Marc V. Is The October Member Of The Month

Marc V has got to be the most under the radar STUD athlete we’ve ever had at Cróga. He’s been with us for more than 3 years now, he consistently attends our late night classes and puts in the work, and he’s tough as nails. I’m not going to tell you how old he is (I actually I don’t know – I’m sure it’s in our software somewhere) but one of my favorite reoccurring conversations with Marc revolves around how a bunch of his buddies are old and falling apart and he comes to the gym so that won’t happen to him. Not only does Marc look great (he’s pretty jacked, check out his picture) and move extremely well for any age, but he’s made progress on all his lifts, gymnastics skills and endurance month over month since I first met him a few years ago. Keep up the hard work Marc, you continue to get younger physically as the years go by and you inspire me to be like you when I grow up, haha.

When did you join Cróga?
I don’t really remember – it’s been a few years now, but I haven’t been as consistent as I would want to be, so I like to think I get a discount on the time I’ve been doing CrossFit.

What were you doing before for fitness?
I was on and off at a few different gyms here and there. I would typically go to the gym, hit the weight section (and only do the stuff I liked to do) and maybe (almost never) get on a treadmill and do a little cardio work. I found I was incredibly bored with working out, which made it easy to not go, and really wasn’t putting much into it and was also not getting much out of it. I also enjoyed trail running but after a while, especially with getting older, I felt I was doing more damage to myself than good with the long runs.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
I remember there were three or four of us in an intro class and it involved, I think, wall balls, some burpees, sit-ups, running and then more burpees, then even more burpees…I can recall that when I finished the class I remember thinking; wow, that was a shockingly tough workout, way harder than anything I’ve done in years. It was also unusual for me to have a coach telling me what to do, which I liked since it took the guesswork out of trying to decide what I was going to do at the gym.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
I can honestly say I am much stronger than I have ever been, even in my younger days when I was working out quite a bit, based on what I’ve managed to deadlift and squeak out in the Oly classes. My cardio, which was never great, has gotten a lot better. For example, on a ski trip last year with a group of people, everyone else ran out of gas by the end of the day and was complaining about their legs hurting and I was still feeling pretty good and still had some skiing left in me. I also recently did the 10k “Run through the Redwoods” in Felton and finished before the rest of the group I was with by a minute or so. Of course, I told them I had been waiting for them for 20 minutes…

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I typically try to go to the 7:30 classes and try to go three times a week and get in the Wednesday 6:30 powerlifting class. I’m looking forward to trying the new 30 minute classes at 4:45 pm that I understand will be starting up mid-November.

What’s your favorite WOD?
I really do enjoy the Oly classes, (other than doing overhead squats), and any kind of general strength workouts.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Anything that includes burpees over a barbell or any workout with the number “100” in it.

“The Marc” WOD! What would it be?
I’ve always liked the EMOM’s or the “do as many rounds of XYZ in 12 minutes” type of workouts. As for the Marc workout, how’s this:
“Row 200m, run 100m then 7 medium weight thrusters and do as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes”

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
I can’t say I have any kind of a post-workout routine. Depending on the workout, my routine is to get off the floor and try to drive home.

What do you love about CrossFit?
After seeing people doing CrossFit on tv and thinking I need to see what this is about, I remember popping into some of the local cross fit gyms, I mean “boxes” and eventually going into Cróga. Coach Dave was there at the counter and we talked for a bit and I got some info on a pending intro class. I can remember there was a real feeling, almost an aura, of positivity about him which gave me the courage to try this out. That and the encouragement from Coach Dave and all the other outstanding coaches at Cróga make going there and getting through a tough workout a lot easier.

As for CrossFit itself, I love that you never get bored as the workouts are all very different and that you end up working much, much harder than you would if you were on your own in a regular gym. Also, I’ve found the other members to be all very encouraging and have learned that it’s ok to scale back a workout if needed.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
I’m reminded of the old joke about being on a “seafood” diet, I see food and then I eat it. This is one of my perpetual goals and something I need to dial in as my diet/healthy eating has been lacking.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for 2017?
My main goal is consistency and making a point of getting down to Cróga – sometimes the hardest part of the workout is just getting into the car and driving down. It’s been too easy for me to let work get in the way of working out and how skipping a few workouts can easily turn into a week off (or more) which makes getting back into the groove that much harder. That and trying to clean up my diet.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
I think the biggest issue for new people is how tough the workouts are and how that can be a real shock to the system. It’s really easy to say to yourself that “I can’t do this” and that “CrossFit is way too hard” and that it’s made for someone who’s in good shape in their 20’s. I would tell a new member to give it at least 30 days for their bodies to get used to the stress of the workouts and to ease into it. Perhaps a two week check up to see how they are doing and let them know that it’s ok to use a lighter weight and/or rest a bit if you need to in order to get through a workout.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
See you at Cróga Crossfit!

