Training with an injury….yay or nay?

My Journey from CrossFit to a broken shoulder and back.

–  Paula Downes

A bit about my injury: 6 years ago, I fell off my bike and broke my right shoulder. A metal plate and 9 screws were put in to stick the bone back together. It hurt, a lot.

I spent 3 months in a sling, and about 6 months attending painful physio, often twice a week. After all of that, the physio gave up and told me that the range of motion I had (~70%), would be the best I’ll get and I’d have to live with having a weak arm. That wasn’t good enough as far as I was concerned!

A year after my original surgery, I joined a Crossfit gym. One of my first workouts included wall balls, I was angry with myself at how easily everyone was throwing so high when I couldn’t even lift it over my head. I worked closely with coaches, did extra mobility at home and gradually introduced overhead movements with light weights and/or lower reps. It was a frustratingly slow process but within a year I regained 100% range of motion, I could do strict pull ups and I’m still very proud of my 2x30kg OH squats in Open event 14.2.

Thats me attempting some wall balls on the left
2 reps in 14.2
A 40kg Thruster

The metal plate was irritating my arm, and giving me some pain and minor restrictions so my surgeon thought it would be best to take it out, the bone had healed well so we expected no complications, surgery and recovery went really well and I was back using my arm within 6 weeks.

Post surgery bruising
The plate & screws (I kept them!)

After a while my shoulder strength sort of plateaued. I could do weighted pull ups with relative ease and manage some legless rope climbs, but push ups were super difficult and caused me pain afterwards… My anterior deltoid (the muscle at the front of your shoulder responsible for pushing movements) was visibly atrophied (wasted) and not getting better, so a physio I was attending suggested getting a nerve conduction test done. This involved sticking needles into different parts of my shoulder and sending an electric current through it. The nerve for my deltoid gave no reaction whatsoever, and the conclusion was that I had irreversible nerve damage. Yay.

I’ve had to re-evaluate how I would approach the gym. This injury is for life, I’ll never do a 50kg jerk again, push ups will always be a killer, overhead squats and double unders just mean pain (not the good kind). Quitting Crossfit was not an option. I considered it, and took some time off, but I love it too much – Crossfit changed my life (a story for another day) and I wasn’t willing to quit – still amn’t!

Recently I discovered I have a torn rotator cuff in the same shoulder, probably an unnoticed side effect from the original injury that gradually got worse. I’m working on getting that fixed at the moment… but still training.

Some things I’ve learned over my 5 years Crossfitting with an injury that I hope will help others:

Injuries don’t mean you can’t go to the gym. With most injuries there is still something you can do! Talk to the coaches, I have yet to meet a coach who isn’t willing to modify a workout to accommodate an injury, they tend to get creative which is fun. For me, this usually means extra lunges or squats but the silver lining is I’ll get super swole legs!!

You probably can’t train every day, and that’s ok. I learned this the hard way. If one body part is injured, you’ll be putting extra pressure on another part. For me, my legs take the brunt – and doing leg day 6 days a week isn’t realistic (for most people). Even if you go to the gym 3 times a week, you’re still doing better than most of the population!

Take your time. Do the rehab. Do the annoying, boring accessory exercises & stretches. Gradually re-introduce movements and stop if you have pain. Recovery shouldn’t be taken lightly, I can’t stress how important this is. You’re in this body for the long term, you only get one spine. Get a plan together with some goals, it’ll help! I gave myself a year to get one strict pull up, and then I didn’t allow myself to start learning to kip until I was able to do six consecutive strict. Be patient!!

Perspective is important: we want to be healthy when we’re older, avoid the nursing homes and osteoporosis – I can still do that without hitting big snatch PRs!


It’s frustrating, but you need to get over it (I’m still terrible at this). The Open is easily the worst for me. Watching folks get their first ring muscle ups or HSPU, congratulating them, being happy for them but knowing you might not even have the option to try it. Its really difficult, and there’s no easy solution. Concentrate on your own goals, little wins become huge wins when you’re injured, and they can be extremely rewarding because you know you had to work that little bit harder to get it!

I guess the main point of this post is to mention that injury is not the end of the world, if you’re smart about it you can recover well, make progress and still have fun!

