10/11/13 WOD You can tell us who you are. I'd prefer to have a...More... 11.10.13 16:11 By Leon Chang
Resources and Friends
CrossFit.com is THE mainsite, the place where it all started. Videos of workouts, movements, journal articles- everything is here and the vast majority of it is free. Any serious CrossFitter will find themselves referring to the mainsite over and over again. Icons that link to the mainsite and journal are below.
PsychSanDiego is co- owned by Alessandra Wall Ph.D., wife of Leon Chang and an avid CrossFitter herself. Dr. Wall specializes in anxiety and eating disorders and is available for clients who wish to formulate a comprehensive weight-loss or lifestyle plan and address the psychological component of eating and weight loss. Click on the "coaches" tab to learn more!
Athletes of the Month - Perseverance!
Monday, 25 November 2013 15:25
Nearly everyone at the gym has an interesting story. We all come from different backgrounds and are motivated by a variety of goals. Some of you, however, strike me as particularly perseverant and dedicated to your personal goals. This month we are featuring two athletes who embody what pop culture has termed "stick-to-it-ness" and what the rest of us just call perseverance. I have personally worked out with both of them, and am always impressed by their positive attitudes and energy. Meet:
When Christian came to us it was with a smile, a great attitude and one of the more limited flexibility and mobility I have seen in several months. While some might have been working on building bigger back squats or obtaining higher snatch numbers, Christian was working on his mobility. I never have heard him complain about needing to work with a PVC or lighter bar while his Elysium crew got to put plates on their bars. He understands the value and importance of good foundations and works towards them with gusto and a smile. How can you not love that? Here is his story.
Age:26 Married no kids Current Occupation: US Navy I have been CrossFitting for 7 months now. Goals: be able to perform wall stand push-ups, complete a full rope climb, squat 300 lbs., dead lift 350 lbs. and drop down to under 150 lbs body weight. Also, I want to complete the Spartan Race in under 3 hours. Why I joined CrossFit: My best friend started CrossFitting at Valley CrossFit in LA, and when I went to join him for a WOD I couldn't believe how bad in shape I was. I want to improve my strength, endurance, speed, and flexibility, and I want to be in the best shape of my life! I want to have a more fit and healthy lifestyle, and I want to surround myself with a culture like the one that is portrayed at CrossFit Elysium! What have you gotten out of Elysium? CrossFit has developed my physical abilities to a level I never thought I could reach physically. CrossFit Elysium has given me the opportunity to have a fit and healthy lifestyle despite my busy schedule. Coming to the gym makes it easy for me be motivated and inspired by the culture that is within CrossFit Elysium.
My proudest PRs are the ones that I had a really hard time being able to do when I first joined the gym, which I have been able to develop the forms tremendously, which are:
Front Squat- 215 lbs
Rope climb- being able to do it just once was a great feeling!
When I first met Monica all I knew was that she was tough, she always pushed herself and she is one funny lady. The other day we got to talking about what she did in life, and her answer was "I eat healthy and work out," which I thought meant she was a coach or trainer somewhere. Monica is not coach or trainer in another gym, she is not a nutritionist or dietician, she is someone who has dedicated her last year to getting healthy and developing habits that would sustain her gains over time.
"I learned about CrossFit in bits and pieces from other people. When I was back in New York, feeling trapped and unhappy at 286lbs, I had a coworker who was maybe 10lbs overweight who would talk about trying Crossfit. We watched You Tube videos online and I saw these amazing athletes but, what my insecure self took note of was the people yelling support from the sidelines. Then, later, when I was at Fat Camp, I met a girl who was built like me, short and stout and kind of muscular. She talked about wanting to try Crossfit and that kind of moved it over into the realm of things I could possibly try one day. Then, later, I had two trainers both of whom would do crossfit in the morning before coming to teach us fat people. Of all the wingnuts I met on my journey, they seemed to have the most evidence-based fitness information. Plus, they would describe their morning WOD to shame us into hiking farther and the sheer level of absurdity involved started to call to my type A personality.
