Food for Thought: a Holly Jolly Slippery Slope

This article was published on the original United Barbell Blog on 11.30.2010

It's the friendliest, happiest, coldest time of year.  What does that mean?  Another glass of egg nog.  Days and days of leftover stuffing as lunch.  Why not?  It's the holidays!  Now now mr. jolly - step away from the pie.

You know what I am talking about - we all do.  It's the holiday slope - from Thanksgiving all the way until resolution time January 1st.  It is a special time of year - time for family and friends, for sharing and caring.  Indulge in the holiday spirit - not the holiday sweets.

Lacking motivation?  Try keeping your food journal over the holidays to stay accountable.  Feel unprepared to handle the deliciousness at your office party?  Try having a small paleo meal before you go so you are less inclined to gorge yourself on cheese platters and gingerbread. 

Work on your will power - say no to the extra glass of egg nog.  But in the event you fall into old habits - we will provide you with some jolly holiday WODs of our own for you to indulge in.

Holiday Schedule

Congrats to all who rocked Jigsaw this weekend!  For those who missed the action, check back on Wednesday for our recap.

Is anyone else in denial that it is already Thanksgiving week?!  We've already had a flux of class attendees looking to "earn their turkey day dinners" ... so make sure you sign in for classes ahead of time!  To help in your efforts, we are throwing a named WOD week at you (which started yesterday with "Jackie")... So get in here and get your WOD on!

To reiterate, here is the schedule for the week:


Wednesday, November 25th:

  • 6:30am - 12pm: Open Gym in back room.
  • 6:30am: All Levels CrossFit
  • 7:30am: All Levels CrossFit
  • 12:00pm: All Levels CrossFit

Thursday, November 26th:

  • 8:30am: Holiday WOD (30 person cap)

Friday, November 27th:

  • 9:00am: Holiday WOD (30 person cap)

Normal schedule resumes Saturday, November 28th.

WODding Crutchless

This article was published on the original United Barbell Blog on 08.24.2011

What's your CrossFit crutch?  Is it drinking water?  Getting chalk?  Using the red band?  Whatever it is, we all have that thing that we rely on for comfort to keep themselves from pushing all the way to the limit.  Why do we do it?  Because after 3,2,1 go - maintaining the appropriate intensity for a workout is... well, hard.

You might not realize you are doing it.  Here are the classic crutches:

  • Water: with all of the hours in the day to hydrate, you don't (especially not in the shorter workouts) need to stop for water.  Take the time and effort to come into the gym hydrated and spend your WOD time WODing.
  • Chalk:  a lot of people chalk for chalk's sake.  It looks hard core, and hey, everyone else is doing it.  Well my little chalk monkeys, try to leave the chalk until it is necessary.  If your hands are sweaty and slippery - pat your hands off and use a little.  Only have 3 reps left?  Suck it up and get it done.
  • Roamers: When you need to take a break, take a second and take a few deep breaths, focus on calming your breath and heart, and then pick up where you left off.  Some people prefer to go for a bit of a stroll.  While we all like to take in the scenery - try to stay on task and get it done.</li>

And these are just the obvious ones.  Like I said, we all have them.  It takes time and effort to force our bodies to the limit.  You are capable of so much more than your body will lead you to believe.  Take the crutches away and practice maintaining high intensity and you just might surprise yourself.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

I don't know if I have ever shared with you my favorite part of the job.  What gets me excited to go to work each day, above all the rest, is helping people achieve things they didn't think were possible.  Seeing the realization of a new skill, the accomplishment of a vigorously sought after goal.. that is what takes any day at UB from good to great.  I have had the honor in playing some small part in this moment with many athletes at UB over the years.  However, once in awhile, a story sticks out.  A person overcomes a limitation and gets to live life that much more fully. 

Pat E. recently shared his story with me.  This man is the epitome of a dedicated, eager, coachable athlete.  Watching him push to expand whats possible has been a joy.  Awesome is just the tip of the iceberg.  But instead of describing it, I will let the man speak for himself.....


