The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Regionals Recap: Wait, there were Crossfit events this past weekend?

A good number of you were glued to your computer screens cheering on our own Colleen Fotsch this past weekend. For those who couldn't make the trip to lovely (not really, the weather was lame there too) Del Mar, let me clue you in to what you missed at Regionals... in addition to Colleen's bad ass rowing in Event 6. Seriously, if the camera just panned a little to the right...

Anyone who has had a chance to watch Colleen, whether during the Open or her Regionals prep, knows what a dedicated athlete she is. This weekend, Colleen the competitor was out in full force. 

Seeded in the final heat on Day One, with names like Ence, Cho and Valenzuela, Fotsch didn't falter. She took rough workouts in stride and had a great standing moving in to Day Two and the dreaded Chipper. Ah, the Trueform... it's like a treadmill, only harder. As the announcer called off the names of other athletes nearing completion, Colleen kept on, as her judge's hand shot up, surprising the crowd and the field, then running through the overhead squats and GHD.

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Fast forward to Sunday and two events that, to anyone who knows Colleen, knows that these were not her favorite. We all have our goats and C2B and muscle-ups are hers. Rather than worry, she put the the plan we discussed into motion, killing the row and timing her pull-ups. Same for the muscle-ups, knocking them down and then putting on a mini (I say mini based on how fast it was) lifting clinic as she blew through the squat cleans to finish the weekend.

In review, a brief recap of Colleen's accomplishments:

- 2: years she has known Crossfit existed

- 8: months training competitively

- 6: place in the NorCal Open

- 1: place in the WORLD for 15.5

- 4: min she took off her Event 2 training run

- 5: outfit changes at Regionals

- 12: potential outfits packed for Regionals

- 1/3: pounds, after cooking, of the 50/50 burger she ate to cap the weekend

- 2/3: pounds, after cooking, of the 50/50 burger I ate to cap the weekend

So, when you see Colleen around the gym (she took one day off, you will see her), go beyond telling her what a great job she did. Watch the dedication that she puts into her training and honor her hard work by trying a littler harder in your next workout.

No Rest for the Foolish

Bill Starr, one of the first strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL, as well as an experienced competitive Oly and power lifter, wrote a lot of great articles for many publications.  He completed the following before passing this past April for the CrossFit Journal.  It is worth a read.  Here is a snippet for you.  The rest can be found here.

There are three sides to the strength pyramid: training, nutrition and rest.

It takes time to learn how to do various exercises using proper technique, what exercises to do on which training days, what sets and reps to use, etc. Sometimes it can take two or three years to do so unless you happen to be lucky enough to have a mentor.

Same for nutrition. Everyone has individual needs and requirements, so it takes trial and error over an extended period of time to know just what foods and nutritional supplements benefit you the most in terms of training and recovery.

However, you really don’t have to spend any time thinking about the rest factor, nor does it cost you any money. Yet this is the factor most overlooked in strength training.

I’ve known athletes who would spend hours designing and redesigning their routines. They would study everything they laid their hands on about the many facets of nutrition, from what wholesome foods they needed to the dosages of the supplements they had selected to use. Then they would show up in the weight room in a fatigued state because they hadn’t bothered to pay any attention to the final side of the strength pyramid. The result was always a subpar workout.

Obtaining an adequate amount of rest is not a luxury; it’s an absolute necessity. And I’m not just talking about getting bigger and stronger. Rest is critical to our overall health in a very big way. I recently came across this Irish proverb: “The beginning of a ship is a board; of a kiln a stone; and the beginning of health is sleep.”

Read the rest of this great article here.

Food for Thought: Food Shame - The Morality of Eating

As a population, CrossFitters are known as people who pay closer attention to their nutrition.  But as conscientious nutrtion becomes more and more prevalent, articles like this one from Mark's Daily Apple, as well as posts about GMO's vs. sustainability, etc. are popping up in food conscious communities.  Where do you fall on the spectrum?

Last week in my Paleo f(x) post, I shared that my favorite presentation I did at the event, “Tweaking the Recipe to Create an Awesome Life,” discussed my evolving philosophy on moderation for the sake of the bigger life picture. Mark’s Daily Apple reader His Dudeness commented that it’s becoming more common to conflate morality and food choice. Already being in the mode of the f(x) talk, this topic piqued my interest. Far beyond those quaint (and deluded) labels about fat content, today we see phrases like guilt-free, low carbon, humane, and fair trade. The grocery aisle has become a dizzying ethical landscape.

