Friday, July 31, 2015

Hoover Biscuits

For those of you that aren't avid Facebookers and may not have heard, we have a very special event coming up.  That's right, it's time to fracture those fingers, wrists, and possibly faces with another devastating round of Hooverball!  I was told to put together a post to provide you with the event details, and I plan to do just that ... and so much more.  You see, many of you probably don't have the encyclopedic knowledge of the rules and history of Hooverball that I do, so today I plan to educate you in hopes of broadening your horizons.

This is J. Edgar Hoover,  Inventor of Hooverball, Floor Sucking Devices (today known simply as "vacuums"), and the receding hairline.

It all started back in 1930, early in Hoovie's presidential term.  His personal physician started to notice that the president was turning into a bit of a fatty, as the stress of the presidency, founding the FBI, and blackmailing everyone around him began to mount.  A suggestion was made that perhaps J. Ed should take up volleyball to keep in shape.  "Volleyball!  Poppycock!" responded the president adamantly.  You see, at the time there were rumors about his sexuality floating about the halls of the White House, and he could not risk being seen on the beach in tight jeans high-fiving other men all greased-up in sun-tan lotion.

This is what is refereed to as an anachronism .... because Ray-Ban Aviators didn't exist in the 30s.

No, volleyball would not do.  He needed something dumber.  Something manlier.  Something with more unnecessary risk of injury.  Something he could get away with playing in the middle of winter in a 3-piece suit.  And then it dawned on him: let's just play volleyball with a 6 pound ball!  Brilliant.  However, his team of doctors advised against bumping and setting a heavy medicine ball, as it would risk injury to the president's hands - which he needed for torturing terrorists and signing bills and what-not.  So it was resolved to simply catch and throw the ball, instead of bumping it around.  Originally they coined the game "Volleyball for Dumbasses" but then decided after some debate to stick with the less controversial "Hooverball."  Thus, a national pastime was invented.

The game was massively popular from 1930-1931, mostly in the grounds surrounding the White House.  It resurfaced again in late 2006 when some CrossFit bro stumbled upon it and thought it looked "totes badass."

As far as strategy is concerned, it's very simple:  just single out the person on the other team that clearly can't catch for crap and throw every ball to them as hard as you can.  But you have to make it very obvious that you're doing so, otherwise not everyone will figure out that you're a jackass.  Please join us on Friday August 6th for some Hoover-rific fun.  The festivities start at 6 PM, at the sand volleyball Hooverball courts in Fenton Park.  BYOB and BYOF.  Steph will be adding Med-Ball-Launches-From-Across-The-Gym to her warm ups next week to help us prepare.  Hope to see everyone there!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Leave It To The Experts

It’s a pretty well-known fact that I read too much.  Well, let me clarify:  I read too much about fitness, nutrition, and weightlifting.  Articles and books about things like politics, religion, current events, pop culture, and history are really of no interest to me.   But is reading too much about the stuff I do choose to read about really an issue?  Well maybe, but mostly because 50% of the material I read contradicts the other 50%, and about 95% of all of it ends up being completely useless anyway.  But it helps me pass the time.

Why, what do you do on Saturday afternoons?

But every once in a while I do come across something that ends up being very beneficial and really sticks with me for a long time.  A while back I read an article on the top 10 things that make a good CrossFit gym, according to some “expert” (who was probably just some boner like me).  But one of the concepts that stood out from that article was actually related to what a CrossFit gym should NOT be, and that is a standalone entity.  The gym is … well, it’s a gym.  It’s a place to exercise, and our coaches and owners are here to help you do that, safely and effectively with the use of what we’ve learned both in a classroom setting and through our collective years of experience.  We are not chiropractors.  We are not physical therapists.  We are not dietitians.  And most importantly, we are not psychiatrists (that last one was a joke … sorta).

But really, if you ever need someone to just sit down and talk through your innermost feelings with, please reach out to Brian.

