Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall 2012 Sweataway Day 3, Part 2 (REVIEW: CrossFit Amped)

Happy Friday!

If you haven't already, head on over to A Dash of Meg and check out her killer diller High Five Friday!

After our trail run on Mount Rainier, Jared and I headed back towards home.  Our box, Mercer Island CrossFit, was closed due to Rosh Hashanah (we rent space from a Jewish community center), so we needed to find somewhere else to get our WOD on.

We looked into both Western Pacific Crossfit and CrossFit Amped.  We based our decision on what time we got home and how traffic would be - we live closer to Amped and so we decided to hit WPCF next time.

Jared had been to Amped before and knows Rob, the head coach.  Rob was really gracious about having us visit, and said that Jared would be welcome to follow his Invictus programming while I joined the 5:30 evening class.

We arrived a little early (always a good plan, but especially if you're visiting a new box) which allowed us to warmup and me to take some photos.

I love the layout of this box!  3 walls of windows make it feel so open and refreshing!  And of course they have pink boxes for the box jumps...can't beat that! 

View with my back to the windows

Love The Girls on the wall!
(When I first started CrossFit and people mentioned that Amped had the CrossFit Girls on the wall, I totally thought they meant photos of hot chicks working out...which kinda made it sound creepy.  Takes a while to get used to the CrossFit lingo...or was it just me?)

In case you need to collapse on the bathroom floor
after a WOD - no need.  There's a couch!

I think they called this garage the cage...or cave?  There was a special lifting class going on in here while we were WODding elsewhere (athletic grammar alert...if you make WOD a gerund, ought it have one or two d's?)

Inside the cage/cave/garage
Jared got to work on his WOD, which included handstand pushups:

I got started on the warmup with the 5:30 class.  We did a 400m run to start...I had no clue what their route was, so I just followed everyone else and didn't get lost.  Then we went out to the front of the building and use the railing to do some hard core stretching (think leg up on the railing like ballet class). 

One of the guys asked me a question about one of the stretches and was friendly and pleasant.  Next, we all brought our bars outside (it was a hot day) and loaded up for deadlifts. 

Our workout was one deadlift, every minute on the minute (so 10 reps total) at 85% of our one rep max.

My deadlift 1RM, after a month of Wendler-inspired lifting, is now 175#:

Me earlier this month trying to nail a PR
It turns out I have a hard time extending fully at the top of the lift...

Not quite there that's something I wanted to work on, and the Amped WOD was the perfect time.  I wasn't exactly sure what 85% of 175 would be - I'm good in Excel and my mental math sucks.  I went with 155#, which is closer to 90%, but it didn't feel too heavy and allowed me to really focus on my form.

Coach Rob gave really excellent cues and got everyone warmed up, making sure we had appropriate weight for the lift and that our form was solid before we even got started.  It's fun to visit different places and get new tips from good coaches.

With almost a minute of rest after each lift, people had a lot of time to chat during the WOD.  I was kinda surprised that none of the other gals in the class said hello or reached out to make me feel welcome.  Since I've been CrossFitting for almost a year now, I didn't feel too out of my comfort zone, but honestly if I were a newbie it would have been really intimidating to feel so out of the "in" crowd.  I've always felt that the CrossFit community is like a big family, and this was the first time I hadn't gotten that sense at a box.

After the WOD, we all rolled our bars back into the box before unloading them.  Onlookers were cracking up on their evening commute, I'm sure.  CrossFit looks hilarious sometimes.  Some of the guys helped unload my bar, which was really nice, and then we started the "cash out" - 50 hollow rocks and 3 sets of max ring dips.  We could break up the hollow rocks with the ring dip sets, and we weren't timed for any of it.  I used a band for my ring dips and got 10 the first set, 9 the second, and 4 for the third.

We finished class a few minutes early, so Coach Rob told us we could use the time to work on double-unders or roll out.  I started on double unders, but my right calf felt totally shot from the trail run earlier that day and so I decided not to do any more damage to it.

When Jared finished his workout, we were getting ready to head out when we ran into one of his former clients!  She's looking great and loving CrossFit and it was fun for me to meet her and for Jared to get to catch up a little.  It's always cool when you find more people getting fit!

My overall opinion of Amped?

Pros: great coaching, great location (downtown Bellevue - a few blocks from my office, actually), great box layout/structure, lots of class times, reasonable pricing

Cons: not so warm-and-friendly clientele 

 I have talked to a few other Amped visitors who agreed about the vibe being different than most boxes.  That being said, I'm sure that if you make an effort to reach out, people won't ignore you. 

And really, it comes down to what you want out of your box.  If you want to go in after work (or at lunchtime for their condensed class!), get your workout done, and get home, this may be a really great fit.  If you are more into insta-community and finding a "box family," you may want to keep looking.

