Archive | March, 2013

What’s with Project AgerBomb?

andrea is on the beach

People always have a lot of questions, and I have a lot of answers. Project AgerBomb was the title of a fundraiser that was really fun… and raised a lot of funds… but then we gave it back to the raisers. 😉

I have always wanted to start my own gym. Like most people that dream of opening an affiliate, I felt like I was ready, and had learned from three of my closest friends owning gyms and me working at two of them. Seeing on the inside how much work it was, and how rewarding building a community from the ground up could be, I knew it was now or never. There had been opportunities floating around with investors for the last year, and I was currently in the middle of one of them, working to open a gym in Santa Monica. The amount of growing, learning, and experience I received from working with them for a common goal is irreplaceable. It didn’t end up working out as partners, and wasn’t meant to be, but they still opened and have a nice community by the beach where we were planning.

Project AgerBomb was what we called a genius plan my friends came up with as an outreach to help open a CrossFit community by the beach where there were barely any gyms. We were the first gym to use Indiegogo, which is an online crowdfunding site that helps start-up businesses. Having the finances of a 24-year-old that just graduated college and was coaching at a few different gyms, I knew it was something I couldn’t do on my own. Rent and property are so expensive in Los Angeles, and the hoops to be jumped to open one in a good area, were difficult and could prolong opening for months, even a year. Gyms in the area were opening up immaculate facilities with startups of 200k, 250k, 300k, left and right, and we knew to have a competitive gym, we’d need to be able to open with an idea to make the money last. We quickly went to work to raise money, and we spent every waking hour planning, streaming, writing, brainstorming, filming, and losing sleep over a common dream we all shared of making this successful before it even began.

The entire AgerBomb team came from the gym, and slowly as more people heard about it, more wanted to help. Ideas for incentives filled our pages with options for the donation packages, as sponsors flooded the doors with deals and discount codes and I was in awe of the amount of people that genuinely wanted to help. A designer friend that worked for Stussy designed the shirts and logos, and a local CrossFit jewelry company were all in to help the cause. A close friend in finance helped produce the AgerBomb indiegogo page, and set up everything to help write details on the project and complete the site and help write back and forth with sponsors. Our crew extended through a well-known CrossFit HQ photographer that wanted to produce the video and had a very specific vision of how it should be portrayed, which took weeks to plan. Spending an entire 12 hour shoot at the beach and countless hours and days and weeks of editing by a Disney animation editor was only a slice of the work. Having Fitness Lonnie, a close buddy, follow me around with a camera while I was coaching, being shy of the camera, and constantly stumbling on words trying to pretend he wasn’t there, having to remind myself it was for the project. Spending hours on interviews and footage we couldn’t even use because I was so naturally bad at talking in front of the camera, we got a lot of… practice… I finally had an idea of how my actor friends feel, and didn’t know how they did it, or why do they like that pressured feeling? Give me a place to workout and I’ll be on camera all day, but make me look at the screen and all I can do is laugh loudly and snort and say dumb stuff that doesn’t make sense!

I remember the day we launched the project. We were all sitting in my kitchen, going through the process of unleashing all our hard work. Each one of us had our laptops out, crowded around and I felt like Mark Zuckerburg’s crew starting Facebook as we spent the first day messaging, creating, writing back people with questions, and responses, updating on progress and sharing posts. Behind the scenes we were corresponding with investors, companies, and potential sponsors and making connections through networking. Immediately, the CrossFit community responded with enthusiasm and after digesting the whole project people donated anywhere from $5 to $1,000, whatever they could afford to help our cause, and it was beautiful. Starting with members I coach at the gyms I worked at, and spreading through SoCal, then slowly across the country, until we got a picture of a jar from CrossFit Insurrecto in the Philipines that said AgerBomb on it with change filling up half the container. It was impossible to not feel the love coming from people that either sympathized or knew it was a long-shot, or plenty of people that just wanted to be involved. The sharing of the videos, and posts, and updates was contagious, and we all continued to work around the clock to keep up with all the traffic for four weeks straight.