Since starting at Elysium in February I have lost an additional 60lbs (I had lost the first 60lbs in the months before coming). I also have gotten significantly stronger, more confident and more grounded in the idea that big change is both as basic and hard as practicing smaller, unglamorous daily changes. Time and repetition can wear through the biggest blocks. I also started measuring my body in terms of work capacity instead of weight. And that changed everything about how I viewed myself and my progress; instead of waiting to start my real life until I was small enough, I started thinking I am strong right now, and that this day, today, is as an important and real as the day the scale says 150. That was big.
Starting CrossFit was scary as hell. I had never done anything athletic previously and was scared both of the work involved and what it would be like socially. My friends have always been emaciated brainiacs with arty ambitions, I literally had never hung out with any athletic people. I also had a whole lot of stupid ideas about what fit people would think of me and my shameful obesity. One of the first things I learned when I decided to speak honestly about both how fat I had been and about how much progress I was making was how many other people at Elysium had gone through similar things. People who had struck me as permafit had previously been fat and people who were now out of shape were working to return to bygone fitness levels. This was an awesome discovery and one of the first times I realized how fluid and changeable the body is and that there were simple and replicable actions you could take to move from one fitness level to another. And that this system had rules that applied to everyone. In shape people weren't magically born that way, I didn't get fat because I had a "bad" body. This shit could be learned.
PRs and Proud moments: I think when I started I was pretty brave about the oly aspect. Frankly, carrying all the extra weight around made me pretty good at standing still and lifting. But I remember Vlad demonstrating the rope climb in fundamentals and how I literally just backed up as far away as I could get. It looked so absolutely impossible and if I failed it was so public. It was an utterly unfathomable thing. I didn't even bother to try. Now I can go up and down twice in a row, no sweat. That's what I am most proud of learning.
Clean and jerk: from 93 to 133
Push press: from 93 to130
Snatch: 68 to 103
Backsquat: 128 to 233
Front squat: 123 to 203
Goals: I want to move my 6K time down from 55min to 45min by the end of 2014. To put that in perspective, when I started running in March, I couldn't run down one side of my block without stopping. I'd also like to get more comfortable with double-unders and box jumps. I have yet to work up the courage to jump on the 24" box. I just stare down at it and then my feet and my brain gets confused. And, although I can execute a double under, I link them double, single, double single - I can't just string together a bunch of doubles. Yet."
Regretfully, we must announce Coach Yezzi will be moving on and is no longer able to be our mobility/yoga coach. We thank her for everything she has done for CrossFit Elysium and she'll always be part of our family.
We will soon be offering other options for mobility and recovery, and we'll make those announcements once everything is finalized. Stay tuned!
Announcements and more
Thursday, 14 November 2013 14:57
I know it has been a while since I made announcements, so I will make a whole bunch at once to get you all caught up.
I am looking to features some of you in the coming months. Last year we had a "It's a Christmas Miracle!" theme in December; I would like to repeat that this year. So, I am looking for someone who came in with an injury or a significant handicap to this process and has overcome it (physical injury, psychological or other life barriers are all valid). If this applies to you, I would love to feature you in December (and everyone is worthy of being featured, this is about getting to know the people in our community) please email me at
I am looking for a list of things we are thankful for. I want to post this in the gym and on the website. It would be wonderful if every member contributed to this post so I will be leaving sheets ALL AROUND THE GYM for you to fill out by the end of next week and I will have them up by Thanksgiving. You can be funny, you can be serious and touching, but by all means please participate.
Things I am thankful for: that we can laugh at ourselves and laugh together!
Christmas party! Yes, we have one of those too. Last year the wonderful Jill Ketchum hosted us, and I am proud to say we left her house in one piece and had a great White Elephant gift exchange. I was wondering if anyone else would be interested in hosting this year so we can get out of the gym.
Last Year's Party - See we were quite civilized!
Finally, lets start 2014 right by giving a bit of ourselves to other in need. I would like for the Elysium community to come together and support a charity or cause this year. If there is one that is close to your heart that you would like to submit for consideration, please send me the info. Ideally, this would be something we can contribute to through participation and not just funds, but all options will be considered.
Healthy Life Challenge Q&A summary
Sunday, 15 September 2013 19:29
First of all I want to thank everyone who took the time to come out today and participate in the HLC Q&A. I got a lot of great questions, and I hope that in my long winded way I was able to answer all of them. Here is a "brief" summary of what we went over.
