farewell-1024x522

My (actual) farewell.

Coaching and training are unlike any other profession, in that you create bonds with your athletes and clients that run incredibly deep.  I mean think about it.  When you step into a gym to workout with a coach, you are putting your complete trust and faith into that individual.  You are willingly putting yourself in a position to be extremely vulnerable.  Sweating, grunting, physically and mentally challenging yourself.  And not only that, but our motivations for working with a coach are always in some form of self improvement.  Which means that — off the bat — we are admitting to them that in some way, shape, or form, we feel inadequate.  And would like their help fixing the inadequacy.  No sane person is going to pay someone to help them not improve.

For these reasons, it’s nearly impossible to not forge deep bonds between coaches and clients.  Especially when you see those people week in and week out for 4+ years.

My last day at CrossFit DoneRight was Tuesday.  The choice to leave came about very quickly and was a surprise to everyone close to me.  CFDR had been my home for a very long time.  It had become a part of who I was.  From the people I hung out with the most all the way down to the t-shirts I wore on a daily basis.

When you are forced to leave abruptly from a situation like I was, you regret missing out on the opportunity to give a proper goodbye to everyone you grew so close to over the years.  Not only in sense of a coach-client relationship, but as friends.  Many of my members attended a college graduation party thrown for me 4 years ago.  Others have made a point of coming to my birthday parties over the years and I’ve helped celebrate theirs.  We’ve done competitions together.  Ran races.  Celebrated holidays.  Joked, laughed, swapped war stories.  A few have baked me delicious treats (I’m really going to miss those).  I’ve gotten drunk with a fair share of them.  And on multiple occasions.

So, this is as close to a proper goodbye as I’ll probably get.  Truthfully, I will be spending a lot more of my time working on 202strong.  We should hopefully be opening in a month or two, and I want to give it the attention it deserves.  Giving life to our vision is incredibly important to Maddie and me, and we want to make sure we can be proud of the product we put out.

Also truthfully, that is not why I made my decision to leave the gym.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I don’t care to discuss the intimate details of the decision, but we’ll call it a “fundamental disagreement” that could not be resolved.  The circumstances for my departure were not ideal, but I strongly believe the decision was the right one for me.

So to all the people I’ve had the pleasure of coaching over the last 4+ years: Thank you.  You’ve given me the opportunity to learn and experiment.  You’ve laughed at my jokes (even the rare bad ones).  You’ve helped me grow into the man I am today.  And you put your faith and trust in me.  You believed I could make a positive impact on your life.  I hope I lived up to your expectations.

I wish all of you the best of luck.  You’ll always have an open invite to 202strong and sincerely hope you stop by for a visit!

Until then, if you need me I’ll be right around the corner.  And you can always feel free to reach out to me: robert.koebke@gmail.com.

gut-feeling

Trust your gut.

I recently had to make a “gut” decision.  You know, the type of decision where everything in your mind is telling you one to do one thing, but that feeling…that feeling deep in your gut that you can’t ignore no matter how hard you try, is telling you to do the exact opposite.

I can distinctly remember two other times I’ve had this feeling.  Three, actually.

The first was when I was dating a girl who was making my life an absolute hell.  But she was super hot and I really dug the crazy.  Long story short, I didn’t initially listen to my gut on that one and it turned out to be a huge mistake.  But hey, you live and learn.

The second time was when I was faced with the choice of leaving McDaniel College or taking a medical leave (aka dropping out).  I had my major picked out and I was scheduled to graduate on time — only a year and a half away.  My mind told me so many reasons to stay.  Friends, familiarity, being so close to the end.  But my gut was telling me to go.  Even if that meant taking a semester off which pushed back my graduation for a year.  Even if it meant working 40 hours a week at a pizza place.  Even if it meant moving back in my with parents.  My gut hadn’t let me down yet.  So I trusted it, and [temporarily] dropped out of school.

The third time was when I broke up with girlfriend of 7 (on and off) years.  This was by far the hardest decision I’ve ever made.  Seven years is a really long time! At that point it was a third of my life.  She had been there through a lot of things, both good and bad.  What made this decision so hard was that it wasn’t clear cut (it rarely is).  It wasn’t that I didn’t love her anymore, we just had both made decisions that made being together extremely difficult.  In my mind, we could make it work.  And we tried.  But I had that feeling, deep down in my gut, that we needed to move on from each other.  So I listened.

I don’t particularly care to talk about the details of the most current gut decision I made.  At least not at this point in time.  What I will say though [and what I have learned over the years], is that when you are in a position to make a gut decision, you are more than likely going to piss people off.  Like royally.  And boy did I.

But I think that’s why following your gut is so important.  The situations that require us to make a gut call are usually ones that involve the feelings of others.  And I think it’s natural for our minds to try and push us away from confrontation, or at least from situations where people will judge us negatively.  No one likes confrontation.  We all want others to like us.

