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

Finding Zen On The Helipad: SoundOff Yoga

Nightfall at #HelipadYogaThis summer I went to a LOT of outdoor yoga and did no actual yoga. I loved being outside, the vibe of large groups of people gathering to practice but never actually laid out my mat since I was in charge of an event series. When I first heard about SoundOff’s HeliPad Yoga event with yogi superstar Elena Brower and Miami’s Jennifer Pansa, I couldn’t really wrap my head around what it really was.  I was pretty sure though, that the views from downtown’s helipad at sunset would be worth the uncertainty, and my final chance before summer ended to practice outside. I quickly accepted the invite and then a day later,  I took the train to a station I’d passed through but never gotten off at and let the adventure begin.

After waiting for a little while as they finished setting up, we were let in. A quick check-in, and drinks from Butcher’s Daughter and WTRMLN water, we were handed our headphones as we made our way out to the helipad. Sliding on the headphones, I went to find what would be my spot for the next hour and half. It was amazing to be completely surrounded by the normal NYC city noise and suddenly only be able to hear the pumping music and the occasional directions from Elena. It got me really excited for what was to come…

sunset at #helipadyoga

The thing that didn’t excite me at all, was ALL of the bird poop. It was everywhere… and I do mean EVERYWHERE. The germaphobe in me momentarily panicked and almost ran away. Then I had a stern talk with myself, picked the least terrifying spot and laid down my mat. I just spent the class being very, very aware of the parameters of my mat. Others seemed not to care in the slightest which was probably a much healthier response… but that dude who walked barefoot between mats really did freak me out. I tried to just let it go and focus on the absolutely amazing view around me since being on the Helipad meant that you were actually out in the water and both Brooklyn and Manhattan are a sight to behold from that vantage point.

Brooklyn view

Elena and Jennifer led a joyful flowing class to the sounds of DJ Tasha Blank who really just seemed to understand how to both sooth and motivate you through music. It was easily one of the best soundtracks to any yoga class I’ve ever been too. Since we were on the Helipad, the flow focused on taking flight and being uplifted in every movement. I really went for the view… but found that as the sun set, the practice got more magical. As the night fell and the only lights were from the glowing headphones, I got lost in the beauty of the night and the practice. I stopped worrying about anything else and just let myself go with the flow of the evening.

As we lay back for Savasana, I looked up and fiinally, away from all of the building lights of the city, I could see the stars above me. I breathed in and was just fully grateful for this adventure.

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!

outwod

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.

outwod 2

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

No Rest For The Motivated: Kira Stokes Joins BFX Studios

Kira Stokes has taught a killer “Stoked” series of classes for years at Reebok Sports Club/LA, the super swanky and expensive UWS gym, developing loyal and rabid fans of workouts that kick your ass from head to toe. The problem was that really only the people at Reebok had access to that awesomeness on a weekly basis – this week that all changed.  Kira joined the new Boutique fitness venture BFX, which offers both monthly membership options and single classes.  This is a VERY good thing.

Kira Stokes BFXInvited to preview week, I didn’t even think twice & signed up immediately for both of her Monday night classes. It’s been ages since I’ve taken even one of Kira’s classes and even longer since I’d tried a double – I don’t know what I was thinking! On Monday nights she’ll be teaching her C3 Barre Max class and her signature Stoked 360.  I’d taken 360 (and loved it) but her Barre class was the wild card, so I knew I had to try it.  In my head I figured it would be just a lot of barre with Kira’s spin on it but that I would be fine.  I was wrong – those 3 C’s stand for Core, Cardio and Conditioning.  In the first few minutes of class, she told us that this class used to be 75 minutes, so really, she just had to make sure that we thoroughly felt it in 60.  10 minutes in, when we were still on planks and pushups, I knew that this double would be much harder then I’d anticipated.  My recent Pilates work made the roll-up/c-curve portions of the class my strongest part. We planked, did multiple variations on push-ups, did mountain climbers on sliders, c-curve pulses with weight, and did a few plyometrics for good measure. It was about at the halfway mark before we even touched the barre, and I knew I was in trouble with this double.  The barre work really consisted of maybe 6-10 minutes, because really, Kira didn’t need that prop to get to every tiny little muscle in your body. I was sweating buckets by the end of that Barre class.

