Emotional Intelligence

14568290194_99720cd905_zDoug and Eric hitting some farmer’s carries.

Many have asked me, “do you feel different being married?” My popular answer has been, “not really, just more motivated!” Motivated to not only be a good husband, but to also improve in areas of my professional life. So, I decided to dive into some thoughtful reading. I wanted to focus on how I can get a better understanding of how my students/clients think and how and why some people react the way they do. I dove into a really famous bestseller, “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman. The more and more I read it, not only do I see parallels in the classroom, I myself can relate to it in most all my life endeavors, and for the sake of this post, CrossFit.

The thought of emotional intelligence sounded a little funny from the get go, but when I was getting into the reading, I found more and more that having emotional intelligence is not just some “special quality” that some of us have or don’t have, the act of being able to deal with your emotions intelligently is probably one of the most important attributes to possess. And how can we get better at it?

Every day and in all aspects of life, we go through a roller coaster of emotions including happiness, frustration, anger, sadness, laughter. But in each of these, we deal with them differently. A relatable passage I wanted to share with you talks about humans having two minds: the emotional and the rational.

“These two minds, the emotional and the rational, operate in tight harmony for the most part, intertwining their very different ways of knowing to guide us through the world. Ordinarily, there is a balance between emotional and rational minds with emotion feeding into and informing the operations of the rational mind and the rational, vetoing the inputs of the emotion. But when passions surge the balance tips, it is the emotional mind that captures the upper hand, swamping the rational mind.”

An important part I relate to is, “when passion tips the scale”. Most times, our passions, when exercised well, actually attain wisdom and we learn positive things about ourselves from them. They can shape our thinking, help us stick to our values, and in dire situations, help with survival (like sprinting away from the Shop when you see Fran as the WOD). But passions can easily go awry when not contained, and with that, comes emotions. It is this battle or balance with our emotions that dictates how we react to most day-to-day situations. Whether it’s work, school, sports or CrossFit, when getting overly caught up in “being the best”, it’s easy to lose your mind in your heart. Things like getting down when you can’t PR everyday or get an A on a paper, or getting mad at yourself because you didn’t place as high as you wanted to, or getting pissed in that everyone seems to get something except you, are all good examples of when our emotions can cloud our own view of ourselves. Goleman says, it’s like our brain is “Hijacked” and we let emotions, rather than rational, take the wheel. There is a ton more stuff on this topic, but this post is getting too long. For now, I just want you to think about work, school, or CrossFit, and how you approach the times when you fail or succeed and how you deal handle the emotions that come with it. How often are you rational? More on the things I’m learning from this book in the future!

Featured Athlete: Lisa P.

lisa_snatchLisa during last years’ Reindeer Games

 I’ve always been very impressed with Lisa’s strength and determination, as well as her overall grittiness during especially tough workouts.  Her ability to out perform many girls AND guys, half her age is especially impressive for someone who before CrossFit, had little to no experience with lifting weights!  Thank you Lisa for taking the time to answer our Featured Athlete questionnaire.

Name:  Lisa
Age:  52

Q.  How long have you been doing CrossFit?
A.  In October it will be 3 years!

Q.  What were you doing for exercise before CrossFit?
A.  The two years prior to CrossFit I had joined a gym and hired a personal trainer who helped me lose 60 pounds that was gained as a result of a stressful job and not working out consistently for a few years.  After a while, however, the workout started to get old and I was losing my motivation.

Q.  How did you begin training at CrossFit Sweat Shop?
A.  My husband bought me a gift certificate for my 50th birthday.  I went to a Saturday class James was teaching.  I was hooked immediately!  I remember Helen telling me I was going to get stronger than I could ever imagine.  I watched her power clean 95lbs. in one of my first classes and couldn’t believe it!  I didn’t think I could ever do anything close to that!  I was in awe of the wonderfully strong women I saw at the Sweat Shop!

Q.  What has been the most significant benefit/change since you’ve been doing CrossFit?
A.  My goals have changed a lot.  My previous goals revolved around how I looked.  I wanted to be thinner.  Be a smaller size.  I used to run a lot.  My goals since CrossFit are around performance.  I want to be stronger, faster, etc.  When I learn a new skill or PR on a lift it makes my day!  I love feeling strong and ready to take on the day!  With CrossFit I feel fitter than I ever have (even than when I used to teach aerobic classes in the 80′s!  :)

Q.  What is your favorite exercise or workout?
A.  LOVE squat snatches!  I dream about these!  I have slowly been getting stronger and improving my technique.  I can’t get enough of them!  When I see someone do these well I’m mesmerized!  I also love the CrossFit benchmark, “Nancy”.  I actually like “Karen” too.  Crazy I know!  Oh, and I love rowing!  I love squatting too!  And pistols!

