Sticking with our theme of honoring multiple individuals for Member(s) of the Month during Shelter in Place, this month we’ve chosen the awesome couple, Kal and Ann-Marie. These two have been coming to Croga for awhile now, but where they live, traffic and their work schedules really only let them come to the gym once during the week and on the weekends. Once Shelter in Place hit though and they had nowhere to go and full access to Croga via Zoom, they both took it up a notch and started joining in Croga classes and working out together 6-7 days a week! To go along with that, the extra time spent training with their friends and working on their skills has delivered a laundry list of PRs and athletic firsts. Your hard work and dedication to improving your fitness during this Shelter in Place has been extremely motivating, Kal and AM! We can’t wait to see you back at Croga so you can show off all your new skills and increased fitness. When did you each join Cróga? Kal: CJ brought me to a few partner workouts in 2018 and early 2019, and I had a great time. During the 2019 Open season, CJ convinced me to come to a Friday night lights and do 19.5 as my first workout, under the guise that he would do it with me. Then the big jerk went to China, so we FaceTimed him in and he was whispering in my ear to stop staring at it and pick up the bar while I basically died. The energy and the camaraderie from that night instantly hooked me, so we signed up not long after that. AM: CJ also brought me to a partner WOD as a gateway drug to Croga. It was pretty fun, but super tough. I really liked the competitive aspect as that is something that really motivates me in fitness. I love competing with the big dogs, even though I’m the tiny dachshund nipping at their heels. When we went to 19.5 I really loved the community and didn’t really want to leave. We signed up shortly after to do Saturdays since the commute during the week didn’t seem possible and we’ve been hooked since. What were you doing before for fitness? Kal: As you know, I come from a very fit family, so fitness has been an integral part of my life. As a child I played hockey (A Canadian playing hockey? Shocking!) and my family would go for long bike rides or rollerblading. I got big into weightlifting in my early 20’s and did it casually until I hurt my back pretty badly, then I swam a mile every day as part of the rehab. Before joining Croga I was coming off the back injury and feeling much stronger, so I was getting more seriously into powerlifting. That’s part of what drew Me to Croga, actually, was the fact that everyone I saw was more fit than me on things like running and the rowing machine, but they were actually slinging pretty big weights around too. I thought “maybe I can be super strong but ALSO fast!” So far the fast part hasn’t come yet, but I’m hoping one day it will. AM: Growing up for me was a stark contrast to Kal’s family. As a kid I hated bikes so I roller bladed around the neighborhood and my family played badminton. The only sports I did we’re in school, but I tore a ligament in my ankle early in high school and that was the end of it till late college. I did a bit of working out then but mostly cardio and continued that trend when I started working. I’ve had a lot of injuries to my joints so I never really got momentum working out until I moved in with Kal. Kal taught me some weight lifting and I did a minor amount of weights, but not too much. Minor squats, shoulder presses, curls. I got a bit stronger, but no where near where I’m at now. Now I’m so much more comfortable with weights and have a much better fitness tool belt. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Kal: I am basically an entirely new person. When I joined Croga I was about 5 months into a massive weight loss journey where I lost over 55lbs, I had terrible cardio, no gymnastic skills to speak of, and was still very limited in my mobility and strength. If you ever get a chance, look at my sign-in photo; when I took that photo I was almost 200lbs! Imagine a pudgy little pug trying to run with a bunch of dobermans and greyhounds, and you have a pretty close approximation of my first few months at Croga. Now I’m more like a sleek dachshund running with the dobermans and greyhounds. I’m not very big and I’m not very fast, but I can work my little legs to keep up and sometimes even get on the board! Actually though, the way I feel and perform has drastically improved. Shortly before I joined Croga I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease that results in chronic joint pain and severely limits mobility and flexibility. My hips had started to fuse together. There were a lot of movements I never thought I’d be able to do: squatting more than 100lbs was impossible, sit-ups, toes to bar, even burpees were a struggle. The awesome coaches helped me scale movements and worked with me to slowly progress, and the improvements have been almost unbelievable. At my first bourbon and barbells I was able to squat 225lbs, which was more than I’d ever thought possible. More importantly, at my follow-up MRI in October, I was told that I had actually reversed the fusion in my hips. The doctor specifically said “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it forever.” I have good days and bad days still, but Croga has helped me turn my bad days from “I can’t walk unassisted” to “Maybe I’ll only squat 185lbs today”. AM: My phone thinks I’m a different person! I was just coming off a big 30 lb weight loss when we started but I didn’t have much muscle or definition. Between Croga and Invisalign, my face shape has thinned out and changed, I’m also WAY more jacked. I’m starting to have resting definition in my arms which is just crazy and super cool. I also think I look way more proportional to my frame than I did which is very nice. Performance wise is like night and day, especially after increasing workouts during the quarantine. Even though old joint injuries are haunting me a bit, I’m much faster, much stronger, and my WOD scores show it. I’m finding that a lot of the movements that seemed impossible a year ago are now just in need of a bit of work. I’m a much different athlete than I was and feel way more like I’m actually competing with the guys than I did before. My doctor was also super impressed during my physical this year. Last year my blood work was all “just ok” this year he said “I wish my numbers were this good! What are you doing?!” What days and times do you usually join a Cróga OTB class? Kal: Before the quarantine, we were die-hard Saturday morning partner WOD people. AM and I would show up at 7:30AM and get in a quick bench with the boys, then crush the partner workout, then hang around for a little to do some mobility and have a nice chill Saturday with the lovely Croga community, then go home and I’d eat a 1000 calorie brunch before starting our day. We’d also go to the Wednesday powerlifting class, which was always a testosterone and pre-workout fueled blast of slinging big weights and making fun of Richard’s music choices. Since the quarantine, I’ve fallen into a pretty good routine for OTB: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I get up at the ungodly hour of 6:30AM, smash the 7:00AM crossfit class, eat a protein bar, and go back to sleep until 10:30AM or so, depending on when my first morning meeting started. Then I’d sign on