OUTWOD & the Wildly Supportive Crew

OUTWOD September

One of my favorite workouts is always the monthly OUTWOD. Held in a different crossfit box every month, it is the brain child of Will Lanier. An all-inclusive gathering of LGBT & ally crossfitters from different boxes all over the city who get together to have fun and raise money for charity.

The WOD itself is always challenging since it’s a seriously strong group. The first time I went, I was totally intimidated, knowing I’d have to drastically scale the workout and worried that it would be a thing. No one cared, of course, and a ton of scaling options were offered.  Though I was one of the few to actually scale it, I found the OUTWOD crew to be wildly supportive to anyone who comes to play.

I’ve been to three so far and can’t wait to go again. The next one will be at Bowery Crossfit on October 17th. Want to join in the fun? Sign up at outwod.com and come play!

Check out the video of September’s session of OUTWOD!
Photo and video by Eric Stafford

Working Hard, Having Fun and Doing Good: OUTWOD

Founded in 2012, OUTWOD began as a social group of 8 LGBT NYC crossfitters looking to build a supportive community, but has since grown into a group of 600 who now use their monthly bi-coastal workouts to raise money for charity. Will Lanier, the Founder of OUTWOD, whom I know (and adore) from Brick NYC, always posts an open invitation to anyone who wants to attend if you identify as LGBT or if you consider yourself an ally in support of the community. As a longtime ally, I have always wanted to attend but haven’t been able to because of work.  Thankfully, I was finally able to make it on this weekend that was being held at Crossfit South Brooklyn. This month’s charity was Family Equality Council, which helps LGBT families deal with some of the absolutely crazy red tape and roadblocks put up to loving families being legally recognized. After recently watching one of my dearest friends jump through crazy hoops to have the law recognize her AND her wife as their son’s parents, the idea of supporting anything that helps make that even a little better for others was something I couldn’t pass up!

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Another friend is a member of CFSBK and when she heard I was doing a workout at her box that benefitted an awesome charity, she immediately signed up too. I arrived a little early and ran into David Osorio, owner of CFSBK and he told me we were going to be in the new space, which rocked because I’d been dying to check it out – and it really is such a big, open, bright addition to their workout space. Turned out that I knew a lot of the guys there and actually, Brick was heavily represented! I made my way over to Will and re-read the crazy workout ahead of us.

The WOD of the day was:

1000m run – with each team member running one at a time, tagging the other to follow when you finished your 1000m.

Then, when you’d both made it back and with one partner working at a time:

4 Rounds of 6 Squat Cleans 135/95RX  – which I thought was bonkers heavy so took the scaled version of 65lbs!

Then, 28 Double Unders or a scaled 84 Singles, followed by:

4 Rounds of  6 Shoulder To Over Heads of 135/95 (again, wow- heavy! Also, I might need to get my game up…) paired with 9 Burpees.

Finally, finish up with a 1000m run with your partner.

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I, for a long time, was the lone name under the scaled division. Until my girl sidled up and added her name under mine and leaned over and whispered “Dude, where are the other girls? Is it all just stupid hot boys and us?” I burst out laughing and assured her there were at least two other girls in the building and Will said 6 were signed up but yes, we were going to have to hold it down for the girls. The turnout for this event was HUGE – 70 or so strong and we were split into two heats. My girl and I were in the second round. I watched some of my super crazy strong Brick friends work through it, and it looked hard…hard and long. This group was so STRONG, I was so impressed with how many did the actual RX weight…which was insanely out of my league!  The next round, we spilled over to the original CFSBK space and as we made it over, I leaned in to my girl and said “I know this will be hard but we can’t be the last…ok?” She nodded and we started in on that long, hard WOD. We weren’t last, but it was brutal. Everyone cheered and encouraged each other and it was hands-down some of the most fun I’ve ever had at any workout.

OUTWOD at CFSBKAt this event, OUTWOD raised over $2000 for the Family Equality Council. OUTWOD says that they openly invite anyone wanting to join their welcoming CrossFit family – and I found that to be totally true. I mean seriously – awesome people, a killer workout and money going to great charities? I can’t imagine a better way to spend a day!

Video and photos: Eric Stafford for Stafford Sports Media

Competition and Community: Brick New York’s Friday Night Lights

I really debated doing the Crossfit Games Open this year. It was such an awesome, challenging experience last year that I just didn’t think that this year could be nearly as good. Last year, I’d just started Crossfit, didn’t really know many people and expected very little of from my performance. During last year’s Open I made friends, managed to get a few moves I’d never been able to do before and over all, just fell in love with the Brick New York community.