Here are the 3 main places where I tend to see the need for “outside help”:


Yes, it happens.  Every once in a while, something may get tweaked or twisted in the course of all this intense exercise.  Let’s not sugarcoat it:  sometimes shit is going to hurt beyond just a little muscle soreness and stiffness, and we may suffer a boo-boo that doesn’t want to go away.  Your coaches are there to help you modify your workouts by changing the movements to pain-free options, prescribing common stretches or mobility exercises, or possibly recommending a few days rest of the affected area to see if it heals.  But listen:  none of us has an advanced degree in biology and anatomy and 14 letters before our name.  I mean, have you ever seen the inner workings of your shoulder joint?  I’m not convinced the doctors even have a clue what’s going on inside that mamba-jamba.  If you’re suffering from some chronic pain or having an issue that can’t be fixed by a little rest, modification, or light stretching, it’s time to seek outside counsel.  And we are happy to recommend some great sports therapists right in the Kirkwood area (cough cough CIHP cough cough).

What’s that, your shoulder hurts when you hold it at a 47 degree angle?  Oh, I see the problem:  the end specs on your rotary girder are all out of whack.  Let me pop that back into place for you.


This is an area where I can see how one might mistake our trainers for experts, what with their rock hard bodies and beautiful skin.  Not to mention asses that just don’t quit, such as Ed’s.  But at the end of the day, the best we can offer you is advice based on our own personal experiences.  And hey, that might be good enough and just what you need!  But there’s also the possibility that your dietary needs might be a little more specific, and the advice I give you lands you with diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.  Again, depending on the severity of your particular circumstance (whether true or simply perceived) it may be advisable to seek help from an actual expert in diet.  Of which there are roughly 60,000 available online for a small monthly fee.

Shout out to my new nutrition coaches at Working Against Gravity.  They asked for measurements of my thighs, waist, and hips, but I only sent them ones of my calves with a giant red sign that says “FIX THIS.”  Good luck.

Weightlifting, Rowing, and Other Technical Stuff

This one is a bit of a double-edged sword.  Obviously your CrossFit class coaches are qualified to teach you the Snatch, Clean and Jerk, running, and how to function on the C2.  If not, we’d have fired their sorry asses years ago (ask Louis).  But you can only go so far within the confines of a 1-hour class intent on hitting several different domains of fitness.  This section is more to highlight the fact that we do have some true experts in our midst, and if you really want to focus in on particular skills such as the above, they are available for your utilization at different times throughout the week.  This is included as part of your membership of course, because we’re just really nice like that.  Tony is one of the most experienced weightlifting coaches in St. Louis the World, and he holds class every Sunday at BARx.  We also have other barbell-focused classes throughout the week.  Janeann is an ex-collegiate rower and a great coach, if you’re ever looking to shore up your technique on the erg.  We also offer additional mobility and endurance classes led by coaches who are very dedicated to their craft.  Please reach out to these experts if you’re ever looking for a little extra focus .... hint:  you should be.

And just kidding Lou.  We still love you bro.  Sorry, this was the best picture I could find of your face.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Solving The World's Problems

There's a lot going on out there in the world these days, and sometimes I feel we need to tackle the big issues head on.  Typically I don't know (or care) what's going on in the news or the rest of society outside of my little sphere, because who has the time?  That is, until the other day when I became the victim of a racist comment.  And I never even saw it coming.  Brace yourself for some harsh language:  somebody told me that I didn't look like a weightlifter.  As these situations tend to go, it took a minute to set in ... hold up, are you implying that all weightlifters look the same!?!?

Because I think this 5'0" 110 pound woman and 6',6" 417 pound man would beg to differ.

I hate to blame the victim, but this one was probably my fault.  I should have never been discussing weightlifting with a normal human.  That's like driving down wrong side of the highway with your eyes closed.  The conversation actually revolved around back injuries, which most people suffer from when doing things like getting out of their car or mopping the floor a little too vigorously.  Us lifters tend to get them occasionally by pulling heavy bars off the floor or doing 150 kettlebell swings.  And I'm sure we could argue all day about which path to injury is better (note to self: do that someday).  Unfortunately this isn't the first time something of this nature has happened to me.  A while back, one of my (female) friends asked me this question:  if you squat so often, why are your legs still so skinny?  Back then, I didn't have the wisdom and self control that I do now, so I answered with the following:  my legs are skinny for the same reason your face is so ugly; genetics.