Q.  What is your least favorite exercise or workout?
A.  I struggle with a lot of gymnastic movements still – linking my toes to bar, handstand pushups, muscle ups.  It’s also fun to have goals to still achieve and things that challenge me, though!

Q.  What is your favorite healthy meal?
A.  Grill tuna kabobs with red bell peppers and onions and a big salad with Jalepeno Tangerine salad dressing and avocados.

Q.  What is your favorite cheat meal/snack?
A.  Esin Restaurant in Danville has the most amazing desserts!  They have a coconut cream pie with chocolate crust served with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce.  MMMMM!

Q.  What do you enjoy most about training at CrossFit Sweat Shop?
A.  I love the coaches – Nabil, JB, Rene!  How lucky are we to have some of the best, most motivating, inspirational, caring coaches in CrossFit!  The Sweat Shop is special!  Every time I leave the Sweat Shop I feel energized.  I also LOVE the people there!  Seeing everyone’s smile in the morning or on Saturday’s is the best!  Everyone supports each other!  I love watching people take on a challenge and do something they didn’t think they could do!  Everyone is SO nice!  Such a great, healthy environment!

Q.  Now that you’ve been doing CrossFit, what’s one thing you could never see yourself doing again?
A.  When I first started CrossFit, I was hesitant. I didn’t understand how you could get fit and stay fit by doing 10, 15, or 20 minute work outs. I’d been working out for two hours a day at that point. I went to the CrossFit Level 1 Certification Training so I could understand how it works. I got it and after that, I started doing CrossFit full-time! I couldn’t go back to a typical gym. I want to work hard and sweat and achieve. CrossFit is challenging and fun and empowering and always different and fun!

Q.  What is your proudest exercise related achievement?
A.  Feeling 30 at 52 is the best! I never feel like I can’t do things I want to do! I can hike Half Dome. I can enter CrossFit competitions. I can snowboard. I can kayak. I can lift heavy weights! I can do anything I want!

Q.  What advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try CrossFit?
A.  If you want to lead a healthy, functional life, reduce or eliminate medications, feel more energy and alive, and truly live life, CrossFit will get you there! It’s scalable so anyone can do it and you can start at any time! Hey, I started at 50!

Q.  What is your most sought after exercise goal?
A.  Muscle up!!  I must get it if it’s the last thing I do, and I WILL!

Hips, Meet Bar: The Extension of the Snatch and Clean

Epic Hip Extension!! Side Note: Turn down your volume unless you want to be really annoyed. 

The Snatch and Clean have so many moving parts. Check out this article on hip extension. Be sure to check out the videos (one posted above) linked to the bottom of the article.

Once the bar is in contact with the body, it should remain in contact briefly as it continues to rise. If the lifter is actively pulling the bar into the body as he or she should be to maintain proximity and balance, it will brush up the body momentarily rather than hit and immediately bounce away. To be clear, this is not the bar dragging up the body for any considerable distance or time. If the hips are extended properly, the bar will be moving up toward a body that is retreating from it (i.e. the torso is leaning back away from the bar as the bar moves up the hips).

Check out full article here

Pistol Squat

katrina_pistolKatrina hitting the always challenging pistol

Pistols are tough.  They test strength, flexibility and balance.  If you’re missing even just one of those components, it can most likely keep you from performing a full pistol squat.  While we have several scaling options that we use at the Sweat Shop to help those still working on getting their first pistol, I recently found a post that also includes two videos that show a couple of variations and warm-ups I hadn’t thought of.  One thing that we also remind folks of when doing pistols (Rx’d and especially scaled) is to take your time when performing the movement, and when using a modified version, make sure it is challenging, but still allows for full range of motion (aside from the box squat version shown in the video).

Here’s the post, and be sure to scroll down towards the bottom to see the two videos with the pistol variations.

