Category Archives: General

General Info and Announcements

Member Spotlight – Paulla Santos

First CrossFit workout?
I can’t really remember my first CrossFit workout…However, I vaguely remember doing a bar movement while feeling super awkward and uncoordinated

How did you find CrossFit Recursive?
I moved to Madison a little over a year ago and I wanted to find a new gym. I searched on Google Maps and CrossFit Recursive was the closest result near me. I had always wanted to try CrossFit so I suppose it was just meant to be.

What has been the most fun so far?
Thus far, I have to say participating in the 2017 Festivus partner competition in Janesville, WI with a bunch of rad people from our gym was super fun. We had a solid group and it was awesome to see all of us improve from the first day of competition training to rockin’ it on the day of the event. There’s nothing like cheering on people you care about!

Something we might not know about you?
Before I entered elementary school, I caught a lizard while wearing my dad’s tube socks on my hands as gloves. I placed it in a box and showed my dad. He left me alone to play with it and I ended up accidentally pulling off its tail. I was unaware it was a defense mechanism to escape from predators. In search of a quick solution, I duck taped the tail back onto the lizard and went into another room to hide. Long story short, my father found the lizard, gave me a nature lesson, undid the duck tape, and returned our poor little friend to the woods. In conclusion, at a young age, I knew what “scaling down” meant.

PhD history student at the University of Wisconsin- Madison

Favorite CrossFit Movement?
Without a doubt: Deadlifts.

Least Favorite CrossFit movement?
Wall balls. Ew.

Your ideal WOD?
Perhaps an AMRAP complex with low rep heavy barbell movements and maybe a dash of burpees for a little spice.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment so far?
I have to say…Getting my very first pull-up was super exciting!

Things that interest you outside of CrossFit?
I really enjoy watching cartoons, operas, and learning about pirates. I am also a sucker for museums, archives, and art galleries. I could literally get lost in them for hours.

What’s More Important Than Your Health?

Take a moment and think about what is more important to you than your own health? What do you come up with? Your kids? Your career? Your spouse? Money? Time?

When you think about it though, if you don’t have your health, you can’t have any of those other things. This makes taking care of yourself and your health your greatest priority.

We often think that we don’t have the time or the money to eat well and work out. The truth is that we really can’t afford to NOT eat well and exercise. We make time and resources for the things that are valuable and important to us.

We need to make the time and budget the finances so that we can take care of ourselves. Once we take care of ourselves fully, then we can be the best at taking care of everything else. You know the saying – you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Any of the things on the list that might be more important to you than your health are actually made better by you taking care of your health. So, really there isn’t anything more important than your health…

Member Spotlight – Jennifer Madden

First CrossFit work out? My first CrossFit workout was during the six week challenge.  It was “as many rounds as possible” in 12 minutes of 5 burpees, 10 air squats and 15 sit-ups.  Burpees?!? I am surprised I came back after day one!

How did you find CrossFit Recursive? My sister had been doing CrossFit and encouraged me to give it a go.  I did a Google search and discovered Recursive was about one mile from where I live and was starting a six week beginners program.  The timing was perfect!

What has been the most fun so far? The community – hands down! I have met some pretty amazing people at Recursive – many I now call friends.

Something we might not know about you? I am a musician.  I play the flute. I majored in music and received my Bachelors in Music Therapy.

Occupation? I work for the corporate office of a national building products company.  I am kind of a ‘jack of all trades’.  These days my main responsibilities include setting up and managing new departments.  I am currently setting up a new sales department. (So much for using my music degree.)

Favorite CrossFit Movement? Dumbbell snatch

Least Favorite CrossFit movement?  It is a toss up between box step-ups/jumps and running.

Your ideal WOD? A chipper that has no running or box jumps!

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment so far? There isn’t one accomplishment that I am proud of.  It’s all the little accomplishments that have added up to positively influence my overall health and increase my fitness.

Things that interest you outside of CrossFit? Volunteering, playing music, art, enjoying the great city of Madison

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.

Fall for Running – by Coach Patrick

I could hear the squeals of glee and the cries of desperation when the June focus of running was released! Running is so often a love or hate relationship, I’ve not met too many people who are casually lukewarm about the prospect and act of getting their ancestral locomotion on.

That being said, we are going to spend this month working on running technique and mobility to turn all of us into more efficient runners. Let’s look at some of the perspective we are taking for this month’s focus…

Every movement in CrossFit has an ideal and most efficient way of performing that movement. Whether it is the squat, deadlift, muscle-up, double-under, Olympic lifts, or something we’ve made up watching too many Chuck Norris movies; everything has a standard and best practice start and finish position in addition to how best to perform the movement from the start to the finish.

You’ll notice us coaching you on cues from setting up your beginning position, how to better end your movement, or things to make your movement technically improved during the movement.

Running is no different.

Let that sink in a bit. Most of us, unless trained formally for a run-specific sport have never broached the idea that running has an ideal form and position. As kiddos, we basically learn to use our neck, roll over, crawl, walk, and then baby deer sprint.