Reflecting on our idea over six months after the last day of the fundraiser, I can’t believe how much I learned and grew from taking part in such an experience. We came nowhere close to the goal, but it was sheer success that we had raised over $15,000 in just 30 days. We had signed up for an option where if we didn’t make our goal (what we realistically predicted we needed to open a gym) we gave back all the money. So on the 31st day, the money went back to all the funders accounts we were back to zero, and the incentives never got made or ordered, as we knew it was all coming to an end, we looked forward to seeing what was next.

I remember we started all this insanity right after one of the toughest competitions I’ve ever competed at so far. At Regionals in 2012 I got 5th place in Southern California, and was one point away from making it to the Games, and that’s where my athletic journey that year was on pause. One point away from qualifying, and in hindsight its clear that it was a blessing in disguise. When we went to the Games two months after regionals I was trying to promote for AgerBomb, and would sneak into the front row of the stadium to watch every single female individual heat, wishing I was out there. I realize now that this entire project was the healthiest distraction for me not making it to the Games. It was the best thing for me, and although I think the timing was off, Project AgerBomb still goes on. It’s a hope, it’s a dream, it’s an extremely bold and aggressive move for what we can accomplish if we ask for help.

The nickname stuck like glue, I always joke that it might as well be on my birth certificate as “Andrea Lea Ager(Bomb).” It is something I love to hear because to me it represents taking a chance and a risk, and that’s exactly what I always find myself on the edge of doing. The “Project”, is my journey, a continuation of my road to the fittest on earth; my road to the Games.

10 Tips on 13.3 for Beginners

Julie Foucher demonstrating the movements in the Demo for 13.3

Julie Foucher demonstrating the movements in the Demo for 13.3

As Castro takes longer than the American Idol host to announce the next workout

As Castro takes longer than the American Idol host to announce the next workout

What is 13.3? It’s the third workout of 2013, taken directly from last year’s Open, aka 12.4. For athletes that have been around since last year, they’ll be able to compare their scores to see how much they’ve improved, which really puts the pressure on! Kristen Clever (2010 Fittest Woman on Earth) and Talayna Fortunado (2012 CrossFit Games 3rd Place Finisher) battled against each other in Boulder, Colorado when the workout was announced on Wednesday. The whole world got to see what we would be enduring for the next week by watching them push through it!

There are lots of different strategies in this workout. Last year, right when it came out I did it without music in the corner by myself and stayed very calm and relaxed, got 17 muscle ups. Then I did it 4 days later in a very intense competitive environment, and sped through Karen and double unders to have 2 more minutes left for muscle ups, and got 17 again, same exact score. That was when I started realizing that for myself, doing the workout twice wasn’t always beneficial. It was before when I was less experienced, but sometimes you’re just “at your limit,” and doing it once could be enough. Looking back, analyzing the experiences to predict what would be best for me, I’m realizing nothing is ever right or wrong. There will be a different strategy for everyone and CrossFit is never black and white. Make this workout your own, and listen to your body.

10 Tips on 13.3 For Beginners

1. WATCH THE DEMO. Hold yourself accountable. It’s your job to make sure you are aware of the movement standards, and what’s expected of you. Makes it easier for the judge, and eliminates wasted effort in “no reps.” Don’t ride the line on the wall balls, it’s not worth the chance of getting one that doesn’t count. Make them clear.

2. BREAK THEM UP. I saw plenty of people get great times on “Karen” (150 wall balls) by doing 10 wall balls every 30 seconds. Of course you set yourself up for only having a limited amount of time in the amrap, but it’s easy to stay consistant.

3. BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING. This workout is a high skill, low weight baring workout. If you don’t make it through Karen, you’re not the only one! But warm up double unders and progressions on the rings “just in case,” to eliminate surprises.

