Summer Schedule!

Are you excited to share UB with your friends tomorrow at community day??  We are too!  

Wednesday was the first day of summer (yippee!). While planning your summer calendar, here are some dates to keep in mind:

JULY

    • July 4th: Holiday WOD with coach Nikki at 9A!
    • July 8th: Shannon's Farewell WOD - Help us give Shannon a proper CrossFit send-off by joining her for a final WOD!  WOD starts at 9:30.
    • July 24th: BodySpec - Check up on your progress and get your DEXA scan!

    AUGUST

    • August 19th: Summer Slam + Anniversary Party - We are combining celebration with competition!  Join us for some grub after you get your Summer Slam on!

    SEPTEMBER

    • September 9TH: Ultimate Lift Off - Our most popular event of the year!  Compete and lift all the weight.

    Weekly Dose of Awesome: Goodbye Edition

    Every so often, an athlete comes along whose journey is so inspirational it makes everyone sit up and take notice. Austin S is this athlete to a tee. He came to us deconditioned but ready to put in any and all work necessary to get in shape. A tall, big guy (viking sized!) he didn't let this slow him down from any movements including kipping pull ups (it's amazing to see a viking fly around the bar!) - he knuckled down and made it happen.

    Recently he got a bug up his ass to take his training to the next level. And boy did he - by taking some time to focus on his conditioning, he not only drastically improved his metcon performance level, his body composition has changed dramatically as well. He's also been focused on testing into Level 2 classes and is almost there.

    Sadly, this is a goodbye edition. Denver, CO is stealing our Austin. We can't blame them. He's kind of the best, and we wish him all the best. Read on for some parting words from our resident viking.

    At the Ultimate Lift Off in 2016 (Photo by Chloe Fan PhotOgraphy)

    At the Ultimate Lift Off in 2016 (Photo by Chloe Fan PhotOgraphy)

    Q: When did you know you were hooked on CrossFit?

    A: Honestly, the first time I did the crossfit workout at the end of my onboarding period, I knew it was what I was looking for. I can't remember much about the specific workout, other than there were 200m runs and slam balls, but the exhausted feeling from cardio combined with the muscular exertion fatigue was what got me hooked. 

    Q: What movement/aspect of fitness has improved the most since your Dose of Awesome in August 2016?

    A: Wow, where do I start? Everything's gotten better, but I'd have to say that my approach to skill based movements has changed significantly. Getting stronger and having more endurance were areas I knew how to improve: you lift and you work hard on cardio. Approaching gymnastics, olympic lifting, or anything that wasn't about raw physicality seemed like black magic. I've been making a dedicated effort to study skill based movements, and the process has actually translated back into other areas, improving my power lifts and even my running. 

    Q: What was your biggest "a ha!" moment in a workout or with a skill?

    A: My first muscle up in January comes to mind here; Nikki convincing me to use the false grip and a big swinging kip was the final push. For a more recent example, I had a major breakthrough in snatch form a few weeks ago when I was finally able to combine a strong lift off, a high pull, and a deep catch in the hole. The first time I hit it, I knew I'd broken through a barrier.

    Q: Do you have any tips to pass on to others looking to replicate your athletic journey?

    A: I go through cycles of 8-12 weeks where I put extra emphasis in a few areas chosen pretty loosely based on what I've been struggling with in the previous weeks/months sessions. Pull ups + cardio endurance, powerlifting + olympic lifting, running + double unders, etc.  Contrary to common sport psych recommendations, I don't have one super explicit quantifiable goal for these, as I'm the type to over obsess on the goal to the point of not having fun anymore. Instead I try to have two or three pictures of what "improved" looks like for those areas, and go into each session with those in my mind. That way if I have a bad day I'm not defeated about it. Even on my worst day it's hard to argue that I didn't _somewhat_ improve on one of those targets just by showing up. I keep that flow with the specific area until I reach a significant date like a competition, or if I'm just bored or tired of the training. Then I reassess what areas to go deep with next and repeat the process. Since I still do normal classes, it's not too repetitive, and eventually everything gets dedicated attention.

