Let's talk Handstand 

If you talk to any person in a Crossfit gym most likely that person either can do a Handstand or wants to be able to do a Handstand. Either way, it is a party trick we all think is pretty cool to be able to do. It demonstrates great balance, strength and muscular endurance. 

July was our 30-day Handstand challenge month and it was amazing to see how many started this journey. Throughout the 30 days of Handstand challenge we showed progressive skills to help those who want to achieve this impressive skill. Many started, few did it for all 30 days. 

Well done to everybody who joined and pushed themselves out of their comfort zone. It is not an easy thing and excites me!

If however you did not take on this challenge this time, but still wish to one day give it a go, here's how to approach it. 

You need a good plan.

Usually at the beginning the biggest challenge is mental fear. Fear of not being strong enough to support your body weight, fear of falling down and fear of hurting yourself. 

So, how do you overcome this fear?

Like learning any other skill you need to start slow, steady and know the proper steps. 

Step 1 

Holding a Handstand puts a lot of pressure on your wrists and hands, so you need to ensure you always warm up your wrists and hands before practicing Handstands. Include wrist mobility work to avoid wrist pain. 

Step 2 

Start with basic progressions to get stronger and work on your balance. Great drills to practice at the very start of your Handstand journey are headstands, crowstands, wall walks and hollow body holds.

Headstands and crowstands are great for balance work. Wall walks will help to develop strength and muscular endurance. Hollow body holds will help to become aware of body position as well as improve core strength which is crucial in a handstand. 

 Step 3 

When basic skills are starting to feel like a walk in a park start adding harder skills as wall supported handstand holds, wall runs and front leaning rest holds.  It's advisable you can hold a comfortable 60 second wall Handstand hold with a proper form before moving away from the wall. 

As you progress it is really important you learn and feel comfortable bailing - exiting safely out of the Handstand, so that you can avoid hurting yourself. 

Step 4 

Stay consistent with your Handstand practice. When you find yourself struggling with harder skills it can get hard to motivate yourself to keep practicing, but it is important to keep in mind that consistent work will pay off. 

I have found that it works best for me to include my 10 minute Handstand practice at the beginning of my session, right after I have done the warm up. Body is feeling fresh, mind is clear and I can focus on the skill. 

Step 5 

Commit. 

Thanks for sparing a minute to have a read and if you haven't done our Handstand challenge but want to give it a go, head to our Instagram page highlights. You'll find all the drills and skills we did in our 30 day Handstand challenge. 


What drives you? A possibly very boring answer to a very cool question.

No man has the right to be amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.

                                                                                    [I can’t get enough of this, Socrates]

 I was just asked in a podcast, “what drives you” and I went and assumed it was in regard to my exercise/training/physical activity (I hope I didn’t make an ass out of you and me). It caught me off-guard because, although there’s obviously something there, I had never actually defined it clearly for myself. I gave some half-ass answer (durrrrr, I can’t even remember what I said) but it was such a bloody great question (thanks, Ish!) that I instantly went into self-chat mode…

 PS. If you ever needed a reason to exercise, you will definitely find a few below…

 Emily to self: What drives you?

 Today, and at this stage in my life, it is:

 The need to do something I enjoy. Training is a hobby, something that gets planned around in my week. I’ve found my weird, sick, twisted idea of “fun” and I make sure that I do it. Life is too short for boring, shitty, unmotivating training and we all need to find our own style. There isn’t a lot that is important enough for me to put it on the back-burner – it’s my selfish time-out from being an adult.

 The need to be in touch. I use my training (workouts, mobility etc) to foster a very important relationship with my body. As a lifelong work in progress, it helps me to figure out its nuances and how to run it better, it lets me know when something isn’t right and, if I listen really closely, what I can do to fix it (or I just go to DISC for that!)

 The need to feel awesome in my skin. There is no denying it: exercise makes you, me, and your dog, feel incredible. If you haven’t experienced this, I’m sorry, but you are missing out on one of the greatest things in life (and one of the most important). I don’t want to be overweight, weak or unfit, or feel lethargic, unhealthy, and unhappy. And I figure, I’m somewhat in control of that and so I choose to work for the opposite. And although aesthetics is a sort-of driving force*, I don’t prioritise that anymore because, if I’m servicing my muscles, organs, bones, and systems (let’s keep it broad, shall we?) that part takes care of itself. I’ve learnt that my confidence comes from the inside out and that, if my body is functioning well, I feel great. And when I feel great, I feel like I look great. And exercise is the pill that helps with all of that greatness.

