Rob N. Is The April Member Of The Month

I don’t want to put words in Rob’s mouth, but this might have been the greatest month of Rob’s life so far. First, he won the Croga Member of the Month award for his hard work, dedication and consistent focus on incremental progress, and then, he became a dad!!! It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask me.

And what a dad he is going to be to his little boy, Lincoln. Rob always has a smile on his face, is an eternal optimist, never backs down from a challenge and is a ton of fun inside and outside the gym. Congrats on the MoTM, Rob, but a bigger congrats to you and Wendy on the newest addition to the family!

When did you join Cróga?
Wendy tricked me into competing in the 2017 Open without knowing what I had signed up for. I loved the challenge and inescapable feeling of death when I finished the workout. Became official member in October 2017. The real date that’s important is the first day I beat Jose Cong in a workout, Dec 3rd, 2017. My proudest moment as a member.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Primarily the shake weight, thigh master, and dabbled in jazzercise but it didn’t really feel right, I think it was the leotard.

My main background would be as a long distance runner. But I had been lifting weights on my own since college. Averaged about one leg day every 10 years or so. Pretty good base for Crossfit.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
Wendy told me we were going to get ice cream and buy a puppy but instead, she brought me to Croga and I did the open.

So I guess 17.1 or 17.2. I think deadlift, weighted lunges, and pull-ups?

What I do know is that I stared off into the distance for a while trying not to puke after that one.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
I’ve found something I’ve only heard of before. I think it’s called a butt? Whatever it is, it pushes up on my jeans in the back of pants now.

I can proudly say that my usual medium shirts that in my opinion used to make it look like i didn’t work out at all (tiny forearms and hidden biceps) which transitioned to a snug Smedium, to now super tight. NEW goal is to get them to the holy grail “deuchebag tight or creepy weird guy at the gym tight” size, which is where it’s obvious I could/need to buy a larger shirt, but I’d rather show off that muscle tightness. Then repeat this process with a size large shirt. Then get where I’m so swole I don’t need a shirt.—-insert any CJ Vincent shirtless joke here—

This is the strongest and most fit I’ve ever been, never would I have thought that’d I’d be able to deadlift and squat as much as I can now. Body composition has completely changed. I am the heaviest I’ve been, but in a gainz and muscular way that I have never been before.

I can also say that I have been surprised at how well my cardio (running) has been even without running a lot. Because I am stronger, I am significantly more powerful running and in softball.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I have been pretty consistent with hitting Croga in the afternoons, 5:30 on most days, and weekends at 9 am.

What’s your favorite WOD?
Anything where I can beat Jose and CJ.

Which usually means something longer in the 15-20 minute range, body weight or lightweight barbell activities and medium reps 10-20, and having a run in there absolutely helps.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Overhead squats, snatches, handstand push-ups… anything overhead.

Large amounts of thrusters are miserable as well… like 19.5, horrible.

“The Rob” WOD! What would it be?
Rob WOD would look like this:
Backwards hat ✅
Africa on repeat performed by WEEZER on speakers ✅

In 5 minutes: Chug a “Bang” energy drink, rub Icy Hot all over body…

Then for time:
40 double unders
20 burpee box jump overs
20 chest to bar pull-ups
20 toes to bar
400-meter run
5 bar muscle ups
400-meter run
20 toes to bar
20 chest to bar pull-ups
20 burpee box jump overs
40 double unders

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Beer, ibuprofen, whiskey in that order.

Physical Therapist answer: Stretching, soft tissue massage, cupping, icing, heat… Any or all of this should be a part of everyone’s routine in some regard before and after workout out to prevent injuries.

What do you love about CrossFit?
The competition and camaraderie are something I haven’t had since high school. And that is what I have fallen in love with. Great group of people who have similar interests.

As a therapist, I love that CrossFit brings out the strengths and weaknesses of an individual, and we all have them. Seeing my weaknesses in my fitness has absolutely made we work on things I never would have thought of before. This is important for everyday life as well as fitness.

Prior to Crossfit, my fitness was very linear, and now I am a much more well rounded.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
Seeing that my usual diet consists of Monster energy drinks, bagel bites, easy Mac, and Brand-O (it has electrolytes)… I have room for improvement.

I’ve never been big on cooking to be honest, this is an area I need to improve upon going forward, but I really have enjoyed knowing that I can take on more calories and gain muscle.

LeanFeast has been huge!

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I think it would be great if I could be strong enough to deadlift 400 and fast enough run a sub-5-minute mile on the same day.

Not sure if that’s super realistic, but I think it can be done.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Just get in here! It’s ok to not be great at all or any of the movements at first. All things take time. I guarantee you will be faster, stronger, and look better. As with anything, consistency is the key. I did not see big improvements in strength and skills until I fully committed to at-least 13 visits a month. Even more so when I went unlimited visits. Even more when I got one on one work with Cody for skills, and even more when I had Cody write RX + workouts for me. Increased practice/training = more gains= higher fitness and feeling better.

Also, you need to listen to your body, if not feeling well talk to a coach and have them alter the workout for you. Any movement can be altered. For injury prevention, every person no matter what fitness level, would benefit from increased stretching and range of motion as well as extra core strength. These are things that will help keep you healthy in Crossfit and regular life. So these things take extra time but are essential for success and preventing injury.

