The Weekly Dose Of Awesome: Coach Cam!


I’m incredibly excited to try a new awesome blog post format of audio for this week!

Tune into my interview with a man who caught my attention when he walked through our doors after moving from Boston who showed up exuding openness, strength and humility. I’ve had the honor and privilege of teaming up with him multiple times to experience how he plays on a team and also have experienced him in a coaching capacity on a few mornings. I’m stoked to be sharing my interview with the one... the only... Cameron Seher.

LISTEN BELOW... LOADING LOADING LOADING


The Weekly Dose of Awesome

The stuff we do in the gym can be intimidating. Think back to your first days of CrossFit and the wide eyes you had at what people were doing. This week's Awesome had that look... for a minute :-) But at some point that look changed to "I'm gonna do that." Kristina isn't afraid of her weaknesses; she sees them as an opportunity. That's the kind of Awesome that gives me goosebumps. A busy job doesn't keep her from getting in her Barbell WOD, even if it's on her own before class. Friday night mobility, personal training sessions... whatever it takes. Then workouts come up that ARE in her wheelhouse, like 17.1, and the wide eyes are pointed at her. Get to know a bit about this bold, fierce, determined athlete:

Name: Kristina Dahlberg
Nickname / Alter Ego: Dahlbeezy or Xtina
Hometown: Vashon Island, Washington
Occupation: Accounting at Atlassian
When did you first start CrossFitting? 2016
When did you first start CrossFitting at UB? 2016
Favorite WOD: I like those long terrible ones that you think there is no way you'll get through. Like filthy fifty. You feel so accomplished afterwards.
Least favorite WOD: probably HSPUs and running. 
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I always thought of myself as unathletic and purposely avoided any group fitness activities... I had a friend who loved CrossFit though and I decided it'd be good for me to face my fears, get over it and just go.
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? There are points in a WOD when you don't think you can get through but you're able to draw on something deep and keep going. This has taught me that my biggest limitation is my mind and my mentality rather than my true physical ability.
What’s your favorite sport, if any?  Are there any sports with dogs? Dog sledding?
What’s one goal you have for this year, physical or non-physical? Looks like I'm going to have to roll over the pull-up goal to next year but I did succeed in getting my scuba diving license!
If you could be any super hero, who would you be? Mystique - the ability to impersonate anyone would be extremely handy. Though unlikely to be used for good.
If you could spend an evening with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why? Alan Turing comes to mind... he seems super interesting and had a really rough ending. I'd love to tell the guy hey you'll be exonerated someday.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Over the last year+, Matt has been showing up for class at UB. Sometimes, Matt hits the last class after a long work day, only to go back to work and meet a deadline. Other days, happy hour was perhaps a little too happy, but Matt shows up anyway. Matt always brings a willing attitude, best effort, sass, and humor to his classes. Never taking himself too seriously, and constantly striving to be better at everything, Matt is a joy to coach and a great guy to be around.

Matt and his CEO, Kyle, now have an entourage of colleagues who join them for fitness, and mobility gear is showing up in their office space. We look forward to watching your crew grow and continue to make gains. 

Full Name: Matt Castaldo

Nickname / Alter Ego: Staldo or "The Great Staldini"

Hometown:  Boston, MA

Occupation: Sales and Trading Associate

When did you first start CrossFitting? August 2016

Favorite Movements: Power cleans, bench press

Least favorite Movements: Turkish get ups, assault bike

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? My CEO, Kyle, started encouraging me to come during the work day. I knew that I was hooked right away when I saw how practically it fit into my daily schedule

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I did expect to sleep better, have more focus and energy during the week, and see my diet improve and conform to my exercise.  I didn't expect how CrossFit spurs me to be far more active on weekends, and how much quicker my recovery is when I decide to go out for a few "adult beverages" on a Friday or Saturday. 

What is your next goal? In fitness? In Life? My next goal in CrossFit is definitely to improve my mobility (I know how much my tight hammies torture the coaches). In life, I'd like to get more efficient so I have more time aside to read and meditate.

What question do you wish you were asked more often and what is the answer? Are those calves real? No...all kidding aside, I'd like to be asked about my passions more so that I am always being pushed to think about my interests, goals, and aspirations. But yes, the chicken-leg calves are real.

What’s your secret talent? Starting to learn to DJ.

What is your favorite shower song? Any song by Kygo.

What is your biggest phobia? Zombies 

Pick a superpower? Brain power like Tony Stark. Become a Matt Stark. or an Iron Matt.