Still Not Going To The CrossFit Games

Still Not Going To The CrossFit Games

“There is only one certainty in life and that is we are all going to die”

Another year, another amazing 5 weeks, another trip to the CrossFit Regionals (to party) is upon us.

The Open represents an incredible time of year. The Thursday evening nerves, the Friday adrenaline, the Saturday reality check of failing to keep pace with Mat Fraser.


My favourite part…seeing people step outside their comfort zone. They attempt the impossible. They see fear ahead of them and stare straight back. We as a gym had a litany of firsts; First pull up(s), muscle ups, handstand push ups, weight that seemed impossible a few weeks go, floating up like it was nothing. 30kg thruster…ha easy. Deadlift this 60kg 45 times… no problem. Doing a WOD into some lifting? Oh you mean the thing we do once a week at 353? It’s so humbling as a coach to watch people you see every day step into the darkness and embrace it. Not giving up, pushing out every little ounce of energy left in their bodies for that extra rep.

The few weeks following the CrossFit Open are always curious. Murmurs in the shadows of crazy ring things they have seen… and they want them by next week. The lament; “had I just repeated those workouts 5 times I could have got 3 spots higher in the world” The crazy idea that if I train 9 hours a day, twice a day, for the next year i’ll make it to the CrossFit Games!!
We all get a little frustrated that we can’t link 17 muscle ups, that bloody Annie Thorisdottir has beaten us…again!


In the excitement of competition we can easily forget why we do what we do. I don’t want to make it to the CrossFit Games. I want to help build 353 to be the best CrossFit gym in the world(Because we already are the best CrossFit Gym in Dublin ;)).

After the Open I briefly thought about training outside class, doing more than the hour a day I do. The thoughts of getting personally programmed to improve my weaknesses. But to what end? I want to develop as a coach, be the best damn coach I can be for the members of 353. I love having the opportunity to train with class every day. Outside of coaching y’all it’s the happiest I am. Throwing down with the lunchtime crew, having the banter, experiencing the finest grass fed filet mignon Ireland has to offer.
Im in this game to live as long as I can. To stay out of a nursing home and kick chronic disease in the dick. Competition is healthy, pushing yourself and going darker than ever before is healthy. Beating Andy Hickey in the Open is healthy. That’s competition and now we go back to training. The speedo season is upon us.

The goal is to get fit, high five some people, turn the music up and have an hour to ourselves…with others. We forget that our injury rate at CrossFit 353 is nominal. If we stay healthy and train often we will get better at snatching, we will get our pull ups, those hspu’s will be there in time. Trust the process, train hard, eat clean, have fun. If we can do this we will get there. As ma boi BB(me and Ben Bergeron are on nickname terms) says “ it has to be a low trajectory to a distant horizon”.



What we learnt from this years open is that we are extremely fit. Maybe not compared to the Sara SigmundsDottir or Noah Olsen (Pete Conlon). But we are so far ahead of the general population its scary. Ben Bergeron (BB) told me that 20% of Americans have a gym membership, and only 0.01% of Americans do CrossFit. We forget how we fit we are, how well we are doing, that we have already taken the right steps towards living to 125 and playing tennis with our great grand kids.

We are here to help you inside but more importantly outside the gym. We have Coach Andy ready to get people sexy and ripped. We have Coach Benjo raring to go with some goal setting. We have Coach Siobhan loose and supple for Saturday night twerk night. We will be fitter next year. We’ll also be healthier. We’ll be happier and we’ll be bloody sexier.

As Mark Manson says “we only have so many fucks to give in life, let’s make sure we give fucks about the right things, don’t waste them on the small irrelevant things. We all have problems so lets make them good problems to have. We don’t have to do things, we get to”

We as coaches love you, we always have your best interest at heart. All we want is for y’all to succeed and we’ll do whatever we can to make that happen. Our goal is to make you better human beings. We will do whatever it takes to keep the train that is 353 moving forward. Get on board because it’s going to be some journey.

