How CrossFit Changed My Life Outside of the Gym

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So, you’ve started doing CrossFit and you’re a little scared. Congratulations, that’s exactly how you SHOULD feel.

A little fear is good. It means you’re out of your comfort zone and have the potential to stretch your knowledge, skills, or talents, may be around people you don’t know, and may frankly seem a little odd. CrossFit encompasses a bit of all of that, with the added benefit that you’ll also get stronger, more confident, focused, and maybe even a little smarter.

I know you’re already thinking that you’re only exercising to lose a few pounds. That’s what exercise is for. Yes, that is a part of it, but in my experience, that may end up being only a small part of what you can gain.

CrossFit isn’t promising you anything, however. The impetus is really on you to make all these wonderful things happen. But you don’t have to start with a bubbling fountain of confidence. You will get that as you do what all successful people do: practice, fail, practice more, fail a few more times, then, suddenly, lift 3 pounds more than you did a week before, run up the stairs without looking like you just got doused with a bucket of water, or outlast your friends on a hike.

To me the reality of CrossFit isn’t always what happens in the gym (though obviously that is important). It is the results you see in your real life. It will be different for everyone. The best example I can give is what happened to me. 

After I turned 43, my health suddenly started to cave in on me. First, an extra 50 pounds had somehow appeared on my body. In tandem with that, acid reflux had become so bad that I was having to sit up at night and sucking down Prilosec just to get through the day. The final straw was, following a doctor’s visit, I was prescribed to go onto a CPAP, one of those awful machines that blow air up your nose to help alleviate sleep apnea, a condition that causes your bed partner their own sleepless nights due to your chainsaw snoring and you the potential of several issues including heart disease, cancer, and a few other nasties. 

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Suffice it to say, I was miserable.

I had on several occasions in the past said I would dedicate myself to a regime of healthy living. But the realities of growing older and beginning to have health problems is what finally motivated me to begin. After a year of going to a “regular” gym with slight improvements, I was introduced to a new thing called CrossFit. Our fledgling group took over a corner of the gym and began learning the principles of what made CrossFit tick as well as sweating through a new workout style that was anything but routine.

I was hooked. Eleven years later and I’m still thoroughly smitten with CrossFit, became a coach about 6 years ago, and continue to see results from working out. Not only have my health issues disappeared, but a fortunate side effect I didn’t expect was helping to alleviate my issues with depression and anxiety.

While no one can guarantee that you will have these same results, we can guarantee that doing CrossFit---and learning more about living a healthier life---will pay off in the long run. As will introducing yourself to a community of  dedicated people who are supportive, caring, and accepting of you and your goals.

So be a little scared; it’s okay because that’s how you grow and improve!

What kind of yoga should I try?

In my 10 plus years of practicing yoga I have heard countless reasons as to why someone “can’t do yoga”. For most people its just something totally foreign and they don’t even know why they should try it in the first place. I’m going to skip right past the froo-froo-hippy-dippy stuff and break down the two different styles that will be offered at Jet City (hint: there are 2!).

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Here are just a few “styles” of yoga. Extra brownie points if you can pronounce them:

Hatha Yoga
Iyengar yoga
Kundalini yoga
Ashtanga yoga
Vinyasa yoga*
Bikram yoga
Yin yoga
Restorative yoga*
Prenatal yoga
Anusara yoga
Jivamukti yoga

Want to learn more? Here is a great article that explains all 11. Starting the 2nd week of September, Jet City will offer Vinyasa and Restorative yoga! Read on to figure out which one is best for you - OR try them both! 

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Vinyasa Yoga (AKA Power Yoga)
Do you like to move and work up a sweat? Then Vinyasa yoga is your jam. It is considered an aerobic workout without all the joint straining pounding of other cardio activities. It’s also a great compliment to the anaerobic workout of lifting weights. 

