I’ve always considered myself a “people person.” Does that mean I can capture the attention of an entire room with my stories? No. Does that mean I’m everyone’s favorite “date” to their work events because they know I’ll never be standing alone in the corner being shy while they run off and try to engage with their boss? No. Does that mean I’ve had so many incredible life experiences that I can relate to anyone on anything they want to talk about? Also, no.

What I mean by calling myself a people person in this context, is that I think my tolerance for, and interest in, people is pretty high. Given the years I’ve spent working in the “Service Industry” and the way I was raised (to genuinely care about people and give nearly everyone the benefit of the doubt), I am always trying to engage with people… often complete strangers, and trying to learn from them. Sometimes it has lead to me giving people “too many chances” in my personal life, but at the end of the day, I would rather accept more, rather than less, people. I think this showed through my coaching of CrossFit. We are all SO different and I don’t expect athletes to come into the gym every day genuinely excited to put themselves through some form of torture. Hey, you’re there, and that’s the hardest part! But does that mean that just because you give me your best “RBF” while I tell you there are 100 Thrusters in the workout that I’m going to ignore you for the rest of class because I think you’re mad? Nope! Instead, I’m coming in for the real thing and doing whatever I can to try and CONNECT with you anyways. That’s what always drove me. To try and build MEANINGFUL relationships with people through a few hours of fitness each week.

As I psychology major in college, I learned something that has stuck with me for a long time. That’s the fact that if there’s one thing most humans love, it’s hearing themselves talk. Not the sound of your own voice playing back in front of you… most of us HATE that, I just mean having someone there who wants to be there and connect with you. So, when I meet someone new, I’ll often try to ask them questions about things that excite them. Their hobbies, their families, what they do for work… it may sound like Conversation: 101, but it typically works fairly well. When people feel like you actually care about them, most of the time they’ll open up a little more! If you’re someone who stands in front of a class, reads the words that are on the board or the screen, and stands around for the rest of the hour, people feel that, too.

This personality trait of mine has lead me to surround myself with like-minded individuals. Another crazy concept, huh? The difference for me, is that those people over the last decade or so have tended to be in the CrossFit world. Seven years ago, when I really started to dive into this “sport” of ours (that wasn’t even called a sport yet), I met friends in CrossFit through competing. Local throw-downs started popping up more frequently, many of my friends trained CrossFit too, and these events became as much about camaraderie as they did fitness. At one point, I think I knew 90% of the gym owners in town, and it was great!

We would work out together often, share stories about what was good or bad in the gyms where we trained, and use each other as legitimate resources. THAT is what’s fun for me. Sharing Best Practices with other people who are either in your industry or have transferrable skills that also apply to your line of work is so great. Usually in these conversations, it’s not one person talking AT the other. Instead, it’s one person saying “here’s what we do,” and the other one replying with something like, “that’s interesting, here’s what we do.” A normal chat can literally open up one’s perspective through simply sharing life experiences. Too often I’ve seen gym owners, trainers, athletes, reach a certain point in their careers and basically stop caring. They just go through the motions because it’s all they’ve done for years, and it’s not FUN for them anymore. If you’re always learning, you’re always growing!

This morning, I had an awesome conversation with someone (a friend of a friend) I’ve known for years, but never actually met in person. The purpose of the call was literally just to learn! I asked what he did to train his staff, we shared stories about our experiences in CrossFit, and when the call was over, I had a smile on my face from ear to ear. It felt so good to connect with someone and not have the expectation that either of us needed THE answer to any one question. That’s the stuff that gets me fired up and excited.

The other day on Facebook I shared a quote that I heard from a friend of mine in my first job out of college: “Your Network is your Net Worth.” It rang so true in my head then, and it still does today. Why not surround yourself with people who when you leave their presence you feel good? My “CrossFit Network” makes me feel that way. Dropping in at gyms across the country and around the world, I feel as though I could walk in the door at so many places, and immediately feel “at home” with them. That’s pretty special, and probably my favorite part of it of this community of ours.

If anyone out there wants to set up some time to chat about fitness/training, diet/nutrition, or anything of the sort, let’s do it! It’s so cool to share stories and learn from each other.

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Oh my…… he’s done it. He’s finally done it. SOMEONE has finally created an effective ratio calculator for the Olympic Lifts, and some of their accessory counterparts.

If you known anything about Olympic Weightlifting in the United States, then you know the name Sean Waxman. A coach for nearly 25 years, he has owned and run Waxman’s Gym for the last 6+ years. The lifters that he has produced through his experience, his coaches on staff, and his personal style have gone on to produce great results at the national and international level, and has also helped train some of the top athletes in the CrossFit game.

