Welcome Back, Old Friend

We never expected you to take so well to our photo wall.... it was never intended for long term occupation of the white board.... we kept it up as long as possible, but alas, the temperature changes and hits with the occasional wall ball finally won out, and the photo wall was taken down. 

But wait!  There is a silver lining!  Welcome back to the UB top 5 board!  For those of you who knew old UB, you'll notice this top 5 board only has 15 categories.  You will also notice this board is BLANK!  With a N-UB comes a new start.  This means over the next few months, spots on the coveted white board are completely up for grabs!  White board accomplishments must happen during class or UB events and must be supervised.  Who will start us off??

Welcome back, whiteboard.  We missed you and all the competitive glory you brought in tow.  Welcome back.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

I get to give a shout out to another midwesterner reppin' hard here on the west coast...

Annamarie has a long name and a long list of awesome qualities. She is one of the most consistent athletes I see in the gym day in and day out. You will see her morning, mid afternoon, and weekends. She has a competitors spirit or what I refer to as the warrior mentality. Pursuing skills constantly like double unders ... which she can now string together in the 100's.  Strong(er), becoming a regular in strength and oly class's her strength and technique are on the rise at a steady pace. But most important she has a love for the sport ... and it shows. No matter the day, the time, or the workout, she brings everything to the table. Sadly Annamarie will be heading back to Chi town to pursue her career. We wish the best of luck to you, and be sure to keep up the awesomeness girl!  Be you and your new gym will appreciate you like we do!

Annamarie

Survey Results

We really want to make UB not just a great community, we want to make it your great community.  Feedback is a necessary part of our growth, so thank you for taking the time to help us be at our best!

You had some kind things to say as well as great ideas of what you want more (or less) of.  Here are some of the highlights of what's going well:

Amazing coaching. Great programming. lots of individual attention. Lots of great people!
UB has changed my life.
After coming from [other local CrossFit box] you guys are a breath of fresh air. Love all the coaches.
Coaching is excellent, equipment is new/well maintained, extra clubs (OLY, SWOD) are included with membership and awesome.
I appreciate that you always review the movements regardless of class size and experience. I also appreciate the discussions on WOD strategy prior to the WODs.
great coaching, great community and good for everyone from the advanced athlete to the de conditioned new person
Love every one of the coaches. They are extremely attentive, always evaluate injuries before class, and are willing to scale if we’re not feeling a certain movement that day. I love the individual attention i get and when the coaches correct my form and positioning. They are supportive of my goals and I always feel like they are cheering me on and pushing me to go the extra rep :)
The coaching at UB is top notch. I always feel like I am getting the instruction I need to make sure that I am doing the movements correct.

We also heard your feedback on what we can do better:

  • More WOD challenges & community events
  • Personalized goal setting
  • More seminars
  • More specialty classes
  • Reliably posted programming
  • Water fountain

We are working on all of these items and have lots of plans in the making!  2015 will bring about a bigger, badass UB!  Stay tuned for announcements on all the upcoming awesome!

Thanks again for playing!  After all, we wouldn't be UB without "U."

Food for Thought: Slow Roasted Chicken

The following is from Mark's Daily Apple.

There are already so many different recipes for cooking a whole chicken, you might wonder why you need one more. But if you’re a fan of store-bought rotisserie chicken, then you definitely need this one. Just like a cooked chicken from the market, the meat on this bird is plump, juicy and tender and the skin browned and deeply flavorful. Plus, this recipe is so simple and hands-off that it’s basically as convenient as driving to the store to buy a rotisserie chicken.

What’s the secret? Low and slow. Most recipes for roasted whole chicken crank the oven temperature above 400 ºF/205 ºC in an attempt to crisp up the skin and quickly cook the meat before it dries out. This recipe keeps the temperature at a low 300 ºF/150 ºC and cooks the chicken slowly for 3 hours. While the skin doesn’t get super crispy, it’s far from flabby, and has the same rich flavor that rotisserie chicken skin has. The meat is flavorful and really moist but never rubbery around the bones, like some roasted chickens can be.

The long cooking time at low heat is a gentle and reliable way to make sure the chicken is fully cooked without drying out, so it’s really hard to over or under cook this bird. As an another added bonus, you get to choose the quality of the chicken (ideally pastured and/or organic) and don’t have to wonder if the chicken’s been ruined by a rub down in vegetable oil or other undesirable ingredients, like many store-bought rotisserie chickens are.

Tender, flavorful, healthy and easy – four good reasons why this recipe for roasted chicken is a real winner.

Servings:  1 whole chicken

Time in the Kitchen:  15 minutes, plus 3 hours roasting time

Ingredients:

  • 1  3 to 4 pound whole chicken (1.4 kg to 1.8 kg)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (10 ml)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (5 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (10 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, plus several sprigs to stuff in the chicken cavity
    (30 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (8 g)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (45 ml)
  • 1 lemon, quartered

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 ºF/150 ºC.

