Coach Dover, Why do You do CrossFit?
As I turned 60 I had some choices to make if I wanted to continue to lead the active life I seemed to have gotten myself into. I loved playing goalie on my ice hockey teams, I loved chasing after my dog in search and rescue…but those things were getting harder. I had an active job teaching young kids how to play and be fit but even that was becoming a challenge.
I walked into a CrossFit box and knew immediately this was the workout I needed. I left that gym after hearing Leslie and James had opened their own gym. I always loved working with them. When I walked in the door I knew I was home. I was always going to just be a CrossFit athlete but was encouraged to get my Level 1 so I could eventually coach kids.
I had never planned to be a CrossFit coach but continue on with working with kids and their fitness. That worked until I retired from teaching after 30 years. The next week I started my new career as a CrossFit coach (so much for retirement). During my first few years at True Spirit I was also encouraged to enter a Powerlifting meet…I’m easily talked into things. I went, I won gold, who doesn’t like winning. Of course I was the only competitor in my age class so winning was easy. I’m hooked on that now and yes usually win the gold, but my drive is to beat myself.
It wasn’t in my career plan to be a coach, but since I have spent most of my working life teaching movement it kind of fit. I was a little intimidated at first since now I was working with adults who were choosing to be there, not kids who had to be there. The motivation all my athletes show as they grind through a long workout, work on a skill they struggle with and walk out at the end with a smile makes being a coach worth it.
We so often talk about the community but I have to say it such an important part of the whole picture. Athletes may not know it but I miss them when they don’t show up. As soon as someone walks in the door, each and every one of them makes my day more complete. Athletes are the most important part of this equation, you motivate each other, drive each other, and bring laughter and friendship each and every time you walk through the door. Sometimes I have to hold you back, sometimes give you a little push, coaching each individual is truly rewarding when we see progress.
Pushing yourself a little harder, lifting a little more, doing one more rep even though you want to put the barbell down is the mental toughness you get with CrossFit. It has helped me through hockey games when I’ve just blocked shot after shot and here they come again. I tell myself I’ve felt that way in a WOD and made it through so suck it up, endure, and block that next shot. even though I would really like to catch my breath. Sometimes there’s no time to breath, you just reach deep and get it done. That’s what CrossFitters do.
Coach James, Why do You do CrossFit?
I started doing CrossFit in June 2010 with Saturday workouts in the park. I was used to working out regularly but it was the very classic training method of long slow distances of running, biking, hiking. I was pretty good at those specific activities but also knew that I was not very strong so I was hesitant to do CrossFit. Once I did my first few workouts I knew the program was going to help me become stronger both physically and mentally, and it has.
Leslie and I opened True Spirit CrossFit in 2014 because we remember what it is like to be new at something and wanted to take the fundaments of CrossFit and make it more approachable to more people as a way to build and live a healthier life. This takes a community and the community is what helps motivate me to get up and coach at 6 am or to do a workout with the best effort I can.
Through doing CrossFit and owning the gym, I am stronger physically and mentally. I have more confidence in my daily life. I have an outlet for my intensity. I can channel and harness the memory of a difficult workout or practicing a challenging skill (like double unders that took me a year and a half to finally get) that helps me put life's daily challenges into perspective. Plus I love the variety of what we do and accomplish. This is what helped motivate me to do obstacle course racing like the Spartan and Knuckle Buster.
Showing up is success, being coachable is wise, participating with positive attitude is inspiring, using your brain builds one of the most important muscle in your body, and being a part of the community is the best exercise my heart can have. By learning with and through others, both as a coach and athlete, I am a happier "fitter" person. This is what True Spirit CrossFit means to me and I am transformed through it every day.
Life is the ultimate CrossFit workout, Live It.
Coaches Heidi and Leslie win gold and set new American Master records at the 2018 American Masters Open Olympic Weightlifting Championship in November 2018.
I have been writing this daily blog ever since I opened the gym in July 2014. Back then I started a routine of writing a Technique Tuesday blog. I foolishly thought people were like me and they wanted to know the finer technique details of some of the movements we practice like powerlifing, Olympic Weightlifting, rowing, jumping rope, running, rope climbing, etc. I have since learned no one cares about those things, but they do care about a story. A year ago this month I changed Technique Tuesday to Transformation Tuesday and this was my first post.
Nothing makes a Coach happier than a client who is compliant, happy, motivated and driven. Heidi has those qualities and more. I started Coaching Heidi nearly 6 years ago. She started CrossFit after "finishing" her P90X videos at home. She had been an athlete in college (she was a coxswain for the University of Rochester crew team) and now found herself in need of some help after 2 difficult "advanced" age pregnancies.
