crossfit, Everything, The Blog

Confirmed: The Open Really IS For Everyone. And so is Crossfit.

Ultimately, the Open broadened my community so much, and literally opened (pun intended) my eyes to what is possible and what I might be able to do, with enough effort and work. It is May now, and I am still learning, still working slowly up in weight…but things are coming. The Open lit a fire under me.

With the 2017 Crossfit Open well in our rearview, and Regionals just days away, I have(embarrassing typo haha)! been feeling an itch to write about my first Open experience — which I did about as fresh to Crossfit as a girl can be.

First though, I’m going to skip right to the punchline: The Crossfit Open really IS for everyone. Everyone and anyone.

Now that that is out of the way, let me share a bit about my experience–with the Open and with just getting started with Crossfit. And, hopefully, I will also convince you of my point here!

Starting Crossfit…

I walked into my first crossfit box over the Christmas holidays (December 2016) when I was home visiting family for a couple of weeks. It was a free introductory, drop-in session where we got the “low-down” on what Crossfit was, practiced deadlifting a PVC pipe, received some rowing tips and hammered out some box  jumps. Not the insane, knock-you-off-your-feet, make-you-think-you’re-about-to-die first taste of Crossfit that so many people rave about and what really hooks in these tough-as-nails athletes. It didn’t really matter though — crossfit had been on my radar for awhile (shout-out to my two badass, strong step-sisters right now) and after becoming obsessed with the Girls Gone WOD Podcast last fall, I was pretty damn committed to trying out the sport…And I couldn’t wait another day. (Which I suppose is why I did that drop-in intro. class in my hometown instead of waiting until I was back here on the beautiful coast)!

Fast-forward a couple of weeks to early January 2016. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (per se) I showed up at Crossfit Zone, the nearest affiliate to where I live for my first 1-on-1 session with my soon-to-be coach, Garrett. The Zone is pretty damn awesome in how they structure their on-ramp program — 12 individual sessions with a coach that becomes your coach for the remainder of your crossfit career (at least at that box). The sessions can be tweaked and tailored based on the athlete’s needs and “starting place,” and more sessions added as needed. As a stereotypically poor graduate student the cost of these sessions was a bit daunting, but Garrett managed to cram all that training into fewer sessions for me — although I had never laid a finger on a barbell before and kept forgetting what a snatch vs. a thruster vs. a clean vs. a power clean (lol) was, I had pretty decent mobility from my last year of practicing yoga, could do a pistol and a strict pull-up, and, if I say myself, had a pretty good starting level of fitness overall. (Okay mini self-plug: I had been training my pull-ups all fall and I actually got my first one (2! linked)! in that first session with Garrett. It’s pretty darn cool what a coach’s encouragement can do)!

And so, after completing my “Fight Gone Bad” (scaled) initiation workout, I entered “real classes” at the start of February (February 6th —  my birthday, as a matter of fact)! All I remember about that first workout was that it had a ton of thrusters…which, as my weights have increased, I have recently developed a keen dislike for (we all have that one thing)!

Crossfit was 983924839883838x better than I ever imagined. Better than even Joy and Claire of the aforesaid podcast made it out to be (and they love it so much they’ve recorded over 200 weeks of episodes on the topic)! …How can I describe it?

How about…a mix of team sports (I played rep volleyball all through my teens) and elementary (maaaybe high) school gym class? Hm, that doesn’t quite right. But picture: FUN. So much damn fun. Crossfit is social (at least at the Zone). Everyone shows up for the class and chats and joke around while we warm up. Each class is a mixture of mobility, skill-work, strength-work and a conditioning “WOD” (Workout of the Day)…and everyone supports everyone else. We cheer each other other on. That tantalizing phrase circulating the internet — “Crossfit community” — that’s a real thing, guys. Now, doesn’t that sound better than an hour sweating it out alone on a treadmill watching a poker tournament on a mini television? Way better than doing the abductor machine in a dark corner of a Globo gym? It’s friendly, it’s competitive, everyone is doing the same work, you incorporate fun new skills and gymnastics, you bond over the same brutal WOD…

Anyway – wasn’t I supposed to be talking about the Open or something?

