Taking my fitness to a higher level

I first tried out CrossFit during a work term in London back in 2014 (at CrossFit London) as a way to train for my upcoming university rugby season, and absolutely loved it. When I moved to Barrie after graduating, I knew I wanted to get back into something that would keep me fit AND satisfy my competitive nature. Most importantly, I was looking for the community aspect after transitioning from playing team sports my whole life. The athlete in me needed to be training for something and, fortunately, the constantly varied nature of CrossFit gives you lots of options for things to suck at, and to want to work on!  

It's always intimidating trying out a new gym, but I was drawn in by CrossFit Insight's great community. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming to the classes and made it a very comfortable intro process. The first few workouts gave me a bit of a reality check as to where I was fitness-wise but the coaches did an awesome job helping me scale appropriately to meet the desired intensity and helped me work my way back quickly.

Two years later, I have made many good friends and that 5:30 class is something I really look forward to in my daily routine. The workouts are still hard, of course, but I'm able to push myself to much greater limits and take on the challenge of using heavier weights and more advanced movements.

A big bright spot for me was FINALLY hitting double unders consistently. I struggled through many workouts whipping myself, time capping and just being super frustrated, so it was awesome to be able to hit some big sets in the middle of a wod and see that the hard work paid off! I have definitely noticed improvements in all aspects of my fitness. I've gotten stronger in all of my lifts, and my endurance has come a long way. I have gotten a lot better at pacing, I rarely crash and burn at the start of workouts anymore and have the mental strength to hold on when it starts to hurt.

Progress really started ramping up, though, since I began focusing on dialing in my nutrition the past few months. My body composition has improved and I've found an extra gear during workouts.

I spent a lot of time working on my running this summer (shout-out to my running buddy, Deb), shaving minutes off my best 5km time while training for and completing my first 10km race. Right now I'm focusing on improving my gymnastics movements... the Open is coming up!

My favourite wod would probably be Karen (150 wall-balls for time). I'm pretty good at wall-balls and I love playing around with different strategies to see if I can embrace the pain cave and beat my previous time. Other than that, give me some cleans or a rower and I'm happy! My least favorite movement would have to be Burpees. Gross

Some highlights from the past two years have been doing a couple of competitions with Team Insight Millisecond Cobra and throwing down at Friday Night Lights during the CrossFit Open, but what I look forward to the most is exercising quickly in our daily workouts and high-fiving when we're done!


Knee pain?

    Suffering from knee pain during squats, odds are that the pain is occurring due to a muscular imbalance. This blog post will be focusing specifically on exercises to help knee pain with the end goal of altering your neuromuscular activation, therefore altering the mechanics/functionality in the body. Knee pain could be occurring for many different reasons, including but not limited to, lateral patellar tracking, patellar tendonitis, over pronation of the feet, asymmetry of the core, muscular imbalances between hip adductors (groin) and hip abductors (glutes), runner's knee or ITB syndrome and the list goes on. Women are prone to these types of dysfunctions due to their wider hips made for childbearing.

    Listed below are exercises ranging from basic to more advanced to help with squat mechanics fixing these imbalances.

1. Clams: great for lateral hip strength to help with the knees staying wide during squats. laying on your side, knees bent at 90 degrees, with hips, knees and feet stacked on top of each other. Keeping your hips and feet from moving, lift your top knee up as high as you can without opening your hips up (do not lean the top hip back)  

2. VMO SLR:  great for inner quad strength to help patellar tracking. Laying flat on your back with the right leg straight and foot pointed out on a 45 degree angle, squeeze right quadriceps (push back of knee into ground) and lift your leg 30 degrees off the ground. Try both sides. Should feel muscles activating on inner right thigh. If too easy, add a five-ten second hold to the exercise.

3. Toe grips: great to help build intrinsic muscles of the feet to help with flat feet (over pronation during squats, leading to pressure on inner knee).  Standing straight, imagine there is a rope attached to your head and pulling you straight up. Feel yourself get taller? Good. Feet should be hip width apart, pressing your feet into the ground, imaging pulling your belly button into your spine and slowly fall forward inch by inch. Most important part is that your hips and shoulders stay in line. Eventually, you should be far enough forward that you feel your toes gripping in order to keep you from falling. Do not fall so far forward that your heels come off of the ground. Slow and controlled. Stay in the position where you feel you might actually fall forward and to where your heels are still on the ground and wanting to come off. Hold as long as you can.

