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February 2017

Embracing Discomfort - CrossFit Open 17.1

Over the past several months, I have been thinking about Ben Bergeron’s thoughts about the difference between pain and discomfort.

“Your workouts aren’t painful. Pain is stepping on a nail or losing loved one. What you are experiencing is just discomfort, and you can handle high levels of discomfort for very long periods of time.” - Ben Bergeron

In my fourth year of CrossFit, the most common ‘compliment’ that I’ve received from my peers is that I’m ‘good at pacing’ and that I ‘keep moving at a steady pace’. In other words, I’m never going to set any records, but I trudge along consistently.

During my training, I have seen consistent improvements and even more so since improving my diet in the middle of 2016. The past six months of training have resulted in many significant PRs. Many of these have carved minutes or adding rounds to previous attempts.

That noted, I still felt as though my ability to pace was really just an excuse for not wander into the unknown outside my area of comfort.

Yet Bergeron’s quote about pain and discomfort has continually gnawed at me.

That was until 17.1.

During the rounds of 40 and 50 dumbbell snatches, I had moments when my legs were on fire. The turning point went like this:

1) My legs are feeling exhausted and I think about putting the dumbbell down for a break.

2) I think about the pain/discomfort idea and decide to try another repetition.

3) The dumbbell locks out overhead.

4) I realize that I might be feeling a lot of discomfort, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep completing reps.

My time of 18:25 won’t set me on the road to Madison but it was a product of finally breaking away the crutch of pacing. A pathway for more progress is finally open.


STD making sure you are all clean after a WOD! @treywhit #woddogs #cairnterrier #crossfitmasters #brickyardbig

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CrossFit Speciality Course - Gymnastics

IMG_0157Why does someone attend a CrossFit Specialty course? Personally, I was hoping to 1) learn how to better coach gymnastics and 2) improve my own CrossFit gymnastics. As an older athlete with no gymnastics background, these are massive opportunities for me. 

How old am I? I attended the seminar while I was vacationing at my condo in a 55 & over development in Naples, FL. That's old for a CrossFit dude. 

While the course was hosted by North Naples CrossFit, the instructors were Chuck and Vanessa Bennington from CrossFit Seaward in Sarasota, FL. 

Just as the pre-reading suggested, the training covered such CrossFit gymnastics staples as:

  • Hollow and arch positions
  • Pull-ups
  • Toes-to-bar
  • Pass through
  • Front & back lever
  • Ring supports
  • Ring dips
  • Muscle-ups
  • Pistols
  • Handstands, handstand push-ups and handstanswalks
  • Headstands
  • Parallettes 

I left the two-day seminar tired, sore and with a head full of concepts to apply when I returned home. 

Below are some of the highlights from the course, including lots of Chuck Bennington's quotes (which I tried to capture as accurately as possible in my notebook): 

  • Chuck does not believe in sitting or standing with crossed arms. Offenders were reminded throughout the weekend.
  • The goal of traditional gymnastics is scoring while CrossFit gymnastics is focused on fitness.
  • Reasons for pursuing CrossFit gymnastics include:
    • "Doing the common uncommonly well."
    • "Looking good naked and quality of life."
    • "Exploring the limits of our capacity."
    • "We need to get athletes to understand the deeper meaning of gymnastics to get them to focus on this hard thing."
  •  Gymnastics focuses on 5 of the 10 skills less involved in weightlifting (while also having a positive impact on lifting):
    • Flexibility
    • Coordination
    • Agility
    • Accuracy
    • Balance
  • The importance of nutrition? "Who might just be too fat. Overly fat and gymnastics will never happen."
  • "Begin by teaching them how to move."
  • "Every Open WOD will probably have a body weight component."
  • Gymnastics included in 50% of Games/Regionals WODs, 100% of Open WODs and about 75% of class CrossFit WODs.
  • "Go back to failing at something."
  • 7 of the top 10 women at the Games have gymnastics backgrounds. 
  • "Have fun and save lives."
  • "Don't lose sight of the magic."
  • "Changing the world through health and fitness."
  • "The only community some people have." 
  • "An incredible thing that saves and heals people."
  • "When was the last time you went into the box and worked on gymnastics for an hour?"
  • "You've spent hours working on lifts but not playing with gymnastics."
  • "It's like taking a bar exam every day to pass the test.  It's not happening."
  • Watch gymnastics on Instagram and YouTube like you do HookGrip.
  • Never using bands for pull-up progression. Uses bar strapped into J-hooks as a progression.
  • "How often do you break off in pairs to practice gymnastics?"
  • "Do less, better."
  • Film gymnastics like you do lifts.
  • Program gymnastics for yourself to allow yourself to learn.
  • Don't compete every day - need to understand the 'material' - competing should be an occasional thing.
  • Synergy of putting things together including gymnastics (e.g., alternating EMOMs - thrusters and pull-ups, strict pull-ups plus cleans - smokes shoulders to kill early pull).