Don’t Lay Down, Cool Down: A Guide to the Cool Down at Shapesmiths

At Shapesmiths, we warm you up, with general and specific prep work, using the R.A.M.P protocol. In order to maximise training time AND encourage the community hanging out Post-WOD, it’s over to you for the cool down.

We encourage you to grab a class-mate, hang-out and chat whilst you complete an appropriate cool-down.

SO, what to do…simply, a MOVEMENT based cool down, straight after your WOD at Shapesmiths, will begin your body’s recovery process and make your life in the proceeding 72 hours a LOT easier. “Hurrah!” we hear you cry.

Here’s a simple guide to cool-downs, post-WOD.

  1. DON’T LAY DOWN.

CrossFit® should not only strengthen your body but also your mind. For sure, take a knee, or have a seat for a minute, but stay off your back. Sprawling out on the ground, as soon as the WOD is done, makes it look like we’ve been defeated rather than strengthened by the workout.  It’s best to keep moving and start the recovery process immediately. Go for a walk outside, put your kit away and then make your cooldown decision from the below.

  1. Shorter, Intense WODs = A longer cool down.

Examples; Karen (150 wall balls), Fran (21-15-9 Thrusters & Pull-Ups), Isabel (30 power snatch for time)

If you have just done a short, intense WOD, try and sit on an EchoBike, Rowing Machine or walk for 2-3mins outside.  This will bring the heart rate back down and will help flush the blood around your body and remove any nasty metabolites we don’t want in there.

Then focus on movement.

Some of you cycle to and from the gym. This is an AMAZING way of flushing out and beginning the cool down process. Just be sure to include a little more movement such as couch stretch and pigeon pose, twinned with some lunges, when you get off your bike on the other end.

  1. Longer, steady WODs = A shorter cooldown.

Examples; Chipper-style and most Mental Toughness WODs, Murph (1mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, 1-mile run).

These don’t require as much cooling down, as you will have been moving at a consistent pace, without an overly spiked heart rate.  Instead purely focus on movement (see below for more info).

  1. Use Movement, Because Movement > ‘Mobility’/Stretching/Foam Rolling in your cooldown.

The advantage of performing a movement based cooldown is the promotion of oxygenated blood flow into the muscles. This clears out the waste products of training whilst also keeping the muscles understanding the motion that you are trying to restore.

If you can add in some multi-directional, tri-planar motion to your cool down via lunges + reaching. You can even work with a partner and combine a few sets of 10 lunge plus med ball pass to one another. This will help promote the muscles to glide over each other in different directions, thus providing enough friction to help remove some of the adhesions and trigger points caused by repetitive movements, that can occur in day to day life, and in the gym.

Adhesions can form in the areas and directions that the muscles are not being moved in, due to a lack of blood flow and fluid to the area. Trigger points can form in muscles that are repeatedly moving in the same direction due to overload and hypersensitivity.

   5. Repeat what you know from the RAMP

If the above isn’t your jam, you can simply REPEAT the AM) section of our RAMP warm up. That’s the Activation and Mobility section. It should be fresh in your mind and easy to work through.  Head to the dedicated stretching area upstairs on the mezzanine with a class mate and catch up whilst cooling down.

A Note on Foam Rolling.

Foam rolling feels really nice. It really does. It can be a nice way of self massaging post workout too. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the following though:  If you have been foam rolling the same areas, time and time again, for weeks or months, it is indicative that your mechanics aren’t changing for the better. The same areas are likely becoming overworked and hypersensitive for some reason.  Essentially by foam rolling you are treating the symptom not the cause and the foam roller is the paracetamol.

The reasons for the overworked muscles and hypersensitivity can be specific to an individual’s movement mechanics. SO, seeking advice from The Livewell Clinic is recommended to get things checked over and ironed out. It’s very possible that we can address mechanical issues and optimize your cool down. This dual approach can be to the point and very successful.

Certainly, the foam roller can help with the removal of waste products in the body as described above. But we would urge you to limit your time on the roller to 3-5:00 maximum. Whilst laying on the floor you are not spending your time optimally.  When you consider that improving human function in motion is our priority as a CrossFit® gym a whole body movement-based approach to your cooldown is best.

SO, when it’s time to cool down, don’t lay down.  Much love, everyone!

9 things we love…when our members…

We think that our amazing community does a stellar job of helping the coaches and owners maintain our arches and help day to day to keep things running smoothly. Below are 9 of the things we love when you all…

  1. arrive on time for class. In fact, we love it when folks get in early and mobilise/perform movement prep for specific body parts that need special attention. We know sometimes life gets in the way, trains/late meetings etc. but we love when you check ahead on the trains and allow additional travel time.