Protein shakes are allowed, but the protein source must be animal based (whey or other). No soy, it just doesn't work with the Paleo model at all. Make sure the sugar content is as low as possible, and be reasonable.
This is a dairy free challenge, however, I also don't want people dropping off or feeling overwhelmed by small details. So, if you use small amounts of dairy in your morning drinks, you can continue having them, however try to limit to one drink a day, try to move from artificial creamers to full fat dairy, and no flavored stuff since it is full of sweeteners. If you order a salad and it has small amounts of cheese in it, don't sweat the small stuff. But don't go eating dairy purposefully, or ordering anything that knowingly has dairy in it such as a quiche (which usually has cheese).
Drop the sweeteners in your drinks and this includes honey or maple syrup. You can do this for 30 days.
Fruit is fine, but limit to 1-2 servings maximum a day, be smart about your choice of fruit. Also if you are reaching for the fruit because you are trying to appease you sweet tooth, back away and sit through the mental and emotional anguish of the sugar withdrawal. You will not die or go crazy, but it is distressing and you have to learn to accept that emotion.
If you are wondering if you can eat something, the answer is probably no, so without someone there to tell you what to do just assume you shouldn't. One good source for information is marksdailyapple.com
If you have even one cheat on a day you lose all 4 points for that day - It is going to happen to most of you, don't give up the rest of the meals just because this happens. This challenge is ultimately not about points or rewards, it is about your health and your life.
Keep a food log of some kind, this will help you adjust your diet, learn about how you might be using food to soothe or manage stress, and down the road might allow us to make personalized dietary plans to address specific goals.
You can simplify things by ordering Pete's Paleo's 30-day challenge meals if you want to stay paleo without having to think about it too hard.
You must be active five days of the week.
You must rest two. If you are jonesing to do something on your rest days, foam roll or do mobility work.
Monday's metcon will be the benchmark WOD for the challenge, if you cannot do it on Monday let your coach know the next time that you come in that you need to complete it.
Get a coach to measure your body fat before you even warm up. It is your responsibility to get a coach's attention to get this done. Remember which coach did it, and have them repeat the measure at the end of the challenge.
Aim to lay down and turn off your lights 8 hours before your alarm will go off.
Unless you have insomnia that should be fine to qualify for the 8 hours of sleep - be honest, you know if you lost consciousness in 15 minutes or an hour.
Best bet to get the full 8 hours is to plan for it, so turn off all electronics a full hour before bed time. Reduce ambient light and if you read on a tablet get an app that eliminates blue light in the evenings.
Create a routine around your bed time, just like we do with children. Do the same set of behaviors in the same order. After just a few weeks those behaviors will trigger sleep cues.
DO NOT watch TV in bed, read work briefs in the bedroom or pay bills. Bedrooms are for sleep and sex, nothing else.
I went through a number of relaxation exercises with the group and I don't want to write them all out. Find someone who attended today and have them explain different approaches to active relaxation.
TV, reading a magazine, getting high and crossword puzzles are not active relaxation.
Deep breathing, visualization, yoga poses, meditation, purposeful stretching (talk to Coach Courtney about this) stopping all activities and staring into space for 5 to however-many-minutes are.
Before doing the relaxation exercise you should stop, close your eyes, rate your stress level from 1-10, evaluate where in your body you are carrying your stress and do an exercise focused on reducing that number and that tension.
If you see me in the gym and you want help practicing your breathing or problem solving for this stress management thing please come and find me. You can also email me
If you notice that you are consistently missing points in certain areas, this is great, what it means is that the challenge is helping you become aware of areas of need in your life. Talk to me, we can problem solve together.
It gets easier the longer you go. You can join the I Am What I Eat group on FaceBook as a great forum to discuss the challenge and get support.
To start keeping track of your progress, see where everyone else is, and revisit the rules of this challenge please sign up using the following url bit.ly/Elysium-HLC We will be using the spread sheet on this site to keep track of your progress. It is your responsibility to enter the information such that by Monday of every week you have all the data from the previous week in. The week's data will be locked every Monday morning by 9 AM, if you don't enter it, it doesn't count towards the prizes.
