Monday, March 26, 2012

Droppin In Like Its Hot!

Dropping into Crossfit boxes can be a very fun and exciting experience for many Crossfitters, whether it’s your first box away-from-home or you are getting the chance to drop into one of the big names like Rogue Fitness, Invictus, Crossfit Central, Catalyst Athletics, etc.

We had a few visitors this morning to the 7am group class at Invictus, and it got me thinking about my recent experiences when dropping into various boxes all over this country. As most of you know, my job requires me to travel extensively and in the past 2 years, I’ve been to over 60 boxes all over this country. Recently, I’ve had some really good and really bad experiences so I thought I would share these tid bits for all of you Crossfitters out there; this isn’t just for affiliate owners either – this is for everyone. This is for the community.

I think that many many people often forget that Crossfit is a business; yeah it’s a very cool, very fun passion-type job. But it’s still a business, and word of mouth can sometimes make or break a box. In today’s technology-advanced times, people travel a lot for work and if your box is in a decent sized city, it’s a good chance you’ll get drop ins. Jen told me recently that Invictus gets 75-100 drop-ins a month! Granted, Invictus has had a lot of publicity, especially after Josh Bridges killed it last year, so some boxes get drop ins simply by word of mouth. That’s how I pick a lot of my drop in locations – I get on twitter, forecast to the TweetVille where I’m going next for work and ask for box recommendations.

Another thing often forgotten is the community aspect – and when I say ‘community’, I don’t mean the little cliques that frequently form at your run of the mill Crossfit box. I’m talking about the collective “community” – worldwide. I’ll never forget the first time I was in an airport, sporting a CF shirt and some random dude came up to me and was like, “Hey Crossfit! Awesome! Which box? I go to so and so! What’s your (enter benchmark WOD here) score?” I felt like we were a part of some secret club and it was totally cool, especially since I dig talking to strangers (especially when they are cute CF boys <3). I’ll also never forget my experience last week when I had high hopes for an amazing experience while dropping into a big named Crossfit – which I’ll leave un-named – and then having a not so great experience while there (see below for more details).

As more and more Crossfits begin to sprout up all over the US, people will have a lot more to choose from when making their decision on where to join or even where to drop in. It’s my prediction that the boxes that focus more on the community and the word of mouth of their athletes will be the ones to succeed and not the ones who simply rely on spending big bucks on advertisement. Sure, my $15 drop in fee isn’t going to make or break your bank per say - but I do have over 1,500 followers on Twitter and almost 1,000 on Facebook and my word of mouth goes a long way! (Granted, yes, many are spammers – but they probably exercise too, so who knows.)

You all know how I hate long winded blogs so I’ll try to wrap this up but I did want to share some of the good, the bad and the ugly in terms of my experiences over the last few years. If I am talking negatively about an experience, I’m choosing to leave the box’s name out of it. However, feel free to hit me up for recommendations at any time.

Friendliness and Inclusion is the key! Encourage your athletes to be welcoming! I’m not just talking about the owners or the coaches. I’m talking about the entire class. At Invictus (and many other boxes I’ve been to), our coaches announce during warm up that we have a visitor, what their name is and where they are from. Sometimes, Coach Nuno will even make us all shake hands. At Grapevine Crossfit (Texas), I actually dropped in multiple times during the month of January and each time there was a new coach that I hadn’t met yet, they approached me immediately and introduced themselves.

I don’t expect everyone to be a chatty cathy like me but I do expect some friendliness at boxes. Last week, I had two very different experiences. I dropped into a very big named box, was super excited about it, the coach never announced me as a visitor or tried to pair me up with someone and basically every single person in our 12 person class ignored me. Not one peep from anyone. The only reason I even chatted with the coach is because I initiated conversation with him after class. On the other hand, the next day, I dropped into a box that was a mile down the road from aforementioned box, and for the 6am class, it was just me, the coach, and 3 guys – who treated me like I was their long lost sister! We spent the morning laughing, joking, conversing and sweatin out to 12.5. Whereas I never felt like just some visitor at the 2nd box, the first box made me feel like an outsider.

Drop In Policies - be realistic and be upfront. Again, within the past few weeks, there was a box that I was excited to drop into – not because they were a big name or anything; it was just because I knew a few athletes there. The drop in experience itself was ok – friendly people, friendly coach, etc –but at the end of class when I went to buy my standard usual t-shirt, I was met with a very unpleasant surprise when the owner charged me $50! Yes folks, $25 for a tshirt and $25 for a drop in. And yes folks, this was my first drop to the box. Had I known he was going to charge me for both, I would have not bothered with the tshirt. Personally, I feel like the website or the coach should have stated right away about their drop in policy. It was almost like they were trying to discourage drop ins.

Extra special stuff……
Just a few cool things that I’ve seen over the past few years that aren’t necessities but add that little extra touch to a drop in experience. Jen from Invictus tries to personally reply back to all drop in email requests, thanking them for stopping by. I’ve had a few boxes do this to me as well. Some boxes will take photos during the work out and post the ones of the visitors on their blog the following day while others give shout outs on their Facebook or Twitter accounts to visitors.

