8 Eastman Street Cranford NJ 07016...908-272-7400

News / Events

President's Day Schedule - There will be no 6am and 7am class on Monday, February 18th. The rest of the day will be a normal schedule.

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President's Day Schedule

President's Day Schedule - There will be no 6am and 7am class on Monday, February 18th. The rest of the day will be a normal schedule.

   After this past Saturday’s AMAZING fundraiser, I was pretty wiped out.  Add to that a late night with the CrossFit Koa family, I was feeling quite exhausted – and so sore- and wanted to do nothing but lay around and be lazy.  The only activity I was interested in was eating and playing PlayStation3 and carrying my animated NY Rangers team to the Cup.

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Love it AND Hate it

   After this past Saturday’s AMAZING fundraiser, I was pretty wiped out.  Add to that a late night with the CrossFit Koa family, I was feeling quite exhausted – and so sore- and wanted to do nothing but lay around and be lazy.  The only activity I was interested in was eating and playing PlayStation3 and carrying my animated NY Rangers team to the Cup.
   But it was a Sunday and I am four weeks into my CrossFit Endurance training for the New Jersey Marathon coming up in May.  Scheduled for this weekend was a 10K tempo run.  Between muscles that were so sore I could barely touch them and the fact I was nursing a slight hangover, I cannot express how badly I wanted to NOT run this 10K.  The day wore on and as it did my desire to embrace the cold and chug through these 6.3 miles was becoming less and less. 
   However in the back of my mind, there was a voice that kept telling me, “You will go run today.  Stop trying to fight it.  This is happening one way or another.”  And I knew that voice was right.  I knew that there was no way I was going to skip this run.  I committed to this program and dedicated myself to following it through to the end. 
   Sure enough, around 4:00pm I laced up and hit the road.  Inexplicably, I felt amazing once I started and got into my grove.  The soreness seemed to fade away, my mind cleared and I was knocking down 8:00 / miles with relative ease (it was after all, only a tempo run). 
   There was one point, about 3 miles in, where I wasn’t feeling so hot.  I had no gloves on and was only wearing a t-shirt and my arms and hands were already becoming numb.  I was angry I didn’t prepare better for this run but at that point there was nothing I could do about it.  I started thinking, “Ugh.  This is miserable.  Why the hell am I out here?” Then I watched a car drive by and I swear the girl in front was eating a bagel… damn I wanted a bagel.  Stupid running. 
   That’s when this thought occurred to me: we need to spend time doing things we do not want to do, in order to one day be able to do exactly what we have always wanted to do.  I didn’t really want to run that day, and truth be told I never really want to run my intervals and distance runs during the week (they hurt!).  But I know if I ever want to run that marathon and finish under four hours, I need to do these things now.  I want something and it is only going to come by getting after all these things I really do not want to do.
Not just in marathon training but in life this is true.  You want a promotion?  Stay late.  Go that extra mile on that report.  Work on the weekends.  Do those things that you wouldn’t want to do so that you can get that coveted promotion.  Want to develop a relationship with your son or daughter?  Go to that boring school recital instead of watching the football game, or maybe coach that Little League team and deal with the other bratty kids and pain-in-the-butt parents so you can spend more time with the little guy.  Doing these things will all pay off, and one day you will get exactly what you want. 
   I learned this valuable lesson through CrossFit.  I learned that if I wanted to become healthier, fitter, faster, stronger, I needed to put the work in.  I needed to do those things I hated in order to be able to do those things I always wanted.  I wanted to Rx workouts and snatch properly and do some muscle ups, but first I had to do things I didn’t want to do.  I had to practice with scaled weights, I had to rehab my shoulder and get it strong, I had to do the drills and practice my butt off day in and day out until finally being able to do these things.
  And this certainly applies to all of you.  You do not get better just by showing up and throwing weight around.   You must dedicate yourself to your goals and embrace doing these things you generally don’t care for (double under anyone?) in order to be able to do everything and anything you want.  It’s not always fun during, but trust me in the end it will be 100% worth it. 
So next time you check the website and you see a workout with a movement – or several movements – you despise, remind yourself of what your goals are and what you are trying to achieve.  And tell yourself that those goals will never be met unless you attack these things head on.  Be relentless in your efforts and I promise you the results will come. 
Simply put:  learn to love those things you hate… and soon will you be able to do the things you love.