    Q: What is your favorite community moment at UB?

    Did you think the viking thing was a joke?

    Did you think the viking thing was a joke?

    A: The open was awesome; it was legitimately impressive to see everyone get so competitive, but the environment stay so positive. I'm used to combat sports and martial arts, where when the competitiveness goes up, the negativity can increase as well. But, I'm still blown away that UB rolls deep to outside competitions like the oly team's events in Oakland, or when Erin was running the ultramarathon and needed some pacers. That's probably my favorite part of the community, that we support each other outside of the gym.

    Q: What are your athletic goals for the rest of 2017?

    A: I'd like to get stronger overall, get more proficient in my gymnastics endurance, and improve my mile run time. If I could improve each to where my olympic lifts are 100/135kg; I can do 10 unbroken MUs; my power lifts are 300/450/525lbs for bench/squat/deadlift; and my mile run is 6:30 by 12/31/2017 I'll be super happy. If not I'll keep chasing the goal and I'll still be better at the end of the year than I am now, which is cool. 

    Olivia Graff

    Olivia's athletic origins lie in gymnastics and circus arts. After finding CrossFit in 2007, she became obsessed, and three years later left her IT career and opened United Barbell. Olivia is particularly passionate about helping people new to fitness to find joy in their growing athletic abilities. Since the birth of her daughter, Isis, in 2013, Olivia can add helping little ones find their athletic path to her list of passions.

    Community Day Saturday!

    You love CrossFit.  You love talking about it.  But your friends can't stand you because they don't know who Fran is, why your FB feed is cluttered with handstand selfies, or why you keep complaining about your legs even though you squatted days ago.  Well it's time to share the love. 

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    This Saturday, June 24th at 11:30AM we will be having our first community day of the year!  Have someone interested in trying CrossFit?  Bring them in to try a newbie-friendly class!  Can't join them on that day?  No worries!  Just send them along and we'll take care of them for you.  Friends/family/coworkers/bosses/employees... anyone you think would enjoy a little more CrossFit in their life.  Tell them to mark their calendars today, fill out a waiver, and register today!

    Food for Thought: Training the Front Lever on Rings

    Are you intrigued or inspired by today's skill work?  Here is the intro from a great CrossFit Journal article breaking down training the front lever on rings to explain why you should come in today and give it a shot!

    The front lever is one of the basic strength holds on rings that is most attainable by a non-gymnast. It is an excellent exercise for developing a strong core and powerful pulling muscles. The front lever is also a good example of how gymnasts develop their impressive levels of strength without lifting weights (and it’s very popular with rock climbers, as well). Instead of lifting progressively heavier weights to increase their strength, gymnasts work through progressions where they manipulate 1) leverage, 2) range of motion, or 3) momentum. The manipulation of leverage is a pretty well-known kind of progression; the other two are a bit less commonly known but still very useful.
    The front lever involves holding your body in a rigid plank in a horizontal position under the rings, with straight arms and your body perfectly parallel to the ground. To “hit” the move in competition, gymnasts are required to hold it for a minimum of two seconds. Deductions are taken if there is any bend in the arms, if the body is not level to the ground, or if the line of the body is not straight. In gymnastics, all moves are assigned a grade from A to F in terms of difficulty. The muscle-up used to be an A-level skill, but it was recently demoted to zero value. The iron cross is a B-level skill. As difficult as it is, the front lever is only an A-level skill. Don’t pass up the front lever because of its “easy” rating though. That just goes to show how insanely difficult gymnastics really is. The lever is very challenging, especially if you don’t have the body type of a typical gymnast (i.e., small and light). Your reward will be greater upper-body and core strength, which will carry over to pull-ups, L-sits, and a whole variety of other, seemingly unrelated exercises.
    The technique of the front lever is simple to describe but difficult to master. The main requirement is total body tension. It is especially important to keep your glutes and abs tight. This not only ensures a straight body line, but it also boosts your strength throughout your body. With a solid platform in place, your lats, shoulders, triceps and back muscles can do their job as the prime movers. A false grip is not necessary for a front lever and can actually make it more difficult for most people. You can just hold the rings normally with a firm grip. Keep constant pressure on the rings by trying to pull them downward toward your hips, which will activate your lats. It can also help to pull the rings together, which will activate the muscles of your chest and help lock your arms into your lats.
    Training for the front lever is also considerably safer for your joints than learning some of the other highlevel strength skills, such as the iron cross or maltese, because you are not supporting your weight on top of locked elbow joints. The front lever is not too hard on the body. But because training for the front lever means that you will be hanging upside down, I would recommend having something soft underneath you and to make sure your hands and the rings are not sweaty. And don’t let go when you’re upside down. I’ve never had to tell anyone that more than once!

