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Eating For Performance

This is going to be a short but to the point. If you want to be good at anything that involves physical fitness (sport or exercise), you have to eat enough.

Being good can mean several things. It could mean being stronger and faster or even looking better. Eating enough can be just as important as the actual physical work being put in. In many cases eating enough post-workout could determine if your workout even meant anything.

Understand that eating to be good at something can differ depending on what your goals are. For example, if you want to be a good weightlifter, CrossFitter, or Football player, your diet will look far different from someone who wants to be good at Bodybuilding or aesthetics. Both types still require enough calories but what those calories are made up of is where it differs.

The CrossFit way of looking at caloric intake is simple, “Eat enough to support exercise but not fat.” In simplest terms, you need to eat at least what you are burning, but make sure that it’s not all in cupcakes and dingdongs. The cleaner your diet is, the better you will look aesthetically, but your performance will ultimately suffer if you are not eating enough.

Many people believe that they need to eat less to look good; this is false. Although eating at a caloric deficit is a quick way to drop pounds, it isn’t always the way to looking good. Most of us would rather be lean than skinny, but I understand that there are also people who want to lose weight, and a caloric deficit is the way to go. This blog is specifically talking about performance.

If you are eating enough to perform well, results will start to happen. Take a look at the top 2-3 men and women on your gym’s leaderboard daily. What do they look like? Most likely, they look good. It is unlikely that the fittest people at your gym or on your team do not look the best as well. When you can fuel your body to perform at a higher level, your body’s aesthetics will change along with it.

A great example is Michael Phelps; he ate 12,000 calories a day and still had a six-pack and long, lean muscles. He ate for performance and then performed well daily in all aspects of his training. Yes, he is the greatest Olympian of all time, but just an example.

If you are interested in seeing how much you should be eating and possibly putting together some caloric goals, send me an email, and we can set something up!


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Baytown Ruck Club

Rucking is defined on the official Go Ruck website as: 

RUCK•ING [VERB] // Walking with a weighted rucksack (aka backpack). It implies action, energy, and purpose. Rucking requires strength, endurance, and character — and builds it, too.

Rucking is a common military exercise but has moved into the civilian world as a fitness program. Ruck training, in general, is done to prepare soldiers for marches or hikes where they’d have to move their gear and equipment from point A to point B.  

Rucking has been shown to increase your exercise capacity by merely walking with a loaded backpack. The weight-bearing exercise forces your body to stabilize and support the weight over extended periods. You will burn significantly more calories as well as build some serious core strength in the process. 

We already have a handful of members who have been Rucking at BayWay CrossFit, and many were affiliated with other Rucking Clubs, but with the coronavirus, many clubs have discontinued, and our members are looking to get their Rucking itch scratched. This is why we have created the Baytown Rucking Club. We are not an official GoRuck club, but we can certainly apply to be one if we get enough people participating with us. For now, we are just trying to do some extra workouts and build a new part of our community. 

Over the last couple of years, GoRuck themselves have mingled with CrossFit, and we have seen their equipment pop up in several sanctioned CrossFit events and even the CrossFit Games. Over the stay at home order, many programmers, including ours, included backpack workouts into their programming. The utilization of a backpack goes far beyond just carrying it on your back and walking with it, and we have some pretty neat ideas instore for our Rucking club. 

The great thing about our Rucking Club is that it will be done outdoors to easily social distance and participate in some great fitness without the worry that inevitably is there in our everyday lives. 

For now, we are going to do a monthly group Ruck (free) and will also post a free workout on our website’s blog page every Sunday. Our very own Army PV2 Chase Lewis will be leading us through the monthly Rucks and helping in the creation of our weekly workouts. Nothing better than getting put through workouts and doing workouts with someone who knows it better than most of us! 

If you are interested, please fill this quick google form out, and we will reach out to you with time and date of our next Ruck!



Competitions & Community

This weekend I got to go to Katy, Texas, to watch a group of our members take on the Katy Team Classic, and it had me missing the old competition days.

