Posts

Our Checklist Method

Making it easy to assess new client needs. Few CrossFit gyms do this, but more need to.

I am a huge fan of check lists. A pilot friend got me into it last year, when he showed me his method, and he said that checklists are how he does all his work (both in a plane and in business).

I thought, ‘why can’t we do that in our initial assessments’?

What I wanted was an easy way of helping all the coaches here, benefit from my experience, and have a method of accurately assessing client needs right from the start.

The new CrossFit Chichester assessment checklist was born out of this idea. Subsequently I created a few more checklists, and started working more on surveys, and viola, we’ve got some great ways of really helping our members reach their goals.

As great as this is, it’s not enough. So I thought, how can I start getting a better sense of people’s fitness without even seeing them move. I can usually get a good picture from a 10 minute phone call, but I couldn’t do that with everyone, so what if I put those same questions online, and allowed people to answer them, and have it scored. Once they get a certain score, it should hopefully give them (and us) a clearer idea of what to expect before even walking into our gym.

Since then, these questionnaires have helped me see how fit a much larger number of people are, than I would have done, had I used our old method of booking an assessment first. (If you’d like to Download our  CFC Initial Assessment Score Card you can here.)

So…. given that many believe that CrossFit is ‘too intense for you’, I will invite you to try out our survey, and discover more closely what it would take you to be ‘CrossFit ready’ so to speak.

Here is the link, and fill it out and try the home mobility assessments.

As responsible coaches, it’s our job to see what level each person is, and in order to ensure their chance of succeeding within our program, we can appropriately adjust and scale their workouts and their fundamentals to suit their needs.

This is not, and will never be, a one size fits all model. With us, you’ll get a responsible and experienced coach, a dedicated coaching team and a workout program that is fun, sustainable and most importantly safe.

We champion our members successes, as you can see from our weekly updates, and provide a community that is supportive, and encouraging. Totally interested in your success.

Sometimes, I have people come to me, worried about being judged or made to feel embarrassed for their fitness level (most likely from those closest to you or the thoughts in your head). It is our desire to provide a mental refuge from those negative, doubtful, dream destroying beliefs and respect you for what you are working on, and where you going.

That is our gym.

Archie,
Head Coach,
CrossFitt’ing since 2011.

, , ,

Low Hanging Fruit

A Mindset For The Injured Athlete: How to stop injuries from harming the rest of you

If you’re short of time, or in the car, you can download the article here and listen to it.

Injuries change lives. They affect how we move. They affect how we sleep. They affect how we think. They affect how we feel about ourselves. The truth is that injuries happen. No matter what sport you’re in. However, that does not mean that you can’t turn an injury into an opportunity to grow.

The first major injury that happened to me, was riding a bike down hill. I had no helmet. I had a narrow path to stay on. I was going too fast. At the bottom of the track was a small bridge. Either side of the bridge were concrete posts and a metal bar. As I approached the bridge, I knew I was going too fast and knew I didn’t have time to break. I hit the post with my handlebars, was flung onto the steel bar, and proceeded to crack both front teeth, and badly cut open my arm. I was 10. Not a great move. It took me a few weeks to recover and have the stitches removed (I did that at home myself because I thought it was cool) along with a trip to the dentist.

I didn’t learn the lesson though, and following that accident, I proceeded to have a second more serious crash. This time it took me out of rugby for a year, and pretty much stopped any chance of being a professional player later on due to the severity of the injury to my neck. Oh well. The good thing was, that I then became really good at judging when I was going too fast and showing off. Now, I’m much more cautious, and have managed to avoid anything of that severity since.

The view I now take is that there is always something to be gained in equal proportion to the accident. Every injury that you suffer (and they will come) is a gift.

In our training program we see a great deal of people who are injured (a most, you’ll be happy to know are injured outside of the gym). However, it often affect a person’s mindset towards training, and will if confidence has been lessened often prevent them from continuing with us. For us, this can be frustrating, because it’s my goal to help as many people as possible, live happier healthier lives, with or without injuries.

The major benefit I see, is that it is an intensely personal event. Therefore, forces us to forget all competition, and focus solely on our own progress. This in an of itself is a massive gift that can be unlocked, if then set realistic metrics for success, you can begin working towards them. If for instance you’ve injured your back, and it hurts at night on a scale of 1 to 10 pretty close to a 5 or a 6. The goal I would set is to find things that lessen the pain, so that I can lower it down to a 3 or 4. In this instance the method may be a combination of seeing a good physiotherapist, and performing twice daily mobilisations to the glutes and back muscles and surrounding tissues using a lacrosse ball, with a weekly sports massage. In this case, back pain can be lessened and voila, you’re on the path to recovery and feeling good because we can feel like we’re making progress.

