The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Some people are shy when they take on something new. They sit in the back.  They do what they are told.  They don't ask questions and get what they get out of the experience.  When people join United Barbell we encourage people to step out their comfort zone and take control of their experience.  Create a vision for what kind of athlete you want to be and go for it.  This week's awesome has done exactly that since day one - no coaxing needed.

Max C. has been with us for a little over 6 months now, and he's been putting himself out there since day one.  In that time he has found himself in making friends in Oly class, working the Barbell WOD, discovering new ranges of motion and steadily climbing the PR charts like the badass he's making himself out to be.  What's to account for his successes?  Hunger.  Max wants another pound on his deadlift like a little girl wants a pony.  And as long as he keeps his motivation, the PRs will continue like clockwork.  He's even added a little extra motivational fuel to the fire by signing up for his first power lifting meet "March Madness" (with another UB first time competitor - Andrew "Silverback" W.) on March 29th.  This man is dominating his goals like a gladiator!  Keep it up Max!  Thumbs up for all the awesome!

Food for Thought: Mental Games: Are You Ready for the CrossFit Open?

The following is a great article from breaking muscle on setting your mental game for the Open!

The CrossFit Open is right around the corner. In fact, there are just days until the 2015 competitive season begins. For many, including myself, this is also the start of the “let me compare and berate myself” season. 

When everyone is doing the same workouts every week and posting their scores for all the world to see, it’s natural to want to see how you stack up. For most of us, we see that while we might be considered a great athlete at our own box or even in the region or state, when compared to the entire world, we are just middle of the pack.

For many of us, this leads to a whole lot of self-deprecating thoughts like “I suck,” “Why do I even do this?” and, “Why aren’t I better?” It can become a real battle to get through the Open without making yourself feel like an utter failure. This article is about how to avoid doing that. And believe me, this is just as much for me as it is for all of you.

What Does It Take to Be Elite?

The amount of time you have spent participating in sports, not just CrossFit, makes a big difference in how quickly you’ll make progress within CrossFit. Many phenomenal athletes and top performers have been participating in CrossFit for years - or they starting competing and participating in some sort of sport early in life.  

That early and prolonged exposure to training, lifting, gymnastics, and other aspects of sports builds an athletic base that is hard to create later in life. Neurological pathways, muscle mass, body composition, and flexibility - not to mention athletic confidence - are most plastic and most easily attained during our formative years.

If you spent most of your pre-teen and teenage years playing video games, hanging at the mall, or participating in the drama club, then your CrossFit journey is going to be a longer, slower process. I did a little bit of cheerleading in high school  (before you needed to be an elite-level gymnast to participate) but other than that, I was basically a nerdy, slightly chubby little kid.

My athletic base didn’t really begin to be built until I started lifting at a globo gym in high school. And I was even doing that all wrong. So, my progress has been slow and gradual. I’m sure a lot of you have similar histories. Therefore, comparing ourselves to someone who started gymnastics when he or she was five and is now an elite CrossFitter is just kind of a ridiculous comparison to make, don’t you agree?

Is Age Really Just a Number?

No, really. I know the saying “age is just a number” is pretty popular and I agree no one should give up his or her athletic dreams just because of age. But there is a huge difference between a 21-year-old athlete and one who is closer to thirty or 35. Heck, there’s a huge difference between 25 and thirty for most of us (if we’re honest with ourselves).

Hormones change. Our ability to recover from strenuous workouts slows. Our volume tolerance decreases. We get injured. Age happens, and with every passing year we need to assess how our bodies are handling our training and adjust accordingly. I’m not saying you should slack off, but I am saying you need to be realistic and appreciate what your body is still capable of - but also respect its limitations.

Oh, and another thing happens as we get older - we have to start working and taking on more responsibilities. We get “real jobs” or maybe we open a gym.  How many of you thought if you opened a gym you’d get to work out all day? LOL, right?

As “grown-ups,” the amount of time we can devote to workouts, meal prep, mobility, and sleep all decreases. We also have more mental stress to deal with. Right now, I have a list about a mile long of things I need to do at our gym and at my “real job.” And I need to fit in workouts on top of that.

These days, most of those amazing world-class CrossFitters work out for a living (in some form or fashion). A few years back, that wasn’t the case yet. Now, the part-time CrossFit hero is a thing of the past. You’re all in or you’re recreational.

Your Goals Might Change

You may think it would be amazing to compete in the Games. But the commitments and sacrifices you would need to make may not align with your overall life goals anymore. If you want to raise a family, go to graduate school, or build a successful business, all those things would have to take a back seat to training if you really wanted to be an elite-level CrossFitter.

Is that something you actually want? Do you want to spend an entire day working out? Five or six days per week? Think about that for a minute before you answer.