First, the Katy Team Classic was a well ran the event. All the workouts for us were on time, and all the volunteers and staff worked tirelessly to keep us safe. There were limited people there as well as masks and social distance regulations. All in all, it was a great competition and one that I would like to see us do again.

Competitions are great, especially when you are doing them with a good group of people. When I joined my first CrossFit gym, CrossFit Deer Park, I felt like we were going to a competition every month, and many of us benefited from this.

Almost all the people participating in the competitions back in 2011,12,13 are still doing CrossFit to this day, and a handful of us own gyms ourselves. I started CrossFit in 2009 and did my first competition in January of 2011, and to this day, I look forward to hitting a workout.

Competitions do many things besides give us a chance to gather as a gym outside of classes. It allows us to set goals for ourselves, provides us with something to keep us accountable, and gives us the competitive outlet we need that won’t damage our relationships with our classmates. (anyone who has a rep cutter in your gym knows what I mean here)

Through competition life, I have made some great friends. I talk to two or three guys daily that I met through competitions, and all live in other parts of the state. I have made plans to work out with them, do competitions with them, and just hang out. We will be lifelong friends, and we would not have met each other without CrossFit Competitions.

Katy Team Classic

The thing that has kept me in CrossFit for so long is the congregation aspect that CrossFit gyms have. At BayWay CrossFit we have an average length of membership of almost three years and have an average attendance rate of nearly 200 workouts a year. People come to us because of our coaches, our facility, and our community. It is a fun place to be, and we honestly can get people in the best shape of their lives. Two Hundred CrossFit workouts will get you in better shape than any other program. This is why our biggest competition’s champions are called “The Fittest On Earth.”

What gets people beyond that three-year mark is event participation outside of classes, and unfortunately, I am realizing this eight years into the business, but better late than never. Events like competitions provide an opportunity for a bit of fun while doing something we all love to do. We sign up for our first competition, usually out of peer pressure; we hate/love it because it makes us so nervous, but it is so much fun. We get back into the gym with a new fire of wanting to work hard to get better. We sign up for another competition to see if we got any better, and the cycle continues.

I had someone tell me this weekend that people are ok with not progressing at our gym. For example, we have five-year members still doing jumping pullups. Low-key that hurt my feelings because that means I have failed those members, but not because I haven’t provided them with the programming or coaching they need to do pullups, but I have not given them a reason to progress. Pushing competitions would provide people with that reason to work on these skills a little more so that they can participate in a competition with their friends in the future.

Progressing in movements like pullups or increasing your weightlifting ability means your fitness is improving. If your fitness is improving, so are all your health markers. This ranges from body fat percentage to cholesterol levels.

COVID is still causing many complications with local competitions, and we haven’t seen many pop-up. Yet, when they start to happen again, I will be pushing our members to participate, and I look forward to jumping back into the action myself!



Coaching the Squat

Squatting is one of the essential exercises anyone can do. We need the strength from the glutes, quads, and hip flexors in almost every movement we make throughout the day, so why are they avoided in traditional exercise programs?

I have had many people come in that are avid exercisers or are even coming from another functional fitness program who have not been taught to squat correctly. Many people tell me they cannot squat, but after a few months, they are squatting and doing it well. People have been told that squatting is bad for you, and it can be if you are not taught correctly. Many trainers have their clients avoid them completely because they are afraid to teach them.

To me, teaching the squat is easy. I am trying to get my athlete to do a couple of things. Set up well, hit the proper range of motion, and keep good posture.

We start first with our feet, they should be about shoulder-width, and the toes should be slightly pointed out. The descent is started by pushing the butt back. The biggest mistake people make when squatting is leading the descent by moving the knees forward instead of the butt back. This is where the majority of injuries come from. As a coach, I have many cues that I can use to get my athlete to track back with their hips rather than forward with their knees.

