612-644-9781 info@crossfitslipstream.com

Twin Cities Marathon

Ahh, the first weekend in October!  Temperature could be 70, could be 20.  But the Twin Cities Marathon will take place!  For many participants, the Marathon is the day to reap the rewards of all the hard work they’ve put in over months of preparation.  To survive events as long as the marathon takes time – lots of time on the roads & trails and in the gym or studio well in advance of race day.

And that means planning.  To cover 26.2 miles in less than the official time limit of 6:15 requires making a decision that it is something that you want to do far enough in advance to allow you to prepare.  There a heaps of training plans for every level of experience, intensity, and motivation.  But if you’re not already running at least half marathons, all of them will take months and it’s up to you to choose one and put yourself in a position to follow it.

Related: CrossFit?  But I’m a Bike Racer/Runner/Obstacle Course Racer/Triathlete/Etc.

The simple way is to join a group that’s training for your goal marathon.  For your hometown race, that will be easy.  What’s less easy is to manage your schedule to accommodate the group, stay motivated and actually get the correct training in when you don’t have the support of the group, or to know what to do when illness, injury, work, or life in general throws a wrench into the plan.  The same goes when your goal is not your hometown race.



This is where having a coach will benefit you.  A coach can look at your recent preparatory races and workouts, gauge where you are now, and adjust your plan to help you reach your goal given the time remaining.  Your coach can also help you recognize and accept the need to adjust your goal when needed or possible.  Note the adjustment could be a faster time than previously expected!  Having a good estimate of what’s possible for you helps you set realistic goals – and stretch goals – that will maximize both your performance and your satisfaction with the outcome, even when things don’t go quite to plan or you come up a little short of your goal.

Related: Is This You: “Running Sucks!”

So if you’re inspired by this year’s marathoners to give it a go next year, consider hiring a coach to draft a training plan specific to you, or to help you choose and implement an existing plan.  Slipstream exists to support you in exactly this way – what do you want to do?  Where are you now?  What will it take to get you where you want to go? Contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com to learn more about how we can help you reach your goals.

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

Member Highlight – Meet Saron!

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?

I wanted to try CrossFit because I knew going to conventional gyms just didn’t work for me. I could never stay motivated to keep going and the variety that CrossFit offers was really appealing to me.

2. How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?

Having a CrossFit coach has really helped me stay motivated and really focus on my form and progress. I know that if I do it right and I give my best, I will always keep getting better. And the coaches at Slipstream see it too and are so encouraging about it, it keeps me going.

3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?

It’s shown me how much more physically capable I am than I thought. There was a time when doing burpees were difficult for me, now I can handle it. There was a time wall-balls weren’t necessarily my favorite, now I can handle them with more weight. It’s easy to tell yourself that maybe you’re not the type of person who works out or goes to the gym and you can go on believing it. But doing CrossFit has changed my mindset in that I am capable, as long as I keep trying. I think that’s a good mindset to have both in and outside of CrossFit.

4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?

Deadlifts…they just make me feel like a badass

5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?

Just do it! It may seem intimidating but, you’re more capable than you think.

Drive, and How to Maximize It

Our ancestors had no need for “physical fitness” as we think of it.  If you weren’t fast or couldn’t throw hard, you didn’t catch dinner and went hungry.  If you couldn’t lift heavy things, you settled for flimsy shelters that collapsed and left you crushed or exposed.  “Physical fitness” came from just living life, and was not an end in itself.  Life challenged, and we responded.

A big part of the success of CrossFit is that its approach not only creates tremendous physical fitness, but does it in a way that facilitates reaching a flow state. 

In the modern world, we have removed nearly all the physical effort required by life.  While this has many advantages (12 hour shift in a steel mill, anyone?) the human body-mind unit remains a use-it-or-lose-it proposition.  Any ability that isn’t required by daily life is quickly dismantled to save energy for a rainy day – muscles atrophy, blood vessels are torn down, body fat goes up.  Fortunately, our ancestry has also instilled us with what psychologists call “intrinsic motivation” that we can tap into to become and remain motivated to do the hard, sometimes unpleasant work required to develop and maintain physical fitness.

Related: Positive Self Talk: What is it Good for Anyway?

An excellent introduction to intrinsic motivation is Daniel H. Pink’s book Drive,  which relies heavily on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of “Flow.”  Flow occurs when a task stretches our current level of ability without being out of reach.  Tasks that provide the opportunity for autonomy, mastery, and purpose help us reach a state of ‘flow,’ that pleasurable sensation of being absorbed in a task, a lack of self-consciousness, and losing track of time.  Flow states are so pleasurable that they are inherently motivating.

A big part of the success of CrossFit is that its approach not only creates tremendous physical fitness, but does it in a way that facilitates reaching a flow state.  The movements are often complex and always require focused attention to what you doing, even if it’s just counting reps.  While time often seems to drag during a hard workout, we normally notice when it’s over that time at least felt differently from normal, even if we didn’t quite lose track of it.  The challenge of improving your time on a repeated workout, mastering a complex movement like the clean, or aligning with your breath to push through a hard run are the type of tasks that provide opportunity for autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  They are, therefore, inherently motivating.

Kind of.  There is of course a threshold matter of finding physical tasks and improvement worthwhile and finding an environment that is supportive and focused on helping you tap into your intrinsic motivation.   To do so, start with setting your own goals that are intrinsically appealing, rather than adopting someone else’s goals or what you think you “should” want.  Your goal may be to be fit enough to do the “optional” guided walking tours on your upcoming vacation, rather than crush a new personal record for a 5k run.  And that’s fine.  What’s important is that it has meaning and appeal to you.  It should also allow for continuation after reaching your initial goal (more on that below).

Next, find a method to make preparing for that goal fun.  There are at least 3.5 kinds of fun (external link).  Doing activities you enjoy are key to making fitness a habit, which in turn is key to making real progress.  This may mean learning new skills, which can be less than fun at first, as frustration can mount.  Identifying what has potential and sticking with it long enough to get through the hard part of the learning curve is key, as is recognizing what does not have appeal and dropping it once you have given it a fair chance.  This is mastery – the process of becoming proficient, then gaining comprehensive ability in that skill.  Continually challenging your current abilities, then recovering from the effort, is how we improve fitness, gain skill, and attain mastery.

Related: Creating Lasting Change In Your Life

Finally, establish a reward system that operates after-the-fact.  While this may seem to contradict my advice to find a motivating goal, bear with me.  Pink describes these as “now/then” rewards, as opposed to the more common “if/then” rewards.  “Now” that you have learned the mechanics of the clean, you can move to adding weight, or treat yourself to a pair of olympic lifting shoes.  These goals work better for fitness than “if/then” because all too often people achieve the “if”, get the reward, and stop pursuing the endeavor (sound familiar?).  For example, “if I lose 20# by the wedding I can eat all the cake.”  Then not only do you eat all the cake, you stop working out altogether, because your goal has been achieved.

Finding an activity that you enjoy doing and that enhances your fitness in the process is key to a lifetime of physical fitness, enjoyment, and progress.  Becoming intrinsically rewarded by doing what is “good for you” is the fitness equivalent of learning to love vegetables.  When “working out” feels more like “playing out,” you will no longer struggle with motivation, and results will flow like water.  You may also find that your pursuit of mastery of this physical activity spurs you to improved habits in other areas of your life, as you realize that if you want your clean record to improve, you need to eat and sleep better.  Now you are pursuing it for the love of the activity, and fitness is a happy side benefit.

To learn more, or for help finding an intrinsically motivating activity, contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

What Happens When You Train 2: Conditioning Exercises

Our final installment in our short blog series on what happens when you train discusses what happens during and after a workout that focuses on conditioning. First, know that the ‘split’ between resistance and conditioning work is artificial.  It helps us understand what’s going on, but there is no such thing as resistance training without a conditioning element, or conditioning workouts without a resistance element.

Related: What Happens When You Train 1: Resistance Exercises

As in resistance work, conditioning work causes changes to your neurological, endocrine, immune, and metabolic systems.  Instead of repeating that information, however, here I’ll discuss what happens to improve your ability to deliver energy to sustain work.

The body really “burns” only one fuel: ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  But we have four ways we can produce ATP.  These are: aerobic lipolysis, aerobic glycolysis, anaerobic glycolysis, and the phosphagenic system.  We’ve covered these in other blogs, so please look at those if this is new to you.  Here, we’re talking about what changes in these systems in response to a workout.

The adaptations you build depend on the stress your workout applied. 

As you finish a workout, you do your cool-down (right?!) to lower your core temperature, return your heart rate to normal, and activate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).  This tells your subconscious (often referred to as your “body”) that the stressful event that was your workout is now over and it can devote resources to repairing the damage and “supercompensate” to improve your abilities, so you’re more capable of handling that kind of stress again.

The adaptations you build depend on the stress your workout applied.  This is known as the principle of specificity – you adapt to the specific demand placed on you.  Note: CrossFit’s “constantly varied” aspect means exposing you to lots of different demands, to build the broadest possible fitness, as opposed to, say, a runner who wants to run a specific distance as fast as possible.  With four major sources of ATP, we need to discuss these separately.

For extremely short, intense bursts of activity, the phosphagenic energy system (also known as the ATP/CP system) predominates.  It adapts to these stresses by increasing the number of mitochondria you have, which increases amount of ATP and creatine phosphate you can store and burn at any at time.  You also build more of the enzymes that help these reactions occur, ATPase and creatine kinase.  More energy available faster = stronger and faster muscle contractions = improved performance.

Related: Intensity: the Key to Improving Your Physical Fitness

For workouts that really make your lungs and muscles burn, your body responds by improving your glycolytic capabilities – the ability to turn sugar into ATP rapidly without using oxygen in the reaction.  Protein and fat cannot be metabolized without oxygen.  Only carbohydrate can supply energy this way.  This is one reason the system has only limited capacity.  One response is to increase the ability to store carbohydrate, either as glycogen in your muscles or glucose in the blood and liver.  Other responses include increasing the store of enzymes needed to process sugar, the number of mitochondria available for these reactions, the amount of the enzymes and other chemicals needed for the Krebs cycle, which converts the waste product pyruvate into ATP.

For longer workouts, or those with significant rest breaks between efforts (interval work), you respond by improving your ability to turn sugar into ATP with oxygen.  This has similar effects to those discussed immediately above and some additional results.  These include increased mitochondria, improved efficiency of Type I (“slow twitch”) muscle fibers, and faster processing of both lactate to prevent its accumulation and hydrogen ions to prevent that burning sensation associated with fatigue.

If you do our Burn45 class, or take an easy run, bike, or swim, you’ll improve your ability to utilize fat as fuel.  This is because while fat is an extremely rich source of fuel (potentially over 300 ATP’s per fat molecule, depending on its size), the reactions required to convert it to ATP are relatively slow, and can’t provide energy fast enough to power intense work.  Hence the name “Burn45”, and the need to keep the intensity down during it.  After such a workout, your body responds by increasing its ability to perform the series of reactions called “beta oxidation” which prepares a fat molecule to enter the Krebs cycle and “electron transport chain,” both of which result in ATP.

Related: The Importance of Recovery

As with resistance exercise, these responses are subconscious, but they are what we seek when we train.  Our programming is designed to maximize positive responses across these energy systems.  It is important to ensure you (1) work hard frequently in the gym and then (2) allow these systems time and energy to do their work, so you can reap the benefit of your hard work.

Please contact me if you have any questions about how our programming can maximize your fitness gains from your time and effort!

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com

What Happens When You Train 1: Resistance Exercise

Understanding what happens inside us during and after exercise and the benefits we derive from it can help us get motivated to become and remain active. We begin a short blog series on what happens when you train by discussing what happens during and after a workout that focuses on resistance exercise (weight training).

The short answer is: damage and (if you’re doing it right) repair. How this actually happens involves changes to your neurological, endocrine, immune, and metabolic systems.

Related: Why Personal Training?

First, a resistance training session stresses your neurological system by requiring it to fire your muscles in the right ratios at the right times to perform the movement. We call it coordination. By repeating a particular movement well, your nervous system gets better at recruiting more muscle fibers in the right sequences. This nervous adaptation is why you make quick gains when you first start training, return to training, or learn a new movement. The nervous system is also closely involved in the hormonal, immune, and metabolic responses, though these can be described as the nervous system’s subconscious “day job,” as opposed to the conscious attempt to move well (“squeeze the glutes!”).

“Our programming is designed to maximize positive responses across these systems.”

The endocrine system helps respond to external stimuli and return us to homeostasis. That’s a fancy way to say freeze-fight-flight-relax. Essentially, the hormones produced by the endocrine system serve as chemical messengers, directing the body to build (anabolic), tear down (catabolic), or maintain tissues. For resistance training, hormones help tear down damaged tissue (catabolic) and activate the rebuilding (anabolic) process. Generally, the more muscle fibers recruited for an exercise, the greater the endocrine response. Short rest periods, moderate to high volume, and heavier weights also increase endocrine response, maximizing your potential benefit from the work you’ve done.

For example…

The immune system isn’t the first thing you think of as responding to exercise, but it does play an important role, changing the potential interactions of other systems, and maintaining health, so resources can be devoted to responding to the training session. This latter is its most important role, and it is a major reason why rest after a workout is critical.

The metabolic response to resistance training is vital to producing results. This leads to lots of advertising promoting products to support metabolic activation (pre-workout) and protein synthesis (protein powders). Metabolism is the total of all catabolic or anabolic reactions within an organism. To respond positively to a resistance training session, you have to have energy to power the response across all of the systems discussed above. Being properly fueled allows your body to use protein for building, rather than fuel. Likewise, having a good aerobic foundation and ability to burn fat for fuel allows you to produce energy most efficiently, leaving more resources for repairing the damage from your session and building new muscle, creating better neurological connections, and other adaptations we want from your session.

Related: The Slipstream Approach to Training

These responses to exercises are subconscious, but they are what we seek to create when we exercise. Our programming is designed to maximize positive responses across these systems. It is important to ensure you (1) work hard frequently in the gym and then (2) allow these systems time and energy to do their work.

Please contact me at john@crossfitslipstream.com if you have any questions about how our programming can maximize your improvement from your time and effort.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

MEMBER HIGHLIGHT – MEET EMILY!

1. Why did you decide to try CrossFit?
My best friend has been a CrossFit Coach since we were in high school. She was the one who initially introduced me to CF. I went to some of her competitions and visited her gym but never felt like I would be able to do the movement (especially watching her compete). I came across CrossFit Slipstream by searching for an internship. I decided I would give CrossFit an honest try this time and it has been a great experience!
2. How is having a CrossFit coach changed your workout or fitness results?
 In the past, I have just created a routine myself and spent hours at the gym every day trying to get the results I wanted. It would take me months to see results and then my motivation would run out. And so the cycle continued. After I joined CFS; discipline and awareness of a movement have been the biggest changes I have seen in my workout. I had no idea I was performing movements wrong and how it was affecting my body. Having a coach that teaches and points out how to improve a movement for it to be effective.  Now even if I do a workout by myself, I understand the basics of how my body is supposed to move and how to get the most out of my workout.
3. How has doing CrossFit affected your health and/or life?
After any workout, my mood is great! I have energy and motivation to get moving. I have the motivation to take my dog on 3-5 mile hikes. I am more interested in how my lifestyle and nutrition plays a part in my fitness.
4. What is your favorite CrossFit movement?
My favorite movement is kettlebell swings.
5. What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying CrossFit?
Give it a try! I was skeptical and always thought I was getting the most out of my workout before CrossFit. Coaches will help you find a version of the workout you can perform well and still get a great workout. You have to come to class with an open mind and a will to better your health and fitness.

A Thank-You To Our Members

This is our membership appreciation week.  It may seem an odd time, but happening now because every August is a time for our Team to reflect, plan, and humbly remember why we do what we do.  This is because August is the time we renew our affiliate agreement with CrossFit.  It offers the chance for reflection and to either make changes or renew our commitments, focus, and mission.

We are here because you are amazing, strong, and inspiring every day.  Reflecting on the last year, your successes, struggles overcome, and new friendships and relationships provide more reward than money or “prestige” ever could.  Without every one of you, we wouldn’t be where we are now, and wouldn’t be able to do what we do.  You have given us so much, and want you to know how grateful we are.

When we began dreaming of Slipstream, one thing was paramount: the member experience.  We never aimed for a million members, 18 locations, or a Games competitor.  And we never will.  Our goal was and will continue to be nurturing a passion for life until new challenges are actively sought and achieved.  At Slipstream, we define success as having happy, healthy members, who reach out to challenge themselves regularly.

As we move forward,  we will continue to educate ourselves.  We will always accept feedback.  And we will never stop asking you to help us support you by communicating your desires, dreams, and goals. And we will always do everything we can to help you make them a reality.

It’s all of you who have allowed us to do this work. We can’t possibly thank you enough for sticking with us and encouraging those around you to give this crazy stuff a try.  You are a community we are proud to be a part of, and individuals that we feel lucky to have met.

So just a heartfelt thank you from the Slipstream Team, and assurance that in the next year you can expect us to be better than ever.

Sincerely,

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

P,S. If you’re not a member and would like to see what we’re about, contact me at info@crossfitslipstream.com for a free no-sweat introduction to who we are and what we do.

What Does it Mean to be an Athlete? One Athlete’s Journey

When I was 6 I knew that I was an athlete. I knew it in every fiber of my being because I played outside. To me, playing and moving around let me claim the title of “athlete”. Would you be willing to play with me? If yes, then you, too, were instantly an athlete.

At 8 years old I began playing in recreational YMCA basketball teams, and my definition of “athlete” shifted for the first time. It was clear to my coaches and the other adults around me that to be an athlete meant you had to be good. No, not just good, you had to be the best. I found myself practicing for hours because darn it, I wanted to be an athlete like Lisa Leslie.

Image result for lisa leslie

14 year old me began looking in the mirror and pin-pointing spots that just weren’t “athlete” enough. I knew by now that the real reason why my peers, especially my female friends, were athletes because they wanted to “look” like an athlete. Naturally that meant we began teaching each other how to eat as little as possible because that’s what amazing athletes apparently did to look the part. To be an athlete meant you had to be good at what you did on a diminishing amount of food. You had to be good and thin.

Related: Thank You Note to My Body

At 16 I realized that staying under 1200 calories a day or being a generally “good” player wasn’t enough; I needed to exercise as much as possible—regardless of if that exercise actually made me better at what I wanted to be able to do. I averaged 4 hours a day of exercise with nothing but a “low fat-cheese” quesadilla as my pre and post workout snack. Never mind that I had to pull myself out of games for fear of passing out. It was the quantity that mattered! The aches in my bones and joints were completely normal and a result of training, and no one really wanted her menstrual cycle anyway, right? Injuries were to be expected of a true athlete.

Related:3 Key Elements of a Successful Nutrition Plan

I met coach Chad at 17 (pictured below doing a handstand on dumbbells). She swooped in on her long board, a drumstick in one hand and CrossFit programming in the other. She got right up to the pull-up bar, did a muscle up, looked us in the eyes and said, “Alright girls, your turn.” She stopped male athletes in their tracks as they attempted to deadlift 200 pounds with rounded backs and instead showed them how to do it properly with that same 200-pound weight. She climbed fences because she felt like it and taught us how to do the same. She challenged us to move our bodies in new strange and challenging ways. Chad, in my 17-year old mind, could do it all and she did so while munching on some sort of snack or shake. When I thought of an athlete, I began seeing Chad.

“I was an athlete to Chad because I kept training and striving to better myself.”

