10 Los Angeles CrossFit Gyms Making This Town a Little Bit More Badass

To us CrossFit isn’t just about box jumps and burpees. It’s about building a healthy life, becoming a stronger person and building friendships with people in our community. For us, CrossFit is about getting into life patterns of eating, exercise and community that will build a long lasting pattern of strength.

What gets us up every morning is the idea that together we are making a place where the stresses of jobs and traffic, and the limitations that try to hold us back, are left at the door. CrossFit is the best way that we’ve found to get stronger, break barriers and grow with other people right from our neighborhood in Los Angeles.

If you can’t tell, we are kind of passionate about this. That’s why we’ve created this guide to our favorite CrossFit Gyms in Los Angeles. These guys are doing awesome things in each of their neighborhoods.

Deuce Gym – Venice Beach

Duece Gym

Deuce has grit and swagger. Their operation runs out of a retired auto service shop and their philosophy is all about what they call General Physical Preparedness (GPP). That means that their core classes focus on the basics. Beyond GPP though, Deuce offers specialized classes in Olympic lifts, Strongman and Goal Setting. We love what these guys are doing and are stoked that they are part of the CrossFit community here in LA.

CrossFit Ganbatte – Los Angeles

CrossFit Ganbatte

Ganbatte is a Japanese word that means do your best. That’s what this gym has built its culture on. That perspective gives Ganbatte a family feel and is something we really find inspiring about them. If you are in the Los Angeles CrossFit community long, one thing you’ll hear consistently about Ganbatte in that people love the coaching and attention that JP and his team gives. Besides that, they name their workout classes things like “lunch break” and “rush hour”, that’s just cool. Keep it up guys.

CrossFit Mean Streets – DTLA

CrossFit_Mean_St

CrossFit Mean Streets is about playing to win. Their coaching staff is mad up of athletes from track stars to break dancers and their workouts are ambitious. CrossFit Mean Streets is in the heart of downtown and they bring that gritty urban vibe to their industrial space every day. These guys and girls are rocking it in every way and we are glad to have them in the neighborhood.

 CrossFit Eagle Rock – Eagle Rock

CrossFit Eagle Rock

CrossFit Eagle Rock does a great job bringing inspiration through stories from its members. We love that. A few minutes spent browsing through their featured athletes and you’ll hear stories of broken barriers, renewed ambition and community. The CFER coaching team runs with a solid coaching staff that has diverse backgrounds in fitness and nutrition. These guys are a class act through and through.

 Crossfit 626 – Pasadena

Crossfit 626

CrossFit 626 started in a Garage when Pam, Nicole and Brandon needed a place to train friends and co-workers. Although they’ve since outgrown their garage, they’ve continued to keep classes intimate and accessible and have kept a big emphasis on community. Their offering includes customized classes for kids, adults and seniors. These guys are passionate about strength and full body wellness and we’re glad that they are rocking the 626 area code with some top notch CrossFit training.

 CrossFit High Voltage – Burbank

Crossfit High Voltage

CrossFit High Voltage is exactly that. They bring energy and expect results in their Burbank box. The founder was a member of the US national Taekwondo team for 8 years and found CrossFit after retiring from the team. In 2009 he and his wife started their box. CFHV has boot camps, personal training and some great WODs. All in all, we think they are pretty cool.

 DogTown CrossFit – Culver City

Crossfit Dog Town

DogTown CrossFit has been in the game here in Los Angeles for 4 years now. The Culver City box was the collaboration of three life-long athletes. The owners came to the table with backgrounds in Olympic level Judo, elite level gymnastics, and competitive snowboarding among other things. These guys are serious about fitness and they offer split-level classes to be sure that every athlete gets the right attention. Love these guys attention to detail and the community they are building in Culver City.

 CrossFit Training Yard – Toluca Lake

Crossfit Training Yard

The Training Yard is the home of 7-time CrossFit games competitor, Becca Voigt. That means that outside of fitness and nutrition, the gym brings a unique competitive experience that fuels work towards member’s fitness goals. This gym brings high expectations and backs them up with the training to get there. Keep rocking Toluca Lake guys.

CrossFit LA – Santa Monica

Crossfit_LA

CrossFit LA just hit their 10 year anniversary. Their program is top notch in just about every way and we love their philosophy that recognizes that fitness starts in the mind and then becomes a way of life. CrossFit LA does all of their own programming for the box and spends time focusing on practice, competition and mental toughness. CFLA is making Santa Monica that much cooler.

