Archive | August, 2013

Kendrick Farris Weightlifting Seminar

Training camp highlights

Derrick winning 2013 Nationals

I met Kendrick Farris and Derrick Johnson attending one of their training camps at CrossFit Paradiso in Venice, CA in the beginning of the year. I’m not going to lie, my friend and I saw that Kendrick had posted about “Pancakes for PRs” and we attacked his post saying those pancakes were WEAK, and we knew a place called The Griddle that would change lives! From meeting up that morning at breakfast it’s become a tradition when he’s visiting LA that he has a delicious breakfast with friends and then right after go lift heavy! Since then, we’ve all kept in touch and sent each other lifting PRs, questions, fixes, and gotten in return a lot of tips and help on our lifts. Always fun to be able to throw around some knowledge and keeping it fun with jokes!

As any CrossFitter knows… there’s only so long you can stand talking to a non-CrossFitter that you really like…. until the conversation turns into you looking at them with loving eyes asking when they’re going to dive in! And I tried hard too… we were asking about Grace, and Isabel, and saying it would be really fun, and maybe if it was only one time… He resisted because he’s got his eyes on the prize for the 2016 Olympics. When he said he doesn’t want it to jack up his training we were like, “oh ya ya… that little thing called the Olympics…” ūüėČ

When I start feeling like a creepy drug-dealer that’s trying to sell the addiction to someone and they’re resisting… usually I just press on. But in this case, we said, “No Kendrick you just do you! Respect, no addictive CrossFit drugs for you.”

Then he mentioned… well they might have me do Isabel at the Games this year. We instantly were amazed! We were asking him if he was going to train for it, and he kept mentioning how authentic he wanted it to be, how he wanted it to be his real first time doing CrossFit in front of everyone at the Games. We were so excited and since the winter, I’ve been anticipating the epicness of Kendrick J. Farris doing “Isabel,” which is 30 Snatches for time at 135 lbs for men, and 95 lbs for women.

I have two favorite parts of this video, one where he no-reps his first rep, and then Ronnie, as his judge, reminds the crowd he didn’t get the first one after they had already started counting the reps! He had mentioned he was really nervous about having to ‘do the standards of getting full extension’ because when they practice a few reps for speed they’re concentrating on the speed to the catch, not the stand part. He’s a perfect example of a specialist.

When asked if this was going to be a regular thing, he said,

No not right now because I’m training for the Olympics… Maybe after that for sure, because I’m so intrigued by the workouts…. CrossFit has done an excellent job making USA Weightlifting revelent again. We’ve had the people, just not the exposure, and now CrossFit’s giving us that exposure.

Kendrick and I will be teaching our first event together this weekend, a Weightlifting Seminar in Dallas, Texas.  With his level of experience as an athlete and coach, I am so honored to get to assist him coaching his life-long profession.

Kendrick does Isabel, 2013 Crossfit Games

Kendrick Squat Jerk

Three years: Learning Weightlifting

The pros say it takes seven years to really understand and reach full potential in the sport of Weightlifting. If that means with the three years of studying and practicing tedious hours of technique I’m approaching that half-way mark… then I better fasten my seat belt. Life’s about the journey, not the destination.

Have you ever had a ‘really good feeling’, but can’t exactly picture what the future will hold? I had a really ‘good feeling’ that CrossFit was going to change my life but I couldn’t actually picture in my head where I would be or what I would be doing that was so different from the modest box I started at in Grand Junction Colorado. Back then I attended the Olympic Lifting classes, which were just a group of the same 3 or 4 people working with percentages on specific movements, with one of our CrossFit coaches. I couldn’t have even explained at that point all the different moves, and I was learning new names everyday, just soaking up the lifts like a sponge. Oh wait is that the one where you…. and I would ghost-barbell act it out and our trainer would be nodding his head. Breaking down skill and technique before I even understood the concept of what we were building for, and what were getting ‘generally prepared for’….. but I was going blindly along for the ride.

I really had no concept of how much to go up, what weight to ever start at, what the percentages were or how to get stronger. All I could see in the beginning was that I had a long way to go, and from the bottom, knowing nothing, you can only go up. Comparing myself to the two older men in the group and the other female coach taking class didn’t really help me understand what I should be able to lift, and it wasn’t until I moved to Hollywood and was stuck with a bunch of goofy friends who were all trying to figure it out at the same time. As my friends got stronger, I got stronger. As I PRd, my roommate would PR. It was like the 4 minute mile where I would think it was impossible until I saw my friend did it in the noon class and then I would make it back to prove we can all sprint that mile!

