Tuesday, 25 April 2017

MEMBER STORY - #1 - Verity

Verity's CrossFit Journey

Verity's journey is an important one because there are so many women and men out there for whom food has a hold over them to such an extent they feel trapped in a downward spiral.

Verity demonstrates that by focusing on what your body can do - the amazing things it's capable of - rather than what you believe it to look like, you can free yourself from a cyclical life of punishing diets and guilt.

"The weight on the bar is more important than the number on the scales."


"I finally decided to take control of my life at the age of 34.

From the age of around 8 or 9 I started to believe I was fat. No matter what I was told, I believed I was huge.

I used to feel embarrassed with every food shop, eating in public, believing people were looking at me wondering why I was eating because I obviously had some serious weight to shift.

I began to abuse laxatives around 10 or 11 years-old and learnt the fine art of making myself sick after meals. I tried every diet going. The high point being the celery diet! I literally only allowed myself to eat celery and drink tea, nothing else.

My weight in adulthood stayed between 7 and 8 stones. I was constantly exhausted and miserable.

So after finally admitting what my life was like, I took control.

I do CrossFit as it allows me to eat and not feel guilty.

The weight on the bar is more important than the number on the scales.

I've learnt to throw clothes away that no longer fit. I know I'm never going to starve myself to fit into them again. I no longer shop in children's clothes sections.

Do I ever relapse? Yes. Do I sometimes obsess about the fact I no longer have a thigh gap? Yes. The difference since CrossFit? I go and train. Sometimes I can't face talking, I have to just lift and get through a shit workout to realise what my body and fucked up head can push through.

It's not always plain sailing but I'm pretty confident I control food rather than the food controlling me."

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Verity - I'm sure many people will relate to it. If you would like to share your story, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Friday, 31 March 2017

CrossFit for the Oldies but Goodies.

If you're over 40 and you do CrossFit, chances are you're not a million miles behind the youngsters and you give them a good run for their money during some wods and you can lift just as heavy, often heavier.  
But I bet sometimes it takes you days to recover from a grueling wod.  I bet your shoulders are a little shot and your ankles and hips could do with a spot of oiling.  A lot of the time it feels like you've been hit by a bus. Sometimes it feels like you're going backwards and all you can see is the 20 year old PBing every session....

Once you're over 40, things change a bit but it doesn't mean you can't still PB regularly with the rest of them  - it's just a little harder going than it was in your twenties.

A lot of masters athletes in a CrossFit gym have well over 30 years of learnt bad behaviour and ingrained movement patterns to get over that CrossFit just can't fix in a couple of months or even a couple of years. We need to realise we are a work in progress - like painting the Forth Bridge - we just manage to sort out our hip mobility and it's time to move onto the shoulders.  We fix them and the hips need revisiting.  Just as CrossFit itself is like spinning plates - you need to keep on top of all the movements all the time - it's the same with mobility.

The trouble is, when you're an over 40s athlete and you do pretty well in a wod, you start to think you're 20 again.  You train with those younger guys - you're not a million miles away in terms of strength and fitness, you might even have the edge on them mentally but I tell you what you are unlikely to have over them and that is flexibility and mobility.  You have had more years to develop tight pecs, weak lats, tight hip flexors, weak glutes.  In short, you are stiff and creaky and a little bit knackered!  Unless you're an ex gymnast, dancer or spend more than 2 hours a day with a lax ball shoved up your piriformis, it's going to show.  And the trouble with mobility issues is they will lead to injury.

As an over 40s athlete you need to spend much, much, much more time looking after yourself and recovering!

So how do we do this?

Recovery starts with sleep.  

If you aren't sleeping well, your body just can't repair muscle.  If your body doesn't have time to repair the muscle, you are just adding more and more damage with every workout that your poor old body doesn't have time to repair.  You will end up working really hard but not seeing any gains in strength or muscle because you aren't sleeping well enough to allow that to happen.