 CrossFit Rep Scheme – Northridge

CrossFit RepScheme

CrossFit RepScheme is breaking PRs in Northridge. Their gym has a solid facility with all the toys and a great community of people that are going after a higher level of fitness. CFRS has thrown down some deep roots in Northridge and gives members all kinds of opportunities to get involved in local causes. They even got recognized recently as the business of the month in that area. Love what you guys are doing, keep it up!

Constantly Varied…Mobility?

This-Is-How-I-Roll-GirlWe define CrossFit as constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity. But does this notion of “constantly varied” apply to our mobility and recovery? Absolutely!

Everyone probably has a go-to set of mobility exercises, whether it’s foam rolling, the lacrosse ball or the CFCOA cool-down stretches on the back wall. But doing the same mobility movements over and over can be just as limiting as doing the same movement in a workout.

Here are some ideas to broaden your mobility regime:

Change the Tool

If you favor the foam roller, drop it for a while and instead pick up a lacrosse ball or the weird blue plastic thing that looks like an adult toy. Working the same muscle but with a different implement may change the angle and intensity enough to help you see some better results.

Change the Style

While self-myofascial release (AKA foam rolling) is great for “smushing” sore muscles and aiding in recovery, there is strong evidence supporting contract-relax proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) for actually improving mobility. PNF is when you flex a muscle and then let it relax so that you can get even deeper into a stretch. Often you’ll do a PNF stretch with a band or a box, like here.

Educate Yourself

We have a library of great books at the front desk. If you have mobility problems in a particular area of your body, take a look at Becoming a Supple Leopard or one of our other mobility books to get ideas for new stretches to target that area. The Internet is great for looking up videos, but stick to trusted sources such as breakingmuscle.com, catalystathletics.com, and crossfit.com.

Olympic Lifting Glossary

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.34.47 AMYou’ve been CrossFitting for nearly a year, but when your coach asks you to demonstrate a hang squat clean, beads of sweat begin to form over your brow.

Is that the one that goes over my head?

Sound familiar? If so, it’s time for you to study up a bit on names and terminology. Part of becoming a better athlete is knowing and speaking the language of the sport so you can better communicate with your coaches and fellow athletes.

Below is a glossary of basic lifting terms every CrossFitter should know.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic-style weightlifting isn’t just pushing a barbell around. It’s a specific athletic discipline in the Olympics in which an athlete attempts maximum-weight single lifts of the snatch and the clean and jerk. Deadlifts, for example, are part of barbell training, but are not one of the Olympic lifts.

The Movements:

Clean

A movement where an object (usually a barbell) is pulled from the floor and received in a front squat position with the object resting on one’s shoulders.

Jerk

A movement where an object (usually a barbell) is heaved from the shoulders and caught overhead, with arms locked out. The movement is finished when hips and legs fully extend. A push jerk refers to jumping and landing in a shoulder width stance. A split jerk refers to jumping and landing in a lunge.

Snatch

A movement where an object (usually a barbell) is pulled from the floor and caught in an overhead squat position.

Other Terms:

Complex

A complex is the combination of two or more different lifts combined into a single set. Complexes are typically employed for technical reasons or for training elements to improve speed, explosiveness or strength.

Concentric

The concentric phase of a lift is that during which the acting muscles are contracting. For example, the concentric phase of the squat is the phase of returning to a standing position from the bottom position. For a pull-up, the concentric phase is pulling one’s body upward to get the chin over the bar.

Eccentric

The eccentric phase of a lift is that during which the acting muscles are extending. It is sometimes referred to as the “negative” phase of the lift. As an example, the eccentric phase of the squat is the movement from standing down into the bottom position. Or for a pull-up, it would be lowering yourself back down.

HangScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.14.10 AM

The beginning position of a clean or snatch where the barbell starts above the knees (instead of the floor). If only the word “hang” is used, one can assume the barbell should start just above the knees. However, there are three distinct beginning points for the hang position: low hang, which is just above the knees; mid hang or “pockets,” where the bar is mid-thigh; and high hang, where the lifter is nearly upright, with the bar resting in the hip crease.

Hook Grip

A special grip used in the pull of the snatch and clean to ensure a secure grip during the aggressive acceleration of the bar. First, wrap your the thumbs around the bar, then grip the thumb with usually the first and second fingers and pull it tightly around the bar.

