Why I probably won’t be going back to CrossFit…at least not in South Africa

Integrity. It’s one of the first things that people mentioned when I first heard about CrossFit almost six years ago. A sport where you’re given crazy workouts, where regardless of how long it takes you to finish the wod (workout of the day) your pride is in the honest effort you gave. I drank the CrossFit Kool-aid and I loveeeed it!!! It was refreshing to be part of a sport where women were encouraged to be strong. A sport that on a larger scale, pays female athletes just as much as male athletes. Equality in almost every sense of the word, I say almost because until recently there was very little representation from minority groups in CrossFit but slowly, I do believe it’s going to get better.

This post is inspired by a blood boiling moment I’ve just had at this lovely hour of the night, 23:54 to be precise, triggered by suddenly noticing that a few members from my old box who in truth were more the owners friends than mine, suddenly unfollowed me on insta. Meanwhile I was there merrily tagging them in posts 😂 These individuals for me have tarnished the love I once had for CrossFit as a community sport. In a South African context, I am about 99% sure that I will not be returning to a CrossFit box anytime soon…covid-19 lockdown or not!

About six or so months ago, the box that I was training at suddenly closed. The worst part about it was hearing from other members that the owners didn’t want to say anything because they didn’t want to lose people’s money. The timing of it was horrid for us as members who now had to scramble to find a box that felt like the home we thought we had. In addition to that, being billed for membership when you haven’t been to the box for 3 months while nursing your injury, is the d*ck move that I just didn’t see coming. As members, it left a bad taste in our mouths. It left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m over the drama but I’m also not, you feel me?

Here’s the thing that’s unique about CrossFit, you’re encouraged more than any other sport that I’ve ever watched, or partaken in, to make connections with the people who will see you shed blood, sweat, and tears, for the 5, sometimes 6 days that you’re there. How real those connections are varies, I know people who’ve met their partners through CrossFit. I also know people who have had their hearts broken through CrossFit. When you really buy into a box, and (sadly) believe the owners care as much as you do, it’s as though you’re seeing ‘la vie en rose,’ a little bit of naïvety, blind faith, and trust in your coach, that the box will always be there.

I think those three traits are reasons why a lot of members are blindsided when they’re kept in the dark about major changes or say in my case, the closure of a box that had become such an integral part of their life. As I detox from this CrossFit breakup I realise now why I can never again join a box in South Africa, I will always see every box owner as more interested in having my money in their back pocket, as opposed to wanting to improve my health markers. I kinda understand the shakeup at CrossFit HQ that Greg Glassman did. It was to remind boxes of what the purpose of CrossFit is, not just forging elite fitness but forging elite health as well. The CrossFit formula only works if you have a coach who is more passionate about improving health markers of his members, than enriching the health markers of his back pocket. It’s always interesting to me how a lot of people will forget to keep the main thing, the main thing when money is involved. It’s not to say that you can live on passion alone because Lord knows if I was just passionate about my job but never pursued excellence in it, I’d never be able to afford my favourite NARS and Chanel makeup items 😂(silly moment there!)

For a long time I held my tongue on writing about this issue because y’all I am trying to be a great Christian, you know: love God, love people? But the people, Lord your people are making it so darn hard for this girl to stay on the narrow road that leads to heaven 🤦🏽‍♀️ I’ve always said that my blog would be reflective of all seasons of my life, and I didn’t think I wanted to post on this issue because of how messy and unresolved it still is, but as I continue to be confronted with duplicitous behaviour from people who are so far from having integrity, it is truly all I can do to write this post and not put any names in. Even though the petty Patty in me wants to put names in… I won’t and trust me it’s not because I don’t want to 🙈🙉🙊

The moral of the story is this: think twice, and then a third time before you join a box started by a friend 😂 it’s not that I’m saying don’t support your friends’ new ventures, I’m just saying if it’s a box, girl!!! You better stay away because you’d be surprised at how much mediocre coaching you’ll put up with when it’s your ‘friends’ box! 🙈

Shout out to Fit 5ive/CrossFit 4E for giving me some really good years of CrossFit before this doozy. Most importantly, shout out to my sister who is less petty than I am, I have zero respect for people who mess with someone else’s hustle. You know who you are. Anyhoo you live and you learn peeps! #throwingshade.

Pregnant or Fat?

I’m going through a crappy period with my weight and it’s hard not to get down on myself, especially when everyone keeps asking if I’m pregnant 🤰🏽 I’m not, I’ve just gained weight. I’m on a solid reset plan that involves zero sugar and mostly veg. So far so good, BUT it’s tough. I looked at my body today and I wasn’t happy with what I saw. There’s the quiet voice from my bulimic days that sometimes taunts me. My plan is to see a nutritionist and find out how I can potentially do plant based eating alongside long distance running and CrossFit. Right now I am being as gentle as I can be with myself while on this new journey of bettering myself and shedding a few kilos. Choosing to go on a health kick during the festive season is probably not the best idea 🤦🏾‍♀️.

In Review: USN vs. NPL

One thing that grates on my titties is when I want to buy a supplement, my first instinct is to go on google to read reviews. Sadly 9 times out of 10, there aren’t any reviews. I like having facts in front of me BUT I also like to know how a product has or hasn’t worked for someone. When I bought these two products at Dis-Chem roughly two months ago, I had in my head the intention that I would review these to help someone else like me that loves facts combined with experience. The products that I’ll be reviewing are USN Energizing Amino Ener-G and NPL’s Amino Burn. At face value (with such similar names,) you’d expect identical results however there are a few key differences that would make one product more suitable for you in regards to training goals.

