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We all want to be fit and eat well, but when does that eating well become an unhealthy obsession?  I think the answer for each of us is different.  For me, it was freshman year in college: The stress of everything, combined with my adamant (i.e.”obsessive”) desire NOT to gain the dreaded “Freshman 15,” created an unhealthy situation in which I actually lost 15 lbs, dropping to a barely-existing 115 lbs (to gauge, imagine current me LESS 15+ lbs… not good!)  Luckily, I was able to address the issue and have nearly fully recovered, 15 years later (gulp! has it really been that long?!?)  But the situation was, and continues to be, a mental battle that sometimes rears up in the least expected places.

Here’s a great article written by Isabelle and Franzi Ross on their family food situation, entitled “When What I Ate Made Me ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’

And another reminder about when being careful about what you eat bridges into the unhealthy situation that is Orthorexia: When Does Eating Clean Become An Eating Disorder?

Now, I’m not saying to go pig out or throw all your clean eating habits out the window.  I’m just saying it’s important to be aware of yourself and make good choices.  Know where your limits are, and respect them.  And be well rounded, in all things you do, including your eating habits!  It’s ok to stray from your “normal” routine every so often.  Just so long as you’re aware and do your best.

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^^ Dundore and Heister, on Penn Ave in Wyomissing, has some great treats for your gut bacteria!


Click image to link to Human Microbiome Project

More and more research is shining light on how important our microbiome is to our overall health.  Here’s another, investigating how gut bacteria may affect the ageing process. (link to full article)

“As part of their study, scientists working with Dario Riccardo Valenzano at the Max Planck Institute in Cologne treated a number of 9.5-week-old killifish with antibiotics to clear out their intestinal flora. They then exposed these middle-aged animals to the intestinal contents of younger, 6-week-old killifish in an aquarium. When the animals ‘taste’ the particles swimming around them, they also inevitably absorb the in the faecal remains swimming in the water. In this way, the from the young fish are successfully ‘transplanted’ into the older organism and colonize its gut. The older fish that receive the young intestinal microbiota not only live considerably longer than fish that were exposed only to their own gut or to those of animals of the same age, these ‘geriatric’ killifish, aged 16 weeks, are also as agile as young .”

Now, I’m not saying to go eating anything unsavory, but this is some interesting research!  What will the future bring?

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A little blast from the past, in the form of a 2011 CrossFit post.  We’ve reiterated many topics on the Corps Fitness blog over the years, all of which are worth repeating.  As much as CrossFit has changed over the years, this attitude is what got Chris interested in 2008, and what has kept Corps Fitness on the affiliation roster since that time.  Though we’re one of the “originals” we are very different than the typical CrossFit “Box” in many positive ways.  Let’s keep it that way!!

For a few more blasts from the past, check out the 2011 and 2012 Open workouts… WOW!  How far we’ve come…  I wish those weights were used in 2017!

Self Improvement Courtesy of CrossFit RVA

The secret to success in CrossFit is not dependent on conditions and objects found external to the body, nor is it dependent on heaven sent DNA. The barbell doesn’t care how bad your lungs hurt and the pull-up bar certainly doesn’t care how fried your forearms are. Likewise, most of us don’t hit the genetic jackpot for athletic ability and are instead left to toil with our mediocre abilities. However, accepting mediocrity without ever having the desire to improve is an admission of laziness and shows apathy for our well-being and health. The rest of this article will be used to delve into the deeper nature of CrossFit and self improvement.

There is only one requirement for being a better CrossFitter and living a healthier life and anyone can meet it: work hard at the things that are important to you. That’s it. There are no tricks and gimmicks and there’s no elixir that’s going to make you breathe fire. Accept that there is no short cut to strength and power, accept that your inflexibility will remain inflexible unless you mobilize, and accept that you won’t ever run 26.22 miles unless you train intelligently.

Once you recognize your weaknesses and deficiencies and the path laid before you, realize you have the power to change if you want it bad enough for yourself. There’s no amount of urging and cheerleading that someone else can do to make you deadlift 500 pounds. Only you can prevent forest fires can put the work in on the front end to prepare your body properly (i.e. your muscles and central nervous system). And I know that there’s no amount of pleading that I can do that will make you want to come to the gym (maybe offering high fives to people with good attendance will help?). You have to want to be at the gym. Once you realize that you can be a better human and decide that you want to change for yourself and no one else, we can help you. We have the technology tools to make you better.

Here are some keys to improving your performance (and your life):

1. Work as hard as you can in the gym and you will never be a failure. Your health is an individual pursuit and therefore, success is subjective. You don’t have to do a sub-3 minute Fran to gain respect from anyone. Our favorite (and most successful) athletes and trainees are the ones who push themselves harder and further every day they step foot in the gym. They work just as hard at the movements they suck at as they do at the movements they are naturally inclined to perform perfectly. You don’t need a PhD in rocket science to understand the necessity of commitment.