Heidi got to work. She attended classes regularly and started working on her nutrition via the Whole 30 program. In fact she is quoted in the Whole 30 program book, "It Starts with Food." She dove in and focused on eating high quality meats, vegetables, nuts & seeds, little starch and little sugar. When I opened True Spirit in 2014 she joined me and brought the same enthusiasm and positive work ethic to my gym. Eventually she joined our Coaching team and brings her eye for movement and great coaching skills to our classes.
After a few years she noticed her weight loss had stalled. I suggested she try counting her macros and follow the Renaissance Periodization (RP). We decided to make the Fall 2017 Nutrition challenge a RP so she would have some company. She WON our RP challenge and has been steadily losing weight ever since. Since I have known her Heidi has easily lost over 50 pounds.
Once Heidi became our regular coach for our 9 AM and Noon classes she knew that she needed a workout partner and regular routine. Most people have no idea how hard it is for a Coach to actually make it to class. Most of us end up coaching the classes we attended, and are forced to fit in our workouts in between classes. I like to workout with our coaches as much as possible so it was a no brainer when Heidi asked me to workout with her at 10am four days a week.
As is the case for many CrossFitters, we all eventually want to specialize a bit more in some sport to which we have been exposed. For Heidi, like me, it's Olympic Weightlifting. We have been training partners for well over a year and last year Heidi competed in the 2018 American Masters Open Championship where she not only won her age and weight class she set new American records. Not bad for her first meet!
I can tell you that Heidi is successful because she has an indomitable spirit and knows that in order to get the results she wants she has to have daily discipline. She has to evaluate her choices and ensures that the majority of them align with her goals. She will be the first to tell you that weight lose it not easy, but it can be done. You need to be patient and create momentum every day.
Next time you think you just can't do this, talk to Heidi. She'll tell you exactly how it's done:-)
Your WEIGHT is not who YOU are!
I just finished Fall Check-ins with over half of our athletes (yes, you can still schedule your check-in with me) and I have had several heart-to-heart talks about why your weight is not a reflection of who you are.
I started CrossFit in March 2010. I am nearing my 10 year mark with one of the most fun, challenging and rewarding athletic endeavors in which I have participated. CrossFit introduced me to obstacle course racing (I have completed 2 races) and, of course, Olympic Weightlifting (I am a World Champion in my age and weight class.)
In the past 10 years my body has changed DRAMATICALLY! I can deadlift and squat almost 300 pounds, I can clean and jerk 200 pounds, I can snatch 165 pounds, and I can still row a 5K in under 24 mins. I can do MORE now at age 48 than I could when I was a young Corporal in the US Marines.
In fact, when I was in the USMC I was on weight control. I was over the maximum allowed weight limit of 153 pounds for my height. I now weight 182 pounds, a full 31 pounds more than when I was considered overweight. However, I can DO MORE now than I could back then.
Your weight does not tell the full story of your health and fitness. While I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life, my body fat is 9% less than when I started CrossFit. For a woman my age, 26% body fat is very healthy and much lower than the national average. Obesity starts at 30% body fat for women and at that percentage our risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) increases exponentially. Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of women. That's right! More women die from CHD than from breast cancer. Coronary heart disease is preventable if we reduce our body fat to less than 30%.
Your body fat, more than your weight, is the predictor of disease and indicator of health. Body fat is a hormonally active tissue. This means it has a part (negative or positive) in your endocrine system. Want to get your hormones under control? Reduce your body fat. Want to decrease your risk of CHD, Type II diabetes, and a whole suite of other metabolic problems? Reduce your body fat.
Body composition, body fat % and lean muscle mass, rather than body weight is a much healthier and utilitarian metric of your health. The scale gives us only one measurement, and while it's useful for tracking weight loss and making competition weight categories, it does not tell you anything about your health.
It's not uncommon when we start CrossFit for our weight to increase. That's because we are increasing lean muscle mass (I have increased mine by 23 pounds). Lean muscle mass also has positive health benefits. To build lean muscle mass you have to lift weights and that increases bone density. Increased bone density decreases your risk of osteoporosis. Win-WIN!
I often joke that after a few months of CrossFit our jeans are harder to pull on and easier to button. Seriously though, keep track of your body fat percent, it's a much healthier metric of your body. Don't get caught up in the number on the scale. It says NOTHING about what YOU can DO!
You can track your body composition on Beyond the Whiteboard. Schedule a check-in with me and I'll take your measurements. Celebrate what your body can DO!
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