Quick re-cap, about 6 months ago 2 mates set off on a health and wellbeing challenge to improve their health. We used a set of measures that were publicly available at our crossfit gym – The Ninja Standards. These are the standards the In2Crossfit athletes need to meet to be in the competition team for In2Crossfit Clapham.
We shared our goals publicly so that we would be held to account and provided with the support and motivation we knew we would need.
Our challenge ends on July 2nd. When we need to complete a weigh in and update our progress against the Ninja Standards. We called our challenge NinjaOrNotIn6Months. I started this Blog. Sorry for the long silence!
As I write this now I have to acknowledge that the “OrNot” bit of the name is the most likely outcome. In truth it always was, we knew that, people who worked in the industry and set the goals told us…..A lot!!
But in setting our goals we wanted a set of aspirational and inspiration goals that would provide us, and hopefully 1 or 2 other people, with the drive and motivation needed to get going, re-start, re-focus, or just maintain the levels of effort and drive that any type of personal change requires.
Anyway – there are 3 weeks left and you’ll be pleased to know – we haven’t given up. In fact – we are failing with passion!
I started thinking about this blog post a little while ago – I competed in a few comps – nothing major, just the:
Both were really cool events – it allowed me to experience the team culture, work with friends from the gym as a team and to meet other people involved in the sport.
At both of these events I was inspired by a couple of people that reminded me what Crossfit is all about. And in fact it’s probably what most of life is all about. Here are two examples:
Inferno Racing: I’m 37 years old. My partner is 28. I’m 105KG’s (on a good days) he’s around 68KG’s. I’m 6’3”, he’s 5’8” (He says 5’9” yeah yeah Imraan). When we are standing together we look like one of the oddest pairings you will see at a comp. Given all this info you’d understandably think that i’m going to be able to lift heavier and produce a much bigger power output over a sustained period. Mass moves mass after all. Here’s the shocker, you are only 50% right!!
Imraan my partner consistently out lifts me!! He out benches me, his back squat is bigger than mine and on competition day his Dead Lift ladder was a massive 180 KG’s where mine was a pathetic 160KG. Now let me give you some context here. That was a PB for both of us. Imraan knew he had 165KG’s going in to the comp and was looking for a PB – but a 15KG jump on a DL was always going to be massive. He’d already completed 4 lifts (100,120,140,160) so to complete the 180KG was an insane achievement it’s 264% of body weight! The Ninja Standard only requires 200% of body weight.
This both shows what an achievement it is and how far off the mark I am at 105KG’s with a 160KG DL. With the high’s must come the lows. Over the course of the weekend there were a number of cardio based activities where sustained effort produced the final score. Remember physics from school? The net force on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the acceleration of the object. Imraan just couldn’t maintain the levels of acceleration needed to make his mass effective against other teams with much greater mass that could produce lower accelerations to deliver bigger scores like me. In the face of this we were left with really only one option. Fail With Passion!
We went down fighting, we split work differently to most teams – Imraan would do more box jumps, I would do more 60KG power cleans. We would play to our strengths and we’d bring everything we had to each and every challenge we faced. We finished the weekend around 65th out of 70 teams. We had a great time, hit some great PB’s and we did it all with passion.
Box Battles London. This is an inter box league run in the London for all the London Crossfit boxes to meet up and experience competition style formats and workouts. It’s a 1 day event with 3 – 4 work outs and it’s pretty social. Certainly we used this at our gym to give less experienced crossfitters their first experience of competition. A lot of our elite team didn’t take part, so we came away from the event having coined a new phrase to describe the team that did take part.
SPAT or Sub Prime Athlete Team. Look out for us at competitions around the UK, we’ll be easy to spot,because just like you we’ll be giving it our all despite maybe not making the podium finish. Apart from this event birthing a new team (credit to Jacqui Bowen for this idea), the event was significant because we didn’t win the final either. In fact when it came to the final one of our best athletes had to leave early, another had picked up an injury and I was asked to step in to support Tim Spires our only remaining RX male athlete along side two of our best RX Female athletes. The events was a relay race with weighted walking lunges, dumbbell push press and box step overs. The Team from Royal Docks built a decent lead before our team could even hand Tim the proverbial baton. We had suggested to Tim that he didn’t need to finish the race, once it became clear they were going to win. Tim looked me dead in the eyes, his own face set with a steely certainty and said “We’re finishing this”.
It was another even more impactful Failing with Passion experience. We did finish it and Tim had the entire crowd shouting and supporting him to get through the push press and box step overs. It was quite something to experience and it will stay with me. It was if the entire box had heard Tim’s statement as if they felt the same passion we did. Win or lose didn’t really matter, it was the expression of oneself in the field of play that you were measured by – not the score or the win or lose – just the amount of passion you brought to the game.
So, here I sit. Three weeks left on the clock. What passion am I bring to the final yards of my race against myself?
Well, I can tell you that in the last 2 weeks I’ve got my weight down by about 2KG’s. Any fat I lose is KG’s I don’t need to lift in any of the remaining standards.
I’m signed up to another Inferno Racing Event. Sadly not with Imraan this time, but i’m hopeful my new colleague will produce results just as inspiring
and I’ve prioritised by goals. Some of them I don’t think can be achieved in the time remaining – some I think can. I am focused on meeting as many of the measures as possible in the deadline. Then, should my fears be correct and I miss some of the objectives I will know that I will have failed with passion!
Plus I fully intend to cheat and just keep going! The goals won’t have gone anywhere, I might not have met the aspirational goal of 6 months. But that doesn’t mean I can’t keep chasing them!!
After all in life there are lots of things where I’m not a podium finisher. I won’t win the open, but I still love golf. I’m not going to The Games, but I still love Crossfit. I haven’t made The Times Rich List again this year – but I am still swinging my 7 iron, attending class at 6am every morning and still creating my own little pile of riches. Life might be about this, life might just be about passion!
Last weekend was epic! We had Joe Craig from RX Smart Gear in town to teach the RX Method. It was a long time in the making – almost 18 months by Philipa’s reckoning!!
