In a year marked by terrible tragedy, we more than ever want to offer our support and solidarity to our LGBTQ athletes, coaches, friends, and family. We love you and celebrate you!



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.

Back by Popular Demand: The ABCs of CrossFit

Everyone, so it seems, loves a name WOD.  Be it the ladies, the heroes, or another named tributes, a named WOD means there is a special kind of pain headed your way.  So we have decided to up your summer game by taking you on a journey of the "ABCs" of CrossFit.  We will be programming one named WOD a week from A-Z for the rest of the year.  We're starting off our alphabet WOD-goodness with a little dose of ADRIAN.  This hero WOD is named after U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Adrian Elizalde.   The WOD was last seen on the UB whiteboard on 7.11.2015.  Enjoy!


The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week I want to honor an awesome lady who came to UB a humble CrossFit vet.  You may see her in class diligently working on her Oly form.  You may see her in the back room helping us brushing barbells (she's a fantastic member of our cleaning crew).  But you will definitely see her PRing all over the place class. This sassy drink of water has been stepping up her game... and it shows!  If you have yet to meet our lady of the week, (she may strike you as shy -- don't be fooled) take a moment to give her a high five.  Coryn is straight awesome!

Coryn killing it at an AM CF Open throw-down.  She was a solid Ultimate teammate!

Coryn killing it at an AM CF Open throw-down.  She was a solid Ultimate teammate!

Name: Coryn Millslagle
Nickname / Alter Ego: Cornslagle, Corn Pie, Cory
Hometown: Pleasanton, CA
Occupation: Attorney at Wilson Sonsini
When did you first start CrossFitting?: June 2013 (Fun story - my squats were so bad I failed on-ramp, I had to take it twice)
When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: April 2015
Favorite WOD: Anything with power cleans
Least favorite WOD: Everything with running and/or burpees
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I was interning down the street from NorCal Redwood City and wanted a challenge for the summer
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? Confidence. When I was stressed out about the bar exam, I had a mentor tell me "If you can do Murph, you can definitely pass the bar" and he was right :)

What is the first song in your favorite playlist right now? Beyonce's "Sorry" is my jam!




Summer Slam Registration

Registration is open!  Here are some details on the Summer Slam!

When:  July 16, 8:15A - 2P

What: An individual in house competition with RX and scaled divisions with 4 events plus 1 floater WOD. 

Entry Fee: 40$

Love to get your competition on?  Maybe you thought you might want to give one a shot?  The Summer Slam will be fun for seasoned competitors and newbies alike!

We will be continuing to drop info your way over the next couple weeks - so stay tuned!

Food for Thought: The Shoulder Rules

The following is a great read from Tabata Times.

The shoulder girdle. It’s complicated. Three true joints, one muscular joint, little inherent stability, much inherent mobility all mixed together with over a billion (I counted) exercises creates a shit storm of pain, injury, confusion and frustration for a whole bunch of people who just want to train or work out.

If you have current shoulder issues, want to prevent future problems or break through a training plateau, I want to lay out two simple concepts that can help you out as you move forward with strength training.  The concepts are simple but the execution is not. I treat some extremely fit and athletic people and most of them struggle with one or both of these rules.

FYI: shoulder blade = scapula


  1. When your elbow is near or moving towards your body, bring your shoulder blade back and down into the “set” position
  2. As your elbow moves out away from your body, provide the force from your shoulder to externally rotate it

Do these two things with any strength lift, bodyweight movement, catch, or sustained position, and you might just stay healthy, perform well and potentially decrease any current shoulder pain with your lifts.

Now let’s dig in deeper to each rule:

Rule 1. When your elbow is near or moving towards your body, bring your shoulder blade back and down into the “set position.”


The elbow is the best indicator of where your shoulder is positioned. The higher the elbow is, the more the shoulder has elevated. The more the point of your elbow is out to the side (pointed laterally) the more the shoulder is internally rotated, etc. So, as the rule states, when you are performing a movement and your elbow is near your side, you need to bring your shoulder blade back and down. In the sports medicine and strength and conditioning worlds, this scapular position is often called the “set” position. The idea here is that we need to place the shoulder in an optimal position so that we don’t put too much stress on any one part of the shoulder and that our muscles and joints are in the optimal place to perform.