Prizes for the top three point scorers will include cash rewards, Oly lifting classes with Coach L and Mobility work with Coach Courtney, as well as some Pete's Paleo and Cavegirl Confection treats. The two members who respectively lose the most body fat and improve most on the WOD will win gifts from New American Nutrition, Pure Pharma and a three night stay at the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.
Take pictures of yourself in the same clothes you will wear at the end of the challenge. The pictures are for you to see how much you have changed your body build. They will not be handed to me or publicized, unless at then end of the challenge you are interested in sharing your journey with the rest of Elysium. I recommend front, back and both sides.
Finally, have fun, support each other, take this as an opportunity to learn how to better live your life. As of now we have 35 people in the gym doing this together, that means that your chances of having someone who is in the same boat as you on any given day you come in to work out is high. Ask around, get to know each other, share tips, sob stories, and success stories. I am always excited, and honored to go through these challenges with you. And now, I will sign off, as I am planning to go to sleep in a little over an hour and need to shut my computer off.
Athletes of the Month - Nelwyn and Eric
Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:47
Ah, September, back to school! Life returns to a semblance or normalcy for those of us with kids, and although in the rest of the country the weather says warm apple cider, light sweaters and Fall, here in San Diego we hit a heat wave. Speaking about school and hot, meet our hot, hot Athletes Nelwyn and Eric college friends who have been together for nearly 20 years. You know what they say, friends who stay together CrossFit together. Nelwyn and Eric met in the freshman dorm and roomed together another five years after college. Their friendship is so strong that Eric even officiated Nelwyn's wedding to Carlo.
Here is their story:
NELWYN:Just over a year ago, I was wanting to kickstart my fitness. I was looking down the barrel of my 40th birthday and my younger baby was almost 2 years old. I decided I would spring for a month of "boot camp", but in researching I stumbled across Crossfit Elysium on Yelp (Leon's favorite!) I lurked around the website and other CF sites a bit and finally sucked it up and went to a Sunday free workout. It was tabata squats and pushups, and something else that I can't remember.... I couldn't lift my arms for days. A week later, I went back and signed up.
I have never been athletic, never understood why people want to work out. I worked out dutifully at the gym, but I hated it. I was in a sport or two in school, but I was terrible. And to my surprise, I love Crossfit. I couldn't wait to go. My friends and husband were... surprised? in a good way, and my super-athletic dad was proud. I can't really overstate how disbelieving my friends and family were. WTF... ? Bodysnatchers? I've thought about it a lot, but to be brief, I think the love is twofold: 1) Community. 2) It's short, it's hard, and there is somebody telling me exactly what to do.
Anyhoo, then I roped Eric in.
ERIC: Have I belonged to traditional gym before? Sure. There's that one the Village People sang about. And there's that one that's open all day long (at least its name implies that it is). I wouldlackadaisically and aimlessly roam from machine to machine, quickly getting bored of the routine. Fast forward a couple months, and I was no longer going, yet still paying. Finally, I would quit altogether, no better than when I started.
So how did I get roped into the Crossfit Elysium family? Well it's all because of a li'l lady I like to call New Ellen, although you may know her as Nelwyn or, if that's too difficult, "Hey you" orNezhwerzhnhsth….I have known Mrs. Del Frate since before she was Mrs. Del Frate (in other words before she was married, lest you think she has an assumed identity or is in the witness protection program or something. ) We met 21 years ago back in college when she was a starry-eyed coed and I was a 6-year-old freshman. We lived together for many years before she rudely and ungraciously moved out in order to move in with the man she would eventually marry. (Speaking of which, I was the officiant at their wedding.) Why am I telling you this, gentle readers? Well hopefully I'm conveying that I know this dame pretty well. So when she mentioned that she joined a gym and loves going to it, I nearly fell out of my knickers. And then the badgering began: "You should come! When are you going to come? Why haven't you come yet?" It was full court press. I finally agreed to go to a Sunday class and see what all the hooplahwas about. Wow. I was asked to do things my body did not want to do. But what I discovered is that there is an incredible community of support and encouragement that was lacking in any other gym that I had been to. After the hour was up, my body was spent, but I had a smile on face. I had a feeling I was hooked. Another week of recovery and rehab followed before I broke down and joined and I haven't looked back since.