The Crossfit Open 2017…

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(Photo by Nella Maura of @thiscoastphotography)

As a keen observer may have noticed, I started joining in on “regular” crossfit classes (vs. my 1-on-1 teaching sessions) and doing actual WODs (albeit, quite modified) February 6th…and the first Open workout, 17.1, went live February 23rd… So I was pretty damn spankin’ new. I hadn’t been taught how to kip, along with a slew of other movements, and half my lifts I’d only performed once, with an empty bar, the day I learned them. I had no 1 rep maxes. I was in no way, shape or form prepared or “qualified” to compete in the Open.

Except I was.

Having heard so much about the Open, I was keen to try out the workouts if our gym was  programming them into our regular Friday classes — but I had no intentions to sign up to join in on our gym’s “Friday Night Lights” Friday night Open workout jams. Definitely, no desire to be placed on an intramural team within our gym and have my poor team members weighed down by my total lack of skill!

Yet somehow that is exactly what happened. (Except the weighing down part — no one gives a hoot about that sort of garbage)! Simply, someone asked me if I was signing up (“Me?!” I asked in disbelief. “I’m so new!”)…and then over the next few classes they persisted in encouraging me to do it. Others joined in. I appealed to our coaches, presuming they would tell me to stay far away, and “how about next year, Grasshopper.” They didn’t. The seed was planted…and I realized that I wanted to do it. All that held me back was the worry that I’d look like a total idiot — something that has often held me back. But not this time. Crossfit is one area of my life that I give myself zero leeway for not giving it my 150%, regardless of “what others might think.”

Enter 17.1.

It’s Friday night. I show up, rather nervous to the gym. No one from my 9:30 AM WODs is doing the Open and I know no one. The workout is: dumbbell snatches and burpee-box-jump-overs. A whole spankin’ lot of them, to be scientific (can you tell I’m avoiding expletives)? I am picturing doing a burpee and then having to jump all the way over a box and land on the other side. I am picturing myself standing there, clearly unable to perform a single rep.

Well, the short story is, I had a blast. I am a self-proclaimed Burpee Queen (I could do those bad boys all day), and I only had to jump ONTO the box, and then step off the other side. No problem. The scaled dumbbell weights were also appropriate for me–perfect. I finished well within time and felt…pretty good. Almost…cocky. Oh, Haven. So naive. Also, equally if not more importantly — everyone was so damn nice and friendly. Score.

And so the next 4 weeks passed quickly, and after that first day, I began to look forward to my Friday nights. It wasn’t always pretty. For 17.2 I ground out all strict pull-ups having no real concept of what a kip was. Slowly. 1 at a time. I think I only got to 14 and didn’t finish a round. I’m sure I submitted the worst score for my gym on that workout. ..Minutes before 17.3 I had to be shown how to snatch–and then surprised myself by getting the 55# overhead, and even making it to the 65# round (where I did not get the bar overhead and had to concede). 17.4 was 16.4 and didn’t involve any tricky olympic lifts or pull-ups and I felt in my element again, as with 17.5. 17.5 was single skips for scaled (NOTE THAT I DID EVERY WORKOUT SCALED. I’m not some mythical superhero destined from birth to go to the games. Scaled, scaled and more scaled)! instead of double-unders and I had a blast with those as well. Really though, above all, it was an opportunity to delve more into “Crossfitland,” see a different side of the sport and to meet a ton of damn cool people. For me, I had no expectation to score high — but I learned a ton, did things I might otherwise not have tried for another 1, 2, 5 months, challenged myself and made a bunch of friends. The community in a crossfit gym can be pretty damn awesome, but if we all tend to go to the same classes each week, we might only get to know a small handful of people.

Ultimately, the Open broadened my community so much, and literally opened (pun intended) my eyes to what is possible and what I might be able to do, with enough effort and work. It is May now, and I am still learning, still working slowly up in weight…but things are coming. The Open lit a fire under me. 

I don’t think my experience with the Open is unique. The scaled options for each workout are extremely approachable to anyone and even if you do find a movement out of reach — do the workout, and make it your own! Modify. Approach the Open as a fun experience. An opportunity to have a blast and to challenge yourself. Forget the leaderboards if that isn’t your thing, and just enjoy being a part of this broader, global tribe.