What is your favorite meal? Maine lobster, or anything seafood-related

Weekly Dose of Awesome

There once was a time before Sugarwod, even before the week's wods were posted here on the website, when you had to SHOW UP to see the day's workout. You don't know how good you have it! But this week's Awesome doesn't look. He's part of that rare breed that likes the surprise. I watch him stroll in, take a pause at the whiteboard each day, nod in approval, and get ready to hit it. Nothing phases this man, and often the more challenging the better. Then he goes about working on his HSPUs for a bit before class starts. Anton is determined, curious, and willing to try new things. Congrats, Anton, on SHOWING UP the way you do!

photos by UB's Manu G. (@manu_a_sf)

photos by UB's Manu G. (@manu_a_sf)

Name: Anton Yurchenko
Nickname / Alter Ego: b4ntik, gametag I use in online shooter games
Hometown: Kiev, Ukraine
Occupation: Network Engineer at Twitter
When did you first start CrossFitting? About 3.5 years ago. Twitter was offering in-house Crossfit training.
When did you first start CrossFitting at UB? Feb 2017, Twitter program got canceled, had to find a new place.

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Favorite WOD: anything with cleans
Least favorite WOD: anything with assault bike
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Coworker was going to class and was looking for more people to workout with.
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I watched all weightlifting competitions during last Olympics
What’s your favorite sport, if any? Soccer
What’s one goal you have for this year, physical or non-physical? Do a muscle up.
If you could be any super hero, who would you be? Deadpool
If you could spend an evening with any person, living or dead, who would it be and why?  Charlie Rose, I like his show, and it is one of my life time goals to be on it.

Weekly Dose of Awesome

Our charming friend, Rob, is a shining example of hard work paying off. Over the last 9 months, Rob has put in WORK. 5-10 minutes of double-unders before and after each class, and last week I watched him whip through big sets of blindly-fast dubs. When Rob discovered that ankle mobility was getting in the way of his OHS, he began to work daily on improving range of motion in his ankles. This week, Rob was able to do pistol squats in a workout for the first time!

As a new CrossFitter, it can be scary and intimidating to show up for class, let alone enter into competition. Earlier this year, Rob participated in the CrossFit Open. Last month, he returned from his wedding to the lovely Dana (whom you may also see in class), to throw down with a buddy (Dock) in their first off-site competition (post-comp photo below). 

This week, Rob, we raise our protein shakers to you, and your positive, determined, and humble attitude.

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Name: Robert Fenton
Nickname / Alter ego: Rob, Robbie, Fenton. Wish I had something more interesting to put here!
Hometown: A small town called Mitchelstown in Cork, Ireland.
Occupation: Founder & CEO at qualio.com
When did you first start CrossFitting? I started in November 2016 after realizing that I wasn't enjoying going to the gym on my own anymore. After three super awesome onramp sessions with Olivia I was hooked.
Favorite Movements: Double unders all the way. Currently working on stringing together triples :)
Least favorite Movements: Anything that includes getting into the overhead squat position.
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I'd known about CrossFit for years but for some reason I didn't check it out until last year. Watching the "Fittest on earth" documentary was a lightbulb moment and I knew it was something I'd like. My friend Connor Young hooked me up at UB and I haven't looked back since.
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I'd always enjoyed working out but it was always something I did on my own. CrossFit took what I liked about training in the gym and added a welcome social element with some friendly competitiveness. It was just what I needed after recently moving to SF from Ireland.
What’s your secret talent? I seem to consistently overestimate my ability with everything that I take up, which helps when it comes to getting through new WODs and pushing through the last few minutes.
What was your last concert? I went to see Metallica recently at Outside Lands. It was the first time I'd seen them in almost 10 years and they were better than ever.
What is the first song in your favorite playlist right now? My workout playlist gets the most airtime and Spotify has been serving me up some great suggestions recently. I just opened it now, and the first song that played was Devil's Son by DevilDriver. It's just what you need when you need a push in the last few minutes of a long AMRAP, and it would make a strong addition to Max Cantor's Spotify WOD playlist ;)

Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week's Awesome is an interesting cat. Quiet and mellow most of the time, just consistently coming into classes and getting work done. It takes the right question, or a proper nudge, and you'll get a glimpse at his funny side. But under his nonchalant demeanor, you can see the fire burn!  And over the last months, I've enjoyed watching him step up his game.  He sometimes comes in before class to put in some extra training, and he's determined to improve his mobility on the way to Gainzville. I especially enjoyed watching him get into the House Cup during the Open. Again, it took some prodding, but once in it he was committed as always - mixing it up with the community and putting forth his best effort. Don't miss your chance to get to know this cool dude:

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Name: Michael Stevens
Nickname / Alter Ego: Money-Stevens; has nothing to do with having money. It's a long story, but it all started in HS and a snow-ball fight - I was making it rain and the rest is history. The nickname has stuck with me over 2 continents through college and beyond
Hometown: Tokyo, Japan (but SF is definitely my second home)
Occupation: Finance – Portfolio Management
When did you first start CrossFitting? Mid 2015
When did you first start CrossFitting at UB? March, 2016
Favorite WOD: Favorite is a strong word, but 17.1 was a good one
Least favorite WOD: Any that require a mobile body...so all of them!
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Kristina (also a UBer) kept bringing it up and at some point I said something like "Stop talking about it and be about it" and she actually did so I had to try it as well. Haha I had heard about CrossFit, good things and bad, but you can't knock something until you try it!
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? Keeps the fight alive! I’ve played team sports my entire life and CrossFit has a lot of similar aspects. The playing days may have come to an end, but the drive never dies. What keeps me coming back is the community of UB all striving for similar goals and everyone always willing to offer a helping hand. Great teamwork!
If you could be any super hero, who would you be? Wolverine – Blades in my hands and the ability to regenerate? I'll take it.      
What’s your favorite Nicholas Cage movie? The Rock or Face Off
How About Harrison Ford? Star Wars
Denzel Washington? Training Day
Julia Roberts? Pretty Woman
Tom Hanks? Forrest Gump or Saving Private Ryan
That list just made it seem like I haven't seen a movie since like '99, but I'm going to blame the questions! :)

Weekly Dose of Awesome: Goodbye Edition

Every so often, an athlete comes along whose journey is so inspirational it makes everyone sit up and take notice. Austin S is this athlete to a tee. He came to us deconditioned but ready to put in any and all work necessary to get in shape. A tall, big guy (viking sized!) he didn't let this slow him down from any movements including kipping pull ups (it's amazing to see a viking fly around the bar!) - he knuckled down and made it happen.

Recently he got a bug up his ass to take his training to the next level. And boy did he - by taking some time to focus on his conditioning, he not only drastically improved his metcon performance level, his body composition has changed dramatically as well. He's also been focused on testing into Level 2 classes and is almost there.

Sadly, this is a goodbye edition. Denver, CO is stealing our Austin. We can't blame them. He's kind of the best, and we wish him all the best. Read on for some parting words from our resident viking.

At the Ultimate Lift Off in 2016 (Photo by Chloe Fan PhotOgraphy)

At the Ultimate Lift Off in 2016 (Photo by Chloe Fan PhotOgraphy)

Q: When did you know you were hooked on CrossFit?

A: Honestly, the first time I did the crossfit workout at the end of my onboarding period, I knew it was what I was looking for. I can't remember much about the specific workout, other than there were 200m runs and slam balls, but the exhausted feeling from cardio combined with the muscular exertion fatigue was what got me hooked. 

Q: What movement/aspect of fitness has improved the most since your Dose of Awesome in August 2016?

A: Wow, where do I start? Everything's gotten better, but I'd have to say that my approach to skill based movements has changed significantly. Getting stronger and having more endurance were areas I knew how to improve: you lift and you work hard on cardio. Approaching gymnastics, olympic lifting, or anything that wasn't about raw physicality seemed like black magic. I've been making a dedicated effort to study skill based movements, and the process has actually translated back into other areas, improving my power lifts and even my running. 

Q: What was your biggest "a ha!" moment in a workout or with a skill?

A: My first muscle up in January comes to mind here; Nikki convincing me to use the false grip and a big swinging kip was the final push. For a more recent example, I had a major breakthrough in snatch form a few weeks ago when I was finally able to combine a strong lift off, a high pull, and a deep catch in the hole. The first time I hit it, I knew I'd broken through a barrier.

Q: Do you have any tips to pass on to others looking to replicate your athletic journey?

A: I go through cycles of 8-12 weeks where I put extra emphasis in a few areas chosen pretty loosely based on what I've been struggling with in the previous weeks/months sessions. Pull ups + cardio endurance, powerlifting + olympic lifting, running + double unders, etc.  Contrary to common sport psych recommendations, I don't have one super explicit quantifiable goal for these, as I'm the type to over obsess on the goal to the point of not having fun anymore. Instead I try to have two or three pictures of what "improved" looks like for those areas, and go into each session with those in my mind. That way if I have a bad day I'm not defeated about it. Even on my worst day it's hard to argue that I didn't _somewhat_ improve on one of those targets just by showing up. I keep that flow with the specific area until I reach a significant date like a competition, or if I'm just bored or tired of the training. Then I reassess what areas to go deep with next and repeat the process. Since I still do normal classes, it's not too repetitive, and eventually everything gets dedicated attention.

