Food for Thought: It's You...

January is the time for goal setting, diets, and generally trying new things.  Hopefully all you want to create in 2017 is still on track.  One of my favorite random-thought CrossFit blogs, Words with Lisbeth, has some thoughts for those moments when you find all the reasons to let those goals fall apart...

There’s one common denominator in everything that happens to you.

It’s you.

Our egos don’t like to see that, though. They push off that responsibility. Slag it onto the nearest thing: people, technology, Trump, whatever.

But it’s you.

“Wait, this is unfair,” you say. “I did not grow up without influence. I do not live without influence. I am a product of my genes and my time and my location. The deck is stacked against me. And, sometimes, I have been a victim.”

Yup. And the common denominator is still you.

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“But I had a horrible childhood. A horrible marriage. A horrible meal. I didn’t sleep well last night. I haven’t slept well in 14 years. I’m allergic. I’m sick. I’m learning-disabled. I’m pre-menstrual. I’m gluten-sensitive. I’m co-dependent. I’m a Packers fan. I’m I’m I’m I’m …”

Sorry. But it’s still you.

The one sure thing that is present in every situation you find yourself in? You. That’s a simple, ineluctable fact.


I’m not saying anything is your fault or not your fault. (And I want to hug you for anything bad that happened to you.) I’m just saying that the only constant for everything that happens to you—good or bad—is you. So, make yourself as strong and as kind and as educated and as loving as you possibly can because you are the one constant everywhere you go.1

You have to be able to depend on you.

The world has enough weak and mean and ignorant and cruel. More than enough. We don’t need to fill that well. But goodness and kindness and love could use more help. 

If you’re one of the good guys and gals, it’s time to step it up. Improve. None of us have topped out. Most of us aren’t even close. Most of us are struggling every day.But that’s okay.1

I’m not asking you to become perfect. I’m just asking you to try more—in love and life and lifting and parenting and anything else that’s super-important to you. And I’m asking you to stop pointing your finger. Stop shuffling your feet. Stop acting like you’re eight years old and Mom’s going to yell at you for breaking the coffee table. (“This is why we can’t have nice things!”)

We are humans. Things get broken. Hearts get broken. People get broken. Life gets broken. 

Fault matters less than picking up the pieces and clearing the debris so no one else gets hurt.

Raise your hand.

“I did it. I’ll clean up.”

Start sweeping. There, now we’re getting somewhere.


Have You Registered for the House Cup Yet?

Hey!  Hey you! Have you registered for the house cup yet?  Why not?   

Participants from the United Barbell's first annual House Cup

Participants from the United Barbell's first annual House Cup

While we aren't ready to announce all the changes for this years 5 week House Cup smorgasbord, here are some things that are new this year to help you get on board:

It's Free

Want to register for the CrossFit Games?  Click the image above.

Want to register for the CrossFit Games?  Click the image above.

Last year, registration for the CrossFit Open was required in order to participate in the United Barbell House Cup.  Since then, the CrossFit Games has officially partnered with Glock handguns as a sponsor, handing out certificates for them as prizes at the event.  So we have decided to only require members to register with us to participate in the House Cup. 

We know many of you love participating in the CrossFit Open.  There is a great sense of competition and community created by comparing yourself to athletes participating globally.  You can absolutely still participate in the 2017 CrossFit Open... all we are saying is you don't have to.  

If You Miss a Week

Last year we had it set up so that if you were out of town for a week or two, you cost your team the 100% participation point.  This year we are working out a system so if you are out of town and cannot for a couple weeks participate, it will not penalize your team.

Scaled Division

For those of you who are new to the House Cup or the CrossFit Open, there are both scaled and RX versions of each workout, so all can participate.... no excuses!

We are hoping to announce the teams as soon as next week! So stop thinking about it and register!  (Captains - step it up!)

Watch Coach Shannon this Weekend!

Let the games begin!  No -- not those games.... WODAPALOOZA!! 