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New Coach Spotlight: Hailey S

When you get the opportunity to chat with Hailey about who she is and how she got to where she is today, it becomes apparent quickly that coaching is right where she belongs. She grew up playing a wide range of sports, Gymnastics, Basketball, Water Polo & Swimming, she then worked in sports with jobs for the San Jose Sharks and the Pac-12 and then she took her experience and personable nature into a pursuit of a career in coaching.Armed with the knowledge that has been passed on to her by high-level coaches in both team and individual sports and her passion for making each of her classes a joy to be in and improving the lives of her athletes daily, she has quickly become another coach that the Croga members look forward to seeing on the class roster.

Full Name: Hailey Smith

Tell us a little bit about your family, job, and interests:
I’m born and raised in the Bay Area. I grew up in Redwood City and went to Menlo School for middle school and high school before moving back east to attend The University of Maryland where I played Water Polo. After graduating I worked for the San Jose Sharks for a year and then moved on to work for the PAC-12 before deciding to get into coach. Now I am a full time coach! In addition to Croga, I am now coaching at NCFIT, Orangetheory Fitness, and at City Beach volleyball helping with sports performance and powerlifting.

What was your athletic background before you started CrossFit?
Growing up I was a competitive gymnast. I retired from gymnastics right before high school and spread my time out between playing water polo, basketball and swimming. I was very fortunate to have a full-time strength and conditioning coach at my school, so I was introduced to Oly lifting and powerlifting at a relatively early age. But it wasn’t until training for water polo in college that I really started to fall in love with lifting.

What made you decide to become a CrossFit Coach?
I wanted to be a CrossFit coach because I remember as just a member at a gym thinking about how much I loved my coaches. How much the gym was always the best part of my day and how much they impacted not just my fitness but my person. I had one coach in particular who said one thing to me while we were in open gym together and it completely changed the way I looked at my body and the way I train. It was such an important moment in my life, far more important than that coach even realized. I hope that I can have that same impact even on one person I coach.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cardiologist. I actually wanted to do that until I took some chem classes in college and realized there was no way I could make it through organic chemistry…and that was the end to my pre-med path! 🤣 I also wanted to be an astronaut, but I didn’t understand the concept of black holes and I thought one was going to kill me on my way to the moon, so that was the end of that.

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
If I could be any animal I’d probably want to be a dolphin. They are brilliant and so playful and cute or a koala because all they do is eat and sleep.

What is the one food that you could never give up?
One food I could never give up is burritos.

Favorite quote:
It’s a Hawaiian proverb. “Ua ola loko i ke aloha” which means “love gives life within.” It’s been my favorite quote since I first heard it in high school and it’s kinda my life mantra. If you show compassion and love, and put love into everything you do, it’s the best and surest way to find happiness.

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Preet S. Is The March Member Of The Month

If you swing by Croga in the early evening for Ignite at 4:45 or CrossFit at 5;30, 90% of the time you’ll run into one of our friendliest and most outgoing members, Preet. She showed up one day last spring with a CrossFit Nola tank top on and a huge smile and I immediately knew she was going to fit right in. Most of our members say hi to new faces and introduce themselves and then give the new people a high five at the end of class, but what I love about Preet is that she is the one that takes it a step further. It’s rare that a class ends with someone new in it that she doesn’t end up chatting with them for 15-20 mintues about who they are, what they do for work and fun, and becoming instant friends. For this, as well as how consistently she attends and works hard in class, Preet is one of the people that I would consider “model members” for the gym and the community we have always been working to build at Croga. Thank you for being awesome, Preet! Congratulations on being our Member of the Month for March 2019, you definitely deserve it.

When did you join Cróga?
I joined in March 2018 – so just about a year ago. When I moved from New Orleans, one of the first things I wanted to do was join a gym here.  I was a little worried that I’d end up in too big a community and not find a gym I felt at home in. I ended up just googling “Crossfit San Jose” and Cróga was the first one that popped up and I signed up for a free workout.  It was like going on a blind date :).  My first class at the gym, everyone was so welcoming and encouraging that I knew it was the right fit for me.  I never even tried any other gyms. So began my relationship with Cróga.  We’re going on a year now!

What were you doing before for fitness?
I was living in New Orleans and going to a box there – Crossfit NOLA.  I also was an avid spinner, so I would do both throughout the week.  I also trained for a half marathon and even though I don’t love running, used it as a challenge.  I try to keep active by doing anything that gets my body moving.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
Over the course of the last year at Cróga I’ve seen myself get stronger and have pushed myself to do more than I thought I could.  Even though I’ve been doing Crossfit for five years now, it was my first year participating in the Open.  That had a lot to do with the encouragement of coaches and fellow gym goers.  I’m so glad I did it as for the first time ever I was able to do handstand push-ups.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
You can usually catch me at Ignite and a 5:30pm class.

What’s your favorite WOD?
Murph (as a partner WOD), Cindy or Angie.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Anything with Squat Snatches

“The Preet” WOD! What would it be?
My favorite WODs include burpees, kettle bells, box jumps, HPCs, dead lifts and push jerks.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Besides wanting to pass out sometimes, it depends on the workout.  Since I take evening classes, I usually go home and cook a healthy dinner. Cooking is my hobby and if I wasn’t a Social Worker, I’d probably be a chef!

