Thursday, December 31, 2009

Albany CrossFit Day 1

(Note: I went to edit something and lost half this post, so I had to rewrite it...Hope it's still good!)

Oh man what an awesome time I had here.  For starters though, I had a supposed quick run in the morning.  I measured out a 5k course and set off for an attempted 7 minute mile pace.  Then, when I never saw the street sign for one of my turns, and with my watch reading 25 plus, I realized I was probably a little lost.  So I just kept running, hoping I would find my way.  I finally did and measured the course again at 5.1 miles, finishing it in 37:30, a 7:20 pace.

Then, a bunch of hours later, Lindsey and I headed over to Albany CrossFit for their WOD: 3 snatches at 135# at the top of every minute, and burpees for the rest of the minute until you reach 100 burpees.  Wow!

This place was pretty cool.  You actually enter in to like a racket ball gym type of thing, with a normal gym attached.  Pass the front desk and head down stairs to the courts.  Albany CrossFit has taken over the first two of them and they are fully stocked with everything you'd need within the two, super high-ceilinged rooms.  I was introduced to Caleb and Jay, Jay being the "main guy" around there.  He was a nice guy, tons of energy and spent the whole workout running back and forth between the rooms snapping off pictures and yelling words of encouragement to everyone.  He also has a pretty chilled-out sense about him, and from this, the entire place seems just that much more relaxed.  The relationship between the coaches and athletes reminded me a bit of CrossFit DC, everyone was comfortable, they jokingly picked on each other and kept the atmosphere light.

One of the best things I found about this place though, was how supportive everyone was.  Besides the coaches, the athletes also spent their time pumping each other up, and pushing each other to keep going.  This was evident so much during the end of the WOD when one athlete was really struggling to finish.  All the others came around and yelled words of encouragement and saw that she finished.  This all took place before anyone racked up any weight, it was really an inspiring scene.  To start off the day, we all piled into one room and went over basic snatch form.  A coach took us through this and I was told it was his first day instructing after an Olympic cert he had just earned.  He did a pretty good job considering, and with a group of around 13 people, he was able to get everyone getting a pretty good snatch.  I think it would have been beneficial to take another 5-10 minutes to perfect the "most technical of Olympic lifts", but given the time, and, seeing that form was not all that bad on the video, I think it all went down very well.

From there, we split up into two separate rooms, guys in one, girls in the other.  I would have loved to work out with Lindsey...but, it was totally understandable given the amount of people and the space.  Time started and we got after it.  This was a tiring one, and my legs were feeling it a little after box squats the day before and the hard run that morning, but it was so much fun.  Also, I learned just before the WOD that only one other person completed it as prescribed, with the 135#.  So, of course, I HAD to get it.

The snatches felt pretty good all through the workout.  I splayed my feet a bit like I tend to do, but I really focused on driving with my legs and staying neutral through my spine, so I was very happy with my form all in all.  The burpees were damn hard, as expected.  I was able to finish with an average of 10 per round and the most exciting for me was entering my tenth round.  I had 13 burpees to get and I wanted to finish.  So, I just checked my gut, and turned it on, finishing in 9:59, 1 second from the top of the minute.  I then walked around and cheered everyone on, a thing that I always do, and felt so comfortable doing here.  Talk about a tight community.  Even being there for a few minutes and you feel like you are being welcomed into a large, warm, welcoming family.  I will definitely be back here every time I visit Lindsey in Albany.

I'll be headed there again today for another workout, I'll post that video and a smaller write-up later.  Thanks so much to Albany CrossFit!  If you're ever in the area, go check them out for sure.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

A Fun Little Workout

Yesterday I had a couple of my long time ball player clients/friends Andrew and Matt, come in for a solid workout.  We took the first little while down on the basketball court taking some swings (well, they did, I pitched the tennis balls to them...). Then we headed on upstairs for this:

Box Squats - 8, 8, 8, 5, 5, 3, 3

21/15/9 of
Kettlebell swings
HSPU (modified)
Rope climb (3/2/1)

I was happy to be able to get 315# without too much struggle for the last set.  The best part, Andrew was able to get the same wait for his last set of 3 as well!
For the metcon, I grabbed a 32kg KB and was planning on starting with kipping HSPU for as long as I could before I moved on to feet on box.  This workout was a good one.  It was pretty tiring and I finished with a 9:05 time; but I know that time would have been much, much faster given the fact that we were staggering our rope climbs.  From another perspective, it would have been much, much slower had I stuck with kipping HSPU's.  But to be totally honest with myself, once I got to ten reps, I was completely done.  I know that getting to 21 total reps of the kipping version would have kept me there for over an hour, or, I never would have finished...

Still, this is proving to be, BY FAR, my biggest weakness.  I have decided that I will reassess my efforts on achieving 1 rep of this exercises.  I will get one, one damn rep by the end of January!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trans-Continental Workout #4 + CrossFit Balance WOD

A couple days ago I hooked up again with my buddy Blair out in Belgium for the Trans-Continental Workout 4th installment.  I also was joined at Balance Gym by Steve (becoming a regular with the trans-con workouts), and my client and friend Matt (ball player at Princeton).  The workout was written as such:
with one minute rest between exercises do:
1 minute deadlifts (315#)
1 minute thursters (135#)
1 minute strict pull ups
1 minute push ups

This turned out to be pretty easy, as in, it was quick and pretty harmless.  I ended up suggesting to Blair to add to it, an I think he did a much better version of this workout.  He ended up doping three rounds with decreasing weight on the deadlifts and thrusters.  Either way, Steve and I did one round and I was relatively fine with that as I was going to be headed down to CrssFit Balance an hour later and doing a fun WOD there.

I got 15 reps of the deadlifts, 12 thrusters, 15 pull ups and 43 push ups.  I was pretty frustrated with the deadlifts; I felt so strong right off the blocks, and banged out 10 straight, but then released my grip.  I really didn't need to, but I just did out of habit.  The problem with this is that it is much more time consuming to get e heavy weight moving again after you stop.  So, while I am so sure I could have done a good amount more here, I screwed myself a bit by breaking them up so much.  The thrusters were tough, but I got a number I personally was pretty happy with, I think I need to work on my front squatting so much more, my stability is just off with them.  The pull ups and push ups felt great and I think I really maxed out with both of them.  All in all I finished with 85 total reps and think that 100 reps would be a good goal on this one.

An hour or so later I was down at CrossFit Balance with a couple people to play around on the great strength grid they have.  Here's the workout:
21 double unders
7 back squats (135#)
3/4 strength grid
21 sit ups
7 squat cleans (135#)
3/4 strength grid
21 wall ball
7 push jerks (135#)
3/4 strength grid

This took me a quick 7:15 (a little quicker of a WOD than I had wanted), but it was pretty tiring.  The strength grid was a on slower than when I did a workout on it a while back and I know that the heavy deadlifts, strict pull ups and a massive wound on my hand had something to do with this.  The rest of the workout was a breeze, I think that 135# was a bit light, maybe more reps would have been a pretty good idea with this one.

When all was said and done, I realized I was feeling a bit down all day (and I feel the ton of this post is not as "excited" as most of my posts).  I know now that it is because I just didn't DO enough.  The workouts were fine, but I think they were just too short, not heavy enough and ultimately, not challenging enough.  But then again, this is bound to happen every now and then.  I thought that these would be a lot tougher, and I was wrong.  Of course, this means I could have pushed myself to do them faster, and I think I did that for the second one (it was just not quite enough to really push my limits).

Oh well.  In other news, you'll notice the lack of video here.  Yet again I didn't think this one through.  I have video from both workouts but downloaded them to my work computer, erased them off the camera and scampered up to NY without either of them.  So, I will post them up next week.  I have a video from yesterdays workout, and I'll have some cool posts from this trip (I expect a good deal of outdoor adventures!).

