The first part of this post is going to have very little to do with me as a competitive exerciser, and more about the community of exercise that I coach everyday – the CrossFit community in particular. I know it is very cliché at this point that CrossFit is so successful and awesome because it provides a “community atmosphere”. The competitive part of me, the part that treats exercise like a sport where I want to viciously demolish everyone, cannot stand to hear that. However, the part of me that is a real person, an exercise scientist, a personal trainer by profession, and someone who has experienced this amazing community in both my greatest victories and my lowest days cannot deny the fact that THE POWER OF COMMINUTY is stronger than anyone could ever imagine. If this idea intrigues you, here is an amazing book on the subject – some incredible stories and people are between these covers.
This past weekend I competed in a 4 person-COED competition called Flex on the Beach in Long Beach, NY. One of the best run events, and most amazing atmospheres I have competed in to date. We were literally ON THE BEACH, like a few feet from the amazing Atlantic (see pictures). I was teamed up with my boyfriend, and our two good friends (Coach) Dan Tyminski and the pretty Ricklynn Long. We won, and had an awesome time. We have dubbed ourselves the “cohesive unit” and I absolutely love traveling around and exercising with them. But standing atop the podium was definitely not the best part of the day (weird right!). The best part was that I got to see athletes that I coach every day compete for the first time. There were three teams from the gym that I coach at, Cow Harbor CrossFit in East Northport, NY. Basically, for months I begged them to come compete and promised them it would not be that stressful and would be a ton of fun. (It helped that the event offered a post competition pub-crawl included with registration fee) So after some convincing, the 12 of them decided to compete. This was their first competition, but also a first for me. It was the first time I was coaching any of my athletes in a competition setting. The first time in my short CrossFit life that I now got to experience what my coaches experience as far as strategizing, worrying, and going over and over things in my head that I want to tell them.
But after being there, and getting the event underway I realized it really was about more than how my athletes exercised that day (I, myself, am a different story — in my mind it was very much about how I exercised that day). See, I really wanted them to do this event, because I knew it would grant them something way beyond competitive exercise. I knew it would bring them closer together and expose them to the strong emotional bonding that happens at these little exercise events. I knew it would allow them to appreciate their time in the gym everyday, and the people they spend it with even more and motivate them to trust in CrossFit and want to get better everyday.
Once the soreness from competition day and the pub-crawl from that night wore off, my athletes were back in the gym working hard this week. They are excited, motivated, experienced, and closer than ever. They have bonded as a group because they now understand each other on a different level. If you are a CrossFitter and cannot understand this, I suggest you find a local competition and register to compete with a few of your buddies. If you are not a CrossFitter, it is understandable why this may not make total sense to you – and to that I say try the cult out. Age, race, gender, religion and any other social grouping gets thrown out the window when shit gets tough – and as a human the most amazing feeling is fighting a battle with other humans on your side. I will go more into this in a future post.
For those of you interested in the actual exercise portion of the weekend, here were the workouts and my team’s results on each one.
Workout 1: for time
50 Toes to Bar
40 Deadlifts (225/155)
30 Burpee Box Jump Overs
(every teammate performs the whole workout, you cannot move to the next piece until the teammate in front of you is off of that piece)
FINISH TIME: 14:56 (1st)
Workout 2: for total weight
Power clean – Front Squat – Jerk – Back Squat – Jerk
Dan – 315#
Adam – 275#
Nicole – 195#
Riki – 145#
TOTAL WEIGHT: 930# (1st)
**next two workouts done in the sand**
Workout 3: 7 minute AMRAP for 1) total snatches and 2) total carries
Buddy Carry about 30 yards
KB Snatches (24/16)
*while men buddy carry down and back, females snatch, when men get back, females carry and men snatch)
TOTAL SNATCHES: 192 (tie 2nd)
TOTAL CARRIES: 28 (tie 1st)
Workout 4: for time
(Probably the silliest workout I’ve ever done in a competition but it made for some good laughs and heavy breathing – any kind of sand sprints are hard!)
Each team was given one 5 gallon bucket and three very small buckets. There was a garbage pail about 30 yards away. FILL THE PAIL WITH SAND AS FAST AS YOU COULD. Every athlete can only have their hands on one bucket at a time.
FINISH TIME: 2:37 (6th)
Finals Workout: for time
30 yard yolk carry (180/100), everyone must carry a 30 yard length
Then, broken up however you would like amongst the team
40 Muscle Ups
80 Snatches (155/105)
FINISH TIME: 11:14 (1st)
This is my favorite picture from the weekend. It was after we won the final workout.
In other news, I am 4 days out of my American Open qualifier and first weightlifting meet EVER. I am stoked, a little anxious I guess – but really more just excited at the opportunity I have in front of me. I took Monday as a rest day after my competition. I’ve also taken my foot off the gas slightly this week, but have still hit some sweet bar complexes at my opening weights for this weekend. So I’m pretty game day confident. Because I am still an exerciser first, I have kept up with my met-cons, however have dropped some of the weights and reps where appropriate in preparation for Sunday. I’m pumped and so thankful for the coaches I have helping me through this. Hopefully next week I will have some awesome news for you all.
Recently, I made the decision to try and qualify for the American Open. The American Open is a national level weightlifting meet that features the best in the sport and allows them to go head to head to see who can put the most poundage (or kilos I guess) overhead using two different methods: the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. This year it is held in Dallas, TX in early December.
But wait, I thought I was a “Crossfitter”. I am, competitive exercise is currently my sport. However, for the past 6 months-ish I have been following the programming of Rudy Neilsen’s Outlaw Way. This programming is geared toward crossfitters looking to succeed at the regional and games level by putting significant emphasis on the Olympic lifts (Snatch & CJ). The reasoning behind this being that 1) teaching an athlete how to properly perform the olympic lifts teaches them an immense amount of body control, force production, and rapid muscle fiber recruitment – all very valuable in the sport of exercise and 2) many events that we do in competition contain these lifts in some form. Needless to say, following this programming day in and day out I have grown to really appreciate these lifts and have seen significant improvements in my numbers. I have also watched some big names in the CrossFit world like Elisabeth Akinwale and Lindsey Valenuzela have great success in both the sport of exercise and the sport of weightlifting and to me that’s pretty damn cool.
A few weeks ago, on two separate occasions I had some friends who know the sport of weightlifting ask me if I was going to try and qualify for the American Open. I laughed both times and told them I was an exerciser, not a weightlifter. Then, about a week later, after thinking about their comments almost every day I realized how silly I would be to not look into this more. So I did some research and number crunching (by number crunching I mean converting lbs. to kg.) and came up with this:
I weigh 150 pounds which would put me in the 69kg weight class.
My current PB total (snatch and CJ combined) is 355lbs (161.3 kg).
The qualifying total for the 69kg weight class is 152kg or 334.4lbs.
I realized I would never let this escape my mind if I didn’t actually pursue it. I ran it by a few of my coaches and got enthusiastic affirmations from them, which solidified my ideas. So here I am. I am registered for a qualifying meet on September 22nd in my hometown and am pretty stoked. Of course nerves come and go, they always do with me. I think this time they’re here a little more because this is so new to me. I literally have NO IDEA how a weightlifting meet works. I am learning more and more everyday in preparation and I am even starting to finally understand kilos!
For those of you who are unfamiliar (like I was a week ago) with how a weightlifting meet runs I will give you my best rookie rundown. You have 3 attempts at each lift. You must declare an opening weight (first attempt) and then after that can decide what you would like to have on the bar for your second attempt. Ideally I want to hit my openers, then qualify on my second attempts. In the event that I miss my second attempt, I would have my third attempt to try again. The end goal (for me) is to complete two lifts – one Snatch and one CJ – that will combine to equal 152 kilograms. I am still unsure if a singlet is required though.
My workout regiment will change very little in the next two weeks. I will continue to follow the Outlaw Way programming for the most part. Between now and then I have to decide on an “opening weight”. Thankfully I have some great coaches in the sport helping me with this. My conditioning pieces will not change (after all, I am an exerciser first) and my supplemental gymnastics work that I have recently added into my programming because of specific weaknesses will continue. That’s what was one of the coolest parts of this new venture – I am prepared without even knowing it.
However, what I think THE coolest part about this whole sport is: when I step out on that platform, none of this really matters. My current numbers don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if my current total is 50 pounds over what I need to qualify. If I don’t successfully complete the lifts there, that day, I don’t qualify. The gutty performance aspect is there – and I’m always up for that test.
This is going to be a ton of fun.
On a different note — I competed with some awesome people this weekend at the Fall Faceoff in Albany NY. Here is my boyfriend Adam (yeah, were lame and matching), my good friends Riki and Brian, and myself on the podium (Coach Daniel not depicted). We had an awesome podium finish taking home 3rd, and had a hilarious time all weekend.