Thursday, November 26, 2009

My response to the message thread on entitled "The Black Box Summit Or How I Got Fired from the CrossFit Nutrition Certification"


CrossFit is currently experiencing it's biggest controversy so far, at least on-line. Fallout from the Black Box summit, and the evident firing of Robb Wolf from teaching the nutrition cert has sparked some lively debate:

Robb Wolf on Being Fired from Nutrition Cert

Greg Everett on what happened

Russel Berger on what happened

A rather balanced analysis of what happened

A very interesting take on what happened/is happening

I meant to write a brief, concise post on Robb's blog about this. Brevity, alas, is not my strong suit, and since writing it I had a few thoughts that I wished to include. Here is my opinion for any who care, for the record.

My response to the message thread on entitled "The Black Box Summit Or How I Got Fired from the CrossFit Nutrition Certification" (edited for clarity)

I have now read all 425 plus comments that came before this, and all of the source material.

I am an affiliate owner (CrossFit East Bay in Oakland CA) and I know or have met many of the principals here. Greg Glassman changed my life, and while I don't revere him as anything more than a fitness visionary, it is, to me, frankly ridiculous how little credit some people are giving him. I will post below his best response to such misunderstandings. For once, I largely agree with Barry Cooper, above.

I am a bit older (43) and have been into fitness since the 1980s. I used to read every fitness magazine I could get my hands on for, I guess, decades. I NEVER saw anything remotely like CF. I never heard of a double-under, a muscle-up, a kipping pull-up, a dynamax ball (or wall-ball), a thruster, a kettlebell, the zone diet, paleo, IF, tabata, etc etc etc. I was vaguely aware that rings existed and that these weird guys in tights lifted huge funny looking weights in the Olympics, and that a rower existed, but it never occurred to me to use these things. I never saw anything remotely like Fight Gone Bad, and I challenge anyone to point me to something like FGB that pre-dates CrossFit. When I discovered CF in 03 or 04 it sounded interesting, and I dabbled, but not until I trained with Josh and Keith at CFNYC Black Box, the 18th affiliate, was my mind blown.

As I said I am a bit older, and have an administration background as well. I am familiar with internecine disputes, and have mediated many. I am disappointed in what I am seeing here from all sides. There is a whole lot of dick-measuring and airing of grievances, old and new, going on. While there may have been some pent-up feeling that needed to be discharged, it has been done, the issues are out there, and, as an affiliate owner and member of this community I ask that we take a deep breath and dial it back a notch on all sides.

This community has experienced explosive growth, and I think it is silly to pretend there are no issues associated with that growth. As a community we have added, are adding, quality on the individual affiliate and regional level daily. It is questionable as to whether HQ is keeping up with or taking advantage of all of the great stuff that is coming out of our open-source fitness model. Simply put, there are some potential, or actual, quality issues. A med ball clean might not be the best progression to the clean. Teaching someone with zero experience how to snatch with a PVC pipe does not prepare them optimally to teach the snatch. The explanation that it is impractical to use barbells with so many people does not hold water. Inconvenient, yes, expensive, yes. Impractical, no. It is possible that the current programming template of .com could be improved. I'm not suggesting I know how, but this is fitness, not religion, and blind allegiance to the .coms is against the spirit of CrossFit. To quote Greg Glassman speaking to me personally: "the next big innovation in CrossFit will come from outside of my intuition". It is clear that a whole foods diet is healthier than Zoning Pringles, Coors Lite and Skirt steak (personally I think zone/paleo + milk is the way to go). The level 1 Cert is not as valuable a product as it was when Coach taught them himself (I have been to both versions). The .com only to prepare for the games is not optimal unless one already has perfect balance in all 10 areas of fitness. Even then training once a day to prepare for a multi-day multi-event competition would be insanity.

Recently one of my athletes started training the O-lifts with Greg Everett. This forced me to recognize that what I had learned so far in CF regarding the O-lifts was demonstrably inferior (but still an order of magnitude better than what I knew before CF, i.e. zilch). I admitted my sub-optimal teaching to my athletes and we are now working on improving our O-lifts, but not at the expense of GPP or not following a .com-like template.