Over 2 days and 4 sessions we had 58 people attend a 2.5 hour workshop to learn how to improve their Jump Rope and Doube Unders Techniques.
It was awesome to see so many people had so many break throughs and accessed so many tips and tricks to support their marginal gains.
What Does This Mean?
When Coaching Polar Bear and I set off on our own personal missions I am not sure that we set one of our objectives as – “Inspire and enable others”. But the more time we spend writing this self-indulgent blog about our journey – I realise that my journey is really only as valuable as the impact it has on others.
I read a quote recently that said that the value of a network (as in a social network) is directly linked to the number of people in the network. The more people creating and sharing content and engaging with each other – that is what drives the value of the network for the people using the network…..does this apply to our journey? If we just help ourselves – what have we really done?
Any way this weekend – we delivered something bigger than either of us. We helped friends and people we have never met before to access some of the best coaching and training available in the world on Double Unders!
We saw people fist pump, high five and celebrate as they made break through’s in their own training! That was more rewarding than adding 10KG to my deadlift any day of the week!
Why Should I Care?
The open has started and having done this once or twice before – (Literally that is the case, once or twice before) we are all going to suck!
Most of us reading this are enthusiastic amateurs. Maybe some of us are good at lifting, maybe some are great at strategy, perhaps you’re a stone cold killer when it comes to cardio!
Lets make this a team game – lets coach, mentor, support and drive each other to shared success – share what you know. Drive the culture and accept that these Crossfit Open work outs are going to suck! Embrace the Suck!
You will get more out of life by helping other people achieve their goals than you will be reaching yours!
The culture of your crossfit box started out as a team culture – that is the difference between training on your own and training in Crossfit. 17.1 is here. Start now! Good luck!
Right so on Friday I wrote a quick update about my progress. Retrospectively I realise I should have called it – kiss of death.
Anytime you write, say, think, believe or feel things are going well….a change occurs and stuff goes bad! I think it’s called Murphy’s law.
My little “kiss” came on Saturday morning. After Fridays PM session of Power Clean, Push Press and Push Jerk complex, I trained Saturday morning Deadlifts and Overhead Squats….
I was distracted and rushing. (Not a great combo) I came out of Deadlift’s about 10KG lower than the week before – but that was ok, I was under rested from the event in Edinburgh. I was coming to terms with this drop off in output as I prepared for OHS.
The gym was busy, I was distracted I DID NOT WARM UP PROPERLY FOR OHS. I just came out of the DL’s set up for OHS, get started, then in my 40kg set I felt my back spasm!!
In this moment – all types of stuff flashes through your head. Nerve, disc, fear, regret….
Did some stretching and mobility – but I was done for the day. Gutted!! Quick assessment said this was a short term setback. Nothing neural going on. No sensation anywhere except in the effected area, no pins and needles or any of that jazz. Just my body having a freak out at work rate and lack of proper muscle recruitment due to a stupid lack of warm up.
What Does This Mean?
This is part of the battle.
I want progress – I push harder
I am busy – I try to maintain my training volume
I have to fit training in around life.
I cut cals to drop weight – my emotional state suffers
My program includes multi discipline movements – I have to manage my own warm ups – even if it means re-warming up half way through a session!
I am working to bring better awareness to myself. There’s no point getting frustrated or annoyed about the set back. Stop, review, learn. Fix the issue, acknowledge the learning. Restart.
Why Should I Care?
We all need to be aware of our physical and emotional state, not to mention what’s causing it!
Stressed – slow down
Too much on – drop something (even training)
Warmed up – even for the exercise you are about to do?
Trying to train better is as much about the pyschology of training as it is about the physiology of training….I think!!
I am travelling back to London on a Virgin Train from Edinburgh. I’ve just spent 3 days at a corporate sales kick-off. One of those things where they get the whole sales team together, set some high level aspirational objectives and vision for the year, celebrate last years success and do some networking with colleagues. Generally they’re good fun and an important part of celebrating and sharing the success of the top performers.
However – for me, with my current objectives – they come at a price. Low quality foods and empty calorie alcohols.
This is just the latest example of a range of life events that seem to emerge through the weeks and days of my life. These events are lots of fun, often valuable, sometime essential – but they’re not making “the boat go faster”.
This phrase as I understand it – (this may not be accurate) refers to the training that British Rowing Team engaged in for their olympic training. During in this phase if there was something which deviated from their stated objective of “making the boat go faster” they wouldn’t do it.
So meeting friends for Sunday Lunch, going snowboarding in Austria, drinking in the pub at sales kick offs – none of these made the boat go faster. None of these things happened. All of these things have been happening for me.
How do I balance my stated objective against my desire to live a happy balanced life where I stay in touch friends and enjoy socialising with them?
What Does This Mean?
I want faster progress towards my goals. I have met only two of my objectives so far. The 7.15 #2K4TIME row and the 3.36 Grace time.
My weight is up by about 1kg – not down by the 5 – 10KG’s I want to reduce by to shrink the deadlift max weight goal.
This isn’t all doom and gloom. I am pain free, I am moving much better and able to engage enthusiastically in all of the activities (in and out of the gym) that I want to. Also my Deadlift is up – I’m not sure exactly by how much, but I hit a 140KG 2 rep last Friday and that is 10K more than my heaviest previous 1RM….
Also – whilst my weight is up – I’m working on the premise that this is muscle. Because my clothes fit better – my belly button isn’t peaking out of my shirt when I sit down anymore. This is an important for me – I hate it when its being nosey like that.
I’m still eating 2200 calories a day as a rule. But there are days when that gets blown out of the water by alcohol and those days seem to be too frequent.
I’ve significantly reduced my training schedule with a program from Gwen Sona. The program gives me x4 workouts a week to complete – 2 of these seem to take 90 – 120 minutes, the other x2 seem to be much shorter – around 60 minutes. For the most part i’m breaking these up with a day on and a day off. This means that effectively each “week” is 8 days long – so my weeks aren’t as structured as I would like. I seem to need an extra day in the week.
To accommodate these extra long workouts I have stopped working out at 6am and started working out after work.
