The “Chief” Retires!

10478662_883185828364799_7489058594662571745_nMike thowin’ down at the Contra Costa Throwdown

At the Sweat Shop, there are few things we love to do more than rave about all of the badass performances, PR’s, and achievements all our members make at the gym. However, nothing brings us more joy than to hear about the milestones you reach in life outside the gym. When we hear about what you do in “REAL LIFE”, it makes us super grateful to know you on a personal level and to be able to spend an hour with you each day!

Although some of you may already know, “CHIEF” Michael Banks, officially retired as Richmond Fire Chief after 34 years! What a huge accomplishment! Mike, husband of Lones, and father of Brandon, Conor, and Ryanne, has been around since the “old days” at Velocity and has been one of the pillars of the Sweat Shop community. Mike, thanks for the passion you bring to the Sweat Shop everyday. You, as well as your family, have been the backbone of support to the Sweat Shop since the beginning. Your title “Chief” resonates through all of us as we all aspire to be as badass as you one day. I hope to have as much dedication as you have at the gym at 60, and, although this may be far fetched, I hope to one day be as jacked and swole as you are in my 60′s!

Again, huge congrats on the retirement! Looks like we’ll get to see you more at the Shop these days ;)

Here was an nice article written about Mike and his family on his retirement in the Richmond Confidential:

At 5:30 in the morning, Michael Banks, Richmond’s Fire Chief, boils a cup of organic coffee and carefully pours cream in the cup, awaiting his wife. Although he never drinks coffee, over the past 40 years he makes coffee every single day for his wife before they work out together.

Later in the morning, Banks puts on his dark blue fire chief suit and drives to the Richmond Fire Department where he has served for 34 years. However, his long service to the city of Richmond will conclude when he retires on Dec. 30.

“I remember when he was on the [fire fighter] list he said, ‘If they hire me, I would be the best firefighter they hired,’ ” Lones Stern-Banks, Banks’ wife said.

It was March of 1980, when Banks was first hired by the fire department.

“I got a call and I said ‘yes’ without hesitation,” Banks said with a smile.

Banks, 61, sat in his meeting room at the fire department with his fingers crossed on the table. It’s hard to tell he’s over 60 from the glow in his face and the soft red color in his cheeks. His muscles can be seen through his white shirt.

A plaque with the words “The firefighter of the year” hung on the wall. Banks won the award in 1985.

To Banks, serving the fire department and the city of Richmond has a special meaning.

“It’s a dream come true to be hired as a firefighter and the fire chief for the past ten years,” he said. “It’s a perfect situation for me. I was able to be hired in the city where I live.”

Read full article on Mike here.

The Effort Does Not Equal The Rep


This post comes from CrossFit Fremont by longtime CrossFit coach, Freddy Camacho. We’ve shared a couple of his pasts posts because he, more than most CrossFitt coaches, doesn’t sugar coat the little annoyances that he sees when coaching. However, laying out the harsh truth is sometimes the only way we start to realize and fix bad habits! This one goes over something we can all relate to: NO REPPING YOURSELF.

The post:

In the almost nine years I’ve been coaching and participating in CrossFit, it’s a phenomenon I’ve seen play out literally HUNDREDS of times. It cracks me up every time I see it happen. Be honest. You have probably done this yourself. You may have even had me heckle you after you’ve done it!

Pick any strenuous movement. A pull-up. A heavy pressing movement. A handstand push-up. A ring dip. A muscle-up…… For the sake of our story, we will use the pull-up as an example. You are in the middle of your workout and really trying to get after it. You are pretty decent at stringing together pull-ups, but regardless, they are starting to wear you down. As you reach the fatigue point, you have to struggle to barely get your chin over the bar (if you even get it over the bar at all). This is where the humor happens. An experienced CrossFitter (or someone who is rational) realizes, “Damn, I barely got that last rep. Time to drop off the the bar.” But nooooo….. You hang on and try for one more rep. Hell, it makes sense at the the moment. All you have to do is THINK you can do one more and it will surely happen, right?

What is even more hilarious is the people that count the effort rather than the rep. I know we all grew up hearing that “Everyone Is A Winner.” Well, that my friends, was BS. Only winners are winners. You don’t get to win the Super Bowl playing with half effort. You don’t win the National Spelling Bee by guessing half the letters. You don’t win American Idol by singing half as good as the original song……(Okay, that was a bad example). Thus we can conclude, you don’t really finish a workout if you give yourself credit for the effort rather than the rep. 

It’s easy to fix. You struggled on a rep of a movement? Just say no! Stop what you are doing. Take a moment to get yourself ready to tackle a complete rep rather than a half ass one. Think of all the energy you save. Missed reps cost you in the long run.

Always remember that even if you have to do one rep at a time, one good rep always trumps a good effort.