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Mascot Spotlight: Cróga Murph

If you’ve been with us a while, you’re already quite familiar with our four-legged mascot, Cróga Murph. He’s a French Bulldog that was born April 19th, 2013 and starting as a pup, he’s spent many early mornings and late nights at the gym. He loves to say hello and goodbye to all our members throughout the day, but you’ll also find him snoring his way through most WODs. We couldn’t ask for a better gym dog and we’re very lucky his owners, Dave and Kelly, somehow convinced him to answer a few questions for us in between his busy nap and walk schedule. Thanks Murph, we RUFF you!

Tell us a little about your family, job, and interests:
I spend most of my days with my dad who drives me around with the windows down so I can get lots of good sniffies, he does weird things like walks on his hands, makes lots of noise at the gym and does a lot of typing on his computer on the couch with me snuggling between his legs. With most of my days spent with my dad, I am always really excited to see my mommy when she gets home from work. I like to show her all my toys that I know she’s seen before, but they’re still really cool, then I like to bark at her to feed me and then I like to snuggle with her on the couch until it’s time for bed. I also have a sister named Rosie who is a Chihuahua, she spends 90% of her time sleeping on pillows on the couch. She loves barking at the UPS truck and makes sure we always get fed on time. My job is to look cute in my bed at the gym and to snore and fart under my mom’s desk when she takes me to work, I’m pretty good at all my jobs. I’m interested in bones, ropes, toys, walks, animals on TV and things that I think are animals on TV.

What is your favorite thing to do at Cróga?
My two favorite activities at Cróga are rope climbs and anything involving PVC pipes, I love attacking PVC pipes. My favorite Cróga pastime is snoring through whatever is going on, no matter how loud it is or how many people are in class.

What is your least favorite thing to do at Cróga?
My least favorite Cróga activity is being stuck on my chain when there’s a wall ball, PVC pipe or rope to attack.

What is your athletic routine?
My mom and dad take me for walks all the time, sometimes I run with my dad, but I can be a pain in the butt because I like to mark my trail so I know where I’ve been and so that other doggies know I’ve been there, which can slow his pace. I tend to go hard and then crash, I don’t consider myself much of an endurance athlete.

When you were a puppy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
From as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a male model. I’ve made it into a few commercial social media posts for big tech brands like NVIDIA, but I’m still waiting for my big break.

If you could be another animal, what would you be and why?
If I could be another animal I would be an otter. My parents have shown me some videos of otters and I feel like we’re a lot alike except I’m not much of a swimmer. They’re pretty cute and cuddly like me though, so I feel like that’d be a good fit.

What’s the last thing you and your parents watched on TV?
We watched the end of Stranger Things 2 the other night. I did NOT like those Demo-Dogs…

What is the one treat that you could never give up?
Dehydrated Oysters. I LOVE THEM! I eat raw food now because I have pretty bad allergies, so all my treats are just dehydrated meats and oysters are my fav.

What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“Ok, I sleeps now…”

Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thank you to all my friends at Cróga CrossFit for all the pets and treats and kissies over the years. You’re the best friends a dog could ever ask for.

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The Most Revealing Test in CrossFit

A few months ago we Revisited the Cróga Gym Rules, which included looking back on rules we’ve made in the past and adding a few to the list.

One of our new additions to our Rule Book was, “don’t break down your equipment until everyone has finished the workout”.

I wrote a little blurb about why this is important to us at Cróga, but a few weeks ago I stumbled on a blog post by a coach at CrossFit Invictus in San Diego that does a fantastic job of explaining the importance of this rule and how it plays into the success of the group.

So, with that said, I hope you enjoy this week’s Food For Thought blog post titled The Most Revealing Test in CrossFit by Kirsten Ahrendt and take her challenge at the end seriously.

