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23 Apr 2014

Keep It Simple, Stupid

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Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.49.16 AMPicture it, any CrossFit gym, 2014. A well educated adult starts CrossFit at their local affiliate and gets super excited about their health and fitness. After about a month, he hears about the Paleo diet and gives it a shot. He doesn’t really have much guidance, so he buys a book on Amazon and looks at some blogs. Over the next month or so he’s doing pretty well. Eating Paleo about 80% of the time. He makes Paleo muffins or pancakes for breakfasts, some meat and vegetable dishes like Paleo spaghetti or chili. He eats lots of meat (mmmm PROTEIN) and a few veggies on the side. Plenty of dried fruit and nuts throughout the day, and maybe a Paleo cookie or two for dessert. He still drinks some beer on the weekends. After two months, he’s lost a little weight and feels a little better, but isn’t quite seeing the results he wants. After doing some online research, he decides he may need to try intermittent fasting, Zone, or even ketosis to see results. So he comes on in and asks his coach and some other gym members what they think. 

 

Sound familiar? As I’ve read blogs and spent time around CrossFitters over the past few years, I’ve noticed this happening a fair amount (not calling out anyone in particular, just a general observation). Sometimes we get so caught up in pursuing results via the next big idea, we forget to really think about what we’re doing. This approach can hurt us for a few reasons.

 

1. The Foundation isn’t there. The foundation of CrossFit is nutrition. And in my humble opinion, the foundation of nutrition is a clean, pretty much Paleo diet. I’m talking about a diet mostly fruits a vegetables, with a little meat, some nuts and seeds, healthy fats, and maybe some dried fruit or dark chocolate here and there. While not the ideal diet for everyone, this is where the experiment starts. If you’re not seeing the results you want on a diet like this, there are lots of things to look at ( how much are you eating, when are you eating it, what are your goals, how are stress levels, etc). If a diet like this is too strict for you, then your goal should be working to get as close to it as is sustainable for you. 

 

2. It plays into the American Diet System (which sucks). You know this system. Weight Watchers. Atkins. South Beach. Nutrisystem. Jenny Craig. Alli (or what I like to call the lose lose weight by pooping your pants pill).  Anything you’ve ever seen advertised on TV with a tagline like “eat all your favorite foods and still lose weight!”. In America we like to follow diet rules, deprive ourselves, etc. We’ve been so conditioned to adhere to a diet and self shame when we don’t. So while the Zone diet is a WAY better option than Jenny Craig, if you are a person who has jumped from diet to diet,  figuring out a sustainable, clean diet that moves you towards your goals is going to be way more successful then bringing food scales and time restrictions into the equation.

 

3. More stress. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t stand the Zone diet. Weighing all my food makes me feel obsessive and stressed out, negatively impacting my quality of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Camille’s abs this July, but given my experience with this diet, no matter how good it is on paper, it isn’t going to help me. Not when I could do a better job of cutting out alcohol and grains first.  On top of that, stress  negatively impacts weight and health, raising cortisol levels (a hormone released in response to stress that raises blood sugar levels, boosts the metabolism of macronutrients, and suppresses the immune system) and increasing inflammation in the body.  Unless you are a very high level athlete (I’m talking the kind who makes a living from their sport), in all likelihood a complicated diet like ketosis is not worth your time and energy when you could achieve a pretty good level of fitness and body composition just by eating clean most of the time. 

 

Now, I’m by no means telling you NOT to try something new with your diet. It is, after all, YOUR diet. If you’re not having results you should always be trying something new. When it comes to nutrition, dietitians and experts can provide guidance, but ultimately you are your own laboratory. You need to figure out what works for you through trial and error. I am simply pointing out that before you try something complex like carb cycling, you should be eating clean, have cut out processed junk (yes, that includes Paleo baked goods), and achieved a balanced diet that generally makes you feel and perform well. If you want to level up your performance or body composition from there, by all means jump right in. But for most people, keeping it simple will work out best in the long run. Remember, a lot of us have 30-50 or more years to maintain health and fitness. Who wants to be on a crazy, complex diet for 50 years?

 

Have you ever tried a complex diet? How did it go?

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

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…

 

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.

 

 

I was planning on starting a weekly member blog, but had no idea my first blog would be describing an experience with the infamous Rhabdomyolysis. I’m sure everyone is somewhat familiar with Rhabdo. Fortunately it is rare enough that it doesn’t happen often. However, most people know of someone, or a friend of a friend who finds themselves at the mercy of Rhabdo.

 

I am trying to piece together what made last week different and why the conditioning or my behavior outside of CFB could have contributed to the onset of Rhabdo. So far I only have a few ideas.