 *For me, if I’m feeling a bit shit because my ass is expanding, and I feel soft/jiggly (both as bad as each other), my main thought is “you haven’t been eating well or exercising, you’re not looking after yourself so no wonder”. As much as I dislike feeling “fat” (that’s a legit feeling for any person of any size by the way), I dislike the fact that I’ve dropped the ball health-wise more.

 The need for positive psychologicals. I am a complicated individual – I stress easily, I overthink and overwork myself, and I experience bouts of depression. Exercise, bless it for all its glory, helps me to destress and keeps me in check-ish (#supportcraig). I don’t enjoy being depressed, or being a psycho biyatch for that matter, and if I know that I can do my part to influence (I can’t control, unfortunately!) my psychologicals positively, then I’m responsible to do it. For my own sake, and for my favourite people (#supportmyfamily). How magical that I can be a better, nice, happier person with medication that is natural, free and can be done anywhere and at any time (oh, and whose side-effects include kicking ass and having biceps?!)

 The need to respect my body, as it thoroughly deserves. I am so proud of, grateful for, and astounded by my body and what it can do. Think it conceited if you will, but that’s not how I mean it. In fact, I wish we’d all get on the “I love my body” train because your body is just as worthy (come join me!) I’m definitely not going to get into anything scientific here (I’d butcher it big time) but I think about the MILLIONS of things that are going on in my body at any one time in order for me to, for example, type on this computer – my sight, my memory of touch-typing, my coordination and muscle control, my brain deciphering my thoughts, my heartbeat, my inhalation and exhalation, my nerve impulses allowing me to feel the keys etc etc ETCETERA. Never mind gym stuff! Can you even fathom the complexity of everything that goes on that allows you to function hour-to-hour, day-to-day, year-to year? It is MIND-BLOWING. Don’t even get me started on people making babies: OUT-BLOODY-STANDING. You could be the dumbest person in the world, yet still build another human. That’s not mean is it? Well I’m keeping it in there anyway (#yolo).

 If you are reading this and have no major bodily hiccups, I hope you understand the many functions, chemical reactions (and stuff), that are successfully going on in your body that are allowing you to live (first and foremost) and to have full use of your body – physically or mentally. I mean, we’re all different here and we all have our things; I’m not saying that anyone is ever free of hiccups (I definitely could have thought of something cooler than hiccups) but am simply speaking of the big stuff. Every time I learn of someone that is disadvantaged or restricted in any serious way, I always say a silent “thank-you, body” and I carry on, gratefully, with my relationship with exercise.

 The need for challenge. For whatever reason, I value and admire physical potential and I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my own. This is one of reasons I fell in love with my husband, and why I enjoy being surrounding by many of the BASE 3 bunch. Probably from my Father, it has been engrained in me (and I love that it is so) and is probably the biggest driving force during more difficult workouts. If I can overcome XYZ, I feel accomplished and proud of myself. If I can’t, it’s just provided the next challenge. I don’t care who you are, there is nothing better than working for something and seeing progression or achievement.

 The need for identity. Exercise is part of who I am; a personal value, a priority, and something that I am good at. I am a fit, strong person, and I am proud to be that person. For now, this “identity” drives me, but I’m sure this will change in the future as circumstances, abilities, and priorities change. It’s a bit of a scary one, actually, and I have no idea how I will handle the adjustments (the next challenge perhaps?!)

 The need to look after my body and to be responsible for that I can control. We all decline with age and I plan to do all I can to be the strongest, the fittest and the most able-est (real word) at any stage over the rest of my life. If I can prolong or prevent certain ailments and/or injuries, then I’m going to try. We are all susceptible to the same lifestyle diseases that riddle society, and if I can do my part to decrease the risk of this happening to me, you bet your ass I’m going to. I once said to a group of uninterested corporates, “if you looked into your future and knew that you were going to have a heart attack, but you didn’t know if you lived or died, would you start doing all you could now to avoid it?” We should keep in mind that, to some extent, what we do today is forming our body’s future state. Yes, there will be things that are out of my control, but, it is my responsibility to serve my body best so that it can serve me best (we’re a team here). And if things do end up being out of my control, then at least I felt bloody great on the way there.

 It's a great day when you learn something about yourself! Now your turn: What drives you?

 

How's your sleep?

 I am tired. I didn't get much sleep last night. I wish I would have a better sleeping schedule. I just can't get to bed early enough...