to the 5:00PM class with AM and have a nice pick-me-up workout before making dinner and starting my evening conference calls. Tuesdays and Thursdays used to be 7:00AM crossfit, turn off my camera for my morning meetings because I’d still be shirtless and sweaty, then onto the 9:00AM ignite with Joy, but now it’s 7:00AM crossfit and then the Noon Ignite. If it’s a particularly fun one, I might also hop on the 5:00PM and do three-a-day. I’m definitely not addicted. I can stop whenever I want, ok?! Saturdays are ferda boys, so AM and I do a partner workout at 8:00AM, an ignite workout with Joy at 9:00AM, and I’m loving the new mobility workout at 10AM. Then I eat a 1000 calorie brunch and have a nap before starting my day. Sunday we’ll usually take some rest and do skill drills on a gymnastic skill I don’t have for 30 minutes to an hour. I’m hoping to have Double Unders before the quarantine ends! AM: The beginning of quarantine was really hard and I only really made it out to Saturdays. I felt like garbage and really only perked up when Kal dragged me to work out. Once things got a bit better work wise (I had been working China hours and was basically a walking zombie), I’ve been trying to make it out to 5pm (or noon if meetings get in the way) and get at least 4/5 weekdays in. As Kal said, the weekend is a team sport and we try to workout together. Saturday is such a marathon that my nutritionist had me add re-feeds on the weekend! By the way, it is super fun to finally have a skill I can crush Kal at (DUs) every Sunday on our “rest day”. That said, I did embrace the Croga spirit and give him some of the tips you guys gave me to help him along. What’s your favorite WOD or CrossFit movement? Kal: My favorite crossfit movement is definitely dramatically taking off your shirt in the middle of a WOD to get that extra energy boost. But actually, one of my favorite WODs I’ve ever done was a simple 20 minute AMRAP partner workout of each partner trades rounds on a barbell complex: 3 deadlifts – 3 power cleans – 3 push jerks. The complex goes VERY fast and the movements aren’t particularly tough for that low rep scheme, but it gets real spicy real quick. I did it with Kenny and he obliterated me. My favorite movement is anything that involves a barbell. Except thrusters. Thrusters and I are not friends. Thrusters can be replaced with kettlebell swings and Farmer Carries on my list of things I like. Oh! I also REALLY loved 1776. That was probably one of my favorite Hero WODs, because there’s a lot of teamwork and communication, and variation in the movements. Also hearing Richard say “guys I think we’re done” every 5 minutes was pretty great. AM: I really dig DB snatches, most of the other skills I like are ones I’m still working on so I love/hate them (DUs and HSPUs). I agree with Kal though 1776 was the most fun ever! I also love when Brett comes to town and we do one “stupid and long” workout, something like 100 Curtis P’s for time, or the 1000 rep challenge. It’s not the workouts themselves that I’m overly crazy about, more just the ridiculousness and the fun of suffering with friends. What’s your least favorite WOD or CrossFit movement? Kal: Honestly running. I hate running, which is sad because I used to love it. One of the side effects of my previous hip fusion is that the impact of running and having my center of gravity shifted forward like that is that it really lights up my lower back and deep in my hips after a while, so sustained running isn’t something I can do. Even worse is wall-ball runs. I’m getting much better at it, but I will always hate it. I also hate Double Unders. Actually, no, scratch that, I like Double Unders. I hate FAILING double-unders. I’ve been using the quarantine to work on getting them in the hopes that I will be a DU champ when we come back to the gym, and I look like a bad 50 Shades of Grey novel. I somehow managed to whip myself across the nose the other day. HOW?! I’m just waiting for the day I accidentally get my rope caught and it dramatically flings off my balcony down to the street 5 floors below. That will be fun to explain. AM: I’m not super crazy about push ups, probably because I’m bad at them, though I’m starting to improve a lot and I’ll probably feel better about them over time. I think my real disdain though is for wall walks. The huge push to learn HSPUs is to not have to scale to wall walks anymore. Also not a great fan of wall balls (as I’m sure is common in the tiny people club), mostly because to get it high enough I have to jump every time. EVERY time. They make me feel extra tiny. Any tips are appreciated (to preempt it: “Be taller” is not helpful. Looking at you, CJ.) “The Kal” WOD! What would it be? Oh, easy. I wrote this WOD for the WOD-writing contest and I’m still mad we haven’t done it. I call this one “The Filthy Pump”: 15 minute AMRAP: Max pushups – you can rest in yoga position, but every time you break and your quads touch the ground, do barbell complex: – 5 deadlift (135/95) – 5 power clean (135/95) – 5 front squat (135/95) Score is # of total pushups completed. I did a variation of this WOD with CJ and Brett a while back, and it is true to it’s name; you get the filthiest of pumps. It’s also absolutely gutting and a super fun challenge, and there are a few strategies involved: do I want to go for more pushups earlier and take it easy on the complex? Or stop the pushups before I fail and go hard on the complex? The combo of mental and physical aspects of Crossfit are fun to me, and this really covers both. “The Ann-Marie” WOD! What would it be? One that I like and do very often is: AMRAP 14 mins: 30 DUs 20 Alt. DB Snatches 10 Situps I used to scale this to single ropes, but I’m amped to try again with DUs. For me the snatches have to be at around 25lbs, but I’m hoping to pull that up over time. I think at this point I just need to do a little bit of form work. This workout though is why I held on with Dave so well during that one workout in the open. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? AM: Kal just looked over at me and raised his eyebrows suggestively. Maybe we’ll leave that part off. Kal: There’s no better feeling than a nice, warm post-workout shower. We generally like to have a big meal afterwards too, so going out for bagel sandwiches with the bench crew is always good, or going home and cooking some really good protein waffles and eggs. If the weather is nice, we also love to go chill in a hot tub for a while and stretch out. Oh, also, bicep curls. That’s immediately post-workout before any of that happens. What are your biggest fitness goals for the rest of this year? AM: probably HSPUs and kipping/higher volume pull-ups. The HSPUs to avoid wall walks and cause circus tricks are fun. The pull-ups to try and have for Murph next year. Oh! And 100lb bench. Ever since Dave mentioned on the podcast that he thought I’d get it, I’ve wanted it so badly. Only 5lbs to go. Kal: I really really really really really want to get a muscle-up. I can do weighted dips forever, I can do butterfly pull-ups, I just can’t seem to connect the two together. Also I’d like to make sure I continue to beat Mark G and CJ at workouts. Actually yeah, I’d take that over muscle-ups. Other than that, I’d love to get a 275lb bench, a 315lb squat, something more than 315lb deadlift, a 135lb snatch, and a 185lb Clean & Jerk. Those are very lofty goals, considering I don’t have a rack at home and I only recently got more than 100lbs for my bar, but I’d love it. What do you love about CrossFit? Kal: The community and the support is great. When I was just doing powerlifting on my own, I would enjoy putting on the music and just zoning out. Doing workouts at Croga where we come in early, hang out with the crew for a bit, then hit the workout hard and seeing everyone else working just as hard is such a great motivational drive to push myself. This shelter-in-place has been stressful for a social butterfly like me, and being able to log into the 7AM class, or 5PM class, and see a bunch of my friends ready to attack the day with me has been so uplifting. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the highlight of every day is logging in and throwing down with my crew, or hearing Cody say “What’s up guys”. AM: Of course the community, whenever I really don’t feel like working out I have this pull to go anyway to see my friends! I also really enjoy that the workouts are an hour max. One of the big barriers to entry I usually have is time and I can make an hour work. Plus that hour is so crammed full of movements and activity, it’s like two non-crossfit workouts. Which is just awesome! What words of advice do you have for people considering joining a CrógaOTB class? Kal: Just do it! Find a time that works for you and log in. Don’t worry about whether you can do the movements, or whether you’ll perform well. Everyone is there for fitness, fun, and friends. You will be welcomed in and the great coaches will find a modification for you that works, if needed. It’s a ton of fun, and it should be the best hour of your day. AM: It might seem insurmountable to commit. So just log in once to start. Pick one day and see how it goes. Once you get moving and laughing with everyone you’ll be energized to keep going with it, so don’t think about that, just one step at a time. Also, don’t look at the workout ahead of time or you’ll talk yourself out of it. Just go and everyone will take care of you. Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet? Kal: Honestly if you’re still here, I’m amazed. This was a lot of words that I wrote. Congratulations for making it this far! I really want to thank Croga for everything coach Dave, Cody, Jill, and all the wonderful coaches have done through this difficult time. The world is going crazy around us right now, and I’m so thankful to have a great community to support each other through this. I am so excited to get back in the gym soon. The first WOD we do will be a 10 minute AMRAP hugs. AM: Agreed! AMRAP hugs when we’re back! Thanks so much to all the coaches for laughing with us and helping us stay fit! You guys are the best!
It is with great pleasure that I get to announce our first multi-person Member of the Month award, as we chose to honor the entire Okamura Family! Shawn has been a stalwart of the 6 am class for years now and is a model athlete when it comes to consistency, focus, and hard work. We have watched Shawn make consistent progress month over month and year over year and with the current Shelter in Place order, he was able to convince his family to join him daily at noon for our Zoom workouts. There’s nothing we love more than watching our athlete’s significant others and children join them on their health and fitness journey and having the entire Okamura fam in class every day is as good as it gets. Congratulations on an awesome month Shawn, Dori, Joey, Jack, Jayden, and Jessie! What are the names of each family member? Dori (my wife), Joey (18 & senior at WGHS), Jack and Jayden (13 & 8th grade at WGMS), Jessie (11 & 5th grade at Booksin Elementary). What’s the order of family in height, tallest to shortest? I am the tallest (barely), then my son Jack (I pray he keeps growing… he sleeps so much lately that he had better be going through a growth spurt!), then Dori (barely) over middle daughter, Jayden, then Joey (our oldest daughter who hasn’t grown since her freshman year) and then Jessie. What days and times do you usually join a Cróga OTB class? Noon class, try to make it 2x/week. Aside from me, no one in our house is an early riser by choice. Noontime works best. We get a great workout in together and then enjoy lunch as a family. The 6 am class would be my first choice, but given we do it outside in our backyard, I don’t want to disturb our neighbors. What is each kid’s favorite exercise? It wouldn’t be accurate to describe any of the exercises as their “favorite”. However, they prefer the workouts with ab exercises. Mainly because they are not disciplined to do them on their own. Jayden (my middle daughter) struggled with situps in the beginning and is now proud that she can do a few good ones in a row 🙂 Oh… and they like happy penguins. For whatever reason, they amuse themselves by creating their own version of “happy penguins”. What is each kid’s least favorite exercise? Joey and I were literally stiff-legged walking after the 1st week. One of the 1st classes w/ them was something like 50 burpees and 100 air squats. After that, they tell me “no leg workouts Dad, I want to be able to go for runs”. Has anyone learned any new skills or gotten better at something during the Cróga OTB classes? In all seriousness, I really appreciate the stretching before and after each workout. It has helped with their overall flexibility. 3 of the 4 play basketball and I believe the workouts are helping them tone and their increased flexibility and strength will help their game. What are your biggest fitness goals for the rest of this year? Hah! Like everyone else, we are just trying to get through the shelter in place! Ironically, the stay at home order has helped bring me back to Croga. I was on a 5-month “vacation” from Croga prior to April. Honestly, doing the Ignite workouts has already helped me achieve some goals: spending quality time together as a family and getting back into shape. What’s your family’s favorite post-workout routine? I’m not sure what my family’s favorite routine is, but I know mine is eating the lunch that my oldest, Joey, prepares for me after each workout! Which family member is the funniest? It depends on who is in the most pain during the workout. We tend to keep our Zoom attendance on mute. We don’t want everyone else to hear our groaning and (sometimes) the kids complaining. The kids do seem to get a kick out of me when I am really struggling… somehow they find it very amusing when I am in pain and struggling through the workout. That’s love for you, right? What is each person’s favorite pizza topping? Jessie loves artichokes on her pizza. All of them enjoy loading up on veggie (arugula and spinach) and meat toppings when we hit MOD pizza. What words of advice do you have for people considering joining a CrógaOTB class? Just show up… through all this craziness, it doesn’t matter as much how hard you go. What matters is that you show up, get some endorphins flowing, maintain some semblance of normalcy with a good workout, and connect with everyone else on the call. Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet? I’m grateful to the Croga coaches and how they are showing up. Hailey and Cody have been awesome. While I am familiar with the exercises, my family is not. They take the time to demonstrate the moves and continue to encourage us (just like how it was in the actual class).