Rooted Coffee Company

jon_g Jon preparing some delicious pour over coffee at one of their events

Long time Sweat Shop members, Jon and Jenny Gilmore have changed the name of their coffee company from Marley’s Coffee to Rooted Coffee Company.  Same great people, same great coffee, same great service, only the name has changed.  If you didn’t already know they have a booth at the Walnut Creek Farmer’s Market each and every Sunday, and can often be found at local CrossFit events and even the CrossFit Games!  In addition to that, they also deliver their fresh roasted beans to members of the Sweat Shop.  They are even available to serve up coffee at your next special event or party.  Here’s how to get in contact with them:

phone: 925-262-3013
instangram: #rootedcoffeeco

Holiday Gift Guide for the CrossFitter

bellsSweet looking kettlebells made by Demonbells

If you have a CrossFitter on your Christmas list that you have yet to buy for here are some ideas that I recommend.

Jump Ropes - I like the SR-1 from Rogue or the RPM Speed for those that already have double unders dialed in.  For those who have yet to get their first double under, I recommend something with a little more weight to it, such as the Power Max rope or the Rx Custom.

Kettlebell – If you’re looking to put together just a few items so you can get workouts in at home, a kettlebell is a good option.  Relatively cheap, takes up very little room, and is versatile.  For cool decor and to workout with you could go with one from Demonbells or Ironskull Fitness.

Barbell and Bumper Plates – If you really want to step things up, and you have the room for it,  you can get a ton of stuff done with a bar and some bumpers.  For the quality and price I recommend the Rogue Barbell and Hi-Temp bumpers.

Pullup Bar – I have one of these in my garage at home, easy to install and strong enough that you can do kipping pullups on.

Stall Mat – If you’re gonna be lifting heavier weights, and/or dropping from overhead, you’re gonna want one or two stall mats to preserve your weights and the concrete in your garage.  Locally you can usually find them at feed supply stores such as Concord Feed or Alamo Hay and Grain, and you’ll save some money by not having to pay for shipping.  If you can find a 5′x7′ you may be able to get away with just one mat, or if you’re getting a 4′x6′ you may want to get two.  3/4″ thick is the most common thickness and is plenty thick, no need to pay for the super thick 1″ mats.  Whatever you go with, don’t plan on putting these down somewhere that you’ll need to move them when you’re done working out.  These things are HEAVY, once you lay them down, you don’t want to be moving them very often.  Online mat purchase.

Other Items:
Wrist wraps, knee sleeves, foam roller, lacrosse ball, voodoo floss bands, Rocktape, and a weightlifting belt are just some ideas!  Even more random stuff can be found here.



Next On-Ramp: January 12th


Our first On-Ramp program of next year will start at 6:45pm on Monday, January 12th and will run each Monday and Wednesday for 4 weeks. As we have said before, the On-Ramp is a perfect way to start out CrossFit. Our curriculum is specifically designed to teach the fundamentals and provide the foundation of the movements you will be doing at the Sweat Shop. In the On-Ramp, we also take a gradual approach to metabolic conditioning in that we progressively add intensity and difficulty throughout the 4 week program so that by the end of the program, you will be more than ready for the regular classes.

You can find our full description of the On-Ramp here or on the side tab.

If you are interested in signing up, please e-mail me at to reserve your spot. Spots are limited to 8, so don’t wait! The new year On-Ramp usually fills up fast!

Training Habits For Newbies

15693580402_ab7607bf30_zOlivia (Livi), relatively new to Sweat Shop, has found enjoyment in her continual progress in CrossFit.

Many newbies or those hesitant about trying CrossFit have the preconceived notion that CrossFit is just something you “do” for a short period of time. Many use it as a tool or training supplement for a specific short term goal such as getting in shape for sports camps, prepping for the police or fire academy, military, or to get ready for races. However, here at Sweat Shop, we truly believe our program can cater to anyone looking for a long-term fitness journey. One of the most valuable lessons I think anyone starting CrossFit should understand is maintaining a healthy perspective throughout the entire process. If done so, you truly will be able to do it for as long as you want. So what are some important things to keep in mind when you just start out? Check out this post from “Inside The Affiliate” which goes over some tips on good training habits which can help keep a balanced and prolonged CrossFit experience.

From the post:

Good Training Habits

While it’s our responsibility as coaches to teach you movement, program intelligently, and keep you safe, it’s your responsibility as athletes to develop good training habits. Here is an overview of three great habits that will significantly enrich your training experience.

1. Be Proactive With Your Movement Prep
Everyone needs to do a little personalized maintenance on their bodies. Even 10 minutes of DIY movement prep before class can go a long way in keeping you fit and pain free. After you’ve signed in and changed, take advantage of the time you’ve got and start moving.