Will my decision turn out to be a bad one?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Probably not.  I view life as a game of chess.  You initially make moves in the blind.  You feel your opponent out.  You take calculated risks.  You feel your opponent out again.  And you continue the process until you can see the path to victory unfold in front of you.  Boom, checkmate. (Or you lose.  Whatever).  The game is a mix of strategy and intuition.  Calculated moves mixed with gut feelings.

And your gut always knows best.

perfect-squat

Do you even care about movement?

Do you even care about movement?

I do.  And let me tell you, the frustrating thing about caring about movement….is the majority of people don’t.  And it’s really unfortunate because I would argue — very successfully in a minute– that quality of movement is absolutely the number one most important thing about your fitness.

“Ah”, you say.  “But I don’t care about being fit.  I just want to look good naked.  So eff your movement”.  So how’s that going for you?  You look good naked yet?  I’ll get to you also. (#oohkillem)

Ok, so first off, what do I mean by movement? I mean the ability to express your joints through a full range of motion in a way that mimics activities you see in everyday life (aka functional movement) AND the ability to maintain proper expression of said activities under repeated load and duress.

Huh??

Ok, let me try again.  Can you pick up an object shin height without rounding your back?  Can you lift both arms over head, so that your bicep is right next to your ear, without arching your back?  Can you put your feet together and squat down to your butt (heels on the ground) without falling over backwards?

Based on a completely accurate survey I just made up, 90% of you can not do all three of those things.

So why does this matter??

Fitness is all about your ability to move.  To take care of yourself.  When an elderly person is unable to pick herself up off the ground without help, it means they need to be put in an assisted living community.  Any chronic pain you have (patellar tendinitis, low back pain, IT Band syndrome, etc) can all be traced back to poor movement patterns.

[I hate when people talk about overuse injuries like it's the movements fault.  "Too many pull-ups hurt my shoulder".  No, the fact that your shoulder is stuck in a rounded position all day is why your shoulder hurts.  The pull-ups just helped remind you you need to address that].

For some reason we are enamored by VO2max, resting heart rate, and lactate threshold.  These are fun to play around with in the lab. And I’m not saying these things aren’t important.  What I’m saying is it’s going to be really hard to improve your VO2max when you have plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis, or a weird thing going on with your hip because you refuse to see how important it is to pay attention to your movement.

And it matters even more in sports.

There’s a huge(ish) debate in the sports community about how low you should go when you squat [Side note: are we past the point yet where athletes need to be convinced they should be squatting? Because that'd be great].  I think this argument is pretty stupid, because the answer is incredibly simple.

Squat as low as you possibly can.

Why?  Because there are going to be moments on the field, court, ice, pitch, or whatever, that your knee is going to be put in a compromised position.  And your body needs to be prepared.

Think of it this way: if you have a stick and you bend it in half, it’s going to snap.  If you have a straw, it’s going to bend and return back to it’s original shape.  Your knee is the stick if you don’t consistently work on strengthening your knee through a full range of motion. (#badnewsbears).  The same goes for your ankle, shoulder, hip, elbow, and wrist.  And the great thing is, focusing on movement causes tremendous improvements in performance and athleticism.  But it doesn’t work the other way around.

And finally, for those of you who only care about looking good naked.  I didn’t forget you.

You know one of the fastest ways for you to improve how you look naked?  Improve your posture.  How do you do that? Get good at doing pull-ups.  Why?  When done correctly, pull-ups help improve your posture plus work your “abs”.  But in order to do pull-ups correctly, you need to be in a good position with your shoulder.  And you need to know how to actually recruit your core.  Or else you’re just wasting your time.

So…do you care about movement now?

[I completely understand that this post is in-actionable.  I just ranted on for approximately 700 words about why you should care about movement without telling you HOW to care about movement.  And I hate that.  It's the opposite of constructive criticism.  And I get that it's very hard to care about something if you don't know how to care about it. Part of the problem --  I'm still working on the best way to distill the information down into manageable, actionable, bite sized pieces for you.  Stay tuned.  Once I figure it out you'll be the first to know].

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Eating for weight loss vs. improving body composition

Let me be perfectly candid for a moment…eating for weight loss and eating to improve your body composition are essentially the same thing.  How so?  Well if you lose weight, your body composition (aka body fat %) will certainly improve.  If you improve your body composition, you’re more than likely to lose (at least) a little bit of weight.

Before I continue on, I’d like to address a few myths and misconceptions that come along with dieting/nutrition/whatever you want to call it…

There are only three (3) macronutrients (aka kinds of food) you can eat.  Protein, fat, and carbohydrates.  This means if you decrease the amount of one macronutrient (for example, go low carb) you HAVE to increase one of the other two in order to take in enough food.  This is especially important to know if you eat a diet that has you reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat (Atkins, South Beach, versions of Paleo).  Protein has an upper limit on the amount you can take in before you start having digestive issues.  This means — when you go low carb — you HAVE to increase the amount of fat you take in.