4. Clock work: great overall functional movement. This movement is meant to focus on hip hinging, balance via single leg stance work, and hypertrophy of the gluteus medius in the planted leg. Begin the exercise by transferring body weight onto one leg. That leg is going to remain soft (do not hyper extend or flex). Keeping spine neutral, reach the opposite leg straight backwards to six o’clock and tap your toes to the ground. As that leg reaches backwards, hip hinge and bring the chest forward keeping spine neutral. Make sure to be digging first toe into ground to create the transverse arch in the planted foot. Also, pushing the planted knee laterally (outwards) in order to aid in activation of gluteus medius and minimus. Next, complete the same movement but instead of reaching your foot straight backwards to six o’clock, go to seven o’clock. For added difficulty try 8 and 9 o’clock.

5. Reverse cross lunge: this exercise is to help build inner quad strength, lateral hip strength (glute medius) and in turn help with patellar tracking and an imbalance between the hip abductors and adductors. Very similar to the clock work except keeping foot planted at 8 o’clock and lunging down and back. Hip hinging and keep your chest straight. Keep majority of weight in front leg, push front knee laterally, and keep front knee behind toes. This is a stationary lunge so keep feet in same position for entire set.

6. Lateral isometric squats: This exercise is a favourite of mine for functionality. Great for intrinsic muscles of the feet to rebuild your arch, knee pain, glute activation and in turn, may help back pain too. Starting with feet fairly wide (wider than hip width), place majority of body weight onto right leg by shifting that way. Hip hinge slightly. Shins are going to remain vertical, chest is open, squeeze shoulder blades together, and push that right knee wide. The trick with this is to allow your hips to drop down and keep that knee/shin from moving forward. Now push the right big toe into the ground and feel your transverse arch in your right foot activate even more.

For more information or if you have any questions please feel free to contact me, Meagan Davis at Meagan@crossfitinsight.com to book an appointment! We can complete a functional assessment and then we can move forward by helping you fix the dysfunctional/imbalanced mechanics.


The Value of Personal Training

The Value of Personal Training

July 24th 2017 by Wayne Legault

Have you ever thought about hiring a personal trainer to help you get in shape, but wonder if you should spend the money?

I know the value of Personal Training is priceless. For those of you who have never purchased the service of Personal Training, or have never had a great personal trainer, then you may have a hard time grasping this concept.

If you’re currently working out in a group or on your own, weather you’re just starting out or stuck in a rut. Working with a trainer can push your fitness level forward much more quickly by focusing on you and your individual needs.

Here are my top 10 reasons why hiring a personal trainer is a great investment.

1. Trainers provide accountability and motivation

2. A trainer helps you identify and reach your goals

3. A trainer will personalize your workout

4. They will help perfect your form

5. Work together to set realistic and achievable goals

6. They can help with specific goals, such as training for an event

7. No wasted time = Maximum results

8. Personalized training Plans

9. They fit into your schedule

10. They will challenge you to get outside your comfort zone

Short on time? Shake it up!

Hey, Folks! Something super quick, here.

Are you constantly rushing to and fro, on the go, with not enough time to prep a healthy meal, let alone sit and eat it? Why not whip up a super-easy shake that you can take with you on the run? I’m going to tell you about my favourite shake, and I’ll admit it’s a rip-off of a popular juice bar’s shake. Super-easy, super-yummy, and super-nutritious.

Start with some frozen spinach; I use two nuggets (for those that have never used frozen spinach, some brands have their product formed into nuggets. Really easy for portioning). Add some frozen mango (about 70g), frozen pineapple (about 65g), some protein (unflavoured, from Infinit Nutrition), and for my healthy fats, I’m normally all about the ground flax seeds (1TB). When I’m not doing my Nutritional Challenge, I’ll toss in some unsweetened applesauce, too. Without the applesauce, I’m looking at about 260 calories, with plenty of that from fruits and veggies, I have a healthy dose of protein, and some good-for-me Omega 3’s. That’s not bad for a quick little throw-it-together snack that you can eat (drink) on the go.

You can totally change it up a bit. I made a shake the other day with Frozen mixed berries, frozen spinach, ground flax seeds and chocolate protein, and it was surprisingly yummy. Put whatever fruits and veggies in that float your boat, toss in some protein and a healthy fat (even some nuts or chia seeds), and you’re good to go! Remember, when picking what goes into your shake that frozen fruits and veg are just as good for you, as well as super-convenient. Try for nice, brightly coloured fruits and veggies, to get the most bang for your buck, nutrition-wise. Want something creamy? Toss in some plain Greek yogurt. Like a little more texture in your shake? A handful of hemp hearts would do the trick. Get in the kitchen and experiment with different flavour combos to find a fantastic go-to, and a few others to keep in rotation, so you don’t get too bored of the same-old, same-old. Get blending, and Enjoy!