Maybe that is part of why I love Crossfit — I feel connected to this bad-ass, infinite tribe of humans.

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Photo by Nella Mauro of @thiscoastphotography

 

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Everything, Miscellaneous, The Blog

What I’m Listening To

Happy Tuesday! (That’s a thing right)?

…Well, it should be. I look forward to Tuesdays every week because it is a day that a number of my favourite podcasts release new episodes! (Thursdays are also exciting). It is sometimes difficult to remember my life without podcasts. I’m not huge of TV or movies for entertainment anymore and I spend a lot of time walking or bussing places…and I’ve found that popping in my earbuds and hitting “play” on a podcast episode really helps to pass the time (and even has me looking forward to my commutes)! I’ve started listening while I cook dinner in the evening as well–a side effect of living alone! As a bonus, a lot of the shows I subscribe to are information-based which keeps me up-to-date and learning re: some of my favourite topics without adding to my screen and sitting time (I do enough of that for my Master thesis, believe me)!

Anyway, to celebrate today, and all “Podcast Tuesdays,” I’ve collected a few of my favourite podcasts to share with all of you–in no particular order. If you end up giving any of these a listen, let me know what you think!

What I’m Listening to Lately – TOP 10:

1. The Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe

These two women have kept it fresh for nearly 300 episodes, through weddings, babies, cross-country moves and multiple best-selling books. Diane and Liz answer 1000’s of listener questions within the holistic health and wellness paradigm (nutrition, gut health, skin care, fertility and everything else you might imagine), interview top experts and manage to crack me up every episode. A must listen for every gal (and maybe guy)!

2. Girls Gone WOD Podcast with Joy Parrish and Claire Koch

I am as obsessed with Joy and Claire as they are with the movie Mean Girls. I started listening before I began training in Crossfit, and not only did their passion for the sport make it impossible for me to not want to try it out, but they are two real, honest and funny ladies. Episodes range from the serious and personal, to hilarious “would you rather’s.” These ladies also regularly interview crossfit big-shots and other top-names in the wellness or fitness industry. Crossfitter or no–check these women out!

3. The Living Experiment with Dallas Hartwig and Pilar Gerasimo

Self-proclaimed “healthy deviants,” Dallas and Pilar shed light on the common disconnects between the modern human and ideal health and happiness. Topics range from sleep quality to food choices, from slowing down to human connection and loneliness, addiction, shame and everything else under the sun. Their perspectives are fresh and delivered in a unique and eloquent fashion, with just a touch vulnerability that encourages a sense of trust in the listener. Every episodes ends with a suggested experiment you can implement in your own life and I dare you to try them and not find some improvement in your day-to-day.

4. The Paleo Women Podcast: Health | Nutrition | Fitness |Hormones with Noelle Tarr and Stefani Ruper

Down to earth, adorable and full of kick-ass knowledge. Noelle and Stef dish out a perfect blend of love and “real-talk,” and offer a beautiful perspective on all things “woman:” nutrition, hormones, fitness, fertility, skin-care, body-image and self-love. Tune in and try to figure out which inspiring woman you’d prefer to be stuck on a deserted island with–personally, I can’t choose!

5. The Moth

Real life stories told by real life people. Inspiring. Heartbreaking. Funny. Sweet. Each episode features a number of so-called “average” people sharing a short personal story in line with that day’s theme. I can always find a story for every mood and frequently share these episodes with my family (who aren’t necessarily as psyched as I am to beef up their knowledge about holistic health and nutrition)!

6. Is This Podcast Paleo? with Kristin Kaschak and Everette Rosette

…Whether or not this podcast is paleo, it is so much more than that. In this show, Kristin and Everette share their unfiltered perspectives on all things food and fitness. Crossfit and Paleo feature largely as well as good-natured banter. A good laugh is almost always guaranteed.

7. Katy Says with Katy Bowman (with, as the title says, Katy Bowman and Dani Hemmat)

Katy is a movement specialist and a book-writing machine. Listening to this show has totally opened my eyes to all the ways I do and do not move, to all of the ways I limit and affect my natural mobility and body structure, from shoes to chairs to starting at my laptop screen. Katy’s perspective is totally different from what the average person is taught from birth…and it feels so right. Download any episode and learn something revolutionary about how your body is meant to work — and as a bonus, learn a good stretch or two!