On a related note, all that overhead pressing still hasn't filled in my hairline, wanna rub that one in too?

As with all of my silly anecdotes, there is a story here about the bigger picture.  All of this got me thinking about why I lift weights in the first place, which is pretty important considering I do it most every day.  You see, in the psychology world there are two types of motivation:  intrinsic and extrinsic.  I think those are just fancy words for internal and external, but what do I know seeing as I barely passed pych 101 and college and did so by cheating.  The main idea here is that you can either lift weights because you want other people to be impressed and know how awesome you are, or you can lift weights because you effing love it or have another deeper personal reason for doing so.  Now I'm in no position to say which type of motivation is better, but it does seem that one of them leads to a lot more useless social media posts.  If I was externally motivated for example, I may have answered that weightlifter comment with something like "yeah, but I can snatch my bodyweight!" and then pulled up my InstaGoogle account and scrolled through 400 videos of me lifting with my shirt off.  This would have only led to more stupidity and questions, because ultimately nobody really gives a rat's ass what you can do except you.

Oh you did a barbell workout yesterday?  Well these cats are cuddling with each other so GFY.

Perhaps you have also fallen victim to some prejudicial comments in the past.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  For women, the weightlifting stereotype tends to be of Svetlana from the Ukraine combing her mustache prior to a 400 pound clean and jerk.  And for men, it's the general bodybuilder image that has been burned into the public's brain for the past 50 years.  Oh you strength trained yesterday?  Well you must suck at it, because you aren't strutting around in a banana hammock flexing your airbrushed 9-pack ... Loser!  It's up to us to fight these stereotypes the same way I propose we fight all of the evils of society:  just ignore them and go on living your life.  And maybe occasionally help those wienies when they need something heavy moved.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ed's Favorite Things

Well, this weekend was it.  It finally happened.  I walked into the gym early Saturday morning, and Ed had completely snapped.  We all knew it was only a matter of time, and quite frankly I feel we're lucky we made it this far without an incident.  But the tides have turned.  You see, ever since we made the move to Old Big Bend, it seems Ed has been overly preoccupied with two things: 1) Working on "dat ass" with endless sets of high-rep Good Mornings, and 2) Being completely anal about our equipment placement and space utilization.  Today we're going to talk about one of those things.

Hint:  It's not this.  As an aside, in my attempts to amuse and educate on this website over the years, I'm come across some disturbing things during my Google searches for the perfect image.  But none more disturbing than "Brazilian Butt Lift."  You've been warned.

The irony of this post is that - as Maggie will happily tell anyone within earshot - around the house and anywhere else in life, organization doesn't seem to hit Ed's radar at all.  But at the gym, for some reason it's "a place for everything, and everything in it's place."  As I listened to him rant on Saturday morning, I became concerned that if I didn't address this soon, the "everything" would be his foot and the "place" would be someone's ass.  Here are a couple of his favorites, in no particular order:

The Director's Chair

Personally, I like the feeling of power I get sitting in this chair between the blocks.  It's sorta like a throne with lifting blocks around it, from which I can look out at the masses while they lift yet also be partially protected by my fortress in the event of a Nerf attack from a neighboring crossfit.  However, this is not where the chair belongs.

I also tried explaining to him that we programmed 5 sets of 5 "Seated Director's Chair Presses from the Blocks" earlier in the week, but he didn't want to hear it.

The Plates

On this one, I've got to cut the guy a little slack.  Let me break this down for you:  when Ed we purchased the trailer (which is a post all it's own) a while back, we also purchased some shiny new plates.  When we moved to the new space, it was decided to remove the new plates from the trailer and add them to the gym, because they hadn't been used except that one time when we actually utilized the trailer.  This has opened up a wide array of issues which I'm almost certain are keeping the man up at night:  piles of plates not aligned with other plates (despite the most advanced in PVC technology), old plates and new plates co-mingling in the stacks and on barbells, and for some reason we have an odd number of 15s now.  But he decided to let ALL OF THAT SLIDE.  Instead, the sole complaint was the willy-nilly fashion in which the beater plates were tossed behind the blocks.  And I can't say I blame him.