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, December 28, 2009

Old Video

Workout I did after our snow storm in DC last week.

Got two videos being edited now, expect them tomorrow sometime.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Great Christmas

Well, turns out the whole idea of getting video up is really just not about to happen.  Iu forgot my personal camera at home (so I can't edit together the videos from last week) and even when I was able to get another camera, my laptop is just not cooperating with video upload at all.  Oh well. 

After a wonderful morning (a bit of a struggle to eat my normal breakfast with the miriad of breads, muffens and other gluten and sugar-filled fun) with egg whites and a protein shake, we all gathered around to open gifts with light holiday music playing in the background.  It was fun, lots of smiles and laughs and good gifts spread about.  After lunch (I had to resort to a micrawavable turkey meal as there really is nothing condusive to the non-red meat/gluten/dairy eating type of guy like myself), I took a quick nap and then headed off to the local high school for a workout.

Being up in Mansfield, MA for Christmas, we have a huge amount of snow.  After a couple family members expressed their confusion with not only the fact I was going outside to workout, but going to a field that was most likely still covered in snow, I drove on out and got myself ready.  In about 18 inches of fresh snow, 20 degree weather and some great winter clothes (thanks lululemon...!) I wrote this one out:
500 jump rope
100 double unders

100 meters snow sprint
90 m bear crawls
80 m crab walks
70 m broad jumps
60 m ice skaters
50 m duck walk
40 m push up jumps
30 m prone scampering
20 m kick throughs
10 meters handstand walk

I sprinted back to the meter marking every round and had to stop a couple times to re-tie my shoes and turn the camera back on (the damn thing kept turning off on me, and, go figure, I'm not able to get the footage anyway).  This took me 19:57 in total and was exhausting!  The bear crawl and crab walk in the snow destroyed me cardiovascularly.  I couldn't get a grip at all, and I had to use my fists or else I would slide all over the place.  By the time I got to the ten meters of handstand walks, I literally was getting one step, collapsing, popping back up and repeating that same one step.  It was pretty fun.

After that, I decided to add a little something so I grabbed a huge jug meant to hold about 100 gallons and hoisted it up for a 800 meter run.  It had a little water in it, but it was the size that made it so damn hard.  This took me 5:34, a really slow half mile, but I put everything into it.

What a great day!  Now, dinner is cooking, basketball is on, and people are just lounging around and relaxing.  I love Christmas so much.

Tomorrow I'm headed out to North Shore CrossFit for a good WOD, then to the batting cages with my cousin.  Enjoying it so much.  What is everyone else doing to keep active over the holidays?

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The holidays are upon us and that means a busy schedule for me!  I have three videos of great workouts coming up tomorrow sometime, and I'll be hitting a couple CrossFit boxes up in MA while I visit family.

Looking forward to some great stuff!

Today I took a great group of guys through the 12 Days Of Christmas Workout, but, I made it a good deal tougher on everyone.  I took the 12 exercises and made everyone perform all 12, ten times through.  This was sooooo tough.  I finished in 45+ minutes and we were all so wonderfully crushed afterwards.  Here's what it looked like:

DB squats x 12
DB power cleans x 11
Double unders x 10
Box jumps x 9
Leg raises x 8
DB swings x 7
Thruster x 6
Push ups x 5
Broad jumps x 4
DB push press x 3
Renegade rows x 2 (each arm)
Burpee x 1

The way this is supposed to work is like the 12Days Of Christmas Song.  But I wanted to really psuh everyone, so we just did the whole damn thing 10 times through.  We also had weighted ropes, so most of the guys did single jumps, and a few guys too the 30" box as well.  Man!  This one was fun!

No footage of this one, but I have a video from another workout down at Balance CrossFit with Coach Danielle, a great group workout from the toerh day, AND, one of the most fun workouts I've had late at night in an old parking lot (with the 2 feet of snow to play in!).

Keep checking over the holidays for plenty of psots, and I have a few discussion items to throu=w up here pretty soon as well.  So much to come!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video from last CrossFit Community Week visit...

CrossFit Community Week - Open Workout

Today was interesting.  After getting over my frustration with the lack of response (and sometimes the negative response) from affiliates in the area, I was able to hook up with Christy Phillips and her two friends who were down from CrossFit Center City in Philly.  We had a metcon planned, and were to meet up at the gym Christy primarily works out of: Results, The Gym.

Ok, so, a little back story here.  The first gym I ever trained at was Results.  And while I have a ton of respect for everyone there, it just does not fit for me.  They have some amazing facilities though, I can't deny that.  This one I had never been to before, and it was pretty fancy.  There was even a fish tank welcoming everyone into the locker rooms. 

After a quick, 20-minute squat workout I had earlier (before I client I was able to get 225x3, 275x3, 315x3, 315x3 and then miss 350 twice), I headed on over, met the crew and walked through the gym to a back studio space where we would be doing our workout.  Because there really were no good pull up bars there, we resorted to using a TRX attachment bar.  This thing looked like a horizontal, hardcore television or radio antenna you'd see at the top of a tower somewhere.  The bars were thin, and slippery as hell, not the best for the amount of pull ups we were about to do.  We chatted a little, but mostly just got ready and got after it (I had a class to get to in Georgetown, so I was under specific time constraints).

We had, 40/30/20/10 burpees and pull ups.  This means we did 40 burpees, then 40 pull ups, 30 burpees and 30 pull ups, etc.  It was a killer!  I was able to finish in 12:57, a time I was pretty happy with given the bar.  I am sure that with a decent bar that time could have been closer to 11 or so, but, that's what CrossFit is all about!  The unknown and unknowable, be prepared for anything and everything.

A quick cool down of sitting around and talking and we all went our separate ways.  It was quick and so much fun.  And as I drove on to my class, I got to thinking about this whole community topic and how this workout was so perfect for my journey this week.  What this basically was, was a group of people, meeting up (I was meeting two of the three for the first time) just to get a workout in.  It is so common for people to meet up over food and drink, out at a restaurant, at a bar, some place like that, but this is all about something else.  We were able to get together, meet, chat, share jokes, get a damn good workout in, sweat together, talk some more, and head out in our separate directions.  This is what I love about CrossFit.

The other day had this situation come up with two separate friends.  One complained to me that they were having such a hard time dealing with the holidays because they had to attend so many different parties and that lead to eating too much and drinking too much and not sleeping enough.  The price of being properly social I guess.  The other friend told me how they planned on a few different things over the holidays: one was getting a good ski trip in with the family and close friends, one was only going to the parties of the closest friends, and the final was making sure they got to CrossFit on a regular schedule.  When I talked to these friends of mine a couple days ago, deep into the holiday season, I found one of them to be incredibly depressed (you can probably guess which one that was), while the other seemed in perfectly fine spirits, but had a slightly different plan that occurred.  What happened was, after CrossFit class, a group of people inevitably headed off to get some post-workout fuel, and given the tight community of that group, and the holiday spirit, the people stuck together to talk about class, nutrition, health, holidays and anything that came up.

The point being here, is that while communities pop up everywhere, and around everything, and CrossFit is one of these communities, and it is growing fast, and building with such strong character form the people that chose to be involved.  My little workout here reminded me that people can meet, get along, learn new things, and grow a little together outside of your typical "meet-up" setting.  I have always longed for a way to allow myself to be social while feeding my need to constantly be active.  And while CrossFit is not the only answer to this, it truly does promote it very well.

Never Stop, GET FIT.


Friday, December 18, 2009

CrossFit Community Week - Primal Fitness

Wednesday morning I set off only about 2 miles form my gyms location, to the corner of New York Ave and M in NW DC to check out Primal Fitness.  As I approached the old fire station, I couldn't help but get the feeling that I was about to enter into some other world.  And that is pretty much exactly how it went down.

