Hello CrossFit Amundson Athletes, both at our Santa Cruz location (Headquarters) and Remote Athletes from around the world. I am so happy and grateful to be including a monthly newsletter as part of “Coaches Corner” for you. The “Coaches Corner” was a tool that Coach Glassman, the Founder of CrossFit and my longtime mentor, utilized to build community, and to provide greater context and understanding for everything we practice in the gym.
My good friend Rolf Gates, a former US Army Ranger turned Warrior Yogi (Rolf is a world renowned Yoga teacher, and bestselling author) explained to me once that, “A principle felt is understood.” This concept continues to intrigue me, for the following reasons:
- Physical strength developed in the gym can be applied outside the gym to non-physical events.
- Our threshold for discomfort developed in the challenge of the daily workouts increases our capacity to meet and greet the challenges of life.
- Our appreciation for the potential of our body is increased, leading to a greater awareness of the variables we can influence outside the gym, which impact our performance inside the gym.
KEY LESSONS FROM SEPTEMBER:
- CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE
- CORE TO EXTREMITY
During the month of September, my focus around the whiteboard was on encouraging you to develop greater awareness of your breath, your circle of influence, and the incredible principle of “core to extremity.”. To highlight the key points from these whiteboard lectures, first remember these qualities of the breath:
- The breath has four distinct parts:
- Focus on the nostril breath. The nostril breath has the following advantages for you:
- Hair follicles in the nostrils clean the breath before entering throat and lungs.
- Nostril breath “pulls” breath into lower abdomen, resulting in a deeper, more complete breath.
- Nostrils either cool or heat air before entering throat and lungs, depending on the unique needs of the body.
- Nostril breath triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, sending a powerful signal to your brain to remain calm, focus, poised, centered, aware, and composed for the challenge of the moment (the workout, repetition, etc.) you find yourself in.
- Turn the “Wheel of the Breath”. In other words, during exercise (and life) we want to minimize any unintentional moments when we are holding our breath. A breath hold send s a signal to the brain that we are in danger. Therefore, only when appropriate should you hold the breath, such as the specific intention to increase inner-abdominal pressure in preparing for a heavy Deadlift. Otherwise, be sure to “Turn the Wheel” of your breath. The mantra should me, “My breath evenly spreads throughout my entire body.”
CIRCLE OF INFLUENCE:
In life, there are certain elements of your experience that you can influence, and there are certain elements of your experience that you can do very little about. At the deepest level of Spiritual application, we learn that everything “Within” we can influence, and everything “Without” we cannot. The good news is that with diligent practice of continually turning our attention “within” we can begin to influence what is taking place in our environment. To return again to the great Spiritual application of this lesson; Our ability to skillfully respond to our circumstances, which is based on our ability to influence our “inner world”, will significantly affect our future circumstances. In other words, although we can not actually “control” our circumstances, we can respond to them in a skillful manner, which will positively effect all future circumstances. In Yoga, this principle is defined in Sanskrit as, “Heyem duhkam anagatam” which translates as, “Future suffering can be avoided.” In Christianity, this principle was expressed by Jesus Christ when he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10). In the present moment, we may experience an undesired circumstance (persecution). However, by remaining righteous (meaning to be vigilant about maintaining “right thinking”) we can favorably influence future events (entering the Kingdom of God.)
Below is a list of “Circle of Influence” areas to remain aware of. By focusing on ONE of these areas for an entire day, you can SIGNIFICANTLY influence the quality of your life:
- Thinking (affirmations, mantras, etc.)
- Meditation (daily stillness and silence, a withdraw from the senses)
- Prayer (communion with God)
- Time in Nature (sunlight, “earthing”, connection with the Divine)
CORE TO EXTREMITY:
This is one of my favorite principles, and areas for daily contemplation. We return to the insight of Rolf Gates when he said, “A principle felt is understood.” In weightlifting, we learn the closer we hold the external object to our “core” (referred to as the “belt” around our midline, our center, etc.) the stronger we are, and the lighter the weight is perceived to be. As an example in the gym, we had several athletes hold a 20lb. Medicine Ball against their chest with little discomfort. However, when the same ball was held directly in front of them with arms extended, the weight became exceedingly heavy. The other application of Core to Extremity in the gym is seen in the manner in which Functional Movements are performed. For example, in a Push Jerk, the action originates in the “core” by engaging the large muscles of the hips, abdomen, erectors in the lower back, and glutesmaqximus. As we extend the legs, the smaller muscles of the shoulders and arms take over, finally culminating in the small muscles of the wrist and arms. We are strongest in the gym when these principles are routinely applied.
CORE TO EXTREMITY ~ APPLICATION IN LIFE:
To apply this principle from the gym to your life, consider the following questions:
- What is your true “core”? In other words, what are you centering yourself in? The Biblical answer to this question is found in the Scripture, “Seek first the Kingdom of God (our core) and everything else will be added (our extremity.)
- When you face a challenge, is your tendency to focus on the problem (the extremity) or the solution (always found within; ie. our “core)
- What are your unique talents, skills and abilities? These “Heavenly Gifts” are part of what the Bible refers to as, “Your Divine Design”. These qualities connect you with your “Core”.
SEPTEMBER ATHLETES OF THE WEEK & SPECIAL EVENTS:
In review, I would like to extend recognition and encouragement to our September Athletes Of The Week. Congratulations to Dan, Terry and Sarah (husband and wife team!), Rachel, and Captain Corey.
During the month of September, we added to our workout programming the Friday Hero Workouts. These incredibly challenging workouts honor American Heroes who gave their life protecting and serving our Country. I applaud everyones determination and grit in navigating these challenging sessions!
In conclusion, I want to express my admiration, respect and appreciation for each of you. I travel extensively, teaching CrossFit, Goal Setting and Leadership at CrossFit gyms around the Country. I am always amazed and humbled by the incredible community we have created together at our HQ gym in Santa Cruz. Although by definition we are a “CrossFit Gym” I see our impact is achieved by integrating our Mind, Body and Spirit in everything we do, both inside the gym, and in life.
Until next month, may God bless you, and keep you safe.