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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Row House: Rowing Done Right

I am always excited when any workout that includes rowing is in the mix but I haven’t been able to find a rowing-focused spot that got me giddy before winding up at Row House on Saturday afternoon.  Row House is a new studio on 59th, between 10th and 11th street, opened by Eric Von Frohlich and his wife Debra Frohlich, who have been in the fitness industry for over a combined 35 years. Rowing studios seem to be popping up all over recently but most have had a hard time figuring out how to be a killer cardio workout without trying to be a spin class on rowers.

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I dragged the fella with me to this class because it was on a Saturday, in a neighborhood we never go to, and I really do so love a weekend adventure. I mapped it out but when we were actually walking there from the Subway, it seemed like I must have gotten it wrong but it really is almost to the Hudson on 59th! The space is on the ground floor of a large apartment building and is very minimal but pretty. We got all checked in and plopped down on a bench to strip down our layers to get ready for class. The studio doesn’t have locker rooms or separate changing rooms, but there are two big bathrooms and a huge storage rack to store your stuff. Since we had come fully prepared, we dropped our stuff and headed into class. There are about 12 rowers in the studio that are flanked by a cool Row House logo wall on one side, a black and white cityscape opposite and mirrors in the front.

Row House

Debra was leading the class but Eric was there too and joined in the fun. We went through and introduced ourselves before the class started. Our group was apparently surprising because we all had experience on the rowers.  I’ve used the Concept 2 Rowers a lot in CrossFit recently but it was SO helpful to hear the smart form cues  – where our feet should be in the holders, body position, and how to be seamless in movement.  The first few minutes were spent with a slow stroke build, so that Debra could get us all on the same rhythm, and then launched into interval counts that ramped up the intensity of the strokes.

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With the music going, the first 10 minute chunk flew by. Then, it was off the rower for squats, planks and sit-ups using the ab mats CrossFit loves so much. Then, back on the rower for another 10 minute session.  This time, instead of going by stroke counts for the intervals, they were timed. These ten minute pushes were brutal and left me gasping by the end (in the best possible way). It always amazes me how hard rowing can be for such a low impact activity! At the end of the second push, the fella looked over at me and shook a fist at me for bringing him to class but then grinned and mouthed “This is AWESOME!”. Then, it was back on the floor for another ten minute section of lunges, sandbell slams (I loved this squat–throwing-the-weight combo), more planks and finishing off with burpees. Debra was awesome but for me would occasionally give us a few too many options for variations on the floor– but then again I tend to like fewer options so I don’t get confused! It was about the only thing I would have changed about this kickass, challenging and fun class.  The last rowing segment was a 5 minute all-out push. Debra warned us: “I’m just going to let you row and at the 2 ½ minute mark, I want you to look at your number and double it. GO!”. That last push left me absolutely gasping and so giddy. I’d found the rowing class I had been hoping for!

I liked it so much that I would totally trek over there from Brooklyn again… and that is saying a lot!

Always Believe

 

 

Row House Logo, studio shot, image of Debra from Row House NYC and bottom image just a little bit of internet goodness.

Breaking It Down: CrossFit Academy at Brick

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It’s been a few weeks since I first stepped foot into Brick NYC for a free intro to CrossFit class and I am still shocked that I stumbled on such an amazing community.  After YEARS of hearing about CrossFit – and about all of the good and bad associated with it, I had been avoiding CrossFit like the plague. In my head, I’d written it off as a thing about going big or going home and not about technique.  Brick, from the get-go, proved me wrong. I am a form fiend…if an instructor isn’t really focused on HOW we are doing a move, I am completely not ok with it and never return. My first class with Dell, one of the Brick coaches, made me realize that not all “Boxes” are the same or can be written off as dangerous places. That first hour, with all of the obsessive form corrections, told me everything I needed to know… basically, that I’d discovered where I could find out all about CrossFit and still be safe.

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Two days later, I’d enrolled in Brick’s version of Foundations –the Academy. The way that it works at Brick is that you have to take 8 classes, each about one of the core moves of CrossFit, that you can take in any order. Although there are 5 coaches at Brick, all of my Academy classes were with Dell and Erica. I couldn’t have asked for more supportive people to train with. Both are ridiculously supportive, attentive coaches who are obsessed with teaching each move correctly. Each class takes you through a super slow breakdown of each movement.  The last one I took was the Hang Clean. This Olympic move was explained every step of the way.
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All of the Academy classes start by each participant introducing themselves and answering a random question (Favorite brunch? What superhero would you be? Favorite dessert?) before launching into a warm up. Every Academy warm up was challenging and always got me fired up for class.  More than a few times I heard people grumbling about the fact that the “warm-up” felt like a workout but I loved that. It is awesome to feel like you got something in before slowing down to learn the move of the evening.
Brick CrossFit NYC 2 copy For the Hang Clean, first we practice with a PVC pipe, and Erica (who is an awesome bundle of energy and joy) would break down each part of the movement. We worked on it for a while in the class. It is a weirdly hard movement to get down and so we practice a LOT with the PVC going through each part of the movement before we moved onto the bar. As we did each part, she would watch us and correct us as we went. I never once felt like I wasn’t being watched. If there was a moment in any section where we were not smooth, Erica was immediately on us, correcting and watching us then get it right. Form at Brick is paramount.
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After going though the moves, every class ends with a “Workout Of The Day” where the move you learned is incorporated into a 5-10 minute workout where you do “As Many Rounds As Posssible” – ie: an evil AMAP. It is funny how freaking hard these short workouts are…they never failed to leave me gasping! That night’s AMRAP was Hang Cleans, Weighted Lunges and Push ups. It was hard – so hard that I didn’t even remember to count how many rounds I actually did. As Erica gathered the group around at the end and because it was my last night before I was cleared for CrossFit instead of “Brick”, she had everyone yell “Maggie” on three… which made my night!
Brick CrossFit NYC 9 copyAcademy classes can be taken in sequence or hodge-podged together over weeks, like I did. I wouldn’t recommend doing it my way, since I ended up feeling like the little kid who got left behind as I watched others graduate and move on to the regular CrossFit.  My first night of “real” CrossFit, randomly the Hang Clean, was the big move of the night and even though I came in DEAD last everyone was super encouraging and really there is only one place to go from there…
Photos by Eric Stafford from Stafford Sports Media

