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We will be closed on Monday, October 28th.

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Many of you have inquired about the reasoning behind our choice of programming for the gym.  In the two years we have been running, we have tried a number of different cycles, incorporating more traditional CrossFit metabolic conditioning workouts at times, at other times focusing on strength with traditional periodization routines.  As the strength and conditioning world – CrossFit included – continued to evolve, we always tried to provide the best programming for our members.

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Programming

Many of you have inquired about the reasoning behind our choice of programming for the gym.  In the two years we have been running, we have tried a number of different cycles, incorporating more traditional CrossFit metabolic conditioning workouts at times, at other times focusing on strength with traditional periodization routines.  As the strength and conditioning world – CrossFit included – continued to evolve, we always tried to provide the best programming for our members.  We have attended numerous seminars and certifications as well as trained with other top athletes and coaches to help refine our programming skills and to be certain we provide our members with the best possible training.  We have maintained certain criteria that we believe are necessary in choosing a direction for the gym as far as how we program our workouts.  Here are a few of them:

  • We will always stay true to what CrossFit was originally designed to be.  Constantly varied, functional movement performed at high intensity is what CrossFit is traditionally defined as.  Our WODs will reflect this no matter what direction we go.
  • Strength will be an integral part of our routine.  It is arguably the single most important aspect to your health, no matter who you are.  While running around and perspiring an obscene volume of sweat seems like the greatest thing in the world, it cannot ever replace the importance of a sound strength program.  Get strong first, then start running around like a mad man/woman and I guarantee you will see better results (and fewer injuries!).
  • If Michael Phelps, Lebron James, your grandma, and Joe Piizzi walk in the door, our programming must be capable of providing ALL 4 people with the same benefit towards their health and fitness.  This is where our method of scaling weight, reps, and range of motion becomes so important.  Regardless of your experience and ability, we believe our workouts are suited for EVERY SINGLE PERSON.  At times there is a lot of skill work that, as a result, force some of you to spend more time practicing than actually moving heavy weight.  But even then time spent practicing is having a huge benefit on your muscles, your brain activity, your coordination, your agility, flexibility, and core strength.  Never think that you are “wasting time” because you aren’t able to “do more weight.”  Therefore, like I said, our workouts are designed to benefit ANYONE and EVERYONE. 
  • Fun.  It has to be fun.  And while running 1 mile than ripping off 40 chest to bar pull ups or 3 rounds of a 500 meter row and then 75 double unders might not seem fun to some, we all know that it is EXTREMELY fun.  The challenge, the anxiety of how much the workout will “hurt”, the thrill when you are just a few reps away from finishing, and then the ultimate satisfaction when you are done… oh hell yes the WODs are fun. 

   Josh and I have programmed for the gym for some time but have recently used the programming from Outlaw CrossFit in Alexandria, Virginia.  Created by Rudy Nielsen, Outlaw CrossFit was one of the first CrossFit gyms established… ever.  His longevity speaks volumes to his success and his experience with various programs and methods has helped him fine tune his programming skills to become what many believe is the best in the business. 
   What Josh and I loved about the programming was the inclusion of assistance exercises to help train and practice the Olympic lifts (snatch and clean & jerk).  We value these movements a great deal and we believe this programming to be the most effective way to help our members progress in both skill and strength in these movements. 
   The success of Outlaw CrossFit members has been jaw dropping, as countless people with 9-5 jobs and regular careers were putting up staggering numbers in the gym.  The years of tinkering and data acquisition has allowed Rudy Nielsen to put together a very solid strength and conditioning program that can turn just about anyone into an absolute beast.  It takes the bar and sets it so much higher than we ever thought.  And you know I LOVE THAT.  Now the “average Joe” doesn’t have to be so average any more. 
   And that is exactly what we want for all of you here at CrossFit Koa.  We do not want mediocrity.  We do not want you on elliptical machines mindlessly passing the minutes away.  We want to erase any doubt in your mind – come into our gym, do what we tell you, work your butt off, clean up your nutrition, and watch your life change before your eyes.
   We will continue with this programming for a while as we are very satisfied with how it has benefitted our members overall goals towards health and fitness at all levels.  In time, there will be new trainers who emerge with slightly different programming that many will swear is the “next best thing”.  Josh and I will research it, test it, and if we love it, we will bring it to the gym.  But rest assured there will always be barbells in your hands.  There will always be a pull up bar waiting for you above your head.  And there will always be a sidewalk waiting for you to run on it. 
   As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same….