Primal is an old firehouse, and what you see from the outside, is pretty much the same as what you see on the inside.  It's run-down, cold, smells of mold, sweat, chalk and metal and seems to have this constant buzz of activity going on at all times.  You enter in a side door to a spacious room filled with workout equipment.  Ropes, bars, plates, boxes, rocks, racks and so mush more, all around.  Walk through that room and you hit an opening with a couch, bathroom, small kitchen and a separate Oly lifting room.  Then up the stairs to their offices, storage room, bed area and then a huge, open, very well lit room that, when I got there, there were still a few guys sleeping on mattresses around the floor.  It was like an old, European hostel or something of the sort.  That upstairs room was being transformed to a Parkour center, with bars, pipes, boxes and ledges all over the place to run and jump around.

I talked with Mark Toorock, the owner for a while up in that room as some of the visiting Parkour guys woke up.  He spoke about the community of this place and how it has grown so much over the years.  While CrossFit brings in the majority of people through the doors, Parkour is really the attention-getter there.  They have the leading Parkour website in the world and seems to me as though this rugged, work-ready space is the American Parkour HQ.  I can't wait to get back there when that upstairs space is done, it will look a little like a Ninja Warrior set up, so cool.  Before I headed back downstairs for my workout, Mark made sure I got a bar muscle up on the thick bar that was built up there.  Luckily it only took three tries...

Back downstairs I met Jesse Woody briefly (my contact for this whole adventure, and head coach) and Quint Fischer, the guy taking me through my workout (he was one of the coaches at the Balance CrossFit challenge last weekend).  We chatted for a few minutes as I warmed up and Quint set up the workout.

This place makes you want to move.  There are so many things to do there, and the combo of walking off the DC streets and entering into such an environment sparks something in your primal being to just start running around, climbing things, throwing things and just playing.  They really did pick perfect name for what this place is all about.  Painted on the wall is a great picture of some natives crouched with spears in hand, curiously looking at a collection of shopping carts.  Everything about Primal motivates people to remember that beneath their suits, cars, condos and fancy foods, they are all human, skin, muscles, bones, that's it.  And when you are reminded of this, something clicks, you work harder, move faster, lift more, smile greater and feel more satisfied post-workout.

The workout Quint gave me was this:  "Strong Man Gone Bad".  For those of you who know CrossFit, "Fight Gone Bad" is a pretty popular workout, consisting of five exercises performed for one minute each, followed by a one minute rest, repeated three times.  You score it by adding your total reps when all is done.  It is so exhausting.  This took it to a new level.  He had four exercises, and I had to perform them in the same manner as "Fight Gone Bad", one minute of work of each, one minute rest, three times through.

Farmers walk (75# DB's, 15-20 meters, up and back = 1 rep)
Up and overs (shoulder a 50# sandbag, throw it over a 47" box, hurdle the box and repeat.  Over and back = 1 rep)
Stone clean and jerk (literally, a large rock, about 40-50#, the damn thing kept bouncing away!)
Tire pull (with 50# added and I thick rope, about 10 meters, up and back = 1 rep)

I finished 52 total reps at the end of the workout.  I have no idea if that's good or not, but it doesn't really matter, I just went all out and kept going for the entire minute.  It was easily one of the top five toughest workouts I've ever done.  The stone/rock was by far the hardest part.  The thing would hit the ground and just scatter.  I had to jump out of the way so it would not crush my feet, had to chase it down, find a decent grip on it, it was crazy hard.  Now here's a little insight into my mind: I hate collapsing after a workout.  The only times I will do it is if I really am honestly struggling or if I cramp up.  I've never really through that I needed to do this (there's been a couple times, but that's it) and perhaps this means I just haven't pushed myself hard enough, not quite sure.  But this one, I couldn't hold myself up.  I gave every ounce of energy into that last pull of the tire, you can see on the video, I just nothing left.  It felt so great to just push myself like that, and I know it was the perfect combo of the workout, people, and gym.  When the idea is to workout hard, the second you walk into a space, and everything there is promoting that idea, well, you'll probably work damn hard.

I WILL be back, for workouts, to try my hand in Parkour (thanks to the couple guys upstairs who showed me some awesome Parkour videos and let me know a litle about their adventures as they travel around!).  I had such a blast there and really, really reccomend it to anyone looking for a true pick-me-up.

Primal Fitness
219 M Street NW

Washington, DC 20001

Next, a make-shift workout with a few CrossFitters at a chain gym!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

CrossFit Community Week - CrossFit DC

Same day, but evening now, at Balance Gym Kalorama (the gym I work out of!) to get a workout in with Tom Brose and the first CrossFit affiliate in DC, CrossFit DC.

These guys are just a load of fun.  They only have a few classes a week given that they use the space at Balance and it gets pretty busy there.  But they have a such a tight group of followers and it is so lear that they all stick together and support each other very, very well.  This shines through with their workouts.  They joke around, goof with one another, pick on Tom, and just enjoy their time in the gym.  I am usually on the other side of this picture, either working out on my own at the gym, or training a client, and I am always curious about what they are all about.  And during this hour, I really got to enjoy their company.

Because of the fact that they don't have tons of regualar classes, Tom has to improvise quite a bit.  New athletes are always showing up so his pattern is to always get a good, basic warm up, work on some form of technical move that has some involvement with the days workout, then scale like crazy for everyone.  They all help out, pitching in when class is a bit large for Tom to be able to keep an eye on everyone.  This is really the type of community workout that I really appreciate.  When people take it upon themselves to help and support each other, and nobody feels disrespected for that.  Everyone seems to embrace the help, and understand the situation at the gym and with this particualr affiliate.

For the equipment they have, the space limitations, and the small amount of classes they are able to have, they do amazingly well.  They mix in Oly lifting days on a pretty regular basis and they seem to get very involved with some in-house events, and out of town ones as well.  In fact, after our workout, I was talking with everyone, and it seemed like a good collection of the DC crew would be headed down to the Charllotesville SuperFit Compitition on Jan 30.  I got so amped up about their excitement, I had to rush home and sign up myslef.  I am very much looking forward to joining the group down there. 

The workout:
We all got a basic warm up in with dive bombers and air squats, then hit the racks for overhead presses.  The whiteboard said 3x3 OH press.  But the group did four sets.  I got 135, 145, 150x2 and 155x1.  Felt a little weak with this and I only assume it was because of the snatches, from before (along with the overhead pressing I did on Friday last week, got 160 for 1 then).  The metcon was a blast!  We got 3 rounds (the video says 4, I know) of 350 meters row, and 12 x clapburpees.  A CrossFit DC specialty, the clapburpee basically is a clapping push up to a burpee; a dynamic, double push up burpee.  Exhausting.  The best part about this workout was not the workout though, it was the fact that the whole group was completely into it and pushing everyone.  And when more CrossFitters started to shuffle in, they all gathered around and rooted us on as well.  I ended in 6:52, and felt real strong with that time.  Later I would find a great athete who joined (and tore it up I might add) in a Trans-Continental Workout tied that time.

What a great group these guys are.  Oh, and Tom passed out some Paleo Treats after class.  Sweet.

CrossFit DC

Coach Tom Brose

Next stop, Primal Fitness.  This one could get interesting...

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CrossFit Community Week - Capital Jiu-Jitsu CrossFit

This morning I headed way out to Dulles, VA to met up with the good folks at Capital Jiu-Jitsu CrossFit; I had heard great things about the space there, so I was real excited to be able to see it for myself; there is nothing I like more than a spacious gym, with tons of awesome equipment!