If your answer is “yes,” would you still want to adopt that lifestyle if it meant sacrificing your other goals or at least putting them off for several years? That’s a tough decision for a lot of people and one that probably keeps many athletes from reaching the upper levels of competitive CrossFit.

And there’s no shame if your answer was “no.” Being a simple “great” CrossFit athlete is still something to be proud of and is also completely attainable for most of us.

Approach the Open With Confidence

So, as the Open begins and you watch the scores go up, avoid beating yourself up. Know that where you are now in your CrossFit journey is a reflection of many different things, many of which you have no control over.

If you are unsatisfied with your scores, make a plan (a realistic one) and go at it. But, do yourself and all those who care about you the favor of not berating yourself or driving yourself crazy because you’re not top fifty in your region, top 100 in your city, or whatever.

Oh, and remember - CrossFit was and still should be fun. Remember that. And every time it starts to feel like a job, a chore, or something you dread, lighten up and remember this isn’t your job. It’s your hobby. Have fun with it!  

Coach Contact

Dear UB community members,

Today is a special day.  No, it is not because it is Monday (and you are all especially happy on Mondays, right?... ahem, 6:30 am class).  It is special because today you will be receiving an email from your Coach Contact. 

What the heck is a Coach Contact?  Well buddy, I am glad you asked.  Your Coach Contact is your go-to for questions you might have relating to goal setting, programming, or any of your other general needs.  For more involved consultations, you can book your Coach Contact (or any other coach).  Your Coach Contact is also who you will hear from when you pretend to have forgotten our address and stop showing up.  Basically, we're here to support you being the most awesome version of yourself.

If you did not receive an email today, please email us to let us know and we will hook you up. 

Happy Monday y'all,


UB Storytime: Kelly F

When we asked for you, our dear athletes, to offer up testimonials for our site, we had no idea what a tremendous response we would get in return.  Your stories did tell of your successes, but they also told great tales of personal travails and triumph.  We were so moved by what you had to say, we wanted to not only showcase you on our site, but also give you an  acknowledgement from us to you. If you haven't shared your story but would like to, please email us!  

So here is the first story we received - a story from our first lady Ambassador of Awesome, Kelly F!

The short of it: United Barbell has changed my life.


34 years old / Law / Joined UB August 2010

I hated PE when I was a kid.  I always failed miserably at the Presidential Fitness Test. I thought I'd never be able to do a pushup or a pull-up, nor did I think I'd ever want to. I thought I was doing right by myself by hitting the elliptical, and the occasional “body conditioning” and spinning classes, but I could never lose weight.

Enter CrossFit and the coaching at United Barbell. The coaches at UB have the knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to have taken a total amateur like me, with a timid and ill-advised attitude toward fitness, and changed everything I thought about my body and what it can do.  I was essentially starting from scratch and I never once during class felt left out or inferior to those who are experienced crossfitters.  Each workout can be scaled and adapted to any fitness level and when you're just starting out, this is crucial to avoid injury and well, to get you to keep walking through that door.  The gym itself is spacious and the well-maintained equipment is top of the line and plentiful! The variety of class types and class times can accommodate anyone’s schedule. 

Since starting from Day 1 of UB in August, 2010, I have FULLY transformed my body and made it the machine I never thought it could be. I have made unbelievable strength and endurance gains. Crossfit gave me a solid foundation of fitness for a healthy, active lifestyle of cycling and cyclocross racing. I have a completely different attitude towards fitness and how I live my life. Most importantly, I’m eternally grateful for the community United Barbell has created. And hey, in 2010 I met my (now) husband at UB!

These pants used to fit!

These pants used to fit!

Friday Night Fights: The Open

It's around the corner.  The 2015 CrossFit Open starts next week!  If you haven't registered for the open, you can do so here.

Here are the logistics of the CrossFit Open UB style:


The week's WOD will be announced on Thursday at 5pm.  The entire gym will then perform the WOD on Friday during any and all classes.  This will culminate in our traditional "Friday Night Fights."  5PM will be the final formal class of the day.  From 6-8PM we will host high energy heats of athletes going head to head for max open points.  


If you somehow are unable to join in the Friday fun, we will also be having a special Sunday open gym from 11:30-12:30 for those who want to get their open WOD on (or for those who want to do a repeat/do-over).

Other Times:

If you are unable to come during any of these designated times, you can find a buddy who has passed the judges course to ref you or you can book a coach for 20$ for a quick pre-game and ref session.


Once you are done, make sure to finish your score-sheet paperwork (complete with signatures) and take the ATHLETE portion of the sheet home with you so you can submit your final score by Monday at 5pm.  (The earlier you submit your score, the better... as to avoid the Monday afternoon Open site traffic jam).  The AFFILIATE portion of your judges sheet will remain at UB so I can verify your score.  Scores without a judges form will remain unverified and will not count towards the open.

Any other questions?  Post to comments!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Question: What is more awesome than completing an entire workout dressed in a Pikachu onesie? 