Peace and Love
Gaz xxx



A huge shout out to Connor Colson, an incredible young man who wears our core values on his sleeve unawares. His integrity, humility and hunger over the last the last 6 months has been inspiring. He has made it to the next round of qualification in the 16-17 yr old division. This qualifiers are in April and we know the whole gym is behind him. Best of luck brother. Leave it all out there x

The Difficulty with Public Speaking

CrossFit south dublin

Are we opening a Restaurant?

Read into the inner workings of programming and coaching head Gary Featherstone at South Dublin’s premier CrossFit gym, CrossFit 353.

Tango Dancing with 353

Post workout rest during CrossFit Competition

Winners Don’t Compete – Peter Burke


Here’s what I think, I think…

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Invest time and energy in your mental and physical wellbeing (ideally in a crossfit gym near me)
  • Be kind to others
  • Don’t settle

Growing up Frank was the kid. He was first pick on all the teams and when he played you were likely to win. Victories came thick and fast and soon became the norm for Frank. At 12 he won footballer of the year. Driving home after the final Franks mum said: “that was a great year, you must be very proud of yourself. Well done”. Frank barely noticed, winning came easily to him. A few years later Frank and his teammates lost in the semi final. Driving home after the game Frank’s mum said, “maybe not your best season, what do you think happened?” Frank was less than impressed; he didn’t like losing and was in foul humour with the ma. During his final year Frank and his pals won the cup. Post celebrations Frank’s mum offered, “ That was a great year, you must be very proud of yourself”. Frank shrugged this off – he had always won.

It wasn’t until a couple of years later Frank understood the lesson being taught. In this instance sport represented the ebb and flow of normal life. Day to day we traverse a subconscious emotional midline. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose. When we win it is important to try mark, celebrate and be present in the moment. This is a valuable (yet transient) elevation above the midline. We should try and bank these good feelings. Conversely, sometimes things may not go our way. Here we can try reflecting on the banked feelings of the good times. To understand that like the good times this dip too is transient and normality will return.

Who or why?

Soccer aside or (title) I have no issue with competition. I believe competing to be a great learning tool. To quote McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh “Win or Learn”. My query isn’t on the why or the what, but vitally the who. Who are you competing with?

See Casey Neistats greatest ever Vlog.

Casey alludes to this magnificently in this video. Who are you competing with? If Irish Rugby international Garry Ringrose just competed with a centre in Leinster would he be on the cusp of Lions selection for this summers tour? To compete with another or to set tangible external markers of “success” is limiting and ultimately may leave you unhappy. If I achieve X then I will be happy. Insert “six pack”, “Boyfriend”, “200kg Deadlift” where relevant but when you achieve that, what then? Compete to learn about and better yourself. Try not sweat the small stuff. (P.S it’s all small stuff).

I’ve been involved in CrossFit 353 for the last 4 years. For the first three of these years we were concerned with the activity and movements of our competitors. How were Rob and Alex in Navitas programming class? How many members do Rudds and the FFS boys have? It took us a while to appreciate we are not competing with any of these. There isn’t a finite pool of CrossFit customers that we’re fishing from. It’s quite the opposite. The more people deciding to train – the better for us all. Ben Bergeron suggests your most valuable marketing asset as a gym is your current members. Look after your own. If you’re perpetually looking outwards trying to fill the bucket maybe you’ll miss the leak in the bottom?

For me the paradigm of endless (externally focused) competition cannot be healthy. I was in it for a while but exited swiftly…twice.

Where do I get this stuff?

I’m not great for reading (too impatient). Instead I listen to podcasts. I switch them on when driving or doing the chores – to keep me sane through an hour of hoovering / ironing (more ironing than hoovering – our place isn’t very big). One of my favourites is “The Tim Ferriss Show”. Tim is a serial entrepreneur & investor and interviews high performers across all walks of life from Schwarzenegger to Jamie Foxx. Tim is also a ‘life hacker’. He pushes the boundaries of human performance and shares his journey via audio interview. Admittedly I probably started listening to podcasts like this to see if I could glean some competitive advantage in business or life or somewhere… I wasn’t really sure. The more I listen to Ferriss interviewing, the more the same messages ring home loud and true.

