Home truths about working from home…

working from home

Shapesmiths coach, Karima Adi takes us through some home truths, when it comes to working from home! She lays out how to look after your posture whilst at your desk during lockdown…

Lockdown 3.0 sees many of us working from home and therefore from the (dis)comfort of our kitchen tables, counters, desks, sofas and everything in between.

Not having the gym to access for our fitness for the time being also means that our work at home area has also become our workout area, meaning that our current level of activity & movement is further reduced. This means that we are spending a lot more time sitting, and most of that for extended periods of time. 

So if we are going to spend more time sitting/working, then it’s imperative that we look at adopting postures that ensure that we’re not upsetting the delicate balance of our bodies even further.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO to look after your posture whilst at your desk during lockdown and ensure that your work station is set up as well as it can possibly be to aid us in working as discomfort free as possible?

STEP 1 – DO NOT SIT for more than 15 minutes at a time

What happens when we sit for too long?

  • The psoas along with various other muscle tissues begins to shorten in an effort to keep our torso stable, due to your glutes essentially being switched off when you’re in a seated position. When this occurs over long periods of time, you may notice that it feels more difficult or uncomfortable to stand up fully/extend.

As Crossfitters & Weightlifters we are extension driven – compromising that by sitting for too long can therefore compromise the integrity of our athletic performance.

  • Can you take a meeting/work call on a walk? We know right now it’s often grey, dark and rainy, but the movement will be well worth it! Just have a warm shower, a hot cup of coffee and your comfies ready for when you get back!

STEP 2 – Let’s take a look at your workstation: 

  • Are you sitting or standing to work?
  • If you’re sitting, what is your set up?
  • What is the angle of your forearms/elbows to the floor?

Ideal working set up: standing vs sitting

Sitting:- what is the BEST set up if you’re going to be sitting down whilst working from home?

  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Roll your shoulders back 
  • Move every 15 mins – SET AN ALARM
  • If moving every 15mins is not possible, figure an interval that works for you and set THAT up as an alarm!

Standing:- though this is a lot better for you, standing for long periods of time is not the most comfortable thing to do.

How do we make this more comfortable and more efficient?

  • Have something (stack of books etc) to put one foot on to take the extension load out of the spine and support it accordingly by adding a little bit of neutral flexion.
  • Adding a bar stool/high chair to the mix means that even though you are sitting down, not doing so fully and you are STILL weight bearing meaning you haven’t switched the entire musculature system off completely, hanging on your connective tissue.

STEP 3 – Breathing

  • Can you take a deep breath in your work set up position? If you’re in a “bad” position, the answer is most likely NO.
  • Add some breathing exercises: 
  1. Box breathing (In for 5/ hold for 5/ out for 5/ hold for 5 [seconds]) 
  2. In for 6, hold for 6, out for 10 [seconds]


Roll your shoulders encouraging an externally rotated (as opposed to internally rotated) position. Opens up the ches, allows for better breathing.

Get up every 15-20 mins – perform a few air squats perhaps.

Spend some of your working day standing – BUT do so with the correct set up – it needn’t be expensive to set up, stacks of books are the perfect tools!

Roll/rotate your wrists so they don’t stiffen up only ever perched in a typing-ready position – imagine a front rack position with super tight wrists – NOT FUN

So there you have it. Some sage advice, but now it’s time to put it into practice and make it a habit. To accompany this article, I’ll be delivering a short webinar via the Shapesmiths Members Page. Stay tuned for the date announcement!

Plan the week, Zoom WODs & how they help.

We are 10 days deep into Lockdown 2.0 and we really are here to keep you moving.

We have a number of programs online led by our lovely coaches, that we would love for you to get involved with. But first, we have a few recommendations on how best to set up your week with our offerings.

Set up for a great week!

  1. Pick the classes that you will do each day, a couple days or a week in advance. You can choose a mix of Live WOD classes and Broomstick Weightlifting with Yoga, Mobility, Running, Cycling & Handstand Sessions either Live or on catch up. 
  2. If you have planned your movement for the week you will be able to work in your food to fuel and recover which is super important. This will have huge carry over to your work productivity too and most likely will reduce decision stress. Which sounds pretty good to us. Stuck for ideas on what to cook? Check out pH Nutritions recipes and tips here: https://phnutrition.co.uk/recipes
  3. Set yourself little goals and targets for the week. For example: Basic: Aim to run twice per week Advanced: Aim to run 15-20km next week. Cover off Coach Mark’s Cycling challenge. Attend two online zooms next week. Complete two mobility sessions with Karima and JJ.
  4. Finally remember, that it’s OK to do just a little bit of the above. The goals that you set should be personal and should not be too overwhelming. It could even be that you will get up at a regular wake time each day or simply  cook enough dinner to have it for lunch the next day too.