2. Practice technical movements that require coordination outside of workout time. Do you really think you’re going to magically acquire the ability to do double unders at the end of a Filthy 50 if you haven’t practiced for weeks beforehand? Practice is practice and performance is performance. Workout time is the time for you to perform; the time for you to showcase your skills. If you haven’t developed the skills (double unders, pistols, Olympic lifts, bo staff skills, computer hacking skills, etc.) with practice, expect to be mediocre. How many takes did it take to make this awesome version of “Chopsticks”? More than one and lots of practice beforehand.

3. Nutrition. Input = output. Your body is a machine. If you think of yourself as a high octane vehicle such as this one and you think about what type fuel would be optimal for maximum performance, I’m guessing you wouldn’t choose peanut oil. Sure the car might run, but why would you want to put crap (if you use google chat, type in “~@~” minus the quotation marks to your friends for funzies) into a fine tuned system? Likewise, you can’t expect to put garbage into your system and expect it to operate at maximum efficiency. Your output (performance) is directly related to what you put in (food). Food is fuel, yo.

4. Your flexibility is murdering your performance. Unless you are a yogi, which I know you’re not, you can improve your flexibility. Better positions equate to better biomechanics, which equate to better expression of power and movement. If I told you that you could add 25 pounds to your deadlift by mobilizing and stretching your posterior chain for 10 minutes a day, would you do it? Take responsibility for your nasty, crunchy, tight bits.

5. Consistent attendance. If you come in once a week to work out, sorry, you’re never going to get better at anything. Your lifts will always be sub par and your conditioning will be awful until you decide you want to take advantage of the program for which you are paying. Any program worth its weight in salt is dependent on adherence. In other words, the program doesn’t work and can’t work unless it is executed as written. The program is in place, we just need you to do it.

6. Recovery. Rest and recovery is so much more than getting your measly six hours of sleep a night. We see you for approximately one hour a day, maybe five days a week (unless we like you and you like us enough to hang out extra). For all you math whizzes out there, that’s five hours a week out of a total one hundred sixty-eight hours. You’ve got one hundred sixty-three hours to do with as you please. Your muscles don’t get stronger when you’re ripping them to shreds moving heavy things around at the gym, they get stronger when you are at home relaxing, recovering, and eating paleo treats. If you’re feeling worn out, ask yourself if you are giving your body adequate time to recover.

7. Be stronger today than you were yesterday. Mark Rippetoe sums up strength best with this quote, “strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.” We know that there is intense love for long chippers and lung burning CrossFit style workouts, but we also know that the most difficult thing to develop in any individual is strength; it takes freaking forever and a half to get strong. Imagine for a moment that your max deadlift is 250 pounds. Now do (in your brain) “Diane” which is 21-15-9 deadlifts (225#) and handstand push-ups. Now imagine your max deadlift is 500 pounds. Now do (in your brain again) “Diane.” Which was faster? Corollary: stronger people do metcons faster (metcon stands for metabolic conditioning, basically, your cardio workouts) and are cooler and better looking. Only part of that corollary is actually true, you can decide which part is chaff. We want you to love 3×3 strength days as much as Fran and we want you to be totally enamored with max effort single days because that is your opportunity to show off your stuff. Strength and conditioning are inevitably tied together, don’t neglect either. Do your due diligence on lift days for more power.

8. Performance based fitness. Do you know why New Year’s resolutions fail and why people don’t stick to diets for more than a week or two at a time? First, because they are weak minded (suck it up, people), and secondly, and much more importantly, they don’t see change. CrossFit workouts are measured by a clock, by number of repetitions, and by weights. Conditions are repeatable and re-testable. I’m no science master (I only have my brown belt), but I’d say that’s solid experimental design. From workout to workout, our athletes can SEE that they are getting stronger and faster because they all have log books (right?). Tied in with performance, you should be setting goals for yourself. Training with no purpose is silly and it doesn’t do you any good. Want to deadlift 500 pounds? Write it down. Want to overhead squat your body weight 15 times? Write it down. Hold yourself accountable by telling other people your goals. You’d be surprised at how willing people are to help you achieve and who knows, you might inspire someone else to achieve at the same level.

Last, but certainly not least, we (the trainers) look at your health as a long term endeavor. We observe your performance on a day to day basis so that we can adjust it and make it better tomorrow. We look at the potential end product, not just the current “not as good as you could be” version. We always want more from you and while you should be proud of every accomplishment, you should ALWAYS be thirsting for more.

Work hard

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Pay more attention to your own training and disregard the social media posts that make you feel bad or inadequate!  You never know what’s real or has been photo-shopped to oblivion.  Keep up the good work and compete against yourself, and if that’s getting YOU results, you’re doing it right!