What do you love about CrossFit?
The community it’s built.  I don’t know how many Crossfit conversations I get into with complete strangers when Crossfit is mentioned.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
Asian Box! Thanks for the rec!

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I’d like to be able to get some toes-to-bar and pull-ups.  I feel like I’m so close, but just need that final push to “get” each of them.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Come take a class and feel how great the community is.  Coaches are amazing and are always encouraging.  You get to start your fitness journey exactly where you are at and watch it go from there. No one makes you feel like you have to do more than you are able.  Give it a shot, you have to start somewhere!

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
When I’m not at Cróga you can catch me hanging with my family, cooking, traveling the world, hiking, watching sports and being an avid social justice warrior.  I’m also a beast at binge-watching TV shows.

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Ben P. Is The February Member Of The Month

When someone told me that Ben had never been our Member of the Month, I almost fell out of my chair. Not only was Ben one of our very first members (I think he joined in our first month of business, 6 years ago), but he’s one hell of an athlete and is consistently in the gym day in and day out unless he’s on a well-deserved vacation.

Ben is one of the hardest working, smartest, kindest, friendliest and most genuine people I’ve ever met and I feel blessed that when I was 18-years-old I just happened to be assigned to him as his summer intern. He is someone that I have always enjoyed spending time with and learning from and the only reason I can think of that he’s never been given this honor is because he’s just the most consistent person you may ever meet.

There are only a few people in this world that I look up to as role models and Ben is most definitely one of them.

Ben, please forgive me for not giving you this award sooner, you are on the shortlist for member of the decade.

When did you join Cróga?
I started working out at Croga before the doors opened by helping Dave install some flooring. Don’t inspect the floor too closely. You will quickly see why I am in the management side of construction.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Just normal life stuff. I am a horrible self-motivator when it comes to fitness.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
That was too long ago. I can barely remember what Monday was. I do remember that even though I thought I was in good shape I was totally surprised how much it hurt.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
Look, I don’t think I have gotten any better looking. Feel, my hands are much rougher. Performance, up significantly. I bounce back faster from injuries, don’t get winded with outdoor activities and enjoy beating my kids at everything including handstands.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I try avoid the judging eye and critical comments from Steven in the afternoon, so I go when he and my kids are still asleep at 5:00 a.m. You probably won’t see me in the afternoon or on a weekend (Family Time!).

What’s your favorite WOD?
Besides the warm-up, anything with gymnastic movements. I also love chippers.
What’s your least favorite WOD? Probably one with heavy weights and prescribed rests. I would rather get to work and get done.

“The Ben” WOD! What would it be?
100 Air Squats – 90 Sit-ups – 80 Double Unders – 70 Walking Lunges – 60 Push Ups – 50 Box Jumps or weighted step ups – 40 Wall Ball – 30 Hollow Rocks – 20 Pull-ups – 10 Hand Stand Push Ups

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
As I stretch out and wait for my heart rate to slow down I enjoy a little humor. Have you ever seen Kevin Sakai (try to) stretch or (try to) understand the WOD description? It’s comical and makes me feel better about myself.

What do you love about CrossFit?
Show up, do what you’re told and get work done. It’s an hour out of my day when I don’t have to think or worry about anything.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
Sorry, but Croga doesn’t introduce me to any culinary discoveries. I do this so I can eat what I like. I tried to do the whole 30 once and lasted about a week. I was pissed, I skipped out one day on an Ice Cream truck and quit the next day.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I would say 42 unbroken pull-ups, but I think that ship has sailed. I don’t know. I guess it would be good to have one. Should it be something I like or getting better at something I really suck at like Pistols?

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Don’t over think it, show up and get to work. It will change your life in one way or another.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Nah, just that I love you guys! You’re working hard to impact people’s lives in a positive way!

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Food for Thought: Gaining Muscle While Losing Fat Including Data To Back It Up

For anyone that has been a dedicated CrossFitter for a significant period of time, this blog post is going to come as no surprise, but it’ll still be awesome, I promise.

For people with traditional weight training backgrounds, you’ll probably think I’m lying until I show you the data.

For those of you that do circuit training classes that say they’re having you lift weights, but you never actually seem to get stronger or more fit, this is my “you should try CrossFit and see what happens” argument because what you’re doing now is just making you sweat a lot and not much else.

A couple of days ago I received an email from one of our members, Ton Men, with the subject “Progression”.

At first, I thought this was going to be an email where she asked for some advice on how to achieve a high-level gymnastics movement through a progression of easier movements.

When I opened the email and started reading I realized this was not at all what it was about.

It was an email that outlined some pretty incredible results in her first 9-10 months of CrossFit, most notably the most recent 4 months and it included some significant and extremely accurate data.

Over the last 10 months, Ton Men has slowly increased her average monthly attendance, time spent doing extra credit and focus on her nutrition and boy does it show!

As is not uncommon for female athletes new to CrossFit and serious weight training, it took some time to figure out what her actual limits were on strength movements and to then be able to attack them and push herself, but once she got going there was no looking back.