No matter how well we think we’re doing in terms of responsible eating choices (e.g. grass-fed beef), somebody turns around and brags that they’re eating a pastured heritage beef breed. If we’re of a particularly sensitive or maybe just competitive nature, suddenly we’re sucked into a Portlandia version of social shame and ethical hell. How did we exchange sanity for perfectionism, and how do we find our way back? When it comes to making simple food decisions, where do we draw the line between putting helpful knowledge into practice and putting ourselves through a moral gauntlet?

The fact is, eating isn’t a simple enterprise anymore. As with many things in life these days, we can feel like we know too much. This kind of food destroys the forests. That type of food is harvested by people who live in these unjust conditions. If you buy X product, you’re supporting this destructive agricultural or trade practice. And that doesn’t even touch the less political, more personal shaming inherent in those heinous and blistering assumptions like “Well, if you had any respect for your body you wouldn’t touch that,” or “You really must not care what you look like.” I’d say to avoid hanging out with these people at all costs, but the fact is, our worst critics are often ourselves.

Unfortunately, if you scrutinize long and deep enough, just about any food choice can put you on the shame train. Seriously, at some point, we have to refuse to ride anymore.

These days if you spend too much time reading, researching and listening to hype media, you’ll feel the weight of the world on your shoulders with every bite or drink you take. It’s easy to wish for ignorance some days. If only food – not to mention the whole agribusiness complex – weren’t so complicated. If only a meal could be a freaking meal again…

Grok didn’t have to deal with all this mental and moral flack. Can’t I enjoy a steak without justifying my apparently selfish existence over it? Can I have a salad without feeling guilty over the dead and displaced animals who lost their homes (or lives) because of agricultural expansion? And, damn it all, can I have one cookie without the paleo police, other dietary authority or random pain-in-the-butt stranger adding his/her two cents?

I get that any dietary approach, Primal included, naturally moves us toward favoring some foods over others. We learn what certain foods do to our bodies (good and bad) because of their nutrient content, their processing, their added ingredients, etc. An approach may, as Primal does, note the conditions under which food – whether plant or animal source – is raised and even the impact certain choices have on the larger environment. To me, this is all knowledge, all information we can use the way we wish to make decisions that fit our overall needs and perhaps to shape our personal values.

Values… It can mean a thousand different things to a thousand different people. For some people, they revolve more around political principles. For others, “no/minimal harm” priorities come to mind with animal welfare or environmental concerns taking precedence. Maybe it’s a serious investment in health integrity, an interest in worker rights or even a strict adherence to religious directives.

No matter what the subject, we try to live our lives in alignment with our personal values. They’re priorities, but that’s not the same as dogma. I personally see alignment as gravitation. We naturally gravitate toward those choices that are in alignment with our values because we experience homeostasis when we do. Our lives are generally or increasingly congruent with our priorities, and there’s a certain peace in that.

For example, my values support optimizing health for the greatest number and promoting sustainability whenever reasonable. Since I have the resources to buy all my food from ethically and sustainably raised sources, I do that. I also choose to financially back companies like Thrive Market that seek to make these healthier options available to more people. For me, that’s living (and investing) close to my center as I’ve personally defined it.

Yet, I’m sure countless critics could find a thousand things “wrong” with me as defined by their perception of my food choices – eating certain favorite things that have to be shipped across the country if not the world, eating too much meat, having a dessert at a party two weeks ago, etc.

For the absolutist thinking of some critics (external or internal), progress is the enemy of perfection. Instead of living in gravitation to values, they would impose a guilt-ridden tyranny of shoulds, musts and failings.

We are only as good as the righteousness of our last food choice according to this approach. Our choices become our endorsements, and our identities get wrapped up in those endorsements. The “cleaner” our diet, the cleaner and more godly we are as people.

This is where the wheels come off the bus for me. I’m not joining that guilt trip, thank you very much. And, by the way, am I the only one who finds this path exhausting?

Unfortunately, many people can sometimes reject legitimate issues around food choice as a result of overwrought moralism. Crap food companies even capitalize on the aggressive pushback by promoting hedonistic, devil-may-care attitudes. The whole push and pull becomes it’s own perpetual circus of crazy-making.