  2. come in knowing what the context of the day is. This makes sure we are all on the same page. If you come in a little sleep-deprived to a benchmark or resilience day, that’s totally OK.  Just let the coach know what’s going on in your life and we can make a game-time decision on what’s best. If you would like some help with sleep & nutrition, pH Nutrition, lead by Liam Holmes, are your go-to in-house experts on that. When Practice days are here, thats our aim. To get better at skills.

  3. Bring the correct gear in their gym bag. It’s great to see lots of members are educated on correct footwear and some sort of gymnastic grips to protect their hands.  We would also recommend that you have a skipping rope set up for yourself too! They are a bit like wands in Harry Potter, you need your own, they are unique to you and they can be used to Expelliarmus bad feels 😉  If you have none of those things and are unsure of the correct footwear etc drop us a message!

  4. Wait until all members are done before starting to pack away their kit. It’s the worst thing to be finishing a workout, working as hard as you can and the rest of the class is cleaning and chatting it up. When we see our members offer up some gentle encouragement it warms our hearts! Obviously, two caveats to this are that some may not want/need the encouragement and sometimes the coach may have given specific instructions for a cleanup.

  5. wear clean clothes and deodorant. We sweat a LOT at Shapesmiths. Very easily clothing can pick up smells, especially some technical apparel. So we appreciate everyone that wears clean clothes and wears deodorant/antiperspirant to keep the place smelling so fresh and so clean-clean.

  6. cancel classes with enough notice: This is especially awesome as it opens up precious spaces for other members keen to train that day. The notice required is 2 hours for ANY class AFTER 8AM and before 10PM the night before if attending a morning class BEFORE 8AM.

  7. take pride in your gym space. Not just in class, but in open gym too. It helps us so much when you all help to clean up, wipe down equipment and anywhere chalk has touched. Tidying odd things around the room like the J-cups, putting the benches back, tidying change plates away and picking up thumb tape win extra points too 😉

  8. sign into open gym. It’s super simple via the kiosk. Here’s a step by step if you’re not sure: https://youtu.be/fCa92LVyXjs you can use any computer/TV set up in the gym.

  9. have fun and play. We love it when everyone is learning, challenging themselves and having fun. Simple as that. The more smiles and laughs the better

THE LAST WORD ON PROGRAMMING.

I have ‘sat on’ this post for quite a while. I was trying to think of the best way to put it in my own words. However, the CrossFit Level Two Training Guide and Workbook is so well written, in parts, that it’s best I share big chunks of it with you and then elaborate slightly in my own words.  

Hopefully, the previous three instalments of ‘How it All Works’ have gone some way to ensuring you know we have your best fitness interests at heart and that there is at least a clear method to how we program. In the ‘THE LAST WORD ON PROGRAMMING’ I would like to go one-step further down the rabbit hole to answer some oft debated points. 

THE MAIN TAKE-AWAY ON PROGRAMMING.

What the Guide Says: ‘Programming, whether “good” or “bad,” is secondary to effective coaching, appropriate scaling, using sound mechanics, and a group dynamic conducive to pushing oneself (i.e., highest intensity brought to the work). Even with less-than-optimal programming, a trainer with a good eye for movement mechanics, and who develops a good rapport with his clients, will help clients improve their fitness for years. Functional movements performed at high intensity, regardless of how well they are combined and varied, are powerful enough to elicit dramatic changes in one’s health and performance, particularly for the unaccustomed.’ ‘For any level of athlete, a well-varied program should cover many different aspects of fitness. As an athlete becomes more advanced (e.g., CrossFit Games competitor [regionals and beyond too]), additional time may be needed improving weaknesses in addition to regular programming.’  

What Shapesmiths Say: In short, we really hope that you guys value the coaching quality and know that every day the growing team is striving to develop as coaches and improve our knowledge, to help you all. Weaknesses shouldn’t be shirked away from. If you know that you need to improve a basic skill like running, don’t avoid those types of workout when they pop up. Instead relish the opportunity to improve.  Check in with your coach if you don’t feel suitably challenged, it may be that we need to work a skill more to unlock a new intensity or you are indeed ready to modify up, to make things a little harder.   

