weeks I have been reminded of my first days at EAD / CFAH over and over again. Many times during or after class I find myself talking with an athlete who has been here for the last three years and they say something along the lines of, “You remember when it was just four people in class?” Most recently, this took place at Friday morning 5:30 a.m. class. To be exact, it was 5:26 a.m. and there were 30-plus athletes either in the middle or getting ready to start class. The music was blasting, sweat was dripping, and the energy was flowing.
After the brief conversation with the athlete, I stood there by myself and thought of the early days and how far we have come. I wondered if this was what Coach Jim and Coach Karen had envisioned in the years prior. I wondered if all these athletes, some from the early days and some just starting out with EAD / CFAH, had been able to sense how special this “warehouse” is like I had back in 2008.
Since 2008 we have seen hundreds and hundreds of athletes come through the doors at EAD / CFAH. Most stayed. Some left due to work or family obligation. And many returned weeks or months later after they realized how much they missed the EAD / CFAH training experience. Whether the athlete continued to train at EAD / CFAH, or moved on, one thing holds true: each is forever bonded to the EAD / CFAH Community. From those classes of two and three, to the jam-packed classes of today, the results, memories, and moments of shared joy, accomplishment and life’s milestones are deeply ingrained within these warehouse walls.
The Community is one of the greatest things about EAD / CFAH, yet one of the hardest things to describe to anyone who has not experienced it. Whether the early days of two or three people in class, or the crazy energy of today’s capacity classes, it is the people who make EAD / CFAH a great place to train, develop friendships, and achieve so much. The only thing different now is we use A LOT more purple towels.
How Does it Add Up for You? Leave us a Comment to let us know what makes the EAD / CFAH training experience memorable, meaningful or more to you.
This is another in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. The following reflection* was submitted by Maggie R who joined our Community in May 2011. After her first Fitness Boot Camp, it was clear to the performance coaches that Maggie had incredible — yet unrecognized by her — athletic potential. We knew that as soon as she acknowledged that ability, she would be unstoppable! Maggie attacks her training program, has dialed in her performance fueling to support her goals, and continually seeks new challenges. She currently holds the fastest 2k women’s row in the gym, and recently PR’d several lifts … a continuation in a series of “bests”. Keep up the great work, Maggie … you are an inspiration to us all!
“This morning I was thinking about how grateful I am for everything the EAD / CFAH Performance Coaches do, so I decided to write out some of my thoughts and share them with you.
“I was never an ‘athlete’ in the true sense of the word. I played kiddie soccer for a season until I had to quit because my allergies were too severe in the fall. I played park district basketball, but only because I felt pressured by my extremely athletic family. Being one of the tallest girls for my age helped, but my ball handling skills lacked, and I was slow … oh so slow. Ultimately, the coach placed me under the basket and told me to just put my arms up.
“Being on a sports team at my small middle school was a way to be ‘cool,’ so I played basketball and joined the track team for a season. I ran the 800m and became pretty familiar with finishing last. I also came in last in the 200m when I had to fill in at the last minute for a teammate. The nerves that came with that race came close to creating one of those middle school memories you fear: I almost peed my pants! I also signed on to be manager for the volleyball team so I could still hang — and sometimes practice with — the athletes.
“I moved on to cheerleading in 8th grade, which I continued for a year at high school, before joining the track team. Since the track events didn’t go so well in middle school, I thought I’d give the field events a try and I picked up the shot put. I enjoyed using the weight room and learning how to Clean, but when track interfered with my passion for the music program, I quit.
“I started running 2-3 miles a day and doing Tae-Bo quite fervently after quitting the track team; this was my training program throughout the remainder of high school and college. Since I was no longer on any team sports, describing myself as an athlete never, ever crossed my mind — even after completing three half-marathons, working as a personal trainer for a year, and competing in an amateur kickboxing fight.
“But after 1.5 years of training at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights, I now proudly say that I represent the name of the place where I train: I am an athlete, I train like an elite athlete, and I have new friends — an entire community of people — who train with me and share my goals.
“I am so grateful for the complete transformation that’s occurred inside of me. I haven’t lost an enormous amount of weight or dropped five dress sizes. But I am faster, stronger, more powerful, and more confident — so much more confident. And I have a belief in myself that I never had before, which is something that you can’t buy with any old gym membership.”
* Excerpted with permission from an email Maggie R sent to the EAD / CFAH / CFAX Performance Coaches.
This is another in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. The following reflection* was submitted by John O’ as he nears his one-year anniversary with our Community. John joined us for a Free Class Saturday and was immediately hooked; he officially started the following Tuesday. John is an incredibly coach-able, willing and hardworking athlete who brings a great energy to his training sessions and fellow athletes. And that energy has served John well as he’s racked up a series of firsts & PRs over the past 11 months. Keep up the great work, John …you are an inspiration to us all!
“Dear Jim & Karen,
“I just thought I would write you a short note thanking you for welcoming me in to your gym, supporting my efforts, and being generous with your time when I have had questions about various things. I’ve been part of the EAD community for 11 months now and I thought I would pass along my progress to give you some insight into how your gym, classes, performance coaches, and support have affected me.
“My second workout after completing Movement Essentials** was the pre-Thanksgiving Earn Your Second Helping WOD. I have never felt like crying during or after a workout before that one! I felt totally out of my element and overwhelmed, to say the least. But there were people encouraging me to fight out as many Burpees I could do as my last exercise that day. I didn’t finish the workout as prescribed, but I went to the end of the 35 minute time limit. And I couldn’t have done it without Coach Becky yelling in my ear and (fellow EAD / CFAH / CFAX athlete) Elizabeth L urging me on.
“It’s interesting, but at any other gym I would have just quit and said to myself ‘I can’t do this work. I just can’t get through it without killing myself.’ But I set up three rules for myself when I started training at EAD / CFAH / CFAX: 1) Do what you can do – modify the workout to be challenging but doable, 2) Finish – always fight through to the end no matter how miserable, and 3) Keep coming back – Coach Rory told me this during my first Movement Essentials class. I have to say that these rules have helped me stay the course and continue to progress and get better.
“BUT, a bigger part of the equation is the awesome community you two have built around fitness and health. When I first heard Coach Karen say we are a community, I scoffed at that notion. However, having been a part of your group and seeing the energy and support you two put into the business, I think you guys are amazing at what you do. All of the trainers are amazing, as well — very supportive and communicative.
“I think the spirit and support of you and your trainers directly rubs off on the participants. There is no way in hell I could have gotten out of bed at 4:30am during the bleak winter months without Steve G, Lisa S, Mike, O’ Colleen E, Elizabeth L, Jeff G, Ron F, Natalie B, Kim G, and the host of others that have always had my back. There is no way in hell I could set recent PR’s in the Deadlift and Front Squat without the support and encouragement of Mike O’and Brian. It is amazingly awesome to be a part of the community and I thought I would just let you know how grateful I am to be a part of EAD / CFAH / CFAX.
“Just a snapshot of my progress in 11 short months:
- 500m row – 2:09 to 1:37
- Mile run – 10:15 to 8:44
- Deadlift – 180# to 415#
- Shoulder press – 70# to 135#
- Back Squat – 50# (maybe!!) to 260#
- Front Squat – 50# to 175# (… and on my way 260#!)
- 50 Burpees – >10 min to 6:31
- Snatch – ? t0 135#
“I still have a lot of work to do but I wanted to share with you my progress and heartfelt thanks for an amazing 11 months. Looking forward to getting better and better.”
* Excerpted with permission from an email John O’ sent to EAD / CFAH / CFAX owners Jim Inman & Karen Stoychoff Inman.
** Movement Essentials has since been revamped & renamed Training Essentials.
Congratulations to the September 10, 5:30 a.m. Training Essentials crew on the successful completion of the EAD / CFAH skills & technique development class. The crew officially graduated today after logging their first CrossFit Total. Along the way the crew also passed a written exam, completed comprehensive movement assessments, set 1RMs on several lifts, learned about performance fueling, and started the Elite Athletic Development 3-2-1 Goal! setting process.
Please join the EAD / CFAH Performance Coaches as we welcome Cheryl L, Jill K, Nick P, Tony P, Karen S & Johns S to the community!
The next Training Essentials classes start Monday, Oct. 8, 5:30 a.m. or Tuesday, Oct. 23, 6:30 p.m.. REGISTER TODAY!
Don’t forget … we will credit your account three classes for every friend you refer to EAD / CFAH and who completes Training Essentials. Email email@example.com for more info.
This is another in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. The following reflection was submitted by Phil A, who has trained with us since September, 2010. Phil has very methodically and quietly attacked his performance goals, and his results scream success. Keep up the great work, Phil, you are an inspiration to us all!
I’ll never forget my first day at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights, but then, who could forget Fight Gone Bad? I was scared, but by the end of the WOD, I was hooked. I was crazy-sore the next day but I came back for the Sunday Group Boot Camp. That was two years ago and I haven’t looked back since except to check my training log to track improvement.
At my annual physical back in 2010, my doctor made it very clear that I had one too many risk factors for my own good– I was over 50 years-old, overweight, and had high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Since I had no control over age, we decided that the short term fix for high blood pressure and high cholesterol was medication.
I needed to reduce several risk factors, improve body composition, increase strength, increase flexibility and improve mobility. So I went to work, and three months after training at EAD and applying proper nutrition–mostly Paleo–my doctor took me off all meds to control high blood pressure and cholesterol. My stats have been normal ever since.
Health Risk Factors
154 – 166
|Body Composition% Body Fat||Bioelectrical Impedance andHydrostatic Weighing||
|Blood Pressure||Manual Blood Pressure Monitor||
< 120 / 80
135 / 95
118 / 68
I also set performance goals when I joined EAD / CFAH. I wanted to learn, challenge myself and improve. So far, I have far exceeded those initial goals.
Rippetoe Strength Standards
Start EAD 9/2010
Plus, I can now complete Double Unders, Kipping Pull Ups and the Squat Snatch. I competed in the Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships (Editor’s Note: Phil placed 1st in the 2011 Veteran Lightweight Men’s Division & 2nds in the 2012 Veteran Lightweight Men’s Division), ran the Salute 5k, and tested my skills during the 2012 CrossFit Games Open. And, I’ve completed the EAD / CFAH 30 Day Paleo Challenge.
Many Firsts and Other Cool Stories
In addition to the more obvious changes, training at EAD / CFAH has contributed to some other firsts.
1) At a recent eye exam, the doctor remarked that I had a vastly improved Artery Vein (A/V) Ratio over the previous visit. I learned that negative deviations may indicate a vascular disease (e.g. hypertension and diabetes). He wanted to know what I had changed to account for this difference.
2) During my last annual physical, the nurse seemed to be confused; finally she asked me if I worked out regularly because my resting heart rate was so low she thought her instrument was malfunctioning.
3) Several weeks ago the WOD post had a link to an article by Matt Foreman, titled, “How to Avoid Sucking When You Get Older”. The next day, fellow EAD / CFAH athlete Mike M asked if I had read the article. He said, “You’re the guy I think about who is over fifty and is still kicking ass in something.” That was one of the coolest stories I ever heard.
For me, EAD’s tagline Experience. Community. Results. says it all. I love this place.
This is another in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. The following reflection was submitted by Laura M, who has trained with us since May, 2010, and seen many a 30 Day Paleo Challenge come and go. Something about the July 2012 Challenge piqued her curiosity, though, and she decided to give the Paleo plate a chance .. with tremendous results. Keep up the great work, Laura — we look forward to your continued success!
To describe what the challenge has been to me, I would simply say this: life changing. I read all of the personal reflections that other people posted from past challenges, and to be honest, I didn’t really think it would end up applying to me in the same seemingly drastic way as it has so many others. Boy was I wrong.
I’m pretty proud of myself for honestly, no b.s., sticking to the 30 Day Paleo Challenge nearly 100 percent. I went on vacation in the middle of the challenge, and my only cheats were a couple of small deserts, a couple of glasses of wine, and a couple of pieces of bread. Otherwise, not a single cheat. I was pretty amazed at myself for that.
