Accomplished EAD | CFAH athlete Ann Marie N once feared the Barbell.

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Al W credits his Strength & Conditioning work with helping him power through another cyclocross race.

Al W credits his Strength & Conditioning work with helping him power through another cyclocross race.

Al W Credits Strength & Conditioning with Success On, Off Bike

admin : September 24, 2014 3:31 pm : News

This is another in a series of personal reflections contributed by Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. Al’s first foray at EAD | CFAH was back in 2007 when he dropped in for a CompuTrainer ride. In the years since, he’s rounded out his training schedule with CrossFit, Strength & Power, Strength & Conditioning, Mobility & Recovery, and Sport Yoga classes. Al credits training at EAD | CFAH with increasing his durability and resilience in the very demanding sport of competitive cyclocross. In just over a year, Al has increased the 1RM on several lifts key to his cyclocross performance — something he believes makes the difference on and off the bike. This is Al’s story.

AlDropQuoteBack in 2007, a friend from my bike club asked if I had tried out this thing called a CompuTrainer at this new place called Elite Athletic Development. I didn’t know what it was, but he convinced me to go there one evening and give it a try. I had been getting more involved in mountain bike racing for a few years, and after meeting Jim and going for my first CompuTrainer ride, I realized that here was a training tool that could take me well beyond what endless spin classes would. Thus began four very constructive years of sweating hard, pushing watts and getting stronger on the bike.

EAD | CFAH athlete Al W puts his Strength & Conditioning training to the test.

EAD | CFAH athlete Al W puts his Strength & Conditioning training to the test.

While I was pushing myself on the CompuTrainer, on the other side of the gym were these people making a lot of noise dropping weights on the ground, grunting, climbing ropes, playing with tires and sledge hammers and jump ropes. I learned that these people were called CrossFitters. Meanwhile, I had started to race cyclocross, a sport that demanded that I not only pedal hard but jump off the bike and carry it up hills and over barriers — all as fast as possible, then repeat. Again and again. Jim had been suggesting that CrossFit might be something that would help me in cyclocross and I knew that he had coached a couple of “crossers” a few years before and so was familiar with the sport’s demands. At the same time, I was starting to be aware that as I got north of 60 years old, I needed to start paying attention to strength, not just for my sport but for general quality of life. The older people I saw taking falls were clearly not the strong ones. So I started doing some CrossFit and while I was enjoying some benefits, the WODs were working me so hard that the recovery time required was costing me time on the bike. Not a perfect balance. Then EAD | CFAH introduced the Strength & Conditioning class and I found just what I needed.

Al is a testament to the importance of shoulder mobility, whether during a lift or celebrating on the podium.

Al is a testament to the importance of shoulder mobility, whether during a lift or celebrating on the podium.

I did find out that there was a universe of stuff involving barbells that I don’t know but could learn. Who knew that Olympic lifts were so hard to do correctly? You want me to go down how far on a Squat? Shoulder mobility has something to do with a Front Squat? Why can’t I do an Overhead Squat? My core gets stronger doing Cleans and Snatches? Pull Ups make my abs stronger?

In two months, I learned that the ability to jump out of the saddle and sprint on the bike was materially enhanced by a Deadlift. I continue to find benefit from Squats, Cleans, and Snatches every time I need to jump off, shoulder the bike and power up a hill. I practice bike handling all the time and that means that I hit the deck once in a while. While I can’t prove it, I believe all the strength work has made me a little less injury prone when this happens. Bruises and abrasions one can live with, broken bones will wreck your season.

In January 2012 I had the opportunity to race Cyclocross Nationals in Madison. I got to the start line with 28 other 60-64 year-olds from all over the country and raced a course that was covered with snow; ice; frozen, rutted mud; regular mud covering the frozen ruts; and a whole lot of climbing. I finished 9th in that race in front of a lot of guys who were probably stronger pedalers than because they were hitting the ground all around me and I was staying on the bike. I don’t think it’s an accident that my strength work played a part in that success.

My cyclocross season is about to start for the  year and I’ve worked Strength & Conditioning harder and longer than previous years. Thanks to Becky’s help (Jim, Karen and Scott, too) my Snatch 1RM is up 10 percent; Clean 3 percent; Press 21 percent;, Bench Press 8 percent; Deadlift 14 percent;, Back Squat 15 percent; and Front Squat 14 percent. I can’t wait to go to Nationals in Austin this coming January with all this new-found — but hard-earned — strength and power.

Have a success story you’d like to share with the EAD | CFAH Community? Let Coach Karen know … we’d love to hear from you!

