Stop Trying

I am going to try to write a motivating blog.

Do you see what I did there?  I avoided taking on the responsibility of committing to do something.  I sidestepped it by using the word "try."  And yet how often, when goal setting, does the word try enter into your vocabulary?  By trying to do something, we are not able to focus on the actual action we want to achieve.  Here is an example:  I want to you try to drink a glass of water - don't actually do it, just try to do it.  You can't.  If you try to drink it, nothing happens because trying is not an actual action.  You either drank the water or you didn't.  The same concept can be applied to your goals - you will either do them or not.  So allow yourself to commit to them.

All that three letter word does is leave room for the possibility of failure - aka doubt.  When you are goal setting doubt can have a way of creeping in and it is your job to try keep it from staying.  Let the negative thought pass in and then right back out again.  Because you aren't going to "try" to kick butt on the WOD, you aren't going to "try" to learn how to do pull ups, or to stay paleo, or"try" to commit to class 5 days a week -- you are going to do it.  Say it to yourself - make the goal, commit to it, and eliminate the word try.  TRY it out for a week - can you do it?

Te deseo lo mejor, Gabi!

It has been a big year for Gabi. She completed graduate school, changed jobs, married her main squeeze, and went through physical transformation with the guidance of RP Strength. This young lady is going places in life, and has managed to steal our hearts in the process.

Making progress in life is not about being fearless, it's about continuing to move forward in the face of fear and, Gabi, you are one courageous lady! Thank you for being YOU; lovely, warm, kind thoughtful, funny, and strong! We will miss you beyond words and we are so excited for your new adventure in Florida. You will always have a home in SF (Jarid, Dre and future pug pup, too). Much love from your forever friends and fans at UB.

Weekly Dose of Awesome

I always enjoy meeting people who are on the path of self improvement. Naturally, when Chad approached me for 1-on-1 coaching earlier this year, I was beyond excited. In addition to his charming sense of humor, friendly attitude, and love for puppies, the thing I appreciate most about Chad, is his determination and diligence in chipping away at his weaknesses. Rather than compare himself to others, he's continually working to be better than the Chad of yesterday. Life happens, work takes over, new pets need potty training, but, Chad always finds his way back to the work. 

Chad, your willingness and commitment are an inspiration.

Name: Chad Kindred 

Nickname / Alter Ego: Bubba, Buckwheat, Chadwickedawesome

Hometown:  Jackson, Mississippi, but NYC will always have my heart

Occupation: Self-employed, Corporate Meeting & Events

When did you first start CrossFitting?: 2013. Glad I found UB when I moved to SF last November 

Favorite Movements: Cleans, rope climbs, rowing

Least favorite Movements: Thrusters, wall balls (The devil's movement). Not counting the movements I can't do YET.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I had a personal trainer for a while and during a session I was talking to someone who also did CrossFit. It sounded interesting so I went home and talked to my partner, Steven about it. We decided we should give it a try, signed up for our free intro class and I never looked back. 

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? Crossfit is the one program that has become a life program. I have stuck with this longer than any other form of exercise and I don't see myself giving it up. It is also one of the few things I look forward to doing. On a busy day of work, I count the minutes till I can get out and get to the gym. It has given me an outlet to unload stress, sadness, anger and any other negative thing in my life. And CrossFit has taught me to cheer out loud.

What was your first concert? Donny and Marie at the Mississippi State Fair. Favorite Concert: Luther Vandross!!

What is your favorite shower song? I sing musical theater in the shower.  

Pick a superpower. I'd love to have invisibility, especially on the days when I eat apple fritters 

What is the first song in your favorite playlist right now? This Ain't Over by Alex Newell

What is your favorite cheat meal? Cookie's, Donuts, or an Apple Fritter from Uncle Benny's Donuts. I'd say muffins, but I eat those too often for it to be a cheat meal.

BodySpec This Saturday!

Only a few spots left!

Stay motivated through the holiday season by establishing a pre-season comprehensive body scan.  These scans are comprehensive and individualized snapshots of your body that give you the information you need to:

  • Pinpoint the exact impact of a new training or diet plan
  • Track progress over time, down to exact muscle and fat changes in different areas of the body
  • Optimize your training to suit your body’s specific needs
  • Compare your bone density to others like you
  • Identify long-term health risks

Save your spot here to get your October 22nd scan scheduled!