To get to the gym at least three, hopefully four or five, times a week. I would really like to be able to do a handstand push up. And those damn double unders. And an unassisted pull-up. 100lb snatch? I don't want to say it out loud.
I want to thank the coaches, you guys really know what you're doing, and I appreciate it. And the other members, you are the best. Being at Elysium really has changed my life for the better.
To say snatch without giggling. Not be terrified of handstands. Improve my diet. Cut down on beer (hahaha kidding on that one). Learn how to kip a pull-up. Get more flexible in the wrists. Snatch in the triple digits. 200lb back squat by the end of the year. Improve consistency of my double-unders.
Thanks to the coaches for their knowledge and positive attitude and to those who play music [ahem, not you Vlad]. And thanks to each and every member who helps create the incredible community that is Crossfit Elysium, especially my 10 AM peeps. When I scream "Don't look at me!!" at you while you yell encouragement to me during a metcon, what you should actually hear is, "Your encouragement is invaluable and I thank you." (But really, don't look at me. I get embarrassed.)
What keeps us healthy? Certainly working out goes a long way. By improving strength, mobility, endurance, and agility we improve our chances of being able to handle what life throws our way. Health also comes from eating properly and managing our stress, and so our challenge begins. Elysium will be hosting the Healthy Life Challenge (HLC). HLC will start Monday September 16 and will last 30 days.
The mission of this challenge is to encourage and support healthy living in all our members. You guys have started well, you are here at Elysium and giving it your all. We want to help you work in the other two parts of health - diet and stress-management.
Rules & Terms
Daily goals and points for a maximum of 10/day:
Eat a Paleo diet 4 points/day
Keep a basic food log daily 1 point/day
Be active 5 days a week 2 points/day you are active
Get 8 hours of sleep at least per night 2 points/day
Practice one form of active relaxation or stress management daily 1 point/day
Eat Paleo: we have a number of articles about this in the AS Rx‚Äôd blog. Please refer to them or contact me personally to get details about what eating paleo means if you are new to this or uncertain, all questions are welcome. I will be meeting with all participants Sunday September 15th at 2:15PM to review Paleo guidelines and answer questions.
All participants will keep a log of their meals, it will be up to each individual to decide the level of detail they will use. This is an opportunity to pay real attention to what you eat and will allow you to make changes and adjustments as needed.
Being active means attending Elysium classes or any other form of real physical activity including, but not limited to biking, jogging, swimming, yoga or full mobility WODs, hiking, Zoomba, pole dancing‚Ä¶ you get the idea. You will be awarded two points per day you are active, on rest days there are no points to be earned, not allowing proper recovery time is stressful on your body, extra activity days beyond 5 are -2 points.
Sleep is essential to health, stress management, proper digestion, recovery and rest. I have attached some links to articles about sleep. On the short list of actions we can take to improve our health and quality of life, sleep is often completely forgotten or minimized. This is everyone‚Äôs opportunity to see what it feels like to get proper rest and examine how much it actually can improve functioning.
Active relaxation is any activity pursued specifically and mindfully to address daily stress. Examples of active relaxation include deep breathing, meditation, body scans (to be defined at a later date), visualization, some forms of yoga, mindful walking or taking a timeout. Reading, sleeping, watching TV or grabbing a drink or other mind altering substances, although potentially relaxing are not relaxation exercises.
All participants shall complete a pre-challenge and post-challenge WODs to be announced at a later date
All participants will have their body composition measured by coach Paul or Coach Glory prior to the challenge and at the conclusion of the challenge
All participants will take before and after pictures
All participants will be given access to a spreadsheet where they will record their points daily
All participants are expected to complete the challenge honestly and fairly, this is an honor system, no one is expecting perfection, but we are expecting participants to be honest when they can‚Äôt complete goals
The top three winners of the challenge will be determined based on total points obtained. The top three scorers will be given prizes (to be announced by September 6th).
There will be additional special prizes for the following: greatest BF reduction, greatest improvement in WOD score.
