How the Core CrossFit Training Methodology was Turned Upside-Down (literally)

Written by Einar Leon

The CrossFit pyramid represents the theoretical development of an athlete. It is meant to be read from the bottom up, with the most important components at the bottom, and the least important at the top. If an athlete has a deficiency at any level of the pyramid, the components above will suffer. The idea is that, if a person progressively acquires proficiency at each level of the pyramid, then the individual’s goals will be met. In other words, there is a direct relationship between each level of the pyramid and the athlete’s goals. This training methodology was first published by Glassman in October 2002 as part of the CrossFit Journal titled “What is Fitness”.

CrossFit Pyramid

Unfortunately, this methodology is typically ignored. In most cases when you attend a CrossFit class, you will immediately note within the first 60 seconds that the “pyramid” is completely disregarded. A coach will ask people to gather by the whiteboard, then he/she will describe the workout of the day, talk about the stimulus of the workout, demonstrate the standards of movement, and correct people through the duration of the class. The coach will also provide some guidance on the amount of weight to be used, and the time required to complete the workout. The athletes on the other hand, will be searching the whiteboard for the name of the athlete who lifted the heaviest weight, or with the fastest time to beat. At no point during the class will the coach talk about your skills in the context of your fitness goals. Similarly, there will be no discussion whatsoever about your nutrition.

The methodology followed during a typical CrossFit class ends up looking more like the pyramid presented below. Assigning more importance to sport (e.g. competition between classmates), weightlifting (people are always trying to lift heavier weights disregarding proper technique or form), gymnastics (athletes admire those who are able to do cool stuff such as a muscle up), and metabolic conditioning (as coaches push athletes in class to move faster). Nutrition, is totally disregarded. In essence this pyramid is an upside-down representation of the original one conceptualized by Glassman.

Fake CF Pyramid

So, how did Glassman’s original methodology got turned upside-down? The answer is very simple: CrossFit was intended for one-on-one training, or small groups.

Yes, at the end of a large CF group class people will be sweaty, punished and trashed by the workout, but with no context to the athlete’s personal fitness goals. Large group classes give athletes a chance to improve their fitness, but they do not improve their quality of life in the long term. Do you disagree with this last statement? Really? Then ask anyone what the first word that comes into mind when you say “CrossFit”, their most likely answer: INJURY.

At IKAIKA our goal is not for you to feel trashed or punished at the end of class, instead our goals are:

  1. To equip you with the skills to live a better life.
  2. To provide a model of sustainable and repeatable fitness where you are not going to break down physically or mentally.
  3. To provide an environment where you are part of an authentic community of coaches who know you, and care about you. A coach for LIFE.

Our members get started on a one-on-one setting in order to get to know you at a more intimate level first. Then, after a series of private coaching sessions, we will make sure that you have the skills to join a group class. However, you will have regular follow-up appointments with your original coach, to make sure that you are in the right track. All of this will be done within the context of your personal fitness goals, just as Glassman’s original pyramid!

Find out more at:


Why the CF Group Class Model is a Disservice to Athletes

Written by Einar Leon

First, let’s be clear that I am not denying the effectiveness of group classes as they relate to general fitness. What I am criticizing is the fact that the quality of fitness has suffer over the quantity of athletes attending a group class. By piling people into a group class, the caliber of coaching is diminished, athletes are getting hurt, and people are not reaching their true fitness goals.

In an effort to meet an-ever increasing demand, the Group X business model was introduced to the CrossFit Community in 2006. The Group X business model is an import of a system widely used by martial arts, and its main goal is to put as many bodies into a group class by any means possible. CrossFit classes morphed from small groups of 4-6 individuals in the late 90s, to classes of up to 15-20 athletes observed today. Although large classes may have increased revenue for the owners, the negative impacts of this practice are still being felt to this day primarily by the athletes.

In a group class environment, it is practically impossible for a coach to address major form issues, or teach technically advanced movements, due to the difference in ability levels within the athletes. When new students show up to class, the trainer is forced to focus all attention and efforts on the newer athletes, while the most seasoned students are totally disregarded. At the end of class, the new student will never learn the complex movement at hand, and the loyal client will always be ignored. In other words, the additional energy invested with the new athletes by the coach is wasted, and any investments made with the veteran clients over time are completely lost. As a result, coaches quickly burn out and lose the desire to achieve excellence in coaching.  The athletes in turn, only receive substandard coaching.

The first word generally associated with CrossFit is injury. Make no mistake, this bad reputation was earned by the ever-increasing number of CrossFitters getting hurt, not because of the program itself, but by the substandard coaching described above. Regular people are thrown into classes expected to perform movements that take years to master, combine this with a trainer too busy to pay attention to detail, and the end result will always be injuries.

Now, if a coach is too busy because of the size of the class, then this coach will never have the opportunity to get to know each client individually. The athlete on the other hand, will not be able to explain to the coach the true reason why she or he is there. The opportunity to foster true relationships and rapport in between coaches and athletes is simply lost, and consequently the athlete will most likely never meet her/his fitness goals.

Back in 1996, Greg Glassman started with one-on-one sessions. Soon, as the popularity of his program soared, Greg was forced to shift his sessions, from one-on-one, to small groups.  The true reasons behind his success were the effectiveness of the program, and the quality of the service brought on by on-on-one sessions. The program is still the same, however its implementation is different. The quality of the coaching and its results have been diluted by the Group X business model. Moreover, injuries and unmet fitness goals are prevalent issues resulting from this model.

The group model is what gave birth to what we know now as “community.”  Camaraderie, friendship, and support are some the terms people use to describe the benefits of community.  However, the groups class model can only be effective if every person within the group meets his/her fitness goals. This level of competency can only be achieved by forming strong personal bonds with the athlete, which can only be met by one-on-one coaching. The benefits: increased quality of coaching, reduction of injuries and happier athletes and coaches.

Find out more at:

How Food Influences your Mood

Written by Einar Leon

The connection between our food, neurotransmitters, and blood sugar regulation means that how we feel depends a lot on what we eat.

Eating too much sugar may make you depressed. One large study on subjects from six different countries found that eating a lot of sugar and feeling depressed were closely related. This may be from chronically elevated insulin —the body’s continuous attempt to clear the constant onslaught of sugar from the bloodstream may cause mood crashes.

Having enough omega-3 fatty acids seems to put us in better moods. Include more nuts, fish, and seafood (like salmon, sardines, mackerel, crab and oysters) in your diet to get these happy healthy fats. (Bonus! Oysters are a great source of zinc too.)

Consuming too much vegetable oil, hydrogenated fats and trans fats may worsen our moods. These omega-6 fats make it hard for our body to process omega-3 fatty acids. Low levels of omega-3s are linked to symptoms of depression, being crabbier, and even being more impulsive. (Which can mean poor food choices — a vicious cycle.)

Omega-6s may also increase inflammation, which can affect our brains. Many neurodegenerative disorders and mental health issues are linked to brain inflammation.

Eating lean proteins including chicken, turkey, and fish increases your consumption of tryptophan. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps us feel relaxed and happy.


NEVER QUIT eating right to feel Great!

Short Term Discomfort, for LONG term GAINS

Written by Einar Leon

As the middle of Fall is upon us, the days are getting shorter, the mornings are beginning to get colder, and waking up to go to CF class at 6am is becoming a real challenge. It is just as challenging to step out of my comfort zone during this time of the year, however today, thanks to coach Nik’s keen eye, he forced to do things the right way.

Today’s workout consisted of 4 rounds of 21 DL, 15 Box Jump-overs, 9 Push Presses, all lifts at 135 lbs for Rx. In my attempt to make this WOD as comfortable as possible for myself, I decided to do the DL at 135, and the push presses at 115 lbs by using two separate bars. When Nik noticed that I was setting two bars, he immediately called me out and said “you cannot do that!”  “If the deadlifts are too light, then you are going to have to do them faster.”

Of course the deadlifts were not light at all, but the push presses were too heavy. My reasoning was that since I weight 150 lbs, the push press was at 90% of body weight.  It was then that I realized that I was not being honest with myself, I was just looking for excuses to go easy, just because I just wanted to be in bed again.

So today I would like to thank Nik for calling me out, and forcing me to go through SHORT term discomfort, for LONG term GAINS!!

Thank you Nik!


NEVER QUIT, Always seek short term discomfort, for long term gains!

Adapt and Overcome

Written by Einar Leon

The level of physicality and mental toughness needed to win a bronze medal for rowing at an event representing the United States, can only be achieved by a special breed of athlete. Completing a self-supported 5,200-mile bike ride from Main to California, requires incredible levels of tenacity and dedication. These are only two examples of the many challenges that Retired USMC Sergeant Rob Jones, has successfully accomplished after serving two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The unique characteristic about Rob is that he does these things not for fame or fortune, instead his mission is to help those around him to become physically and mentally stronger.

Rob Jones’ unique character traits were forged in 2007 when he joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Virginia Tech. These qualities were sharpened and refined during combat between 2008 and 2010. There, Rob put into practice his favorite USMC mantra “Adapt and Overcome.” The idea is simple, change whatever you need to, in order to become what is required to transcend an obstacle. If there is no bridge over a river, swim. If there is a wall in front of you, blow it up. Change your plan as many times as needed in order to complete your mission.

On July 22nd, 2010 Rob encountered his biggest challenge yet, he was injured by and IED while in Afghanistan where he lost both legs becoming a bi-lateral above the knee amputee. Days later, Rob arrived to the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to start his incredible recovery and to put into practice the valuable lessons he learned from the Marine Corps.

At Bethesda, Rob realized that feeling bad about himself and his situation was a waste of time and energy. He decied to do anything in his power to make his new life as good as possible. Because he thrives through challenges, Rob decided right there and then that he was going to take up the sport of rowing and someday make it to the Paralympic Games. After his battle wounds were completely healed, Rob was transferred to Walter Reed Hospital to start his rehabilitation process. At Walter Reed, Rob learned to walk, run, row, and bike using his new prosthetic legs. Then, just over two years after his accident, Rob won the 2012 London Paralympic Games bronze Medal with his rowing partner. In 2013 they placed 4th in the World Rowing Championships.