The biggest mistake I see people make when they go low carb is to not increase their fat intake.  If you don’t increase your fat intake, you’re going to create a huge caloric deficit and leave yourself hungry all the time.  Don’t make this mistake!

Fruits and vegetables ARE carbs!  There are very few things that irk me like the following conversation:
Person 1: “I need to lose weight, I’m going to go no carb.”
Person 2: “So what are you going to eat?”
Person 1: “Oh you know — meat, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds.  Stuff like that.”
Person 2: “Soooo…you aren’t going no carb?”
Person 1: “No dummy, didn’t you hear me?”
Person 2: *Eye roll* “Ok, whatever…idiot” *Walks away*

[I may or may not be the inspiration for Person 2]

As I mentioned above, foods can only be one of three things (protein, fat, carbs).  Fruits and vegetables are carbs.  Typically, they are high in fiber (which you can subtract out of the total carbohydrate load) so the total amount of carbohydrates you’ll take in will be low compared to eating the exact same amount of rice, grains, pastas, etc.

All calories are not created equal.  Continuing off what I was saying above, this means all calories are not created equal.  If you have 100 calories of chicken and 100 calories of pasta, each is going to signal a different reaction in your body.

The chicken will signal your leptin.  The pasta will signal your insulin.  Read on to learn about insulin and leptin…

An effective diet will help regulate your insulin and leptin.  The effect the food you eat on your hormones is way more complicated than this, but this is all you really need to know in order to improve your body composition and/or lose weight.

Insulin is a hormone that –when signaled– tells your body to store fat.  What signals insulin?  Carbohydrates.  This is why low carb diets are so effective when it comes to weight lose.  Insulin signaling is kept to a minimum.  Now I know there are things like gluconeogensis, but this is beginner level stuff (and really not something you need to know to lose weight).  So I’ll keep it simple.

Leptin is a hormone that signals to your brain whether or not you are full.  Protein signals leptin the best.  Followed by fat.  Followed by carbohydrates.  This is why you can sit there and crush a whole box of Cheez-its in one sitting (and I’m talking about the Costco size box) but eating an entire rotisserie chicken in one sitting seems absurd (to most people).

………….

Ok, so all the being said, how should you eat to lose weight or improve body composition?  I’ll give you the short answer first.

Meats. Veggies.  End of list.  There is nothing more effective at taking weight off very rapidly than eating an unlimited diet of meat and veggies.

Long, complicated answer that requires a bit of math:

Eat meat, veggies, some fruit, some nuts, some seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs.

Caloric intake:
Lose weight: Multiply your bodyweight by 16-17.
Maintain weight:  Multiply your bodyweight by 18-19.
Gain weight:  Multiply your bodyweight by 20+.

That’s how many calories you should be taking in depending on your goal.

Macronutrient distribution:
Protein: 1 – 1.25 grams * your bodyweight
Carbohydrates:  Somewhere between 100 grams and 300 grams.  The variation depends on the individual and activity level.  Runners will be on the higher side, football players on the lower side).
Fat:  Whatever calories are left over after doing the math.

Those are how much of each macronutrient you should take in.

Do you want an example?  I feel like you might need an example…

200 pound male trying to lose weight:
200lb * 16 = 3,200 calories/day.

Protein: 1.25 * 200 = 200 grams (800 calories) **1 gram of protein = 4 calories**
Carbohydrates: 100 grams (400 calories) **1 gram of carbs = 4 calories**
Fat: 3,200 – 800 – 400 = 2,000 calories of fat = 222.2 grams **1 gram of fat = 9 calories**

And there you have it.  A 200 pound male looking to lose weight needs 200 grams of protein, 100 grams or carbs, and 222.2 grams of fat.  This may seem like a lot of food.  And it is.  This is why I recommend eating with reckless abandon.  Focus on food quality and eating until you’re full.  Everything else will fall into place.

If I was forced to pick the biggest difference between eating for weight loss versus eating for improved body composition (and I’m being told I have to) I would say it’s going to be in your caloric intake.  Stick in the 16-17 * bodyweight if you are looking to lose weight and stick in the 18-19 * bodyweight for improved body composition.  But seriously, don’t get hung up on that.

Eat quality food.  Eat until you are full.  The end.

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Stand for something!

I was just scrolling through Facebook on my phone [side note: I took the Facebook app off my phone in hopes I'd stop using it so much...did not work like I'd hoped] and came across a “sponsored post” (aka paid advertisement) for a local area private gym.  The ad said — and I’m slightly paraphrasing because I don’t remember exactly what it said — “Our mission is to provide you with the BEST [their emphasis] and most efficient fitness”.

