The Open's Over, Now What?

Whether you already got it done, or you are going for a second and final shot later today, this is the final day of the open.  This year was another great open season with our Friday night series. Thanks to everyone who participated.  We had so many highlights!  From PR clean and jerks in 15.1 and first handstand pushups in 15.4, to preggers Lisa topping the scaled charts to Colleen's epic 15.5, to having people try a RX workout for the first time... What a memorable year! 

The open helps to create community, competitive spirit, and mental fortitude.  But now that it's coming to an end, it is also important to take time to reflect - What do I need to work on?  How will I take my lessons from these 5 weeks and apply them throughout the year?  Will I burn strong for a few weeks only to return to old ways of only sometimes pushing myself or will I decide to train every day with a sense of purpose?   What do I want to achieve this coming year through next years open?  Do I want to compete more?  Get stronger?  Work those muscle ups? 

I get it - next year's open is now a whole year away.... that's a long time to get distracted.  Whether or not you take the open seriously or participated; take a couple minutes to answer a couple of questions:

- What are your goals?  You can always be a better version of yourself, but you need to have a vision... what do you want to achieve?  What's on your top 3 list?

- What are you going to do about it?  Now that you have your list, what's your plan?  What are the mini milestones that will get you there?

- What support do you need?  Do you need a training buddy?  Maybe you need a session with your coach to really focus your skill time.  Maybe you help finding the right competition to sign up for.  Whatever it is, we're here to help you make it happen. 

The Open is over - take time to reflect while your thighs recover.....

The Open is over - take time to reflect while your thighs recover.....


Storytime at UB - Renee A.

This week's story of success comes from one of our absolutely awesome and determined UB mommas.  Renee used her time at UB to prep her body for her pregnancy and to keep herself sane throughout.  Her journey to momma-dom continues to be inspirational to ladies and gents alike.  When she said she was wanting and willing to share her story, all I could say was "yes please!" 

Let me just start by saying that everyone’s journey through conception, pregnancy and birth is unique.  This is my story of how my fear of working out during conception and pregnancy gave way to a physical need to be active.  I was lucky to find an encouraging community at United Barbell that supported me on my journey.

You’ve probably heard a similar story before... A couple meets, they fall in love, they want a baby and, lo and behold, what you thought would be a fun time trying to get pregnant becomes a 3-year ordeal of doctor visits, tests, fertility treatments and multiple rounds of IVF.  Like many searching for answers, I took to the Internet to see if I was doing something in my daily life that was preventing me from conceiving.  I have always been physically active so as I began reading through blogs, articles and forums about fitness while going through IVF.  I was shocked to learn that others out there, with a similar story to mine, were encouraging women going through IVF and pregnancy to be inactive and refrain from exercise and especially Crossfit.  Granted these are not people with medical degrees but they are women that finally gave birth after IVF and years of trying.  Maybe they knew something I didn’t... the fear set in.  Was my fitness routine preventing me from conceiving?  If I go through another round of IVF will I mess everything up if I continue to exercise?  If I do get pregnant, should I stop working out all together?  

Squatting with weights while pregnant? Yes you can!

At my next doctor’s appointment I peppered her with all types of questions around working out, lifting weights, Crossfit, daily workout vs. none at all.  You name it, I asked the question.  My doctor was very direct and told me that maintaining my fitness was not only recommended for my health, but good for the baby.  I would, however, need to scale my workouts, minimize the amount of weight I lifted and be able to maintain a conversation throughout my workout.  My doctor told me that my body should not be sore after a workout because it needed to focus on building a human not repairing muscles.  She then told me to find a trainer that would help me create new fitness goals while I was pregnant.  Someone that could help me scale my normal routine.  This was all helpful information however it didn’t assuage my fears that working out would somehow impact my ability to have a healthy baby.  Here’s where United Barbell comes in...

I was relatively new to Crossfit so I decided that working one-on-one with a trainer through my second round of IVF and into my first month of pregnancy was the right decision for me.  I signed up with Jenny and the first thing we did was talk about the changes in my body, thanks to all the shots and IVF, that we needed to account for when exercising.  She talked to me about reps vs. weight, focus on form not the clock and she pointed me to, all of which gave me a different perspective on fitness while pregnant.  I had to create new goals for myself. Workouts would no longer be about my next PR or racing the clock.  My new goal was to grow a healthy human while staying active and fit.  My fears were slowly fading away.

CrossFit babies are healthy babies!