We will have open gym from 4:15-6:15 instead of our regular classes. We will close promptly at 6:15. 

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I used to LOVE peanut butter and jelly.  Some fresh bread, a little more peanut butter than jelly, evenly spread as to assure equal amounts of joy in every single bite… yea, that was living.  I would eat about 3 a day, until I realized 15 PB&J sandwiches a week was actually not conducive to my overall health and performance.  Damn Paleo…

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PB&J is delicious... and makes for a great metaphor!

I used to LOVE peanut butter and jelly.  Some fresh bread, a little more peanut butter than jelly, evenly spread as to assure equal amounts of joy in every single bite… yea, that was living.  I would eat about 3 a day, until I realized 15 PB&J sandwiches a week was actually not conducive to my overall health and performance.  Damn Paleo…
   Anyways, I realized that our fitness and our health is a lot like that peanut butter and jelly I used to love so much.  Much like that delicious sandwich, there are three components that are all completely necessary for me to achieve my goals for my own personal health and fitness.  CrossFit, a solid nutritional foundation, and proper recovery are all equally paramount in reaching your goals.  Lets take a look:

  1. CrossFit (“Peanut butter”) – For me this is the best part.  Therefore I usually add a little more of this to my “sandwich” because it makes me so frikkin happy… as does real peanut butter.
  2. Recovery (“Jelly”) – I usually go light on the jelly, as I do on my recovery.  And when I do, I pay for it.  A mouth full of peanut butter and I can barely swallow.  It’s important to match my jelly with the amount of peanut butter, just as it is important to match your recovery to your work outs.  The harder you train, the more recovery you will need. 
  3. Nutrition (“Bread”) – The bread is the foundation of the sandwich… without it, I have no sandwich at all.  Nutrition is the same way.  Train all you want.  Rest all you want.  If you are filling your body up with garbage, you can forget seeing any results.

   If you are not satisfied with your progress, you must first take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself: “Am I really dedicating myself to all three areas?”  It is not an easy thing to do… heck if it was, we would all be walking around shirtless like Joe P. or Chris F.  But the rewards you will reap for discipline in all three are certainly worth it, both in looks and overall health. 
   I have seen all of you give 110% during WODs in the gym.  It is time to put that same level of dedication towards your recovery and your nutrition.  If you already are, keep it up! And if you are not, the time to start is NOW.

   Here is a video of Rich Froning and Dan Bailey doing a lot of snatches in a very short time… let’s see how many times they use poor technique to complete a rep:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boRe82OwxU4
   Damn… how is Froning’s 98th rep going to look better than my first warm up rep with the bar????

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3-2-1... SLOW DOWN!

   Here is a video of Rich Froning and Dan Bailey doing a lot of snatches in a very short time… let’s see how many times they use poor technique to complete a rep:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boRe82OwxU4
   Damn… how is Froning’s 98th rep going to look better than my first warm up rep with the bar????
  Isn’t it interesting how Rich Froning, the two-time CrossFit champion has nearly perfect technique throughout all 98 reps.  His pal Dan Bailey put up an impressive 95 reps, but couldn’t keep up with the great Rich Froning at the end.  Was it because Bailey just isn’t as fit as Froning?  No, I seriously doubt that.  Was it because Froning’s technique is so solid that when fatigue settled in he was able to rely on that sound technique to get through those last 8 reps?  Now that is much more probable. 
   People, I have said this countless times (as have many other smart coaches): it is no coincidence the fittest man in the world Rich Froning also has some of the best technique and mechanics of any athlete in or out of the CrossFit world. 
   This begs the question: if technique is so important to the fittest man in the world, shouldn’t we give a crap about it too?
   Let me help you with that answer… HELL FRIGGIN YES!
   I am growing weary of this “get the weight up at any cost” style of lifting.  I can no longer sit idly by and watch these “kipping” pull ups that look more like a sheet flopping around in the wind hanging from a laundry line than an athlete using his/her body properly to maximize his/her power output in a given workout.  While producing as much intensity as possible is an integral aspect of our conditioning, it cannot be done at the expense of totally ignoring form and technique. 
   Therefore I am challenging all of you to no longer hear the call “3-2-1 GO” and blindly charge your way through another grueling met-con just so you can finish it.  Instead make it “3-2-1 SLOW DOWN and FOCUS on technique!”  Try placing an emphasis on doing all the movements as close to perfect as you possibly can.  Do not get caught up in the clock winding down… and do not EVER feel compelled to keep up with someone else.  These workouts are personal; they are for YOU and YOU only.  If you are in our gym strictly to “beat” other people in workouts, you are probably in the wrong place. 
   Unless that person is Chris Faustino.  ALWAYS try and beat Chris Faustino.  That is just fun.  I should know… I beat him all the time. 
   Moving forward let us all take the time to dedicate ourselves to getting better by actually getting better.  Do the boring drills, take the time for mobility at home, take some weight off the bar and really work on your technique.  Take that one step backward so that you can take countless steps forward.  Stop taking shortcuts and put in the requisite work to become the best you can possibly be. 
   Do that and soon it could be you facing off with Rich Froning, head to head in a contest to determine the fittest on earth. 
   Or maybe face off with Chris Faustino… same amount of abs but you will have a much better chance of winning.