So the next time you see a visitor at your box, make sure you go up to them, shake their hand and make them feel welcomed. Because you never know - your actions (or lack there of) may make a world of difference in their experience while visiting the place you love.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Keylime Pie and Jesus

It's not very often that I come up with my own concoctions in the kitchen; I would like to think I am a creative person but really, I am no recipe maker; I'm a total recipe follower. Steph introduced me to coconut milk whipped cream, which by basic nature is not very sweet on it's own. It is, however, very much like whipped cream, which I use to love, pre-Whole30. So as I'm licking the spoon, I think to can I give this already awesome treat some zing with what I already have in my fridge?

Enter lime juice and crushed almonds. Just mix together with a spoon and viola! "Keylime pie pudding". Man, I'm genius. Just go very easy on the lime juice; you don't need much. Yum!

Although I am not a very religious person, I saw a quote today from Jesus while doing some reading for my religions college class that I thought even the most God hating atheist could relate to some point in life.....

"Do not be unbelieving, but believing" - Jesus to Thomas (John 20:27)

Of course, there was more to this quote but I removed all of the religious stuff so that it is relatable to everyone. And of course, I don't need to explain how this quote can be motivational and I know every one is triggered different by motivational quotes; this one speaks volumes to me in all facets of life. I hope it means something to you to.

BELIEVE! :) <3

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meatloaf Cupcakes w/ Sweet Potato Frosting

As I start a new round of Whole30 this week, I decided to explore some new recipes. You know, just to shake things up. A few weeks back, my P.I.C (partner in crime) Steph sent me the link to this potentially amazing recipe for "Meatloaf Cupcakes with Sweet Potato Frosting".

I made these last night. Amazing doesn't even cut it. They were AH-MAZING.

Here is the link to the original recipe and below are my modifications:

- Since it's just me, I used only 1 pound of ground beef, mixed with red onion and bell peppers and 1 egg. I didn't have any steak seasoning but I did have some "Mesquito" seasoning, so I threw that in. I used a regular cupcake tin, and this made roughly 8.

- Instead of topping with chili sauce or ketchup, I topped it with homemade paleo approved "pizza sauce" that I made on Saturday....recipe can be found here:

- For the Sweet Potato frosting, I cut up 1 small sweet potato, 1 small yam, cooked per instructions, then mixed with a splash of almond milk and clarified butter.

Pretty easy and inexpensive recipe for such an amazing dish!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grapevine Crossfit

As many of you know, if you follow my (infrequently updated) blog, I spent basically the whole month of January in Dallas for a work project. Granted, there are worst places in this country to be stuck in for a month, but as someone who is as dedicated to fitness and health as I am, it can be very hard to stay on track with such a dynamic schedule.

Thankfully for me, I was super lucky to discover Grapevine Crossfit. Grapevine is located just west of the Dallas Fort Worth Airport/Northwest Dallas, which was the area I was working in for the month. Before dropping into GVCF, I emailed the owners (Bevin and Brandon Head) and we had a chat about my situation. They were extremely welcoming and we were able to work out a very reasonable drop in fee schedule for whenever I was able to make it to class.

Another super cool thing that worked out great for me was the fact that they had a dedicated OLY class, which I also have at home at Invictus, so I wasn't missing out! Between 6am Group and 630pm OLY, I was able to hit not one but two big PRs while at GVCF; a 280# 1RM Deadlift and a 50kg Snatch.

Alas, as happens, the project is now over. I'm very happy to be back home but I do miss the GVCF crew and I hope to have another project in that area sometime this year so I can drop in again. Here's some pictures I took my last week there.

Me and my OLY girls:

Me and Coach/Owner Brandon:

Me and Travis, co-founder of the awesome Skilled Athlete software utilized at Invictus (small world!!):

Me and my 6am homie, Beth:

My 280# Deadlift:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Whole is your Whole30?

I am always giving mad props to those who want to make positive changes in their lives, especially when it comes to diet and fitness. I’ve been at this for a while now, so cutting out everything bad and going super strict a la Whole9 is no problem for me. And I understand when noobs who are just now starting to explore healthy eating and the paleo life style don’t necessarily follow all of the rules in the beginning; if you are just starting out, cutting out all sugar, dairy and gluten at once is a very hard, cold-turkey approach that I don’t recommend.

No, this blog post is aimed at those veterans who say, “I’m doing a strict challenge for 30 days!” And when I ask them, “Cool! So you are doing like, super strict? Whole30?”…in which some people reply, “No, well, I’m doing strict paleo. Except I’m allowed dairy. And protein shakes. And splenda in my coffee. And this. And that. (insert other NON paleo/strict items here)”.

To which, I reply with a silent shake of head. That’s not “strict” people. That’s not even a form of lenient paleo. But, who am I to judge?

