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25
Feb

The Open: HOLD THE STANDARD

We are two weeks away from the start of the open! 

In CrossFit, these workouts are some of the toughest, both mentally and physically, that most of us will do. Every single one is memorable, and every single one will test you in ways that you haven’t been tested before.

The open is a global competition that takes place in CrossFit gyms all around the world. It is the first stage in the process of qualifying for the CrossFit Games. 

In years past, the games’ qualification went through three-stages: the open, regionals, and the games. The second and third stage were some of the most exclusive competitions in the CrossFit community. Regionals only qualified the top .001% of all participants from the open, and the games qualified the top .15% from regionals. Qualifying past the open meant you were one of the fittest people in the world. 

To qualify for the second stage, you had to do every workout at a CrossFit Affiliate and submit your score on the CrossFit Games website. Then the owner of the gym would validate your score. The gym owner is supposed to ensure the score’s validity and make sure they were judged appropriately and all standards are met. Keeping the standard to each workout ensures that the competition fair for everyone, not just the second stage qualifiers. Many people use the open to gauge if their fitness is improving from year to year. 

Because of the exclusivity of the second and third stages in the past many gym owners and managers allowed for very lax judging standards, using the justification of, “No one is going to regionals or the games, so why worry about it.” Anyone who knows me, and my competitiveness, knows how I feel about that line right there.

The principle of the matter should be a good enough reason, especially as a business owner. To allow someone to submit an official score with poorly held standards is below the quality that CrossFit sets for us all. It is also a poor reflection of you and your business. 

But this year, the saying, “No one is going to the games,” doesn’t work. Yes, at the end of it all, the top .000001% of all athletes signed up for the open will compete for the fittest on earth at the CrossFit Games, but the second stage will now include the top 10%. This is a huge change and makes qualifying for the second stage of the process more of a reality for the everyday CrossFitter. No longer do you have to dedicate 3-4 hours of training to qualify for the second stage; you show up five days a week, eat right, sleep right and work hard, and you have a chance. 

That is if all our fellow CrossFit gym owners, managers, and coaches do their job and hold all of their athletes (AND SADLY, THEMSELVES) to the standards given by CrossFit HQ! By allowing yourself or your members to input official scores that were not to standard, not judged, or just not right, it will now affect a vast population of our community rather than the .001%. 

Do these three things, and your gym will be okay. Members of other gyms, make sure your owners, managers, and coaches are following this guideline!

  1. A JUDGE – It’s crazy how many people do the open workouts without judges and submit official scores. I have even seen gym owners do the open workout alone and post a video of it. It’s sad; this is an essential thing. Judges are not just counters; they are judges. They are there to uphold the standard of each movement and the validity of the workout. Owners make sure anyone who is judging is briefed on what they are looking for and test them. They are an essential piece to valid scores!
  2. EACH ATHLETE HAS A SUPERB UNDERSTANDING OF THE MOVEMENT STANDARDS. – Each athlete, like the judges, should have a great understanding of the movement standards, and there should be no surprises when they are no repped for something. Send out the CrossFit videos and score sheets with the standards, and before you allow athletes to complete the workout, brief them and their judges one final time. 
  3. HAVE FUN – The open is a chance for everyone to put to the test their training. This year there are three divisions outside of the adaptive division so that everyone can participate. Your goal is to get an overall placing and beat it next year!

Ultimately, do what is right. This year more people have a chance at participating in the second stage. DON’T CHEAT! If your gym owners and coaches are doing something shady for themselves or their close friends that are members with something as simple as ensuring that the standards are held, imagine what they are willing to do to you as the customer. 

Richard

8
Feb

FIRST DAY MEMORIES

One thing that makes good CrossFit gyms different is the memories.

I can tell you one memory that almost every CrossFit person has: their first class. For most, it is virtually always “One of the hardest workouts they’ve done.” They’re tired and probably, sweaty and happy.

But for those that truly fall in love with the program, the methodology and the lifestyle remember more than just how tired they were.

I remember my first CrossFit workout at an actual CrossFit gym. I had been doing CrossFit-ish workouts on my own for a while, cherry-picking workouts from the main site and a few other places, but one day a buddy of mine invited me to work out gym he coached at. I remember the people there, and I remember the workout, I remember the smell, I remember the conversations. I loved it.