Here are some of the incentives we have: better health, better fitness, better quality of life, Pete's Paleo Bacon, Pure Pharma supplements, Cavegirl Confections goodies, New American Nutrition book and supplements, mobility training classes with Coach Courtney and Olympic training classes with Coach Leon.
Many of you have participated in our challenges in the past. You know that these can both be fun and really productive in creating change. There is nothing quite like having a whole team of people who are in it with you; people who will cheer you on, support you, advise and inform you, people who will compete with you and keep you motivated. To any new members who have never done a challenge like this here is what you can expect: You can expect to make gains in your overall body composition, your gym performance and health. You can expect to have more support in creating change than maybe ever before in your life. You can expect this process to be both challenging and extremely rewarding after the first few weeks. You can expect to increase your connections and improve your bonds with the other members of the gym who will be going through this with you.
How to get started:
Log on to Mind Body, go to seminars and sign up, there will be a $25 fee for the event. A portion of the fee will distributed to the top three winners.
A week before the challenge I recommend cleaning out your fridges pantries and snack stashes.
"To everyone ¬†who took the time to attempt this 30 Paleo Challenge I want to say thank you and good job. Some of us had big improvements to make, some of us were looking to fine tune our bodies and our strengths. Anyone who is interested can let me know and I will provide specifics on how we computed these scores. The short of it is that we calculated percentage changes from Time 1 to Time 2 and then calculated an average percent improvement over the three WODs.
Our first place winner with an average of 49.26% improvement in performance over the 30 days is Jay Oliver!
He will receive: $100.00 in cash
5 full meals from Pete's Paleo
A copy of the book Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield
First Runner up is Gina Perry with an average of 44.85% improvement in performance over the course of the challenge.
She will receive: $50 in cash
3 Full meals from Pete's Paleo
A copy of the book Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield
Coming in third is Angie Battisti with an average of 43.21% improvement in performance over the course of the challenge
She will receive: $25 in cash
2 Full meals from Pete's Paleo
A copy of the book Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield
Anyone who is interested in sharing your story please let me know, this will be both informative and hopefully inspirational to others who are considering making a change.‚Äù
Video- Will Mitchell first muscle up!
Monday, 08 April 2013 18:53
Not bad for a big guy... he still weighs closer to 3 bills than 200lb. Next step- full extension muscle up! Nice job dude! Coach L
Athlete of the Month, 2/2013 - Love is in the air!
Thursday, 14 February 2013 13:26
Love is in the air an everywhere at Elysium, love from the members for the members, from the members to the coaches and definitely from our coaches out to you. We have love for ourselves, which we demonstrate day in and day out by eating healthy and putting in our sweat at the gym. What we also are lucky to have is quite a few couples at the gym. For this month's featured Athletes may I introduce for the very first time Mr. Jay and Mrs. Jeannine Oliver! Jeannine and Jay joined the gym last year and have been a wonderful addition to our community. They work hard during WODs and play hard at social events. If you have not yet met them just come hang out at one of our many social gatherings and you are sure to see either one or both of them. Without further ado...
My husband Jay and I started at CrossFit Elysium in April 2012.¬† When I started, I was so out of shape.¬† I hadn‚Äôt been to a gym in years. I was not ever an athlete in high school.¬† I would say I was a self proclaimed couch potato. Jay and I both had quite a few friends in other cities that did crossfit, so we were intrigued by their stories of fun and fitness. And, it seemed like something we could do together as a couple.¬† I will never forget our first night, or the first month at the gym.¬† Paul Estrada was our coach for fundamentals.¬† We did tons of air squats and I was happy that I had retained some flexibility from my days of yoga, so I did lots and lots of them!¬† The next day, and the next week, I could barely walk!!¬† I was in so much pain from just moving again.¬† I continued to be nervous, since I had no idea what any of the weightlifting moves were, in fact I had never even held a barbell before crossfit.¬† I learned.¬† I learned the names of the moves and how to do them.¬† I was proud.¬† And, I learned all these crazy acronyms too.¬† People asked me, ‚Äúwell, do you like crossfit?‚Äù¬† I would always reply, ‚ÄúWell, I don‚Äôt HATE it!‚Äù
My long long term goal is for all lifts to be over 100#.