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Food for Thought: Pain Is Not a Life Sentence

A great read from Breaking Muscle.

Look, there’s no clearer way to put it: pain is a signal that something is wrong with your body.

Masking it with pills or shots is only going to prolong the problem. Your pain will simmer and smoulder, just waiting for its next chance to flare up. If something hurts, it’s time to address the sticky root cause. This may take some digging to find, but the alternative is a self-imposed life sentence.

Don’t Be A Hero

Have you ever met somebody who seems to wear their pain like a badge of honor? As if having never-ending aches or injuries were a sign of success? It’s not. But too often acute pains become chronic, and we start to identify with our pain.1

That pain begins to define our perception of normal, and life takes on a very different hue. We wake up one day and realize: I have a “bad” shoulder. Or hip. Or back. Then resignation sets in, and we accept that maybe we’re just not able to do the things we used to do.

That’s garbage. You aren’t stuck there. The truth is that healing from pain can take a long time. And recovery deserves that respect. If we muscle through the process, gloss over it entirely, or fail to address the root cause of our pain, then we’re doomed to repeat it.

Honor Your Pain

It seems like a strange idea at first. But pain (the sensation) is a good thing. It means your body works and wants to stay alive. Our perception of pain is where things get tricky. Don’t fall for the mistake of blaming your body for pain, or punishing yourself over it.

Be curious. Pain is a chance to learn about your body. To resume a dialogue with it. After all, pain is just a message. The way you interpret it is up to you. You have a choice.

In fact, a mindfulness practice has been shown to have analgesic effects.2 The simple act of bringing conscious attention to your body is a built-in painkiller. You might ask yourself if you can explore the boundary of your perceived pain. Can you draw a line around it? What sensations do you notice besides pain? Can you feel the ground underneath you? What is your breath doing?

I want to be clear: getting out of pain is not easy. But living with pain is not normal. It’ll be the hardest work of your life, but if you’re stuck with ongoing pain, the best gift you can give yourself is to find a way out.

Meet Your Prom Queens!

Thank you so much to all of you who came and made our UB Prom a spectacular event!  A special thanks to our lead decorator DIY extraordinaire, Loryn and her team Gail, Gabi and Adrian, as well as to the rest of our prom committee Anita, Courtney, and Lauren who helped us get the best vendors for the job.  It was a great evening celebrating our community and a great cause. 

For those of you who weren't there and are new to our community, we have a tradition at our anniversary party to name the Ambassadors of Awesome.  These are individuals who have stepped up to be pillars of our community and who embody what it means to be #ubstrong inside and out.  They are passionate about their athletic journey, making gains and setting goals.  They go to events and take time to make the new UB kids on the block feel welcome.  Simply put, they ooze awesome.  Over the years we have built quite the ambassador roster: Jon S. and Kelly F. (2011), Andrea S./Rachael C. and Sean F./Steve W. (2012), Jason L. and Nikki S. (2013), Charles C. and Joanna G.  (2014), as well as Chris C. and Hayley B. (2015).  It is quite an awesome group!

This year, since we were at the prom, we named our Ambassadors as UB royalty!  So, without further ado, I present to you our 2016 UB Prom Queens: Anita H. and Loryn F!


Anita and Loryn have stood out to our staff all year as being a little extra awesome.  Anita is a regular smiling face in the morning crowd.  When she decided to buckle down and work on her gains via taking on Barbell WOD programming, she still managed to be a part of the community and offered welcoming greetings for new UBites.  She challenges herself by participating in competitions and has really pushed after her goals.  Meanwhile, rotating #anitadoodles have become a beloved fixture in the gym that every member and coach look forward to and treasure.  Anita's doodles, attitude, and dedication from from a place of passion and love... the feeling is mutual!

This Loryn was a 2016 UB House Cup captain, a Summer Slam face/body painter and fabulous prom decorator.  This alone is already wonderful, but what makes Loryn a little extra special is she did all of this after getting injured during the CrossFit Open.  Loryn's dedication to the UB community is so fierce that she found ways to contribute despite not being able to physically play.  Meanwhile she has displayed unwavering commitment to having the best recovery possible by regularly coming into UB doing work and PT on her own.  Loryn - we are so excited to see you almost back at 100%.  Thanks for continuing to share the love in the meantime!


