Member of the Month: Dennis Marx

This month we’re profiling our oldest member, Dennis Marx. When he’s not at work as a senior vice president for an investment firm, he’s usually at the 5:30 pm class.


Age: 72 !!!!!

How long have you been doing CrossFit? 3 years

How did you come across CrossFit? Golfing buddy who goes to the Wilmette box.

Many older people are scared to try CrossFit and are sure they can’t do it. You started at age 69! What would you tell those other people?You are only as old as you would be, if you did not know how old you really are” (quote from one of my Harvard business school professors).

I do only what I feel comfortable doing. When in doubt, I take a “senior discount” to the Rx. There is no intimidation from anyone. Our training partners’ culture is one of constant encouragement. And from our technically competent RPE trainers, I have learned that I can measure improvement. I am constantly learning proper postures and techniques that make the movements easier and safer.

What are your favorite movements/lifts? What is your least favorite? Favorite = rope climbing. Least favorite = overhead lunges.

Any recent PRs you want to mention? Toes-to-bar improvement.

What is one fitness/health goal you would like to set for yourself? No single specific goal. Rather, continue my overall health and happiness.

What’s one thing most people don't know about you? Do you have any hidden talents? Unknown: I have been involved with universities in Poland, The Netherlands, and China. My talents are so well hidden they are unknown to me, as well.

How has CrossFit changed your life? I have a whole new wardrobe and a lot less money, due to loss of weight. My golf game has improved as a result of better flexibility.

Why do you keep coming back? I have never met a stranger at RPE. My classmates keep me coming back.

Why CrossFit RPE? Same as above. Also, totally impressed with the technical talents and personal skills of the coaches.

Eat This/Not That: Should You Try a Meal Plan?


By: Alex Carlson

You may have noticed the large Origins refrigerator in the lobby of RPE1. This is our newest meal plan delivery service. We’ve been using Kettlebell Kitchen for about a year now but decided to add Origins because of the quality of their ingredients. We will still keep Kettlebell Kitchen.
Origins is a small company based in Minneapolis. It sources all its produce, meat, and poultry from local farmers in the Midwest, and makes all meals and all ingredients from scratch (including nearly all sauces and condiments). The meals, which come in Paleo, Keto, or macro-balanced options, are all locally prepared and gluten-, dairy-, and peanut-free. The chefs use coconut, olive, or sesame oil for cooking, with no added MSG or other preservatives. You can choose to have two, three, or five meals a week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
So how do you know when a meal delivery plan is right for you?
I think it comes down to time and convenience. I like having prepared meals on hand to “fill in” on days when I’m too busy to cook or behind in my meal prep. It comes in particularly handy when I’m at the box all day. Knowing that I have a healthy meal in the fridge that meets my macros keeps me from running out for something I might regret later.
Sure, it costs more to have a complete meal delivered than to cook one yourself. But not any more (and possibly less) than eating out. Plus, there is the added benefit of getting time back.
Other members tell me it comes in particularly handy if they live alone or their partner is traveling so they don’t have to cook a meal just for one.
If you’re interested in trying Origins, sign up on their web site and use code TAKE20 to receive a discount on your first order.

In Search of the Elusive Double Unders


By: Coach Brad

I remember hitting about 50 double unders on my first day of practice and within a week completing Annie with unbroken sets (50-40-30-20-10); then Flight Simulator in under 7 minutes; and eventually hitting a max unbroken set of about 250. I was lucky: I never struggled with them and I still have the skill to this day, although with far less endurance.
Not everyone is so lucky.
As a movement, jumping rope is neuro-muscular in nature. That’s why it requires practice – to develop those connections between your brain and your body. And that’s where practice comes in.
The top reason to practice doubles is not just to get better at doubles (although practice will get you closer to perfect). The real reason is that a flawless exhibition of rope skills will also lead to improvements in other technical demands of gymnastics, weightlifting, and sports conditioning and performance.
I have a friend who practiced daily for 6 months before he could consistently string more than one together. But he used the “dolphin kick,” which is self-limiting because it’s so exhausting. So, he started over and after two years of practice was able to do numerous sets of 100 doubles back-to-back, surpassing me in all benchmarks.  
The point of that story is to tell you that it may take weeks, months, or even years before you can string together your first doubles. But if you stick with it – including incorporating attempts into the WODs instead of immediately going to singles – I guarantee you’ll get there!
(It’s also a good idea to buy your own rope).

