Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Road to 95kilos

Here’s some self honesty:  I work in a friggin’ gym and I don’t workout every day. I got so into lifting for bobsledding that my Crossfit conditioning program slacked off. Now, I’m in between seasons for bobsled and I have to stay motivated. I want to lose about 17 lbs. in order to qualify for being a driver next season.

The only way I was able to stay around the 100kg max in Igls and St. Moritz was by eating nothing but salad, drinking beef broth and taking laxatives. NOT HEALTHY. So, I promised myself to do it right during the off season. Except that the season doesn’t start until September. I have 6 months to lose 17 lbs, which is plenty of time. Too much time. Without the pressure of a competition to drive me, how am I going to do it right? I have to find the motivation.

As a coach, I see athletes struggle, and I try to figure out why. Is the workout too hard? Do they not like doing it? Maybe it’s actually too easy, and you need to be pushed harder. I have to know how to read my athletes, to pick up on what’s going on with them. Sometimes simply acknowledging that they’re struggling jars them out of it and then it’s back to teaching them to suck it up.

There are times when I’m wrecked through the workout, sore as hell. But that’s not an excuse. I’m still going to do it. Sure, I get stuck. That’s when I take a step back and figure out where I am with a workout. I might be fine with a 300lb back squat one day and struggle with 250 another day. What happened? Did my diet change? Am I eating too little, too much? Am I injured, are things tight? I figure it out, adjust and keep moving forward because I’m motivated.

I’m motivated by accountability. I am making the time to do Crossfit classes with my athletes, because if I do that, I’m accountable to them. I want them to see that their coach is there, kicking ass through this workout, but that I struggle too and we’ll motivate each other. I want people to understand that it isn’t easy – it IS a struggle.

You hear Crossfit athletes working on things, but you rarely hear about the struggles. You’ll hear, ‘I hit this awesome PR today’, but they don’t talk about the 10 times they missed the lift. It has to be about more than the scale changing and seeing the physical benefits because you won’t always get those instant results.

What happens if I don’t see the scale change? I’m going to be eating leaves and drinking broth and shitting my brains out to stay at 100kg. That’s not really a good option.

It’s not that you can’t take time off – you DO need to give your muscles a chance to recover, but you can’t let standard soreness stop you.

For adaptive athletes, their motivation is inclusion. Too easy. Once they’re included in the classes we treat them just like other athletes, doing everything everyone else does, adapting only where necessary. Once they see the inclusion, they’re like holy shit! This is how it’s supposed to be.  

Greg Glassman, the creator of Crossfit has a pretty simple mantra for how to be a better trainer: Care care care. Just care! Show your athletes that you care. Whether I’m holding a 4 month old baby so a mom can get in her workout, or taking the time to talk to someone, to help them through an obstacle, I’m not just going through the motions for a paycheck. It’s the same as an athlete. You have to care, it will keep you motivated when you struggle and you’re upset and you think people are judging you or you’re upset because you want to do better.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Washington to Syracuse to Miami then home...... Making the Extraordinary Ordinary

Making the Extraordinary Ordinary

No sooner had I touched down at Dulles airport from my epic trip to Igls and St. Moritz (I promise I’ll post about St. Moritz! It was an incredible trip that deserves the time to get the post just right), I was off to Ft. Drum in Upstate New York – the place where my life changed forever. I haven’t been back since about a year after my accident, so it was ironic, and my honor, to return with the Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Veterans Taking Up Fitness (TUF) Team for a motivational discussion with Ft. Drum’s Warrior Transition Unit (WTU).

WTU used to be called Med Hold Units, for people who are getting out of the military due to injuries, mental health issues or disease. For fairly obvious reasons they changed the name. The Ft. Drum WTU asked the Yellow Ribbon Fund (@yrftuf) if me and my TUF Team partner, Brendan Ferreira (@b.ferreira167), a former Army soldier injured in combat, to come up and speak to about 300 service men and women. The goal was to motivate soldiers who are separating from military service and hopefully inspire them to use fitness and group exercise as a means of rehabilitation and integration, instead of alcohol, drugs, and other unhealthy crutches. It’s also a great opportunity for us to get the word out about what we do, and we got a great response.

And then I went and ate about 3,000 calories worth of Sonic. Don’t judge – even athletes have their Achilles heel. #gainz #macros

From Syracuse, I flew to Miami for a coaching seminar with Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance (@crossroadsaaa), founded by David “Chef” Wallach (@crossfitrubicon) and Sara Olsen (@saraolsen008) (I’m also the VP). Along with Sara, Angel (@cfredefined), Krystal (@krystalcantu), and Natalie we led a seminar at Crossfit Seige in Miramar, FL, designed to help Crossfit coaches, personal trainers and gym employees to learn how to approach, assess and plan training for adaptive athletes. CrossFit is all about being adaptable to the athlete and to us, that means EVERY athlete, regardless of what limbs they’re missing or if they’re in a wheelchair.

We want coaches and trainers to feel comfortable with adaptive athletes, not overwhelmed by them. We want them to be able to look at every single athlete as an individual with specific needs. The point is we don’t have to rewrite the book to train adaptive athletes. We might need to adapt the way an exercise is done to accommodate the body, but there are a million ways to work the same muscles and the point is you CAN in CrossFit. There are inventive ways to adapt to a person’s needs, regardless of whether it’s a woman with two legs and bad knees who needs to step back into her lunges to get the maximum stretch or the guy in the wheelchair who weights 2 halves of a jump rope with baseballs and swings it just like someone with legs would. The only difference is one athlete has full use of her arms and legs and the other doesn’t. CrossFit and our job as coaches and trainers, is to learn to adapt the workout for the individual’s needs.

This is our mission: to make the extraordinary ordinary. We’re not extraordinary; we’re just like every other athlete. My mission is to get people to see past the prosthetic, to see the athlete… that just happens to have a detachable leg.