Barbells for Boobs will be taking place this Saturday at 10am. The first heat will start promptly at 10am so please feel free to come in starting at 9:30am to warm up. Open Gym will be open in the back gym while the event is going on. This event supports Mammograms in Action and you can donate via the link below. 

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Barbells for Boobs

Barbells for Boobs will be taking place this Saturday at 10am. The first heat will start promptly at 10am so please feel free to come in starting at 9:30am to warm up. Open Gym will be open in the back gym while the event is going on. This event supports Mammograms in Action and you can donate via the link below. 

This is a team workout where teams of two will take on "Helen meets Grace:his is a TWO-PERSON team workout with one person working at a time, except for the 400m runs, which must be performed together.
“HELEN” “GRACE”
3 ROUNDS
30 CLEAN&JERKS (135/95)
400M RUN
21 KBS (53/35)
12 PULL UPS
Once all three rounds of HELEN are complete, the team immediately moves on to perform GRACE Score is total time for the team to complete both workouts!

 

Click here to donate

 

The squat.  An exercise I avoided throughout my entire college years and most of my adult life as well.  When asked by others why I never squatted I told them, “Last time I checked girls weren’t approaching men and complimenting them on their quadriceps…” For every one squat I may have done, I did at least 1,945 bicep curls.

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If you dont know SQUAT... you better ask someone... or read this!

The squat.  An exercise I avoided throughout my entire college years and most of my adult life as well.  When asked by others why I never squatted I told them, “Last time I checked girls weren’t approaching men and complimenting them on their quadriceps…” For every one squat I may have done, I did at least 1,945 bicep curls.
   Oh sure I would load up weight on the leg press and crank out some reps.  Head over to the kick out machine and try to isolate each muscle group in my quad complex.  Do some leg curls because those hamstring muscles seemed kind of important… or so I heard. 
   For years I trained like this.  Following magazines advice, and of course using the BIBLE – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding – as a guide to help me reach my goals. 
   And you want to know the irony?  I never really got as “big” as I wanted.  I never got faster.  I never got stronger.  I began to hate the gym and resent “wasting” my time in there and not seeing results. 
   Then I found CrossFit. 
   Then CrossFit told me, “Dude.  You have to frikkin squat bro.”
   Life = changed. 
   Since incorporating REAL squats into my regular exercise routine, my entire fitness has changed.  Not only did I see changes in my strength and speed, but I was finally starting to see the changes in my entire body that I always wanted but could never get through millions of curls and a few hack squats once a month. 
   The squat is paramount to your health and your training, regardless of whom you are and what level you are at in terms of strength, skill and ability.  Whether you are working to perfect an air squat or struggling to get that 400 pounds up, focusing on your squat will create a solid foundation for building a truly healthy mind AND body. 
   At CrossFit Koa, we squat.  We squat A LOT.  Back squats, front squats, cleans, snatches, wall balls, thrusters, squat jumps… yes, you will learn to love squatting in our gym.  For those of you who may not believe me and just how important the squat is, here are a few points to consider:

  • The squat incorporates the muscles of the posterior (back side) chain that are necessary for hip extension.  The hamstrings, glutes and adductors are all key components in all movement involving the lower body.  That means picking up your kids, lifting boxes when moving into a new home, shoveling the driveway after a snowstorm, walking up steps… you get the point.  Therefore it is vitally important we keep these muscles healthy and strong.  No exercise does that better than a squat.*
  • By nature, we humans are anterior (front side) dominant.  We stand in front of a mirror and we see pecs, abs, biceps, front delts… and as a result we cannot help but focus on that musculature.  We sit at a desk and type.  We drive a car.  We eat dinner at the table.   We are rarely thinking about contracting our glutes or pulling our shoulders back for better posture, and as a result our health suffers.  The squat more effectively than any other exercise trains the muscles of the posterior chain and will help counter this “anterior” world we live in by strengthening those vital muscles we cannot see in a mirror. *
  • When putting a barbell on your back, or in the front rack, and performing a squat, you also benefit from the neuromuscular response created in your body.   The human body does not operate in isolation.  The nervous system sends messages to your muscles and tells them what to do.  This relationship is extremely important and should not be circumvented with isolation exercises or machines.  Balancing a bar on your back, squatting to full depth, and standing tall to full hip extension is an optimal way to illicit the best neuromuscular response within your     body. *
  • Butts.  We all want nice butts.  Squats help you get a nice butt. 

