I have the utmost admiration for people who write on the regular. To come up with an idea and bring it to life is no small feat! I’ve been thinking a lot about Hero WODs since Memorial Day’s Murph. I know I way over think things. It’s both a gift and a curse! Each year I’ve listened to the story of Michael Murphy, and thought long and hard about his death. Far be it for me to lecture on the purpose of a Hero WOD, honestly, I mainly participate for the challenge. Well at least that was it until December 21, 2015.
I cannot say I would have ever internalized the purpose of a Hero WOD. At least I would not have until I lost my own soldier to a hostile overseas. These past two years I’ve been a little more introspective as I trudge through the pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and miles (especially that last long blistering hot mile with rubber legs).
Our participation is a small thing, but it’s an acknowledgement to lives left incomplete: of old age not realized, friendships not fulfilled, children without parents, partners left behind, life events not witnessed, and promises not kept. It is also proof of an indomitable spirit still found in our great country.
While going through my writing process, a convoluted mess of picking an idea, completely tearing it apart, while mulling over its positives, (some might call it procrastination… potato po-tah-to…), I realized I am surrounded by heroes every single day. I would like to take a moment to tell you about these people. They are all integral parts of the place that has become a second home to me, a place where I work on realizing my personal dreams and develop the confidence to push myself further in all aspects of my life. Unfortunately, and the largest part of my dilemma, is the fact that I won’t even touch on all the people I admire while I’m working out. Honestly, each and every person in our gym is an inspiration. You are testament to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and a daily doses of positivity! I love my workout family.
I guess this is going to be a bit of a laundry list, but it cannot be helped. Some of my heroes fall under multiple categories, some I don’t even know. But I watch from afar, admiring your spirit, your form, or the wicked large lift you just did.
Every gym has a foundation built upon the dreams of its owners. Those people who set the tone and make that place someplace where you want to be at the end (or beginning) of your day. Karen and Eric have shared their dream and made CrossFit Rise Above an exceptional place. It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come since they got those first members together at parks and schools. Lord I wish I’d been there! Over the last four years I have watched CFRA’s ever progressing transformation and growth. I love seeing new people join us on our journey. For me, CFRA is CrossFit. There is no other place I would rather work out.
Our coaches are the embodiment of Eric and Karen’s dream. They are the glue holding the classes, and sometimes, the gym together. They are knowledgeable and friendly, and they help you tirelessly through your fitness journey. They all have their secrets for encouraging your success. Ken will compliment your form while giving you a quick tweak. Steven and Matt have their understanding and analysis of form. Kelsey looks deeply in your eyes and says “I really think you can do more”. I don’t know how, but it works every single time. Trey does something similar. I don’t know how, but he almost always manages to pull a tiny bit more effort out of you, doubts be damned. Now we have Mariah and Cierra bringing their own twist to our work outs. I have never had a bad class, and I love the variety of perspectives our coaches bring.
In the past two years, our group has produced several new moms. Eroica in the first wave, and then the latest group Kristen, Kelsey, Laurie, and now Kelly. You all displayed such power and amazing fitness throughout your pregnancies: sprawls, pull-ups, sled pulls, and now rope climbs. You women are simply amazing!
There is a slightly anonymous group in our family… those who have faced medical crises. Your quiet grace while you battle sometimes life threatening ailments (brain surgery, cancer reoccurrences, excruciating pain, and blood clots). I admire how you put up the good fight, how you carry on, do not give up, and how you are now coming back.
This past year has brought so many new members to our gym, especially the group in the morning class. Your rumored energy and commitment is legend! I don’t know how you managed it, but 5:30 Saturday when there wasn’t one before? Well played morning people… well played.
Finally, there are some people who deserve special mention. Liz Lucas who can lift two or three times her weight. The first time I saw her do some variety of ground to overhead, I had to watch again to make sure I had actually seen what I thought I saw. Yep, she did it again… with more weight. Before she moved on to her new assignment (damn the military for taking our people all over the world), she did Murph unbroken, in uniform, with a vest. There is some mental toughness in that woman. It’s something to remember when you’re having a tough workout day.