WORKING WEAKNESSES    

What the Guide Says:A weakness is a certain skill that is lacking relative to an athlete’s proficiency in other areas. By improving one’s capacity in these weak areas, the athlete’s overall fitness increases. Effective CrossFit programming by itself is weakness development. With well-varied, unbiased combinations of loads, time duration, movements, etc., clients inevitably see improvements in their fitness for years. Over the months and years, just performing the elements one struggles with will improve one’s proficiency in these movements. An athlete may choose to do additional weakness work to accelerate progress and will likely find this also improves strengths. It is also a good consideration for a client that has reached a plateau.’   ‘It is unlikely that the programming needs to change drastically to address weaknesses, particularly for an affiliate or large group setting. Further, trying to tailor the program to every individual weakness is impossible. The best the trainer can do is to observe and respond to the general trends in the gym and provide well-varied programming consistently.’  

What Shapesmiths Say: In our box, Shapesmiths coaches get a real kick out of seeing its members come in on their first day a little nervous and over a few months end up making huge progress. If you ever feel like you have ‘plateaued’ come and talk to your coach and we will talk it through and see whether that is actually the case. Personal bests come in many forms, not just in kilos or seconds.  If you have time, using open gym could be a great shout for you! We have an open gym guide that is housed in our Facebook Members Page. It has an excellent supplemental strength program, gymnastics program and engine program. All three of these are also covered off in regular class programming too in the form of the Weightlifting Class, Engine and Shapesmiths Gymnastics. 

Also, don’t underestimate NUTRITION to help you through plateaus. It is the BASE of the fitness pyramid, after all.   Get in touch if you are keen to address this.  

ADVANCED-LEVEL ATHLETES.  

What the Guide Says:   ‘These are those that can perform all workouts and movements as prescribed in the workout of the day (Rx). Typically, these athletes either came to CrossFit after years of performing some functional movements at high intensities (e.g., collegiate gymnast) or they have been doing CrossFit consistently for years. There are times a trainer needs to scale this athlete due to sickness, injury, personal problems, or a recent string of difficult/demanding workouts. Occasionally suggesting a variation with lower loading and/or repetitions benefits the advanced athlete both physically and/or mentally.’  

What Shapesmiths Say: Our aim, via appropriate scaling, is to get everyone to a point where they can Rx workouts. However, this is not at the expense of having fun and enforcing correct mechanics. As the gym’s ‘training age’, defined here as: ‘the gym’s members total time, exposed to the elements of CrossFit’, increases you will look around the gym and see more and more people Rx-ing WODs.   This Advanced level, should not be confused with Elite Level, which is those that would be going to Semi Finals, (formerly sanctionals and Regionals) and the CrossFit Games. That is less than one percent of the whole population of CrossFitters and although a nice thing to have in a gym is not Shapesmiths primary focus.  We hope that the more advanced athletes at Shapesmiths know that we will continue to apply the same principles of athlete development to them and that sometimes it is totally OK to scale a workout back, no matter who the athlete is. 

ONE OF THE 4 MAJOR PROGRAMMING PITFALLS.

What the Guide Says:  ‘CrossFit programmers may be tempted to use excessive volume. This occurs with more than one training session a day (i.e., double days). In some cases, athletes may even attempt more than two sessions. This pitfall affects those trying to emulate the volume sometimes used by CrossFit Games athletes. Games athletes’ training is not representative of what CrossFit programming should look like. Multiple sessions a day are not appropriate for 99 percent of CrossFit athletes (less than one percent of those who participate in the Open go to the Games). ‘   ‘Even multiple workouts in one extended “session” should generally be avoided. Extra sessions and/or extra workouts may help performance in the short term but often lead to overtraining, higher risk of injury, and burnout in the long term. Double days help Regional or Games athletes prepare for high-volume competition and can help them get in more volume so they can advance certain skills relative to their competitors. Generally, however, there is actually a decrease in intensity across sessions. ‘  

‘ “Be impressed by intensity, not volume.” If a client is looking to be competitive, very gradually and cautiously increase volume. For example, start with additional skill sessions (e.g., double-under practice) in areas in which the athlete is not as proficient, not multiple workouts. Look at CrossFit.com and assess what the athlete cannot complete, then add “volume” by way of working on these skills. The volume should gradually increase over the long term.’

What Shapesmiths Say: Nothing to add.   

END 

How it all works: Shapesmiths Coaching & Programming Part III

Goal Setting, Judging Potential & Modifying workouts.  

An important point to note. Here at CrossFit® Shapesmiths We Don’t Judge Potential.

Belief is the main tenet that all our coaches at Shapesmiths are here to re-enforce. We all understand it’s really important to focus on sensibly building self-belief within our members. In short, we care.