  • Do what makes you happy
  • Invest time and energy in your mental and physical wellbeing
  • Be kind to others
  • Don’t settle

I listened to a Ted talk on the nuisance of social media. Result: I no longer use personal social media accounts. Since removing myself from Facebook I am genuinely happier. I have greater clarity of thought and am more focused. I am embarrassed at the immediate (but fleeting) gratification I used to get from ‘achieving’ 100 likes on instagram (full disclosure very rarely got above 11 likes). I am embarrassed that I would check various social apps innumerable times daily seeking external validation from effective strangers. Then I’d mindlessly scroll, zombie-like, glazed, consuming nonsense. I’d often do this while driving which is probably the most worrying of all.

At the same time as quitting social media I began writing twice daily in the 5-minute journal. This is a super twice-daily ritual. On rising & before sleep you note a few things you are grateful for, what good things happened today and what could have made today better. It’s not so much the content of what you write, more the process of recognising and practicing gratitude and reflection daily. Almost immediately I became a little bit of a nicer person (not hard when you’re naturally grumpy)  – magically beneficial!

The final podcast is “The Brute Strength Podcast”. This is a coaching & training channel and has some outstanding interviews. My favourite was with Michael Gervais of the Seattle Seahawks. Michael opened the interview with: “The origins of sport were to prepare soldiers for combat in times of no war”. I was hooked immediately! Through this podcast Gervais speaks on the psychological benefits of team sports. Gary, Kevin, Andy, Claire, Royce and I all come from team sport backgrounds. I’d like to think we bring some of the elements of team sport camaraderie onto the floor here in CrossFit 353 .

Undoubtedly sport is special. It’s an incredible vehicle to help discover perhaps life’s most important question for any individual “who am I”? Joking aside – who am I? Am I the beautifully edited images shared on social? Or am I the person cursing at a cyclist in traffic? Or am I trying to do good by others mostly?. Personally I’m trying to address this daily. How can you help others if you’re not comfortable in yourself? My good buddy Gary goes into this more in depth in a recent blog post on CrossFit & Training .

Undoubtedly sport and competing can help us unearth this. The key is to understand that in the end, we are only competing with ourselves. If our goals are to make the team, or to get the job or to win the race – whether you achieve it or not…what then? Are you better or worse for winning or losing? There’s an old adage that goes “it’s about the journey not the destination” and I’d tend to agree. Peace!



Don’t waste your time on jealousy;
Sometimes you’re ahead,
Sometimes You’re behind.
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

– Baz Luhrmann

Emotions of 353

The CrossFit Open

The Open at 353


You might have heard some whispers around the gym about “The Open”. Coaches huddled in dark corners talking about it, telling people that this is what our programming revolves around. Fellow members reminiscing on old Open stories about how horrible the workouts are. But what is the Open exactly?


The annually held CrossFit Games represents the finals for the world’s top (professional) CrossFit athletes to compete for the title of fittest man and woman on earth. This is the same as Bolt sprinting the 100m or Katey Taylor bating a load of young ‘wans’ in Rio. So how does that relate to you and I? Well in order to qualify for the games you first need to qualify for regionals. Regionals take the top athletes from Europe, Africa, Asia etc and pit them against each other. In order to qualify for regionals every CrossFit athlete has to qualify out of the Open. This is the equivalent of Bolt turning up in Santry to run the 100m qualifiers beside Royce & Gaz as the first step on the road to Olympic Gold!!


In practice the Open is one workout a week for 5 weeks, starting Feb 24th. What this means for is that for 353 we will use Friday/Saturday as our focus for the week. Monday-Wednesday will be light to moderate WODs with a lot of skill work. Thursdays will be a really light day used to flush the body out. Then Friday is game time.  Last year 300,000 CrossFitters from around the world signed up and took part. It’s a super way to test your fitness, taste as much (or as little) of a competitive environment as you like and throwdown with your pals and coaches alike! Oh and you can also see how you compare to every other athlete in the world.


Last year we split the gym into 6 teams, with each coach getting a team. We use the 5 weeks as an in house team competition with each member’s weekly effort contributing to the team’s score.

We find each year people push themselves in the open unlike other workouts they do. The energy in the gym is electric and often we see people hitting their first toe to bar, first pull up, double under or complete a movement that previously alluded them.