As far as the results are concerned, well, they are pretty amazing – and to be honest, unexpected. The most obvious is weight loss. I lost nine pounds in that first 30 days – being less hungry than I think I’ve ever been and working out less than I ever have due to a crazy work schedule. And the beautiful thing is it was nine pounds of fat. The muscle mass is still there. I felt stronger than I have in a long time and look better than I have in a long time.
The second most obvious result was my cardiovascular system. Those who know me know that cardio is by far my biggest weakness. It always has been. I can practice running all summer long and never be able to make it past two miles. Obviously, CrossFit has helped that a bit, but I still never considered myself anywhere near where I should be.
About two weeks in to the challenge, something changed. I went for a run one night and literally went for a solid four miles at a way faster pace than I had ever run before, and didn’t even think twice. It wasn’t really hard. I felt like a friggin’ gazelle! Figuring it was just some kind of fluke, I didn’t really think too much of it. Then I tried it again a couple of nights after. Same thing. I couldn’t believe it. And every run I’ve gone on since then has been like that. I’ve gone from struggling to make two miles at slower than a 10 minute pace to running approximately four miles at at least a nine minute pace comfortably. Every time. No problem. One of these days I’m going to actually time myself on a 5k and see what happens. Actually push it. If I don’t shave at least five minutes off, I will be very surprised.
At the end of the challenge, I attended a CrossFit class, and noticed that I was very obviously able to push myself farther than I ever had before. When I hit the point where I would normally start slowing down or stopping to take a breather, I just kept going. And it wasn’t a mental thing so much. I wasn’t pushing myself harder. I could just feel that point that would normally slow me down but now I didn’t need to slow down. It’s like my brain changed from telling me, “holy crap slow down, you’re going to die” to “yeah, this is getting tough but oh well – it’s no big thing.” It was the weirdest feeling. Coach Josh commented that I was moving a lot better. And I was. For goodness sake, I could fly through a set of 10 burpees without stopping, even at the end of the workout. I’ve never been able to do that. Not even close.
The third thing I noticed was my relationship with food. As many women do, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it. On days where I felt like I had eaten like crap, I tended to figure the day had already lost any hope of being a success from a dietary standpoint, and would decide that I may as well enjoy myself and screw it up completely. Yeah, my relationship with food was a mess. And I knew it was. But I figured it would always be that way, because you always want what you can’t have, right? Well, I now know that’s wrong. And I think the solution has been two-fold. First, I no longer count calories – or even think about them for that matter. So, if I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m not, I don’t. That was something I knew going into this I was going to have to trust if I was going to make this work. Which brings me to the second part of this: in learning to control cravings, I’ve allowed my body to re-program itself to actually understand what hunger is. I now know the difference between hunger and a craving. And through this whole thing, I’ve learned to think of cravings as your body’s way of being a bratty kid. And I hate bratty kids. So I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bratty kid push me around. Thus, cravings aren’t able to control me nearly like they used to. What’s left is hunger. And when I’m hungry, I eat. So, problem solved. I just still can’t believe it was that simple.
The last major thing that I noticed, and I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out to me as one of the things that this diet could do, is my skin is brighter – especially my face. The circles around my eyes are gone. Given that I just turned 30, it’s nice to be looking better instead of worse!
So, moving forward, yes, this is something I plan to continue, without a doubt. It’s really not much of a burden, and the results are so incredible, I never want to go back to feeling the way I did. Now yes, I will have some cheats, but they will be planned and thoughtful. What’s also helpful is a lot of the food I used to eat doesn’t even sound appealing to me anymore, so it’s really not hard to have Dave sitting next to me eating a pizza and have me eating a steak, avocado, and veggies. I dislike the feeling of being bloated so much now that most of that stuff kind of turns me off. Since the end of the challenge, I had one week where I fell off of the boat 100 percent. It was a hell of a week. But it was easy to get back on, and aside from feeling bloated, I really didn’t have any negative consequences from it (well, the ones I had were from drinking too much…)
Also worth mentioning at this point is the fact that weight loss has continued. I’m now down almost 15 pounds. I’m getting close to having to think about getting some new clothes, because while the things that I used to have to squeeze myself into still fit okay, the things that fit normally now hang on me. But trust me: this is a good problem. I’m just not going to go too gung ho on buying things until I have an idea as to where my size is going to level out.
And the one last cool thing about all of this is that results talk. My sister thought I was just doing some kind of hippie diet when this whole thing started. Then we went on vacation together and she started mimicking how I was eating. She has been very impressed at the results I’ve had, so she started doing 100 percent Paleo. Her results are incredible, too. Although she didn’t have any weight to lose, she can now get a good night’s sleep, her focus is much better, and she’s in a much better mood. My Mom saw these results and is now starting to make her own Paleo bread and whatnot. And now my Dad is starting to get on board with eating Paleo.
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about what the 30 Day Paleo Challenge has done for me, and I’m excited to see how far the benefits can go …
This is another in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. The following reflection was originally posted by new EAD / CFAH athlete Amy H on her blog as Honey Badgers Hate Burpees. Keep up the great work, Amy — we look forward to your continued success!
Have a story you’d like to share? Email your reflection to firstname.lastname@example.org … we look forward to hearing from you!
Less than 24 hours after I wrote this post about how gym class was and is the worst thing ever in the history of things, I signed up for gym class.
Yeah. Back story: round about January or so, I was feeling like crap. I wasn’t sleeping well, I was tired all the time, I felt out of shape, full of stress and generally blah. Plus my pants were getting too tight and I sure as hell wasn’t going to buy new bigger pants. Thanks to the amazing moderate temperatures and lack of snow of the Best Winter Ever™, I started walking on my lunch breaks. Then I added a morning walk, too. And by April or so, the walks weren’t quite enough anymore. I was feeling better, but I still wanted to get into better shape. I knew I wasn’t the healthiest me I could be. I joined (well, rejoined – I was a member there a few years ago) a gym and added my least hated cardio, the stationary bike, into my routine a few days a week. That was pretty awesome for a month or so and then I hit a wall. Not literally. It’s a stationary bike. Although if anyone could manage to hit a wall on a stationary bike, it would probably be uncoordinated, out of shape me. Anyway, I’d slave away for 40 minutes on the bike almost every day (in addition to my daily walks) and I wasn’t seeing any results. Not in the mirror, not on the scale, not in my pants (That’s What She Said) and not in the way I felt. So I decided to add some strength training. I started adding in some dumbbell work and putzed around on a few of the weight machines. This helped a little, although I struggled a lot with selecting how much weight I should be using. But still, that stupid wall would not budge. I tried adding in more variety to confuse my muscles or something like that. Enter yoga and ballet. Next, I turned to interval training. Even though every fiber of my being screamed NOOOOOOOOO DON’T DO IT!!!!!!, I slashed my cardio workout in half. Instead of 40 sweaty boring, butt numbing minutes on the bike riding between levels 2-5 or so, I turned to HIIT. I started a routine of 30-45 seconds of biking at the highest intensity I could muster without dying (usually around level 12) and then 15-20 seconds of rest (rest for me was biking at level 2-3). Lather, rinse and repeat for 15-20 minutes. This was very difficult for me, because everything I had always been taught and believe was that cardio was all about calorie blasting, and the only way to accomplish that was to spend at least 30-40 minutes per session. Incredibly, I saw huge results quickly. I felt better, I slept better and when I did go back for my old skool 40 minute ride, I found myself hanging out at higher intensities. I was hovering between levels 5 and 7 instead of 2 to 5. This made me stop and wonder what else I knew for sure was right was actually maybe misguided. Or even wrong.
Enter CrossFit. I first learned about CrossFit from my current workout hero, Jamie. She’s a rock star. For realz. Jamie did cardio forever, and while she really enjoyed running, I think she was hitting that wall that I would eventually find. But CrossFit didn’t just open a door in that wall, it obliterated it. At first I was totally in denial. “That might have worked for her, but there’s no way I could do that.” “I’m too out of shape to start CrossFit. Jamie was a long distance runner. I’m a sloth.” “I’m sure cardio will eventually work for me.”
Sidebar: I do not believe cardio is bad. I still walk almost every single day. Mostly for stress relief, but it keeps me moving. And I still occasionally make a trip to the gym to blast some miles on the bike. There’s something satisfying about seeing those miles add up on the bike and having proof I accomplished something during my workout. And if I hadn’t started walking and then moved to the bike and tried yoga and ballet, I would have never attempted CrossFit. And even if I did attempt it, I would have ran to my car during the warm up never to return again. There is a little bit of snobbery in the CrossFit world, and they tend to look down on the person I was. When I go back to my traditional gym, I don’t judge (or try my best not to judge) what anyone else is doing. Unless you’ve stationary biked 100 miles in someone’s gym shoes, you don’t know who they are, where they have come from or what their goals are. Worry about your own workout and leave your judgy pants in the locker room.
OK, back on track. I watched Jamie’s journey through CrossFit and was in complete awe. Not that she wasn’t fantastic before CrossFit, but now she’s even more confident, stronger and all around amazing. I started to do some research on CrossFit. Mostly Googling things like, “can fat people do CrossFit?” or “will CrossFit kill me?” and trying to convince myself that CrossFit wasn’t exactly like gym class, even though I knew it totally was. Or worse. I discovered an official CrossFit box (that’s what they call their gyms. boxes. heheheheh. they said boxes) less than half a mile from home. Dammit. And they have a sort of “intro to CrossFit” training course. Dammit. And it started the next week. DAMMIT. I signed up. I tried not to throw up. I walked away. And then I ran back to my computer to send a panicked email to the owner about my concerns that I just did the stupidest thing ever. I explained a little bit about my journey, my fitness level, my goals and my concern that I might be in over my head or hold back the training class. I got a lovely response back reassuring me that everything would be fine, and that motivation is the #1 thing they look for in new athletes. And then I teared up a little bit because no one in my entire life ever had referred to me as an athlete. I felt a billion times better and started
dreading looking forward to the first class.
Back story over. Now on to what this post was supposed to be:
What I Have Learned After My First Two Weeks of CrossFit
- I am weaker than I thought. I used to tell people, “I’m really pushing it at the gym. I’m dripping with sweat when I get off the bike.” “Level TWELVE.” But these workouts kick my ass. HARD. And then they wait for me to get up and they kick it again.
- But I am also soooo much stronger than I thought. These workouts don’t kill me. I kill them. And I come back for more.
- I would like to find whoever invented burpees and punch them in the genitals
- I can run. My biggest fear going into CrossFit was the running. I have always had knee pain when I attempt to run, and I was going to walk in and let them know I couldn’t run. But before I knew it, we were off on our first warm-up, running around the building. And my knees didn’t blow up. I didn’t die. I was a little sore, but I didn’t get hurt and now I’m even running a few laps as a warm up when I go back to my traditional gym. Who’d a thunk it?
- I can jump.
- I have the upper body strength of a T Rex.
- But I have legs of steel.
- It really, truly, absolutely is OK and in fact, perhaps 100% necessary to throw out your scale. And to eat enough to fuel hard workouts. I’m a few days away from feeling confident enough to obliterate all traces of calorie counting, weight tracking, faux-health apps from my iPhone.
maybe sort of kindaan athlete.
I love my box (seriously, though, do I have to call it that? CrossFit gym. I love my CrossFit gym*). They are perfect. There are amazing people doing amazing things that inspire me and give me hope that one day I can look at the workout they are doing without feeling nauseous. They push me to push myself and accomplish more in a workout than I ever thought would be possible. But they also keep me safe and modify/scale things down for me when necessary. And don’t make me feel like a loser for having a scaled workout. And while I was addicted to logging miles on the bike, there are so many other ways to view accomplishments and track progress and growth. These workouts usually take just about everything I have, so at the end, I’m not always left with that satisfaction of a job well done. Although the high fives and encouragement from the coaches, classmates and others at the box help a lot. But while I might not be able to bike to Atlanta (one of the ways I used to motivate myself to bike was to track miles and plot my way along a course to Atlanta, where my fiancé resides), progress is just as evident through CrossFit. On our very first day, we did a workout for time. It kicked my ass. I couldn’t even complete the whole thing. It involved a 250m run followed by 20 reps of: squats, sit ups, push ups, jumping pull ups and wall balls followed by another 250m run. You can see how this might terrify my non-running, T Rex armed self. By the time I got to the jumping pull ups and wall balls, I was clearly looking close enough to death that our coach told me I only needed to do 10 reps of them. I was too relieved to even feel a tiny bit guilty or inferior for not doing the whole thing. We met three times a week for two weeks. On the sixth class, we repeated that day 1 workout. Not only did I knock 38 seconds off my time, but I also did all the reps of all the exercises. Suck on THAT, bike to Atlanta.