I became immediately annoyed.  What does that ad even mean??

Listen, I’m not going to claim to be an expert on writing copy, but that ad is just not good.  There’s nothing unique, nothing that identifies the facility.  There certainly is no branding going on.  How is it the best?  Why is it the best?

The ad just reminds me of a bunch of kids arguing.  “I’m the best”. “No, I’m the best”.  “No, you’re both wrong, I’M the best”.  Sorry kids, all of you are wrong.  I’m the best.

Can you build a business without standing for something?  Sure.  Will it be sustainable?  Definitely not.  If you don’t stand for something, how do you know who you are catering to?  And if you don’t know who you are catering to, you certainly won’t be able to go out and find them.

And you can’t say “my product/service is for everyone”.  Everyone?  Really?  There are a billion people on this planet.  I’m sure I can easily find a few people you’re product/service is not for.  Stop being lazy and figure out who you are and what you stand for.

All that being said, I’m going to go ahead and write some ad headlines for 202strong.

“The boutique, functional training experience DC has been waiting for”.
“Garage gym training, boutique gym atmosphere”.
“Small, intimate classes.  45 minute sessions.  Boutique facility.  Fitness is evolving…why aren’t you?

Are these great headlines?  I’m just spit ballin’ here.  I’m sure they could be better.  But they paint a picture.  They let people know what to expect from 202strong.

Sure, we think we’ll provide the best and most efficient fitness experience.  Yes, we think we have the best coaches.  Yes, we think we have the best programming.  Yes, we absolutely think we can provide expertise, knowledge and an experience unlike anything you’ll get anywhere else.  But every gym thinks that (or at least they should).  So it’s not enough.  It’s not enough to set anyone apart.  Everyone’s shouting the same thing.  Everyone’s standing for the same thing, which means no one is standing for anything.

When it becomes a shouting match, you’re bound to lose.

Plus I don’t like shouting.  I lose my voice too easily.

stoic1

Are you in control?

The lowest points in my life have always been the times I’ve felt completely out of control.

After my fifth knee surgery in 2.5 years when I realized my collegiate and competitive basketball career was over.  This was doubly devastating because I also realized playing basketball was the only thing currently keeping me in college.

The months leading up to the moment when I finally manned up and broke up with my girlfriend of 7 years.

When I realized I was stuck in a work situation that provided almost zero opportunity for advancement.

The moment I figured out the incredibly unconventional dating situation I had invested a lot of time and effort in was going nowhere.

[Reading over my “low” points, I realize my life hasn't been terribly challenging up to this point.  Or my memory isn’t that great.  Either way, I’m very lucky and grateful for this.  Also, #firstworldproblems]

Life is full of moments where you feel completely out of control.  The death of a loved one.  Stuck in a job or career you hate.  Accidental pregnancies.  Health issues.  On and on.  And the reason we feel out of control is because we feel like we don’t have any options.

The less options we feel like we have, the lower we feel. And these moments — when we feel out of control — and how we deal with them, dictate the path of our lives.

That being said, I can’t say I’ve handled all the low points in my life with much grace.

After my fifth knee surgery I dropped out of (err — “took some time off from”) school and worked at a pizza place for 6 months.  I grew a pair and finally broke up with my girlfriend of 7 years, but it took at least four months of being a total asshole before I pulled the trigger.  And I spent the entirety [literally] of the summer of 2013 drinking and partying because I had no clue what to do about my job situation.

But I’m getting better at handling these situations.  In part because of a Stoic technique I learned of awhile back, called negative visualization.  The essence of the technique is to take some time every few weeks and imagine the worst-case scenario for different aspects of your life.  Doing this mentally prepares you, and takes a bit of the sting out of the situation if it were to actually occur in real life.

And something else happens when you practice this technique.

You automatically start to find solutions to your problems before the problems even arrive.  You prepare yourself with a plethora of options to deal with situations that seem to take control away from you.  And this is incredibly empowering.

The more I’ve practiced this technique, the quicker I’ve been able to bounce back from the lows (and, the lows don’t feel as low either).

I can’t say I’m now able to handle every situation perfectly.  And I absolutely know I have nowhere near experienced the lowest “low” of my life up to this point.  I’m 26.  That’d make for a pretty boring life.  However I do know that every low point I experience, every time I feel out of control, is an opportunity to practice the ability to regain control over my own life.

And I recommend you practice the same.

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202strong Status Update

“So, when are you opening up downtown?”

I get asked this question probably once a day.  Which is great.  It means people are interested in what Maddie and I are working on.  Or at least pretending.  Either way I’m ok with it.  The worst thing at this stage in the game would be for no one to talk about 202strong.