 

PowerScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.14.25 AM

Denotes the way in which a barbell is received during a clean or snatch: in a partial squat, as opposed to a full-depth squat. For example, a power snatch would be pulled from the floor, the barbell would be received over head and the person would be in a partial squat with hips above parallel. The term power refers to the receiving position—most commonly the cut-off point is a parallel squat. “Power” in this sense has nothing to do with the acceleration of the bar or the strength used to lift it.

Pulls

The clean and the snatch are broken down into three parts, or three “pulls.” Here’s what each part means:

First Pull

The first pull is the movement of the bar from its starting point on the floor until it reaches approximately mid-thigh, the point at which the final upward explosive effort is initiated. This is the slow, controlled beginning of the lift.

Second Pull

The second pull of the snatch or clean is final upward explosive effort of the lift, beginning when the bar reaches approximately mid-thigh and ending with the complete extension of the hips and knees. This is the part where we scream, “Explode!”

Third Pull

The third pull of the snatch or clean is the movement of the lifter under the bar after the final upward extension. Essentially, this is where we “catch” the bar.

Pulling Position

Pulling position refers to the position of the feet during the pull of the snatch or clean. Typically this is with feet stacked underneath our hips.

Receiving PositionScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.13.51 AM

Receiving position refers to the position of the feet when receiving the snatch, clean or power jerk. It is most often the same as the lifter’s squat stance, or just a few inches wider than the pulling position.

Study up on these terms, so that next time your coach asks you to do a hang power snatch, you won’t sweat it!

 

Organic Panic: When to Worry About the Standards of the Food You Buy

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 8.22.24 AMWith Memorial Day around the corner, many folks start looking to get their wayward diets in line before summer enters full swing. Even if you’re familiar with Paleo or Zone styles of eating, one perennial question that vexes most grocery shoppers these days is this: How important is it to buy organic? It’s a fair question, largely because there’s no clear answer.

First of all, let’s put the question of organic buying into proper proportion. How “clean” are you eating already? Does your diet include sufficient protein to sustain muscle mass, and are you consuming the proper nutrients to maintain efficient body function? Furthermore, are you eating whole, unprocessed foods, or does your diet contain packaged, processed items with an expiration date sometime in the next decade?

It’s important to ask these questions because they are far more important to your health than whether something is organic. Non-organic broccoli is going to serve you much better than that organic Ding-Dong (do they even make those?). So before you start worrying about organic, first look at whether your diet mostly consists of lean meats, vegetables, some fruits, and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and some oils. If this is how you eat, you’re already far ahead of most.

Only after your dietary habits are in line should you worry about the issue of buying organic. The truth is that buying everything organic all the time is not only difficult but expensive. You need to look at your budget and prioritize accordingly.

For fruits and vegetables, try to buy organic when you’ll eat the skin of the food (apples, lettuce, tomatoes). But don’t worry as much with foods that you peel (bananas, oranges, avocados). Farmers markets are often a great place to find organic produce at a reasonable price. There are regular farmers markets all over the city.

As for dairy and eggs, it depends on how much you eat of these items. Some research suggests that if you buy milk with fat, it’s worth the extra money to buy not just organic, but milk from grass-fed cattle. That’s because research has found that organic milk has 25% less omega-6 fatty acids (considered bad) and 62% more omega-3 fatty acids (considered good). Not all grocery stores may offer this. Organic, free-range eggs are great, and you can buy them by the dozen at the gym. They might be a bit more expensive than regular eggs, but they still remain one of the cheapest, most versatile protein sources around.

Meats and seafood get even more expensive. When you can afford proteins that are free range and pasture-raised or grass-fed, go for it. Not only will this meat likely contain fewer toxins or hormones, but it’s a better ethical choice if you care about animal welfare. Look for coupons and sales at your local stores. Having said that, if every cow you put in your mouth wasn’t massaged by day and read bedtimes stories at night, don’t stress about it too much. Instead, worry more about getting a proper balance of good proteins, carbs and fats in your diet.

Most of all, if you’re worried about getting in shape for summer, ease up on the booze and cut out the sugar, folks. Organic or not.

 

It’s Time For You to Get Your First Pull-Up!

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 3.59.54 PMYou’ve been CrossFitting now for three months. Six Months. Maybe more than a year. And still, despite your efforts, the strict, unaided pull-up remains elusive to you. It’s frustrating, and it’s time to make it stop!