I am a very simple girl when it comes to supplements, I don’t like to use too many. My staples throughout the 3 years that I’ve been doing CrossFit, have been creatine HCL (unflavoured, mixed with nothing else,) and glutamine. In addition to that I take a multivitamin (when I remember.) I am at a place where I love what I’m currently doing, hard work but rewarding work and I find that my energy needs a little kick up the bootay before wodding. I’ve experimented with a lot of different pre-workouts and currently these are the two in rotation. I’ve rated each product on taste and energy delivery. Those (aside from ingredients of course,) are for me the most important things when choosing a pre-workout. I don’t want something that I have to force myself to drink. Many a time I have felt myself irritating a sales consultant when he recommends me the most expensive but also most useless supplement in relation to MY fitness goals. I would recommend always doing your research before buying anything. Go armed with facts because you cannot always trust what you’re being sold. These products were bought with my money, however should you feel inclined to send me vegan friendly products to review, I will gladly oblige 🙂

TASTE: NPL trumps USN in this round. The strawberry kiwi flavour that I bought actually tasted like strawberries, the kiwi taste I couldn’t pick up. As much of a sugar fiend as I am, these supplements are sugar free and are void of that sickly taste that some supplements can have. There’s a They do however contain a blend of non-nutritive sweeteners to enhance the flavour profile. The USN flavour that I tried is supposed to taste like raspberry flavoured rascals…it didn’t. It tastes like a watered down version of that horrid red version of cream soda. The one reason why I’ve been going on long runs is so that I can use up the 30 servings that I still have left. The blueberry rascals flavour from USN which I have also tried, is leaps and bounds better than the raspberry soda and I loved the way it turned the water a lovely blue colour…it’s the little things.

Overall score: NPL 5/5 USN 3/5

ENERGY: NPL recommends using either half a scoop (5g,) or a full scoop (10g) to 150ml-200ml of water. USN recommends one scoop (10g) to 200ml of water. They both contain caffeine and green tea extract as stimulants and are therefore not recommended after 16h (which I did once and suffered with insomnia.) Each 10g serving of NPL delivers 140.0 kilojoules of energy, while each 10g serving of USN delivers 26kJ of energy. I had to read the label twice as I couldn’t believe that there that there was such a discrepancy between the two. Per 100g, NPL delivers 1398kJ of energy, compared to USN’s 262kJ. You know how this round ends don’t you, NPL 2, USN 0. I have noticed that when I use NPL’s amino burn, my energy levels pick up gradually, stabilise and stay there. When I have used USN’s Amino Ener-G, it feels as though I have an energy spike that isn’t sustained. The inclusion of grape seed extract in NPL’s amino burn aids in focus and clarity which I have definitely felt on days when I have consumed it before work. Both products contain an amino acid blend, aka branched chain amino acids (BCAA, more on that in a future post) to aid in recovery, the most well-known (and one that I supplement on its own,) being glutamine.

Overall score: NPL 5/5 USN 2/5

OVERALL RESULT: Not a surprise, NPL. At the start of this review, I already had my (biased) opinion ready. It would have been a win for USN based on the fact that I’ve used (and loved) their products before and it seems to be quite a fan favourite in the fitness world. However, after analysing the labels and doing further reading on the ingredients contained in each product, NPL came out tops. One added benefit is that their amino acid blend has thermogenic properties which when combined with high intensity training is beneficial for your training regime/goals. It also aids in supporting lean muscle mass and hello, who doesn’t want to look leaner and meaner?

Fight

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. Fight for what you want your life to look like.

A couple of weeks ago I deleted all of my posts on Instagram. We’ve all been on a page before and thought the person who deleted all their posts to be a bit of an attention seeker (CONFESSION: I’ve thought that!) I promise that wasn’t my intention. I had a moment of madness and felt that my account no longer reflected who I was, who I wanted to be. Social media doesn’t have to be serious, but sometimes it can become a place where we very easily spew out every single emotion we are feeling. How many of us have ranted about a bad day (or bad colleagues,) on Twitter (SO GUILTY!) Ever since the passing of my sister, I wake up most days feeling dangerously close to the edge. The horrible thing about depression is that, once it has tainted you it feels as though there will always be something to tip you over the edge. There will always be something that threatens to throw you off the edge. Notice I said threaten. This means that it can be avoided. One of the ways that I continue to avoid being thrown off the edge, is through CrossFit and my faith in God. I’ll admit that during this seemingly never-ending season of grief, I have sometimes drawn on CrossFit a lot more than on God, for sustainable strength. This is due to the feeling as though God doesn’t have time to listen to me and if He had listened to me, then perhaps my sister would still be alive. There’s a longer post on that coming up, I’ll aim to post it on Wednesday, pinky promise.

Until then (please be patient,) I’ll tell y’all what I have so far learnt: faith and fitness definitely work together and this has probably been the reason why I’m not in as deep and dark a hole as I would be without these two. Social media doesn’t have to be shallow and superficial, it can be a positive space where we’re inspired, challenged and dare I say, even pushed to grow. A place where strength is found by being the person you are online, as you are in real life. Going forward, my social media accounts will continue to more accurately reflect this journey of light that I am on and the fight to being the best version of myself. I will aim to inspire and challenge you as much as I can.