Any major goal, lose 30 kilos, get off diabetes medication, compete. We don’t judge a person’s potential. We are here to try and help by setting clear thought out goals. When talking about goals relative to CrossFit® specifically it’s important to utilise the three types of personal best numerical, technical and consistency. This could apply to any skill or lift and will help keep your progress in an upwards trend.               

Scaling/Modification is a huge part of what we do at CrossFit® Shapesmiths. Modification is, simply put, a way of preserving the stimulus or intent of the workout.   

A long term goal of modification is to create the ability to perform workouts ‘as prescribed’ or Rx. A properly scaled workout maximises relative intensity (load, speed, range of motion) to continue developing increased work capacity, despite limitations.   At Shapesmiths when modifying your workout the coach goes through a two-part process. Firstly, the coach addresses the intent of the workout, and secondly the individual needs of the client.   The intent of the workout can be broken down into three parts: 

  1. Target Time Domain: How long should the workout take?
  2. Target Intensity: At what pace should the athlete be moving through the exercises?
  3. Target Movement Patterns: What general movement patterns (squat, hip hinge, vertical press, vertical pull, etc) should the athlete be developing?  

Individual athlete needs can be broken down into three parts:   

  1. Limiting Factors: What particular facets of the workout limit the client?
  2. Impact on Intent: In what way(s) would allow the client to attempt the workout as RX’d preclude them from achieving the desired intent?
  3. Safety Precautions: Are any aspects of the workout a risk to the client?

As an example, take the following workout:  

21-15-9 for time: Deadlift, 85kg/65kg Bar Facing Burpees  

-Target Time Domain can be estimated at 5 minutes or less -Target Intensity is high, this is obviously designed to be a scorcher of a workout

-Target Movement Patterns are a hip hinge and a movement to get the client down to the floor and then up and over an object  

Here are some potential individual needs:  

A member has a 1RM deadlift of 100kg. 85kg will likely be too heavy to maintain the target intensity or time domain, so the simple answer is to reduce the load.  

A member who has poor position, when deadlifting from the floor, and the coach deems it unsafe to allow them to perform the movement at high intensity and for repetitions. In order to maintain the hip hinge movement pattern, a deadlift from an elevated surface, or a kettlebell swing, may be an effective substitute.  

A member has poor cardiovascular conditioning and will be unable to complete the workout as prescribed at a high intensity. Reducing the reps to 15-12-9 is a simple way to reduce the endurance requirements of the workout and help keep the intensity

An overweight client has a lot of trouble with burpees and will likely be very slow. Additionally, the coach deems that having them jump forward over the barbell will be unsafe. Scale the movement to a squat thrust (down to top of push-up position, stand back up) and stepping over the bar will both increase the intensity and keep the client safe. 

Hopefully the last three parts of this series give you a good insight into the how and why of what we do.  Coming NEXT will be a bonus feature called The last word on Programming and getting better at CrossFit®.  Stay tuned…

How it all works: Shapesmiths Coaching & Programming Part II

CrossFit is a LIFETIME PROGRAM.

If Shapesmiths are running athletes, or allowing athletes to run themselves into the ground, you won’t be here in 6 months time. This is meant to be a lifetime relationship that we are developing with you.

Fitness is typically described by this original  ‘What is Fitness article’ and by the Fitness Pyramid shown here

The one thing that it does not consider is mental and psychological fitness. This is why we add a final foundation, below nutrition, CONTEXT.

Context is provided by programming that recognises that as an athlete you have a load of movements to learn, let’s practice some days, let’s compete against the clock a few days and let’s test our resilience once in a while. Context allows you to take the pressure and stress off yourself when in the gym. Sometimes, it’s good just to move and nourish the body after a long stressful day! The programming itself is intended as a MIND over BODY plan. Come in a nourish your brain, socialise, have fun, let off steam, chat and discuss if you like. Shapesmiths is a place where we want you to feel at home!

Programming.

Programming works over multiple 10 day micro-cycles, Monday to Friday (5 days) x 2 weeks. This gives us 10 days, or our 100% in this case. We leave weekends open for organic fluctuation such as team workouts, fun challenges, fundraisers, box ‘throw-downs’, BBQs, track sessions, bike rides, swim days and more…

Prepare for some percentages to be thrown at you below…

How the programming is split up.

P = Practice Days and make up 60% of training days.

B = Benchmark Days and makes up 30% of training days.

R = Resilience Days and makes up 10%

50% of Benchmark days are movements that we are working on as a gym in a particular training cycle.

The other 50% are something we are not practicing. This preserves some of the unknown and unknowable philosophy that CrossFit® is famous for. 