In 2013, Rob raised $126,000 by riding his bicycle from Bar Harbor, Maine to Camp Pendleton, CA in the middle of winter. To complete this feat, Rob purchased a box truck and outfitted it with a rug and a pair of cots, so that he and his brother could rest on the side of the road. All the money raised after 6 months of riding was given to the Salute America’s Heroes, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and Ride 2 Recovery charities. As if a grueling bike ride across country was not enough, Rob set his sights on the Triathlon event for the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games, starting his formal training in 2014. Unfortunately, he was unable to qualify, but this small set back did not deter Rob from planning his next challenge: 31 marathons in 31 days.  This challenge will start on October 12, 2017 in London, England, and will conclude on November 11, in Washington, DC check his schedule HERE.

Rob offers the following analogy which clearly illustrates his philosophy in dealing with unsurmountable challenges. Imagine yourself doing a strict press, if you just hold that bar on the shoulders and leave it there without doing anything, eventually the weight will crush you. Now, if instead, you decide to press the bar, and then press it again, and again, eventually your body will adapt. You will then be stronger, and dealing with the bar will be an easy task.

If you wish to learn more about Rob, or support any of his charities please visit his website at: You can also support Rob by spreading his story. Share his website and information with all of your friends. Rob will be in Charlotte on Thursday November 9, 2017 doing the 29th leg of the 31 marathons, support him and join me by showing up to run with him, or just to cheer him on.

NEVER QUIT, Adapt and Overcome!


Photo provided by Rob Jones

Changing the World with Kindness and Passion

Written by Einar Leon

In an era where most young adults are preoccupied with school debt, the job market, and the latest technologies and trends, it is very rare to find someone with true dedication, passion and commitment to help the most vulnerable and less fortunate in this world.  My friend and fellow CrossFitter Anna Martin has devoted herself and her career to improve the quality of life of disabled children in developing countries, these rare qualities make her a very unique and inspiring person.

As a teenager, Anna found her true calling during a trip organized by her church to visit Kenya to provide assistance to the indigenous population. She was particularly impressed by the true happiness that local children exhibited when they witnessed church volunteers helping other children. This (among other things), made Anna fell in love with the place, the children, and the culture; somehow Kenya had become her home-away-from home, and vowed to go back at any cost to provide more assistance.

As a direct result of her trip, Anna decided to pursue a career on a related field and obtained a BA in International Studies from NCSU in 2009, and a Masters in Public Policy, Disability Policy and international Development from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University in 2017. As a student, Anna joined the Peace Corps were she fiercely fought for an assignment to Kenya fulfilling her promise to return.

While in Kenya Anna was tasked to assist deaf students. Although this may sound like a simple task to you, this was a challenging job for several reasons. First she had to learn Kenyan Sign Language on the spot. Second, because of the local culture, the education of disabled children is considered almost a waste of time. Finally, these children did not have the resources to attend school, and therefore Anna had to somehow make sure that these children made it to school every day. Thanks to Anna’s persistence, passion and commitment she was able to successfully overcome all obstacles. In the process, Anna developed a very special bond with her students, to whom she refers to as “My Kids.” To this date, almost 10 years latter Anna still gets in touch with her kids via Skype, and she still does everything in her power to help them in any way she can.

At this point it is important to note that Anna is very careful in the way she renders help to those in need. First and foremost Anna makes sure that the people she helps do not become fully dependent on that help. Anna works with organizations such as RTI in programs that ensure full economic independence. For example, one these programs trains females on how to become business owners by making and selling their own jewelry, forcing them to be independent and in charge of their own future.

Besides helping those in need, Anna is very committed to her CrossFit community to the point in which she has established herself  in Durham because she loves her CrossFit family. When she is not at the gym crushing WODs, you will find Anna running or training for some kind of running event.

If you would like to help with any of Anna’s organizations abroad or sponsor one of her kids, please make sure to contact her for more details. She is an amazing person, and she is truly changing the world with true kindness and passion.

Photos Provided by Anna Martin


NEVER QUIT making the world a better place!

The Right Thing to Do

Written by Einar Leon

During this week’s news coverage of hurricane Harvey in Texas, the story of “Mattress Mack” deserves especial attention due to the level of true compassion that this successful Houston business man demonstrated in support of his community.

Jim McIngvale is the owner of the Gallery Furniture store and due to his success as a business man, he has been a local celebrity known as Mattress Mack since the mid 80’s. As soon as hurricane Harvey made landfall, McIngvale posted on social media that two of his galleries were open, not for business, but to offer shelter and food for those in need. Furthermore, Mattress Mack used his fleet of delivery trucks to rescue those who were stranded due to the raising waters, and brought them back to his stores. McIngvale made it very clear during an interview that he was doing all of this for the community because it was the “right thing to do”, it was what his “parents would have done”.

Mattress Mac’s motivation to help people was clearly not political or religious. Instead, he was driven by basic human decency and values instilled in him by his parents. Unlike politicians or religious leaders who now more than ever seem to place more value on personal agendas and greed, Mr. McIngvale decided to do the right thing for his community, putting his personal needs aside.

NEVER QUIT doing the right thing!

Increase your Performance by Being Positive

Written by Einar Leon

If you have ever painted a wall on your own, you may remember finishing up that last coat of paint and standing in the middle of that room appreciating the fruits of your hard work. Then, all of the sudden you noticed a tiny area that you missed with the roller, and then you found another spot, and another, until you find all the little places where you missed. When you called on someone else to check your work, that person most likely did not notice anything until you pointed the tiny little defects out.

A similar phenomenon may be at play when you buy a brand new pair of shoes.  As you go about your day wearing your new shoes, inexplicably you begin to pay attention to everybody else’s shoes, and then you start to notice that a lot of people are in fact wearing the same type of shoes you just purchased. This mechanism is a result of evolution and it is called “Selective Attention.” It was developed to help us remember the poisonous fruit we were not supposed to eat, or the venomous snake were supposed to avoid. Unfortunately our nature is to notice things first from a negative perspective, and this has a direct effect on everything else we do.

Take for example working out outside in really hot weather. Even before you start exercising, by nature (and without thinking) you may make a comment about how hot it is. Then, automatically the brain goes into overdrive analyzing all of the negative effects of the heat, and how that affects you. Thoughts of thirst, how hard it would be to work out in high temperatures, or even quitting flood the mind. Soon enough you feel totally discouraged before you start moving. Now, how do you think this frame of mind is going to affect your exercise? Negatively, and as a consequence your performance will suffer.

Consider the same example, but this time around instead of complaining about the heat, imagine that you recognize that training in the heat will increase you conditioning and working capacity. The mind will then switch into a more positive state, concentrating instead in the real task at hand which is the workout itself, automatically improving performance.

By keeping the mind focused on the positive aspects of a particular situation, negative thoughts are immediately shunted, allowing the brain to process inputs and outputs more efficiently and therefore allowing us to complete the task at hand more easily. This is the reason why Ben Bergeron instituted the “Never whine. Never complaint. Never make excuses” with his athletes, in his own words: “Everybody has bumps in the roads, stop focusing on the bumps, and keep driving.”

NEVER QUIT looking for the positive angle of each situation!


Written by Einar Leon

Earlier this week my 9-year-old daughter was tasked with writing a bio-poem as part of an in-class assignment, she wrote:

“Kind, funny, smart, colorful. Daughter of Rona and Einar. Lover of reading and science. Who feels happy and excited. Who needs food. Who gives happiness. Who fears the dark. Who would love to see a dolphin. Who enjoys school. Who likes to wear shorts and T-shirts. Resident of Durham.”

Reading this poem made realize that she is clearly aware of her personality, her capabilities, her fears, and more importantly her level of happiness. Consequently, I feel extremely lucky for having the opportunity to read it. But, it also made me aware of the fact the she will not be a little girl for much longer. She doesn’t give me a hug as often when I pick her up from school. She refuses to give me a kiss good bye when I drop her off. She will soon prefer to spend time with her friends rather than “wasting” her time with her family.

It is because of these events that I have decided to change my perspective when it comes expressing gratitude towards my family. For example, tonight after my wife came back from the grocery store, my oldest informed her that she was out of toothpaste. In an effort to save my wife another trip to the store, I immediately jumped at that chore. Not because “I had to”, but because “I got to”, in other words I am lucky that I have a family and I get the opportunity to do things for them. Tomorrow “I do not have to” take the kids to the dentist, instead I am fortunate that I can take time off work and I “get to” take my kids to the dentist, other parents do not have that chance. I do not “have to” go to work tomorrow, instead I am lucky to have a job that gives me the ability to provide for my family, and therefore “I get to” go to work. Today I was extremely lucky because “I got to” have lunch with my wife and spent some time together.

NEVER QUIT being grateful for what you got!

Get True Satisfaction out of Your Training

Written by Einar Leon

Do you remember the day that you got your first promotion? Or the day that you purchased your first car? What about that day that you got your first PR on your deadlift? It is almost certain that you experienced satisfaction during any or all of these events, but how long did it really last? The most likely answer to this question is “not long enough”, but why?

Unfortunately we have been conditioned by society to believe that satisfaction is on the other side of achievement, but achievement is always a moving target. Take for example the PR for your deadlift, as soon as you achieved that 1 RM, you were already thinking about ways to go even heavier. The same for your Fran time, the moment that you achieved that new record time, you were already thinking about ways to make it even faster. And therefore the satisfaction that you got out of these achievements was very short lived, because we tend to compare ourselves against a better version of us, which in turn is an ever moving target. The same principle applies to promotions, buying a new car, or being the fastest one to complete the WOD, satisfaction in every single one of these instances is transient and short lived because there is always bigger and better out there.

On the last posting of this blog we covered the topic of practice and training during class as an efficient way to truly improve your strength and conditioning. Now, if you add the commitment to improve your movement during your training/ practice sessions to the best of your ability, then you are holding yourself accountable to a higher level of performance. Executing a WOD at a higher level of personal performance does not mean that you will be faster or stronger that day. In fact it will make the WOD harder and most likely is going to slow you down, because moving properly is HARD, however the level of satisfaction that you get out of the workout that day will be high and long lasting. Furthermore, the longer you do this, the better your movement will get with time, and the more improvements you will experience in the future.