This is your life, you decide what it looks like!

Mesmerizing

For as long as I can remember, I have always been part of the club of women that put on muscle (and unfortunately fat,) very quickly. This has meant that even if I go without doing things like push ups (who wants to do those anyway?) my arms are always defined, T-Rex and I are one in the same! The fact that my arms are so defined used to bother me. You’d find me covering up my arms, even on the hottest days. For a long time, I wished that there was a deflate button hidden somewhere in a vein. On those very rare occasions when I’d go on a date, (real ones, not the imaginary ones with James Franco,) and I find myself sitting across the table from a guy with arms smaller than mine, I would feel like Batman, and was there anyone who wanted to date Batman in a dress? I didn’t think so, and for a long time that was the lie that I believed. The lie that somehow in order to make others (in this case, men,) feel secure about themselves, I had to downplay my strength and be the damsel in distress, and I had to have smaller arms…that was until I found CrossFit.

You’ll do the toughest wods, most with female names… Perhaps in acknowledgment to the unrivalled strength and indomitable spirit that every woman possesses, and a nod to the phrase ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ There’s a great sense of empowerment in every class, in the very best boxes (mine,) you’ll have a coach that pushes you regardless of your gender, and you’re not handled with kiddie gloves because you’re a girl. Being a girl means nothing in terms of how hard you’re pushed. In fact what I’ve come to learn is that in the world of CrossFit, if someone tells you to lift like a girl, well Jim* you better be scared of what you’re gonna have to load on that bar! The women of CrossFit are strong; we’ll paint our nails (sometimes,) and then ruin that fresh manicure landing a PR in our squat snatch (that’s the lift I want to PR!)

When I first started CrossFit in 2014, I wore the baggiest t-shirts. I still do now but usually with shorts because I like tricking people with the whole pants, no pants question. In those days I wore the baggy t-shirts because I hated my body. I felt like I needed to hide the way I looked. The fact that I had been vegetarian for two years (vegan for a mere five months,) and still hadn’t whittled down to a size 4, infuriated me. I guess some people are just meant to be built like elephants, or gorillas? I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. Fast forward to three years later, we’re in 2018 now and I’ve come to prize function over aesthetic…on most days at least. I haven’t completely thrown caution to the wind. I still have my periods where if I feel a little bit chunkier than usual, I’ll either train more or eat a lot less of my kryptonite…bread, potatoes, pizza…gosh I looooove pizza and anything that has sugar in it.

The best thing I’ve heard all year was that my body is mesmerizing. Now I will say, said person was a bit of a creep but there’s no reason to discount the truth that came from him. Mesmerizing.

Mesmerizing: capture the complete attention of (someone) or to hypnotize someone.

When was the last time you thought of your body that way? Have you ever thought of your body that way? Guess what, your body IS mesmerizing. Your body is strong. Your body is beautiful and I don’t just mean in an aesthetic way but physiologically as well. Have you ever thought of the work that goes into keeping you alive? Little things like being able to breathe, your heart pumping blood around your body without you having to remind it, being able to walk without having to consciously send a message to your brain to put the left foot forward now.

As the years that I have been fitness-ing add up, my nutrition and training habits are starting to get better, and each day I learn to love this body that is doing its best to function and perform as I want it to. Discipline tempered with kindness. Kindness to remember that my body (and yours,) is mesmerizing.

I’ve had people look down on me, put me down because I didn’t look like them- I look stronger. Serena Williams

*Jim is the generic name that I use for any man that dares to think women are the weaker sex.

Athletes’ Corner: Mitch Spjut

The Open is done and dusted, invitations for regionals have been sent out. The best part of the CrossFit season is almost upon us. In this segment of Athletes’ corner, I have the honour of presenting to you Mitch Spjut. I don’t know about you guys, but there’s something about these segments that has me really excited about the direction that fitness, in particular CrossFit (I’m biased; we have the best athletes)  is headed. I love that I get to hound some pretty INCREDIBLE athletes and ask them all the questions that we’d naturally spew out. 

Mitch Spjut, welcome to the Athletes’ Corner!

A: Hiya Mitch, so before we dive in, give us an intro on who you are.

MS: I am 24 was a member of the Wasatch Brute’s. Been doing crossfit for about two years now and getting ready for individual this year.

  •  As someone whose name gets butchered ALL the time, I’m curious to know, (and I’m sure everyone else is,) how is your surname pronounced

MS: Great question. It is pronounced spute like dispute without the ‘di’.

  • When it comes to your CrossFit journey, why did you start CrossFit, and what was it about CrossFit that stuck?

MS: I got into CrossFit for the act of competing. I was getting bored with only going to the gym to go to the gym, and felt I should be doing something to chase after. I started It when a friend of a friend told me I needed to get into something, I am too strong to not be competing in something. CrossFit stuck because it’s constantly varied it’s never the same and it leaves no room for doubt. You’re either better than the other person or not.

  • Last year you lifted the Affiliate Cup with the Wasatch Brutes; new rules have just been announced for the 2018 Games season, which means that teams will now have 2 males and 2 females to form a 4 member team. How do you think this might impact the competition?

MS: It’ll raise the level of competition tremendously. It’s a lot easier to get 4 really fit people together rather then 6. Also I think a lot more individual athletes will transition over the team side of competition.