*I am in absolutely no way paid or otherwise compensated for mentioning Elite Athletic Development. In fact, I’m a little worried they might read this and make me do extra burpees. Ha!
Pull Up Progression
Level 1 / Max Hang Goal: 3 sets of 30 second Bar Hangs
- With any grip and with engaged shoulder blades, hang from bar for 30 seconds
- Complete 3 sets with 90 seconds rest between sets
Level 2 / Flexed Arm Hang Goal: 3 sets of 10-20 second Flex Arm Holds (Bodyweight)
- Pre Req: Level 1
- With or without assistance, and with any grip, flex arms and position chin over bar (Flexed Arm Hang); hold
- Complete 3 Sets of 10-20 seconds with 90 seconds rest between sets
Level 3 / Negative Pull Ups Goal: A smooth 30 second Negative Pull Up (Bodyweight)
- Pre Req: Level 2
- Beginning in Flexed Arm Hang position, slowly – over 30 seconds — lower body to a Dead Hang (fully extended arms, open shoulders)
- Complete 3 sets with 2 minutes rest between sets
Level 4 / Partner Pull Ups, I Goal: 3 sets of 6 reps of Tempo Pull Ups
- Pre-Req: Level 3
- Beginning with chin over bar, complete Tempo Pull Ups in a 3-0-1-1 cadence
- 3 second controlled, negative descent
- 0 second pause at bottom range of motion
- 1 second ascent (strict Dead Hang, no Kip)
- 1 second pause at top range of motion (chin over bar); repeat
- Limited assistance (band or partner) is acceptable
- Complete 3 sets of 6 reps with 2 minutes rest between sets
Level 5 / Partner Pull Ups, II Goal: Unassisted Negative Pull Up (Weighted)
- Pre-Req: Level 4
- Wrap calves / ankles around an 8# weight. Beginning in a Flexed Arm Hang, slowly lower – over 30 seconds) – to a Dead Hang
- Complete 2 sets of 30 second descents with 2 minutes rest between sets
- Continue with 3-0-1-1Tempo Pull Ups; 2 sets of 4 reps with 2 minutes rest
Level 6 / Muscle Ups Goal: One Muscle Up or Bar Muscle Up every 30 seconds for 5 minutes
- Pre-Req: Level 5 AND 3 strict Dead Hang Pull Ups + 3 Ring Dips in succession
- Continue work on Muscle Up progression (Ring Dips, Jumping Muscle Up & Bar Muscle Up)
Today brings a NEW Strength & Power Cycle. Here is a brief description of how it will work.
Major lifts and days of the week will look like this for the next 6 weeks (July 30th-Sept 7th):
- Monday (Back Squat)
- Tuesday (Deadlift)
- Wednesday (Shoulder Press)
- Thursday (Front Squat)
- Friday (Bench Press)
The plan calls for choosing one of the two pressing movements (shoulder press or bench press) based on where you feel you need the most improvement and for you to use the other press day as a rest day or to integrate a MetCon workout. A very important aspect of this programming is for all athletes to take at least two days of rest during the strength cycle.
Sample Athlete Week
- Monday – (Back Squat) S&P
- Tuesday – (Deadlift) S&P
- Wednesday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
- Thursday – (Front Squat) S&P
- Friday – (Bench Press) S&P
- Saturday – MetCon
- Sunday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
Sample Athlete Week – Weekdays only
- Monday – (Back Squat) S&P
- Tuesday – (Deadlift) S&P
- Wednesday – MetCon
- Thursday – (Front Squat) S&P
- Friday – (Bench Press) S&P
- Saturday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
- Sunday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
Be sure to log each workout to monitor your progress throughout the cycle. If you have any questions about this Strength & Power Cycle, please be sure to speak with a performance coach.
Contributed by Coach Karen & Coach Josh
Seven weeks. Dozens of athletes. Community support. Experienced coaching. Disciplined programming. Skill focused. And almost 200 PRs.
The May / June Strength & Power cycle was the longest to date, and the results posted by CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes of all experience levels were well worth the work … and wait. So many athletes logged their best 1 Rep Max on Power Lifts (Back Squat, Deadlift, Shoulder Press, Front Squat & Bench Press) we ran out of space on the white board. (scroll down to see lift PRs)
The PRs didn’t stop with the Power Lifts. The increased strength and power gained over the seven-week cycle parlayed into PRs for the 400m Run, Mile Run, 500m Row, the EAD Baseline, the girls — “Karen”, “Helen”, “Annie” — 50 Barbell Burpees, and just about every category listed on the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights Wall of Fame. And thanks to the Pull Up Progression Intensive which ran concurrent to the Power Lift cycle, many athletes completed their first Dead Hang Pull Up, with more still thisclose. And if that wasn’t enough, how about aesthetics? Body composition improved (lean muscle mass to body fat), and many athletes report they need (yet another!) shopping trip to replace too-large clothes.
Finally, athletes logged PRs on their Baseline 1 Rep Max for the Snatch and Clean & Jerk — even though those lifts were only occasionally trained during May and June. The Snatch and Clean & Jerk will be the lifts of focus for the upcoming July / August Strength & Power Cycle.
The athletes who PR’d last week shared a few behaviors. They:
- Suspended Disbelief. Committing for seven weeks to the Strength & Power Cycle challenged the training norm for many existing and new athletes; it’s tough to leave your comfort zone. You took the risk, however, and it paid off big — both in overall strength and metabolic conditioning.
- Ate “Clean”. Not every athlete ate strict Paleo, but they were mindful of dietary choices and looked at food as fuel for performance.
- “WOD Snacked”. The athletes experimented and fine-tuned their pre- and post-workout snacks for optimum recovery.
- Scheduled Active Recovery & Rest. Whether taking ice baths, spending a bit of extra time with the stretching rope or foam roller, attending Sport Yoga or the Mobility & Recovery Workshop, athletes took time to rest and recover.
- Focused on Form, Technique & Mechanics. You trusted us when we asked you to back off (way off, in some cases) the weight you wanted to lift, pushed aside that little voice calling you a wimp, and re-loaded your bar to weight you could lift with precision.
- Banished “No Pain, No Gain”. Not every training session ends with you a sticky, sweaty, breathless mess, or unable to move in 48 – 72 hours.
- Progression, Not Perfection. You can’t PR every lift, every time. Period. Many of you fight this on a regular basis, and you leveraged this Strength & Power Cycle to exorcise the “all PR, all the time” demons.
Weigh In. What was the highlight for you over the past seven weeks? What are your goals for the upcoming cycle? What’s different about how you feel about barbell movements today vs. when you first started? If you haven’t committed to a Strength & Power Cycle, why not? Let us know what is on your mind …
The EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge is back by popular demand. More than 100 people joined us for the January – February challenge, and we’d love to see at least that many athletes on board for the July 5 – August 3 challenge.
Challenge participants agree to build their plates around nutrient-dense veggies, protein (pasture-raised, grass-fed preferred) healthy fats & oils, and a bit of fruit. They also agree to leave behind sugar of any kind (including sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners), processed foods, grains, dairy, legumes and less desirable fats & oils. For those of you who 80 / 20 Paleo, the 30 Paleo Challenge is a commitment; there will be no “variety” (aka, cheat) days. Participants are encouraged to stick to the “Encouraged” and “Food to Avoid” list scrupulously for the duration of the challenge to gain optimum results.
The EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge is inspired by the work of Dr. Loren Cordain, with generous support from Robb Wolf and Whole9. We have all the materials you’ll need to get started … just drop an email to email@example.com to request your set.
If you’re hungry for more information, you might want to check out:
- An Interview with Dr. Cordain (the academic who is the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets … this is the guy who brought Paleo into the spotlight decades ago.
- What Is The Paleo Diet?
- Robb Wolf’s Paleo Shopping List.
- A list of Paleo resources created for EAD / CFAH / CFAX by the Arlington Heights Public Library.
- And, be sure to check out — and contribute to – the EAD Test Kitchen, for Paleo recipes created, adapted and taste-tested by our athletes.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to do:
- Request & review the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge Resource Kit. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request your kit.
- Complete the Challenge Self Assessment
- Take “Before” photos — front, rear & profile (you don’t need to share … but you won’t believe how many times people say to me “Gee, I wish I would’ve had a picture of what I looked like before I made this change.”)
- Purge your pantry of all non-Paleo foods
- Shop and fill your ‘fridge & pantry with Paleo-preferred foods
- Plan your menu
- Reconcile that the traditional American breakfast is basically crap. Plan how you’ll start your day without eating a bagel, granola, waffles, etc., or drinking a large glass of OJ or spooning sugar in your coffee or tea
- Tell anyone & everyone you live with and / or share a meal with what you plan to do. Ask for their support.
- Get all your questions answered …we’re happy to help.
- Stay connected to EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge participants … we’re in this together!
- Believe that you can do anything for 30 days … truly. Honest. Just get organized and go
Contributed by Amy Kubal, MS, RD, registered Paleo Dietitian and the ring leader of Robb Woff’s RD consulting team. Post courtesy of Robb Wolf. Photo courtesy of our friends at Q7 Ranch & Mother Hen Poultry.
It’s time for the weekly trip to the grocery store and the purse strings are a little tight this go round. You’re standing in the meat section comparing prices: Grassfed Flank Steak – $9.99/lb, Feedlot Flank Steak – $4.99/lb. Holy Cow!! That’s $5/lb difference – and considering you need four pounds that’s $20. Ugh! What do you do and what’s the big deal?
The most obvious differences between grass and grain fed meats are the animal’s diet and living environment prior to butchering. The grassfed variety was most likely raised on a pasture eating primarily grasses while the grain eaters are most commonly feedlot cattle. From an ethics perspective grassfed is most often the best choice. Now let’s look at the nutrition side of things.
Here’s a comparison of grass vs. grain fed beef:
(100 Gram Serving)
|Kcals||Fat (g)||Saturated Fat (g)||Omega-3 (g)||Protein (g)||Niacin (mg)|
|Grain fed – 85/15||215||15.0||5.9||0.05||18.6||4.6|
The obvious (USDA Nutrition Database available) statistics may not seem all that remarkable – but overall grassfed beef is higher in long chain omega 3 fats and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), some B-vitamins, carotinoids and trace minerals. Additionally, levels of trans and saturated fats tend to be lower in grassfed meats. While not overwhelming, these small nutrient variations add up quickly when the frequency and amounts consumed are taken into consideration. But is grain fed meat a deal breaker if you want to be paleo?
If grass fed meat isn’t in your budget that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and head over to the tofu section! Do the best that you can! Select the highest quality meat possible, (this does not mean the hamburger that is sold in tubes at Wal-Mart). Watch for sales on grassfed and/or high quality cuts of meat. If grain fed is your choice, select lean cuts and lean ground meats. If possible buy your meat from a local rancher/farmer and in quantity. This is often cheaper and you can see how the animals were raised – not all grain fed cattle are a product of antibiotic pumping, dirty feeding, corporate feedlots. Often the local farmers grow the crops that feed their herds and take very good care of their animals. Again, do the best that you can!
Lastly, consider your priorities. If you are buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks every morning, eating out frequently, or spending your money on movies, gaming, etc; and still insist that grassfed meat is too expensive, it may be time for you to reconsider what’s really important. It’s your Moo-ve!
Is Coconut Water All That It Is Cracked Up to Be?
Contributed by Coach Karen
On any given day the recycle bin at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights contains empty tetra packs, cans and bottles of coconut water, presumably chugged by athletes as a post-WOD recovery drink.
Claims — supported by research paid for by one of the larger bottlers of the beverage — suggest coconut water is the “perfect solution” for exercise sessions less than 75 minutes. Coconut water proponents cite its purity (most brands have fewer than five ingredients), low calorie count, easy digestibility, high potassium content (more than contained in two bananas), and more.