Not only is it unorganized and unsightly, but it's also a major trip hazard for the 3 people that actually use the blocks.

Band Etiquette

This one has been mentioned before, but for some reason it continues to prove incredibly difficult to untangle your rubber band and put it back where it belongs after your workout or stretching.  This one has always perplexed me, and here's why:  for all practical purposes, you literally have to remove yourself from the apparatus - which is wrapped around or supporting some part of your anatomy - and then just walk away from it.  To me, it would be a comparable situation if you decided for some reason to take your pants off during the WOD, and then afterwards you just looked at them lying on the floor and walked right out of the gym pantless (Donald Duck style).  I just can't wrap my head around it.

Also, I need help understanding the double-stack J-hook.  This is becoming increasingly common.  What's going on here?  Are we using them as steps to climb up the rig?  Are you working with some sort of U-shaped barbell that I haven't seen yet?  Or are you just doing it to piss Ed off, in which case I totally understand.

I hope it doesn't seem like I'm coming down too hard on you.  I think we all understand how important it is that we keep Ed happy and healthy and around the gym.  After all, without him, we wouldn't have that super expensive trailer-shaped billboard out front, nor would we be gawking at that fantastic Beyonce-style booty during our 5 am workouts.

I don't think you're ready ... No, you're definitely not ready.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Clear The Runway

We all know there are certain quirky things that we (Tim) will get upset about seeing around the gym from time to time.  Some of them are because they're destructive; things like dropping an unloaded barbell or throwing the kettlebells down on concrete.  These are somewhat important.  Other issues are just flat out annoying, like loading a barbell with 4x10s and a 5 instead of a 45 or not placing the barbell on the platform with a symmetrical amount of space on either side.  These are less important, as much as it pains me to say.  And then there are those things that are dangerous.  These items may often seem like they are related or possibly even fall into one of the first two categories, but make no mistake that they are in a world all their own.

Something like this world.

Unfortunately I don't have time to dive into all of the unnecessarily dangerous things you like to do, line item by line item.  So today I will just have to focus on a big one that I've been noticing a lot lately that I don't think I've previously given any attention to:  clearing your lifting area, or as I like to call it - your runway.  It doesn't matter if the lift is a squat, a press, or a max effort snatch, all too often I see people lifting weights with other weights, water bottles, phones, or small children standing in the direct path of the barbell should an unexpected miss occur.  Why is this an issue?  Well I'm no scientician, but sometimes when you drop something into another something, it can cause a ricochet which can lead to some unexpected results.

Ever had a barbell bounce back into your Tibia?  Of course you haven't, or else you'd never leave stray plates lying around again and we wouldn't be having this discussion.  It only takes one.

To define the runway, I'm talking specifically about the area directly in front of and behind you where the barbell could likely fall if it were to be dropped.  This area should be clear of all paraphernalia and debris at all times.  We have a fair amount of space in the new gym now, so feel free to use an extra two inches on either side of you to push those plates away and avoid some serious calamity.  To be on the safe side, you should probably get into the habit of doing this all the time, not just when you think you might miss.  Stronger men/women than you have dropped a barbell or two when they were least expecting it ...

Except this guy.  This guy never misses.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Do You Even Recover, Bro?

As you all know, one of my favorite things to do is take other people's work and make fun of it.  The reasons for this are twofold: 1.) if you can't keep a sense of humor about whatever it is that you're doing in this life, you've already lost and 2.) one day I hope to be cool enough that people make fun of my stuff.  Last week I stumbled upon a chart that can be used to gauge your recovery after a hard workout.  AKA, putting numbers on something which is absolutely impossible to put numbers on.  Of course I immediately fell in love.  You mean to tell me that not only can I put my workouts in a spreadsheet, but now I can put my recovery in a spreadsheet as well??  Be still my heart.

This is the chart, for your reference.  Courtesy of Breaking Muscle.