When I saw some of my “high-profile” friends on Facebook share a link this morning, I didn’t think it could actually be what the Title of the post claimed, but it is!

You, the lifter, plug in your max Snatch and Clean and Jerk numbers. Then, based on what information you have you can also put in certain supplemental lifts or variations, for your Snatch (Overhead Squat, Power Snatch, Snatch Blocks Abv Knee, and Hang Snatch Below Knee) and your Clean and Jerk (Clean, Back Squat, Front Squat, Jerk, Clean Blocks Abv Knee, Hang Clean Below Knee). From that info, an INCREDIBLE summary of your lifts, along with feedback on ways to improve them.

Example, here are my numbers:

First it asked for my current lifetime PR’s for the two Olympic Lifts

Next, the variations of the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. You don’t NEED to have any of these, so I put in the ones I was fairly confident were correct

After that…. you click the “Evaluate Me” button. Complicated, huh?

The next part is where you get all of your feedback and suggestions. First, it shows the variance from your 1RM lifts, to the other variations and movements for each

I am a very visual person, so this was fun to see. However, by themselves, the graphs don’t mean too much. Here’s what followed

The site begins by specifically referencing the ratio between your snatch and clean and jerk. Then it goes on to give you a diagnosis and some suggestions on how to strengthen the supplemental movements to make yourself either stronger, more balanced, or perhaps more well-rounded in general.

This site is SO cool, and I think that every lifter and coach should reference it as a key resource to help identify key areas for improvement!

Want to try it for yourself? CLICK HERE!

Do you want help with your lifting? Reach out to me, I’ve been taking on new remote clients and would love to help!

Lift well, friends.

Before you read on, let me state that I am most certainly not an “Outdoorsman.” I don’t own my own tent, I don’t know the proper way to boil water to make it safe to drink, I’ve never hoisted a “Bear Bag” up in a tree while I slept, and I’ve never hiked more than 7 hours in a day. That said, none of those facts mean that I don’t seriously respect and appreciate those who are well-versed in the vast world of Mother Nature!

The video that’s posted below came across my News Feed today and I was immediately sucked in. It’s a story by Peter H., who “took a plane from Vienna, Austria to California to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – a 2650 miles footpath from Mexico to Canada” back in 2016. Of course, the trip didn’t go as planned, and he was met with both mental and physical road blocks along the way, but in the end… *SPOILER ALERT* he makes it safe and sound.

Being out amidst the elements, humans quickly realize just how out of control we are in so many ways in this world. This experience was no different for the filmmaker. However, through the kindness and friendship of others, a determination to complete the task at hand, and the ability to find the positive side of things, the mission was accomplished! Sounds like the way I try to help others see their own lives every day! 🙂

Enjoy the video below, and let me know what you think. Could you do that hike?

“Open Gym”, the part of my blog where I get to share my real thoughts on all things gym. I haven’t always been brutally honest with how I feel about things for fear of “offending” people, but I’m in a place now where I can speak as freely as I’d like… and it feels good!

When I started CrossFit almost NINE years ago (this August), I immediately adopted the mindset that this fitness “fad” was all about community. Sure, a person can get insanely fit by doing it, but more than the PRs, this was a medium through which communities could be formed and sustained on love and support alone. I LOVED that from Day 1.

The best way that a stranger could have seen this first-hand would have been to walk into nearly any gym on any given day. The clock counts down, the coach yells, “3, 2, 1… GO!”, the athletes get after it…. and then everyone finishes the workout at the same time. Well, not really, but when the fastest people would finish they’d do their own patented CrossFit “My-Life-Is-Over/I-Cant-Believe-I-Made-It” flop onto the ground, they’d roll around for a few seconds, and then something amazing would happen – They’d pick themselves up off of the floor and go over to support the remaining athletes in the class.

It was never taught. Coaches never needed to ASK the class to cheer each other on. It just happened. Why? Because CrossFit was all about embracing the suck. It didn’t matter if you lifted 200lbs more than the person next to you, completed 8 more rounds than them during that 12 minute AMRAP, or whether your last rep was done 6 minutes before theirs. You had all done the same thing, something that any practitioner of this “sport” could relate to, and you never wanted to leave a teammate behind.