In short – loads of stuff is happening:
Body Composition improving
workout length increased
Workout frequency decreased
Dedicated program developed for my specific objectives
Less – by which I mean – zero class attendance.
Why Should I Care?
I think in order to accelerate the progress I need remove all alcohol from diet! Even just writing that feels big. I can and am already visualising the impact to my social life, work life, home life. I’ve done sober months before – even once through January – my birthday is in January and the celebrations were just weird. Everyone wants to buy a drink and everyone wants you to celebrate with them, like them…
What would the impact be to my life if I say – I’m not drinking until I meet my goals? Should I do it? Could I do it?
Hi Athletes, over the the last few weeks I’ve caught up with various friends and been on a ski trip with some of “the lads”.
This has been an interesting period that has allowed people to provide lots of feedback and support – mostly in the form of aggressive piss taking about the fact I am a blogger. Even as I write that, it’s not something I easily associate with. I mean I know I have a blog, and I am blogging but am I really a “blogger”…hmmm weird!
That to one side, and back on topic for a minute, underneath all of this feedback and engagement with my most honest feedback community (the boys really pulled no punches). I few things came out.
Crossfit has it’s own dictionary and language – if you don’t do Crossfit this blog is probably quite hard to follow. Should I simplify the language or should everyone just start doing Crossfit? (TBC)
Some people who don’t do Crossfit, have been motivated by the blog to want to get involved. Steve (Blue Coat on the left) at least is keen to understand if there is a “Ninja Standards” he could have a go at? Yes there are and that is what I’m going to talk about here.
What Does This Mean?
So I think there are a few standards that people could have a go at – like the Double Under, get a jump rope and start skipping. The Double Under requires the rope to pass under your feet twice each time you jump off the floor! Easy – drop me a note when you get them, I have been chasing them to for 2 years and they are only just coming! For the Nina Standard you need to be able to do 50 Unbroken!
Today though, I want to talk about Rowing.
Pretty much every gym up and down the land and even around the world will have a rowing machine. They’re a great way to build your fitness. The actual process of rowing includes lots of good functional movements that transfer well to other Crossfit related exercises. It will help you with high speed burst capacity, as well as slow burn cardio.
If you think about the row position, it’s pretty much like the bottom of a deadlift. So improving your rowing is likely to improve your ability to lift heavy in the dead lift too.
Plus you are training your whole body, legs, back, arms and if you do the 2k row right – you will even train your face muscles!! I pull some weird expressions towards the end of my 2k for time row.
OK, so how can you have a go? The Ninja standard is a 2k row for time, (#2K4TIME) this time limit varies between ladies and gents. For Men the time limit is 7.15 and for ladies it’s 8.00 minutes.
That’s it really, you have to get on a rower, start rowing and keep rowing until you get to 2k. Sounds easy! Well it is! And yet….its not!
Jimbo and I organised for one of my mates Graham Benton to come down to the gym to give us a hand. Graham and I used to work together and he’s a bit of a legend in the indoor rowing world! (Check out his Wiki page here). We’ll be sharing a full write up on our time with Graham and a #20Questionsfortime Interview to follow soon.
Some of my favourite quotes from the time with Graham were: “After 500 meters its going start hurting! Just deal with it!” and “Head up, Shoulders Back, Keep Going”!
Some of the more constructive stuff he said was, “#2K4TIME is a mind game. Build your pillars of belief”.
Think to yourself:
“I can do 500 meters at 1.48 all day long”
“Last time I did this distance I completed in a great time”
“Do you have mantra’s that motivate you? Use them”!
For men aiming at 7.15 mins, a stroke rate of 34 and splits around 1.48 will get your there. He added “Don’t try and win the race in the first 500 meters. Believe in the plan. Leave some of the work for later”.
But my favourite quote of the day was “Outsource the belief system to someone else”. What he means by this is that, the #2k4time challenge is a mind game, you know you can row 2k, you just don’t know how quick you can go. At some point when it starts to hurt you are going to start questioning yourself, you cardio capacity, your strength, the strategy.
Well you don’t need that going through your head it’s a distraction!! You need to be thinking “This plan works”. Find a coach, get a plan, believe the plan they give you! Execute the plan!! Do you have a plan? If not we’re going to put on some workshops with Graham – so watch this space!
My last quote from Graham was “I breath twice on each stroke” we made him demo this as no one believed him! It’s true he bloody does – once at the start and once at the end!
Why Should I Care?
Graham got me through my #2k4time challenge in 7.10 minutes.
That is 5 seconds inside the Ninja Standard and it’s officially my first tick in the box!
Now lets not get too excited about me being an awesome rower! I’m 6’3 and 105kg’s, I always knew that I would be able to use that to my advantage. Plus I am coming back from injury where I have spent hours on the Assault Bike – so I knew my cardio was on point.
But for you – this is just a great way to get involved! Get on a rower, set the distance to 2k and start! Find your split! Get to know your pace, good, bad, or ugly, know it – then grow it how you want. If you want to be part of the community – post pictures to Instagram and tag us or use the #NinjaOrNotIn6Months tag and we’ll do our best to support you. Get started now – tweet this article and make your public commitment to get involved!
If you decide you want to get serious about your #2k4time challenge – sign up to the blog and find out more about the upcoming events we have planned with Graham!
Steph Gammell, 29 Years of age, Just, (she is quick to add), 5’5” and living with partner Oli and their french bulldog Mabel (who Steph admits they tend to call Pigs, after Mabel starts making a cute grunting sound at me).
Functional Osteopathy, Why do you do it, what’s your motivation?
It’s different from normal Osteopathy. It focuses on movement biomechanics and a lot of the treatment is active so not always based on the treatment table. In both clinics I work in I have access to a “True Stretch”, which is essentially a large stretching cage which I use a lot to help with the more movement based treatments. I use a combination of specific movement biomechanics and hands on Osteopathy techniques depending on what the problem is. I believe this treatment approach it’s the best way to get people moving better and I have seen it work more quickly than traditional methods, even on people who are in a lot of pain.
You don’t do CrossFit- why?