The Most Revealing Test in CrossFit
Written by Kirsten Ahrendt

There are plenty of “tests” in CrossFit. There are lifts to test our overall strength, WODs to test our aerobic capacity, skills to test our gymnastics. But as a CrossFit coach and athlete, there is one test in particular that I hold in the highest regard. This test is given nearly every day we walk in the gym – it reveals mindset and character. The test is simple…

What does a member/athlete do when their WOD is over?

I’ve coached for nearly 4 years, 5 days per week. I have accumulated numerous case studies weekly and have categorized the results into two categories. For the rest of the article, I’ll refer to all members as “athletes”.

Result 1 – The Individual Mindset Result

This behavior is generally executed in the following way:
– The athlete finishes their WOD and may roll on the floor for a few minutes.
– Upon collecting themselves, the athlete may go check their text messages, social media alerts or email.
– The athlete then proceeds to clean up their equipment – navigating in and out of fellow member’s spaces who are still working out.
– Sometimes this mindset manifests itself in members pooling together in groups sitting on the floor and talking about how tough the workout was and discussing their day.

Result 2 – The Group Mindset Result

This behavior is generally executed the following way:
– The athlete finishes their WOD and may roll on the floor for a few minutes.
– Upon collecting themselves, that athlete gravitates towards other members that are still in progress of the workout. The athlete cheers them on (whether they know them or not).
– The finished athlete may clap, give words of encouragement, and move between groups of athletes who are still working.
– Upon other members’ completion of the work, high fives and pats on the back are exchanged.
– Workout equipment is put away together as a group.

Your workout is done when everyone is finished

Why did you join CrossFit Invictus? Is accountability, group sessions, friends or community part of your answer? If so, then consider this…the workout is not done when you finish. The workout is done when everyone is finished. As a CrossFit coach, facilitating a sense of community is part of my job. I played a lot of team sports, so this comes naturally to me. But it can be scary for others to reach out to someone they don’t know well and encourage them. Often people think “who am I to cheer them on? To tell them they can do it?”

CrossFit exploded on the “fitness scene” years ago because of a few key founding principles – 1) simplicity 2) constantly varied exercise 3) community. People could’ve continued CrossFitting solo – but there’s a reason there’s 10,000+ boxes around the world – people crave community. People become their best selves when pushed, encouraged, and surrounded by others that believe in them. As David Byrne, artist and musician writes…

“We’re a social species, we benefit from our tendency to cooperate to achieve what we cannot alone… We do not exist as isolated individuals. We, as individuals, are inhabitants of networks; we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive.”

If you came to Invictus to be part of a community or for the “push of others” to keep your intensity high when working out, then consider this – you owe it to give back to that community. Consider it part of your social contract with the gym (entirely separate from your financial contract. Talk to management about that one.) You can keep your end of the deal by supporting every last member of your class to the finish line of each workout.

Coach’s challenge to you
At the start of every class, look around. Every single person who came to that class is now your tribe. You should take personal satisfaction in seeing to it that each individual is supported and no one “finishes alone”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a founding member or this is class #1 after fundamentals; it matters not that you chose to do Fitness track and someone else chose Performance track. For that hour, we are one group with a common goal – self-improvement through shared suffering. Make sure no one suffers alone.

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Sierra S. Is The September Member Of The Month

Sierra is one of those athletes that has somehow flown under the radar for MOTM, but when I look at her “resume”, her selection this month seems like a no-brainer. She’s got an extremely consistent attendance record, she is dedicated to her goals and becoming the best version of herself possible, she is constantly looking for movement tips and takes instruction very well, she regularly does extra credit, she shows up for open gym on Saturday’s to work on areas she needs to improve, and she does all of this with a big smile on her face when she walks in the door every day (even though sometimes she leaves unhappy if her double unders don’t go well, haha).

Being a happy and focused athlete and doing the extra work is exactly what we look for when we decide on who should be our member of the month and I think it’s more than safe to say that Sierra is deserving of this month’s award. Congratulations, Sierra!

When did you join Cróga? 
I joined Cróga almost a year ago when Ryan (August member of the month, woohoo!) and I relocated to Willow Glen from Seattle. Cróga was the closest gym to our house, so I tried it first out of convenience. After my first class, I knew I had to be a member. Finding my “home” so quickly really made me feel like a part of the WG community so quickly, which helped my transition to the South Bay Area.