Answer: Doing it while pregnant.

Yes, Chloe is just that badass and cute at the same time. Chloe has been a staple of the UB community for about a year and a half. In that time she's made amazing progress, and she wasn't about to give that up when she joined the ranks of UB's awesome pregnant lady brigade. 

As coaches we've watched as she got through the dreaded first trimester and kept going strong as she started to show. Getting closer to her due date, she's started to scale some movements but her commitment to showing up is unwavering. Thanksgiving? Chloe was here. Christmas day? Chloe was here. New Year's Day? Chloe was here.

Chloe, your cute badassery inspires us all. Stay awesome!

Go Pikachu, Go!

Go Pikachu, Go!

Olivia Graff

Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.

Free Kindle Book!

If you've been around UB long, chances are you've met the vivacious and dynamic duo Andrea and Steve D..  In addition to their love of travel, CrossFit, and quality whole foods, these two have an affinity for wine.  Driven by their desire to balance eating clean with relaxing with a glass of wine, they have come up with their diet concept.... Drink Your Carbs!

These two have spent the last few years compiling their concept, along with recipes and entertaining anecdotes, onto a blog.  They then compiled it into a book, which is free on Kindle through Feb 21st. 

Download yours today to check it out and support Andrea and Steve.  Each Drink Your Carbs book contains
• Over 270 pages of science-based reporting;
• A complete list of foods to be eaten, limited and avoided;
• Practical advice for making exercise a part of your daily life;
• Recipes and cocktails;
• Recommendations for low-carb travel;
• A researched response to question, “How much can I healthfully drink?”
• The first Blooper Reel ever included in a printed work.

Food for Thought: Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

It's been awhile since we gave you a recipe to try out.  And since the weekend sun seems to have gone away, here is a simple and delicious soup recipe to try from The Clothes Make the Girl!

Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

Prep 10 min | Cook 60 min | Serves 4-6


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon (mild) to 1 teaspoon (hotter) powdered ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (if you’re not on AIP)
  • 4 medium zucchini, about 2 pounds, chopped*
  • 4 cups high-quality chicken broth

1. Heat coconut oil in a large soup pot on medium heat, 2 minutes. Add onions, then smash garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife or the bottom of a glass and add to pan. Stir often and cook until the onions and garlic are soft and golden, but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add salt, ginger, and black pepper; stir to combine.

2. Toss the zucchini into the pot. Stir to coat the zucchini with fat, then cook ’til beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Let the zucchini cook 45 to 60 minutes until it’s very soft.

4. VERY carefully, purée the zucchini and broth in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender. If you’re using a blender, work in batches, filling the canister only halfway and holding a towel over the lid while you purée. Eat immediately, or store in a covered container in the fridge.

Tasty garnishes: My favorite right now is dried or fresh chopped chives. The green tops of scallions are also yummy. You would not be remiss if you drizzled a little sesame oil across the top (but only if you’re not on the AIP).

What is "The Open," Anyway?

The start of the 2015 CrossFit Open is just a week away, and we’re expecting more people to sign up and compete than ever before. However, for the CrossFit newbie the whole concept of the Open might seem foreign—but fear not! This article is going to tell you everything you need to know about signing up, registering for a division, logging your scores and more.

Purpose of the Open
The Open is the first qualifying stage of the CrossFit Games. Implemented in 2011, any athlete who wants to prove their fitness and compete at the Games must first make it through the Open in their region. The Open is comprised of five workouts over five weeks, and it starts with 15.1 (Open workouts are identified by their year and the order that they appear—so 14.1 was the first workout in 2014, 14.2 the second, etc.). The workouts will be released every Thursday during the five weeks of the Open, and you can watch the live announcement of the workout that will be streamed to Dave Castro (Director of the CrossFit Games) will make the announcement at a different affiliate each week, and two athletes (or more, as was the case in 14.5.) will then perform the workout live. When the workout is released that Thursday, any athlete who has registered for the Open will have until 5 p.m. PT on the following Monday to submit their scores online (explained below). You can have as many attempts as you wish to complete the workout, but you must submit your best scoreby the 5 p.m. deadline on the Monday. And trust us, there is usually a traffic jam on the CrossFit Games website minutes before the deadline—so don’t wait till the last minute.

The 2015 Open will commence with 15.1 on Thursday, February 26th. Here is the full schedule:

15.1: Feb. 26 -March 2
15.2: March 5-9
15.3: March 12-16
15.4: March 19-23
15.5: March 26-30

To advance to the next stage of the CrossFit Games season—Regionals—athletes must finish the Open near the top of their region’s leaderboard. The leaderboard tracks all of the submitted scores from Open competitors. The top 20 men and 20 women—and top 15 teams—from the U.S. and Canadian Regions will advance to their Regionals. For Europe and Australia, 30 men, 30 women and 20 teams will advance, and for Latin America, Asia and Africa, these numbers fall to 10,10 and 10.