It was a hike for me to get out there and a little out in the middle of nowhere from my point of view (granted, I don't know the Dulles area at all, so, that comment may be a little bias).  But strolling up to the facility I was already impressed.  It was a large end portion of a strip mall type of area, and was huge.  The Lobby was nice, filled with a ton of apparel (I got a sweet hat after the workout!) and the CrossFit space was directly behind it.  It had everything one needs for a perfect workout and then some.  They even had a great selection of tires, sandbags and slosh pipes (thick PVC filled with water or sand, love 'em!).

I was welcomed, shown around, and jumped right in (I came in about 5 minutes late).  I got a quick warm up on my own as I introduced myself, just some PVC pass throughs and some overhead squats, along with some hip openers and rotations to get the back loosened up.  The prescribed warm ups was: 10x OH squat, 10 x good mornings, 15 x ring dips, 10 x HSPU.

Then the workout started.  But before i get into that, I'll talk a little about how this affiliate works.  It is a bit larger in all aspects than most CrossFit boxes, with the addition of an entire MMA portion of the facility, the space is as large, if not larger than some commercial gyms.  They also have another location out in Old Town and this allows for their multiple coaches (six of them I believe) to move around a bit if they want to.  Todd Katz was the coach in charge at the time, and I was able to get some lunch with him and another athlete, Devin after our workout.  Now this place was almost the polar opposite of what I had experienced yesterday.  It was big, had larger classes, had no foundations type of class and was generally a lot more "free form" in comparison to the seriousness of yesterdays visit.  What it allowed for, was a much more diverse group of people, our session alone had Devin, myself, and three girls, all at very different fitness levels.  But we all had a great workout, pushed each other, and were able to scale very easily.  From talking with those other members, I hear nothing but praise about all the coaches and their ability to instruct for proper mechanics, and scale appropriately when needed.

The place just came across as a fun place to work out at, no matter what you ended up doing there, it would be finished with lots of smiles, lots of talking and socializing, and maybe a quick bite together afterward (great kebab place right near by).  The other thing I liked, was that they had recently held their own "CrossFit Games".  They had 30 some odd people compete and it sounded like their following was so supportive and energetic.  Clients travel from some pretty decent distances to get to the place, and the second you walk in there, you understand why.

Now for the workout:

This one was tough.  Mainly because of the amount of snatching I had done the day before, but for me, it was those damn toes to bar.  I just couldn't find a rhythm with them at all.  But Devin's energy, and Todd's pushing helped to keep me moving through the end.  I finished in 12:28 (the video says 12:22...that's a lie, sorry) and then hung around chatting with everyone before Todd and another coach performed the workout themselves.

I can tell you this: if I lived anywhere near this place, I would be there every day.  The space, the equipment, the people, the ability to get back into Jiu-Jitsu!  I'd love to get to meet some of the other coaches to get a feel for the different dynamics each one has in their classes.  I'll bet a month of regular classes there would get you an incredibly varied program, perfect for what CrossFit is all about.

Capital Jiu-Jitsu
23520 Overland Drive
Dulles, VA 20166
Tel: 703.651.5940

Tomorrow I'm off to Primal Fitness in DC.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

CrossFit Community Week - CrossFit MPH

Today I had the pleasure of meeting three great coaches down at CrossFit MPH in the Logan Circle area of NW DC.  Owner John Main and coaches Melody Feldman and Rebekka Ellman all welcomed me with great enthusiasm, and before he hit the floor for a great WOD, we all hung out and chatted for a while.

John found CrossFit back in 2003 and has been hooked since.  After using the CrossFit methodology for a while at your typical globo-gyms, he just found it time to branch off and do his thing.  And CrossFit MPH was born.  Located just behind the busy P street, with Whole Foods, restaurants, lululemon and a few other spots, it almost hides in what used to be a small, warehouse-lined street.  The space is small but effective, with decent ceilings, a great pull up bar set up in that back, and a small room with squat racks and rowers way in the back.  It's clean and light and very welcoming for a great workout.

What makes this box stand out though is the approach to training.  John admits to having an affiliate with a strength bias, meaning everyone will be working the main lifts (squat, front squat, OH squats, cleans, jerks, snatches etc.) on a pretty regular schedule.  But even beyond that, it is the amount of attention they give to perfecting the mechanics of the moves that really caught my eye.  They openly admit to the fact that they take this portion of training extremely seriously and that it may not be for everyone.  An example of how good they are with this: we worked 3 rep power snatches to start.  I was able to drive up 155# pretty easily but kept splaying open with my feet.  John made me strip off a little weight to make sure I could fix this problem, full well knowing that if I continued to splay the feet as I got heavier with the lift, I would wasting energy, moving inefficiently and ultimately, would be holding myself back.  I love this!  When it comes to moves that are so technical, I totally agree with them that more attention needs to be payed.  And when we went to our metcon, I was fully aware of any out of whack movement on the snatches.  I immediately became a slightly better lifter.  Another point to make on their professionalism and seriousness is that they asked me not to video tape the workout.  They said there would be a few clients in and they would rather not run any risks.  I signed a waiver and they even read the thing to me before I signed.  While some might see all that as overkill, I respect the hell out of them for understanding how they want to run their business, and actually running it to a T.  Very impressive.

Two others joined in along with myself and Mel (Melody that is), both trainers and CrossFitters.  We got a quick but effective warm ups in, including 2 rounds of 15 reps each of: PVC pass through's, overhead squats and push ups.  The proceeded to go through the Burgener progression for snatches with both the PVC and the bar.  This included the dip to shrug, the dip/shrug to elbows up position, then the entire power snatch.  Quick and very effective to train the proper mechanics of this movement,

Our workout was: 5 rounds of 3 power snatches.  I felt pretty comfortable, and with the help of all three coaches, was able to begin keeping my feet closer and also was able to learn that I pulled to early, not relying on my legs and hips enough to pull the weight.  
The metcon was: 4 rounds for time of: 
3 x power snatch (135#)
6 x overhead squat (135#)
15 x sit ups to jumps

Talk about a quad killer!  I finished in 9 minutes flat, next came Dave at 9:32, Mel at 9:44, and Evan at 12:54.  It was a good one, very tiring and just destroying the legs.  Everyone was pushing each other, and supporting each other and it just felt like the perfect environment to be in for a tough workout.

I really liked it there.  They were serious, but very open and welcoming, and I think that anyone looking to really get into training would have a great time.  It's not a place to go f your just looking for a fun, crazy workout, and they don't pretend to be a place that offers that.  They are professional and honest and I have so much respect for coaches, and people like that.  They are small as of now, have only been open for a less than 12 months, but already have a great member base.  And the best part, they have built a small, but intense following around them.  From what I gather, the entire group is pretty tight, they work hard and enjoy to kick back every now and again together, good atmosphere all around!

CrossFit MPH

1469 Church Street NW
Washington DC 20005

Next on the list: Capital Jiu-Jitsu in the AM, CrossFit DC in the PM!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CrossFit Community Week - CrossFit Balance

On a crisp, clear Saturday evening I headed on down to Balance Gym Thomas Circle for my first installment of this project.  I have a good connection with Balance already, seeing how I run my own company out of their other location up in Kalorama.  I am close with the owners, and have lifted with all of them on many occasions over the past few years.  Last night was a little different down at the new location, it was their holiday/grand opening, and they would be having a big coaches workout (along with a ton of classes and other demos) to get things underway.  

Danielle Dionne is the coach there, a level 1 certified coach who competed impressively at the 2009 CrossFit Games.  She is incredibly energetic and passionate about fitness and it shows the second she walks into the room.  As a brand new affiliate (their website is up, but not officially announced yet), she clearly has a very healthy approach to how to get people involved: a long foundations course.  What this means is that she'll be focusing quite a bit on making sure people can perform all the weightlifting moves properly before they are allowed to throw lots of weight on and move it around at intensity.  While it's right at it's beginning stages, I am so sure CrossFit Balance is going to be wildly successful under Danielle's care.