New Friday Mobility Class!

We want to help you reach your next level. For many of you, mobility continues to be your limiting factor.  Let's tackle it together!

We are excited to announce a new 30 minute Mobility Class lead by Coach Nikki Fridays at 7PM!  We place a large emphasis on mobility at UB because mobility work is important in optimizing athletic performance, preventing injuries, and resolving pain.  Mobility sessions will focus on the muscles and joints predominantly used over the course of the week.  Come check out the first class next Friday, October 21st!



The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week’s Dose of Awesome is Nikhil (Nick) S.  Some of you may recognize him from SWOD or L2 class.  Others may know him from his 2nd place finish at the Ultimate Lift Off (#beast!).  Nick first started CrossFit in February 2011 at CrossFit Waterloo.  He knew a friend who was trying it, and was curious to try it because it looked like an awesome workout.

Nick snatching like a champ.  (Photographed by Chloe)

Nick snatching like a champ.  (Photographed by Chloe)

Nick joined the UB family when moved from the Toronto area  in July, and was the story of how he found UB is a special one.  When he was deciding where to live in SF, proximity to an awesome CrossFit box was toward the top of his priority list.  He did his homework, researching different CrossFit gyms in the area. After considering a few, he was impressed by our coaches’ qualifications and certifications, inspired by Jason L.'s testimonial on the website (Go Jason!), and saw how tight knit our community was by supporting Colleen at regionals.  After seeing all of that, he was sold.  After joining, Nick was diligent in working through his Level 2 checklist, and has quickly become a familiar face in the UB community.

Nik's become a regular in the UB Ray Pack. (Photographed by Chloe)

Nik's become a regular in the UB Ray Pack. (Photographed by Chloe)

Outside the gym, Nick works as an IT strategist.  His favorite WOD is Eva (Five rounds for time of: 800m Run, 30 Kettlebell swings @70#, and 30 Pull-ups…yikes!) and he has an extra special talent of being a champion napper.  We’re happy to have Nick as part of our UB family, and proud to have him as our Weekly Dose of Awesome. Congrats, Nick!

WODing a la Wizard of Oz

We all know performance in a class can affect our mood.   Some of us carry this mood around for the rest of the day, while others can shrug it off and continue on with our routine.  But often people forget that their attitude going into a workout can affect the outcome.  We talk about self talk and the mental game of working out a lot, but we still often see some common attitude fails that keep people from performing at their best.  For fun, I thought we would address some of the more common negative attitudes via the Wizard of Oz.

The Witch

There is another name for the witch - negative Nancy.  This could be the person who has mentally set themselves up to fail. Or it could be someone who just plainly has a bad attitude - "this WOD is too hard," "I dont want to do <i>that</i>," "buddy carries?(insert scowl)"  A witch is hard to reason with and will prevent themselves from getting the full benefits of the workout.  Sometimes a witch is so wicked that they damper the mood for the entire class.  If you feel yourself turning into a wicked witch pre-WOD, try to self talk some positivity back into your thought process.

The Lion

The Cowardly Lion.  This is the person who is afraid to take risks.  They won't push themselves and when a coach tells them they are ready to take it to the next level, they just won't believe it.  They continue to use weights that feel comfortable and function at third gear.  The cowardly lion's mindset obscures their confidence and abilities.  If you find yourself in the mental position of the lion -- small steps.  Push yourself to go one step out of the comfort zone.  Then the next time, one step further.  Maybe you at 10 extra pounds on the bar.  Maybe you don't let yourself walk the runs.  Whatever it is - if you don't challenge this mentality - it will keep you captive.

The Scarecrow

The scarecrow checks out once they walk in the gym.  They don't address their bodies issues -- and then wonder why they can never get rid of their tightness or their injury.  They tune out during instruction and just move the weight from point A to point B without focusing on the technique of the movement.  The scarecrow is the most likely to get an injury.  However, this is also one of the easier dispositions to remedy -- pay attention to your body.  If something hurts, don't ignore it, address it and manage it.  If you need help on how do do so, ask your coach.