 

I CrossFit about 4 to 5 days a week, and last week I completed WODS Monday- Thursday. My quads were tight, and sore but nothing that seemed out of the norm. On Friday I was planning on doing the 4:30 WOD, and I was foam rolling and stretching which is something I am adamant about doing before every class.

 

As I went to get up from mobility, I felt a sharp pain down my left quad and quickly sat back down, feeling light headed, and weak, I thought I had pulled a muscle and decided against working out that afternoon instead opting for continuing mobility. I went home iced my leg, took Tylenol and continued on with my Friday.

 

I awoke on Saturday experiencing the same pain and I was having a hard time putting any weight on my leg. I posted on the CFB BS board asking for advice and immediately members mentioned Rhabdo. I started Web- Mding, which is not advised, but I was experiencing some of the symptoms. My leg was tender to touch, swollen, and feeling warm.

 

With a lot of encouragement from the CFB community, I decided Sunday it was time to head to the ER. I was lucky because Krista picked me up, and she was working in the ER at Brigham and I received the VIP treatment.

 

At first the nurses didn’t think it was Rhabdo, because I was not acting like a Rhabdo patient. After multiple people looked at my leg, noticing the swelling, redness, bruising, and warmth they concluded it probably was more than a simple strain. They were concerned with Rhabdo as well as compartment syndrome, which was an even more terrifying possibility. I was started on fluids while my blood was sent to the lab for tests. After a couple of hours it was confirmed that my CK levels were elevated and I indeed had Rhabdo. I had caught the Rhabdo early enough so my course of treatment was simply fluids and rest; fortunately there is no apparent kidney damage. I was discharged in the morning with instructions to continue hydrating, resting and no crossfitting for a couple of weeks. As far as what caused it, its possible I was not drinking enough water throughout the week or I simply just over did it, I will never really know. I probably was experiencing Rhabdo for a few days and Friday when my muscles were in a vulnerable state any amount of strain was just too much. I am still feeling pretty weak, and sore but I am definitely on the mend!

 

My take away from this whole experience is positive. I am thankful for the CrossFit community in that they are informed of the symptoms and their insistence that I went to the ER. I think if anyone ever feels even slightly concerned that they could be experiencing Rhabdo they should head to the doctor. It is not something you want to mess around with, but if caught early the treatment is rather simple. In the end I think this experience will make me a more cautious, and aware Crossfitter and hopefully down the road a knowledgeable CrossFit coach!

Who’s ready for the Town Hall Meeting tomorrow at 6:30pm?Bob and Coach Pat at CRASH-B 2014

 

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to new member Bob E. for making the CRI Comp Team!  Bob has been working hard all winter and has been loving every class at CrossFit Boston.  You’ll usually catch him at 6am or 7am on Tuesday and Thursday, because he is now officially rowing on the Men’s Comp. Team at CRI on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Keep up the awesome work Bob and represent!

 

A big thing that Bob has learned and started to focus on to make improvements in his rowing and lifting is mobility!  If you’re in need of more mobility knowledge and practice, come join us for Mobility Wednesdays every week at 6:30pm.  Kapil took everyone through hamstring mobility for deadlifts yesterday.  Who’s joining us next week?

 

 

RR Workshop at NAVSTA NewportLast but not least, I wanted to share some pictures from the Rowing Workshop that I put on for the Newport Naval Base yesterday.  You didn’t see me in the gym because I traveled down to Newport, RI to host a Renegade Rowing Workshop for members of the NAVSTA Newport Gym.  We had a blast learning to squat, row, and race with a Partner 2k Relay.  If you’re interested in rowing on the water with the Renegade Rowing Team - sign up here and shoot me an email – [email protected]

 

See you in the Gym!

Coach PatRR Workshop at Newport Navy Base

09 Apr 2014

R.I.C.E.?

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Many of us here have been an athlete at some point in our lives even if we don’t consider ourselves “athletes” (you are, you just need to find your inner “athlete”). Anywho, before I get off on a tangent, we have all heard the acronym R.I.C.E. in reference to an injury. It has become “common-knowledge” that for an athletic injury we employ Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation to help alleviate soreness and pain.

But the very same physician who coined the term R.I.C.E. has come out saying that Ice and complete Rest might not be the answer to helping us heal faster.  

Read on here for more on this… 

04 Apr 2014

FIRE IT UP! April 4, 2014

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FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!

The Open is complete! Everyone gave great efforts and as coaches we saw some significant improvements across the board. Congrats to everyone that participated.

Carla B has qualified, still awaiting the official announcement, for the NorthEast Regionals as an individual competitor. She finished 32nd in the Region. Get ready to head down to Canton, MA on May 30-June 1 at the Reebok World Headquarters to cheer her on!

Carla rocking out 14.5.

Carla rocking out 14.5.