I’m not hardcore enough! I feel like it’s quite intense and addictive, I don’t think I could devote the time and energy that I do to work and also do Crossfit. I have a rule which is, the last person of the day gets the same quality of treatment as the first of the day. It’s a rule I am not sure I could keep if I was going all-out at Crossfit.
Lunges – they’re functional(Big Cheesy smile, like she knows this is super on message)
Burpees (Yeah fuck burpees we both same simultaneously)
You’ve helped me through some of the darkest times in my training, do you ever get frustrated with repeat offenders like me?
No the aim is to get rid of you once and for all!! (She isn’t joking either, she really does want to help fix people and her greatest hope is that people go on to lead a pain free fully functional life)
Your brand seems very biomechanical and holistic to me, how would you describe your brand?
Holistic with a speciality on Biomechanical Movement. I like to find the causes of dysfunction rather than just focusing on the symptoms. Sometimes this means looking at someone’s overall health as well as their physical symptoms. I help people to move and feel better.
You’ve got a Masters Degree in Osteopathy from the British School of Osteopathy. You’ve worked on the LET (Ladies European Tour, Europe’s equivalent to LPGA) Golf Tour, what’s the proudest moment in your career?
LET was an exciting time in my career and I was honoured to be asked and proud to be part of the tour. But honestly, working with any person to achieve their goals is amazing, whatever their level of athleticism. There was once a 65yr old chap that came in to see me. He was quite a keen golfer and had a competition that weekend. He was experiencing quite a lot of pain in his neck that was impacting his golf.
In 1 treatment I was able to help him get pain free and also improve his spinal rotation in his golf swing. It turned out that I helped him win his tournament! He came back to see me the following week and brought me his scorecard as a thank you.
He completed the round 15 shots under his normal score and took 3 shots off his handicap. I still have the score card at home.
You’re a fellow of Applied Functional Science after completing the GIFT mentorship programme a world renowned movement biomechanics course. You’re one of only 20 Osteopaths in the country who have also completed GIFT. With all these qualifications, can you comment on the most important fundamentals of functional fitness?
I feel in the last few years the word functional has been mis-used within the fitness community. For me, functional is task specific. It’s about looking at the specific activity or task involved, for example a squat, snatch or run, and understanding that these are different movements that require different considerations. I need to see how each person moves through a specific range of motion to understand how I might help them out of pain, or to find more range or control.
No it has to be specific – it’s important to treat the person and the situation. Everyone is unique and has different requirements. Come and see me if there is something you are stuck with.
You’re a qualified GAPS practitioner. Has there ever been a situation in your clinic where you just didn’t know how you would help someone?
Not so far and I really hope it stays that way.
Movement-patterns, how can lay people like me spot bad ones and create good ones?
Look for balance between left and right, is the movement even and equally controlled on both sides? You could also look for workarounds and cheats. Are you getting to the range or position you want, but are you doing it through workarounds rather than good form? If your back rounds as you squat – why is that?
At some of the darkest times in my rehab, I’ve felt like I’ve given responsibility to my recovery to others rather than taking responsibility for it myself. How important would you say a positive mental attitude is and ownership of your own rehab is?
Yes this is really important. You want to control your pain, not have your pain control you.
There is usually a way to help people out of symptoms, we just need to find it. I can start that process for them in the consultancy, but it is important that people keep up their exercises and rehab at home in order to achieve long term success and ownership of their situation.
You love pointing out that everything’s connected. And in my own experience I can associate physical breakdown with mental fatigue and stress. Do you have any advice to help people bring awareness to their own self before it’s too late?
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED! (Steph basically shouts this at me whilst laughing, honest I think she has this tattooed about her person somewhere, if she ever makes it to TV this will have to be her catch phrase!).
The connection is unbelievable, once you have been doing this for as long as I have, you see so many people in different situations and stages in their lives, but the triggers are almost always the same.
People usually know when they are taking too much on and asking too much of their body. Too much stress, too much work, over commitments socially, lots of boozing, or a poor diet, too little sleep – basically Christmas! The number of people coming to see me in January is remarkable!
Our bodies are amazing coping machines but they can only handle so much, and once you take them past that capacity you’re going to pay the price somewhere. My advice would be to listen to your body. When you know you’re starting to burn out, take some rest, get some sleep, and make sure you eat well.
When is the best time to start building a relationship with an Osteopath?
A lot of people start their journey when injured and that is understandable, but I would ask them to think – is that really the best time to start the journey?!
Prevention is a much better place to start than cure!! If you are seeing the warning signs:
Stiffness/pain through a range of movement
Lack of balance or control (Left / Right)
Niggles that won’t go away
Don’t wait for a full breakdown, take action early, it will save you money and time in the long run. You don’t want to ignore a niggle and that end up affecting your training to the point where you have to pull out of an event.
Osteopathy isn’t just about Backs and being injured!!
We are trained to treat the whole body and work with people of all ages and abilities, after surgery, during and after pregnancy and those training for a specific event.
People with a problem statement and a goal in mind are often best to work with, we can start by addressing the problem and then we can develop a meaningful course of action to support them towards their goal.
Prevention v’s cure, how should serious sports enthusiasts think about Osteo’s and Physio’s?
We can help with a lot more than just injury. People want to enhance their performance but some of that can come from efficiency of movement. Your body is a kind of machine, professional athletes tune their machine endlessly and with a large support staff.
Amateur athletes should think about how they can mimic this. If you’re training every day, you need to make sure you have a support process in place to maintain good mechanics and to keep your machine working optimally.
This should not only prevent injuries, but enhance performance.
Are there specific injuries that you see associated with Crossfit V’s running for example?
Well running and crossfit are totally different disciplines! I tend to see more calf issues with runners, especially those who have recently changed their running style or have uneven running mechanics.
With crossfit I see more shoulder related issues, impingements and overactive muscle groups. I also see a lot of mobility issues that come around as people push their bodies to achieve more. I spend a lot of time with crossfit athletes of varying degrees of experience and have built up a solid knowledge base around the movement patterns for crossfit and strategies for how these can be supported, enabled and protected.
