Time to Lead

*Posted this for LAX Crossfit here: http://laxcrossfit.com/2014/10/time-to-lead/

How many times have you been in a class and you see someone either struggling with a movement or notice that his/her form is way off? You cringe for a second and then go back to what you are doing. Maybe you don’t know that person well enough to gauge whether he/she welcomes feedback from you. Or maybe you don’t want the coach in that class to think you are overstepping your boundaries.

The thing is though, as a community, it is actually our responsibility to help each other. Sure we may not be certified coaches but we have been at this long enough to have picked up a few pointers that could help someone else. In fact, I would be willing to bet that there are plenty of people who want the extra guidance but are too shy or embarrassed to ask.

It is like watching a wind up toy bump into a wall over and over again and not doing a thing to change its course of direction. If you see someone repeatedly failing at a handstand push up because his/her hands are positioned too far from the wall, walk over, suggest bringing the hands in and watch that person successfully do one.

There’s a time to lead and it doesn’t make you arrogant or superior by lending a hand. It also isn’t a reflection on the coaches. They can’t watch every single athlete at a time for every second of the class. So that’s why it is all the more reason that is each of our responsibility to help each other out. We will get better not just individually but as a whole. And trust me if you are brave enough to help someone reach a goal or perfect a movement, you will be thanked.

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The Pros and Cons of the Grid

Pros:

1. Unlike a lot of other competitions where you compete for the day against many many many many teams and individuals, in the Grid it’s the same teams every week. This makes it feel much more like a friendly competition. There is a huge air of camaraderie and everyone genuinely celebrates each other’s wins and accomplishments. By the end of the six weeks you know most people by name and you probably are following each other on FB and Instagram (i.e. you get to build your network and support system).

2. Like any other competition, more than likely you will get a PR (or two..) along the way. So even if you don’t win that week, who cares? You still did something that gives you bragging rights. (ahem hand stand walks)

3. Getting an intense workout on a Friday night is way more gratifying than inhaling thousands of calories in alcohol (ok so fine this one to some of you might be a con).

4. If you suck at a movement that comes up one week, you don’t have to do it. The beauty of having a full team roster is that you can rotate people in and out week by week based on their strengths. Hate wall balls? Skip that week or strategize so your teammates do that movement.

5. Competing makes you a better athlete. Period.

6. We have all said this before a million times. CrossFit is a community. LAX helped promote a fellow CrossFit (V)  get this first Grid series off the ground.

Cons

1. Six weeks was a pretty big commitment. Fortunately, if you had a full team roster, you didn’t need to compete every week. Also in the next Grid series, it is just 4 weeks (with a week off half way through). So I suppose this is a con turned pro.

2. If you are anything like me where competitions stress you out, then it is stress times 6 weeks which can be exhausting mentally. (Then again no pain no gain right? Wow when did I get to be the one to have such a positive spin on things?)

3. Not everyone on your team may be on the same page as you in terms of how you like to prepare for a competition. Some like to wing it. Some like to strategize. No matter what though everyone gives it their all so just set expectations going into it.

With all things said and done (and despite that I admittedly am relieved this series has ended), I am truly happy I participated in this. For once in my life, I couldn’t come up with more cons than pros. So take it from me, if you are at all enticed to be in the next series, DO IT! Don’t overthink it like I did. You’ll feel like a legit competitor and athlete once you go for it.

From LAX: Hand-Stand Walkin

As you all probably know by now from my million Instagram and Facebook posts and seeing me at all hours at the box, I was tasked with hand stand walks for the Grid Friday night. Totally freaked out about having to learn it yet not wanting to fail at it, I put in so many extra hours this week working on the skill. And it paid off. I was able to successfully walk 30 feet. It wasn’t consecutive nor was it overall very pretty. But I did it. I practiced and executed the way I set out to. There are a few lessons I was reminded of and want to remind all of you as well as. These aren’t things we haven’t heard before but I do think we tend to lose sight of them.

1. It was not a CrossFit miracle but rather hard work and dedication that paid off. I literally lived and breathed hand stand walks this week. If I wasn’t actually doing them, I was thinking about them, strategizing, watching videos and getting tips from my friends, athletes and coaches. When you want something badly enough you will do it. It’s more than “feeling like I should be able to do that.” I have heard that a lot at the box but usually it is the people who accompany that statement with practice and not just wishful thinking that see results.