2014 – 2015 CompuTrainer Session Dates & Pricing. Questions? Email jim@eadperformancecenter.com
10/13 – 11/09 4 weeks
11/10 – 12/21 6 weeks
01/05 – 02/15 6 weeks
02/16 – 03/29 6 weeks
03/30 – 04/26 4 weeks

4 week sessions: 1x/wk $85, 2x/wk. $160
6 week sessions: 1x/wk. $125, 2x/wk. $240

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Ann Marie Rewrites the Script on Her Fitness Story.

admin : September 10, 2014 5:56 pm : News

This is another in a series of personal reflections contributed by Elite Athletic Development | CrossFit Arlington Heights athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. When Ann Marie N dropped in to check out the new fitness studio near her home in August 2011, she never imagined that Coach Jim would put her to the test that very moment … a workout that would start Ann Marie on a journey to redefine her body composition, reduce her cholesterol by 30 points, and well-deservedly exclaim that “my arms look freakin’ amazing!” Ann Marie is a doting aunt, loving wife, giving friend, active community volunteer, culinary whiz,  avid gardener, proud member of the EAD | CFAH Buttercup Brigade, and accomplished actress. Once defined by others, she has rewritten the script on her fitness, and now boldly sets an example of strength and beauty for her fellow athletes. This is Ann Marie’s story.

Scrawny.
Skinny.
Tiny.
Little.
Itty-Bitty.
Thin.
Petite.

Those are just a few of the adjectives people used to describe me from childhood through most of my adult life. At one time, each evoked a different and negative emotion for me. What a difference a year (or two or three) makes!

Accomplished EAD | CFAH athlete Ann Marie N once feared the Barbell.

Accomplished EAD | CFAH athlete Ann Marie N once feared the Barbell.

When I first stumbled across Elite Athletic Development, I was really just looking for a routine change. A workout that I could stick with and that wouldn’t bore me. I didn’t have any weight loss goals. I didn’t really have any specific goals whatsoever. I just had a vague idea that I was not as healthy as I could be and that I needed to do something sooner rather than later (I wasn’t getting any younger!).

I walked the two blocks from my house to the storefront on Dunton Avenue. I told Coach Jim I wanted to hang out and watch a class; instead, he threw me into the Dynamic Warm Up & Workout of the Day. By the end of the class, I was exhausted and exhilarated. Still, I had no idea just how important this place would become. I had no idea what inner and outer strength was in my future.

AMNDropQuoteLooking back, my early training schedule was somewhat bumpy thanks to a crazy schedule, tweaked hamstring, adjusting to the College Drive move, and a very real fear of the barbell. But every time I got discouraged, lazy, or distracted, there was someone there to encourage me, motivate me, push me harder, and help me re-focus. The 9:30 a.m. ladies embraced my loud & quirky ways and made me feel like I could conquer anything. Coaches Jim & Josh convinced me I could lift heavy S&it, and could increase my overall fitness with strength training. Instead of feeling intimidated when lifting with “the boys,” the men of EAD | CFAH were my biggest cheerleaders.

It has been more than three years since I dropped in to Coach Jim’s class. I’ve had knee surgery. Outside demands on my time and health have been rough. Life is always chaotic. But every time I walk through the doors of Elite Athletic Development, I am home. It is my therapy. My entertainment. My “all-about-me” time. My realities (46 years-old, 5’3”, 110 lbs.) are now just side notes. No excuses. No boundaries.

It’s hard to believe I once feared a 35-pound Back Squat, let alone hoisting a weighted barbell in to an Overhead Squat. I didn’t think it possible to dig deeper or be prouder than when I posted PRs for a Strict Press (55#) or Deadlift (155# Deadlift). I was thrilled with one strict Dead Hang Pull Up. Little did I know those accomplishments were just the beginning.

Since committing to a mix of CrossFit classes and Strength & Power (and now Strength & Conditioning) classes, I boast a 187.5# Deadlift … and I am quite certain I will one day pull double my body weight. I consistently see technique gains & weight increases on all of my lifts. I can knock out 5-6 Strict Pull Ups, with a goal of reaching 10. My Box Jump is 28.5” with a goal of 31.5″, or half my height.

I have also seen improvement in my overall fitness capabilities. More endurance. Mostly Rx. I am always surprised when I realize I can do something new, like a Handstand Push Up, simply because I am stronger. I still have things to learn — a Muscle Up, Rope Climb, Kipping — but nothing seems impossible.

DSC_4506-3130636250-OFit.
Strong.
Fierce.
Bad Ass.
Proud.
Confident.
Athlete.

Those are the adjectives people now use to describe me … and more importantly, that I use to describe myself.  Add in sheer gratitude, and you have my story.

Have a success story you’d like to share with the EAD | CFAH Community? Let Coach Karen know … we’d love to hear from you!

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New! Strength & Conditioning Cycle Starts Week of September 1.

admin : August 24, 2014 12:40 pm : News

StrengthConditioningCyclePromoBe sure to check your email for the August – September EAD | CFAH Newsletter with info on the new Strength & Conditioning Cycle, and much more!

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