In a 1 hour Vinyasa class, you will work out every muscle group with specially sequenced poses that build on top of each other. A typical class will be broken down into a few sections. This is just an example of what you might experience:
 

  1. You’ll start off slow. Build on your breath and warm up the large muscles with slower movements (to prevent injury). 
  2. Movements will become faster as you link “breath-to-movement”. This speeds up your heart rate, circulates synovial fluid in the moveable joints and removes toxins by sweating.
  3. The core is targeted specifically with abdominal floor exercises. This helps prepare the body for balancing postures.
  4. Some balancing posses will be on your feet and others on your hands/arms and even head. Balancing poses can focus on supportive muscle groups to help with joint stability.
  5. Most classes are built around a “peak posture” like Crow Pose or Bird of Paradise to challenge you to something fun and new.
  6. At the tail end of class you will hold longer restorative pose (I will get into that in a bit) like Half Pigeon and Supine Twist. These long deep holds help to break down the connective tissues and fascia. 
  7. And last but not least, you’ll always finish with meditation and Corpse Pose…or just taking a 5 minute nap on your mat.

Try a free class with code: YOGASEPT2018

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Restorative Yoga
Whether you just got done with a super intense CrossFit class or you just beat Seattle traffic to get to JetCity, restorative yoga will help you relax your body and your mind. As apposed to the Vinyasa style where you have many different poses and you are constantly moving, in a restorative class you spend longer time in less poses. So if you have a hard time with sitting still, you may get a little antsy in this class…but some would say that is exactly why you need to take it. 

Many classes will use towels and blocks to help prop your body into a pose so you are not straining to achieve the stretch. The less work you do, the better the pose will be for you. Sounds to good to be true! When you allow the body to slowly deepen into static stretching, it stimulates the deep layers of fascia that wrap around the bundles of muscle fibers. 

The breath is also important for a restorative yoga class. Slow deep breathing helps slow down the nervous system and lower your stress. 

Try a free class with code: YOGASEPT2018

TLDR

  • Vinyasa yoga is a good full body aerobic workout that will strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments. 
  • Restorative yoga is a series of passive stretches that target the facia and connective tissues and help destress with deep breathing.

Regardless of what class you take, just know we like to have fun and laugh. 

*I’m not a doctor but I play one on TV, so always consult with a medical professional before doing any new exercise or fitness routine. 

Why CrossFit Worked When Nothing Else Did

 Graduation from beginner classes to regular CrossFit. (Fall 2013)

Graduation from beginner classes to regular CrossFit. (Fall 2013)

I was scrolling through Facebook recently and saw a video from a friend’s dance studio, which reminded me that I'd once taken a belly dancing class from her in the hopes that it would help me get into shape. I actually thought it was going to be my THING. I went for a couple months. I practiced at home, I had fun in the classes and I started to recognize people in class from week to week. But when my pass ran out I stopped going. Something about it didn’t stick.

I took a Couch to 5K class from this awesome woman named Beth (twice!). For 6 weeks we went to Greenlake, rain or shine, and ran. By the time it was over I was running (slowly) around the lake and felt pretty great. Running was going to be my THING (and my path to getting in shape/ losing weight/ living my best life). After it was over I ran maybe two times a week, it was my only form of exercise for a while. I’d have to drag myself out of the house to get it done. Something about it didn’t stick. 

I went to yoga once a week, on Tuesday nights, for a while. I wasn’t super successful at it, but the great thing about yoga is that you don’t have to be. I went for a couple of months, and again started to recognize a few faces. It was going to be my THING. But I have back problems and got tired of trying to figure out on my own how to deal with poses that hurt, or what to do when my body just wouldn’t move a certain way. Eventually my pass ran out and I didn’t renew. Something about it just didn’t stick.

I tried CrossFit once. It was hard and I had to modify every movement, but so did other people, so that was ok. I made it through the introductory program and kept going twice a week. I started to make friends at the gym. The coaches asked how I was doing and I never struggled to bring up anything that was sore or limiting - mostly because they always asked or proactively identified them - and then told me how to improve them. So I kept going - and it's now been 5 years. Something about it just stuck.

What was it about CrossFit that made it stick when belly dancing, yoga, and running didn’t? Those other things have community aspects, they are approachable and fun. So what's the deal?