Hang Cleans at Brick NYCWhen the Open came up again this year, my life was in a little bit of flux. I hadn’t been able to be as consistent with my training and I just wasn’t sure I needed to do it again. The thing is, I really LOVED Brick’s Friday Night Lights last year and I couldn’t imagine not going. They put up heats every Friday night during the Open, there’s a DJ, and the Brick Community gets together and just supports each other. I knew I would go and if I was going to go, I knew I’d hate not being able to play. So…I signed up for the Open.  For the last 5 weeks, the Open took over my fitness life. Knowing that new workouts would be coming each week, every other class was planned in preparation for it and to not jack myself up before Friday night hit. It got a little ridiculous.

Wall Balls at Brick NYC

For the first time this year, the Open had a Scaled Division.  The workout would be announced, then scaled options would be given for people who couldn’t do the RX (prescribed) version. This change meant that Crossfit Games could be a little more aggressive with the WODs since everyone would still be able to do it, even if that week the workout started with Muscle Ups (comically out of my league) or Chest to Bar. Each week, I would wait and hope that it would be a workout that I didn’t have to scale.  For 4 weeks straight, I had to face the fact that Scaled was the only option for me. It would have been staight-up depressing if it weren’t for the fact that every single week, it didn’t really matter. The Friday Night Lights crew cheered and rooted everyone on, no matter what version of the workout you did. It was 5 weeks of support about wherever you are in your CrossFit performance, not just support for the top athletes of the Brick Community. I yelled myself hoarse for 5 weeks, hung out with amazing friends and tried my hardest. That really is what the Open for me is all about.

Rowing at Brick NYC

The final workout was one that I could RX, although slowly. The workout was a 27 calorie row/ 27 Thruster, 21 cal row/21 Thruster, 15, then 9 round… for time. For women, the RX weight was 65lbs and I knew I had to try it. So I did. It was hard and I dug down deep to keep chipping away at it. My friends beside me cheered and kept me going. That night, due to the heats, there was a time cap and about midway through, I knew I was going to run up against it. But I kept going. I was the very last one going when time was called and for a brief second was so sad about not being able to finish it. It was then that I heard my friends yelling at me and telling me how proud they were that I tried it and I remembered that I was too. It wasn’t a sad thing that I got to the final round in the RX version, it was a fucking awesome thing. So, for my final score of the 2015 Open, I got a 0 and I couldn’t be prouder of it.

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At the end of the month, when the pain of it eases out of my memory, I’ll do 15.5 again and finish it… no matter how long it takes, not for a score but so that I know for next year, because for sure, I’ll be doing the Open at Brick’s Friday Night Lights again.

photos by: Katie Rowan for Brick New York

FBS On The Road: Dropping In & Learning New Skills At The Academy In St. Augustine

One of my favorite things about doing Crossfit, is that once you are part of the CrossFit community, you are part of a family no matter where you go. I mean, what is not to love about that?  So when I recently went to St. Augustine in Florida, I finally got to be one of those Crossfitters asking for recommendations. Heidi, one of my Brick coaches, is down in the area often and had nothing but good things to say about Crossfit Atlantic, now The Academy, which totally sealed the deal for me. Didn’t hurt that they have a kick-ass logo and I totally wanted to rock one of their shirts…

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So, on the one rainy, grey day of the trip, it seemed like the perfect time to check out one of their classes.  I got really excited when I pulled up outside of their warehouse space (by NYC standards, it was HUGE) and walked in to a big, warm welcome from one of their coaches who was manning the front desk.  She made me feel immediately at home, gave me a quick low-down on the big open space and introduced me to the coach of that WOD, Alan. After stashing my stuff, I was told to grab a rower and get 750m to warm up. I pulled mine to the back of the group so that I could be by the big, open bay doors and just took in the awesome surroundings.

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Then, it was off to some hip-opening exercises and some conditioning drills across the floor.  I chatted with the super-fit woman next to me and when we got to the final inchworm move across the floor, she groaned. Alan heard her and said “Come on! We have a visitor from New York! Let’s show her we do all of the inchworms!” I just grinned and as a pair, we made our way across the floor. CF Atlantic Rope climb demo

Alan went over the workout quickly and told us that we would be working on rope climbing as our strength section that day.  I immediately felt doomed. The last time I even attempted a rope climb was in elementary school and it didn’t go so well. Alan demoed the move that would make climbing “more about your legs” and while I was game to try, I still thought this probably wasn’t going to go well for me.  There were about 16 of us that day, so each rope had 4 people to it. I teamed up with another woman who wanted to try from the modified box start that had been given as an option, and her husband and friend rounded out our foursome.

