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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Jill H. Is The November Member Of The Month

Jill H is hands down one of the kindest and sweetest ladies you’ll ever meet in your life. She and her husband, Frank, are loyal 5 AM members of ours, but he only shows up at that time because she brings him along with her ;). When you read through the answers below you’ll quickly notice that Jill is extremely selfless, gets along with everyone and is inspired by many in our community, but I don’t think she realizes how inspiring she is to the group!

Her consistent positive attitude, her ability to push herself when the going gets tough and her constant encouragement of her fellow athletes really make her the perfect choice for our Member of the Month.

Congratulations Jill, I couldn’t be happier with our choice for this month, you represent our gym extremely well and I love being able to call you and Frank friends of mine and members of our gym.

When did you join Cróga?
I joined Croga in June 2017, but really wasn’t able to be consistent until March of this year.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Nothing really.  I’ve gone on various trends – personal trainers, running, gyms – but nothing has made me feel like I do with CrossFit.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
I don’t remember the workout, but I do remember Danny asking me to tell everyone about myself.  I was so nervous I rambled on about how I was trying to fit into this dress for my niece’s wedding and how many kids I have and how old I was.  I’m sure that’s not what he was wanting/expecting to hear!

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
The coolest thing is how strong I feel.  It’s such an empowering feeling.  I love recording my workout in the app and seeing how much stronger I actually am. (Thanks Kristi!)  In addition to seeing the weight on the bar increase, this year I learned how to do box jumps and handstand holds.  On top of all that, I’ve lost close to 20 pounds, which always feels good.  And yes, I finally fit into that dress!

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I’m a 5am’er.  I had a short stint at the 3:30pm class and still miss my friends there, but I find fewer excuses to miss 5am.

What’s your favorite WOD?
I love the hero WODs.  I get pumped to do something in honor of inspiring people.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
I don’t really have a least favorite.  I do have a ‘least confident’ WOD – that would be anything hanging from the bar.  I look forward to the day I do my first pull-up. 😉

“The Jill” WOD! What would it be?
Well, it would have to be a hero workout of course!  I was born in ’67; married the love of my life when I was 29; have 6 amazing children; am one of 7 kids; have 3 wonderful parents, and was born and raised in the 408.  So here goes: 3 RFT: 67 double-unders, 29 thrusters, 7 box jumps, 6 handstand push-ups, 408m run.  I guess I’ll have to go do something heroic now!!

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
For those that know me, I am not one to swear.  But, when the workout is crazy hard, I love to get in my car, feeling proud and astonished, and yell, “What the *#@$ did I just do?!?!”  Then drive home smiling, knowing I’m a badass because I just did CrossFit.

What do you love about CrossFit?
I love being inspired by a completely diverse community of amazing people.  I love when I don’t think I can finish someone yells out encouragement.  I love that everyone helps everyone put their weights away.  I love when someone younger and stronger doesn’t mind being my partner.  I love working out with a partner who encourages me to push myself.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
After completing the Whole Life Challenge earlier this year I reduced my flour and sugar intake to 2/week.  It’s made a huge difference in how I look and feel.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
For 2019 I would really like to consistently jump on a 20” box, get closer to doing a pull-up and master double-unders.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – simply focus on being the best version of yourself and be super proud of that.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
I want the Croga family to know how much they inspire me – Frank, Emilie, Franny, Kristi, Steve, Dave, Todd, Madhu, Ben, Cody, Wendy, Erin, Kurt, Jenny, Stacy, Julianna, Joel, CJ, Laura, Jose, Lina.  I want to be like all of you!  Sometimes I don’t think I will finish a workout and someone yells something encouraging that spurs me on.  I’ll look over and see people smiling – while sweat is pouring down their face and they can barely catch their breath.  Sometimes I simply watch others push themselves to do better than they did the last time.  I watch people juggle work, CrossFit and family.  I see super strong people lift really heavy weights.  Some people are recovering from injury or dealing with chronic pain – and they still show up to do the best they can.  Young and older, everyone is working on being the best version of themselves.  It impacts me tremendously and makes me want to push myself.

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Jordan O. Is The October Member Of The Month

When I think about Jordan being our member of the month I immediately think back to one of his first workouts. He was just dead tired and looked like he couldn’t take much more, but still had a huge smile on his face and wouldn’t stop because it was a partner WOD and he didn’t want to let his teammate down. It was right then that I immediately knew he was going to be with us for a while and eventually he was going to develop into one heck of an athlete because he had the right mindset.