We finished up the evening with our favorite salsa from a local farmer...we've started subbing bell peppers for chips sometimes to get in extra veggies.  And cheese and grapes is always a win.

All in all, we had a delightful, relaxing couple of days together.  We stayed in a wonderful guesthouse, visited some good boxes, and got in some gorgeous sight-seeing.  Thanks for being my travel buddy, Jared.  You're the best.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall 2012 Sweataway Day 3, Part 1 (Mount Rainier)

After another glorious day of not waking up to an alarm, we made the most of our remaining hours at Almost Paradise.  Breakfast included leftovers of the killer salad from the night before (if you're new, yes, we almost always have salad for breakfast), along with eggs, bacon, and my new fave morning drink, carrot juice mixed with tangerine juice (both from Trader Joe's).

We watched a little Castle after breakfast and then packed up our gear.  One thing Jared really wanted to do on our trip was take a trail run...on Mount Rainier!

The view on the way
Getting closer!
Jared had looked around online for some good suggested trails to take.  I was a little iffy on the idea of a last non-CrossFit run was the Portland Rock'N'Roll Half Marathon 3 months ago, which was not a positive experience for me (think blisters, knee problems, and crying on the course).  CrossFit claims to prepare you for anything, though, so I figured if it was important to Jared, I'd be a sport and give it a shot!

We pulled into one of the "Paradise" parking lots at a trailhead.  Jared was hoping to try the Skyline trail.

We wanted to avoid getting lost, so we hit up the visitor center to see about getting a trail map.

We got some good advice (apparently the trails are quite well marked) and a map.  Jared agreed to switch trails since I really didn't think I could handle 5.5 miles and 1700 feet of elevation gain.

We opted for the Dead Horse Creek Trail - only about 2.25 miles and 400 feet elevation gain. 

About 30 seconds into the run, I was wheezing like an asthmatic kid.  Jared reminded me as I gasped along that we were already very high up and so the altitude would take a toll.  He also said, and I quote, "We're getting all 400 feet of elevation right now.  I promise."



Totally worth the effort.  Our run turned into a walk/run/stop for breath and photos.  Some other tourists pointed out commotion on the mountain that we took for an avalanche.

View looking back down
Jared ended up far ahead and had to wait for me...a lot.

SO glad we didn't take this route!

Eventually, we made it to the top of our loop!  I actually had a really good time and was amazed at how well my legs held up even though my lungs were dying.  Plus this guy makes anything fun. 

Running down was actually harder on my legs since you've got some pretty steep areas and not a lot of flat in between.  I thought we'd be way faster on the descent, but we had to take it easy on our knees.

All in all, the trip took us about 55 minutes.  Usually I could do 2 miles or so in about 20 minutes...altitude's a killer!  We made sure to stretch out a little at the bottom and have some snacks before our journey home. 

Obviously an hour long trail run isn't enough workout for Team Matson on vacation, stay tuned for our visit that evening to CrossFit Amped!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall 2012 Sweataway: Day 2 (REVIEW: Graham CrossFit)

After a great first evening in Almost Paradise, we spent the first part of day 2 doing some really important things, like sleeping, eating, and chilling. 

We started by waking up without an alarm.  Usually our Mondays begin at 4:15am, so this was a huge win.

Breakfast was a fun twist on our usual salad and eggs:

We mix the tangerine and carrot juice for extra vitamins and flavor and less sugar.  When I was a kid I had a book about baby animals who had a sleepover party and wokeup to watch the sunrise.  They ate muffins and drank carrot juice, and so now I'm a fan.  Leftover frittata cannot be beat, folks.  And yes, we did bring along our gummy vites.  We're pretty much five years old at heart.

We weren't sure what to expect of the provided breakfast, and I think for us health nut freaks, it was good that we brought our own.  Here's a peek at the basket in case you are interested, though!

We followed up breakfast with me doing some dishes - amazing how even that can be fun on a trip like this.  Then we lazed around reading for a couple hours.  Jared let me borrow a book he's been studying called A Praying Life.  It had a great chapter on prayer and anxiety, and I got so hooked I went back to the beginning and intend to read the whole thing.  Seriously, if you love Jesus and feel like when you start praying, ten seconds later you are thinking about something else and then you feel guilty and finally give up altogether because "I'm really not good at praying," this book is for you (and me).

Finally lunch time rolled around and Jared put together some wraps and baby carrots for us.  Amazing how much cheese elevates a lettuce wrap!

We ate while rewatching some of the first season of Castle.

Eventually, it got to be time to get ready to head out for our "field trip" to Graham CrossFit!

When planning our trip, I had used the ol' Google to find CrossFit boxes in the area.  Apparently NOTHING is "in the area" when it comes to Ashford and Paradise, so I adjusted my expectations to anything within an hour or so of our place.  After looking at a couple different boxes, I was really impressed with Graham, particularly since the website talked about how excited they were to have visitors!