Another great thing they have going for them is the fact that this studio space also has a huge gym right next to it.  Balance Gym is actually a "gym" gym, with rows of dumbbells, machines and cardio equipment.  The best part though, is the boxing ring they just put in and the tractor tires along the alley, along with some pretty unique and interesting classes.  Damn cool place all around.

The most noticeable thing about CrossFit Balance though is the studio space itself.  It is a spacious, high ceilinged 2,700 sq. ft. box with pristine equipment (CrossFit basics: dynamax balls, kettlebells, barbells, bumpers, jump ropes, GHD's, rowers and plyo boxes).  But the best part is the Strength Grid designed by Frank Passanante from Steel Fit (  This thing is great!  Not sure my words can express it properly, but all combined there are seemingly endless pull up bars (including thick bars); the squat racks are built in, and there's a jungle gym sort of deal going on in the middle of the gym with horizontal ladders, polls and handles to climb all over. Check out this video here with me, Blair Morrison of Anywherefit and Mark Crick (co-owner of Balance Gym) to see it in use.

The workout:
We had about 8 people ready to go, including me.  The workout was taken from a hopper bucket and our good friend Reggie (shot the video!) picked out the workout: AMRAP 10 minutes of 5 x Deadlifts (275 men/ 185 women), 15 x push ups, 25 x double unders.  This was exhausting.  It was a great workout though, and after time was up I had finished 6 rounds and the deadlifts and push ups on the 7th.  

I had a blast with everyone, enjoyed the workout and the people, and I get the feeling that this place will become sort of the greater Washington, DC Head Quarters for CrossFit.  I am certain in my time remaining in DC I will be working out down there on a regular basis.  They are welcoming, down to earth, fun, and hard working, and all these things make for a great workout any day of the week.  I would recommend this to anyone who has an interest in general fitness and wants to get some CrossFit in, but also wants to play around, flip some tires, climb around a crazy adult jungle gym and try out some other styles of classes as well.  It just about has everything you can think of.  So, give CrossFit a try, and mix in a little of everything else.  The funny thing is, when you mix it all in, you will actually be getting the true CrossFit: not-specializing, doing it all, general physical preparedness.

Tomorrow I'll be a few blocks away at CrossFit MPH for another great workout.

CrossFit Balance
1111 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Coach Danielle Dionne - 

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Past Couple Workouts

Below are the videos from my last two workouts.
Workout 1:
25 minute run
20 rounds of:
5 x pull ups
10 x push ups
15 x squats
with 1 x exorcist step run every 4 rounds

Workout 2:
1RM Overhead press (not on video)
AMRAP 20 minutes of:
3/4 jumgle gym climb
20 walking lunges
20 site ups

Both of these workouts were pretty tiring, but really fun.  The second was with my trans-continental buddy Blair Morrison and owner of Balance Gym Mark Crick.  I finished the 1st in 19:57 and was completely spent for a couple hours after that one.  The second one I got everything but 2 sit ups into the 10th round and felt pretty good after that.

Tonight is the big Balance Gym party and CrossFit competition.  It also is the first of my CrossFit Community Week visits and I will be posting a post, video and interview with head coach Danielle this weekend.  Enjoy!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Is What (it is)...Ever You Want

The other night I found myself in a cab around 1-am coming back from the train station from a nice trip up to visit some friends.  I sat up front while a couple GW students got I'm the back. the second the doors shut our driver went off.  He started talking at like a mile a minute, yelling, cursing, more or less going crazy about how the Redskins came so close on this last one. I'm pretty sure it was the overall fatigue I was feeling that led me to not being worried for my safely, but I thought to myself, this guy just wants to bitch a little about his team.

After the GW kids got out, we continued on up towards my place.  This is when the conversation went in another direction.  He began talking about how he needed to get a few extra hours in before the holidays because he not only had six children of his own, but three grand kids as well.  This guy was 47.   He then proceeded to tell me just what ones lifestyle would have to be like to end up having such a large family...too much information. then he went on another tangent about child support, his friend the cop who had six kids with six different women.  He talked about trying to feed the family, pay for cigarettes and booze (both of these started on the day his first child was born), and the ability to generally enjoy his life how he saw fit.  And all the time he kept saying one phrase, over and over again at the end of almost every one of these statements.  "It is what it is."

Now this got me to thinking, as I lay in bed after I got home.  What an interesting perspective this guy has chosen.  His assumption is that life is, drinking, smoking, children, child support, multiple women, not enough money, multiple jobs and cheering for football.  And there's no need to complain about it, because it is what it is.  But that is just not true. not at all in fact.  He clearly wasn't happy, he clearly had a strong desire to express just how unhappy all this stuff made him.  And it made me realize what the true statement of a good, healthy life should be:  It is whatever you want it to be.

While I thought about this, my mind wandered of course, to the things that generally occupy my thoughts: fitness.  I all of a sudden began to recall statements made by friends and clients, and conversations I have had with people frustrated with their fitness level and overall health.  So often I have heard people say that they just were not built to finish a race, or don't have the genes to be lean and muscular, or don't have the chemical make up to follow the proper nutrition program.  That sounds like "it is what it is" to me.  To me, those people are finding a way to get out of the fact that to make a change, a serious change in their lives, they will have to work extremely hard.  And for the most part, people just don't want to do that.  Now if someone chooses to lead the life they lead, without complaint or worry at all, then that is not a problem to me.  I in no way think that all people need to be incredibly fit to be "worthy of my approval".  What I am talking about here, is the person who is truly effected negatively by his or her life and struggles with certain things day in and day out.  If that is the case, don't just sit there and accept it, do something about it!  Whatever it takes.  Get on the computer, research it, ask around, find the experts, become an expert, travel if you need to, take the time to focus on this because THIS is what your life is.  Your job, your condo, your car, your TV, your smart phone, your clothes, those are not what make you into the healthy, happy person you aspire to be.  It's you, it's your support, your family, that make you and shape you.  Find the support, find a way to be healthy, trust me, it is out there for you to easily find, if you are only willing to look a little deeper than normal.

Two examples:  a client of mine came in for his initial consultation.  He was in his mid-teens, and a good 30lbs overweight.  He was a pretty good baseball player though and really wanted to see himself step up his game.  One of the first things he said to me was that he was sick and tired of being fat and out of shape, and he would do anything to get fit.  So, I took him up on that and pushed him.  He trained with me (mobility, strength, power, conditioning) three days a week, on his own with
conditioning, stretching and light strength three days a week, and I helped him get on a better nutrition program.  What blew me away about this guy was that he just ran with it.  He game in early, got some extra speed work in, really took to heart everything I gave to him and put every ounce of energy into each workout.  He wanted it.  And he was rewarded for his dedication to positive change.  Within four months he had dropped 25lbs of fat, looked lean, increased his squat from the low 100's to the mid 200's, was pulling a 300+ deadlift, could rep out pull ups andhad increased his 60 yard dash time by over 4 tenths of a second and his home-2nd time (for catchers) to under 2 seconds.  But best of all, his game improved.  He had a great year, crushed the ball, and ended up spending the summer at a prestigious baseball school in Florida.  He woke up one day and decided the life he was leading was not the one he wanted, so he made it the way he wanted.

Second: a female client of mine who came in way overweight, lethargic, and with barely the ability to comfortably walk for any extended period of time.  She told be that besides wanting to lose the weight, get in shape and all that basic fun stuff, she wanted most to learn how to run.  In fact, she had registered herself (on a bet with her older brother) to run the Army 10-miler only six months away.  Her dedication to this was one of the most inspirational things I have ever seen.  Her and I ran once a week and strength trained once a week, but it was what she did on her own time that was so great.  She ran.  She ran structured times and distances, hardly ever missed a session, rain or shine.  Her excitement could be felt every time anyone simply talked to her; her energy changed, her nutrition changed, her entire life changed.  And in the end, to date, over 25lbs lighter, she has run three 10-milers, and is registered for her first half-marathon!  She made the choice to change her life, and she damn well changed it!