Think about it, knowing that you put your best effort at completing a challenging task has nothing to do with how much you lifted, or how long it took you to complete it. It has everything to do with the confidence that you gave your best effort. Knowing that you gave your best effort at anything will always make you feel fulfilled, it will bring you joy, and more importantly this type of satisfaction is long lived since you are in total control of it! The endorphins that you get out of this will make you want to do it more, creating a POSITIVE cycle in which you will always strive to perform to the best of your ability, giving you a true sense of satisfaction

NEVER QUIT! Always perform to the best of your ability, and you will be fully satisfied!

You May Be “Training” Yourself Out of Shape

Written by Einar Leon

As CrossFitters, we believe that showing up to class as often as possible and doing the WOD constitutes training, however that notion is not true in most cases.

Upon arriving to class, most CrossFitters follow one of these behaviors: a) we anxiously search the board to find the athlete with fastest time, or heaviest load and use this as the standard to beat for that day. b) We rapidly shift through our personal notes, and find the time or weight achieved the last time the same WOD was performed to set that as the goal for the day.  c) Once the WOD starts, we engage in a head-to-head competition trying to beat each other until a clear winner is identified on the board.  If you are doing any of these things every time you show up to class you are NOT training. Instead, by definition, you are COMPETING!

Competition is a contest, it is the ultimate test of our abilities against another human being. As such, competition does almost nothing to improve our skill, conditioning or strength. To the contrary, because of the maximum effort invested in trying to win, form and technique tend to suffer. Moreover maximum efforts put a great amount of stress on our bodies, and any possible metabolic benefits are minimized.

The only way to increase strength, improve movement and conditioning is by practicing, and then training. Boxers don’t’ just jump into a fight the same day a fight is announced. Instead, boxers spend months in “training” camps in preparation for a fight. Pianists are unable to play Beethoven’s piano concertos right off the bat, instead they train and practice for years before showcasing their talents in a public performance. During football season, NFL teams practice and train rigorously throughout the week to be in the best shape possible to compete on Sunday. CrossFit should be approached in exactly the same way. The only way to improve your strength and conditioning is by practicing and training, not by competing yourself to death every single day at the gym. Living proof that this “radical approach” to CrossFit “training” works is on TV right now! Katrin Davidsdottir was able to become the 2015 and 2016 champion by concentrating in practice and training during the off-season. She limited testing her abilities against other CrossFitters to about once a week.

Practice should be done with weights below 65% of 1 RM and without raising your heart rate, with the sole purpose of improving technique and mechanics in an effort to instill “muscle memory”… Yes, practice is boring!  Training should be done with weights above 65% 1RM, raising your heart rate with the purpose of improving conditioning and increasing strength. Competition should be done as an ultimate test of Practice and Training. Ideally you should be spending 45% of yout time practicing, 45% training, and only 10% competing. This means that if you attend the gym 5 days a week, then once every 10 days you should test your improvements by engaging in a form of PRODUCTIVE competition.


NEVER QUIT practicing and training! Stop competing every day! Be Patient it takes time.


Written by Einar Leon

Just recently I started listening to Bergeron’s Podcast. Every episode starts with the same intro, an audio clip in which you can clearly hear Bergeron saying something rather interesting and insightful: “What confidence is, has nothing to do with winning or the leader board. What confidence is, is knowing that you giving your best effort, is enough.”

Last weekend I witnessed the realization of Bergeron’s statement while doing a partner WOD. That day my partner completed a 1k run for the first time in years. Thanks to significant improvements in nutrition, body composition and conditioning, my partner had all the elements necessary to complete the run, and decided to put an all-out effort.  Confidence, one of the most basic components of character, allowed my partner to do something that just weeks before appeared impossible.

It is evident to me now that for an athlete, character traits such as confidence may be more important than physical ability. Confidence and character building activities should become an important part of the training regiment of any athlete, not only to improve physical ability, but more importantly, to help athletes become a better person in general. As a coach, it is now my mission to help athletes with the development of character as well as physical ability.

NEVER QUIT, knowing that you giving your best effort, is enough!

You will be Missed Jerry

Written by Einar Leon

Imagine showing up to a brand new gym for your first official CrossFit class at 6:15 in the morning. Picture yourself standing among a group of strangers who, in your own mind are one-thousand times in better shape than you are. Would you feel intimidated, anxious, scared? To make things worse, everybody in class seems to be friends with everybody else, and perhaps they do not like newcomers. Then, one of these strangers, the one who looks the toughest because of his bald head and size (about 5’ 10” at a solid +200 pounds), walks directly towards you and blears out the most sincere “Good Morning” with the largest smile on his face, while giving you a hard pat on the shoulder as if he’d have known you for years. Wouldn’t you like that guy immediately? I did, his name: Jerry Hatfield-Berrang.

Jerry was always at CFD at 6:00AM, sometimes he would be there even before the coaches. For the most part, he took private coaching lessons, but regardless of how intense his workout was, Jerry would always cheer for everyone and anyone attending the group classes, especially for those who struggled the most. Sometimes, when running was part of the WOD, Jerry would go outside and stand by the entrance to encourage all runners. During competitions, Jerry would just show up to cheer for the CFD team. Jerry was one of the most positive individuals I’ve ever known.

Unfortunately Jerry passed on earlier this week.

You will be missed Jerry



Photos: Courtesy of David Rubin


NEVER QUIT, remembering those who make an impact in your life!

The Perfect Example of Perseverance

Written by Einar Leon

Last weekend we experienced the warmest Saturday in July with a temperature of 94 degrees at high humidity. Athletes at CrossFit Surmount were tasked that morning with completing a grueling ladder WOD in teams of 3. This workout involved 100 reps of 4 different movements arranged in an up and down ladder for a total of 700 repetitions. Because of the suffocating heat, most of the teams were unable to complete the workout within the 30 minute cap. However one team stood out due to the perseverance they exhibited.

Despite losing a team member towards the end of the workout due to the heat, my friends TJ and Karen battled the elements for the remainder of the workout. When the 30 minute cap was reached, it was announced that any teams wishing to complete the workout were more than welcome to do so. Only one team decide to continue: TJ and Karen. Through perseverance Karen and TJ worked in the heat for an additional 26 minutes until all reps were completed. During this time, both TJ and Karen consistently supported each other and kept a positive attitude. These women proved how tough and resilient they really are, despite all the setbacks experienced because of the nasty heat. AMAZING! 

You should be really proud of yourselves TJ and Karen.


NEVER QUIT, always persevere, always be positive!

Sweat Buddies

Written by Einar Leon

Partner workouts have never been a favorite of mine. Although I love exercising in the company of other people, partner workouts become stressful to me because I do not want to let my mates down in any way, shape or form. In other words, I fear disappointing my partners by not being able to carry my own weight. This irrational position was completely changed during the July 4th workout thanks to my buddy Seth.

While my original plan was to perform the 4th of July workout on my own, it became apparent rather quickly that a partnership was going to be needed given the large crowd of athletes that showed up to the gym that morning. Since Seth and I had arrived to the gym at the same time to stretch, it was a very logical decision to pick each other as buddies, however this was the moment in which the fear of disappointing Seth set in.

As we completed the warm-up, Seth turned to me and said with a big smile” I am getting sweaty!”, this comment alone made me realize that he was there to have fun, and this dissipated my fears of letting him down. I decided then to have fun as well. During the WOD we worked hard, and completed it before the given time cap. However, the greatest satisfaction came from finishing a grueling workout with Seth. Thanks to his great attitude and company I was able to enjoy a partner workout for the first time.

Seth July 4

NEVER QUIT, adjusting your attitude to get the best out of every situation!

A Truly Committed Coach

Written by Einar Leon

This past weekend I was fortunate to participate in a CrossFit competition with a team of friends. As in any other event of this nature, different teams set up tents to spend the time between events in the company of their team mates, coaches and family; however, there was a specific coach that stood out from the rest, my friend Jack.

Although Jack has a great personality and unique fashion style, he was very conspicuous because of the unconditional commitment to his athletes that he displayed that day. How? Well, Jack was there coaching and cheering for his athletes while holding his beautiful one-year old daughter in one hand, and wearing an orthopedic boot on his left leg. Yes, this guy showed up to a competition in a boot, while carrying his baby to fully coach his athletes and his wife Jennifer on every event. The level of Jack’s coaching, along with his presence were such an inspiring scene that the owner of the gym- where the competition took place, recognized Jack’s commitment on Facebook.


Also consider the fact that during the competition, Jack did not relinquish his duties as a father or a husband. In between events Jack was still taking care of his baby daughter and was very attentive to his wife Jennifer. It is also important to note that Jack was not only coaching for Bull City CrossFit and Southpoint CrossFit, he was also providing support to the teams representing CrossFit Durham. Jack has always been that way. Three years ago he offered the same level of encouragement for my team during a competition in Raleigh, despite the fact that we were not representing his box

Jack 2

Jack 1

After last weekend’s event Jack has redefined what a truly committed coach really means.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Louise Wiggen

NEVER QUIT, be as committed as Jack in anything you do!

How to Train In Hot Weather

Written by Einar Leon

Training during the summer months can be really challenging, but working out at high temperatures may actually have a fitness advantage if done correctly.

A study at the University of Oregon tracked the performance of 12 cyclists over a 2 week training period in 100 degree heat and 30% humidity. Another control group performed exactly the same workout in a 55 degree room also at 30% humidity. The researchers were surprised to find that the experimental group not only showed that they had achieved a level of heat acclimation, but the training also helped them to function better in cooler environments.

Despite these promising results, there are a few points to be considered while working out in the heat. The first is hydration, everybody knows that at high temperatures, we have to hydrate as much as possible but few are aware that you have to be careful with this practice. Whenever you are sweating profusely and gulping lots of water, you are rapidly flushing the water-soluble vitamins and minerals (such as vitamins B, C, and calcium) out of your body. Without an adequate re-supply of these vitamins and minerals your body cannot function properly. Early signs of deficiency include cramps, the shakes (muscle tremors), lightheadedness and tiredness. The solution, make sure to take an extra amount of water-soluble vitamins and minerals before working out in extreme heat. I recently tried this during the Ragnar, taking a dose of vitamin B12 with two caplets of magnesium prior to running, resulting in zero leg cramps or over fatigue.