I’ve also come to understand how important crossfit is to people, the drive to be a part of the community and to keep on searching for ways to improve their performance and capability. That applies to the people just starting out and enjoying the rapid adaptation phase as well as the experienced crossfitter who is still enhancing their skill set and range of motion. Irrespective of ability, I honestly believe there is a way to help everyone.
You’re qualified in medical acupuncture and have also done advanced courses. You’ve used acupuncture on me with great effect. How much of that would you say is physical v’s psychological?(Placebo)
All treatments have a therapeutic psychological effect, that’s true. But I believe that medical acupuncture has mostly a physical effect. You can feel the change in the tissues after. There is a large body of medical research evidence that supports the benefits of acupuncture for pain management as well as improving blood flow, releasing muscle tension and promotion of local tissue healing. (I actually have a session with Steph later that day and as if to prove this she uses some needles on my pecks. She knows I am not a big fan of needles and usually I keep my eyes shut, stupidly I didn’t this time – the fear is still real. But I get some crazy muscle twitches when the needles go in and I don’t think these are placebo).
Can acupuncture work for everyone?
Yes I think so – in the right place at the right time. The fear of needles tends to be the only sticking point, some people just do not want needles in them. And I have to respect that.
Will you come and do a workout at In2Crossfit?
MASSIVE LONG PAUSE (Steph is grinning at me and thinking about how to handle this, Pigs or Mabel is having another little grunt at us). I think there’s an expectation that you’re going to be really good if you work with movement and biomechanics like I do, but I’m no PT and I’m worried there would be a lot of expectation on me if I came down to the gym. Lets leave it as a maybe!!
Steph Gammell #20QuestionsForTime 26:42
You can make an appointment with Steph @ Hub where In2Crossfit Members get a discount, just ask at reception. She also treats at backtoback432.co.uk
For more information about Steph’s approach checkout her website here
For the last few weeks I have been seeing a sports rehabilitation specialist. He informs me that he is qualified in biomechanics and sports rehab. Though is quick to add he can’t call himself a Physio or Osteo as they are specific qualifications.
My observations are that he is qualified in torture, punishment, pain and mutilation and it’s freaking awesome!
I have for a log time had a relationship with an Osteo. She’s great and there’s a full #20QuestionsForTime piece coming out from her soon. I get a lot of benefits from working with her, especially as we have been working together for a long time and she knows me, my body and my history (specifically my injury history, which is long and varied). She uses a lot of acupuncture and sometimes she’s able to use what can only be called voodoo to get me out of pain.
However, she is fairly slight (in comparison to me), and sometimes us big guys just need a bit of brutalisation from equally big and nasty types. Enter stage left Njay (Jay to his friends) from Back to Action (BTA).
After I tore some shoulder ligaments in a snowboard injury last Jan, my neck subsequently freaked out and I trapped something with the alarming effect that I couldn’t move my head at all for a couple of days. The girlfriend had to cut me out of a T-shirt. Which was pretty scary for her as she hasn’t ever really suffered with trapped nerves before.
Anyway, this resulted in quite a messed up shoulder, neck and upper back environment with lots of compensations and workarounds going on in my body. After the initial pain and inflammation and a period of rehab. I was left with shoulders that we just knot on knot of tight muscle. This meant I had reduced head mobility and looking over my left shoulder was impossible, difficult, or painful depending on the day of the week.
Just before Christmas I started seeing Jay. Over the last 3 or 4 sessions with him, he has broken down the knots and returned my shoulders to the soft-flexible-mobile implements they’re meant to be. You can see some of the tools that Jay has been using to break down some of the more resilient knots. Whilst these tools look gruesome and painful, Jay is an expert muscle manipulator and he’ll apply only the appropriate pressure to get the release you need.
The reason I am telling you this is that, even as amateur athletes we are probably asking quite a lot of our bodies. And if we think of them like a bank account – there comes a time when we have to stop making withdrawals and start making deposits (this concept came from the interview with Jamie Lau Head Coach at In2Crossfit). For me the treatments with my Osteo and with Jay are those deposits. It’s time out from asking my body to lift heavy, go hard, move fast and deliver out put.
During the interview with Steph, (Due out later this week) she told me that she believes most people know when they are asking to much of their body and they know when they should be doing something about it. Actually taking the time to spend the money to invest in the “doing something” is often the barrier.
So my request is this. Before you get injured, before you spend a lot more money on long term rehab from a place you don’t want to be. Before you lose all the hard fought gains you’ve earned. Bay your body back for everything it does for you! It’s a small price to pay.
Ok, so Coaching Polar Bear and I met up on the last day In2Crossfit was open for 2016. As promised we have measured up – I warn you that some of the images in this article can not be unseen!
The first thing to say is sorry to Coaching Polar Bear – the camera came out and I got excited. I promise not to make lasso hands and ride my pony stances behind you at future weigh ins. I will do my best not to make silly faces and inappropriate gestures in general – after all this is a serious business.
After much deliberation we agreed on a tops off / shorts on approach to the photos. And even more importantly we agreed to an 8 points measure system. These 8 places can be seen in the table below.
We also agreed that we would measure left and right leg and arm measures. Whilst we hope to deliver a balanced improvement across the whole body, we also acknowledge that most injuries are as a result of imbalance in the system, so we wanted to capture any imbalances that exist today so we can focus on training them out. After all one of my objectives is to reduce my chance of repeat offending on the frequent-flyer list at the injury clinic!!
As you can see from the photo’s there’s an obvious height differential. Now depending on how you look at this you’re going to describe one of us as having a height advantage. Which is probably fair. There are a lot of opinion pieces written about this and you can form your own opinion with a quick google search. As I’m such a sporting fellow I’ll start you off with this article here.
What Does This Mean?
Lots of this is academic for a couple of reasons:
Polar B and I are not looking to go to the CF Games.
We aren’t actually competing with each other let alone any crossfit regional athletes.
We both believe that from wherever anyone starts, they can derive health improvements in weight, power, strength, cardio and general well being.