Most people complain about their knees when they squat, and trust me, I can empathize with this, but proper traction of the knees can significantly reduce knee pain. Step one to relieving knee pain is keeping the knees back at the start. Step two is tracking the knees out over the toes for the entire squat. This means we are pushing our knees out as we go down and up. It is one of the reasons I have my athletes point their toes out to start. It gives a great visual guide to where their knees should be pointed. Butt back and knees out are two action points that, when done correctly, can help build the strength in our knees that we need to keep the daily pain away as well as exercising pain.

Next is the range of motion. We are looking to have every athlete squat to a depth where their hips are lower than their knees; we call this bellow parallel. Growing up through different strength and conditioning programs, we were never taught to squat low, and that was embedded in my head. As I learned more about teaching exercise, I realized it was because the coaches did not know how to teach the squat, and when dealing with a group of kids, it is easier and safer to teach it that way. The same goes for most personal trainers. It is easier to not squat low when you do not know how to teach it.

Squatting to a full range of motion has many benefits. One being strong at any point in the squat. You will never be in a real-world situation where you stop at ninety degrees and stand up. What would happen if you were stuck in the bottom of a squat? Could you get up if you only trained to parallel? The biggest benefit of a full range of motion squat is building strength in the joint. If we take our knee, ankle, and hip joints through a full range of motion, we are strengthing them through all angles. This helps with many common elements like arthritis but also keeps the joint strong. Hopefully, reducing many non-contact injuries and helping with normal daily activities.

Squatting is essential, but more critical is squatting correctly. Find a gym where they stress squatting as apart of their program and are virtuous in making sure you are doing it correctly.



No Such Thing As CrossFit-Ish

Last week, I was at the grocery store when I heard someone talking about their fitness camp that they attend, and I heard them say, “It’s CrossFit-ish.”

I have been training people for ten years, and let me tell you this, if you are not in a CrossFit gym, you are probably not doing CrossFit.

CrossFit has many variations and can be done with minimal equipment, but it is different at a CrossFit gym. Most ‘CrossFit-ish’ workouts are missing is the “Evidence-Based” practice of fitness that makes CrossFit, CrossFit.

The three most important and interdependent facets of any fitness program can be supported only by measurable, observable, repeatable facts.

The CrossFit methodology’s implementation starts by defining what we are looking for by creating absolute metrics in every workout. In layman’s terms, each workout has movement standards so we can accurately retest. If everyone is doing a different type of squat (not out of the need for modification) on the retest, how could you know if you got better if you are unsure of your squat depth or lockout?

The value behind this information is what our program is designed around is one of the reasons why the winner of the CrossFit Games can be crowned, “Fittest on Earth.”

Our ultimate goal is to create healthier and fitter people. “Health can now be concisely and precisely defined as increased work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains. Work capacity is the ability to perform real physical work measured by force x distance/time (which is the formula for calculating power).”

The program design is meant to be inclusive but stretches across a broad range of movements and stimuli. While we are always reaching for our goal of increasing work capacity, we can also see an increase in many sport-related attributes. The most common attributes being body composition, increases in max VO2 and lactate threshold, and strength and flexibility.

True CrossFit is unlike any other program. When someone describes their program as CrossFit-ish, they are selling an incomplete product, a Mercedes without any emblems, wheels, or engine. There are other popular programs out there that test fitness at times, but nothing as data-driven as CrossFit. Our space is designed for creative fitness and not for packing in 100 people per 1,000 square feet for linear, single-focused training. We have machines like fan bikes and rowers, dumbbells, barbells, pull-up bars, medicine balls, sandbags, kettlebells, boxes, and many other pieces of equipment that we can create infinite numbers of workouts to achieve the desired days stimulus.

Fitness is necessary, and I am all for anyone doing anything fitness related. You have to enjoy what you are doing for it to stick. Find something and stay with it. CrossFit is its own thing. Its a methodology and a lifestyle, not just a fitness program. Do not be suckered into paying for a program that is CrossFit-ish because it is not.