I have a lot more to say about double unders, including drills to help you get better and scaling options for classes, and you can read it all here.

Eating Out: It’s All About Planning


By: Alex Carlson

Many of my clients wonder if they can track macros and still eat out. I say, of course! It just takes a bit of planning. Here’s what I recommend:                          

  • Choose the right restaurant. Check the menu online before you go. Look for words like “grilled,” “broiled,” “baked,” or “roasted.” Skip “fried” and “creamy.”

  • Keep it simple. Stick to the basic food groups; protein, carbs, and fats. In other words, opt for the salmon with a side of veggies versus the pasta with a rich sauce.

  • Ask for it on the side. As in, “Can I have the sauce/dressing on the side?” Trust me, you’ll wind up using a fraction of what they give you.

  • Do the math first. If you’re following a macro-based plan, enter the macros before you leave the house (you’re able to do this because you checked the menu ahead of time, right?)

  • Skip the minefields. That means alcohol and dessert – the minefields of dining out. Try sparkling water with lime in a wine glass rather than Chardonnay, and a cup of great coffee after dinner rather than the chocolate ganache.

Avoiding Injury with the Deadlift


By: Emma Minx, DC, CCSP and Kate Blankshain, PT, DPT 

We co-manage many crossfitters. Our goals are to restore mobility and function (Emma), then address weakness, imbalances, and movement deficiencies (Kate). We often consult together to identify the cause of injury and determine the best treatment plan.
Common injuries we treat involve the low back, shoulders, and knees. Whenever there is a heavier deadlift workout, we know we’ll be seeing an influx of patients. The culprit is typically one of two things – the hips are too tight, which puts a greater strain on the low back, or the movement itself is performed incorrectly.
Let’s start with mobility. Your body alternates mobile and stable joints. For instance, your ankles, hips, and mid-back should be mobile, while your knees and low back should be stable. When the body loses mobility in one area, it has to compensate for it somewhere else. Typically, this affects the low back, which should be a stable area. That’s why making sure your hips are properly warmed up prior to deadlifting is critical.
During the deadlift, it is important to maintain a tight core and extend the hips as you bring the bar up from the floor. Instead, most people initiate the movement with their arms and back. In other words, they begin raising their torso to a vertical position too soon rather than pushing into the ground, driving their hips forward, and squeezing their glutes. 
Bottom line: the deadlift should be considered a pushing movement rather than a pulling movement. Push into the ground and push/drive the hips forward. 
Emma Minx is a chiropractor at Bannockburn Chiropractic and Sports Injury Center and Kate owns Rally PTE.

Fighting the Family for Healthy Nutrition


I was just talking to one of our members who is struggling with a common problem: he knows how to eat healthy, but he can’t bring himself to stay away from the not-so-healthy snacks he buys for the kids. “I’d rather gain weight than listen to my kids scream about not having snacks,” he told me.
I don’t have kids, but I understand. So, what’s the answer?
Get everyone else on board. Get the entire family to eat healthy.
A great place to start is by involving your kids (assuming they’re old enough to complete full sentences) in shopping and cooking. Sure, that’s easier said than done especially with young kids who are picky eaters. But involving your kids gives them a sense of control, which can translate into better choices. There are dozens of kid-friendly cookbooks out there that you and your children can pore over. Here’s a place to start.
Also remember that you’re still in charge. Until your kids have their own car and credit card, what you buy is what comes into the house. That’s doesn’t mean you have to completely eliminate snacks. But you can make better choices. Fried chips or baked? Packaged cookies or homemade (where you can control the ingredients)? Sugary drinks or flavored seltzer water? Try keeping containers of cut-up fruit and veggies, single-serving hummus and guacamole packs, and sugar-free yogurts handy where your kids (and you) can reach them on their own.
And don’t forget the potential of gamification when it comes to healthy eating with your kids. How about making a game of grocery shopping? Can you get everything you need by keeping to the perimeter of the store? That’s where you find “real,” (read: unprocessed) food, including lean meats, poultry, and seafood, fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit, and low-fat cheese and dairy.
Pop into a couple of aisles for healthy oils, pastas, and a few canned goods and voila! Your kids have won the prize of health.