I’m a huge fan of transparency when it comes to business.  I feel like when you hide things to “gain a competitive edge”, you are either: a) not confident in your product/service, b) have no idea what you are doing, or c) are a Shady McShadester.  And if you are any, or all of the above, eventually things will catch up to you.  I’m not saying that being transparent guarantees success, but my experience has shown me that the longterm ROI on openness and honesty is much greater than keeping people in the dark.

I’m NOT a huge fan of the “if you build it, they will come” attitude a lot of business owners have.  When you create a product or a service — as the creator — you have the tendency to believe it is the best thing since a knife that slices bread and toasts it at the same time.  And maybe it is.  But do you want to take the risk of pouring time and money into a product that no one wants??  Or for that matter, do you want to take the risk of pouring time and money into a product that everyone WOULD want but nobody has heard of??

That being said, here are where things stand with 202strong:

Pre-marketing:  This has been a big focus for Maddie and me. Getting the word out whatever way possible.  Whether through our blogs, Facebook, attending Law Firm Health Fair’s & Farmer’s Markets, or using our social connections to reach out to people in the DC area.  We want everybody to know we will be at 1722 I St. NW, DC 20006 this Fall.

Pre-Opening Sign-ups (Founder’s Memberships):  Pre-marketing is great, but people telling us they’ll sign up doesn’t pay the bills.  For a business to be an actual business, let alone a successful business, it needs customers.  If you have one customer and nothing else, you have a business.  If you have business cards, t-shirts, coffee cups, a Facebook page, inventory, an investor, a website, but no customers, you don’t have a business. Our focus over the next two months is on getting concrete commitments to our Founder’s membership.

So, here’s my plug:

We are currently offering a special for individuals interested in signing-up for our Founder’s membership.  This membership is a lifetime, discounted membership for the first 50 members who sign-up and register before we open our doors.  The membership costs $219/month  forever (once we open it’ll be $319/month — you’ll save $1200 in the first year alone!), and includes unlimited access to all our CrossFit classes, and any speciality classes we offer.  This membership also comes with a 30-day, money back guarantee.  Oh, and you won’t be billed until the first day we open our doors.

Don’t wait and miss out!

To register for our Founder’s Membership, email me — rob@202strong.com.

After we open, our membership packages will be:

  • VIP Membership – $319/month: (same as the $219 Founder’s membership mentioned above)
  • Premium – $269/month: Includes 8 classes/month, unlimited open gym, and unlimited specialty classes
  • Basic Plus – $229/month: Includes unlimited classes/month
  • Basic – $189/month: Includes 8 classes/month

How was my plug? Did you sign-up yet?

Permits:  We are still waiting on the damn building permits.  Apparently, the DC government during the summer moves slower than a slug crawling through molasses on a treadmill.  This is the biggest reason we still don’t have a concrete open date.  As soon as we get the permits, we can move forward with the buildout (which should take about a month to complete).

Website: At the moment, we have a very simple landing page (www.202strong.com) and should definitely have our fully functioning website up by the end of September (this is my job, and Maddie will kill me if we don’t).

Coaches/Internship Opportunities:  We are fortunate enough to have a very strong pipeline of coaches we can have work for us when we open our doors, but we are always looking for charismatic, passionate individuals willing to learn (Maddie and I are very particular about how we view fitness, health, exercise and most importantly, movement) and become coaches.  We are also looking for individuals looking to swap memberships for front desk hours, managing our social media, etc.  If you are interested, email me rob@202strong.com and we can set up an interview.

What you can do to help:
We are incredibly fortunate to have the guidance and support of our friends and family and we appreciate everything done for us (a more formal thank you will come down the road).  A few more things Maddie and I are going to ask of you in the way of help:

1)  If you plan on joining the gym once we open, sign-up for our Founder’s Membership!  You’ll enjoy fantastic savings ($1,200 the first year!), you won’t be charged until we open our doors, and it’ll help us start to form a realistic picture of how many members to expect once we open the doors.

Again, to register for our Founder’s Membership, email me — rob@202strong.com

2)  Show us some Facebook love!  Share this post and/or “like” our page if you haven’t already.

3)  We are always looking to partner with local businesses and have plans to get involved in corporate wellness.  If your business is interested, let us know!  We’d love to sit down and work out the logistics.

4)  Join our email list.  Besides getting people to sign up for our Founder’s Membership, building an email list is our biggest focus.  We love Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but in terms of building a rapport with current and potential members, sending quality information, and keeping everyone in the loop, email is the best medium. You can sign-up for our email list by clicking HERE.

Stay tuned!  More updates to come as they develop.

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What is 202strong?

Maddie and I made the announcement a few months back that we’d be opening a gym in Farragut North, but it dawned on me a couple days ago that we’d never really explained in-depth the question “what is 202strong?”.  And more importantly, “why 202strong?”.