Jared emailed Diana (one of the coaches at Graham) to ask about programming and whether we could come by for a visit.  Jared is currently doing the Invictus programming (which I like to call CrossFit on Steroids) and wanted to be sure that whatever box we visited wouldn't mind his continuing with his scheduled workout in their space.  Diana was incredibly gracious and invited us to come by for either a class or simply to use the box for our own workouts.  I decided to take the Monday 4pm class, but we decided to go early at about 3:30 to have time to fill out any necessary paperwork and meet Diana and get a look at the box.

We packed up some snacks, and I ended up grabbing the milk from our untouched breakfast basket.  I'd left my blender bottle at home and wanted an easy post-WOD protein.

En route, we continued listening to our book on CD (so doesn't sound as cool as book on tape): Clive Cussler's "Lost Empire."  If you like light-hearted action/adventure, I highly recommend this tale of a husband and wife treasure hunting team (complete with diving in Africa, Aztec lore, and a lost Civil War battleship).

The trip went by quickly and we made it to Graham CrossFit with no trouble finding the box.

Graham meets in a large warehouse, which to us Mercer Island kids is basically enormous.

Benchmark WODs!

(I especially loved the pullup bars because the short ones were short enough for 5'2" me to actually jump up and easily grab hold!) 

We got to meet Diana and another coach, Martha (she coachs CF Kids - check out her blog!) and filled out our paperwork.  It was one of my first visits to a new box; previously I had only been to MICF and Stoneway CrossFit.  I love that CrossFit feels like a family, and going to Graham was like visiting cousins!  Diana, Martha, and everyone at the box was SO welcoming.  People came up to me before class started to introduce themselves and make sure I felt at home.  I even met a gal whose brother just started Western Pacific CrossFit in Kirkland, so that's on my list to visit in October!

Jared getting his Invictus on

The 4pm WOD

We started the class right on time, with about 16 students including me.  Our warmup consisted of line drills (reminded me of doing track as a kid) and some intense quad/hip flexor stretching.  Then we partnered up to work on clean and jerks.  At first, I was surprised Diana had us partner up because clearly Graham had enough space and equipment for everyone to have their own bar.  Later I realized it allowed us to take turns so that Diana could watch everyone's form to make sure we all nailed the lift safely. 

I ended up not going very heavy on this one, since I'd just done Grace at MICF a few days before and my shoulder was kinda bothering me.  It was perfect, since my partner didn't plan to go too heavy, either.  Sometimes it's nice to not have a weight goal and just focus on form.

After the lifting, I asked Coach Diana if I could substitute a different movement for the hang clean & jerks in the WOD.  She suggested kettlebell goblet squats.  I went and got a #35 and set up my 20" box near a short pullup bar.  It was kinda fun to have my own little space for the WOD!

It was great to be doing a Hero WOD as always - makes you take time to think about the men and women who give their lives for this country so that we can do things like working out in safety.  I love that CrossFit honors sacrifices like this and doesn't let us take them for granted!

I made it through four fulls rounds plus the goblet squats and a few box jumps.  I was beat but really proud of myself for not freaking out about the box jumps.  I've taken a spill or two recently, but this time when I tripped, I caught myself and took a deep breath and kept going safely. 

(Some tips from coaches that have helped: Find one spot on the box itself and look right at it every time you jump.  Imagine the box is four inches higher - jump high enough to clear that and you'll nail the box you really have.  Don't try to exntend your hips until after you land; otherwise you risk catching your toe on the box.)

After we finished, Diana got a group photo for us!

We had such a good time that it was hard to leave....Jared wanted to play around on the rings.

There were some really cute shirts (we like to represent great places), but they were sold out of my size.  Sounds like they got another order in this week, so we are thinking of heading down for another visit!

A few other things of note for anyone interested in Graham CrossFit:
  • Price point is VERY reasonable.  Special deals if you are a student, in the military, or serving in emergency (e.g. firefighter).
  • Class times are varied and convenient.
  • Like most boxes, Graham offers intro-level classes, so if you are thinking of checking it out but feel like CrossFit is too intimidating, hit up one of these and you won't feel too far out of your comfort zone!
Honestly, we have nothing but good to say about this place (and we're picky)!  If you ever get a chance, swing by and pay them a visit - you'll get a warm welcome and a killer workout!

We stopped on the way "home" to get gas so we wouldn't have to worry about it anymore on the trip.  Here's Team Matson post-WOD...Jared with compression gear and Meghan with protein!!!

Dinner plan for Monday night?  Salad and seafood from the zest cookbook!

Toasting pistachios for the salad

It was HUGE

Shrimp and scallops and awesomeness
We such a relaxing evening, including a trip to our sauna pre dinner.

Aahh...heaven for the fitness nerds on vacation. 

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