I was first introduced to CrossFit back in 2008. Since that first WOD I've been fortunate enough to have been a member of a number of fantastic CF communities and a 'drop-in' guest in many more across the country. Because of these experiences I feel qualified to state that United Barbell is truly unique in how it supports and enhances it's member's physical capacities.  I'll explain: 

I'm one of a handful of people that's affected by Parsonage Turner Syndrome. For those unfamiliar with this condition it can be defined as the unexplained case for muscle atrophy in the shoulder. Any overhead movement that requires prolonged stabilization has been near impossible because of the complete lack of muscle to support the shoulder. Overhead squats, snatches, handstand push-ups, etc. should be avoided according to my doctor. Every since the diagnosis I quickly substituted these movements anytime they were prescribed during a given workout.

After years of avoiding these situations I sought the help of the UB staff. I was hoping to find away around my circumstance and to truly push myself to my physical limit. To be fair I asked for help at other CrossFit gyms but I was advised to avoid the issue rather than address it; the UB team, thankfully, took a different approach. 

Jenny, Olivia, Trent (miss you bro!) and Nikki taught me the importance of accessory work--build up the muscles around the shoulder--and to work towards small movement goals. Plans were quickly put into place for me to follow. That was 4 months ago. 

Today a quick look at my workout log shows the completion of a number of workouts that have called for handstand push ups, overhead squats, snatches and muscle-ups. Not only am I able to perform these lifts but I've been steadily adding weight to each week after week. I'm literally doing movements that I couldn't do before because of the coaching and support of the folks in this gym. 

CrossFit has grown so fast in recent years and unfortunately many of the gyms are becoming commoditized. Fortunately United Barbell is not one of them. Whether you're looking for a new 'box' to join or just seeking a place to drop in I couldn't recommend UB enough. Come join us.

Thanks for sharing your fantastic story with us Pat, and thanks for being an awesome role model for our community!

Holiday Schedule

Happy Holidays! Our schedule is up to date with any and all class changes, but here is a run-down of when your favorite gym is open during the beginning of the silly season.  


Wednesday, November 25th:

  • 6:30am - 12pm: Open Gym in back room.
  • 6:30am: All Levels CrossFit
  • 7:30am: All Levels CrossFit
  • 12:00pm: All Levels CrossFit

Thursday, November 26th:

  • 8:30am: Holiday WOD

Friday, November 27th:

  • 9:00am: Holiday WOD

Normal schedule resumes Saturday, November 28th.

Holiday Party

Friday, December 4th UB will be hosting our holiday party.  Mark your calendar now... more details to come!

Food for Thought: Logging Your Way to Greatness

We see a common trajectory with CrossFit athletes. You start out guns blazing, and you're invincible for a good long time. Soon, though, you hit it. The dreaded plateau. The PRs stop coming as thick and fast as they were, and you start looking for ways to get the glory back.

Then you start logging your workouts. Reluctantly, because you think have a good idea of what's going on. But then you start to see trends and patterns, areas where you need to focus your attention, and suddenly you're seeing improvement in places you hadn't looked for it before. You're back on top. Until, again, you hit that plateau. You have the movements down, but you're sluggish. Or tired. And it's not because you're not taking rest days - you are, because you know how important recovery is.

You ask your coach what you can do to improve, and you get the answer you dread: it's time to look at your nutrition. For some reason, logging your workouts was a fairly easy step to take, but logging your food? Ugh. What a pain in the ass.

Take a look at that pyramid to the right. This heirarchy comes from an article called "What is Fitness?" written in 2002 by Greg Glassman, the creator of CrossFit. Take a look at the base of that pyramid. Yup, there it is. The foundation on which all other physical activities rest. Nutrition. It's what supports all the activities you want to do. It's the crucial piece which is so often overlooked. So why are we so resistant to taking a detailed look at what we put in our mouths?

In an ideal world, we could strip away all emotional attachments to eating and simply use food to fuel our engine.  Unfortunately, most of us have a much more complicated relationship with food, and for some, paying more attention to nutrition can spiral into disordered eating. If this is you, I recommend seeking out a food therapist. It's tough to fix a broken relationship with food on your own, and make no mistake, it is something that needs to be fixed.

For those of us that can log - we should. Nay, we must. Otherwise we are flying blind on the very foundation of our fitness.

Olivia Graff

Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.

FGB 2015 Recap

Our yearly Fight Gone Bad fundraiser is in the books - and despite a short fundraising period, we raised $1415! We'll leave the donate link up another day in case you would like to get in a last minute donation for Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance.