CrossTown Throwdown Sign-Ups


Our annual battle against CFO is coming up and we need to start getting a roster count. The CrossTown Throwdown is a big event in that it involves the entire gym. For those new to the throwdown, it goes like this: Sweat Shop makes 5 workouts that cater to our strengths, CFO makes 5 workouts that cater to their strengths, and MJ makes 17 neutral WODS for a grand total of 27 workouts! All workouts have a specific number, gender, skill level, and age group requirements for each of them. WODs are announced in advanced in order to prepare for who gets the call to do them on game day. However, the tricky part is: 1) We don’t know the order of the workouts at all, as MJ announces the next one immediately after the conclusion of another and 2.) No one can do back-to-back workouts. Because of this, it is common that workouts that are similar in movements, ages, sexes, and skills are usually back to back. This means we will need as much depth as we can. We keep a running tally and the Tiki Trophy goes to the gym with the most wins. Each year it gets bigger and bigger and not only are we excited to throwdown with some OG’s of the throwdown, but to also get our newer members into it as we have a ton of talent!

The date this year is Saturday October 11th and is at CrossFit Oakland. The start time is usually around 8-9am and lasts all day (4-6pm ish). If you can’t make it to the entire day but want to come for as much as you can, bring some workout gear just incase a workout gets called where we need you!

WODS will be announced within the next couple weeks and we will start getting our practice on. Super pumped!

If you are interested in joining the fun, we are posting a signup sheet on the whiteboard at the gym. You can also put your name to the comments section on this post below.

For more history on the throwdown, chest out this post. 

Elbows Up

14777231450_206f3dab9c_zMelissa demonstrating high elbows during the jerk. 

The jerk is one of the more tough lifts out there. In addition to the the necessity of good mobility to perform them, there are a ton of complex elements of the lift that make it a challenge to put it all together. In my experience in coaching the jerk, the majority of faults come from the initial dip, starting with dropping the elbows. This is one reason why we like to use the “pause jerk” in order to hone in a good dip position before moving to extension. Here is a good post from Oly coach Matt Foreman at Catalyst Athletes on “Fixing Droopy Elbows”.

From the post:

Droopy elbows in the jerk…it’s often a HUGE problem with beginners.

Let me describe what it is, although many of you probably already have the visual image in your head because you’ve seen it a lot. A lifter has the bar on his/her shoulders, preparing to jerk. The elbows are in an appropriate position and it all looks pretty stable and solid. During the dip phase, the elbows drop. Sometimes it’s a relatively minor drop, they just kinda sag down a little bit as the knees are bending. Other times, it’s a major problem where they plunge down really far and the bar actually sits on the sternum for an instant instead of the shoulders.

This ain’t good, brothers and sisters. It’s a problem that leads to a lot of failed jerks, and maybe even some shoulder pain. Some athletes can develop a little funky technique where their elbows drop and they still complete the jerks, but the problem still has to get fixed because you’ll never graduate up to really big weights with this kind of movement.
So let’s go through the problem-solving process. There are two questions we need to answer:
1)    What’s causing the problem?
2)    How do we fix it?

Read full post here. 

Strength and Conditioning in the Aging Athlete

theresa_ropeAt age 63, Theresa strikes the perfect balance between making her workouts challenging and fun, while still keeping the risk for injury low, and maintaining her primary goal of improving overall health and fitness.

While I can honestly say at age 37, I am stronger and feel more fit than I did 10 years ago, I have definitely noticed some less than ideal changes over the years.  First and foremost, recovering from tough workouts can sometimes take several days.  Whereas years ago I could jump into a workout with little or no warmup, these days that’s almost a guaranteed way to tack on several additional post workout aches and pains, on top of those expected from a workout.  But don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready to claim someone who is 21 years old has an “unfair advantage” to someone in their mid to late 30′s,…. it just means I have to be a little more diligent in warmups, training, and my recovery.

Here is a helpful post from Robb Wolf’s website that addresses some important points for the aging exerciser.  Big thanks to Lisa for the heads up on this article!  :)

Moxie Madness: It’s a wrap!


Team Sweat Shop this past weekend at Moxie Madness. 

Congratulations to Sky, Ali, Taneya and Mike for crushing it this weekend at Moxie Madness. A total of 6 workouts over 2 days made for an exhausting weekend for our athletes. With some really tough competition, Team Sweat Shop placed 19th out of 74! So Amazing!! With 3 top 10 finishes, we couldn’t be more proud of our team. Day 2 the team demonstrated their swag with an impressive finish of 5th/6th in the KB snatch and Burpee WOD. Great work guys!