My second first class was at the first CrossFit gym I was a member of. I showed up for my first day a week or two after I moved home from college. It was one other person and me. The workout had pullups, box jumps, and kettlebell swings. It was a long AMRAP, and I remember the coach and how he was there with us two for the entire time—coaching, helping, cheering all of it. I remember the next class showing up a little early for their class and introducing themselves to me; to this day, I still talk to those people.

I joined that day, I didn’t have a job yet, but I knew I needed that place, and it honestly was the best decision I ever made.

I was talking to some people after class today, and they were telling me the same thing. They remember their first class, who was in it, and the movements. It was a memory that they would never forget, and it got me thinking about my first memories in a CrossFit gym.

It also got me thinking about how many people I have met on their first days. How many people have I given a great first day to, and then how many I probably did not give a great first day to.

CrossFit is one of the greatest things that has ever come into my life. The people and the lifestyle have given me a life that I love. It has taught me so many things and brought some pretty awesome people into my life.

If you have been to BWCF and did not have a good first memory, give me a second chance to make you a great memory. I have grown a lot as a trainer and an owner over the last nine years in business. I have multiple 8+ year members that have been here that long for a reason. We have an average length of membership of 3 years. That’s a crazy long time for a CrossFit gym.

The reason is I have learned what works best for our people, and we do more of that and less of what doesn’t.

Give me a chance to make you a CrossFit first memory!

Richard

21
Jan

Good Coach Does not Mean Good Athlete

To be a good coach, you do not have to be a good athlete—end of story.

I think ego holds many people back in the sports world, and especially in the fitness. Many athletes will turn their nose up at a coach that is not as fit as them. Ego prevents them from an opportunity to learn from someone. It puts them at a disadvantage.

I think there is some validity to being fit and coaching CrossFit. I think it shows the people you are training and putting yourself through the same challenging workouts. You should be a good example of what the program can do for your clients.

But by no means does someone have to top the leaderboard to give quality coaching. In fact, the most fit person I’ve ever trained with regularly, could do everything well, better than almost anyone, but had a very hard time transferring that into instruction for an every day CrossFitter.

There are plenty of Super Bowl-winning NFL coaches who do not hold a flame to a candle when it comes to the aesthetics or athleticism of the players they coach. Knowing how to make someone better doesn’t require either of those things.

The difference between being a CrossFit coach and an NFL coach is the people you are working with. At our gym, 99.9% of the people who come care less about their workout time and more about what their body looks like. They look to you as the coach as an example. They want to see you doing the workouts, and they want to see their future aesthetics in you. So as CrossFit coaches, we have a bit more of “Walk the talk” that has to happen than Andy Reid does.

But even with that, I still believe to be a good coach and to help athletes of all levels; you do not have to be the best athlete.

So pay attention in class. Learn from people who coach every day and from people who can make you better, and if you genuinely believe the people who are coaching you, find another gym.

13
Jan

It’s Easy to Let Yourself Down

It’s been a while since I have posted a blog. Sorry about that.

Yesterday my Grandpa received his first COVID vaccination shot and, on his way home, stopped by the gym to say hello. I was coaching class at the time, so it was a quick visit, but when I finished and got back to class, I ranted a bit and decided that the rant was worth posting. So here I am with blog number one of 2021.

I am one of the lucky people in this world who got to grow up with my grandparents. Many people never had the opportunity to, and even more, take them for granted. (I will make my point, so please don’t be offended and continue reading.)

My Grandpa is 92 and has lived a long life with his family. He is a wonderful person and maybe one of the nicest and caring men in this world.

Grandpa has seven grandkids and four great-grandkids, with two more on the way, one to be here soon! All of us were involved in extracurriculars as kids, and he came to everything he could. Four of us played collegiate sports, and he made trips all over the state to watch us play.

Grandpa played basketball his whole life, in high school, in the army, and a little in college. He coached high school basketball in the Houston area for more than thirty years. He loves it! I remembered 5-6 years ago, he was still getting out on the driveway with us and shooting hoops, showing off his two-handed jump shot and his classic no-look reverse layup.