    Read about Front Level Progressions in the CrossFit Journal Article here.

    A Farewell & a New Chapter

    UB Family,

    I’ve got some news for you. It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally made the choice to move to Vancouver, British Columbia.  It’s a huge change for me, since I’ve been a California girl for 24 years now, but I’m optimistic that it will be the right choice for me in the long run.  

    It’s been a pleasure being your coach for the past 2 years.  You guys have taught me so much, and it’s been fun to watch you grow.  I hope I may have sparked a little CrossFit fire in you at one time or another, and that you’ll continue practicing your handstands even when I’m not here :) Thank you for your unwavering support, and tolerance of my overly excited explanations of WODs really early in the morning.

    I plan to continue CrossFitting and competing up in Canada.  If you are ever in the Vancouver area (It’s closer than you think 😉) please don't hesitate to reach out and stop by.  My new gym will be CrossFit 604 in Gastown, and my new region will be the West Region (think: Emily Abbott, Brent Fikowski, Cole Sager, etc. for those of you who aren’t as familiar).  I'll be coaching all my normal classes up until I leave, and would love to see your faces in class before I head out! There will be a going away WOD on July 8th at 9:30am. 

    Much love, always.

    Thank you, truly.

    Coach Shannon

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    Welcome Sam!

    You may have noticed a new bearded face leading Wednesday morning CrossFit Classes as well as Monday and Thursday SWOD and Oly. He is a seasoned coach whose CrossFit career began in D.C. and is thrilled to join the UB community.  He is passionate about movement and ready to help those willing to do the work.  He recently wrote an article about staying humble, staying positive, and working for the long term.   I thought sharing it would be a great way for him to introduce himself.

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    I’m not much of an athlete. I’ve never been. I tried all sorts of sports growing up — baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming, wrestling, karate, boxing, football — but none of them really fit. I didn’t move quickly or with great agility, and had allergies, asthma, and glasses.

    So it was much to the surprise of my family and friends when I started in on this “CrossFit” thing. The very idea of me working out was foreign — I think I hit the gym a maximum of ten times in all of college — but the idea of doing high-intensity anything was out of the question. Honestly, who knows what drew me to CrossFit. I think I wanted to try the most hardcore thing I could do to get in shape and change some things in my life, and there was a CrossFit gym close by.

    I started CrossFit six years ago, and haven’t looked back. But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing; in fact, the disappointments have been widespread — challenging movements, stubborn body fat, and meltdowns caused by slow times and failed lifts. Yet I continued to steadily improve — day by day, month by month I went from a complete beginner to intermediate, and finally began to get my sea legs. I’m by no means elite, but I do my best day in and day out to perform as best I can.

    Each year, athletes all over the world compete in the CrossFit Open. According to CrossFit,

    “The Open is the first stage of the CrossFit Games season and the largest community event of the year. Every year, hundreds of thousands of athletes come together to compete in the worldwide, online competition.
    […] Workouts are released on Thursdays at 5 p.m. PT, and athletes have four days to complete the workout for the week and submit their score. […]
    At the end of five weeks, the fittest move on to the next stages of competition: The Regionals and The Online Qualifier”

    The Open starts in late February, and serves as a check-in point for a lot of ambitious athletes — a chance to say “How am I doing? Am I where I want to be?” It’s always been that for me, at least. I love the camaraderie of working out with your friends and compete strangers, pushing to be a better you. Everyone works hard, does the same workout, commiserates, and celebrates at the end. I was particularly excited for this year’s competition; I’ve had a huge year of training, and am a much more confident athlete than I was a year ago. I’m more confident, and feeling better able to achieve my goals.