I hear tons of stories like these all the time, from friends, reading, my own life, but it's inevitable that I hear them because i work in the fitness industry.  I hope that these stories begin to occur more often because there's no such thing as "it is what it is" or, that's just the way it goes" or "that's how life works"; you can do whatever you want, if you really want it.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Minor Setback

Last Friday I teamed up with a couple friends and Blair out in Belgium to do mine and Blair's 3rd installment of our Trans-Continental Workout. it was a really tough one that included some pretty high intensity, complete torso flexion and extension (check out the post and video here). I then planned on taking a nice easy weekend to prepare for this great CrossFit Community Week I put together (read about that here) where I would be doing some pretty tough workouts every day of the week, and sometimes twice a day.

As I was sitting on an airplane, headed up to Albany to see my Alma Mater play some basketball and also to make a special visit to someone, my stomach began to ache like crazy. I assumed it was a lack of food which I knew was an issue by midday as I had rem all over the place with training and getting to the airport. so, during the layover in Philly, I grabbed a salad and got some dried fruit for a little later. but this didn't help, in fact, it started getting worse.

By the time I got to upstate, my stomach was really killing me. and by the time the game was over, I could barely stand up straight or even walk comfortably. I knew something was really not right.   As luck would have it, we had a couple doctors in the group of friends and they kept probing and prodding me (I actually think this was humoring them at my expense...) and with one persons (not one of the docs...) suggestion, and a littleInternet searching I discovered that without a doubt this was a muscular thing.  Thanks to the heavy, fast deadlifts, rowing and crazy toes to bar workout I did on Friday, I found that the dynamic torso extension involved in all those movements must have set it off.  Then, the sitting for about 4 hours in one of those small planes added to it all by me not sitting with proper posture and allowing my stomach to stay in a contracted position for so long.

Whatever the details on the actual injury, the fact is, I am injured for the time being and have been forced to move my CrossFit Community Week project to next week.  What I really wanted to talk about here was how to approach injury.  I am very lucky because my recovery is feeling pretty quick and I am certain I will be back at it this coming Friday or Saturday.  But I have been witness to a lot of pretty interesting injuries, a good deal of them bad enough that the person needed to take a really long time to recover.  One of the most common issues I have seen surrounding this sort of thing is depression. Most serious fitness buffs will go through some major emotional fights the second an injury sets in. The idea of not being able to work out is usually just a ridiculous concept for these people.  It's like taking away half your oxygen all of a sudden; you're going to feel pretty lost and helpless.

It's tough to deal with, but there is always another way you could look at things.  When an injury strikes, it usually occurs because of an imbalance, weakness or overuse (usually a combination of all those things).  I truly think that the best way to go about dealing with any injury is by first taking responsibility for it.  If you sit around feeling sorry for yourself it is not going to do anything but make you feel worse and probably prolong the recovery time.  Accept that it happened and then take the time to figure out why it happened.  Once you've figured that out, take the time to find ways to make sure your programming can involve re-strengthening that area, bringing it up to snuff with the rest of the body, and finally, reevaluating the entire body to find other weakness and imbalances that may lead to some other injury down the road.

Once you've found all that out, take whatever time you need to recover.  Always remember that a week or two off (or even 6-8 weeks off) is much, much, much better then never being able to do something again.  Always take the time to correct and help yourself.  It is ignorant to just workout like crazy and expect you won't hurt yourself.  It is smart, and in my opinion, your responsibility to yourself to learn about the best way to be and stay healthy and fit. 

I'll finish with that famous line of falling and picking yourself back up.  My favorite version of this is: "Why do we fall?  So that we can pick ourselves back up."  To me it is life reminding us that we must take responsibility for our own actions and when a setback takes us, it is for the sole purpose of having us overcome it and become better.  We are not victims, we are in control.  You are the only thing that can make you healthy; life will throw us all kinds of ups and downs and it is entirely up to us to make it a healthy and fit one.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Friday, December 4, 2009

Trans-Continental Workout #3

The third installment kept along with the progression of these workouts getting harder and harder, I love it.  This one was as follow:

For overall time perform
Deadlifts (165kg/365#)
Handstand Push Ups
Rest 5 minutes
2000 meters Row
Rest 5 minutes
DB Thrusters (45#)
Side to Side Ties to Bar

Well, after hearing from Blair how hard it was for him, I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous.  But with Steve and Reggie joining me for the workout I was feeling ready.  The Deadlifts weren't so bad, I felt a little rusty and I could feel my spine rounding a bit (and that was confirmed on the video...).  The HSPU were fine.  I had to kip with them as I actually can't do an actual HSPU (something I'm working on pretty hard core these days.  I'll get one soon!).  I finished this in 3:00 flat and felt pretty good going into the rest.  With the row, I felt fine, started slowly and planned on speeding up after I hit 1000 meters.  I ended up speeding up, but a little late, finishing in 7:11 and still feeling like I had a good deal left in the take.  I really wish I had pushed harder on this as I always feel like the rower is a strong exercise for me.  Well, 5 minutes later was the thrusters and toes to bar.  I felt pretty good for the thrusters and when i hot the bar, well, I crashed.  At this point it became pure guts (and Steve was like 3 reps ahead of me, it was the perfect push).  I ended up finishing in 27:00 flat and felt totally drained, it was great.

Tomorrow I have a couple options: wake up early and do the lumberjack workout, or, wake up early and go for a power run.  It'll be a game time decision.

Thanks Steve and Reggie for a great workout.  And of course, thanks Blair for doing these with me from overseas!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Fit Community

Starting this coming Sunday (December 6th) I will be traveling around the greater Washington, DC area meeting and working out with some of the top CrossFit coaches at their boxes.  The goal with this endeavor is two fold: first, I want to meet new people and get some damn good workouts in.  Second (and really the main reason for this), is to network with coaches and enthusiasts of this amazing grassroots concept of fitness training.  The more I get involved with CrossFit, the more I appreciate what it truly stands for: getting people active and in shape.  It has clearly gotten a mixed bag of feedback over the years because by nature, it can bread a selection of people that sometimes takes things a bit too far for the general public.  Overall, I say this is actually another reason it is so good for people; really, anyone can get involved.  It allows people who want to take their fitness to the top levels the means to do so, and it allows for the Average Joe to have an honest and incredibly effective way to transform his/her life for the better.

In my profession, I tend to talk to a ton of different people about health and fitness (the conversation usually heads in that direction no matter what I do usually, it is such a strong topic for all people).  Whenever I mention CrossFit I have found that I always get something similar to these three responses:

1) "I know all about it and love it."
2) "I don't know much about that, but what I do know, it intimidates the hell out of me."
3) "That's that crazy form of training where people yell, throw their weights and try to make themselves puke and pass out right?"

Well, the first point is the one I obviously want to focus on here, but not before I address the second two.  Being intimidated by something is a very difficult thing to deal with, especially when it comes to matters of taking control of your life.  My only recommendation is to give it a try at the very least.  Do a little research (this coming project will help a ton) and go out there and try a class, pretty sure you'll really enjoy it.  The last point there is the one that is toughest to deal with.  I completely get this, and in fact, this is the view I had of CrossFit for a while because that is all I knew of it.  And the truth of the matter is, a huge majority of CrossFit and CrossFitters tend to lean in this direction.  That is precisely why I am taking this journey.  I want to show CrossFit as what I believe is its base concept, an open community for people to share and support their own, and other peoples fitness goals.  It also supplies the most efficient and effective method to achieving those goals.  Given the fact that CrossFit is defined as a style of training that is meant to be performed at a high intensity, it is only natural that you will get a large group of people who take that to the extreme.  And if that is what they choose to do (I personally love this) that is completely their prerogative.  If you choose to be a little lower key in life, so be it, CrossFit is still for you.