Since Rocky showed up at Croga late last year, he has been Mr. Consistent and has been an incredibly positive force on our 7 am class that has helped take everyone that attends that class time to a whole new level. Rocky walks in the door every day with a big smile on his face, something fun to laugh about during the warm-up and then when it’s time to hit the WOD he’s all business. Then, when the workout is complete, he’s back to his fun-loving and hilarious self. And since we were all forced to shelter in place this last month, he has only taken his positivity and hard work to another level with his 7 am crew becoming even more consistent and crushing it daily with CJ and Annie on video. Thanks for always working hard and having fun Rocky! We can’t wait to see you back at the box at 7 am in May!!! When did you join Cróga? Oct 2019 What were you doing before for fitness? Bro workouts. Mostly weights, no cardio, no mobility. Chest day was the best day. What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? The first session had a load of wall balls. I thought I waited long enough between lunch and gym time. I thought wrong…anyhow, post-workout was great, the atmosphere was good, and I wanted more. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Morning workouts @ Cróga are what sets the tone for the day, be it weekday or weekend. I look leaner, feel stronger, and come back wanting to get better each time. I’ve chosen to eat cleaner and reduce alcohol intake, mainly so I don’t feel so sluggish for the workouts. It’s been small habits that I’ve been changing for the long-term. What days and times do you come to Cróga? Most Days minus Sunday @ 7am. 7am solidarity crew. What’s your favorite WOD? DT, so far. What’s your least favorite WOD? WODs that contain wall balls and thrusters! “The Rocky” WOD! What would it be? Cal Rowing, Clean & Jerk and… I ran out of ideas. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? 1. Drink protein shake 2. Drink some coffee 3. Probably not in that order. If it’s the weekend, I like getting the outside chores done immediately after coming back from the workout(s). What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? I’ve relied on eggs, every which way, for meals throughout the day. The ease of making them and adding whatever I need, greens, other proteins, etc. Oh, and the air fryer is so useful! What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year? There’s a lot of goals, but one my bigger ones that I’ve focused on was getting under the bar for my Oly lifts. I realized I can’t power everything and avoid my weakness lol What do you love about CrossFit? 1. Albeit, Cróga is my first CF gym, the camaraderie and sense of community is unreal. Iron sharpens iron. 2. The variety of workouts. If you have a strength, good. If you have a weakness, good. You’re in good company. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Commit. Commit to showing up, and do the work. Your mind and body will appreciate it in the long run. Some days will be bad, some days will be good. Keep it positive. Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet? During this shelter-in-place, I’ve seen the leadership of Cróga shine, from coaches to members. From Cróga adapting all workouts to virtual to the members loaning gear to one another and organizing workouts with others to keep each other motivated, these are the moments that I’ll remember for a long time. Proud to be part of this group of amazing people. Thank you to the Cróga coaches and members, current and former, and I look forward to our next workouts together. There is no quit in this group, and I’m happy to have found Cróga.
Coach Preston loves a good salad. “I basically do giant salads 1-2x a day. For some people, myself included, cravings are minimized when you feel fuller, hence I prioritize a high veggie intake. I measured yesterday and I had over 1000g just in vegetables.” Salads are a great way to get lots of veggies, but can also come with a huge amount of hidden fat – usually crammed in the salad dressing. Below are some of our team’s favorite ways to get a dressing fix without blowing through all your fat macros for the day. Coach Preston – “I usually rotate through a variety of hot sauces. I know it sounds weird but I’ve been doing it for years! I used to use Bolthouse Farms because they have some great flavors but I found I love just hot sauce. Trader Joe’s Hot Taco sauce and Red’s Wing Sauce are staples, but then I have like 20 different hot sauce bottles in my fridge that I’ll rotate through to add extra spice.” Coach Preston’s Hot Sauce Collection Aviv’s Hot Sauce Collection Coach Meghan – “I am someone who wants ALL the creamy, fat-filled ranch or bleu cheese dressing on my salads. Like I literally want to drown them in it. But there’s so much fat in them – and the low-fat versions always taste gross to me. So my favorite hack is to combine some non-fat Greek yogurt with a small amount of something flavor-packed, and then loosen it up with lemon or lime juice (or even just water). I get to use a ton of it to cover every inch of my salad and I’ve found it much better than any low-fat store-bought creamy dressing I’ve ever tried. My favorite flavor mixers are harissa paste, romesco sauce, or olive tapenade.” Meghan’s Homemade Harissa Salad Dressing Tara – “We make a dressing that is equal parts olive oil, Dijon mustard, and some variation of vinegar (rice, balsamic, wine, etc). It’s good on all kinds of things, not just salads! We usually make single or double servings on the fly since it comes together really quickly. You could also make larger batches though and put it in My Fitness Pal as a recipe.” Coach Stephanie – “I use avocado, as a dressing and just mash it all up. Also sugar-free barbecue sauce!” Coach Dave – “I’m a hot sauce guy like Preston or I like a bunch of balsamic mixed with a tiny amount of olive oil and then salt and pepper.” Lina – “I like using lemon with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. I do it on the fly when I make a salad. Or champagne dressing.” Meghan – “Hot-Cold Chopped Salad!! This is how I get away with using no dressing at all! I find that most salads have big pieces of raw veggies that taste so dry to me – it’s why I always want to drown my salad in dressing. But, I’ve discovered the following trick that makes my salad less dry, and lets me get away with using no dressing at all. First, I separate the ingredients into “hot” and “cold.” “Hot” ingredients are ones I want to serve warm – always the protein, but others too. “Cold” ingredients are the ones I want to serve cold – the greens are always cold! Second, I roughly chop all the ingredients into bite-sized pieces and combine the “hot” separate from the “cold.” If I’m taking it to go – this is how I pack it up – separately. Lastly, when I’m ready to eat, I microwave the “hot” ingredients for 1 minute. This releases some of their moisture and then, when I mix them in with the cold gives me a less dry texture, and I can get away without any dressing at all! Below is an example with a spinach & chicken salad I might make!”
