17.5 is finally something easy... to understand, at least!

Of course it won't be easy. The last workout of the Open is NEVER easy. And typically it's not one you want to do more than once. So get in the right state of mind, finish with no regrets, and celebrate the end of the Open - or, perhaps more importantly, the 2017 HOUSE CUP!

The Mambas have a big lead, but it's not over yet. Challenge points are there for the taking! Remember, you can both challenge AND be challenged. That's 4 points available per person, but you can't win if you don't play! Same with Spirit points. This is the LAST WEEK. We expect to see some exceptional spirit ;-)

10 rounds for time of:
9 thrusters (95 / 65#)
35 double-unders
40 minute time cap

Masters 55+:
65 / 45#

Scaled: (Ages 16-54)
65 / 45#
Single Unders

Predictor: 95% of you picked DUs, 92% picked thrusters.  10 of you picked just those 2 movements. Some of those chose the return of the dumbbells, so they lost out. And 4 picked "task priority" as the time format, so those are our winners! Congrats to Anita (Ultimates), Nikhil (Mambas), Coach Jay and Yana (2Fit2Quit). We're giving 2 points per person.

Tips for this week:

  • Warmup needs to be LONG.  Go into this cold or tight, and you will fatigue way too quickly. There will be a warmup written on the board in the back room for those who want to use it.
  • You want your movement pattern on the thruster to be as perfect as you can make it to save energy - so I'm talking about a nice tall chest, elbows high in the front rack, weight slightly on your heels, and a bar that moves in a straight line and up and down. If you don't know how to mobilize for such things, talk to a coach!
  • BREATH! Constant breathing thru these movements is critical.
  • This is a "pain cave" type of workout. Go to the cave. Live in the cave. Love the cave. Tell yourself how amazing it is that you can do this workout!
  • Double unders can be a mental test as much as physical. Get your mind right, stay positive and relaxed. And BREATH!

Movement Standards

WODwell films 17.5 at UB with Coach Jo and Andrew!

Remember, 5/6pm classes on Fridays are CANCELLED. We'll run heats of 17.5 starting at 5pm. Come in, sign up for a heat, warm yourself up, hit the workout, then stay for the next heat to judge. You DO NOT have to be in the House Cup or registered for the Open in order to participate. Stay around as long as you like! Open Fridays at UB are epic :-)

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Jim has been one of my most regular Monday night athletes and I have been impressed and inspired by his commitment to stay in the game with an injury along with a fantastic attitude. I really appreciate the way he shows up at least ten minutes early to class to brainstorm and talk through ways to substitute/scale movements to get a good sweat on. During my live interview with Jim, I felt a greater sense of connection after hearing about what CrossFit did for his relationship with his sister as it did the same for me. To breaking new boundaries and continuing to boldly go my friend. Today we honor the easy-going, positive and committed man you are Jim.

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Name: Jim Sheppard

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Occupation: Account Manager at Braintree, a PayPal company

When did you first start CrossFitting?  Somewhere in 2013.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit?  I saw Jen Widerstrom (from Biggest Loser) on Instagram constantly posting from CrossFit Gyms and since we are going to get married some day, I thought I should start training.

Favorite WOD: “Fran”, I’m a maniac I know.  It’s so quick and just you against yourself.  Get it done quickly and end it soon.

Least Favorite WOD: Anything with running or V-Ups, both are equally terrible!

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I became really good friends with my sister.  We hadn’t gotten along ever.  She was always an athlete, I was always lazy.  I convinced her to come to my gym and then we became really good friends.

What are you most excited about having turn out later this year?  Right before I hurt myself, I was starting to see my potential as an athlete.  I was close to my ideal weight, improving every day and then got set back with an injury.  I’m looking forward to getting back to where I was and then breaking new boundaries.

What are you most grateful for in your life recently?  Being able to move and live in California, meeting new people, eating new food and experiencing a new life after 30 years in the Windy City.  It has been scarier and more exciting than I expected.  So lucky to have the opportunity to live here.