Q: What is your favorite community moment at UB?

Did you think the viking thing was a joke?

Did you think the viking thing was a joke?

A: The open was awesome; it was legitimately impressive to see everyone get so competitive, but the environment stay so positive. I'm used to combat sports and martial arts, where when the competitiveness goes up, the negativity can increase as well. But, I'm still blown away that UB rolls deep to outside competitions like the oly team's events in Oakland, or when Erin was running the ultramarathon and needed some pacers. That's probably my favorite part of the community, that we support each other outside of the gym.

Q: What are your athletic goals for the rest of 2017?

A: I'd like to get stronger overall, get more proficient in my gymnastics endurance, and improve my mile run time. If I could improve each to where my olympic lifts are 100/135kg; I can do 10 unbroken MUs; my power lifts are 300/450/525lbs for bench/squat/deadlift; and my mile run is 6:30 by 12/31/2017 I'll be super happy. If not I'll keep chasing the goal and I'll still be better at the end of the year than I am now, which is cool. 

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.

Weekly Dose of Awesome

James has been a consistent part of the evening crew at UB for the past 3 years. For those of us who have been doing this CrossFit thing for awhile, it can be easy to shift into auto-pilot during the workout, and mentally check out. Recently, I've noticed James moving with increased intention and awareness. He comes in with a great attitude, working with whatever his body will allow on that day, and applies the coaching he receives. 

James, thanks for bringing us your best, hard-working, creative, coachable, humble, friendly self! 

Name: James Muehlner

Nickname / Alter Ego: In college I was Moose or The Unicycle Guy, but I guess "that big quiet guy" would suit me well now

Hometown: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

Occupation: Software Engineer, though I get to make spacecrafts so that's cool.

When did you first start CrossFitting?: I first started at Telegraph Crossfit in late 2012, though I've had to take a bunch of time off for recovery various surgeries. Hopefully no more of that for a little while!

Favorite Movements: Clean and Jerk, rowing, overhead squats, deadlifts.

Least favorite Movements: Anything I have to sub for injury, which is a lot, sadly.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Friends in college and in the competitive shooting community. I'd never really done any sort of fitness thing before this aside from competitive sports, but after a string of injuries I had to stop most of those. At some point I decided to start taking care of myself, and this seemed like a good way to do that.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I had to throw away a bunch of underwear because my legs didn't fit anymore. Seriously though, people I haven't seen in a while have told me that I look really good, which is new for me. I didn't really have any expectations coming into Crossfit, and I'm pleasantly surprised about the amount of progress I've made in terms of both athletic ability and appearance. I'm not very outgoing, and haven't really gotten into the community as much as I should, but everyone has made me feel very welcome, despite my limitations. I always look forward to working out, which is not something i'm used to.

What’s your secret talent? I can bend my pinkies all the way back.

What is your favorite cheat meal?  I'm not really on any specific diet so it's not exactly a cheat, but a big bowl of cereal is surprisingly satisfying sometimes.

What is your favorite shower song? At the moment I'm too cheap to pay for Spotify and too lazy to keep a music collection up to date so I'm mostly listening to music channels on Youtube like Stoned Meadow of Doom.

Pick a superpower: Wolverine-like healing so I could do stupid things and not worry about damaging myself, or perfect memory so I could remember people's names...

Look How Far You've Come, Baby!

K-Tjen stuck out as a prime candidate for some follow up awesome recognition since recovering from his injuries. He is always motivated in class and constantly give his best with a great attitude that easily spreads to others working out around him. He is always responsive to movement feedback and thankful. He is a joy to have in class and is one of the many reasons I am stoked to be apart of the UB Tribe.

Name: K-Tjen K.

Nickname / Alter Ego: Ragin' K-Tjen (it's been a while since I've lived up to that... although Pride is just around the corner)

Hometown: Singapore

Occupation: Day 4 of fun-employment (last week I was head of marketing for an interior design tech start-up) 

When did you first start CrossFitting?: Sept 2013 - I vividly remember my first class because the first warm-up movement was tumbling forward rolls and I was the only person in the entire class who couldn't do them. In that eternity of dying of embarrassment from 2 failed attempts, I remember thinking, I'm never coming back...