Injury & CrossFit Debate

I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2009 when a buddy of mine in the military introduced me to it, and I will be honest with you, I have had some knocks and injuries.

Now 2009, I mostly did bodyweight workouts and a little barbell and kettlebell work tossed in while I was still playing college soccer, but I got deep into CrossFit in the fall of 2010. Since then, I have at minimum done five CrossFit workouts a week, and at times 2-3 workouts a day.

In the last ten years, I easily have close to 3,000 workouts or more under my belt, 20-30 outdoor soccer games a year, and who knows how many indoor soccer games. I’ve competed in all types of fitness competitions, from different races to functional fitness comps, and along the way, I have had to take some time off going 100% due to one thing or another.

I have heard for years that “CrossFit is dangerous,” or “I am going to get injured.” This is unequivocally false and factually incorrect. CrossFit recently won a lawsuit against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for pushing false claims that CrossFit is more dangerous (causes more injuries) than other popular fitness programs.

The truth is no matter what fitness program you are into, exercising frequently increases your chances of tweaking something, and the more workouts you do, the more that chance increases. Most trainers use examples like “If you never get into a car, you will probably never get into a car wreck.” The same goes for injuries and exercise.

You can do two things to prevent injury, the first and most important is to work with a competent trainer. Under trained staff is the number one reason people get hurt, and frankly, many poorly run CrossFit gyms (and regular gyms) have under-trained staff in charge of classes full of new exercisers. This could lead to people being injured. Find not only a gym that has coaches with training certificates but also gyms with a legit intern/new hire program. If you have a coach who just walked in off the street or is a member at the gym and goes to a weekend seminar and then is let to run a class, this is a sign of an under trained coach and is dangerous for you.

Also, having a competent trainer means that you will never train your body to complete exhaustion. You will be allowed to push yourself and feel exhausted, but overtraining or overreaching should never happen with an excellent trainer.

Secondly, let a trainer know when you are feeling a tweak or have an injury, and do not be afraid to remind them. A couple of times at I have had someone tell me that they are going to the doctor to have their shoulder looked at, and when I ask them what is up with it, they say, “I don’t know, it has been hurting for a while, and I thought I could push through it.” Do not do this! You pay for the training you are getting, which includes workout modifications. Please do not wait for us to notice you are babying something. Tell us as soon as you feel it, and we will lay off of it or rehab it if we need to.

In the end, most injuries are preventable or treatable. You need to be under a well trained watchful eye, and you need to have excellent communication with your trainers. But understand that if you are getting in 200+ workouts in a year, your chances of catching a knock are higher than those that do less than 100 or none at all.

Be smart, train hard, and be safe.


Lunch For Dinner

Everyone wants to lose weight but do not know-how. Many start searching the internet for diets until they find one they think seems easy and will work.

Diets are hard. End of story. Its why so many people have a hard time sticking to one, but they are one of the biggest sellers online. Dieting is simple, tough, but simple.

Avoid sugar at all costs. Eat enough to support the exercise. Eat most of your carbohydrates in the meals around your workout. (this means you need to workout to eat carbs)

Although those are only three things to follow, they are Achilles heel for most people. Although health and fitness is my life, I have trouble following these same guidelines, but I have developed a strategy to help me stay on track, and that is “Lunch is Dinner.”

Every night I fire up my Traeger grill and cook something. Simple as that. Each week I go to the grocery store, and I buy the same six proteins: chicken, steak, pork, ground meat, shrimp, and fish. I try to mix up the types of each one every week. For example, one week it will be chicken breast, the next chicken thighs, and the week after a whole chicken. The same with steaks and the others. With that in mind, I will look upon the Traeger app, a recipe for each one, and make a grocery list. (I usually chose recipes that are easy and are on the lower end time-wise, and try to do a long cook on the weekends.)

Every night I cook and make enough for our lunches the next day. This has changed me completely. I use to cook all my proteins at one time and meal prep them all at one time. I hated this. I would cook 20 meals, and eight would get eaten because we would be sick and bored by Wednesday.