Rx or death. 
   Once upon a time, that was the mantra of me and a few other CrossFitters in the gym.  Heck a t-shirt was even made with a skull on it and the phrase “Rx or Death” written on it.  We meant business. 
   I am hearing this pop up again – not exactly in those words – but I am sensing that a lot of people are really focusing on being able to do more workouts “as prescribed”.  I have addressed this issue in the past but I think it is important to go over… again. 

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As Prescribed..........

Rx or death. 
   Once upon a time, that was the mantra of me and a few other CrossFitters in the gym.  Heck a t-shirt was even made with a skull on it and the phrase “Rx or Death” written on it.  We meant business. 
   I am hearing this pop up again – not exactly in those words – but I am sensing that a lot of people are really focusing on being able to do more workouts “as prescribed”.  I have addressed this issue in the past but I think it is important to go over… again. 
   Just so we are clear, let us define what doing a particular workout “as prescribed” – a.k.a. “Rx” – really means.  Doing a WOD Rx means the following:

  • You are using the assigned weights
  • You are performing the movements to a STANDARD; full range of motion is required for EVERY SINGLE REPETITION
  • Every single rep is completed
  • Ripping your shirt off mid workout even when its 46 degrees in the gym (you know who you are)

   I want to make sure that you all understand that the program we are using for our gym is an extremely advanced one that includes very technical lifts at relatively heavy weights.  This is done on purpose, as we have always believed in programming for the best athletes, and scaling as necessary. 
   It is vital that everyone understands this fact, and understands that scaling is not any kind of indication of not being “fit” or not successfully completing a WOD.  As I previously stated, these WODs are designed with a high degree of difficulty; therefore completing them with scaled weights, movements and/or repetitions is still something to be extremely proud of. 
   I want to remind all of you to place your focus not on completing WODs “as prescribed” but instead on something else I have previously discussed in my blogs: effort.  Listen to your coaches and perform the task before you with every ounce of energy and effort you can muster.  That does not mean blind aggression and it certainly doesn’t mean saying “Screw technique I am doing these 225# power cleans so I can say I went Rx dammit!” 
   CrossFit is weightlifting.  CrossFit is gymnastics.  CrossFit is running and other forms of cardio.  All three of these sports individually are a great physical test for anyone, as they are skills that take a great deal of time to master.  These activities performed irresponsibly can lead to injuries, which in turn lead to a decline in fitness... which I am pretty sure is not our intended result. 
   This blog is to remind all of you that it is mastering technique that should ALWAYS be your primary goal.  Once that is done, than it is time to add weight – in manageable increments – and continue to perform these movements with that same technique.  Once we are able to add weight and NOT LOSE that form, than we can consider moving faster.  As strength and power gains continue to progress, I can assure you that the day will come when you Rx many more workouts than you scale!  HAVE FAITH!!