 I have used all of these excuses and yes, I want to call them excuses a million times. And as I've said these things, secretly looking for some compassion, oh yes, imagine that it doesn't even make any sense, I hoped it is going to make me feel better. Did it? Maybe for a split second, but really no, it didn't solve my lack of sleep and constant exhaustion.

 

Ok, I feel like this is a big one...

I have fallen into social media, Netflix, Youtube, and internet surfing addiction as obviously most of us. Sometimes I would give myself an excuse to do so because you see I am mostly looking up work related stuff. But we all know how we go from work-related stuff, click on one link, onto the next one and 30 minutes later you're booking a short getaway to Sri Lanka because you a limited offer popped up and you deserve a getaway.

Upsss... 3 hours later, midnight, here goes out the window all your good intentions to get to bed early to catch up on your sleep.

 Or maybe you're that guy who always says yes to all the invitations to amazing parties and you feel like you just can't miss out? Do you keep dragging yourself to places and events because you think you have to?

I used to be that person and honestly, I did enjoy most of it but often followed by a thought that I wish I slept more. I guess it takes a certain age and just be ok with not saying "Yes" to everything.

 We all know the basics that getting enough sleep is important to feel energized during the day, to maintain a good focus at work, school or other activities. Besides that, you're just in a better mood when you had a good night sleep.

But if we look at other factors, like for example,  sleep helps to maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and you're level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested. When we don't get enough sleep we will eat more and generally when you feel tired and hungry you make worse food choices, which will affect weight gain and general health.

I know for a fact that unfortunate days I feel tired because I got 4 - 5-hour sleep I crave snacks and food that's higher in calories and I'll end up having some of it just because I am "too tired" you know. Now think, you come to the gym and work really hard to be healthy, good looking individual but you deprive on your sleep and make bad food choices. You see where I am getting here?

 What happens if you don't get enough sleep? Except for the fact that you're grumpy?

 After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night— your ability to function suffers as if you haven't slept at all for a day or two. And it takes even longer to "catch up" on that sleep.

Sleep deficiency can cause problems with learning, focusing, and reacting. You may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, remembering things, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. You may take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes. This all is and will affect your work, personal life, and performance at the gym.

 So how can you improve your sleeping cycle?

 Establish a regular bedtime routine, ideally, you're going to bed and waking up at the same time. This goes for the weekends too - try to skip staying up late or sleeping in. Depriving sleep during the week and sleeping in on the weekends will do more harm than good.

 Avoid blue light after sunset. I personally have downloaded "f.lux software" on my laptop that automatically displays color temperature according to location and time of the day. I find this very helpful and my eyes don't feel as tired.

 Keep your bedroom cold. I usually have the A/C on 21 C and keep the lights dimmed.

 Try to relax before bedtime. I keep a book on my night table and usually takes me one page to get sleepy and fall asleep. A story for another time, this is an actual issue when I am trying to read a book as I'll keep falling asleep.

 Keep a sleep diary and take notes on how you felt the next day and how much sleep debt you got! You might find a pattern here and this could help to find a place for improvement.

 If you're still sitting in bed and struggling to fall asleep, grab a book and just keep on trying. You will teach your body to adjust and eventually have a proper sleeping schedule.

 

Goodnight folks!

Acts of kindness

ACTS OF KINDNESS

 No act of kindness is ever wasted -Aesop

I have a spreadsheet that records all of the Weekly Wisdom quotes we’ve put on our blackboard. I recently came across this quote and it got me thinking about a very special act of kindness, and one of my most favourite memories.

Rewind to 2008

I was 25 and living in shared accommodation on Lefkada Island, Greece, in a little village called Vasiliki. My boyfriend at the time was doing a windsurfing course, and I decided to tag along to work, travel, and to live the carefree backpacking life that everyone made look and sound so incredible. Eventually, we would base ourselves in London and travel all around Europe (everyone else was doing it).

If we were to do the “instagram vs. reality” for this scenario?

INSTAGRAM: group of super cool-looking, Ray Ban-wearing youngsters in the middle of a party on a yacht. Drink in hand, laughing at something really funny.

REALITY: fat Emily, crying, and emotional-eating Nutella crepes in her room.

I have nothing against Nutella crepes but, dear lord, emotionally eating them is dangerous and subsequently negates the amazingness of the crepe itself because the repercussions far outweigh the deliciousness. After eating my emotions - my unhappy relationship, my hateful job, my loneliness, my lack of direction, my desperate need to feel settled and at peace – I put on 10kg in a 3-month period.

I’ve had a few periods of depression in my life, and this was one of them.