3,2,1 . . . Breathe!


Think about the last time you did 15 thrusters or 30 wall balls or ran 800 meters. Could you get through it without stopping? Were you able to immediately move onto the next movement? If not, think about your breathing.  
The idea of “training with a purpose” all too often gets lost in the rush of complex movements, friendly competition during class, and the relentless search for PRs. Yet part of training with a purpose is learning your individual work capacity and heart rate control.
That’s where controlled breathing comes in. The purpose of controlled breathing is to keep you from “red lining,” that moment when you realize you can’t possibly do another burpee, clean, or pull up yet there’s still 8 more minutes on the clock. The more consistent your breathing, the steadier your heart rate.
So if you find yourself gasping for air, stop. It’s counterproductive to continue because the longer you deprive your body of oxygen, the more acidic your blood becomes and the more your performance will suffer.

The better you get at controlling your breathing, the shorter (and fewer) rests you’ll need, enabling you to return to the workout faster and resulting in a better overall performance.
You can find some great blogs and videos on proper breathing for crossfitters here:

Making Room for the Donuts


Anyone who knows me knows how much I love donuts and ice cream. I could eat both at least twice a day given the opportunity. But I don’t. Instead, I plan my sugar highs around my macros rather than planning my macros around my sugar highs.

In other words, I don’t eat donuts and ice cream and then figure out how many carbohydrate and fat macros I have left. Instead, I decide that on Tuesday I want a cup of ice cream, input the fat, carb, and protein macros first, then build the rest of my food around those to meet my daily requirements.
Do I slip up? Yes, of course, especially when I pass a Joe’s Donuts. But the key to meeting my nutritional goals and having the foods I love is moderation.
I try to only give myself two to three “treats” a week but I’m not perfect. If I find that I’m indulging too frequently, I’ll just dial back for the next week or two. It’s easy to make justifications on why I should have that donut but  I focus on trying to become a little bit better each day.
Moderation is important but knowing what your next meal will be is one of the best ways to keep yourself on track. That way, little over-indulging doesn’t knock me off track.
I never want my clients to view the healthy eating plans we come up with as restrictive. If you like a glass of wine, you can have a glass of wine – just build it into your macros. And if you like a donut or bowl of ice cream, you can have those, too – within your macro framework. You’re not “cheating.” You’re planning.

Eat This/Not That: Getting Your Morning Protein


This week I was struck by how difficult some people find it to get enough protein. Your goal should range from .7-1.0g/lb of body weight. One of the best places to get it is first thing in the morning.

Obviously, eggs are the place to start. But the fat and calories can add up fast. So consider egg whites. Each egg weight has just 16 calories but gives you 4 grams of

protein with no fat. Compare that to the 71 calories and 6 grams of protein (and 5 grams of fat) in a whole egg.

Scramble four egg whites with three ounces of turkey lunch meat (25 calories/ounce; 4.2 g protein) and in about three minutes you’re sitting down to nearly 30 grams of protein for under 150 calories with barely any fat.

The Holy Grail of Squatting: The Squat Stance


A squat is a squat is a squat. Often heard but rarely understood. It means that no matter what type of squat you’re doing – full clean, front squat, back squat, air squat – consistency is key. And one of the important -- but most commonly missed -- constant is the stance.