Run 5k now 36 minutes. Goal under 30 min.
Lose 5% more body fat.
When I first walked into the doors of Crossfit Elysium with my wife, Jeannine, in April 2012 I weighed 325 lbs, had a lower back injury just from moving boxes a few weeks ago, high blood pressure, and was still recovering from bilateral foot surgery that I had to correct the severe arthritis I had developed in my big toe joints.¬† I couldn‚Äôt run more than 50 feet without excruciating pain.¬† When I walked in, I saw exactly what I expected and feared ‚Äì an extremely fit, intimidating guy with tattoos, manning the gym with authority and a very obvious sense of purpose.¬† Elysium members know to whom I‚Äôm referring ‚Äì Coach Paul Estrada.¬† Hopefully without sounding too trite, walking in those doors has truly become a turning point in my life.
Paul welcomed us with open arms, made us sign the necessary paperwork, etc., and then we got down to business, plain and simple.¬† We started with the most basic movements.¬† I believe our first WOD was interval maximal effort air squats, which left Jeannine and I limping around for the next week.¬† Yet, we kept coming back, Paul patiently taught us all of the basic movements that make up at least 5-6 hours of my week now, and we graduated from Fundamentals within 3 weeks.
Cut to 10 months later:
- I have lost 35 lbs while also putting on way more muscle than I thought possible in that time.
- I‚Äôve lost 6 inches from my waist.
- I have lower blood pressure WITHOUT medication than I did 10 months ago WITH medication.
- I competed in a local Crossfit competition, the Elysium-sponsored Rumble in Paradise, even though I have never competed in anything remotely athletic in my entire life (nor did I think I ever would).
- I run, my foot surgery all but forgotten most of the time.
- I dead lift 475 lbs, no memory of the back pain that used to follow me around on most days.
- I climb rope, almost 20 feet up in the air.
- I have completely changed my perception of food and what I should and shouldn‚Äôt put in my body.
- I‚Äôm generally a more positive, ‚Äúcan-do‚Äù person.
- I find myself sometimes attending 8-hour clinics on Saturday, just to work on Olympic lifting technique.
- I often daydream about my next workout with a simultaneous sense of excitement and dread.
I still have a lot of work to do to get my weight and body fat where I want it to be, so I will continue to focus on that this year by showing up at least 4 times a week and further tweaking my diet, which has become at least 90% paleo.
1) Weigh 240 at 13% body fat (current 290 at 24% body fat).
2) Dead lift = 555 (current 475)
3) Back squat 1RM = 475 (current 3RM = 405)
4) Clean & jerk = 315 (current 225)
5) Snatch = 225 (current 155)
6) Run 5K in 28 min (current 38 min)
Crossfit has taught me that ANYTHING is TRULY possible, if you are willing to work for it.¬† Your body can do more, you can push yourself harder, you can go that extra distance, you can lift heavier, and you can strive to improve every single day of your life, and make progress.¬† I find this to be extremely empowering, and I think it transcends into all other areas of life.
What makes Crossfit Elysium special, and the reason why I will always be a member there, is that it is a family.¬† The coaches and members make it a place where you want to show up and give it all you have, day after day.¬† Just when I think Coach Paul isn‚Äôt watching my squat form, I‚Äôll hear from behind me, ‚ÄúALL the way down, Jay!‚Äù¬† Coach Alessandra is there to keep me on track with diet, and cheer me through the infamous 30-day paleo challenges.¬† Coach Leon is always trying to make the gym an even better place.¬† Coach Vlad is there for those Sat mornings when I wake up and want my ass kicked from here to the Moon with one of his signature WODs.¬† Coach Glory always keeps an eye on my 2nd pull and won‚Äôt accept anything less than perfection.¬† Coach Adam, while only around for a short while, has gotten me through a really bad front squat day, when I seemed to have no wrist flexibility ‚Äì next thing I knew, I set a new 3RM PR.¬† And, Irene Mejia is always there to remind me that if I‚Äôm not working as hard as her, then I‚Äôm not giving it all I have and need to step it up!¬† Not to mention all the other members who have been my cheering section during the 100s of WODs I‚Äôve struggled through.¬† For all of you, coaches and fellow members, I am eternally grateful.