Injuries suck.  There are few things more frustrating than being unable to perform due to an injury. Throughout my entire life I have had to deal with injuries and since becoming a trainer I have discovered that there is truly only ONE way to guarantee you will never, ever be injured.
   Sit on the couch and watch TV.  All the time. 

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Injuries

Injuries suck.  There are few things more frustrating than being unable to perform due to an injury. Throughout my entire life I have had to deal with injuries and since becoming a trainer I have discovered that there is truly only ONE way to guarantee you will never, ever be injured.
   Sit on the couch and watch TV.  All the time. 
   The fact is with any and all activity there is a chance for something to get tweaked or turned or twisted in a way it perhaps should not.  As your trainer it is my job to minimize that risk, but with any type of movement or exercise it is and always will be an inherent possibility.  It is my job to coach you to use proper technique, to know when to scale and when to take a step back.  But injuries do not always like to cooperate.  You cannot always be ready when they decide to strike.  You cannot predict when and how they will come.  Heck, I have broken my arm playing rugby (twice) but I have also broken my arm just casually riding my bike down the street.  I have gotten stitches from playing baseball but also needed stitches from running down the steps in the dark and crashing into the table. 
   We are incredible creations, with bodies capable of amazing things.  We run marathons, ski down mountains, put on helmets and crash full speed into each other, we race cars at 165MPH around a race track… we do these things because life is about  getting off the couch and doing something!  Life is about experience, adventure, about exploring way beyond your expected limitations. 
   And this is why we CrossFit, because every day I can do just that:  stare down my limitations and then blow right by them.   Along the way I may acquire a few bumps and bruises and few nagging injuries, but this – in my opinion – is a welcome price to pay.
   I do want to take this time to point out that I am not saying injuries are OK.  They are not.  We train and we work hard to prevent and/or rehab any injuries we may sustain.  The beauty of CrossFit is it has both preventative and rehabilitative qualities through its programming.  There are a few points we must always keep in mind, however:

  • Pain is not something to ignore.  Unlike muscle soreness which may be worked through, pain due to an injury must be given proper attention.  Some times that means rest.  Sometimes it means scaling a workout by changing the movements or the reps.  Be smart.  Ask your coach and don’t try and fight through it.
  • CrossFit is great at exposing injuries.  If you spent 15 years at a globo-gym bench pressing improperly, then come in to try ONE overhead squat and think that is what hurt your shoulder, I am afraid you may be mistaken. 
  • There is a doctor in North Jersey, named Dr. Perry Nickelston, who has titled his practice “Stop Chasing Pain”.  His mantra is just that – stop chasing pain!  Your knee hurts?  Take the time to treat your ankles, your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and shoulders.  More often than not the pain your feel is due to a problem stemming from another region in your body!
  • If you are not paying attention to your diet and avoiding foods that cause inflammation in the body, and if you are not taking a steady regiment of fish oil, then stop complaining because you obviously aren’t serious about fixing the problem. 
  • CrossFit can still be CrossFit without you going 100 MPH and ending the WOD in a state of near vomit.   When dealing with an injury, SLOW DOWN.  Lower the intensity if necessary and focus on technique and perfect form.  Drop down the weights, take your eyes off the clock and complete every rep with perfect form.  You should strive for this EVERY day, but when dealing with an injury it becomes even more crucial.

   Therefore, live in a bubble if you want to avoid any chance of injury.  Find a trainer that will baby you and coddle you and drain your bank account while you see little or no results and have as much fun during your workouts as you do sitting in your dentist’s chair.  Never leave your comfort zone and do only what you can do, not what you really want to do. 
   Or come to CrossFit Koa… and change your entire life.  Up to you.

 
   As we enter our third year of operation here at CrossFit Koa, I am overwhelmed with this one thought: 2013 is going to be absolutely AMAZING. 
   And if anyone has any doubt about this, just reflect back on this past week.  PR week.  People all over the gym, throwing up crazy weight every single day in every single class.  We did our conditioning first in most classes, performing workouts that most people would shy away from.  And THEN we went to the barbells and proceeded to put up astonishing numbers.  The shirt doesn’t lie: our warm up really is your workout. 