It was also pretty darn easy to choose him as our member of the month because he, his wife, Tami, and his brother, Rysen, are quite possibly the three nicest people you’ve ever met. The Otomo Crew always walks in the door with big smiles – ready to have a laugh and get to work. They even pretend I’m funny when I hit them with my Haole Hawaiian lingo since they’re from Maui and I love the Islands so much.

It’s been nearly a year and Jordan’s progress and expression of his athleticism are very impressive. I’m excited to see what year 2 holds for him. Congratulations Jordan!

When did you join Cróga?
I joined Cróga this past January.  At the time, I was mostly looking for an activity that would rebuild some of the mental toughness and competitive fire I lost when I hung up my speedo at the end of my high school swimming career.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Just pick-up basketball a few times a week.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
My first workout was a Saturday partner workout.  It consisted of a lot of rowing, a lot of deadlifts, and a lot of T2Bs, which I couldn’t do at the time.  After nearly 30 minutes of rowing, deadlifting, and hanging knee tucking, my forearms were crying and I was gasping for air.  I distinctly remember saying to myself, “if by the end of this first year I am half as fit as this Jason guy, I’ll consider my journey into CrossFit a success.”  That first workout was also when I started to realize how encouraging and supportive everyone at Cróga is (thanks Jason!).  I couldn’t wait for the next workout.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
My scale says I look the same, but I’d like to think that I’ve converted some fat to muscle since January.  I definitely feel a lot more fit and prepared to take on physical challenges.  My strength and stamina have also improved a lot, though I still seem to red-line quicker than most at Cróga…

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
5:30 or 6:30 pm during the week and 8 am on the weekends.  I try to come as often as my body permits, which is usually between 4 and 6 times per week.

What’s your favorite WOD?
Don’t have a favorite yet, but I definitely prefer short and on the heavier side.  Maybe something like Heavy Grace.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Anything long, unless it includes a partner.  The workout that Steve wrote this year comes to mind…

“The Jordan” WOD! What would it be?
Hmmm…how about 6 rounds for time of 6 BW bench presses and 6 BW power cleans.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Catching my breath in front of the fan then doing a post-game analysis with whoever is nearby.

What do you love about CrossFit?
Two things: the constant improvement and the constant challenge.

It may just be beginner gains, but I love that I’ve been making measurable improvements in fitness and strength without focusing on any specific goal.  I ran my fastest mile since high school 8 months after joining Cróga without doing any more running than what was programmed in the WODs.  Similarly, I’ve seen steady improvements in my max deadlift despite doing heavy deadlifts at most once a month.

Though it can be frustrating at times, I also love that there’s a never-ending list of things to learn or get better at.  At first, it was double unders… then HSPUs… then snatches… etc.  My next hurdles are overhead squats and pistols.  The challenge keeps me motivated and excited to come to class.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
The only new thing in my diet is my post-workout protein shake (or smoothie if I was really nice to Tami that day).  Need to make sure my hard work is being converted to gainz.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
To get a little leaner so those C2B pull-ups and other bodyweight movements aren’t so taxing.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Come on in, the water’s warm!  No matter what your level of fitness is, you will be embraced by the coaches and community.  I often hear people say that it’s so much easier to work out when you have a training partner — at Cróga, it truly feels like you have a gym full of partners cheering you on and pushing you to do your best!

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Thanks to the coaches and other members for making Cróga such a great community.  I know it’s been said many times before, but the community is what makes Cróga so special!

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Erin W. Is The September Member Of The Month

Erin’s story is one of those CrossFit stories that I absolutely love to tell. It’s a story that we’ve heard a thousand times, but to me, it never loses its significance. Erin didn’t consider herself much of an athlete or a gym rat before she decided to head into Croga because a friend of hers was one of our members.

Over the last 2 years, we’ve slowly watched Erin pick very specific and individual goals, set her mind to them, do everything we asked and then some to target those goals and proceed to smash them. And in the process, she has come to love spending time at the gym and has become an inspiration to many others at the gym to commit to more consistent attendance and effort.

Thank you for all your hard work, your big smile and your commitment to constantly improving Erin. You have made a big impact on our community and we love having you as an integral part of our Croga Crew.

When did you join Cróga?
Right after Thanksgiving 2016.  I noticed how fit Stacey Cast was… and she told me her secret as she showed off the callouses on her hands.


