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22 Apr 2014

The Power of GRIT

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My CrossFit Kids program is about teaching kids to take care of themselves and value fitness. I also believe in the intrinsic values and qualities sports can IMG_2662-300x200teach. Qualities I think are valuable in life and teaching kids and teens what they mean through sport was central to the mission of my fitness business. I come from an education background and I am always curious about the latest in education studies. I am fortunate to have some great connections with educators in the field of pedagogy and one such professor introduced me to the research done by Angela Lee Duckworth on GRIT. Her work in this field affirms what I have always believed, GRIT is a necessary quality for success.

I recently had a set back in my professional career and that experience got me thinking about GRIT again. I’ve always been willing to take risks. I went to college when my high school guidance counselor told me I wouldn’t make it. In fact, he was a little more harsh “girls like you don’t go to college.” I set out to prove him wrong. It took me 7 years to finish college while I worked a full time job. During that time I failed out of college once because I just wasn’t ready for the demands of school. I kept going back when everything kept pointing in the opposite direction. I believed that with enough hard work I could make it. I also had seen that poverty was a life I didn’t want to live.

When I applied to graduate school I didn’t know if I could get in. I didn’t have the best grades and my undergraduate school was by no means a top tier school.  Hunter College is part of the CUNY system of New York City and it caters to students on the margins. While I was there I had to take remedial education IMG_3865and learn the basics of high school math. I was in a classroom with other students working full time. There were mothers in the classroom who would bring their babies because they didn’t have anyone else to watch them. I loved it! I understood their story and their drive inspired me.

Dr. Duckworth’s research on GRIT has started important discourse amongst educators and psychologist. She looked at success from a motivational and psychological perspective and what she asked is: Who is successful and why? The quality that kept emerging time after time was GRIT. She noticed that IQ was not the predictor of grades for students and that professionals in sales were most successful if they had long-term passion and perseverance. Adults and kids with mental stamina and the ability “to stick with your future” is what made success because hard work for many years is what makes that “future a reality.” Angela Lee Duckworth

My recent set back got me thinking about my goals for the CrossFit kids program I started 4 years ago. It was reality time for me. I had the next 6 months all planned out and in one phone call everything changed. I was going to take my kids program to another affiliate gym. The new gym had hired me as a consultant for 3 months. I would then leave the kids program behind and move on in the summer to work with inner city kids in another program. Seemed perfect until I got the call that the new home for the kids program was pulling out of the contract. It was the eleventh hour and all I could do was crawl in bed and pull the sheets over my head. “NOT Happening!” I kept saying to myself.

Once I emerged I felt defeated. I called a few trusted people and asked for advice. These are some of their insights:

“Don’t stay in the grey area for to long trying to figure out other peoples motives. Make a new plan and save your kids program.” 
“You started this kids program when no one else was doing this in Boston. Keep it going.”
“Never give up your kids program!”
“This is not a failure but perhaps the best blessing you can’t see right now.”

I started to figure out a new plan. I also started to do what I do when life doesn’t make sense. Work out more and read research on education. I looked at Dr. Duckworth’s research on GRIT from a new perspective.

gym5I took Dr. Duckworth’s GRIT test. I thought I would be the grittiest person in Boston. However, a 3.38 on a scale of 1-5 is not so gritty for someone as gritty as me. I’m a survivor for sure but perhaps at this point my gutsy determination was not enough to pull me through the latest set back. Perhaps what’s still missing is the last part of GRIT that I’m in the middle of trying to figure out—working hard over many years to make my future a reality. The future of the kid and teen program I started four years ago is just not finished yet. I was giving it up just as it was getting to the next level.

Dr. Duckworth has noted, people with GRIT don’t look at set backs or failure as a permanent condition. I liked her message, when we fail we have to be able to start over with lessons learned and find a way to be better. I learned a huge lesson~ Never give up my kids program! I was ready to hand it over to other people. Nice people, I’m not even upset that they pulled out at the last minute. I get to redo this and get it right. I get the opportunity to take this program to the next level. I don’t know what the future will bring but I’m not ready to give up.

I have always believed in the power of GRIT. I think it is a quality worth teaching kids and teens through the sport of fitness that we have all come to love. I continue to learn through my own CrossFit training about my strengths and weaknesses as a person. What I value: Honesty, Hard Work, Giving Back to Those Less Fortunate, and Fortitude, to name just a few. And what I would never do: cheating, stealing and cutting corners. The CrossFit community is full of amazing comeback stories of courage and resolve. This is my little story about getting a second chance to get it right.

How about you? Got GRIT? Is CrossFit a valuable tool in helping you become a little more gritty? 

Take the GRIT TEST

20 Apr 2014

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Travis Manion Memorial WOD

7 Rounds for time

400m run
29 Back Squat, 135/95

20 Apr 2014

Light The Fire!