While the purpose of the Open is to find the fittest athletes in each region to move on to the Regionals, it’s also an opportunity for any athlete at any level to participate in the competition. For many people, it can provide them their first taste of competing in a CrossFit ‘event’, and the Open season generates a huge buzz of excitement across the affiliate community worldwide. Most people know that they won’t be making it to Regionals, but the fact that you know that you’ll be performing the same workout as Games athletes—not to mention every other Open participant in the world—is exciting and adds an extra element of fun to your week at the box. It gives you an opportunity to see where you stand with your fitness—not just in your home box, but against athletes in boxes across the globe. And with the addition of scaled workouts and Teen divisions, the Open is now more inclusive than ever before.

Registering and divisions
Once you’ve made the decision to sign up, you can head to the CrossFit Games home page where you will see a big hyper-linked banner in blue that looks like this:

Once you click that hyperlink, you’ll be directed to a login page where you will be prompted to enter your existing CrossFit ID (from a previous year’s Open, Judges Course, or a seminar registration). If you don’t have one, you’ll have the option to create an account. Once that’s done and you’ve logged in, you can complete a four-part questionnaire that will allow you to register for the Open. You’ll be asked for your date of birth, which country you’ll be competing in, and a $20.00 fee to compete. You’ll also be prompted to select your division, which is going to be either “Male” or “Female”. 

As has been the case in previous years, there will be a Masters division for athletes who are 40 or older. These athletes will be automatically entered into one of five age divisions—40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60+. In order for Masters athletes to advance to the next qualifying stage of the Games—the Masters Qualifier—they need to finish among the top 200 people worldwide in their age division. The online Masters Qualifier will be held April 23-27, and the top 20 from this competition will be invited to the CrossFit Games.

Any athlete who has registered for the Open can join or create a team through their competition page, shown here:

Be aware that you still need to join an affiliate before you can join a team (note the link directly above the team link).  When looking to join your affiliate, make sure to look for CrossFit SOMA, as that is our CrossFit handle.  Once you’ve done that, you can click “join a team”, and then be brought to a page where you can either join one of your affiliate’s existing teams, or create a new team for $20. If you create a new team, you will serve as the Team Manager.

Lastly, every athlete competing in the Open has the option of performing a scaled version of the workout in any given week.

“For the first time, scaled versions of the week’s Open workout will be available so athletes can choose the programming that best matches their abilities.”
-CrossFit Games

When an Open workout is released every Thursday, athletes will be able to go on to the Games site to see both the prescribed AND scaled versions of their division’s workout. Each scaled workout will have specified standards for each movement, and athletes who choose to complete a scaled workout will have to meet these standards—and cannot scale or modify further. CrossFit’s intent with these Scaled workouts is to allow every athlete the chance to compete at an appropriate level, so if you do decide to scale one week that won’t prevent you from performing the next week’s workout as prescribed. However, one rep of the prescribed version of the workout will be ranked ahead of the best score of the scaled version of the workout, so that’s something to keep in mind if you are trying to challenge someone at your box.

“Those athletes who choose to do all five Open workouts scaled will be visible on the Scaled Leaderboard, where they can compete with their peers.”

Any athlete that does scale a workout will be removed from contention for the Regionals and/or Masters Qualifier, so it goes without saying that the scaled workouts are for people who have no intent of trying to get to the next stage of the CrossFit Games season.

Completing the workouts and submitting your scores
You have two choices when it comes to performing an Open workout: You can either perform it at a participating CrossFit affiliate where you will be judged in person, or you can do the workout on your own and film it before uploading it to YouTube or another video-sharing site—per the CrossFit Games instructions. Until your score is validated—either by video submission or by an affiliate manager—it will appear as grey online. To submit your score, go back to the competition page and click the tab titled “Submit 15.1, 2, etc. Score”.

It goes without saying that serious athletes who are looking to make it to Regionals will likely film their workouts AND have a qualified judge counting their reps before posting their score online. That way, they can be sure to have ‘ticked all the boxes’ and present a score that is accurate and won’t be questioned by the CrossFit Games staff. If CrossFit sees an athlete that posts five Open workout scores that qualify for Regionals without an accompanying video, they may contact that athlete for further evidence of their performance.

But if you’re like me, and you know that you won’t make Regionals, then you don’t have to worry as much about taping your workouts or having a qualified judge count your reps—a fellow athlete (who knows the movement standards) can do it. However, don’t be a jerk and post scores that are false. The Open is about good sportsmanship and testing your fitness against others, so adhere to that philosophy and do the best that you can... Not to mention I will be approving scores for final submission and will only approve scores that match their judge sheets.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the 2015 CrossFit Open now!

This explanation was brought to you by CrossFit 7220.