Yet nutrition experts suggest that drinking coconut water is little more than a high-priced shell game.
The initial 15-30 minutes following a training session — particularly a Strength & Power or hard-hitting MetCon WOD — are golden when it comes to restoring energy systems for the next training session, and repairing and building muscle tissue. Research supports an optimal post-training fueling strategy includes eating three or four parts carbohydrates to one part protein, which is roughly the equivalent of snacking on 30-60 grams of carbohydrates and six – 20 grams of protein. It’s also important to drink 20 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost. Athletes should cap off their snack with a well-balanced meal within 90 minutes.
“Eating a high carbohydrate snack or meal, along with some protein, is essential for future optimal performance, recovery and safe play,” said Dawn Weatherwax RD, CSSD, LD, ATC, CSCS. According to Weatherwax, failing to replace glycogen – the stored blood sugar used during training sessions – can lead to fatigue, weakness, decreased concentration, increased chance of sustaining injury, and breakdown of muscle. Protein is essential for muscle to repair, recover and build.
The absence of protein and the low carbohydrate content in coconut water makes it no post-WOD miracle beverage, according to Paleo nutrition expert Jess Kuzma, MS, RD.
“If you really love coconut water, go ahead and drink it post-WOD, as long as you sip while you eat some turkey or another source of protein, and either a sweet potato or firm banana,” said Kuzma. “Another option is to add egg white protein to your coconut water to help hold you over until you can get a real meal. Without some sort of supplementation, coconut water is basically just expensive water.”
But what about claims that coconut water is a great way to replenish electrolytes lost during heavy training because of its high potassium content? “Even though the belief is that when you exercise you need a lot of potassium, sodium is more important,” said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition, UC Davis. “When you sweat, you lose a lot more sodium than potassium.” Adding a pinch of salt to coconut water is one way to improve the sodium content.
Bottom line: When it comes to post-WOD fueling, coconut water will certainly do no harm, but it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, either.
Quench Our Curiosity. What are your thoughts on coconut water? Do you supplement your coconut water? What do you see as benefits of drinking coconut water post-WOD?
Contributed by Coach Karen
Anna Jarvis celebrated the first Mother’s Day in 1907 to honor her Mom, Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis, who founded an organization to improve sanitary and health conditions in five West Virginia cities. Ann Maria’s Mothers’ Day Work Clubs also cared for Union and Confederate soldiers by providing food and clothing, and treating wounds.
The younger Jarvis ultimately railed against the holiday she created. She was particularly bitter about the commercialization of the day she intended as a loving tribute to the “woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” “A printed card,” Jarvis said “means nothing except that you are … lazy. And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment.”
Ironically, the woman who created the day to honor mothers died single, childless and broke
Mother’s Day serves as a milestone to all that is rich and depleting, joyful and agonizing, fulfilling and exhausting, boastful and humbling, and above all, momentous. It also marks a day – by design – where the group focuses on one. Anna Jarvis was quite intentional on where she placed the apostrophe when she coined the phrase Mother’s Day. She wanted to ensure the day commemorated each individual mother, not all the mothers across the globe.
One day hardly seems sufficient to honor the contributions Mom’s make to the family unit. Just ask any of the Moms who are part of the Elite Athletic Development Community. Their stories are amazing and wonderful and heartbreaking and awe-inspiring and hopeful. They face challenges which would wilt many, yet they overcome with aplomb. And they experience pure, blissful exuberance. It’s a privilege that our female athletes share these back-stories with us, and it makes what they accomplish throughout their training at EAD / CFAH / CFAX all the more amazing.
So let the family honor you Sunday, May 13 with cards, flowers, candy, brunch, hand-print art projects, baby food jar bunnies, clay works of art, and more. Equally appreciate the dirty diapers, dust bunnies and dish-filled sink. Then wake up Monday for the start of a year-long celebration of your health and fitness with the Moms, Soon-to-be-Moms, and Female Athletes at Elite Athletic Development.
Ann Jarvis had it right when she defined Mother’s Day as a celebration of the individual. It’s up to you to continuously honor yourself on Mother’s Day and beyond.
Contributed by Coach Jim
“What’s next?” was second only to “Wow!” at the conclusion of our very successful April Olympic Lifting cycle. After a recovery week, we’re ready to start a new Strength Cycle which will build upon the improved technique and increased power development gained during April. And what a cycle it will be as the evil genius behind Elite Athletic Development’s programming has prescribed traditional powerlifting movements.
Strength gains made from committing the to May Strength & Power cycle will improve every aspect of your training, and therefore, your overall results. In more than 40,000 hours of training athletes of all types, we can honestly say that we have yet to see anyone who couldn’t benefit from getting stronger. We often have a bit of a challenge convincing athletes new to the EAD experience that they were meant to lift heavy objects, but once they see and feel the results, there’s no turning back.
Ask any of the athletes who committed to the April Olympic Lifting cycle about the value of the EAD Strength & Power classes. The feedback will be overwhelmingly positive. Better yet, just look at the athletes who committed; the results speak for themselves. From our vantage point, enter into the next four weeks with the following in mind: lift heavy, eat smart, get adequate rest and do it consistently – then go out and get a new swimsuit.
Here is how the major lifts and days of the week will look for the next 4-6 weeks:
- Monday (Back Squat)
- Tuesday (Deadlift)
- Wednesday (Shoulder Press)
- Thursday (Front Squat)
- Friday (Bench Press)
The plan calls for choosing one of the two pressing movements (shoulder press or bench press) based on where you feel you need the most improvement and for you to use the other press day as a rest day or to integrate a MetCon workout. A very important aspect of this programming is for all athletes to take at least two days of rest during the strength cycle. While it is relatively easy to gauge the intensity of a MetCon workout from elevated heart and respiratory rates, strength workouts don’t always feel so taxing when you are done, but still stress the body in a manner that requires more recovery for maximum adaptation.
Those athletes that recently completed the CF Total and 1RM lifts in the bench press and the front squat will have logged current numbers to use as starting points for the cycle. For those who have not, EAD Performance Coaches will be happy to work with you to establish proper loads going forward. As with all programs, consistency is paramount. Look at your needs, goals and schedule availability and then commit to a weekly schedule that you can stick with. Here are a few examples of how you could schedule:
Sample Athlete Week
- Monday – (Back Squat) S&P
- Tuesday – (Deadlift) S&P
- Wednesday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
- Thursday – (Front Squat) S&P
- Friday – (Bench Press) S&P
- Saturday – MetCon
- Sunday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
Sample Athlete Week – Weekdays only
- Monday – (Back Squat) S&P
- Tuesday – (Deadlift) S&P
- Wednesday – MetCon
- Thursday – (Front Squat) S&P
- Friday – (Bench Press) S&P
- Saturday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
- Sunday – Off/Rest and Recovery Day
If you have any questions about the May Strength Cycle, be sure to grab a performance coach. If you’re ready to commit to four solid weeks of powerlifting movements, post your goal for the cycle in the “Comments” section below.
Submitted by Coach Karen
It seems that what you’ve got is never enough when it comes to Pull Ups.
If you use a band, you want a different color. If you Dead Hang, you want to Kip. If you Kip, you want to Butterfly. If you Butterfly, you want more speed and fluidity. Of course, you want to achieve your personal Pull Up nirvana with a progression appropriate to your athletic development, sustaining proper form and mechanics, and sans injury.
Welcome to the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis Pull Up Progression Program. Starting Monday, May 7 and continuing for the coming weeks, we will devote time during MetCon, CrossFit Women and Strength & Power classes to help you progress along the Pull Up continuum. In addition, the Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Mobility & Recovery Workshop will focus activity on the muscle groups key to the Pull Up. Our aim is to help your achieve your first Dead Hang Pull Up, or perfect your Pull Up form, mechanics and efficiency.
Segment One l Bar Hang
- Pre-Requisite: A willing spirit
- Standards: Arms locked out in Dead Hang; activate large muscles of the middle back and supporting smaller muscles of the upper back; engage shoulder muscles
- Progression: 3 x Max Hang Time w/ 90 seconds rest between sets
- Milestone: 3 x 30 seconds Bar Hang
- Pre-Requisite: 3 x 30 seconds Bar Hang
- Standards: Chin Over Bar (can use assistance to achieve Chin Over Bar); your choice hand grip
- Milestone: Hold position for 10-20 seconds; repeat 2-3 times with 2-3 minutes rest between sets
- Pre-Requisite: Flex Hang
- Standards: Start with Chin Over Bar and slowly lower body to a full Bar Hang; complete 2-3 sets w/ 2-3 minutes rest between
- Milestone: A smooth, controlled, confident 30 second Negative Pull Up
We’d like to know what you think about the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis Pull Up Progression Program. Share your initial thoughts with the Community about the next few weeks. Is completing an un-banded Pull Up on your training “bucket list”? Can you envision yourself completing a Dead Hang Pull Up? Are you ready to Kip? Do you have any concerns / questions? What’s on your mind? Let us know!
Submitted by Coach Josh S
This weekend marked the end of our April Olympic Lifting Strength Cycle, and every athlete who committed to the four week program posted a PR, whether measured by weight increase, technique improvement, or appreciation of the value of the Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Front Squat to functional movement and overall fitness.
A wide range of EAD / CFAH / CFAX athletes took part in the cycle. Some athletes followed the programming exactly as posted, some could only make it a couple times a week, and some were new to the lifts and dedicated four weeks to perfecting form and technique. Even if you only glimpsed over or heard weights dropping during one of the Strength & Power classes, it’s likely that the cues “feet in” and “fast elbows” still echo in your head.
Overall, results were impressive. Some athletes increased weights on all lifts when compared to the baseline lifts in early April. Some athletes improved their stability and positioning in the bottom of a squat, or gained comfort catching and locking out heavy weight overhead. Some athletes corrected poor positioning and bad habits picked up before they became part of the EAD / CFAH / CFAX Community. And every athlete gained new respect for the importance of proper lifting technique, and recognized that the past four weeks just scratched the surface … Olympic lifting takes years and years to master.
Ultimately, the past four weeks have been part of our continuing journey — as individual athletes and and health & fitness community — to break through barriers, whether real or self-imposed. When the EAD / CFAH / CFAX performance coaches collectively look back on the April Olympic Lifting Cycle, we most remember that we issued a challenge, and each and every person who accepted the challenge stepped up and simply destroyed it.
The investment you made in yourself — the blood, sweat and tears (yes, we saw all three); time; practice; listening; accepting suggestions; working through frustration; pushing past fear; supporting each other; trusting that when we told you what you learned previously was unsafe or simply wrong; and more — contributed to an environment where we saw every athlete committed to get better than the day before. And for that, we couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of you.
We’d like your feedback. When you look back over the past four weeks, what was the biggest surprise? What made you most proud — of yourself or a fellow athlete? If you didn’t participate in this cycle, are you considering the next cycle? What would you like to share with us about this experience? We’re ready to hear what you have to say…
Contributed by Coach Josh
The week started for some with excitement and others anxiety, but by Saturday almost every athlete anticipated the PRs they will post April 28 as we focus our Strength & Power programming exclusively on Snatches and Clean & Jerks, and movements to support the Olympic Lifts.
Athletes quickly recognized how jam-packed the one-hour Strength & Power classes would be with a combination of instruction, skill development & practice, and lift progressions. All the performance coaches appreciate how attentively you listened and stayed on task – and that you were willing to stay a few minutes after to complete the lift cycle when programming ran long.
Feedback from Week One was positive, and it was great to hear how many of our woman – many who never touched a barbell before becoming part of the Elite Athletic Development Community – are excited to give real Strength & Power training their full attention for the month of April. We know that women absolutely love the confidence they gain in all areas of their life by lifting heavy s***.
It was also great to get a chance to talk up the benefits of Olympic Lift training, which include a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, increased lean body mass, and decreased body fat. Research also supports that this type of programming will improve athletic performance in sprinting and explosive jumping (aka vertical jumps). And let’s not forget the most important factor of them all: Olympic Lift training, especially in a community filled with so many great people, is fun. It goes without saying how unbelievably supportive you were to each other, and how that support helped people overcome mental and physical barriers. There may be only one person holding the bar, but there is an entire community lifting the weight.