Because when Maddie and I originally started planning out 202strong, we didn’t want to be just another CrossFit Affiliate.  There are over 10,000+ affiliates worldwide.  And to the lay person, they are all interchangeable.  Most people go to an affiliate because it’s the most convenient to where they work or live.  And that’s fine.  But we want more than that.  And as we were planning 202strong, we kept asking ourselves questions like, “what would make someone drive out of their way to come workout at 202strong?” and  “what can we do better than everybody else?”.

Below I hope to answer the question “what is 202strong?” and other questions you might have.

One of the smartest women I know once told me that self-talk was a sign of intelligence.  I hope she’s right, because the older I get the more I catch myself having silent conversations with myself.  And for whatever reason, these conversations typically take the form of Q & A’s.  So below is an in-depth, Q & A interview with myself, about 202strong.

What is 202strong?
Surface level, 202strong is a boutique CrossFit facility (coming to Farragut North in the Fall of 2014).  Most CrossFit facilities resemble garage gyms — for practical reasons (location, equipment needs, etc) — and we wanted preserve this feel, but upgrade it by including showers, locker rooms, towel service, toiletries, TV Screens to track workouts, a front desk, a bar for people to hangout, and a massage room.

Digging deeper, 202strong is the culmination of everything Maddie and I have learned from coaching thousands and thousands of hours, playing high school & collegiate sports, and experimenting on ourselves — movement matters most.  Whether your goal is to look good naked, get stronger, run a marathon, live pain free, play with your kids, excel at a sport, increase your energy, or just be more fit — knowing how to, and being able to move properly — is the #1 priority.  Everything else we do in the gym relates back to this, no exceptions.

What makes 202strong different from regular gyms?
The things that make 202strong different from regular gyms are the same things that make any good CrossFit Affiliate different from other gyms.  The sense of community, the camaraderie, the fact that people notice when you don’t show up.  On a daily basis, most people never receive any positive affirmation.  When you step into a good CrossFit Affiliate, you are constantly receiving praise, and not in a patronizing sort of way.  The praise is given because you earned it.  You tried something new.  You picked up a new skill.  You pushed yourself a little out of your comfort zone.  And once you’re part of a good community, people recognize and acknowledge that.

Ok, so what makes 202strong different from other CrossFit gyms?
Like I said before, we are boutique CrossFit facility, which immediately separates us from the majority of CrossFit Affiliates out there.  We’re on a lower mezzanine, we still have barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, pull-up bars, rings, etc, but we’ve upgraded the feel.  Made it a bit more clean, a bit more contemporary.

Not to purposely piss anybody off, but the barrier of entry for opening a CrossFit Affiliate is pretty low, and the barrier of entry for becoming a trainer is basically only $1000.  I know a lot of coaches whose only concern is how hard you’re breathing after a workout.  Like that’s the only thing that matters.  And it’s just not true.  Yes, there is a correlation between how hard you work and your fitness, but it’s absolutely not the main factor.

So the real difference lies in our approach towards fitness.  Movement matters most.  I think we do a really good job of gracefully balancing what people want [the feeling of working hard] versus what people need [functional movements, increased strength across joint range of motion, fixing postural positioning, clearing any joint or tissue restrictions].  And the results we’ve had with our clients up to this point show our approach works.

Why the name, “202strong”?
A lot of time was spent thinking about the name.  “202” because it’s the DC area code and since we are located in the heart of the city, we wanted something that would identify DC.  Maddie and I both grew up right outside of DC (Maryland side) and I think anyone who grows up in the DC suburbs, whether on the MD or VA side, spends a lot of time in the city and is very proud of the culture and diversity the DMV has to offer.

“Strong” seemed like a natural fit — at first because of the typical cliches you hear in the fitness and CrossFit community: “strong mind, strong body” and “strong is the new skinny”.  And the more we thought about it the more we realized “strong” transcends the typical cliches and encompasses everything people look for in their lives.  Strong family, strong community, strong careers, strong resolve.  It’s not a dominant thing, but a confidence thing.

So I guess what it comes down to is the name 202strong resonated with us, but also comes across ambiguous enough to be left up to interpretation for the needs of our members.  We all want to feel like we belong to something bigger than us, and we believe people will be proud to associate themselves with 202strong.

How does a membership at 202strong work?
We have three different options for individuals to become members at 202strong.
1) Monthly group class memberships
2) Private session memberships
3) Punch card group class memberships

Each membership option comes with it’s unique set of perks for our members.  For example, all members have access to our locker rooms, showers, towel service, and Wodify access (performance tracking software), private forum, nutrition challenges, and excellent coaching.  Monthly and private session members have access to open gym hours.  And those are just some of the perks people will receive.