What were you doing before for fitness? 
I was a competitive swimmer and tennis player most of my childhood and into high school. Once I graduated, that tapered off. I was feeling sluggish and out of shape and decided after 2 years of toying around with trying Crossfit that I would quit being intimidated and give it a try. Getting my foot through the door at my first box was harder than any WOD I’ve ever done, but I haven’t looked back.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? 
Oh boy, I can’t remember. I do remember there being “a lot” of air squats and feeling like I was going to keel over and die. I thought how am I ever going to put weight behind this?! Let’s just say I’ve come a looooong way.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? 
I have more energy, but more importantly, I’ve had a big change in my attitude. If I’m having a bad day, getting to Cróga and doing a WOD with my fellow Cróganites instantly improves my mood. Additionally, since I started the RP strength meal plan 9 months ago, I feel like I’m making gains way faster than I used to. Still tiny…but mighty!

What days and times do you come to Cróga? 
I come about 5 days/week and used to be a regular 6AMer. A few months ago I had to switch to 3:30 PM to accommodate my work schedule. I love being able to leave the bike shop and come straight to the gym in the afternoons. FYI ya’ll, I do not work at Highland Bikes like Marcus and Dave may say. I work for a design firm above the bike shop, so don’t come looking for me for discounts on your dream Schwinn!

What’s your favorite WOD? 
I love DT. Obviously modified in weight and with my bum shoulder I just modify with dumbells, but it still works.

What’s your least favorite WOD? 
Any WOD with long distance rowing…ew

“The Sierra” WOD! What would it be? 
15 min AMRAP of 10 cleans, 40 double unders, 10 TTB

Side note: Anyone who’s done a double under WOD with me in the past year knows how frustrated I can get (sorry Justin for all the cursing), but I FINALLY can do them fairly well, so any WOD with double unders is my jam!

What’s your favorite post-workout routine? 
Ryan and I love our post-workout waffles and life aid.

What do you love about CrossFit? 
I feel like everyone says this, but the community and support. Crossfit has really given me a diverse group of friends both here and in Washington that I would have never met otherwise, and I think that’s incredible. And of course I love getting my ass kicked daily, it always keeps my ego in check and I love the constant reminder that I can ALWAYS improve.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? 
RP strength and timed nutrition. It’s the best, try it!

What’s your biggest fitness goal for 2017? 
To hopefully get some more muscle on these ole’ bones of mine and really hone in on improving my lifting form.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet? 
New members, you won’t be sorry you joined. I’ve felt so fortunate to join a gym with top-notch coaching. I’ve never made so much progress in such a short amount of time. The knowledge and compassion in this gym are incredible. Thank you to all the coaches who have been helping me with this progress (and let’s be honest, putting up with my whining). You all are awesome!

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The Concept of Intensity

I’ve written about how important training with intensity is to driving results in a lot of different ways in the past, but it’s such an important topic, I thought I’d attack it again, with intensity, haha.

This one is going to be short and sweet, so stick with me. I promise you’ll be all jacked up to crush your next WOD by the end of this bad boy.

Let’s start at the beginning.

In the CrossFit world, Intensity is a simple mathematical equation:

Intensity = Avg. Work = Force x Distance / Time

So, put simply, the more weight you move in less time, the higher the level of intensity.

This could mean an external load. Think Grace (30 clean & jerks for time at 135/95 lbs). Weightlifting.

This could also mean moving your bodyweight. Think 100 pull-ups for time. Gymnastics.

This could also mean creating power while using your bodyweight to help. Think 500m row for time. Monostructural.

The faster you do each one of these things, the higher level of intensity you operated with during that workout.

Now, what does this have to do with achieving results you ask?

I’ll take this one back to a simple analogy I teach every one of our members in their first intro class.

Imagine you and I were to go meet at the track right now and race a 100m sprint for time and we tied. We’re talking photo finish. Let’s assume we’re faster than we probably are and say it took us 12-seconds flat, remember, we tied.

Then, for the whole month of October, you SPRINT (10) 100m’s every day for your training.

On the other hand, for the whole month of October, I WALK (10) 100m’s every day for my training.

At the end of the month, when we race again, who’s going to be faster and most likely win the race?

I sure hope you said that you will.

It seems like a no-brainer, right?

That’s because IT IS!

WHEN YOU TRAIN WITH INTENSITY, YOU. GET. MORE. FIT! (Yes, I’m now yelling through my keyboard, that’s how pumped up I am about this one)

Sooooooooo, with that in mind, why would you show up to CrossFit class and just go through the motions, basically just HIDING from intensity?!?!

It makes absolutely ZERO sense.