Greg Glassman and CrossFit have given us all an incredible gift, for which I am truly thankful, but they have started a wildfire which cannot be easily managed or neatly compartmentalized. That does not have to be a bad thing. Another local product, eBay, was also started on a wing and a prayer - basically not even a beta product thrown out there. Subsequently, the owners started reacting to every piece of feedback they received and built a killer app. Their community base is the basis of their success and they jealously build, guard and protect it. CrossFit should do the same. Listen. Grow. Evolve.

I know Greg Glassman and I believe in him as a businessman, fitness visionary and really just a good down-to-earth guy. I have had my issues with HQ and I know this is not the kindest, gentlest organization on earth, but given what we do doesn't that make a certain amount of sense?

Now goddammit! Let's chalk to the elbows and get back to working out!

See you in the garage.

Maximus Bernard Lewin
Owner, Lead Trainer
CrossFit East Bay

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

13th Anniversary of My 30th Birthday


November 11, 2009

13th Anniversary of Max's 30th Birthday


Delta-Force Hit-and-Run Dinner @ Taqueria La Familla


Salsa Dancing at Down Low

It has been a long-time goal of mine to learn to dance, and get over my phobia of same. And, according to Coach Dr. Mock, I am ready for the world.

So come amuse yourself by seeing me break out in a cold sweat and run, humiliated and sweaty, into the night. Or, possibly, dance.

Down Low:
Wednesdays | Live Salsa Bands
Beginner lessons from 8-8:45
Intermediate lessons from 8:45-9:30
$10 cover, $5 w/student ID
$4 margarita special

Monday, November 2, 2009

CrossFit East Bay: CrossFit Games 2010


Apollonia May 2009, Norcal Qualifier

We are now 9 months out from the CrossFit Games 2010. Greg Glassman has stated that the games are an opportunity for affiliates to show the strength of their programming.

Last year we decided late to enter the games; for the Affiliate Cup we gambled and lost on a dark horse strategy, which involved a lot of long grueling metcon (long time domains by CF standards). We chose this strategy because we had limited time to develop tons of power or strength; it takes quite a while to get strong, while developing work capacity can be done fairly quickly. Because of (or perhaps despite) this we finished 68th of 97 teams.

For the individual competition, Apollonia also had limited time to prepare, but thanks to Gita's brilliant 11-day preparation and her inherent athleticism and powerful work ethic, she qualified for the games in 5th place, but far ahead of the next nearest competititor. With good, hard training, she placed 34th at the games, and, notably, improved enough against the moving targets of the the Norcal Competitors that she placed higher than everyone who beat her at the Norcal Qualifier previously.

This year we know far in advance that we will participate in the competitive season, and therefore, We will tailor our programming to that end. Given the fact that CrossFit East Bay is dedicated to old-school CF principals, most of the training will be fully scalable, and we will offer a compelling fitness experience for anyone who wants to train hard and get results.

The next three months will be old-school CF GPP (generalized physical preparedness). However, our Max Effort work will be less varied than CF main for this period. The reasons for this being a good or bad idea could fill a very long article. Suffice to say this will make it easier for us to gauge what kind of progress we are making. We will also be working on short metcon, long metcon, light (bodyweight-ish) metcon and heavy metcon. We will deadlift heavy every week, either as Max Effort day or as a metcon with weights of up to 315/205. We will also do Max Effort Clean & Jerk at least 2X a month. While some suggest teaching the snatch first (because it is harder), I am choosing to work on my own snatch, including getting high level instruction, before committing to teaching it in a serious manner.

In addition to the above we will be working a lot on Overhead Squats, Muscle-Ups, HSPU and Double-Unders (because they take the longest to learn). Also expect to learn to back squat.

The training template is HERE.

The subsequent training will be developed once we know more about the schedule and format, however, if possible we will spend significant time getting as strong as possible (think Deadlift, Squat, Press, Bench Press, Sled Drag, Tire Flip, etc.) while still gaining some capacity. Following that, I hope to have a well-designed volume overload scheme which will bring us right to the brink of despair overtraining/overreaching followed by a back-off, followed by a cycle of escalating intensity but lowered volume. In all cases, I hope to avoid the scenario of last year when we were a bit spun-down (if super-conditioned) coming up to our competitions. Some of us definitely peaked the week after the games. Recovery will be much more at the forefront this year. Training will be the new overtraining. The above may have to be repeated multiple times in micro-cycles (sectionals, regionals, games)