The other factor that you should consider carefully is the humidity. At relative high humidity levels (40% or more) the body loses its natural ability to cool off through sweat. In such cases you should constantly cool off by whipping off with a cold wet towel, or by constantly dousing yourself with water. In cases where the humidity is really high, you should limit your workout time to less than an hour or completely skip a working out since you run the risk of raising your core temperature to levels where hypothermia is a real threat.

NEVER QUIT, Train hard in the summer, but be mindful of the heat!

Man’s Search for Meaning

Written by Einar Leon

This week, one of my favorite podcasts covered in depth a 1946 book titled Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust as an Auschwitz inmate. In the book Frankl details the horrors he endured, but most importantly he describes the strategy he developed to find the real meaning of life, which in turn allowed him to survive Auschwitz.

My favorite quote from the book reads: “it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us“. In other words, we need to stop thinking about the meaning of life, and instead we should start thinking about how to keep moving forward when bad things happen to us. Let’s face it, we all know that sometimes life is not fair, but instead of dwelling on it or feeling sorry about ourselves, it is more productive to face any challenges head on, and fight our way out of the hole.

NEVER QUIT, never dwell on the negative, keep moving forward!

No one Left Behind

Written by Einar Leon

While doing Murph this past memorial weekend I was very fortunate to witness a very touching and unique gesture; a large number of athletes who had already completed the grueling workout began to run along the side of those who were still trying to finish, so that no one was left behind. This was particularly fitting for the occasion considering that some of the athletes who decided to offer support were already exhausted, and more importantly nobody asked them to do so. This shows the unwavering connections that people develop by being part of a strong community.

On the other hand-those who were on the receiving end of this gesture also experienced a strong sense of unconditional support and encouragement; which in turn, strengthened their bond to the group supporting them. At the end of the event, the atmosphere within the gym was super charged with positive energy, good vibes, and brought everyone even closer. It was the best memorial weekend ever.

Murph 2017

Photo Credit: Bonnie Locklear

During Murph, Crossfit Surmount’s 8:30am athletes (back left to right: Jay De Leon, Army Veteran Stephen Burke and Jacob De Leon) run side by side with 9:45am athletes (front left to right: Lauren Connell and Ashley Bullock); encouraging them on their last mile.

NEVER QUIT supporting members of your community, it will become stronger!

Who is Murph?

Written by Einar Leon

For several years now, CrossFit gyms around the country have adopted the tradition of performing the Murph Challenge WOD on Memorial Day. Thousands of athletes have completed this workout in memory of Lt. Michael P. Murphy knowing that he died in Afghanistan leading a team of Navy SEALs during operation Red Wings, and that he received the Medal of Honor posthumously. In addition to the workout, most of what is known about Lt. Murphy has been disseminated through the 2013 film Lone Survivor, but beyond that the public doesn’t really know too much about his personal life.

Murphy was born in May 7, 1976 in Smithtown NY. As a toddler, Michael’s favorite book was “The Little Engine that Could.” In elementary school he became a voracious reader, and one of his favorite books as an adult was “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfiled, a historical novel about the Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans defended the homeland from the Persian Army.

In high school, he was a member of the National Honor Society, a lifeguard and a solid athlete. During this time he became known as the “Protector” after getting into a fight defending a disabled student who had been shoved into a locker. On the same year he got into an altercation with a group of teenagers who had beaten a homeless person, after fighting the aggressors off, he treated the homeless person’s wounds. He attended Penn State, where he played hockey and graduated with 2 bachelor’s degrees, in political science and psychology. In 1998 after being accepted to several law schools he decided to join the Navy where he was selected to Officer Candidate School, he then completed BUDs training becoming a Navy SEAL in 2002.

Murphy was always drawn to first responders, before deploying to Afghanistan he decided to visit the home of NYFD’s Engine Co. 54, where he was given the company’s “El Barrio’s Bravest” patch by one of the firefighters. Murphy pasted this patch on his uniform as a constant reminder of 9/11, and why the SEALs were in Afghanistan. When Murphy was killed in action on June 28, 2005 he was still wearing the bright orange patch.

Murphs Patch

Michael Murphy’s Patch

NEVER QUIT, Never Forget!

Be Thankful

Written by Einar Leon

Earlier this week while coaching a class in the morning, a visiting athlete stopped by and very politely introduced himself, he also indicated that he had made arrangements to attend the gym for about a week. I asked if he was going to join the class and he replied that he was going to do his own thing first. At the time I could not help to notice that he was in excellent shape and despite his imposing presence, he was extremely pleasant and courteous. He definitely looked like he was in the military.

The following day he came to class in the afternoon and during the strength segment of the WOD, this individual was lifting insane amounts of weight, he then crushed the Metcon and despite this without knowing anybody else he began to cheer for those who had not finished the workout. At the end of class this guy took his shirt off and by looking at his tattoos it became clear that he was definitely a military man. He mentioned that he was stationed at Fort Bragg and as we continued chatting, I could not help to notice several scars across his chest and legs that looked somewhat serious, then Tom A. who is a bad ass veteran himself, made a comment about the same scars. The visitor very casually explained that they were result of shrapnel and a rocket propelled grenade (RPG). It turns out that Tom and this soldier already knew each other from the military, and through their conversation I could tell that our visitor was still fully committed to see combat again. Now consider the following, this guy had been wounded in combat and survived, and his commitment to the country is such that he is still willing to put his life in danger.

Memorial Day is just a week away, and although is a special occasion to remember those who have died defending this country, let’s not forget that there are still lots of men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. It really takes a special breed of people to make such a serious commitment. Do not miss the opportunity to thank them for their service every chance you get.


NEVER QUIT, appreciating the men and women of the military!

The Humble Champ

Written by Einar Leon

Some of us have an image of a Regionals level athlete and typically that is of an aggressive, loud and somewhat reserved individual. My friend Mike Allen does not fit that mold at all. Thanks to his commitment and determination during the last CrossFit Open, Mike made it all the way to Regionals and as of today he is the 146th fittest man in the world for his division. Despite this, Mike is the humblest guy around. I call him a champ not because of his CrossFit accomplishments, but because he is an inspiring individual.

After finishing college in Texas Mike joined the Air Force as an officer where he served for over 20 years. Mike was a member of a Strategic Air Command silo manning intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the peak of the cold war. In fact, Mike worked at the Titan II missile complex in Damascus Arkansas, featured in the documentary film Command and Control. Fortunately, Mike was training at another facility on the day of that horrendous accident in 1980. Imagine working 10 stories underground with one of the most destructive weapons in the US arsenal (600 times more powerful that the Hiroshima bomb), which by the way was to be delivered by a Titan II rocket filled with unstable and very toxic liquid fuel.

After the military, he started a very successful career in the private sector, formed a beautiful family, and one day in 2014 discovered CrossFit with his wife Janet. I actually met Mike in an endurance class in 2015, and was very impressed with his drive, friendly nature, but above all by his humble demeanor. There were plenty of long runs where he outlasted me, and despite that he was always encouraging.

At the gym Mike is always welcoming, reassuring, and supportive of the gym as a whole. During the Ragnar race a couple of weeks ago, Mike made sure to always be at the finish line cheering for our team members as they completed their respective runs. Also, despite the suffocating heat and humidity in combination with a camp site right next door to a bank of porta-potties, Mike never complained about anything. To the contrary he was always upbeat with a positive attitude. For these and many other reasons Mike is just a well-rounded and stellar athlete, a humble champ, and a role model in general.

Camp Site

Our actual campsite at the Virginia Ragnar 2017


Mike on his first Ragnar Run

NEVER QUIT, be humble!

The Trail Fucks with You

Written by Einar Leon

Last weekend my friends and I ran the Ragnar Trail relay race in Virginia, and it was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. Not because of the distance, or the unusually warm weather, but primarily because I was scared of running on a trail in the middle of the forest at night. Some people have a primal fear of snakes, spiders and even clowns, however for me there is nothing scarier than walking through the forest at night. Adding to my anxiety was the fact that I was to run as fast as possible on a narrow winding trail in the dark.

My nightmare became a reality when I was awaken at 2AM to start my run. Still dazed and confused I got dressed and walked over to the starting line to wait for my teammate to complete his run and pass race bib to me. As soon as we made the transfer I took off running into the dark with my head lamp at the brightest setting possible. Within 20 minutes and passing a few runners, I came to the realization that I was all alone, and exactly at that moment fear got a hold of me to the point in which I could no breathe normally. Almost immediately I began to trip and stumble all over, my feet hit every single root, rock and tree stump on that trail. It got so bad, that my right ankle rolled twice under me in less than 10 minutes forcing me to stop and walk the pain off. While walking, I noticed something rather comforting: SILENCE. The quietness of the trail at night was soothing, it made me feel at peace. Immediately I told myself: “The trail is fucking with you!”

I resumed the run, paying extra attention to the placement of my feet on the trail to avoid further damage to my ankle, this raised my fear level once more. Upon recognizing that the trail was “messing” with me again, I stop and listened to the SILENCE to calm myself down, then very quietly I resumed my run, this time trying to be part of the SILENCE. From that point on, I had the most enjoyable run ever!! I’ve never had such a peaceful run in my life. Upon my return to camp, my teammate Kelly described her experience of running the trials in the dark, I was very surprised when she said: “the trail fucks with you at night” I could not agree more with you Kelly!

Thank you to all of my teammates for your support and company on such a great adventure. It really changed my life.

NEVER QUIT, do not surrender to your fears!

Dealing with Shortcomings

Written by Einar Leon

As a devoted fan of military aviation, I came across a very compelling story on Bob Hoover (b. 1922-d. 2016), a legendary Air Force test pilot and the oldest Air Show Pilot in the US.

While Hoover was flying home on a vintage plane after an air show, he suddenly experienced a major engine malfunction at low altitude, thanks to his superior skills as a pilot he was able to crash-land his plane without killing anyone in the process. Immediately after the crash he inspected his engine and discovered that his World War II propeller plane had been fueled with jet fuel instead of aviation gasoline, this was a major mistake by one of his mechanics.

He then asked to see the mechanic who serviced his plane ASAP. The young mechanic met with Hoover the next day expecting to be fired. Hoover calmly laid his arm around the mechanic and said “To show you that I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 (jet plane) tomorrow.”