Check out full leaderboard here



A.) Overhead Squat 1-1-1-1-1

10 Ground To Overhead 95/65, 115/75, 135/95
10 Burpees
10 C2B Pullups
8 Burpees
10 C2B Pullups
6 Burpees
10 C2B Pullups
4 Burpees
10 C2B Pullups
2 Burpees
10 C2B Pullups

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

marley_avaMarley and Ava hitting the weights at the gym!

I’m not gonna lie, the title of this post I found is what made me click on it.  But after reading it, I realize that this list doesn’t just apply to little girls, or even little boys for that matter.  Actually, after reading it, I felt like it applies just as much, if not more to adults, particularly those that may get so wrapped up in improving their numbers at the gym, that they fail to see everything else that comes along with exercise and simply living healthy.

Here is one that stood out to me:

#5.) Health begets health.  Healthy behavior inspires healthy behavior.  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Solid sleep.  Positive relationships.  These things are all related.

Read the full post here.

Upcoming Competitions

unnamed-2Lennox already looking fit to compete!

Here is a list of upcoming local competitions that we already have some Sweat Shoppers signed up for. I’ve included a link to each so if you are interested in cheering or signing up to compete, GO FOR IT! If you seasoned competitor or are a newbie to competitions and are just looking to get your feet wet, nothing helps you prepare for competition mode than getting out there and doing it! Plus, it’s super fun to go out there and compete alongside your buddies! Aahhhhemm….Please save the date of OCTOBER 11th…. CrossTown Thrown. EVERY PERSON CAN COMPETE..AND WE WILL NEED ALL OF YOU TO TAKE BACK THE TIKI!

August 16 & 17: Moxie Madness at San Jose State Football Stadium, San Jose

September 20: Masters Madness at Diablo CrossFit Pleasant Hill

September 20: Caffeine and Kilos Invitational at McClellan Convention Center, Sacramento

September 27: Batcave Games at CrossFit Natomas, Sacramento

September 27: Battle on Sunset at Antioch CrossFit, Antioch

October 4: Dia De Los Beasts Partner Comp at CrossFit SkyBox, American Canyon

October 5: Lifeworx Throwdown “Regionals Revenge” at CrossFit Lifeworx in San Jose


Friday’s WOD:

A.) 16 min. AMRAP:

40 Double Unders (ADV. & Beef 80)
30 Wall Balls (ADV. & Beef 60)
20 Toes to BAr (A & B 40)
10 OHS 95/65 (ADV. 20 @ 115/75 –Beef 20 @ 135/95)
5 C2B Pullups (ADV. 10 C2B Pullups — Beef 10 Bar Muscle ups)

REst 2 min.

B.) Max Effort 403m Run

Thursday’s WOD:

A.) compare 7/30/14

10 min. EMOM
2 Snatch (ADV. 1 Snatch)

B.) 9 min. clock:
Buy In:
2 Rounds
24 KB Swings 53/35 (ADV. 70/44)
12 Burpees

then AMRAP
5 Pullups (5 Ring Muscle Ups)
7 Pushups w/ hand release (ADV. 7 HSPU)

Know Your Paleo

unnamed-1Nabil does a good job of limiting his red meat protein sources. 

Ever since the Paleo Diet hit huge popularity some years back (almost exactly in line with the growth of CrossFit), many of us have flocked to PALEONESS in our lifestyle. I’m sure you or your friends have experienced positives with it and has changed your life. However, like with most things that get popular, therein lies the fanatics. Within the mix of die-hard “Paleoness”, you’ll see things like Facebook posts of full plates of beef and butter with hashtags like #healthyeating #paleo4life, or the the occasional confused “lost in translation” stare at the cashier line in Whole Foods when you happen to buy a loaf of bread wearing a Crossfit Sweat Shop shirt (sorry Jeffrey), or getting tattoos or a pair of socks that have bacon on it. In this madness, the true essence or idea behind the Paleo Diet can be lost. If you are someone like me who tries (and still struggling deeply with sugary self control) to incorporate a more Paleostyle diet, or simply anyone of interest to the Paleo Diet, I thought this article from Precision Nutrition, was a nice read on the In’s and Out’s of the Paleo. The title lists PROS and CONS, but I don’t really see the CONS listed in the articles as such, rather, I think it debunks common myths in the lingo that you’ve probably heard some random person, Paleoian or not, explain what it is. The goal here is to KNOW MORE about Paleo. It is pretty well-cited and at the same time very easy to read.