How will the Zoom WODs help me?

In our programming we utilise ‘Functional Movements’ that have huge carry over to many other movements. These are technically described as ‘Universal Motor Recruitment Patterns’. The best way to explain this is that Universal Motor Recruitment Patterns are elemental, they are the primary colours of movement.

The 7 foundational primary colours of movement we use are:

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

So, by keeping these ticking over and improving during the next few weeks you will come back to the gym and be able to ease in a lot quicker.  We have the CrossFit open coming up (commencing Feb 18th ‘21) so maybe this will help some of you stay super switched on.

Have faith, DB snatches will transfer to your barbell snatch. Handstands will transfer to better mobility and catch positions for any of the jerk movements, push press, or OHS. Burpees will transfer to your deadlifts. The list goes on.  When December 2nd comes around it won’t take much work to get familiar with the barbell and rig once more.

Have an awesome week, everyone! Hopefully see you online!

Shapesmiths Gymnastics Class

This weekend (18.10.20) we launch the Shapesmiths Gymnastics Class. But what is it and why is it good for you to follow? 

First of all it’s important to say that this is not a traditional gymnastics class, full of tumbling, pommel and rhythmic skills.  Instead we work around what we would call ‘CrossFit Gymnastics’ that is…in the most basic of terms…elements of traditional gymnastics that will help you ‘do the fitness’, much better.  

We have put together a structured weekly class program, that is centred on developing and mastering elemental gymnastic positions, flexibility & developing core strength. This is a perfect accompaniment to WOD, Engine AND Weightlifting classes.

The class will initially cover three main elements:

  1. Wrist Mobility
  2. Handstand/Inversion
  3. A developmental gymnastics WOD that builds towards HSPUs.


With 27 bones, 27 joints and over 100 ligaments and tendons your wrist and hand will often need some care and attention when it comes to the movements that we perform in CrossFit.

By working on your wrist & hand mobility not only will we improve handstand related elements, we will also be able to improve other positions, such as your barbell front rack position for front squats and cleans.

This can also have a positive effect on your elbow and in some cases even further up the chain, to your shoulder! Huge benefits!


Getting upside down in a handstand for CrossFit newbies is often something that hasn’t been attempted since childhood. The class will slowly develop the basics of inversions so that you can reap the fitness benefits.

By working on straight arm strength you will learn how to use your bones as scaffolding upon which you can more effectively stack load (body weight or external load) and reduce the dependence on the muscles. This will transfer over to other skills such as Olympic Lifting and barbell movements too! 

Gymnastics WOD

At the end of the session we will work through 3-4 exercises, in a WOD-style, that will assist and further develop the elemental positions of gymnastics (think hollow body ‘core’ work, presses, balances and positional work) under mild fatigue.


If you can’t make Saturday’s classes at 9AM & 10AM the programming is live on WODify for you to see and give a go in open gym! If you follow along you are sure to make some amazing improvements! If you are following in your own time, let us know how you are getting on!

Returning to the gym after lockdown: A GUIDE…

We are so happy to welcome you all through our doors once again! It’s important, as we all get super excited about training, to make sure that we don’t just jump back in where we left off and we ease in.

Expect your coaches to moderate intensity of workouts for you very closely. The programming will feature lots of key movements, including strict work and it is of course really important that you keep the amount of training you do (volume) under control to allow your body to adapt. 

This guide is a great resource so you can prepare yourself and make sure you set yourself up with a better approach to training for the first 4-6 weeks of in-gym training post-lockdown. 

Mindset on returning to Workouts. 

It is really important that you try and catch any negative thoughts that may want to creep in nice and early.  After a period of irregular training or time away from certain exercises the common thoughts tend to err towards ‘Whoa, I am not fit!’ or ‘This is gonna be so hard’ 

We recommend that you physically write down a few sentences that are positive. Things that you can refer to when it gets a bit hard in a WOD or post-WOD when you inevitably run through how the workout went for you. 

Training tools to help your return to the gym.

Here are some actionable tools for your return to the gym.