We can choose to live in this interminable conflict, or we can choose to live outside of it. Rather than try to compete or race to keep up or disown our desires, we can center ourselves in our values, our needs, our understanding and our circumstances. In the confluence of these, we find our center – the sanest place to live and choose from.

I highly suggest learning about your food – for your own welfare and even that of others. Yet, I also highly suggest leaving any kind of shame, comparison and justification out of the equation. Trust yourself to make decisions based on solid information and not emotional bait. It’s a saner and more sustainable perspective – thoughtfully choosing your food rather than morally identifying yourself with it.

#WonderFostsch!

The day has come!  The California Regional begins today.  Colleen has flown south accompanied by Coach James and her entourage to compete with the top CrossFitters of California.  Remember, can watch our girl live all weekend on the CrossFit Games home page.   Live coverage begins at 8:45!

Colleen and Coach James getting ready for the weekend. #Jackedandtan

Colleen and Coach James getting ready for the weekend. #Jackedandtan

Speaking of #WonderFotsch, if you ordered a shirt to support Colleen, they are ready for pickup!  However, we do have one request.  Please take a photo of yourself in your Wonder Fotsch shirt doing something fun/inspirational/athletic and either (1) post it to Instagram with the hashtag #WonderFotsch #Unitedbarbell, or (2) please email them to me.  Thanks in advance!!

... Colleen if you are reading this blog today for some crazy reason - Good luck!!!  We hope you can hear our cheers all the way from SF!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

A long overdue awesome is in order. Joining UB in 2013, Nathan J. has always been a great addition to our community.  He's consistently one of the first to extend a welcome to unfamiliar faces and group up with newer members.  And for the UB regulars, his fun competitive nature feeds fuel to the WOD intensity fire. 

Though a seasoned athlete (the man's been CrossFitting for over 5 years now), Nathan is very humble and treats everyday as day one. He constantly seeks eyes and feedback from the coaches to find that perfect lift and rep.  This man is after virtuosity.  And his hard work shows.

You can regularly find him in the evenings as well as  grinding it out on Saturday SWODs. If you see him, fist pumps are in order to validate Nathan's awesomeness. 

Photo from Nathan's earlier CrossFit days.  From the beginning this man was serious about his CrossFit.

Photo from Nathan's earlier CrossFit days.  From the beginning this man was serious about his CrossFit.

Level Up... Your Skills

Today is the day you have all been waiting for!  (Ok... maybe not, but I know there are at least a few of you who have been biting your nails in anxious excitement)  We have completed the new  Level 2 standards sheet!  Here is what you need to know:

What changed?

Movements have been added.  Others subtracted.  Others, just the score has changed. New WODs have found their way on the list.  We are even preparing to release a master's standards sheet.  Basically, it's an entire overhaul.

Why change the standards?

More of you UB athletes have tried your hands at competition.  Overall as a population you have stepped up your game.  We would like the level 2 standards to reflect what we believe a well rounded, experienced CrossFit athlete should aiming to achieve in gymnastic, strength, aerobic, and mixed modal capacities. 

One other change is the expectations of the Level 2 athlete, including engaging in competition and continuing to pass level 2 standards that the athlete was unable to achieve at the time they joined the class.

How will the new sheet be enforced (IMPORTANT!)

Please read how this will affect everyone:

Those of you who are already Level 2 - You will have 4 weeks to retest your standards and remain in the class. Last night was the first of a 2 week "Test Fest" in class where you got a lot of the different standards handled. 

Those of you who are not yet Level 2 - While you still need 70% to test into the Level 2 class, the Level 2 class will be open as a "Level 2 to Prep Class" on June 2nd, 9th, and 16th to anyone who has tested over 55%.  If you are interested, I strongly suggest downloading the sheet grab a coach and start testing so you can partake!

The new level 2 athletes can expect to see regular level 2 classes beginning June 23rd.

Where can I get one?

Well, that's easy.  Download it here.

Food for Thought: Daily Rituals

Recently, I have found myself having a lot of conversations with UBites about creating rituals.  Morning rituals, food rituals, evening rituals...etc., I am a firm believer in the power of rituals and their ability to bring attention to goals and setting up your life to achieve them.  I came across this article by Sean Emery from Old City CrossFit I thought summarized the concept well.  Read it and answer for yourselves:  What rituals do you already have?  What rituals could you create to support your goals?