The above equalises the training exposure and experience. A particular 12-week cycle is broken down further into a 6-week block. Every so often we repeat lifts and workouts to get a test/retest result, or else how do we know we have improved?

P days look like regular workouts, it’s just Practice and Training is prioritised going into the workout. 80% of these days will be interval based efforts to preserve technique. For example, EMOMs, 3-5mins of work with 2 mins rest x3 etc.

B days prioritise going hard and challenging yourself to beat a previous record.

Furthermore, in each two week block the three competition days feature one phosphogenic, one glycolytic and one oxidative test. In other words, one test that lasts 0-10 seconds (like lifting a 1-3rep max deadlift), one that lasts for up to several minutes (like the workout Fran or Helen) and one that lasts for longer than several minutes, like Barbara.

R days more than anything are opportunities to work on breath and mind control. The idea is simple yet challenging to master: Control your breath and thoughts. Generally, we turn off the clock for these workouts. If you walk away from the workout with a sense that you were able to calm your mind and negative thoughts through breath, then you’re headed in the right direction. 

Within our R days we would like you all to practice 4 tools to deal with the adversity of the WOD, in the hope, this crosses over to other areas of our lives.

  1. Visualisation: Imagining success, with a lift, a set of thrusters, a set of/your first pull up/s. You can do this before class or simply take a moment to do this during class.
  2. Setting small, achievable goals: This is easy to practice when you see a MT Chipper WOD. Don’t think about the big set of 100 DB squat snatches you have to do, instead break this down into manageable sets of 5-10reps. This success with the little things will add up.
  3. Breathing: One of the most under trained elements of fitness training and in life. Use the MT sessions to practice controlling the way you breathe, deep slow breathing in through the nose (unless your previous rugby/boxing career has left you with a deviated septum) and out through the mouth to reduce tension. Breathing has a two-way relationship with biochemical, biomechanics and psychophysiological systems of the body. Don’t over look this element.
  4. Positive self-talk: Assertive positive statements like: ‘I CAN do this’, reminding yourself to ‘stay calm and keep moving forward’ can be game changers. Turn up the positive chatter in your head when times get uncomfortable during a WOD.

What is the program set up to achieve? What are the main aims and goals?

1)    There are ten recognized general physical skills within CrossFit®’s definition of fitness. They are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. The first aim of the program is to make you competent in each of these ten skills.

2)    Measurable, Repeatable, Observable. The fact that we use WODify to track your fitness data allows us to quantify, to some extent, the 10 physical skills. Furthermore the CrossFit Open is the major test that we program for at CrossFit Shapesmiths. It brings the worldwide, and local community together. It is a great too to get valuable date and to compare your fitness/work capacity against previous tests and those in your country, Europe and worldwide.

3)    Becoming very good at everything and giving the CrossFit® Open a go!

In short by developing the above general physical skills you will become prepared for the unknown and unknowable tasks that may come up or that you may get yourself into.

A quick note on athletic development.

What if you desperately want that elusive muscle up or bodyweight snatch? This is where the context comes in from our coaches. You may hear us say ‘’You’re not there, yet. We have to work the foundational basics to get you there’’ and then we will insert an appropriate scale/modification. We may also reccomend that you get in to our Shapesmiths Gymnastics classes on a Friday night.

What if you want to go hard every session? Well that’s understandable. The high intensity workouts are what we all fell in love with, but at some point if we are not working the basics, something is going to give and we won’t have you as a member.

Getting that balance right is blending science and art. The ability to do so is what we look for in all our coaches here.

The neat thing about this is that it means that all our coaches can coach anyone from general populations to games athletes as no one is above doing the basics otherwise known as ‘doing the common, uncommonly well.’

In Part III we cover Goal Setting, Judging Potential & Modifying workouts. Once again, if you enjoy this or one of the other posts tag a friend from the gym and get the word out there.

How it all works: Shapesmiths Coaching & Programming Part I

This brief series of posts will cover the context behind our programming structure. Doing the common, uncommonly well is something that we strive daily to achieve. This is how we translate this philosophy into our daily programming and coaching.

The 7 foundational movement categories that we work with as athletes are:

  1. Running
  2. Jumping
  3. Pushing & Pressing
  4. Pulling
  5. Squatting
  6. Flexion & Extension
  7. Rotating & Twisting

Every iteration of the above must be developed in a specific order. We must first develop the correct and safe movement pattern. Second we must develop a consistent, replicable and effective movement pattern before finally allowing an individual to add intensity.