Morning class Doug. When he is done, he follows each remaining athlete until the whole class has finished. He ran the last mile with Liz. Yes, that mile, the one you want to walk. His quiet support until the end, for me, embodies what has always made CFRA a special place to challenge yourself.
Although there are so many more of you I want to talk about I’m going to just mention just a few more gentlemen. Jorge, whose presence uplifts the mood of the entire room. Mike W who continues to battle the world’s tightest shoulders. Stick with it Mike, your day will come! And finally, Danny. The first time I saw you I thought you were going to die. You were partnered with Matt for a Friday Outside the Box workout at Melbourne Causeway. Now look at you! You are fit and working out with some of our strongest members. Your transformation is legend.
I apologize my list is so incomplete. I firmly believe the people, and I mean all the people, that come to CFRA make it the most unique and wonderful place in Melbourne.
Fear is an insidious thing. It can creep into your psyche stopping you from obtaining goals, from leaving a job that makes you unhappy, from starting an exercise program, from being the best version of you, or from writing your second ever blog for public consumption. I would have never in a million years predicted my life would have taken me to such levels of challenge, personal growth, and acceptance both from the outside world and my inside demons.
I can only speak to my own experience, but I’ve been watching others. I don’t think any of us are truly that different. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had a life of continuous fitness, have taken a serious break because of injury or the phases of life, or have realized the havoc a teenaged diet and a middle aged metabolism has wreaked on your once svelte physique, you almost always reach a point in your life where you need a hard reboot of your fitness regimen.
Who would have thought an appreciation for goofy alliterative phrases and the realization that my once medium sized body was getting uncomfortable in size 14 clothes would have led to writing for a fitness website? But, as you may have figured out, I have been frozen in fear, mulling over a topic I had picked (with some help). I had this cute title about Bootcamp being CrossFit’s gateway drug zipping around my head for a couple of weeks, but I just couldn’t find the words to support it. We all know that CrossFit is a bit of an addiction. You’ve heard the numerous jokes about it. They pretty much have to do with the CrossFitter never, EVER talking about anything but CrossFit. I can attest it is kind of true.
You would think this CrossFit induced affliction would make this writing task easier. Much like getting over the this hurdle, choosing and starting a healthy lifestyle takes some false starts, hitting a low or two, encouraging friends who are more concerned about your health than your looks, and getting your brain out of its own way. Sometimes we need a gentle nudge to take that first step out of our comfort zone. The knowledge that the people around you are squarely in your corner, cheering you on in all of your endeavors, that they see the very potential your fear keeps hidden from you can be such an empowering thing.
My personal fitness reboot has left an indelible mark on my life. It all started with the realization that if I did not make some serious changes, I was going to be “fluffy and fifty”. Actually I’m exaggerating, it really started when after having two children, I gained ten pounds and then I normalized them. I had become a stay at home mom who hid her body in mom jeans, flannel shirts, long skirts and bulky sweaters. I had sworn I was going to be “fit and forty” when I went back to work, but instead I managed to normalize another twenty pounds, then twenty more.
My how time flies, I had gained over forty pounds in ten years. Or, fifty in fifteen years, but who’s counting. Even then I didn’t realize how far I’d gone from the young woman that worked out regularly. Sure my sleeves were a little tight, but I told myself that my arms were big because I had a little layer of fat over the solid muscle I once sported. Self-awareness came in the guise of a student. He asked me when I was going to have my baby. Needless to say I was shocked! How could I look pregnant? Don’t kid yourself there was a part of me that was pleased I looked young enough to have a baby, but boo I looked like I was going to have a baby. I took me another two years to start that long journey to a fit lifestyle.