I love including lots of fruits and veggies each day in my meals – it’s an easy way to make sure I hit my fiber goal and get lots of natural vitamins and minerals. Most importantly though is the fact that I can be somewhat of a “volume” eater – I like to eat lots of food! 🙂 Fruits and veggies let me eat lots of volume and help me feel full, while still staying within my daily macros. And Coach Preston also shares, “My cravings are minimized when I feel fuller, hence my high veggie intake.” Coach Cody & Coach Dave recommend we aim for 800 grams (or 8 cups) of fruits and veggies per day. Below is a typical day of eating for me to show how I get to that 800 gram goal. How are y’all getting more fruits and veggies into your meals? 6:30 AM – Early Morning Snack with Coffee 9:00 AM – Breakfast 12:00 PM – Lunch 3:30 PM – Afternoon Pre-Workout Snack 7:00 PM – Dinner
Annie came to us about 6 months ago as an experienced CrossFitter and every single day she’s in class at 7 am is an absolute pleasure. Despite years of experience, she listens intently, is open to feedback, and makes the necessary adjustments and because of this we’ve really seen her take her CrossFit game to a new level. And, on top of that, she started with us as a Croga Nutrition client a few months ago and has been absolutely killing it on her macros and in the gym because of it. A few weeks ago she told me that she hasn’t slept this soundly in years and she has a whole new level of energy in the mornings and throughout her day now that she’s being fueled correctly and I couldn’t be happier. Annie is a wonderful athlete to honor as our Member of the Month because she is an incredible person to strive to be more like. She’s kind, fun, thoughtful, and dedicated to improving as a human daily. Congrats on your success so far at Croga, Annie! We can’t wait to see what the next 6 months and beyond hold for you. When did you join Cróga? September 2019, after almost 2 and a half years at another box. What were you doing before for fitness? 16 years as a swimmer. And then quite a few more attempting to recover from that post-retirement 🙂 What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? At Croga? I dropped into one of Coach Hailey’s classes for a DT like WOD. Think my feelings were something along the lines of “Yes, I’d like all of the barbell please…crap, that got heavy.” First ever Crossfit WOD? I definitely remember doing Fran for the first time during my on-ramp classes. “Well that was awful…When can we do it again?” What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? The biggest improvement I’ve seen is in my general confidence, in and out of the gym. Not being afraid to get outside of my comfort zone (embracing it, actually). The PR’s along the way are a fun bonus too 🙂 What days and times do you come to Cróga? Every weekday at 7am and Sundays! What’s your favorite WOD? Crossfit Total is fun. Or maybe DT. Who doesn’t love to lift all of the heavy things? What’s your least favorite WOD? Tommy Mac stole part of my soul. “The Annie” WOD! What would it be? Probably something with a gross amount of rowing or bike. Maybe a shoulder to overhead situation. Or a kettlebell. And not a burpee to be found. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? Sundays! Post-fitness coffee/breakfast bestie catch-up. What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? It’s not exciting, but blending protein into my coffee in the morning before coming into the gym has been a game-changer. I’m also having fun experimenting with whatever I’ve got in my refrigerator. What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year? Gah! There are so many! All of the gymnastics, continuing to improve and get consistent with my double unders, I’d love to deadlift 300# (that’s probably more than a year goal…) Maybe the biggest one though is to refine my clean/snatch technique, especially squat cleans/snatches. I want to be more comfortable getting under a bar quickly. What do you love about CrossFit? The challenge!! Every day I know I’m going to do something that pushes me outside of my comfort zone either physically or mentally (most of the time, both). That is so empowering. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Show up! ESPECIALLY on the days that you don’t want to and for the workouts that scare you. You’ll never regret it. Be prepared to try things that intimidate you, to fail, and to get back up when you do. And on the days that you’re not physically at your best, immerse yourself in lifting up someone else. You’ll be amazed at what it does for your mood (and your fitness!)
We asked Aviv for a testimonial and he wrote us a short story. Enjoy! The first cut is the deepest: reflections on my 4 month 25 lb weight-loss journey with Croga Nutrition (powered by WAG) My recollection from the initial few weeks of the cut was an overwhelming sense of relief. I was stuck in this cycle of “oh I’m so hungry, oh shoot I ate too much I’m such a slob let me eat less, oh man I’m so hungry…”. My hunger was compounded by the fact that I was training at Croga almost every day. In fact, I gained a bunch of weight during my first year of CrossFit. And I wasn’t trying to. I was trying to lose weight! I kept inexorably gaining weight no matter what I ate or did. It was like a train wreck that kept going on. In retrospect, after having quantified my intake very meticulously, I realize I was eating way too much fat and not enough protein (even though I thought I was). It was the least-clean bulk in the history of weightlifting. Sure, I gained a bunch of muscle. But what good is a bunch of muscle if it’s covered by even more fat? CrossFit was making me stronger but it sure as heck wasn’t making me any leaner. That’s where WAG nutrition came to the rescue. I was inspired to join after seeing some of the gains that other members who were on WAG were making. Losing fat, getting leaner and stronger. Once I started the nutrition coaching, I felt a weight lift from my shoulders. The responsibility of losing weight was now on someone else. All I had to do was hit my macros. I figured either it worked, and I’d get lean, or it didn’t in which case I’d complain to my coach. The beginning was a little rough. Not going to lie. I quickly learned that all those tips that you read about for losing weight (eat lots of small meals, don’t drink your macros), well, I needed to employ all of them to stay satiated. And even then, there were rough days here and there when I miscalculated how hungry I’d be after a workout and ended up shaky and starved. My coach put it plainly: you’re not going to lose weight without ever being hungry. It’s unavoidable, but it can be minimized. Somehow that made me feel better. I learned never to leave the house without a snack. I started eating six times a day. I started planning my meals the night before. I had actually tried tracking my