What’s your definition of greatness?  Being happy with myself.  I’m really good at looking at efficiencies and striving to make more improvements.  My greatness would be calming down and learning to be happy with what I have and who I am.

What question do you wish you were asked more often and what is the answer?  “Would you like fries with that?”  The answer is always… “Yes!”.

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House Cup 2017 - Week Four Update

We got the annual Open repeat, along with obligatory memes about butt soreness. The stage is now set for the grand finale of the 2017 House Cup! Here's the 17.4 recap, then use the form below to cast your prediction for 17.5!

The Ultimates rode their momentum from last week - dominating the top-3 placings. But they only just edged the Mambas for the week. Our current leaders got another bunch of Spirit points, won challenges, and had 4 people predict 17.4. 2Fit2Quit had a rough week, not getting many points from top-3s and Challenges as in weeks past.

Spirit of the Open points: 
Mambas (9 points) - Coach Nikki
scored big for her tattoo/tutu/lipstick/nails combo along with looking out for everyone's best deadlift form; Christopher for saving the downed internet with his iPod; Colleen for bringing her fun, relaxed spirit; Dave for deciding to finish a round of 17.4 no matter the time; Dock/Chelsea/PJ for being the 3 (wounded) Musketeers; Ester for her constant push for herself and others; Sunli for playing/cheering/judging his heart out; Adrian for prioritizing his health over a score but still recording a point for the team; and Loryn for organizing "Mamba Black-Out Friday."
Ultimates (5 points) - Captains Hayley & Steve for podium-finishing a local team comp in between monster 17.4 efforts; Anita for the awesome doodles and Tiger poses; Chad for his positive attitude and team spirit; Courtney going Rx for 2 with the little person in her belly; and last but certainly not least Mike for his hilarious social posts (here and here), despite losing challenges to Man 3 weeks in a row (but not 4!).
2Fit2Quit (4 points) - Captain Daniel showed that short shorts and Hulk gloves are a killer combo; Austin for his energy and enthusiasm; Amy for doing what her body will allow and cheering everyone on; Yana for coming back to crush the scaled version after stopping mid-Rx; Coach Max for his judging contributions; and Coach Jon for the prep and planning.

One-on-one Challenges
Mambas - 6 points, for Amelia, Nikki, and Terry
Ultimates - 4 points, from Adam and Mike getting his first win over Man
2Fit2Quit - 2 points for Tyler in the continuing Brobattle with Marek
We only had a handful of challenges for 17.4. I'm assuming it's because everyone's going to challenge the crap out of each other in 17.5.  Remember, this is your BEST WAY TO SCORE POINTS FOR YOUR TEAM!!!  Last week, people!  It's now or never!

#ubhousecup on social media
Much better this week, everyone! All teams get 3 points. However, I think my captain got caught at a bad angle by a couple of you in his post-wod stumble to the shower. I'm including the more accurate picture that I took ;-)

Predictor Points: Adrian, Amelia, Dock, and Terry for the Mambas, Hayley, Steve, and Cormac for the Ultimates, and Yana from 2Fit2Quit each scored 1 point for their teams by guessing the 16.4 repeat.

PRs - We chose not to award PR points this week, but congrats to all who bettered their score from 2016!

Judges Course
Mambas - 123 pts
Ultimates - 75 pts
2Fit2Quit - 59 pts

Top 3 RX males
1st - Patrick (Ultimates) - 211
2nd - Sean (Ultimates) - 207
3rd - Steve (Ultimates) - 206

Top 3 Scaled males
1st - Mike (2Fit) - 235
2nd - Andrew (Mambas) - 195
3rd - Zev (Mambas) - 194

Ultimates - 19 pts
Mambas - 19 pts
2Fit2Quit - 16 pts (yikes, 2Fit!)