About five weeks into my pregnancy I was one of the “lucky” ones who was plagued with morning sickness.  It was constant throughout the day.  The only time I didn’t suffer from nausea or vomiting was the one hour I was in the box at UB.  The minute I started working out my nausea would fade away.  I started going to class more frequently to keep the nausea at bay.  By the time I hit 16 weeks the nausea had passed and my energy returned.  I started seeing patterns between how I was feeling, eating and sleeping and the days I worked out.  I noticed that the baby moved more on days I worked out and that I wasn’t experiencing any back pain or heartburn issues that hit most pregnant women.  This inspired me to increase the frequency I attended class.  I went from two days a week to four.  By the time I was 30 weeks along I could clearly see a link between working out and being able to sleep at night.  All my fears around working out while pregnant were gone.  Working out became a necessity for both my physical and mental well-being.  

With each WOD, I learned new ways to scale workouts and still challenge myself.  All of the coaches and the UB community were so encouraging and I felt as though I had my own personal cheering section supporting me through each WOD.  

Competing the the United For Youth Fight Gone Bad competition - 13 weeks-post partum!

I’m not going to lie, it was hard reminding myself not to focus on the clock or the amount of weight on my bar as opposed to others.  What helped was Jenny working with me to set achievable goals both during and after pregnancy.  I worked out up until the day I gave birth and I’m so glad I did.  I ended up having a beautiful, healthy baby girl and an emergency c-section.  I healed quite quickly after the surgery and my doctors attribute this to my health and the fact that I maintained my fitness level throughout my pregnancy.  I continued to work with Jenny after the birth of my daughter not only to ease back in, but also to generate new goals for myself given my post surgery body.

I competed in the Fight Gone Bad competition 13 weeks after giving birth.  Jenny was so encouraging.  She told me to scale the workout for the competition and that competing on its own was a great accomplishment.  Jenny went on to show me different exercises I could do at home to help get my core back in shape.  At five months post surgery/birth I was able to tackle the Barbara WOD with 200 sit-ups.  

Not everything is back to where it was and that’s ok.  I have achievable goals and a clear path to success with the support of Jenny, all the coaches at UB and the amazing community.  When it comes time to try for baby #2 there will be no fear about working out while pregnant and you can bet I’ll be in the gym swinging a kettle bell over my baby bump.  Mom strong!

2015 CrossFit Open WOD 15.5

Coming to our Friday Night Fights for 15.5 tonight?  Bring a dish and stay after to celebrate the end of the open as well as Coach Jon's birthday!

15.5 was announced last night, and I am happy to say - I was wrong about the burpees!  However, those of you getting your open on today or this weekend don't get to escape the awesome pain cave that 15.5 promises to be.  Here is what you are facing:

Open WOD 15.5

27 - 21 - 15 - 9:

  • Row (calories)
  • Thrusters

(RX - 95 | 65 ; Scaled - 65 | 45)

15.5 Standards

A lot of strategy discussions I've seen focus on proper form as much as they do pacing.  Don't skimp on your warm up and DON'T SPRINT OUT THE GATE!  Create a mental game plan so you don't go out too hard and hit a wall. 

Here is the breakdown from some of our friends:

Prioritizing your efforts with Outlaw

Strategy and positions with the Barbell WOD

The WODdoc - Understanding the difference between rowing for meters vs. calories.


Reflecting on your last year of CrossFit as you prep for 15.5's pain cave.

Good luck!  See you today!!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

If you have been to the noon class at all over the past year, you would have met our most varying class population.  But there is at least one member who's attendance has been regular from the day she joined.  Erica is the definition of dedicated. 

This same lady came in the door with an athletic background (she swam with Stanford), but has only begun to discover her power potential.  She admitted to me during our onramp sessions - she had only really done lower body exercises and was worried about upper body bulk.  But that fear seemed to disappear pretty quickly as she became a staple of the noon crowd.

This incredibly coachable and vivacious vixen, she attacks every movement she does with precision, allowing her to maximize the gainz.  She never shy's away from a WOD (though, she is just getting comfortable maxing out) and her can-do grin makes the noon class PR in attitude.  There's a million reasons and ways to say it, Erica is simply awesome.... best of all? She almost went away (business relocation), but her business lost on their new space.  Their loss is our great win, as we'll get to watch this lady continue to rise to the top of her game.

UB Beasts Competing this Weekend!

Coming to our Friday Night Fights for 15.5 this week?  Bring a dish and stay after to celebrate the end of the open as well as Coach Jon's birthday!

What do these three have in common?