Row an easy 300-500m on the erg. Get your heart rate up a little and try to get a light sweat going. We recommend holding 20 strokes per minute and rehearsing good form.

Stretch/Foam Roll
Many of us know where our tightest areas are—they’re the ones that make it difficult to squat below parallel or press a barbell overhead. Spend a few minutes mobilizing and doing some soft tissue work (foam roller/LAX ball, etc.) on your “problem areas.” If you don’t know where to begin, ask a coach what you should be prioritizing and we’ll help you out. We also regularly refer our members to out Active Recovery classes and This is great resource for folks who need simple, effective strategies to help them move better.

2. Log All of Your Workouts 

Training without logging is like driving without a road map. You don’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going. Taking notes on each training session helps you track your progress and helps us make informed decisions about how to assist you in choosing weights and scaling movements. Each day should list some quantitative and qualitative notes about your training session. Here is an example:

3. Start Slow and Maintain Perspective
We take our training seriously at CrossFit South Brooklyn and with that comes with a good deal of responsibility. Our movement pool uses serious strength and conditioning exercises in order to develop broad, inclusive fitness. If we don’t treat these movements and workouts with respect, training plateaus and injuries are sure to follow. The best way to ensure your success and training longevity with us is by starting slowly and developing a rock-solid technical base. In fact, the first few months you start CrossFit, intensity should not be a significant concern. The movements are potent enough that just consistently performing them will create a favorable adaptation. After you feel really comfortable with most of our exercises and have a working knowledge of your weights, only then should you start ramping up the intensity.

Training with a lifelong perspective is incredibly important. Remember that you’re here to build yourself up, not break yourself down. Scaling workouts properly, listening to your body and checking your ego at the door will allow you to work out successfully for years to come. Most importantly, have fun with this stuff and enjoy the process.

Read full post here. 

Row Clinic & Fleet Feet Sale this Weekend @ Sweat Shop


Two cool things going on at the Sweat Shop this weekend.

On Saturday Fleet Feet will be setup at the Sweat Shop from 9:30- 11:00am with tons of Reebok CrossFit and Inov-8 shoes and apparel.  Aside from things being on sale, they are also offering to waive the sales tax if you pay cash!

On Sunday we are hosting a row clinic that is being taught by Olympic Silver Medalist, Scott Frandsen, who is also one of  the crew coaches for Cal’s men team.  The 90 minute clinic is just $45.  Currently there are 3 spots remaining.  Click here to register.

Ain’t No Party Like A Sweat Shop Party!



Mark, Lisa, CJ, Joel, Bri, Helen, Cassie, Melissa, Ali, Daniella and Susan hamming it up at the photobooth.

With the Sweat Shop Holiday Party this past Saturday, I was once again reminded of how our community is so much more than just a gym. Looking around during the night I saw friends laughing, eating, drinking and having a blast. Thank you to everyone who came and filled the night with warmth and laughter. If you haven’t yet, head over to our Sweat Shop’s Facebook page to check out all the photos from the night!

Sweat Shop Weekend Competition Results

1IMG_6040_lowresMike, Briana, Helen and Rikus atop the podium at Grinch Games.

Another weekend, and yet another couple of CrossFit competitions!  Being in Northern California, birthplace of CrossFit, we are lucky that there are so many local competitions on a regular basis.  The other thing, while some may see it as a curse, with so many people doing CrossFit in NorCal, the level of competition, especially at the local level, is significantly higher than just about any other place in the country.  The cool thing about this is that it truly pushes the level of all athletes within that competitive realm (I also believe it trickles even to those that don’t actively compete, but train at our gym alongside others from our gym who compete).  Anyway, I could talk theories, and evolution of CrossFit all day, but this post is about giving props to the Sweat Shop members that competed this weekend.  Helen, Bri, Mike and Rikus showed that they not only have strength and metabolic conditioning, but they are also capable of performing well on the higher skill movements.  This combination, along with their excellent teamwork and communication is what allowed them to finish in first place.  They were really fun to watch and it was given their great cohesiveness.  This is the first time a Sweat Shop team has finished first overall, great job!!

See more pics from Grinch Games here.


And now here’s Rene’s wrap up of Melissa and Sasha, who both participated in their first CrossFit competition this weekend in Hercules!


Melissa and Sasha competed in the Rookie Rumble 6 at Hercules CrossFit this past Sunday. This was both ladies first comp and they did amazing! Out of 80 teams, the pair placed 33rd!!! Sasha, a former Sweat Shopper before moving to the city, now trains out of Flagship CrossFit. Melissa and Sasha teamed up last minute, they did the workouts together for the first time Wednesday night. If you have every done a team comp or a partner WOD, you know that commutation is key. Melissa and Sasha did a great job talking to one another during the workouts. Before the day was over the two were already talking about doing another comp together! Great job ladies!! Way to crush it and have fun!!