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2013 - The Year of Koa Nation

 
   As we enter our third year of operation here at CrossFit Koa, I am overwhelmed with this one thought: 2013 is going to be absolutely AMAZING. 
   And if anyone has any doubt about this, just reflect back on this past week.  PR week.  People all over the gym, throwing up crazy weight every single day in every single class.  We did our conditioning first in most classes, performing workouts that most people would shy away from.  And THEN we went to the barbells and proceeded to put up astonishing numbers.  The shirt doesn’t lie: our warm up really is your workout. 
  As the records kept falling and the PR bell kept ringing, I couldn’t help but feel like a proud papa watching his little kids growing up right before his eyes.  So many of you walked in afraid – of the weights, of the workouts, of your ability to make it through a workout.  There was a time many of you cringed at the thought of max efforts and heavy loads… but you listened to us.  You believed in our coaching and now you are reaping the rewards.
   Strength is EVERYTHING.  It is the foundation of your health and your fitness.  Even if your goals are strictly aesthetic in nature, you must embrace a serious strength training program (Arnold Schwarzenegger did not win all those Mr. Universe titles by doing light weights at sets of 30 or spin classes at his local globo gym.)  We have always known and believed in the value and importance of strength training and after two plus years here at CrossFit Koa we are seeing the wondrous results of our dedication to this ideology.  Men and women alike are getting so damn strong, and that is a really, really, really good thing.  After all, like legendary strength coach Mark Rippetoe once said, “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general”. 
   So as we start 2013 I want you all to know you are already off to one helluva start.  Let’s keep this momentum up throughout the entire year.  Let’s set goals – every one of us – and systematically accomplish each and every one of them… together.   We will all get stronger, faster, and as a result probably a whole lot sexier.   Let’s all stick together, support one another and if we do that, I promise you the sky will truly be the limit for you and all your endeavors. 
   2013… the BEST YEAR AT CROSSFIT KOA IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!!! Get on board now people because this is OUR year!!

 

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Garage Games Update

 

We will cover all of the details for Saturday's event on Saturday morning. Please be here by 8:45 (go directly to the back gym). We will go over heat assignments, judging, standards and the flow of the day. Be prepared to compete, judge and help move and set up weights. We plan for the day to go until 1:30. The back gym will be open for warmup throughout the competition.  We will also have First and Second Place prizes and metals for Mens and Womens RX and Scaled Divisions, but not for Beginner (only 2 beginner participants). Tom and Ryan qualify for metals, but not for prizes. If either finish first or second, then the applicable prizes will be awarded to the next person in the running. We also have shirts for all of you who registered before January 1st. We will have them packed and labeled with your names in accordance with the sizes you ordered. In case you do not know what the workouts are, and the standards, they are as follows:

WOD1:
“Helena” 12:00min Time Cap
RX 3rds of 21x 1.5pood (men)/1pood (women) KBswings,12x pull ups, 100x Double Under jump rope.
Scaled 2rds 21x 1.5pood (men)/1pood (women) KBswings,12x jumping pull ups, 200x Single jump rope.
Beginner 1rds 21x 1.5pood (men)/1pood (women) KBswings,12x jumping pull ups, 100x Squats.
SCORE = time in minutes and seconds to complete
Standards:
KB swings – through the crotch to above the head and showing ears with extended arms
Pull-ups – arms fully extended at the bottom to chin over the bar.  For Jumping pull ups the box chosen must be short enough so that your head is at least 6 inches below the bar when standing.
Squats – open hips at the top to hip crease at or below knees at the bottom
___________________________________________________________________________________
WOD2:
“Karena”: 5:00 min time cap
Complete 60 sit-ups as a “buy in” then wall balls till the clock runs out
Competitor chooses ball weight.
Throw to the normal marks (boys 10feet / girls 8feet)
There is no difference between RX, Scaled, and Beginner.
SCORE = wall ball reps x ball weight
If competitor did not get to wall balls, then the score is ZERO
Any ball weight is allowed, you cannot change once you start
Standards:
Sit ups – abmats are fine. Elbows touch knees with feet/heels on the ground (don’t lift knees to meet elbows, it’s a sit-up) to shoulders and hands touching floor/abmat.  Basically do a sit up.  Up and down full ROM.  No anchor or pinning of the feet.  No grabbing your thy.
Wall Ball – crease of hips below knees to ball at touches at or above the target height
___________________________________________________________________________________
WOD3:
“Grace”: 6min cut off (time equals 6:00 if incomplete)
WOD: 30x clean (muscle, power, squat) and jerk/press/push press (aka ground to overhead with a stop at the shoulders). Not a snatch, must be 2 movements.
RX men = 135#, women = 95#
Scaled men = 95#, women = 65#
Beginner men = 65#, women = 45#
Standards:
Ground to Shoulders – anyhow you want as long it’s touching the floor and stops at your shoulders
Shoulders to Overhead – anyhow you want as long as you end with body (knees, hips, shoulders, arms) locked out and return the bar to the floor for the next rep.
If a beginner is doing a naked bar then simply going below the knees is fine.