  • Make sure your room is dark - NO lights from anything charging or on standby.
  • Drink something warming before bed, chamomile tea, warm vanilla coconut milk, whatever - obviously not coffee or caffeinated tea.
  • Try to eliminate all screens at least half an hour before lights out.
  • Get rid of your worries. List them into two columns, on paper or in your head: those you can do something about and those you cannot.  If you can do something about it, do - and then you can stop worrying.  If there is nothing to be done, don't waste your energy worrying - it will change nothing for the better.

Recovery doesn't just require full-on sleep, it requires rest time.

If you are knackered, take a break!  

If you are ill, don't train - especially if you are sick or have a chest infection!  You will delay your recovery by training.  Add in the occasional day dedicated to mobility - spend your training time rolling your quads or hamstrings, stretching and twisting that T-spine - get more mobile!
Realise that even a week or two off training completely just isn't going to turn you into a useless blob!

Recovery needs fuel.  

If you aren't eating right, your body is going to struggle to repair itself.  If you do resistance training, which CrossFit is, your body is repairing muscle (and burning calories) for around 48 hours after you stop training. Therefore, you don't only have only a 45 minute window of gains, you have 48 hours in which to make good food choices.  You need protein - around a palm sized amount of meat per meal - some fat (11 almonds.....) and the rest of your plate should be carbohydrate - vegetables - not bread and pasta necessarily - green leafy vegetables, colourful peppers and carrots, berries....
Straight after a workout, get some carbs into you to replenish your energy stores - a banana or an apple is good - I like those little pouches of fruit baby food - they get into you quickly.

We oldies also need A LOT of mobility.

We are old and broken and we need to mend our broken ways. We need to spend more time than the younger guys warming up and getting those stiff joints oiled. To get those joints through their FULL range of motion, we need a lot of maintenance - Mobility Wod is great for this as is just taking some time with a foam roller and a lax ball to smooth out those old, knotted muscles. Watching the TV of an evening?  You're a captive audience - do some mobility!

Get regular massages - a sports massage with a physical therapist is essential if you know you are in trouble - if you know your squat needs fixing or your overhead position sucks or something hurts and won't stop hurting.  If you just need to keep it ticking over, just get a back and shoulder massage every few weeks.  It's an investment in your future mobility.

Recovery also needs mental space.  

Keep your training in perspective.  

If you are stressing over missing a session because life has got in the way - you need a bit of perspective. Remember why you are training in the first place. Very, very few over 40s make it to the CrossFit Games each year - work out your reasons for doing CrossFit and remind yourself regularly that while it is fun to give those 20 year-olds a run for their money, it is still just a workout!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Ready or not....

Tonight I will be woken by my husband elbowing me in the ribs, urgently whispering, 'Do you want to know what it is?  Do you? Do you?'
As I roll over to punch him in the face, a face illuminated by the glow of his phone and demonically gleeful, I will be stopped in my tracks by the maniacal reeling off of movement standards, weights and reps.
Image result for crossfit open 2017The Open is upon us, people.  
And we're just not ready!
We may have had all year but, goddammit, it's just not enough!
If only those double unders were truly in the bag - so good you could guarantee 30 in one go, every time without tripping, rather than the 15 you might manage on a good day, but let's face it 5 on most.  If only you'd had a bit more time to practice cleans and jerks or touch-and-go deadlifts.  If only you'd actually remembered to work on those hspu or pullups in every warm up, just for a few reps, like you promised yourself you would....if only you were actually ready....if only we had just a few more weeks, days, even...but maybe, just maybe you are actually ready!
Maybe, just maybe, this panicked, sinking feeling is what being ready feels like!
Perhaps that nausea in the pit of your stomach isn't nerves and suicidal anxiety after all but excitement! Perhaps you are bloody ready and this test of what you can do, what your body is capable of, how far you have come so far on your CrossFit journey is just what you've been waiting for!

