Open Arms

291708_4875163839951_1369268_nBeing a CrossFit Co-Owner and Coach, I see and hear A LOT!

I know so much about my clients, both athletically and personally.  Not only do I know their 1 rep max Front Squat and their “Fran” time, but I also know about their struggle to care for their mother fighting cancer, I know how their husband proposed, I know that they are working two jobs to make ends meet, I know about the cheating wife, the monster-in-law, the traumatic childhood, the husband away on deployment, the daughter with special needs, the car accident that took away their parents, the daily struggles of being a single parent, the insecurities they have in a swimsuit, the demons that haunt them.

I know everything.  Being a coach isn’t just about training people in fitness.  It’s also about being a mentor and therapist in many ways.

I know when my clients are having a bad day, when they are sandbagging a workout, when they need me to yell at them, and when they need me to hug them.  I know when I can push them, and when I need to back off.  I know what drives them, and what pushes them away.

And, I have heard so many amazing stories.  So many feats of courage.  So many heartbreaks, tragedies, hardships, and downright sh***y things.  And, believe it or not, sometimes it’s the person with the brightest smile and seemingly “perfect” life who has the saddest stories to tell.

So often, when a client pours her heart out to me, she then assumes that everyone else at our gym is living an awesome, carefree life.  She thinks she has it harder than everyone else.  She believes that no one else is going what she’s going through.

She feels alone.

I think this is why so many people often feel ashamed or embarrassed about their lives.  They think they are the only ones going through whatever it is they are dealing with.

The grass always looks greener on the other side.  And, many of us feel the need to put on a front and fake perfection in order to be like everyone else…When in actuality, we are all faking it, and we are all hurting inside.

Facebook is by far the biggest culprit of this!  Check out this short video:

I can tell you, from firsthand experience, from ALLLLLLLL of the thousands of stories I have been told by hundreds of clients ~ YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!

Heck, even I have sh***y days and a few demons lingering around.  My life is not perfect by any means, and I still have hardships from time to time.  Last year, I went to therapy for over a year to overcome a traumatic experience in high school.  My father is a food addict with Diabetes Type II.  My brother is an Alcoholic living with my parents.  Spencer and I fight sometimes.  I’ve yelled at Bailey before.  I’ve done things that I am not proud of.  I’ve said things to my mother as a teenager that I wish I could take back.

Sh** happens.  Life happens.

You are not alone.

You don’t have to pretend.  In fact, of all of the places, the CrossFit gym is the last place you need to put on a front and hide your life.

Why do you think we all come here, anyway?!!  That’s right – To sweat out all that bullsh** from the day, to grunt out all the pain, to lift up our moods, to run off some steam, and to fight and support each other through it for that hour.

That one hour – We get to be together as one, and through all of our personal struggles, we get to escape our lives for that moment, and just be.  We get to turn it off, and for that one hour we can be together as a family and help each other through it.

But, instead of directly helping someone through her nasty divorce, during the WOD you are helping her through those last 10 reps to prove to herself that she can not only get through the WOD itself, but she can also get through this divorce.  By encouraging and supporting her through the workout, we are inadvertently supporting her through her tough time.

Running alongside a member in the last 400m, you are inadvertently telling him that you are by his side, both inside the gym and in life.

Cheering on a member during the workout, you are inadvertently helping her gain self-confidence.

The things we do for each other inside of the gym have a HUGE impact on our personal lives, whether we realize it or not.

So many people write about how CrossFit has saved their lives.  But, the truth of the matter is, CrossFit has saved ALL of our lives in some way or another.

None of us have it worse.  None of us have it better.  It’s a relative thing.  We all have struggles and hardships.  We have all experienced difficult times at one point or another.

The question is ~ Are you going to be a victim, or are you going to be stronger?!  I don’t like the word survivor, personally, because it implies a victim.

Remember that you truly are not alone in this world.  You are not the only one.  Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed.  Don’t assume others have it better, either.

You have one of the best support systems ever ~ Your CrossFit family!

CrossFit is here with open arms.