 

 

This past Saturday morning I woke up early to meet CrossFit Koa legends Cori Harrington, Cristella LaRosa, John Masotti. and Terry Quinn for a friendly little 10K run through the woods.  Unbeknownst to us those woods would be covered in snow and ice, mixed in with jagged rocks, narrow paths and steep cliffs, but still it was a good time.  We ran not to PR a time, not to win a medal, but because we just wanted to… well… run. 

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Have FUN!!!

This past Saturday morning I woke up early to meet CrossFit Koa legends Cori Harrington, Cristella LaRosa, John Masotti. and Terry Quinn for a friendly little 10K run through the woods.  Unbeknownst to us those woods would be covered in snow and ice, mixed in with jagged rocks, narrow paths and steep cliffs, but still it was a good time.  We ran not to PR a time, not to win a medal, but because we just wanted to… well… run. 
   So after over an hour of tip toeing through the extremely dangerous terrain, we headed back to our car.  After saying our goodbyes, we headed back towards civilization (aka out of the woods) to resume our days.  Cori and I headed back to Koa for a meeting and afterwards thought “What the hell lets workout!”  Since open gym was still going on, the atmosphere was just right for a good quick lifting session. 
   Cori went to the back with some other members and squatted (as the shirt implies) LIKE A BOSS.  Josh was snatching, working up to a heavy single (he would eventually PR!) so I figured I would do the same.  I started with a few snatch pulls PLUS a full snatch and was going to switch to singles once I hit about 75% of my max. 
   At least that was my plan.
   I made it to about 70% and started failing.  Sure I didn’t feel great after a morning in the icy woods, but I felt good enough to hit 70% of my max!  But alas, I was missing… and missing bad. 
   I was planning to do clean and jerks as well as front squat, but after bombing out during my snatch session, I just stopped.  I wiped the bar down and put it back.  I was done. 
   “Ryan… you seriously suck.”  That was all I could think. 
   The day went by, Sunday came and I decided to head back into the gym.  I would try again to snatch and surprisingly it went very well.  The weight that I had failed at just 24 hours earlier was now flying over my head.  Hmmmm… go figure.
   “Ryan… you still suck but definitely not as much today!” That was my first thought.
   But it’s my second thought that occurred to me that I wanted to share with you all of you.  My second thought brought me back to the previous morning, running through the trails with friends… for fun.  How have I forgotten that training in the gym is supposed to be fun?  When did this sport of CrossFit and weightlifting that I have come to love so much become a reason to get down on myself?  How did I let that happen?
   Life is too short and I have been blessed with too many things during my lifetime to lose sleep over how much weight I can or cannot lift, or how well I performed in a WOD.  I love CrossFit because every single day in the box is an expression of what my body is capable of doing.  Every single move, every single lift, every single run is a chance for me to be grateful for even being able to do these things. 
   It is understandable to be upset about struggles in the gym, but do not dwell on these moments.  Remember that your failures are all a part of your journey to success, and are therefore just as valuable as anything else you will do in the gym.  Do not make the mistake I made this past weekend and let something meant to build you up knock you down. 
   My message to all of you then is to never lose sight of what CrossFit is and what it is supposed to be.  Run just because you can.  Lift weights because you can.  Compete because you can.  And regardless of the outcome, be proud and be thankful for being able to perform and improve.  Do not settle for anything less than greatness, and waste not a single second wondering when it will come. 
 

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