All posts by Nikole Gessler

Barriers to Eating Well – Meal Prep/Time

It’s hard to eat healthy. In working with as many people as I do at the gym on a weekly basis, I can tell you that most people know how to eat well, they know what they are supposed to eat, it’s just a matter of doing it. For some people, that means the meal prep, for some the perceived extra cost of eating well is a barrier, and for others it’s just the accountability of actually doing all those things.
Let’s tackle the first barrier to healthy eating – the meal prep and time involved.

We all live hectic lives these days – between work, family, and the extra tasks we take on, we often find ourselves putting ourselves and our health on the back burner. We fail to plan, and then at the end of the day when we are too tired and too hungry we make some poor choices. It’s so easy to just go through a drive through and grab a quick meal.

The problem with these meals is that they are rarely fresh, they contain a lot of preservatives, they are higher in sodium and bad fats, and they are definitely higher in calories, PLUS they are often pretty pricey – certainly more expensive than making a meal at home.

If you are reading this post, you have at least some interest in your health and wellness. You spend time working out either in or out of the gym. You also know that working out is only part of the health and wellness equation, what you use to fuel your body is important. To be blunt, crap in equals crap out. If you are fueling your body with unhealthy ingredients, you can’t expect your body to perform at it’s peak.

So…how do we find the time to shop and meal prep? Well, the hard truth here is that you have to be willing to MAKE the time. You have to be willing to make it a priority in your weekly schedule for your health.

Make the time to plan meals, shop for ingredients, and then meal prep. This may take a few hours on the weekend, but overall you will end up saving so much time and money. AND you’ll be eating healthy meals!

Throughout the week you can then grab a meal and heat it up when you are hungry. It’ll take just a few minutes – saving you the time of going to get food and preparing it. Throughout the day, whenever you are hungry, just grab one of the healthy meals or snacks that you prepped and you are good to go – one less decision to make each time you are hungry!

By being just a little bit organized, you can actually save yourself a lot of time and money each week. AND you ‘ll be sure to be getting great meals with the highest quality ingredients!

Are You Too Old for CrossFit?

The short answer is “No – you’re never too old to get started!”

But, as a 41 year old woman I will tell you that I understand your fears and concerns. It’s scary to try something new. It’s scary when you aren’t sure if you are going to be able to do it. It’s scary to think about failing. We all have those fears, regardless of age, in many areas of our life.

But I am here to tell you that I get it. And I understand. And the beauty of CrossFit is that it is universally scalable. All of the movements can be modified so that anybody, regardless of age or ability or past injuries, can do them and get results.

I work with many people over the age of 40 – we lovingly refer to them as our Master’s Athletes. Once you step into the gym, you are an athlete (whether you think it or not.) Our Master’s athletes are some of the favorites at the gym.

We understand the importance of feeling safe while working out. We also understand that your needs may be different than those of younger athletes or competitive athletes. We take into account age, fitness, injury state, and goals to create different coaching techniques for you.

Master’s athletes are becoming increasingly popular, and we understand the demands and how to program and train for optimal performance while minimizing age-related risks.

We understand the difference between sedentary again, which leads to a myriad of negative life outcomes, and active aging, which can be associated with great longevity and quality of life.

In fact, there was a recent article published by Inc. Magazine referencing a study showing that by performing a high level of physical activity 5 days a week can give you a biological aging advantage of nine years.

You are never too old, too slow, too out of shape, too…anything to get started.


Not Enough Time to Workout?

So, you think that you just don’t have enough time to workout? I respectfully disagree…

I am a mother of 3 children ages 15, 12, and 8. I take them to school, I pick them up from school, I take them to friends’ houses, I drive them to practices. I attend their events. I listen to their problems and help them with their homework.

I also take care of the household. I buy groceries and make meals. I do loads of laundry and wash dishes and do some sort of cleaning every day. I feed the dog, walk him every day, groom him, and clean up after him.