From the article:

Although atherosclerosis may be a common human experience no matter what, “diseases of affluence” (obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases) have certainly gone up dramatically in the past 50 years in industrialized countries like the U.S., especially compared to non-industrialized populations. Over the last century — a period that is undoubtedly far too short for significant genetic adaptation — industrialization and technology have radically changed the way we eat and live. Today, the average American subsists on foods that are packaged and commercially prepared. Rich in refined sugars and starches, highly processed fats, and sodium, these foods are designed to be so delicious that they run roughshod over the body’s normal fullness signals, and encourage overeating. Consider: The top six calorie sources in the U.S. diet today are grain-based desserts (cake, cookies, etc.), yeast breads, chicken-based dishes (and you know that doesn’t mean roast chicken), sweetened beverages, pizza, and alcoholic drinks. These are not ancestral foods. Nor foods that any nutrition expert, regardless of dietary persuasion, would ever recommend. So when proponents of the Paleo diet claim that our modern Western diet isn’t healthy for us, they are absolutely correct.

But is the Paleo diet really Paleo?

Remember: There’s no single “Paleo diet”.

Our ancestors lived pretty much all over the world, in incredibly diverse environments, eating incredibly diverse diets.

Still, in most cases, primal diets certainly included more vegetables and fruits than most people eat today. So if we want to be healthier, we should do what our ancestors did and eat a lot of those. Correct?

Maybe so… but not necessarily for the reasons that Paleo proponents recommend.

Read full article here.

Wednesday’s WOD:

4 Rounds 
10 Ground to Overhead 95/65, 115/75, 135/95
12 Overhead Lunges
2 Rope Climbs (ADV: 1 Legless, BEEF: 2 Legless)
403m Run

*2 Grond to overhead penalty if you break Overhead Lunge, and continue lunges in front rack*

Next On-Ramp Begins September 8th 6:45pm


For those new to exercise, or those that would like to get more experience with the primary exercises in CrossFit before joining the classes, we offer a 4 week On-Ramp program.  The curriculum for our On-Ramp program is designed and taught by James Barber, who has been coaching at CrossFit Sweat Shop and teaching in the Kinesiology department at St. Mary’s College for the past 3 years.

- The program consists of 8 sessions (Class offered twice a week and completed in 4 weeks).
- The classes are 1-hour in length
- The program is small (8-person cap) as we will have a deeper focus on the fundamentals and safety practices of the movements.
- The class starts with an intro to a basic movement (i.e. squat) and there will be a short workout at the end of each session.
- Each session will get progressively more challenging as the movements become more dynamic as well as the intensity of the workout increases.
- At the conclusion of the 8 sessions, members will be more than prepared to join the regular classes.

Our next On-Ramp session will be begin on Monday September 8th and go for 4 weeks, each Monday and Wednesday evening at 6:45pm – email James Barber for more information or to reserve a spot in an upcoming On-Ramp!

Moxie Madness


Team Sweat Shop at Moxie Madness 2012. 

It’s been two years since Sweat Shop has had a team compete at Moxie Madness. This weekend, Taneya, Ali, Skyler and Little will be reppin it for The Sweat Shop. Moxie is a two day competition located at the Football facilities of the San Jose State Spartans. This year they are adding some extra spice with a team swim! Looks like its going to be a fun one to watch. If you don’t have any plans this weekend, head on down and cheer on team Sweat Shop!! #sweatshopswag

For more info and how to purchase tickets click here 


Monday’ WOD

A.) Front Squat
sets across

B.) Elizabeth
Power Clean 135/95
Ring Dips

*ADV. Ring Dips performed after doing muscle up to get up to rings

Congrats James and Melaney

jb_wedding_groupJames and Melaney with some of the Sweat Shop friends who attended

Big congratulations to JB and Mel who tied the knot this past weekend at a really nice beach wedding just outside of Santa Cruz.  12 years in the making, they truly are a perfect match for one another!  I feel really fortunate to have these two extremely caring and positive influences not only in my life, but also for all that they are to my children.  Much love James and Mel!


Saturday’s WOD:

800m Run
9 Power Clean
9 Front Squat
9 Clean & Jerk

403m Run
12 Power Clean
12 Front Squat
12 Clean & Jerk

200m Run
15 Power Clean
15 Front Squat
15 Clean & Jerk

Getting Started

On-Ramp Begins Sept. 8th

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