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“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” 
 
– Albert Schweitzer
 
I spent the weekend hosting and interning with the CrossFit Level 1 Seminar. It was inspiring to see so many new people looking to increase their knowledge of CrossFit and fitness. I am grateful for opportunities to remember what it was the first time I attended a Level 1 Seminar way back in 2004. I am grateful to each of you that comes in and trains day in and day out to improve. It inspires me to get better. It’s thrilling!
 
Who has lit your flame lately? Have you thanked them?
 
Grant pulling under the bar

Grant pulling under the bar

19 Apr 2014

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Gym closed for CF L1 Seminar – Meet at Harvard Track next to stadium at 9 am

SCHEDULE

This weekend the gym will be closed while we host the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Seminar.  There will still be a track workout with Coach Voci so be sure to head over to the Harvard Track. 

On Marathon Monday, Patriot Day, we will be running one WOD at 10am. It will be the Hero WOD Travis Manion:

7 Rounds for time
400m Run
29 Back Squat, 135/95

We wish the best of luck to CFB’ers Cissy Young and Zack McWade as they participate in the marathon. Look out for them if you are heading to the course to cheer on the race!

PROGRAMMING

Everyone has been doing a great job of attacking the strength workouts the last couple of weeks. Many PR’s have been set.  Keep it up, and stay focused. The increase in the strength will continue to help you in the WOD. The greater capacity you have to large loads, the greater your capacity will become to perform work.

Here is the upcoming week’s programming:

Saturday 4/19 – CLOSED FOR LEVEL 1 (Meet at Harvard Track for 9AM WOD)

Sunday 4/20 – CLOSED FOR LEVEL 1 (Meet at Harvard Track for 9AM WOD)

Monday 4/21 – PATRIOTS DAY 10AM WOD ONLY

Travis Manion Memorial WOD

7 Rounds for time

400m run
29 Back Squat, 135/95

Tuesday 4/22

1. Back rack reverse lunges 5×5 (each leg)

2. For time
500m row
21 push ups
21 power cleans, 95/65
500m row
15 push ups
15 power cleans, 135/95
500m row
9 push ups
9 power cleans, 185/125

1. Build up to a challenging weight and perform 5×5 at that weight

Wednesday 4/23

1. EMOM 10
5 pullups
8 burpees

2a. Farmer Carry 50′, 3 x AHAP
2b. 200m Run

Thursday 4/24

1. Deadlift – work up to a 3RM

2. AMRAP 15
21 OH Swings, 24/16kg
9 Handstand push ups

Friday 4/25

1. “Chelsea”
Complete every minute on the minute for 30 minutes

5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Squats

Scaling option
3 Pull ups
6 Push ups
9 Squats

2a. Front Rack Walking Lunges – 3×50′ AHAP
2b. Toe 2 Bar – 3 x max reps

17 Apr 2014

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1. Baseline – For time
Row 500m
40 Squats
30 Sit ups
20 Push ups
10 Pull ups

2a. Practice hand balancing and hand walking for 20 minutes
2b. Abs – Accumulate 100 hollow rocks

17 Apr 2014

Shoulder Health

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Hey everyone. Over the past week, we have been doing a lot of heavy work and a lot of heavy overhead work (think EMOM Snatches Tuesday). While coaching some of these classes I might have limited some of you to only performing a power snatch instead of the full (I hate saying this, but…) squat snatch. If you recall, which I hope you do, the reason for this limitation was because you lack both thoracic and shoulder mobility. Well, here is a little science bomb for you. 

I can already hear you…  “Hey! G2! This is a video for the Push Press. Where’s the science stuff you were talking about?” Well, if you were a little more patient (just like your Clean and Snatch positions… hmmmm) then at around the 3:55 mark you would have heard Doug talking about the shoulder joint and all that stuff. Patience is a virtue…

 

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Joe Z. OHSHey CFB!  How was that snow yesterday?  Ridiculous!  Anyways, props to the morning crew who had to do burpees instead of running due to the flood on the street and winter conditions.

 

Who’s ready to setup a Free Private Training Session?  I’ve already heard from a few of you and I can’t wait to help everyone set some goals and start attacking them.  Remember, you can join any coaches team in the gym.  It’s up to you if you’d like more personalized feedback and help in reaching your goals.  All you have to do is schedule a one-on-one session with a coach and you are on his team.   Let me know how I can help you and let’s get after it! – email me at [email protected] to setup a session to join the CFB Renegades.

 

Speaking of Renegades!  Welcome Joe Z. to group classes!  Joe is completing his graduation WOD, Fight Gone Bad, this week and he can’t wait to mix it up with all of you.  Here’s a little bit about him and why he’s joining CFB!