I also own a gym. The amount of daily things that go on is often times overwhelming. Being a business owner is tough. Helping people is amazing. But it takes a lot of work every day. Answering emails, coaching classes and personal training clients, keeping the gym clean (do you know how many times each day I change the toilet paper rolls?), managing staff, keeping track of inventory, all of the accounting, the list just goes on and on…

I admit that when we first opened, I would be at the gym for 15 or more hours a day. And I was too busy to work out each day. But the thing that I finally realized is that is wasn’t that I was too busy, it was that I hadn’t made myself and my health a priority. It wasn’t that I didn’t HAVE time, it was that I wasn’t MAKING time.

When you are taking care of yourself, you are so much better able to take care of those around you. You can be a better friend, spouse, parent, co-worker.

You deserve to take care of yourself. You deserve to have something that makes you feel good. You deserve to take time to take care of you. You and your health are valuable. Taking care of yourself now will actually give you more time later. You will be happier and healthier and live a better, longer life (according to science.)

How much time each day do we spend mindlessly on social media? How much time do we waste trying to find the end of the internet? A few minutes here and there throughout the day can easily add up to the hour you need to get to the gym.

You have the time each day, you just have to make sure you use it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

(3-3-3) 3-3-3-3-3
Tabata Hang Power Clean (135/95)
Tabata Front Squat (95/65)
Tabata Push Press (75/55)

Score is total reps of all 24 cycles

Today for our deadlifts we our lowering our rep count which means upping our intensity in weight and percentages. Try to work into heavy sets of three, also try to maintain good position up and down with the barbell and cycle reps instead of dropping at the hip, this will pay off huge over time in control and form. 

After our strength work we are keeping those barbells out for a little intense playground of three different movements. Going through three full tabata cycles (8 rounds of :20 on and :10 off) the weights will gradual decrease while the movements change.

For modifications on this WOD, make sure you still have three different weights between the three movements. After each full round we’ll rest long enough to switch out weights and begin again. Try to keep moving during each section of 20 seconds and keep track of your reps, total score is all the reps from the completed cycles. Happy Monday

Shoe Review – Reebok Nano 6.0

I get a lot of questions about shoes for the rigors of the variety of workouts we do at the gym. So, to keep with the trends I buy and try all of the latest CrossFit shoes so I can give an honest, unbiased review.

A few things before I tell you about the newest Reebok shoes. First, I think that all of the shoes that are made for cross training are great. They will all get the job done. I think the biggest thing comes down to each individual person and their shoe fit and aesthetic preferences.

I do have a wide variety of shoes that I rotate through when I workout, and I do pick which shoe I am going to wear based on the movements in the workout each day. I have that luxury. I like to watch for sales and pick up new shoes when they aren’t full price.

Most people are going to buy one pair of shoes and wear those every day they come to the gym and that is perfect. If you are working out 5-6+ times per week, I might then recommend that you get a second pair of workout shoes. Alternate days so that your shoes can air out and dry between sweat sessions. Pick 2 different kinds of shoes so that you can use them depending on the demands of the workout. And, like women wearing dress shoes/heels, if you are wearing shoes that often, if it good to have a variety to alleviate blisters and other repetitive motion ailments. Plus, you’ll cut back on the wear and tear of a single pair.

Now let’s talk about the Reebok Nano 6. I was late to the game with these shoes. I usually try to get new shoes within a month or two of their release because being a gym owner, athletes always ask about the newest shoes.

I really love my Nano 5.0s. (Which I was also late to the game buying – I just loved the 4.0s so much I bought 3 pairs of those and it was hard to justify another new pair of shoes.) In my opinion, the 4.0s were great, the 5.0s are awesome, and the 6.0s are amazing.

I didn’t really like any of the color combos of the 6.0s when they were first released, but I did finally order (and pay for) a custom pair of the 6.0s. Not only do I love the way they look, I love wearing them.

I judge my athletic shoes in several different criteria – can I stand in them all day and coach, how do they move and feel when I am working out with all of the variety of movements that CrossFit demands, and how is it to run in them?

The answer to all of these is a resounding YES with the Nano 6.0s. They have become my new favorite coaching and workout shoe. Bonus that I love the colors and design.

These shoes are solid enough to be supportive while standing for long periods of time or Olympic lifting work, and flexible enough to do burpees, sit ups, and box jumps.