macros prior to WAG and I found it time-consuming and tedious. This time around I was proactively planning rather than retroactively logging, and it made all the difference. Planning my meals became like a game or an optimization problem: how can I eat the most on a fixed budget? Advance planning became a must for me. And, since I do most of the cooking in the house it also meant that I had to take everyone else’s needs into consideration. I started a weekly menu so that I could plan in advance what to prepare each day and have the ingredients ready rather than trying to frantically pull something together at 6 pm. My five-year-old saw me trying to put together a menu for the first week, looked at me, and then asked why don’t we just have the same thing for each day of the week and then you won’t have to make a new plan each week (duh)? We agreed that Mon would be Pizza, Tue Tacos, Wed Burgers and Broccoli, Thu Asian, and Fri Frittata. It’s held ever since. Obviously, sometimes we move things around but I love having that weekly plan. That way when I shop, I just have to worry about having the ingredients for those meals plus veggies and protein for myself. Oh yeah, and I had another kid right about in the middle of my cut. To make things more interesting, my wife was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes in her second trimester and she was put on a special diet. This was initially pretty stressful for us, trying to manage two special diets until we realized that the low carb diet that was recommended to her wasn’t that different from what I was already eating. So I started making double portions of veggies and protein and she’d add some fat to it (avocado, sour cream). She was happy because she could keep her blood sugars down and she even lost a bit of weight in her last trimester which made her happy. Now I’m eating much more protein than I ever thought was possible for a vegetarian. I think it makes a huge difference for my recoveries. I bounce back from workouts so much more quickly now, whereas before I was pretty much in a constant state of DOMS. Overall, nutrition coaching has transformed my relationship with food. From some kind of weird dependence to one of complete control: I eat what I want when I want, and I don’t let anything get in the way. I’ve become notorious for ignoring free food and not joining team lunches. I’m shameless in my obstinance. They can keep that greasy Chinese food. I’ll keep my abs. What was it about the nutrition coaching that made it work so well for me? I don’t think that there was one single magic ingredient. Rather it was a combination of factors that increased my chances of success. A supportive community was one. Seeing people further down the same road that I had started on was encouraging. The other thing was my coach, Preston. He was crucial in providing encouragement and guidance as well as a sense of accountability. His answers to my questions at the weekly check-ins were always so well thought out and showed careful consideration. It made me feel good to know that there was someone tracking my progress carefully and making adjustments as needed. It was also someone I could share my progress with and who was wholeheartedly dedicated to my success. I lost a bunch of fat but I’m not done yet. I’ve decided to keep going with WAG and continue on to a longer-term coaching relationship with Preston. I want to drop the last vestiges of my former fat self. And then I’m going to try to bulk again. Hopefully, do it right this time. Get back to moving more weight again. It’ll be fun. I’m confident I can do it.
I do my best not to play favorites at the gym, but it’s pretty hard not to put a guy as kind and clever as John toward the top of the list of people you enjoy having as a member. He’s one of those people whose brain just always seems to be working faster than most and he’s always ready with some kind of quip or pun to interject into the conversation if you look his way, even when he’s close to death mid-WOD. One of the first things I remember John telling me when he joined is that he’s never been much of an athlete, but over the last 5 years, it has been a pleasure to watch him grow as an athlete and improve month over month due to his dedication and consistency. It’s also a ton of fun for me every fall to talk to him every Sunday about how many push-ups he did the day before based on how many points Notre Dame put up against one of their weak ass scheduled opponents. I think in season 1 he struggled to make it out of the first quarter doing all the reps and now he crushes 100s each Saturday with ease. Congrats on another great year, John! Keep up the good work and keep the laughs coming. When did you join Cróga? I joined in 2015 after seeing Coach Dave at Rookies & thinking, “Damn, that dude is built!” (I was having drinks with Kevin Sakai at the time, and he convinced me I wouldn’t literally die at CF.) What were you doing before for fitness? Mostly drinking Bailey’s, feeling bad, and running laps in my head. Well, that plus elliptical. What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? It was a 6 am class, and watching guys like Doug, Ben, and Kevin manhandle weights, I thought, “My God, what have I gotten myself into?” I still feel that way roughly half the time. 🙂 But Dave pointed out that “Cróga” means “Brave,” so I suck it up and do the work. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Great question. I don’t do much to quantify my progress, but as long as my feeling around the pool remains “Not Actively Terrible,” I’m doing okay! What days and times do you come to Cróga? I’ve really gotten into Ignite classes, which are no joke despite their modest origins! I try to catch 2 or 3 per week, plus I really enjoy Saturday partner WODs. The community is what keeps me engaged & motivated, so I like sharing suffering + humor with friends. What’s your favorite WOD? Pretty much any partner stuff works for me, especially if I don’t have to watch comparatively humongous dudes throw around intimidating weight. “The John” WOD! What would it be? Let’s say 10 rounds of pistols, double unders, muscle ups, and handstand push-ups. Every time it would be programmed, I would simply walk into the ocean instead of trying any of it. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? To quote Eddie Murphy as James Brown, “HOT TUB!!” What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year? I’d most like to inspire my sons, helping them overcome their fear & lethargy. I want them to see that if I can get my uncoordinated carcass moving, anyone can! What do you love about CrossFit? Making people laugh (ideally more “with” than “at”), including via ironic posters & vids for the Open, etc. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and you’re only competing with yourself—especially the version of you that’s still on the couch.