So with all this in mind, all we really need to do is baseline our current shape and size and maybe identify a couple of benchmark wods so that we can evaluate how the changes we make to our bodies impact our performance. At this point Polar B is saying we need to make note that this is not a scientific study and our sample of 2 is in no way representative of the populous at large. With that health warning out of the way….any suggestions for benchmark wods – please get in touch or comment below.
Why Should I Care?
Our assumption and hope is that many of you are going through your own constant development program.
Speaking to mates at the gym, despite the community that crossfit at large develops, some of these personal goals can feel like impossible solo missions and we want to change that.
Our hope and ambition is that we can bring our community closer together, support you in return for you supporting us and ultimately create a #TEAM ethos. We are in this together and we can achieve more by working together.
Now look at my muffin tops and decide if this something you want to be part of! Subscribe or follow us on twitter & Instagram. Links on the right!
As part of my 6 month health and fitness mission with Coaching Polar Bear, I have been tracking everything that goes into my mouth (yes I let some of the booze in December slip by and I didn’t track Christmas Day and Boxing).
Any way, this can be a pretty time consuming tasked to save time, I find that I doing a lot of meal prep. (Initial I did 4 weeks on SixPax Calorie controlled eat clean plan), but this uses a 2 week menu and then repeats it. So it got me to thinking about how I can save time but simplifying the variety in my meals.
What Does This Mean?
This means that I am basically 3-4 different meals for breakfast lunch and dinner. I am getting to know what my body needs / can survive on, whilst also learning about portion size, macro content etc. Once I have found a recipe I like, I stick with it and I might prepare a lot of it, then store it for later consumption.
But I still need to track this in MyFitnessPal for my daily consumption and burn rate. This is quite time consuming, so I asked MyFitnessPal if there was a way I could save / copy specific meals I have had in the past and move them as a meal, not individual items – to todays tracker.
Why Should I Care?
Here’s what they said – I hope this will be as much of a time saving genius light bulb moment for you as it was for me:
HiClarkyUK wrote: JAN 08, 2017 | 05:38AM PST
Is there a function that allows me to copy a meal I had yesterday or previously to today’s diary? It would save me having to input multiple items if I could copy a previous meal.Also, is there a way I could save a meal as a favourite? If I know I’m going to have it a lot, again, same as above it would really save time.
Joben wrote: JAN 08, 2017 | 09:27AM PST
This is Joben from our Premium Support center and it would be my pleasure to assist you. Thank you for taking the time to contact us. You can quickly copy the entire contents of a meal to the same meal on another date.
1) On the Web: On the Food Diary page, tap “Quick Tools” under any meal to see options for copying to or from recent or upcoming dates.
2) In our iPhone and iPad apps (version 5.3 and later) and Android app (version 3.1 and later)
Tap the “Edit” or Pencil button on the diary page
Tap the check box next to each item you would like to copy. You can select just one item, or even items from different meals.
Tap the “Copy” button (two calendar pages) and select a date to copy the items.
3) In our iPhone and iPad apps (prior to version 5.3) and Android app (prior to version 3.1) Select the Wrench icon adjacent the the meal’s label (Breakfast, Lunch, etc.) and choose “Copy Meal to Today” or “Copy Meal to Date.”
iPad, iPhone and Android users can see this feature demonstrated in Help > Tutorial Videos > Meals and Recipes.
We hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other problems or questions. We wish you all the success in reaching and maintaining your health and fitness goals.
Jamie Lau – British Born Chinese – BBC, (apparently that’s a thing! There’s an ABC too – American Born Chinese Jamie informs me, he also informs me he got engaged this year, April. Snook that one in didn’t he. Obviously I congratulate him, though give him a withering look when he admits he did not get down on one knee)!
(He also just got a puppy – “Lola” – which is why getting him to sit down and finalise this interview has been tough)!!
How did you get started in CrossFit?
Long story short. I met my future employer, Ed Haynes, in Hong Kong before my relocation in 2012. Although it would take him over 2 years to hire me, all of his other coaches had Crossfit Level 1 Coaching Certifications. I asked him if I would need my CrossFit Level 1 if I was going to be on his team. He said yes, he seemed smart, so I signed onto a course when I returned to the UK.
Jami (Annie Thorisdottir’s coach) was the master trainer of my CF Level 1 with other high profile coaches – not that I knew any of this at the time. At the end of day one the workout was Fran, I’d never done Fran before, I’d never done CrossFit before! I used a 40kg bar (thinking thrusters are just front squats and push presses, how hard could it be) and all my pull ups were strict – I had no idea what kipping was! The outcome was unsurprising and the soreness made sitting down and holding a pen for the exam at the end of day two very challenging.
I didn’t do Crossfit again for over two years until I joined Ed and his team at Coastal Fitness Performance Training (CrossFit CSTL).
I pursued Crossfit more after a grade 2 MCL tear during a rugby game out in Hong Kong. Then a medial and lateral meniscus tear after three months of being in a knee brace and rehabbing the knee. After reluctant surgery on the knee, I used CrossFit to add variety into my rehab as well as add that ‘competition’ I missed. As it happens, I never played Rugby again. My life changed and I closed that chapter… for now.
What’s your proudest CrossFit moment?
(lots of sigh’s and throwing his head around, at one point I think he has become transfixed on the ceiling of the coffee shop where we’re having our chat. But it’s ok, it’s just thinking time).
He finally admits – this is hard!! I suppose that year in Asia (2014), Placing 4th in Seoul in the last ever ASIA Regional before they changed it into the super regions. It was our first ever Open as a team.
We should have podiumed. Andy Bratsanos bottled the last work out. I have never let him live it down, we were already on the podium in 3rd, if he had just finished even 2 mins slower than he was in practice we probably would’ve held our spot. It was a fun experience – winning the handstand walk event but coming close to dead last in the hang snatch, lots of ups and downs.
What’s your highest CrossFit ranking ever?
CrossFit Open Worldwide:
2014 – 12330
2015 – 6215
2016 – 4481
14th at the Asia Championships in 2015
Why do you do it, what’s your motivation?