8. The Nourished Podcast with Meg Doll and Shawn Mynar

These ladies are the ultimate podcast sweethearts. Two besties, they dish on their own journeys in health and happiness, and strive to help other woman discover a nourishing approach to food and exercise, as well as cultivate a sense of self-love. From eating disorders to autoimmune disease, Meg and Shawn have a wealth of personal knowledge and a willingness to share new information as they continue to expand their own learning – even if their specific recommendations for diet or exercise might shift over time. After all, as humans and women we are always changing, as is the current science!

9. PaleOMG Uncensored with Juli Bauer Roth

Raw, explicit, hilarious. Juli, from the popular blog PaleOMG, keeps it unapologetically real as she chats about her perspectives on food, travel, fitness, children, French Bulldogs and plastic surgery. Be prepared to laugh and maybe keep the littles ones out of the room!

10. Harder to Kill Radio — Forging Unbreakable Humans with Steph Gaudreau

This show has evolved since its first season, but remains as real and badass as ever. Steph Gaudreau is a strong, courageous and knowledgable woman who works to foster these traits within all women. Recent topics include her experience as a beekeeper, thoughts on self-love and acceptance and ditching the “hustle.” Both men and women would enjoy this podcast, and her charming, accented husband/cohost, Z.

Honourable Mentions — Podcasts I’ve Listened to in the Past/On Occassion:

11. The Ancestral RD’s Podcast with Kelsey Marksteiner and Laura Schoenfeld

12. RHR: Revolution Health Radio with Chris Kresser

13. Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey

14. Fat-Burning Man by Abel James with Abel James

15. Ben Greenfield Fitness: Diet, Fat Loss and Performance with Ben Greenfield

16. The Paleo Solution with Robb Wolf

17. The Vinyl Cafe with the late and wonderful storyteller, Stuart McLean. (You aren’t a Canadian if you don’t know and love this CBC show)

…I hope something here tickles your fancy! What are your favourite podcasts? I’d love to hear!

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Rootz Nutrition Review

While my approach to food and to nourishing my body leaves little room for synthetic shakes and supplements, since starting crossfit I have found a real need for an easily digestible and not overly filling form of protein. After a major illness and dangerous weight loss in 2015, I had managed to recover some weight over the past year — but had yet to reach optimal health. After adding crossfit into the mix, eating an excess of calories in order to put on weight quickly took on a whoooole new meaning. If you think you eat a lot of food? THINK AGAIN. Picture: stuffed. Ill. Bloated…and with a crazy-ass grocery bill.

And that’s when I came across Rootz Nutrition. Not only is the ingredients list clean, short and simple, but the company is small and transparent — I love supporting smaller companies who are just trying to make a living out of a passion to help others. What is more,  Rootz places a super cool emphasis on micronutrients. Sure, focussing on macronutrients around a work-out (particularly carbs and protein in that post-workout window) is important, but oftentimes when we replace real, whole food with a supplement we miss out on key vitamins and minerals. Enter Rootz. In addition to egg white and hemp protein (yes it is vegetarian friendly, as well as paleo) their Paleo Protein Blend includes highly nutrient-dense sea veggies (spirulina)!, dark leafy greens, broccoli, bee pollen, maca and the classically antioxidant-rich blueberries. Weird as it all might sound, the overall flavour is marketed as “Chocolate Banana Nut” and hoooo boy…does it taste delicious.

Anyway, I have teamed up with Rootz to offer you a 10% discount on any of their current products! If you’re interested, take a peek via the following link (rootznutrition.com) and use the code havenamy at checkout.

If you don’t have any need for a protein powder however, no worries! While adding in that protein shake (pro-tip — it tastes amazing mixed with coconut water and you’ll get some mineral-rich simple sugars to replenish muscle glycogen) has done wonders for my recovery and my ability to put on muscle in the past couple of months, we all have different goals, needs and bodies. In all honesty, while I adore this company and their protein blend, and intend to continue to use it in the future, I’ve currently had to take a break to explore other clean protein options after testing positive for a severe egg white intolerance test. C’est la vie! For those of you who have the same misfortune, hopefully I’ll have some great recommendations of you soon.

Rootz Nutrition