The 2019 Croga Member of the Year was an absolute no brainer, it HAD to be Meghan Pierce. Her decision to take a leap of faith and trust the process, her commitment to going all in, her enthusiasm along the way and the progress she’s made not only physically, but mentally, are nothing short of incredible and have inspired not only other members to follow in her footsteps, but even the coaching staff to break down barriers and do things we all never thought possible. As you read through Meghan’s answers to our year-end questions below you’ll get some pretty good insight into how awesome her journey has been to be a participant in, but some of the things she doesn’t mention that made choosing her such an easy decision are below: She lost over 40 lbs in 7 months and when you see her now she looks strong, confident, and happy – ALL THE TIME. She reached countless physical milestones including getting her first pull-up, toes-to-bar, pistols, handstand push-ups and made it through The Open with multiple workouts completed RX’d, all things that weren’t even on her radar at The Open in February/March. She raised $1,060 for Barbells for Boobs in the month of November and did 1,060 burpees along the way as a thank you for every dollar donated. All because Cody and I peer pressured her to set up a page on our weekly Fast Times at Croga CrossFit podcast. With all that said, thank you, Meghan, for such an amazing year. It has been a ton of fun being your coach, cheerleader and mentor and we’re all looking forward to watching all that you’re able to accomplish in 2020. What are some new things that you have learned about yourself since starting CrossFit?There are two things that immediately come to mind – that might seem contradictory, but I think actually make sense together. I’m capable of more than I ever thought – Even though I played some sports growing up, I was never very good. So while I secretly harbored dreams of being super fit, I had convinced myself I just wasn’t very athletic and couldn’t do certain things. CrossFit has decimated those mental limitations for me. I’ve done things that I never thought I could and I’ve become so much less fearful of trying (even if it means risking failing)! I can’t do it all on my own – To be honest, I dragged my feet on really going all in on the gym and joining a nutrition program because I just kept telling myself I should be able to do it on my own. I kept saying “you know what you should eat” or “you know what to do at the Big Box gym down the street” – and kept trying to white-knuckle through it with sheer willpower. It wasn’t until I admitted to myself, “You need others to help you do this – both for the accountability factor, but also for their experience,” that I finally was able to get things to click. So in short – I can do hard things, but not without others! 🙂 You made an enormous amount of progress in 2019, what fueled you to keep going when the going got tough?There’ve been two phases that have been the toughest. The first was the first three months when I really committed to the gym and started nutrition-coaching – Aprilish to June. During that beginning time, I think it helped a ton that I only focused on process goals. I didn’t set any expectations for myself regarding outcomes (times or weights to hit, numbers to see on the scale, etc); I just said “Show up to class at least 5 times a week, work hard, eat to your numbers and trust Cody & Dave. Keep your head down, do what you’re told, trust the process, and it will work.” That was hard because I am a big numbers person, but it kept me going because it guaranteed I could see “wins” no matter what the short-term outcomes were. Lately, the last two months of this year, post-open, when, from my perspective at least, it’s starting to feel like visible wins and growth are coming much more slowly (probably because from July to October, basically everything I did was a PR lol). So in addition to reminding myself to continue to trust the process, I’ve been reminding myself to enjoy the process. A quote I saw recently said “Before you dream about the view from the summit, ask yourself if you’re willing to keep your head down and spend your life walking up a very big hill. It can take years of walking to earn a minute at the top.” I figure I’ve got a lot of walking ahead of me, so I better enjoy it. You signed up for Croga Nutrition in May and lost 40 lbs by December. With your travel for work, this took a lot of discipline. Did you have a mantra you used to keep you on course throughout this journey?Yes! “We fail to the level of our systems.” (from the book Atomic Habits which I highly recommend!) For a long time with my eating, I convinced myself it was all about willpower and discipline. However, my discipline never lasted and I’d fall off the wagon – hard! This time, I really, really worked to put myself in a position where I didn’t need to exercise as much discipline at first. Catered work event – I’m bringing my own lunch! Work travel – I’m purposefully booking a hotel next to a Whole Foods and going shopping for meals the first night. For the first three months, I rarely put myself in a position where there were any surprises eating-wise. My colleagues started joking that they never saw me eating something I didn’t pull out of my ubiquitous “food bag” I’d bring every day. I knew it wasn’t long term sustainable, but it was what I needed to get started. Then I started adding in more opportunities to estimate, make decisions on-the-fly, etc, but the systems and habits I built are still there as a foundation. Who was your biggest cheerleader this past year? Care to give them a shoutout?I’m deeply aware that I never could have done anything I did this year without the epic Croga community there to support me! I feel eternally grateful! As for shoutouts: At the top of the list has got to be Cody. A couple of months ago, when I started doing RX workouts more regularly I was feeling really discouraged because I felt so slow (again!). When I was complaining to Cody about it, he shared with me about that time in his CF journey and how he would be the last person finishing in the class for months. He told me I needed to just keep doing what I was doing and also helped me remember how far I had come. From post-open “proud of you” texts, “F-yea!” notes after hitting big weight loss goals, or filming my first pull-ups – it’s been his support, encouragement and coaching that have helped me get here, and I can’t thank him enough! I can’t get enough of Dave’s wisdom and enthusiasm. One day I showed up to Oly class and I was the only one – I basically got an hour individual coaching from Dave on my snatch and it was the best!! Also, his occasional enthusiastic “Atta Girl” from across the gym when he noticed me doing something hard always kept me pushing myself for more! All the members of the gym, and specifically the regular 3:30 weekday and 8 AM Sunday crews: y’all gave me a safe space to try, fail and grow! Outside the gym, my family, and specifically my sister & brother-in-law, continually inspired and encouraged me throughout this whole year! What’s your biggest fitness goal for this upcoming year?I have so many – a whole Google Doc’s worth in fact 🙂 I feel like I want to get better at everything! Really, it’s what at the top of the doc: “Get Stronger, Faster & More Agile: Get More Fit!!” Specifically though, I’m focusing on improving technique and increasing strength on my Oly lifts – I’m coming for you snatches! – and continuing to string together bigger and bigger sets of various gymnastic movements. You’ll likely see me being best friends with bars on the rig after class. Also Double Unders because #fudoubleunders. And last, but definitely not least, is beat Steven in a WOD! That is definitely happening and I will engrave it on the PR board permanently when it finally does 🙂 What’s your favorite way to “use your fitness” outside the gym?Going on hikes throughout the Bay Area and exploring new cities and places on foot! If you could have one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?Well if I could have one meal forever without any nutritional considerations, it would probably be my family’s homemade Christmas Eve dinner – green chile pork, posole, fresh tortillas, guacamole, tamales, homemade tiramisu for dessert. However, if I actually had to only eat one meal for the rest of my life it would probably be what I eat 90% of the time anyway – a veggie/meat/grain bowl. Throw some roasted veggies, grains and meat in a bowl, mix it up with a greek yogurt-based sauce. Boom! If you could have a conversation with anyone that ever existed, dead or alive, who would it be?Hmmm…. well I think a good option could be Amelia Earhart. Not only would I bet she’d have some great thoughts on perseverance, dedication, and how to be a trailblazer – but she could also tell me definitively where she disappeared to! 🙂 If you could give your former self any piece of advice about your current journey, what would it be?The beginning is the hardest part! There’s a reason they say “objects in motion stay in motion” – overcoming the inertia to start is often much harder than sustaining it! Keep going! Anything else you would like to add?Just once again THANK YOU to the amazing community that is Croga! So excited for 2020!
