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I am Thankful for Strong Women

angie

I woke up at 7am today, forgetting that it was a holiday and thinking I was late to work. I wasn’t. Instead, I rolled out from under the cuddling-grasps of my sleeping husband, snuck (unsuccessfully) out of the bedroom and into my closet where I tossed on workout clothes.

Outside it was sunny and I had to scrape the ice off my windows. I hate scraping the ice off my windows, especially on a non-work day.

It’s Thanksgiving and I was meeting my team at the gym for the 6th annual CrossFit Cornucopia workout. This workout is brutal–t’s a total 8 movements at 200 reps each, split reps with your team of four, and it lasts for just over an hour.*

I have been going to CrossFit for as long as President Obama has been in office. Election night 2008 was one of my first one-on-one sessions. Over the years I have been at the top of my fitness game and super sporadic. Right now, CrossFit and I have a lukewarm relationship. It’s not that it doesn’t love me, it’s that I don’t love it. It’s a symptom of a 2-hour commute, long hours, and, to be frank, just being tired. I’ve gained weight (but every pancake has been worth it) and my shoulder is still not strong. And now my lower back and hip are freaking out. I’m too young for my body to revolt on me.

I may disappear from the gym for a few weeks, but I always come back.

Two weeks ago I got a text from one of my ’6am Faithfuls,’ asking if I’d join their team for our gym’s annual Thanksgiving workout. The idea of doing the workout never crossed my mind. And it doesn’t matter how old you get, getting ‘chosen’ to be on a team always feels good.

My team this year was evenly matched in strength and ability. We each carried the team our respective movements and rested on the ones we weren’t.

Then we hit the burpees, movement 5 out of 8 and rep 800-1000, and each of us subbed in after 2 or 3 burpees each. Not even half-way through, say burpee #60, I hit the wall. I wanted to die. My body felt heavy as hell — I dropped fast and it took all-the-strength-in-the-world to push my body off the floor.

My lowerback was tweaking out each time I pushed up. I laid at the bottom of the burpee, chest pressed against the floor wondering, when did I get so heavy? and how could these extra 10 pounds feel like 50? I wanted to cry and never get up, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. This wasn’t just my workout.

I jumped up, clapped my hands above my head, and dropped back down to the ground, pushing myself up to a jump, completing another burpee.

That’s when Sara tapped in and I rested for 9 more burpees.

Strength being part of a community, part of a team. Strength is showing up. And if it wasn’t for these three ladies, I would have stayed on the floor.

Thank you for sharing your strength with me, Sara, Meredyth, and Linda.

Happy Thanksgiving.

CrossFit Cornucopia Team 2013 at Local's Gym/Lynnwood Crossfit

* The CrossFit Cornucopia Workout

  • 200 Dumbell/Kettlebell Snatches 35/25
  • 200 Deadlifts 85/65
  • 200 Wallball Shots 20/14
  • 200 Medball Cleans 20/14
  • 200 Burpees
  • 200 Pull-ups
  • 200 Thrusters 45/35
  • 200 calories on the rower

Teams of 4 for time
Break up reps as needed

Top Photo by Greg Westfall

How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog by Using Ryan Gosling

Hey Girl meme, CrossFit edition

There was some pretty stellar content floating around the Internet last week, but perhaps the best thing I stumbled upon was CrossFit Ryan Gosling (full set on Facebook and on the co-creator’s blog).

Ryan Gosling, the Meme

“Hey Girl,” the meme, was originally started by Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling on tumblr, and made famous by Danielle Henderson’s Feminist Ryan Gosling. The blog was started as a joke to keep track of the theorists she is studying as she works towards her graduate degree in gender studies. The content has no affiliation to Ryan Gosling, the actor, and as with most things we encounter online, it doesn’t really matter because Henderson’s content is so damn entertaining.

Like all good memes, spin offs happen, and last week I ran into the most amazing rendition of the “Hey Girl” meme and that is CrossFit Ryan Gosling.

CrossFit Ryan Gosling was created (I believe) by Gabe Billings and Robin Runyan out of Eugene, Oregon and shared like mild wildfire on Facebook last week. You can view all 21 photos (so far) here.

Why CrossFit Ryan Gosling works: A Lesson in Marketing

The reason why Feminist Ryan Gosling worked so well and is (arguably) more famous than the original is because of a few reasons:

1) Know Your Audience

People who are “subject matter experts” of the target audience created Feminist Ryan Gosling and CrossFit Ryan Gosling who these pictures were created for. The person behind Feminist Ryan Gosling is studying gender issues; the people behind CrossFit Ryan Gosling is a CrossFitter. They wrote captions for people who are like them and about things that matter.

The fact that Ryan Gosling is featured is for entertainment only.

Takeaway: Know your audience intimately.

2) Find Your Niche and Stick to it

According to Know Your Meme, “Hey Girl” was created in December 2008 but made famous by Feminist Ryan Gosling when it came to the scene in the fall of 2011 and was featured on Ms. Magazine blog, The Huffington Post, GQ, Newsweek, Bust, and about a dozen more.

Why did Feminist Ryan Gosling do better than the original “Hey Girl” in such a short amount of time? Because Feminist Ryan Gosling had a very specific purpose: feminist flash cards.

Granted, I haven’t spent much time on the original site, but the name is telling – “Fuck Yeah!” doesn’t really tell me what your site and your content is about, whereas Feminist and CrossFit does.

Takeaway: When given the opportunity, specialize and become an expert over being a generalist.

3) Do it Because You Want to

The best part about Fuck Yeah! Ryan Gosling, Feminist Ryan Gosling, and CrossFit Ryan Gosling are that they are all fans – of the topics they parody at least. If you want to create some great content that will have some “stickiness” to it, you have to enjoy what you’re doing and come from a place of curiosity or heart.

