The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This guy stays pretty quiet, and usually situates himself as far from me as he can seem to get. But I still notice how hard he works. I still notice he does many of the workouts as prescribed, and when he needs to sub out movements, he doesn't use it as an excuse to pick something easy. 

Nat C. joined United Barbell in May, having started his CrossFit journey at another box. When Nat came to us, he came with a bum knee, from previous years of playing sports But rather than let that be an excuse to take it easy, he makes the right movement adjustments to protect himself and pushed hard within those borders. 

Most athletes in class would be a little shy to pair up with a coach, but when Trent decided to crash a noon class, Nat jumped right in knowing he was going to be in for a ride. He was maybe a little sweatier after that WOD, but all smiles none the less. 

For pushing hard, never being negative despite past injuries, we see you back there being awesome, Nat! 

AND this man is getting married THIS WEEKEND!  Congrats Nat!  We'll see you on the other side!

AND this man is getting married THIS WEEKEND!  Congrats Nat!  We'll see you on the other side!

UB Rocking the Competition Circuit!

Happy hump day!  It might just be Wednesday, but chances are you're already looking to your weekend.  Have some free time?  Two teams and one individual are going out in the wild to represent UB.  Get out there and support your people!

Saturday - The Quad Gods - part 2

The UB half of team Quad Gods is ready for round 2 - and the Quad Dogs are ready to rock!  This Saturday, Coach James and Colleen are going to the Dia De Los Beasts - Team WOD Competition up in Napa at CrossFit Sky Box.  The day will run from 845 - 3 pm and will include awesome WODs and unique trophies.



Sunday South - Who's Got Yellow Fever

The "A Team" strikes again -- with a new name and a slight recasting.  On Sunday Anita, Dave H, new teammate Shaun K, and Tao Tao are headed to San Jose for the "Regionals Revenge," hosted by Lifeworx Fitness and CrossFit.  The day will begin at 845 and run till 4pm.  Should be a bright sunny day down in the south bay at Lifeworx Fitness and CrossFit.  Check out the details here!

The A-Team returns for an epic sequel. 

The A-Team returns for an epic sequel. 

Weekend Long - Kristin's One Stong(WO)man

If you're looking to get out of town this weekend, head to Circus Circus up in Reno for a demonstration from the strongest of the strong.  Coach Kristin will be competing at Strongman and Strong(wo)man nationals over the course of the weekend.  Read more about her car deadlifting, wheel barrow pushing, yoke carrying and other strong(wo)man competition awesomeness here.

You think THIS is cool?  Just wait till she deadlifts a car this weekend.. for reps!

You think THIS is cool?  Just wait till she deadlifts a car this weekend.. for reps!

Food for Thought: 3 Deadly “Dieting” Traps…and How to Avoid Them

What are the key differences between “finding your fuel” vs. “dieting?” These differences are small mindset shifts that can make or break your efforts to eat for long-term fitness and health.

Check out the 3 dieting traps from the tabata times below, and see if any of them sound familiar to you.

Trap #1: Eating short-term foods.

To get fast results, you might be tempted to eat nothing but chicken breasts and steamed broccoli 5 times a day. But how long do you think you’d be able to keep this up? (If you’re like me, not very long at all!) Even far less extreme examples like swearing off chocolate, steak, or rice, can be okay in the short-term, but less realistic in the long run.

The problem with short-term food avoidance? It’s…well…short-term. If you exert your willpower for X number of weeks and avoid eating any carbohydrates, but spend every day daydreaming about cake and potato chips, you’re setting yourself up for rebound weight gain, and no real change in your relationship with food.

food for thought

But avoiding “food avoidance” isn’t just mentally beneficial; it’s also physically the better way to go. The more variety you incorporate into your diet, the more likely you are to cover the range of nutrients your body needs. (One example – eating both potatoes AND sweet potatoes gives you a better nutrient profile than only ever eating one variety.)

So find ways to honor your taste buds. Think twice before using food avoidance as a long-term strategy. Ask yourself: Are you eating in a way that you’ll honestly be satisfied with at least 80% of the time for the foreseeable future? Or are you just gritting your teeth through something temporary?

And most importantly, get out of the habit of labeling foods as either “good” or “bad.” Unless you’re allergic or intolerant to some food in particular, focus instead on eating food in the right amounts, in the right contexts, and for the right reasons.

Trap #2: Being on or off the “wagon.”

One risk of doing some sort of “diet plan” or “diet challenge” is that it can make healthy eating seem like a light switch with only 2 modes: ON or OFF.

