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]

    Unlimited Plus | Part I

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Jul 01 2015


    “It is not by wearing down into uniformity all that is individual in themselves, but by cultivating it and calling it forth, within the limits imposed by the rights and interests of others, that human beings become a noble and beautiful object of contemplation.” -J.S. Mill, On Liberty

    Believe it or not, this sums up our approach to pretty much everything at PCF. From your training to our membership policies, we want you to flourish, grow, evolve and succeed in your own unique way. The only limits placed on this is the impact it has on others.

    This goes for coaches, our training space, and other members. We put a price, a communication of the value of the time and energies of our coaches and the use of our space, on the time that you can make use of them in a group or in a personal training session. The goal of our policies is to maximize the freedom you have to make use of these. We also try to make it easier for you to make use of that freedom, so long as it doesn’t impact our other athletes.

    As Murray Rothbard states, “Freedom, then, is needed for the development of the individual, and such development also depends upon the extent of the division of labor and the height of the standard of living” [Freedom, Inequality, Primitivism, and the Division of Labor]. Which leads us to a discussion of our new Unlimited Plus and Unlimited membership tiers.

    We get that some people like to do “more” conditioning or gymnastics or strength. While we believe doing all these things, and especially focusing on your weaknesses, will make you a fitter and healthier human, we want to make it as easy as possible (i.e., give you the freedom) to find what works for you. Whether that’s just doing more classes like Oly or Strongman, or doing more classes like Endurance or Sexy Metcon. We are also responding to market signals and broadening our reach by partnering with other boutique gyms. So if you want to do Yoga (or Spin, which should be forthcoming), then we want to give you that freedom.

    We also want you to work on your goals and weaknesses if they lie outside of those classes by getting personal training and time to practice on your own. That’s where the personal training portion of Unlimited Plus comes in. Each month you’ll get to meet with the same Coach and plot out a training plan that’s layered on top of our normal programming to meet your needs.

    Unfortunately for most of you, the only analogy I can use is the Liberal Arts. Right now I’m on a big Montaigne kick. Now is modern(ish) Spanish Enlightenment philosophy my weakness? Not really. If I really wanted to work on my weaknesses I’d work on greek or Kant. But I’m diggin Montaigne right now, so focusing on that. Similarly I’m interested in doing more lifting and gymnastics skill work? Do I need to work on that? Probably not, but it’s keeping me in the gym more often and I’m enjoying doing it.

    So with Unlimited and Unlimited Plus you’ll get the opportunity to work on your weaknesses and/or work on what will keep you happy and hungry to get into the gym. So take a look at our new plans and let us know if you have any questions feel free to post to comments or drop me a line.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150701]

    Water Intake, Salt Intake, and Junk Science

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    May 29 2015


    With summer coming on, many of you are probably worried about taking in enough water throughout the day and especially at workouts. But you shouldn’t.

    The idea that you need to be drinking the recommended “at least eight glasses of water per day” for health and performance results is a) based on junk science, and b) contrary to what we’ve seen succeed for our athletes. As Mark Sisson notes, “…there is no evidence that drinking eight or more glasses prevents constipation, kidney stones, bladder cancer, urinary tract infections or that it guarantees you’ll have clear skin and a toxic-free liver….On the other hand, there are some possible health consequences of overdoing this hydration thing. Chronic over-consumption of water can cause the relative concentration of important electrolytes in the blood to drop, a condition called hyponatremia, which in turn forces water out of the bloodstream and into cells, causing them to swell. Not a big deal for a muscle cell, but catastrophic when it’s a brain cell and there’s no extra space to expand into.”

    This leads us to a topic that CrossFit has taken head on: sports drink companies marketing to athletes and the net results being common issues of cramping and in more serious cases Exercise Associated Hyponatremia (which can lead to what Sisson is describing above: swelling of the brain, and possibly death).

    Further, many of you have been probably told by your doctor or seen information in the media warning you about excessive salt intake. The science behind the salt is dangerous for your health has been thoroughly debunked by Gary Taubes as far back as 1998. But health professionals and media continue to promote this concept.

    The combination of lowering your salt intake and raising your water intake can combine to create a dangerous results. You should drink when you’re thirsty and eat Paleo. If you begin cramping in a workout, you should NOT drink water. As Arlington starts to heat up, you may want to increase your salt intake by simply adding salt to your meals. For some of our more active members, you may want to have some Endurolytes before an especially long workout as well.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 150507]

    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]

    Say It or Be A Fraud

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 25 2015


    “If you see fraud and don’t shout fraud, you are a fraud.” -Taleb

    Part of what first interested me in Paleo and what honestly continues to interest me most about reading and studying about the diet is the ethical coda above. Gary Taubes was the first person to come on my radar in his article “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?” in 2002. The biggest eye opener in the piece is not that fat is good for you, but that Ancel Keys and then George McGovern manipulated data and public perceptions in order to get Americans to eat a way that dramatically aided large, government subsidized food companies and caused the death and disease of millions of Americans. Taubes went on to write “Good Calories, Bad Calories” which is a beautifully written book that expands on these themes as well as the good science and bad science done around human nutrition.