What most athletes struggling with pull-ups need to work on is not technique so much as strength. Kipping becomes a nice way to string pull-ups together, but what you really need is the fundamental strength to do a strict pull-up.

Pull-up strength comes largely from the biceps, but not exclusively. You’re also engaging your trapezius, the muscle that runs along your upper back from your neck and down between your shoulder blades. The best way to build strength in particular muscles is to perform isolated movements, which can help target weak areas for more complex movements.

Below are some strength-building exercises to help get you to your first strict pull-up. Do each of these exercises once a week, adding in two days for rest and recovery. They’ll only take a few minutes, so come early before your workout and perform them as part of your warm-up.

Day 1: Ring Rows

You may have moved from ring rows to banded pull-ups, but ring rows remain a great tool for building strength in both your biceps and your traps. Do three sets of 5 to 10 repetitions, with a minute or two of rest in-between each set. If you can easily perform 10 reps, then walk your feet further forward of the rings (or up onto a box) to make your angle steeper (making the exercise more difficult).

Day 2: Banded Pull-Up Negatives

Using the thinnest band possible, perform three sets of 5 to 10 repetitions of strict pull-ups. But instead of dropping quickly, perform a slow three count as you lower your body and extend your arms. The slow, controlled movement of negatives helps to build strength. Rest a minute or two in-between each set.

Day 3: Struggle-Ups & Jumping Pull-Ups

Do three “struggle-ups” for max time (probably only 10-20 seconds each). A struggle-up is where, while hanging from a bar, you pull your body up toward the bar as far as you can and then hold it. It’s basically your attempt at a strict pull-up. You may only rise half an inch up from the hang position, but that’s OK. The point is you are actively pulling up with all of your strength and engaging your muscles. Finish each set with 10 jumping pull-ups. For a jumping pull-up, stand on a box or bumper plates until the pull-up bar comes to your wrist when you extend your arm upward. Then, holding the bar, jump up and use the momentum of your legs to help you get your chin up over the bar.

Day 4: Dumbbell Bicep Curls

Do three sets of 8-10 bicep curls on each arm. You can perform bicep curls multiple ways:

  1. Standing Dumbbell Curl with either one arm at a time, or both simultaneously.
  2. Concentrations performed on a bench, one arm at a time with a dumbbell.
  3. Barbell curl using an empty barbell.

Day 5: Bar Hang & Scapular Pull-Ups

Perform three sets of max hang from a bar with a minute or two of rest in-between. The max hang will help build your grip strength. Follow with three sets of 10 scapular pull-ups, which will help to build strength in your traps.

Even if you already have your pull-ups, these are great exercise for building bicep and trap strength. Repeat these exercises for four to eight weeks and you’ll be much closer to getting your first strict pull-up.

 

Reclaim Your Squat

Watch any healthy toddler and you’ll see that squatting is one of the easiest, most natural of movements. So why do so many of us have such a hard time doing one? There are many factors, but usually it boils down to decreased mobility due to age, lack of movement, and poor daily habits.

One of the best things you can do to improve in CrossFit—and to improve your overall ability to move through life—is to reclaim your squat. It is the building block of fundamental movements both in and outside the gym.

There are many exercises to work on your squat; here are a few to get you started:

First, Test Your Squat

Face a wall, with your feet stacked below your hips and your toes no more than four inches from the wall. Try to squat, sitting back and pushing your knees out. If you can’t get full depth from this position, it’s likely you have an immature squat. This means you have a tendency to “fold over” as you squat, making your torso go horizontal as you squat down. This may be a result of poor flexibility, or simply unfamiliarity with proper balance and use of your anterior leg muscles.

Squat with a BandIMG_0695

Wrap a medium band around a pole about 18″ off the ground and step into it. Place the band at the base of your spine, just above your butt, and take a step backward so there is tension in the band. Now squat to full depth and hold it. The support of the band will help you to shift your weight back further than you normally would without tipping over backward. Get a feel for what this is like, with your torso vertical and the bulk of your weight shifted toward the back half of your foot. You can also do this by simply squatting while straddling a pole.

Prayer Squat with WeightIMG_0688

Sit at the bottom of a squat with a bumper plate or a kettlebell. Keep your torso as vertical as possible in this position and sit for thirty seconds at a time. The weight will help push you into full depth, while at the same time providing a counterbalance that will allow you to shift your weight backward onto your heels. This works similar to a band but also helps you get into full depth because of the added weight. For an added stretch, use your elbows to gently push your knees out. The key is to go only as deep as you can while maintaining perfect form. Keep your back straight and strong; keep the weight evenly distributed on your feet.