We encourage athletes who want to improve their Snatches and Clean & Jerks follow the prescribed schedule to get the best benefit of the training cycle.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday — Lift training
Friday – Make-up Day OR Active Recovery, including stretching, foam rolling, Coach Karen’s Sport Yoga class, Coach Becky’s Mobility & Recover Workshop, or a long walk
Saturday – Lift (8 a.m. Advanced WOD)
Sunday — Complete and total rest day
Each Monday starts a new phase of the programming which builds from the previous week’s work. If you haven’t already done so, mark your calendar for Saturday, April 28 where we will put a month of training to the test with 1RM lifts.
If you missed Week One, don’t fear – just get on board the week of April 9! Also be sure to track your lifts in your training log.
What did you think about Week One? Let us know!
Saturday’s time change inspired us to wonder how Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis Performance Coaches have helped you “Spring Forward” to your health & fitness goals.
Tick off a few lines describing how one of our performance coaches has impacted your life and we’ll enter you in a drawing for a prize to sure help time stand still: a therapeutic one-hour sports massage. Post your entry in the Comments section below or on our Facebook page, or drop an email to email@example.com no later than Wednesday, March 14. Enter as many times as you’d like!
Contributed by Karen Stoychoff Inman
So says one participant in a comment representative of feedback submitted via the Winter 2012 30 Day Paleo Challenge pre- & post assessment. More than 100 EAD / CFAH / CFAX athletes committed to eat Paleo January 15 – February 13, with 33 percent of participants providing a written overview of their experience.
Most participants had no idea what to expect during the 30 Day Challenge, and many signed up with great trepidation. “I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I knew I couldn’t keep eating the way I was. I was really scared, but figured I had the support of so many people,” said one participant. “I was skeptical; really skeptical,” says another participant. “But I suspended disbelief because the EAD coaches have never let me down.”
In the end, it was the athletes who never let down, and their individual and collective results prove 30 days sans grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and processed foods can make the difference. Based on a comparison of 24 pre- and post- self assessments, EAD / CFAH / CFAX athletes lost almost 200 pounds, more than 115 inches, and averaged a 6 percent decrease in body fat. One participant lost 20 pounds, while another lost a total of 12 inches. Yet another participant decreased body fat almost 14 percent.
30 Day Paleo Challenge participants report results ranging from aesthetic to emotional to medical. When asked to reflect on their Paleo eating experience, participant comments include:
“The best result of this challenge? I had NO headaches for 30 days. I typically get them 2-3 times a month, and they last for multiple days. I never even looked at the prescription meds that I take for relief.”
“I feel AMAZING! Tighter and leaner. I feel way more confident in my appearance now than I have in a long time. My mood is much more elevated. I’m sleeping better and feeling more rested when I wake.”
“My chronic joint pain is gone. I no longer have cravings. I have much more energy, feel much stronger during WODs and feel better about my body.”
“No asthma! Wow!”
“Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
“My self-esteem has jumped. I feel healthy and strong.”
“This is just the beginning for me …”
All but a handful of participants completed the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, and those who didn’t still acknowledge that they gained new perspective on eating clean. “I have not been successful with the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, but I’ve been trying to eat ‘mostly Paleo’. I had a physical last week and my blood work has significantly improved … that was just the motivation I needed to get myself back on track,” said one athlete. “I started (the 30 Day Paleo Challenge) with the best intentions, but I just didn’t stick with it. I’m going to try again … everyone who did go the full 30 days seems so pleased with their results,” said another athlete.
Overall, responding participants say the 30 Day Paleo Challenge was a good experience, and better than 95 percent plan to stay Paleo or Paleo-”ish” going forward.
“I plan to continue eating Paleo at least 80 percent of the time for the rest of my life.”
“I feel stronger and push myself further and harder during WODs thanks to eating this way.”
“I actually shudder at the thought of going back to my old carb-junkie habits. I’m so pleased and excited about my results.”
“I can’t believe 30 days passed so quickly! I’m really happy I tried this … I’m so much more conscious of what I’m eating and buying … my seven year-old daughter (helps) me read labels.”
“My life is forever changed. Thanks, EAD!”
This is the first in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. Have a story you’d like to share? Email your reflection to firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Pi was inspired to drop us an email after jotting down her thoughts on the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, which concludes February 13 at midnight. If you’ve ever trained with Amy, you know that she’s focused, committed and loves lifting heavy. Her results — thanks to a complete lifestyle change — are dramatic, although far from overnight; Amy’s transformation has been two years in the making. Keep up the great work, Amy, and thanks for sharing your reflection with us. We’re proud of you!
I celebrated my second anniversary with EAD in January, and looking back, I’m amazed at how much has changed since those early days.
Those first workouts seemed so daunting and exhausting, and the warm-ups absolutely brutal. Who would have known that I would one day consider 70 – 90# Deadlifts, 60 Burpees, and 60 – 30#KB swings a good workout?
I remember the day I learned Josh would be our coach. Who would have known that the person that I so vehemently did NOT want to be our group’s leader would become such a trusted, inspiring and supportive person on my journey?
I remember the first time there was a barbell in a workout, and how I felt when the initial fear of picking it up turned to pure power and confidence. Who would have known that I LOVE to lift heavy?
I remember being petrified about my first Saturday morning class, and the “fit guy” who said I was motivating because I kept going the whole time and stayed rep for rep with him. Who would have known that I would be the one convincing women friends to not be intimidated by the guys during a WOD?
I remember joking about eating pebbles and berries as part of the Paleo diet and fighting the idea of leaving behind pasta and cheese. Who would have foreseen that my own foray into and success with Paleo would get others to try it?
I remember being so intimidated and embarrassed to have to struggle in front of people. Who would have known that I would feel such a sense of challenge and welcome that slight sensation of fear when reading about tomorrow’s WOD?
People always ask me, “How much weight have you lost?” And while I definitely do care about the shift of the number on the scale, it has become so much more than that. The measure of success is more about what I have gained. The community of supportive people, the confidence that I can do things I thought were once impossible, and the control over how to fuel my body to work and play the way I want are priceless. While I am far from being finished with this journey, I am so pleased with the path so far, and I am ever so thankful that I had EAD as my vehicle to get this far. Thank you for seeing in me that which I was unable to see. Thank you for helping a more healthy and empowered me come into being.
I am thankful for the guidance, tough love, encouragement, celebratory spirit and pride that the EAD performance coaches have for us. Thank you for all the work you do and Happy Anniversary!
Coach Karen’s original Paleo- and family-friendly recipes landed her as a recent Daily Herald “Cook of the Week”. Check out the article featuring her recipes at Arlington Heights Mom Eats Like a Caveman, or catch the video of her in action.
It’s a dream scenario for every employer: a program that encourages employees to work harder, increase productivity, decrease absenteeism, and perform better. Yet according to a recent survey of American workers at growing businesses with 10 to 1,000 workers, employers need to wake up to the power of offering employees a fitness center discount.
“Employees in the survey cite a fitness center discount as their top wellness benefit, which differs from the more passive online wellness information, educational tools and resources employers tend to offer,” said Jim Inman, owner, Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis. “Investing in the health and wellness of your employees is simply good business, and promoting wellness in the workplace is something every company, regardless of size and budget, can do.”
The nationally-certified health & fitness professionals at Elite Athletic Development work with area companies in a variety of ways to create a culture of wellness. Elite Athletic Development offers companies—large or small—discounts and incentives for employees to participate in the programs.
“We bring our award-winning group exercise classes to your work location, host work groups at our North Arlington Heights or Downtown Arlington Heights locations, develop hands-on workshops, and work with company leadership to structure incentive and reward programs to encourage sustainable participation,” said Inman.
Inman says the benefits of custom wellness programming for work groups is well worth the investment, a statement supported by Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company, a subsidiary of survey sponsor the Principal Financial Group.
“Employers who embrace a culture of wellness in their workplaces can benefit in return with not only costs-savings but healthier and more engaged employees,” said Dukes.
Key findings from the survey include:
- 52 percent of workers (up from 37 percent last year) said they have more energy to be more productive at work by participating in a wellness program
- Another 35 percent (up from 28 percent a year ago) said that they have missed fewer days of work by participating in a wellness program.
- 41 percent of the workers surveyed agree that having a wellness program encourages them to work harder and perform better at work.
- 45 percent of workers chose better overall physical health as the top benefit to participating in a wellness program.
The Elite Athletic Development training program is inspired by CrossFit and forged by work during more than 38,000 athlete visits since 2006. Steeped in a functional fitness philosophy, Elite Athletic Development programming helps the “every day” athlete achieve their health & fitness goals in a supportive community-based setting, and under the guidance of nationally certified performance coaches. For more information on Elite Athletic Development’s Workplace Wellness program, contact email@example.com or call 847.394.8110.
Kim Mikus, business editor of the largest suburban newspaper in Illinois, the Daily Herald, recently posed a set of questions to Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis owners Jim Inman & Karen Stoychoff Inman. Their responses were featured in a small business profile. Chase the link to read the interview.
Pollsters love the holidays almost as much as we enjoy a robust “Variety Day.” Consider the cornucopia of surveys released over the past week on all things Thanksgiving. The distance covered by the average Thanksgiving traveler (+50 miles). The average cost for a classic Thanksgiving dinner (up 13 percent over 2010). The top reason we’re thankful (health of our family). Whether all stores should be closed Thanksgiving Day (87 percent say yes). How many people will eat out Thanksgiving Day (14 million).
Hard to believe that with all this querying going on that somehow the pollsters missed Coaches Jim, Karen & Josh S. So we created our own survey with a single question: “What about the EAD / CFAH / CFAX Community inspires the most gratitude?” We found we strongly agreed on the list, which we share with you Thanksgiving 2011.
- Generous. The WOD soundtrack of choice may be The Beastie Boys channel, but the beat that drives the EAD / CFAH / CFAX community is generosity. Dropping change in a jar to help student athletes make quilts for pediatric cancer patients. Cheering on a fellow athlete during a WOD. Donating pantry items for those less fortunate in our community. Reaching out to a new athlete with your “I remember my first WOD / Don’t worry, it gets better” anecdote. Hitting one of the many fund-raising WODs we support, including the “Watermelon WOD for St. Jude’s”, “31 Heroes”, or running the Salute, Inc. 5k / 10k. Sharing feedback with us regularly about the things we’re doing right, and the things you’re not quite so sure about. The spirit of giving throughout our community is warm, welcoming and wonderful.
- Game. Members of the EAD / CFAH / CFAX community are exceptionally willing to give it—whatever “it” may be—a go. The community readily accepts new challenges, and is open to trying new ways of doing things … even when those ways challenge the prevailing winds, or push you to step outside your comfort zone.
- Loyalty. When we started offering CrossFit, we were the 8th affiliate in Illinois. There are now more 70 affiliates in the state, and the list grows seemingly by the hour. Several of you have embraced the growing marketplace and dabbled in WODs at other boxes, and freely offer us your glimpse into the world outside EAD / CFAH / CFAX. It’s always interesting for us to hear the specific reasons why you stay, or why you returned. We know you have a choice in where you train, and we appreciate that you remain loyal to us.
- Appreciative. We do our very best to bring you our very best every day. Our performance coaches continually seek out professional development opportunities from a wide variety of educational sources—who wants to eat the same meal every single day?—and we regularly offer each other tough love on the most effective ways to lead a class and coach individuals. It’s rewarding to us that you recognize those efforts, and connect our emphasis on professional development excellence to helping you achieve your health & fitness goals.
- Trust. We regularly ask you to stretch well beyond previous performance levels because we see potential in you that you may not recognize. We’re not satisfied with simply finding new and innovative ways to slice the pie; we want to grow the pie. We want you to achieve things you never dreamed possible. You may not come willingly at first, but you always extend to us the opportunity, the trust, to guide you.
- Diversity. There is a seat at the EAD / CFAH / CFAX Community table for everyone. Firebreathers. Endurance Athletes. Student Athletes. Former Couch Potatoes. Seniors. Collegiate Athletes. Look around and you’ll see all these types of people and more. Our Community is as diverse as our training is varied, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Sit back and listen to the variety of pre- and post-WOD conversations. Observe relationships form between people who otherwise might remain anonymous. The diversity of our Community adds richness to the training EAD / CFAH / CFAX experience, and it makes us unique.