4. SINGLE SINGLE DOUBLE. Don’t have double unders? You don’t have to have them consecutively. If 90 is a lot for you, then go through them by focusing on consistency, and no matter what you do, how many singles you need, your judge will only count the double unders. Stay relaxed, look up, and think, ‘chest higher’! Shoulders will be taxed, so keep them relaxed, stay calm. If you miss, take a breather.

5. DON’T GO TO FAILURE. No matter what movement you’re on, don’t let put yourself in the “RED ZONE!” Add rest, even if you’re not burnt out yet, listen to your body. Pacing is not the enemy here, finishing with enough energy to perform the next movement is the goal.

6. TAKE YOUR TIE BREAKERS SERIOUSLY. Let’s say you’ve been trying muscle ups, but know your ‘doomed’ score is going to be 240 (Karen+ DU’s), only then: Sprint through to get an aggressive tie-breaker score! That’s the difference between this year and last year; our ties will be ranked according to who completed the previous round faster.

7. MUSCLE UP #1. Plenty of people are getting their first muscle up before or during 13.3! I’ve seen at least 10 ‘first timers’ in the last week, the pressure’s on! REST as long as you can before you try that first muscle up. A minute, 90 seconds… and give it your all. Getting that 1 muscle up will mean thousands of places in the leaderboard, so it’s worth the break.

8. MUSCLE UP EFFICIENCY. Carl Paoli talks about the importance of being in a good shoulder position in the catch of the muscle up. Warming up with bands and practicing “dip balances” and maintaining center of mass at ring level before finishing will help.

9. KIP THE DIP. Even If you’re strong enough to strict dip out of the catch in the muscle up, why would you? It’s exhausting, especially if you’re planning on getting multiple reps. For the same reason why most wouldn’t do strict pull-ups in Fran, or strict HSPU in Diane. Carl explains it well in reminding us the movement is a “jerk, not a push press.” Make it fast and quick, not long and strenuous, ‘pressing out’, if you can avoid it.

10. HAVE FUN, MAKE FRIENDS! Get yourself a comfortable environment. The reason why we’re doing this workout is because we’re testing ourselves. Even though it’s nerve-racking, at the end of the day, we’re just working out. It’s another day of getting better, fitter, and staying healthy while doing something we all have an undeniable passion for.


10 Tips on 13.2 for Beginners

Lindsey Valenzuela Vs. Annie Thorisdottir right after they announced the workout in New York.

Lindsey Valenzuela Vs. Annie Thorisdottir right after they announced the workout in New York.

What is 13.2? It is the second workout in the 2013 CrossFit Games Open. For the last three years we’ve labled workouts like this to help reference ones in the past. This one is a mixture between 11.2, (10 min amrap: 9 deadlifts 12 pushups and 15 box jumps) and 12.3, (18 min amrap: 15 box jumps, 12 Shoulder to Overhead, 9 Toes to Bar). Just because we’ve seen these workouts before, doesn’t mean the standards are going to be the same. We have new tricks, new spins, for a completely new and exciting capacity test.

1. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE. This workout will be very fast-paced, and your heart rate will jump after the very first round. Having a 45 second round followed by a 70 second, then four 90 second rounds will deceive the purpose of pushing hard in the beginning. The ‘sprint’ will be in the last two minutes for most new people, try to remember that.


Make sure you know what you’re going to be held accountable for. Knowing your weight for your age-group, what is allowed for shoulder to Over-Head, and what will not be counted and be a “no-rep” is explained here. You don’t want to have to do extra work!

3. OVER WARM-UP. Last week it was recommended a 15 minute warm up for the workout because it was based on endurance, was 17 minutes long, and started with 40 burpees. This week is for half the time, and is designed at “light-weight” to stay at a sprint. Warm up for at least 30 minutes, doing active stretching and core exercises. Perform at least 3 rounds of 45 seconds of high intensity movement.

4. USE THE STEP-DOWN. Take advantage of the new Rx movement. Whether you’re a beginner or not, the legs get burnt out quickly. Coming straight off the barbell, stepping up and getting active reps while you can breathe is better than resting and then doing box jumps.