A second example, for myself has been my right hip. I’ve damaged it in some way. Meaning that I can no longer perform single leg squats. It goes weak at a certain point of hip flexion (when my knee gets closer to my chest). So, my metric of success is currently, to increase gently the range in which it feels strong and stable. So far, I’ve scaled back my progressions, to one which I can feel the same recruitment of muscle fiber in both legs, and then over the last few months have been progressively increasing the depth of the squat, and soon will be able to increase the difficulty of the progression further once I’ve developed further strength and stability in the joint. In this instance, I never would have quite focused so greatly on the nuances of a single leg squat as much had I had not experienced this injury. I wouldn’t be emphasising the point as much of glute activation and strengthening. Of watching for valgus (inward) knee in my clients as much, had I not been experiencing this injury to my own right hip. In fact, getting injured in my right hip has been a god send. It’s allowed me to become a more caring and diligent coach as a result and allows me the opportunity to help my clients before they get to this point. It’s also forced me to focus more on gymnastic progressions, rather than lifting heavy weight (I’ll get back to those later).

I suspect that any injury within the body, can be seen as a metaphor in how to approach challenges in life. That is why I believe so passionately in the benefit of injury. The opportunities they present are unique and will lead each and every single person on a journey they never thought they would take, and with the right approach, setting proper and achievable metrics for success, we can come to appreciate them for the gift which they really are.

If you’re injured, or recovering from one, it’s also important to concentrate movements that you can do, in recovery, and not focus on the movements you can’t. Our classes are intense, but they can 100% be adjusted towards each individual person. For those who are curious, I’ve added this guide which you can download here, and use any time you come to a Crossfit class and are not sure what movements to substitute to. Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

Training Substitutions Guide

If you fancy a good listen you can download the audio guide here:

Key takeaway – “if its pain free, it works.”

Notes:

Back Pain – Some tools to help fix it – link here. 

Terminal Knee Extension – Link here. 

 

Archie Cunningham, Head Coach

,

5 Years On – Here’s Where it Began

Here are some pics from the old gym. You can find it on our facebook page too, but here are some we picked out:

My first client – my lovely wife Lydia.

Workout done. Henry asleep on the mats. I feel really guilty now looking back.

Steve and I building the monster rig. It cost half the amount of a standard rig, but took about a week to build and 10 people to help build it. Never again.

The old gym looked so bright until we put the matting down!

The final stages of the gym coming together. We learnt a lot.

Tips for a Good Nights Sleep

Sleep: and how to improve it.

Image result for why we sleep

Sleep, most of us do not get enough it. Having spoken to many people about their sleep patterns, often quite a decent number almost baulk at the idea of getting more sleep, or being able to get more sleep. The single matter of which comes up again and again is that of time. Time appears to be in short supply. Time it seems, stands in the way of many from really making a good nights sleep work for them.

The irony is that as Albert Einstein discusses at length; time is a relative concept. It expands and shrinks depending on our mental state. When we see things clearly, are feeling well rested and relaxed, time often appears is ample supply. When we are feeling stressed, worried or doubtful about our lives or aspects of it, time appears like a shrinking resource, that we never have a enough of. In that moment, it’s not lack of time, but lack of sense of time which creates the stresses, and belief’s which prevent us from fully succeeding getting the rest we require.

For Parents, who really need sleep.

You may have small children, who wake repeatedly during the night. All I would say, is use these same tools and tips on them, to help them improve their sleep. Children respond to positive bed time routines just as much as adults. Misbehaving children can often simply require improvement to their sleep patterns, to improve their behaviour, as is proven by numerous studies, in which misdiagnosed children were said to have ADHD, had in fact sleep apnea. Once the sleep was improved, so did the behaviour.

For Business Owners and Managers who need sleep.

You may have much to do. We all do. However leveraging time and resources need to be your priority. In order to do that, leveraging a good night’s sleep will improve your output, and maximise your problem solving abilities. Amplify your focus, and you will be able to direct yourself to the high priority, high yield tasks that drive success.

For Students who need sleep

You will not remember half of what you study, if you do not focus your efforts in allowing your brains natural mechanism for information storage to take place during a good nights slumber, if you infuse your blood stream with alcohol on a regular basis, and pull all nighters. Your brain is a sensitive organ that requires care. A good nights sleep is all that stands in your way from academic success.

In any case, it does seem difficult, when our time is strapped, and we have a long list of things to do, to prioritise what appears to be a luxury. The truth is that sleep is a basic need just like food or water, and when deprived of which, we are also disallowing being our most productive, happy and successful selves.

The Pathway to a good nights sleep:

1. Stick to a schedule. Go to bed, and wake up at the same time, each day. We are creatures of habit. Sleeping later on the weekends won’t make up for the lack of slumber during the week. It will also make it harder to wake up on Monday morning. Set an alarm for bedtime. Your iPhone has a function for this. This is the most important of the steps. If nothing else, remember this.

2. Exercise no later than 2 to 3 hours before bed. It increases body temperature, which as we know, is not beneficial to the release of melatonin.