Now, consider the power behind Hoover’s response for a second. Instead of showing his anger by yelling or cursing at the guy, Hoover chose to get the most out of a negative experience by teaching the mechanic a lesson in attention to detail. Hoover placed his anger aside and took advantage of the situation to make the mechanic feel better about himself, instead of degrading him. In return, the mechanic got a boost of confidence, instead of suffering the negative effects of being yielded at.

Imagine how much better our lives would be if we adopt Hoover’s attitude towards shortcomings.

NEVER QUIT, never criticize! Think about the best positive outcome instead!

Supporting Friends

Written by Einar Leon

One of my favorite things about doing CrossFit is to compete against myself or the clock, however just yesterday I was reminded of the most important element of the sport: the support of friends.

Yesterday’s WOD called for two 800m runs in between a series of movements. The first run felt perfectly find, but the second messed with my mind to the point in which I decided to rest and walk, yes in simple terms I quit. My plan was to continue walking for about a minute then pick up my pace and finish the run. A few seconds after quitting, I was surprised to hear someone running behind me, as the sound of footsteps got closer a familiar voice said “come on Einar just run with me”, it was my friend Tori! Her supporting comment was enough motivation to make me forget about taking a break and get my ass running again. At the end of WOD I thanked Tori for her support, trying to convey the true impact of her words.

Sometimes is easy to forget the power that supporting comments can have on other athletes. Please follow on Tori’s footsteps and if you see someone struggling through a workout be encouraging, your support can be a game changer

NEVER QUIT, support your friends!

Listen to your Body for Signs of Trouble

Written by Einar Leon

Every time there is a workout involving deadlifts I am shocked to hear comments from athletes about the back pain they expect to endure days after the workout. Now, I understand having some soreness of the muscles used for a deadlift (hamstrings, glutes, and spine erectors) which may bring some discomfort within the following days, however in my opinion pain is unacceptable, specifically right after a workout (as noted from an athlete yesterday after completing a WOD of high DL reps at a moderate weight).

The human body is an incredibly well designed and very durable machine, it can be subjected to millions of movement cycles with little or no repercussions if proper movement patters are used. But if the body is exposed to movement with poor or bad form, then the expected life cycle of the joints or muscles affected can be drastically reduced. Athletes with incorrect movement patterns are still capable of accomplishing superhuman feats of fitness because their bodies can adapt to those deficiencies by recruiting alternative joints and muscles, however this process only accelerates the deterioration process.

Unfortunately, our body is also designed to mute pain signals during movement, in others words, you are less likely to notice an injury while moving because our nervous system evolved millions of years ago to ignore pain in order for us to keep on chasing our prey. Muscle and/ or joint pain are reliable indicators of poor form or mechanics, so if you experience pain during or after a workout, make sure to point it out to your coach immediately. Coaches are trained to identify incorrect movement patterns while in motion, but sometimes it may be difficult to assess movement due to class size or by the way an athlete moves naturally. If you expect to experience pain after a workout make sure to talk about it with your coach before class, so that possible faults within your movement mechanics can be addressed immediately. As coaches, it is within our main interests to ensure proper movement and extend the longevity and quality of life of our athletes. A good coach will go out of his/her way to make sure you avoid pain at any cost.

NEVER QUIT, take care of your body, you are not alone!

Training during Allergy Season

Written by Einar Leon

Every year it feels like spring arrives earlier and earlier. This year has been particularly bad since my allergies started a couple of months ago, despite taking my medication religiously, the last two weeks have been relentless to the point in which my training for a running race has been completely derailed.

After reading several articles on the subject searching for ways to minimize the effects of allergies on my training, I have come across a couple of tips that sound promising.

Keep working out: When you have allergies, the blood vessels within the nose swell causing congestion. But during a workout, as the body directs blood flow to the muscles in use, the blood vessels in the nose, which are not are priority constrict, easing congestion.

Hold off on outdoor exercise: On high pollen days it may be wise to hold off on outdoor exercise until the afternoon, since levels spike early in the day.

Hit the steam room: After a workout indulge in a steamy shower followed by cooler water. This temperature shift further loosens mucus in the sinuses.

NEVER QUIT, despite your allergies!

The Open is Over, What’s next? Plan with Your Coaches!

Written by Einar Leon

As the 2017 Open season comes to an end with the official announcement of 17.5, many of us may be left wondering how to interpret our final scores, or what to do next.

The CrossFit methodology is unique in the sense that by nature it offers ample opportunities for assessment. Specifically in the case of the Open, athletes get a yearly chance to measure up against other athletes within their state, region, country and even the world. However your open score should not be used as the main indicator of your fitness level. Instead you should be analyzing your individual Open performance from the outside looking in. In other words, you should first get emotionally detached from your score, and then you should ask yourself the following questions: What exercise(s) did I have the most trouble with and why? Was is it because of a lack of technique, strength, or conditioning?

The answers to these questions lie within you, not your score. After you complete this assessment, you will have a better grip on what improvements to make, but do not go at it alone, talk to your coaches about it. The job of a coach is not limited to cheer you on, or correct you during a WOD.

A CrossFit coach’s main responsibility is to better serve those who have entrusted their training to him/ her. Consequently it is in the coach’s best interest to have a discussion with you about your needs. A good coach will then make an effort to come up with a plan to meet make the necessary improvements without the need of special classes or programming, he or she may give you homework or ask you to concentrate on specific things during class. For example, if you and your coach have determined that your snatch technique needs improvement, he or she may ask you do perform some progression work at home, and then try it during a regular class when snatches are scheduled.

NEVER QUIT, make your coach part of your team!

Notes on 17.4

Written by Einar Leon

There is not too much to be said about 17.4, most athletes have already experienced it a couple of times since its introduction as 16.4. This workout will definitely test your mental toughness.

Break the deadlifts down into smaller sets: Since 55 deadlifts are a considerable amount of repetitions, contemplate braking them into small sets of perhaps 5-7 repetitions with rest periods of not more than 10 seconds. If the sets are comprised of too few repetitions, you may be wasting a lot of energy by starting and stopping too often. On the other hand, if the repetitions are set high, then you may tiring yourself too much before getting to the WB.

The wall balls sets should be of high reps: In an effort to save time, consider completing the WB in as few sets as possible. Try to break the WB sets into repetitions of 10 or more.

Use the rowing as active recovery: Try to catch your breath during the rowing if you have the time to do so. You will need to be as fresh as possible for the handstand push-ups.

Small sets of HSPU: Avoid shoulder fatigue at all costs, if possible break down the HSPU (kipping) into small sets of 5 reps or so.

Do not lose track of time: I made the mistake to concentrate more in keeping track of my reps schemes and totally lost track of the clock, not realizing that I was wasting time in the process of counting.

Notes on 17.3

Written by Einar Leon

Here are the lessons learned after attempting 17.3 this morning:

Watch your transition time: The hardest part of 17.3 was transitioning from the C2B to the snatches. If the pull ups are completed rather quickly, then the snatches become more challenging, especially after the first weigh increase. On the other hand, if you rest too much between transitions, then you may run out of time.

The C2B were surprisingly taxing: After the first set of pull-ups, it was startling how much more difficult it was to complete the snatches. Try to be as efficient as possible during the C2B in an effort to conserve more energy. Don’t be afraid to break the pull ups into smaller subsets, especially on the rounds requiring higher repetitions.

Rely on your snatch technique: Concentrate more on good technique rather than strength during the snatches, it will help you conserve more energy.

Don’t be afraid of scaling: Since the snatch weights increase rather quickly seriously consider scaling, particularly if your goal is to complete all movements before the 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24 minute time caps.

Do not get frustrated: If you get to a point in which you are spending most of the time attempting snatches, do not panic. Take time to think about your technique, breathe and make it a goal just to complete one more rep, then another one, and so on. Remember the Games are about challenging yourself while having fun.

NEVER QUIT, have fun!


Written by Einar Leon

Here are the lessons learned after attempting 17.2 this morning:

Save your forearms: Perhaps because of the lack of familiarity with handling the dumbbells on both the luges and the power cleans, combined with the toes to bar and muscle ups, 17.2 was very taxing on the forearms, and consequently the grip.

  1. A good way to save your forearms is by not fully gripping the dumbbells during the lunges. If possible, rest the dumbbells on your shoulders while just holding the DB with your palms or your fingers.
  2. While performing T2B make sure to grip the bar with your knuckles pointing directly at the ceiling, this reduces the load on you forearms by distributing the load across the palm of the hands instead of the fingers

Save your core/ abs: Performing the walking lunges will put a lot of strain on your core, and consequently your abs will have little to no rest before starting the T2B, and bar muscle ups.

  1. Save your abs by performing the toes to bar by engaging your lats during the kipping, and make sure to keep straight legs as you make contact with the bar. This method of T2B is definitely a lot slower, but it does put most of the load on the lats and therefore you can delay fatigue on the core.

Use the Lunges as Rest: As mentioned above the most challenging part of the lunges was the grip and keeping an active core. The load on the legs was really not a factor, and therefore if you pace yourself correctly, the lunges can be used as active recovery during the execution of 17.2.

Bar Muscle Ups: If you manage to save your grip, core and pace yourself correctly, the MUs will be challenging but not impossible.

  1. Even if you think you are running out of time DO NOT quit on the muscle ups! Keep on trying until the clock runs out. The athlete I was judging for this morning was able to complete 7 MUs, 2 of them within the last 90 seconds, even after declaring to me that she was done with more than 2 minutes to go. Great work Harriet!!!

NEVER QUIT, Never Quit!

How to Train During the Open

Written by Einar Leon

Workout 17.1 has been released giving athletes the opportunity to showcase the hard work and dedication they have invested in preparation to the Open. However there is one major subject that is rarely discussed for the period in which the Open takes place, and that is how to keep your fitness level during the 5 weeks of competition. Below are some small but significant tips aimed at helping you keep your level of training during the Open.