5. SHOULDER PRESS. If you’re strong enough, use the legs as little as possible for the over-head. Of course shoulder pressing won’t be ideal for long, it’s only 5 reps, where there will be 25 reps of all leg work coming up shortly after, so it’s a nice break if you can barely jerk or barely push press. However, if this weight’s challenging: split jerk.

6. ENGAGE YOUR CORE. Warming up the abs is mandatory. Getting them activated and ready to work will eliminate your back doing all the work. Constantly remind yourself to tighten up in the barbell work.

7. PROTECT YOUR BACK. Bend your knees in the Deadlift, don’t do them all straight-legged with long levers. Catch yourself in a quarter squat for the box jumps and stand up with control. Don’t risk injury for fast jerky movements.


This is a really old video I made a few years ago for a qualifier for my friend that wanted to do well with box jumps and bar-facing burpees (Mary Beth went on to win the 2011 World Games in the 50+ division, so I think she was already on the right track!) Making the video so she could practice in her Colorado gym back at home, it’s pretty ghetto, but it has helpful tips. Getting the rhythm of box jumps is important for this workout. I led my classes through all of the warm-up exercises in this video.


Carl Paoli, Brian McKenzie, Diane Fu and Kelly Starrett give tips for strategizing the workout. They educate athletes on the movement patterns of Annie T and Lindsey for the 13.2 wod-off, and talk about ways to position your body to avoid back pain after the workout. With 35,000 views in only two days, they’re definitely producing great videos in order to help you stay safe, and perform better.

10. RELAX ON THE GOALS. Everyone seems to have a set plan and goal they obsess over days before the workout. It’s great to have an idea in your head, but remember that’s exactly what it is. It’s an educated guess, it’s a vague idea based on what your friends are getting or how far behind you think you should be behind Annie T 😉 . In a 10 minute amrap, expect that anything can happen, and anything will. You might have to change your plan. If you’re at 9 minutes and you’re at your goal, keep working as if you’re not there yet.


10 Tips on 13.1 for Beginners


What is 13.1? It stands for the 1st workout of the 2013 CrossFit Games Open. Which hopefully, most of the people reading this are taking part in! This years first workout is a mixture of last years’ 12.1 (7 min amrap burpees) and 12.2 (10 min amrap of 30 snatches going up in weight at four levels). This year we have a 17 minute workout with all the same tiers of weights as last year, but inserted are descending rounds of burpees. This workout is a grueling combination of both workouts, as it kicks up the endurance, and keeps the strength component as a barrier of finishing.

After teaching 5 classes Thursday of this workout, 4 on Friday, and 3 private clients, I have barely thought of anything else! Finally I decided it was time for me to ‘battle the beast’ and take all the tactics and strategies I watched our members use to try it myself. I knew it would be mostly strategy, and it wouldn’t just be about strength. After watching the videos of Julie Foucher, Dan Bailey and Scott Panchik, I could tell that this workout was going to be no walk in the park! Dan and Scott found out this workout on site, and had absolutely no time to prepare, (which was very exciting for the crowd) and Julie was filming all five wod demos in one weekend, neither a desirable task!

If you’re going to “Redo” the workouts, do it for the right reason! Don’t worry about what other people got. Letting that distract you will only stress you out. If you have an inside pull knowing you can get a better score, then re-do it! Follow your heart, do it for the right reasons.

Here are some tips I have for either beginners attempting 13.1 for the first time, or people that are trying to ‘redo’ their scores.

1.) WARM UP WELL. Even though there are 40 burpees to begin this workout, that does not mean you should start cold. Make sure you go for a jog, stretch, get warm, do body weight movements. Work up to the heaviest weight you’re going to be attempting, and get comfortable with touch and go.

2.) 3 2 1 GO… DOES NOT MEAN SPRINT. Don’t sprint the first 40 burpees. There is no advantage to being first person on the barbell. It’s what my track coaches used to warn me about in college about taking the lead early: the rest of the race you’ll be “paying the price.