The Tinman

The Tin Man.  This is the person who comes into the gym, goes through class, and then leaves without engaging with the community.  This might seem harmless but one of the most powerful aspects for CrossFit is community.  It holds you accountable.  It provides support -- to help you through the difficult workouts and cheer you on in your victories.  Community can keep you coming to class when you are having a day, and makes the experience that much more fun.  If you are a tin man - take a second to cheer on your neighbor after you finish your workout; offer a high five when you pass someone on a 400m run.  Despite your inner socially awkward penguin, you might surprise yourself and get more out of your CrossFit experience.

The Wizard

The Wizard.  Like in the movie, wizards are smoke and mirrors - whether it's to get the coach to leave them alone, to impress a fellow CrossFitter, or just plain ego - they give the appearance of having already learned all things CrossFit.  This person becomes un-coachable, and frustrated.  If you are found out to be a wizard -- don't let a dose of humble pie run you out of town.  Take the opportunity to learn and know the next day you will walk into the gym a bigger badass than you are today.


Saving the best for last, a Dorothy adopts a can - do attitude.  Whether or not she just wants to just get through it and get home - she listens, and does what she needs to get the job done and get it done right.  She participates in the team aspects of class and is willing to live outside her comfort zone of Oz.  A Dorothy is courageous and her attitude is contagious.. even in the face of the worst WOD.  If you see a Dorothy in class - learn from them.  We all should aspire to be Dorothys -- it might just boost your own performance!

Food for Thought: When “Healthy” Habits Aren’t

Here is a great guest post I recently read on Whole9 by Kate Galliett, creator of Fit for Real Life and The Unbreakable Body.

“I got up at 4:30 this morning to get my training in.”

“Big week! I’m training 20 hours!”

“My knee usually only aches for the first 15 minutes or so, then it goes away.”

How do you perceive these statements?

Are they a sign of a committed individual? Are they statements only a professional athlete being paid to put their body on the line would make? Are they aspirational to you? Are they worrisome to you?

Today, the internet abounds with fitspiration carrying messages of “more,” “harder,” and “I do it even though it hurts” sentiments. And while you may think you’re immune to those ‘harder equals better’ mantras, there still are an abundance of habits out there that aren’t as healthy as they may seem.

Exercise is not meant to break you. Exercise habits are not meant to suck other important aspects of your health dry. Exercising is not meant to be a numbing agent to things your body is telling you.

Exercise is just one part of a balanced Health Equation – and far too often a short-sightedness exists in the selections made in the ‘exercise’ category with regard to how they affect whole body health.


Ask yourself: is your health equation a net-gain, or a net-loss? It may not be easy to take an honest look, but doing so will net you greater results in your total health, as well as the results you desire from exercise.

Chronic stress is not helpful for fat loss, muscle gain, or performance improvement. It’s also not helpful for any of the health factors that keep you alive & kicking well into your later years. And many habits society deems ‘healthy’ are much less so when looked at in context to modern, busy, stressed lives.

The Halo Effect on “Healthy” Habits

A halo effect is when we create a perception of a person, habit, or brand based on our own feelings or thoughts about that person, habit, or brand. For example, if we deem a person nice, we are also more likely to deem them smart, whether there is any evidence of that or not.

Halo effects cloud our judgement.

Spending thousands of hours seeing clients, and being at countless social engagements where fitness conversation is inevitably brought up, like most fitness pros, I’ve been front-row for witnessing all manner of habits folks have deemed healthy. More than a few of these habits are surrounded by a full-on halo effect, a halo which impedes the long-term health success of the individual.

Here are common places the halo effect shows up:

  • I get up early to workout because I’m an achiever and achievers find a way (even though I’m regularly sleeping 7 hours or less per night).
  • I wrap myself in k-tape & braces before my training because I’m a serious athlete and these miles aren’t going to run themselves (and I’m choosing to ignore the pain because it might be a sign I have to stop and that’s just not acceptable).
  • I train like a professional athlete because I want to be the best (even though I’m not making any money for the amount of sacrifice I’m putting on my body & my personal relationships).
  • I do multiple long-distance endurance events per year because it’s healthy (despite evidence to the contrary.) 

It’s understandable that these halos would exist, you are applauded if you do an extreme feat of physical performance.