Challenging What You Think is Possible: Brick New York and the Awesome Workout

Brick - Handstand Pushup Prep copyA few weeks ago, I went to an introductory class at the new CrossFit studio: Brick New York.  I was immediately smitten with this awesome CrossFit spot. Brick, which started in LA, just recently opened in Chelsea. I’d heard great things about them but since I have been hesitant to start CrossFit at all, I was surprised at how much I loved it immediately. Brick New York, is a gorgeous space, but more importantly it is filled with super friendly, concerned, form-obsessed coaches.

I started Brick’s Academy the very next week. Their version of CrossFit foundations, it basically focuses on learning one or two of the core moves for eight sessions, with each ending in a short 10 minute or less “Workout Of The Day” that involves the moves that had been practiced in that day’s session. I’ve loved every single academy session I’ve been to but still have 4 more to go before I can take the regular CrossFit classes….
Brick - Erica Setting the Clock copyTo supplement the Academy classes, I’ve been going to Brick’s B|X class – a bootcamp based class. The idea of the class is to get used to the moves & speed of CrossFit without the weight. I fucking love this class. Every time it is something new.
I’ve been going on Saturday mornings but this week’s B|X class was filled with lots of Bricksters and as a result, the class seemed extra hard. Erica Giovinazzo, who had taught at one of my Academy classes and co-taught my first B|X class, was leading the charge and she was on fire from the moment the class began. As with every Brick class I have been to, it started with a group introduction and random question of the day. The first time, I thought this was so weird but after a few classes, I’ve grown to love knowing everyone’s names and some random fact about them. It makes you a team from the get-go.
Brick -Warm Up  copyAfter the intro, we went into the warm up. It included a lot of squats, bench jumps and pushups before moving on to an evil “duck walk” drill. The move is basically a deep squat that moves, this drill involved a twist -that it was actually a game of tag.  I was tagged early on but quickly passed it off to someone else and then waddled away as fast as I could. It hurt but was just ridiculously funny.
After the warm up, Erica went over the workout of the day for B|X:
100 Double Unders
50 Handstand Pushups  / Handstand Hold
50 Toes to Bar / Bar Hang
50 Pistol Squat / Wall Sits
50 Pushups / Plank Hold
100 SitupsWhen Erica first ran though the workout, my immediate thought was that I was completely screwed – handstands, the dead hang with touching your toes to the bar and the Pistol Squat?? Literally, I almost left. But for each crazy, perfect move Erica demonstrated, she gave us several different options for those of us that couldn’t do the full versions. They still seemed really hard but doable…

We paired off and my partner Andy was a rockstar. He powered through the Double Unders and then we went to work going though the next items in the list. The way this worked is that one partner did the move and the other did the “hold” move. First up, the handstand pushups – which were easily the thing in the demo that seemed impossible but the L-Wall Handstand variation was right up my alley. I was super proud of the 30 I did! My partner did the Full Handstand Version, which was insanely impressive.

Brick - FBS Toe to the Bar Prep copyNext up, was the “Toes to the Bar” – from a dead hang, the idea was that you tapped the bar with your feet. I couldn’t even remotely do that. I basically did a dead hang while my partner V-ed up and then when it was my turn, I did a knees up version that Erica cheered for, so  – at least she knew I was trying! Then came the evil Pistol Squats, which my partner ran over and grabbed a heavy band for – an awesome modification that made them so much better!  Still crazy hard but doable. We powered through those then moved on to the Pushups/ Plank hold and then the situps. We finished with a time of 19:19. Brutal but awesome.
Brick - FBS Wiped Out copy
As I breathed a sigh of relief, Erica announced we had a “4 minute cash out” that we could choose to do. EVERYONE stayed. I still don’t know exactly what that means other than we suddenly had an extra 4-minute workout tacked on. This one ….15 second plank, 15 second side plank on both sides, 15 second superman – over and over again. Hard but after what we had been doing, it almost seemed easy.
Brick - Side Plank Group copyErica high fived me at the end and although I was wiped out, I was grinning like a fool…. just like I am every single time I leave Brick. As I slowly work my way though Academy, it is awesome to get the chance to get to do B|X which is basically CrossFit workouts without the weights. Of course the fact that it so throughly kicks my ass makes me slightly worried about when I do get to the regular classes with all of the people who don’t balk at all at Handstand Pushups – but I’ll worry about that when I finally DO make it to a regular CrossFit class! 
Brick -Erica High Five copy