That didn’t mean there needed to be fanfare or a loud cheering section for the last person every day. In fact, some people don’t like being the center of attention at all. That wasn’t the point, though. Dragging your butt over to their side of the gym and leaning back against the wall to help them finish those last 20 reps of Wall Balls meant a lot. It showed that your beer at happy hour with friends could wait another 5 minutes. And most of all, it meant that the person who was still working could feel just as important as the gym’s resident “fire breather.” Because they are just as important.

Too often now, in too many gyms, I see people finish their workouts, put away their stuff, log their scores, and bounce. 

It’s true that there are some INCREDIBLE and inspiring athletes all over the world, but they’re not always the ones topping the leaderboard each day. As someone who feels he got into the CrossFit game fairly early, a second-generation “OG” if you will, I can say that if you don’t know the names of the people in your class, or care to learn them, that you should try to change that. I’m not asking introverts to become extroverts. I’m not suggesting that everyone in the gym needs to be best friends. What I am saying is that feeling like you’re a part of a family when you go to the gym makes every single part of the community more meaningful.

Next time you’re in-between sets during strength, or as people awkwardly shuffle around to put their clips and weights back after class, take a few seconds and introduce yourself to someone new. Ask what they thought sucked the most during that WOD. If you do know everyone in the class, discuss the pacing strategy a friend used for that chipper workout you just finished. Or if nothing else, at least offer that friendly and supportive fist bump, high five, or bro-hug.

I can promise most people that your life will be better by being “that person” who genuinely starts to care about others in the best way possible. If you give it a shot, I would love to hear how it goes for you. Do you notice a difference in any aspect of your gym life? Life outside of the gym?

Remember, everyone… it’s just fitness.

But also, it’s so much more than just fitness.

-Smashby

At my age, people either LOVE sports, or don’t really care for them. That said, I believe most of us can agree that playing sports during childhood can have an incredibly positive impact on a person’s life. Just as activities such as learning to play an instrument or studying a language can teach discipline, attention to detail, and the value of consistency in practice, many sports can also teach invaluable skills like teamwork and effective communication (among many other things).

Why is that relevant? A few nights ago while I was watching an NHL Playoff game (that’s hockey for those of you who don’t know), I had kind of an epiphany. My favorite team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, was playing their bitter rivals in Game 3 of a best-of-seven series. They were down 2 goals with only 2 minutes left to play in the game. For a lot of folks, that deficit simply seemed too much to overcome in such a small amount of time. You could see some people getting up and leaving their seats to try and beat the rush, assuming the game was over and we had lost. Lo and behold, the Penguins put on an incredible offensive display and scored TWO goals in under two minutes. The crowd that remained was electrified, I was screaming at the TV, and they managed to push the game into Overtime! Unfortunately the Penguins lost in OT, but that’s not the point!

The parallel to this game that I immediately made to our every day lives is this:

Fairly often, we might feel that we’re in a slump in life (personally, professionally, spiritually,… anything, really), or that our hard work isn’t paying off as we’d like. Most of the time I find it important to remember the next breakthrough could literally be around the corner. I’ve experienced this with friendships, fitness, and many other areas of life. Frustrated with squats? Stick to your 12 week program, rest and fuel appropriately, and let the results speak for themselves.

Positive change doesn’t happen when you want it to happen, positive change happens when you put in the appropriate amount of work. Instead of basing your “success” on the end result alone, try your best to enjoy the PROCESS. In retrospect, the process will be the most rewarding part anyways!

Be patient and stay the course! You can do it.

I heard some really sad news today. While doing my normal morning scan of Facebook, my buddy Jason who is the one of the most active “mountaineers/back country explorers” I know, shared a link to an article talking about the death of Ueli Steck.

Now for most people, that name probably doesn’t ring a bell (even though it should). But for me, it hit a bit closer to home because I had been following Ueli’s, or the “Swiss Machine” as he was called, unbelievable mountain adventures ever since seeing the video below years ago!

I am pretty far from a daredevil and am mildly afraid of heights, so when I watched what he did I was completely shocked. First of all, why would someone WANT to climb the Eiger? Then, why would they want to do it as fast as they possibly could? Finally….. and this is the one that floored me most, why would someone choose to do this as a Free Solo climb?! That means he didn’t have any support ropes, harnesses, or protective gear. Yeah, Ueli climbed the 13,000+ ft. peak in the middle of “Winter Season” alone and with absolutely no supplemental safety equipment!