Just go google CrossFit and see the amount of different information there is up there.  Check out different affiliate websites and see how their programming is slightly different, their styles, moods, settings are all very different.  Their client base is different.  That is the beauty of it all and it is the differences that I wish to shine a light on.  All with the same goal of spreading fitness around the world in an open forum manner, each person, coach and box does so in their own personal manner.  And they are all right.  In the same way one will never truly be able to understand the world unless one travels it, one will never truly understand fitness for his or herself until one tries all different methods and styles.  Will a strength based program work the best?  What about metcon based?  Should you use the Zone, go paleo forr diet?  Should you avoid machines, be inside, outside?  Should you workout alone, with a group, with the world?

I say try it all.  So, starting next week I'm headed out for the first baby step.  Every day I will post a little on each spot, how they work, how they feel, what they believe in.  I'll also videotape the WOD and post that as well!  And at the end, I'll be writing up a much more in depth article based on my points with this post.  But this time with a little more fuel.  I'm so excited to meet all these people and try new workouts.  If you're around and want to join, shoot me an email or call and come along, the more the merrier!

Schedule (as of now):

Friday 12/4 @ 10am - Trans-Continental Workout #3 w/ Blair Morrison
Saturday 12/5 - OFF
Sunday 12/6 @ 9am - Albany CrossFit (not really DC area I know, but I'll be up there)(Maybe)
Monday 12/7 @ 10am - CrossFit MPH
Tuesday 12/8 @ 10am - Capitol Jiu-Jitsu CrossFit
Tuesday 12/8 @ 6pm - CrossFit DC
Wednesday 12/9 @ 10am - Primal Fitness
Wednesday 12/9 @ 6pm - Still working on this one
Thursday 12/10 @ 10am - Still working on this one
Friday 12/11 @ 10am - CrossFit Extreme Fitness
Saturday 12/12 @ 4pm CrossFit Balance

Should be fun!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back on track

Yesterday I had a great day:  a 6-mile run in the AM, took 42:32, felt so good, especially with the Vibram Fivefingers and the trails.  Then, in the early evening I put together a tough one that looked like this:

1-10 reps of:
Power Cleans
Burpees to Pull Ups
Court Sprint (30 yards)
(w/ 115lbs)

This thing took it all out of me and it was so rewarding.  I didn't expect it to take all that long, but those burpees to pull ups were such a drain.  Because you must perform a pull up at each jump, you can't really kip, so it ends up being this sort of jumped-into strict pull up and it just wears you out so fast.  I felt strong on everything else, and only had to break up the exercises on the last two sets (9 and 10), besides that, running back and forth on the court was a time consumer as well, but a nice muscle recovery.

All in all this one was damn hard, I really don't know how much fast I could have done it, it just got so tiring. 

This week will be a quiet week in preperation for what's to come.  I will be posting about a week long endeavor I will be starting this Saturday.  Expect the post on Thursday.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Monday, November 30, 2009

No more "I'm too old" excuses people!

Last week I teamed up with my good fiend and fellow trainer Jim Bathurst to help Bob Vastine celebrate his 72nd birthday by lifting 50,000 pounds of weight in 1 hour.  He would be doing so with two lifts: the rack pull (a raised deadlift), and the bench press.

For only three weeks prior to this event did Jim and I work with Bob to prepare.  He had been working with Jim on mobility and some pretty intense stretching, while with me, he worked on light conditioning, stability and some basic strength work.  After we went back and forth on some different ideas (last year he pulled the car for his 71st), we decided on this challenge, something that we all thought would be very tough and pretty damn impressive as well.  So we got to preparing.

It was a rough start.  On day one, to see where he stood on the rack pull, we used 185lbs and were only able to make it through 6 rounds before we had to hang it up and get on the mat to stretch out.  Bob was mostly struggling with the conditioning aspect of this style of lifting.  Holding the world record in his age group for deadlift (450lbs) and bench (285lbs), he really is used to just moving a crazy heavy load no more than a few times and taking a nice long recovery.  This was a whole different monster.

Jim and I geeked out with the numbers and calculated that he would need to perform 15 sets of a 185 rack pull and a 135 bench press with a 60 second rest between exercises and a 30 second prep time for each as well.  This would leave him about 500lbs shy of the goal weight at 60 minutes.  So, with training, keeping a close eye on the heart rate the entire time (we didn't want to see that thing get too far over 145, pretty high to sit for an extended period for a 72 year old), we worked to find ways to shave off rest time.  We were skeptical on raising the weight because we did not in any way want to compromise his form and risk injury.

After some concern and talking about adding time to have it performed in 72 minutes, we decided to just get after it.  And on Tuesday, November 24th, Bob came in to get after it.  With a select few people cheering him on, Bob put on an incredibly impressive display, keeping great rhythm, perfect posture all around and in the end, here's what he finished with:

54 minutes
53,800 total pound lifted.

He looked so good in fact, after 11 rounds Jim and I added 10lbs to each lift for 6 solid more rounds.  Great work Bob!  You continue to be an inspiration to me and to so many others.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Over-Trained / Under-Fueled

This past week I know I was right on the brink of going a little overboard.  But it wasn't necessarily from training too much.  In fact, I really did not train much more than my body is normally used to, the only question as to my actual training would be how quickly I decided to get into this crossfit programming around a marathon.  What really played a large role in the way I felt Friday coming into that trans-continental workout, was my nutrition.  I was improperly fueled.

When I started all this a month ago, I began a modified Zone diet, which was actually going pretty well up until the marathon.  I began increasing my carb intake the week before the run knowing that I would need the extra glycogen reserves during the long endurence-filled day.  What happened after the run is what threw me off.  I completely crashed.  And, as a result of the energy depletion I was feeling, and the fact that I had all this left-over food at my place from the marathon event, I ended up consuming not only a bit too much, but also a bit too much of the wrong kinds of food (IE: crap carbs in the form of flour, wraps and chips, refined sugars, sodium filled sandwich meats and nowhere near enough veggies and natural sugars and fats).  When improperly fueled, my body ends up reacting in a couple different ways (I know from plenty of experience): my metabolism gets thrown off drastically resulting in abnormal sleeping patterns, fluxuating energy, slight mood swings and feelings of weakness and super strength.  When read, this sounds like I all of a sudden became some roided out crazy man running down the street looking for his next kill; while, more realistically, these effects were very subtle and only noticable by me, and maybe a couple really close, very observant friends. 

So what ended up happening?  I continued with my everyday activities -training clients and working out- and each day things just got tougher and tougher.  My recovery from the workouts got slower and slower until I wasn't really recovering at all.  And two Saturdays ago, when I did my tons of hill sprints and DB clean and presses, I really never felt one ounce of recovery from that day on, untill today.  And through this experience I realized something that I think is so important for anyone trying to get, and stay at a good/great fitness level:

Prepare, and don't forget to eat.

Upon a short recollection of my last couple weeks, I found that the main theme was my complete lack of schedule for consumption.  Even on days when I ate well (meaning, I don't consume crap/fake food) I was still not doing so on a regular schedule.  There were times when I would go 4 or more hours without eating more than a few pieces of dried mango, and for someone who's lifestyle demands constant activity, I need to make sure that I am constantly fueling so that I can keep my metabolism running smoothly.  The worst part about doing this is that in the evening, when I started to slow down from the busy day and the hard workouts, I would then all of a sudden realize just how damn hungry I actually was.  And in the past couple weeks, my attempts to control that hunger were pretty weak to say the least.