Today is the beginning of the 3 day extravaganza known as Wodapalooza in Miami Florida.  Coach Shannon will be competing in the in RX Women's devision today, tomorrow and Sunday.  Here is Shannon's Friday Schedule


  • WOD 1: "Assault on Fran"  - 9:13 AM (PST) - Stage: Flagler; Heat 10, Lane 6
  • WOD 2: "Climb, Jump, Walk" - 12:20PM (PST) - Stage: Bayside; Heat 21, Lane 10

The event is being webcast live on FloElite.  For those who wish to watch and have or purchase a membership, you can watch her here. (Unfortunately, it is a paid site)

Saturday and Sunday heats will be established by the previous days' performances.  Here are the day schedules:

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If you are reading this Shannon, we are all so proud of you and inspired by all the work you put in every day to be as awesome as you are.  Kick ass this weekend!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week’s Daily Dose of Awesome goes out to Patrick Bedwell.  Patrick has been working out at UB since October, and has wasted no time jumping right in.  I had a chance to ask Patrick a few questions about his experience with Crossfit:

Q: How long have you been doing crossfit?

A: Since April 2014 (2 years, 9 months)

Q: What made you start?

A: I had been working out at 24hr Fitness for over 10 years, doing basically the same 10 exercises in the gym 3 days a week, and spinning 3 days a week. I had some friends who talked about CF, and it sounded challenging. I had no idea how much fun it would be to have a different workout every day, and new skills to master.

Q: What do you like best about United Barbell?

A: What I like the most about UB is the wide range of skills the members have, and the interest in different activities and competitions that a lot of members have.  Also, the quality of the coaching staff (working with Shannon and Shaheen have made a big difference in my skills in a short time), the defined standards for the Level 2 program, and the variety of specialized classes all are part of what attracted me to the gym.

Q: If Crossfit HQ let you create your own Benchmark WOD “Patrick”, what would it be

A: It would be a grinder that would start and end with running, and have DUs, wallballs, heavy cleans, bar-facing burpees and situps. Something for everyone!    

Outside the gym, Patrick enjoys doing Spartan races, and has two daughters who are 10 and 14. His favorite crossfit movement is running “and anything not involving a pullup bar.” He’s making good progress on working through his goats such as toes to bar, pull-ups, and chest to bar, and hopes to be competent in the by the time the Open comes around.

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If you’d like to see Patrick in action, sign up for the House Cup!  He’ll also be competing in the 55-59 division at the NorCal Masters Competition, a 2-day competition on Jan 28 & 29th at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

Working Out Sick

It's cold and rainy outside... all is well until suddenly you are down for the count with a cough that just won't go away and a runny nose that seems to be connected to a running faucet.  It's cold season.  And you've got one.  So the question is: do you work out?

Unfortunately there is no simple answer.  But before we get to that, you should remember that any public space (e.g. a gym) is a germ jamboree during cold season.  People bring them in from their kids' schools, from their jobs, and all sorts of other places.  Simply washing your hands or using hand cleaner throughout your day can significantly decrease your chances of even having to worry about working out sick - because you won't get sick.

But back on track - to work out or not.  Let's talk about a typical head cold.  If it's a cough, sore throat, sinus pain, sneezing, sniffles and that sort of thing, then it is fine to work out (without sharing!!)... so long as your cold isn't in conjunction with bad asthma or sluggishness.  Make sure you take the intensity down a notch while working out and pay extra care to your nutrition and up your hydration.  

Now if you have a fever on the other hand, or if you have cold symptoms from the chest down like chest congestion or muscle aches you might want to give yourself the day off.  When you start to have fluish symptoms, working out can do more harm than good.  Even medicated, you need rest.  Decongestants, for example, combined with intense workouts, can be dangerous, hard on the heart and make you more ill rather than allowing your body to focus on healing itself.

The bottom line is you need to listen to your body.  If you work out sick and something feels wrong - stop.  Sure, working out might help you feel better when you have a cold, but it's not worth it to push yourself too hard and risk getting yourself really ill. 

* Note: Think you're coming down with something?  Consider your fellow athletes before bringing it to the gym and contributing to the germ cesspool.

The 7 Unspoken Laws of a CrossFit Box

These 8 laws from BoxRox make life easier for everybody in a box (be it your home gym or while you are out and about in the world) and create the right environment for progress and improvement.

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This should go without saying. Sometimes it can be easy to lose count when fatigued and in pain, and it happens, but deliberately cutting reps to speed up a score and beat a rival is just sad, and I bet you’ve probably seen someone do it before.

The competitive element of CrossFit is a lot of fun, but the idea of any workout is primarily to make THE ATHLETE fitter, stronger, healthier and more mentally resilient. This changes in CrossFit competitions because the aim is to win, but at this level there are judges anyway to call out any cheaters.


This is one of the most impressive aspects of CrossFit. Of course, a WOD is competitive, but every single workout is also about helping EVERYONE involved to improve and work on their fitness together. You see this same mentality at every level of CrossFit, from events at The CrossFit Games right through to a first-time tryout class in a box.


Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, that’s part of being human. It’s a great feeling when you see a workout on the whiteboard that you know you can destroy because it involves everything that you’re good at. The opposite scenario is not so much fun, and it’s easy to avoid those kinds of workouts. If you make sure to tackle every WOD that comes your way, especially the ones you won’t be so good at, then you will be sure to improve your weaknesses.


This one just comes down to simple courtesy. It isn’t difficult to put all the plates, bars and equipment back in the racks, and to treat them with respect. There is always a slight ritualistic element to training, and the respect that comes with that should never be underrated. Look at martial arts, or Olympic weightlifting for great examples of this.

Watch Dmitry Klokov  in this amazing Thruster ladder from 122 kg (270 lbs) – 175 kg (385 lbs). After every lift he walks around the bar because for many Russian lifters, they see it as disrespectful to walk over the barbell.


Ego is important in CrossFit. It can be a powerful driving force to spur us on towards hitting new PRs. It can motivate us to compete and get better, or help with self-confidence and goal setting, but it can also be a hindrance and a thorn in the side of progress.

It can be a tricky balancing act to find this equilibrium. Crossfit workouts have a habit of exposing weaknesses in places that you didn’t even know existed. A well-rounded athlete that understands when to be humble and not let their ego get in the way can use these experiences to develop. An athlete that lets their ego dictate, ignoring weaknesses, repeating poor movement patterns and using bad form for the sake of speed and weight will eventually hit plateaus or injury.

It takes courage to accept that we may not be as good as we think at certain exercises sometimes. A great coach will help with this in a way that will inspire us to improve and progress in the correct way. To try and remove all ego from any athlete’s performance is too much of a psychological oversimplification. Ego has its time and place, but so does humility, the latter to a much greater degree (just look at 2015 CrossFit Games champion Ben Smith).


Every single CrossFitter has been a newbie at some point. It doesn’t matter if you are Mat Fraser or one week into a new year’s resolution to start CrossFit, we all had to walk into a Box for the first time at some point.

This first experience leaves an important lasting impression, what was yours like? Helping a first time CrossFitter can make a huge difference to their training, and be a powerful encouragement for them to continue.


There always seems to be at least one CrossFitter that loves chalking up a little too much and will use it for absolutely everything – even when it definitely isn’t needed. Burpees? Check. Double-unders? Check. Press ups? Check. Yes, I’ve even seen this happen!

This CrossFitter is normally enveloped by a huge cloud of white dust, which seems to follow them wherever they tread. Don’t be that guy!

Are there any you would add??

In the Mood

It doesn't take an elite athlete to know that working out is an emotional experience.  There is frustration, rage, determination, enthusiasm, just to name a few.  But which emotion gets you to your peak performance?  There is no right answer - it is different for everyone.  So why even ask?  Athletes should not only know the answer, but they should know what it takes to get themselves there.  Just like a coach trying to pump up a team pre-game, you need to be able to get yourself in the mood.  Being in control means better workouts and better results.

The first step is being aware of you how you feel.  The next time you are having a great workout or competition, note your mood.    Are you confident?  How about competitive or committed?  Then note what got you there.  Was it the feeling of succeeding under pressure?  The opportunity to share your abilities or strengths? The confidence of feeling well trained and prepared for the task at hand?  Understanding this process will allow you to dial in - and dial out any unhelpful mental chatter.

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If you are still having a hard time finding the mental calm, don't try to force it.  If you are having adverse emotions before or during a workout, normalize them and then move on.  If you focus on your bad emotions or try to reign them in, instead of letting them run their course, it will only become more distracting and destructive to your workout.

As you have heard us say before - the key is staying fully engaged with what you are doing.  Be present and focused on the task-relevant cues.  You will get distracted.   You will have negative thoughts or emotions - someone or something will take your focus.  Allow them to pass through you - acknowledge them and refocus.  This concept applies outside of sports as well, so if you are able to accomplish this during your workouts, not only will you be a better athlete and competitor, but a more focused person in life!

Watch Coach Shannon at Wodapalooza!

If you've been out taking in some extra holiday cheer the past months, you may have missed the ever-growing game face of coach Shannon.  Earlier last year, our lady competed in the Wodapalooza online challenge & qualified for the Individual RX Women's Division of Wodapalooza's Fitness Festival next weekend!


What started as a local event five years ago has blossomed into a worldwide competitive bonanza with over 25,000 spectators & nearly 1500 athletes, representing over 30 countries. The combination of cultures, along with the spirit of celebrating life & fitness is what WZA is all about!

The WODs

Shannon will be partaking in a three-day competition, consisting of 9 WODs.   Here's what's on tap for Friday:

WOD 2 | Climb. Jump. Walk.

For Time

  • 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1  Rope Climbs
  • 50 Double-unders
  • 50ft Handstand Walk

WOD 1 | Assault on Fran

21 - 15 - 9

  • Thrusters (115# | 85#)
  • Chest-to-bar Pull-ups
  • Assault Bike Calories

Follow Shannon!

Luckily for all of us who live too far to tag along to Florida, there will be a live feed of the weekend.  We will be posting info on the live feed next Friday so you can follow along.  Follow her journey on her IG: @aye_shanay!

Go Coach Shannon!! 

Weekly Dose of Awesome

I wanted to start 2017 highlighting an athlete who always gives 100%, strives to be better everyday, and has a wicked sneaky sense of humor.  I have truly enjoyed coaching Ester and getting to know her over the past year.  She is the kind of lady you want on your team and we are so honored that she has made UB her home.  Thanks for being a crazy aunt in the UB family, Ester!  You're 100% our brand of misfit.

One of these things is not like the other......... 

One of these things is not like the other......... 

Name: Ester Hersberger
Nickname / Alter Ego: em... none?!
Hometown: Basel, Switzerland
Occupation: Management Consultant

When did you first start CrossFitting? May 2015

When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: January 2016

Favorite WOD: Anything that pushes me to my limits. The harder, heavier & sweatier (is that an actual word?!) the better... the more I hate it, the better the feeling after survival ;).

Least favorite WOD: Well, the ones that make me add another workout after WOD completed ;)

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? A friend told me that its hard and brutal so I assumed I'll love it...

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? It made me want to become a healthier person, a stronger athlete and most importantly it gave me a community I call my family away from home.

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be? Pink... paleeeease...

What inspires you? People who take their fate into their own hands. Fight for what they want and are not afraid to leave their comfort zone in order to reach their goals. 

United Barbell's 2nd Annual House Cup (Register Here!)


Let the Games begin!  .... Ok, just because CrossFit HQ hasn't opened registration for the CrossFit Open yet doesn't mean we can't get ready.  How you ask?  By preparing for United Barbell's 2nd Annual House Cup!

For our newer members, the House Cup is a gym wide team competition interlaced with the CrossFit Open.  Participants are divided into 4 teams.  Teams win points by participating in the 5 CrossFit Open workouts, showing team spirit, and by being all-around awesome.  The events start February 23rd and take place over 5 weeks. 

This year, there will be a few changes to registration/team selection/points.... basically we are spiffing up the entire event and making it better!  Here is what we need from you for now: 

  1. Captains: Want to be a team captain and lead your team to the ultimate glory?  Email me!
  2. Participants: Want to join in for 6 weeks of a gym-wide extravaganza of fun and competition? Sign up below ASAP!  

Here is the Schedule for the season:

17.1: Feb. 23 - 27
17.2: March 2 - 6
17.3: March 9 - 13
17.4 March 16 - 20
17.5 March 23 - 27

Check back later this month for more details!