Thanks to all our amazing athletes who participated in Fight Gone Bad, and a special thank you to those who judged, cheered, and helped clean up!

2015 Winners

Our two highest scoring athletes for the day managed to tie, something that is actually not that uncommon with these two athletes who regularly train together in the 6:30am class.

Jackie Spencer - 346

Steve Love - 346

All 2015 FGB Participants

  • Amar 241
  • Kevin L.  224
  • Dan L. 272
  • Sass 213
  • Michelle L. 213
  • Molly L. 221
  • Chloe 223
  • Amy B. 227
  • Marshall 324
  • Tim 289
  • Jeff H. 238
  • Ariel 276
  • Ryan M. 244
  • K-Tjen 282
  • Matt T. 296
  • Matt C. 224
  • Chris C. 234
  • Loryn 337
  • Yuliana 207
  • Sally 265
  • Molly 254
  • Anastasia 308
  • Alex 290
  • Sacha 204
  • Anita 261
  • Vince 321
  • Max C. 274
  • Sunli 233
  • Jason 320
  • Dock 260
  • Arash 237

Olivia Graff

Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.

Fight Gone Bad: The Rundown

We are so excited for tomorrow's Fight Gone Bad fundraiser for Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance!  Here are all the details you need to know for those of you participating: 


Fight Gone Bad

3 rounds of AMRepsAP in 1 minute:

  • Wall-balls (20# | 14#)
  • Sumo deadlift high-pulls (75# | 55#)
  • Box Jumps (20")
  • Push-press (75# | 55#)
  • Row (Cals)
  • 1 minute rest between rounds

Your score is the collective total of reps from all three rounds.

The Heats

Each heat will be required to check in 20 minutes before their time.  After checking in, you will be in charge of your own warm up in the back room.  At the top of each heat, you will be assigned a judge and get a mini briefing of the points of performance.  After you finish your heat, you are requested to stay and ref the subsequent heat. 

There is no athlete briefing at the beginning of the day.  

The Cause

Crossroads Adaptive Athletes Alliance is a nonprofit leveling the playing field for adaptive athletes. They are fighting to create interactive, collaborative communities nation-wide, providing tips & best practices to increase inclusion.  Check out their mission on their facebook page or on their website.  Want to support our efforts? 

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Jeff doesn’t let shoulder surgery hold him back. 

Jeff doesn’t let anything hold him back. 

Jeff was a staple in our community, even back at the old Brannan location. About a year ago he knew he was going to have to get shoulder surgery done to fix a tear in his shoulder. While many people would use this as a time to kick back on the couch, Jeff still came around to use United Barbell to assist in his recovery. Through the rehab basics, to some scaled workouts during open gym time, now Jeff is back in class full force. 

It surprised me that Jeff hasn’t been an awesome even from before his surgery. He’s always been such a positive energy and influence in class. He doesn’t come to my noon often, you usually find him at the evening classes, it’s such a bright light when he does come in. High smile, hard work, and quick to introduce himself to others, he really helps to set a tone for the whole class to follow.  

The serious...

The serious...

... and not so serious side of Jeff

... and not so serious side of Jeff

Powerlifting PRs!

This past weekend was the Reebok Record Breakers SPF Powerlifting meet. 

We saw big lifts from lots of people. Like a 22 year old man who squatted over 750lbs at a body weight of 198lbs. And a woman who weighted 165lbs bench pressed 308lbs.

But I'm most proud of three of own members who put it all out there in a singlet and had the time of their life in the process.  

Max Cantor made PRs in all his lifts, hitting 463lbs in the squat, 286lbs in the bench, and 507lbs in the deadlift. 

Vince Niou hit 364lbs in the squat, 265lbs in the bench, and 496lbs in the deadlift. (Why didn't you go for 500?!)

Erin Boyle, who trains privately, also hit all new PRs with 231lbs in the squat, 127lbs in the bench, and 291lbs in the deadlift. 

This was the second meet for both Max and Erin, who debuted back in March also out at CSA CrossFit. There will be another meet late this March, so if you've ever had the inclination to put some heavy lifting to the test, and give your strength the adrenaline boost only a cheering crowd can provide, ask them about their experiences.