  1. Keep the same intensity and level of training you have been using in preparation for the Open. Any drastic changes in your training volume (ramping up, or slowing down) may be interpreted by your body as a need to adapt, which translates into added stress to your system. This added stress on your body has the potential to result in negative effects on your fitness level.
  2. Plan on performing the Open workout on Fridays. This gives you the opportunity for maximum rest in the case you decide to re-test on Monday. Saturday and Sunday may then be used as consecutive rest days to give your body plenty of time to recuperate and heal for a chance at a better score on Monday if your performance was not great on Friday.
  3. If you are satisfied with your Friday score, then use the rest of the Friday as an “active recovery” day and focus on performing activities such as rolling, stretching, or yoga. Consequently, Saturday should become a light weight training day focusing more on skill than strength (high repetitions-low weight), leaving Sunday as a full rest day.
  4. Announcement day (Thursday) should be scheduled as an active recovery day. This will give your body a better opportunity to be ready for the Open workout on Friday.
  5. Use Thursday night after the announcement to practice at least one round of the Open workout. Doing this will give you a better idea on how to pace yourself for Friday, increasing your changcs at a better score.
  6. Have fun!

NEVER QUIT improving.

Scaling your Workouts

Written by Einar Leon

Being able to complete WODs as prescribed or Rx is a great confidence booster and an indicator that you are getting stronger, faster and better, however having an Rx by your name on the whiteboard should not be your main goal for training, otherwise you may be missing the whole point of CrossFit.

The stated purpose of CrossFit is to “increase work capacity across broad modal and time domains.” In simple terms, CrossFit is to give you the capacity to perform almost any physical activity safely, quickly and efficiently. For the sake of the argument let’s say that an athlete is able to complete Fran Rx in 7 minutes, but this athlete did not perform a full squat (below parallel) on each thruster repetition, moreover this athlete’s form was compromised by not keeping a neutral spine during the workout. In other words, this athlete completed the WOD quickly, but certainly not efficiently or safely. Due to the lack in technique, this athlete’s work capacity was not optimal, and therefore we can conclude that he/ she did not get the full benefit of the workout, and perhaps even increased his/her risk of injury by not following proper form and technique.

Now consider an athlete who completed a scaled version of Fran (at less weight) in 7 minutes as well. This athlete instead, performed each movement with perfect technique and form. Despite the fact that the power output for the second athlete was less than the first one, athlete number 2 successfully completed the workout just as quickly, but more efficiently and safely than the other one. Consequently we can conclude that the work capacity of athlete 2 was significantly higher, and therefore this athlete received the full benefit of the workout.

The act of focusing on technique more than weight allows athletes to incrementally increase speed and strength, resulting in better mechanics and efficiency. Being more aware of the efficiency of our movements is definitely more beneficial than having an Rx next to our name on the whiteboard.


NEVER QUIT thinking about technique.

Why You Shouldn’t Work out With a Cold

Written by Einar Leon

We are in the middle of the cold and flu season and that means that sooner than later we will be sick at home pondering: Should I train when I am sick? Your answer should be: NO!

According to an article published by the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2007, there is evidence suggesting that certain aspects of the immune function are temporary affected or suppressed after prolonged bouts of high intensity exercise. This immune dysfunction can be prolonged if periods of intense training last for a week or more. This, in no way suggests that athletes who work out every day have permanently compromised immune systems; however, it puts forward the idea that it is possible that the combined effect in several immune parameters may compromise the resistance to common minor illnesses such as the cold.

If you think about the fact that high intensity training (such as CrossFit) breaks down your body in order to repair itself, when you add a stress inducing factor to the equations such as the cold, then it is easy to deduct that your body is going to be working overtime. So why tear yourself down even further when your body is already pulling double duty? Do not work out while sick. Instead you should accept that you are sick, realize that your hard earned muscle is not going away while you are sick, and you should stay home and REST!

NEVER QUIT taking care of your body.

Begin with the End in Mind

Written by Einar Leon

If you think about the process of building a house, planting a new garden, or even writing a speech, you will realize that each of these things has been created twice. The first time intellectually or in concept, the second in practice. A house is first designed in the form of calculations and blueprints to satisfy the needs of a homeowner, the house is then built by carefully following the specifications on the blueprints so that there are no deviations from the original design. A speech writer meticulously organizes his ideas into paper, which are then presented in the form of a well scripted speech to a broad audience in order to maximize the impact of his message. In essence each of this things began with a specific end in mind, then each was created conceptually and documented into a plan, finally the plan was followed and executed to ensure its original intent.

The first act of creating something in our minds allows us to select what is really important to us in the future, thus we begin with the end image of our creation in mind. The physical delivery of our original creation in the form of a physical object or well organized idea is the result of the plan put in place to build it.

Fortunately this process can also be used to achieve personal growth and improvement. Specifically the principle of “Begin with the End in Mind” can be a powerful tool in our quest to become faster, stronger and a better human being in general.

First, start with a clear mind and imagine yourself in the future as you want to be, as an example let’s say that you want to become a faster runner. Continue by redefining your future self in very specific and reasonable terms. In our example, let’s say that you want to improve your one-mile running time from 10 minutes down to 8 in exactly 8 weeks. Proceed to document your design, in other words, obtain the specific instructions/ steps to achieve your original intent. In our example this would require you to do some research to select a reputable training program or trainer that would provide a weekly schedule to increase running capacity and speed over a period of 8 weeks. Conclude by executing the plan to the letter without deviating from it in any way, shape or form. The result then will be your new self, a person who can run an 8 minute mile. Simple, Right?

The Begin with the End in Mind principle forces us to really focus on what it is important to us, so that we can become a better version of ourselves in the future. It also gives us a very clear path to follow in order to achieve our goals becoming the architects of our destiny. Finally, it allows us to increase our confidence by delivering a physical manifestation of our first creation. These are lots of benefits coming from such a simple principle, so why not give it a try?

NEVER QUIT improving!


Written by Einar Leon

As the CrossFit Open gets closer, athletes tend to ramp up the intensity and volume of training in an effort to be as ready as possible. However, most athletes tend to completely ignore the importance of rest, especially right before the open.

CrossFit HQ recommends and follows a 3 on 1 off program, which means 3 days of doing the workouts and taking the following day of rest in order to allow the muscle tissue to repair and regrow, and the body to recover from the stresses of training. Unfortunately the 3 on 1 off suggestion is not convenient and most athletes follow a training schedule of Monday through Friday taking the weekend off (5 on and 2 off). Despite the convenience of this schedule, it exposes the athletes to the risks of overtraining, which can include physical injuries and hormonal imbalances.

One good way to avoid the pitfalls of overtraining during a 5 on, 2 off program is to ensure that the athlete is getting enough sleep to allow the body to rest and repair itself. Most experts recommend 8 hours as optimal, however in reality not a lot of us have the luxury to get that many hour of sleep making us more prone to injuries.

The best way to deal with overtraining is to listen to your body and REST when you need it. The amount of rest needed is directly proportional to the level of intensity and volume of training. In other words, if you work out harder, then your body needs more rest. Also consider that the Open is less than a month away, and therefore the gains in strength and/ or endurance that can be achieved in a month are actually not that significant, the amount of rest that you give your body to fully recover is.

NEVER QUIT listening to your body.

Inauguration Day

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to witness the raw beauty of positive human interaction. During a CrossFit competition event, an athlete attempted to complete the last set of overhead squats as required, with almost no time left on the clock. The look on the athlete’s face was that of uncertainty and discomfort as the crowd of spectators and competitors began to cheer and call for the athlete’s name. Almost immediately the look on the athlete’s face changed to that of determination. The athlete then decisively stood over the bar and lifted it with all of the remaining strength, feeding off the positive energy in the room. This amazing athlete then proceeded to complete the last set of overhead squats unbroken before the time cap. The whole room broke into a singular and loud explosion of applause and joy.

This example highlights the fact that our behavior is not the product of our genes, the environment or conditioning. Instead our behavior is the direct result of how we decide to respond to situations or events. In the example above, it is clear that the spectators and athletes made the conscious decision to cheer for the athlete in the middle of a challenging situation. The athlete clearly and independently decided not to give up, and completed the task at hand, despite the overwhelming odds. The end result: an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and joy for everyone in that room, independent of the score or overall performance of that athlete during the competition.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you think about it for a second in the context of this discussion, she is undoubtedly right. It is not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurt us. Our athlete’s response to the overwhelming situation was to finish despite the odds. The athlete choose to finish and won, not in terms of the competition, but in terms of personal achievement. The audience on the other hand, choose to cheer for the athlete and also won in terms of admiration and respect for that athlete. Now consider what would have happened if the opposite choices would have been made by both the athlete and the audience.

Today is Inauguration Day, depending on your political affiliation and/ or views this day could be the start of four promising years, or four challenging ones. Despite the character or condition of our political system, we still have the freedom to choose how we respond and behave in the face of any challenges or trends, and therefore we all are still capable of accomplishing great things. Let today be Inauguration Day to always keep in mind that our behavior is the direct result of our decisions.

NEVER QUIT on beautiful human interaction.

To Achieve Your Goals, Learn How to Trust Your Future Self

The first week of 2017 has gone by, and therefore it is a good point in time to check your progress on your resolutions. Statistically just 8% of people achieve their new year’s resolutions, however according to science it is not because of lack of trying, but a lack of trust in ourselves.

As an example let’s assume that your goal is to run a 5K in May, and you have decided that to complete this feat you will wake up at 5 AM to run for an hour every day, you set your alarm clock for the next morning and go to sleep with an irrevocable sense of commitment. Next thing you know, the alarm goes off, it is pitch black and you find yourself smacking the snooze button, and go back to your pillow’s sweet embrace. Eventually after snoozing three or four times you wake up and realize that you screwed up, but why?

The reason, according to a 2009 study published by Stanford University, is directly related to the immediate reward based on the “Current Self” versus the future reward based on the “Future Self”.  In other words, the immediate reward of your pillow’s sweet embrace is more attractive and attainable than the far in the future reward of having bragging rights of completing a 5K in a few months.

The solution to this discrepancy problem with our reward system is to stop worrying about the behavior, and instead focus on your self –trust. The way to do this is via a process called “stretching.” Here is how it works. Step one: Choose a simple rule for yourself, one so simple that you can’t possible fail. Step two: Make sure you follow step one.

The point is to establish a pattern of evidence for your brain to observe. Find a very doable piece of behavior to adopt, and then focus on doing it, no matter what. In our 5K example just say, “I am going to get out of bed the moment that the alarm goes off.” This goal is so small that it seems almost useless. But if you keep at it, you will establish credibility and now you can “stretch” it to a more ambitious goal. In our case it would be, “I am going for a brisk walk after getting out of bed.” As you establish more credibility with your future self you can use your new found “stretching” power to add more goals  until eventually you get to run the 5K.

