Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Unlimited Plus | Part II

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 02 2015


“We laugh, we cry, we are born, we die.

Who will riddle me the how and the why?” –Alfred Lord Tennyson

We talked a little about the “why” yesterday of the Unlimited and Unlimited Plus plan. Now I want to talk about the “how”.

With the Unlimited Plus membership plan, you get to sit down with a coach each month and plot out a personal training plan. This may include our normal Workout of the Day classes, as well as our specialty classes. It can also include classes at our partner gyms. Details of all of that are here.

Some typical examples of what we see in our normal personal training athletes are folks that are looking at building some combination of barbell strength, gymnastic skill, mobility or conditioning. So let’s take a look at a typical client’s list of weaknesses and goals and come up with a plan.

Jack is an average athlete that’s been training with us for about a year, but he continues to have issues with the olympic lifts. The reason for this is a combination of factors that include inexperience, technique issues, and mobility. So what we would do with Jack is first do a test and have him attempt a one rep max Snatch and Clean & Jerk. We would provide technique advice during his warmups and max attempts and do some mobility tests to determine what body parts were causing his mobility limitations. We would then lay out a plan for Jack for one month and then retest.

Let’s assume that on the technique and mobility issues Jack had an issue with pulling early on the snatch and clean, tight core and hips, and receiving the bar with locked out arms in both the snatch and jerk. Jack’s plan would look like this:

Monday: WOD

Tuesday: Open Gym

  • Every 2 minutes for 10 minutes: Push Press + Push Jerk (building in weight)
  • Every 2 minutes for 16 minutes: Strict Press x 2
  • Every minute for 10 minutes: 2 x Strict Pullup
  • 3 minutes each side psoas mobility
  • 3 minutes each side shoulder mobility
  • 3 minutes thoracic spine mobility
    Wednesday: Open Gym

  • Every minute for 10 minutes: Clean Pull x 2
  • Every 2 minutes for 12 minutes: High Hang Clean x 2 (building in weight)
  • Every 2:30 for 15 minutes: Front Squat x 3 (building in weight)
  • 3 minutes each side psoas mobility
  • 3 minutes thoracic spine mobility
    Thursday: Rest Day

    Friday: WOD

    Saturday: WOD

    Typical we would see significant improvement by just adding some volume in the basic barbell lifts and mobility addressing his individual issues. In one month, we’d almost definitely see improvement across all of Jack’s issues and we’d adjust the training plan to fit the results we were seeing.

    There’s no long term obligation with Unlimited and Unlimited Plus, so if you’re interested take a look here and as always feel free to post to comments or drop me a line.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150702]

    Top 5 Reasons to Not Start CrossFit

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    May 28 2015


    We don’t really “sell” our product in a traditional way. I teach most of the free classes and all we do is give the prospective clients a short period of instruction and assessment and then give them a short beginner CrossFit workout. If people want to come in and have some questions answered about CrossFit, I tell them “I hear it’s good” and then steer them to the free class.

    Most folks that are interested in starting or maybe have just started have a few common reasons why CrossFit isn’t for them:

    1) It’s too hard. It’s not “too hard”, but it is harder than what you’ve been doing. But we offer a training program. This isn’t a common globo-gym experience of “come in and fuck around” (or more accurately, pay them for a year of access to “come in and fuck around” time and don’t use it). It’s also not a common “fitness class” in that I don’t care if you “feel like you worked out”, I care about training you. A big portion of this will be integrating you into our effective training program and modifying it to fit your ability. This will still make it hard, but it’s also what makes it effective. If you want results, you have to work for it.

    2) It’s too expensive. Our average per hour class price is $15. This is cheaper than most yoga, spin, barre, or whatever else you’re going to go to. It’s also much cheaper than a personal trainer. In addition, you get the group environment with a score which will push you much further than anything else: “Men will die for points.”

    3) It’s too hard to make time for this. It’s 3-5 hours per week out of an available 168 per week. Even subtracting 10 hours per day for work and commute and 8 hours per day for sleep, you have 62 hours a week to work on your fitness and crush it at Ballroom.

    4) It doesn’t compliment my current routine. This is because your current routine is probably stupid. If you are training for a marathon or doing back and bi’s/chest and tris, you’re not actually doing anything that will improve your fitness. So the best way to fit our program into your program is just do our program.