Embrace it.

Pay It Forward

downloadYesterday afternoon, one of my members/friend was on her last round of the WOD.

The WOD was 3 RFT: 30 Box Jumps, 20 SDLHP, and 30 Wall Balls.  Looks easy on paper, but catches up to you fast!

“Jenny” was on her last set of SDLHPs, and everyone else had finished already.  As she went over to her medicine ball, everyone crowded around to cheer her on to the finish.  After she fought through the first 20 Wall Balls, I grabbed a medicine ball and joined her on the remaining reps.

Cheering and being there for someone when they are fighting for the finish is always nice, but it’s even better when you can fight the good fight WITH them!  After all, we are here for SO much more than a bikini-ready body.  And, we definitely are not here to try to always beat each other and win everything.

Of course, Jenny was super appreciative of everyone sticking around, as well as for me doing the last 10 reps with her.  It’s an awesome feeling to know that you have friends/family at your gym who will struggle and feel pain with you!

I got to have the favor returned to me today.

Today’s WOD is: For Time ~ Buy In: 800m Run, then 4 Rounds: 10 KBS, 10 Push ups, 10 Pull ups, then Buy Out: 800m Run.

One of my members/friend, “Bill,” kept a strong pace for the first 800m run, and my goal was to simply keep him within arms-length of me the entire time.  He held a good 5 rep lead on me throughout the 4 rounds, but then I finally caught him on the last set of 10 pull ups.  My initial reaction was to sprint out the gates and try to gain as much of a lead on the run as possible, because I knew Bill would catch me at some point.

While in my mind I was competing with Bill, he had other plans.  It only took him about a minute to catch up to me, and we were side by side at 200m.

I expected and waited for him to pass me by, and part of me was frustrated that I couldn’t beat him.  But, then, I quickly realized that he was pacing me.  He stayed with me the entire time, pushing me along, encouraging me, and made me run harder than I would have on my own.

In all honesty, if Bill had passed me by and beat me, I probably would have just paced the remainder of the run and finished semi-strong.  I kind of think Bill knew that about me, too. 😉

So, we ran hard together for the next 400m, and then in the last 200m, we paced the first 100m, and then sprinted hard for the last 100m, finishing together at the exact same time.

It was an awesome and humbling experience.  Bill did something for me that many of us forget to do for each other ~ He sacrificed his “best time” and the “win” to be with me.  He put his teammate’s needs in front of his own.  Bill pulled back just enough to help me be a better athlete, and to make me believe in myself in the last 200m.

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” ~ Bob Marley

So, here is a reminder to all of you CrossFitters and non-CrossFitters out there ~ Be kind, and pay it forward.  Your kindness will go a lot further than you could ever imagine.  One good turn deserves another, and can be an awesome domino effect in this world.

Bill reminded me today of a very important lesson.  It’s easy to go back for the others when you’re already done with your workout, and it’s not too much more to join them on the last few reps.  But, to do the workout side-by-side with them to push them further than they originally thought possible, to be willing to slow down a little bit to bring them up, and to finish together, rather than in 1st and 2nd place – Now THAT is a true display of sportsmanship, friendship, and integrity.

We make each other better together.

Thanks Bill! 😉

Pay It Forward.

Work Harder

10428320_718026561572538_1848452235404257806_oAfter watching the NorCal Regionals this past Saturday at the San Jose State University Event Center, I realized something…

I need to work harder.

The ONLY reason why I was not down in that arena with the rest of the competitors this weekend is because of ME.

Being a spectator this weekend was challenging for me, because I knew I let another year go by, and I only have myself to blame for it.

It’s a very hard pill to swallow – Personal Responsibility.

I could blame it on being the mother of a two year old, or being a business owner, or going through therapy, or dealing with family issues, or my shoulder injury in the fall season…

But, then I refer back to the quote, “If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way.  If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

So, how badly did I really want it this year?

Maybe I was just infatuated with the IDEA of going to Regionals, but I really didn’t want to work hard enough for it?  Or, maybe I had to work on myself first, before I was ready to really take on something like this?  Maybe I needed to reach that “breaking point.”