For my first meal, I usually do something simple like some hard-boiled eggs and Greek yogurt. Have my lunch after that and then a snack like oatmeal and protein bar before my workouts, a protein shake with some carbs after my workout, and then I go home and cook my big meal. I stay full all day, and this has kept me from straying too far off the path.

I have always cooked, but the Traeger has made it fun, and because it’s fun, I am willing to do it when I get home. Find a cooking or eating method that brings you joy, and your diet will be easier. I have always been the cook, but getting a Traeger has made it fun. I like to play around and test things, which makes the time cooking not feel so much like a chore.

This is just a strategy that I have been using. If you are someone that cooks, start making a little extra for lunch and see how it goes!



How To Use HR Monitor

Often when I hear people talk about their workouts, somewhere in there, they talk about how many calories they burned, and many people judge their workouts on that number. What if I told you that the calories you read from your Apple Watch or FitBit are just guesses?

Everyone knows I love fitness trackers and think that they are great and should be worn. The problem is that people only look at one metric nowadays, and that is calories burned, and even the most accurate fitness trackers could be a minimum of 30% off. It is crazy to judge the validity of your workout on something that is just guessing. 

During your workout, you need to watch your heart rate more than the calories. Bottom line is you have to understand your workout zones to get any real feed back from a heart rate tracker. 

For most people, the goal of each workout is to increase fitness and burn fat. Burning fat is actually what people are thinking is happening when they look at calories burned. 

The problem is fat burning doesn’t take place right away. Your workout usually starts by burning carbohydrate calories first. This is generally done by burning the immediate energy source, which is blood sugar (glucose) followed by carbs that are stored in the muscles called glycogen. After these fuel sources are used up, your body will switch over to fatty acids.

Your body cannot immediately jump right to fatty acids, it has to get warmed up first. Think of the burning of the carb calories as it prepping to burn fat. Fat is only burned when there is enough oxygen in the bloodstream to tap into the fat storages our bodies have. The key to staying in this fat-burning zone is going at a pace that allows for consistent movement and consistent breathing. 

Using a fitness tracker for this is vital. We want to warm up to burning fat, and the way we do this is by watching our heart rate at the start of a workout. If very quickly (inside of 3-4 minutes on workouts that are meant to be mid-range or longer) you are 90% or higher in a workout, your body is likely never to make it to the fat-burning zone because there is not enough oxygen in the bloodstream.

The CrossFit program is not like other programs that use fitness tracking like Orange Theory or Running. Because of the combination of high-intensity functional exercises as well as regular resistance training, watching the heart rate could be a bit misleading. The reason why CrossFit has been so successful is because of the constantly varied workouts. We have short, medium, and long workouts. We use different pieces of equipment as well as various movements every single day. We focus on relative intensity, and this is what drives results. This also causes fluctuations in the heart rate and makes tracking heart rate a little different in a CrossFit class than in an Orange Theory class. 

If you run at a single pace for 5:00, you will see a gradual increase in heart rate. Compared to a CrossFit workout where inside 5:00, you may run 200m (1:00) followed by 15 Back Squats at your body weight (1:30), then into 15 Burpees (1:00), and then in the remaining time (1:30) as many Kettlebell swings as you can, your heart rate will alter four different times. This is also why the CrossFit program has such a long residual burn of calories post-workout compared to other programs. 

So the natural question is, “How do I maximize fat burning time in a CrossFit workout if my heart rate isn’t allowed for a gradual increase through a single modality?” The answer is simple. Warm-up hard and start your wods out easy. The people who gas out more often than not are those who “sandbag” or skip the warm-ups in general. The best looking and fittest athletes are never the ones that are doing this. There is a reason. At our gym, our warm-ups are very similar to our workouts. The movements may not be the same, but the motor patterns and stimulus are. With a proper warm-up, your body is prepped and ready to move into the fat-burning zone. Then, if the wod allows, ease into it and finish it hard!