    5) I’m afraid I might get injured. You probably will, but it will also probably not be because of CrossFit. Granted, we’ll push you, but we also have extremely experienced coaches that can work around pretty much anything. So as long as you can a) check your ego and not have to do what everybody else is doing and b) talk to and listen to your coaches when they give you guidance, you’ll be able to keep training and getting better.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150513]

    Education and Trust

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Mar 04 2015


    “The authority of those who teach is very often a hindrance to those who wish to learn.” Michel de Montaigne, “On the Education of Children”

    We try to strike a delicate balance in teaching you how to do CrossFit. Much of what we do could be considered techne, which is “craft”. We are trying to get you do “do” CrossFit well.

    We don’t spend a lot of time on episteme, or “justified true belief.” You either want to be there or you don’t. If you do, we are going to get you to spend as much time as possible on the art of CrossFit. And we’re also going to try to let you explore CrossFit in a way that excites and interests you.

    Much of my coaching cues as I’ve become more experienced in coaching end with “let me know if that’s better or worse.” Meaning, “did you get more weight”, “did you go faster”, “did it feel more comfortable?”

    If the answer to those questions is yes, than maybe what I told you is good for you. If not, than we need to try something else. My skepticism of both my doctrinal beliefs, or episteme, and my specific coaching cues has grown rather than lessened over my now six and a half years of coaching CrossFit as a full time job.

    I’ve seen a lot of stuff work, and a lot of stuff that I thought would work not work. Part of this is the shared experience, between teacher and student, of learning. “The tutor should make his pupil sift everything, and take nothing into his head on simple authority or trust.” We have a wonderful laboratory where we can collectively try new things, practice them, and get accurate measurable, observable, and repeatable data. This is wonderful for me in terms of both learning about human nature and learning about human movement.

    The goal of this is the same goal that Montaigne lays out in his education: to be free. I take this to mean, in terms of human movement, free to accomplish whatever task we wish to accomplish or more importantly, that which we need to accomplish. Whether that’s snatching your body weight, running a Spartan Race, losing 15 lbs, or getting a sub-4:00 “Fran”, we hope that we’ve equipped you with the tools to pursue those goals. We also hope that you can go through your day pain free, you can play with your kids, you can pick up a bag of groceries, and you can have some self-confidence in your abilities.

    Whatever your goals or necessities, remember to try to have fun while you’re doing it, follow the courses that intrigue and excite you, and don’t believe me unless you have overwhelming evidence that you should.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150304]

    Keep Calm and Get Fired Up!

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 17 2015


    Love me some Ted Lasso. But the point is that you both need to chill the fuck out about new years resolutions and figure out what motivates you to show up to the gym.

    This is a constant puzzle that we try to figure out: how to get people to have fun (and hence keep coming) and how to get them to work hard. Lots of different schools of thoughts on this, but I think a lot of it comes down to the individual. There’s a great piece in the book “From the Horse’s Mouth: Selected Thoughts on Small Unit Leadership” about this very conundrum.

    The basic gist is that a Civil War general has three regimental commanding officers, and he knows that to be effective he has to give them each different orders. The first CO has to have everything spelled out to him, and he’ll execute exactly what you want him to do, no more and no less. The second CO hated to be told what to do, he only wanted to be told what the end state needed was and wanted to figure everything else out himself. The third CO had to be told the exact opposite of what the general wanted. The general would frame it something like “Colonel, there’s just no chance that you could take Hill 172 by 1600 on Tuesday, it’s impossible.” The Colonel would then move heaven and earth to prove the general wrong, which is what the general wanted in the first place.

    Generally, I think having fun and getting people results is a good start.

    Russ Greene had an interesting take on this with respect to a recent T-Nation article:

    “Quit trying to make exercise fun” – Dr. John Rusin
    “Have fun with it.” – Rich Froning.
    Hmmm. To whom to listen?

    And I agree, so we try to make class fun, but we also try to tailor the class experience for each individual. I talked about this before in “How To Teach a CrossFit Class.” Our coaches are expected to engage with each client individually and try to address that specific client’s needs on a one-on-one basis. While the group class limits that ability to a degree, with time and commitment on both the coaches’ and athletes’ parts, you should be having fun and seeing progress.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150114]

    Why Benchmarks

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 13 2015


    Our programming over the next year will be giving you an opportunity to see moderate results over a short period of time. The goal of this two fold:

    We want to see if more focus on one movement will get you mastery quicker. While this makes sense intuitively, because of the nature of CrossFit and the nature of human performance (e.g., it’s reliance on variance), we’re going to see if it’s true. While focusing on one thing will probably make you better at that one thing, do we lose something by focusing less on variance and overall performance and/or do we increase our incidence of injury because we aren’t getting enough balance in basic human movement. Meaning if you’re really good at pulling, but you suck at pushing, does that imbalance cause more problems than getting you better at pullups and muscle ups creates?