The stance is your foot position or angle and the width and balance of weight on your mid foot. It should look and feel the same in your overhead squat as your air squat, back squat, and every other type of squat we do in CrossFit and weight lifting.

You can see how important consistency in this position is when you consider the Olympic lifts, in which the accuracy and precision of the foot work is amplified when dynamically transitioning from the pull to the catch.

A good way to find your natural stance is to jump and land in a squat. From there, take note of your foot position and make small adjustments as needed. Then work to replicate this same position across all your squat movements. When you notice you’ve deviated from your standard stance, identify the factor causing this and work to improve it versus compensating in other ways and losing that critical squat stance consistency.

Got Questions? Good!

I’ve been talking to quite a few members in the gym and there’s been a theme developing. They’ve got questions and don’t know where to find those answers... well you’re in luck because you’ve got a coach!

I’ll run you through a typical scenerio... I’ve got 16 athletes in front of me as I explain the workout. After carefully explaining each part and giving scaling options I say does anyone have any specific questions? If so, please ask NOW or come speak to me... then it’s 3.2.1 Go! Sometimes people ask questions at the whiteboard, more times than not everyone is in silence as they look at the impending doom awaiting them. 

Now at this point I can usually tell whose confused with the workout or maybe they’re unsure of the weight that’s right for them. How can I tell? Easy... I just look at your faces and it tells all! At this point I will go up to each individual if time allows to make them feel comfortable with the WoD but, that’s not always the case.


There is a small group of people that don’t express their confusion and they don’t ask any questions. What happens then? Well I can tell you it’s not good!

They might be choosing the wrong scale or modification, too light or heavy of a weight, or have generally no clue what they’re doing. You’re in luck though... you no longer have to settle for confusion in class. Why? Because if your confused the chance you get injured, have reduce performance, and loose interest in CrossFit is high.

I want.... No I encourage people to ask questions! You’re going to get a whole lot more out of what were doing in the gym if you understand your personalized approach.

The coach’s job is to provide an amazing experience for you the athlete AND to answer all your questions so, you’re not bothering us. 

Now, on the opposite end of the spectrum... I don’t want people to loose their ability to choose weights and understand their individual needs.

If you really don’t know what you’re doing in class please ASK A COACH! 


The Importantance of Continuing Your Nutrition Focus


Written by: Elizabeth Fish

For those of you that have spent this past month focusing on your nutrition, whether it be your water intake, protein increase or reducing your bad habits, great job! Spending time focusing on everything you enter your body can be time consuming, challenging and extremely frustrating. But, it can also be incredibly rewarding.

As someone who has spent the past year, logging every single thing I ate every single day-getting on the scale daily, taking measurements weekly, I understand more than most the commitment it takes to improve your nutrition. But, the payoff can far exceed the challenges. I have seen weight loss, inches lost, improved Crossfit performance and an overall improved well being.

Even though I lost the majority of my weight in the first six months of my time working with Alex, the importance of continued focus and maintenance is critical. While we all know what we are “supposed” to do regarding our nutrition, keeping the focus front and center in our minds is of essential. For those of you participating in the “partner challenge”, you have been working on areas that you wanted or needed to focus on. The support of Alex as well as your nutrition partner, has allowed you to focus on what is important to you. By continuing forward in achievement of your nutrition goals, those resources will provide the chance to continue building on what you have learned and to take the accountability upon yourself over time, or maybe even work on another aspect of your nutrition that you may now be ready to address more specifically.

As a creature of habit, I continue to work on adding new foods into my very restricted diet and finding new recipes to cook for myself. Alex has been an invaluable resource in helping me to set realistic goals and push me outside of my food comfort zone and try new things. I hope you all will continue forward on your nutrition journey and utilize the amazing resources RPE has to offer to achieve the results you are looking to achieve.

Nutrition Challenge at RPE

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It's that time of the year again, you've probably over done it from the holidays and now your clothes are tighter fitting. No worries! Let's kickstart ourselves into healthy eating with a 30 day lifestyle challenge.