Well…I’ve reached it.

The Regionals and Games athletes work really, really hard to be where they are.  Really, really, REALLY hard!

I’ve been doing probably about 1/4 of what they do.

I’ve been thinking about this all weekend, and getting more and more upset with myself.  Mad that I didn’t do more to be better prepared for the Open.  Mad that I let another whole year go by.  Mad that I wasn’t better.

Mad that I’m not living up to my potential.

And then…I had to finally accept the fact that I just need to work harder.

I can’t control new athletes coming out of the woodworks each year who are bad ass firebreathers.  I can’t control accidents and unforeseen injuries and illnesses.  I can’t control other athletes training harder.

I CAN control what I put in to it, though.  I can control how hard I push myself.  I can control how often I work on my weaknesses.  I can control all of me.

I need to do more.

Put up or shut up!

This can apply to everything in life.  I need to work harder on my patience as a mother.  I need to work harder on finishing our house remodel.  I need to work harder on being a better wife.

If things don’t end the way you want them to…If you aren’t getting the results you want…Then DO something about it.  Change.  Do more.  Work harder.  Dig deep.  And, don’t settle.

3, 2, 1, Go! 😉

Beautiful Barbell

10270048_10203537615944017_1083241700_n

The barbell never lies.  Ever.

But, are you paying attention when it’s talking back to you in your lifts?  You should…

This is me the other day trying to get a PR in my 1 rep max Snatch.  One of my best attempts at triple extension, if I do say so myself. 😉

I have to be honest, in the past year, I’ve completely slacked off in my lifting.  I definitely did not do nearly enough strength and skill sets as I should have been.

What I did do is “maintain.”

The sad truth is, I am Deadlifting and Snatching the exact same weight I was a year ago.  Why?  Because of all of the lifts, those are the two I hate the most.  They are my weaknesses, and just like any other human being, my natural tendency is to avoid them whenever possible.

But, after my big breakthrough in the CF Open season, I realized that the Snatch is the perfect representation of how I’ve dealt with my life for so many years.  I worked up to a weight that I was comfortable with, and then once it got hard, I stopped progressing and just stayed at that plateau, and made a lot of excuses for it.

Somehow, I was okay with staying in the same place.

For many years, I worked hard to get to a certain point in my life, and then I would just stop progressing and would maintain a level of “good enough.”

I got by in life.

I got just enough good grades for the honor roll in high school.  I did just enough to please the teachers and keep them off my back.  I did just enough on my SATs to get accepted to college.  And, I actually only applied to one college.  That’s how little I thought of myself.  It was totally a safe situation, though, because I knew I met all of the requirements.  I went with the “easy route.”

I originally majored in Occupational Therapy.  But, then it got hard.  Really hard.  And, just like the Snatch, I suddenly stopped progressing and made excuses.  I got scared.  I didn’t want to face it and put in all that work.  It was just “too hard.”  So, I eventually quit OT, and went into Psychology.  Psychology was “safe.”  Another “easy route” for me to take.  And, even there, I did just enough to graduate with decent grades.  I can claim to have graduated with Psi Chi Honors, but in all honesty, I just barely met the minimum requirements for that.

After college, though, I did grow up some, and eventually took pride in something I did, which was being a summer swim coach in San Rafael.  I coached the team for six years, and was Head Coach for the last two.  It was the first time in a very long time that I actually went above and beyond the call of duty, took great pride in what I did, and worked really hard.  I invested my heart and soul into that team.  For once in my life, I actually felt fulfilled and accomplished.  But, then, unfortunately, the volunteer board members my last year of coaching had ulterior motives, swept the rug from under my feet, and I suddenly found myself betrayed and left out in the cold.

It was a heartbreaking experience, and it only validated the reasons why I hadn’t tried so hard in the first place.  I hate to admit it now, but it left a bitter taste in my mouth, and made me step back into my old bad habits again.