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 8.11.27 AM.png

No, it is not their great lion impersonation.  It is, instead, the fact that they will all be participating in their first ever powerlifting meet this Sunday at CSA Gym in Dublin.  That's right, Andrew W, Max C, and Ben H will be donning their finest singlets and going against all other lifting beasts in the CrossFit category of the 2015 SPF March Madness Powerlifting Open.  Want to go and support them in their awesomeness?  Here are the details:

What: 3 attempts at their max squat, bench and deadlift

Where: CSA Gym - 6207 Sierra Ct., Dublin 94568

When: This Sunday.  Lifting begins at 10:00 am

Support these beasts on their powerlifting endeavor!  Hope to see you there!


Food For Thought: To Those Who Didn’t Get Muscle Ups Last Week (15.3)

It has been interesting to see the wide variety of opinions people of all levels have of this year's open.  How do you feel about it?  Have you uncovered weaknesses?  How have you been addressing them before now?  How will you address them moving forward?  I stumbled upon a great reflection from someone who struggled the workout that started the uproar - 15.3.  Enjoy

I’m most definitely not a gymnast. I joke about having no body awareness. Kipping pull ups took me forever; stringing toes to bar together has been a battle. Muscle ups felt like a distant feat for me. You can see how these weaknesses definitely came into play this Open.

I needed ONE muscle up to submit an RX score this week (15.3). I spent hours making attempt after attempt, doing drill after drill, fighting to get ONE muscle up. Grabbing a judge and starting the clock for 14 minutes over and over…And I failed over and over. Failing sucks, but it’s exactly what I needed.

What I’ve Learned from 15.3:

1. Failure is the key to success.

Honestly, I didn’t think I was ready for a muscle up yet. I have done tons of strict pull-ups and ring dips each week to make myself ready, but rarely have I ever made an attempt. If 15.3 didn’t start with muscle ups, I never would have made solid, intentional attempts. I would have just waited until I thought I was strong enough…which might have been never in my mind. I needed a reason to try.

While we all want success, it’s not guaranteed. That’s why the ability to recover from setback and move forward is essential. And this starts with embracing, processing and BENEFITING from failure.

2. Comparison will crush you.

We’ve all felt it: the slight gnawing twinge of discontent that pops up after spending time scrolling through our social media feeds. Call it what you want — envy, jealousy — but there’s no doubt it’s often a result when we allow ourselves to play the comparison game.

I used the hashtag #firstmuscleup and went through Instagram watching video after video of girls getting their first one wondering, “Why can’t I do that…?” In no way did this help me. It made me more frustrated.

Instagram is made of moments. It’s a shiny happy world where people post only the moments they want people to see. It makes it easy to lose sight of the process. Sometimes we look at the others in their success thinking it was easy for them to get there. There was a time when these Games athletes we look up to had never done a muscle up. There was a process to getting to where they are today.

3. CrossFit is not life. Dave Castro does not decide my value.

I spend so much time at the gym. These people are my family, my best friends and mean so much to me. This community is the reason I CrossFit. Yes, I have the desire to be better and continue to grow in strength and skill, but I am loved if I can’t do one muscle up, pull up or double under!

Unveiling your weaknesses and being vulnerable is what CrossFit is all about.

Failing to do 15.3 RX means that I have a new goal to attain and something new to strive for. Unveiling your weaknesses and being vulnerable is what CrossFit is all about. It’s frustrating in the beginning, but it makes you a better athlete.

Remember if you didn’t get a muscle up, a chest to bar pull up or even one toes to bar, you NEED this to get better. The fact stands alone that signing up for the Open means you were up for the challenge. Not knowing what would come up and not knowing where you would place in the rankings means you had the courage to challenge yourself to be better. Now put your head down and get to work, have fun and enjoy the process!

Do You Cook?

Back in January, there was a group of UBites who took on a Whole30 Challenge.  For those of you who don't know what the Whole30 is, it is a 30 day hypoallergenic, paleo-ish diet.  When I sat in on the last Saturday round-table meeting, Joanna asked the group "What did you get out of this experience?"  The response that echoed most among the group?  The 30 days re-invigorated the groups relationship with food.  A large part of this is because in order to have a successful Whole30 experience, you are going to have to cook a bit. 

So this got me thinking -- how often does the rest of the UB community cook?  What is your relationship with your kitchen? 

I am a huge advocate for taking some time to cook, even if its just a couple times a week.  For those of you who rely on a daily trip to the ready made section of Whole Foods or restaurant hop, I challenge you to make one food from scratch this week.  Change your relationship with something that can be a great source of health and pleasure.