When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: Same - UB was/is my first, one and only 

Favorite WOD: I'm a total WOD-sadomasochist and I love the long chipper ones - it would probably be "Painstorm XII" which we did last December

Least favorite WOD: My 2 big goats are muscle-ups and handstand-pushups so it would be "Nate" which sounds like 20 mins of hell haha

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? I was doing personal training with Alex Armstrong, who used to coach at UB. All he kept talking about was CrossFit and how I would love it, and so one day I gave it a shot and (after the failed tumbling forward roll warm-up) I was completely hooked. The irony isn’t lost on either of us that his introducing me to CrossFit led to the end of our personal training sessions, but he understands. It was the best possible break-up; we continue to remain close friends.

What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? All my life I've been a barely-functioning social introvert - group settings still give me anxiety - and one of the big reasons I continued with CrossFit was to force myself out of my comfort zone. I'm never going to be Jason Luk (but a guy can dream, right?) but I'm working on being less of "The Tinman" every day. I moved around a lot growing up – I went to 4 different high schools in 4 different countries – and I’m used to feeling like a bit of an outsider. So while I didn’t expect to love CrossFit the sport, the bigger surprise was finding UB, the awesome, driven and diverse group of people in it (many of whom seem to be in the 630am class), and the feeling like I belong here. I think I’m going to be here a while.

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What challenges did you face during your injury recovery and what kept pushing you and inspiring you during those times? This past January, I tore my shoulder muscle doing a WOD with 50 ball slams at a weight heavier than I should have been using, and with not-great form. Then, because the universe has a sense of humor, I twisted my ankle running from the car to class soon after that. I’m not by nature a patient person so the initial few weeks were incredibly frustrating since I was forced to slow everything down.

In addition, my nutrition had also slipped for about a year leading up to the injury. Nothing major at first, but gradually there were more and more cheat meals during the week. I was drinking 5 nights a week and there were too many nachos-and-fries happy hours. I was 10 pounds heavier and half my clothes didn’t fit. I got to the point where I was feeling sluggish and winded during the cardio parts of the WOD.

February to May was a big reset period for me. Building movements back up from zero weight was an opportunity to work on form and setting progressive goals. Talking to all the coaches about modifications meant learning the intent of the programming (and why you always ask instead of coming up with your own substitution – the best alternative isn’t usually the most obvious one). The injury was also a big incentive to kick the nutrition back into gear – big thanks to Nikki for helping me completely change the way I think about eating. Thanks to all the morning coaches – Jenny, Olivia, Shannon, Nikki, Jason & Jack – for helping me modify WODs week after week, and for all the advice, suggestions and support. I’m down 10 pounds, the ankle is healed, the shoulder is definitely getting there. Yesterday I logged my 3rd Rx WOD in a row for the first time since January, and that felt pretty awesome.

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

This week's Awesome has been with us for a bit - since 2015, in fact. And while she's been kickin' ass and makin' gainz for a long time, it's how she's showing up recently that caught my notice.  Did you see her rock the Open wods? Actually, probably not - because she was there for the first heat each Friday night, before most of you arrived! But there she was, giving it her best, without the atmosphere that really pumps everyone up. And since the Open, she's been working on her weaknesses - most recently determined to cycle together her kipping pull-ups.  Michelle is always a joy to have in class, working hard and wanting to learn, with some sassy humor thrown in to keep up the fun. Learn a few things about her below. Congrats, Michelle!

Name: 
Michelle Lovejoy
Nickname / Alter Ego: 
Ms. Lovejoy or Ms. LJ (I'm a teacher!)
Hometown: 
San Jose, CA
Occupation: 
Middle School Teacher
When did you first start CrossFitting?: 
2009ish (but, I took a bunch of time off from 2011 to 2014 to train for a 1/2 Ironman!)
When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?
2015
Favorite WOD: 
Anything with pistols or gymnastic type work
Least favorite WOD: 
Anything with muscle ups (since I can't do one... yet)
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? 
My ex-boyfriend was a CF coach. He got me into it. My current boyfriend (Marshall Hawks) is also into CF.  :)
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? 
I like being able to lift heavy items. I'm short and small but don't need help moving large items around the house or help carrying groceries to my car. Non-Crossfit people are often surprised and/or concerned by this.
What are your favorite non-CrossFit activities? 
Skiing, climbing, playing soccer, drinking wine
What's your favorite food/drink you consider to be healthy? 
Broccoli
What's your favorite food/drink you consider to be not-so healthy? 
Wine and/or Boba Tea (not together)
If you could be any super hero, who would you be? 
Storm from X-Men. I wish I could control the weather.