  • I was watching a video that the Brute Strength team uploaded on YouTube last year, and in that video you spoke about how had you gone into the Games as an individual, you would have been a lot more nervous. How are you feeling this year, and will we be seeing you competing individually or as part of the Wasatch Brutes?

MS: This year I am going individual and I’m feeling awesome about it. I’m excited and this will be a good year. With last year under my belt I wasn’t nervous because I had 5 other amazing people right by my side. This year I won’t have that, but with the experience that came from that I’m not that nervous going into it. Now as things get closer that might change.

It’s a matter of putting in the work in and allowing that to shine through.

  • What are some of your aspirations as a CrossFitter individually and perhaps as part of a team?

MS: Well as a team we accomplished the ultimate. As an individual the goal is the same, to be the best. Win the south regional this year, and ultimately take the top spot at the Games come August.

  • Let’s quickly talk about that moment where the Wasatch Brutes lifted the Affiliate Cup. What was that moment like and how will you be using that to fuel your 2018 CrossFit season?

MS: Lifting up the affiliate cup was great. It was the culmination of all the hard work, hours in and out of the gym. Yet that one moment wasn’t what made that so great. The fun was the training. Going in everyday working hard with your team and pushing each other to get better. There was such a high standard that we held for each other. The attitude came from Adrian, but we weren’t settling for anything but winning it all. That was the standard everyday going into the gym. That is what made lifting the affiliate cup so great it was all the hard work paying off.

  • As an individual, and an elite CrossFitter, when you notice that you’ve gotten complacent and just that little bit cosy in your comfort zone, whether that’s in your training or your personal life, how do you get yourself out of that zone?

MS: When I get complacent or lazy I notice things aren’t going as well. Workouts don’t go well, recovery isn’t happening. It makes training hard, and not as fun. I know in those moments I need to get my focus back  to constantly push myself. It is easy to get complacent, not do the recovery work, eat the unhealthy food, but that isn’t what makes you better. I feel much better when I am pushing myself to be better in every aspect of training and life. When I get in those times I refocus and think about what I need to be better at and start doing it. It becomes real obvious in my training when I am getting complacent.

  • We’ve all heard/read the quote that says pride comes before a fall. In CrossFit, I’d say that it’s ego that comes before a fall. Do you have any puffy ego moments to share with us, and what/who is it that brings you back down to earth, keeps you humble and working hard?

MS: I don’t really have any moments that really stick out as huge ego moments. There is always someone better then you in a workout. CrossFit is really good at getting your ego in check constantly. There are times when I will think I am doing enough, or I am performing well enough and that is when I get complacent, like in the last question. That is when I know I need to refocus and push myself.

  • As an athlete, do you have an pre-wod or pre-comp rituals or practices that you can credit with giving you not just the physical toughness, but the mental drive that is needed in order to stay focused and give your best effort?

MS: As a team throughout the whole summer all of our training days through regionals and the games we would always huddle up before every workout. We’d talk about what we needed to do, strategies, what we do if things went wrong, motivation, and then Adrian would yell ‘WASATCH’ and we all would yell ‘BRUTES’. It became a mantra for us. I’m sure at regionals and the games people would get annoyed or think we were dumb, but it set us up with the mindset to win and dominate. I knew from after that we were ready to go. Then we could be loose and confident in what was about to go down. For me now as an individual I go through a similar thing, I think about what I need to do, how to do it, get ready and know the plan. After that I can be loose and confident, cause I know I can do this.

  • My fitness motto is not necessarily just about fitness. It’s the way that I aim to live my life. Two Bible verses, Hebrews 12:11 and Colossians 3:23. Do you have any fitness/life mottos or verses that you try to live by?

MS: Even though I am a Christian and have a strong belief in Christ, I don’t get motivated by scriptures, or quotes. I love them, and think they’re awesome, but when it comes down to it they give me no power to be better. My actions, what I am doing gives me power. I try everyday to be the best that I can. I make mistakes all the time, but I am constantly trying to get a little better than the day before. All the scriptures give us are things to live by and how to be a better person. I don’t like choosing one specific verse to live by constantly, I think there are many verses to help us and those are constantly changing depending on where we’re at in our lives. I firmly believe we should anchor ourselves to Christ and not to anything else. If we get caught up anchoring ourselves to other things even if it is a scripture then that keeps us from progressing. God gave us lots of scriptures and we should use them all and constantly try to progress in those everyday. In short I try and live by Jesus Christ’s example everyday.

  • What advice do you have for newbees?

MS: The process takes time. You are not going to be great overnight. It takes time, and it can feel long. Everyone is at a different pace, you can’t compare yourself to others. You need to focus on getting a little better everyday. And don’t let fear or frustration take over. It’s a struggle and you’ll get mad and annoyed but you can do it. I remember when I was learning stuff it was frustrating I constantly expected myself to be better then everyone else, but I realized that isn’t the objective it’s a matter of becoming your best. I still get frustrated and annoyed. I have an Instagram post of me throwing my jump rope because I was struggling with double unders on that day. It happens, but laugh at yourself move on and be better.

  • What is your typical pre-workout snack? And what do you have post-workout?

MS: Every morning before I workout I have the am protein from FNX it’s perfect and is just what I need in the morning. I also like to do something like a piece of fruit and sometimes a protein bar. Post workout I do a protein shake and creatine. Nothing too special or crazy just the standard stuff.

  • In closing Mitch, what’s the legacy that you want to leave behind?