Change is hard. Change done alone is harder. I was fortunate to find my first local friends, after moving to Florida, five years ago. These three women pulled me along. They made me want to spend time with them, even if it involved moving my decidedly fluffy self at a slow plodding, sweaty, sometimes painful pace while they ran circles so their longer runs would intersect mine more often. They built up my sad, dejected, completely lacking in confidence self. They are my heroes.
The day you decide you’re not longer going to accept status quo, and you’re going to start, is a momentous day. Many of us do this all wrong. You can freely translate this into: I did it all wrong. Rather than take our lived in bodies to an encouraging place, we get specials at gyms where your three free sessions with an over worked physical trainer gets you a diet plan, where you can eat a half a cheese stick and a quarter of peanut butter and jam sandwich, and a monotonous workout schedule. Day 1 chest and tri’s; day 2 back and bi’s; day 3 legs combined with daily abs and a little cardio to start each workout. And then? You start over again. The mind numbing boredom made my slide to mom-bod almost inevitable. Fast forward 15 years and I was overweight, exhausted, and trapped in a vicious cycle of comfort eating and dieting.
My personal journey to fitness restarted more times than I’d like to admit. As I said, it took finding new, encouraging friends to get me started. First we would run twice a week. This quickly grew to “you need to come to running camp”. Now I was running three times a week, and they insisted everyone’s first race needed to be the Turtle Krawl 5k. It’s really rather diabolical how those three women pulled, pushed, prodded, and cheered me on.
You may wonder what all this has to do with Bootcamp, but I knew I had to add some cross training to avoid injuries. I went to what I knew, a gym that ensured all that came total acceptance at cheap prices. It was ok. I didn’t go as much as I should have, but I had added some weights and circuit training. It was still a lonely mind numbing monotony of trying to get on the equipment I wanted and trying to avoid the people that would do a set then sit and play on their phones. I comforted myself that I could at least get one circuit done in thirty minutes. You can do anything for thirty minutes.
Then I discovered Bootcamp, and my life changed. This, my friends, is not military Bootcamp. People don’t yell at you. Well, they don’t yell at you unless they just have an exceptionally loud voice. Bootcamp is the perfect solution for people with short attention spans. People that do not want to do their own programming. Or, people that need a group for accountability. It is a wonderful blend of attainable and scalable movements. You bond with people through adversity. You laugh your way through challenging games. You run, squat, do push-ups, burpees, planks. Every week is different. Starting on week one it’s all so hard, and you wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. Next week the workout is different and just as hard, but you keep coming back. You’re excited to see what changes the coach has made to the workout, and more importantly, you’re excited to see the changes in you. Before you know it you are laughing with people you didn’t know three short weeks before. You’ve found your rabbit, that person you want to catch. Their fitness level, the way their arms look, or the way their clothes fit. It all suddenly is within your reach. Sometimes you reach a goal quickly. Fortunately while you’re developing a workout habit your body gives you big changes. It’s nice that your body is on your side, unlike your tricky brain.
CrossFit Rise Above has a great Bootcamp three times a week at 6:00am. It’s not so early that it’s hard to get there on time and It doesn’t end so late you’re rushing to work. I highly recommend it! Meet with like-minded people working toward a fit lifestyle!
Every community has a living room of sorts. A place where the residents meet, celebrate, and interact. This place shows visitors what you think of yourself. The Eau Gallie Arts District (EGAD) is exactly one of those places, and it holds a place in my heart. It is a little of my home transplanted into paradise.
Nine years ago, when I moved here from Oregon, EGAD looked tired. The buildings were worn, the houses hidden, and the parks were under-utilized. I tried out a First Friday, but it wasn’t the vibrant scene that was the norm in Oregon. But, I feel these events were the seed of something to come. In the intervening time someone decided this little pocket of town could be vibrant and exciting! Better yet they took the initiative and affected change!