 
   I could very easily go on and on about the wonders of the squat but I do not want to bore you.  And besides that last point I made above is pretty much the end all to any argument against squatting. 
   So learn to love the squat and everything it can do for you.  Perfect the movement so that you can increase the resistance (i.e. add weight) and see satisfying gains in strength and in your physical appearance as well.   And when someone compliments your posterior chain one day, you can send me a message thanking me. 
  P.S. Don’t worry Joe Piizzi… we will still do bicep curls at some point. 
 
*Ideas from “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition” by Mark Rippetoe

Just around this time two years ago we opened up our doors at CrossFit KOA. Our "official" opening day included the WOD "Grace" in support of Barbells For Boobs. This great ...

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Barbells for Boobs

Just around this time two years ago we opened up our doors at CrossFit KOA. Our "official" opening day included the WOD "Grace" in support of Barbells For Boobs. This great ...

event raises money for Mammograms in Action. We will once again be hosting a Barbells For Boobs event on Saturday October, 20th. We have made a donation on behalf of the gym so there is no need to register to participate. However if you want to raise more funds for this great cause the link is below. The WOD will be a 2 member team taking on "Helen meets Grace". More details (times, etc.) to follow.
 

So the Giants won today…
   … and I dropped my phone again. 
   Guess that just became an unfortunate “superstition” for me and my beloved Samsung. 
   ANYWAYS, I want to continue a discussion I had with some classes during this week about the quality of movement and what it means to do a workout “prescribed” or “Rx”.
   First of all, if you have time, I encourage you to read the following article on “Virtuosity” in CrossFit as explained by the founder of CrossFit Coach Glassman:

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Back to Basics

So the Giants won today…
   … and I dropped my phone again. 
   Guess that just became an unfortunate “superstition” for me and my beloved Samsung. 
   ANYWAYS, I want to continue a discussion I had with some classes during this week about the quality of movement and what it means to do a workout “prescribed” or “Rx”.
   First of all, if you have time, I encourage you to read the following article on “Virtuosity” in CrossFit as explained by the founder of CrossFit Coach Glassman:
http://journal.crossfit.com/2005/08/virtuosity-1.tpl
   With that in mind, I would also like to share a quote with you all that was on Facebook from another coach to his/her members:
“So proud of {our members} for finishing close to last in the last WOD today because they TOOK PRIDE IN THEIR MOVEMENT and didn't worm, rock, or not come to full extension in their pushups today! Truth is, REAL pushups take longer and are harder than sh*tty ones!! Love you guys and way to hold a standard!!!!!! WOOT!!!!!!!!”
   Point: Good coaches notice sh*tty movement. 
  I understand that CrossFit is, at the end of the day, exercise.  And while exercise may not seem to be the most important part of your day, it may very well be the most important thing to your health.  As I have stated before, there is not one drug or medication on the planet that can do for your body what a regular exercise program can.  So while we are only “exercising”, let us not diminish the importance of what you all accomplish within our gym walls.
   I cannot speak for every trainer or every CF gym in the world, but at CrossFit Koa we want the absolute best for each and every one of our members.  And I am afraid that somewhere along the way that message has gotten lost.   Somehow pull ups that do not end with each rep going from full extension at the bottom to chin over the bar, push ups where the chest does not hit the floor or the arms to full extension at the top, squats that do not travel past parallel at the bottom… somehow all of these things have become considered performing these movement “as prescribed”. 
  Full range of motion is not just for show.  It is to make your body stronger.  To create better posture.  To stave off decrepitude when we grow old.  To promote functionality.  It is vital to the CrossFit plan and to your health and somehow it has become not as important to some of you as writing “Rx” to your name has. 
   It is time for a fundamental change in our gym, myself included.  I challenge you all to care just as much at perfecting your air squat as you do about adding 1 more pound on your clean.  I challenge you to do 10 dead hang pull ups unbroken before doing 10 kipping ones.  I challenge you to fix your running mechanics before signing up for that next race (CF Endurance plug!) Take one, maybe two steps back so you can take about 549,912 forward!!!!
   No matter who you are, no matter what age, no matter what experience, you need to make this priority #1.  Regardless if you are someone who wants to just stay in shape to help with some troubling back pain, or someone who wants to lose 5 pounds before a beach vacation, or someone who thinks you can win the Games, quality in your movements and that struggle for obtaining virtuosity in your movements need to be your #1 goal… not a false “Rx”.
   I plan on holding you ALL to not a “higher” standard, but the only standard.  There will be tough love coming your way.  I have told every person I have ever coached in Foundations or spoke to concerning joining CrossFit Koa the same exact thing: leave your ego at the door and be prepared for a big slice of humble pie.
 Like I said, we want what is best for ALL of you.  I will be here to push you when you need it, and reel you back in when you need that too.  Let’s get back to crushing the fundamentals and the rest I can assure you will come.