3.) TAKE IT TECHNO. Use a metronome for your burpees if you need to. Use a music station that plays house music, or something where you can tell that you’re speeding up or slowing down.

4.) TAKE THE TIE-BREAKER SERIOUSLY. The judge should make sure to record the time from the clock at every 30th snatch. That will be a determining factor for most people that tie at the very standard tie places. For example, if your ‘doomed score’ is 100, and you know that you aren’t physically capable of snatching 135 or 100 lbs, be smart: sprint through it! If you have the fastest time after that first set of snatches, get there before anyone else, and you’ll be ahead of every other person in the world that got your same score!

5.) Adding weight incrementally instead of going straight from 45 to 75, or 75 to 135, work up to it, but those will not count towards your score. Go 45, 55, 65, then hit those 75 snatches with a smooth transition.

6.) BREAK ITUP. Think about each section separately. For the set of 30 burpees, only think about the 30 burpees! Don’t even worry about what’s coming next. Take it one step of the time. This is a mental game.

7.) FAST TRANSITION WEIGHT CHANGE. Have your weight plates set up perfectly, and make sure you know the exact order. Spending squatted down by the bar is not where you want to get your ‘rest’ wouldn’t you rather be standing?

8.) SPLIT SNATCH. Try it, that’s how I did all of my 120’s this year and last year. It’s fast, and it’s much better than squat snatching once you get up to those heavier weights. It’s good for beginners because they can get lower, without having to bend their legs worried about slipping into a full snatch.

9.) USE A FLAT SURFACE if you can. A board, a tarp, something you don’t have to look up to. It will save a ton of time, making sure you can hit the target as long as you jump high enough.

10.) REMEMBER TO HAVE FUN! Workout with your friends! It will calm you down if you’re a little nervous. Completing this workout in class or with your friends you usually do your workouts with will make you feel like it’s just another day at the gym. We are, after all, just working out, it’s no different.

Have fun, Good luck on 13.1!

The Open is Here

CHRISTMAS IS HERE! Today marks the beginning of the 2013 CrossFit Open.

CrossFit Open
Why should you compete in The Open? Because it’s a worldwide online competition that shows you where you rank next to the rest of the world. You can geek out and break it up into different categories, like people that have been doing CrossFit for as long as you have, or that are the same gender, or similar age groups, or see how you do among people at your gym. It’s a $20 financial commitment you make to yourself to take seriously 5 workouts in a row, seeing your rankings change week after week. There are almost 100,000 people signed up for the Open worldwide, and plenty of them are new and fresh into CrossFit but are finding fun ways to bond with their friends and be involved in the community! These workouts are going to be scalable and easily modified, so that anyone can participate in the Open. Register online at the website above, and go to your local CrossFit gym and get ready to have a blast!

If you’ve done this before, you know that CrossFit is measurable, and we can test our fitness by seeing how well we perform in workouts over time. Whether you’ve been training at a CrossFit gym for 2 weeks or 2 years, you will definitely see progress in the future when you compare yourself to now.

The open is to qualify the top 48 athletes in each of the 17 regions to go to the Regionals. From there, the top 3 women, 3 men, and 3 teams in each region are advanced to the World CrossFit Games. You have a chance to take part in that, and do well for yourself and how far you’ve come!

If that hasn’t convinced you, then talk to people at your box. They will all make you understand that taking part in the Open is something special, something bigger than us, and was one of the biggest participation events in the world last year. Also, signing up so you can loud and proud be repping your team and which box you’re apart of makes you feel like you’re on a professional sports team. Not to mention the top box in each region with the most signed up competitors gets free tickets to regionals, which is worth well over $20! The community will benefit from getting involved, and so will you!

Still not convinced? Watch the Update show. It’s an “ESPN” like show that highlights the facts, dates, athletes, and information for the Open to get everyone on the same page involving the workouts, rankings and leaderboard.


