Reflection of the 2019 Open

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It is now a month after we wrapped up the 2019 “winter” Open. I say this because we will be gearing up for another 5 weekends of workouts in October. The new season format begins then. I am about to share some thoughts I have looking back at how the Open went this past February and March. I decided to look through each of the lens I have: Owner, Coach, Programmer and Athlete. They all blend together in some way but I separated these as best as I could to give some incite.


Owner

-  Going into the 2019 Open, I was relieved and excited that we found the right coach to join our team. Coach Kyle has been everything we wanted. He has life experience and plenty of experience coaching football as well as CrossFit. He is eager to learn from us and the way we operate. His positive attitude fit rights in and wants to be in the gym as much as he can. The start of the kids program has been popular and only growing. Welcome to the team Coach Kyle.

- This is my second Open as owner. We have had the luxury of having one of the best photographers in CrossFit on our coaching staff. Cleary always had his camera with him when he was part of our staff. This was a bonus for our members as well as the gym in general. I knew we needed to do something to make up for this loss. All the social media videos that have been made during the Open, the tips videos and workout demo/previews were made with iPhone stabilizer I decided to buy to see if it was worth it. Well it’s been a huge addition to our social media and I thank Colleen for making us look so good on Instagram and Facebook. 

Coach

- Coaching during the Open has been great. There have been less redos for open workouts than any other year I’ve been coaching. This is impart by how we have prepared and communicated to the members. It is also because we understand that the Open is a test. It’s not a “I don’t like my score, can I retake the test? Or retake it a third time.” We learn from our experiences and prepare for the future. We all have egos to some degree and we want to be proud of our performances. 

- Organizing the Open this year has been less stressful than the years past. I came up with the idea of movie themes to change it up and get more creative for the spirit each week of the Open. Dr. Jeremy and I bounced ideas back and forth to come up with the movies that we selected. The logos came out great thanks to EPG Designs which I have been using for 3 years now. 

- During the Open, I learned where most of our athletes need to improve. The combination of some movements paired as well as lack of strength or stamina in other movements had room for improvements. I immediately went to the drawing board and planned to implement ways to improve these areas in the class program.

Programmer

- I am proud of how prepared the gym was for the workouts this year. I am also a little shocked how completely in line I’ve been with them as well as main site. Dr. Jeremy and I meet pretty frequently to discuss various aspects of the gym. We take a look at the program quarterly and ask ourselves “what are the main focuses?”,  “what is the next event we are looking towards?”, and “how can we improve the gym, community and member experience.” We joke about how often we are head of the curve. I do get some program ideas from HQ but many of them were in our program first. All the strict gymnastics work was seen in our program a few weeks before main site started them. There was a deadlift 10s during our cycle of deadlift. The most recent was the 3x1000m Row. I programmed it and two days later, it was the wod on main site. 

- It’s tough to stay creative and I’m fortunate enough to have daily conversations with Dr. Jeremy to throw ideas around. I also look at past Open, Regional and Games workouts to find patterns in style of workouts and movements used. Main-site workouts are often overlooked but they have some great workouts that I have even used in the exact format. I plan to continue to use ideas from other sources, plug them into my style of programming and keep it well balanced. 

Athlete

- This has been the least stressful Open physically on me. One reason is because I wasn’t looking to place in the region and try to compete at the regional level. There are no more regionals. This allowed me to had no expectations and just have fun. It’s the first year to didn’t repeat a workout and I did each one on Saturday morning with the rest of our gym members. I really enjoyed it.

- Having experienced 5 Opens before this one, I had always watched others do the workout, strategized and planned how to a do the workout. This year was different. I did very little strategizing. I went off experience and feel for the most part. I also had other things on my mind for the entire month. I spent the entire month buying an engagement ring for Nikki and finding time to go design and go pick it up. It was not easy, as we spend a lot of time with or near each other. Nikki works in the clinic as a Acupuncturist and coaches one day a week. 