2.  Have confidence! I woke up a few mornings and the first thing that crossed my mind was “oh f*ck, I have to do what???” That does nothing but add stress to an already stressful state of mind. I instead should have channeled the confidence everyone else seemed to have in me. People want to see us succeed and they wouldn’t be giving encouragement or praise if they didn’t believe we had what it takes. So remember that and do the same for yourself.

3.  Set realistic goals. Ok this one makes me chuckle because a lot of people could argue that 4 days to learn a really difficult skill such as hand stand walks is anything but realistic. My goal was to learn the skill so that come Friday I could chip away at it which is exactly what I did. There’s a process to doing anything so allow yourself to take the necessary steps to reach that goal.

4.  Learn from those around you. In CrossFit we are surrounded by so many diligent, strong, supportive and genuine people. They come from all sorts of backgrounds and everyone has something to teach you, both about CrossFit and all else things in life. Appreciate every single one. And I am not just talking about the bad ass who seems to do every movement seamlessly. Everyone has a story, advice and support even the people who are stepping foot into CrossFit for the first time.

The biggest reminder that is too worthy to just be #5 in the above list is simply how proud we should be to be part of the CrossFit community. To some, this may seem over the top but as I got home from the Grid, I started thinking about all the people who helped me reach my goal this week and I became very humbled, grateful and sentimental. It shows that it is normal and healthy to get support from our amazing community. (Or perhaps I just require a lot more attention than the average person). So at the risk of sounding like I am once again accepting an Oscar, I want to make a ton of shout outs to my amazing friends and coaches who gave me the tips, confidence and hope that I could walk on my hands.

Nikki (friend and coach at Cave Crossfit) who gave me my first hand stand walk session and stepping stones for the rest of the training that week. The coaches at LAX who all despite that I wasn’t even competing on an LAX team, gave me solid tips and advice and fed my ego by telling me I am strong enough to do this: Kiwi, Keenan, Zoo, Rich, Nick and Salty. Jessica who sent me countless encouraging texts and offered to spot me doing a handstand. Thank you to Lynne who gave me pointers before she coached at Barbells Tuesday night. Pa’ana all the way from Hawaii gave me an great pep talk and follow up message after. All my fellow 6 am’ers who cheered and encouraged me this week. Garrett who in the middle of his intense grueling Invictus training took a few minutes to help me with form and practice, thank you. Nina for coming up to me after and telling me I can’t sandbag anymore and I need to be on the board every time for competitor. (We will see about that). My Grid team, Trial By Error, who were insane enough to vote me in for hand stand walks (I had no choice in the matter). If it wasn’t for them, I never would have attempted. Coach Joshua at V who has let me be part of the V Family and train. He likes to remind me that the point of the Grid is to get out of our comfort zones and it pains me to admit that he is right. Huge thanks to all the teams in Grid who cheered me on during the competition. Hearing the entire gym roar with support absolutely warms my heart. I can’t even describe. Last but not least a really huge thank you to Zylah. I saw her a few of the evenings I was there and she reminded me to keep things in perspective. I already hit a PR that week being able to do a handstand walk and I was giving my team a shot at finishing the WOD.

Thank you to everyone near and far as I know I never would have been able to walk on my hands had it not been for all of you.

Anytime you need a little extra encouragement, just look around you and you will see many people who are there to give you the push you need.

Few Steps Forward… On My Hands

Few Steps Forward… On My Hands

I should really learn to never say never.  Every time I compete, I swear left and right I will NEVER do it again. Then somehow my curiousity or my ego or a coach or friend, somehow convinces me to compete again. So here I am, entering the 5th week of a 6 week Friday night competition series. (Check out Performance Grid Leauge and V Crossfit on facebook  for more details). I hate it. I love it. I mostly hate it. But the part of me that does not totally loathe it knows I wouldn’t be in it if there wasn’t some good coming out of it.

Before I start going on a tangent and start rattling off a slew of pros and cons (and trust me I am sure there’s a future blog post coming out on that), I will stick to one recent takeaway. A certain someone (who shall remain nameless) likes to remind me that the whole point of competing is getting out of your comfort zone. I argue this all the time because let’s face it, I am a creature of habit. Someone who likes to be totally prepared with no surprises. I will happily get out of my comfort zone when it comes to things like travel or even moving cross country. When it comes to doing things that require a lot from my body, I sometimes struggle mentally with even going there.