I like to explore training paradigms. I like to experiment with new principles. I firmly believe it’s good for the body and the mind; it takes them to places they need to go and provides a testing playground. It keeps me (relatively) sane.
Furthermore it helps me stay engaged with my clients. Coaches should train. Unless there are physical reasons why coaches can’t train, they should do some form of training. I’m not saying coaches need to train ‘hard’ or lift more than their clients but I think it’s important for clients to understand we put in the work too. It helps build empathy, acceptance, and rapport.
(I think this is a fairly simple question, these first few are all meant to be warm up rapid fire questions, but Jamie is pretty much losing his mind here – we’re negotiating over if he can have 3 or 2, but I say “it’s not really the point”) Strict Handstand Push Up. (“WHAAAT” I actually say this to him Basically it’s something he conquered, in true Crossfit style he found a weakness and he trained it into a strength. He recalls doing sets of 2-3, but now pushes out high teens without too much difficulty. And that is Crossfit I am re-assured).
(Zero hesitation – he fucking knows this, it’s like he has been waiting his whole life for someone to ask him) Thrusters! Any type, heavy, light, it doesn’t matter. (I propose they’re a great full body workout but just receive blank stares from Jamie. We move on).
Best bit of stash?
Hong Kong “A” Rugby Jersey – Jamie admits there is no question about this. He goes on to say it will be framed at some point, then asks me to strike that from the interview. I say no take backs! (It clearly means a lot to him, rugby it turns out means a whole lot to Jamie as the interview progresses and this shirt feels like it might have been the validation of a long journey and a lot of work, he never actually says that – but I just know it instinctively and I think he knows I know. We share a silent nod).
Most inspirational athlete?
Johnny Wilkinson, his dedication is second to none and the way he approaches that really appealed to me. You knew he had broken down his game in to it’s core elements and worked hard on all of them. The physical, mental, and skills based techniques. His kicking abikicking. But more than that, it was things like learning french when he played in their league. The time he spends with the younger play and the school programs. The 2003 world cup was a defining moment for me, I was at the University of Birmingham when england won the world cup with Johnny. He genuinely shaped my life, more of if that I give it credit for. He was what an inspiration should be.
You were a CrossFit team regional athlete in 2014 and 2015 for CrossFit CSTL in Seoul and Wollongong respectively. How does team CrossFit strategy differ from individual athlete strategy?
Managing emotions is one of the biggest thing. When you train together day in day out you know who has the strongest lifts, the best pacing strategies, the best at complex movements and so on – that stuff is simple. But what you can’t see is how the team will operate on the day and how people will respond to adversity, under performing, soreness, anxiety, pressure, GI distress etc. Everyone has to feel they did their best and contributed to the team outcome. In the team dynamic emotions are big.
One of your passions is Rugby, you were Assistant S&C (Strength and Conditioning) coach for Hong Kong National Rugby Team. As well as S&C coach for HK Football Club and Tigers Rugby Club. What did you learn coaching those teams that you apply to CrossFit?
In rugby, training is distinctly different to competing. There’s one match per week maximum and the week is focused on TRAINING for that match. When you train you don’t just play repeated games of 80 minutes of rugby; training involves attack, defense, passing, kicking, set plays etc. There is a clear difference between training and competition. You don’t have to explain that.
In Crossfit the difference isn’t as clear. Often the training is too competitive, based on a time or score, and it’s frequently too intense. During training you should have time to spend improving and focusing on your movement, your breathing, your efficiency, your technique – it’s not always possible to do that if you feel like you are competing.
In this environment, how do you create the mental and physical breaks between training and competing? How do you bulletproof yourself with training to make sure you are ready to compete? (This is genuine insight and I can see instantly what he says, even just in the way I will approach some of my own training. Am I training or am I competing? Was I aware of my movement patterns or was I just chasing a time? As I’m musing this, he ads)Rugby into Crossfit is bad! Rugby players are strong and fast, but they (generally) have terrible ROM, many can’t get below parallel in a squat, they’re used to tackling on one shoulder, often sidestep/kick/pass more favourable on one side. If you’re making the switch, spend the time to get the movement patterns fixed and balanced before adding too much load or speed.
As head coach for In2Crossfit Clapham you do the programming at In2Crossfit. Can you give us some insight into your approach?
There are some basic pre-req’s he thinks everyone should have:
Multiple reps of Strict Pull Ups
Multiple reps of Strict Dips
Multiple reps of BW loaded Back Squats
Multiple reps of BW loaded Deadlifts
Side plank at least 90sec
Sorensen Hold at least 2mins (without pain)
Multiple reps of loaded Single Leg Split Squats
… The list goes on…
There are also a host of energy system tests I want people to achieve but for the most part structural balance, strength, body awareness, and midline control are the MOST important so the emphasis is always there.
Second battle is how do you make the programing interesting, community based, and fun. (My own observations would be that this is a journey that Jamie has been on. How he programmed in the early days to how he programs now are two very different beasts and I think this second battle is one that he has learned through experience).
Third – I have to balance what people want with what people need. And that can be tough, it won’t always make you popular. After the CrossFit Total this year it was great to see so many of the intermediate and advanced athletes making such big improvement – they acknowledged that the programming works and that is a great journey to be a part of. Education is something I love.
At a Macro level, there is the challenge of attendance. Some people train x3, x4, x5 and some people are in the gym 6 times a week. I need to give those people a varied plan and I need to make sure I a, meeting their needs for a full body workout – but I need to protect them too. Typically I see Sunday as a rest day for most people. So I tend to start the week off HEAVY (this is not a lie – Monday 6AM is usually a fucking wake up call of a workout). Then I tend to think about High, Low Medium as the week progresses.
I WANT TO HIT ALL THE WEAKNESSES (He didn’t shout this or anything, but it was just such an all encompassing statement and it was a kind of from the hip shot that I heard it like this. Jamie is usually quite measured and controlled with his delivery – so this feels like a big admission and I’m not sure he even realises the magnitude of this statement)
I AM ALWAYS TESTING PEOPLE (As above, this I guess should be obvious, but I’d never really thought about, but you can tell he means it. He is like the ever present weighing scale – measuring us)
We’ve spoken a lot about pain through my rehab. There’s a lot of different types of pain associated to CrossFit, what advice could you share with people who don’t benefit from one to one training with you?