What you’ll see here is the results of four BodySpec body composition tests that Ton Men has had done since she started CrossFit (the first scan was less than 1 month into joining Croga).

What you’ll see as you look at the data is that over her first seven months of CrossFit, Ton Men gained .8 lbs of body weight, but did so by losing 2.6 lbs of fat and gaining 3.5 lbs of muscle.

There might be some people out there that would like slightly quicker results than that, but I doubt anyone would be complaining about those results.

But wait until you see what happened next…

Check Out Those Arms

As Ton Men started doing some extra personal training, really pushing herself on her strength training by lifting heavier weights as her quality of movement improved, attending 1-2 extra classes a week and often staying after to work on some extra credit she started to see RAPID improvements.

In the most recent three and a half months, Ton Men has gained another 4.8 lbs.

Something that almost all women, and men, would not be happy about if they were working out harder and eating better.

But here’s the beauty of it…

She did that by LOSING 2.2 lbs of FAT!

While GAINING 7 lbs of MUSCLE!

In just 16 weeks.

Oh, and to add to the significance of this result, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years all fell inside this 16-week block.

So, when most people were spending their time making excuses and gaining weight making poor health decisions, Ton Men was absolutely CRUSHING IT.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I’d love it if you took a couple of key points from this blog post.

1. You, 100%, can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time with a well-rounded training program that INCLUDES heavy lifting.

2. Gaining weight isn’t always a bad thing if you know your nutrition is on point.

3. You can lift heavy weight and gain weight and still be “long and lean”. Don’t believe all the BS marketing you’ve been fed that is packaged as “expert research”.

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January 2019 Whole30 Results

Our official January Whole30 ended last week and we’re very proud of all the positive changes everyone made! We loved hearing about your weight loss but were even more excited about your Non-Scale Victories (NSV) and what you took away from your Whole30 experience. Here are some inspiring results from our community.

Kezia K.
The Whole30 made a surprising impact on me this time around. I did it once many years ago and I remember that it helped me transition to a paleo lifestyle. This time around things were really different. I tried to outline it below.

Before:  I was eating out all the time and sometimes the food was good and sometimes it was OK. After eating I always felt slow and heavy and couldn’t move for a while. I indulged in bad food all the time and really spent too much time snacking.

Whole 30: I used a lot of cookbooks from the library and recipes online and my meals tasted so much better then they did right before the Whole 30. I was really shocked at how yummy my food was. At first, I used to stress out about what to cook and the fear of being hungry and falling into bad food temptation so I had to plan ahead. Throughout the month it got a lot easier and I became more confident in my ability to exercise self-control.

Before: My body was stiff and achy all the time. At night I was really sore and stiff and I woke up in the morning feeling the same way. I used to oversleep every morning and would drag myself out of bed.

Whole 30: Despite pushing myself physically and going to a ton of classes, I always woke up feeling great and rarely sore. I stopped taking turmeric for inflammation. Since I was less achy I was able to take more CrossFit classes. I really enjoyed being more active and did some hikes and a few jobs for the month. I also started waking up 2 hours earlier and seemed more alert than before.

Before: I took probiotics regularly b/c I have a lot of food sensitives and sometimes feel pretty awful after eating.

Whole 30: Started actually feeling better after eating and didn’t need to take my probiotics so often.

Physically I had hoped for more dramatic results may be because people have these crazy stories online but I did lose 8 pounds and almost 4 inches and that is better than nothing.

Ultimately I lacked any sort of discipline with my diet before Whole 30 and now I feel that I have more structure with Whole 30, so I am going to continue eating like this in February but I am going to give myself some cheat meal credits so that it feels more sustainable.

Patrick C.
I definitely lost weight. Although I didn’t weigh myself at the beginning (whoops), in the last week I lost 4-5 lbs and felt like I lost over 10 in total.

Energy was up after the first few days and I drank less coffee. Or needed less coffee. I still drank a lot of coffee. The most apparent changes I noticed were recovery time and sleep. I slept great and felt refreshed in the mornings and felt great before and soreness subsided quickly the mornings after (still felt it- just not too badly). Was also told that I looked great which was nice for the ol’ ego (You should include for journalistic integrity that it was my mom who told me I looked good. I don’t care it still fed my ego).

Erin T.
I lost a total of 12 pounds; some of that was weight gain from the holidays but some was extra, which was awesome! I was lucky and did not experience any of the negative side effects that are common (e.g. fatigue, moodiness, not feeling well), but I also did not notice any other positive side effects (e.g. clearer skin, better sleep, shorter recovery, etc.) aside from the weight loss and the confidence that gave me, which is more than enough for me! Even though Whole30 is over, I am not putting sugar in my coffee, which is a positive habit change. I am also trying to continue to eat less and plan to start Paleo on Monday.

Susie R.
Whole 30 was such a great kick-off to my 2019. Towards the end of 2018, I gained way too much weight from stress at work and holiday goodies. I lost around 10lbs and I feel so much better overall. The thing I noticed was that I was much more alert at night. Once I get home from work and sit down, you better believe I am not getting up again! But I felt so much more awake and able to do a lot in the evenings. When it was time to go to bed I fell asleep just as I normally would. It definitely helped me to start 2019 in a healthier light, but I am so grateful I can have cheese once again.