So… anyways,  here we are Week 5. One of the workouts this week involves 3 men and 3 women. There are 6 different movements:

  • Rope Climbs
  • Deadlifts
  • Double Unders
  • Burpee broad jumps
  • Hand Stand Walk
  • Sandbag Carry

Basically it will be 1 movement per person. If I had my pick, I would be doing double unders. Actually if I had my choosing, I would be skipping this week altogether. (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to get out of. Atlas my team requested I compete , so Friday here I come). The team voted that I am their best shot at hand stand walks. Ummmm do they not realize I’ve never even done a free standing hand stand that didn’t involve first touching a wall? How on earth am I going to walk on my hands? Given my injuries, it’s amazing I can even walk on two feet. I am not sure where they got the idea I could do a hand stand walk (for 30 feet no less!) but I did commit to the team weeks ago that I would give this series my best. The least I could do is at least try the movement before saying no way Jose.

I not so subtly elicited the help of my good friend and coach, Nikki. She offered last night to have me come to where she coaches (thank you Cave CrossFit again for the hospitality!) to give me some tips. I was on board for this plan and also secretly figured when she realized that I would be a lost cause for hand stand walks, she would take pity on me and take my spot in the competition. Well much to my dismay, she could not be persuaded nor did I suck quite as much as I had expected.

Driving to the Cave, I said a few begging words to myself, angels, spirits or whoever is around me that would magically give me the skill to accomplish the task at hand. I also told myself to be realistic; that I may not be able to do it. And that would be ok. It’s a really tough skill, one that takes people months and months of practice to be able to do. Here I was 4 days before a competition trying to do the seemingly impossible. Nikki asked me before I got there if I could do a hand stand. I replied “barely.” She said “Hmm. Ok. I’ll see what you got. I’ve got a few drills you could practice this week that may help a bit. Yeah that’s luck.”

We stretched and warmed up and she said “ok now let’s see what you can do.” I managed to get into a handstand and take about 2 steps. Whoa! Who saw that coming? It wasn’t pretty but it gave us both a glimmer of hope. Nikki had me practice just getting comfortable standing on my hands and concentrating on the correct hand placement, core balance, and pointing my toes. With chalk she also drew three lines from a wall. She had me start at the first line and go into a handstand. She wanted me to lean away from the wall not by kicking my feet away but using my core, almost like a hollow hold to straighten and not be touching the wall. Gradually I made my way at the starting points further from the wall, taking a few steps on my hands till I got to the wall. So between doing that and then going back to doing it totally free standing, it was encouraging to see progress in such a short time. I was able to start getting used to the right way to shift my weight between my arms. I had a tendency to shift in the wrong direction and end up feeling like one of my arms was locked up not allowing me to move. I had a few attempts. I can’t get kick up on a first attempt. I had a few tumble and some not so graceful landings. But all in all, I did what I thought I couldn’t do. I did manage to get a few walks on my hands in, ones even as far as 4 feet. So yes 4 feet does not seem like far to go but I challenge you to try it. You will quickly see it is not easy. Like I said, it takes people months to do this and I am proud that I accomplished this in less than an hour. Nikki was amazed and commented that I was a totally different person leaving the box than I was coming in. There is hope for me yet!

My plan for the competition is not be able to walk continuously for 30 feet. That would just be setting myself up for failure and disappointment. Instead, I’m taking it one day at a time and one step at a time. Nikki’s advice to me is to keep practicing the drills she gave me every day for no more than 15 minutes at a time. I don’t want to totally burn my body out before Friday. But I do need to get used to the form and mechanics so that Friday I will be more familiar with it. Most likely my form Friday will be shot but I have a better chance of making it 30 feet if I understand what I should be doing.  She reminded me hand stand walks are not a sprint, they are a marathon. So heads up to anyone I am competing with or who will be there cheering. I may hear you urging me to go faster but I may also chose to ignore that. It takes a lot of concentration to do a hand stand walk. My only hope is that I manage to tackle the first 30 feet with time to spare for my teammate to do the last movement (sandbag carries).  Sorry guys I don’t even care if we win, I just want us to finish. I do not want to be the weakest link on the team. Handstand walks challenge accepted!