Oh, Whitney… There’s a few members at Croga that are chronically “late” (we start every class 3 minutes late on purpose so that these people are on time), and Whitney is one of them. However, sometimes I wonder if these people are just really good at being on time and since they know we’re going to start 3 minutes late, they don’t want to waste those 3 minutes leaving their house early. Is that the case, Whit? Either way, I find it amazing when you walk in the door at :03 every single day, especially since I’m the guy that walks in at :48 usually because I’m always worried I’ll be late. When Whitney walks in the door right on time for every class, it doesn’t seem to phase her. When I tell horrible jokes, she always gives me a courtesy laugh. When I tell her to row faster even though she’s the shortest one in the room, she humors me and pulls harder for a few seconds even though she knows her legs aren’t going to get longer, and on top of all of this, she quietly kicks ass in every single class she is in. Whitney is an anaesthesiologist and when I found that out about her, it explained a lot. She is always as cool as a cucumber and her calmness and poise even when she’s dying from crushing the workout are incredible. And to top that off, she worked out throughout her whole pregnancy and was the same way all the way through a few weeks before the baby was due. You wouldn’t have even known except when she turned sideways. Whitney and her husband, Kenny, are just two absolutely wonderful people that I like more and more every month and year that I get to know them. They’re great parents and examples for all of us and I’m glad we chose to honor one of our new moms as our MotM. Congrats, Whitney!!! When did you join Cróga? November 2017 What were you doing before for fitness? I was eating ice cream on the couch and watching reality TV. I was not athletic by any means, nor did I do any exercise on a consistent basis. However, I needed a way to get in shape before my wedding and there happened to be a CrossFit box half a mile away from my apartment in Baltimore. I did not know ANYTHING about CrossFit before my first class. The orange theory fitness/yoga classes were a ten minute drive away which was too much effort in my books. I gave CrossFit a shot and I’m still here today. What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout? My first foundations one had wall balls, burpees and box jumps. By the fifth wall ball I remember wanting to curl up in the corner and die. Unfortunately, it was a one on one foundation class so there was pressure to not just quit then and there. To this day whenever I watch someone do wall balls for the first time and have the same look that I did of “wow this sucks,” I feel for them. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Pre-CrossFit, Kenny (my now hubby) could not get me to row faster at the gym if my life depended on it. I would tell him if he wanted to hang out with someone who could row faster he should go find another girl. It was all too ironic I started CrossFit by myself. When he joined me in a CrossFit class three months after I had started he could not believe the difference in ability and attitude I had when it came to working out. Gainz since then only continue, especially as I have been more serious about the nutrition piece. What days and times do you come to Cróga? I’ve come to every class time since I’ve joined. Thank you to everyone, especially the coaches, who have tolerated my little sidekick tagging along. If I’m at class now one of the following conditions are met: 1. The baby is in a good enough mood to take her out in public (9:30am, 3:30pm, 4:45pm) 2. The baby kept me up all night and I’m awake anyway (5am, 6am) 3. I have someone to co-watch the baby with or someone is watching the baby (7am, 5:30pm, 6:30pm, weekends) What’s your favorite WOD? Anything with movements that I can more or less do without too much scaling (sit-ups, burpees, jump rope). What’s your least favorite WOD? Anything with handstand push-ups. I really hate the feeling of being upside down. “The Whitney” WOD! What would it be? The pyramid WODs are my favorite. For time: 10 DB thrusters 20 DB hang power cleans 30 burpees 40 sit-ups 50 doubleunders 40 sit-ups 30 burpees 20 hang power cleans 10 DB thrusters What’s your favorite post-workout routine? Being 3 minutes late to my next appointment after Croga =). My profession effectively involves multiple shots of adrenaline during the day. Likewise, when I am not at work, I find it boring if I am not constantly rushing around. I consider it a victory if I am the last person on the plane right before the gates close. What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga? I love peanut butter so PB2 has been the latest game-changer when I’m looking for a snack. I’ll even try to eat the powder without adding water because water is too much effort – it does not always end well. Other very close seconds – perfect bars (I refused to eat any protein bars before), food scale (I realized that at work I would easily eat 12-16oz of red meat in one meal). What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year? With the baby/work the short term goal is to try to keep consistently coming to class. A pull up would be otherwise my next biggest fitness goal. What do you love about CrossFit? The variety, the intensity and the fact that I don’t have to run very long distances. Self-motivation was clearly not working for me before CrossFit. Doing a similar workout with intense, motivated and fit people challenges me to work harder than I would on my own. It is nice to know that when I am randomly up before my alarm goes off and the sun comes up there is a special place where there are (perhaps crazy) people that are ready to get a good workout in. What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga? Just do it! I was about as un-athletic as you could get before I started CrossFit at all and it many times is the best hour of my day. Each WOD is a unique challenge vs going to a fitness class that is a “routine” so it is difficult to get bored of going to CrossFit. This cannot be said enough – the coaches at Croga are AMAZING! They actually care about you and make sure that you’re doing movements correctly. I have now tried out a few other CrossFit gyms when I was looking for a gym in the area and on vacation and this is definitely not always the case. Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet? Nothing! If you’re reading this I’m glad you made it to the end of my ramblings. This was not Whitney in 100 words.
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