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Kezia K. Is The January Member Of The Month

Kezia has been a really fun athlete to coach for a few different reasons. She loves to have a good laugh, she’s a quiet competitor, she is stronger than a large percentage of the male athletes in our gym and she feeds off of positive results and increasing her fitness. In addition, she is a great athlete to coach because she listens well and takes the slow and steady wins the race approach, which means she’s always safe and is comfortable slowly making progress so that she never has to take a step back. We have watched her attendance increase month over month repeatedly and her fitness has improved right along with it.

We are very excited to see what 2019 brings for Kezia as she continues to push herself to try new things outside her comfort zone like gymnastics and olympic weightlifting. Watching her deadlift 380 lbs (yes, three hundred and eighty pounds) and soon hopefully 400+ is something that will never get old. Keep up the good work Kezia and congratulations on being our Member of the Month for January 2019!

When did you join Cróga?
I joined October 2, 2017.

What were you doing before for fitness?
I signed up for CrossFit at another gym for the year prior but had been going only a few times per month max, so I was basically doing nothing.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
According to BTWB it was Back Squat every 2 mins for 20 mins then AMRAP 5 mins of Air Squats and Burpees. I think I didn’t realize that this app was public at first, because my notes for the squat was “took everything out of me”. To be honest I don’t even know how I squatted the weight in the app being so out of shape but it looks like I didn’t come back for 3 days so I guess I paid for that afterwards. My notes for the air squats and burpees say “felt like crap”. I am pretty sure that I would still think that today. 🙂

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
Well, anytime I can increase my lifting weight on any exercise that is pretty awesome. 3 years ago when I used to powerlift consistently I needed a belt to squat and deadlift so I am pretty shocked that even though I am older I am able to get close to some of my previous high scores without any belt at all. I never knew that was even possible to be honest. I also didn’t do any olympic lifting before I joined Croga and because I have had some issues with my shoulder and back, I am pretty excited when I see any improvements in those movements. For example, when I first started doing overhead squats, which is probably the most challenging movement for me, I was on a pvc pipe for awhile so being able to transition to a bar and then to be able to build weight on that bar has been really great. This month I was able to do a handstand wall walk all the way to the wall and I pretty much shocked myself that day. Later on I did fall on Digby so there is still some work to do. 🙂 I also did the Whole 30 and it was the best I felt consistently for a long time so I think it’s time for me to get back on Paleo train.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
Initially, I came to the 6 am class but since I have been off from work, I have been coming mainly 9:30am M/W/F and 3:30 on T/TH.  Over the last few months, I have been trying to incorporate a weekend class as well.

What’s your favorite WOD?
I think any of the WODs with lifting in them because I can more easily see those gains over time, plus I like to quietly try and match some of the man weight around me. But I guess that will be a little less of a secret after this post.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
I am sure anyone who does a class with me knows the answer to this, but basically anything with burpees in it. I will happily do anything else in order to not do burpees. I think for most people burpees are ok and they get worst the more you do. For me, it sucks from the very beginning and just gets worst. Burpee workouts used to give me anxiety and so I used to avoid the workouts but my new thing is to do a weekly burpee workout to earn credit for yummy decadent treats, seems like the right kind of trade-off for me.

“The Kezia” WOD! What would it be?
I think it needs to be a WOD that is a struggle for me but at the same time would be a great measure of my progress. So yesterday’s WOD of 600m running + 12 burpees jumping pull ups, 500m running + 10 burpee jumping pull ups, 400m running + 8 burpee jumping pull ups, 300m running and so forth. Since some guys finished in half my time I think it’s a reasonable challenge for me to do it once a month this year to see what kind of gains I see over the course of a year.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Don’t really have a favorite routine, but I like to chat post workout then stretch until I have to leave the gym. I fill up my 2 large water bottles with the best water in CA then I go home and eat.

What do you love about CrossFit?
I think what I like about CrossFit is the variety, the fact that I feel challenged no matter what the workout is, and there is a coach to hold me accountable. I know that it’s making an impact on my fitness. I love Croga CrossFit because of the coaching staff and community. The reality is that I had to scale a lot of stuff when I joined and I still have to scale a lot of things and it’s Ok. I think if I wasn’t made to feel comfortable about scaling in the early days I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. There are also a lot of really nice and authentic people at the gym and I really appreciate that.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
I love to eat and I think actually using Paleo cookbooks has been a real game changer. I think in the past I tried to make Paleo versions of my food and that was a disaster.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
Well I guess once it’s in writing it becomes official. Overall I want to get my fitness and strength back to where it was when I was doing CrossFit on a regular basis in Seattle. So that means I am targeting some pretty high lifting weights especially for my back squat and deadlift. Now that my ankle is stronger I have to start running again and need to start building speed and distance.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Just keep showing up and try to challenge yourself.

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Food for Thought: Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional

A couple weeks ago I was riding our Peloton and I heard the coach, Emma Lovewell, say “Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional”.

She said this in the final 10 minutes of the ride when she was asking her riders to crank up the resistance and also speed up their cadence, meaning make the pedals feel heavier and ride faster.

As I immediately did what was asked of me and then proceeded to willingly, but painfully, suffer through the next couple intervals she had programmed I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect the timing of this quote was.