The general idea is to score a total of 1 each day in order to be completely recovered.  Some of it makes complete sense.  Some of it raises certain questions ....

Compression Garments:  I'm going to need a more in-depth explanation here.  Are we talking boxer briefs, or those little $200 tights I see some of the guys prancing around in?  Also, my work shirts get tighter and tighter every day, at what point do they become "compression garments"?

Normatec MVP System:  I have no idea what this is, and I'm too lazy to Google it.  Sounds complicated and expensive.  Update:  I Googled it.  It is incredibly complicated and expensive.

Imagine two giant voodoo band leg casts hooked up to an air compressor.  And it requires NASA clearance to operate.  Ed's only question:  do they make one for your arms too?

20-minute gentle walk:   VINDICATION!  I knew it!  I was so far ahead of the curve, everyone laughed in my face.  You all chucked as I circled the parking lot 4 times in the hundred degree heat. Well here we are.  Turns out if you can work two of these into your day, you no longer need sleep.  That's how effective they are.  Chew on that for a while.

Alcohol:  -0.25 seems like a reasonable figure ... If you drink like a sissy!  Clearly we run with very different crowds sir.  I'm going to reassign alcohol a recovery factor of -3.0.  This should fully account for the internal damages done, as well as the few wasted days following a noteworthy binge.  Also, what happens if I drink heavily while sitting in an ice bath?  Does the polarity reverse?  Now things are getting interesting ...

30-minute nap:  What kind of world do you think we live in?  Yes, I'd love a 30-minute nap or two every day.  Along those same lines, I've discovered through ample research that a 30-minute Unicorn Ride down a Rainbow has a value of 0.65.  Come on.

At the end of the rainbow:  gainz.  And apparently Batman.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Fine Line Between Being Smart and Being a Weiner

I am very proud of the culture we have at our gym.  It is one where we encourage growth and development within a framework of lifting smart and listening to your body.  And all the while maintaining a focus on refining technique and learning proper movement.  But like anything else in life, there is a balance that needs to be struck here.  It's impossible to "listen to your body" if you get into a habit of never really asking it any questions.  What do I mean by this?  I'm talking about the difference between putting yourself in uncomfortable situations and putting yourself in dangerous situations.  Obviously, we want you firmly in the uncomfortable range.

Which is why we left the AC off for so long.  It had nothing to do with cost, or the fact that nobody knew how to turn it on.  On an unrelated note:  when are the good folks at Hylete going to send some free swag my way for all the damn business I'm sending them??

As we all know - from many experiences - too much of a good thing can easily end up becoming a bad thing.  Focusing on technique and not allowing your working sets to degrade into complete crap are obviously good things.  There is always a line, and sometimes that line is pretty thin:  5 more pounds on the bar, another 30 seconds of work without resting, or maybe just one or two more reps.  On one side of the line is your safe and sound technique, and on the other is something that would cause your own mother to make a negative comment on your Facebook post.  The goal here is to walk as close to that line as humanly possible, not to shy away from it completely.  Putting yourself in that uncomfortable zone (right before the nastiness starts) should not be a place that you are afraid to go.

That last set felt pretty good ... but if I add more weight, I might actually have to do some work.  And nobody wants to see that.

Sometimes you just may surprise yourself.  I want to give you an example from just last week.  This individual came into the gym feeling particularly beat up and crappy towards the end of the week.  The first lift of the workout was supposed to be Snatch doubles up to a max effort.  After a slow start and a pretty shaky warm up, the weight on the bar settled at about 70% for a couple sets.  Technique was still solid and the bar was moving pretty well, despite feeling like crap.  At that point it was resolved to go ahead and ask the question; put some weight on the bar and see what happens.  If there's a miss, then walk away and call it a day.  20 minutes later, they have a PR double with zero misses for the day.  That's like making apples out of lemonade, or something.

This is the extent of my knowledge on lemonade.  Totes Paleo though.

The point is this:  it's supposed to be hard!  Yes, we want you striving for perfection in all that you do ... but don't mistake that as an invitation to take the easy way out.  Don't ever be afraid to ask the question.  Happy lifting.