    The second great body of work and someone who was willing to stand up and say “this is a fraud” is Lierre Keith in her book “The Vegetarian Myth”. Lierre was a vegan for almost 20 years. She accepted the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle and paradigm as a way to be spiritually, physically, and environmentally conscientious. She had noble instincts that led her to this way of life. She said she wanted “…my life to be a battle cry, a war zone, an arrow pointed and loosed into the heart of domination“. But what she found was that while her animus was noble, her means were wrong. She finally concluded, after years of living and preaching this lifestyle, that “The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us.”

    I honestly think the eating the Paleo Diet long term is pretty easy, and is summed up neatly in CrossFit’s dietary prescription “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” But what motivates me far more than abs or Fran times is first, exposing the frauds that are trying to get you to eat “whole wheat” and “fruit sugar” and claiming it’s good for you, and second, destroying the kleptocracy that makes up the US government/food industry hydra that subsidizes harmful foods and places impossible hurdles in front of healthy, natural foods.

    [Originally posted Paleo Challenge 150127]


    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 24 2015


    I set out to write a unique and interesting blog post today about cholesterol, but once I found Robb Wolf’s post, I gave up. This sums it up too nicely for me to even try to compete. The following is reprinted from Robb Wolf’s blog. You can also tune into his Paleo Solution podcast here and purchase his books and ebooks here. Enjoy!

    The basics of the diet-heart hypothesis go like this: High cholesterol leads to atherosclerotic plaques that precipitate a clot which can result in a heart attack or stroke. This whole notion grew from a disease called Familial Hypercholesterolemia and subsequent experiments that involved feeding rabbits (herbivores) oxidized cholesterol. These critters do not eat ANY cholesterol so the fact oxidized cholesterol caused problems is not surprising but also completely unhelpful when talking about people.

    Anyway, 50 years to failed dietary recommendations to lower cholesterol have done nothing to alleviate the CVD epidemic. In fact, the epidemic is rolling along bigger and badder than ever before. Well This Study was pretty interesting. It indicates that most people who suffer a heart attack have…low cholesterol!

    Now, everyone is in a fix to get folks on cholesterol lowering diets and statins to save them, but most heart attacks are in folks with…low cholesterol! Ok, doesn’t make any sense and it completely calls into question the notion that we need to reduce cholesterol levels…but why not give people statins and see how folks do on those. Well, interestingly, statins appear to decrease heart attack rates in people…with low cholesterol.

    The mechanism? Possibly a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of systemic inflammation. Know what else reduces systemic inflammation? A paleo diet which controls insulin levels, removes gut irritating foods, balances omega-3/omega-6 fats. Add some vit-d and consistent good sleep and you have effectively turned off the type of inflammation underlying CVD, cancer and neurodegeneration.
    Oh! Then there is the fact low cholesterol increases stroke rates!!
    So, just to clarify:

    1-Cholesterol supposedly causes CVD, But
    2-Most heart attacks are actually occurring in people with low cholesterol, Yet
    3-Doctors insist on cholesterol lowering protocols, including statins, Even though,
    4-The benefit of statins has nothing to do with cholesterol, but rather it’s mild anti-inflammatory action, Which
    5-Can be accomplished with simple dietary modifications and a few inexpensive supplements.
    It would be funny if people were not dying from this stuff.

    [Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140120]

    The Cure is the Process

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 23 2015


    As we approach the end of the Paleo Challenge, I want you to think about unicorns wearing football helmets.

    No reason there, but I think wherever you are and whatever you’re doing the idea of a unicorn wearing a football helmet is funny. Obviously, the horn would go through their helmet and they wouldn’t be playing football, because if you have a horn and too much head protection, that’d be dangerous.

    Anyway, Irvin D. Yalom is a pretty smart guy sometimes and he has a great quote “The cure is the process.” Yalom is a psychotherapist who is a big proponent of group counseling sessions where individuals simply (or not so simply) discuss their thoughts, feelings and emotions to a group.

    What was confusing and enlightening for me when I first got into his work were two things: First, that he had a hard time describing what the end state of therapy was. Second, that a lot of the group dynamics and the patient/therapist relationship had a lot of similarities to CrossFit training and coaching.

    Part of this similarity is in describing the goal, or “end state”. I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of “end state”. It’s something that’s drilled into us in the Marine Corps. The task you assign may have to change constantly, which is why we are always drilled to give “task and intent”: what do you want to have happen and what are you planning to accomplish with this?