Gerry Duffy is one of the world’s leading endurance athletes and winner of the UK Deca-Ironman Challenge, a competition that involves running a triathlon for ten days straight. Gerry used the “stretching” technique as a way to lose weight and get fit, quit smoking, get over a fear of speaking in public, and to quit his job and built a multi-million dollar business.  So if stretching worked for Gerry, why not make it work for you?

Below is a TED talk in which Gerry talks in detail about stretching


NEVER QUIT in the pursuit of your goals!

How to Implement Change Now

Most of us wait until the end of the year to formulate resolutions as a way to improve for the upcoming year, but have you ever consider that you can change today? All you need is to take control of your mind to impose your will.

NEVER QUIT, never wait!

It Is All About the Struggle

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the wisest of mortals, who sometimes played tricks on the gods to get what he wanted. When the gods finally had enough, they condemned Sisyphus to eternal hard labor, rolling a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back to the bottom each time he reached top. It was intended to be not only difficult labor, but frustrating and futile.

Sometimes life situations might feel like Sisyphus’ sentence, however if you change your perspective and look at the struggle as your main objective, then problems become more manageable. Watch the video below to learn how

NEVER QUIT struggling!

It is not easy, it will hurt

Training during the winter can be really challenging, especially in the morning when it is really hard to get out of a warm bed, and step out into the cold.  The short days do not help the cause either, and special motivation may be required. The video bellow is a great way to get fired up and just get out there and get better. Enjoy


NEVER QUIT strengthening the mind.

The CrossFit Open is Coming! Are you Ready?

The fact that the holidays are practically here reminds crossfitters of only one thing: The CF Open is upon us. As such, this is the perfect time of the year to start working on the fundamentals of complex movements that might be included in the open. One of these movements is the pull-up and its advanced variations: kipping and butterfly pull-us.

In the video bellow, veteran coach Chris Spealler provides some old-school basic tips to increase the efficiency on the strict pull-up, and expands them to the kipping and butterfly pull-up. It is all about performing these movements in the most efficient way possible. So there you go, you have zero excuses now not to have your butterfly pull-up ready for the open!


NEVER QUIT preparing!

Battling Fatigue with the Mind

Towards the middle of a challenging 4.8 mile trail run with good friends yesterday, I noticed an unusual level of exhaustion within my body. First, I attributed it to the particular difficulties of running on a trial (such avoiding rolling my ankles on a rock, log or a depression). However, as more time went by, I also noticed that my lungs were screaming for air and my body demanded for me to stop. In disbelief I concluded that I was fatigued within the first 3 miles of the run, but how? I was not even running that fast.

Stopping for a second, I began to assess and prioritize the apparent causes for my fatigue, starting with the breathing. I was not breathing in sequence with my cadence, so I decided to work on matching those two elements first. Once I resumed the run synchronizing the breathing and cadence, I was able to breathe again. Then, I triaged the pain on my legs and noticed that it was emanating from the knees, but why? The answer was right in front of me, since I was so concerned with the ankles rolling, I was not landing on the balls of my feet, and therefore the knees were acting like shock absorbers instead of the calves. Once that element of the stride got corrected, I decided to concentrate in keeping it all together by paying close attention to my cadence, breathing, form, and the trail itself. Then without any other issues, in what felt like just a couple of minutes, I arrived to the end of the trail without ever feeling fatigued again but, how?

By not thinking about it! Instead of paying attention to the signals from my body to the brain (telling me to stop because of fatigue), I decided to give a higher priority to the signals from my brain to my body to run correctly. In other words, since my brain was so busy commanding my body to do things in the right sequence, it ignored any other inputs from the body not feeling the fatigue. Consequently you cans say that I was able to battle (and defeat) fatigue with the mind. And guess what? So can you in exactly the same way: First prioritize the causes for any problem, address it (execute it), and continue down the list to keep moving forward. Now, this not only applies to problems experienced during a run. In fact, it can be used to any situation in which we are facing stress or lack of direction.

NEVER QUIT! Prioritize, and execute!

How to Get the Most out of Foam-Rolling

Foam rolling can assist in reducing muscle pain, resuming normal flow and function to over-worked muscles, or just increasing general mobility and flexibility. But, knowing when to foam-roll is crucial to get the most benefits out of this activity.

It is important to note that foam-rolling has shown to give us a strong parasympathetic nervous system response, which means that it essentially just calms you down. So, the last thing you want to do before tackling a lift or a work-out is to activate your parasympathetic system. Therefore, when at the gym you should not be rolling before a workout, in other words do not roll-in.

If you are using foam-rolling as a method to increase you range of motion, then you should roll while your muscles are still warm and sweaty, that is immediately after working out. Consequently is highly recommended to foam-roll on your way out of the gym, in other words do roll-out.

Now, if you are home at the end of the day, and your purpose to foam-roll is to avoid soreness and regain some mobility, then by all means jump on that roller, preferably an hour or so before going to bed. This way you will be signaling your parasympathetic nervous system that it is time to relax, and you may even get a better night of sleep

NEVER QUIT taking care of your body.

A Good Way to Stay Positive

Not too long ago I received some bad news, and  although I knew that the best way to deal with them was to stay positive, it was very hard for me to be optimistic in the face of adversity. By chance I stumbled into this  video, and almost immediately  it changed my perspective on how to deal with my issue. The advice offered in this video is a very simple way to stay strong and positive at all times.


NEVER QUIT and go out on the attack!

Should You Supplement With Fish Oil?

Fish oil might be one of the most controversial supplements out there. On one hand some studies praise it as a miracle anti-inflammatory (reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, cancer, arthritis, pain, macular degeneration), while some other studies warn consumers about the potential to develop certain types of cancer from its consumption. How is one supposed to make a decision with so much contradicting information? Is fish oil the supplement for you?

First and foremost, it should be clear that before considering making any changes to your diet, you should consult with your doctor. However in order for that conversation to be a productive one, you should arm yourself with as much information as possible.

Let’s put things into context first and examine the reasons why the typical American diet is considered pro-inflammatory. For many years the American Heart Association has promoted the “Food Pyramid”, the base of this pyramid is characterized by 6-11 servings of bread, cereals, rice and pasta. Now, all of these are refined carbohydrates, and are high-glycemic index foods. In other words these foods cause a rapid raise in blood sugar. In turn, sugar triggers the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines. Consequently, consuming large amounts of refined carbohydrates promote inflammation within your body. You might not be aware of this, but our diet is also rich in sugar. Sugar is added to any type of processed food ranging from bread, tomato sauce, crackers, hot sauce, to juice and ham to enhance flavor, consequently we consume more sugar per capita than any other country in the world.

The American diet is also characterized by a large amount of FRIED foods. The main type of oils used in our fried food, are vegetable oils. These are rich in Omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats trigger the body to produce pro-inflammatory chemicals, which in turn create inflammation within your body as well.  Interestingly enough, our diet is also deficient in Omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA (present fish and fish oil). These fatty acids are excellent anti-inflammatories and cannot be manufactured by the body. A healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats is 2:1, however the average American has a 20:1 ratio. This shows how deficient most of us are and why supplementing with fish oil is so beneficial.

Since the average American consumes large quantities of refined carbohydrates, sugars, and Omega-6 fats and not enough Omega-3 fats, it is easy to realize that our diet is HIGHLY pro-inflammatory, and that our bodies are in a constant state of inflammation just from food alone. Consider all of the extra inflammation to your system if you add exercise to the equation.

Should you then increase your Omega-3 intake to match the 2:1 ratio? The only clear and logical answer is NO. Taking more than 5 grams of fish oil per day will have a thinning effect on the blood, and although this will not cause excessive bleeding on its own, it can definitely become a serious factor if you have a vitamin K1 deficiency, since fish oil combined with a K1 deficiency will reduce or eliminate the blood’s ability to clot.

What about claims of high levels of mercury in fish and fish oil? Scientists have determined that the higher a fish is in the food chain, the higher the concentration of mercury within its tissue. Therefore consuming large amounts or predatory fish will result in higher concentrations of mercury within your diet. Fish oil on the other hand is extracted by two methods, steaming and pressing. Some manufactures subject their product to centrifugation as an added step to eliminate heavy metals and produce extra pure fish oil. A good way to determine the purity of your fish oil is to freeze a couple of tablespoons for a day or two. Pure oil should be as close as possible to a liquid when removed from the freezer, and should not require any force to poke it with a toothpick.

It should be clear by now that in order to maximize the benefits of fish oil, one needs to first switch from a pro-inflammatory to a non-inflammatory diet such as the Zone, Greet or Paleo diets (these will be further discussed in future posts). All of these diets restrict or prohibit the consumption of refined carbohydrates and processed foods, and instead replace them with a healthy quantity of fruits and vegetables. These diets also limit intake of vegetable oils, and promote the ingestion of lean meats. Making the switch to any of these diets will help anyone be in a better position to reach the desired 20:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids by supplementing with a daily dose of 5 grams of fish oil per day.

NEVER QUIT improving your health.

A Different Take on Box Jumps

If you were asked to sequentially describe the steps involved in performing a box jump, your answer most likely would be something like: stand in front of the box, jump on top of the box, extend the hips, step off the box, and repeat. Although, technically this would be the correct answer, this is not the most efficient way to perform a box jump.

Imagine yourself being on top of the box, and consider this position as the starting point of the movement. The steps to complete the movement would then be: jump off the box, bounce off the floor, and land on top of the box again. Changing the starting point of the movement, and jumping off the box (instead of stepping down), allows you to use the downward momentum of your body to bounce off the floor (decreasing the time of contact with the ground), and consequently reducing the cycle time of the jump.

In the video bellow Matt Chan demonstrates how this technique is the most efficient way to complete a box jump.

NEVER QUIT on your Box Jumps

Never Trip Again While Doing Double-unders

Have you been doing CrossFit for a while, and double-unders are still your nemesis? Are double-unders with you some days, while other days you feel completely abandoned by them? Do you constantly trip with the rope, and end up with slash marks all over your arms, legs, and sometimes even your head?