My basic understanding of Olympic lifting was rooted back before college 6:00am ‘Weights’ sessions. When we would all crawl out of bed to lift potentially the same few lifts all the time, and even in years only make small advancements because we weren’t regularly testing or had the constant hands-on, eyes-on coaching that CrossFit¬†has made normal. We were shown the movements once a season and then from there on we were pretty much just making up our own hang power clean, and getting away with it because we were all athletic, and were still getting results just from moving around heavy barbells. High school was the same thing, it was interesting the little supervision we thought we needed once we were the ‘Varsity sports’, where we probably needed it the most! Being 16, 17, 18, thought I was a full-blown training professional, little did I know how much I would learn in the years to come studying Exercise Science in college.¬† My work ethic developed in the weight room in high school and then carried on through college, and expanded to the other sports I played, but it wasn’t until I started CrossFit that I realized how truly lucky we are to be working with coaches with standards and technique with thorough explanations and demonstrations on how to generate power.

I started taking Olympic Lifting very seriously when I met Sean Waxman in Lawndale, California at Waxman’s Gym. Growing up as an athlete and student submerged in the world of Weightlifting, he was under guidance of USAW Hall of fame Coach Bob Takano and NSCA Hall of Fame Strength Coach Dr. John Garhammer. The stories this man has from spending four to six hours a day, six days a week, fifty weeks a year, in the trenches training, observing, and learning with some of the best scientists and athletes of the sport is unbelievable…. I used to get caught eavesdropping on his experiences, but I quickly learned if you want to hear a story, all you have to do is ask.

Over the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of good “eyes on” coaching. I have a bunch of guy friends that commute an hour in LA traffic to attend an Olympic Lifting gym together. Now, that’s commitment; starting your day off with low-speed 15mph traffic that snaps into high-speed Eleiko barbells. When we approach the gym with our humongous bags full of gear, you wouldn’t know we were¬† approaching anything special from the outside. You have to be ‘in the know’ about this place because most won’t be lucky enough to stumble across this well-hidden, un-marketed house of excellence. With light 50’s music playing and a huge English bull-dog guarding the open garage door, we walk through mobility tools and dowels to pick our platforms for the day. I personally walk over to Ashley Weber, one of our coaches, where I think she can see me the best… I soak up her attention.¬† With nearly a decade of experience, she has worked under and been coached by some of the best coaches in the sport, and is a national-level competitor.

As athletes, by watching the coaches critique and give feedback, we catch on and learn from the cues. I see what my friends need to work on, and I try to fix it on myself before Waxman comes around and recognizes it as a “CrossFit default” that we all need help on!¬† From all the one-on-one time and “taking lifts again…” and “finding speed,” when we’re on our own, we try to give the same cues that they would say to us that we’ve learned over the years. Coaching each other and holding ourselves to a high level of detail even though we all consider ourselves pretty advanced CrossFitters… has helped key the term, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

After competing in the CrossFit Games in 2011 on the biggest platform of competition our sport has to offer, I came in thinking fine-tuning would help get a few PR’s.¬† Being personally impressed with my mediocre highest lifts in the Snatch and Clean & Jerk, I thought Waxman would want to see how heavy I could lift on the first day. I pictured myself maxing out and him giving me cues that would help and then hugging goodbye after a few months when I was ‘fixed.’¬† Little did I know that my mind would be blown for the next two years literally every time I stepped in to listen and learn from our wise Yoda.

When I’m teaching Olympic Lifting and regurgetating and paraphrasing all the stages I went through in the beginning, I never let classes forget we won’t learn the lifts in a single day. When I go through and show them very elementary and fundamental drills¬† while they sometimes groan with impatience to add weight I remind them that I did each drill for two weeks straight with no weight when I first started.¬† Interesting a new appreciation for simplicity comes when they realize how much every drill transfers into each lift we take.¬† “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” …and neither was your Snatch.

Excuse my bias, but CrossFit has done an impressive job teaching the Olympic Lifts to the masses. Weightlifters are often caught off-guard when walking through a class that has 25 people of all levels and ages passionately learning their sport at the same time.¬† Although they might think we jack it up by making it ‘for time,’ and accepting lifts that we joke around saying, “It counts in CrossFit!” after someone struggles to make a risky lift. As our sport grows, so does theirs, and with that we will build athletes in either sport to respectively better their performances.