Every day, I would walk through the village to the little café where I worked. I think I got 3 or 4 Euros an hour to take orders, serve customers, and be bossed around – it was miserable, and I hated every second of it. I remember having a chat with Cookie a while ago, who said he would cry before going into one of his earlier jobs. I’m sure most of us have had THAT job (although we may have held it together a bit better).

It wasn’t always totally miserable at work, though. Tourists would come in every now and again, and I’d usually get into good conversation with them; about their real lives, and about the island and what it was like living there (obviously I didn’t tell them THIS story!) I remember meeting a girl who had just moved to Abu Dhabi to teach, and she told me all those crazy far-fetched stories from the Middle East. At the time, I had no knowledge of the UAE, and was like “pfffft that definitely does not happen and is definitely made up” (obviously, I now know that they were true, so I’m sorry nice stranger for accusing you of lying! 

The best parts of my day were these chats, where I’d connect with happy people and forget what was happening in my own life. One day, a sweet English couple stopped by and we got into a great conversation after I had commented on how lovely her earrings were. Their names were Mandy and Paul.

The thing about those conversations though, was that they were only temporary distractions – the tourists would finish their holiday and go home, and I would stay stuck where I was.

A lot of the finer details have been forgotten from this time (I usually don’t even remember what I did yesterday, so 10+ years is a real stretch for me) and so I only really remember general themes, for example, my unhappiness and the fact that I got fat.

It was probably a few weeks after meeting Mandy and Paul when I turned up to work and my boss, Yannis, said “Em-e-lee, you have mail”. I remember that the envelope was addressed to “The girl from Australia who works at XXXXX Café Name” (I do not, however, remember the name of our Café).

I don’t remember what was written inside, whether it was a card or a letter, but I will never forget how I felt when I saw those lovely earrings. Mandy had gone back home, had found the exact same pair, and had sent them to the perfect stranger whom she had met on holiday. 

I don’t know what compelled her to do that – did she sense that I needed some love, and did she know that it was going to be the only happy moment I would remember from my entire time overseas? Did she know that It would be so monumental that I would never forget the thoughtfulness and kindness of her act? Did she know that it would be one of my motivations to try to be more thoughtful of others (if I could make someone else feel half as happy, then that would just make my day!) Did she know that I would still be talking about it 10 years later?

She probably didn’t. She probably wouldn’t have realised that it would make such an impact on me, except for the fact that we are still in touch today and that I try to message her every time I think about her kindness. She’s followed me through my 10-year journey of settling into Dubai and building my life with Craig, and I’ve followed her as she’s watched her two daughters build their lives and reduced her working hours to enjoy life as a grandma. When I told her about the blog she replied, “the one thing that always strikes me about kindness is how the tiniest gesture can do so much”. Ain’t that the truth 

How amazing would it be if we had more of those people in our lives or if we were that person to others?

As you go off into your incredibly busy day, remember that no act of kindness, big or small, is ever wasted.

Emily x

WHAT IS YOUR WHY?

What is your why?

I find myself having this conversation a lot lately, and the more I have this conversation the more I realize it’s not something people have spent much time thinking about. What is your why? Not the “I want to be the best version of myself” cookie-cutter bullshit that you tell everyone. No. I mean, the real, deep-down reason that drives you to invest thousands of dirhams and hundreds of hours into your health and fitness. I believe that everybody has a strong ‘why’, a deep-rooted and meaningful motivation that drives them; most people just don’t know it or haven’t taken the time to figure it out.

Everyone wants to “be fitter”, “get stronger”, “look better”, “be healthier”, “lose weight” etc, and although there is nothing wrong with having these generic and superficial (as in, surface, not stuck up) training goals, they will not be able to provide you with enough motivation when push comes to shove. There isn’t enough depth of meaning in wanting to just “look better” to motivate you to get to bed early so that you don’t hit snooze the next morning.

Wanting to “be healthier”, isn’t going to persuade you to turn down a second piece of pumpkin pie. Training to “be faster” isn’t going to fuel you to dig deeper when your legs and lungs are burning and you’re on the final stretch and a second off your PR.

These are good umbrella goals, but they don’t define your ‘why’ in all of its glory. The human mind is complex, and you’re better than just “I want to be the best version of myself”.

Yes, you want to look better; but why? So that your partner is more attracted to you? To give you more confidence? Because someone called you fat when you were a kid? So that you don’t have to feel self-conscious on your boat party?

You want to be healthier; but why? Because you want to be around for your family in 10 years? Because you’d love to see your grandkids?