 

Joe Z. Foam RollWho are you and what are you about? My name is Joe Zarrella, and I’m a senior at Harvard College. I was a Varsity Diver for 4 years until finishing up my career in March, but I have been a lifelong athlete. I’m studying Government, and I’m excited to be joining the Teach For America corps for the next two years in Denver, CO as an elementary school teacher.
 
Why did you join CrossFit Boston? After I finished my final collegiate season in March, I immediately wanted to get back into the gym. I’m motivated by nature, but CrossFit’s philosophy was especially appealing to me. Not only do I want to work out, but I want to know how to work out most efficiently and effectively. I was looking for something that I can continue to do the rest of my life, and that’s why CrossFit Boston was a great fit for me.
 
What are you getting out of the Private Training? In Private Training, I have learned a number of movements that were completely new to me. But more importantly, I really was able to hone in on the movements I was familiar with but have to work on and improve. I’ve noticed that a lot of the movements I’ve learned apply to everyday activities outside the gym. The Private Training has really pushed me to find my limits, and I’m excited to graduate to group classes!
 
What are some of your goals for this year? Because I’m moving to Denver, my goals are to become acclimated to the Crossfit gym in Colorado. I want to attend workouts regularly and really start to build up my stamina and strength as an athlete. Another goal is to improve my nutrition and be more aware of what I’m putting into my body so that I can get the most out of my hard work.
 
What are you looking forward to once you graduate to group classes? As a lifelong athlete, I love team environments. I’m really looking forward to being in the gym with a group of athletes all pushing each other and working towards the same universal goals of CrossFit!
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16 Apr 2014

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1. Back Squat – work up to a 5RM

2. Complete for time
75 Power Snatches, 115#/75#

16 Apr 2014

It’s OK To Be Sally

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2401995347_e23469cd13_qIn case you haven’t seen the epic pie order in When Harry Met Sally, watch now for context. While I don’t advise ordering complicated desserts as a great way to stick to a clean diet, I’ve got a point to make.  

When I say “it’s OK to be Sally”, I mean that it’s OK to be a huge, pain in the butt when you order at a restaurant. Go ahead, be all “Can you please cook my vegetables in olive oil or steamed instead of in butter, unless the butter happens to be grass-fed” and all “Do you have any BBQ sauce made with just molasses and honey, with no cane sugar or corn syrup?”, and “can you grill that instead of frying it, please?”. It’s OK to complain when you ask for a side of vegetables instead of some other processed carbohydrate and receive a quarter cup of sad looking veggies smothered in butter/oil. 

 

It’s OK for you to ask the Butcher or Fish Peddler to cut your meat to just the right amount. It’s OK to ask for grass fed beef or bison, and if they don’t have it ask them to go check or maybe even order some. It’s OK to ask for wild caught salmon and decide to go elsewhere if they don’t have it.

 

It’s OK to be honest with your friends and coworkers about what you eat. If someone is grilling Bubba Burgers, it’s OK for you to ask them to throw on a piece of chicken or bison for you. Hell, vegetarians do it all the time with their Kween-o burgers (see this ad if you don’t get the joke). It’s OK to ask that your coworkers don’t get you cupcakes on your birthday because you’re trying to avoid sugar. It’s OK to ask for the gluten free option at catered work lunches (although be advised, this isn’t always healthier per se). 

 

I know this is a fine line. It is obviously not OK to go to your friends house for dinner and look upon the white rice, rolls, or cheese platter and condescendingly inform them “I don’t eat that”. But I feel like we have spent too much time waiting on old fashioned economics of supply and demand to produce heather products, and the movement has been slow.  ‘Cause the food industry is way behind. Remember how we thought egg yolks were bad for us from like the mid 1980’s until the end of the 1990’s? Want to guess when McDonalds came out with an egg white option? THIS YEAR. While we appreciate your effort guys, it’s not the yolk we have a problem with, and we haven’t for over fifteen years. Other companies are better at picking up on trends, but not necessarily to our benefit. I mean, thanks for the gluten free wanter, peanuts, and yogurt I guess… And shout out to Dunkin Donuts for the turkey sausage and turkey bacon offerings, which are really not any healthier for you than regular bacon and taste way worse.

 

So my point is this: If you want a healthier, better food product, ask for it. Loudly and often. Because right now the food industry is making lots of money based on the assumption (and their efforts to keep it so) that everyone just can’t get enough soda, snacks, and processed convenience dinners. That we don’t care what’s in the food as long as it sounds “healthy” or is low calorie/low carb/low fat, etc. If we want better food, we have to demand it. And nothing speaks louder with food industry than your wallet. 

 

What do you think about this?

 

Photo 1

** A little context on the Flickr donut: when I searched “demanding” on flickr for a nice illustrative image, I stumbled upon a protest demanding Flickr give out free donuts. I think this makes asking for better food sound a little less ridiculous. I was also greatly amused, thus explaining the inclusion of this image.