Grind fennel and coriander seeds. Mix with paprika, thyme, salt, and olive oil. Rub all over the chicken.

Stuff the lemon pieces and thyme sprigs inside the chicken cavity. Tie the legs of the chicken together.

In a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet, roast the chicken for about 3 hours. As juices/fat accumulate in the pan during the roasting process, baste the chicken a few times while it cooks.

When the chicken is done, the skin should be nicely browned and the meat very tender. A thermometer inserted between the leg and thigh should register at 165 ºF/74 ºC.

 

So You're Starting to Plateau....

Starting out in CrossFit is great - everyday is filled with new challenges and skills. Then you start to get the hang of it, and it's PR city. You can't touch a barbell without PRing. You feel stronger and more capable everyday. You are on the fast track to badassdom, and it just keeps coming. You are unstoppable. And then, just like that, it happens... PRs start to slip away, the weight loss slows down and the frustration kicks in -- you wonder why CrossFit isn't working anymore. And then one morning you decide it's cold outside and you elect to battle it out with your snooze button instead of coming in for your morning WOD. Then one missed class turns into two, and suddenly 2 weeks have gone by since you have come into the gym and we coaches have gotten the torches out and are ready to send out the search party.......

If any part of this sounds familiar - don't fret. Despite your frustration, this is a temporary phase - a growing pain of your fitness journey. The important thing to remember is you are the tortoise, not the hare. Just because you have stopped making regular gains does not mean you have met the maximum of your fitness potential. What it does mean is that you have hit a plateau. But I will repeat - this is not permanent. There are some simple changes you can make to your routine to break this barrier and start feeling like a badass again:

  • Talk to your coach - Your coach sees you on the regular, and they might have some insight as to where you should be focusing your attention.  Be accountable for your fitness journey - schedule 5 minutes with them and ask!
  • Change your class time - sometimes getting out of a rut can be as simple as surrounding yourself with different athletes and a different coach. New people in your routine might help you push yourself and give you the boost you need.
  • Mix-up your intensity - if you have been choosing heavier weights for WODs to push your strength, try going a little lighter and turning up the speed (with good form). After a couple weeks, try switching back and test it out.
  • Tweak your nutrition - maybe you've been allowing more cheat meals. Maybe you've been eating the exact same thing every single day. Just like with your exercise, you need to have variety in your diet. Mix it up and dial it in.
  • Focus on recovery and mobility - the right mobility work will do wonders for you. The only hard part is figuring out which one you need. Talk to your coach and take some extra time to make sure you are addressing your issues. They just might be what's holding you back.

With any changes you make to your routine, overall remember to be patient. Most people have the potential to be good or even great athletes if they allow themselves the patience to stick it out.

Look How Far You've Come, Baby!

For many previous and current Awesomes, the path has been consistent - putting in hard work and being a positive force in the UB community.   For some, it starts out like this in an expanded time line:  "I want to get fit... Ok, I want to learn how to do that... (Scanning the board) Who's score is that?  I want to beat that... No, I don't want to compete, I just enjoy what I do... Ok, maybe one competition...."

Sound familiar?  It sure is for Hayley - she walked through UB's doors in the beginning just wanting to get better.  Improvement seen?  She went from chasing others on the board to now being the one scanned by others while grabbing an Awesome along the way. She wasn't happy with her old FGB score in 2012 and decided to PR the WOD by 100 reps last year.  Level 2 class qualification? Check that off the list.  For the longest time, she avoided entering any non-UB competitions. She finally relented this year and entered the Moxie Throwdown with one of two UB teams.  And despite her apprehension, she had a blast. Cherry on top: She placed 2nd at the Ultimate Lift Off and PR'd almost all her lifts. 

Check out dem abz!

Check out dem abz!

Fast forward to today, Hayley continues to push herself to get each elusive carrot. What's next? Only Hayley will know.  But, gurrl, look how far you've come!

Weekend Recap

United Barbell has been killing it on the competition scene.  We applaud those of you who have decided to try it out, and are excited to cheer for those of you continuing to put yourself out there.   Jason L. was one of 4 people who competed last weekend at the Good Times CrossFit Fall Fitness Team Competition.  For those of you who missed it, he wrote you a nice play by play recap...

 

I had the honor and privilege of competing this past weekend up near Sacramento at the Good Times CrossFit Fall Fitness Team Competition alongside Jeremy, Ruth and Ludi.  There were a total of five workouts.  I've done a number of competitions and this was definitely a good time involving important strategy considering each of us were managing some limitations/injuries: Me/Bruised Collar Bone, Ludi/Strained Chest, Jeremy/Cold and Ruth/Overhead Lockout Discomfort.  Jeremy stepped up as a leader for our team to help organize us the week going into the competition.

 

WOD #1
8 Minute Ascending AMRAP
-Hand Stand Push Up
-Power Snatch 115#/75#
-Bar Muscle Up

 

Jeremy noticed the above posted two days before the deadline so he got an exception request to perform the above with everyone but Ruth who was traveling on business last week.  Jeremy and Ludi tackled the first two movements while I took all of the MUs to maintain efficiency.