These shoes fit my feet particularly well, with being a women’s size 12, that is a big deal. (Though they didn’t offer women’s sizing that high, I had to buy a men’s 10.5). So losing out on some of the fun girly colors and custom options is a bummer, I am still very happy with the way the shoes turned out.

They fit well right away and I didn’t feel the need to have to break them in at all. The upper shoes are soft and flexible, and the sole is sturdy but also flexes well with my foot. I feel secure and stable wearing them to Olympic lift, and they are soft and flexible enough for lunges and box jumps.

They are specifically made for cross-training so they also do well in rope climbs with side grips and kevlar overlay so you won’t tear them out. They are also comfortable enough to do the shorter amounts of running required in warm ups and workouts.

These shoes fit my feet really well. I have large feet (again, women’s size 12) but they are proportionate. I have bog feet, but not wide feet. Earlier versions of the Nano had a wider toe box, I don’t think these are as wide, but they still are roomy enough for your toes to spread out.

If you have wide feet (or really narrow feet) these may not be the best fit for you. There are also other shoes out there that are more minimalist (Inov-8s) or a bit more solid (Nike MetCons – especially in the sole.)

Overall, these are my favorite Reebok CrossFit shoe and favorite shoe all around. They are made just life a good CrossFitter – good at everything, specialized in nothing.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rope Climbs

1000m Row
10-1 Pull Ups
1-10 Push Ups
1000m Row

We are going to work on our rope climbs again today! We will talk about good strong footholds as you ascend and well as ways to improve your grip.

After that, we are going to go long and hard. We’ll start with a 1000m row. Larger classes will partner up and stagger start by 5 minutes. Faster rower should go first.

Get that row done and then you are going to take on some pull ups and push ups. Every round you will do 11 reps. 10-1 and 1-10.

Work on good form for both of the movements. Scale accordingly – challenge yourself in a way you can still have good form and function while you work on getting stronger.

When you are done with the pull ups and push ups, you will finish up with another 1000m row.

5 Reasons You Need Personal Training

img_1398Whether you have a regular membership to a gym facility or you are just looking to get started with your fitness journey, Personal Training has a lot of benefits for you.

Just because you attend regular classes at a gym, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t benefit from some one on one training – either long term or just here and there to work on some special skills. Maybe you are just getting started with your fitness journey, and looking for some personal attention based on your needs and current abilities. Many people are intimidated by group classes (and that’s OK), Personal Training can help  you get ready if group classes are a goal of yours.

There are many reasons to request the help of a Personal Trainer. And the benefits are just as plentiful!

  1. Accountability, Motivation, Challenge, Results
    Maybe you are bored with the same old workout DVDs or repetitive classes. You need to be challenged both mentally and physically. It’s helpful to have someone to personally help you set goals with an objective eye to keep them realistic. If you are not seeing results or not sure where to start, a Personal Trainer can help you reach your goals and maintain them. They will be in tune with you and what you are working for and are going to be sure that you are putting in the work to get the results you expect. They are also going to know you well enough to be sure you are challenged as you progress (and to keep you progressing.) They are going to make sure you are seeing results.

  2. Education and Efficiency
    A Personal Trainer isn’t just going to tell you what to do for the hour you are with them. They are also going to educate you on all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. They are also going to make sure you know proper movement technique. Your training doesn’t last just that 60 minutes – you will have information you can use in between sessions as well. You may even get homework to do so you can keep working towards your goals and progressing at a suitable rate. Eating for your goals, sleeping well for recovery, plus safe and proper movements you can do at home in between your scheduled session are all very important. The goal is maximum results in minimal time.

  3. Sports-Specific Training
    Many amateur and professional athletes work with a Personal Trainer during the off-season to prepare themselves for in-season competition. Whether you want to shave some strokes off your golf score or beat your brother-in-law at tennis, a Personal Trainer can tailor your program to your sport of choice. Do you need a lot of power, agility, and skill to get the ball down the soccer field? Do you need a lot of strength to throw that discus further? Do you need a lot of speed to run that football to the end zone? Would an improved vertical jump help you with your basketball game? Training for all those things is completely possible, and very different, depending on your goals and your Personal Trainer will develop a training plan specifically for what you need.