Image result for rich froning
The Open is a chance for you to shine, an opportunity to show off what you can do!  Forget all the stuff you can't do, there'll always be a list as long as your arm of shit you can't do - God, you know there is stuff, somewhere that Rich Froning cannot do....I don't have that list to hand but there are things he can't do.  He can't give birth or breast feed, just off the top of my head...but I am getting off the point.

The point is, you are ready - you are always ready because test aside, these are just workouts and do you know what you do every time you go to the gym?  Workouts.  That's it.

Image result for crossfit motivationYou will do what you will do and it is going to be way more than you ever believed or imagined you could do before you found CrossFit! And each of the beautifully crafted workouts that bastard Castro dreams up out of his trippy CrossFit head will teach you a lesson.  They will take you to places you've never been before and they will change you.  And you will come out the other side a better person for it.

Image result for crossfit motivationCrossFit is hard - it's hard for everyone - it's hard for those guys who come first and it's hard for those guys who come last and it is also just as hard for all those guys who come in between them. So whether you believe yourself to be ready or not ready, it's going to be equally as hard.
And all that means is:

you are ready.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Why I treat my CrossFitters a bit like 5 year-olds...

Image result for magicWhen Bob or Hilda start at CrossFit Uckfield, I tell them that the whiteboard in a CrossFit gym is golden.  It is where the magic happens.

The planning is done for you, by an experienced and qualified coach, who puts a lot of thought into ensuring your training is balanced, varied and interesting as well as effective.  It means you don't have to think, you just turn up and get the work done.

The whiteboard gets posted every day on our members' page on Facebook.  This allows people to compare themselves to others, compete with others and wish they'd come in on the days they missed.

Image result for crossfit whiteboard franI have found, over time that the whiteboard is a brilliant tool for encouraging and motivating people, keeping them accountable and involved.

However, there are some times when those numbers on the board become counter-productive.
If you didn't do as well as you felt you should have or you were beaten by someone who always (or never) beats you.  Or you were bottom of the board or top of the board or middle of the board - all these things have the power to demotivate you if you let them.

Image result for primary schoolSo, as a coach, what can I do about this?
I find it useful, a lot of the time, to treat my clients as if they were primary school children.  I don't mean this in a derogatory way but how a primary classroom works is, in a lot of ways, similar to how a CrossFit classroom works.

As a primary school teacher, I found it vital to ensure my class of 30 children, with wildly varying abilities, backgrounds, experiences and attitudes, knew why we were learning what we were learning in the way we were learning it.  This knowledge gave the kids autonomy over their learning.  It demonstrated to them that what we were doing had a valid purpose that impacted in a very real way on their lives.

So I am implementing learning objectives and success criteria.

I want my guys to realise that their training isn't always a test (see the previous post) and that their training has a purpose.  It isn't random, it is designed for a specific purpose but that purpose does need to be shared with the group.

If you know why you are doing something, how it is designed to benefit you and how it will make you better as an athlete, then it will resonate much more.

I hope that by sharing with my members the purpose of their training, they will take greater ownership of their movement, that they will become more responsible for their own improvements.  But most of all, I hope it will stop them comparing themselves to others and start helping them compare themselves with them yesterday, or last week or last year.

You can not compare yourself to anyone else because they are not you.  You don't have the same age, experience, abilities, height, weight, dinner, conversations, children, jobs, worries, anxieties, strengths, goals, loves, hates, fears, successes, failures, clothes, shoes, cars, houses, holidays, parents, grandparents, blood types, DNA, injuries, ailments, friends, support etc. etc. etc. as anyone else!
If you aren't comparing apples with apples, it is never a fair comparison!

So be fair to yourself, work out what you are genuinely trying to achieve in each workout and think less about the numbers on the board and more about how you are going to improve as an athlete.  Then you are in a position to test yourself better when one of those workouts comes up.  