Three short years ago, new businesses Intracoastal and Anaya opened their doors, and the next year Yoga Garden did the same. But I, for one, didn’t really notice the change. For me, it all started with the Shark Mural. It appeared almost miraculously. Its vibrant colors at odds with the surroundings. Its massive shark and blood red background ominous and awe inspiring in the same breath. It signaled the positive changes these businesses brought to our community living room.
Oddly a renaissance all starts with a decision and an act of faith. The Eau Gallie Arts District decided to go with what they knew and bring the arts to people in a big way. The Anti-Gravity Project brought color and further renewal to the District with 19 more murals!
These murals bring life, color and depth to the walls of our little corner of Brevard County. Like the art on your walls at home, it isn’t always going to appeal to the tastes of your guests or your children, but it is yours. EGAD Art Committee did an amazing job curating a variety of artists and styles. There is something for all art patrons… the whimsy of space and a realistic Mylar balloon… a steam punk octopus… a pensive Native American… hands with realistic highlights made with thousands of individual thumb prints… even deconstructed cartoons.
One mural, the most contentious mural, is on a once humble building housing a church(Victory Church) and a gym. Places where people go for their personal renaissance of the spirit and body. The vibrant colors now gracing the walls have made the building shine, and as a member of the gym, I feel their positive energy every day. The mural hints at the surprises to come on the other side of US-1.
The thing about pop art, and this is true about churches and the gyms as well, is that it might not be exactly what you like. As a member of a CrossFit gym, I often hear negative comments about overtraining or improper technique, but these are my own responsibility. I’m sure the members of the little church often hear they aren’t as good as their bigger cousins or other little churches somewhere else, but they continue to give the message of God and live by the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. I know, every time I chat with the members of this church I am uplifted by their positivity. I believe they get the same from us, because I have never met a more openly positive group then those in my little gym.
I haven’t addressed the content of our mural, and I say our only because it resides on our building. It really belongs to the entire Eau Gallie Art District. The deconstructed cartoons can be disturbing, but who hasn’t seen this before? It started with Wily Coyote and Road Runner and has continued through the Simpsons and Sponge Bob. Was it any worse in the past, when these characters got themselves in deadly situations?
Art is to start discussions, to learn, to teach, and to observe. Much like the art on your parent’s walls, or hanging in the museum, it will not make all who view it happy. Rather than being a bone of contention this lively mural should be a conduit to meaningful family discussions, a lesson on wolves in sheep’s clothing, or a jumping off point for the acceptance of opinions, people, religions, races, likes, dislikes, politics different from your own.
It is fitting this mural, the most challenging mural, resides on the building housing a church and a gym. These two places reflect the growth and change going on in the Eau Gallie Art District at a personal level. They are where people congregate to work on their personal renaissance; where people learn about acceptance of others; where communities accept their members in their present state, but have faith in their future growth. People don’t always look or act exactly as we want them, but if we look for the good in others and cultivate the good in ourselves we become stronger as a community.
I don’t believe anybody can say EGAD did a bad thing bringing vibrancy and joy back to this little piece of Melbourne. We can all take a lesson from the joyful acceptance and personal growth occurring, in the building some have likened to the front door of the EGAD, and continue to treat each other by the Golden Rule. No this mural will not be the favorite of every person that looks at it, but Jackson Pollack, Monet, or Picasso all have their detractors as well. Eventually when you’re affecting personal change the person you once were fades to a mere memory and a gentle reminder of your growth and goals. This mural, and the contention it sparked, will fade, but the change in direction it heralded for the Eau Gallie Art District will continue.
Art is about challenging ourselves. It forces introspection and challenges our individual perceptions of ourselves. We have been given an opportunity for personal and communal growth. It would be a shame to quit living boldly, to stifle the creativity of our community, and to throw up road blocks to the improvements the Eau Gallie Arts Commission and business owners have started.