Who is 202strong for?
Everyone has the right to know how to move properly and pain free.  So everyone.  But not necessarily.  Anyone — no matter what fitness level — will fit in and find help and success in our community.  However, if you are of the mindset that more always equals better, or you aren’t the type of person that is OK with being humbled, than 202strong isn’t for you.  And that’s OK.  We want the fit to be natural, not forced.  But, if you are up to the challenge, you’ll have the best coaches, a great facility, and amazing coaches at your disposal.

In one sentence, can you sum up what 202strong is all about?
202strong is the movement oriented, results driven, approach to fitness you deserve.

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I am afraid of…

As any teacher or coach who gives a damn will tell you, the relationships and connections you make with the kids you work with on a regular basis are special.  They mean something to you.  You see these kids on a regular basis.  You teach them, mentor them, laugh with them (occasionally at them), and scold them when necessary.  You watch them grow.  And like it or not, you influence them and they influence you.

This August and September marks the first time any of the athletes I’ve worked with intimately over the past 3 years will head off to college.  As I sit back and reflect on the conversations I’ve had with these individuals over the past couple months, I can’t help but be reminded how hard it is to make that transition from high school to college.  Change in general is hard, but this will be the first time these kids have lived away from home, have had to make a whole new group of friends, maybe even had to do laundry for the first time!

What makes this change, this transition, so hard for a lot of these kids is they feel like they are going at it on their own.  And even as adults we tend to view ourselves as “special snowflakes” with our own set of problems we feel are unique to us.

This becomes an issue though, because if a problem is perceived as new and unique to you, finding a solution seems way less likely.  For some, almost debilitating.

So, new college kids (or anyone who feels their problems are brand new and unique to the world) let me be the one to tell you, your problems are not new.

You’re not the first person to move hundreds or thousands of miles away from home.
You’re not the first person to double major.
You’re not the first person to not know what they want to do with their life.
You’re not the first person to feel home sick.
You’re not the first person to start a business.
You’re not the first person [insert whatever here].

Hopefully this doesn’t come across as me sounding like a dick.  I’m saying this in the hopes you’ll recognize the things you are afraid of and feel better knowing you have more control than you think.

As a personal example, after a string of recent events occurred that definitely took me out of my comfort zone, I sat down and wrote a list of things I was afraid of.

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Here’s the list in case you can’t read the text in the picture:

  • I’m afraid I won’t be a success
  • I’m afraid I won’t be taken seriously
  • I’m afraid of being “average”
  • I’m afraid of losing my parents
  • I’m afraid of losing my health
  • I’m afraid I won’t leave my mark on the world
  • I’m afraid what I have to say won’t resonate with people
  • I’m afraid my work won’t be good enough
  • I’m afraid my knee will keep me from being as active as I want to be
  • I’m afraid to let people know I’m vulnerable
  • I’m afraid the expectations I set for myself are too high
  • I’m afraid the expectations I set for myself aren’t high enough
  • I’m afraid I’m taking on too much
  • I’m afraid I’m not doing enough

I’m not going to lie, getting this down on paper immediately made me feel better.

I was easily able to tell which things I’m afraid of that are completely ambiguous.  I’m afraid I won’t be a success?  What does that even mean?  How do you even quantify that?

I was able to identify the things out of my control.  I’m afraid of losing my parents?  This may be true, but there’s nothing I can do about that except make sure I make the time I spend with them worthwhile.  [Unless I invent some sort of miracle drug that keeps them alive forever].

And I was able to identify the things I can control.  I’m afraid of losing my health?  This is completely within my control.

Most importantly though, I know these fears aren’t unique to me.  How?  They’re all concerns that have been raised by friends or family members at some point along the way.  And if they’re aren’t unique to me, not only does it mean I’m not alone, but it means that I’ll be able to find ways to successfully deal with all my fears.

[Also, I borrowed the idea of writing down the things I’m afraid of from a picture Childish Gambino posted on Instagram]

So, the point of all this is to hopefully give my CFDR Sports Performance athletes some perspective on any fears or apprehensions they have moving forward with their lives.  Trust me, you’re not alone and you’ll definitely be able to deal with anything that’s thrown at you.

*Final little note: growth occurs when you push yourself outside your comfort zone.  This goes for spiritual growth, mental growth, or physical growth.  Don’t avoid that uncomfortable feeling you get when new and different things come up.  Embrace it.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

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Something’s Gotta Give

Starting a business is HARD.  Like seriously.  Raising money, negotiating lease terms, creating a marketing plan, making connections, meeting with architects, designing a website, on and on — all the while still working at my regular job.

Listen, I’m not saying this because I’m looking for your sympathy (though I’ll accept it if you want to give it).  This is a conscious choice I’ve made, and I have absolutely no regrets.  The whole process has been an invaluable learning experience.

I’m saying this because since making the decision to start a gym, the common saying — “something’s gotta give” — has really hit home for me.