Come to the box ready to rock.

Figure out what it takes to get your head in the right place to train and then go do it.

You know that guy/gal that’s dying on the ground after the workout or stumbling outside for air and to maybe feed the plants that you think is crazy?



Ok, rant over.

Sorry, I got a little excited there and it ended up being longer than planned, but I hope you were entertained 😉

Now let’s get our mind right and attack our workouts with some added intensity next week and see where it leads. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

P.S. For you keyboard heroes out there that want to argue that intensity shouldn’t always be used when someone is new to a movement or the weight they’re using is a little on the heavier side or for some other reason you think they’re going to end up hurt, I agree with you. Fundamentals and Consistency should ALWAYS come before Intensity. However, the target of this blog post wasn’t to explain to athletes that they need to do more drilling with a PVC pipe or that they need to spend more time learning movements and improving movement patterns before they add fatigue, that’s our coaches job to evaluate on a case by case basis and make sure everyone is staying in their lane.

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Is Happy Hour Holding You Back?

A few weeks ago I had an idea to draft a blog post about alcohol consumption, how it negatively impacts you reaching your goals (strength gains, weight loss, improved aerobic fitness), and how my relationship with alcohol has evolved over the years as I’ve increased my knowledge on the subject and prioritized my fitness.

I jotted down a few ideas as an outline and the day before I had a half hour in my schedule blocked out to write the post I stumbled on a blog post that did the exact same thing.

So, in the interest of not re-inventing the wheel and promoting a fellow CrossFitter/Blogger, I’ve decided to share the blog post Is Happy Hour Holding Your Fitness Goals Hostage? by Taylor of She Thrives. She does an excellent job of explaining Booze, Fat Loss & The Truth. Enjoy!

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Ryan S. Is The August Member Of The Month

When I think about Ryan, there are three things that really stick out to me that make him awesome.

First, he’s got an amazing attitude and always comes to class with a big smile and ready to do the work. He’s very deliberate about what weights he chooses and how he attacks workouts, but not to the point where he sacrifices intensity (I’ve literally seen him puke twice from going so hard, which is very uncommon).

Second, he’s got a great sense of humor, even when the laughing involves me giving him a hard time about the Indian Clubs that he uses to improve his shoulder stability and mobility.

And third, his attention to detail and focus on the specifics of movements and why we’re asking him to do certain things to improve his efficiency. This focus and attention to detail is what has allowed him to make huge strides quickly, but also safely and we love seeing that from our athletes.

Congratulations Ryan, this is an honor that is well deserved!

When did you join Cróga?
After moving back to CA from Seattle, WA. My wife, Sierra, found the gym and tried it first. She loved it so I came in soon after.

What were you doing before for fitness?

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
The first one that sticks out is Fran… I threw up… 🤢

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
My favorite improvement has been in the technique work the coaches have been helping me with, from trying to learn double unders and butterfly pull-ups, to practicing better lifting form on deadlifts and snatches.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I’ve been a time-slot nomad so far in my Cróga career. I started at 7am, but have since switched to 6am and now 3:30pm. A nice benefit is that I’ve been able to meet more members that way!

What’s your favorite WOD?
Karen, love to hate those wall balls.

What’s your least favorite WOD?

Isabel or max calorie assault bike 🤢

“The Ryan” WOD! What would it be?
EMOM alternating heavy Power Clean + Hang Squat Clean and double unders.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Taking my shoes and socks off 🤣.

What do you love about CrossFit?
I love the variety: I always hated weightlifting at gyms in the past because it felt so same-y. It also helps that our coaches are excellent!

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
Pre-workout OJ+protein and post-workout waffles.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for 2017?
Butterfly pull-ups in a WOD, for sure.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Cróga is the most welcoming gym I’ve been to yet, just swing by to meet Dave and crew and I’m sure it’ll be your next gym.

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Coach Spotlight: Kelly M.

Just thinking about writing an intro to Coach Kelly’s Spotlight has me a little emotional. It probably has something to do with the constant support she has provided me since the day we decided to embark on this journey and the fact that she’s pregnant with our first child who we both cannot wait to meet (I’ve still got a lot of work to do to be ready, but December can’t come fast enough!).

To say that Cróga CrossFit would have never actually materialized into a real thing and, on top of that, that it wouldn’t be what it is today without Kelly is an understatement.