1623678_1494765160740176_5429448453707692703_n I steeled myself for the next class, Stoked 360, and tried hard to regroup. There were a group of us doing the double, mostly Kira’s diehards who would follow her anywhere and trained with for years, and then me, who hadn’t been to a class in ages.  I’d taken it before and knew that on it’s own it is tough, but with all of my training recently, assumed I’d be fine. The idea of 360, is to hit all of your muscle groups with compound movements done in sets, then repeat it three times before moving on. One: first to learn the move, two: to understand it and three:  perfect it.  As Kira would explain each new set, we would jump rope. It was that cardio spike that made it so there were absolutely no breaks built into the workout.  As Kira said in the middle of class “I don’t cue rest breaks”- if you needed one, you had to take it yourself, she wasn’t going to give you the permission.  Stoked 360 is awesome because it hits everything – and is constantly changing so that you are always challenged. Half an hour in, Kira announced, “We have 45 minutes left and we have a lot to get done. Don’t stop now.” I must have looked visibly stunned, since she looked directly at me and said “YES, this class is 1 hour and 15 minutes and I expect you to give it your all.” Everyone hooted and hollered but I literally wondered if I would just fall over before that full 75 minutes ticked down. It was amazing how many people had followed her to her new spot… but really, considering how good Kira is at challenging you in a way few can, it isn’t THAT surprising.

She's Mad but she's magic

Kira’s BFX classes are going to be capped out at about half of the size of some of largest Reebox classes.  They are going to be hard to get into because Kira’s crew will follow her there. That said, now there is at least FINALLY a chance of training with this master in her field – and really is there better fitness news than that?

 

Top photo from Kira’s Facebook page and bottom just a little internet goodness.

Really Listening: I.AM.YOU’s Live DJ Class With Lauren Imparato

IAmYouDJclass

Things go wrong when you think you know an address…so on my way to Lauren Imparato’s I.AM.YOU, I took one of those random street elevators to a super sketchy second floor of an entirely different building, that instead of offering me a yoga sanctuary, offered massage services by the minute.  I thought, for a brief second, this is how a horror film would start and backed out quickly. Once I was back on the street, a quick Google search gave me the right address (I was two doors down) and moments later, I was finally in the right elevator and headed to I.AM.YOU.  I was running late, like class is about to start late, and I almost bagged out completely since I HATE being that person rushing in at the last minute.  But when I got to the floor, the door was still open and people were still being checked in, so I threw my stuff in my bag, ditched my shoes in the hallway and checked in. I walked into the darkened, stunning loft with its black mats carefully laid out and was grateful that I had actually made it.

The room was packed – of course. I had a momentary panic that my normal hide-in-the-corner-of-the-room spot wasn’t an option, and I thought about fleeing. Lauren saw me freeze, gave me a fierce hug and said without flinching, “You are going THERE” and pointed at an open mat in the middle of the room.  I paused. “GO”, Lauren said firmly and then was off to someone else.  I poked my way over to the mat and tried to settle in but with only a sliver of space between each mat, I also start praying that I didn’t take someone out during this class with my non-yogi ways.

IAmYouMats

Once all thirty mats were filled and everyone was settled in, Lauren told us the focus of the practice.  In most I.AM.YOU classes, Lauren has everything completely planned out, but during the live DJ class, there is an improv to music that is played.  So that night’s focus was all about really listening. That if, for one moment of your night, you were truly able to tune everything out and just really listen to yourself and the moment– that was success. That night, Jennifer, another of the I.AM.YOU teachers, was assisting and as we went through the athletic flow of the evening, it seemed like there was always someone there guiding and correcting my movement. Lauren and Jennifer seamlessly moved around the room, adjusting people, working as a team to get everyone in the room.  Sigh. Have I ever mentioned HOW much I love adjustments? I.AM.YOU instructors, for how amazing, challenging and athletic the practice is, are really just masterful at making sure everyone is in the right position.