What I Learned from 19.5

Not too much to say about this beast.  Overall, I thought this workout was a great test.  It did its job. It separated people into very different tiers: The elite, the extremely fit, and everyone else :-). I’ll tell you what I learned:

I learned I’m more confident than ever in my thrusters. I’ve struggled with thrusters forever.  Being long and not extremely strong or fit doesn’t help. But I made a decision a few months ago to focus on this movement when it popped up class: bigger sets, pulling my knees back coming out of the bottom, bar resting on the shoulders, not in the hands.  It paid off. I’m not great but I’m better. My new found confidence, actually bit me in the ass as I dug a little too deep on a few sets which led to sucking a lot of wind and resting for a while,hahaha.

I learned I have ignored chest to bar pull ups forever and they’re not getting better.  See my 19.3 recap about strict HSPU for further explanation.

I learned thinking too far ahead in the workout can make you hyperventilate.  I had a moment after the round of the 15 thrusters when I looked at the clock, did the math and figured I had the chance to finish if I pushed.  The thought of pushing at that point actually scared me and I started hyperventilating and thought about quitting the workout. It was a weird moment.  It was real. I had to make myself do 1 pull up to snap out of it.

I learned self talk is a big deal.  This dovetails with the last statement.  Feeling defeated when I saw the time slipping away the voices in my head started chiming in with their thoughts about this performance.  This only lead to more rest between sets. Something that needs work, for sure

I learned that I thought 84 thrusters and 84 bar facing burpees would be the longest, most terrible open workout ever.  But there’s a new champ in town: This was way tougher.


- Dr. Jeremy Todd

What I Learned from 19.4

First a break down of the workout.

Part 1: There was a strength component to this part.  You needed to have a certain level of strength to get through 30 reps at 95# or 65#.  If you had the strength, then the workout came down to how much you wanted to hurt.

Rest:  How fast could you recover from how hard you just went?  Some people are able to “go there” for 2-5 min and rebound, others haven’t trained that ability to “go there” and some can “go there” but haven’t trained the recover part just yet.  

Part 2: Skill was the main limiter here.  Did you have bar muscle ups (BMU)?  Could you do big sets? Did you have to manage your fatigue?  Did you manage it well? How well you did on this part lies in answering these questions.

  1. I learned I’m only willing to push so far right now:  Yes it hurt.  Could I have made it hurt worseL Yes.  At this point in my training, I just wasn’t willing to go to that painful place of lactic burn.  This is trainable.  It’s not necessary for a functional human life, but it is trainable and something I want to get better at.  It’s just lower down on the list that some other things that have popped up this open.

  2. Rob had us ready… AGAIN:  We’ve spent blocks of our programming working on barbell cycling.  We trained bar facing burpees throughout the year (to a higher standard than we were asked to hit).  We’re working through strict gymnastics work and we’ve seen BMU throughout the year in conditioning.  So there really wasn’t anything we hadn’t dedicated actual time to getting better at, let alone seeing for the first time.  Hell, we’ve been doing similar time domains of work and rest once a week for the last month. Movements: Check, Energy system work: check.  Thank you Rob!

  3. I’m slow:  I watched the video Rob took of me doing the workout.  I thought he slowed it down.  Now, part of this is intentional: I’ve bitten myself with the injury bug hinging too fast in the past, so there is some self preservation happening, but damn, I’m not impressed.  I’ve got kids I need to out run in the future, I have to get on this physically and mentally.

  4. BMUs went better than expected:  I attribute this to the strict work we’ve been doing.  In the not so recent past we did a BMU workout that I started with BMU and quickly scaled down to chest to bar pull ups because they just weren’t there.  I had some good pop on this movement this week and was able to confidently hit sets of 2-3 each time I tried.  

  5. I still have a chicken wing on my BMU: but I noticed it’s coming from my hip drive not being connected to my shoulder.  I’m going to experiment with some one are hang to active scapula and improving my hip extension capability on the left to see if I can remedy this annoyance.