We are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of your life on so many different levels, and in so many different ways. On behalf of the entire EAD / CFAH / CFAX performance coaching team—Jim, Karen, Josh S, Becky, Kristen, Rory, Jenn, Josh R, Amy & Alida—here’s to a festive, fun, and family-centered Thanksgiving.
By Jim Inman, Owner & Head Performance Coach, Elite Athletic Development l CrossFit Arlington Heights l CrossFit Axis
Normally upon hearing the name “Christine,” I’d spin around looking for a demonic 1958 Plymouth Fury. Nowadays, I break out in a sweat thinking about how to pace my 500-meter rows so as not to kill my deadlifts and box jumps.
You may have noticed that over the last few weeks we’ve included a variety of seemingly random tests before the daily workout. Rest assured there was nothing random about “Christine” and the six other tests; they make up the new EAD Combine.
The EAD Combine encourages EAD athletes at all levels to measure and track progress on a set of standardized movements. Each athlete who completes the EAD Combine will receive a composite score to track over the coming months as part of their Elite Athletic Development 3-2-1 Goal! ™ setting.
The name Elite Athletic Development sums up our training philosophy: we use a disciplined, science-based methodology to help our athletes achieve sustainable results. One of the cornerstones of that methodology is SAID: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.
Many of you have heard me pontificate on the importance of SAID, and I’ll explain it in more detail in future articles, but for now, remember that the human body adapts to—and only to—the specific level of demand imposed upon it. That is why if you come in and only use the same 20 lb. kettlebell for every training session, you’ll eventually plateau and STOP IMPROVING. Every athlete must increase the imposed demand on the body on a regular basis to continue to make changes in body composition, and improve strength and conditioning. Simply put, if you keep doing the same weight—even in different movements—progress will stop; once progress stops, backsliding begins.
The new EAD Combine, used along with a training log, encourages you to train with intensity and purpose, track your progress, and achieve sustainable results. Watch for more information on the new, custom Elite Athletic Development training log. The training logs should arrive in the next three weeks, and available to you at cost ($15).
Questions, thoughts or reactions regarding the EAD Combine? Let us know.
By Josh Sroufek, Director, Training Programs & Athlete Performance, Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis
How many times has the most frustrating part of a WOD been trying to remember how much weight to load on your bar? Or what pace you should hit on your 2k row? Or recall your best time so you can dig in and set a new PR?
Starting and maintaining a training log is as simple as grabbing a spiral notebook from the drugstore, and regularly recording basic stats like completion time, rounds logged, reps tallied, and weight used.
In the time it takes you to finish your post-WOD recovery drink or snack, a few additional entries to your training log can provide tremendous benefit. Here are just a few of the many reasons to keep a training log.
Set Goals. Use your training log to clearly define your performance goals – a sure bet to immediately increase the probability that you will reach them. Your goals should be specific, measurable, meaningful and include a target date. For example, add 50# to my press by Dec. 31st.
Review (With Comment). Dedicate several journal pages to regularly review and comment on progress against major performance goals. Back to the 50# increase on the press. An example of a comment might be “Felt great on set 1 & 2, but struggled on rep 5 of set 3. Need to build to max weight quicker next WOD.” Use these pages to prompt changes in how you train – these comments can be a valuable reminder on ways to improve training intensity and efficiency.
Tracking Performance. Everyone loves setting Personal Records. But what about the days you don’t set PR’s? What happened? And why? A training log can provide a detailed record of all the key elements that contribute to a PR like sleep, recovery, and nutrition. The training log is also a great place to track the impact of personal obligations like business travel, home stresses, or a heavy social schedule. Just logging a few quick notes can help you understand why a particular training session did not go as hoped. When you check you training log notes, you can immediately gain perspective and see that it was just an off day; overall, you are still tracking to your goal.
Injury History. A training log is a great place to note tweaks, twinges and potential injury. “I felt pain in my shoulder during the round of 9 push jerks. Struggled with the weight on the round of 15. Should’ve dropped 10#. Going to go home and ice.” Or, “My knee has been bothering me every time I reverse lunge. Seems fine with I lunge forward.” With training, sometimes comes discomfort. A training log can provide great background when you talk with a performance coach or your doctor about any unusual pain you may experience. It can help you remember how long you’ve had pain, what movements bother it, what type of home remedies you applied, how long you took off from training and more. Keeping a detailed history of training volume, mobility, stretches, weight added to lifts, and notes on specific days a movement bothered you is only going to make it easier to diagnose and recover from the problem. This log can also serve as a way to not repeat the same errors that led to the injury in the first place.
Training logs don’t take a lot of time to keep up; it is literally as easy taking time during rolling out and stretching after class to jot down a few thoughts about the training session. It’s important to the entire EAD performance coaching team that you get the most possible out of your training session. We’re confident that keeping a detailed record of your training can help you achieve more. Start your training log today.
We Want to Hear From You. Do you keep a training log? What are the typical items you track, and how has this tracking helped you? Let know!
By Josh Sroufek, Director, Training Programs & Athlete Performance
“MetCon. Strength & Power. CrossFit Women. Mobility & Recovery. Which class should I be in after Labor Day?”
This is a great question, and one we’ve heard several times since we announced the new EAD training options last week. So what’s the answer?
The people who train at EAD are on a shared journey to do better and be better, regardless of what “better” means to each person. It’s that “community” aspect I love about this place. I sometimes watch people talking and laughing after class and wonder if they would have made that kind of meaningful connection had they not just sweated through a really killer WOD. But even though we share a destination – “better” – the path to get there is unique for each person.
That’s why starting Tuesday, Sept. 6 we’re changing up our training options. The restructured classes will help each athlete within our Community achieve “better” in the way which best suits them, while supporting the CrossFit tenets of “unknown and unknowable”, General Physical Preparedness, and the 10 General Physical Skills (see related post).
A few athletes have questioned the change – “I’m getting results. Why change?”, they say. We agree, you absolutely did get results from the previous class structure. And we stand by what we offered. However, we believe that in order for our athletes to reach their genetic potential, we need to challenge you in a different way. We also appreciate your honesty. Many of you admitted that you hold back – sometimes intentionally, sometimes sub-consciously – during the strength portion of a WOD in order to go harder during the MetCon.
Based on the goals you set during the 3-2-1 Goal!™ Workshop (register today / “Seminars”), we will help you select the “right” mix and frequency of MetCon, Strength & Power, and Mobility & Recovery classes to support goal attainment. Key to the mix will be periodization, or the progressive cycling of training elements over a defined time period, variety, performance fueling, and recovery.
Here’s an overview of the new training options.
The Science. Metabolic Conditioning, affectionately known as the MetCon, challenges the body’s three energy systems (also known as metabolic pathways), and increases how efficiently we store and deliver energy.
What Are the Benefits? MetCon WODs are a fun and incredibly effective way to improve overall fitness, achieve specific sports-related goals, and change body composition.
What Can I Expect? Workouts combine strength, power, conditioning and core exercises in a constantly-varied mix. They are shorter, intense and will challenge you.
What Is a Sample WOD? For time: 100 Double Unders + 400m Run + 80 unanchored sit ups + 60 box jumps (24/20) + 400m Run + 40 Double Unders + 20 Wall Balls (20/16)
Can I Do It? Yes! Fitness Boot Camp, CrossFit Women and CrossFit athletes will quickly recognize the movements. Instruction / skill development at the start of class will help you acquire new movements, and the performance coach will scale the WOD to your current fitness level.
Strength & Power.
The Science. This strength-biased workout will activate more muscle fibers, more rapidly, than any other modality of training.
What Are the Benefits? Strength & Power training is a solid foundation for all sports movement; enhances athletic performance; drives body composition changes; and builds confidence.
What Can I Expect? Olympic and Power Lift instruction, skill development & practice, and plenty of hard work. Make no mistake: this is no “sun’s out, gun’s out” lifting; we’re talking fully-functional movement.
What Is a Sample WOD? 1 Rep Max Snatch + Every 30 seconds for 10 min perform the following triplet: 1 Power Clean, 1 Front Squat, 1 Hang Squat Clean. Once you power clean the weight you cannot drop until completion of hang squat clean
Can I Do It? Yes! This class is perfect for athletes who like Olympic & Power Lifting, and who want increased speed, agility, quickness and strength. Fitness Boot Camp athletes have performed comparable movements with dumbbells (vs. a barbell), and CrossFit Women WODs frequently feature Olympic & Power lifts.
Mobility & Recovery.
The Science. Mobility & Recovery is the “missing link” for most athletes. The single greatest limiter for a majority of our athletes is the lack of mobility & flexibility.
What Are the Benefits? Injury prevention, increased range of movement, improved performance and improved movement efficiency are just a few reasons why you should attend at least one Mobility & Recovery class per week.
What Can I Expect? Classes could feature sports yoga and Pilates; core stability progression, band stretching; self-myofascial release; dynamic stretching; and more.
What Is a Sample WOD? Instruction, skill development and skill practice.
Can I Do It? Yes … and you should do it.
CrossFit Women. This class is a combination of MetCon and Strength & Power WODs. Athletes will attack the same WODs as the mixed gender class – but in a class just for women, led by a female performance coach.
So here’s my answer to the question “Which class is right for me?”
They all are. The real question is what is the right mix and frequency for you? You’ll know that after you set your October – November – December goals at the 3-2-1 Goal!™ Workshop the week of September 12.
Here’s a few other tips:
- Try each class a few times. Focus on what you recognize. Embrace what is new, different and challenging.
- Come to class with an open mind. Meet new people. Expand your Community connection. Learn something new.
- Ask questions. Many classes will have two performance coaches, so you’ll have ample opportunity to learn and grow.
- Have fun. Celebrate accomplishments.
- Get better.
“Do you miss it?”
That’s what people frequently ask when they discover I left behind a 25 plus-year high-heeled climb of the corporate ladder for a pair of Innov8s, a pony-tail and small business ownership. My response? The sassy paycheck was nice, but the payoff from being part of Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis is much richer.
Success in public relations is defined by how much a campaign impacts the attitudes and behavior of the target audience. Did the campaign sell more pizza, move more barrels of beer, increase worker productivity, or promote positive media coverage?
We’re concerned with return on investment at EAD, too. But the metrics we track are far more meaningful because they are — consistent with our mission — unique to the individual. There’s the former bodybuilder who can raise his arms over head for the first time in years, and who now understands that being able to move is more important than striking a pose. Or the 74 year-old woman who regales the ladies in her knitting club and bible study group about her recent deadlift PR. Or the older sister of a collegiate athlete, who prior to EAD, never exercised (that was her sister’s “thing”) and who recently completed two half-marathons and is currently training for her first marathon. Or the women who have put their lives on hold – for husbands, kids, careers, elder care and life in general – and thanks to their EAD experience, rediscover the very essence of who they are. Strong. Powerful. Capable. And able to conquer just about any physical or mental challenge they confront.
The physical changes are impressive. But the mental transformations—those singular moments when someone accomplishes something they never dreamed possible—are truly what I find inspiring. The combination of hard work, dedication, education, camaraderie and support make the EAD experience priceless.
The cul-de-sac in my suburban Detroit neighborhood was home base for after-dinner games on steamy summer nights. Kick the can. Red Light, Green Light. Red Rover, Red Rover. And the dreaded Mother May I?
For the uninitiated, the sole purpose of Mother May I? is for players to yield power for their every move to the approval of another. Each player makes a request—“Mother, may I walk like a crab?” or “Mother, may I complete 100 burpees?” (I grew up on the tough side of town)—and “mother” denies, accepts or alters the request.
The creator of “Mother May I?” probably thought the game would instill manners, a sense of order and an appreciation for consequences throughout the pediatric pride. Not for me. I found continually seeking permission to take a baby step back or umbrella step forward ridiculous. It was probably a good thing “mother’s” back was always turned as we played; she might not have appreciated my silent protests.
Memories of those long-ago summer games recently returned when I described someone in the EAD Community as an athlete, much to her surprise. Quite simply, she never gave herself permission to compare the giant leaps she logged during Fitness Boot Camp and CrossFit Women with those of an athlete. But an athlete she is.