What typically happens with inexperience, mobility issues, or poor control is that as the elbows move towards the body (i.e. top of the pull-up or bottom of the push up), the shoulder blades tip forward as well as up towards the ears putting a great amount of stress and strain on the front and top of the shoulder. This is bad. Picture yourself at the bottom of your push-up position: your shoulders should be pulled back away from the ground and also down away from your ears. This is good. Same goes with the pull-up: as you near the top of your pull-up, the elbows are coming towards your side so your shoulder blades need to be pulled back and down. Get it?

Rule 2. As your elbow moves out away from your body provide the force from your shoulder to externally rotate it.


This rule deals with what muscles you want to be activating while your elbow moves away from your body and then being able to sustain that shoulder position under the load. This will happen while pressing the bar away in a bench press or overhead press. It could also be while you lower yourself during the pull-up, press yourself up during push-ups, or while sustaining an overhead barbell or dumbbell position. To imagine this in another way, if you were holding a dumbbell, as you pressed away from your body the thumb would rotate out to the side and your palm would face you.  There are a couple reasons why this is important and advantageous:

  1. This can help avoid the onset of or decrease shoulder pain. There is not a lot of space between the ball and socket shoulder joint and the hard protective shelf above it called your acromion process. By externally rotating your shoulder during overhead movements, you maintain more space between these structures, which decreases the pinching of the soft tissues in this space.  That pinching is often called “impingement” and can be the cause of that all too common non-traumatic shoulder pain.
  2. This creates a more stable shoulder. The external rotation will take out the slack of the connective tissue at the joint capsule increasing the static stability. The external rotation of the humerus (long bone of the arm) also facilitates an improved socket position by aiding in upward rotation of the scapula (shoulder blade). This also improves stability by creating boney shelf for the ball of the socket to rest on when pressing or sustaining loads above shoulder height.

This concept is much easier to learn and apply when dealing with “open chain” exercises. These exercises allow your hands to move freely and independently so the applied rotational force will cause rotation of the shoulders and of your hands, which is easier to see and feel. For instance, a vertical press with dumbbells will be easier than with the barbell.

These shoulder rules sound pretty easy to follow, but they are often very challenging if you lack mobility and/or control, or if you throw fatigue and heavy loads into the picture. You can probably think of a movement or exercise to which this may not apply, but for most strength and body weight movements these two rules will keep you safe, help you break through plateaus, and likely decrease pain. Remember that retooling a movement may result in a temporary decrease in performance, but in the long run performing movements the right way will always get you closer to your genetic potential.



The Final Player in Your Ultimate Support Team

A couple weeks ago, we discussed all the elements to building the ultimate support team.... well, all but one: the wild card. 

The What?

What's a wild card?  It's the person who pushes you to go outside your comfort zone.  They help you get out of your oh-so-analytical head and get after things that, frankly, scare the shit out of you. 

Why is a wild card important?  Because getting outside your box is essential for growth.  Because we can surprise ourselves everyday.  Because life is short and it's a great day to be alive.

Are you the wildcard in your gang? 

I you don't have that person to stretch you, try to stretch yourself!  Personally, I have tried to follow a "try something new a month" philosophy for the last several years (admittedly I have fallen off this wagon in 2016) and it ended up with me adding all sorts of fun flavor & shenanigans to my life. 

The Art of Manliness has a "10-Year Rule" that says "whenever you are presented with a choice, ask yourself which option you would prefer to have taken in ten years."  In most cases, I would imagine your 10 year later self would love to look back and know you were willing to risk and put yourself out there.

So...who is your wildcard?  How have you stretched yourself lately?




Box Jump Anxiety

Ready for today's box jumps??

Whether or not you want to admit it, I have seen you stare down the box in front of you, hesitating.  You are sizing it up - literally.  The box is intimidating you.  You have a small aversion, or even an outright fear of box jumps.

Don't fret, this is a natural fear.  Think about it... unless you are short like me, adults don't really jump during their daily lives.  But this doesn't mean it isn't completely conquerable.  Here are some tips to help you master that jump.

Start Small

Just like anything, you should always start with the basics - this means the 12" box.  If that freaks you out, jump from standing on top a plate or two to the box, and work your way down to the floor.  Once you have that down, then add plates on the 12" until you are ready to move up to the 16"... and so on and so forth.