Top 3 RX females
1st - Shannon (Ultimates) - 260
2nd - Hayley (Ultimates) - 208
3rd - Nikki (Mambas) - 196

Top 3 Scaled females
1st - Kristina (Mambas) - 214
2nd - Valerie (Ultimates) - 213
3rd - Kristine (Ultimates) - 192

Take your guess at what 17.5 will be!  3 points will be awarded to your team if your guess is the closest to what's announced (ties are possible). Guessing movements will take priority over time format or scheme (e.g. if you guess a 10 minute AMRAP of Wall Balls and OHS, someone else guesses 21-15-9 of HSPU and Deadlifts, and the WOD gets announced as 21-15-9 Wall Balls and OHS, you would win). Fill out the form below to make your submission. Only one guess allowed per athlete. Deadline is 5pm Thursday.

Movement(s) *
please match the number of movements you selected for "Scheme"

For those a little less of an Open history buff than me, here is some worthwhile information:

  • Many movements have been in EVERY Open (e.g. MUs, DUs, C2Bs, Thrusters).
  • 2016 was the first Open to have the same movement in 2 workouts (bar-facing burpees in 16.1 and 16.5). 
  • Since 2012, every Open has had a repeat workout from one of the previous years (and never more than 1 repeat).
  • The last 3 Opens have ended with task-priority workouts (your score is the time it takes to complete the workout).
  • The last 4 Opens have had one workout of "task priority plus bonus time" - i.e. get certain work done in a XX:XX time, and then get more time to do more work.
  • 2015 was the first year a max-effort lift was part of a workout (15.1a).  That has yet to be seen again in the Open.
  • It was announced that 2017 will feature dumbbells for the first time in the Open - add that into the Movement Notes if you want to for extra specificity.

Mental Toughness

How have you been fairing in the open so far?  Have any of the WODs gotten the better of you?

Mental toughness is something we should all continue to work on everyday. Your thoughts can motivate you or they can leave you totally paralyzed. Developing mental fortitude and being conscientious of your own thought process will allow you to take control of situations that might otherwise overwhelm you.

In CrossFit, when your coach is yelling at you - "pick up the bar" repeatedly in your ear - most of the time it's not your body stopping you.  It's your mind.  It's self doubt.  Many times, you have it in you to do one more rep, but you are going into a mental pattern that can lead to self defeat:

"Psychological fear leads to doubt and hesitation. Unchecked it can devolve into anxiety and panic. Unsolicited, a ‘Victim’s vocabulary' starts: What if I lose? What if it hurts? What if I fail? Thoughts like these must be eliminated from your vocabulary for you to perform at your peak. Your ‘self talk’ or 'internal dialogue’ must be positive, assertive and motivating. Your inner coach must empower you to greater heights, to surpass preconceived limitations, to boldly go where…you get the picture. That is what it means to not defeat yourself." ~ Tony Blauer

From: Frank Herbert’s "Dune"

From: Frank Herbert’s "Dune"

Take each day as an opportunity to practice mental fortitude when you walk into the gym.  Don't think "what if," "I can't -" shift your perspective and get after it! 

17.4 is... so obvious it was almost a surprise

Given what's left of the movements we see almost every Open, plus the fact that we haven't had a repeat yet, made 16.4 the obvious choice. So obvious that many of us thought that's why it WOULDN'T be 16.4. But typical Dave Castro still managed to surprise (some of) us. No 16.4 with DBs, no 16.4 but in reverse. Simply 16.4. Again.


13 minute AMRAP:
- 55 deadlifts (225/155)
- 55 wall-balls
- 55-calorie row
- 55 handstand push-ups
Men 20# ball to 10' target
Women 14# ball to 9' target


13 minute AMRAP:
- 55 deadlifts (135/95)
- 55 wall-balls
- 55-calorie row
- 55 hand-release push-ups
Men 20# ball to 9' target
Women 10# ball to 9' target

Masters 55+

13 minute AMRAP:
- 55 deadlifts (185/125)
- 55 wall-balls
- 55-calorie row
- 55 push press (95/65)
Men 20# ball to 9' target
Women 10# ball to 9' target

Predictor - Out of 45 guesses, the most-guessed movement was DUs. But clearly many of you weren't fooled by the reverse psychology, as EIGHT people correctly guessed 16.4 for this week. The Mambas got the most, with captain Adrian, Amelia, Dock, and Terry guessing it. Captains Hayley and Steve, plus Cormac from the Ultimates, and Yana from 2Fit2Quit also nailed it. Shout out to Dock for his 2nd prediction of 2017!  Because there is no clear winner here, we're giving 1 point to all of these participants.