Movement, Mechanics, Intensity is our mantra.  It should be yours too.

This means that our coaches must modulate the learning process. The coaches job at Shapesmiths is to slow you down, promote perfect practice and control intensity, until you are able to do it for yourself.  A pinch of patience and persistence is needed here.

It helps to remember that Olympic athletes that compete in just one discipline, sprinting in a straight line for instance, are never done with that ONE movement. In CrossFit® we combine 50+ movements over the course of a month and deliver them to you with only a little coaching each week.

In short this means PRACTICE is the priority of all our athletes and explains why the workouts at Shapesmiths are made up of 60% worth of Practice days. Remember, mastery only comes with exposure and time.

The next installment will give you further insight into the way the programming is structured to get you ready for the greatest community builder in the world of CrossFit®, The CrossFit® Open…

Ring Muscle Ups: A quick guide for everybody.

Below, is a break down the Ring Muscle Up. It’s written as simply as possible, so we can get more of you flying through the skies of our gym when the time comes.

Firstly, for a gymnast, performing the ring muscle-up is the equivalent of a rally car driver opening the door of his car in order to start the motor and drive away. For us CrossFitters who want nail this skill we want to say it IS on the table if you put in the hard graft and give it enough time. 

Below are some bullet points, explaining where your body needs to be bolstered to achieve the ring muscle up. 

  • Upper body pulling strength: You need to be able to consistently perform chest to bar and even weighted strict pull-ups. If you come along to class on the regular the pull-ups will begin to happen. If you move your membership up a notch it will happen even faster. In the not too distant future we will look at adding some Skills classes. Any techniques you learn in WOD or Skills class can also be applied to your open gym practice.
  • Ring Dips: These things get worked quite often at Shapesmiths. Multiple deep and full range reps transfer over to the ring muscle up! If you don’t have Ring Dips, work box dips and variations including negatives and band assisted.
  • Scapular strength & experience of the ‘transition’: Scapular strength is developed in many ranges and planes at our gym. When we then get specific with something like our favourite Ring Muscle Up Transition Drill we start to cook on gas. One of the best videos to explain how to practice the transition is found here: https://youtu.be/wxzOrYbSf5k it’s also great for shoulder strength!
  • Poor mobility: This is what it is. Some of you come in with years of the sport, prior niggles and injuries and/or sitting at a desk. It is SO important that we get you looked after by the Livewell Clinic medical team. The usual culprits here can be lack of thoracic & shoulder mobility. 
  • The Wrist: For the strict ring muscle up and kipping, in most cases, you are going to need to develop your ‘False Grip’. Developing forearm and/or wrist strength, as well as flexibility, will be key here. A big tip is: whenever you ring row in a warm-up or WOD add in a false grip
  • Body Composition. An often non-discussed part of pull-ups and muscle ups in CrossFit gyms. Ultimately, if you are carrying excess body fat and have not developed the amount of useful, lean muscle mass you need to master your bodyweight and get up and over the rings/pull-up bar, progress may be slow. To focus on your power:body mass ratio it’s quite simple at Shapesmiths. Our own Nutritionists Liam Holmes & Chloe Salter (pH nutrition) offer a free 15min chat, on-site, about your nutrition and tailoring it to your goals.

What if you are set and have all of the above sorted? 

  1. The Kip Swing: This must be strong and well developed, with rhythm. Hit up both Hollow arch and hold positions on the floor then take them to the rings. The hollow body is LIFE. Or, use this brilliant towel drill.
  2. Use your legs & hips BEFORE pulling with your arms: This rule is true of many CrossFit movements. Push Press, Handstand Push Ups, Snatch, Clean and Jerk. The list goes on. Everything is everything.
  3. The Iceberg: Unlike an iceberg, where over 90% of its mass is below water and it STILL floats. You won’t have multiple muscle ups if 90% of your mass is below the rings. You’ll have struggle ups. Correct this by putting points 1&2 into action.

  1. Gripping the Rings to death. You need to look at allowing your hand to relax slightly as you transition between the kip swing and the dip. Developing to a hybrid grip may also help.

  1. Kipping the dip. If you are trying to link multiple reps, you must.kip.the.dip. There are two ways to do this and I or any of the coaches are happy to show anyone who has the rest of the above down pat and perfected. Simply drop us a message at hello@crossfitshapesmiths.co.uk

BONUS LINK: Muscle Up Efficiency Tips with Chris Spealler

Shapesmiths Guide: Pregnancy & CrossFit® Part I

[Written by Evelyn Stevenson (pictured) and Lee Steggles] With our CrossFit® gym being in Clapham Junction, we are at the epicentre of family life in London.  With so many lush green spaces and sizable housing it lends itself well to starting a family here. 