CFAtlantic x FBS 3Alan made his way over to us and asked me if I’d ever done a rope climb… and I, of course, immediately fessed up to having absolutely no idea what I was doing.  He grinned and gave us a thorough demo from the box…and even managed to make me feel like “Oh, yeah! I CAN do this.” The key is to wrap the rope around your leg and pin it with your foot, and just stretch out but the TRICK is that to move up the rope, you have to spin your leg to move the rope down your leg and you up the rope.  I wasn’t so good at that spin part but did manage to inch my way up the rope! VICTORY! Then, you let go of the wrap while keeping a firm hold on the rope so you don’t slide down, before you can come down with control.

CF Atlantic Rope FBS Rope Climb

I totally could have called it a day after that since it was such a win but there was a Workout of the Day to do. That day, it was a 5 rounds for time of 2 squat clean and jerks (heavy for you), 10 handstand push-ups, and 10 toes to bar.

 

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This was an amazingly ripped group of athletes and while a little part of me wanted to go big like them, I knew a lighter load was the way I needed to go.  Alan came over to see if I needed to modify the handstand pushups – which I always do. He had me grab a box and really focus on tapping the crown of my head to the ground.  Then, we were off.  The funniest part for me is that since they are in a warehouse space, dropping your bar at the lift is totally ok, but since at Brick that is an absolute no-no, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Don’t mind me, the weird one in the back! After a little under ten minutes we were done.

CF Atlantic WOD

 

I snagged the owner at the end to settle up for my drop-in and inquire about one of those cool tanks they were all sporting but sadly, they were all sold out.  Seems the only solution is to go back next time I’m in town… because if you didn’t get a t-shirt at your drop-in, did you really go?

 

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Shaking Up Goals: Getting Out Of My Comfort Zone at Brick NYC

Since it’s January, it’s a good time to reevaluate my fitness goals and shake things up. I’ve been half-assed doing Crossfit for a year now. I know so many people who go all of the time and have made huge progress, but I’ve just never fully committed to going. My goal this month is to change that …and my long-term avoidance of morning classes.  I don’t believe in resolutions, but I damn sure believe in goals.

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Recently, I got a chance to go to a morning workout with one my favorite Brick NYC coaches – Joshua Martinez.  Josh is predominately part of the morning crew, with only rare appearances to teach Barbell Club at night.  It’s funny, when I first met Josh, I was sure he was going to be dismissive of anyone who wasn’t a crossfit beast – and be annoyed at having to really break down moves to someone like me who almost never can do the RX weight for the bigger Olympic moves.  That turned out to be ridiculously untrue – Josh really just loves helping people get better, no matter where you are starting from. Having taken a handful of his Barbell class on the weekend, his insightful and helpful hints about form always make a difference.

Josh

In a normal class, he is still all about form and as he demoed all the moves that day, he gave us tips about how to do it right… and stressed that if you couldn’t do the RX weight, that doing the move correctly with a lower weight was far more important.  I love that. The workout that day was a ridiculous ladder titled “JP’s Nuts” – 20 dumbbell squat cleans, 30 calorie row, 40 dumbbell push presses, 50 pushups, 60 abmat situps, 70 lateral box step-overs and then, you work back down the ladder 60 situps, 50 pushups…. for time.

1Although the women’s weight on the NYC board was a prescribed 35lbs, I knew that my form was going to go to hell at that weight, so I did 20lbs dumbbells instead. 20 was seriously hard for me but doable with good form…. I felt a little better about that drop in weight choice when I saw Brick LA’s board had it listed at 25lbs! By the end, I was fried and took a little time to roll out on a lacross ball and high five people who were wrapping up that brutal ladder. Then still early in the day, my workout was done and I felt awesome.

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In January, my plan is to do Crossfit 3 times a week in the morning, B|X once a week, Pilates at least once a week and then some cardio options (like Flywheel) a few times a week thrown in for good measure. It’s going to be an interesting January, that’s for sure… fingers crossed I don’t just keel over!

 

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media.

Training With The “World’s Fittest Woman”: Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet Showing Us How It’s Done At EVF Performance

When I heard that Camille LeBlanc-Bazinet, 2014’s CrossFit champ, would be doing a few days of training at EVF Performance, I knew I had to go. The fact that I hadn’t actually done a CrossFit class since I sprained my ring finger 6 weeks ago? A slight wrinkle but not a complete deterrent because I just can’t say no to the chance to workout with the greats.