This month we are converting some of our old baby deer bad habits into efficient positions and techniques that should make running easier, safer, and more in line with doing less work for greater gain.

There is a plethora of amazing information about efficient running technique as it relates to using gravitational force, muscle elasticity, proper torque, and stride cadence. We will cover many of these cursorily but for the sake of time we are going to focus primarily on the following three things that you should definitely keep in mind and always focus on with running: posture, the lean(fall), and the pull.


  • Much like double-unders, we are looking for a quiet body when we run. This means we want the things that should be moving to move in the way we want but minimize everything else that doesn’t translate to the overall movement.
  • Head should be set up so that it is neutral and aligned with the spine, you’ll hearing coaches referring to the “gun” or “L” to address this during classes.
  • Shoulders should be down and relaxed (relaxation translates to a more quiet body than contraction does).
  • Elbows next to our sides, with elbows bent at slightly less than 90 degrees; this will help prevent over-rotation or cross-rotation (meaning the left arm crosses over the centerline of body to the right plane during the stride, a no-no).

Lean (Fall)

  • Running is the art of controlled falling, over and over again, utilizing gravity, our muscle elasticity, and proper form to keep resetting ourselves to safely continue to fall.
  • Lean should be generated from ankles, not torso or hips.
  • Try to keep all other joints above the knees stacked (so no bend at waist or torso leaning forward).
  • Speed is governed by lean, meaning that if we want to go faster, we lean more (but ONLY if we can maintain proper body position and mechanics)
  • Don’t need a lot of lean to go fast, but do need control and consistency with lean and body. For example, in an ideal and constant situation, a 5 degree lean constitutes a 4:08 mile time. How many of us run that fast? I didn’t think so, that’s because we start doing all sorts of things with our bodies that create fatigue, undue exertion, or deceleration (many of us fight against ourselves and gravity when we run).


  • Use mid foot strike with quick ground contact under center of mass as it passes over (no landing in front or heel striking)
  • Use hamstrings to quickly pull leg straight up into “Figure 4” position
  • Ground reaction and muscle elasticity is used instead of muscular energy
  • Lean is gas, pull is exhaust

Clear as mud? Perfect. Don’t worry, we’ve lots of drills to work from basic concepts to advanced skills. This is just to get us all up to speed so when coaches start telling you to lean you don’t try to get into your best limbo position or start jamming to your favorite Terror Squad song.

As always, we’re here for questions as they come up, and are excited to get our Forrest Gump on with all of you this month!

Member Stories – Paulla Santos

Hello, everyone! Thanks for checking out my member story!

As a child, I spent a lot of time hiking the various forests in the Pacific Northwest and playing different sports. During my first couple years of college, I played for the University of Oregon Women’s Rugby Team and played in the UO Marching Band.

Being active had always been a part of my life. However, during my last two years at the UO, I became more involved in research as a history student. I was busy writing my honors thesis and during that time I paid little attention to my diet and did not take time to exercise.

I began to notice various changes with my body. Specifically, my energy level was incredibly low and my heart and back started to ache as well. After many failed attempts to get back to my active lifestyle, I decided to give it another shot a few weeks before graduation.

I started slow rather than trying to do too much, too soon like I had previously done. I removed various food and drinks from my diet such as soda, sweets, and other high calorie foods. I also decided to walk everywhere I went. By the time I moved to Madison, Wisconsin for graduate school, I had lost approximately 35 lbs. in about four months.

One day in the of Fall 2016, I decided that I wanted to take my fitness journey to the next level. In addition, I wanted to maintain a more balanced lifestyle when it came to school and my mental/physical health. Many people have told me that I would really enjoy CrossFit and so happens CrossFit Recursive is only about a 10-15 minute walk from my apartment.

Long story short, I absolutely love CrossFit. The structure and variety of workouts, and the supportive community are among my top reasons why I enjoy going to the gym.

I have been a member for about 7 months and I have yet to see a repeated workout. There is always something new that will push me in various ways and I find that incredibly exciting.

The community is amazing. I came to the gym immensely self conscious knowing that I was much weaker than how I was during my rugby days. However, with the support of the Recursive coaches and other members, I have regained my confidence. They always have encouraging things to say and their suggestions push me to be a stronger and more efficient lifter.

My personal record of 110lbs. for bench press and my PR of 245lbs. for deadlift are my proudest moments at the gym thus far. Experiences like these prepared me for my return to the rugby pitch during the UO alumni weekend in May 2017.

Now I intend to train for my first CrossFit competition. Here’s to continued growth at CrossFit Recursive and thanks again for reading!

Member Spotlight – Sean Miran

First CrossFit work out?
My first Crossfit workout Was at CrossFit Paradox in Downers Grove, Illinois in June of 2013. It was 3 rounds for time of 50 Wall Balls at 20/14 and 15 burpee-pullups. I definitely hit the time cap.