CrossFit Ryan Gosling was created because someone at the creator’s gym came up with the idea and the set is what they all came up with. The creators are CrossFitter themselves. They’re not getting paid and they probably did it because they wanted to. And that’s what it’s all about.

Takeaway: You will create something noteworthy if you love the topic you’re creating first.

In Other Sunday Serial News

When you’re done lusting over Ryan Gosling, here are a few other articles for you to read:

What did you read this week?

Post updated on April 22, 2012 to reflect multiple authors and the official web “home” of CrossFit Ryan Gosling to be here. Thanks, Gabe and Robin for stopping by!

How do regular people look when they do CrossFit?

My relationship with CrossFit started over three years ago. It started before Reebok entered into a sponsorship deal with CrossFit, made it a sport, and brought it to the out of the garage and onto ESPN. It started back when there were only a few boxes in Seattle and I had no idea how to describe it to people, other than to say, “It’s CrossFit.”

It started because like most great things, a friend told me about it.

Since then I climbed a 20-foot rope for the first time in my life. Did handstands across America and Canada. Learned I have amazing mobility and one amazing overhead squat. Met some of my closest friends and tightest community through my gym. Recruited at least a dozen people into CrossFit through real-life conversations and conversations on Twitter (seriously). Injured my right shoulder. Got depressed, angry, and really frustrated about it. Finally figured out a treatment plan that worked.

Want to know the best part?

My friend, Dillan Monson, shot a video that night at the gym during the WOD, and yours truly made her first CrossFit video appearance, banded pull-ups, cleans, and jerks included.

As another CrossFit friend put it, this is how ‘regular’ people look when they do CrossFit. By that, she means people like you and specifically me, not the elite-elite athletes.

Watch it, and let me know if you spot me :)

Locals Gym – 2/2/12 from Dillan Monson on Vimeo.

Merry Christmas from Strong Santa

Kimball_XMASCard_2012-webI hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and made it to the nice list :)

Much love,
Laura, John, and Strong Santa

Original artwork illustrated by John Kimball

When is it okay to quit?

quitter by jen collins (hellojenuine)

Two years ago in June, I walked into a CrossFit gym and started a workout with barely enough strength to lift the bar. This was embarrassing. I was not a newbie at all, but a nine-month veteran just home from three weeks away from the gym due to business travel. I was very familiar with the fact that I would not be as strong as when I left, but I wasn’t lifting any weight at all, I was just trying to lift the goddamn 35-pound bar.

Something was wrong. Something in my life beyond the gym was affecting my workout. And something needed to change.

That time I quit CrossFit

That summer my life was a mess – I was working for a manager who said I needed to do some “soul searching” to see if the job that I was doing was what I wanted to do, my husband and I were buying our first house, and I was discovering what it meant to be an “adult.”

They say that one of the main reasons why people work out is to relieve stress. But CrossFit is different; it requires concentration of your mind, body, and soul to push your body to do things that you never imagined it could. And as a friend put it, at CrossFit, you are very vulnerable. And those three things consumed all of my thoughts to the point that I could not put them aside so I could use my brain to focus on the work out at hand.

It was scary. And if you aren’t on solid ground mentally, emotionally, or physically, it makes it even worse.

And it can turn something you love into something that isn’t worth it anymore.

So I quit. I decided that I needed time away from this thing that I was growing to love. This activity that was the first and only form of working out that I ever “got.” This hobby that showed me I have damn good form and kick ass at lifting. This sport that was causing more stress that it was relieving.

The difference between quitting and failure

It’s okay to say enough is enough and put a stop to what’s not working. For me, quitting CrossFit allowed me to take one responsibility off the table so I could spend my energy on working through some really big milestones in my life. It allowed me to preserve the sanctity of CrossFit so that it would still be fresh when, or if, I decided to return.

The idea of quitting is romantic. It’s an action that many of us would like to do, but rarely act upon. And I’m not talking give-the-man-the-finger type of quitting; I’m talking about the “it’s not good for me anymore” type of quitting. The kind that slips out of your mouth over wine with a friend when you tell her about the job that you’re not into anymore or the man you’re seeing who doesn’t fulfill your life the way he used to; the kind that she’ll encourage you to get over and promise that that feeling will come back and that you’ll come out stronger than when you started.

Or, if she’s a good friend, she will tell you to listen to that feeling and just fucking do it.

I like how John Falchetto says it, quitting is a choice:

I chose to quit when there is no progress. When no matter the effort I am exerting, in whichever direction I am pushing no progress is made whatsoever. Sometimes it is easier to walk around the wall than try to push through it.

Quitting is not the same thing as failure. Failure is the act of something not working in the way that you intended it to work. Failure is an outcome, quitting is a choice. Failure is something that happens to you (or something you direct), quitting is you putting a screeching halt to something. And sometimes to prevent being run over by the train, you have to change the tracks and put up the stop sign.

And it’s okay.

Whether it’s a hobby, how you workout, your job, your lover, and even your best friend – quitting, when you know why you’re doing it, is okay.

Learning from the past

Technically this isn’t a story about quitting; it’s a story about hitting pause. Four months after I quit CrossFit, I found my way back. I resolved two of the three issues that got in my way during the summer and found a new gym. This new gym invited me to join their community and I fell back in love with CrossFit.

It wasn’t the same kind of love. This time, I know that I will have an “off” night and that things will happen at work and at home that will affect how I perform at the gym. There are nights when I will fight back tears because emotionally, I can’t find the strength to start or even finish a work out, but I will find the strength to show up. And that’s okay.

This time, the relationship is different because I am approaching it differently.

What have you quit? What did it teach you?

Photo credit: Jen Collins (hellojenuine)

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