Starting Thursday February 15th to Friday March 16th we'll be partnering up to make some improvements in our lifestyle and eating.

This challenge is run by your very own Nutrition Coach, Alex Carlson, PN1 whose been successfully running a personalized nutrition coaching program at RPE for the past year.

Now, the focus of this challenge isn't necessarily weight loss... you heard me right! If people lose, gain, or maintain their weight great but, that not my mission. My mission to to teach all of you how to make better choices in your daily routine. I want consistency! That doesn't mean we're going to starve or restrict ourselves for 30 days and then on day 31 all head to Portillo's! 

Eating nutritiously is the single most important action we can do for our bodies to ensure we live healthier, fuller lives. It's literally the fuel for our bodies, imagine putting diesel fuel in a car at that requires unleaded!? The car wouldn't function properly and people would call you crazy for doing it!

But everyday we make choices that are slowly reducing our performance inside and outside the gym. We’re putting the wrong kind of fuel into our bodies. It's not about shame or control, it's just logic. Put good nutritious food into your body and it will reward you with more energy and less aches. 

Let's make a commitment to ourselves that during this 30 day challenge we won't be focused on rigid control over our eating which can sometimes lead to shame and guilt (the two most useless emotions).

Instead I want us to declare your intent. What are you giving up? Alcohol? Desserts? Eating after 8PM? You know what habits your trying to break and which ones you want to last. What’s the one thing you want to change and know you can change if there was a little accountability?

Then, once we determine your intent, let's figure out your WHY. Why are you doing this? Because trust me at some point you start to slip or think of slipping. Thats okay, it means your human but, before you reach for that donut think about why your making this commitment. Works every time to curb those cravings.

Accountability is huge when it comes to success in any part of your life from business to making lifestyle changes. I want you to partner up, don't worry if you don't have a partner I'll assign one. This will provide the accountability piece that people desire when were lost and can't remember their why...

When you join the challenge you'll be added to a secret Facebook group where we swap recipes, ideas, and encouragement. You'll enter your numbers in a Google Doc each day to keep score.

The point system is simple, for each activity you complete on daily basis, you get a point. 

  • 5 Points for Food. Food is all or nothing. You get 5 points for adhering to your plan perfectly. 0 points for food if you deviate at all.
  • 1 point for exercise. Every day. It doesn’t have to be intense, though we’d encourage you to really hit it hard at least 4 days a week. But every day, something. Yoga. A long walk. Whatever, get your heart rate up, use and stretch your muscles.
  • 1 point for hydration. 1/3 – 1/2 in ounces of your bodyweight in water every day. I love water water, but some people find it boring. If you do, not problem try sparkling water or adding fruit to your water bottle.
  • 1 point for mobility. 10 minutes a day of rolling, stretching. It matters. We are always chasing a balance of strength and mobility. If you have too much of one, not balanced out by the other, you’re at greater risk for injury.
  • 1 point for sleep. Yup. Sleep is super important for brain and body. It’s when your body releases growth hormone to heal (and build) your muscles. It’s when your brain sorts things out. 7 hours a night, minimum. We know this is hard for some people, especially those with kids, but by trying to prioritize it, we’ve seen people make big changes.
  • 1 point for reporting to your partner/group. This is actually super important, because this is where community and accountability work their magic. We ask people to fill out their score on the Google doc (it’s 6 yes or no questions, takes 30 seconds) AND write a post in the secret page about what they ate, did and how they felt. This is where the magic happens.

At the end of the 30 days we'll be choosing 1 male &  female winner based on total points. They'll receive a prize (usually Spam cookbook). JK!

Sounds simple right? Well it's simple but it won't be easy, we don't grow when things are easy. We'll start out the challenge by filling out a questionnaire to get a personalized nutrition program.

And because it's CrossFit we need to test our performance as well, so we'll have a special WoD for everyone to test and re-test. You’re going to be amazed how much food plays into your performance at the gym!

Again, this challenge isn't about white-knuckling it for 30 days. That doesn't do anyone any good, instead this is about us coming together as a gym to improve our health and support each other. 