If you test yourself every single session, when do you get to revise?  When do you get to practice and learn?

Look at the learning objectives and achievement targets and work out what they mean to you...not Bob or Hilda.

Friday, 27 January 2017

How to really leave your ego at the door.

We hear it all the time in CrossFit.  Leave your ego at the door. Don't let arrogance get in the way of good form. You're only in competition with yourself!

Why is then that some of the biggest proponents of this ideal actually have the greatest difficulty adhering to its principles?  And what does it really mean to leave your ego at the door?

In order to answer that, we need to have a look at why we do CrossFit.  What is it that motivates us?

In the ideal world, we do CrossFit to become better versions of ourselves.  To get fitter, faster, stronger (both physically and mentally) and learn and hone new skills and generally become pretty bad-ass along the way.

In a lot of people there is an element of vanity - which is perfectly OK - if you eat right and train hard and regularly, CrossFit will deliver an awesome body.

For most people the community is a huge aspect of doing CrossFit.  It's what keeps us coming back but it's also a vital part of the whole thing - we make friends who understand what we are going through.  We make pretty serious bonds with people we have sweated, sobbed, screamed and laughed with.

For many, CrossFit is about health; improving or maintaining health for some, life-saving for others.

If we take all that together, CrossFit is just about making us better.  Better athletes, better people, or just making us more well.

So with that in mind, how does ego get in the way of that?

Choosing a weight that is inappropriately heavy for the wod because someone you are chasing went heavier.  Miscounting reps deliberately to get a better score.  Not going through the full range of motion because it's harder and takes longer. Picking a weight that is inappropriately light for the task in order to get more rounds and reps.  Faking or exaggerating an injury to get out of a wod or movement you hate. Working only on your strengths so you don't look rubbish at something in front of other people.

But mostly....worrying about the numbers on the board.

Let's take a look at the numbers on the board...You know what? They genuinely don't matter!

The sooner we can get that into our heads the better. They just don't matter.  Sure, it's nice to see that you went heavier than a rival or that you beat your score last time you did this wod but you just aren't ever comparing apples with apples. You are not the same as anyone else in the gym and you never will be. Someone else has more or less experience than you, weighs more or less than you, trains more often or less than you, has better or worse coordination than you, has more or fewer injuries than you, eats better or worse than you, slept better or worse than you....You are never going to ever look like or train like Rich Froning because, do you know what? You aren't Rich Froning.  All you have is you!

When you know the guy or girl who is always pretty strong in workouts didn't do as well as you expected in a wod, you don't think any less of them.  You might, for a fleeting moment, wonder if they were having a bad day or hadn't slept or eaten well or had a sore shoulder or were just taking it easy that day but you certainly don't consign them to the rubbish heap.  So why would you feel that way about yourself?  One bad workout does not make you shit.  Even a month or year of bad workouts doesn't make you shit.

Sometimes life gets in the way. 

Now let's start looking at the purpose of your workout.  Every day cannot be a test day, which means that the vast majority of the workouts you do are just a workout - just...
your training! 

Remember that!  The workouts you do on a daily basis are your training!

That means deviating to poor form just to get the reps in is idiotic because it won't make you stronger or fitter or faster - it will just hone your skills at being a bit shit.

The way to leave your ego at the door is to stop comparing and stop testing and 
start training!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

CrossFit Uckfield

I've not had any time to write blog posts for a very long time because I have been really busy turning the Paleo Gym into CrossFit Uckfield!

CrossFit is constantly varied, high intensity functional training.  In other words, workouts are never the same, so you never get bored.  Workouts are executed at high intensity so you get quick, genuine, amazing results and the training is functional, which means you will get better at everyday life as well as the sports and activities you pursue outside of CrossFit.

I am very passionate, evangelical even, about CrossFit and its power to change people's lives.