Again this week there were some things that I was happy about, there were some thing that I know I could do better.  There are some things I want to do better, but I have to understand that in my complete list of things that I want to do better at, where every thing sits.

Game plan: 

  1. continue with strict gymnastics work in class, make it up when if falls on my rest days

  2. move faster when applicable.  Not only within movements but also in our anaerobic interval work (which will make it hurt worse)

  3. add single arm hang to active shoulder and single leg box jumps to the “extra work” list

So what were you happy about with your efforts this week?  What do you want to get better at?  Why do you want to get better at it? Where does that stuff fall on your list of “things to improve”?  How do you plan on getting better at it.

- Dr. Jeremy Todd

What I Learned From 19.3

The quick version: I’m not very good at Strict HSPU hahahaha.  I had 4 minutes, I got 7, missed on 3 reps completely, no repped myself on one for skimming the mat and not making full contact. 

Upon deeper inspection there is a whole lot more I learned.

  1. You can’t get good at what you don’t practice.  This applies to everything in life i suppose.  I mean if you are attentively (very important modifier there) doing something often or every day, you’re going to get good at it.   Due to some previous neck pain from kipping HSPU, I had made a conscious decision to refrain from smashing my head into the ground with my full body weight on top of it.  In doing this I found myself, not motivated to go on days when there were HSPU, strict or kipping, and when I was there I would press instead.  Net result, sub 50th percentile in the open for this workout.

  2. I care about how I do in the open.  There I said it.  I got the feelings with this one.  I know I have the potential to do better here AND… I WANT TO do better.  You need both for progress.  If we see this again, I’m going better because I’m going to work on this consistently both in and out of class.  Now, I’m not going to make the rookie mistakes I made before and get all gung ho and over work myself for the next few weeks until the wheels fall off and then have to take a step back.  This time I trust the process: be consistent with class, execute with intent and based on how my recovery is doing and sprinkle in some extra work outside of class, in a very manageable fashion.

  3. All the single leg work has paid off. The leg work was not a big deal for me.  I wasn’t incredibly fast but I was happy with my tempo: switched overhead position every 25 feet without much delay, did all 50 step ups unbroken (just got a little slow at the end)  The soreness was still real the few days after.

  4. Fatigue accumulates in the open from week to week.  I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m finding myself more tired throughout the week and things feeling heavier right now than they did a few weeks ago. And I don’t ever re-do a workout.  I can’t imagine how people feel who re-do every workout.  They must have to kick intensity waaaaay down from week to week, or be so fit and recover so well that it doesn’t matter.  I also question how hard they go the first time…. but that’s another post.

  5. Rob had us prepared. In the last year we’ve gone through 2 step up strength cycles, a lunge strength cycle, 2 strict handstand push up cycles and practiced all movements multiple times in conditioning pieces.  There were people in gyms doing their first step ups on a box with weight last week, trying their first strict HSPU because all they do is kip HSPU.  The opportunities to practice have been there.  Rob gave us the answers to the test, it’s been up to us to study or not.

My action plan:

  • Get to class

  • Execute intent

  • Adjust effort based on recovery

  • Do a little extra work, but be patient with it

  • Do better in the future

What I Learned from 19.2

What I learned from 19.2

A cliche statement that I hear often is “You never lose, you learn”.  Although it’s cliche, I fully believe it.  I know a lot of people feel like they fail during The Open.  They should read the last article I posted :-).  But in all seriousness I want to share what I learned from doing 19.2 as this was a more difficult workout for me than 19.1.

All l learned from 19.1 is that my work on pacing for the last 6 months or so paid off big time.  I was able to complete the first 4 rounds in 4:23 and the last 4 rounds in 4:37.  My splits fell by an average of 3 seconds per round which is very consistent.  Don’t get me wrong, the last 4 rounds felt a hell of a lot harder but my work output was able to sustain.  Now I just have to improve my overall aerobic capacity and I’ll see more rounds next year.