I would also like to thank my wife Jeannine, who has been down in the trenches with me for the past 10 months, always encouraged and supported me, celebrated my victories, and helped pick me up from my defeats.¬† I couldn‚Äôt have done this without her.
And thanks to one of my oldest friends, Brent Nieves, who encouraged me to try Crossfit two years ago when I had the attitude, ‚ÄúI can‚Äôt do that.‚Äù¬† He told me, ‚ÄúYes, you can.‚Äù¬† And, lo and behold, he was right!¬† He regularly kicks ass at P3 Crossfit in Houston, TX, and we now get to trade WOD war stories.
Thanks a lot Greg! His entire, unedited comments are below. Coach L
CrossFit Elysium will make you stronger both physically and mentally, plain and simple.
The first part should be expected of any gym, naturally ‚Äì who doesn‚Äôt go to the gym to be stronger? It is the second part that people overlook in a gym, but given my experience at Elysium, its value is beyond measure. The fact that Elysium builds that mental strength and then some is what keeps me coming back. Let me explain.
I had had success in some athletic endeavors before I started CrossFit this year. After losing a lot of weight, I had some decent numbers for lifting, and quite a few running events including two marathons. CrossFit had popped up in a lot of the reading I did for those other fields, and given how close Elysium was, I figured it was worth a shot. Still, I found myself in the car outside the gym, trying to psych myself up to go inside. I was so used to working out alone that I wasn‚Äôt sure how I would adjust to class workouts. I was also terrified of looking dumb if I couldn‚Äôt do one of the movements. Of course I knew these fears were irrational, but they weren‚Äôt going away. I sat in the car for 30 minutes before I worked up the courage to walk into the gym, only by convincing myself that if I didn‚Äôt like it, I could always walk away.
Even today, that first class is very distinct in my head. Meeting Paul, going through some of the basic strength movements were straightforward, and the met-con (conditioning) portion of the workout started just fine. But then, as should have been expected, I began to struggle in the middle. Frankly, it was discouraging, and as I started to look out at a few people stretching out from the previous classes, I expected sideways glances and maybe a smirk or two. Not so. The opposite in fact - they were shouting words of encouragement. More importantly, I could see that the one thing they didn‚Äôt want was for me to quit. First or last, they wanted me to finish, they expected me to give it my all to the end. It was definitely a surprise to me, but it drove me through the last bit of the workout ‚Äì I wanted nothing more to meet their expectations. I could feel the adrenaline long after the workout was over, and I wanted more.
As the weeks went on, that expectation never wavered ‚Äì not from the coaches, nor the other members. Workouts evolved as I met some of those expectations: the 70 lb kettlebell after the 53 lb one, non-scaled versions of bodyweight stuff. And then I noticed how much progress I was making, as well as how much everyone else was making around me. I noticed how I was excited to take on new challenges not only at the gym, but also at work and other places. I noticed how I had stopped focusing on what I couldn‚Äôt do and starting focusing on what I couldn‚Äôt do yet. I noticed how much more I was expecting of myself ‚Äì I would definitely not be alone in the gym in that regard.
Finally, at the competition held last December, I realized exactly what made Elysium tick, and why it had improved my mental strength. I knew the heart of Elysium was the people there, but the heartbeat was how much we expect out of each other. Watching someone hit that PR after a strength cycle or seeing someone do a rope climb for the first time in their life, it was worth just as much as a 1 pound PR on any of our lifts. Seeing someone with a huge grin after accomplishing something he/she never thought possible in their wildest dreams gives so much energy to the gym that everyone feeds off of. As I look back on one year, I realize exactly why that expectation I experienced on Day 1 never wavers ‚Äì it brings forth the best out of everyone. I have yet to experience that at any other gym, and am so glad I have the opportunity to train with all the coaches and fellow gym members at Elysium. My mental edge is stronger because of it.
Long story short, if you want to lift weights, you can go to any gym with weights and go to town. If you want a place that pushes you and drives you and improves you in more ways than one, come to Elysium.