I was never alone.

I'm not just talking about making friends (though that's certainly part of it). I never had to figure things out on my own. There was always a coach there to notice if something was off, or push me to try something I didn’t think I could do. There was always someone there to welcome me, to ask how I was doing or where I’d been.

So what was it that made Jet City CrossFit my THING? It’s the people. When I say CrossFit is about community I'm not just talking about the friends you’ll make (and you will). I'm talking about the built-in support system, about never having to figure out “fitness” on your own, about having a bunch of passionate people around to ask any question you can think of.

You don’t have to figure out this health and fitness thing on your own. There are coaches waiting to help you and a community ready to support you along the way. And who knows, something about it might just stick. 

 4 years later, 70 lbs lighter, taking first place in a CrossFit competition! (Fall 2017)

4 years later, 70 lbs lighter, taking first place in a CrossFit competition! (Fall 2017)

6 Grips To Up Your Pull-up Game (and protect your hands)

Hand health is extremely important to Crossfit athletes. Hand rips are a serious injury that can impact how an athlete performs for days or even weeks. Preventing hand and palm rips can be achieved fairly easily with the use of gymnastic grips. Gymnastic grips are typically a small strip of leather or other materials with finger holes that is attached to the wrist with a velcro strap. Designs can vary between brands, but overall most grips work to protect hands in a similar fashion. 

The following is a list of six of the more popular and well known gymnastic grips on the market today. All of these grips have been worn by local, regional, and games athletes in some capacity.

Let us know if you've tried any of these - or if you have other favorites!

Victory Grips:
Offer the largest variety of grips: 2, 3, 4 and no finger grips in leather and a synthetic material they call stealth. Their stealth material is the more intriguing material that they offer as it has a slightly better grip over a traditional leather grip and also does not stretch out like a leather grip would, making sizing a little easier to gauge. Victory grips run a little on the larger side to allow for the creation of a fold in the grip to secure the hand better on the bar. Victory grips also include a guard on the side of the hand for assistance with false grip for use with gymnastic rings.

Alec Smith Grip by RX Smart Gear:
The Alec Smith grips are similar to the Victory Grip no finger grips. The exclusion of finger holes allows the athlete to go from gymnastic work to barbell cycling in mere moments. These grips include a small elastic grip to tuck the flap of the grips away. They also have added a padded strap which can double as a wrist support for varied metcons. Note that these are leather and will stretch out over time.

Bear Komplex Grips:
Offer both 2 and 3 finger grips in leather and a special carbon fiber material. Their carbon fibers grips are designed to be used on slick bars and any other objects with less grip. Bear Komplex Grips include a contoured shape that is designed to stay on the palm through kipping pull-ups and toes-2-bar.

Rouge V2 Gymnastic Grips:
Standard 2 finger leather grips. Similar design to many generic 2 finger grips. Nothing flashy about these, very basic but functional. Athletes should be advised to buy one size up for extra material to create a fold for better grip. Both grips are identical, so they do not fit both hands as well and the wrist strap can dig into the wrist.

The Baraides:
Tear resistant cloth grips. Very minimal grips that give very good bar feel. Can be reused but will break down faster than the other grips mentioned. More difficult to take on and off during a workout. Also must be secured around the wrist with tape or wrist wraps, no way to secure them by themselves. Least expensive option and good entry level grips.

WODies:
Woven elastic grips. Much less break in time than any of the leather or other synthetic grips. Attach to the wrist with a strap that can be used for wrist support. Wrist support is useful but cannot be removed for workouts where it is not needed. These give more bar feel but offer less protection. Are machine washable.

Is CrossFit for me?

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I've been that person on the treadmill, flipping through People magazine. I show up, “work out” and leave and nobody noticed if I’d skip a day. Looking back it’s no wonder that I never got the results I wanted. So I got brave and tried CrossFit and discovered that CrossFit is the Cheers of the work out world - where everyone knowns you name. A friendly and accepting place, where everyone is an athlete, and everyone’s attendance, participation and progress matters. Is it physically hard? Yes, and some days I am sore. What I would tell someone who is thinking about CrossFit is that it can change your life in amazing ways. I’m stronger and have better flexibility, but what I didn’t realize when I walked in the door is the friends I would make and how important our community is. I’ll never treadmill alone again. 

