Archive for July, 2014

Commoditized Ideas

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 17 2014


“Knowledge is subtractive, not additive – what we subtract (reduction by what does not work, what not do to), not what we add (what do do).” -”The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

You can look at this as a mirror image of the health and wellness question in terms of positive empiricism, or searching for data and finding something that supports your model. My second biggest concern in my business is convincing myself that a certain model works and sticking with that model regardless of evidence. Every major post-Descartes philosopher repeatedly cautions against this because it is part of human nature.

Taleb’s has another quote from TBoP, that describes this problem elegantly: “We humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life into commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on occasion, has explosive consequences.”

I see this a lot with the Paleo Diet, the Paleo Challenge, and CrossFit because people generally don’t accept “you should do it because it works.” The major challenges I get are based on “commoditized ideas” about saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease; calories in versus calories out; and “that looks dangerous!”

Those models are all critically flawed, as they put a pattern together in a way that’s comforting to the psyche but wholly inaccurate. And the explosive consequences are evident (at least to those that have changed their thinking and embraced a Paleo/CrossFit methodology): sickness and decrepitude.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140107]

Manipulating Surroundings

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 16 2014


“Unless we manipulate our surroundings, we have as little control over what and whom we think about as we do over the muscles of our hearts.” -“The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

This is an important factor in and out of the gym. For folks traying Paleo for the first time, it’s critical. Nobody, contrary to popular opinion, has self control. If you have crack and hookers in your house, you’re probably going to try some crack and hookers.

Same goes for your training, and that starts with having the time to do it: if you’re job or your family is keeping you from training as much as you want, then your options are either demand more time to train or accept that your priorities are job/family and than accept there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you adjust your expectations to your training frequency.

Once you’re in the gym remove distractions. Show up on time, have all the gear you need handy, don’t bring your phone to the training floor with you, pay attention to the athletes around you, and listen to the coach.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140113]

Paleo Works

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 15 2014


The single biggest reason to join the Paleo Challenge is…..completely different for everybody. Some folks want to get #sexyasfuck, some want to live a longer and healthier life, some want to win money, some want to prove me wrong (that Paleo doesn’t work). Whatever the reason, what I’ll guarantee is that you’ll see a significant observable, measurable, and repeatable improvement in how you look, feel and perform by doing the Paleo Challenge.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140106]


Training vs Sport

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 14 2014


Good post here by Chris Spealler, long time CrossFit Games competitor, on training CrossFit as a recreational sport versus training CrossFit as a way to get/stay in shape. There’s also some stuff in there about training CrossFit as a Games competitor.

My guidance for each of these athletes is:

1) The CrossFitter who is just training to get/stay in shape.
a. #justshowup
b. Have fun.
c. Eat Paleo!!!!!
2) If you are training CrossFit with the idea of doing an occasional competition, keep the following in mind:
a. Everything above.
b. Make sure your expectations and reality are in sync. Slow steady progress is doable. Miracles don’t happen overnight.
c. Don’t practice “CrossFit Numerology/Movementology”. I mean don’t obsess about “I have to get a 400 lbs squat…” or “I have to get a Muscle Up.” Working on your weaknesses is good, but you need to be good at everything. Work on your weaknesses, but don’t make yourself crazy.
d. If you have stuff that you know is going to hold you back, show up on the days we have that stuff. If you can’t do that, hit us up for some personal training sessions where we can work on some of your weaknesses specifically by emailing
3) If you are training for the CrossFit Games:
a. You’re not going to make it. Take up watercolor or interpretive dance.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131230]

Stick Around If You’re Happy

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 11 2014


I do a lot of business consults with folks looking to open their first CrossFit gym or expand their current gym to multiple locations, bigger locations, etc. What I try to get across to them is that how they shape their gym is how they will shape their clientele.

When we discuss this, I mean mainly in the selection and retention phase. Each individual gym attracts a certain type of client for a variety of reasons. We’ve tried to select and retain folks that want some the following as their priority:

1) Location
2) Convenience and flexibility
3) Clean and organized
4) Well Run/coached group classes
5) Thoughtful and effective programming

Now if none of these things appeal to you as much as other priorities, you might want to look at some other options. For instance, if you really need accountability and personal attention you might be more comfortable in a personal training setting and you can see our schedule here. If you’re really interested in becoming pursuing CrossFit as a competitive athlete, you can take a look at our competition team here.

People make choices for all kinds of reasons, so maybe none of the above apply to you at all. I’d just say if you’re happy, stick around. If you’re not, try some other stuff.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131217]


CrossFit Successories

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 10 2014


Gift giving is apparently a thing this year. For those of you that are looking at CrossFit #successories here’s some things to think about:

1) Don’t try to successorize yourself out of a serious mobility issue. Wrist straps, knee sleeves, lifting shoes, etc, will not fix the root cause of your issue.
2) Don’t let nagging issues stop you from training if you can train without pain with some simple accessories.