Jessica Frank is a member at CrossFit Rise Above. When she isn’t tossing weight around she’s running on our sister organization Up & Running Fitness’ race team in various 5Ks around Brevard County. In order to make the donuts for all this physical activity she works for a large software company in the area as a technical writer.
So you’re having a problem getting into the bottom position of the squat, or when you do you find that your body is leaning real forward in what I call the superman position. Generally speaking the biggest culprit of these issues is your ankle mobility. If you can’t close of the angle of your tibia or shinbone to the top of your foot better than 90 degrees then you have some work to do. First and foremost you’ll want to see if you have tight calf muscles and if so roll those things out. OFTEN! lay on the floor face down and have a partner roll a bar over the calf paying attention to the connecting points of the muscle as well as the big meaty part. If you don’t have a partner handy sit on you tail place your legs in front of you and use a lacrosse ball placed under the calf of the bottom leg to roll up and down the length of the calf muscle. Do this for around 2 minutes and then switch.
After rolling out the calf you can do the same thing for the bottom of the feet, standing on one leg and rolling the lacrosse ball under the barefoot your standing on (grab a hold of something so you don’t fall).
Next you can start putting that ankle into flexion simply by putting your toes on a wall and pulling your shinbone as close to the wall as possible.
Probably one of the biggest attractions of CrossFit to me is the mentality that you, as an athlete, are always trying to improve yourself. There’s no one goal/training method/movement that you’re shooting for. Sure there are intermediate goals, but once you reach those you’re on to the next: Your first Double-under, your first 2 doubles chained, your first chain of 5 doubles, your first kipping pull-up, your first strict pull-up, your first muscle-up. The list goes on and on with the tacit agreement that you’re never “DONE”. To me, as an individual, that has a huge appeal. As a guy that runs a CrossFit Gym it has the sound of gospel.
Someone came in on a Monday morning a little bit ago, looked around and asked what we had done over the weekend? I asked in turn why she was asking. She said she couldn’t see anything different and that that was unusual. I liked that! I liked that we were constantly changing (evolving?). As for the answer to the question all I can say is that we’ve been doing LOTS! It just may not be quite so in your face.
First off, the strength class that we started last week is seeing crazy popularity. Scott has been putting it to us and the comments and conversations I’ve been hearing have been extremely positive. If you haven’t stopped in to try out the 4:30pm class, give it a go. If you can’t make it at that time, don’t worry… in the near future we’ll be exposing more of you to that type of class.
Next we have THE BEACH CAMP starting up next week. It’s a camp designed along the lines of how we started this whole thing out. Ken and Steve will be holding classes beachside at Hoover Park, and on the beach at times as well as bringing people into the Rise Above Gym to have access to our equipment. The Camp will last for 8 weeks, meet three times each week, and will provide an alternative to those folks that are a bit apprehensive about trying out CrossFit, or that just want to see what all the fuss is about. The emphasis is going to be body-weight resistance movements, strength building through various equipment (med-balls, Kettlebells, ropes, etc), nutritional concepts, and of course group motivation! If you know someone that’s been on the fence about trying us out, or that you think may be interested… pass the link along.
We’ve also got a new membership software application that we’ll be starting to use over the next couple of weeks. We’ll have a computer set-up in the lobby for you to log into and complete some membership information then we’ll have one central location to post WODs, log results, and generally make your and our lives simpler through the miracle of modern technology(Sledge-hammer WOD with a filing cabinet in the Ghetto anyone?).
In October we’ll be holding the first, of what I hope will be many, Annual Fundraisers in conjunction with the local Team In Training raising money in the fight against Blood Cancer. I can’t wait to get the details of this one out… suffice it to say it’ll be happening October 27 just in time for Halloween and costumes will be HIGHLY ENCOURAGED! So you True Blood, Walking Dead, and Werewolf fans out there will have something to HOWL about. This event will be open to the public with a workout designed to test anyone! T-shirts and prizes will be found as well!
Other, even bigger changes are in the works… but I can’t let all the cats out of the bag!