Tips for this week:

  • I mentioned this last year - how you break up the first three movements will be key to having time AND energy to tackle the HSPUs. Play to your strengths and push where it's best for you. It's not a cakewalk to get to the 4th movement.
  • The DLs seemed to hit people the hardest for soreness in the days following.  Get your glutes nice and ready for this (add some Russian KBS to your warmup), and follow up 17.4 with a LONG pigeon stretch. Remind yourself to tuck your chin a little on your DLs to avoid chicken-necking. And don't reach for the extra reps with these - cut yourself short of failure to keep good form.
  • Review the standards for the HSPUs and make sure you practice with someone watching. Having a vocal judge telling you how close you are to the line will be very helpful. Hands closer together, hands closer to the wall, a neutral spine (not over-arched), and pointing your toes DOWN are all ways to get your heels higher up the wall.

Movement Standards

WODwell at UB with Adrian and Lisa for 16.4

Live Announcement Show

If you really like to geek out - Rudy from Outlaw on 16.4

Remember, 5/6pm classes on Fridays are CANCELLED. We'll run heats of 17.4 starting at 5pm. Come in, sign up for a heat, warm yourself up, hit the workout, then stay for the next heat to judge. You DO NOT have to be in the House Cup or registered for the Open in order to participate. Stay around as long as you like! Open Fridays at UB are epic :-)

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Some athletes start CrossFit a little cold: timid, unsure, and judgmental.  Others start off luke-warm; the athlete is curious about the CrossFit world, but still has reservations, and several excuses in their back pocket.  This week's awesome wasn't like any of those athletes.  This week's awesome started CrossFit hot! 

Chelsea isn't the kind of woman to half-ass anything.  That said, it's no surprise that once she decided to commit to CrossFit, she was 100% game face, ready to kick ass and take names. Chelsea's can-and-will-do attitude won me over from the first time I coached her... and my opinion of her has only grown from there.  This lady is hungry to be her best, humble enough to ask for help, and has oodles of heart.  (Case and point: last Friday Chelsea came in to do 17.3, unsure she would even get the opportunity to make a 105# snatch (a PR).  She not only got the shot, but she made all but her final rep shy of finishing the workout.  Relentless lady that she is, she tweaked her elbow trying to make the final snatch.  But did that stop her?  No, she's been in all this week, inspiring us all with her spirit.)

Thanks for going all in with CrossFit, Chelsea!  We are lucky to have you!

Name: Chelsea Lytle (Lie-tull, not little)

Nickname / Alter Ego: My friends in San Diego call me "Bacon." Long story.

Hometown: I've lived in 6 states (AL, HI, WA, AZ, CA, FL), but I consider Seattle my home.

Occupation: Clinical Specialist for Medtronic. I help implant and do routine checks on pacemakers and defibrillators.

When did you first start CrossFitting?: I dabbled in it about a year ago, but didn't really get into it until probably Aug/Sept of 2016.

When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: Same answer as above. UB is where it all started! 

Favorite WOD: Anything with box jumps, slam balls or burpees. 

Least favorite WOD: Pull ups, snatches, really anything overhead or uses a lot of upper body strength... simply because I can't stand not being good at things and those are big weaknesses for me.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I have made so many great friends with CrossFit. I have always enjoyed working out at various gyms, but never expected it to feel like I was back on team sport again! I also LOVE the competative atmosphere. 

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why? Hmmm... probably some sort of shade of red. It's the color associated with energy, strength, power, determination and love.

What inspires you? My patients at work inspire me the most. They definitely keep me grounded and constantly remind me life is short, you've got to make the most of it! Cliche, but true.

The Personality Factor: How Does Introversion or Extroversion Interact with Well-Being?