3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Coffee, tea, coke and even dark chocolate contain caffeine, and will have a harmful effect on your body sensing the sleep pressure from the build up of adenosine. A cup of coffee in the afternoon will categorically make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Nicotine is a stimulant. It will often cause smokers to sleep very lightly. Worse still, nicotine produces a withdrawal and will force smokers to wake up early for that next ‘hit’.

4. Avoid Alcoholic drinks before bed. It may help you relax, but it will take many hours for your body to completely remove it from your system.

5. Keep your evening meals and beverages light. Heavy meals can cause indigestion which will affect your sleep. Drinking too many fluids in the evening can also mean you will have more awakenings to go to the loo.

6. If possible, avoid taking medicines that delay or disrupt your sleep. Ask your healthcare practitioner or pharmacist if any of your medication affects sleep, and find an alternative.

7. Avoid having a nap after 3pm. For obvious reasons, you will have alleviated your sleep pressure for later in the evening, and so will make it harder to get back to sleep when bedtime comes around.

8. Relax before bed. Reading, or listening to music should be part of your bedtime routine. Watching television in the hours before only has negative effects on your sleep, by inhibiting the release once again of melatonin.

9. Take a hot bath before bed. The drop in body temperature after getting out of the bath may help you feel sleepy. The bath can also help you relax before bed and make you more ready for sleep.

10. Environment is key. Dark and cool your bedroom needs to be. Leave ALL screens or gadgets downstairs or outside of the bedroom. Anything that might buzz or beep during the night has got to go. Bright light, and warm temperatures only lessen the depth of your sleep. If you have insomnia, remove any visible clock. Clocks do not help sleep, especially when awakening in the middle of the night, set to only increase the anxiety we feel being awake when we know we should be sleeping.

11. Get a decent amount of sunlight exposure. Daylight is key to regulating daily sleep patterns. Aim to get outside in natural sunlight for at least half an hour every day. If possible, wake up with the sun in the morning or use very bright lights in the morning. The experts recommend that if you have problems falling asleep, then you should get an hour of exposure to morning sunlight and turn down the lights before bedtime.

12. Don’t lie in bed awake. If you start feeling anxious or worried, get up, and go and do something until the urge to sleep is strong enough for you to want to get back to bed. The anxiety of not sleeping, can make it harder to get to sleep.

Some other ideas:

13: Have a table spoon of honey before bed (before you brush your teeth). This will stimulate your REM sleep more and you will wake up feeling more refreshed, but having had some fairly vivid dreams.

14. Take a magnesium and zinc supplement before bed. We usually get these two minerals from our food, however modern farming methods leave vegetables and fruit somewhat deficient in these two, and then it is down to us to add a supplement to help. These help relax the sympathetic nervous system and will improve the quality of your nights sleep.

If information was all we needed… today, lack of information is definitely not something which we have. The most important aspect of these steps is to actually go and do something about it. If you do have problems sleeping, then find an expert who can help you. It is not something to be messed with. If you wish to learn more, and think you need more help in general building good healthy habits then finding a good coach who is qualified will work wonders and be worth investment. Please get in touch if you have any further comments or suggestions!

Thanks for reading!

Archie

Consistency wins

We’ve had some big wins recently. The most impressive has been so many of our members putting in the time, to eat properly, train hard, and enjoy the process. Like I say all the time, there is no magic bullet, or perfect program. What matters is that you show up consistently, move well, and give your best effort every single day.
Congratulations to Edith, and Beky for getting their first pull-ups. That puts them in the top 5% of women in the world who can pull their body weight up above a bar. I’m so proud of them both because it’s a testament to amount of work and effort and time, and frustrations, and feeling like their progress is so slow, to then all of a sudden do a pull-up. Just like in martial arts, once you get your Dan belt, the journey is just beginning, like getting a pull-up for these two, the fun is just beginning.

As with some of our sessions, the often uncover weaknesses. Max (and myself) realised that pressing alternate 22.5kg dumb bells over head was a lot tougher than it looked and completely flattened us, while Rich Fenech hammered through and finish 3-4 minutes ahead of both us coaches with the same weight. It goes to show that sometimes raw strength is what you need, and that no body can win every workout. It takes humility to come in these doors because there are going to be some movements which you simply cannot do while others can. Egos, can be left on the door mat.
January was a great month for a few members getting some excellent personal bests. @jezdoe and @jezzaf (Jeremy Doe and Jeremy Fowke) in particular realised some decent improvements.
Definitely we are all looking forward to @crossfitgames Open competition coming up, and very much look forward to seeing all our members give those workouts hell! #lifelongawesome #crossfitopen #crossfitgames #firstpullup #crossfit

Morning crew crushing deadlift pb’s

Great effort from the morning crew. Hitting some personal bests, and having fun. Great to see so many of you this morning! #lifelongawesome@ CrossFit Chichester