The cost is $30/person which includes a Personalized Nutrition Program, Weekly Recipes, Travel Wod's, and Accountability.

That's only $1.00/day, spend the $1.00 to make some serious change in your life happen! To sign up please email

What’s the deal with PT?



I’m excited to be joining the team to offer in-house physical therapy at RPE through Rally PT. As a service for all members, I’ll be writing occasional posts about injury prevention, biomechanics tips, and more. For the first edition of the blog, I wanted to give you all a quick intro about the basics of PT and who can benefit (hint: most people, especially athletes!)

1.General Rehabilitation Whether you’ve had a new injury or are dealing with chronic aches and pains, PT could be right for you. A few common CrossFit-related injuries that are commonly treated with PT:

-Shoulder pain (rotator cuff tendinopathy, impingement, and labral tears are common in overhead athletes)

-Knee pain (patellar tendonitis, meniscus injuries, and arthritis)

-Calf, ankle, and foot pain (Achilles tendinopathy and plantar fasciitis)

-Wrist pain (tendinopathy, joint pain)

-Low back pain (including disc herniations)

-Hip pain (labral tears, impingement)

2.Post-Surgical Rehabilitation Whether you’ve recently had surgery or are ready to return to CrossFit after a previous surgery, PT can help by:

-Following physician-prescribed protocols for return to sport after surgeries such as: ACL repair, knee arthroscopy, rotator cuff repair, and labral repair

-Modifying and grading return to sport with a safe, individualized program to ensure a smooth transition back to normal activities

3.Biomechanical Evaluation and Injury Prevention

-Even if you aren’t injured, PT can help. PTs are trained in movement analysis and movement dysfunction, and can help you identify muscle imbalances and areas where your form breaks down to prevent injuries before they occur. 

-Wellness physical therapy and injury prevention includes specific, individualized conditioning, strengthening, and stretching programs and biomechanical analysis/evaluation to identify flawed movement patterns and muscle imbalances.

4.Postpartum Strengthening/Stabilization

-PT can help restore core, pelvic, and hip stability and strength after pregnancy and childbirth. Over the course of pregnancy, women naturally undergo hormonal changes that result in decreased core strength and loosening of ligaments around the pelvis. This can lead to back pain, hip pain, and pelvic pain, including urinary incontinence with exercise, during and after pregnancy.

-PT can help restore strength and stability for return to fitness activities, including CrossFit, with reduced pain and improved comfort.

At Rally PT, all sessions are one-on-one and provide individualized, varied care. You’ll never work with a rehabilitation aide or have the same session twice. With patients’ consent, I communicate workout plans and programs to the CrossFit coaches to make sure classes are scaled, appropriate, and beneficial for members recovering from an injury.

Note that a doctor’s referral will be needed for treatment of injuries; no referral is required for injury screens or preventative training. Invoices are provided for patients to submit to insurance providers for out-of-network coverage.

To schedule a free screen, initial evaluation, or injury prevention session, contact me at I’m looking forward to working with you!

Kate Blankshain PT, DPT

**Free injury screens will be provided through the end of January from:

6:30 AM-7:30 AM on Tuesdays

5:30 PM-6:30 PM on Wednesdays

Sign-up sheet will be provided to reserve a 15-minute block.

Finding CrossFit at Fifty


Ten years ago, Megan McCann, now 50, lay in a hospital bed with nine fractures and multiple other injuries. A truck had hit her as she rode her scooter to work in Atlanta. She spent four weeks in the hospital, underwent nine surgeries, and used a wheelchair for several months. 

For the next 10 years, she did little, if any, exercise. 

“I’d always been athletic, always maintained my weight through exercise,” said Megan. “But as I got older I became more sedentary.” And the weight piled on. 

“Then this woman I met started talking about Crossfit, I was like, ‘You’re kidding me.’ The only thing I knew was that people overdid it and got rhabdo. I thought, ‘No, I’m not going to do that.’ But Deb kept talking about it and telling me how they could modify it.”