As an elementary school teacher in Corte Madera, I was thankfully surrounded by awesome people, which in turn, motivated me to be awesome.  Unfortunately, though, it didn’t trickle down into any other areas of my life.  So, I was a super awesome, hard working teacher, but then the second I got home, I was mediocre at best at everything else.

Then, I found CrossFit.  It was just like everything else in my life – I started out strong and motivated, worked really hard, was even asked to train with the team, and then I reached my plateau.  I stopped progressing, I started making excuses, and I missed my opportunity to go to Regionals and the Games with the team.

When Spencer and I opened our box in 2011, I was reinvigorated and ready to take on competition again.  But, right at my peak, I suddenly got pregnant, which obviously put things on hold for a while.

So, this all leads us now to the last two years of my training.  After I had Bailey, I trained like crazy for the Open 2013, and I was actually doing really well.  All of my hard work was finally paying off.

But, then in the 4th week of the Open, I managed to get a horrible stomach flu that left me depleted and dehydrated for a week, and I was barely able to even get a decent score completed.  I was like 500th overall in that workout, which yanked away my chances at Regionals.

It gave me flashbacks of my summer swim team being taken away from me.  Now Regionals was being taken away from me.  And, again, I fell back into that “feeling sorry for myself” mode.

And so, I trained hard this past year for the Open…But, definitely not like crazy like the previous year, and honestly, I did “just enough” most of the time.

Deep down, I was holding back due to fear of it being taken away from me again.

The barbell was telling me this the entire time.  My lifts were not increasing.  The Snatch felt foreign to me most of the time.  I wasn’t making gains and getting PR’s like I should have been, and the barbell let me know it.  But, instead of listening to the bar, I made excuses.

About six months before the Open began, I finally did something for myself that I should have done a long time ago – I started going to therapy.  Therapy is just like CrossFit – It only works if you have a good therapist, just like CrossFit only works if you have a good coach!  Thankfully, I have a great one!

Through therapy, I was able to finally face some demons and deal with my past.  In dealing with my past, I was able to start taking things head on.  But, when that happened, it was already too late for the Open.  I still did really well overall, but I didn’t qualify for Regionals.

That’s my fault, and mine alone.  Bad habits die hard.  Change takes time.  And so, the Open became my breakthrough therapy session, rather than an actual competition.

I was fighting for myself…not for a high score.

I was qualifying for life…not for Regionals.

I was certainly heartbroken that I didn’t make it to Regionals, but the difference this time in my life is that I am NOT left with a bitter taste in my mouth, nor am I feeling sorry for myself or wanting to retreat.

This time, I want to try harder.  I want to be better.

For too damn long, I floated through life and ducked from every punch thrown at me.

Now, I’m the one throwing punches.

Lately, the barbell and I have had a different relationship.  A better one.  A stronger one.

Last Thursday, when I was going for a 1 rep max Snatch, it was the first time since August 2013 that I attempted anything over 125#.  And, I didn’t just add a few pounds, I went for 135# with gusto!  Unfortunately, after about 7 or 8 attempts, I failed to complete it.  However, I did get under that bar every time, and the fact that I kept trying was a huge deal for me, personally.

Then, yesterday, during Competition Training class, we did a Clean & Jerk ladder.  It started at 65# and went up by 10’s.  I made my way to 185#.  I missed the Jerk, though.  So, I tried again.  Missed again.  Tried one more time.  Just barely missed the Jerk, again.  But, each time the Clean felt stronger, and the determination in my kept grew (Rather than diminish, like the old me).  So, I went for a 4th attempt.  Cleaned it well, again, but missed the Jerk.  Oh well.  It was another successful experience for me still, because I was finally going hard and fighting for things.

The barbell is a beautiful thing.  I really have learned a lot from it.  Because, even though I have made huge changes in my life recently, and I am finally moving in the right direction, it’s still going to take time for other things to happen.  It’s not all overnight!  I have to keep working hard at it. And so, even the barbell reminds me of this fact with my recent Snatch and C&J lifts.

So, the next time you’re lifting that barbell, listen to it.  What is it telling you?

What does the barbell say about you?