What were you doing before for fitness?
I loved running and would do half-marathons  (Las Vegas strip at night was my first and my favorite), but I never belonged to a gym before.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
Don’t remember but I know that I almost died.  I had never done an air squat before.  Every muscle hurt the next day and the day after that.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
I’ve experienced such confidence in physical activities — I love to travel and now I’m more apt to choose an outdoor activity.  I’ve done tons more hiking and biking on vacation.  I’m also a lot more willing to try things and trust that my body will support me.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I mix it up.  I am trying to be consistent with 6 a.m. at least 3x a week, but I also love Ignite, so I do that too.

What’s your favorite WOD?
I love running and rowing — so I’m always happy when they are included.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Anything with box jumps.  I still can’t get the hang of them.  But I keep trying and I’m so grateful for the soft boxes that have saved my shins!

“The Erin” WOD! What would it be?
4 RFT:
400m run
30 abmat situps
20 push ups
10 deadlifts

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
I head straight home for Greek yogurt and blueberries and make sure my kids have gotten themselves up for school.

What do you love about CrossFit?
I love that such a physically demanding workout has options for every skill level.  I love that I have been able to try new things that are really difficult and feel supported and encouraged.  I love the upbeat, fun community of people and their pets.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I’m really focusing on consistency.  I was a very casual crossfitter until I decided to get serious at the end of the summer.  In August I made it to 7 classes. I hit 18 for September and am working on even more for October, November and December.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
I always hear from friends that they are afraid to try CrossFit, but if this 47-year-old mom who never really was much of an athlete can do it, anyone can.  You’ll get lots of friendly help, make tons of new friends, and develop so many skills you never anticipated.  There’s room at CrossFit for everyone from elite athletes to those of us ready to learn and develop.  The coaches (who I thought might be intimidating) are phenomenal — kind, helpful and encouraging.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Super grateful that you thought of me and even more grateful that I have found a place that has made such a positive impact on my physical (and mental) well-being.

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Lina R. Is The August Member Of The Month

When I taught Lina during her first intro class, one of the first things she told me was that she was fiercely competitive. This did not surprise me knowing that she was Jose’s wife, another member of ours that is also very competitive. Because of this, I knew their little in-house rivalry was going to be fun to watch.

Lina and I would chat regularly to make sure that she was comfortable with the movements and weights she was using, and then we would let her chase Jose down and really push her limits. She has done an absolutely fantastic job of easing into the world of CrossFit while also getting the most out of the program by pushing the intensity level in each workout.

On top of all her hard work in class, she also does extra credit skill work after class. She makes sure to show Jose that with a little practice, she can handstand walk better than him.

Keep it up, Lina. You’ve been a ton of fun to watch and we can’t wait to see what’s next for you.

When did you join Cróga?
I joined just before the 2018 Open started. Literally, I had my intro just a few days before 18.1.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Prior to Croga I was doing HIIT training, running 10k trail races almost every weekend with Jose and was also going to NC30 (similar to Ignite). Oh and resistance training walking our 2 crazy dogs.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
I honestly don’t remember my first workout because it was so close to the Open and that’s what I remember. I had only done a couple of sessions before jumping into the Open. I had asked Jose “What is the Open? Should I do it?” His response was “Just do it”.  I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.I remember my first Friday Night Lights with the group…I was feeling intimidated seeing EVERYONE there watching everyone compete. Especially since I was new to cCossfit and didn’t really know what I was doing. Everyone was super friendly and made me feel very welcomed. I hadn’t done a clean before, so I had quickly asked Cody to show me what to do. I learned how to do a clean within 20 seconds. Thanks Cody! Once the buzzer sounded, I jumped in and my intimidation fell away. I was hooked on Crossfit!

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
I’ve definitely gotten stronger and have more stamina in general and have also seen improvement in running.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I usually go Mon – Sat at 7am (Sat at 8am) along with Ignite and sometimes the evening classes if I didn’t make it in the morning.

What’s your favorite WOD?
My favorite WOD’s are the Hero WODs. I like that we’re representing fallen hero’s and remembering them. They are also fun!

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Anything with Wall Balls!

“The Lina” WOD! What would it be?
4 rounds FT:

400 meter run
15 handstand pushups
10 deadlifts
10 cleans

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Getting breakfast!  Especially with fellow Crognites on the weekends.

What do you love about CrossFit?
Hands down the family community!

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?

To beat Jose in walking handstands. 🙂

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
There is no better way to get into a training routine and feel great than having wonderful coaches with personal attention to improving our athletes and the most amazing community of fellow members to support you at every turn of your fitness journey.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Yeah. Love the outside events we participate in as team Croga!

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