Okay, I am done bragging about my Grandpa, but I tell you all this because Grandpa has stayed active his whole life, and I believe it was how active he has been that allowed him to live the life that he has, and how he has been able to be so involved in all of our lives.

Was he an exerciser? No, but he was an athlete his entire life. My mom told me that he would go to the park after work when she was in high school and play pick-up basketball games with the kids there. He played golf daily up until a few years ago, and for years he lived on land in the country and was always busy fixing or doing something.

We need to stay active in our lives so that we can LIVE OUR LIVES. Too many people get older and get sedentary. Sedentary lives bleed us of our strength, and unfortunately, in 2021, the sedentary life is happening at 35 instead of 65.

It happens because IT IS EASY TO LET OURSELVES DOWN.

I told you about my Grandpa because he was always there for us. For me, it was sports, and I can give you countless lessons he taught me, some I carry with me today in the real world. If he said he was going to be there, he was there. He never let me down.

I do not have children, but I would want to spend every moment of my life with them if I did, and with my grandkids when I am blessed with them.

I do not want my health or strength to ever hold me back from doing something with them.

I am sure that letting my kid down or grandkid down will hurt a lot more than letting myself down. I imagine the hurt on my kid’s face if I miss their ball game will hurt a lot more than the feeling of missing the gym for the third week in a row.

I lead a healthy life for my future children and my grandchildren. I live a healthy life because when I am 92, I want to stop by my grandson’s business and tell him I love him, and I am proud of him.

Stop living just for your pleasure. Put down the unhealthy options and find something better for yourself. Take a couple of hours a week and hit the gym. Your family needs you today, and they need you in thirty years. Please give them the opportunity. Take care of yourself.

Richard

19
Nov

Competition Recap

This weekend, we hosted an in-house fitness competition, and it was amazing!

I have been doing CrossFit competitions since I pretty much got into CrossFit. It is a different approach to fitness than the daily workouts we do. You learn to strategize and plan workouts out. You have a different mindset and need to be willing to push yourself as you have never done before.

Many people think that you have to be the top guy or girl in the gym to compete, you don’t. Most competitions will have various skill levels that you can pick from to fit what you can do. Some don’t want to lose or look “silly” but understand that there will always be a first-place finisher and a last-place finisher; someone must fill both of those spots.

The great thing about a fitness competition is that you either can win or you cant. You are not going to wake up the day of the competition and be exponentially fitter. There are no bad passes you could throw or a team member blow an easy catch that could cost you the game. It’s just you and your fitness. In a way, even though you are competing against others, you are not competing with anyone but you.

Competitions allow for learning and adjustments in training. It gives you the motivation to get in the gym. Not only leading up to the competition but after it. If you struggled on a workout where you had to carry something, you’d get back in the gym and practice carrying. Or, if you struggled in a strength event, you’ll make sure you do not miss another strength day. After a little time tackling newly found weaknesses, it’s time to test your fitness again with another competition. With a fitness competition, it is never a loss, only a learning experience.

Because I have done so many competitions, I have never wanted to take on the stress that comes with planning and running one. Our competition was on a small scale for multiple reasons, including COVID restrictions and safety precautions, but it was possible because of our community and the help they all provided. I asked for help several times from everyone leading up to the day, and someone always came through. I asked for help judging, and we had twenty-three people sign up to help.

Competitions are only as good as their volunteers. Ours were top of the line. I provided several videos for each judge and asked them all to watch each video so that they were prepared. Everyone knew the workouts, knew the standards, and were prepared to judge. It’s because of their hard work that we had a well run and fair competition. Thank you to everyone who helped this weekend. I could not have done it without you.

Our athletes competed well, and I was super proud of every single one. No one ever gave up, and many pushed beyond what they thought they were capable of. I hope that everyone learned something this weekend and is prepared to get back in the gym this week and work hard to increase their fitness for the next one!

Richard

19
Oct

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!

Richard

[email protected]

5
Oct

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!

https://forms.gle/vtwfo7uq9nFgwW7c6

Richard

29
Sep

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!

Richard

21
Sep

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.

Richard

1
Sep

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.

Richard

https://www.crossfit.com/cf-seminars/CertRefs/CF_Manual_v4.pdf
http://journal.crossfit.com/2009/02/crossfits-new-definition-of-fitness-volume-under-the-curve-1.tpl