“The needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree not kind. Our terrorist hunters, skiers, mountain bike riders and housewives have found their best fitness from the same regimen. We are a broad,¬† general and inclusive fitness that scale load and intensity, not programs. ” – Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit

…. Now go watch 14 Youtube videos of World Champion Weightlifters ….and go Snatch!
Sean Waxman 150kg(330lb) Clean

Ashley Clean & Jerk

Andrea Snatch #147lbs/67kil

Staying Involved: Life long SuperFan

We must ACCEPT finite disappointment but never lose infinite HOPE.
– Martin Luther King, Jrphoto-6.

In every sport there is a beginning of a season where athletes are¬†¬† getting back into shape, and preparing themselves for the task at hand. Whether it was the Open, Regionals, or the Championship, all participation levels of the CrossFit Games deserve an extreme round of¬† applause. Throughout this years training I don’t know one athlete that ‘stood still’ and didn’t move better, PR, surprise themselves, and become more well-rounded during the excitement of the new season.

Two years in a row my CrossFit season has ended well before I planned. It was cut-off and left me stuck between being emotionally attatched to my performance and in disbelief that I would not make it to the level all year long I had dreamed of competing. Whether it was a ‘lay it all out on the line and don’t quite make it’ situation, or it was an unexpected Withdrawl, both times ended in me evaluating my training, my mindset and the never-ending question of, “Ok…. now what.”

This year after competing on the first day of Regionals and having 11 of my beloved Colorado family members in town for their first experience watching a CrossFit competition. When I chose to withdraw from Regionals I instantly knew I had a choice in how I felt about my decision. I could either go home, ‘take a break’… and clear my head… or I could stay involved.
My mom, who flew in on Saturday morning has still never seen me compete. Of course, she’s been the mom who sat in sleet and snow watching track meets for years, got crazy humidity hair while watching swimming invitationals, and bit her nails when I was serving in away-games in volleyball, but never CrossFit. When I told her I wouldn’t be competing anymore, her instant support was a huge weight off my shoulders… what…? She doesn’t care how much I can Over Head Squat….? There was a LOT of prayers coming from this strong Christian family as I went through the weekend as I sat with them and my friends watching each event at Regionals.¬† Front row of¬† every Women’s Individual heat, wishing I could be out there, but whole-heartedly rejoiced for my friends and competitors as they crossed the finish line.

“So this is what it’s like… to watch a Regionals heat from this side…. I thought. That’s what we look like… and these are the butterflies you feel when an athlete courageously finishes… the constant wondering….. how are they doing this…..”

My advice to anyone that is put in a similar situation, is to STAY INVOLVED. If it meant anything to you to win, then it needs to mean everything to you to be there. RESPECTING the sport, and knowing it’s not about you anymore. Be a part of something that’s big, and fuel the fire that will burn¬† next year when the boards are swept clean and we’re all on equal grounds again.

Watching the Games this year for the second time since I was competing in 2011, I got to hang out with fans and met some great people. Everyone asked, “So are you going crazy right now… do you just want to be out there…Do you think you could have won any of the workouts…..? Are you doing any of them on your own?”
And my instant response was well…. no. There is a time and a place… and today’s place is me in the stands, watching the people that made it. It’s not about me, and how I feel and what I wish and how I think I would have done. Yes, of course I have my favorite events, thoughts run through my head, but every CrossFitter in the stands is dreaming what it would be like to be on that stage.¬† I have plenty of things to look forward to this year… and at the 2013 CF Games, watching was in the books for me. I can’t even count how many times one of my SoCal friends, or other close friends,¬† ‘got the lift,’ or ‘finally finished,’ or ‘gloriously won…’ and I wouldn’t have missed it for ANYTHING.

My dad was standing in line at Regionals when a local box owner approached him about the back of his shirt that read ‘Daddy AgerBomb.’¬† They said, “Mr. Ager! I have to tell you, we’ve been following your daughter’s career for a long time. She made a very hard decision.¬† You guys¬† ‘raised her right’ and you should be very proud. I hope my son grows up to understand competition that way.”¬† He’s been telling that story to everyone that will listen for months now, and it was the biggest take-away from the weekend.

Nothing can stop me, and it’s really hard to beat someone that never quits.

And … I’m not going anywhere.