So imagine for a moment you took that first step and walked into Jet City? Then what???

  1. Don't worry about being the new kid. Someone will walk up to you and get the ball rolling. You are not alone.
  2. Say something to your coach.  If you don’t have your “A” game, or are feeling intimidated, let them know. There is always an alternative. 
  3. Stronger than yesterday. Really, each work out is an investment in yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Be healthy for the long hall. 
  4. Stretch it out. Dedicate some extra time in or out of the gym to stretch, your body will thank you.
  5. Celebrate every victory, reinforce the positive, and keep on keeping on because the CrossFit journey is worth it! 

Barbells are just equipment

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Barbells... If you haven't been into a gym (or even if you have) your exposure to them is probably pretty limited. Maybe you've seen videos of bros lifting them above their heads while making guttural noises that sound like they're dying. Or some big dude laying on his back, face bright red, struggling as hard as he can to get that thing up in the air. Nothing looks fun about that. They're loud, and heavy, and there's lots of math involved. PLUS they're not cardio and if your goal is to lose weight, you should be doing cardio, right? (more on that later) As someone who was so intimidated by the idea of CrossFit that it took me a year to come back after I first tried it, I get it.  

So why do we use barbells in CrossFit?

  1. Because building muscle burns calories faster (and for longer) than cardio. You can spend 45 minutes on a treadmill jamming out to your favorite tunes, or you can spend 20 minutes practicing lifts and have a very similar (if not better!) result.

  2. Because you aren't good at them right away. Barbell work requires practice and technique. CrossFit works your mind just as much as your body. Figuring out the right way to get that bar to your shoulders is one of the best challenges we offer. It's also something you can absolutely learn!

  3. Because they use your entire body. Getting a barbell up to your shoulders, even without much weight on it, requires your legs and hips to work together. Give me a short barbell workout over 45 minutes on the treadmill any day (are you sensing how I feel about the treadmill?).

  4. Because Functional Fitness! Seriously, strengthening your body won’t just help you at the gym. Lifting a 50lb bag of dog food into your shopping cart!? No problem after a little time spent with a barbell.

So why let fear of the unknown stop you? At the end of the day, they're just a piece of equipment - same as a kettlebell, or a jump rope. You don't just walk into a gym knowing how to use a kettlebell, right? Someone needs to show you how best to use it and help you figure out the best weight for you.

Could you get hurt using a barbell? Sure, but you can also get hurt walking down stairs. The point of CrossFit is that you have well trained coaches watching out for you and teaching you everything you need to know. Before we let you pick up a barbell, we're going to give you a PVC pipe, and then just a regular ol' pipe, then a barbell that weighs 15 pounds... and so on. You don't just walk into Jet City on day 1, get handed a barbell and thrown into a workout. Safety is the name of the game (and it's one we take very seriously).

As a theater person turned fitness nerd, my only exposure to barbells before CrossFit were those terrible videos on YouTube - so I get it. But I can tell you now that they're some of my favorite things to work with in the gym. My best moments have been finally getting the technique on a lift, or hitting a PR (Personal Record) - I usually dance around the gym when that happens. Do you ever dance around the gym in celebration after getting off the treadmill?

I'll say it again for those of you in the back of the room: don't let the fear of the unknown stop you. Barbells are just another piece of equipment and it's our job to show you how to use them and make them less scary. CrossFit is infinitely scalable and adaptable - so your aversion to barbells isn't as much of a deal breaker as you might think.

Have questions!? Book a No Sweat Intro and let's chat!

 

Start Where You Are

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We hear it all the time: “I want to try CrossFit, but I think I need to get in shape before I can do that” or “I’ll start CrossFit after I’ve gone to the gym on my own for a while” or “I’m too out of shape for CrossFit.”