When is the last time you granted yourself permission to celebrate a training or nutrition success? To take note, breathe deeply and let pride wash over you? To brag to a friend without hesitation? If you can’t list at least three times over the past week, it’s time to embrace the athlete within you. No Mother needed.
By Becky Rivard
How many times have you visited the CrossFit Women page on eliteathletic.com, looked at the workout of the day, and thought to yourself, “There’s no way I can do that!” Before you even set foot in EAD, before you even pick up a barbell, you’ve decided against trying something new or perhaps attacking something you find difficult.
Stepping outside our comfort zone is never easy. More often than not our bodies can physically handle whatever task is in front of us, but sometimes our minds tell us differently. Everyone has mental hurdles; the challenge becomes how to conquer them.
I’ve been a competitive athlete for almost my entire life, so I’m no stranger to challenges. Give me a long jump pit, 45 inch box, or basketball court, and I wouldn’t think twice about attacking the task in front of me. Make it an endurance/distance event, however, and I’ll avoid it at all costs. Why would I want to put myself in a situation where I’m not comfortable and fear I won’t do well?
Despite this, I accepted the challenge I’m going to issue you and tried something different and totally outside my comfort zone. Actually, I tried two things outside my comfort zone — the Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships and a local 5K — and I’m still alive to tell about it.
First up was the Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships. I had known about this event for several months and reluctantly agreed to participate. In the months and weeks leading up to the competition, I kept telling myself I would get some rowing practice in and do a baseline 2K row. Every time I was about to get on the rower, I would talk myself out of it. I knew it was going to be very uncomfortable, so I kept putting it off. I kept thinking to myself, “How the heck am I going to survive rowing 2000 meters? So instead of attacking this challenge like I normally would, I let it get into my head and hold me back.
Flash forward to race day about 10 minutes before my flight starts. Here I am, sitting on the rower, for about only the 4th time in several months, warming up about to do something I never thought I could. 3, 2, 1…go. I start pulling and quickly settle into a pace that was comfortable. Wait a minute…this isn’t supposed to be comfortable…it’s supposed to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, right? Well it turns out I was wrong. All I had to do was focus on my breathing, take it one stroke at a time, and before I knew it I had less than 200m to go. My adrenaline kicked in and I rowed as fast as I could to the finish. The feeling of “I think I’m going to die” that I was certain would come following the race, never did. I survived. Not only did I survive, I actually had fun.
One event down, one to go; next up was a 5k run. I hate distance running more than ANYTHING. I would rather do 100 burpees than run anything longer than a 200m sprint. So why the heck did I sign up to run 3.1 miles? It all goes back to pushing my limits and going beyond my comfort zone. I’m never going to get better at distance running if I don’t do it. I even managed to do a tiny bit of “training” for the race. I use the word training loosely because it consisted of maybe 3 or 4 runs prior to the race at a very slow pace because that’s all I thought I could handle.
On the morning of the race my stomach is doing back flips. I am not looking forward this. The gun goes off, I start running and I find myself passing people left and right. My confidence is pretty high and I’m actually feeling good about the race at this point. That feeling quickly fades as I pass the one-mile marker, and things start to go south in my head. All I can think about is that I’ll never finish this race without walking. I still have more than two miles to go and I’m ready to stop. Instead of experiencing how good my body felt, how effortless the run was going up until that moment, and what a pleasant surprise it was to feel so good, I let my thoughts overwhelm my actual experience. That is until somewhere around mile two that I thought back to the rowing competition and how I had just concentrated on my breathing to get me through. I made the choice to just focus on my breathing and take it one step at a time. Before I knew it I was approaching the finish line. I had survived another distance event.
How can it be that I was wrong TWICE? I worked these events up in my mind to be way worse than they really were. I let my mental hurdles get the best of me. Luckily, I found that staying focused on my breathing kept my mind from thinking irrational thoughts. Knowing what I know now, I can’t promise I won’t ever have a mental block to distance events, but I can keep telling myself that it’s never as bad as it seems and push through any hurdles that come my way.
You can overcome mental hurdles, too. It’s just a matter of finding what method works for you. Perhaps simply staying focused and taking it one step or meter or rep at a time will get you through. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is a necessary evil when it comes to pushing our limits and moving forward.
So here is my challenge to you: Don’t be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone. The next time you face a challenge (whether it is a single movement, whole workout, or event), don’t let your mental hurdles stop you from attacking it with everything you’ve got. You just might be surprised at what you can handle.
“Through the Eyes of an EAD Coach”
By Josh Sroufek
The 2011 Crossfit North Central Regionals were held this past weekend at nearby Navy Pier. This is the second consecutive year I have had the honor of representing Crossfit Arlington Heights as a team in the competition. Now that I have had some time to reflect back on the event, I’d like to share some of the memorable moments of each athlete that I was able to witness first hand.
Scott Carlson – I would be willing to bet that Scott’s performance on Event #1, particularly the hand stand push ups, will stick in the mind of many for a long time. After each member rowed 750 M, the team had to then knock out a total of 50 HSPU. When Scott’s turn came to kick onto the wall we had 0 as a team. When he dropped down from that first attempt we had 29. It still astonishes me that someone can make such a difficult movement look so effortless.
Amy Procarione – Various moments come to mind when I think about what sticks out over the weekend when it comes to Amy, like for instance, her nonchalant smiling and looking around at everything around her as she rowed during event #1. However, what will always be burned in my memory is Amy’s performance on WOD #3. I, along with Amy, did a team deadlift and box jump workout for #3. After I performed my portion of the workout, I then tagged Amy and she proceeded to do the rest. Maybe it was because I was suffering and knew just how bad it was about to be for her, but watching her perform the workout with all she had was inspiring. I could not be more proud of the heart, guts, and fortitude she displayed during that workout.
Rory Oliver – Rory is known for many things in the EAD community. Great athlete, phenomenal father/husband, veteran, borderline model,……..you get the picture. But I was able to see something that many already know, but you tend to forget if you don’t see it on a regular basis. Rory was involved in both team WODS #1 and #4. Those workouts consisted of four athletes in each. With that many movements/exercises and that long of time domain a lot can go wrong. However, nothing did as Rory was the leader in those workouts. He stepped up and talked Jenn through her hand stand push up attempt. He didn’t panic when we were last off the pull up bar during #4. Instead he showed great leadership in staying calm and talking each athlete through the remaining movements. Those athletes that get to work with Rory in class daily get to see this side of him on a regular basis, but it stands out so much more when that is not the case.
Jenn Vautier – Jenn’s moment was touched on above. Her moment had to be the hand stand push up “challenge.” In short, during WOD #1 every athlete had to attempt a HSPU. Little did we know just how strict those standards would be on an attempt. Jenn continued to kick onto the wall to meet the standards of the judge, but continued to get no repped. I believe I speak for everyone when I say a silence fell over our crowd as we feared for the worst if Jenn did not succeed. However, being the fighter she is, she prevailed. She never argued with the judge. She never quit and gave in. She kept kicking and kicking until she succeeded. Reminding everyone there that you can’t ever count Jenn out.
Samantha (Sammy) Olson – Last but not least Sammy. Sammy is mentioned last because she ended the weekend with such a memorable moment. During workout #4 teams had to complete 250 chest to bar pull ups, 250 kb swings, 250 double unders, and 250 overhead squats. Only one athlete could work at a time. Hearing this workout may seem challenging, but watching it in person gives a person a different perspective. As team members cycled through the pull ups, Sammy sat by anxiously watching as the game plan was to save her for the swings and squats. It is always tough for a coach to watch an athlete hold back as you never know how they will respond. EAD could not have asked for anything more from Samantha Olson once the thirty minute time limit went off. She continued to pick up the barbell and do squat after squat when the expression on her face said it all. The crowd felt for all of the athletes involved, but particularly for Sammy as her shoulders looked to be breaking under the stress of the weight and she continued on. Her performance put an exclamation point on how EAD and Crossfit Arlington Heights was represented.
It started six weeks ago for some to simply see if they had what it takes. For others, it was to chase a dream and perhaps compete at the next level. And for all, it would become an intense physical and emotional challenge.
The 2011 CrossFit Games Open certainly had its share of drama. But the story that will live on in the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis community will be of athletes who made us incredibly and indescribably proud.
We will relive tales of seasoned competitors, along with athletes who were just weeks ago in Fitness Boot Camp, logging PRs. Of athletes who refused to yield to a weight that was just thismuch too heavy. The visiting athletes who enriched our community. Competitors who fought through injury, obliterated self-imposed barriers, bounced back from soul-searching lows, celebrated awe-inspiring performances, unquestionably supported their fellow athletes, and deepened their commitment to their long-term development goals.
We will measure the success of our athletes by the path each chooses to take from here, not by where they ranked in the worldwide standings. The six-week Games Open gave us a chance to spotlight strengths and expose weaknesses. What will set our athletes apart going forward is the commitment to confront, address and convert those weaknesses into strengths.
Congratulations to the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes who accepted the challenge of the 2011 CrossFit Games Open, and who are now ready to commit to taking their performance to the next level.
Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis 2011 CrossFit Games Open Team
Karen Stoychoff Inman
Mary Kate McCarte
By Karen Stoychoff Inman
Fitness Boot Camp & CrossFit Performance Coach, Nutrition Specialist & Group Centergy Instructor
Public sentiment about sugar has certainly soured over the years, and the recent New York Times Magazine article by Gary Taubes, “Is Sugar Toxic”, has crystallized conversation on the topic. But is it possible to eat too little sugar for the body to properly function? It depends on your lifestyle, according to Jessica Kuzma, registered dietitian and Paleo Nutritionist.
“If you are sedentary, or participate in low-intensity, aerobic exercises like walking, you are capable of burning fat for fuel,” said Kuzma.
That’s not the case when it comes to participating in high-intensity, explosive, metabolic conditioning-style workouts like CrossFit and Elite Athletic Development’s Fitness Boot Camp, or endurance events like cycling and fast-paced, long-distance running. These workouts rely on muscle glycogen, which is a quickly-accessible – yet limited-reserve – glucose supply.
Glucose is made when the body digests the sugar and starch in carbohydrates into a functional form of energy, which is then absorbed through the small intestine and into the bloodstream. How much glucose-generating food to take on board each day depends on your sport and goals, but should support exercise intensity, according to Kuzma.
“The demand for glucose during high-intensity workouts is considerably higher and must be supplied by glucose from the diet,” said Kuzma. “A good rule of thumb for the average MetCon-style athlete who would like to perform well, yet remain lean, is somewhere around 80 – 100 grams of starchy carbs per day. The majority of carb consumption should immediately follow exercise,” said Kuzma.
Food sources of favorable post-workout carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, yams, spaghetti or acorn squash, bananas, berries or other fruits. Home-brewed or pre-packaged recovery drinks are also an option.
It’s also important to properly fuel before an intense training session. Future columns will offer insight on pre-workout fueling.
If you haven’t read Gary Taube’s article, chase the link:
If you’d like to see Dr. Robert Lustig’s thoughts on “Sugar, the Bitter Truth” chase the links. Dr. Lustig is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, in the Division of Endocrinology Director of the Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health (WATCH) Program at UCSF:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM (full video)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdMjKEncojQ (abridged video)
Put a cap on expensive, pre-packaged fluid-replacement potions this race season. Instead, stock your pantry with a few common ingredients and brew a variety of tasty and inexpensive post-workout beverages.
Home-brews are simple, convenient and important to your post-workout recovery because they replenish the electrolytes lost during exercise. An athlete may sweat one-half to five pounds per hour during exercise, which could translate to 80-100mg of potassium and 400-700mg of sodium lost per pound. Sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate – electrolytes – allow the body to contract muscles, generate electricity, maintain cell wall stability, and move water and fluids within the body.
The base for most home-brew recipes includes water, sugar, baking soda and organic sea salt. Organic sea salt is similar to the electrolyte composition in our blood and contains potassium, iodine, magnesium, calcium, manganese, zinc and others. If you’d prefer, you can use a salt substitute. Add sass to your sip with green tea, fresh juices or citrus zest.