So, tonight, I had Gladiator playing in the background while I shuffled around the kitchen cooking up chicken breasts, ground ostrich, chicken apple sausage, turkey chili, salmon burgers and few other main proteins.  I also wrote out a basic list of meals throughout the day to follow, and general times foe when I should be having those meals.   Now, all I will have to do during the day is check my cards, check my watch, add the veggies, salad, fruits, beans and eggs and my meals will be complete.  It really was not a very difficult thing to do, it's just one of those things you have to kick yourself in the but and just DO if you know you won't have the time for it during the week.  Preparation.  A fit, healthy person will always be prepared.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trans-Continenetal #2 Video

Trans-Continenetal #2

Yesterday was the second installment of the Trans-Continental workout with my friend Blair Morrison who's out in Belgium getting his masters.  It was a step forward in intensity this one, but it was a great time.  The best part about it for me was the fact that we had a few people join in the fun.

The workout (prescribed weight)
100 meter farmers walk with 80lbs DB's
100 double unders
30 clean and jerks with 185lbs
100 double unders
100 meters farmers walk with 80lbs DB's

Blair had to perform the workout a couple days earlier because he was headed off to Switzerland for the weekend, so we were able to have something to push for.  His final time was 14:23, pretty damn impressive for such an involved workout.  Check out his write-up and video HERE.

Five of us gathered in at Balance Gym and got prepared, myself, Ori, Steve, Dan and Reggie were set up for the workout and good ol' Mike was in charge of the times and the camera.  Steve, Dan and myself used the prescribed weight (except we did 85lbs on the walk because we don't have 80's...) and Ori and Reggie used 75's and 160 and 135 on the clean and jerk respectively.  This one was tough.  I struggled through the double unders the first round, then found a comfortable rhythm with the clean and jerk.  My legs had nothing, so much so that I resorted to a split clean and split jerk after about 15 reps or so.  I will be posting up another post this weekend about over training, something I feel I may be teetering with as I am really struggling with recovery.  But the workout was a great test of being able to endure a heavy weight with very technical movements, combined with the ability to stay light and agile with the double unders and keep full support of the body through the walks.  I ended up finishing in 18:35, Reggie in 18:32, Steve in 19:02 and Dan, tore it up with a solid 14:55.  Ori struggled with a exertion migraine right off the bat and wisely pulled out of the workout before it got too serious.  Later on in the day I took a bunch of my baseball guys through the workout as well, you'll see them mixed in the video.  Everyone really pushed with this one and seemed to really enjoy it.

I'm really looking forward to the next workout we can share overseas, and hopefully we can get even more people to join in! 

Video will be posted later today or tomorrow.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

There goes the hands...

So yesterday I got all amped up to get back in some heavy lifting.  In the morning I got a bunch of sets of dealifts, getting up to a 1RM of 435lbs, waaaay below my PR of 485, but it's been a while since I did it, and I was happy with the workout.  My posture broke a bit on the last two sets, but it was never enough to cause any unnecessary tightness; and, today, hamstrings and glutes a little sore, but nothing too bad at all.

At night I went back in the gym and did a workout called "Angie"  This one is a bodyweight workout of 100 reps each of pull ups, push up, squat and sit ups.  I focused on keeping full proper form on everything, especially the sit ups.  The pull ups were a breeze, getting 35 straight off the bat, then finishing off the rest in 5 more quick sets.  The only issue, my hands got completely torn to pieces.  They are in majorly rough shape right now...  The push ups were my hardest of the exercises.  I was only able to get 10 straight, then just broke them up into quick sets of 5 through the end.  I really need to focus a bit more on this exercise, I used to be able to bang out 80+ on a daily basis, now I struggle with 30+.  I'll probably start to add more push ups during down time at the gym over the next few months, that is always a great way to build on your total reps.  The squats were nothing.  I took three breaks during the work and those breaks literally were a step back, a breath and then back into it.  The site ups were the most time consuming as I forced myself to keep the butterfly position with my legs (bottoms of feet together, knees splayed out to the sides) forcing my lower half out of the picture for the movement.  This made the exercise a little tougher because I wasn't able to use momentum, so I just moved a good deal slower than I am used to with the sit up.  When all was said and done, I finished in 16:13, which I was pretty happy with.  I really wanted to to break 15, and I think that that is totally possible for the next time I attempt it.

Today, I have strict overhead press work, then doing a tabata row and squat routine with Ori.  Getting very excited to the second Trans-Continental workout with Blair this coming Friday.  He'll actually be doing the workout tonight because he'll be traveling all day Friday, but it'll still be cool to have both our views from different countries.  To add to the excitement, I have recruited some 7-9 more people to join the workout.  Should be a blast!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fri/Sat/Sun Work

What a damn good weekend of work this was. 

Friday was meant to be a gymnastics day, and I thought it would be fun to try out the 100-burpee challenge (basically, 100 burpees for time).  I had a couple buddies agree to play along so we decided to throw a mile run on the end of the workout, then get some good overhead squat work in as well. We really didn't know what to expect from this one, just looking through the internet a bit and finding that some of the best times out there were in the low 5's, so, I guess we just wanted to come somewhat close.  It was a quick one, fatigue hit fast, but once it hit, it didn't get any worse.  What this means is that I was able to go hard off the blocks, but then around 30 reps or so I started to slow up.  Once I started to slow though, I didn't have another change of pace through the end.  I just took a couple 2-4 second breathers and kept on trucking.  The mile run was a little heavy, but it picked up at the half way point.

Total time - 12:50
Burpees - 5:58


Total time - 14:30
Burpees - 6:26

Total time: 14:50
Burpees - 6:02

Overhead squats were great.  It took a couple rounds to get back into the swing of things for me, but, I was able to get 135 for 4 very easily on my 6th round, and that was the first time I actually worked those in over six months.

Saturday was amazing.  I was back at my high school for a holiday bazaar they have every year and I decided to take the time to get a good workout in before I had to scamper up to Philly for a Siena/Temple basketball game.  I decided I'd grab a 50lbs dumbbell and head to the steep hill for a metcon/weightlifting workout.  Here's what is was:

10 hill sprints
1 each arm dumbbell clean and press
9 hill sprints
2 each arm DB clean and press
8 hill sprints
3 each arm DB clean and press
etc. until the hill sprints got to 1, and the DB clean and presses got to 10 each arm.

In total, I ended up doing 55 of each there and when I stopped my heart rate monitor (something I really like to have for longer workouts because it keep me at intensity) I found that my average heart rate for the 39:02 minute workout was 179!  Holy crap!

I guess it was the excitement of being outdoors, the amount of people around, the pressure of wanting to get on the road soon, and the bare feet on gravel (the bottom of the hill was gravel) that made me just shut off and go hard.  But Saturday night, and all day today, my legs were gone!  During the workout I did not feel like I was holding a 179 average heart rate for 40 straight minutes, which, by the way is insane, it just felt like I had done a tough workout.  Pretty interesting how mind set plays such a huge roll in how your physical body feels.

Today I had a quick, not too crazy one planned out, inspired by Lindsey's workout up at Albany CrossFit yesterday.  I did:

1 round for time of:
1000 meter row
30 back squats (225)
30 kipping pull ups

Finished in 8:58 and I must say, this one was a little rusty thanks to the sore legs from the hill sprints.  Finished the row in 3:30 which was pretty good, but the squats got me.  I wasn't able to get more than 8 at a time.  The pull ups were a breeze.  I think that this would be a good one to try to get in around 6 for future reference.

Well, an off day tomorrow (I'll probably bike for a bit) and then a great day already planned for Tuesday.  I get to heavy deadlift!!

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage