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Stretching Sucks!

May 26, 2011

Stretching sucks. It does. There, it’s been said. You can’t brag about your best stretching time, you don’t get to write your stretch PR on the wall, and there is no immediate “Fran”-like gratification that you are really tough. And despite the fact that flexibility is one of the ten pillars of complete, well-balanced fitness, increasing flexibility potential remains the ungreased squeaky wheel of most athletes’ training programming. According to the ten general physical skills list, flexibility is allegedly as important as power or strength.

So why don’t we take it more seriously? Because, typically, we simply fail to frame flexibility in terms that are important to us: increasing performance.

Stop kidding yourself. Lacking flexibility in crucial areas has a crushing impact on your athletic abilities; to say nothing of the host of pains and problems that inflexibility predisposes you to. If you know you have tight hips, calves, hamstrings, quads, thoracic spine, or shoulders and aren’t actively, aggressively striving to fix them, then you must be afraid of having a bigger squat, faster rowing splits, or a more explosive second pull. Or, you must be very lazy.

If you are tight and you want to be an athlete, you are missing a huge opportunity to get better, stronger and faster. Simply put, not stretching is like not flossing, and the results are not pretty. There are many areas of restriction in the typical athlete, but it makes sense to begin a discussion about flexibility and performance at perhaps the most commonly neglected and profoundly underaddressed area of the body, the hamstrings. The goals of this article are to help you understand how hamstring restriction impedes performance and function, learn to identify tight hamstrings with a few simple assessment tools, and above all, know how to address the problem.

More about stretching your hamstrings

June Challenge: Honor our fallen Heros

June 1, 2011

Now that the fun and sun of the Memorial Day weekend have passed I’d like all of you to spend some time during June to honor our fallen Hero’s. Many service men and women have died protecting our freedom and helping others in need. This months training will be dedicated to them.

Your challenge? To challenge yourself in thier honor. To work as hard as those fallen soldiers. These men and women left behind families, pets, friends, etc… Your challenge is to work hard in honor of those soldiers so that you will be healthy and fit and able to be there when your family, pets, and friends need you.

In addition to the Hero workouts when you come to class I want you to do some hero workouts on your own. Think about what our service men and women over seas do to keep themselves in shape! Let’s see what we can come up with!

Almost done with the Hero's

There have been lots of Hero workouts this month. And, yes…it was our men and women serving our country that like Burpees so much! It’s not me!

Thinking back on all the stories from the Hero WODs and how the friends and families of these men and women were affected. Do your best to give back to your country and the people it serve it.

Muslim Weightlifter changes the rules!

June 30, 2011

Muslim weightlifter’s wish to wear modest clothing triggers rules debate
By Josh Levs, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) – Kulsoom Abdullah is a 35-year-old with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering. But it’s her passion outside of work that has put her at the center of a debate – one that could affect athletic competitions worldwide, even the Olympics.

Later this month, the International Weightlifting Federation will take up the question of whether Abdullah may take part in officially sanctioned tournaments while keeping her entire body covered, aside from her hands and face, in keeping with her Muslim faith.

“It’s what I believe in. It’s what I’ve chosen to do,” Abdullah tells CNN of her decision to wear modest garb. “I’ve always dressed this way publicly.”

Abdullah is not an Olympic athlete, but enjoys lifting weights. She can deadlift 245 pounds (111 kg) and get up 105 pounds (47.5 kg) in the snatch, in which the competitor lifts the barbell from the floor to over her head in a single motion. She likes to compete with other women in her weight class – she generally weighs in the 106-pound (48 kg) or 117-pound (53 kg) classifications.

“I guess it’s empowering,” she says. “There’s a lot of technique involved, so someone who’s this big muscular person – it’s possible I could lift more than they do. There’s speed and timing to it – you have to be explosive. I think it’s great just for confidence building … I guess I got hooked.”

The Atlanta resident wants to take part in tournaments in the United States, including one coming up in July. But USA Weightlifting informed her that those events are governed by IWF rules. And those rules preclude her dressing in keeping with her beliefs.

Abdullah generally wears loose, long pants past the ankles, a long-sleeve, fitted shirt with a loose T-shirt over it, and a hijab, or head scarf, covering her hair.

The outfits – officially called “costumes” – worn at competitions must be collarless and must not cover the elbows or knees, according to the IWF’s technical and competition rules.

The IWF constitution also states that no distinction is made among individuals based on religion.

Mark Jones, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee – which oversees USA Weightlifting and many other sports – explained part of the challenge is that judges need to see that a competitor’s elbows and knees are locked during a lift.

But the USOC also understands the dilemma Abdullah faces. After CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations – a Washington-based group that advocates for Muslims and Muslim causes – contacted the USOC on Wednesday, Jones said, his group reached out to the IWF.

“I think their (CAIR’s) language is to ‘advocate’ on the athlete’s behalf with the international federation, and we have done that,” Jones told CNN. “The Olympic movement is all about the universal values of equality. We value that greatly, but we also respect the rules of sport – especially those set forth for competitive reasons. So we’re looking to see if there’s some way to accommodate – not just this one particular athlete,” he said, adding, “this is an issue that has some wider implications.”

The International Weightlifting Federation has agreed to include the issue on the agenda of its next meeting, later this month in Malaysia, Jones said. The group’s technical committee will hold a debate, and then present a recommendation to the IWF board, Jones said.

“Awesome!” Abdullah responded, when CNN informed her Thursday of these developments. “That’s wonderful.”

The news came after months of pushing for change, she said. In April, USA Weightlifting responded to an e-mail from her, explaining that it had to reject her request due to IWF rules. In that e-mail, there was no suggestion that the group or the USOC might take up the issue with the IWF.

John Duff, CEO of USA Weightlifting, issued a statement Thursday reiterating that the organization abides by the IWF rules on uniforms, and that the “issue has been brought to the attention of the IWF and the IWF Technical Committee has agreed to place the matter on the agenda of the next meeting, which will take place on June 26 in Penang, Malaysia, for consideration.”

USA Weightlifting and the International Weightlifting Federation did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Abdullah says she understands the need to make sure she isn’t wearing anything under her clothes to give her a competitive advantage. She says judges could check to make sure she is not wearing something on her elbows, for example, that might help her.

And she says she’s willing to wear a “snug” shirt – though not skin tight – underneath a loose singlet, so judges could “see that there’s lockout” in her arms when she does her lifts.

Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR, which sent out a news release about Abdullah on Wednesday, praised the USOC Thursday for taking action.

“It sounds like they’ve really done exactly what we asked them to do, which is advocate on behalf of this Muslim athlete,” Hooper said.

“The ultimate result is a very reasonable compromise that allows the Muslim athlete to follow her religious beliefs and practices and maintain the legitimate rules and policies of Olympics and sports in general.”

While Abdullah was happy to hear the IWF will consider her situation, there is no guarantee the IWF will alter its rules.

Although there were no immediate, organized protests against the USOC’s decision to bring Abdullah’s case to the IWF, USOC spokesman Jones said his agency has received messages from people opposing any change in the rules. He did not characterize what the messages said or how many there were.

Numerous athletic agencies have faced similar questions in the past and, in some cases, have determined that allowing special clothing violates fairness or equality among all contestants.

FIFA, the international federation governing soccer, recently refused to allow Iran’s women’s soccer team to wear headscarves while playing in an Olympic qualifying round in Amman, Jordan.

Abdullah told CNN her effort is not just about herself. “I should at least try,” she said, “if not for me then maybe for other women who – if they have my faith or another faith – dress a certain way.”

Back to school time!

July 26, 2011

It’s almost that time of year when we need to say goodbye to those going away to school. We have 2 members going to 2 great schools this fall. Lexi is starting her freshman year at New Haven and Jay is going for his Masters at Penn State. I’ll be thinking up a good challenge to send them off with for the month of August!

In the mean time things are starting to get back to normal for me. I’ve got the computer setup and the new schedule (MORE GROUP CLASSES!) is ready.

I also want to schedule a golf & pool day during August to hit golf balls and hang out at the pool for a day. Let me know if you are interested!

This IS your Grandmothers workout!

August 24, 2011

Could your Grandmother do this? Probably. Will she? Probably not. We have a few Grandmothers who workout with us and they love it! But, not all Grandmothers will love it. Not all elite athletes will love it either. But lots of people do. And, why do they keep coming back? Because it works!

Here’s the deal. Anyone can do our workouts, but they aren’t for everyone. Our members come from all walks of life. We have people here who were already great athletes before coming in and those who never trained a day in their life. Your starting point is irrelevant. We’re not concerned with where you are now but where you’re going.

Our members are a group of very motivated individuals. We are not all elite athletes, but we lay it all out every time we train and expect the same from anyone who trains with us. The intensity is all relative to your current physical (and mental) state, but the type of training we do here will push your limits, both physically and mentally.

Our program will absolutely put you on the track to reaching your goals, but this is real work, not for the non-committed or weak willed. Bottom line is; if you want to be here then we want you here, but only come if you are willing to give what it takes.

Excuses do not exist here, only results. If you’re ready to reach your goals and have a positive attitude while doing it then come hang out with our Grandmothers (and hope they don’t kick your butt!)

For more information about Grandmothers see (See http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/26_04_Girls_Grandmas.pdf )

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