Now, on to what I learned from 19.2 and what I’m going to do about it. 

Toes to bar: 
What happened:
First round 13-7-5 with times of break based on feeling
Second round: 5 reps every 20 seconds for 3 rounds, one set of 3, the last 7 as singles

I wouldn’t say this the major limiting factor in this workout for me, however improving these to finish in 3 sets each round would have helped save some valuable time.  Muscular fatigue of my shoulders and core were the limiting factor.  It’s also related to efficiency of my kip which could be better.

Things to work on: Kip efficiency (staying tighter in the arch, more endurance

Double Unders
What Happened?

1st round: 35-15 planned break
2nd round: 30, 7, 0, 3, 10

Also, not the biggest limiter but I could have found some time here if I were better.  I need to be more efficient, consistent and confident with this movement.  These haven’t been as crisp as they once were when I would practice them more, I need to dial in my jumping mechanics a bit better. These get especially tough for me when coupled with squatting activities so leg endurance plays a role as well

Things to workout: jumping consistency, especially under fatigue.

Squat cleans:
What happened:
15 cleans at 135# ~ 1:45
7 cleans at 185# in 1:30

Biggest limiter of the workout.  I could feel my legs fatiguing on the first round.  It’s not that the weight itself was heavy but doing that many reps at a moderate weight quickly, for me, was very fatiguing.  Leg strength and stamina have always been an issue for me.  Mainly because I’ve gone about trying to get both with a bad plan previously resulting in injury.  I’ve been shy to pump up the volume and intensity in squat patterns because of this.  However, over the last year and a half I’ve been able to train much more consistently due to a change in mind set.  With a better mind set and a better plan, I will attack this weakness this year.

Overall, I got about what I expected.  I wanted to get through the 13 cleans at 185# but I knew it would be a tall task.  At my current levels of strength and stamina I would have needed another minute plus of time on the barbell to clear the 185#.  My assessment is I could make up some of that time with by improving toes to bar and double under efficiency.  I could make up a lot of it by getting through the first round of squat cleans better.

Improving overall aerobic capacity will help as well, but this is a higher skill, higher strength workout, so while I was winded at the end my movement efficiency and leg strength were the biggest things that I took away that I can improve on.

Other:
It wasn’t ideal that I only got 5 hours of sleep the night before.  In an ideal world I would have gotten better sleep (I had interrupted sleep for some unknown reason) or I would have done it another day after sleeping better.  However, my schedule is such that I work on Saturday morning, have Saturday afternoon and Sunday for family time and work a full day Monday so based on my priorities, Friday morning after coaching the early classes is my time to do the workout.  If I had different priorities, my timing might be different.

What am I going to to do get better?
After all, if we want a different result we need to do things differently.  

In class: 

  • I’m going to focus on keeping tension in the arch anytime we kip, whether that’s in warm ups, technique segments or in workouts.  

  • When presented with the opportunity to power or squat Olympic lifts I will squat.  I need these legs to get stronger, so the more squat cycles I can (responsibly) put them through, the more I will move toward my goal.

  • I’ve been mentally focused on improving double unders in class for some time now.  It hasn’t gotten me to where I want to be.  I will need to practice more outside of class.

Out of class:

  • Toes to Bar: improving overall core flexion stamina with GHD work and practicing dense sets of TTB outside of class when it fits in with the week of programming. I’ll have to monitor when and how much kipping work  or sit up work we have during the week.  It would be a mistake for me to practice toes to bar the same day or the days before or after a lot of pull ups, muscle ups or other hanging from the bar.

  • Leg strength and stamina: We will be going through a front squat cycle soon, so getting to the gym on the days we work on squatting, making it up if I miss, adding a second light day of squatting 3-4 days after squatting in class will also help improve my muscular efficiency

  • Double Unders: Doing 100 DU for time after class 2-3 times a week.  I’m also going to test the strength of my left calf versus my right.  I have a feeling that there is a discrepancy, as my rope always trips on the left foot.