Do you ever feel like you have to be an extrovert to be a CrossFitter?  Are you the person in class who thrives on hiding in the back corner?  ... This may be tl;dr... but as a person who loves to geek out on all things health (and as an ambivert who often flips to introversion), I thought this was an interesting read worth sharing...

Sometimes it seems like this world is built for extroverts. The most successful politicians, entertainers, and public figures are (or at least come off as) extroverts. One of the “Big 5” personality traits we use to judge and praise people is extraversion (Introversion, falsely assumed as simply the lack of extraversion, doesn’t merit mention.) Certain studies suggest that extroverts make more money than introverts, on average. Extroverts tend to be happier than introverts, regardless of the cultural context. Introverts are more likely to suffer from depression and asthma.

On paper, it seems like extroversion is the clear evolutionary winner. It makes you happier, wealthier, and even healthier (maybe). It’s selected for in many of the most public spheres, like entertainment and politics. So why has introversion been so well preserved? Why do introverts, by most accounts, still comprise at least 25% of the population?

If you could construct the perfect human to innovate, explore, and conquer the world, understand and capitalize on its natural laws, and create powerful technology, you’d insert both adventurousness and circumspection, gregariousness and studiousness. You’d want a balanced person with the capacity to lead, inspire, engage, and act decisively—while also thinking deeply, ruminating, and planning ahead. Few of these superhumans exist, sadly. Those that do tend to excel.

But remember: The success of human populations didn’t just depend on the evolutionary success of each individual human who comprised them, but on the evolutionary success of the group as a whole—the super organism. The collective energy and aptitude.

And what makes for a healthier, more successful tribe?

One composed entirely of extroverts, one composed entirely of introverts, or one with a blend of both? Consider what each brings to the table.

Extroverts are probably more adventurous in many ways. They make friends more easily, act more decisively, and thrive on social energy.

Introverts are more cautious on average. They plan their moves, weigh their options, and often find socializing draining.

In difficult situations, extroverts are better at recruiting different parts of the brain to devise a quick response. Introverts respond relatively slowly to immediate stimuli, but they make up for it with an affinity for deep, focused work and abstract thought. 

Getting the right blend of introverts and extroverts in your group imbues the superorganism with the qualities necessary to excel and dominate. You have the planners and the doers. The adventurers who throw caution to the wind and those who warn against foolhardiness. 

This isn’t a binary relationship. Introversion and extraversion exist along a spectrum. Most people have elements of each, and the relative propensity appears to be hereditary.

On one level, the world caters to extroverts. We know this from an early age. Introverted toddlers hear “oh, aren’t you shy?” no less than a million times before they reach grade school. Schools stress the importance of “group work,” and often force it on students. The modern school itself is an evolutionary aberration where children are segregated by age and too often have all agency stripped from them.

That’s true.

But the world is also changing. Technology is opening new doors and changing the way we do business (and even life to some extent). There are more opportunities than ever before, and entrepreneurs are taking advantage. Creativity has perhaps never mattered more. Many of the greatest minds were introverted. People value—and deeply need—introverts who can hunker down and do the hard, deep work. 

I’m a bit of an introvert. And I’ve done pretty well for myself.

I can give talks and presentations. I can mingle at parties and conferences. I can and do run a business (or three). I do great in small or even large groups of people.

But I need to recharge. I need my alone time. I prefer the company of small groups of close friends and family. I love a good book. I require regular infusions of nature-tinged solitude.

In my experience, there are introverts who accept their disposition, who optimize its strengths and work with its needs, and introverts who deny their nature. The former are happy, well-adjusted, successful, and completely comfortable in their own skin. The latter are lying to themselves. They pine for extroversion and suffer needlessly because of it. 

So that’s the first step. Whether you’re more extroverted or more introverted, own it. Accept who you are.

What are the practical implications of being introverted or extroverted for well-being?

There’s not a ton of great definitive evidence. But we can make a few guesses based on what evidence exists. Regardless, I think there’s potential for some deep and insightful discussion.