But extreme is not enriching.

If you’re feeling enriched by your social circle, but your circle is bonding over injuries you’ve sustained, sleep you’re missing, or family relationships you’re struggling with, those are hints that your Health Equation as a whole isn’t being enriched. Regularly getting taped up, dealing with pain, or showing up to race day with an injury, is not a ‘normal’ part of any sport or fitness practice, no matter what anyone tells you.

The social circle you gain from joining a group to all practice your fitness or sport together may indeed be enriching. But it’s the entire equation that matters. In addition to the “Physical Activity” aspect of the Health Equation, there is “Psychological/Physiological Stress” and “Rest” to factor in.

Context Is Everything

If the person who got up at 4:30AM to get their training in went to bed 8-9 hours earlier, and has the rest of their life stress set to a low level, that early call time won’t be as detrimental as it will be for the average person who is up at 4:30 on sub-7 hours of sleep.

Not getting enough sleep, carrying a fair bit of stress, and consistently training at a hard intensity in an under-fueled state is a recipe for disaster. And yet, there are huge amounts of people who do this every day. And are praised for doing so. This is the halo effect in full-effect.

As listed on the 9 Factors page, “Sleep” is the first thing mentioned after “Nutrition” in order of importance for a healthy life.

If you’re routinely getting up early to exercise, but aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Sleep expert, Doc Parsley, sheds light on the fact that failure to get adequate sleep nets the following results:

  • Insulin resistance, leading to development of type 2 diabetes
  • Increased levels of hormones associated with tissue breakdown
  • Increased fat storage due to disordered regulation of hormones, including leptin & ghrelin, which make it harder to feel satisfied after eating, and make you hungrier more often
  • Increased inflammatory markers in the bloodstream and increased cortisol, leading to increased migraines, arthritis, and other inflammatory-based health struggles

Stress is stress. It’s the same to your body whether you define where it comes from as “good” or “bad.”

Exercise is perceived by your body as a stress. And like most things, the poison is in the dose. High-intensity training and endurance training carry a particularly high stress on the body when dosed inappropriately and with poor context.

How you manage your life stress will affect how your body handles exercise stress.

If you’re well-rested, generally living a low-stress life, and aren’t experiencing the stress of under-nourishment, your results from your workouts will flourish and your body’s systems will function well.

When that is not the case, everything from hormonal imbalances to digestion issues can arise as your body’s systems suffer under the load of one more stressor, in the name of exercise, thrown on your body.

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Balancing Your Health Equation

The first (but by no means the easiest) way to fix things is to address your Health Equation in its entirety. How is your Rest category looking? Psychological & Physical Stress; how much have you got and how are you handling it? How about your Exercise dosage & intensity?

This can mean taking a hard look at what’s keeping you from getting enough sleep at night if you want to keep early morning workouts as a ‘thing you do.’

It can mean re-focusing your attention to the volume & quality of food you’re eating to ensure you’re actually fueling well enough to handle the load of exercise you wish to undertake.

You may want to look into meditation, prayer, quiet time, yoga, or any similar rest & recovery based strategy to help you unload your “Stress” portion of your overall Equation.

Change the context and you change everything. If your context is better – you’re well-rested, you’re properly fed, you’re handling the rest of your life fairly well – then you’re more capable of handling a big dose of intensity or endurance. It might be worth it to you to make trade-offs on your health right now for whatever performance goal you’re chasing.

It’s worth taking a step back every now & again to ensure you’re congruent with yourself on the actions you’re taking & effects you’re expecting.

The ‘stuff you do to be healthy’ needs to have a net-gain effect. Take the blinders off for just a minute and examine how the ‘stuff you do’ supports or hinders your overall health. Context is everything – address yours and you’ll upgrade the results you get from everything you do.

PS: For those who aren’t ready to change a habit, remember one of the Whole9 motto’s is this: No guilt, only consequences. In the context of food this implies that eating a cupcake isn’t “bad,” it just comes with consequences. And you’re an adult who can accept those consequences if you choose to have the cupcake.

The same is true with exercise. If you choose to under-sleep, sub-optimally nourish yourself, over- or under- exercise, or live life as a stress addict, those are choices you absolutely can make. Just remember that consequences come with that choice. No guilt, only consequences.