This exact concept is why CrossFit Games athletes look the way they do. The difference between them and us is that they can control their heart rates even with high-intensity multi-modal workouts. Our goal is to continually increase our fitness so that when we are easing into workouts that allow it, we are still moving quickly, and finishing workouts fast. 

Having a heart rate monitor will enable us to track this. Looking up and seeing what zone you are in by seeing a color gives you immediate feedback on what you need to do. If you are two minutes into a fifteen-minute workout and are showing red, you know you need to slow down and spend some time at a lower heart rate. There is no guessing, its immediate. This will allow you to build your capacity in a way this is unlike the prevailing thought of the CrossFit method of beating yourself down. 

If you have plateaued or continually feeling beat up from workouts, proper heart rate tracking could be the key. If you are interested in more information on heart rate tracking, send me an email!

[email protected]



Harry V. – Work Schedule

Everyone knows Harry! He is the party in each class and I don’t think he has ever met a stranger. Harry works some crazy hours but still finds time to make it to the gym. Find out what he says in this video!


Better At Running

During the stay at home order to break up the monotony of the day, I would randomly go for a run. I would just set a timer and run in one direction; when the timer went off, I would turn around and run back. No goals just wanted something to do fitness-wise that killed some time.

Running is a great workout, not my favorite workout, but its something just about everyone can do—no equipment needed, only some shoes and a little will power.

When we reopened, I found myself still wanting to run, even though I hate running, or so I thought. So I started to write up a running program that I could do.

When I say a program that “I could do,” what I am saying is I wanted a program that I can stick to. My two main complaints about running are how boring it is and my knees. When running, it is just you and your thoughts, and sometimes that can be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, I usually start to have some knee pain, and then my thoughts are solely focused on that for the remainder of the run.

I am the type of person that needs something to train for. So I decided to sign up for the Houston Marathon in January. With something in the future to train for, I know I will stick to my running routine and probably never miss a workout. That alone will prepare me for the 26.2 miles.

For my running program, I wanted to do two days of speed training and one day of long slow running.

This isn’t the usual way of training for a marathon that most people do. Most are trying to get miles in each week so that they can be prepared for the volume of a marathon, but I think I can train a little differently and still get great results.

First, I am going to continue to train CrossFit each week. High intensity, constantly varied, functional movements across broad time domains is the key to building general fitness. I will have my running for the specific fitness goal for the marathon.

Second, my running training during the week will be one day of interval sprint work and one day of moderate distance intervals. These intervals have to be run at a precise pace to prepare me for 26.2 miles because even on a longer interval day, I am probably only putting in 3-4 miles worth of intervals, and to make up for the lack of volume the intensity of the pacing will prepare me.

I tested two runs for my intervals. I tested my 400m run and my mile to get my paces. Depending on the length of the intervals I have written for the day will depend on the relative speed based on those time trials. In short, I am not just running 3 x 800m runs. I am running 3 x 800m runs at 10 seconds faster than my mile time.

In theory, I am training for speed on these days while getting some running volume in. What this means is I am training myself to be faster rather than always just running at a comfortable pace. My third day of running will be my long and slow day.

My first long and slow day I ran a time trial 5k, and each week I have used that pace to dictate my longer runs. My first run after the 5k, I did five miles at a minute slower per mile pace than my 5k, and each week I have tried to add a mile or two while keeping that pace or a bit faster. For the most part, this has been successful, and in 5 weeks, I have added 4 miles and taken off 20 seconds per mile.

I believe that this type of structure can be good for anyone that is looking to get better at running or wants a program they can do at home. I have logged every run that I have done so far and plan to continue to do so throughout my 28 weeks of training for the Houston Marathon. If you are interested in following my program, send me an email. On days that are not running, I have included some at home High-Intensity workouts that you can do at home to mix up your training as well. This is a total of five workouts each week, all with written and video instruction.

If you are looking to be a better runner or just some fun at home workouts, let me know!


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