Two year anniversary in California: How it all started

Andrea Ager at the beach

When I moved to California “for CrossFit,” I knew I was pulled to this state hoping to “make it happen”. I knew this was where CrossFit was thriving, and I wanted to live by the roots of the sport. I can imagine if I would have moved home after college I would have stayed with my parents for a while, and hung out with high school friends and still would be training. I know that I still would have been happy, never knowing what could have been.

There’s a focus that has overwhelmed me since I moved that keeps me on track. I see a daily reminder of my goals just by simply waking up in my apartment knowing today has endless opportunities of coaching and training. It’s just the beginning.  Even though I miss my family, and I often feel like my brothers and sisters are growing up so fast without me…  It says to me, “hey you have a job to do, so go do it. This isn’t a vacation from Colorado… there’s a lot of work to do!” And I don’t know if I would be able to hear that voice if I was comfortable and content at home with no urgency to make up for leaving.

I’m coming up on my two year anniversary (yes, celebrate everything) of living here in Los Angeles. I started CrossFit about 6 months before the move, and fell in love. I was at the mercy of the coaches I started with, working on whatever they wanted me too, begging for advice and tips and tricks of the trade and assistance. An Exercise Science major in college, and an ex-college track runner, serving at a restaurant in the afternoon and at night, I was addicted fast, and face planted from feeling I was in shape to realizing I was anything but fit.   Being the only one of my friends that was ‘chugging the koolaid” I would wake up at 6:00am, ride my bike downtown in the snow and rain bundled up like I was going to Alaska, feeling right at home when I entered our warm sweaty box. Even in the beginning, there were days I would train and work on skills and practice for three, four hours on end, only to find myself going to serve tables, sleeping just enough to get by, and then starting all over again.

Coaching hours were scarce in my small town gym. So when I started pursuing that route, one of the coaches pulled me aside to have a talk that he couldn’t have guessed would affect me as much as it did. A police officer and coach that had a family, and was well rooted in our town said if he could do it over again, he told me he’d be an CF HeadQuarters trainer. They get to travel around the country and teach our sport at a high level with some of the best CrossFit coaches and athletes in the business. He talked about California, and how it was my only chance. He explained there were two things to being an HQ trainer. One was being respected in the community as an athlete that can compete at a high level , and a good representation of the sport. The other being respected as a coach, and getting all the certifications necessary, and going through an application process that would take years to get considered ready. I still laugh about how he said the athlete part would be easy, it would be the coaching part that would take time, because at that time I still had a lot to learn, (and easy is not the word I would use, ever…).

I flew out to California for interviews. I met JP from Brick and Holly from Pink Iron, and when they hired me on instantly, I knew I was moving. When I met Maddy she was snatching more weight then I had ever seen a girl throw over her head and complaining about how she couldn’t get 5 lbs more, as she sat down and ate an icecream cone. She sized me up and asked me if I could do a muscle up and I said only a strict one, and jumped on the rings and did two. She laughed saying I would make their gyms CrossFit team if I moved. On a nervous hike I had set up because I wanted to ask her what it was like to work in Los Angeles, we connected instantly. Her exact words were, “Oh, you like country music? You’re a Christian? We’re going to be best friends! Ya know if you need a place to stay at when you move here you can live with me.” When people ask Maddy what the heck she was thinking, she always says, “When you know, you just know,” and then we laugh about how two years later I still have never wanted to move out from her and her other half, her little dog, Pepper. God was so present in this process, it’s hard to be ignored.  It had nothing to do with luck, it was fate and confidence knowing He would take care of me.

2nd place at 2011 Regionals

The rest of the story was me packing up all of my stuff and moving across the country with goals of wanting to make it to the Games, be an HQ trainer, and learn enough to someday open a gym. Before I knew it, I was side by side a bunch of actors from Hollywood, working our tails off at regionals getting 2nd and high on life as we continued our road to the Games. Coming together as a team and facing off with the worlds best teams under the lights on the blacktop of the Home Depot Center stage, will remain to be one of the most special memories of my life. Placing 5th at the 2011 Games was a vital stepping stone to opening my eyes to make me be the individual competitor that I am.