Lauren Imparato

Lauren’s flow that night made us work with each other to get a little bit of space to fling ourselves around on the mat but because of the vibe of the night, everyone would just smile and shift. As the songs would change, the flow would morph and you had to really listen to the cues Lauren was giving. I strained to follow but occasionally would just peek at the girl on my left who was a regular and seemed grasp what the next thing was immediately. I never felt totally lost but occasionally my mind would drift off to the great music and cool vibe of the room and I’d suddenly realize I’d missed a cue or two. The hour and 15 minute practice flew by and at the end, as we lay in Savasana, I was totally blissed out. When Lauren made it to me to rub my temple to seal the practice, I melted. At the end of class, as I threw on my clothes and made my way out into the night, I wondered why I wasn’t at I.AM.YOU every single week… it really is just a magical spot in the world.

Photos from I.AM.YOU’s Facebook page. Top photo is from the actual class, if you look very closely you can spot me!

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

EXCEED Physical Culture: The Awesome Addition To The Tribeca Fitness Scene

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VII

I have always loved Exceed – but getting to their UES location made actually GOING to classes there a huge challenge. So when I heard they were opening a studio in Tribeca, literally around the corner from work, I was giddy.  Last week I got the opportunity to host a workout in their new space during their soft opening. I immediately jumped at the chance and set about snagging a fun crew that would be up for a challenging, high intensity interval class.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VI

Exceed Tribeca is made up of two floors.  Upstairs was still under construction but it looked like it is going to be much bigger than the UES location. The ground floor is going to be the group classes space and the downstairs space is going to be where they do personal training sessions, which is where we held our class during the soft opening. Our group was tiny so it actually worked out really well to have it in the smaller space downstairs – although it easily could have fit more people if needed. Leading our class was Mike Jock, one of Exceed’s staples at their UES location (and who I’ve been wanting to take a class with) and Max Motkowski who is new to their crew.  Mike took the lead in the class and after giving a breakdown of the reasons their classes were shaped the way they were, gave us a demo of each of the four first stations. We then paired up and picked a station to start on.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca IIII

In the first round we had TRX rows, a rowing station, box jumps (or jump overs if you wanted the challenge) and a Med Ball station.  I started on the TRX and when my shoes started to slip, Max was quick to come over and brace my feet to make sure I got in every rep. Then we rotated through each station and I watched happily as Mike and Max worked the room, making sure people got the form cues they needed and made adjustments when needed. I LOVED knowing my friends were in good hands! The next round was TRX pushups, lateral box jumps and rowing. MedBall sit ups became slams and by the second station in that round I was already dripping in sweat. Each round got harder, but also was more fun! The third and fourth rounds replaced the TRX with Kettlebells and the rower with a heavy jump rope. My favorite moment was when at one point Mike described to one of the teams who was struggling at the Kettlebell station that the way to swing it was “Like in Legally Blonde, remember? Bend and snap!” while showing the perfect form for the swing. They laughed and then promptly started rocking perfect swings.

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca VIIII

The final round was a sit up ladder challenge. Each pair was supposed to do 10 straight leg sit ups passing the medicine between them, then scissor legs passing the ball, then straight again, then a version with a bridge, then straight, then frog legs while passing the ball, then straight before ending on one that included a double leg tap before tossing the ball. It was hard but also wildly funny since my partner and I kept almost beaming each other with the ball. The challenge ended when one team finished, and thankfully, the Real Pilates crew on the end came through in the core challenge and got through the ladder fast! My team was on the last move but I was grateful when time was called!

FBS x EXCEED Tribeca

It was a class that kicked my ass but was also just really fun. Exceed will be doing a “Friend and Family” preview week, starting on Monday, June 9th. It is first come, first snags the class. So get in there and check out this awesome addition to the Tribeca fitness scene!