A typical day in my life about a little over a year ago looked something like this:

  • Wake-up somewhere between 8am and 11am
  • Watch a couple episodes of Parks & Recreation
  • Workout
  • Return emails, phone calls, and work on other miscellaneous managerial tasks
  • Coach a couple adult classes at CrossFit DoneRight
  • Workout again
  • Coach CFDR Sports Performance Athletes
  • Go out on a date or meet up with friends in the city

Rinse, then repeat.  Great huh?  My days were pretty low stress, not very mentally stimulating, and I was making pretty decent money.  Some would say the ideal situation for a 25 year old (it actually started driving me a bit crazy, but that’s for a future post).

Anyways, as you can see from above, working out was kind of a priority of mine.  As I was preparing to take the deep plunge into the world of a being a business owner, many of the people I went to asking for advice assured me working out would be the first thing to go.  I told them I understood, but deep down I never really took that little piece to heart.

I knew I’d be able to make the sacrifice of watching less TV (that wasn’t very difficult).  I knew I’d be able to cut back on my social life (sorry to all the girls I’ve dated in the last year or so — in this case it’s definitely me, not you).

But cut back on working out?  No way buddy.  That’s my life.  I’ve been active almost everyday for as long as I can remember.  Plus, how difficult could it be to squeeze a workout in when I am not only opening a gym, but I already work at one??

I’m honest.  I’m an idiot.  I’ll be the second to admit it.

The last thing you want to do after staying up late thinking about different ways to grow a business is wake up early and go work out.  The work starting a business is seemingly never ending, and the last thing you have time for is something that won’t contribute to the “cause”.  The thought may not have been conscious, but what I was basically telling myself was, “I just don’t have the time to workout anymore”.

I’ve come to realize this is a terrible way to think about things.  Working out was/is a priority of mine for a reason.  I’m more productive when I work out.  My body feels better when I workout. I’m in a better mood when I workout.  [An ex-girlfriend of mine could always tell if I’d been more than 2 days without working out because I’d get incredibly moody and irritable with her for no reason.]

If a random meeting pops up in the middle of the day, I can make time for it.  I should be able to do the same with working out.

So, over the last couple months I’ve been experimenting with different ways to approach working out.  Ways to keep myself motivated and interested.  I wanted to share what’s stuck with me in hopes that whenever you feel yourself pushing workouts to the back burner, you can immediately find a way to make them a priority again.

    1. Keep your nutrition on point.  This has been the most important thing for me.  Research has shown individuals who start exercising will unconsciously change their diets and eat better.  I’ve found the opposite to work just as well.  I only keep quality food around the house, and I basically eat the same thing every day (bacon and eggs for breakfast, steak and veggies for lunch, chicken and veggies for dinner).  This allows me to keep my energy levels up and keeps me from falling completely off the wagon.  Working back into a consistent workout schedule after a hiatus is much easier when you haven’t been stuffing yourself full of pizza, pancakes, and pasta (the trifecta).  The urge to purge because you’ve been binge eating just isn’t there, which means I don’t have to try and make up for it by binge working out.
  • Create realistic expectations.  At first I tried to tell myself I’d get back to working out 6 days a week.  I mean, I was doing it before — sometimes with two workouts in a day — why couldn’t I jump right back into doing it again?  Because I’m an idiot.  Six days a week just wasn’t going to happen off the bat.  After much internal debate, I scaled that down to three days in the, gym, plus one day of playing a sport (basketball or football).  This works beautifully because it leaves me wanting to work out more days.  I’ll continue to follow this schedule until I feel like I can make the transition to four days with no trouble.  If I kept trying to force six days a week, I’d definitely give up.
  • Track your progress.  For awhile, I didn’t really track my progress.  At first it wasn’t a big deal, but boy did this play a big role in de-motivating me.  You can only do something so long without seeing tangible results before you either do things differently or give up altogether.  I did the latter.  I’ve gone back to tracking my progress and found I’m way more excited to workout.
  • Show up!  For most people, this means forcing themselves to go to the physical location of the gym.  Since I spend most evenings at a gym, this means putting on my workout clothes.  I tell myself if I go through the process of putting my spandex, shorts, socks, shoes, and t-shirt and still don’t want to workout, I don’t have to.  90% of the time if I get dressed, I workout.  100% of the time if I don’t get dressed, I won’t work out.

Like I said, the things above have stuck with me and have been great for helping me make working out a priority in my life again.  I’ve also found variations of the above to help with other things in my life I’ve been trying to prioritize (writing more blogs, making time for family, etc).

What gets you showing up on a consistent basis to workout?  What other things do you find important in your life that you “haven’t had time for” lately?  What tactics could you use to find the time and make these important things priorities?

Post to comments!  I’m curious what you have to say.