This is how I viewed my efforts.  I want to do better.  I need a plan.  I came up with one.  

Do you want to get better? How bad to you want to get better? What’s your plan?  Is it a good plan? Not sure what to do?  Ask a coach, that’s what we’re here for.

Do you want to maintain? Keep doing what you’re doing and let the program do it’s job

Were you just happy to see how you could do?  That’s cool too :-)  Keep on trucking!


- Dr. Jeremy Todd

Managing expectations. Managing disappointment.


The purpose of this post is to help you understand that we have enough stress in our lives.  We don’t need to add more to it by setting unrealistic goals for ourselves.  After all, Open workouts are physically stressful enough, we don’t need to add emotional stress on top of it.

Have you ever been disappointed by your result in an Open workout?  If so, take a moment and think about why.  Seriously, stop reading, close your eyes, dig deep into your memory bank and understand why you were disappointed before moving on.

Odds are, you didn’t achieve the number of reps or rounds, or lift the amount of weight you decided you should be able to do, and this was disappointing for you.  But how did you come to that conclusion? What led you to set that result as a line in the sand for self-satisfaction or disappointment? 

Do you know your wall ball cycle time? Do you know what pace you can keep on a rower for 15 min in cal/hour or m/hour or average watts?  Do you know how many chest to bar pull ups you can do in a row? Or how about how long can you maintain unbroken sets of 10 chest to bar when its coupled with burpees and power cleans?  Do you know how sets of 50 double under will effect your bar muscle ups and vice versa? You probably don’t, AND THAT’S OK most people don’t.  Even elite level CrossFit competitors might not know these answers, they often rely on their coaches to instruct them on pacing and expectations and/or go into a workout with a game plan simply to manage their fatigue.  So why then do you, a person who enjoys CrossFit as a training modality, not a profession, decide how many rounds you should do in an open workout? Honestly stop and think about how you come to your conclusions.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have goals, just understand that you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.  Understand The Open is a test of your physical and mental capabilities, not a measure of your self worth. Understand that you didn’t let down your coaches, your friends or your teammates by coming up short of your expectations.  You let yourself down by failing to attain an arbitrary goal that you came up with.

Moving forward, how do we get the most out of ourselves while managing disappointment?

  1. focus on the process: The Open is great way to learn to manage our emotions, our pacing, our expectations, and learn our limits.

  2. focus on our effort: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone do an open workout, writhe on the ground in a lactic acid bath for 5 min after, get up and say “I should have/could have done more”.  The fact is, you couldn’t have.  You were shot  You were laid out. You maximized your effort.  You should be happy with yourself.  You won the day.

  3. focus on moving forward: ask yourself what can I do in this next year to be better when that skill, weight, workout, couplet combo comes up again?  You are as prepared as you are for today.  If we want to do better in the future, we need to prepare better.

  4. be proud of where you are right now:  odds are you are fitter in some, if not all capacities than you were before.  And farther from a death from chronic disease.  You should be happy with that.

In summary, The Open is a litmus test to see where we stand.   At the end of a workout, if we don’t like where we stand, we shouldn’t get frustrated, stressed or down, we should get planning.  

Use The Open to focus on your pacing, focus on giving your best effort, learn from your efforts, be proud of what you were able to accomplish that day and make a plan to be better a year from now.  After all, you might see that same workout again, and how good will it feel to do even better being a year older?


- Dr Jeremy Todd

N̶e̶w̶ ̶Y̶e̶a̶r̶'̶s̶ ̶R̶e̶s̶o̶l̶u̶t̶i̶o̶n̶s̶ Creating Better Habits & Remembering What It’s Like to be a Member


It’s been five years since I consistently participated in CrossFit classes as members do. I began doing CrossFit movements in a globo gym in 2011. I never squatted heavy or learned the barbell movements. I became very good with body weight stuff and everything you call “cardio.” I joined Bay Ridge CrossFit in February 2013 and spent a lot of time there. I got my L1 two months after I joined and began coaching six months after that. I probably took class for a year before I started experimenting with other programs out there to get me competition ready. After I competed in regionals, it was “I need to do more, get stronger and train more often.” Long story short, the level competition got exponentially higher and I had not made the necessary choices to keep up.