Coach Bren

I know you want to lift more! So....................

Efficiency, Speed and Lateral Foot Movement: The Big Debate

By Elysha Oliver

In recent days, I have heard a lot of chatter about foot movement during barbell cycling being “too slow” and inefficient. So I’m here to tell you, you do NOT need to move your feet when cycling the barbell…

I know – everyone is gasping. BUT, let me be VERY clear. There is a very big difference between lifting to ingrain technique and barbell cycling. At no point should cycling the barbell override learning and executing good technique.

For the majority of Crossfit Insight members, we are always striving to get better, and more efficient, in our lifts. So let’s look at two scenarios:

  1. I know the lifts, but I still catch forward, my elbows don’t move as fast as they could, I’m not stable in my catch position, etc.

This is 95% of the lifters in our gym, including me some days. We all have something in our lifts that can be improved – until you get to a point that those improvements never impact your ability to be consistent in your technique and make the majority of your lifts, you still fall into this category.

  1. I show consistent technique in every lift no matter the weight and I can make the majority of my lifts.

These are the lifters in our gym who can complete their lifts with good form and the technique they use is the same for each rep and each weight. These athletes are great at barbell cycling because they have the base technical skills.

For those who fall into scenario 1, I will always recommend that you continue to focus on building great technique, and the speed and efficiency will follow. Don’t put the cart before the horse and end up cycling crappy reps. So, in the case of lateral foot movement – learn to move your feet to catch the weight (even in power clean and snatches and no matter the weight!) so that you ingrain good pulling and receiving technique. Once your body understands the movement, you can advance to scenario 2.

In scenario 2, athletes are likely to be able to build muscle memory for both barbell cycling and single lifts, and have a slightly different approach. For Olympic lifting, these athletes are going to be very technical and ensure that they start with the proper pulling position, and end in the appropriate squat stance. For barbell cycling, however, they may be more inclined to start closer to, if not in, their squat stance for all of the reps, IF the weight is relatively light in comparison to their 1 RM. This can increase speed for cycling and help achieve the desired stimulus for that WOD.

BUT… there should not be a sacrifice in the remainder of your technique by removing the lateral foot movement.

Just remember – technique first, then efficiency, then speed.

Whats a CrossFit class like anyway?

What’s a CrossFit class like?

Let’s say you’re interested in joining a CrossFit class…but you don’t know what you’re getting into!

Practically every CrossFit gym around the world will let you come in and try out a class for free, so contact your local gyms and find out what dates and time they’re having newbie sessions.  This is how the classes are usually structured:

Introduction class – For people who have never tried CrossFit before. Usually there’s a quick overview, and then a basic body weight movement workout, and then they talk to you about joining.  These are usually free.

On ramp/Elements/Challenge – If you’re interested in joining the regular CrossFit workout, you’ll most likely be required to go through the On ramp/Elements course. The purpose of these is to teach you the nine foundational movements of CrossFit and all about proper form.  No matter how experienced you are, these are valuable and worth the time and money.  Even if you think you have perfect form on your squats, deadlifts and/or overhead presses, it’s amazing what can be fixed when you have a trained set of eyes watching you do them.

Regular classes:  This is what you’re probably used to seeing or hearing about.  A regular CrossFit class takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Everybody starts at the same time, there are instructors walking around helping out and keeping track, and everybody is supporting each other and probably swearing a lot.

Most CrossFit gyms will split their classes into three or four sections:

  1. Dynamic warm up – not jogging on a treadmill for 5 minutes, but jumps, jumping jacks, jump rope, squats, push ups, lunges, pull ups.  Functional movements, stretches, and mobility work that compliment the movements you’ll be doing in the workout that day. 
  2. Skill/Strength work: If it’s a strength day, then you’ll work on a pure strength movement (like squats or deadlifts).  If it’s not a strength day, then you’ll work on a skill and try to improve, like one-legged squats or muscle ups.
  3. WOD: the workout of the day.   This is where you’ll be told to do a certain number of reps of particular exercises as quickly as possible, or you’ll have a set time limit to do as many of a certain exercise as possible.
  4. Cool down and stretching.  Either as a group, or you’re allowed to stretch out on your own.  This would also be the time for people who pushed too hard to go puke in a trash can and stretch their stomach muscles