She did her own research and realized it was true – if you found the right box.

Megan has been at RPE now for four months and everything has changed. She went from not being able to touch her toes to deadlifts. From not being able to lift her arms over head because of a frozen shoulder to snatches, jerks, and overhead squats.

She remembers one day early on when the class was practicing back bends. Megan, who used to be a gymnast and did them all the time, struggled. Then Julie appeared with a giant medicine ball and showed her how to do it. 

Megan was so overwhelmed she went into the bathroom and cried. “It was so amazing to me that I could do that again,” she said. “I never dreamed my body would ever do it.” That was the day, she says, she officially drank the Kool-Aid. 

Unfortunately, Megan also injured her knee early on. Turns out it was a meniscal tear. In August, she had surgery. Four days later, she was back in the box.

“My biggest fear was losing the momentum of Crossfit,” she said. Every day, the coaches modified the workout for her. By early October, less than two months after her surgery, she back-squatted 55 pounds 100 times. 

Another bonus? She’s lost 20 pounds with no other changes in her life. Although, she admits, “I am starting to make smarter choices about what I eat.”

Why are we telling Megan’s story? Because so many people think you have to be young and fit to do Crossfit. The reality is that anyone can do Crossfit – at any time. You just have to show up.


Happy & Healthy Shoulders - Part 4

Here's our last video in our four part shoulder series: Integration. 

Many of us spend so much time sitting, driving, texting that we're constantly in a hunched-forward position. This places our shoulders in a rounded position causing dysfunction when we try to lift overhead or perform pull ups. 

We've already established how fragile the shoulder is, and that most injuries happening in CrossFit are shoulder related. Most of these can be avoided by simply following the rule of mechanics, consistency, and then intensity but, if my shoulders are rounded all-day it's a losing battle.

What you do for the other 23 hours in the day can and will affect the hour you spend working out. Spend less time sitting hunched forward looking at your computer and more time standing tall with shoulders pulled back.

October Member of the Month: Amy Dean

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Name: Amy Dean
Age: 40-something (if you have to put that I'm 47...yikes...!!)
How long have you been in CF? Almost 4 years
How did you come across CF? I’ve always been active in sports, but since college had been primarily running.  After having 2 kids within 2 years, I was ready to get back in shape but running alone just wasn’t enough anymore.  We had just moved out of the city and I tried a couple local gyms, but found myself bored and unmotivated.  I’d heard about CF from a few friends at work, asked around and did some research, and realized that if I wanted my body to feel and look different, I needed to find a better way to challenge myself – this was it.
What are you favorite movements/lifts? What are your least favorite? 
Favorites: Toes to Rings, Squats, Cleans
Least: Handstands, Snatches
Any recent PR’s you would like to mention? Back squat #155 & Clean #85; Significant because in both cases, it took someone else in class pushing me past what I thought were my 1-rep maxes, telling me that I could and SHOULD push more. Lesson learned (thanks Coach Brad and Laurie P!)
What is one fitness/health goal you would like to set for yourself? This year my goal at CF was to complete Murph Rx – next year I want to beat my time and have pushups that aren’t so ugly at the end! Health-wise overall I also would like to get a better handle on my diet, which gets much harder with age. 
What is your biggest challenge that you’ve overcome? It's not huge as far as life challenges go, but my biggest challenge on a daily basis is TIME.  I’m a working mom with a job that requires travel.  Our families aren’t anywhere close to help with kids, so it all falls on us, and finding time to work out as much as I would like to is always tough.  “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”  Not sure who said this, but it sums up my outlook on life. I know that to be the best mom/wife/employee, it has to start with being the best ME that I can, which means finding time for my workouts.  Sometimes it means the kids come with me (thank you RPE!), many times it means a 5am start time, but I find  a way to get it done.  “Action Expresses Priorities” - Gandhi
What’s one thing most people don't know about you? Do you have any hidden talents? Nothing all that interesting and no hidden talents.
How has CF changed your life? Strength and confidence! I hadn’t tried to climb a rope since probably 4th grade – and early on would even avoid the WODs that had them…Now not only can I do them, I kind of like them too!
Why do you keep coming back to RPE? So many reasons…The coaches are amazing and make you feel special – no matter what level you are.  If you are looking for a place to go and be invisible – this is NOT the box for you!  The community and people are all about teamwork, camaraderie, and inclusiveness.  We cheer each other on and acknowledge milestones and accomplishments.  Most of all, it’s FUN and makes me HAPPY to be a part of the RPE family.