Although I (Coach Dave) am the face of the gym because it is my full-time job, Kelly has spent hundreds, scratch that, thousands of hours dedicated to helping us open the doors. She was crucial in building our initial website and web presence, coaching (especially when I was the only coach we had during year 1), finding ways to improve our product, thinking up and planning events, being my sounding board and voice of reason, and providing the support I needed to be a great coach, boss, and athlete.

She always listens intently even though 98% of the things that come out of my mouth has to do with Cróga, CrossFit or Business, so basically Cróga CrossFit as a business. And she always takes the time to think through whatever is going on and provide me with solid feedback and guidance from her point of view.

It has been an absolute pleasure to have her back coaching regularly again. Although she took some time off, she jumped right back in and didn’t miss a beat, which was extremely impressive – she never ceases to amaze me. Her coaching style is one I admire and try to regularly copy because she controls the class well, stays on task, and makes sure every single person always gets a solid amount of attention and coaching.

If you can’t tell, I could go on forever about Kelly, but I guess that’s why I asked her to marry me and got lucky that she said yes. Below you’ll get a little taste of how funny she is and how much she loves being an athlete and a coach. Enjoy!

Full Name:
Kelly Alexandra of House Musgrave, First of Her Name, the Ungraceful, Queen of the Frenchies and Chihuahuas, Khaleesi of the Croganites, Tearer of ACLs and Soon-to-be Mother of a Davidsdottir

Tell us a little bit about your family, job, and interests:
I’m Dave’s wife and baby mama. 🙂 We have two dogs, Murph, our pig-dog mascot, and, Rosie, our Chihuahua mutt that prefers to stay at home all day — I like to imagine her as an old cat lady in a previous life.

When I’m not at Cróga, I’m over at NVIDIA running consumer PR for our SHIELD business. If you don’t know what SHIELD is, it’s basically a 10x better version of a Roku or Apple TV.

As a self-described, closet nerd, I have a broad range of interests so it’s hard to speak to all of them, but I do love reading, writing, outdoor activities and traveling as much as possible.

What was your athletic background before you started CrossFit?
I started playing soccer when I was four and played competitively until college. I love that sport SO much, but the sport didn’t love me as it left me with countless injuries and two knee surgeries after sixteen years. I also played fastpitch softball from when I was eight years old into high school — I had some fun glory days going to the National Tournament two years in a row with our all-stars teams.

Why/how did you get started with CrossFit?
When I met Dave in 2010 he was recovering from a snowboarding injury that kept him away from this whole “CrossFit thing”, but he kept banging on about it. I initially wasn’t interested, I loved my old Globo gym ways, but I eventually saw the light in late 2011 and haven’t looked back since. I know Dave loves telling this story, but it’s too funny to not mention it again: During the first group CrossFit class that Dave took me to I actually grabbed my keys and headed to my car after the warm-up because I thought we had just finished the WOD. It was pretty embarrassing.

What made you decide to become a CrossFit Coach?
I’ve coached soccer and softball on and off since high school so I’ve always enjoyed instructing movement and strategy, but it wasn’t until I saw how CrossFit truly transformed people’s lives that I knew I wanted this to be apart of my everyday life.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A dolphin trainer. I blame Lisa Frank for my love of dolphins.

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
This is hard. I’m going to go with a wild horse. There’s something magical about seeing a herd of wild horses running freely — probably because there’s so few of them left in the world.

What’s the last thing you watched on TV?
I’ll give you one guess.

What is the one food that you could never give up?
This is TOUGH – I love food, but I can easily give stuff up — hello, Whole30. I think it would have to be bean and cheese burritos.

What’s your favorite quote or saying?
“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” — Roald Dahl

Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I’m incredibly honored to have all of you studs as members and even though I haven’t coached consistently for a couple years, I’ve loved witnessing all the progress that our athletes have made. I mean, just look at the PR board every month. You guys are rock stars — keep it up!

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Comparison is the Thief of Joy

We’re excited to feature Coach Justin in this week’s Food for Thought Blog. Below are his thoughts on an article that really spoke to him and I couldn’t agree more with how important this subject is for our athletes.

What’s your why for coming to Cróga? Chances are it’s a blend of short term goals and long term dreams. Survival is the reward in the early days of training (especially in CrossFit). But eventually, comparison to others becomes the measure of your success. And with that comparison often follows a loss of perspective, joy, progress, and connection to the reason you train in the first place.