You want to be fitter; but why? So that people give you the respect you think you deserve? So that you can still beat your kids at tennis when your 54? Because it makes you feel good?

I used to have a superficial ‘why’. I always thought that, if I trained hard and had some sort of evidence to post on social media, people would think I was legit, would respect me as a Coach, and would be more likely to train with me. The problem was, if I wasn’t feeling it on a certain day, I wouldn’t bother pushing myself because I had the option of just not posting anything; no one would know, no pressure. My reason for training wasn’t powerful enough to outweigh the occasional lack of motivation (and we all have those days).

I’ve recently found a new ‘why’, a deeper motivation that keeps me on-track and accountable. It’s important to me, my business, my livelihood and who I am as a person, and is more powerful than the pain of exercise, stronger than my temptation to hit snooze and bigger than a lapse in will power. I get excited when I talk about it and, when I think about it when I’m training, it gets me AMPED!

If you have any sort of training goal, long or short-term, I encourage you to understand the ‘why’ behind it. Have a conversation with yourself, a loved one, your training partner, or even me, and go deep in to the reason behind your goals. Why are you at the gym 6 times a week? Why put yourself through all of this hard work? Why do you really want it? You’ll know once you get there; it’ll give you goosebumps, a new lease on training, and you’ll want to throw your cookies in the bin and head straight to the gym.

What is your why?

IMBALANCES

BITS, BALANCES & BRAS
(Actually, it’s HABITS, IMBALANCES & SPORTSBRAS but I thought that had a cool ring to it. Right??)

I can actually say that I have been exercising for 32 years (unsure of if that makes me sound good or just old). Our extremely hard-core army Dad would take me running with him when I was 4, sparking a lifelong relationship with exercise and giving me a few good decades of experience to ponder upon.

Each session, run, game or competition that I have ever experienced has made me that little bit more aware of my body, from what’s going on internally – tightness, range of motion, niggles, pain, strength and weakness – to what it is actually capable of doing (the fun stuff). For me, this is one of the most powerful benefits of physical activity – to be more tuned in and better able to be behind the wheel, if that makes sense.

And what I am more tuned in to these days, are my imbalances.

IMBALANCES

ON ONE HAND I love it, because I find it fascinating to learn stuff about my body. We’ve known each other for a pa-retty long time, so when I discover something new I feel like I’m peeling back layers of the onion, you know, like Shrek. I’m like “Aha! So I need to strengthen/stretch/mobilise XYZ”. Or “so that’s why I’m struggling with bla-dee bla bla”. In my mind it’s an important clue as to how I can improve performance, functionality, and my physical health (all of which I value highly) 

ON THE OTHER HAND….…as the lovely Lina once said after Fed’s Gymnastics Class, “I hate having imbalances, it annoys me”. And I don’t know why, but it does. It really does. Being the control-freak that I am, is it because I can’t stand that I can do something well on one side but not the other? It’s not even! Or is it because I know that, without balance in my body there is an uneven equilibrium of work, which is only going to snowball the imbalance if I don’t address it (I already have 17,000 things on my to-do list!) Imbalances can lead to niggles or injuries over time, and no one has time for that – I’m highly impatient and the worst rester ever (as I’m sure most of you will understand)!

Nevertheless, imbalances pop up everywhere I go - inside and out of the gym. At the gym, I notice that my left arm doesn’t pull as strongly as my right, and my right step-up is weaker and less stable than my left. Among other things. At home, I notice that I am way more proficient at scrubbing dishes (and doing most things) with my right hand, or that I always bend down to pick things up with my right arm, while shifting towards my right hip. Sometimes, I’ve stopped myself, put the object back on the floor, and picked it up with my left arm while shifting my weight to the left – on top of feeling weird, I notice how much tighter I am in this position, and how uncomfortable it is. No wonder I use the other side all the time – it’s easier!

Are we creatures of habit or creatures of comfort. Probably both. But what came first – did I always pick stuff up with my right, creating more mobility and movement in that pattern from continuous practice? Or, did I start off by favouring that side because it was easier, eventually turning it into the habit I have today?

HABITS

Whatever came first - the chicken or the egg, the movement or the imbalance - I’m now more aware of my habits and how they feed into my imbalances, especially when it involves using the same arm or leg to do the task over and over again. Some BASE 3 members may have heard me nag “make sure you turn in the other direction,” or “be sure to step up with your left leg as well” – I do apologise for that, I’m sure it’s the last thing you give a shit about when you’re knee-deep in a WOD. It’s only because I love you.