My first workout at CFR was supposed to be:
Front Squats
Push Press
Ground to Overhead

But I Split my head open on the stabilizing bar on the rig while doing a gymnastics kip on one of the bars. I spent the rest of that first class holding a paper towel to my head to try to stop the bleeding.

The first WOD I completed at CFR was
6 Rounds
10 Burpee Broad Jump (70% of your 1RM from earlier today)
30 Double Unders

That one, I definitely scaled the double unders with twice as many singles.

How did you find CrossFit Recursive?
We did CrossFit when we were living in Chicagoland. When we moved back to Madison, we wanted to get back into it so Marnie started googling places. When we read that Recursive had a dedicated kids space, we knew that Recursive was the first place we had to try.

What has been the most fun so far?
The big group events- I loved the competition for Joe and Rina, and I loved doing The Open. The atmosphere at Recursive with so many people there was so inspiring, and definitely reinforced for me how great our community is at Recursive.

Something we might not know about you?
I was a nationally certified gymnastics Judge, and I coached gymnastics for 20 years-until the end of 2013.

Family Medicine Physician at Meriter’s West Washington Clinic in Madison.

Favorite CrossFit Movement?
Muscle-ups; really anything gymnastic that makes me look like I’m a better CrossFitter than I really am.

Least Favorite CrossFit movement?
Double Unders. No contest. I don’t like them, they don’t like me.

Your ideal WOD?
Something short, a gymnastics movement coupled with a barbell movement.

Greatest CrossFit accomplishment so far?
Finishing 17.5 as prescribed under the time cap.

Things that interest you outside of CrossFit?
Technology, nutrition, science fiction/fantasy, gymnastics, Michigan State University sports.

Member Stories – Samantha Taylor

Hi friends!  I’m a busy working mom of two littles, Vivian (3) and Crosby (2).  I work for UW Organ and Tissue Donation and do a lot of in-state travel for my job.  In fact, it’s a lot of spur-of-the-moment travel for my job as I work mostly on-call.  Finding a workout routine that works for my personal and professional life was challenging.

How in the world did I end up in CrossFit…?  I’m glad you asked.   I’ve always been an active, even athletic, person but never very strong.  I stayed fairly fit through college and graduate school with activities like Pilates, spin, running, and beer-drinking (I hear it has many health benefits).

After grad school I even trained for and completed a marathon in 2010 but in doing so, I did some damage to my knee and running became painful and less enjoyable.  Fast forward a few years and I’m expecting my first baby, due in September of 2013.  What a joy!

Ten short months after little Vivian was born, I found out I was expecting my second child.  What a shock! My body was no longer my own and my time was prioritized away from the gym.

As the spring of 2016 approached I had a two year old and a one year old at home. I was finally no longer an incubator nor a food truck for any tiny humans and I was aching to get back into an exercise routine.  I needed it both physically and mentally.

I knew my days of wandering around the weights, getting on the treadmill, and just seeing “how I feel” that day were over.  It was time to get to work.  Extra time was not something I had with two toddlers at home along with a demanding professional schedule and I knew I needed three things out of a new work-out routine: I needed something challenging, I needed something structured, and I needed something time-efficient.

I wasn’t looking to lose weight; I wanted to get stronger.  I wanted lifting my kids into the cart at Costco to be a piece of cake, rather than a comedy act some might actually pay money to see.  (My kids tend to run on the big side….)

Enter CrossFit Recursive.  I saw an ad for the six-week New You program and, honestly, at first I was hesitant.  I recall years ago the CrossFit Games being on TV in my living room when my fitness-freak brother-in-law was living with us and I remember thinking “stupid CrossFit”.

What I was really feeling was, “stupid brother in law – when are you going to get your own place?!”.  I put my past judgments aside and jumped in.  I figured a six-week introduction class with all women could quite possibly be the least intimidating environment for a person jumping back in to the workout scene.  When I met with the coach to discuss goals and I learned her name was Vivian.  If that wasn’t a sign of good things to come, what would be?

I completed the six week program and was in love.  Now I needed to figure out how I was going to swing this financially.  Two kids in daycare… woof.  My mind was made up when I was talking with my mom about how much I loved CrossFit.  I talked to her about how I was likely not going to continue, even though I was loving how it made me feel, and she said, “Don’t you dare.  This is the only thing you do for yourself.”  Sold.

I became a girl on a mission and I found a way. Now I get to see all of your lovely faces 13 times a month, pushing me to do one more burpee, challenging me to put just a little more weight on that barbell, encouraging me to get to the top of that rope – which I did for the FIRST time in my life about a month ago!!

My next goal is to get my long skinny arms and torso to pull my chin above that bar for a legit pull up. Because of the amazing coaches and supportive class-mates, I know I’ll get there eventually!

It’s nice to hear people say, “you look great” but what’s truly better is to feel great. Thank you all for making this beanpole frame feel like she can move mountains (or at least throw a little weight around).