HONORING BFD

Beginning this weekend we will have a collection jar for donations for the family of recently fallen Lt. Ed Walsh of the BFD. Lt. Walsh left behind a wife with 3 children under the age of 10 when he and FF Kennedy perished in the 9 Alarm Fire in Back Bay last week.

Tomorrow’s 11am class will perform the Hero WOD Mike “Dork” Kennedy:

For time
33 Back Squat, 225/155
15 Burpees
33 Deadlift, 225/155
15 Burpees
33 OH Swings, 32kg/24kg
15 Burpees

FF Kennedy was a member of the CrossFit community and had trained/coached at CrossFit Craic, CrossFit Together, and CrossFit Florian.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Friday 4/11 – Town Hall Meeting – 6:30pm at the GYM

Sat/Sun 4/19-4/20 – CrossFit Level 1 Seminar Gym Closed (Meet at Harvard Track)

Monday – 4/21 Patriots Day – Marathon Monday (1 WOD at the gym and then Potluck after)

Saturday 4/26 – Hydrostatic Weighing with Metro Fitness Wave

TOWN HALL MEETING
Join us at the gym next Friday at 6:30pm. The staff and I will be on hand to breakdown the some of the changes that have occurred within the gym and the continued improvements and how exactly they will benefit you all as current members. It will be exciting to discuss so try to make it!

CROSSFIT LEVEL 1 CERTIFICATION
On Saturday 4/19 & Sunday 4/20 we are hosting a CrossFit Level 1 Cert. The gym will be closed so members should meet each morning over at the Harvard University Track for an outdoor workout. It will be FUN.

PATRIOT DAY – MARATHON MONDAY
Join us at the gym for 1 WOD at 10am and a potluck after. Food, drink, and good conversations. We will stream the marathon on the TV screens. Bring your favorite foods to share!

HYDROSTATIC WEIGHING
Keith from Metro Fitness Wave will be back here at CFB on Saturday 4/26 to perform hydrostatic measurements. If you missed out on the last round or you wish to retest, this will be your chance. Monday of next week we will have a link on the website to register, schedule, and pay for your spot. You can learn more about the service here.

PROGRAMMING

Saturday 4/5

1. Bench Press – work up to a 5RM for the day

2. 21-15-9 for time
Front Rack Lunges, 135/95
Ring Dips

11am ONLY – Hero WOD Mike “Dork” Kennedy:

For time
33 Back Squat, 225/155
15 Burpees
33 Deadlift, 225/155
15 Burpees
33 OH Swings, 32kg/24kg
15 Burpees

Sunday 4/6

1. Row 1k – TEST

2. With a Partner Complete AMRAP 20
5 Pull ups
10 Burpees
15 Deadlift, 225/155

Only one person working on the AMRAP at a time. The second person will be rowing for max distance on the rower. The partners switch when a full round is complete.

Score rounds + reps and total combined distance rowed by the team.

Monday 4/7

1. Push Press – work up to a 3RM for the day

2. 4 x 200m repeats
rest 2x the time it took to complete the sprint

3. Abs – Accumulate 100 total reps from the following movements: GHD sit ups, T2B, KTE, strict back extensions

Tuesday 4/8

1. “Zimmerman”
AMRAP 25
11 CTB Pull ups
2 Deadlift, 315/220
10 HSPU

2. 10 x 30 sec L-sit holds

Wednesday 4/9

1. Front Squat – work up to a 2RM

2. For time
75 Wallball shots
25 Double unders
50 Wallball shots
50 Double Unders
25 Wallball shots
75 Double Unders

3. Grip work

Thursday 4/10

1. EMOM 15 – 2 Power Snatch AHAP + 1 MU

2. AMRAP 5
15 OH Swings, 32kg/24kg
15 Burpees

rest 5 minutes

AMRAP 5
15 Burpees
15 Step ups, 20″

Friday 4/11

1. TEST 1 mile run

2. “Angie”
100 Pull ups
100 Push ups
100 Sit ups
100 Air squats

No, this is not a belated April Fool’s, although I am now kicking myself for not asking to blog a day early. I could have had a lot of fun with that one. 

There’s been a lot of hate going around in the media for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and fructose. Some “nutritionists” may even tell you to cut back on fruit because fructose is so dangerous. But is this all true?

 

What We Know

hfcs obesity

 

We know in studies of mice, feeding them diets upwards of 40-50% of their diet from HFCS leads to development of cancer, obesity, and other side effects.  We can also see a graph (right) of  obesity rising significantly in the 30+ years after HFCS was introduced to the food supply in the 1970′s. Meanwhile other studies are finding there are no significant negative effects attributed to HFCS.

 Now, it’s become a fierce debate. One camp blasting the many ways HFCS will kill you and the other defending it’s honor, proclaiming that HFCS is perfectly safe.