But I do wonder – do our seemingly innocent habits contribute in some way to the imbalances in strength, range of motion and skill that we experience in training? Is grip strength on my left side weaker because I automatically carry things in my right hand? If I were to start carrying groceries, or my gym bag, in my left hand instead, would I see a difference when I’m doing Farmer’s Carries? Perhaps. Probably. Everything adds up eventually, especially when it comes to our adaptive bodies, right?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Why don’t you analyse your own habits? Take notice of how you use/move your body in mindless activities you do daily. Have you ever tried to brush your teeth with your other hand?  Or (I hate to add this in here) scroll through IG with your other hand, using your other thumb? What about getting up off the floor – always use your dominant leg to stand? Bet ya do ;)

Why don't you try something in the opposite way to how you would normally do it? Go against the grain. Weirdly and frustratingly, I've started trying/learning to take my sportsbra off with my left arm crossed on top of my right (instead of the right over left). Guys, you won’t understand the struggle, but it’s real sometimes. Ladies, if you can do this easily, I am impressed because I feel like I’m in a straight-jacket and it takes me about 2 minutes – no control, no mobility. Yet, the other side is at least 27 times better.

I don’t imagine that my PRs will shoot up, but I wonder, if I keep practicing and improving this new movement, what implications would that have on my training, my posture, my movement? In the same way that we learn to progress on our Olympic lifts, surely any improvement (even in such a small movement) would indicate that I have developed some sort of muscular control or strength, or joint range of motion (even if ever so slight)? Does it matter what the caliber of the movement is that I’m learning from? I mean, are bigger movements, like the snatch, more important or beneficial to me than a smaller movement, like learning to take my arms overhead with the weaker arm leading? Or is it only important that I’m practicing something different, and that my body is learning something new?

Because I have a feeling it’s a bit of everything, I’m going to keep my mind wide open to all movements and exercises, big and small, and regardless of where they occur (movement is movement, right?) Although I would love to be proficient at everything, left and right, I see my imbalances as opportunities to improve, and have really enjoyed the challenge of working to do so (it is so satisfying when you notice changes!)

DO I THINK I’M RIGHT?

For me? Hell yes. For you? Maybe, maybe not – that’s for you to decide, but I do encourage that you give it a go. Whether you aspire to function better as an athlete or as a regular ol’ human being going about your day trying to prolong physical health and quality of life, dial in to your movement and habits to get a better understanding of your body. And when you find something? Cool! Shake things up, break routine, switch sides and be bad at something for a while, google for exercises, ask a coach, learn new stuff and get totally frustrated at yourself! Be a work in progress. It’s awesome, you’ll love it. And, if you need help formulating a master plan you know what to do. (But just in case you don’t…give us a yell, silly!)

Em

Do you trust me?

Do you trust me?
The plan for the 2019/20 season.

 As we approach what will likely be the end of the CrossFit competition season for most of us. It’s time to reflect on your previous years training and see how much progress you’ve made, set some new goals, come up with a plan and re-commit.

My reasons for asking this are not ego driven or because I fear you’re doubting the program. Not because I’m going to come up with some mad shit that doesn’t make any sense.
I just want to make sure you understand my intent with the direction of the program for the next year.

Last year, I had a solid plan, a mapped-out macro program that laid out every detail of every week from start to finish a year in advance. The season was set, and it was easy for us to plan. This year things are slightly different. We aren’t games or regional athletes (well most of aren’t, right Seham? ;-)), so the changes don’t reeeeeally apply, but it has created some disruption to the season.

Reflection and goal setting

Before we start a new season, I’d suggest sitting down and reviewing the season that has just passed. It’s always worth doing, so we can pat ourselves on the back for the goals we hit and re-evaluate the ones we missed. Once you’ve done this, I’d then suggest sitting down and doing some goal setting for this season. I’d love to be a part of this so if any of you want to have a catch up and do some goal setting, let’s go grab a coffee and see what we can come up with,

I’ve put some time in to looking for comps that we can do to keep us busy until we hit competition season again, and honestly there is LOADS out there. I’ve shortlisted a couple of online comps, some that are just online, some that are qualifiers for exotic locations and some that are for bigger comps that we won’t qualify for, but still good to use as a measure. We’ve done a lot of team stuff in previous years, I’d like to suggest looking at some individual comps this year too.

I’ll build these in to a schedule and we can as a group decide which ones would be fun to do, whilst still making sense.

Here is what I’ve come up with in terms of a broad timeline for the 19/20 season. All of which is subject to change as a lot of events haven’t released information, so dates are not confirmed, and other events are likely to pop up.