I know: these are seemingly contradictory. But you can do both these things at the same time and if a strap or some shoes keeps you training and doesn’t exacerbate the issue, seems like a not so terrible idea. As always, post to comments if you have questions about this. Here’s my list of top things I’d want as a CrossFitter:

1) Shoes. I’d recommend a good pair of Nano’s or Inov-8’s that you can wear every day.
2) Weightlifting shoes. Lots of good ones out there, Reebok’s seem pretty good.
3) Jumpropes. I know that $15 can seem like a lot, but if you have to have the right length jumprope (which you don’t) then buy this.
4) Wrist Straps. These are pretty cheap and seem to help folks a lot.
5) Rock Tape. This stuff really does some good stuff for a lot of minor issues.
6) Rope Climb leggings. These are a good piece of gear that won’t take up a lot of space in your gym bag and do a great job of protecting your legs during rope climbs.

If you’re a novice CrossFitter, you will look really stupid wearing a ton of accessories. Resist the urge.

What other stuff do you guys find useful?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131216]

No Such Thing as a Snack

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 09 2014


For folks that are looking for weight loss as their primary goal, we do a “modified” Paleo Diet. In this model, we remove all starchy carbs (think sweet potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, etc) except for a fist size portion in their post WOD meal. We encourage as much meat (especially fatty meat) as they like, and in addition to the removal of grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar, we eliminate nuts and fruit.

A lot of people get a bit peeved when they hear this. They seem to be able to deal with the new diet fairly well, but eliminating fruit and nuts pushes them over the edge. The issue with fruit and nuts is that they are both significant doses of sugar.

Usually the next question I get is “but what do I snack on?!?!?!?!” I have a few answers to this:

1) Meat and veggies. In this version of Paleo there is no such thing as a “snack”. There is just bigger meals and smaller meals. These meals include meat and veggies.

2) Don’t snack, eat more at meals. If you’re hungry between meals, eat more at your meals. #mindsplosion.

3) The reason you have a hard time giving this up is that your body currently runs on sugar and these are “Paleo Delivery Vehicles” for sugar. Progress = Compliance.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131126]

That Wasn’t Hard Enough

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 08 2014


I occasionally get comments at the end of workouts that a particular WOD “wasn’t hard enough.” This is mostly from folks in their first few months of CrossFit.

There’s a couple things going on here:

1) As a new athlete, you don’t have the ability to “get up and go” yet, you don’t have a 3rd or 4th gear. There is just no way for you to push yourself hard enough on every workout to really get uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing in a lot of way because….

2) Dose response curve. The way that we try to make use of this is to find the minimum amount of work you have to do to get the best results. So like I mentioned last week, judge us by the results you can measure, not by how you “feel.”

3) Injury prevention. We want you to come workout several times per week, the only way you can do that is by moderating your dosage. I talked about this a few weeks ago. It’s better to come 5x/week and go at 90% than come 2x/week and go 150%.

This is really where coaching comes in. Many athletes that should be pushing harder don’t, and athletes that want to push harder shouldn’t. You should try to figure out which one of these you are and talk to your coach about the best approach to the WOD for you.

Have you had this issue? Did it go away when you got more experience CrossFitting?

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131125]


Serving Needs, Not Wants

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 07 2014


Pleasing everyone with our program is not our goal. One of my artistic mentors* Joss Whedon once said, “I give them what they need, not what they want.” We try to do the same.

The best way to determine if our programming is working for you is progress. Some of this is really easy to measure, some not so much. You can keep track of your strength numbers very simply. If you write down your squat, DeadliftPressPush Press, jerk, clean and snatch every time you do it, you’ll either see improvement or if you don’t, you should determine from this that our programming sucks. The same goes for conditioning benchmarks. If you’re not seeing progress on Fran, Cindy, Grace, Murph, etc, than we also might suck.

On the flip side of this, I get a lot of questions like “how do I improve my endurance?” or “how do I get better at pushups?” The answer to both of these is the same: #justshowup and eat Paleo.

If you don’t believe me fine, but I have no incentive to dupe you. The beauty of the Crossfit gym model is that our success as a business is measured by your success as a client.

*My other artistic mentor is James Brown.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131118]

Get Started by Writing a Check

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 04 2014


There’s nothing stopping you from starting a “Paleo Challenge” right now. I mean like this minute, going “I’m going to eat strict paleo for 30 days.” All you have to do is look here for the five or so pages of info you need to get started, and do it.

And by nothing, I mean nothing but our shared genetic programming which makes something like this nearly impossible.

The biggest thing I think is missing in just doing it (even though you know at some rational level that you should do it and you’re killing yourself faster by not doing it) is skin in the game. There’s no immediate downside.

Something I’ve used on a variety of occasions is a pure skin in the game challenge for individuals. I do absolutely nothing for them except take something they want and not give it back until the end of the 30 days. This mostly included large checks made out to the Ku Klux Klan, Nancy Pelosi and Sara Palin. If you don’t do Paleo for 30 days (and I’ll know if you don’t), I mail the check.

So if you want to start before our next Challenge in January, hand a buddy a check to your most hated individual/group and get started.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 131112]