Either you’re “on the wagon,” eating “clean,” “on a diet,” on track; or you’re “off the wagon,” “cheating,” “eating bad,” or “between diets.”

We all know how bad yo-yo diets are for your health. Losing weight, then gaining it back over and over again can actually make you worse off than before you started dieting.

The root of this problem is, again, mindset. When we’re “on” the wagon, we feel deprived of the foods we love. We worry about falling off the wagon, about temptations, and about failure.

And when we inevitably do fall “off” the wagon…oh boy. We feel shame, we wonder if there’s something wrong with us, and we reinforce a story that being fit or lean just isn’t in our nature. (And since we’re now off the wagon, we make it okay to binge eat for hours, days, or weeks before we muster up the willpower to get back on the wagon.)

Sound familiar?

The bottom line: Healthy habits cannot be built on a foundation of shame and guilt.

But there’s more. When we focus on temporary diets, we not only set ourselves up for unhealthy attitudes and eventual fallout; we also ignore the crucial task of making habit shifts that are realistic, enjoyable, and that will work with our real lives in the long run. Which brings me to the last trap:

Trap #3: Focusing on the prize rather than on making it stick.

In this mindset, you may choose to enjoy a piece of cake at a birthday party – and that doesn’t change your commitment to nourishing yourself well after you leave the party.


And finally, in this mindset, you find ways to enjoy the process. You might make cooking a new passion, or find foods that you love to eat that also make you feel good, or fall in love with a sport that encourages you to fuel it with a healthy diet.

I once wrote a blog post about Steven Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art,” where he discusses the difference between the amateur (who dabbles in something, but never puts in consistent work) and the professional (who shows up, day in and day out with total commitment). I’ll close with another quote from Pressfield’s book that really speaks to the “lifelong” mindset:

The professional arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work … He conserves his energy. He prepares his mind for the long haul. He sustains himself with the knowledge that if he can just keep those huskies mushing, sooner or later the sled will pull in to Nome. — Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Now, even though you’ll find the most success with food changes when you can settle into an 80/20 approach most of the time, there are certain times when it’s useful, even necessary, to go 100% into a food plan for a shorter period of time. I’ll save that topic for another day soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below: When, if ever, have you veered off the path of lifelong nutrition, and onto the “dieting” cul-de-sac? Which of the 3 dieting traps could you shift your mindset around – as you approach the FYF Challenge, or whatever your next personal food experiment might be?

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we can slog through an inconvenient diet for X number of weeks, just to “lose those 10 pounds.”

But true success with food means committing to nourishing yourself for life.

In this “lifelong” paradigm, you’re always exploring, refining, and adjusting your way of eating, over the long haul. Your goal isn’t to be perfect, but to learn and evolve.

In this mindset, you don’t simply give up, if something you try doesn’t work. There are 2 possible outcomes: success, or learning. (Failure only happens if you give up.)

In this mindset, you make the effort to integrate your new food habits with your family, relationships, traditions and lifestyle. Challenging as that may be, you recognize that you need to navigate and talk through these issues.

Learn Something

This weekend, 26 people from all over the country (Chicago, Scottsdale, New York, Boulder to name a few) decided to try on a whole new philosophy of weightlifting.  It was an exercise in patience -- Chinese style Weightlifting is very different than American Weightlifting.  But as the 2nd gym to ever offer such a seminar in the states, I was excited host coach Wu and wrap my brain around something that is so different in technique with the same end -- putting serious weight overhead.

Chuanfu Seminar

While you probably won't see myself or the other attendees completely overhauling our technique, everyone walked away with something to incorporate into their technique. The staff wanted to share a few concepts they got out the seminar:

Coach Jon

1. Explosive power takes just a split second, and when timed right makes a lift smooth and efficient.
2. "Feeling" - Coach Wu gave cues and demos on positioning, but it's up to the athlete to be aware of their own body and "feel" what works for them
3. We joked about the heavy use of quads and lats in the lifts, but having a stable base of support is critical - allowing the rest of the body to be relaxed and able to transfer power


1. Chinese style weightlifting is not a 1-size fits all approach - adapting to accommodate body type and adjusting by feel along the way is necessary. Make it "just nice."
2. In watching Coach Wu move, one microsecond of explosive power made the lift while the rest of the body was relaxed and in balance. His efficiency of movement and utilization of power was incredible and graceful to watch.
3. Timing and coordination outweigh strength. So many times, I think if I can just get stronger, I'll make this lift, when it's the small details I'm missing.