Andrea doing Isabel at the 2011 Games
Barely making it to the finals on Sunday at the Games, we had a rush of emotions and I fell asleep with a smile on my heart and dreamt of the 3…2…1s of the weekend after I set my alarm for 5:30am. Coaching fundamentals the next morning I remember I was teaching the snatch to 6 raw new members. I was reflecting on the irony of the full circle since exactly 12 hours before that I was struggling through “Isabel” (30 snatches at 95 lbs) in front of thousands of people. That was the moment… when I decided I wanted that feeling, on my own. I wanted to compete individually, and I had to get a lot stronger and attain major new skills to make it happen. That day I hit it hard and trained like I needed it. And never stopped.

Visiting the CrossFit Ranch

After hours of driving, I made it to the ranch at Aromas.

After hours of driving, I made it to the ranch at Aromas.

It has always been a goal of mine to work for Crossfit HQ as Level 1 Course instructor. In order to do that, I had to take the Coach’s Prep Course. I took it last year and it was a good learning experience where I got a ton of feedback and changed a lot about the way I coached. Since then, I’ve been working really hard traveling and interning with CrossFit Headquarters. I coached at a few Level 1 Courses and now I needed a check-in, a test. We test ourselves all the time in our workouts, our skills, our strengths and weaknesses, so why wouldn’t I test myself as a coach? Because of how much I’ve been actively practicing teaching the movements I had trouble with, I felt it was a review, and while learning a ton, I felt more comfortable and confident.

I started coaching very early in my “CrossFitness” and trying to advance as both an athlete and as a coach has always gone hand in hand for me. As my understanding of the sport gets better, I’ve been able to perform better: education and comprehension go along with accepting and applying. I decided that completing a 2nd Coach’s Prep Course cert was a test for me, and how far I’ve come on my own standards: and I passed myself!

CrossFit Games then and now

CrossFit Games then and now

I knew it would be quite a commitment to make plans to go… in the middle of the week, cancel all my classes and reschedule clients, put in the over 14 hours of driving time I ended up putting in within a few days, and leave town just a few weeks before the Open started. Even though it was a demanding financial, mental and time commitment… I saw a course was being offered in Aromas, California, AT the CrossFit Ranch, and I said, Yes Please! I later would realize that living in LA, I don’t see much wildlife, and that would later be a crutch and distraction for me to be coaching on a farm. At one point, I was teaching the push jerk to my group and just behind the fence there were two huge cows both staring and acting like they were hanging on every word. I was so distracted I kept looking over my shoulder every minute to see if they … were still listening! Food for thought: I am only used to teaching people. Not my food…..

View from the ranch at Aromas, CA

View from the ranch

When I talk about the “history of the ranch” I’m not talking from a point where I was there, or that I know all the wods or athletes, or that I even knew what CrossFit was when all this happened. I just know that while I was off in Colorado in college, studying for tests and running track, something epic was happening in California. Ignorance is Bliss…. they say, and I’d have to agree. I knew nothing but running at the time, but if I had heard of this sooner, who knows how running would have panned out. On this side of the world the sport of CrossFit was having it’s first ever CrossFit Games, and they had it at the Castro ranch outside of a trucking barn in a BBQ gathering setting, anyone could sign up, and the winners were titled ‘Fittest On Earth’. Even as the sport grew, for the first three years in 2007, 2008, and 2009 the Games were still held at the Ranch. It was only fairly recent – ’11, and ’12 that the Games moved to the Home Depot Center.

I knew this trip would be a history lesson when the Seminar Staff introduced themselves and almost all of them had competed in those original games. Hollis Molloy, Miranda Oldroyd, Adrian Bozman, and Austin Begiebing were all “original gangsters” that had been there since the first 3…2…1 GO. Getting to hear it ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ at the Ranch where it all started was special. I laughed when Austin introduced himself and said he got 13th in the first CFG, and ‘there was scaling involved.’ Oh how times have changed!