1. Use RPE appropriately. The colourful RPE chart here is a great starting point for fitness work. Have a read and understand it well.  

2. For those of you who have been lifting for a few years, we have also included an RPE chart for Lifting from coach Jacob Tsypkin. We totally recommend that you forget your old numbers and percentages for 4 weeks unless you have had access to a barbell. Even then, consider if you have had access to ample space to do higher rep lifting and to blend this in WODs. 

3. Quality over quantity. We may ‘AMRAP’ in WODs but use this simply as time to move, surrounded by your Shapesmates.  This is a perfect time to go back to basics. We should all be working on the mantra of Mechanics, Movement, Intensity. This is your chance to focus on gymnastics strength, build up the kipping action slowly, step down on box jumps and build rebounding and ballistic movements in gradually. Lean on your coach and listen to their advice, we are here to keep you safe. 

In closing we surveyed the Shapesmiths Coaches for their top tip for you all, when it comes to getting back to adult PE…here’s what they had to say… 
Coach Jamie encourages you to not compare yourself to your pre-lockdown fitness levels/abilities:

The single most toxic mindset when coming back from a lay-off or injury is comparing your current self to your former self. For example “Back in 2018 I could do X & now I can only do Y.”

Accept where you are right now and make the best of each session. Don’t compare to the past. Just enjoy making the best of the present.

Coach Tom P says catch your Z’s:

Prioritise sleep. Your body will need the extra rest with the increased training volume. If you’re tired an extra hour in bed will benefit you way more than dragging yourself through a workout. Get into good nighttime routines. Not looking at screens an hour before sleep and limiting your caffeine intake is a great place to start

Coach LB says pick only a couple of things to focus on:

Focus on one to two things you really want to improve in the first few weeks back. Now isn’t the time to worry about everything.

For example, if you’ve missed lifting – book into classes and get used to the movements again.

Or if you are worried about “lost” strength. Focus on your basic strength movements such as squats and lunges and give your body a month to adjust to life back on the inside

Coach Ed Caltieri tells you to forget the numbers for now:

Don’t go chasing numbers immediately, listen to your body and have faith in your strengths, the chances are that big power clean you hit or first muscle up pre lock down haven’t gone anywhere, allow your body to recondition and you’ll be back fitter and stronger than ever.

Coach JJ says that being humble has never been more important…

Some of you have been smashing training after buying a complete home gym, others might have been hit really hard by lockdown through family or work commitments and haven’t quite managed to train much at all.

As a community we work to support each other – whatever you’ve been able to do over lockdown we can’t wait to get you all in the gym and to build each other up. If you’re worried about coming back to the gym then don’t, we don’t care where your fitness levels are, just where you are and that should be at Shapesmiths!

Coach Em says, Take it easy!

Step back, take a breath and enjoy what you are doing! If you focus on the quality and consistency of your training for now, then strength, fitness and smashing all your goals will come with time.

That’s all for now, folks! Can’t wait to see you all in the gym!

Mobility – What it is and isn’t? 

If we were to ask 100 Shapesmates ”What is Mobility?” we would get a huge range of answers. It may conjure images of people sitting in passive stretches for prolonged periods, performing banded stretches, being really bendy or essentially performing things stretches that are used as a means to an end to be able to do the fun stuff. 

True mobility training should be a workout in itself, it involves training the muscles, joints and brain to allow you into better positions with more confidence.

The aim of the daily mobility classes is to teach you how to effectively train to no longer need the 40 minutes of foam rolling or banded movements so, simply, you are able to get into an overhead position.

Are the results instantaneous, in some ways yes, in some ways no. You will see the effect of what can be achieved in the session, absolutely no doubt, but as with everything consistency is key to making sure that you see the results you want. There will come a time where you will go to the gym one day, or try and get into that normally irritating position, and something just clicks. But you do have to work on that. 

Without adequate Mobility for lifting, gymnastics or whatever you would like to do in the gym or outside of the gym you are operating at a less than optimal level and in some cases with the brakes on. We all know how quickly things would burn out if you tried to go fast with the brakes on. This means without adequate mobility it’s not a case of if you get injured, it’s simply when. Be smart. Look after your body and book into Mobility class. 

Article by Mike Lee.

Mobility classes are bookable with Shapesmiths Coach Mike Lee, Monday to Wednesday at 1815 hrs and Saturday at 1215 hrs! We also send out recordings of class afterwards for those who can’t make the times. 