Hey KOA Nation and anyne who wants to participate. KOA will be hosting the Garage Games World Wide Gym Resolution on January 12th, 2013. There will be 3 WODs (to be announced later) and 3 levels to compete in; Beginner, Scaled, and RX. Therre will also be awards for top competitors at KOA and also worldwide. The event will be an opportunity to evaluate your fitness level at the beginning of 2013, and each year thereafter (the same WODs will take place each year. If interested, sign up at Garage Games (link here - if it works).

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Garage Games

Hey KOA Nation and anyne who wants to participate. KOA will be hosting the Garage Games World Wide Gym Resolution on January 12th, 2013. There will be 3 WODs (to be announced later) and 3 levels to compete in; Beginner, Scaled, and RX. Therre will also be awards for top competitors at KOA and also worldwide. The event will be an opportunity to evaluate your fitness level at the beginning of 2013, and each year thereafter (the same WODs will take place each year. If interested, sign up at Garage Games (link here - if it works). We will post more information as we know more, and also on the KOA website. Happy Columbus Day Weekend... Warrior Gym # 2 at KOA is getting closer and closer to opening.... We are VERY excited about all the goings on at KOA Nation...As Josh menntioned last week, we have more announcements for other events coming soon....

Click here to learn more

 
      Working at CrossFit Koa is a dream job.  Every day I come in to work I am genuinely excited; excited to coach, to train, and to help members change their lives one WOD, one exercise, one rep at a time. 
 

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My inspiration...

 
      Working at CrossFit Koa is a dream job.  Every day I come in to work I am genuinely excited; excited to coach, to train, and to help members change their lives one WOD, one exercise, one rep at a time. 
 
   Despite the love and passion I have for coaching CrossFit, the fact is that it is work and it does leave me drained.  When I attempt to do my own workout at some point of the day, I am often physically and mentally drained.  I struggle to get through the warm up, then labor through my first few exercises.  Its usually a battle from beginning to end just to get through the workout with the necessary intensity I need in order to see improvement.  I get through it each time, sometimes satisfied with my effort and sometimes not.
 
   I used to watch videos of Spealler and OPT and Everett battling it out in the 2008 Games for motivation.  I watched Heather Bergeron destroy workouts, Mikko Salo perform insane acts of strength and endurance, and just about every CrossFit montage YouTube had to offer.  I moved on to weightlifting monsters like Jon North and the Lion Killer Donny Shankle next, trying to channel even a small part of their intensity and use it in my own WODs.  All of these people and these videos helped me… somewhat.  But I needed something more. 
 
   I needed a legitimate inspiration.  And I finally found it.
 
   Every.  Single.  One.  Of.  You. 
 
   All of you.  All of you inspire the crap out of me.  Is that appropriate to say?  Whatever its true.  The fact that you all go through your days, having to work jobs and/or take care of kids and perform countless other duties, yet STILL come in to the gym daily and attack every single WOD.  Overhead squats?  Whatever lets rock.  Snatches?  Handstand pushups?  Teach me to do it or show me how to scale so I can learn and get stronger.  Daily you all come in, with countless “things” you could use as an excuse but you do not.  You run a lap.  You do some leg swings.  Hit some mobility.  Then grab a bar off the rack and prepare for some serious work. 
 
   Its remarkable and I admire it more than any of you know.  I know how hard it is for me to get up for training, and I am in a gym all day!!  The rest of you could make excuses… but you don’t.  You could sleep an extra hour, but you don’t.
 
   I don’t want to single anyone out because I am honestly talking about every single person in the gym.  But there is someone I just have to give a shout out to.
 
   Sheila Jackson.  Or Doherty.  Ok just Sheila… you all know who I am talking about.
 
   Sheila has a demanding job.  Wonderful kids that are also quite demanding (have you met Molly yet??) And yet day in and day out, she is in the gym giving 1000000%. This past week she was a little under the weather.  She came in – still! – to do the WOD.  OK well no big deal I worked out sick before.  I just took it a lil easier, lightened the weight and took it easy. 
   Not Sheila.  She doesn’t know what “taking it easy” means during a WOD.  Long hours at home or at work, stuffy nose, none of that matters.  She never makes excuses, never complains and ALWAYS gives everything she has in a workout.  I just cannot even begin to tell you how much I admire that.  I have watched her come in and crush WODs for two years now and still I am just as impressed today as I was years ago.
 