In most cases, tripping with the rope can be directly attributed to a) the position of the rope in relationship to our body, and b) the way in which the actual jump is performed.

Let’s begin with the position of our hands. The hands should be at about waist height, slightly in front of our body, with approximately a 20° bent at the elbows. The distance between the hands should be in a position outside the clean grip, and inside the snatch grip. All of these positions will ensure that there is enough slack on the rope to go around our body. If our grip widens, or if it deviates in any other direction, the slack on the rope is minimized, resulting in the rope making contact with your body.

Now, the actual jump should be performed with our body in the hollow position, and without changing the angle in at our knees. In other words, piking or donkey kicking should be avoided at all costs. Finally, the rotational movement of the rope should be performed with the wrists, and not the elbows. Note that the movement of the elbows will significantly reduce the slack of the rope.

In the video below, Dan Bailey describes exactly the movements to follow in order to avoid tripping with the rope.


NEVER QUIT improving!

Using your Squat Skills to Rope Climb

The most two recent posts of the blog covered basic tips to improve your squat, and to incorporate the kip into a burpee. On this installment of the blog we will transfer these newly acquired skills to the Rope Climb.

Although some of us might think of the rope climb as a very complex movement (intimidating as well), when it is broken down into its individual components, one will find that the hardest part is (surprisingly) wrapping your feet around the rope.

In the following video, Coach Carl Paoli clarifies how the squat, and the hip extension (kip) become the power generators to climb the rope with minimum effort. Enjoy

NEVER QUIT in finding ways to make the hard, easy

Kipping During Burpees?

Almost everybody hates burpees. Burpees are awkward, complex, and seemingly impossible to do correctly after just completing ten of them. Now, consider how much easier it is to perform a pull-up when kipping is added to the equation. Did you know that the same kipping principle can be transferred to the burpee?

In the following video, Coach Carl Paoli explains the basic set up to transfer the kipping skill to the burpee. Enjoy

NEVER QUIT adding tools to your game

Kipping During Burpees?

Almost everybody hates burpees. Burpees are awkward, complex, and seemingly impossible to do correctly after just completing ten of them. Now, consider how much easier it is to perform a pull-up when kipping is added to the equation. Did you know that the same kipping principle can be transferred to the burpee?

In the following video, Coach Carl Paoli explains the basic set up to transfer the kipping skill to the burpee. Enjoy


NEVER QUIT adding tools to your game

Improve Your Squat in 10 Minutes

About 4 years ago, when I was introduced to CrossFit, an obsession took over me to improve my squat at any cost. Many hours were spent on Youtube trying all kinds of crazy things to no avail, until I found Kelly Starrett’s 10 minute squat test. Within 3 months of following Starrett’s advice, I experienced significant improvements in my mobility, posture and squat gains. The trick lies in being able to hold a squat for 10 minutes once a month, following a simple set of instructions.  Please watch the video below and enjoy.

NEVER QUIT improving

The US Olympic Athlete You’ve Never Heard of

While the media feeds us stories about a certain unscrupulous swimmer, and questions the patriotism of a gymnast, it is not hard to realize that events with a negative connotation seem to stay in our memories longer than positive ones. Of course you remember McKayla Maroney’s bitchy face from the 2012 Games, or the story about the 14 Russian athletes who failed a doping test during the 2008 Olympics. What do you know about the US athlete who was the Flag Bearer for the Beijing 2008 Games? Do you even remember his name? Why are we so bad at remembering positive stories about true American Values?

NEVER QUIT inspiring.

Want to Be Tougher?

Have you ever been in the middle of a meeting, workout, or life situation in which you just hit a wall, and wanted to quit? Did you give up then? What would you do if you find yourself in a similar position again? Do you want to be tougher?

If you want a good strategy to make sure to complete any task at hand, then you need to consider the 40% rule, and how it is put in to practice by one of the toughest people in the world, David Goggins.

David Goggins is a legend within the circles of ultramarathon running (races of 100 miles or more). In an effort to raise money for the families of fellow fallen Navy SEALS, Goggins intended to enter the 2006 Badwater-135 (a 135 mile race in Death Valley at temperatures of 120-130 degrees). However, he was denied registration a month prior to the even, until he could complete at least one race of 100 miles or more.

Unfortunately for him, the only available ultramarathon race was 2 days away and it involved a 24 hour run. In preparation for this race, David ran 12 miles the day before, and showed up to the event with a lawn chair, crackers, and a bottle of water. Within the first 12 hours of this race, David had already covered 70 miles, but he was suffering from heat stroke, shin splits, kidney failure, and most of the small bones in his toes were fractured. It was at this point when David realized that he had hit a wall, and the only way out was to finish the race at any cost. David then remembered from his SEAL training the 40% rule: “when your mind is telling you you’re done, you’re only 40% done.”

David decided to rest for 30 minutes on his lawn chair, then got up and kept on running for another 24 hours. At the end of the race he had covered 105 miles, qualifying him for the Badwater-135. A few weeks later, David finished the Badwater-135 (with casts on both of his feet) 5th place overall.

I know what you are thinking. No, this is not a JEDI mind trick. In fact there is a 2008 scientific study, in which a caffeine placebo was given to athletes lifting weights with their quads. The study showed that the athletes who took the placebo were able to lift more weight, than those who were given a real caffeine pill.

The next time that you feel like you’ve hit a wall, remember the 40% rule. There is still more than enough left in you to conquer that wall. NEVER QUIT by becoming mentally tougher. 

Gabriela Andersen-Schiess

This video is the first contribution to PNQ submitted by my friend A.S. author of This video is a moving example of tenacity, perseverance and heart displayed by Gabriela Andersen-Schiess during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

At the time, 39 year old Gabriela was representing Switzerland in the inaugural women’s marathon  of the Olympic Games. Before the race even started, Gabriela was determined to show the world that women were capable of running long distances at the Olympic level (can you believe that our society was that ignorant just over 30 years ago?). By the end of the race Gabriela knew she was dehydrated and could hardly move, but with nothing more than raw determination and heart, she decided to finish the race despite cramps and unresponsive legs. Gabriela placed 37th out of 44 finishers with the full support of the crowd and athletes at the L.A. Coliseum.

Perseverance, tenacity and heart can always be used in your quest to NEVER QUIT a marathon, race, WOD, or any obstacle in life.

Two miracles, one weekend

About three weeks ago, on a hot Thursday afternoon, we had to take our daughters to an open house at their elementary school. The objective of the open house was to allow the girls and us to meet their respective teachers, and to get familiar with their new classrooms in preparation for the new school year. After all of the official gallantries were done, Rona and I decided to hang around and talk with some of the parents who we are friends with. About an hour later, when we were heading out for the door, I noticed that an unfamiliar guy in blue scrubs ran towards my wife and gave her a big hug. Just before my brain was about to process this scene as strange, Rona asked me with a big smile “do you remember Sean from my work back in San Francisco?” Still in shock, somehow reluctantly I shook Sean’s hand and said “I am sorry, I do not remember, but nice to meet you again Sean.” He then introduced his wife Kim Lan, and their beautiful daughter. It turns out that they were there for the open house, and after a couple of minutes of conversation we also found out that they lived a few miles away from us. They had recently moved from the SF bay area, and like us were California expats, making the great State of North Carolina their permanent home.

Now, allow me to stop for a second to point out the importance and randomness of this encounter. First, Rona and I left the SF Bay area 10 years ago. Second, during that decade Rona didn’t really keep in touch with Sean. Third, Sean and his family moved to Durham about a year ago, and settled in a neighboring development. Finally, what are the chances of running into someone who, you have not seen in 10 years, and recognize them in a split second? Are you thinking what I am thinking? That is correct! The chances of all of these things happening are slim at best, and therefore a miracle by definition. I will call this Miracle #1.

Back to the encounter…while Rona and Sean caught up with stories about mutual friends, Kim Lan and I began to ask the regular questions one poses when you meet someone for the first time. However, I could not help but notice that her friendliness and good disposition made me feel totally at ease (for those of you who do not know me well, I am very reserved and normally experience minor anxiety when meeting someone for the first time, which makes me come across as quiet). After a few minutes of continued conversation Rona and Sean exchanged phone numbers, and the time came for all of us to say bye. It was at this point that I was surprised once more by Kim Lan’s warm and wholehearted character, she sincerely hugged us all with the biggest smile on her face as if we were life-long friends.

A couple of days later, our families were having a BBQ at Sean and Kim Lan’s home. Among many of the conversations that we had that day, Kim Lan casually mentioned that she had given a TED Talk just a couple of months back. Intrigued and full of curiosity, Rona and I Googled her name as soon as we got home later that day. We learned that Kim Lan is a prolific advocate for people with disabilities, in fact she is the Director of the Redefining Disabled Project ( She has also been featured in numerous publications, radio shows, and podcast. At this point, Rona and I recognized that we had spent an afternoon in the presence of a powerfully driven mother and wife, with an unmatched level of strength, character, positive energy and above all, humility. When Rona and I watched Kim Lan’s TED Talk, Miracle #2 precipitated onto our lives.

Through her lecture, Kim Lan provides the audience with a very simple concept drawn from an event at a supermarket which had a negative impact on her daughter. Her concept: to make our minds a safe space in order to identify and celebrate our variances and those of others. In other words, changing our natural human instinct to place personal differences in a negative light, and instead assigning a positive value to those things that make us unique, creating at the same time a positive environment and consequently, a better world. This concept alone instantly transformed my perception of the world from one of fear, uncertainty and lack of trust, to one of positive optimism and hope. Since it is impossible for me to convey the true power of her message, I strongly encourage you to watch Kim Lan’s TED Talk after reading this paragraph.

Now please consider the following, how many times in your life has a simple idea or concept drastically changed your perception of the world around you in a matter of minutes? Furthermore, what are the chances of meeting the author or originator of such idea? Personally, this is the only time in my life, in which a simple notion has opened my eyes to a world full of new possibilities, all brought about by a person we met as a result of  Miracle #1, therefore qualifying the whole experience as Miracle #2.

Thank you very much Kim Lan! You have single-handedly changed my life and that of my family’s in a single weekend.

If you enjoyed Kim Lan’s Ted Talk, please help by spreading her message, or by supporting the Redefining Disabled Project (

Remember: NEVER QUIT in the quest to build a better future for our friends and families.