MS: Easy question. I want to be my absolute best. Which there is no reason why my best, can’t be the best in the world. I never want to leave a doubt that I didn’t do everything I could to become the absolute best I can be in everything in my life. That’s what I want to leave behind that becoming your best is possible.

Drop it like a squat…

Can you remember the first workout move you ever did? No? Don’t worry I’ll help you out, it was the squat. It’s the first thing we do as babies, we do it  without even thinking about maintaining that 90 degree angle. We’re naturals at that age!  The fairytale would be that we stay that natural forever right? But then life begins , we take different paths, a path that might be void of sports and then one magical day, you find the best sport in the world, *DRUM ROLL PLEASE!* CrossFit!

As CrossFitters we know how integral a good squat is. It’s all over instagram, booty’s are important people! Posts accompanied by one…or in my case, all of these hash tags, #squats #shesquats #asstograss #squatbabysquat…and in my best Sam Smith voice, ‘I know I’m not the only one.’ The squat is an exercise movement that is useful for more than just developing a rounder tush that you can bounce a quarter off of.  You’ll see the squat in everyone’s favourite movement…wallballs, yay! The squat, a shallow form of it, is also present in movements such as snatches, box jumps, cleans, deadlifts and kettlebell swings to name a few. Learning and applying proper squat mechanics means that you will be less likely to injure yourself,  and will be on your way to a nice juicy butt!

What’s so great about the squat?

What’s not great about the squat should be the question you’re asking! The squat is considered a compound, full body exercise movement and not just for the great butt benefits, do I say that squats should be part of everyone’s fitness routine!

Here’s why: squats are functional and although the muscles that it primarily targets are your quads and glutes (we’ve felt that with Karen!) Squats can help you in promoting better  midline stability as you focus on keeping you core engaged, i.e. spine straight and neutral, (no hunching forward,) thereby building strength in your lower back.  If you arch your back during your squat, or any movement that begins in a squat, you’re more likely to injure/ hurt your back. Proper squat mechanics should  be centred on bracing through your core and making sure that the largest muscle that you have, your quads, do most, if not all of the work. Squats help in promoting mobility and balance by engaging your secondary muscles, known as stabilizers such as your transverse abdominal muscles (this is a muscle layer, considered to be a significant component of your core in providing strength and stability to your thorax…fancy biology term for your rib cage, which stabilizes your body movements,)  soleus and gastrocnemius (calf muscles,) erector spinae (the muscles that straighten and rotate the back,) your hip flexors which are important for flexibility and an increased range of motion, as well as your hamstrings. They’re an exercise movement that can be easily ramped up by either adding more reps, or more weight. Squats can be done anywhere with very minimal space and equipment, which is great because it means we’ve just scratched an excuse off of our list.

A good squat shouldn’t cause pain or put strain on your knees and/or lower back. When I injured my back last year, I found out that I have an extra vertebra, if you’re normal, you only have 5 lumbar vertebrae.  I have a sixth one, (known as a transitional vertebra) inserted just about my sacrum and coccyx, which can make most movements where I have to bend, i.e. squatting, uncomfortable. My physio taught me this gem of a trick, a hip flexor activation that helps ensure that those flexor muscles are primed and ready to do what they were meant to do. It also takes the strain and pain (nice rhyming skills there right!!!) away from your lower back, which is a common area of pain for those with an extra vertebrae.

How to do it: hip flexor activation

This works best when someone else does it for you, but you’ll reap just as many benefits by doing it on your own/to yourself? Whether it’s you or someone else activating you, you’ll want to lie flat on your back, the floor works best, sometimes I’ve even practiced this standing, keeping a nice tight posture with my core engaged.  If you’re on the floor, the idea is to have zero arch through your lower back, your core is engaged, your spine is keeping everything strong. Almost like if someone had to try tickle your stomach, they’d encounter your rock hard abs. While you’re laying on the floor, take the palm of your hand and rub the centre of your stomach, (your belly button area,) for 30 seconds. Then do the same by rubbing both sides of your oblique’s at a 45 degree angle.

Why this works: Something that I didn’t know prior to physio is that your hip flexors should be the initiators of a squat. A hip flexion is created at the bottom of your squat, with your hip flexor muscles, reach their maximal eccentric contraction, in simple terms, this means that the muscle fibres lengthen as they contract, those are the days when all your squats feels easy. This is generally why the wider the range of motion, or flexibility you have in your hip flexor muscles, the deeper and more comfortable your squats will be. You’ll feel your quads contract eccentrically in this downward squat motion. Coming up, your muscles contract in a concentric form, which means that the muscle fibre shortens and your able to utilise your quad strength to bring that booty up.

So there ya have it kids, for a stronger booty, core and quads, all you have to do is squat!

Athletes’ Corner: Chloë Hillier

I love social media; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook eh…not so much (how are we still using it?) I love that it’s provided for individuals to connect regardless of where they live. My favourite thing about social media? Connecting with other CrossFitters. That’s not a statement that should come as a surprise; I have said before that CrossFitters are the best humans on earth. It’s best you don’t try to argue on that point haha!