 

WOD #2

8 Minute Time Cap Per Mixed Gender Pair

-25 Kettlebell Swings

-25 Toes to Bar 

-25 Weighted Pistols 53#/33#

-25 Double Unders

 

Jeremy and Ludi paired together for this one and did a really nice job communicating with each other and switching off.  Ruth and I partnered together with the plan of me doing more Pistols while she took more KB swings and double unders.  We did not communicate as well and got to learn from the other two immediately afterwards about vocal signals.

 

WOD #3

"Gorilla Complex"

10 Min to Max Load Per Teammate

-1 Clean

-1 Hang Clean

-1 Push Jerk

 

We were not checking the schedule and had 2-3 minutes to jump into our lane to begin lifting which threw our planning off as we just began lifting without much of warm-up.  Jeremy took charge of keeping the team on schedule after that!

 

WOD #4

8 Min AMRAP Per Same Gender Pair

-12 Chest to Bar Pull-Ups

-9 Axel Bar Shoulder to Overhead 155#/115#

-6 Ring Dips

 

The ring dips really hit the women (not just our team) hard but Ruth and Ludi handled the other bar movements very well.  Jeremy and I had pretty set rep schemes going into this WOD and deviated just a little bit after factoring fatigue from the prior WODs.  I got into my butterfly groove on the chest to bars and the announcer said: "United Barbell making those pull-ups look f****** easy!"

 

WOD #5

12 Min AMRAP All Team Members, Two In The Arena At Any Given Time

-15 Hang Snatches 125#/85#

-15 Up & Over Box Jumps 24"/20"

-15 Plate Burpees

-20 Calorie Aerodyne Bike

 

We strategically deployed everyone to their strengths and soboth men and Ludi to the snatches, Ludi/Me to the BJs, Ruth on Burpees and Jeremy on the bike with support from Ruth.  The snatches from a weight perspective were not bad however our grips were so warn out by that point that all three of our hands exploded (blood) on the bars during the hang and Ludi really powered through the pain to keep our momentum going.  

 

Overall we finished 37th out of 40 Teams and had a lot of fun!  The action felt pretty non-stop with the next WOD just a little over an hour following the prior.  We had great spectator support from Ruth's husband Tim, Jeremy's Lisa and daughter Gia and my Mom.

 

Way to go team UB!  Sometimes showing up (despite it all) can be the hardest part... You killed it!

Food for Thought: A Scientific Excuse To Sleep In

Whether you're the person who feels guilty for putting your sleep first or you're the opposite and don't put going to bed early high enough on the priority list, this refinery29 article is a good quick reminder: treat your sleep with consideration!  There's a reason you'll spend about 25 years worth of your entire life asleep.

.. Enjoy!

The struggle is real — in the morning, at least. Should you stay in bed and enjoy that extra-precious hour of sleep? Or, should you slip on a sports bra and head to the gym? When your days are packed from dawn to dusk, sometimes a painfully early training session is your only option. But, is skipping sleep to exercise the right choice?

Maybe not, says sleep expert James B. Maas, PhD. He tells Equinox’s Q Blog that if your workout routine is causing your sleep schedule to suffer, it’s possible you’re doing more harm than good.

There’s a reason why most fitness bands include sleep quality in the metrics they monitor; shut-eye is essential to your overall health. And, as performance coach and exercise physiologist Pete McCall explained to us last month, extreme fatigue is a legitimate reason for skipping your workout. “If you skimped on sleep a few nights in a row and feel like you’re dragging, go ahead and take the nap instead of forcing yourself to work out,” says McCall. “Exercising on top of exhaustion...will cause additional stress for your body.” That’s because sleep is when the body resets and repairs itself — and that includes your immune system. Chronic sleep loss can leave you more susceptible to catching a cold.

But, if the early a.m. is your only option for sneaking in a workout, are you screwed? Nah. Of course, the obvious answer is to go to sleep earlier the night before you want to work out — but that's often easier said than done. Still, remember that seven to nine hours of sleep per night is a blanket recommendation and may not be the "magic number" for everyone. You also don't need to exercise every single day, so alternate days of sleeping in with mornings of getting up a bit earlier to train. “Working out first thing in the morning is a great way to kick-start your metabolism,” Mcall says. “Plus...you can knock [your workout] out before the hectic pace of the day unfolds and you’re pulled in a million different directions.”

Ultimately, like everything else, the tenuous relationship between sleep and exercise requires compromise and balance. As sleep scientist Hans Vans Dongen, PhD, tells Vox, “There are three things we need to take care of for our health: sleep, exercise, and good food. But, often it's a busy day...what should you cut? The benefits of the exercise for your health are undone by not getting enough sleep, so you may shoot yourself in the foot.”

So, the next time you're debating whether to trade shut-eye for squats, perhaps you should sleep on it.