PR’s Were Made To Be Broken!

14663624832_624239c6b3_zSeth has a keen sense of smell when a PR is cooking at the Sweat Shop. His 40lb OHS PR on Tuesday was no exception. 

***Don’t forget, there is NO 10:30am class tomorrow as we are prepping for the Holiday Party! Bring your spouse or significant other and be ready to party with drinks, food, cupcakes, and good ol’ company. Party starts at 6:30pm! See you there!

This was an impressive first week of year-end testing! I can’t tell you how much “PR Green” was on the board every day and I think I counted at least 4 Sweat Shop records that were taken down! I did not get to take a picture of all of the results, but as a little “Legitness of the Week” throwback, I wanted to highlight ALL of your accomplishments this week on this post. Please POST your PR’s that were made this week in the comments section! I would like to keep track this month and keep a tab on it for next year! Great work everyone, keep it up!

Legitness of the Week:

500m Row PR’s

Overhead Squat PR’s

Snatch PR’s

Clean & Jerk PR’s

What’s New In 2015

With 2015 shortly upon us, CrossFit HQ has announced new changes in the Open and Regional formats for next year! As expected with the growth of CrossFit, each year gets more and more competitive. If you are one who likes a little more “spice” to competition, this year will be no short of excitement for all Sweat Shoppers looking ahead to the Open.

Some HUGE new changes to the Open and Regionals include:

Combined Regions (Nor-Cal w/ So Cal)
Fewer Qualifiers 
Scaled Division
Teen Division

For all my fellow Sweat Shop competitor/teammates, I am more pumped than ever at the challenge. It’s exciting to see how much we’ve improved each year, even as the field of competition gets more and more challenging. It also gets me excited for all the Sweat Shop newbies and recreational competitors as there is now a scaled division which you can compete against CrossFitters at your same level. They even have a TEEN division this year! And don’t forget our badass Masters as well! While many may balk or hesitate at the new rules and standards (gotta love the Games website comments section) I can’t wait to go to battle with you all! It truly brings out the best in all of us individually and as a team/gym. There are few things more exciting to me that throwing down with all of you in the spring!

I don’t want to be repetitive with the details of the changes so get yourself in the loop and check out the official announcement here. 

Barbell WOD Seminar this Thursday @7:30pm

jerry_OHSJerry continues to see big improvements on both his overhead squat and his snatch these days

Reminder that this Thursday 7:30pm at the Sweat Shop we will be having a Barbell WOD seminar being put on by Dave Spitz from Cal Strength.  I spoke with Dave yesterday and he explained that it will be a very hands on event including a snatch progression and a short Barbell WOD workout at the end.  The seminar is free of charge and open to all.  See you there!


NOTE:  This Saturday we’ll have an 8:30am and 9:30am class, but NO 10:30am class so that we can start getting the gym ready for the holiday party!

Holiday Party this Saturday


Photo booth at last years Holiday Party 

Happy Holidays, happy holidays
While the kettle bells keep swinging
May your every PR come true

Sweat Shop holiday, party holiday
May beyond the whiteboard keep bringing
Happy PR’s to you

It’s the Holiday Party
The Sweat Shop members are coming round
The new rogue chalk is white on the ground
When we all get into town
We will be scarfing our faces, down
Tacos and cupcakes, down

Sweat Shop Holiday 
Sweat Shop Holiday
While the kettle bells keep swinging
Holiday Party time for you


Sweat Shop Holiday party this Saturday at 6:30pm.

Dinner, desserts, drinks and music and a some dancing…??
Bring your spouses or significant others.
Parking is available anywhere except the spots marked “Scania”

Saturday Class Schedule 8:30 and 9:30 class only:
No 10:30 class as we will be transforming Sweat Shop into a Winter 


Year End Testing

kristenKristen going overhead – well under her 1 RM :)

With 2014 coming to a close it’s once again time to test our current 1 rep maxes and other benchmark exercises!  We’ve already had a great start with the 500m row.  Earlier today at least four girls beat the previous Sweat Shop record, and Mark’s Mighty 1:23 was finally bettered by Rikus.  The purpose of the testing, however, is not just to see who can beat who, but it’s one of the few times to measure our progress, and also give us a more accurate number for calculating percentage based workouts.  That being said, when we actively go after spots on the leader board, we push the competitive level of the entire gym by redefining what we once thought were attainable limits.  Lastly, if you are still relatively new to CrossFit don’t feel intimidated or pressured during the 1 rep max workouts.  For those that have been doing CrossFit for less than 6 months, a 3 or 5 rep max is much more appropriate.  If you are unsure, ask us, that what we are here for!

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Next On-Ramp Jan 12th

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