It wasn’t a way of saying that if you don’t crank it up and ride harder anything bad will happen, but more of a way of saying that if you do choose to do the hard work, you will improve.

She was giving her riders the opportunity to take the path less traveled, to choose the hard work, and to come out the other side better for it.

And in the handful of tough intervals that followed that statement, it became increasingly clearer to me that there are moments like this throughout our day in the gym, at work and at home where we’re faced with decisions and options and we have the ability to choose the one that will help us grow as a human.

They’re as simple as, should I watch another episode of some 30-minute Netflix show that I don’t even really pay much attention to while it’s on or should I go to bed 30 minutes earlier and do some reading?

Should I try a new recipe from the cookbook that has been collecting dust in the corner of my kitchen or should I order a burger on DoorDash?

Should I take my dog for a walk and listen to a book/podcast or should I watch halftime commentary during a random NFL Sunday game that I just watched the whole first half of?

Should I do 3 more burpees in the final 10 seconds of a workout or should I just do 1 super slow so the time runs out and I don’t have to do anymore?

Should I choose 10 lbs heavier than I normally do for a Power Clean workout and push myself to struggle through, but get stronger, or take the easy road and finish first in my class?

When you’re faced with small decisions, but one that provides you with the opportunity to be a better human, I want you to think about this very simple idea.

“Change is Inevitable, Growth is Optional.” -John C. Maxwell

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Cróga Intramural Open and Friday Night Lights 2019

The 2019 Open Season is upon us and with that means the Cróga Intramural Open and Friday Night Lights! We will have three teams competing against each other for gym supremacy – who’s banner will be raised to the rafters this year?

The CrossFit Open starts on February 21st and goes through March 25th. It is five weeks and five workouts of camaraderie, fun, and challenging workouts! View Coach Dave’s Video if you need reasons to sign-up or continue reading for more details of the fun we will have!

The Cróga Intramural Open is our way of making the CrossFit Games Open Season more fun and bringing our community closer together. We understand that no one likes checking the worldwide standing and seeing they’re in 132,000th and that’s why we’re going to create our own intramural competition. Your scores on the global leaderboard will still matter, but your participation at Cróga will be more important because it’ll help your team score points to work toward an in-house victory. We will be creating three teams at random with the names of the athletes that have registered for The Open and we will award the winning team with a banner that we will hang from the rafters at Cróga.

To compete in the CrossFit Intramural Open, you MUST be signed up for The CrossFit Games Open. It is how we aggregate and validate scores for each team. Sign-up for the CrossFit Open HERE! Click the Sign-Up button on The CrossFit Games page to start the process. The Affiliate name is Cróga CrossFit. You must be signed up by February 8th, to be eligible for the draft and to guarantee you get your Croga Open Shirt by our first Friday Night Lights event on February 22nd. Anyone who signs up after the draft is a free agent and will be picked up by a Team. Essentially, everyone who signs up for the Open will be on a team.

The draft will consist of us throwing the names of all athletes in a hat and picking them out at random. You’ll see below that most of the points we will award each team will be based on attendance and spirit, so the only advantage a “super team” would really have is with good participation, which is why we decided to draft the teams at random. We also like the idea of having teams of people that aren’t currently close friends so we can get people to get outside their comfort zone and meet/cheer for new friends.

This year, we will again have a few options to complete your workout:

The first option is to complete the workout during normal class hours on Fridays during the Open (we will be programming the workout for every class on Friday). If you elect to do this, you will be responsible for arranging for your own judge, our coach will be responsible for coaching class, NOT judging your workout.

The second option is to come in on Saturday at 7 am or 10 am during Open Gym to complete the workout. If you elect to do this, you will also be responsible for arranging for your own judge, our coach will be responsible for coaching class, NOT judging your workout.

The third and the most fun option is to attend Friday Night Lights!

Friday Night Lights will start every Friday during the Open at 5:30 pm. We will run heats of athletes every 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the length of workout) until everyone has completed the workout and received a score. We will create a Google Doc on Thursday each week and email/facebook distribute it for you to sign up for a heat time the night before or day of, which will allow you to know what time on Friday you’ll be slated to complete the workout.

As in years past, to get the best and loudest crowd possible, friends and family are welcome and encouraged to attend. Members that do not sign up for The Open are also encouraged to attend (however, we hope to have you all participate).

Your team will compete against the other teams and will be awarded points for the following accomplishments:

Scoring is:
+1 Point – Workouts Completed: every member of a team that completes an Open workout at Cróga CrossFit each week earns one point. Maximum one point per athlete per workout. This goes for Rx AND Scaled competitors!
+1 Point – Top 2 male/female: If a member of your team finishes in the top-2 at Cróga CrossFit in the RX or Scaled division your team will get an extra point.
+3 Points (team) – Friday Night Lights Attendance: The team with the most members in attendance during Friday Night Lights will receive 3 bonus points.
+5 Points (team) – Spirit: The team with the most noise, pride, and PRESENCE each week will receive 5 bonus points. Wear your Team T-shirt (more details soon) on Friday and really represent your team pride!
+1 Point – Challenge Point: To spice things up a bit and add some extra intensity to specific heats, you will have the option to challenge a member of a separate team. If that other member accepts, you will compete in the same heat and whoever wins the matchup will earn 1 extra point for their team.