Happy & Healthy Shoulder - Part 3

The shoulder is composed of many different muscles, the rotator cuff muscles acts as a stabilizer for the shoulder. The muscle that make up the rotator cuff are: teres minor, subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus.

Typically when people have pain in their shoulder it comes from either an impingement, tendonitis or a tear. If we can strengthen the shoulder girdle and get the shoulder in a better position, the chance for injury decreases.


Pre-workout: (Two Sets)

:30 Side Plank (L)

:15 Scapular Push Ups

:30 Side Plank ®

Rest :15

8-10 Tempo Push Ups @ 21X1 (2 Count Down, 1 Count Pause)

Rest :15

:30 Supinated Grip Bar Hang

Rest :15

Kettlebell Windmill x 5 Reps


Half-Kneeling Bottom’s Up KB Press x 8-12 @2121


Single Arm DB Row x 8-12 @2121

Happy & Healthy Shoulders - Part 2

This week our focus is activation. We often find ourselves in a slumped posture with our shoulders rounded forward due to texting, driving, and time spent on computers. Then, when we all go to the gym and we do a lot of workouts that involve our chest and upper back muscles. Both of these daily and gym habits lead to tension found in the chest and upper back/neck area. That’s why we recommended in the first video to use a lacrosse ball to help reduce the tension in those areas. 

The next step is to activate our back muscles, which are often weak from being in a lengthened position all the time. The goal is to activate these muscles so they can help us stay in a better posture. The last thing we want is for you to come the gym and try and lift overhead from a slumped mid back. (Do a quick test - try and do a snatch with a rounded back and then repeat while focusing on a straight mid back. You’ll feel the difficulty). 

The other goal of these exercises is to start priming the rotator cuff and the scapular muscles. It is important that these muscles work in coordination with each other to maintain proper shoulder movement. You are not going to be making big strength gains with these exercises, but instead it is more important to maintain control during the movements.

Perform each of these exercises for 2 sets of 10. Check back next week where we prescribe exercises on how to strengthen the shoulder.

Happy & Healthy Shoulder - Part 1

Alex and I will be beginning four-part series on the shoulder. Injuries to the shoulder are the most common reason I see CrossFitters in my office. Alex would agree that most complaints he hears are about shoulder pain or tightness. A healthy shoulder joint is dependent on good shoulder mobility, scapular stability, rotator cuff strength, thoracic mobility and good mechanics/form. Our goal will be to address all of these so that if you follow along during the 4 weeks, your shoulders will be more prepared to tackle our daily WODs. 

This series will be broken down into 4 topics - stretching, activation, strengthening and integration. We ask that you focus on the stretches, drills and exercises we demonstrate each week.

The most common injury to the shoulder is called impingement. Many of you who are complaining about pain in the front or top of the shoulder, also pinching sensations, are likely dealing with impingement. What happens is the tendons of the rotator cuff, likely the supraspinatus, get pinched in the shoulder during any overhead movements. You can feel pain during pull-ups, wall balls, KB swings, and snatches, for example.

The role of the rotator cuff is to keep the head of the humerus (shoulder bone) centered in the joint during any movement. When the rotator cuff gets tight, weak or imbalanced, it can't do it anymore. As the tendon gets pinched, the more pain you are going to feel.

This week we will start on stretching and mobilization. Follow along with the video and perform daily. 

Stay tuned for next week when we cover how to activate the weak muscles around the shoulder.