March – Finish out the 2019 open
April – Deload for a few weeks, start off season with a testing week
May – Off season
June – Finish up off season, and begin looking at online comps
July – Start of new season
August – Ramp up in season
September – Still in season
October – Comp season starts, qualifiers and second Open of 2019
November – BoE + potentially another comp in the region
December – Elfit (heard it’s a shit show but let’s keep options open, team and indie)
January – WOD mayhem, Bahrain, I don’t believe these have qualifiers, Indie comp
February – Altitude, unless something else comps up, get medical insurance sorted prior to event.

Off season.

This is where I need your trust.
None of you are idiots, well most of you (I’m kidding), so I assume you understand you can’t keep training at full send all year round. When you train hard in preparation for a competition and ramp up your intensity and volume the risk of injury and blowing up are heightened. I’m sure you see what would happen if you kept training at the same gear year-round?

So, I’m suggesting we take a bit of an off season. Ride out the Open, finish March strong, have a week or two of easy training and recovering, hit a testing week and then get really serious about destroying some weaknesses. Use a 6-8 week window whilst the competition calendar is quiet and focus on getting strong / fast / gymnasty (insert generic training goal) as fuck!

 I’m working on putting together a fairly sophisticated off season that can be tailored to your goals, and eliminating your weaknesses, whilst being able to train together, and have fun doing so. I’m excited about it for myself as well as you guys, it’s a good opportunity to build on experiences from the past season and to set the attitude for the coming season.

 Give me 2 months of solid training and you’ll walk out ready to crush the rest of the year.

 This message is disclaimery, because I need your buy in. I’m asking for your trust, because training will look differently, we won’t be doing loads of CrossFit and we won’t be doing loads of smash yourself in to the ground training during this period. Don’t misunderstand me, training will be far from easy, it’ll just look different from what you’d expect “CrossFit” to look like.

 What you should expect from a competitive CrossFit off season.

-       Lots of isolated strength work

-       Loads of hard / long endurance intervals

-       Plenty of gymnastic skill work

-       Time to improve and develop better movement, with the scope to more resilient

-       Plenty of strongman

-       Loads of recovery work

-       More time for mobility and movement work

 We’re still trying to be as good at working out as possible, and the plan I’ve come up with is built around doing exactly that.

We’ve made some amazing progress in the last 12 months, I hope you all see it yourselves. I’m really looking forward to kicking off this new season.

If you would like to sit down with me and discuss any of this, and get some guidance on setting targets for the season, you know where to find me.

Honcho


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To be (a unit) or not (a unit). That is my decision

CURRENT MOOD: It’s been an eventful rollercoaster for my self-esteem and my butt lately.

Today I was called “too macho”, and yesterday I was called “a unit”. For guys, awesome. For this girl, not so much. Because I had already been feeling “a little fuller” (shall we say) lately, of course, I totally perceived it to mean “you look huge” (guys, you have permission to roll your eyes at me).

BACK STORY: Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve gone a little off the rails with my nutrition and that fermented drink that makes your head feel funny sometimes (the Middle Eastern PG version). I know it, my tighter shorts know it, and my butt knows it when any type of impact is involved – running, box jumps, and even when a heavy barbell is dropped in the vicinity. Urgh, it’s the worst.

ANOTHER BACK STORY: You know how you have THAT place that weight always goes to first? Yeah ya do, you just thought it. Mine? Butt and thighs. I don’t know whether it’s an act of rebellion for sitting on them for so long, but honestly, in times of excess I can LITERALLY feel the fat cells getting bigger there. Which is cool actually, because I figure, however much I curse it, it’s their way of giving me a heads up (guess I should be thankful).

BACK TO THE FIRST BACK STORY: So I’m off the rails – only a little bit mind you – and I can feel it. The funny thing is, before my 2-week bender, I was feeling really great. I remember doing some mobility work, and literally thinking to myself “I feel really great, body, way to go you”. Food and training on point.

SIDE NOTE: I always make a point of appreciating how great I feel and thanking my body for being so cool (you should definitely do it).

 BACK TO CURRENT MOOD: Two weeks! In TWO WEEKS I went from feeling great to feeling, well, like a unit. And while we’re on the subject: to be honest, the two comments I received don’t bother me in the slightest and they weren’t said nastily (well, maybe the second one accidentally was). Being called a unit is actually a compliment in CrossFit terms, but was given at the right place at the wrong time (poor bastard had no idea). If it was given 2 weeks ago, I would have been all “Oh really? I don’t know what you’re talking about??” Read: “I TOTALLY DO!!!!!!!!”