  4. Injury Rehabilitation
    Injuries and accidents can prevent you from participating in your favorite activities. An experienced Personal Trainer, however, can make the road to recovery a smooth one by recommending exercises that emphasize overall muscular balance to prevent future injuries. Even if you can’t be back to doing all of the things you love, it is still good to get up and moving to prevent too much muscle loss (and depression from not being active and doing things you love.) Maybe you aren’t going to be doing 100m sprints with a strained hamstring or squatting 300 pounds with achey knees, but there are still a LOT of other movements you can do to keep your mind and body sharp and to gain strength around the injured area to prevent future down time.

  5. Special-Needs Training
    Research confirms that individuals with health challenges such as diabetes, asthma, osteoporosis, or heart disease benefit greatly from regular physical activity. These conditions, however, can make exercising safely a challenge. Many personal trainers are experienced in designing programs that address the special needs of these and other conditions. The goal is always to make quality of life better, both short term and long term. A major reason the aging population ends up in a nursing home is because they can’t take care of themselves. Things like getting off the toilet (an air squat) or getting up after falling (a burpee.) Worse yet is breaking a bone in a fall because of weak bones (which can be made stronger by lifting weights.) Personal Training has been proven to help cognitively, physically, and socially with other types of special needs such as ADD/ADHD, autism, Parkinson’s and more in both children and adults. There are all kinds of enrichment available through exercise – and not just physical – there are mental aspects that can be added to workouts.

Plus, if all of that wasn’t reason enough, Personal Training can give you a few extra added bonuses as well!

Your trainer can teach you new things. It’s great to have fun and try some new things – maybe tumbling or some gymnastic movements. Even movements like power and Olympic lifting that maybe you never even knew you wanted to know how to do! You will even take home some movements and workouts you can do at home in between your personal sessions.

Your trainer will also become your sounding board and therapist. Something about having your trainer see you at your most vulnerable in the middle of a workout just makes you want to get all sorts of things off your chest. Sometimes life around you affects our workout at the gym. It’s good for you to tell your trainer what is going on. If you need to work out some frustration, maybe a heavy, fast paced workout will help. Your mood will affect your workout performance and your trainer needs to know what is going on so they can best help you work through stuff AND get a good workout in that day. With a Personal Trainer, each workout is geared for you.

Your trainer will help you get over your fears. Whether real or imagined, we all have fears. It might be the fear of being inverted in a handstand, or maybe it’s a fear of lifting heavy weights, or maybe that 20” box seems like a mountain to you. Sometimes we can be our worst enemy and facing change isn’t easy. Having the extra support to guide you and lean on can give you the confidence that you need. You should never stop pushing your limits. Growth only happens outside of your comfort zone.

Why You Should be Practicing the Olympic Lifts

img_1882The two Olympic Lifts – the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch – are two of the most technical movements you will do anywhere. Both of those will take a loaded barbell from the ground to locked out overhead.

The clean and jerk will do that in two separate movements with a clean to get the barbell to the shoulders first, and then the jerk which will put the barbell overhead.  The snatch, on the other hand, will take the bar from the ground directly overhead.

Why should you be training these complex barbell movements even if you never want to be an Olympic Lifter?

The Effect on the Cardiovascular System
One of the first areas most novices to Olympic Lifting discover is the whole chain of muscles from the glutes and the spinal erectors to the traps. Shirts begin to fit funny as the muscles of the upper back grow to accommodate the pulling movements. What muscles do the Olympic Lifts build? All of them. It is a simple matter of the length of the movement of the bar.

In a bicep curl, the bar may move four inches. In a Clean and Jerk, the bar moves from the floor to overhead, upwards of seven and a half feet! Every muscle, tendon, and ligament in the body is used. A tough set of Snatches leaves you heaving for breath, sweating in streams, and the heart racing. All this without even having to go the track (whew…because running is not my favorite…)

The Human Body is Designed to Work Together
Don’t isolate different muscles groups! When will you ever have to functionally bicep curl an object? The mere practice of the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete how to apply large amounts of force to an external object. By lifting the bar from the ground to overhead, the entire body is used. As you begin the process of adding weights to the Olympic Lifts, the entire body compensates by getting bigger and stronger.