The terminology you need to decode CrossFit.

A quick and dirty reference guide to what may appear on the ‘whiteboard’ via your WODify app.  Have a read and come back to this guide whenever you need.

It takes time to learn all of this, so don’t think you need to remember it all in one go.  The coaches will be on hand to help you if you don’t understand everything.  We also have a number of CrossFit ‘old guard’ members at the gym that will point you in the right direction too 😉

” : Symbol for Inches

#: means pounds (lbs). Some pre-programmed workouts are listed in lbs. Multiply by 2.2 to ascertain the correct loading in KGs. Weights listed include the bar.

AMRAP: As Many Rounds (or Reps) as Possible (on Competition days).

ATG: Ass to Grass.

QAMRAP: Quality AMRAP. (Practice Days).

BW: Bodyweight.

EMOM: Every Minute on the Minute.

FQL: For Quality Load. When you see this you should be working within your technical capabilities. Intensity should be around 7/8 out of 10 effort-wise.

G2O: Ground-to-Overhead.

KG or kg: Kilograms of weight. Weights listed in workouts include the bar.

MetCon: Metabolic Conditioning workout (These are typically the ones that leave you gasping for breath.).

RFT: Rounds for time (Competition days).

RFQT: Rounds For Time where Quality is prioritised. (Practice Days).

RM: Repetition maximum. Your 1RM is your max lift for one rep. Your 10 RM is the most you can lift 10 times.

Rx’d or as Rx’d: As prescribed; as written. A WOD done without any adjustments.

S2O: Shoulder-to-overhead

WOD: Workout of the day

YBF: You’ll be fine.


ABMAT Sit-Up:  Check the video.

BP:  Bench Press

BS: Back squat – Demo #1 (CFHQ)

C&J: Clean and jerk

Cln: Clean

CTB or C2B:  Chest to Bar (as in pull-ups)

DL: Deadlift – Demo #1 (CFHQ)

DU: Double Unders

FS: Front squat – Demo #1 (CFHQ)

GHD Situp: Situp done on the GHD bench – Demo #1 (CFHQ)

HCln: Hang Clean

HPC: Hang Power Clean

HSn: Hang Snatch

HPSn: Hang Power Snatch

HSPU: Handstand push up

KBS: Kettlebell Swing

KTE: Knees to elbows.

MU: Muscle-up

OHS: Overhead squat – Demo #1 (CFHQ) | Demo #2 (CFHQ)

PC: Power clean

Pistols: One-legged Squats

PJ: Push/Power Jerk – Demo #1 (CFHQ)

PP: Push press

PSN: Power snatch

PU: Pull-ups, possibly push-ups depending on the context

SC: Squat Clean

SDLHP: Sumo Deadlift High Pull

Sn: Snatch

Sq: Squat

T2B: Toes to bar.

WBs: Wallballs


DB: Dumbbell (when we stock them these will appear frequently)

GHD: Glute hamstring developer. A device that allows for posterior chain exercises, such as a hip extension, sit-up or a back extension. (For working your backside, to paraphrase Crocodile Dundee.)

KB: Kettlebell

Pd: Pood, a measurement of weight for kettlebells


CF: CrossFit

CFHQ: CrossFit Headquarters

Chipper:  A workout with many reps and many movements (you chip away at it), typically completed in one single round for time.

Firebreather: A badass CrossFit athlete.

GPP: General physical preparedness, aka “fitness.”

Hook Grip: Wrap your hand around the bar and grab as much of your thumb as you can with the first two fingers.

Olympic Lifting, Oly Lifting, O-lifting: Olympic weightlifting, specifically the barbell movements and any of their variations or exercises related to the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk.  Olympic Lifting specific classes coming to CF Shapesmiths real soon with Evelyn and Aoife.

Paleo and Zone: Types of diet and nutrition protocol commonly found in the CF lifestyle.

PR/PB: Personal record/Personal Best

ROM:  Range of Motion

Tabata Interval: A workout of 8 intervals alternating 20 seconds of max rep work with 10 seconds of rest. Total is 4 minutes per exercise. Score the lowest interval rep count.

The “Girls”: A series of benchmark workouts created by CFHQ that are universally known among the CF community.

The “Heroes”:  A Hero workout is a tribute workout in honour of a fallen CrossFitter (either Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Firefighter, Police officer) that died in the line of duty. They are tough and among the most difficult of WOD’s. There are sadly too many of them.