MY POINT: The difference between my “feeling great” moment and my moment of unit-ness, is probably GRAMS. Most of you won’t have even noticed a thing (please don’t check my butt out later looking for signs). The reality is that I am always roller-coastering (real verb) through these stages because my body is in constant change, constantly reacting to how I treat it – how and what I eat, how I sleep, how I train, how I think etc etc etc. Chronic and acute feedback and reactions…always. Do you ever stop to ponder that? I haven’t until recently, but it helps me to look at it from a better, more reasonable platform.

Luckily, we inhabit these incredible machines (please don’t get sick of me calling it that), that perfectly and dutifully respond to our actions*, whether we actually want these responses or not. For example, when strength training, your body will respond by getting stronger; by not training, your body will get weaker; when sitting down on the computer for long periods of time, your body will respond by getting tighter in the hip flexors and pecs, and weakened and lengthened in the upper back (basically you morph into the seated slouched position that you adopt so much); when over-eating or eating high-calorie foods for extended periods of time, your body is going to store fat and is going to feel like crap because you’ve been feeding it crap.

It makes total sense when you put it that way! For every action, there is a reaction.

 I often imagine bodies having their own personas and saying to themselves “ahhhhhh ok, they want me to get faster at running because it’s the 2nd week we’ve been running consistently” or “welp, I guess they want me to shut down my squatting mobility because we haven’t done it in years”. OR, the worst “huh [thinking hard emoji], I think they want me to store extra fat and start to put on weight”.

YOU GET OUT OF IT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT.

And every day, every SINGLE day, we have the chance (multiple chances at that) to put in some good stuff by making better decisions and practicing healthier actions for our bodies to respond to – eat nutritious food, rest and destress, exercise, get some sun and some fresh air etc etc etc. So you screw up and get weak, or put on a few kilograms. HECK, even if you become obese, understand that this does not have to be your situation forrrrreeevvvveeeerrrr (any Sandlot Kids fans out there?) It took your body time to adjust into [insert unfavourable situation], and it’ll take time for it to adjust into [insert new awesome situation that was demonstrated by your new awesome actions]. But the point is, it can be adjusted.

WHY DID I GO ON ABOUT THIS FOR AGES?

BECAUSE WE ARE IN CONTROL! We can own the state of our bodies! I genuinely, honestly, whole-heartedly think that that is the COOLEST THING EVER! And a reason why I can’t (and won’t) be mad at my body for responding in the way that it has over the past 2 weeks (as petty as it may seem). I am the captain of my ship, and long gone are the days when I will sit and loathe my body (what a terrible stage to go through!) I am responsible for its reaction, so I have no one to blame but myself. It was in my power to say “NO” to the extra dumplings at brunch, the garlic knots (well...as much as anyone realllllly has the power to say “no” to garlic knots), and the A. L. C. O. H. O. L, but I chose to stuff it all into my face, and voila...UNITVILLE. Again. It is always a great journey there (I travel there every once in a while), but I’ll get back on the rails now and get on out of there because I can and because I want to. It’s not that I think I’m fat, or that getting “unit” comments is bad (or maybe they said G-UNIT, and in that case I’m cool with that and I should probably apologise for the terrible misunderstanding and oversized rant), but I feel like crap and that’s what matters  the most.

PARTING MESSAGE

If I could speak very honestly, my relationship with my body (its form, function, performance) is one of the most impactful relationships that I experience. Although not so dramatically anymore (we are now, finally, on really good terms), it has been the cause of much emotional anguish, and so I do understand how terribly difficult it can be to find peace with it. If any of the above resonates with you – in a “haha your butt and my butt should have a conversation” way, or a “seriously, I hate my body so much I can’t even look at it in the mirror” way – please feel free to get in touch if you need a chat (if not me, find a health and fitness professional that you trust). I truly believe that the most important thing you can do is to prioritise your health, and a huge part of that is to tune in to your body, acknowledge its importance, and figure out how you can best look after it. Everyone deserves to experience how awesome it feels when their body has been taken care of – it’s why we opened a gym and is why our door is always open!

I promise you, it will change and improve your life.

Go and be awesome, 

Emily

 *Obviously, there are some machines that are wired differently and may not respond as we would hope or expect – injury, disease, ageing, genetic differences etc. Another reason to appreciate your good health and your ability to move. There are no two bodies that are wired the same, and I am speaking in general terms.