   Sheila, you are amazing.
 
   And she is not the only one.  I see you all working.  I see your body language after a long day at work, and how you find that inner strength to turn it up and get through another difficult WOD.   I see you come in despite every fiber in your body wishing you were home on the couch or in bed.  I have seen you come in and do workouts full of movements you hate or struggle with and just grind out each and every rep until time ran out. 
 
   You come to CrossFit Koa for inspiration and to change your lives.  But please know that you have also inspired me, and all of us here at CrossFit Koa, and you have definitely helped change my life. 
 
   So to Sheila and ALL of you… thank you.  You guys really are my inspiration. 
 

“The Atmosphere”
   When people ask me about CrossFit (which can be anywhere from zero to 548 times in a day) I always mention this word “atmosphere”.   As in:
“You can’t duplicate the atmosphere we create in here during a WOD.”
   I have said it so much that over the years I think I forgot what the hell that even meant.  Is it the intensity?  Well what is intensity?  I mean the “atmosphere” in a mosh pit at a death metal concert is probably pretty intense but I wouldn’t exactly advise someone to jump into that.

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The "Atmosphere"

“The Atmosphere”
   When people ask me about CrossFit (which can be anywhere from zero to 548 times in a day) I always mention this word “atmosphere”.   As in:
“You can’t duplicate the atmosphere we create in here during a WOD.”
   I have said it so much that over the years I think I forgot what the hell that even meant.  Is it the intensity?  Well what is intensity?  I mean the “atmosphere” in a mosh pit at a death metal concert is probably pretty intense but I wouldn’t exactly advise someone to jump into that.
   What have I been talking about all this time? 
   This past week I jumped in and trained with the 7:15pm class, and instantly I remembered what I meant when I said you really CAN’T duplicate the atmosphere created in our box. 
   It was the WOD we did 5 rounds of 20 wall balls and 20 Russian twists.  I had done it that same morning by myself and finished in 6:34, taking several breaks on the wall balls.  I knew I could do better so I decided to join the 7:15pm to see if the “atmosphere” could help me improve my time.
   Well, after PRing my clean and jerk by 15# to get to 240# (ATMOSPHERE!!!) we moved on to the met con.  The gym was crowded with people working out at 7:15pm, people waiting for the 8:15pm class, and foundations class members waiting as well.  Next to me were Michele and Veronica.  As Coach Lauren began the countdown, it was like everything went silent.  Music didn’t matter.  The talking didn’t matter.  I became extremely focused and determined to work as hard as I possibly could… but not for me. 
   At that moment I could only think, “Ryan you CAN’T put this ball down.  Veronica and Michele are here to get the best possible workout they can and if they see me quit and take a break, it will have a negative impact on them.  And all the other members watching, about to do this WOD… if they see me give up and let the ball fall, than perhaps that horrible creature known as ‘doubt’ will creep into their minds and make them want to take a break they don’t really need.  No.  I owe it to them.  To the people in this class that are here to go as HARD AS THEY CAN.  To the person doing their first ever WOD just trying to finish and to the person fighting for a top 60 finish in the Open next year… I owe it to ALL of our members to leave everything I have here in this gym during this workout.”
   I went unbroken on the wall balls.  I finished in 5:27. Over a full minute faster than that morning.
  The beauty of what I just described is that it is not unique to me.  It is what I see exhibited by ALL OF YOU here at CrossFit Koa.  We are selfless warriors who train not just to improve our own bodies and minds, but the men and women who train alongside us as well.  I would never be as insensitive as to equate what we do to “war”, but there is something to be said for the internal struggle we all face when confronted with a weight we have never lifted or a skill we have never mastered day after day… and yet we come back.  We come back not just for us, but to stand next to other members and suffer with them.  To be there support when they need it, to let them know “Yes pull ups DO suck and I am right here next to you sucking my way through them with you!” 
   If you come to CrossFit Koa for selfish reasons that’s ok… but please do not let it be the only reason you come.  Contribute to the “atmosphere” that I have spent so much time telling the world about.  Be a part of that positive energy that creates an environment in our gym that allows people to accomplish amazing things every single day. 
   The “atmosphere” is real dammit.  And what we have at CrossFit Koa can definitely NOT be duplicated.

CrossFit KOA will be sponsoring the Bloomingdale Ave. School/Orange Ave. School (Cranford) 5k on Sunday, November 4th.  Here is the link to register.
http://www.bestrace.com/Bloomingdale5K/

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