UB Storytime - Ashley S.

This week's awesome transformation story comes from community member extraordinaire Ashley S..  Her story is one of building confidence, trying new things, and getting more out life. .... Which is precisely the vision we have for each and every athlete who walks through our doors!  Thanks for sharing Ashley!

Happy to be done at the Moxie Madness competition

Happy to be done at the Moxie Madness competition

I didn't get into CrossFit to find my inner beast mode, take my training to the next level, or experience life on the vomit comet (aka AirDyne). I did it for a much more mundane reason: a bridesmaid dress. A really, really short one. 

Pre-CrossFit, I'd trained in muay thai for ten years, done a marathon, and, once upon a time, was a certified yoga teacher. I knew CrossFit as the thing my crazy adrenaline-junkie friends did, but my activities were getting stale and I wanted a drastic change. I walked into UB during lunch one day and talked to Trent, then set up an onramp before I could second-guess myself. 

I can honestly say I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I am forever grateful for the kindness, patience, and subtle persistence of the coaches at UB. At first I was plain terrified but determined, and then I realized that some of this stuff was really, really fun. And then I started seeing results - one day I wore a UB shirt and every single coach came up to me to say congratulations on how my hard work was paying off. They didn't say, “omg, you've lost so much weight.” That's not the vibe or the point around here - and honestly I hadn't lost a lot of weight. It's really that I worked hard and results happened - I was leaner, stronger, and doing better and better in class. 

That's pretty awesome, but the more surprising and fulfilling change happened in my mentality. I'm a lot braver than I used to be. Every class has something that scares me a little - a specific movement, a time constraint, a new goal I really want to meet but am not quite sure about - and it's through exposing myself to that little moment of fear and actually doing well with it (thanks to awesome coaching) that my confidence has grown exponentially. 

Since starting with UB in April 2013, I've gotten back into a whole bunch of things I used to love to do - swimming, tumbling - as well as started new things - paddleboarding, indoor climbing. I've done two CrossFit team competitions and will probably do more. UB is a fantastic place for anyone at any level that wants to compete - the community is open and welcoming, and we like to have fun with our WODs. Well, we like to have fun with everything. It's a good, good place.

The dress that started it all

The dress that started it all

After taking on Fight Gone bad with Nikki & Dino

After taking on Fight Gone bad with Nikki & Dino

CrossFit Open 15.4

And yet another surprise last night with the announcement of handstand push ups making their first open appearance ever.  Here's what you've got in store:


AMRAP in 8 minutes:

  • 3 handstand push-ups
  • 3 cleans
  • 6 handstand push-ups
  • 3 cleans
  • 9 handstand push-ups
  • 3 cleans
  • 12 handstand push-ups
  • 6 cleans
  • 15 handstand push-ups
  • 6 cleans
  • 18 handstand push-ups
  • 6 cleans
  • 21 handstand push-ups
  • 9 cleans

Etc., adding 3 handstand push-ups each round, and 3 cleans every 3 rounds.

Men clean 185#

Women clean 125#

WORKOUT 15.4 Scaled

AMRAP in 8 minutes:

  • 10 push presses
  • 10 cleans

Men push press 95# and clean 115#

Women push press 65# and clean 75#

Here are the standards for the workout:

15.4 movement standards

And to help you with form, mobility and strategy, here are a few videos:

HSPU work with Freestyle Connection

Don't Get No Repped!  Advice from Barbell WOD

Strategy from Outlaw

For more episodes and additional information about this post visit

If you have never done a handstand push up, I strongly recommend rocking the scaled workout until your coach says your ready to play on the wall. 

Good luck and we'll see you soon!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week's awesome has been a long time coming. She's a dedicated member of the SWOD clan and has achieved Ninja status: lift big weight, yet make no noise. 

Priscilla brings a unique style of intensity to the class. Her never-ending smile masks the beast within. Those who have crossed paths with her in class and SWOD know. She means business. Priscilla doesn't short change any sets and makes sure every single rep is finished before leaving. 

Besides putting up big numbers, what really sets her apart is her attentiveness and care for others. Case in point, a long time ago I can remember talking to a class about the importance of spotting your partner and Priscilla took it to heart. Since then, she always checks to make sure her partner is ready and is laser focused during their lifts. 

Priscilla knocking out a press in the Ultimate Lift Off

Priscilla knocking out a press in the Ultimate Lift Off

Priscilla, that's dedication to the community and part of what makes you awesome!