Finding CrossFit at Fifty

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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.

Strength:

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

Post-workout:  

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

Rest

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.