Camille LeBlanc-BaznekCamille is tiny height-wise but ridiculously ripped – I mean she is the newly crowned “2014 World’s Fittest Woman.”  The class I was supposed to take was the final of the evening and they were running late – “Cami”, as they call her, likes to talk! The best part about that was that we got to watch the WOD that was ahead of us – and for me to snap a picture of Cami in action because I promptly forgot as soon as we were up. The first part of the night was hearing how she went from newbie to Champ in 5 years… which is just insane to me. Cami’s point: have a goal, then break it up into short and long term sections. Of course it doesn’t hurt that she had innate talent but I do think that breaking bigger goals down into pieces is a really good plan. The thing that I really needed to hear (and work on) is the idea that you have to work on your weakness, because your strength will still be there. Whatever that strength happens to be, it will still be there if you spend time on your weakness. All that happens is that you get balanced and more importantly, get better all around.

FBS - Camille Leblanc-Bazinet Demo

Although Cami was obviously the draw to the event, her husband, Dave Lispson, was there to coach too. Dave is one of the CrossFit Headquarters Level 1 coaches and was such an amazing resource for us to get to experience during the skill drills. He might not be the champ but he was awesome, concerned, helpful and thorough. The fact that he’s helping to train the next generation of CrossFit coaches I think is a very good thing. The section was exactly what I needed – a long, detailed breakdown of the clean and all of its various forms. We spent a long time with the PVC pipe and as we did it, Cami and Dave made their way through the room correcting us all. It was awesome to get tips from some of the best, who were both shockingly engrossed in helping us all get better.

FBS Camille Leblanc-Bazinet coachingThe tip that resonated hard with me was exactly how far back I was supposed to push my hips in any clean that started from the ground. Dave said it to me a LOT until I finally got that what I needed to feel – your hamstrings should be on fire before you go. “Push your knees back” really needs to be my mantra. It didn’t matter where people were (I was one of the worst, out of practice and sloppy) both of them were just in it when they were in front of us. We progressed to the bar, then weights, and in each round they were right there. As Cami said at the end, it doesn’t matter if you are throwing up huge weight, it matters if you are doing your best – whatever that is.

The WOD was pretty straightforward a seven minute partner cycle of 5 Squat Cleans while your partner did burpees – evil but straightforward. The score? Your total burpees. My partner was focused on a good score, so I sucked it up and listened to her plan. To get a good score, 75+, we had to do at least 5 burpees for every 5 cleans. It sucked ass but at the end, we’d done a 106 – totally solid.

Here is the thing…I expected a good workout and it was. I knew I’d learn something and I did. The thing that floored me though, was how much I LIKED her. She was sweet, kind and effacing- while still knowing that she is a complete badass. That is an absolutely amazing, special thing. After we’d all peeled ourselves off the floor and told our score we did pictures – because seriously, if you are going to work out with the Champ, you really DO need a picture.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and FBS

I Can’t Believe It’s Been A Year: Finding A Community At Brick NYC

Last week I got an email from Brick New York that simply read “Happy Anniversary! Glad you decided to spend the last year with us!” I immediately was like…that can’t be true! I took my very first intro to CrossFit class last year at Brick NYC.  After years of swearing I would never do CrossFit because it was too dangerous, I decided I needed to try it for myself.  I’d heard good things about Brick and loved the attitude that they fostered in their space. You train safely and with attention to form at all times but it was still important to keep things fun.

 

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After that first intro class, I talked to Will Lenier, Brick’s General Manager and knew that I would be safe there.  A few weeks later and after several BX classes, I finally took my very first Academy class. It took me a million years to finish my Academy classes since I could never seem to get to the ones I needed to get to because of my whacky schedule.  It got to the point of being comical but each coach reminded me it didn’t matter how long it took, that I would get there.  I didn’t even take my very first proper CrossFit class until the very end of September– almost 2 months after that first intro class.

 

Around the time that I was still trying to get through Academy, when I still didn’t know anyone, I ended up doing the Civilian Military Combine (CMC) event. The team I was supposed to do it with fell apart before the competition was supposed to happen so I reached out to Will to see if I could maybe join the Brick team. His response was an immediate “Hell YES” and no one ever batted an eye at the interloper in their mix, they just welcomed me as one of their own – even though I didn’t know anyone. CrossFit is about community and it was that day that I really got that.

14.4 Heidi Coaching SSM

My misconceived notions of what CrossFit was about had very little to do with what I found at Brick. I found an amazing group of supportive coaches who were always focused on form and making you feel like family as well as an unwavering group of fellow fitness fiends who just wanted to see each other get better. I don’t write about CrossFit very often because mostly the tiny gains in weights I can lift aren’t that interesting and because really, I love every single class at Brick and it would just get ridiculous. I often find myself on bad days heading to Brick knowing I will walk out feeling better. I can’t think of any more I could ask for.

photos and video by Eric Stafford for FBS