Important Details

Our Open workouts will take place on Friday during all classes building to Friday Night Lights which will begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday Night Lights is a fun, community building atmosphere and we want it to be the catalyst for light-hearted competition and camaraderie. We work out and hang out to celebrate how fun/horrible the workout is. Friday Night Lights will be about two-three hours in length depending on the workout for that week.

Who will take home the Cróga CrossFit Intramural Championship? Whose banner will be raised? Will it be your team?

Sign-up for The CrossFit Games Open HERE and be the difference for your team!

Here’s to another great Open season!!

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Jose C Is The Cróga Member Of The Year!

If you had told me that one day we’d have a member attend more than 400 classes in a year, I would’ve called you crazy. Not that it’s impossible, but I never knew that a normal, everyday member, who has a wife and a job, would carve out that much of his/her time to spend at our gym. Although, now that I think about it, I’m not exactly sure you can call Jose “normal”.

Besides our staff, he is easily the most recognizable face at Croga CrossFit. Jose attended 408 classes in 2018, often multiple a day and all while also traveling to Europe for significant chunks of time this past year. It is no wonder everyone knows him, he’s ALWAYS in the box if he’s in town!

The great part about that though is that Jose is the perfect model for success in CrossFit. He always smiles, he works hard, he never complains about the workout (well, until it’s over and he’s tired or sore the next day), he does extra credit to improve the things he needs work on, he stays after class to stretch, he eats well and he is a motivator and always cheers for athletes of all levels. In addition, he pushes his fellow Croganites to get out of their comfort zone and try things they’ve never done or to get out and use their fitness (as evidenced by spearheading our Largest Team award at the San Francisco Spartan Race and getting 10+ athletes to compete at local throwdowns when they didn’t plan to ever sign up).

With all of this considered, there really was no other option for our 2018 Member of the Year awardee. Congratulations, Jose Cong, we couldn’t have asked for a better person to crown as this years MOTY. Keep up the good work, our gym would not be the same without you!

Can you tell us a little about yourself (family, work, hobbies)?
The parts you may not know about me: I am half Chinese – half Mexican who has lived in the Bay Area since 1982, grew up in SF and East San Jose and now home literally is a few blocks behind Croga (for as much as I love to train, it is interesting that I don’t find myself walking or jogging to Croga). I have been a TV producer for a morning live talk TV show where I doubled as an on-screen lifestyles reporter who also has worked on music videos and one B slasher movie a long long long time ago (all while in High School then a couple of years after graduation). I have designed and ran sales and operations for a few gyms in the past while in college before finding my calling in the world of recruiting and talent management aka HR. I have helped build and org design teams with companies like Apple (early iPod and super early iPhone), Nest Labs, Google, and now with my own startup where we are attempting to productize a philosophy developed to build and drive high impact in teams over my career (as well as advice and angel invest in startups). I travel more than I care for and I came close to actually being liable in Europe for taxes due to my extended scheduled across the pond. I give speeches and write a few blogs about the future of work in my free time.

The parts most of you may know: I am married to the amazing Lina Rizzo, another member of our fantastic community at Croga. Justin makes up the Cong clan trifecta during summers and other school breaks from Yale. Contrary to popular belief, he is our nephew, not our son, though we love him just like one. We also have two dogs, one neurotic and a perpetual puppy staged one in Jake & Kiki, they drive us crazy at times but we love them like our children! We are actually excited about the arrival of the next clan member in March of 2019. When possible, I love attending sporting events and will do anything to experience top events like Super Bowls, NBA Finals, World Series, World Cups, etc. Love food, all kinds, a great bottle of wine, bourbon, or nice spicy and dry mezcal. I enjoy traveling just not the short work trips across the Atlantic which literally reduce my lifespan each time. I don’t mind if I can spend a little bit of time soaking in the culture and the food of my destinations. I am about to get my 3rd passport and it is mostly because I am constantly running out of room for stamps. Enjoy playing sports and if I had my way, I would be kitesurfing daily but my beach bum days are long gone. Favorite Pizza is a simple 3 cheese from Modern Apizza in New Haven, CT, Favorite Doughnut is a Basil, Blueberry Bourbon from Blue Star in Portland, OR, Favorite Ice Cream: Dark Chocolate Gelato at Chocolat in Milan, Italy or Sea Salt Caramel from Bi-Rite in SF but would happily settle for any good “homemade” vanilla bean ice cream. I am the type of individual that can’t help but to jump from a cliff if I see one (75 meters in the highest waterfall dive I have successfully completed and ~200 meters repelling drop with a 25-meter “release” dive) and that pretty much summarizes my attitude about life. Live for challenges! Obviously, I love CrossFit!