Coach Wong

1. Fluidity - all movements have to be smooth. Though each component of the lifts were broken down, they all come together smoothly and the energy transcends through the lift seamlessly. Rhythm and timing is key in putting it all together.
2. Energy - Rather than using just raw strength to power through the lift, learn to use the right amount of strength to create energy and explosiveness. Learn to channel explosive strength properly to be efficient.
3. Control - Learn about your body and learn to control body movements. This will lead to your ability to control the bar. Control of your body equals control of the bar.

These are just highlights - in just two days we were given a LOT of information... far too much to put on this blog page.    So if you are interested in hearing more about it, just ask!

A Little Time to Reflect

Special Hours Today and Tomorrow

Please join us for a community WOD Saturday and Sunday at 8am.  All other CrossFit classes will be canceled for our special seminar with Olympic level Weightlifting Coach, Coach Wu from Singapore.

When is the last time you took time to reflect....

In CrossFit and in life, people talk about where they want to go. People talk about what they want to accomplish. What "goats" they want to slaughter. But when I say to those people "Do you remember when you started and you couldn't even (fill-in-the-blank)?" I get a funny look. It's a look that says "why are you bringing that up? Are you trying to embarrass me? I don't want to think about my former, weaker self." The answer is no. I am not trying to make you feel bad about where you started, nor am I trying to make you blush. It's important to take a little time to reflect on how far you've come -- in the past year, 6 months, week or even your progress during a workout.

When you feel overwhelmed by all you want to accomplish, get frustrated or when you want to just straight up quit, recognizing your progress can keep you motivated. It makes the future journey feel that much more tangible. Think about what you have accomplished so far. Did you think it was possible six months ago? Either way, you worked for it and earned it. Don't forget to take pride in that.

Once you dreamed of being a superhero... now you are well on your way to becoming one.

Once you dreamed of being a superhero... now you are well on your way to becoming one.

What are some things you have accomplished in the last week? Month? Year? What used to terrify you that is now no biggie? Share in comments.

Look How Far You've Come, Baby!

This week I would like to take a minute to acknowledge a fixture of the morning crew.  When this lady started, she was tentative with a bar and came across a little shy, but she didn't have us fooled for long.  Everyone in class quickly this gal - if not by her steady gains (just check out this gal's pull ups!) then by the dust trail left in the wake of her quick 400s.  When it comes to her training, this girl has always meant business and is now a name people look at later in class and later in the day as a name to beat.  That's right Jackie.... you're a she-stud.

Something you might not know about Jackie is that she is leaving us for a short hiccup and is crossing the pond for work for a few months.  She is leaving us in charge of taking care of her man Matt T. as she charms London with her "cute foreign accent."  Please share the love and drop her a comment of well wishes.  Today is her last day!  Jackie you are awesome and will be missed -- we look forward to hearing about all your London adventures!

Jackie out with the boys doing a little Memorial Day Murph. 

Jackie out with the boys doing a little Memorial Day Murph. 

WODding Crutchless

Special Announcements

Special Clean & Jerk Seminar on Thursday

Join Coach Wu Chuanfu for a special 2.5 hour seminar on the Clean & Jerk as well as recovery and auxiliary movement training. Thursday from 1:30pm - 4pm. Cost is $120 for two hours.

Special Hours This Weekend

Please join us for a community WOD Saturday and Sunday at 8am.  All other CrossFit classes will be canceled for our special seminar with Olympic level Weightlifting Coach, Coach Wu from Singapore.

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.

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.

Food For Thought: America's BIGGEST Problem

An interesting TEDx talk by Kirk Parsley.  Post your thoughts to the comments!

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. America has an ENORMOUS problem that most of us don't know we have. We've heard about this problem, but we don't think it's impacting "us" individually. We have a very simple, but not so easy way to fix this problem....

We're All Winners Here

The Quad Gods arrived on Saturday, raring to go.  They came, they cleaned, they med ball tossed, they wall balled, and they conquered.  The goal was simple - domination + fun.  Six workouts later and they achieved both goals in spades.

Quad Gods

As a spectator, I was proud and inspired to see these four come together and work as a team.  They came in with a great attitude, focused on their game plan never taking themselves too seriously.  (They even made time for awkward "family portraits".)

Watching the Quad Gods, as well as watching team Fancy Pants had me thinking about how important it is to get out there and compete.  Not just once, but often.  Competing will take your game to the next level - both mind and body.  Who's next?