The workouts are simple. Normally two or three elements that can leave you on your back asking why do I even CrossFit (ask coach Kev 😉 ). There is of course the option to scale everything if you’re not yet ready for some pieces. For example if muscle ups come up and we don’t have them, we can choose the scaled option that week which might be jumping pull ups.

We run the Open WoDs as our class WoD every Friday. You’ll come in, warm up and then get the chance to throwdown. You will also get a judge, either a fellow member or a coach. The purpose of this is to help count your reps and to make sure the movement standards are good. For example to make sure you hit your target on a WallBall, or get your elbows high on a clean. We will also be holding an open gym from 1030-1230 on Saturday for people to attempt the Open if they can’t do it on Friday. These will be the only two days that we will run the Open.

The Open represents a great barometer for individual progress. You will learn exactly where you are with certain movements and return to class excited to improve. Last years Open changed me. I had a paradigm shift on coaching, programming and working out. I realised that it’s not about being just being crazy strong. It’s about moving well and being fit. Can I move well 12mins  into a 20min workout? Can I link my gymnastics when tired and breathing heavy? It didn’t matter that I had a 145kg clean. I didn’t get the opportunity to use it. I wasn’t fit enough! The open gave me focus and a clear path on what I wanted to achieve as a coach and athlete. I realised that programming for the open is the same for programming for life:

  • Keeping healthy and injury free
  • Moving well under fatigue
  • Building your engine
  • Improving your gymnastic capacity

We used to program and train with a strength priority. We would do strength first and then hit a WOD. Why?? The more I trained with strength bias the heavier I got, the creakier my joints felt and the less conditioned I became (but whocares – I was gettin’ dem gains right)? We now program to a conditioning bias ⅘ days a week. We come in, get warm then get after the workout. Depending what the workout is we do an after bash of some gymnastics or movement practice. I follow the class programming at CrossFit 353 6 days a week and have never been fitter, leaner or better prepared for the open (just saying).


I am really excited for this years Open. After Team Rides (whose team was that?) won last year we will look to do it again. It’s alway a fun time and if you have any questions/are unsure about any of it please get in touch with me or any of the coaches – e| [email protected]

Coach Gaz x

Why Do We CrossFit ?

Why do we CrossFit?

CrossFit in its purest form is a workout done either on your own or as a group of people. CrossFit as a company release workouts on their website every day. It’s beautiful, simple programming designed to bring intensity. It’s all we need. We don’t need anything more than what’s on the class board. If you are going to the games it’s a different kettle of fish. But, for 99% of us all we need is a bit of bloody CrossFit every day. Why a CrossFit gym then? Well that’s where the beauty lies. Like minded, fun, ridey(new word we made up) people all throwing down every day. It’s always easier to suffer together, the people are what makes 353 so special. The best tribe in the world.


CrossFit is an amazing conditioning platform. A methodology that combines everyday movements (squatting, deadlifting, pressing) with gymnastics and cardio elements to produce heartbreaking but rewarding workouts. It gets us ready for life and what life throws at us. It makes everyday life easier. I remember a time that I would be out of breath walking up to my bedroom, only a couple of stairs up. 

My goals as a CrossFit athlete(which by the way, I consider every single member that walks through our doors every day an athlete) have changed. My goal from making it to the games is long gone. I want to stay out of a nursing home. I want to be able to look after myself when i’m 98, on my 5th wife, riding my Vespa (with sidecar) around Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 14.51.56

We CrossFit to improve our quality life. We CrossFit to live pain free. We CrossFit so that when our grandkids want to kick a football around with us, we’re good to go.

We have incredible members at 353. One of those members is Paul Foxton. A true gentleman and someone that I chase in WOD’s every lunchtime. I can’t even keep up with the weight he has lost. He has transformed his body. Recently he’s gone back and played a GAA match with his old club Kilmacud. Something he thought at 38 years young was impossible. To me that’s why we CrossFit. As paul put it “I feel better now at 38, than I did at 28”.


CrossFit teaches us life lessons. It gives us an insight into the real world. When things get tough what do we do? We don’t give up, drop the head and shy away. We tackle obstacles head on and see them through. We achieve something everyday. We think a 20min AMRAP with 15 unbroken wallballs in it is impossible. Only to find out it’s not, we completed it.