If pain gets worse through a workout it’s bad pain – stop working out.
If you have pain that doesn’t change after 4 days, it’s bad pain see a (good) doctor or (good) coach/physio/osteo/chrio
If pain eases off through movement, welcome to crossfit – you might be ok!
My tip – write it down. Make a record, take charge of your own health and safety. If you want to know what breaks you need a record of what you were doing. Then at least you stand a chance of managing the risk and avoid the same thing happening again. (At the time this didn’t feel like it was aimed at me, but as I write this – I think it might have been, I don’t keep a record and I am a persistent re-offender of the injury bench)
Can we talk about goal setting? Are there any principles or guidelines that you follow?
Yes (great, can you fucking tell me what they are you smart arse)
Goal set when you are at peak performance and in good health
Goal set when you don’t think you need to
It’s like hydration – by the time you think you’re thirsty you’ve missed the window of rehydration
The year is not always your book end. Don’t ONLY set goals in January. Work at them year round
Make your goals SMART
What’s your view on supplements, are there any you recommend to support rapid adaptation to training?
Thanks for this question, I am going to put the cat amongst the pigeons here. (he is being sarcastic about the thanks I am sure of it)
Creatine for rapid adaptation that is the answer – I tell my mother to take it, but she never does. Really the answer is consistent protein intake – assuming you can’t carry round endless chicken breasts or a cooked cow you can slice bits off – then protein powder is a solid go to. It’s the substance that has a lot of research done on it, the science is out there, it’s pretty undenaible!
Secret Sauce, what’s the missing ingredient most people don’t see or understand?
Pass (you can’t pass that isn’t an option) Ok well I was going to say sleep or movement – but that’s so generic I don’t think anyone will take any action from that advice. Maybe it’s better to say stress management. Mental fatigue is a thing, it affects your physical self. Lack of sleep, relationship stress, work stress, gym stress; all of these things deplete the system and if they all ramp at the same time – how will you manage your energy / stress balance? I often say to people it’s like a bank, you can’t just keep paying out without making some deposits. If you neglect this balancing act, eventually you will have used all of your energy and you’ll go broke. Everyone needs a buffer.
You love a technical term – but seriously dude- what are you on about?
1)I use this exercise as an accessory movement, activation tool, as well as building a bigger picture in an assessment.
Circular meaningless tautology?! (I think he’s just given me one of his phrases to explain the answer to one of his phrases…)
2)working only on the eccentric phase. Add in the concentric phase.
I like to educate people….
3)I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so much negative and positive self talk in one session. I’m no high level athlete – but I love the journey of self discovery. Doubting yourself. Overcoming challenges. Questioning everything.
That’s epic (laughs out loud), I mean that training allows your mind and body to grow in a way you that’s rare outside of the gym. Where else can you test yourself repeatedly in the way you do inside the gym – where else can you overcome your own personal limitations so often. You can make your own magic happen!
4)To train, or not to train, that is the question: Whether ’tis Nobler in the body to suffer the Aches and Pains of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Pity against a World of uncertainty, And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep.
I remember this one, I was in LA. This resonates with me because people’s mind state fluctuates a lot. Why am I here? Will I finish on a high or should I push for one more rep, round, another 5 KG’s, what will this do to my emotional state? Should I let him win today, or am I going again. Shakespeare nailed it and some days I don’t know myself. (I recognise some of this in my self, does every day have to be a PB day, how do I know when to push and when to yield, I don’t think there’s an answer to this)
There’s a lot of movements in the shoulder – fear mongering and showing off how many technical terms I know! hahaha
I think about your brand as very scientific and based on latest research. How would you describe your brand?
Ever Learning Ever Evolving: (Any examples of a recent evolution?) I don’t want to sound generic, I just mean that I am striving for more answers without assuming finding these answers will make me any smarter. (I offer a quote I like: My Wisdom brings me closer to my ignorance. He nods and agrees). I guess I just want to be honest and authentic but without using those words, I just can’t think how else to put.
When we first got to know each other, I scored you in one of the workouts for the open. I was clearly shouting at you stand up the last squat clean. Why did you defy me?
Honestly, I just wanted to beat John Hood ha! I needed two more reps, but I knew I didn’t have the time on the clock, I needed more rest, but if I waited I would run out of time. Equally I knew there was no way I could stand that weight up. I think I called myself a f***ing A-hole, if I had waited I would have got 1 more rep in the time and evened his score, but I wanted the win so I went early and blew up. My ego got ahead of me. This is the challenge of a competitive spirit.
(this is really interesting to me, as Jamie has been the king of strategy at the gym. For the open last year he broke down each of the workouts and highlighted where the main challenges were likely to come and how people might think about approaching each movement. LInk Here I guess in the heat of battle, we all go for the win).
We’ve spoken a lot about adaptation through my rehab. How do you help people around the longevity piece to training, the body comp vs performance vs health complexity.
People need to realise they will fluctuate. When a holiday comes, people want to lose weight and get some muscles. When injury strikes, people focus on their weaknesses or pain points. Fluctuations are natural and normal. However achieving body comp, performance and good health simultaneously is almost impossible. Goal set and be realistic!
If you don’t like the way you look, take some comfort in the fact that it’s not your fault it’s almost all your parents!
You love to ask me – “is that good CrossFit”? What do you mean?
Well, you should be able to elicit a response that you understand. When people finish a workout and say “I can’t believe….”, “my grip failed”, “my lungs blew up”, “that weight felt so heavy I couldn’t lift it”. Either they’re delusional, or they don’t know themselves (or they’re too new). Yes a tall heavy athlete doing a rowing and pull up workout is likely to blow up on the pull ups. And a shorter lighter athlete will struggle to generate power on the ergo. But I should be able to program for an outcome. If I get the outcome wrong I didn’t understand the person enough or the dose response of the workout. It’s training not competing!