 

Every time an “extreme athlete” passes away doing something they love, I’m usually left with a myriad of emotions. While it’s always sad when a life is lost, there are a lot of people who say, “At least they went doing what they love.” That doesn’t mean I want to die eating a pizza just because I like doing that, but I see their point. While activities like sky diving or climbing mountains can be seen as “unsafe” by some, most of the athletes who choose to partake in these sports do their research, prepare for as many contingencies as they can, and accept that if things go wrong they would rather accept the consequences versus not taking the risk in the first place. That’s the exact reason why those activities aren’t for everyone.

Ueli inspired hundreds if not thousands of people with his accomplishments alongside mother nature. While his death is unbelievably sad, I hope his legacy will continue to live on forever. Rest in peace, sir.

 

Virtuosity is a word that gets thrown around in CrossFit a lot. It’s generally referred to as

“performing the common uncommonly well.” Today, I’m sharing to videos of people who embody that word.

I think Ive posted this before, but it’s worth sharing again. Séan Garnier is a freak! Just look at this control. The next time you’re near a soccer ball, just try ONE of these tricks. So cool to watch!

Also, how is this a thing? I’m still partially convinced that this is a fake video, haha.

The next time you’re near a bike.. do NOT try one of these tricks!

I have two younger brothers, and they are both amazing. When I say that, I mean I can’t hold a candle to either of them in pretty much anything, and that is so inspiring to say out loud! Still thinking….. nope… they’re amazing at pretty much everything.

Anyways, one of them is in a band called the Big Mean Sound Machine. Not only is that possibly the coolest band name of all time, (right?!) but they can GROOVE!! Last week, they released their first ever Music Video for their song “Seeing the Bigger Picture” and it’s really cool.

I love playing Big Mean songs when I’m running around and need an awesome groove to keep me moving, and this song is no different! Take a watch, and let me know what you think. In a place like the gym, it could very easily be played during a warm-up or cool down period to keep energy high, but not overwhelm people with guitars or bass drops. Really good stuff.

So proud of you, Duke!

For the last 8.5 years, almost to the day, CrossFit has been a huge part of my life.

In that time, I’ve ranged from being a rabid advocate of the program, badgering everyone I knew to try it with me like a beach vendor who nearly accosts foreigners in hopes of selling them his local trinket… to the head coach of a gym with over 350 members, who didn’t feel the need to push it on anyone, rather just loved the program because he knew it worked.

I’ve had periods of time where I would spend nearly three hours per day working out, completing two training sessions per day, 4 days per week, I’d compete in local events every few weeks to try and put my fitness to the test, and I looked forward to planning my next soul-crushing workout each every day. There have also been times where I simply couldn’t find the motivation to pick up a barbell because it just didn’t feel fun anymore.

Now, I find myself at a crossroads.

Recently, I’ve experienced more change at the same time than at any other point in my life. Usually, life spreads the big things out, at least a little! In the last 6 weeks however, I’ve left my job, planned to move across the country, got married, traveled to Brazil to visit family, decided not to move after all, and had the privilege of learning how much fun it can be to look for a house in one of the most competitive Real Estate markets in the entire country. That’s a lot in a month and a half!

What’s crazy, is that it’s all really positive change! Some people are hit with bad break after bad break, yet for me, these have been really good. I think the kids say #Blessed, right?

The crossroads has to do with what I will do for fitness now. Do I stick to CrossFit? Maybe a strength/squat cycle to focus on getting stronger and improve my technical movements? Is it time to head back to a Globo gym and try to get those 6-pack abs in time for summer? Do I go cardio for a bit, and get into running or swimming? Obviously the answer that me, the coach, tells myself is to do it all! I live in a place where you can be as active as you’d like outside. I’ve got so many friends who own or coach at CrossFit gyms that it shouldn’t be that hard to find people to train with here and here. And the thought of a “Bi’s/Back” and “Tri’s/Chest” training regimen really doesn’t seem that bad some days!

The reason it’s so tough for me to decide is because I had always convinced myself that I needed to train FOR something. I had to be in a squat cycle because if not, how would I get stronger? If I wasn’t Snatching at least once per week, I’d lose all of my “gainz” and regress. Want to do burpees without stopping? Then keep doing burpees! But at the end of the day… why does it matter?

I always tell people that CrossFit can prepare you for just about anything. It will make just being active more fun. So, with that logic, I don’t need to go through brutal workouts all the time. Visiting the “Pain Cave” every time the clock counts to “3, 2, 1, GO” isn’t required for someone to be fit. It isn’t required to be healthy. It’s only required if the END GOAL is being a good CrossFit athlete. And I’m not sure that’s what I want right now.