CrossFit also teaches us that intensity is good for us. We shouldn’t avoid it, but embrace it. CrossFit shows use the difference between being in pain and being uncomfortable. We realise our world is not going to end, we just relax, stay calm, breathe and it will pass. CrossFit puts things into perspective too. Your boss is giving you a hard time? Try some assault bikes intervals and then you’ll realise what a hard time is. We realise that when we workout we are not in pain. We have not stepped on a nail and that nail has not gone through our foot. We are not in pain doing 9mins of burpees. We are just experiencing some discomfort. Our bodies are built to withstand high levels of discomfort. We tell ourselves “i’m okay, i’m uncomfortable but i’ll get through this. Everyone else is feeling the same thing, it’ll be ok”.Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 11.14.10There is a level of support in a CrossFit gym that is unique. Not dissimilar to playing a team sport. Former strangers who you have come to admire are cheering you on your last few reps. Applauding you for your effort. High fiving you and giving you that warm gentle smile that says “ I know how you feel, that was horrible, but we did it, we got through it” How often in your day do you get that? That someone says “do you know what Gaz, well bloody done”.

We as coaches have come to realise that when we coach, we are vulnerable. We are giving the people in the class a window into our souls. Showing you deep down who we are. Showing what we value and how we feel about ourselves. We show this from how we communicate to the group to how we represent ourselves. Hopefully we showing that we genuinely care about you. That for a coach to succeed, you as a member must succeed. We gain our gratification through your achievements and successes. I guess it’s somewhat of a quirky, unique context: our success is based on the successes of others.Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 11.15.09When we workout it keeps us in touch with who we are. We are getting ready for war. Will we run? Or will we attack these thrusters head on. Will we let out a war cry and absorb the adrenaline? Will we hit the 15 unbroken wallballs or will we sneak in 11… 16mins deep into a 20min AMRAP…. will we stop? 


Will we power through and reap the rewards? You think the WOD cannot be completed, but you complete it. You tell yourself that a pull up is impossible, but now you have pull ups. We think to ourselves in elements that a double under is a dark art of the samurai, but now we can link them in a workout. You stick with these impossible tasks. You keep your head down. Work hard. Stay humble. And you achieve, week in week out, tasks you thought could not be done. You persevered. CrossFit builds character, makes us stronger in body and more importantly in mind.

Whoa – got pretty deep and riled up there…soz!! 


Back to normal:

Sometimes CrossFit can be about showing up and having an hour to yourself. Switching off from the worries of the world and getting into your state of zen. That’s why we encourage people to get down to 353 whenever they can, we don’t have to flog ourselves and peel ourselves from the floor every day. Showing up, high fiving, moving and having a laugh is all it takes to help some of life’s little problems. You can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. Well done on investing in yourself!

We are so lucky we get to move our bodies everyday. We don’t have to train. We get to train. Try to be present every day. Use positive self talk “I’m ok here” and try embrace the fatigue. Feel the blood rush through every inch of your body. Feel alive. We are getting our bodies ready for the long cold years ahead (morbid alert). We are surrounded by some amazing people that too share the lust to be better. That refuse to accept back pain as a part of life. That refuse to sit dormant in a wheelchair, just because at 90 that’s what society has deemed acceptable.

Why do we CrossFit? Because we recognise growth and learning is lifelong. We can only grow if we challenge ourselves and encourage challenge from others. We want to move well and move pain free. We realise intensity and discomfort are good for the soul. We realise that we are beautiful and amazing people in so many different ways we never knew. Some people judge beauty as skin deep. CrossFitters have redefined what beauty is. Inside a CrossFit gym beauty can be many things: a perfect air squat, a sweaty face, that post WOD hair, rough hands, a perfect deadlift, a warm smile, a refusal to quit, shared suffering, a joyful hello, an enthusiastic well done, perseverance, an arm around the shoulder, a bum tap, human beings, pride, impeccable posture, confident movement. Not being afraid to be different is how we define beauty.

So whether on your own or with a group try move every day, get your heart rate up and be nice to one another. Simple and effective – like CrossFit.

What real progress feels like…

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!