I recently finished reading an interesting book titled Daily Rituals by Mason Currey.  In writing this book Mason “wanted to show how grand creative visions translate to small daily increments.”

The book went on to detail the daily rituals, habits, and small increments of writers, composers, artists, thinkers, and various other creative types.  Many of the people profiled in the book are well known historical figures:  Mozart, Ben Franklin, Karl Marx, Louis Armstrong, and Ayn Rand to name a few.

Mason’s chose to document the daily rituals of creative types because they often spend years in creation of a final product.  Whether it be a novel, a manifesto, a play, a song, an invention, or any other host of creative endeavors, creative professionals rarely spend a day in solitude and emerge with a masterpiece.

I know most of us reading this CrossFit blog aren’t going to retire to our study to compose the next great symphony, but I think we’re all trying to make “small daily increments” in our lives in an attempt to accomplish something significant.

To me, daily rituals, are the methods we use to accomplish the larger goals we set for ourselves.  These goals don’t have to be writing the next great American novel or designing an apartment with shipping containers; your goals don’t even have to be anything creative! Perhaps your goal is to lose 30#?  Maybe it’s to do a handstand?  Deadlift 300#?  Run a sub 20 minute 5k, or do a pull up?  Regardless of the goal, paramount to accomplishing it is the recognition that it won’t happen overnight.  

Paramount to success is your daily ritual that will lead to that goal’s accomplishment.

Daily rituals don’t have to be as exact as Beethoven’s, who “insisted his morning coffee be made with exactly 60 beans.”  You don’t need to “dedicate every waking hour towards your goal, neglecting your job and living off handouts from your friends” like Karl Marx when writing Das Kapital.  You don’t have to “absolutely detest all openings and parties” like painter Joan Miro.

You can be more like F. Scott Fitzgerald with your daily rituals, who had “trouble sticking to a regular schedule” rising around 11 and “working off and on until 3 am.”

Maybe your routine, like Kingsley Amis, is hard to start:  “I linger over breakfast…staving off the dreadful time when I have to go to the typewriter.”

Regardless of what your daily rituals are, it’s important to understand what purpose they serve.  Twyla Tharp nailed it when she said:

“I being each day of my life with a ritual:  I wake up at 5:30 A.M., put on my workout clothes, my leg warmers, my sweatshirts, and my hat.  I walk outside my Manhattan home, hail a taxi, and tell the driver to take me to the Pumping Iron gym at 91st Street.  The ritual is not the stretching and weight training I put my body through each morning at the gym; the ritual is the cab.  The moment I tell the driver where to go I have completed the ritual.”

Mason points out: “By automatically getting up and getting into the cab every morning [Twyla] avoids the question of whether or not she feels like going to the gym; the ritual is one less thing for her to think about, as well as a friendly reminder that she’s doing the right thing.”

Like Twyla, make your daily ritual a process, perhaps even your daily reminder, of what you need to do to accomplish something great and meaningful in your life.

I don’t care what your goal is.  Like Joyce Carol Oates says, the process of obtaining your goal is going to feel like “pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.”  It’s time we get serious about our daily rituals.  It’s time we grab our preverbal peanut and  get dirty.

What are your goals?  What are your daily rituals to accomplish them?

Monday Morning Announcements

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Tommy V

Have you enjoyed the Regional WODs?  What have you learned?  This Wednesday is the last regional WOD - Tommy V.  If you are unfamiliar, Tommy V has rope climbs.  Whether or not you do rope climbs in the WOD, I would recommend bringing WOD gloves (if you have them), long socks &/or pants to do your rope skill work.  Rope fun!

Regional Tees

If you ordered a Regional WonderFotsch tee, they're coming in on Wednesday.  Make sure to pick yours up to maximize the WonderFotsch juju!

Level 2

We have been working hard to finalize the Level 2 standards and class function.  We will be releasing the general standards along with masters' standards Wednesday AM.  Keep an eye out!

Memorial Day Murph

This Monday is Memorial Day.  Per national CrossFit tradition, we will be doing Murph.  Class will be at 9am and the class will be open until 10:30AM.  You can show up as early as 8:30AM with your vest to chalk up and mobilize.  See you there! 

Member Organized Volleyball

Jamie B. organized an awesome outing of beach volleyball May 31st.  At 1pm come down to the sand court at Mission Creek Park on Berry St. (correct me if I'm wrong) to get some fun in the sun (hopefully!).