I’ll tell you what though, it’s hard to say that to myself and not feel like I’m letting “2011 Tom” down just a little bit!

Over the next few weeks I’m going to assess what makes me happy, what gets me fired up to go do, and what I find to be…. fun! I have always told people that fitness should be something you enjoy (even when I wasn’t necessarily feeling that way myself), and I want to get back to that place.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Who knows, there might be a competition or race I decide to train for sometime in the next few months!

Wish me luck!

Alright.

Enough.

As someone who typically tries to present himself as confident and capable on the outside, I’ve battled with some internal struggles for most of my life. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before….

“I worry that the work I produce isn’t ~good enough~ for others.”

Now, reading those words, I want to slap myself silly and give the same advice I’d give anyone else who has ever come to me with that same concern. And you know what? That exact conversation HAS happened dozens, if not hundreds of times. People who I know often share that same fear that they have with me… and all I can think is to tell them how silly they’re acting. Of COURSE they’re good enough. Of course people care about, and believe in, what they say. Of course they are adding value in whatever topic they’re considering discussing. Yet, I occasionally turn around and question myself with those very same thoughts.

First of all, what does “good enough” even mean?! I started this blog back in 2010. Ha! Read that again. Two thousand and ten. We were just kids, then! No, I’m serious… babies. The number one song on the Billboard charts that year… Tik Tok by Ke$ha. (You’re welcome, Birddog)

In 2010, CrossFit wasn’t even a fad yet, and I had already found myself completely consumed in the belief that fitness could make the world a better place. This blog started as my way to try and help as many people as possible. It allowed me to share things I was learning that I felt could make others either better, faster, stronger, healthier… or at the very least leave them a little bit entertained. Fast forward SEVEN years. This hobby that I found, then became a passion, then a part-time job, and then a full-time job. I found exactly what I had wanted to do with my life. I found a way to utilize a skill set I convinced myself I had to HELP others. And in turn, to be honest, help myself.

I share that to give context to the “good enough” idea I have battled with since before I can remember. I wasn’t the best coach. I didn’t know everything about human anatomy and physiology. I couldn’t provide the perfect nutrition plan for someone. But when I was in my element, none of those thoughts even entered my brain. If I had an athlete in front of me, I’d do everything I could to help them to the best of my ability. If someone emailed me about how to recover from not being able to walk down stairs after heavy squat day, I’d give them the best answer I had. If an athlete wasn’t losing those last 3-6lbs of fat they aimed to shed, I’d give them advice based on what I knew. And when I didn’t know an answer… I’d look it up. I’d learn. And then I’d share again.

It was so easy for me to do when I was dealing with ONE person. But when I’d get home and open up the laptop to write a post, the doubt would start to creep in. I’d tell myself reasons why MY opinion probably didn’t matter. Or why I may have been wrong on this one topic. It was so easy for me to NOT EVEN TRY, knowing that there will always be haters out there. The thought of one negative comment squandered my desire to try and help even one person.

Not anymore.

The good news for me, is that I have never claimed to be perfect. In fact, some of the most impactful interactions I’ve had with clients, friends, and strangers through this blog have stemmed from PRODUCTIVE conversations where contrasting opinions met head-to-head.

That’s my super weird way of saying that I’m going to start writing again. I’m going to share my thoughts and opinions on things that go on in the world of fitness (and other places, too). I’m going to get back to sharing videos and stories and books that make me happy. Or make me think. Or make me cringe. I’ll get back to letting you know if I try and like (or hate) a new product. And I’m doing this because as one of my very good friends has told me for over a decade now: “Your network is your net worth.”

It’s connecting with all of you that has always what filled me with the most joy! THAT is why I started this blog in the first place. To connect with my “network” of friends, whether near or far. Whether I coached them that day, or had never even met them in person. The ability to connect with and learn from a worldwide network is what has always motivated and inspired me!

So, how am I going to get over the “is this good enough” concern I’ve always had? I’m simply going to try and silence that voice of doubt. I’m going to try NOT to always be my own worst critic to the point where it stops me from even trying.
What’s one way that a person can get better at a skill or craft? Do it more often, right? Practice. And while I know that practice doesn’t really necessarily make perfect, I do think that writing more frequently will continue to give me more confidence in how I communicate. It will let me feel that there is at least ONE person out there (thanks for reading, Mom!) who might benefit from the information I can provide or share.

So, as I sit in a crossroads in my own personal life, I invite you all to join me on this journey of self-discovery and vulnerability.
It’s about to get real.

You know what? It already feels good to be back!

-Smashby