In addition to the following recipes, consider pure, organic coconut water as a post-workout recovery drink. Coconut water contains electrolytes, has lower acidity than juice and most sports drinks, and has more potassium than a banana. Just be sure to read the label carefully – don’t purchase a product with added sugars (usually in the form of sucrose).
Have a recipe for a penny-pincher home-brew? Post it on the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights Facebook Page, or comment on this article.
Penny-Pincher Recovery Brews
Lemon-Orange Sports Drink
1 caffeine-free lemon tea bag
16 ounces water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons orange juice
Bring 16 ounces of water to a boil & steep lemon tea bag; add sugar and salt. Cool; add orange juice and chill.
Juice-Green Tea Sports Drink
Pure Organic Fruit Juice (no added sugar, high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar)
Water or Green Tea
Organic Sea Salt
Fill a sports bottle with half juice and half water. Add a pinch of organic sea salt; shake.
The Biggest Loser Brew / Bob Harper’s Recipe
1 liter water
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Combine all ingredients; shake to dissolve.
World Health Organization Rehydration Solution
1 /2 teaspoon table salt
1 / 2 teaspoon salt substitute
1 /2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons table sugar
1 quart + 2 tablespoons water
Place all ingredients in the pitcher or water bottle; mix thoroughly and chill. Option: add a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit.
Fresh from awesome performances at the 13th annual Chicago Indoor Rowing Championships, EAD Endurance Athletes Al W & Rick T pedaled to 4th and 6th place finishes, respectively, at the American Bicycle Racing 2011 Mid America Time Trial Series in Highland Park. Al, Rick and fellow athlete Steve H raced the Tour de California Solvang time trial course, courtesy of CompuTrainer. Great job, guys!
Set another fitness milestone. Commit to complete the CrossFit Games qualifying workouts — one workout per week for six weeks. Maybe you’ll rank high enough to progress to the Regionals; maybe you won’t. Either way, you’ll have bragging rights that you tried something new, and that you challenged yourself in an entirely new and different way. Qualifying workouts begin March 15. See a performance coach for details.
CrossFit Games Video / https://games.crossfit.com/features/videos/what-are-crossfit-games
Welcome to EAD’s first nutrition workshop guest column. Today’s post is from Jessica Kuzma who helps guide clients through the transition to a Paleo lifestyle. Jess enjoys helping people reach their health and fitness goals by tailoring plans to individual needs. In her post, Jess advises that if you include dairy in your, or your child’s, diet be sure to seek out full-fat, grass-fed products whenever possible.
There are conflicting views in the Paleo community regarding milk, cheese, and other dairy products and whether they should be strictly excluded from the diet. We need to use caution when labeling foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based simply on whether or not they were part of our hunter/gatherer ancestors’ diet, as this should serve only as a template for further investigation.
Milk is an inexpensive source of highly bio-available protein and is packed with antibodies, immune factors, and growth promoters. Intuitively, this makes sense—cow’s milk is naturally intended for calves which have growth rates that greatly exceed those of humans. Cows nurse for a shorter time and are weaned, on average, at about 6 months; therefore cow’s milk must supply all the growth hormones and nutrition necessary to support a steep bovine growth curve.
It follows then, that when humans consume cow’s milk, the same strong growth response occurs. Primarily, milk proteins cause a steep rise in insulin—the master ‘storage’ hormone. This is counter-intuitive as dairy products are fairly low in carbohydrate and the rise in blood glucose is minimal compared to the unmatched sharp increase in insulin. Again, keeping this in context, it makes sense that milk protein would promote growth and nutrient storage independent of the carbohydrate concentration.
Additionally, there are several other naturally occurring hormones in milk that promote growth. Chronic exposure to these hormones provide opportunity for cancerous cell growth and it is not entirely surprising that milk drinking is correlated with an increased risk of cancers. Potentially problematic hormones include:
- IGF-1: IGF-1 is a potent growth hormone that remains active in non-pasteurized milk. Additionally, our human IGF-1 isoform rises concomitantly with a rise in insulin—as milk drinking causes a strong increase in insulin secretion, the levels of IGF-1 also increase. High circulating concentrations of IGF- 1 during childhood result in greater height as adults but also increase risk for breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
- Betacellulin: Found in cow’s milk, whey, and cheese—survives pasteurization. Betacellulin is a protein hormone that binds to receptors in the human gut called Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors. As the name implies, when activated, these receptors initiate growth and repair in the gut. This is a good thing—on a small scale. We secrete Epidermal Growth Factor in our saliva that binds these receptors and repairs gut damage. However, Betacellulin concentrations in milk far exceed the healthy amount we produce naturally. A single glass of milk has 10 times more Betacellulin than your body secretes over an entire 24-hour period. Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors follow a positive feedback mechanism, which means the more something binds to the receptor, the more receptors will appear at the site. Such uncontrolled, increased expression is one of the hallmarks of cancer.
- Steroid Hormones: It appears humans receive the majority of estrogen-like compounds from dairy products. Furthermore, the majority of milk is obtained from cows later in pregnancy, during which milk production increases, and the level of estrogens are at their highest. There are also several dihydrotestosterone (DHT) precursors present in varying concentrations.
- Links to Disease: Several epidemiological studies have linked dairy intake to the development of Type-1 diabetes, with the risk increasing the earlier dairy is introduced in the diet. Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Celiac disease symptoms have all been alleviated, to some degree, by excluding dairy products from the diet.
One caveat to this research: undoubtedly, these studies have all used conventional, homogenized, pasteurized milk products from corn-fed cows. The fatty acid profile of pastured milk is completely different than its conventional counterpart. As there have been no trials examining health outcomes between groups consuming dairy products from conventional sources versus those consuming only non-processed, pastured dairy, we cannot definitively conclude that all dairy is harmful. We do know the fatty acid profile of butter from grass-fed cows is quite different and appears to be a healthy and beneficial saturated fat source. Perhaps more so, ghee (clarified butter) is a process by which residual milk proteins in butter are separated and removed by heating and the pure fat is retained. This is a tasty and healthy way to obtain omega-3 fats, CLA, and butyric acid—all necessary for gut health and to help decrease inflammation.
Lastly, in some instances, the growth-promoting properties of milk can be utilized for performance benefits. For example, an athlete who wishes to increase muscle mass might use milk in the postexercise window to take advantage of insulin sensitivity and glycogen-depleted muscles to optimize protein synthesis and muscle repair. In other words, milk is a good way to pack in a lot of ‘bang for your buck’–dense calories coupled with a potent growth and nutrient storage stimulus.
Conversely, individuals wishing to ‘lean out’, or drop a few pounds of body fat would be better served to avoid diary and choose another protein source post-workout, such as egg-white protein or meat.
Jess currently lives in Seattle, Washington, and frequently posts tips, recipes, and advice at http://stonewaycrossfitnutrition.blogspot.com/ She works with clients locally, and remotely..
Have something you’d like to share with EAD / CFAH / CFAX athletes, or is there a topic you’d like to learn more about? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Research shows that people who work with an experienced professional coach are more likely to avoid common barriers to achieving their goal, like disappointing results, boredom, burnout and recurring injuries.
Jim Inman, head performance coach and endurance sports specialist at Elite Athletic Development, will make the difference in your 2011 race season. Jim is a 25-year endurance sports veteran. He is certified by USA Cycling, USA Triathlon, USA Weightlifting, CrossFit, CrossFit Endurance, and he is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
As an accomplished endurance athlete, Jim understands your drive. As a professional coach, he knows how to help you turn your drive into results.
Call 847.394.8110 or email email@example.com for a no-obligation consultation.
Most women dutifully pop a daily calcium pill or two on the advice of their doctor, but without understanding the elemental truth about this important dietary supplement.
Calcium is an essential mineral, necessary for the healthy growth of bones & teeth in kids, and to maintain adult bone health. Calcium also helps muscles contract, promotes hormone and enzyme secretion, and supports nerve impulse transmission.
Stores typically carry calcium supplements in the form of citrate or carbonate. Calcium citrate is water soluble, making it easily absorbed by the stomach and small intestine. People tend to experience fewer side effects with calcium citrate, and it is best taken between meals. Calcium carbonate may cause some people indigestion, gas, constipation and headaches. It is best taken with meals because it requires stomach acid for absorption.
It is important to consider the elemental calcium content of your supplement, not just the total calcium content. That means you must read the label and do a bit of math (unless your label specifically lists elemental calcium content). Calcium carbonate is 40 percent calcium by weight, so 1000 mg contains 400 mg of calcium. Calcium citrate is 21 percent elemental calcium so 1000 mg will provide 210 mg of calcium. That means if you want to meet the current recommended daily allowance for calcium for 19-50 year-old men and women (1000 mg), you’ll need to take approximately five - 1000 mg calcium citrate pills or 2 .5 -1000 mg calcium carbonate pills.
Whether you opt for calcium citrate or carbonate, take 500 mg or less of elemental calcium per dose. It’s also best to avoid taking calcium supplements at the same time as any medication that needs to be taken on an empty stomach, or at the same time as antibiotics, iron supplements, thyroid hormones or corticosteroids.
Tip. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends placing your calcium tablet in a glass of warm water for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the tablet hasn’t mostly dissolved in that time, it won’t get absorbed by your stomach.
By Becky Rivard
CrossFit Women Performance & Programming / Fitness Boot Camp Performance Coach / Athletic Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist & Certified Personal Trainer
The idea of CrossFit can be very intimidating, especially for some women. The thought of doing deadlifts, snatches, and pull-ups seems a little bit scary and might turn away even the bravest of women. Here at EAD/CFAH we wanted to create an environment where women can experience everything CrossFit has to offer-minus the intimidation factor. Thus the Women’s CrossFit program was born. Taught by women for women, these classes combine teaching of fundamental movements with CrossFit style workouts in a more relaxed environment.
Since the start of this program, I have seen tremendous growth with more and more women giving CrossFit a try. So how are things going? From a coaching perspective, I could easily rattle off 10 or 12 words to describe the classes and how they have impacted the lives of so many wonderful ladies. However, my observations pale in comparison to what the women themselves have to say about the CrossFit Women’s program.
My unofficial survey of the women in these classes revealed nothing but positive thoughts. First, they described the workouts as challenging, yet exhilarating. These women feel strong, empowered, and energized during class. There is an amazing sense of camaraderie and community among the women that keeps them coming back for more. They always feel encouraged and motivated, even on days when they are tired or sore or the workout seems impossible. They are pushed to their limits and, as a result, grow both physically and mentally stronger.
Ask any one of the women and they’ll tell you that CrossFit isn’t as scary as they once thought. This concept of CrossFit that once seemed beyond their ability is now possible. This is exactly what we had in mind last summer when creating the CrossFit Women program. My vision for the future is that this program will continue to grow bigger and better and more women will come to know and love the CrossFit Women classes at Elite Athletic Development North Arlington Heights / CrossFit Arlington Heights.
By Josh Sroufek / CrossFit Performance & Programming / CrossFit Sectionals Team & Individual Coach
“What are you doing?”
“It’s called What Fit?”
“I don’t get it.”
“That can’t be for me. I’m just trying to get off the couch.”
How many times have you tried to explain CrossFit to family, friends, or colleagues and yet they still don’t seem to get it? Even after months of training at CrossFit Arlington Heights or CrossFit Axis, some still find it tough to define what they’re doing and how it’s delivered such great results.
By definition, CrossFit is simply a strength and conditioning program. It incorporates a variety of fitness domains including cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy. By using the CrossFit methodology, one stands to improve their individual level of fitness. What is fitness you may ask? Well from the words of CrossFit, fitness is increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Annnndddd …I just lost you.
In short, CrossFit gets you healthy and fit so you can get the most out of your life — whether that means a faster marathon, better endurance throughout the day, improved work performance, feeling more confident when you hit the beach, or because you’re bored with the same old “gym rat” routine. CrossFit is popular because it works. And it doesn’t get much simpler than that.
Here’s a little piece of advice the next time you describe CrossFit to someone: save your breath. Just tell them to grab their workout gear, a bottle of water and join you at Elite Athletic Development North Arlington Heights / CrossFit Arlington Heights or Elite Athletic Development Downtown / CrossFit Axis for a free class. There is no better way to explain CrossFit than to let someone experience it!