If you can't imagine doing it - you'll never do it.  Stare down that top of the box and don't let it psych you out!  Imagine your feet planting softly and solidly on the top and standing tall and proud.

Get Emotional

You will often hear us tell you to get mad at the bar to move heavy weight.  The same philosophy can be applied to the box.  Get mad at it.  Imagine someone or something you don't like is sitting on the top of it and you are going to jump on it and smash it.  DO IT!

Make It Routine

Don't let the few times you see box jumps on the whiteboard be the only time you face them - it will take a lot longer to overcome your fears and you will be less excited to come workout on those days.  Instead, start incorporating box jumps into your warm up.  Then as you get more confident, try jumping on things outside the gym: the park bench, your bed, your desk (just be sure not to freak out the other suits in your office who aren't into jumping on office property).  Jump until it becomes a natural part of your life.

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try Try Again

Often, when we fail at something, we build it up as something bigger than it is in our heads.  Then it becomes a "thing."  That is a good way to end up with a phobia.  So if you try a new height, or just fail on a jump - don't stop there.  Immediately pick yourself back up and do it.  Prove the little man on your shoulder telling you "you can't" wrong.


The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Hi UB’ers, I’m pleased to introduce our Weekly Dose of Awesome: Man Nguyen! Some of you might know Man from the Orange Team “The Ultimates” in this year’s CrossFit Games Open, where he was known by his super hero alter ego name “The Dispenser,” for being a pharmacist when he’s not at UB.

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Before moving to San Francisco in May 2015, he lived in Washington DC. After a less-than- perfect first impression of CrossFit at the first gym he tried in DC, he decided to give it another chance after walking by CrossFitDC, where he saw people “sweating and looking like they were about to die.”  Man was intrigued, so he signed up and has been crossfitting ever since. He transitioned to United Barbell in September of last year, and has been a coachable, approachable, and hard-working athlete ever since.

“Before CrossFit, I really thought I could never do a lot of stuff.  I mean, after 20 sit-ups I would get a cramp and just stop.  I considered 25 push-ups a workout.  I just thought that was how I was built and that's what I am limited to.  CrossFit has opened my mind about what is possible than what isn't.”

Recently, Man had a July goal to conquer a bar muscle up. With his diligent work ethic and excellent class attendance, he accomplished his goal early - performing 4 bar muscle ups on his first day of getting them! His favorite WOD would be a “Cindy”-type workout, because of the pushups and air squats. He also likes burpees and box jumps. His least favorite WOD would be Karen (150 wall balls for time) or any WOD involving wall balls, pistols, double unders, or abs.

His ideal cheat meal is a good ol’ burger, fries and a beer…followed by a chocolate chip cookie, an oatmeal raisin cookie, and a bottle of coconut water. If you see Man around the gym, be sure to say hello, and congratulate him on being our Weekly Dose of Awesome!


What are you doing the night of Saturday August 13th?  Let me help you out.... you are going to UB Prom!!  That's right, for our 6th anniversary, UB will be hosting our very own prom. 

More on the topic from our head of UB prom committee -- Lauren Martinez:

Nothing good ever happens at prom. For references, please see Carrie, Never Been Kissed, 10 Things I Hate About You, and your actual prom experience.

However, UB Prom is going to be amazing. Like the one in Mean Girls, or Pretty in Pink. That's because:

A. You are way hotter now (and not just because you finally got a new haircut) 

B. You'll have a much better date


If you're interested in helping plan a prom night that rivals the one Kevin Bacon had in Footloose, shoot me an email, FB message, or let a coach know you want to join our prom committee! Actual high school prom attendance not required.

Look Familiar?

It has come to our attention that we are overdue for a housekeeping blog.  Let's start off on a light note... do any of these characters look familiar?

All joking aside, proper gym etiquette is a way to show respect for your fellow CrossFitters, your coaches, and the entire gym.  It is great you feel at home, but please treat the space the way you do your home - with love.  This not only includes putting your equipment away in an orderly fashion, but cleaning up after your sweat and chalk, wiping down your equipment, taking your things home with you, not distracting from class and showing up on time (on time is not in street clothes a minute before the class begins).  We want to serve you to the best of our ability.  If we are busy cleaning up your mess or waiting on you to join the class, less time and energy can be spent on doing what we love best: helping you be the most awesome version of yourself.