Our experience and resources. 

At Shapesmiths we have had, over the past 5 years, the pleasure of helping 15+ pregnant members who continued to train through a large portion of their pregnancy. Some members have had two pregnancies with us! 

We wanted to share some resources that the coaching team periodically review.  They are not only a lesson in how to tackle training whilst pregnant (spoiler alert: we simply modify the workout and include you in the process) they also serve as a lesson on how to work with whatever fitness level you find yourself at when you start at Shapesmiths. 

First thing, first… check this article out from the CrossFit® Journal: PREGNANCY, A PRACTICAL GUIDE

It is a perfect primer for not only someone who is trying for a child, is pregnant or is post-partum, but also for anyone who is new to CrossFit® believe it or not! Of particular note is the fact that your coaches will be striving to tailor your class experience with relative intensity in mind. Everything should be relative to YOU, right!? 

To quote the article “The purpose of this article is not to defend a woman’s right to CrossFit® through pregnancy, nor to debate the safety of doing so. The purpose is only to share with the CrossFit® community a template for scaling CrossFit® movements for pregnant women.”

This PDF is a great ‘Practical Guide to Scaling’ for Pregnancy. Note: another definition of scaling is ‘modifying movements, to preserve the intended stimulus that day.’ 

Here’s the guide: PDF PREGNANCY TABLE 

Coming up in part two:

We cover things to look out for in the:

  • First Trimester
  • Second Trimester
  • Third Trimester & Postpartum

If you have any questions about your pregnancy or need any advice, fire an email to hello@shapesmiths.com or you can grab a Shapesmiths coach, Eve or Lee and we will make sure you get the care and information that you need.

Skipping Ropes and Choosing yours.

If you are new to CrossFit® there’s two accessories that have the potential to speed up your progress. 1. A flat soled pair of shoes (Nanos, Metcons, No Bull, Inov8, Vans etc) and 2. your own skipping rope. 

The shoes are a cinch. Head to Whatever it Takes near St. Pauls, London or order a bunch in your size online, try them on and see what you like. As long as they have a stable base, a flat sole and feel like they fit your feet well when you lunge, squat and jump you can’t really go far wrong.  The rope, however, seems to be a bit trickier. 

If we press the simplify button and K.I.S.S this jump rope problem, you need your own rope to be suitable for your arm length and your height. How do you achieve that? Grab your own ADJUSTABLE rope from Amazon that fits your budget, have a small screwdriver and pair of snips ready and get to skipping, testing the correct length via trial and error. 

Snip off a little at a time and you’ll soon have a rope you can throw in your kit bag and whip out (pun intended) when there’s skipping in the WOD at Shapesmiths.

It’s such a great investment and serves to be an amazing portable fitness tool that can form part of a workout, anywhere you have the space! 

Basic Brands: 

Consider these to dip your toe in before buying an expensive £30+ rope:

5£ or less: https://amzn.to/32AvPpK  or https://amzn.to/3arVo0S

5-10£ range: https://amzn.to/3n4VDno

10-20£ range: https://amzn.to/

Popular Brands: 

Rx Smart Gear

ROGUE EUROPE

By having your very own rope, customised for your body, you’ll be a skipping fiend in no time.

Becoming a CrossFit® coach: some advice.

[written by Lee Steggles, 16 APR ‘21] 

We [Shapesmiths] go through periods where almost weekly, we receive lovely job applications to work as a CrossFit® coach at Shapesmiths. Some are super experienced CrossFit® coaches, some have no experience in the fitness industry, some have experience elsewhere but not in CrossFit® coaching and some have just passed their CF-L1. 

This article is to give those with little experience in CrossFit® some insight and advice on what you can do to get experience and work towards becoming a fully rounded CrossFit® coach. 

Insight: first and foremost at Shapesmiths we really care that our coaches care. Totally and genuinely. Those whose natural state is to help others and care for their mental and physical wellbeing stand out miles from the crowd. This is the foundation upon which it is easy to build the requisite skill-sets as a Shapesmith.  

How do I become a coach / get experience if no one will give me experience?

Well, after sending in a CV and covering letter to make contact and state your intention to coach or develop as a coach, start by booking a class and afterwards meeting the owner/s. Get a feel for the community, the coaching and the facility that you could potentially be working in. 

Past this point we have laid out some of the key things that we would advise you to do, to get more experience and continue your CrossFit® coaching development. 