    We want to give experienced clients more time to focus on complex movements and new clients a chance to get to a basic level of ability. If we can take an experienced client from two muscle ups to six and get a new client their first Muscle Up, that’s good stuff! Let’s find out of it works! (which it probably will because I don’t do the programming, Maria does, and she’s smarter and better looking than me).

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150108]

    More on the ‘Idea of Fitness’

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 12 2015


    “One way to see it is to look at the two gym brands commonly cited as the fastest-growing in America: CrossFit and Planet Fitness. Both are expanding like crazy. CrossFit has gone from having 13 affiliate gyms in 2005 to 10,000 today. And Planet Fitness has more than tripled in size over the past five years.” –”The Rise of the $6000-a-year (or $120-a-year) gym”, New York Mag

    Some of you may have seen the recent New York Magazine article comparing the growth of low cost and high cost gyms. What this article does a moderately good job of doing (while relying on sticker shock as well) is to further dismantle the idea that you can get fit with a low cost option.

    This is obviously self-serving, but I’m writing on a CrossFit blog as the owner of a CrossFit gym, so yup, I’m biased.

    What I tell a lot of my fellow CrossFit gym owner, interested investors and people that will let me hear myself talk is that there are really only two options in the fitness market: products/services that make you fit and products/services that make you think you’ll be fit. I usually just start with a list and ask them: “What do you buy if you want to get fit” and they give me a list like:

    -Globo gym membership
    -Personal Training
    -Fitness DVDs
    -Yoga/Spin/Pilates Class

    Then I ask them “do you know anybody that’s gotten fit from buying these?” The answer is almost universally NO!!!!

    This is analyzed better in a recent NPR’s Planet Money podcast “Why We Sign Up For Gym Memberships But Never Go To The Gym“. This story explicitly and accurately explains the globo gym model:

    1) “Gyms have built their business model around us not showing up.” You are our advertising. When you come into work after a 30 day Paleo Challenge or after 2-3 months of CrossFit and you look like you’re wearing your older brother’s hand me down clothes, people ask “what are you doing?!?!?!” and that’s how we get clients. The only way for you to get those results and for us to get more clients if for you to show up.

    2) “So gyms try to attract people who won’t come.” We don’t really have a “sales pitch”. The only thing I’ll tell somebody about CrossFit is “I hear it’s good”, that’s my hard sell. We get them in for a free class, we punish them, and if they like it they come back. They know exactly what they’re getting into.

    3) “Our brains want to be locked into annual contracts with gyms.” We resisted doing contracts for a very long time, but since most of our members were hanging out for 1+ years, we finally decided to reward them, but still have a month-to-month option, which I encourage most folks to take.

    4) “Just when we try to get out, they feed us, massage us and ply us with alcohol.” While we (I) do try to ply you with alcohol at every opportunity, this is more for me to be able to charge the business for my drinking requirements than getting you to stick around (more tequila for me if you leave!!!).

    5) “Without slackers like us, gyms would be a lot more expensive.” At our prices and with our flexibility in contracts, there are very few people who are subsidizing the rest. But the whole reason we are “more expensive” than gyms is because we don’t have 10 people paying for a membership for every one person that shows up.

    Which brings me back to my opening questions. The reason you’re seeing a rise in CrossFit gyms globally is because most folks are selling you “the idea of fitness” and we’re selling actual fitness.*

    *Not the first time I’ve tackled these topics (The Idea of Fitness).

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150107]

    Training Through Injury

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Nov 18 2014


    I’ve trained a lot of folks that have been injured and admittedly it’s challenging for me as a coach, but much harder for the athlete. The thing that I think is most important in keeping folks training in general is seeing tangible progress and being a part of the group. Without this anyone would get discouraged.

    Our training is geared for progress for the able bodied athlete. When you’re injured, that structure gets replaced by something that’s effective, but not in the same way for everyone. For instance, if you have an upper body injury that keeps you from pushing and pulling, your structure is going to be built on much more lower body training (I get it, these are keen insights…..).

    I’ve created and executed a ton of training templates for folks with injuries and seen tons of progress in terms of both healing the affected body part(s) and in building strength/endurance in the healthy body parts. But folks don’t want that, myself included. We want to be doing the same thing as everyone else and doing it well, seeing improvement. It’s tough to come to the WOD classes and do something different.