 

The Truth

 

The line industry and the FDA has settled on is “HFCS is no more harmful to your health than sucrose (table sugar)”. 

 

1601546_10104604919720781_2037852626_nThe thing is, I agree with this. But that doesn’t mean HFCS is OK. It means the FDA and industry are missing the forest for the trees, and hoping you will too. To say HFCS is no more harmful to your health than table sugar is like saying gin is no more harmful to your health than bourbon. Would you really argue that drinking gin is fine but bourbon is not or vice versa? Of course not. You recognize that both in moderation can be enjoyed, but in excess BOTH will produce harm (in this example, in the form of liver cirrhosis and alcoholism). 

 

I will however, agree that HFCS can cause obesity, although not directly on it’s own. After all, HFCS isn’t even that “high” in fructose – only about 5% higher than sucrose. What happened was, HFCS made sugar SO CHEAP that the industry could put it in everything, even things that never had sugar before. They could manipulate sweetness to further addict you to foods, to produce larger serving sizes for basically nothing. HFCS doesn’t chemically cause obesity, but it set the stage for the environment that would.

 

My Advice

 

  • Don’t eat a lot of HFCS. Anything it’s in is usually cheaply made. Personally, I prefer the taste of barbecue sauce made with molasses and honey over HFCS, but if you treat your self to something that has it every now and then you will not give yourself cancer immediately. 
  • Don’t fool yourself – a cookie with HFCS is just as bad for your waistline and health as a cookie made with “organic evaporated cane juice” (which is just fancy speak for sucrose). 
  • Keep your intake of added sugar -a ALL sugars – to a minimum. Get your carbs from complex carbs and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit.
  • Don’t avoid fruit – drinking straight fructose may be a bad idea, but eating fructose in the presence of fiber and other vitamins and minerals is the way nature intended. I mean, don’t eat 10 bananas in a day, but if you’re stressing about eating a second piece of fruit because you’re afraid it will harm your health and impact your weight loss, just stop it right now.

*There are some people for which avoiding fructose (and most other carbohydrates) at all or some parts of the day will be appropriate, including body builders on a cutting diet or women with Gestational Diabetes. 

25 Mar 2014

An Acquittal for Saturated Fat

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4931201391_6c72177b4f_zGrowing up I learned that fat was bad. Butter, beef, nuts, avocado – all “fattening” (seriously, we never had guacamole in my house growing up for this very reason). Lean meat lean beef lean lean lean has been drilled into us for the past thirty or so years. Even the American Heart Association – trusted resource for all things heart disease – recommends limiting saturated fat to just 5% of daily intake If you eat a 2,000 calorie diet, that leaves you with about 11 grams or  less than a tablespoon of coconut oil per day. (Although as a side note I somewhat question AHA’s wisdom after learning they endorsed Subway as a healthy meal option. But I digress.) Heck, I even learned it in college, and told I don’t know how many patients while I was working in the hospital to “choose lean meats and avoid foods high in saturated fat”. There has been questioning of this saturated fat-heart disease link recently, with a lot of it coming from the Paleo camp (Robb Wolf, etc).

 

Now, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has cleared saturated fat of its charges. The review looked at 21 studies of over 347,000 people with follow up anywhere from 5-23 years. The results found no association between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. Basically, there is no evidence to conclude that saturated fat is the devil incarnate.

 

What Does This Mean?

 

My general rule about saturated fat remains unchanged (and is essentially supported) by this study. Don’t be afraid of sat fat – there are a lot of food containing saturated fat that provide nutrients we need. Beef for example, is a good source of iron (which is needed to produce hemoglobin, a part of red cells that shuttles oxygen through the body. Not getting enough iron can result in anemia) and zinc (important for wound healing and immune health). But, most if not all of your saturated fat should still come from healthy, whole food sources – meat, milk, eggs, butter, etc and not from fried/processed foods or high sugar foods (like ice cream). Just as with carbohydrates, it’s not about the nutrient itself, it’s about where it comes from and the quality of that source.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Don’t be afraid of saturated fat. Just get it from the right place.

 

Source - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Image c/o Chris Lindsay


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Athlete of the Month

  • David Kemp

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    Let’s start with a regret. I wish I had gotten off my ass and joined CrossFit Boston a year ago. Fitness-wise, it had been a rough year since I got out of the Marines and started at HBS (Harvard Business School). Not that I wasn’t working out at all, but what I was doing wasn’t [...]

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  • ASHLEY SCAFETTA

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    CrossFit is a sport I believe everyone can participate in. I especially see this in the kid athletes of CrossFit Boston. Every new kid I have the opportunity to coach brings to our community a new perspective. Ashley is a young lady who at 10 years old is already competing in triathlons and is a [...]

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