Full-body movements such as the snatch provide the body an opportunity to act as the unit it’s intended to be. If you can’t hold a bar overhead in the full squat position, you’ll quickly learn where you’re strong, where you’re weak, where you’re tight, and where you need to improve.

Efficiency – Train all 10 Fitness Domains
All sports require different amounts or cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy. (Coincidentally the 10 Fitness Domains as defined by CrossFit.)

Olympic weightlifting provides development in all these areas. The single most important requirement for strength development is the ability to produce force. Force, in terms of strength training and athleticism, is the body’s ability to recruit and initiate muscular contraction. Through complex and highly technical Olympic Lifting movements, you’ll learn how to effectively activate more muscle fibers more rapidly than someone who isn’t trained to do so.

Building Neural Pathways through Complex Technique
“The missing link in so much mainstream fitness programming, from bodybuilding to monostructural endeavors, is the neuromuscular piece—in particular, the development of coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance. We can sum these elements up as “technique.” Omitting them from one’s training necessarily results in only partial fitness, partial expression of one’s genetic potential, and a decreased threshold of maximal capacity. To increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains (the goal of CrossFit), technique is the crucial connection—whether your goal is to win the game, protect your life, complete the mission, or just be fit for the demands of everyday life at any age.” — Greg Glassman

The snatch wins as the most highly technical movement in our gym. It takes the prize for greatest/easiest high-level neural developer. (High-level gymnastics and other sports can elicit similar neural responses, but the length of learning curve for those sports is far greater.)

Olympic Lifting is easy enough to learn and difficult and complex to perfect. It can years for an elite athlete to reach the height of their lifting career. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t practice the movements and strive to be better, even if those aren’t our end goals. Working on these lifts provides many benefits in other areas of fitness and everyday life. Don’t be afraid of that barbell – go out there and attack those lifts!

Eating Paleo Zone has saved my family a lot of money!

IMG_2314You may have heard that Dirk and I have embarked on a Paleo (ish) Zone eating style. It has been a challenge to get started with meal planning, meal prepping, and eating all of the food each day. BUT, here’s something I didn’t expect – we are actually saving a lot of money with our food budget!

Sure, I had expected (hoped) to lose some body fat and gain some energy to hit those workouts harder, but it always seems that eating better quality foods comes at a higher grocery budget.

Our initial grocery trip cost about $240. We had meal planned, but still weren’t quite sure of the quantities of food we would need. It just seemed like a lot. It was nice to see a full cart of fresh fruit, veggies, and lots of good protein. I was proud to be making healthy choices for my whole family.

I typically budget $150 a week for food for our family of 5. It has been 9 days of eating for 5 people and aside from a couple trips to the store to get a few items we needed for a recipe or some of the favorite foods we ran out of, we are still eating through that initial grocery purchase. So, just about right on budget. (And we have enough food for the at least the rest of the week.)

Even though the amount of food we are eating at each meal seems like a lot, recognizing proper food portions has been a real eye opener. I am eating more, eating right, happy about it, and feeling really good. Good food goes farther. $2 for whole honeydew melon will last several meals and snacks. Think about that amount of food versus $2 for 10 pouches of fruit snacks. It’s a win-win. Healthy, better food that stretches further.

The money savings hasn’t come just from the grocery shopping, but also from not eating out. In a typical week, our family ate out much more than I would care to admit to you, plus all the extra little stops for coffee drinks, or slushies, or snacks while we are out and about.

Now that we have meals planned and prepped, there is no last minute decisions to stop and grab food. Because the kids know what we are doing (and why) they don’t ask to stop and get ice cream on the way home. (But, my goodness…even after all this time, I STILL want that darn coconut mocha.)

If I look back over the previous month’s spending, the amount spent on all those little, spontaneous eating (and drinking) stops really adds up. Like, REALLY adds up. I once read that if people stopped eating out and put that money aside, they could save enough money each month that at the end of the year they could take a vacation to anywhere in the world. ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. It’s that much money. I have seem the numbers. I have done the math. The numbers work out.

So next year at this time, I’ll be sending you warm wishes from a tropical beach…in my new swim suit!