  1. If you haven’t already taken your CFL1 Online or IN PERSON. It’s literally the first step to take that shows you are serious about coaching CrossFit® as a career.  It’s a very well designed course that will light a fire of continuous professional development, in a variety of ways. 
  2. Head to oc.crossfit.com and take a look at the online courses. Start with the more practical ones, Scaling Course & Session Planning and build from there. 
  3. Consider gathering some friends and start a regular training group to coach and practice what you have and are learning. You’ll need to grab some insurance for that. It’s always good to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.  Plus, you will be able to use the insurance later on in a coaching job or when personal training.  
  4. Shadowing & observation are key. This doesn’t have to be exclusively in a CrossFit® gym. You may have friends that coach gymnastics, running, weightlifting, rowing etc. Check them out. You need to start to appreciate the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to coaching. 
  5. Visit other CrossFit® gyms. You’ll pick up an appreciation for other affiliates. How they operate, their values and how they make you feel when you visit. Their vibe attracts their tribe as the cliche goes.
  6. If you find a CrossFit® gym you really want to work in, join that gym. Day to day you will pick up, subtly, the way they do things from a coaching perspective.  You’ll form lasting relationships and you’ll know the team. 
  7. Continuous professional development. As a heads up, we should all know that learning never stops. I’ve been in the fitness industry for 20 years now, i’ve tackled two sport and physiology based degrees and I am constantly learning. What’s more, there’s heaps still to learn AND keep up to date with. Being open is highly important, as is being able to examine the efficacy of any information coming your way. 

Remember, even after following all of the above there’s still water to pass under the bridge. It could take some time before you are working where you want to work as a coach. Every aspiring coach develops at different speeds and so it’s important to be patient and persistent with your development. 

To go into this pursuit with your eyes open, you should consider that sometimes you may not be a perfect fit for a space, at the point at which you are NOW in your coaching career. But that’s not to say you won’t be in the future. In some gyms remember that the coaching roster may be full, with no additional hours available. Some gyms run an internship program and some don’t, for various reasons. Time constraints, financial reasons & hiring policy will all influence the decision to have one. For those that have an internship program, remember that there may or may not be a job waiting at the end of it but it’s all good experience (as long as that internship is paid in some way). 

Below I have listed out some practical examples of CPD learning you could use to enhance your CrossFit® coaching abilities, with a view to becoming a CrossFit® coach.  I would even go as far to say that these examples are important for those who are already CrossFit® coaches. In fact they feature in the Shapesmiths CPD Guide, which our coaches receive during their induction phase. 

I hope this article has been helpful and if you have any further questions, drop us a line via hello@shapesmiths.com

N.B. This list has been adapted from work done by the Allied Health Professions’ project ‘Demonstrating competence through CPD’ (2003)

Work-based learning                                        

–  Learning by doing                                     

–  Case studies (covering diabetes, metabolic syndromes, aging, cancer, obesity etc)

–  Reflective practice after coaching. 

–  Conversations with members about their learning styles.

–  Coaching from others or being coached. 

–  Discussions with fellow coaches.

–  Peer review sessions.  Get a peer to watch you coach and feedback on the good the bad and the ugly.              

–  Involvement in the wider, profession- related work of your employer (for example, being a representative on a committee)

–  Work shadowing.

–  CrossFit® Journal Club, start one / be in one.                           

–  In-house training through team meetings. 

–  Supervising Apprentice Coaches. 

–  Expanding your role

–  Significant analysis of events

–  Filling in self-assessment questionnaires

Professional activities

– Organising CrossFit Journal club sessions or other specialist group gatherings.

– Maintaining or developing specialist skills.

– Giving presentations at conferences. 

Longer term this could be:

– Being a tutor/examiner (CF Flowmaster or Seminar Staff or SME)

– Supervising research or new coaches. 

                    

Formal and educational                    

–  CrossFit® related subject matter courses in person or online.

–  Further Education (Degrees, NVQs etc)

–  Research into pertinent topics (Disease states, Mental Health and the like) 

–  Attending seminars & conferences. 

–  Writing articles on subjects you are keen to distill your knowledge down on. 

–  Distance or online learning

–  Going on courses accredited by a professional body

                            

Self-directed learning

– Reading journals or articles

– Reviewing books or articles

– Updating your knowledge through the internet or TV

– Keeping a file of your progress

                            

Other

– Relevant public service or voluntary work

–  Involvement in a professional body, specialist-interest group or other groups

–  Lecturing or teaching

–  Mentoring