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FBS

Act Right: Noah Neiman Takes On Fit & Fearless Fitness

noah x fatbottomslim II

This weekend, Union Square Park was taken over by Fit & Fearless Fitness, an event that celebrated working out hard and the empowerment that you get from exercise and healthier life choices. I loved the mission and the people involved in this awesome event, so even though I couldn’t stay for the whole thing, I knew I had to go. The event took over the northern side of Union Square with the “class” space immediately after you got through the gates that had been set up. I got there early, which worked out in my favor since I got the chance to hit up one of the event’s sponsors, Champion’s fit truck, before class and score a free sports bra!

noah x fatbottomslim

For Fit & Fearless Fitness, the first class up was led by the always awesome, Noah Neiman, billed as “Combat Fitness”.  I had no idea what that entailed but I adore Noah and never doubt his ability to teach a fun, challenging class. Noah, best known for his ridiculously popular classes at Barry’s Bootcamp, has come up with a take on a traditional bodyweight high intensity interval class that includes a lot of boxing moves, tons of squats and a million jumping jacks. We kept going back to the “boxing” jumping jacks, where you would whack the back of your hands together to help open up your shoulders. I both loved them and started to really hate them after about the fourth time we went back to them. Through the whole workout, Noah made his way in through the crowd, high-fiving people, cracking jokes and encouraging people to keep going.

noah x fatbottomslim III

We did squats with punches, lunges with punches and even burpees with a punch combo in the middle. The first time he had us go down to the ground, you could feel everyone pause…like, wait…you want me to touch the ground at Union Square?? To which Noah yelled: “You aren’t scared of a little dirt! You are tough! You are New Yorkers! Purell is killing you!” To which the entire group laughed and promptly threw themselves to the ground. But I mean really though, there are VERY few people who could get me to actually touch that ground. Noah just happens to be one of them.

noah x fatbottomslim IIII

The weather was so perfect for this event, a clear, warm day but it got hot FAST out there working out on the paving stones of Union Square! Thankfully, there was a lot of water to be had and Noah took pity on us, giving us a few more water breaks than I know he would have normally done. After one of them, he called us all over to a huddle and as we gathered he asked me: “What is my phrase?” Which of course I knew the answer to: ACT RIGHT. Noah then launched into what that means to him. That really, it is about working hard, about not praying for someone to help you but for the strength to do it yourself and that REALLY all of us are capable of so much more than we think. He told us we were going to do a couple of times of yelling “Act right” to set the tone for the second half of the workout but on the very first try, we all roared “ACT RIGHT!” at the top of our lungs. We didn’t need a second take – we were all 100% there with him. His response? “That was perfect. THAT is how it’s done! Now lets get back to WORK.”

noah x fatbottomslim V

I was so sorry I couldn’t stay for the rest of the event but that class was the perfect, inspiring, challenging workout and I am so glad I got to go support this amazing cause. This Inaugural event raised over $170,000 for City of Hope, an organization that believes fitness is a key factor in helping to boost self-esteem, promote confidence and preventing certain cancers – which definitely is a mission that exemplifies “Acting Right!”

Photos by Eric Stafford, Stafford Sports Media for FatBottomSlim

The Brooklyn Half 2014: Spurred On By The Back Of The Pack

This weekend, I crossed the finish line at the Brooklyn Half Marathon after not running more than a mile since December – which is ridiculous. The only running I’d done in months was during CrossFit workouts, which normally were more like running around the block. I had such good intentions to train, really I did, but I just hate running so any excuse to not run,I am all over and this winter’s crazy weather was all I needed to just not run at all. 

BK Half logo

I was planning on scrapping it but then it seemed like a waste since I had a bib to this sold-out race. So, I started playing with the idea of just starting it and seeing what happened. Some of my friends were all “You have to run it! You are fit, you’ll be fine!” the other half were “That is NUTS. You have to drop out! What are you thinking?” To both groups, I said the exact same thing: “I’m just going to start. Run a few miles and just see. There are a lot of subway options on that route!”  I didn’t really think I would run the whole thing… mostly, I just didn’t talk about it.