    Then in November, my right knee started to hurt. At first it was nothing major — it had hurt on and off for a few months, and I hadn’t thought much of it. Then things got progressively worse, until I was having trouble walking up stairs and standing for a long period of time. I was freaked out — surgery seemed frightening, and I did not know what the recovery process would look like. My doctor determined I had LCL and Meniscus sprains, and we agreed that I needed some time off the knee.

    That was January. “I’ll be fine by the Open,” I thought. I kept thinking I’d wake up and things would be fine. Boy, was I wrong. It’s been ten weeks since I last ran. Twelve since I squatted. It’ll likely be 6–8 more.

    My injury has caused me to miss the Open this year. I’m sure that sounds dumb to a lot of you — I’m not an elite athlete, I’m not a sponsored athlete . I’m just a dude who used to be fat and likes to lift weights. But for me, it’s a whole lot more than that. It crushed me for most of January — I was pretty bummed for a while. But a few weeks back things changed.

    You see, it’s incredibly easy to get bogged down in the short term. It’s easy to be sad about your current situation. It’s a lot harder to see the value in the challenge. It’s a lot harder to trust the process. I realized that my injury (a very minor one by most athletic standards) is simply a detour, and on that detour a lot can be learned. I needed to slow my roll, survey my surroundings, and chart a new path.

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    [My medium posts] frequently discuss topics of growth, challenges, and my process. And this may be the most important one of all. I no longer feel any pressure to perform to the standards of others; I only have to succeed for myself. The injury showed me that I can grow as much from training and coaching as I can competing — and it pumped the breaks right when I needed to slow down and look around a bit.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to training. Only fifty weeks until next year’s Open.

    Weekly Dose of Awesome

    James has been a consistent part of the evening crew at UB for the past 3 years. For those of us who have been doing this CrossFit thing for awhile, it can be easy to shift into auto-pilot during the workout, and mentally check out. Recently, I've noticed James moving with increased intention and awareness. He comes in with a great attitude, working with whatever his body will allow on that day, and applies the coaching he receives. 

    James, thanks for bringing us your best, hard-working, creative, coachable, humble, friendly self! 

    Name: James Muehlner

    Nickname / Alter Ego: In college I was Moose or The Unicycle Guy, but I guess "that big quiet guy" would suit me well now

    Hometown: Berkeley Heights, New Jersey

    Occupation: Software Engineer, though I get to make spacecrafts so that's cool.

    When did you first start CrossFitting?: I first started at Telegraph Crossfit in late 2012, though I've had to take a bunch of time off for recovery various surgeries. Hopefully no more of that for a little while!

    Favorite Movements: Clean and Jerk, rowing, overhead squats, deadlifts.

    Least favorite Movements: Anything I have to sub for injury, which is a lot, sadly.

    How did you first get exposed to CrossFit? Friends in college and in the competitive shooting community. I'd never really done any sort of fitness thing before this aside from competitive sports, but after a string of injuries I had to stop most of those. At some point I decided to start taking care of myself, and this seemed like a good way to do that.

    What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? I had to throw away a bunch of underwear because my legs didn't fit anymore. Seriously though, people I haven't seen in a while have told me that I look really good, which is new for me. I didn't really have any expectations coming into Crossfit, and I'm pleasantly surprised about the amount of progress I've made in terms of both athletic ability and appearance. I'm not very outgoing, and haven't really gotten into the community as much as I should, but everyone has made me feel very welcome, despite my limitations. I always look forward to working out, which is not something i'm used to.

    What’s your secret talent? I can bend my pinkies all the way back.

    What is your favorite cheat meal?  I'm not really on any specific diet so it's not exactly a cheat, but a big bowl of cereal is surprisingly satisfying sometimes.