These choices included how I spent my time other than training and what my diet looked like. You may look at me and say, “You’re so lucky. You can eat anything you want and still look like that.” At one point that was true. When I trained twice a day for 5-6 days per week, I embraced that and partied as much as I trained. I did not understand what was necessary to be able to return to the coveted regionals floor again. Aside from that, I did not understand the influence I had on others as a head coach and the leader of a fitness community.

Over the past couple years, I’ve made the choice to party a lot less and focus on making the gym better. I figured while I was in the gym so much, I have the opportunity to train more. This all got redirected when I decided I want to own this place. Right there, priorities shifted and being a competitor dropped down the list. I was okay with if knowing my capabilities and knowing I matured as a leader. I started taking more interest in my nutrition. I became more aware of what I was consuming and was conscious of what everyone was consumed too.

New year resolutions are often forgotten about. My plan as 2018 ended was to start January 2019 with the right mindset and good diet. After that, I wanted to take class again. My mindset has been great over the past year. Since being a business owner, I had read more and searched to listen to more podcasts and talks relating to business, more specifically the business of fitness. I understand how to better communicate with people and I truly enjoy my job as a coach. I did realize I needed to start walking the walk in every facet rather than just being a good athlete and valuable coach. My diet needed to be in check. I’ve heard, read and seen the results when someone is dedicated to their nutrition and recovery. When those stars align ( and believe me I know it’s a difficult task), the performance in the gym is better.  

It’s all about creating better habits. Tracking my nutrition consistently has never been an easy task. It’s been just that, a task. I tried in the summer of 2018 and of course I indulged in everything that Long Beach summers offer. I embraced that and enjoyed it. This time the goal was to begin 2019 by doing two things, track my macros with limited to no alcohol and take class more. I have created a better habit, thanks to Nikki who wanted to start tracking her nutrition again. I felt that I can benefit from paying more attention to my diet and knew that if I did this with her, she would be more likely to stay dedicated to her goals. I took a before photo and plan to take another photo after 60 days. I intend to keep this going after 60 days but I know that creating a sustainable habit take quite a bit of time. It is definitely not easy to always keep tabs on the amount of food I consume or the measurements. Nikki and I have a food scale that was less than $20 on Amazon. We look ahead for the whole week. Breakfast is more or less the same every single day. We plan out what we will have for dinner 5 out of 7 days and know what lunch looks like for a few as well. The rest is filled in day to day. Some days are way more challenging to hit my numbers. In the past month, we went out to dinner three times and had threes birthday celebrations. Those were the tricky times to track. So 25 out of 31 were tracked accurately. That’s about 85%. That’s a solid percentage and yes I’d like it to be higher. We have different goals as we track and sometimes completely opposite issues. There are times when she complains that she “only” has “x” amount left. At the same time, I complain that I need to still fit “xxx” before the day is over and it’s 9pm. Nonetheless, we are keeping each other on track and we both are feeling better about it.

To go along with my diet, I have taken class 23 times in January. This is definitely the most class I have participated in since my first year of CrossFit. The only extra exercising other than class over the past month was to do weightlifting homework or test workouts for class. I am having a ton of fun too. This is also giving me an opportunity to understand how everyone else feels from the program. Yes, I would test workouts but would not always know how members feel because I wasn’t testing it in the same flow of programming that they were doing it. I feel sore some day and great others. It’s important to be aware of your recovery as it relates to how you feel today versus yesterday and tomorrow. How much sleep did I get last night? How many hours did I coach today? Am I going to have the energy to do that workout tomorrow? Should I take today or tomorrow off? Or both?

Let me know if you have questions about what I’m doing or advice to create better habits for yourself.



- Coach Rob Moloney