What are some new things that you have learned about yourself since starting CrossFit?
I have learned that it truly is never too late to learn new things and to hit reset in my life. I grew up as an active and highly competitive child (I know, hard to believe, right) participating in cross country, track & field (yes, field too, did the shot put), swimming (medley specialists), football, and my main love, rugby & kitesurfing. I grew up fairly fit but my career responsibilities made it harder to work out and stay fit once I retired from 15 years of competitive rugby with the San José Seahawks. I gained a lot of weight, at my highest, I was probably close to 190 lbs, and not a CJ “gainz” type of good 190 lbs. I tried everything from running to the regular gym but I was unable to return to my younger fitness levels. I actually joined Croga in the box’s earlier days and loved it but a freak injury to my calf on a sprint out of all things. Unfortunately, I ended up leaving Croga and went back to my physically sedentary and mentally stressful lifestyle.

A couple of years ago, I finally decided to try and do something about it thanks to my wife who was always trying to get me to join her HiiT gym and her trail races. A picture my brother sent me from Justin’s high school graduation and Coach David yelling at me to come back to Croga every time he drove past me as I walked our dogs around the hood finally got me to step back through the door. I have not looked back since! What started out as a workout a couple of times a week has turned into a lifestyle (and obsession) to follow an inspiring Crossfit mantra, “Build a better version of yourself”. I had never done any gymnastics or Olympic / Power Lifting before and didn’t think I could Rx any of the WODs, but through the coaching & mentoring of our coaches, the support of the community, and the energy Croga generates, I have learned new tricks, increased my confidence in being fit at my age, and can honestly say that I am in the best shape of my life. The best part, I honestly feel like I am nowhere near my apex and can get significantly more fit!

I have also learned the importance of making time for my well being. The stress management benefits of working out. The value of eating healthier The positive impact of feeling & looking fit.

I can honestly admit to being in the best shape of my life and at my age, I am proud of it but again, I know I can get better, much better.

You attended over 400 classes this year (often multiple a day), what was your driving force for spending so much time here?
I could write a novel about this but if I think about it, there are a few benefits. My main driving force is the feeling of getting better! Nothing like achieving a new PR, beating a previous score, on rare occasions beating some of the great athletes at Croga (especially body weight type of WODs). The feeling that I am better today than yesterday because of the work I have put in energizes me and the opportunity to exceed my own exceptions tomorrow drives me to work harder each day. It is a perpetual source of energy for someone as competitive as me. Other motivations include taking on the challenges Coach Cody throws our way with the programming (Some ignite WODs, at times, seem more challenging than the regular WODs). I may be one of the very few members who refuses to look at the WODs ahead, I am often surprised when walking in or have bugged Lina to tell me what the WOD is the night before. I just love being surprised and having to think about strategy. The support and guidance from the Coaches is also key. I am constantly improving on a movement or learning a new skill. Last but not least, THE ENERGY from the members is not only inspiring but addicting, I could probably name 90% of the community and share a specific event which inspired me and I bet the remaining 10%, I have just not met them. Our community is closest to what I experienced and miss the most from playing competitive rugby, truly blown away by the fellow athletes and their support.

Do you have a favorite WOD, lift, or movement? What’s one you love to hate?
My favorite WODs are the Hero ones and the Girls, basically, anything that looks impossible and will most likely leave me flat on the rubber mats! I enjoy powerlifting and wish I was better at Oly. I would say that I hate anything with the Assault Bike and Wall Balls but given my injury, I have learned that I can improve on the AB but not sure that I can ever love it. WBs are getting easier but I still HATE them! The one WOD that I have both hated and loved, Steve’s member WOD this past year. That and the Assault Bike marathon. I also have to throw in any crazy extra credit workout that CJ talks me into doing with him (ie: Death Race) and I can’t forget Andrew & Rob N.’s “summit run” to Mission Peak a few months ago.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this upcoming year?
One goal this year, recover from my ACL reconstructive surgery and get back to where I left off so I can do the October Open, do at least one competition, play rugby with my old team at a tournament, finish the Spartan Race at Oracle Park (formerly known as AT&T Park in SF) and the ultimate goal, be as fit as I can be so I can keep up with our son and be an example to him so he can grow up living a healthy lifestyle.

What is one thing about you that people may not know?
I once had my driving license suspended for over a year and no, it was not because of a DUI. I have not spent NYEs in San Jose or in the same location for over 15 years. Also, I am really not great at anything, seriously, I just refuse to be outworked!

If you could have one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

If you could have a conversation with anyone that ever existed, dead or alive, who would it be?
Leonardo DaVinci, I am not sure that there is anyone in history with a bigger vision for the future, many of his ideas seeded inventions which changed the world and in my opinion, continue to inspire!

If you could give your former self any piece of advice about your current journey, what would it be?
To watch the Steve Jobs commence speech at Stanford University and understand that dots do connect. Decisions we make earlier in life could have profound effects on our future. I also spent a great deal of my life working as hard as I could for companies/ projects that had a great impact in the world but I did it at the expense of budgeting time for family, friends, and myself. I spend a lot of time at Croga and exercising now because I realize that a more balanced lifestyle supersedes my previous achievements. Set lofty goals but include personal ones as well.

Anything else you would like to add?
I am blown away by this selection, I just want to express my gratitude to everyone behind Croga, from the coaches to Jill P, to the community. I hope I am putting back enough energy into our community to make up for the tremendous amount that I take out of it. Special thank you to Lina for allowing me to allocate so much effort into Croga and Crossfit! And at some point, I need to meet Ben officially and do a 5 AM WOD with him. He sets my personal marks daily with his scores!!!

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