Except, of course, judging myself. I did a Whole20 stint back in December before the holidays and then took two weeks off. Most of my meals were paleo but there were cookies (damn neighbors!) and there was chocolate (LOTS) and there was wine (oh, how it flowed!). So after those two weeks, of course I’m jumping on the Whole30 bandwagon starting on January 1st. Even if I was the only soul out there doing it, I was going to do it either way. But of course, it helps when I have friends to do it too :)

Anyways, so of course I’m smack in the middle of my reoccurring challenge of Whole30 during business travel. Le sigh. I’ll be in Dallas for pretty much the whole month of January. Usually what I’ve been doing is hitting up a Whole Foods/Sprouts, buying a bunch of already cooked meat and veggies and nuts, and basically making my own lunch and dinner every day. But really how Whole9 am I being? Even if I am eating whole meats and veggies, I don’t know if the “quality” of my meals is exactly up to Whole9 standards. (I’ll have to discuss with Mel and Dallas!)

This week, I’m re-exploring the “My Fit Meals” option. My Fit Meals is a great little company that sells already prepared meals for a rather inexpensive price. When a coworker told me about this, at first I was skeptical that I would find anything on my specific diet. However, they have a rather large “low carb” section with many options that qualify as paleo. Plus, you can buy stuff in bulk, like a pound of cooked chicken breast and a pound of cooked asparagus, etc. I tried this place back in July and I was pretty pleased. Some things I like about them:

1) Again, inexpensive. Meals range from $7-9 each. When you are on work travel and have a per diem or get to expense your meals like I do, you’ll find that this is pretty cheap

2) You can order online and then pick it up the next day or you can just go in and hope they have what you want already prepared

3) The labels are awesome. They tell you nutritional info like calories/carbs/fats/proteins, they tell you exactly what is in each container, and they have “best by” dates.

My lunch today is their low carb Salmon and Veggies meal. As you can see from the picture, all of the ingredients are listed out and are all pretty much Whole30; Salmon, Squash, Zucchini, Red Onions and Bell Peppers, Carrots, Mushrooms, Lemon Juice, Roasted Garlic, Macadamia Nut Oil, and Spices. Generally I like to go with the “best” meats in the good/better/best range for Whole30; I’m pretty sure this Salmon isn’t wild caught. But, I make do, and as I’ve said before, this is MY diet and MY way of eating, and I can just do the best I can and make it work for me. I think being Whole9 on travel is an amazing feat in its own, if I say so myself (pats my own back!).

So anyways, clean it up people! If you are not a newbie to a healthy eating life style, I don’t want to hear any more excuses. Be strict. It’s only 30 days. And if you are saying you are ‘strict’, well by golly, be effin strict. Strict means no exceptions. Trust me, you’ll thank me after 30 days :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: Year of being uncomfortable!

Yeah's a New Year....blah blah etc. It's not that I'm not a fan of the whole "New Year" concept; I'm just not a fan of "New Year's Resolutions". I believe that making a positive change in your life isn't something you just plan to do at the start of a new year. It takes work and dedication 365 days of every single year of your life.

But, with that being said, of course I do have goals in mind for 2012. I have goals in mind all of the time. I did a strict diet for 3-4 weeks before Christmas and now I'm back on Whole30 to erase the mistakes I made for 2 weeks of "free eating". (Ugh!) It will be challenging since I will be on work travel to Dallas for the first four weeks of January (Double Ugh!)

I think my number one goal/focus right now is to make 2012 as uncomfortable as possible! I seriously need to be jolted out of my comfort zone, in all facets of my life. Fitness, Diet, Work, School, Personal Life.....the only way to progress and accomplish all of my smaller goals (ie...a muscle up and a 325lb deadlift) is to get out of my comfort zone and get at it.

I'm also looking forward to coaching some of my friends in their new diet/health goals for 2012. :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Vacay & Crossfit

For the first time in years, I decided to take the week of Christmas off from work so I could go back to the Midwest for a nice holiday with the family. Not only was I excited for the time off of work and a relaxing vacay in Wisconsin, I was also excited to drop into a few new boxes. Each box was roughly 2 hours away from where I was staying in Oshkosh, but both boxes are special to me in that I am personal friends with the owners.

Thursday, Dec 22nd: OLY at Crossfit Connex in Madison, WI (Box #55)

I first met Emily over a year ago when she dropped in to workout at the new box that I had just joined, Lincoln Park Crossfit, in Chicago. Six months later, we both happened to be in Columbus, OH for our Level 1s at the same time. After passing her Level 1, Emily moved up to Madison and opened Crossfit Connex. It was an open/rest/make up day so I was able to do my OLY workout from Invictus.

When Emily asked me what box number this was for me and I told her #55, she replied with "You should start a blog!" which I mumbled something back about how I've had one for a while now, I'm just too busy/lazy to ever update it :)

Friday, Dec 23rd: Heavy and Hard at Badger Crossfit

I met Tyler, the owner of Badger Crossfit in Wauwautosa, WI, during one of my visits to Crossfit Green Bay last Christmas Eve. From there, we kept in contact on Facebook and then later on Twitter; I was super proud to follow his progress during the Central Regionals during the Open last year. Seeing that I am a big WI Badgers fan, I definitely had to drop in and check out Tyler's new box.

I also stopped in for my annual Christmas visit to Crossfit Green Bay but sadly, I don't have any pictures from that trip.