    The end state of Yalom’s methods are described in a variety of ways: “courageous engagement with…life’s predicaments and personal distress”, “claiming our own freedom”, “overcoming existence pain.” I find these descriptions similar to the end state of CrossFit “increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.” What’s the thing that jumps out at you immediately when you look at all these: they are relative, not absolute.

    Secondly, his group therapy techniques and description of the client/patient relationship is pretty similar to what we do in the Paleo Challenge and in CrossFit. So partly because you are getting quasi-kicked out of the nest soon at the end of the Paleo Challenge, I want to equip you with some knowledge bombs that will help you out.

    Obviously, you can still ask me questions, but because you won’t have a defined “end state” anymore, e.g., the “Paleo Challenge Finale” on the horizon, I want you to have some tools you can use:

    1) Get some Paleo buddies. Folks you can reach out to and hang out with and enjoy some Paleo chow together.
    2) Continue to try to get better. Get a little wackier with your food. Try a CSA, buy some new kinds of meat, try some different restaurants. In short: don’t make your diet boring.
    3) Ask for help. Coaches and your fellow athletes like helping you. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

    [Originally posted Paleo Challenge 150126]

    “I’m Shocked, Shocked To Hear There’s Gambling Going On Here!”

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 20 2015


    I probably use that line too much. But in the case of what popular “medicine” figures out, it applies.

    The Atlantic recently published a story about a rheumatoid arthritis and gut health. The basic gist of this is that, shockingly, ingestion of grains and legumes can cause severe inflammation of the joints.

    I’m going to use this word “shocked” one more time: I’m very not shocked that this is taking so long to get traction in the media. It’s really hard to monetize eating real food and very easy to monetize a magic pill or a dramatically subsidized package food (and hence, advertisers). Not easy to monetize pasture raised, beyond organic meats and fresh vegetables.

    This tie between grain and legume ingestion and arthritis was written about as far back as 1905 in Weston A. Price’s seminal “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”: Careful inquiry regarding the presence of arthritis was made in the more isolated groups. We neither saw nor heard of a case in the isolated groups. However, at the point of contact with the foods of modern civilization many cases were found including ten bed-ridden cripples in a series of about twenty Indian homes.

    Further, Loren Cordain has been publishing studies at least as far back as 2000 (that was as much googling as I had time for):“Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis”, which states that “Despite the almost universal clinical observation that inflammation of the gut is frequently associated with inflammation of the joints and vice versa, the nature of this relationship remains elusive. In the present review, we provide evidence for how the interaction of dietary lectins with enterocytes and lymphocytes may facilitate the translocation of both dietary and gut-derived pathogenic antigens to peripheral tissues, which in turn causes persistent peripheral antigenic stimulation.”

    In short, grains and legumes are bad ummmkay.

    [Originally posted Paleo Challenge 150121]

    Variety is Good

    Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
    Feb 19 2015


    Come morning
    it was as though the songbirds of the valley
    had drunk spiced old wine
    they winged and warbled so.
    And the wild life,
    lost drowned in the farthest reaches of the flood,
    looked like pulled up bulbs
    of wild onion.
    -The Muallaqat, Imru al Qays

    I was just looking for an excuse to put some IAQ in a paleo blog post, so there you go…..

    But it brings us to an idea of “what the fuck do I do with all my time now that I can’t drink!?!?!?!?!?” Great question.

    Taleb (and others) talk a lot about changing your scenery. As hunter gatherers, we would have been exposed to different sense stimuli constantly. Variance would have been a constant: temperature, colors, shapes, sounds, tastes. Everything would be changing all the time.

    But now what do we do? We get up in the same bed every morning with the same temperature that we set on our wifi enabled thermostat. We drink the same coffee made the same way on our programmable coffee maker. We make the same breakfast, take the same route to work, sit at the same desk every day, and do the same thing.

    This is not what we’re designed for. Here’s a couple things you can do to stimulate yourself the way we’re designed to be stimulated:

    Play. Don’t care if it’s hop scotch or basketball or water polo or even bridge. Get a group of people together and play (CrossFit should be like this most of the time). Double bonus points for playing music (not listening, go get a recorder and watch some YouTube and get playing!).

    Get outside. Realize this is coming from somebody who hates “the outdoors”. As a former Marine, anytime anyone asks me to go camping or hiking, I’m convinced I’m going to walk for three days straight with one MRE and a canteen of water and only sleep for 30 minutes at a time because with only two people we’ll have to set up alternating watches at night and I don’t want to dig a fighting hole. Now they say you don’t need a fighting hole in Great Falls, but I think that’s just what Charlie wants you to think. But you can go camping and shit, it’s probably good for you. Bang. This is pretty self explanatory.

    For more on Taleb, getting outside and fun maths!, click here.

    [Originally posted Paleo Challenge 150115]