    What is your favorite shower song? At the moment I'm too cheap to pay for Spotify and too lazy to keep a music collection up to date so I'm mostly listening to music channels on Youtube like Stoned Meadow of Doom.

    Pick a superpower: Wolverine-like healing so I could do stupid things and not worry about damaging myself, or perfect memory so I could remember people's names...

    Food for Thought: Best Practices When You’re Waiting

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    Throughout your day you’ll have moments of waiting.

    You’re 5 minutes early for a meeting.

    You’re in line at the post office or grocery store.

    You’re waiting for your significant other at the restaurant.

    Traffic.

    Customer service calls.

    Waiting for your training partner.

    Sometimes the waiting can be viewed as an annoyance, and you’ll start to feel agitated by the inconvenience.

    Other times, you’ll see it as a chance to chill for a couple of minutes, and it’s no big deal.

    Either way, when you’re waiting…you have choices. When you start to feel frustrated or impatient, you can use that time, and find the opportunity instead.

    Here are a few things to try (and if you’re an athlete these practices will improve your mental game)

    1. First and foremost, start thinking “thank you.” If you want to squash frustration, or annoyance, just be grateful. At the very least think “this can be a good thing.” Think of the “waiting” as an opportunity to slow the f down. Even if you’re not really glad that you’re waiting, it will help give you another perspective to look at it as an opportunity instead of an inconvenience to your schedule. Consider all of the things that are positive. Then, try one of the following strategies.

    2. Practice tuning into your breath. Try square breathing, 1-2 breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. Hell, just take 5-20 deep breaths and you’ll feel a lot better, and the wait will probably be over or almost over.

    3. Count. Sometimes, while standing in line, instead of grabbing my phone and scrolling social media or responding to texts, I’ll just start counting. I’ll play a little game with myself and guess how many seconds it’ll be until it’s “my turn.”

    4. Do nothing and relax any tension in your body and face.  See just how calm you can be (it’s especially interesting when you realize just how rushed and frazzled others who are around you are ). Get comfortable doing nothing, it’s good for ya. Often, instead of trying to “do something” to pass the time, I’ll just be still, maybe even close my eyes and totally relax.

    5. Be productive. If you can tackle something on your “to-do” list while waiting, it might be a good idea. Take a deep breath then think of 1 thing you can get done with the time you have while waiting. Again, you can use that time wisely instead of feeling like it was “wasted.”

    Bottom Line? Delays can be annoying and frustrating, but they can also be “no big deal.” You don’t have to let them ruin your day or put you in a bad mood. While you’re waiting, you might as well make it worth it. If you can do something productive in the meantime, you’ll feel better about the time you spent. Each of the above practices are better than bitching, complaining, or getting angry. They’ll help you from getting even more tense, anxious, rushed or stressed.

    Community Day - Register Here!

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    On Saturday, June 24th at 11:30AM, we will be having our first community day of the summer!  Have someone interested in trying CrossFit?  Show your UB Pride and bring them in to try a newbie-friendly class!  Can't join them on that day?  No worries!  Just send them along and we'll take care of them for you.  Friends/family/coworkers/bosses/employees... anyone you think would enjoy a little more CrossFit in their life.  Tell them to mark their calendars today, fill out a waiver, and register today!

    Help Erin reach 50 miles between Noon and Midnight!

    Did you know that Erin M. is running a 12 hour race here in San Francisco today?! She'll be running on a ~.7 loop at Crissy Field between noon and midnight, with a goal of 50 miles. 

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    Have some time?  Instead of happy hour, come out for a picnic and some fresh air.  Cheer, eat Brigitte's delicious baked goods, pace Erin and keep her company for a few laps at a chill, sustainable pace.  (Remember each lap is .685 miles, so you can run for as much or as little as you like.) Come whenever - UB Cheerers will be there all day, so friendly faces are welcome at any point for any amount of time!  

    For more information, check out the event page!

    PS - this is all for a good cause!  Support the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco here. 

    See you there!