    So if you’re injured and getting discouraged you have two options:
    1) Suck it up, #justshowup, and do what I tell you. You’ll get healthy and you’ll still see improvement, just not the same as everyone else.
    2) Sign up for personal training. This way we can create an independent structure for you that will show you tangible progress in what you need specifically.
    3) Take a break and see a professional. Our in house chiro, Dr. Jordan or massage therapist Dave Marsh are here to help!

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 141113]

    You Are All Unique and Beautiful Snowflakes

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Sep 09 2014

    We talked the other week about obsessing about single workouts, numbers or movements and how it can be detrimental to your long term fitness. This week I want to talk about how you can attack a weakness in a very simple and effective way: by adjusting your warmup.

    Every day we do a warmup of barbell skill, core movement, upper body push and upper body pull. The goals of our warmup are:



    • Provide a moderate amount of intensity through a low volume of functional movements to prepare soft tissue, joints and CNS for high intensity/high volume functional movements.
    • Use moderate intensity functional movement as a screening for the rest of the WOD. If something hurts during the warmup, we try to fix it through mobility, sub movements in the WOD, or send you home because you’re too broken.
    • Practice functional movements as skill work.



    With respect to the last piece, warmup as skill work, it’s very easy for us to adjust your daily warmup to try to improve certain movements. I often have new members just do overhead squats or front squats every day vice attempting a Hang Squat Snatch or Snatch Balance. I also have people work on their kipping Pullup or strict Pullup or toes-to-bar or pushups every day rather than whatever push or pull we have on the board.

    This is really easy for a coach to diagnose and give you some advice, so just post to comments and we can help you with your goals.


    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140901]

    Sport Specific Training: Ski Season

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Sep 08 2014

    Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 6.44.14 PM

    We’re very happy to announce some free sport specific training classes for both our current members and prospective members starting September 20th at Potomac CrossFit(and October 11th at Patriot CrossFit and November 15th at Hudson Trail Outfitters). Our good friends at Hudson Trail Outfitters are sweetening this deal by giving away discounts to everyone that attends and raffling off a bunch of ski gear for the upcoming season.

    What we’re going to try to cover in these classes is simple: how CrossFit can help your skiing. One of Coach Greg Glassman’s first world class athletes that he trained as a client was Eva Twarkoden, who won the bronze at the 1985 World Championships in the Giant Slalom. The Women’s US Ski Team trained with Coach Glassman briefly and while they saw terrific improvement in their skiing with the addition of CrossFit in general, they found that adding significant volume of pullups had the best correlation with improvement on the slopes.

    So the dirty little secret of these workouts will that they will be sport specific, but only in that we’re going to find the common issues that we’ve seen with skiers and explain how they can be fixed with CrossFit. We’ll see common mobility problems, such as extremely poor hip mobility, lack of strength (believe it or not) in unilateral movements such as the Pistol and lunge, and awful explosive power (even though skiiers usually spend a lot of time doing plyometrics).

    While each athletes is different, athletes in certain sports display similar issues. But through regular training in CrossFit and addressing individual deficiencies we can improve your fitness, improve your skiing, and make you more fun to be around (because you’re just going to talk about CrossFit all the time with your friends….).


    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140828]

    “Single White Female” CrossFit

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Aug 28 2014


    The things that I’ve seen lead to the most injuries are athletes fixating on one thing that they “should” be able to do, and not remembering that fitness is by definition your ability in “broad time and modal domains.” But athletes say “fuck that, I want to do 30 Muscle Ups for time” or “fuck that, I want a 400 pound squat” One workout or one movement doesn’t make you a better athlete, being passable at a lot of things does.

    I’ve had two serious injuries in my CrossFit career and they stem from these two fixations. When I started CrossFit in 2006, I really wanted to be able to complete the “30 Muscle Ups for time” WOD that I’d seen on the main site. I geeked out on Muscle Ups a lot (here’s me doing some sirious video analysis in 2008 at the Pullup bars behind my job site). After attempting that workout in 2008, I’ve had sirious elbow issues ever since.

    Last spring I was really frustrated at my squat numbers because I couldn’t get over 385, so I added volume by back squatting and front squatting every week without taking any back off weeks. The results of this has been over a year without normal heavy squats. I’ve worked up to being able to 3x5x245 Box Squats because my knees can’t handle normal weighted squats. I did thrusters for the second time in a year last Tuesday, but could only do 75 lbs because my knees couldn’t handle 95 lbs.

    We want you to attack your weaknesses, but we don’t want you to be totally obsessed with them. Yes, you should come in on days that there are movements that you are weak at. But no, you shouldn’t be staying up at night thinking about how bad you want a 400 lbs squat. You need to listen to your body and not be crazy.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140814]