The article Sermon II: Comparisons by Coach Tod Moore at Atomic Athlete in Austin discusses the downsides of comparison, and how to get that monkey off your back. It’s as inspiring as it is informative.

Bottom line: If you’re always comparing yourself to others—regardless of whether you’re worse or better—you’ll lose gains, friends, and happiness. Shift that attitude to gratitude and you can reap the benefits of competition without the costs.

Again, here’s the link to the article: Sermon II: Comparisons by Coach Tod Moore

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What makes a good CrossFit class? CrossFit Gym? CrossFit coach?

Have you ever wondered what makes a good CrossFit class?

What separates the good CrossFit gyms from the ok ones?

Why CrossFit is “so expensive” (hint, if the classes are good and there’s value, it’s not)?

How do I spot a good CrossFit coach?

These are all questions I’ve been contemplating for the last couple years as I’ve hired coaches for Cróga, visited gyms locally and while on vacation in different parts of the country and the world, and as I’ve given advice to friends who live outside the area that are looking for the right CrossFit gym for them.

This blog post is more of a piece for the CrossFit community as a whole and for those looking into doing some CrossFit, but who haven’t jumped in yet (and maybe for those who aren’t satisfied at their current gym and are looking elsewhere).

Let’s tackle these questions in order so there’s actually some structure here and we’ll see where it leads us.

Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but this is an opinion piece, so if you disagree, that’s fine, I’d love to hear from you.

These are my personal opinions based on 9+ years of experience as a CrossFit athlete (4.5 years as a CrossFit Affiliate owner) that include taking CrossFit classes at 30+ gyms in a handful of different states and a couple countries along with what I’ve learned from the hundreds of people I’ve spoken to from all over the world that have dropped into our box.

What makes a good CrossFit class?

I think the first thing I look for when I drop-in to a CrossFit class or I evaluate a class at Cróga is, was every person in the class greeted by name and with a smile by the coach? And are the other members friendly and introducing themselves or saying hi to the people they know? These are steps 1 & 2. If the people in the gym (coach and members) don’t do this, there is no way it’s going to be a good class.

Then, the next most important piece is a well laid out class structure that includes a dynamic warm up, some targeted mobility, movement instruction, a specific warm up, and a well thought out WOD where the athletes are improving physically and mentally.

This keeps everyone in the class together and engaged while also making sure they’re moving better in each class and improving over time, not reaching limitations in their capacity or exposing themselves to risk of injury because they move poorly and the coaches aren’t teaching them how to move better in a controlled setting before intensity is added in the WOD.

If there aren’t gymnastics movement progressions being taught on days with gymnastics involved in the WOD, PVC pipe movement instruction going on when there’s going to be a barbell involved, and mobility work done daily to make sure you’re stretched out for that day and your mobility is improving over time, you’re not getting your money’s worth and you should look elsewhere.

What separates the good CrossFit gyms from the ok ones?

First things first, you’ll notice that I didn’t say anything about “bad” CrossFit gyms.

While I’ve been to a few that I wouldn’t recommend my friends sign up at if they live near them and are looking for a gym, I don’t necessary think any CrossFit gym is bad. I just think they could use a little work or maybe the coach was having an off day and I just happened to be there for that class.

Now, what separates a good CrossFit gym from the others is a three part answer for me.

 A friendly staff that’s looking to build relationships with each and every client. Like you read above, friendliness of the coach and members is huge and is probably the most important piece to ensuring the class will be enjoyed and the athletes will have the opportunity to get the most out of each day.
Honestly, who the hell wants to go to a gym that isn’t fun and the people aren’t nice?
And if you don’t look forward to going, you won’t spend enough time there to get the results you were looking for when you signed up for that day or a monthly membership.
When I talk about building relationships I’m talking really getting to know the athletes. Trust between the coaches and the athletes is probably the most important piece to long term growth. No one takes advice from people they don’t like and don’t trust, so step 1 is to build trust with a smile and a genuine interest in who the person is and what makes them unique and the coaching can follow.

 Like I hinted at in #1, all good CrossFit gyms make a commitment to their members to achieve long term health and fitness. I like to say that at Cróga we’re playing the long game because although we love to see quick success and we love to high five our members that increase their 1 rep max back squat by 50 lbs in 6 weeks or that lose 20 lbs in a month, we are really in this thing for the long haul. We want people to live longer, happier, healthier lives and we want to be a part of that every step of the way.

