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What real progress feels like…

By 7th July 2016March 10th, 2017No Comments

I remember my first CrossFit class at 353. I popped down for a trial session one Saturday last November. At that point I was already an elite athlete, having spent countless hours in the gym “sculpting guns” and maxing out deadlifts once a week… Saturday was “one rep max deadlift day”.

After a quick warm-up and a stretching session, which pointed out some key mobility flaws, Coach Gaz asked: “Does anyone know what a double under is?” I grabbed a funny looking skipping rope and what followed was by far the most frustrating 15 minutes of my life! After a million attempts and a handful of very ugly double unders (handful being 3 at best) I was sweating profusely. But it was a massive laugh so I signed up the following week!

The first few moths I could see some improvements. Mobility was getting better, I was gaining strength, evidenced by squats, deadlifts and the 7 kg I gained in a relatively short period of time. However, I was still struggling with the WODs, especially skills based ones.

The 2016 Open was a real eye opener and made me re-evaluate the way I approach training. I was pretty happy with how it went but after most WODs I couldn’t help it think… if only my double unders were better, toe to bars more efficient, what about those 4 no-reps on the chest to bars or the calc you missed on the rower. You could have made life a lot easier for yourself!

“2 minutes into 16.5 I was like “F#@k”, I wish I spent more time doing thrusters and burpees. My 116 kg snatch is of no help to me now”.  

– Gary Featherstone

That pretty much sums it up. If you have a few minute (29 to be exact), check out this video Crossfit: Test of Fitness Its makes a valid point about CrossFit being a “True test of Fitness”. The message is loud and clear. Eliminate your weaknesses!

Progress to me is no longer a one rep max deadlift. It’s more like… completing a 20 minute AMRAP of double unders, box jumps and burpees and still being able to hit a squat clean with perfect form. Hitting every cal on the rower, making sure every rep counts and being able to pace a WOD so you still have enough gas to bang out a few last reps before that buzzer goes.


I’m not a professional athlete and don’t have any coaching qualifications, never the less, I would like to finish up with some advice. These following basic principles really helped my development over the past few months.

  1. Trust the coaches! If Coach Gaz (using for example purposes only) tells you to “warm up those shoulders” before you attempt handstand walks, it’s not because he hates you… it’s because good shoulder mobility helps stabilise a handstand and reduces the risk of injury!
  2. Trust the programming! I have seen how much planning goes into every session the coaches put together for us week in and week out. A wide variety of warm-ups, skills work, strengths sessions and lifting drills helps us work on our weaknesses and improve on our strengths.

Internal monologues: “Tall Cleans? Hhhmmm… Thought we were lifting today… Can I have some plates please? What is this?”

Few weeks later: “Hey, I just PR’d my clean… that’s twice this month… that was easy! Thanks Tall Cleans!”

  1. Be patient! This is by far the most difficult one and is something I struggle with on a regular basis. What helps here is thinking of the bigger picture and focusing on long term goals. Taking a couple days off a week or doing some extra mobility instead of heavy squats is a small price to pay. Check out Coach Kev’s article if you haven’t done so already: Life is like an iPhone by Kevin Croke Gave me some good perspective!
  2. Enjoy it! This one is made easy by the awesome members and coaches we have at CrossFit353. And of course, the little bundle of fluffy joy that is… RBF (bet you thought I was gonna say Kilo)! But also Kilo!

Thanks to all at Crossfit353! You are all excellent humans!

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