All the athletes at CrossFit Uckfield (and that includes the children and beginners we have with us) are supportive, friendly, funny and strong both in mind and body.  They each have their own journey, every individual is coming from a different starting point with their own reasons for coming to CrossFit.

CrossFit is infinitely scaleable so it is accessible for everyone, regardless of age, gender, ability, experience, injury or attitude.

CrossFit is for everyone.

Contact Krish for more info:

01825 761687
07795 016982

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why Having a Plan my Not be the Best Plan (My goodbye Gove rant)

So, former Education Secretaries and Mr. Gove (goodbye) and all you toe-the-party-line Ofsted Inspectors, you are wrong.  Planning is complete and utter waste of time.

As a qualified primary school teacher, I used to spend a considerable amount of my time long, medium and short-term planning.  I get long term planning, I even can put up with medium term planning but daily session plans?  Really?  Come on!  An utter waste of time!

This opinion flies in the face of what we were taught at university and on my PT courses and pretty much most of the advice you read about training and going to the gym and eating clean: fail to plan, plan to fail.

Well, I’ve decided it’s nonsense.  All of it!

You don’t need to plan; you need to assess!
If you can think, if you can fundamentally understand your subject, if you have confidence in your own abilities (and they haven’t been eroded by unqualified parliamentarians with their own agendas, Ofsted Inspectors with the government’s agendas, scared bosses with Ofsted’s agenda or people telling you the only way you can lose weight is by counting stupid points) and you know how to assess (on the hoof and formally) then you absolutely do not need lesson, session, gym or diet plans!

All you need to know is where you are and where you are going and you absolutely have to understand fundamentally how to get from a to b and if you have strayed from the path, why.  That is all the planning you need.

When a child doesn’t get today’s mathematical concept, as a teacher, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how children learn and why they get stuck.  Is this child struggling because of a gap in their knowledge that prevents them from understanding today’s work?  If so, bashing away at your carefully planned lesson not only will not yield results, it may further confuse the child and risks alienating them entirely from the subject and from you.

Teachers know this, I’m not telling them anything new.  I’m just questioning why the plan is there in the first place when you absolutely know  (especially if your sessions are challenging) 1 in 100 actually goes to plan!

It’s the same with training.  When a client can’t do an overhead squat, as a trainer, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how the body moves and why you might get stuck!  Is this client struggling because of a basic lack of mobility in their ankles or shoulders that prevents them from achieving a decent overhead squat?  If so, bashing away at your carefully planned session not only will not yield results, it may injur the client and reinforce incorrect movement patterns and risks alienating them from the exercise and from you!

Perhaps it’s nothing to do with a gap in knowledge or a lack of mobility.  Perhaps it’s to do with a distraction, miscommunication, a lack of breakfast, a morning argument, a windy day…

Once you can assess where the child or your client or you yourself are at, at that given moment, you can use your own actual brain to decide, on the hoof, how to proceed!

A combination of accurate and regular diagnostic assessment and a fundamental understanding of your subject as well as the knowledge of where you aim to be and when, is enough planning!

It’s similar with losing weight and eating clean.  If you struggle to lose weight, you need to know why.  You need to have a fundamental understanding of how your body uses different macronutrients, why you eat a certain way, why you need to eat a different way and what happens to your body mind and spirit when you don’t.  You don’t need someone telling you what to eat and when to eat it and how many points or calories to consume if you understand nutrition and your mind!  Where are you at?  Where do you want to be?  Understand on a deep basic level how to get there and the journey writes itself!

Now, if you are a gym-goer or a serial dieter, you can arm yourself with this knowledge through reading and research easily.  But if you struggle to assess yourself competently, get a trainer!  They can do all of the above!

The reason my move away from the teaching profession and into personal training is so rewarding is I get to trust my gut instincts, without writing every last bit of it down, and my clients get to trust me!

Why don’t teachers get to do this?  Mr. Gove?  Oh, hang on, your opinion no longer counts.  Shame it ever did!