  • Extroverts are more vulnerable to sleep deprivation-induced performance deficits. One study found that after 77 hours of sleep deprivation, extroverts performed poorly on tests of attention and vigilance; sleep-deprived introverts saw less degradation.
  • An introvert’s cerebral cortex is more active at rest than an extrovert’s. It’s lighting up just by virtue of its existence. This sounds “good,” but it also means most introverts are ruminators. They think, dwell, ponder. More active cortical matter—and thicker cortexes—can also mean overthinking.
  • An extrovert’s cerebral cortex is less aroused at baseline and requires more input to stimulate it. Socializing is a reliable way to stimulate an extrovert’s brain.
  • Social contact can be a powerful motivator for extroverts. The neuronal circuitry responsible for making decisions lights up in extroverts; not so much in introverts.
  • Neither extroversion nor introversion have much effect on a person’s response to training. E/I has no effect on exercise-induced mood changes.   I’m curious, though, how introversion/extroversion impacts choice of exercise and other specifics of training preferences.
  • According to one study, introverts respond better to negative reinforcement. Extroverts respond better to positive reinforcement. But I think there’s more to this story…. Other research suggests introverts tend to be more internally motivated. They might not need the outer push an extrovert benefits from but might respond if there’s a negative incentive (social or otherwise) to keep the peace or because negative reinforcement is more likely to interact with internal motivation/self-image.
  • On that subject, dopamine reward networks are more active in extroverts. They respond more to external rewards than introverts do. Introverts don’t appear to be as chemically motivated by common rewards in our culture/environment.
  • On the other hand, some experts suggest introverts tend to respond more to the parasympathetic-associated neurotransmitter, acetylcholinePowering down might just feel better than getting revved up as a result.
  • Interestingly, one small study revealed that introverts and extroverts exhibit different blood flow patterns in the brain, with introverts showing increased blood flow patterns in the frontal lobes and in the anterior thalamus and extroverts showing associated patterns in the anterior cingulate gyrus, the temporal lobes and the poster thalamus.

I’d say there’s a lot to unpack here—brain activation in relation to stimuli, emotional processing, motivation approach, etc. While it’s an intricate picture I think we’ll never fully get to the bottom of, it’s good to know we always have fodder for deeper research…and future conversation.

Thanks for reading today, everybody. Here’s where I turn it over to you—where I think anecdotal experience can help augment hard science’s assessment of complex “soft” science questions. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert (or ambivert—some combination of both)? How has this experience or perception influenced your health choices and life decisions? What resources or questions have been most insightful for you? Take care.


Coming from the world of instant gratification, patience can feel like a tall order.  Cell phones, texting, email, tweeting... our technological world lends itself to the immediate.  And while convenience is great for some things in life, it is important to still be able to trust the process.  The gym is one place where trusting the process can be hard, but patience is essential if you want to truly accomplish yourself as an athlete.  

As a CrossFitter, you need patience.  Patience learning movements.  This does not just include olympic lifts (of which people are willing to be more patient), but also include proper movement mechanics with kipping pull ups, double unders, kettlebell swings, running, etc..   You can't look at the person next to you who has a movement down better than yourself and think "if they can do it I should be able to do it."  Don't compare where you are in the process to anyone else.  If you are giving 100% effort, there are no shoulds... hard to believe?  Be patient, grasshopper. (This can be especially hard during open season when competition is the name of the game...)

Even after you have the technique down, it takes time to develop true strength, flexibility, and endurance.  Think about the time it takes professional athletes to improve on their sport - and they do sport specific training every day... EVERY DAY!  Once you are over the newbie PR climb, buckle in, because now your journey as an athlete has really begun.

Patience can be frustrating.  You will stumble.  You will fail.  You will not feel like it.  You will want to give every excuse in the book.  But with practice you can learn to be patient.  Learn to appreciate the journey.  Learn to accept the valley, knowing there is a peak on the other side.   Next time you feel you are "behind," and are ready to throw a barbell out the window because you just aren't getting it, just know that if you are showing up and putting the effort in, know that you're probably moving right along, exactly where you're supposed to be.