When I first saw Chloë’s account on insta, it was an immediate follow from me. She’s a total badass, and I don’t know about you guys but I love badass people, whether that’s on social media or in real life, they’re great to have around!  So before you even dig into this piece with my bestie from across the pond, do something smart. Go on instagram, (I know you have the app, it’s 2018 people!) and give my girl (c.hills) a follow. You won’t regret it! This year I would love to travel to the UK…return to the UK, and get to train with so many of the lovely people that I’ve had the opportunity to connect with. Chloë is one of those people; it’s probably what fuels my training session’s #mustbeBADASSlikeChloë. On a more serious note, the narrative that CrossFit allows female CrossFitters to partake in is one that is largely positive. One where we’re all rooting for each other, sometimes even shouting at each other to squeeze that last rep in, all because we genuinely want to see each other succeed. We honestly all just want to be faster, stronger and better, don’t we? When I reached out to Chloë for this interview, I was thrilled that she accepted. I know you’ll enjoy reading this!

Welcome to the Athletes’ Corner Chloë!

  • Hey Chloë, so give us an intro on who you are and what you do?

CH: Hey Aurélie! Thanks so much for asking me to feature on your blog – what a privilege! So a little about me… I’m a 27 year-old CrossFit-loving dogmum from the UK! I live with my partner and our dog in Old Basing, in Hampshire. For those unfamiliar with UK geography it’s about 45mins west of London by car. At work I’m a full-time communications manager for a security company, but outside of work is where my passions are! Namely my 2 year-old cocker-spaniel called Roxy (those who follow me will know her well!) and CrossFit. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 4 and half years now (time flies!!) and I love it just as much as I did when I first started…perhaps even more!

One thing I love about your account is that the things you post are a genuine reflection of who you are. Fun posts; CrossFit, holidays, work, and my favourite-doggy posts!!! In the age of carefully curated instagram accounts that seem ingenious, yours is amongst those that aren’t contrived. You keep it real (…that phrase is sooo played out!)

  • It’s easy to start doing/posting things for the ‘gram, but you don’t.  What or who keeps you grounded?

CH: Thank you so much! In all honesty, for me social media is about having fun and showing others what you’re all about. Let’s be honest, most of us will never have more than a few followers so what’s the point in being anything other than true to yourself?!  As long as my account is providing a bit of inspiration, happiness and humour to those who have chosen to follow me then it’s all good for me J Although I’m sure I’ve lost a few followers due to excessive CrossFit posts…their loss. Some people just don’t get it 😉

I’m obsessed with deadlifts. High rep, low volume or high volume, low reps. Whatever the combination is, that’s the move that I would do for the rest of my life…big statement to make. In fact I would even go as far as calling it the world’s most perfect lift/move. Firstly I’m not the tallest person in the world so I don’t have to get that far off the ground haha, and also thigh power!

  • What’s your favourite move/wod?

CH: As much as we get on Aurélie I could not disagree more! Haha! I HATE deadlifts with a passion – I think it’s something to do with my long legs but oh man they always seem so hard. For me, I have two favourite movements…HSPUs and snatches! I just think there is something so great about being able to compete in a sport where one minute you’re performing a heavy Olympic lift and the next you’re upside down doing handstands against a wall! Name one other sport with that level of variety…nope, didn’t think so!

  • What’s one move that you can think of that didn’t look the best when you first started, and now after a lot of discipline and consistency, you’ve improved in?

CH: Funnily enough this is the one I hate the most…deadlifts! A lot of people would argue that this is one of the easiest movements in CrossFit but for me it’s one of the hardest. I really struggle to keep good form with a flat back when the bar gets heavy. I tend to round my lower back and cause unnecessary stress on it. Whilst it has never hurt me, I know it isn’t the right way to be lifting…especially as it also translates into the initial ‘pull’ phase of my Olympic lifts, thus giving them bad form too. It has taken a LOT of frustration and drilling good form at lighter weights but I feel like I’ve started to crack it. My instinct is still to pull from my lower back so it’s something that I will always have to work on but I feel that it’s so much better than when I first started CrossFit and I’m proud of that.

There’s a misconception that exists that in order to excel at CrossFit, you have to quit your day job…the temptation is great right? You haven’t quit your day job, you’re enjoying it and you’re KILLING it at comps. We’ve seen it with Brent Fikowski, he’s a financial controller, and he’s the second fittest man on earth. It can be done!

  • A: You’ve gotta share your secret with us, how do you find that balance between work and play?

CH: Don’t get me wrong, if someone said to me ‘hey Chloë, quit your job and I’ll cover all your costs while you train all day everyday’ of course I would bite their arm off! But, let’s be real here, that’s never going to happen! So for me it’s all about finding a routine which works and sticking to it. My typical day is…get up, walk Roxy, spend the day at work, get home and walk her again, train at the gym and then by the time I’m home in the evening I usually have a couple of hours to have dinner, relax and unwind for bed. It does sometimes seem like these days are very full on, but that’s why it’s important to make sure you have rest days! BALANCE IS KEY!

  • I’m pretty notorious at packing EVERY thing in my sports bag. At one stage I had two skipping ropes, different colours because hey, on Wednesdays I like to use a pink skipping rope. It got to a point where even if I wasn’t going to work after the box, I’d have things like 3 different shower gels, 2 different training tops. It is RIDICULOUS, and I can’t be the only one that crazy! What do you pack in your sports bag?