I ran the Brooklyn Half in 2011, the last race they did where you didn’t get a medal for completing it.  I’ve always been salty about that fact – I like medals!  When I ran it before I wasn’t as fit as I am now, but I had at least tried to train, which, as it turns out, really makes a difference.  I love to race but just don’t love running for running’s sake. I think my exact words after my first Brooklyn Half were: “That’s awesome but now that I’ve done it, I never have to do that again!” Triathlons are more my speed… but I thought since the 70.3 Ironman will end in a Half, starting to train early for that piece of it seemed like a swell plan and I could finally get that damn medal.  Except that intended training never happened.

On Saturday morning I bundled up in old layers, stashed my metrocard, some cash, my id and insurance card (I was worried it might be needed) in a wrist pouch and headed out the door. It felt strange leaving for the race with basically nothing but the bag check sounded like a huge pain in the ass.  I was in the very last corral and we didn’t get started until a little after 8am so I had about 45 minutes of just waiting around.  I loved listening to people chatting away about the upcoming race, all of the training they’d been doing and the plan for the race… but I felt like an impostor.

BKHalf_TOGETHER08

As we started to run,  I realized that while I knew where the race began and ended, I really hadn’t paid that much attention to what the course was actually like.  When I ran it before, we looped around the park before heading down the straight shot to Coney Island.  The new route had a lot more twists and turns and was overall just more fun since there was more to be distracted by but I did really wish that I’d looked at the map because I was constantly like …wait… where are we going NOW? I was so slow and pokey, with a running loop in my head saying: “Maybe you should stop. This is ridiculous. People TRAIN for this.”  The thing, though, about being in the back was that I was surrounded by people who were not so fit but had trained for the Half and were killing it by just slogging through. As one of them would pass me, that running loop in my head would be interrupted by an even louder one that said “If they can keep going, so can you.” And so, mile after mile, I kept going.  By mile 8, I was fully in it and knew that I would have to complete the thing but was so miserable by then that the five mile trek from Prospect Park to Coney Island, although straight and flat, seemed unbearably long.  Every few minutes that “So can you“ voice popped up and I just kept going. At mile 11, one of my friends, who was there cheering with Lululemon, screamed my name and grabbed me in a fierce hug.  It was just what I needed. The next 2 miles was fueled on that alone.

BK2014_SightsofBK11-1

I crossed the line with a terrible time, but DID cross and was just so damn proud of myself for pushing through. I grabbed my medal, popped it on and headed back to the train. I didn’t really belong at the end party with everyone celebrating crushing their goal – I didn’t crush a goal by any stretch but what I did do was not let a race crush me. I was slow as dirt but finished and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

I came home and took a nap, then chilled out for the rest of the day. I was wiped out but really not sore and the following day when I woke up was shocked that I felt totally fine. I learned a lot about how fit I really am at the Brooklyn Half, which is awesome, but I also learned that training is REALLY important. I need to get on that – I have a 70.3 to prepare for!

Photos from the NYRR Brooklyn Half site

The Crossfit Open: Friday Night Lights at Brick NYC Made Me Believe…

When the CrossFit Open was first announced at Brick NYC, I completely discounted it. Having watched the Open on ESPN, I knew the kind of amazing athletes that compete and didn’t really see a reason for joining the competition even if it only cost $20. I’ve been doing CrossFit for only a few months, a few times a week and have always been a scaling champ when it comes to the Daily Workouts. I was sure I had no business doing the competition. Then Heidi Jones, one of Brick’s awesome head coaches, told me in no uncertain terms “You will be sorry if you don’t. The Open is an amazing, exciting experience and you HAVE to do it. You will do things you never thought you could do.” When she said that to me, I smiled, nodded and internally rolled my eyes, imagining how comically inadequate I just knew I would be at those Open workouts but I went home and signed up that night. Here is the thing, Heidi wasn’t wrong, but I was.