Couch Stretch with Hip FlexorIMG_0693

Push one knee against a wall with your shin and the top of your foot going up along it, and then step forward into a lunge. You may want to use an ab mat to pad your knee. Carefully stand your torso up as much as flexibility allows, keep your hips square and facing forward. Hold for ten to fifteen seconds. For a more advanced stretch, grab your forward foot with the hand from the same side, turn your trunk toward your knee, and gently push your knee out with your elbow. This helps to stretch your hip flexors even more. Hold for ten to 15 seconds and then switch sides.

How’s Your Progress?

Proper positioning takes time. The more you practice, the better your squat will get. You can gauge your progress by using a medicine ball on bumper plates. Try squatting down into proper position, but stop as soon as your torso begins to fold over. This is the point at which you are losing squat control. It may only be three or four inches at first. Build up the medicine ball to that height using more bumper plates, and practice good squat form with this limited range of motion. Make a note of the height. Continue to practice the exercises above two or three times a week. Then, at the end of each week, set up a medicine ball again on bumper plates to see if your range of motion has improved. If the ball is lower than last time you tested, you’ve improved!

Mind Tricks for the Running WOD

runnerLet’s say you’re already doing everything you can to improve your running: You’re practicing POSE running, wearing the right shoes, and trail running in Griffith Park with Anthony every Sunday morning. If you’re not, drop what you’re doing and e-mail Anthony right now!

But let’s say you’re doing all that and you’re still not improving your time whenever running shows up on daily workouts. Like all things we do at CrossFit City of Angels, running is not only technique and conditioning—there’s also mental component to it. Your mind often tells you to stop long before your body does. Sometimes you need to trick your mind to help your body break through.

Here are some mind tricks to help you push through the running portion of your WOD:

Set Time Goals

You should know how long it takes for you to sprint 400 meters, run 400 meters and jog 400 meters. If you don’t, come in during open gym and have a coach time you! Depending on the WOD, pick a time/speed that’s appropriate to the workout and try to maintain that time for every run. Watch the clock when you run out the door and calculate what time you should return by. Never run without a goal in mind.

Pick a Pace Car

Your fellow athletes are one of the best tools for pushing yourself! Choose one or two athletes in your class who are slightly better at running than you. When you’re outside running with one of them, try to keep up. Or if they’re behind you, try not to let them pass you. Their slightly faster pace will push you harder that you’d typically run on your own. Don’t choose someone who is way faster than you or you’ll just get smoked.

Fast First, Slow Second

If you’re running a 400, try pushing yourself on the front end, during the first half as you run down to the stop sign. Then ease up a little bit on the way back so that your body can start to recover for whatever work you’re doing inside the gym. That way you can push yourself hard for half of the run and still give yourself time to catch your breath. If you can help it, avoid walking. Once you walk it’s hard to get back to running again.

Ten Steps of Rest

Use the distance between your barbell (or whatever you’re doing inside) and the door to walk and take deep breaths. You want to get oxygen into your system to prepare yourself for the run. But as soon as you hit the sidewalk, start your run. As you finish your run, rest again from the door to your barbell.

Dogs Pant, People Breathe

As you run, you’re going to be tempted to take short, quick breaths. Instead, focus on taking long, controlled inhales and quick but full exhales. Count three seconds of inhale and two seconds of exhale. This helps take your mind off the run and gives you the oxygen you need to keep pushing through.

 

 

ATOMIC Athlete of the Month: Caroline Netschert

Caroline ATOMIC 1

Caroline – because we’ve seen you continually make it to the gym when others would have quit long before,

because you always have a kick-butt attitude, because you inspire us to do better in our own lives.

Caroline you are ATOMIC April 2015 – because you deserve it! Congrats & thank you.

March Core Grads

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Congrats to Adebisi and Jan for graduating Core. On to bigger and better gains!

Kettlebell Seminar – April 11th

Kettlebells Seminar CommunityJoin us Saturday, April 11th from 10am til noon for an informational kettlebell seminar with Anton Summers. The cost is $35 for CFCOA members and $40 for non-members. See the attached flyer for details or email Jino at: jino@cfcoa.com to sign up or ask additional questions.