Hanging around the fire

Dave Castro, whose parents still live on the ranch, is the Director of Training, and a former Navy Seal. He was one of the original athletes trained by Glassman, (founder of CrossFit) and supervises the CrossFit Games and seminar staff. While we were wrapping up on the first day of group sessions and working on short, direct cues for strength coaching, Dave started up a bonfire. We gathered around the fire as he and a  bunch of the other staff told stories about the first few CrossFit Games. They talked about all the athletes, who was still competing, and which workouts they did well in. We talked about all the running they had back then, and as I was wondering how hard it would be to run an 800m sprint up the hill like they had to in the first year, Austin took a big group to run up to the top of the hill! It was verrrry steep, and was extremely hard not to walk because the trail was straight up, and just past the top where it flattened out, was a secret workout area. It was originally built for 2010 sectionals with stones, logs, and a huge pullup rig that had “RANCH” cut out of the metal. Back then the spectators and athletes had to make the treck up to watch the workouts in the middle of nature, with an amazing view of lush trees, pastures and rolling hills.

Dave talked about accidently setting the hill on fire once, farming his animals, and about someone almost losing a finger during a sledge hammer wod, and athletes barreling out of control down the hill at the end of the 7k in ’08. One of the stories he told was very ironic. He talked about how in 2009 Glassman called him before one of the workouts, exclaiming that there’s no way they were making the men dead lifting 315 lb in a wod, it was just way too heavy! Then, three years later, individuals had a 21-15-9 of 315/205 dead lifts box jumps in the ’11 regionals just to qualify to get into the world Games! The winning max loads of most of the athletes were things that were impressively unheard of at the time, and now are frequently performed in a gym by normal members and trainers, and don’t seem so “crazy.” As more is expected of the CrossFit community of athletes, the more they achieve. It’s like the 4 minute mile, where when one person achieves the impossible, everyone desperately starts chasing that feat until it is no longer uncommon. A good example is when the dumbbell workout in the ’12 regionals was released, there was a panic when every girl picked up a 70 lb dumbbell and tried to get it overhead with a snatch. Most men could barely manage the 100 lb one, but once it came game time, most athletes were tossing that thing around like it was a silly joke. Oh haha haha dumbbell bigger than two human heads, very funny!

I did a wall ball and heavy snatch workout with all the trainers during our break for lunch on the first day. I sacrificed lunch to torture myself with the 5th workout of the OC Throwdown so I could be a part of the dirty hard work. Don’t worry, I probably didn’t almost collapse during the bonfire of sheer hunger, and I probably didn’t almost eat my arm on the way home, I’m all about good choices. The second day I went on a run with Miranda and heard more stories about the ranch, and about how she got 23rd,  ‘wore mom shorts, and was really skinny.’ Wait, she was whatt….Ok, so there’s hope!

Some of my friends bring up to me that it’s funny to see us talk about it from only seven years ago as “history.” I would agree that it seems a little bizarre to act like it was so long ago, and so dramatic that it was less than a decade, and we’re already looking back and saying, “I remember back when…”
But it’s more about the comparisons. It’s more about the amount of knowledge and competition experience and strategies that the coaches and athletes have learned to be able to make this sport spread like wildfire! Not only across the state, but across the nation and across the world; celebrating every new city and country that becomes involved in our community.

It might not seem like time for us to have a pilgrimage back to Aromas, California, to the ranch where it all began. But if I hadn’t gone this weekend, I wouldn’t have been able to rejuvenate my hunger for learning and understanding. Every opportunity taken is a chance to grow, and I feel that much more connected to the sport that’s thankfully taken over my life.

This is a really cool article I found about the shockingly fast progression of the Games. If you’re interested in the whys, wheres, whos, and want a good read, this is some great insight.