You’re Killing It! Don’t Let Social Media Fool You! by Jeff Meland CSCS

“If you are getting results – whether that means losing 20 pounds, getting stronger, or improving your body composition – there will always be something online ready to deflate your self-esteem and diminish those results. The reality is if you are putting in the work and progressing towards the goals you have laid out, then you are well on your way, and truthfully outperforming much of society as it is.”
– J. Meland

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A little food for thought from The Arnold today!  It’s so funny to see how many gyms are jumping on the “What’s your excuse?” bandwagon… Yeah, we’ve been living it since 2004 at Corps Fitness.  Back when there was no building 7, and Chris drove around in his truck and hoped 5 people would show up for class on any given day.  Back when there was no fancy equipment; just a few body bars and ammo cans, and good old body weight.

…And another one, just for fun.  And, oh, HIIT isn’t new; it’s a new name for an old format: no-frills, kick-ass circuit training.  Same as we’ve been doing since the Happy Hollow and Gring’s Mill days!  So keep it up, CFers – you have always been and still are leading the way.  Stay different!

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NBC News recently ran a piece on retired NFL player David Vobora, who found meaning and renewed purpose in working with amputees at his gym.  Take a minute to watch the video and soak up the stories of the members, who themselves have found renewed strength after realizing what they can do.  The physical and mental benefits of exercise are indisputable.  But I don’t have to tell CFers that.

We’re fortunate to have the IM ABLE Foundation share our space, so we see firsthand what people with disabilities are capable of.  But you don’t have to be physically disabled to realize the benefits.  Here are a couple stories (keeping names and personal details anonymous) that we’ve heard from CFers over the years, where CF literally saved their lives:

  1. A successful financial trader during the economic collapse in 2008, lost a LOT of money for his clients.  Trading partner committed suicide.  But this guy found CF and dedicated himself 100% to the emotional and physical outlet it provided.  His family and personal life benefited immensely and a few years later, he narrowly escaped a major “widow maker” heart attack.  Credited CF for saving his life yet again; not only was he in tune with his body because of his physical fitness, but he had recently taken a CPR course with us and learned the warning signs / what to watch for.  Despite his physical fitness, he couldn’t escape genetics.  He had a emergency stent placed and has been doing great ever since.  I still get chills when I think about his story.
  2. A successful business owner, grew up in the area and was in and out of trouble, dealing with substance abuse issues.  By his mid 30’s, he was overweight and bogged down in the business but knew he had to make a change.  Came into CF wary of the group classes and with help from Chris, got his weight and nutrition under control.  Went on to lose a significant amount of weight and become a major beast in and out of the gym.  Credited CF with renewing his sense of self and allowing him to keep up with his children in a way he never thought possible.  He continues to be an even more successful business owner and all-around stud.

Your story is likely not on here, but I bet you have one.  Think about how finding Corps Fitness gave you an emotional, physical, and mental outlet.  How it exposed you to an amazing group of people who I bet you now hang out with outside of the gym too!  Isn’t it awesome??  And as a trainer / friend / CF family member, it’s so incredible to hear story after story just like these.  I’m sure there are more stories out there that I haven’t heard and may never hear, and that’s ok.  It’s enough to know that you found Corps Fitness, it means something to you, and it made a difference in your life.  Because THAT is why we do what we do.

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Harley Davidson Team Building, December 2016
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CrossFit Skills work, January 2017
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Teleflex Corps Fitness class, January 2017
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A little brain training this Wednesday… A new physics discovery could help make you a faster runner, and help injured runners recover faster.  Of course, to analyze and apply this experiment you need access to a motion lab…  So maybe just use this article as some food for thought, a little push to think about how you run and then make changes if you’re not seeing improvements right now.  At least, until someone develops an app for that…

“One needs to know three things in order to predict a runner’s speed: How much time a runner’s foot spends on the ground, how much time the runner is in the air, and how quickly the ankle is moving when the runner hits the ground.

These measurements reveal a lot that can help the runner go faster, identify an uneven stride that may lead to injury, or find ways to lessen the impact on joints, Weyand said.

Very basic physics lead to very accurate results.

The researchers collected data from 42 runners of varying abilities: Olympic sprinters, high school track athletes and ballet dancers who cross-train by running. They used high-speed motion cameras to measure participants’ gaits and force patterns.

Using basic physics, the researchers generated predictions about running speed based on the impact forces of each step.

They found that a simple two-mass model ― based on the force resulting from the impact of the lower leg (shin, ankle and foot) on the ground, and the force that lifts and supports the rest of the body ― was the equation that most accurately predicted speed, study co-author Laurence Ryan, a physicist and research engineer at SMU’s Locomotor Performance Laboratory, said in a statement. ‘This was true to within a millisecond, every single time. And we did it hundreds of times.'”
– S DiGiulio

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