• Murals: A Local Renaissance and a Lesson in Principled Living

    Jessica in front of Matt Gondek’s mural

    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.

  • Ankle mobility for better squats

    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.

  • CrossFit and Change

    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!



    Just a Reminder… CrossFit Rise Above will be running the FLORIDA WARRIOR DASH this Saturday at the 11:30AM heat. No classes will be held, if you didn’t get registered come on out and support the crew! We’ll be meeting at the Waffle House on 192 next to I-95 at 9am for the drive down! Some fire-breathers will be eating Paleo at the AWFUL WAFFLE at 8am. Come out and represent Melbourne like the warriors you are!