When I was 18 I could still do very little of what Chad could, and yet she relentlessly referred to me as HER athlete. Even though I had no playing time as a player, and I couldn’t lift the heaviest or run the fastest, Chad always checked my progress. Had I improved my pull-ups? Did my back squat go up from 50lbs to 60lbs? Was I eating? If I wanted that PR, I needed days off to see my gains. Each improvement won her praise. It didn’t matter that I could only deadlift 90lbs and Monica 200lbs— I was an athlete to Chad because I kept training and striving to better myself. (Chad and me pictured below)

By the time I turned 22 I had finally forgotten how many calories were in a bag of chips. I was 30lbs heavier and while it caused me distress for the first few years of college, I attempted to focus on what my body could do. Did I just hit a 200lb deadlift? 18-year old Jasmine could never have dreamed of it! Each week I challenged myself to practice a new skill and slowly my body began changing of its own accord. I wanted to become a better, stronger, healthier feeling self. I began to become pretty sure that I could do all these things and still call myself an athlete.

At 23 I stared at CrossFit Slipstream’s advertisement for coaches. I felt that old panic arise. Surely I wasn’t athlete enough to be a CrossFit coach! I couldn’t do a muscle up, or a handstand, or a proper snatch. I was nowhere near as strong or muscular as all the CrossFit athletes or coaches I had seen. There were many hours others were training and I was not. Maybe I wasn’t an athlete after all? In the midst of my panic I realized that I needed someone outside of myself to tell me if I could really do this. I needed a coach. So naturally, I reached out to Chad.

To me, an athlete is someone who continually strives for progress—regardless of where they are starting out.”

I am now 24, and I have coached close to 300 hours. I still can’t do a muscle up, or a handstand, or a full snatch—but then again neither can many of my athletes. There are days when I run around screaming with my shirt off, celebrating my 100lb strict press PR while one of my athletes easily completes reps of 200lbs. There are days when I smack the ground in excitement as I see one of my athletes complete their first ever box jump after months or even years of step-ups. I’ve come to understand that there is no standard as to what it means to be or look like an athlete. To me, an athlete is someone who continually strives for progress—regardless of where they are starting out. An athlete treats their body with love and respect, which can even mean sometimes electing to take a day off. An athlete constantly checks to make sure they are working hard and consistently, but also making sure that they are not hurting themselves in the process.

While my journey as an athlete (and now as a coach) will continually change and grow, I can’t help but think that maybe 6-year old Jasmine possessed more wisdom then I could ever hope to achieve. Maybe that’s where coaches like Chad come in, to remind us that what it takes to call yourself an athlete is the willingness to simply go out and play. If you need help remembering to go out and play, feel free to reach out to me at jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

 

-Jasmine Gerritsen

Instructor/Coach

jasmine@crossfitslipstream.com

 

 

Biomechanic Basics – What You Need to Know!

Biomechanics is the study of how living structures are put together and how they act and interact with forces within and around them. It necessarily encompasses anatomy and physiology.  For humans, this means how you’re put together and the best movement sequence to accomplish a particular task.

The human body can be described as a bowling ball on top of a Slinky® balanced on an upside-down pyramid balanced on a rectangle.  These correspond to the head, neck, torso, and hips and legs, respectively.  Walking or running further complicates things by turning that rectangle into a triangle.  No wonder balancing is hard!

Related: Stop “Stretching”!  Do Mobility Work Instead

Our many joints, ranges of motion, and other attributes enable us to perform an infinite variety of movements and accomplish an infinite variety of tasks.  The thought of how to move properly in the face of such infinite possibilities can be overwhelming, but we can simplify this task with just two principles that should be adhered to whenever performing a physical task:

(1) Stabilize your spine.  The spine includes 24 movable joints.  When performing work, ideally we don’t want any one of those joints to move, because that creates the potential for injury and interferes with power transfer.  The safest and strongest position for the spine is neutral and braced.  Where the spine must move, it should move as little as possible and as well as possible.

Related: Breathing: So Simple Anyone Can Do It

(2) Move from your trunk to extremities – the human body generates force most efficiently when movement begins at the muscles attached to the hip or shoulder first, followed by the knee or elbow, and finally the ankle or wrist.   Movement should be a wave of contractions from closer to the body’s center to its outer limits.

These two principles can guide virtually any movement of the human body.  Even swimming follows these principles.

Contact me to learn to apply these principles to your movement, whatever it may be!

John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com

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