Now imagine someone who can’t cook at all; that person who burns water and microwaves every meal. Let’s call him Bob. Bob signs up for a 6-week cooking bootcamp where he’ll learn the basics: chopping, making sauces, roasting meats. He’s worried that he’s not ready for cooking class, so he decides to see what he can learn about cooking on his own before it starts. He spends hours online watching cooking videos, he buys a fancy knife set and practices chopping vegetables. By the time his first class rolls around, he’s got cuts on his fingers and a sore elbow from all of the chopping, and he’s so overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to cook on his own that he’s not even sure why he signed up anymore.

Would Bob have needed a cooking class if he’d already known how to cook? No, he signed up so that someone with experience could teach him the basics. He recognized that what he’d been trying on his own for years wasn’t working and it was time to make a change. If he’d known how to turn his culinary life around on his own, he would have already done it.

It’s the same with CrossFit. If you’re already a workout machine, you may not need us (we’d disagree, because there’s always room for improvement... but that’s another blog post). If you’re new to all of this why would you try to figure it out on your own? The wonderful thing about classes at Jet City is that you’re never alone and you don't have to figure things out by yourself. They're designed to meet you at your level, and adjust with you as you grow. You don’t have to know everything, and you don't have to be fit to walk in the door. In fact, that’s the entire point. CrossFit really is for everyone at any level: 65-year old retiree, stay at home Mom, adaptive athlete, you.

Don’t know how to lift weights!? We’d love to teach you (and have lots of experience and training)! Can’t jump!? We have boxes you can step onto instead. Don’t know when to do a sit up vs a push up? That’s what we’re here for.

Look, no one is born knowing how to do any of this - it’s something you learn over time (while improving your flexibility, health, and learning about yourself in the process). We were all new once: the people you see on TV with the crazy muscles, the coaches and staff at Jet City, the other folks you’ll meet around the gym. You don’t have to do this on your own, and you don’t have to be fit to walk in the door. Start where you are.

You can do this. We’re waiting for you.

Do I need lifting shoes?

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They’re not required, but depending on your goals and your body, they might really help. There’s no rule: some people prefer Converse for squatting, some deadlift barefoot. It’s mostly a matter of personal preference.

Crossfit shoes are squishy (for good reason) but squishy doesn’t help you with lifting. You want a solid base from which to push off of the ground. Lifters can help stay more upright in squats by increasing your ankle range of motion.

Do you need to wear them every time you lift?
No. Depends on what you’re doing. They’re great for squats, cleans, and snatches, but you can also use them for things like wall balls. One option is to assess the movements and determine if the cost will outweigh the benefit. For example, if the workout has snatches, wall balls, and box jumps you might decide to wear lifters because they’ll help you with the snatches and wall balls, even though they might be a little bit of a challenge for the box jumps. Again, it’s all a matter of knowing your body and figuring out what works best for you. 

So how do you decide your preference!? Try them! We have a few pairs of lifters to try at the gym. Next time we lift, give them a shot. You can also talk to your coach about your particular challenges and goals - they’ll have plenty of good ideas.

Want to know more? Read more or talk to a coach! 

How am I going to keep up with everyone else?

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We hear this question often. Here’s the answer: You aren’t. You are going to do your version of the workout, not theirs.

Think of it like a car: Cars are tools designed to be customized to the driver. You adjust the seat, the mirrors, the radio. You decide how fast, what lane, etc. A car’s job is to get you from point A to B.

Crossfit is the same: workouts are a tool to get you to health & fitness. You can adjust weight, speed, movements, etc. The goal isn’t to do it just like someone else, it’s to get the work done in a way that works for you. All workouts are adjustable to your specific level and ability - we’ll help you figure out how. That’s what we’re here for! That’s actually one of the benefits of CrossFit over a typical gym membership: a supportive coach will guide you through the class and help you find the best way to do the movement.

Would you be upset if you got to the end of a trip and didn’t drive your car the exact same way someone else did, with the exact same settings? We hope not. Youshouldn’t be upset if something similar happened in CrossFit.

The point isn’t to drive someone else’s car - it’s to drive yours