CH: I think this is a girl thing! My gym bag is usually pretty full too! I tend to train in the evenings so fortunately I don’t need to pack all of the shower and work stuff but somehow I still manage to fill up a bag! In mine you’ll find the ‘CrossFit essentials’ like wrist straps, lifters, skipping rope, etc, but then you’ll find what others may describe as ‘a lot of unnecessary crap’ too! This often includes things like running trainers (as much as I adore Metcons they aren’t the best if you’ve got a WOD with 5x800m runs!), about a million hair ties (if you know, you know) and a variety of snacks (because, duh, food). Obviously I think it’s ALL essential but there you go…

  • My power song is Beyoncé ‘who run the world.’ Scratch that, my power artist is Beyoncé haha. If I think of training that I’ve done to the tune of Beyoncé, they’ve always been great. What/ who do you like to listen to while you’re training?

CH: This is why we need to train together one day! I love Beyoncé more than life itself. If ever I’m allowed to be gym DJ then I head straight for the Queen Bey playlists. I would have her on repeat all day, every day if I could…

In an interview with the CrossFit Games media team, Brent Fikowski said: ‘training yourself on a daily basis to deal with a little bit of failure will definitely help when it comes to competition because how you dealt with adversity the entire year-inside and outside the gym-is going to determine how you deal with adversity. You can’t be situationally mentally tough.’  I will go on record with calling myself the CrossFit drama queen, I learn my mental toughness through tantrums, and while tantrums are great haha, a great thing that my amazing coach taught me is to never throw a tantrum so great and (let’s call it what it is,) so childish that it gets into your head, ruins your game plan and negatively impacts your performance, i.e. save the (physical,) bucket kicking for when you’re at the Games. I have a rubber band that I wear, and should I complain, I have to switch wrists.

  • Do you have any practices that you adopt in terms of being mentally tough not just in the box, but outside of training as well, and how does that filter through to the mindset that you have when it comes to competitions?

CH: I think I’ve always considered myself as quite a tough person. I’ve always been up for a challenge. But CrossFit has definitely helped to develop that even more. There’s something very special about doing a sport which educates you about what your body is capable of (especially as a woman). It’s extremely empowering and a mindset which translate into every walk of life, not just in the gym.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS

Fran or Cindy? Cindy. Fran is the work of the devil.

Cleans or snatches? Snatches all day everyday

When I’m not at the box, I can be found… Out and about walking with Roxy

Dream escape? I’d love to spend some time exploring South East Asia.

IN THE FRIDGE:

The tastiest thing in there is… Either chocolate or cheese, depending on the mood!

The best superfood in there is… Water. Does that even count? If it doesn’t then it should!

Every week I need to buy more… Bananas…because I use them in everything! Pancakes, smoothies, just on their own…

You won’t find… Fish or seafood of any sort. I wish I liked it because it’s so healthy but I just can’t stand it.

  • In closing Chloë, what’s the legacy that you want to leave behind?

CH: To have made at least one person (or doggy!) smile every day of my life J

P is for positive!

‘Change can be powerful, if we are brave enough to evolve with it.’

The hardest part of CrossFit is finding a box. Finding a coach that you connect with and people that are on the same wavelength as you are. A place where positivity is felt the minute you step in!

In the wake of my sister’s death, I did not want to train AT ALL! When you lose someone you love so dearly, everything reminds you of them. Fitness in particular, was one of the things that my older sister and I had in common. Whenever we trained together, my sister would be the one yapping away and I’d be thinking, ‘shut up and train.’ Now whenever I’m at the box, I’m the one that a lot of people wish would just shut up and train 😂 Her death left me crippled. The first time I stepped into the box following her death, I’d well up and not train. A week turned into a month, a month turned into four 😳

I went into hibernation after my sister passed, it was made easier by the fact that I had resigned from my job as a support trainer for Lush South Africa. Burpees can be scary I suppose, but it wasn’t the thought of getting back to training that filled me with anxiety. It was the thought of having to face people, CrossFit is known for its community aspect and I didn’t know whether I was ready for that. I didn’t know whether I was ready to move on with my life and participate in anything!

I thought about kitting out the garage with equipment and never stepping into a box again, but then I remembered that when Bruno first spoke about his box, I told him that I would 100 percent support him. And if you’re going to call yourself a friend then you might as well put some action to your talk and REALLY support your friends! I’ve had many conversations with Bruno about…well everything, what are coaches for? A topic that always seems to creep up is positivity and how the energy you surround yourself with is just as important as the energy that you’re breeding within you. If you’re around people who complain 100% of your free time, guess what? You’re going to become exactly like them.

The opposite is true. As a Christian, I am very familiar with verses like Philippians 4:13 that states I can do all things through Christ. However, if I’m being honest I never took that verse to heart. In my head, I’d still be playing scenarios of all that could go wrong and how I’d fail. I wasn’t putting in any physical and indeed, mental effort into cultivating an environment that would create and nurture growth. My internal environment was the perfect breeding ground for negativity, mediocrity and a fear of trying anything new.It’s important to note that having a positive mindset doesn’t automatically make things easier or mean that you’ll always win. It does mean that in every situation, you are able to look on the bright side of life and assess whether opportunity for improvement exists as well as better strategy on how to isolate those areas and make it better. On top of that, it allows you to focus your energy and your efforts on completing the task at hand with all that you’ve got! You learn how to chase excellence every damn day.

I’m two months in at Evolve and I am all the more hopeful and excited about CrossFit, about life. I’ve even gotten my younger sister to join the CrossFit cult. That in itself is a victory that deserves its own blogpost! My physical circle of friends (family not included 😂) has whittled down and as this happens, I find that more good things are happening because I now operate in a negativity free zone and the bonus is that it’s with people who want to do life the same way!