There’s no gimmicks at good CrossFit gyms. No quick weight loss tricks that don’t create long term sustainable eating or exercise habits. Just good old fashioned hard work and quality balanced eating habits that lead to consistent progress over time.

Balanced programming that helps people improve, but doesn’t put them at unnecessary risk for injury or burnout in the name of doing “cool” movements or making them lift overly heavy objects every single day.

This is probably the one I’ll get the most pushback on from other affiliate owners and maybe even some more experienced athletes, but in my opinion there are too many CrossFit gyms getting wrapped up in what is required to be good at the sport of CrossFit vs. what is required to be a healthier and more fit human.
What I mean is gyms program A LOT of overly risky gymnastics movements that don’t have a ton of benefit besides that they look cool (think muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, pistols, etc.).
Or, they program strength work every single day which wears people down, takes away from time that should be set aside for movement instruction and mobility, and reduces the effectiveness of the workout that is done after the strength work.

Why is CrossFit “so expensive”?

It’s not.

If your average class size is appropriate for the number of coaches assigned to it, you’re receiving all the things I listed above, and you’re making consistent improvement month over month, you’re getting extremely good value for your dollar.

Based on membership rates and how many times members attend class, your average CrossFit class will cost you between $10 & $20 an hour (memberships are usually lower than $15/class if you attend 10-15 classes a month and drop-ins are usually around $20).

Considering the fact that if you’ve chosen a good CrossFit gym you’re going to receive a reasonably similar product to personal training, but in a group setting so you’ll get a little less attention per hour, you’re getting a pretty darn good deal.

If you’ve done any online research you’ll know that Personal Training typically runs anywhere from $75-$200 per hour depending on who the trainer is and where you live.

How do I spot a good CrossFit Coach?

Everyone is going to have their own opinion here because people like different types of people with different personalities, but personality aside there’s a few things I always look for.

You guessed it, friendliness. I won’t write another long paragraph about this because I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but if you’re a coach, don’t be a dick, and if you’re an athlete, don’t sign up at a gym because the coach is a good athlete if he/she is a jerk too.

  The coach explains the workout, why you’re doing the workout, some strategy for the workout and challenges the athletes with something specific about the workout. These 4 things display that the coach understands the programming, knows their athletes, thought through the class ahead of time, and wants to help you improve that day.

  The coach is relentless. This doesn’t mean they’re on top of the athletes screaming and yelling at them to work harder and go faster to the point that they’re trying to kill them, but it does mean that they won’t accept crappy movement and they’re going to do everything they can to help each athlete achieve more and to be better, forever. Even if everything they’ve tried up to this point hasn’t worked, they’re going to keep trying to help each athlete. They don’t ever give up on anyone. They think of a new way to explain the movement or to show the movement or to draw the movement or to get the athlete to feel the position they need to be in and they don’t stop trying until they get it.

  They don’t get distracted. It’s 2017, there are A LOT of distractions for everyone in every situation and coaches are no different. Of course there are going to be slip ups, but their cell phone should be set aside and not used for anything besides helping them coach by taking a video of one of the athletes to show them or taking a photo or video for the gyms social media account and then put away after.
They should also not let members walking in for the next class to distract them from the class they’re currently working with. This can be very hard, especially if the coach has made that deep connection with all the members that we’re looking for, but it’s a skill to be able to greet someone with a smile, chat with them for 20-30 seconds while keeping your eyes on the class, and then to walk away to stay involved with the current class only to return to the conversation when the time is appropriate.

  They keep the class on task and on time. The best coaches have a plan for every class and they follow it so that everyone is on the same page throughout, the class flows smoothly, and it ends on time.

Everyone gets coaching. This is part of why smaller classes are generally better, but a good coach doesn’t ignore the good to great athletes because they know they are going to be ok. They touch base with each and every athlete throughout the class, give them all a win or something to work on each day, and help each and every person improve in some way, shape or form in every class they attend.

Woah, that was a long one!

I’m glad I got it all out there though.

I hope you all enjoyed the read and will use this blog post to help you decide what gym is the best fit for you or what to look for when you decide to give CrossFit a try.

Disagree with me? Got something to add? Want some clarification or got a question?

Shoot me an email ( or comment on our social channels and I’ll gladly respond!

And stay tuned for my podcast (Podcast name TBD), the wheels are turning and it’s on the horizon for launch this fall.

I’m very excited about it because I’ll be able to dive deep into a lot of subjects like this and I won’t have to type as much, hahaha.

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