They told us before the Open started that Brick started Friday Night Lights in LA and made it an event and that was going to happen here in NY too. I didn’t get how awesome that was going to be. Brick shuts down on Friday nights during the Open, setting up heats for their athletes to compete in while a DJ’s cranking up the vibe and making it a full-out, happening event. People come to watch, everyone cheers each other on and the athletes
competing work HARD, pushed on by all of that unwavering support.

14.4 Heidi Coaching SSM

The first workout, 14.1 was a 30 Double Unders/10 Overhead press combo. I’d never gotten one Double Under in class and thought the idea of getting 30 was ridiculous. I told Heidi this before my round and she told me to try her rope. That very first Open night, I got60 Double Unders– and completed 2 full rounds. I walked out that night giddy, having knocked out one of the CrossFit moves “I’d never be able to do.” Then, 14.2 was an Over Head Squat/ Chest to Bar combo. That night, I spent the evening desperately trying for the Chest to Bar but never got it. I had some amazing coaching from Erica and the effort and belief that I might make it made that night feel like a win. 14.3 was a Deadlift Ladder/box-jump combo. I was in the last round of people, the only girl, and as soon as I started, Heidi moved into my line of vision and coached me through every single rep. That night, I managed to get all the way to the 155lb round and lifted it 16 times. I walked out that night feeling like a total badass.

14.4 FBS Rowing SSM

When 14.4 was announced, I laughed out loud. A 14 minute AMRAP (As-Many-Rounds-As-Possible) workout referred to as a “Chipper” was a 60 calorie row, 50 toes to bar, 40 wall balls, 30 hang cleans and 20 muscle ups. The idea is that you have to fully complete each movement before going on to the next. I knew I had the rowing part down, everything else? Not a chance in hell. In class, I’ve never even gotten one Toes to Bar. Not one single time, not even close. I went early to cheer people on. This was a workout for all super badass awesome athletes at Brick and after three weeks of being at every FNL event, they truly felt like family. I yelled loudly for a couple of hours and ignored the fact that my heat was coming up. Between rounds, we all talked about the craziness of the 14.4. I would just laugh and say “Well after that row, I am just going to be hanging on that bar for the next 10 minutes, Toes To Bars is so not in my bag of tricks.” When it was finally my turn, I hopped on the rower and Heidi came to judge my attempt. She asked me how I felt about Toes to Bar and I said the same thing I’d been saying all night. Her response? Well, that is going to change tonight. We are going to get you your first one.” She was just so VERY sure, that I just nodded and said ok. It’s a little hard for me not to believe her when she tells me anything. The row flew by and then at the bar, I tried and with each attempt, Heidi would go over where I was going wrong in the movement and I would try again. It seemed like it was never going to happen.

14.4 FBS T2B 2 SSM

14.4 FBS T2B Contact SSM

Then after what seemed like a very long time, suddenly it all started to come together. I got close a couple of times and each time she’d tell what to focus on and say “now get back up there.” Then it happened. I swung two times and pulled my abs in like I was doing the hardest situp in my life and my feet made contact. Heidi let out a huge holler and I came down from it. I saw across the way all the people I’d spent the evening rooting with suddenly rooting and hollering for me. It was a huge accomplishment for me and it was celebrated as loudly as people celebrated the amazing athletes who completed the whole workout.

14.4 FBS T2B 3 SSM

The awesome thing I’ve found in CrossFit is that when you try and finally get something, even if it is something small, it is a cause for celebration – everyone there with you remembers that first time they got that thing that was eluding them and KNOWS how hard you worked to get it. Before the Open, I would always choose to scale the workouts but I’ve come out of it knowing that I have so much more in me. Heidi was so right, during the Open, you do things you never thought you could do. That alone was worth the $20 (and more) – I did belong there; we all did.

After spending every week at FNL, I’m glad that the Open is wrapping up but I can’t wait to see where I am at next year when it comes around again…

Videos and photos by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media