What does it help focusing on the negative anyway, to paraphrase this gem in Luke 12:25-26, what do you add to your life by worrying about tomorrow, today?

Nothing.

25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

Luke 12:25-28 (NIV)

Athletes’ Corner Part III: Adrian Conway

This final piece of athletes’ corner is the best…okay, I’m going to say that about every athlete that I interview because it’s the truth. Some of the athletes you’ll see in this growing feature, I have the honour of calling them my friends…real friends, not the imaginary kind that solely exists in my head haha! These are people that I hold up in the highest regard and they embody some of the best qualities that I think make them the best kind of people to have in your life. Hardworkers yes, but they’re also just really great at loving people and being great humans, some of them humans that I admire from afar. Hmm…that only sounds mildy creepy, I swear it isn’t.

The aim behind athletes’ corner is to encourage and give you beautiful readers a healthy dose of inspiration, sometimes a kick of motivation in the booty, and home truths (some old, some new,) that you can apply to your life in order to keep growing, and enable you to enjoy this journey that we’re on. There’s an old saying that says we can’t possibly have it all, and often times (especially as a woman,) I have had the thought that maybe I can’t have it all. I’m gonna have to choose the parts of life that I’m going to be good at, it’s one or the either. One cannot possibly pursue all of their passions, 1 or 2 will do. This last piece with Adrian taught me that I can absolutely have it all. The thing that will determine how well you handle everything that will inevitably land up on your plate, is the balance that you have with God, yourself, and the people that you allow to speak into your life.

I hope you’ll enjoy this and I’ll see you in a blogpost…or pretty soon a box near you!

Last part of athletes’ corner with Adrian Conway, LET’S GO!

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Adrian, his son Alijah and his wife Ashley.

  • You’re a family man, you have your own company, you’re a competitive athlete and you also coach. How do you find balance and what is it that you focus on to excel at being someone who in truth is  ‘all things to all people?’

AC: I put God first. There are certain times that you must draw the line with what you can do and what you won’t do. I don’t coach on Wednesday nights ever because I have church obligations, I won’t work more than 1-2 weekends a month for CrossFit HQ because it takes me from the body of Christ and the ability to serve and worship with like minded people too much. So for me, that looks like turning down work and more chances to make money, but it is always worth it. As I do this as a priority, it honestly helps me then balance everything else. In my marriage, when competing with friends with family, if I keep putting God first, he always provides the answers and the structure for me to be better and more present in each aspect. It is not easy.

  • Ambition and Christianity, is it okay to want more? Are we ‘allowed’ to want more?

AC: It is God’s desire for us to want more. It is not a sin to want more, it is a sin to love money. When the root of your desire is to serve, create influence, lead people to Christ then ambition is your friend. In fact I’d argue most Christians aren’t ambitious enough about their salvation and getting others to Christ. We need to be more ambitious in sharing the gift we have! Most people show up to church to serve themselves not to serve others, we use our relationship with God to serve our needs and wants and not to go seek and save the lost, LIKE WE ARE CALLED TO. I am as guilty as any. So first I want ALL OF US to have a greater ambition for the lost and getting them to know Christ. And another sad truth is that money makes the world go round. If you pursue your passions and work for everything as if you are working for God and you put your money and give your first fruits back into the Kingdom there is nothing wrong with having or wanting more.

As Christians we have to know that there is money to be had, who would we prefer to have control of it? Those who do with it what serves them? Or those who seek after God’s desires and visions and want to be able to put it to great use in aiding others or helping to fuel efforts to spread the Kingdom of God?

  • In light of this ambition, what is it that continues to drive you forward and what are some of the daily habits that you have implemented in order to keep growth sustainable and everything in the order that it should be in?

AC: I wear many hats professionally. My simple pursuit to want to be a Games Athlete has opened many, many doors for me. I am newly a gym owner “Live in Victory CrossFit”, I am an owner in FNXfit supplement line, I am a key aspect of the Brute strength training team, I teach L1’s for CrossFit Head Quarters and still help run and coach at Wasatch CrossFit. Almost each one of these avenues were opened due to my hard work and abilities as an athlete.

Because I pursue everything as I give it up to God with relentless effort, I was ready when opportunities presented themselves. Day to day right now it takes planning and organization to stay on task and be able to be successful in each aspect. As an athlete over the next year that will take a backseat. I’ll use the next 12 months to heal, rest and focus on the new business opportunities I have. I measure success only by my relationship with God and my family life. If I am ever losing in those aspects then I’m completely lost or very close to on my way. Again, I am a Christian, this is who I am, everything else is merely what I do. I hope to able to use every avenue that has been opened to me in order to lead people to a relationship with God or to help them strengthen it. If I can provide for my family, create an income that can support others, run companies that serve the community, then all of that stuff is simply icing on the cake.

  • In closing, Adrian what is the legacy that you want to leave behind?

AC: I want to be known as a man who loved God, and lived to the best of his ability to love others and lead others to him while I was here. I hope I can continue to find ways to use my talents and the abilities God has given me in order to that. And that I can lead a life so that my family and those others who know me closest would admire those qualities the most.

Catch up on our inaugural instalment of Athletes’ Corner with Adrian Conway by clicking on the links below:

Part I

Part II

I’ll be sharing the link on twitter for an article for BoxRox magazine that I wrote, where  Adrian shares advice for CrossFit athletes! You’ll know when I share it if you follow me 😉 tweet, tweet!