You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Broken

The stereotypical media portrayal of aging is a person who complains of joint pain, demonstrates a restricted range of motion and moves with a slow, unsteady gait.

A well-documented correlation can be found among age, gait speed and stability: As we age, speed and stability go down (7,14). This is not in reference to athletic performance of older athletes but to walking and simple standing tasks among the general public. One part of the stereotype is seemingly supported by science.

As for range of motion in well-seasoned joints, again the literature is replete with papers that present a correlation between advancing age and reduction in flexibility (10,12). It appears that another part of the age-related stereotype is underpinned by science.

Stereotypical aging characters in books and scripts often use colorful colloquialisms to call attention to the presence of pain and how they feel about it. In the scientific literature, the association between aging and pain is present (8), but some interesting physiological and psychological quirks and inconsistencies bear more consideration than given here. Overall, the stereotypical presentation of joint pain appears to be supported by data, at least in part.

This is where it gets tricky. Stereotypes are literary and theatrical devices used to portray characters without a great deal of exposition. In the real world, stereotypes are less useful. Yet the “old” stereotype pervades society.

So does evidence suggest biology will cause us to get slower over time? Do we, as an unavoidable consequence of aging, have to retreat to smaller and smaller ranges of motion? And is pain an inevitable part of aging?

Fast on Your Feet

The wealth of data on age-related declines in movement speed is derived from observational studies of average people at various stages of life. The most common studies don’t track the same group over a lifespan; they take single snapshots of different groups at different ages and compare among them. This approach is the most common because its costs are lower and data can be provided quickly and within the span of a researcher’s career. With adequate controls and proper design, the results can be quite informative, but these results will show correlation and association between variables, not causation.

What we know: Older populations seem to walk slower than younger populations. This observation is usually manifested as a reduction in preferred walking speed from 1.53 meters per second in young adults to 1.47 meters per second in 40-year-olds to 1.44 meters per second in 60-year-olds to 1.22 meters per second in 80-year-olds (19).

Does this decrement have to occur? Probably not. Most of these papers ask the subjects to walk at their “preferred” walking speed. So this is an assessment of perception and desired work rate, not physiological capacity. Some researchers have measured maximal walking speed over a few meters’ distance. Many fewer papers have investigated maximal movement speed in the aged.

In one of these few studies, Kulmala and co-workers determined the maximal running speed of adults of varying ages (26, 61 and 78 years old) across a 5.7-meter data-capture area. They found that the younger adults had flying-sprint velocities of 9.3 meters per second, the 61-year-olds could speed along at 7.9 meters per second, and the 78-year-olds maxed out at 6.6 meters per second (15). That’s a 15 percent drop from 26 to 61 years old and another 16 percent drop from 61 to 79—29 percent total lifetime drop in maximal running speed from 26 to 78 years of age. We seem to get slower with age but are still capable of significant running speed.

Just as the Kulmala paper suggests, older individuals can still move quite quickly, and these findings aren’t restricted to the laboratory. Track-and-field results show that older and very old individuals are quite capable of moving fast. The fastest 60-meter sprint time in the world for 60-64-year-olds so far in 2018 is 7.60 seconds, and for 75-79-year-olds it’s 8.56 seconds. These velocities are similar to those reported by Kulmala; however, competitive velocities are calculated from a standing start, not the flying data capture used in the research, so the competitors had higher peak velocities at the end of the race.

We do need to note that an age-related decay is present, but it is definitely not to the inevitable and ominous levels implied in stereotypes. In fact, a small study compared sedentary aged individuals to recreationally active aged individuals and masters athletes in respect to maximal gait speed and found that you can retain more of your base movement speed if you are active (9). One caveat noted in that study: You actually have to work on retaining speed; you can’t be “recreationally active.” The researchers noted that the recreationally active group was no faster than the sedentary group, while the masters athletic group was over 17 percent faster than those who were sedentary and those who were recreationally active.

It is a certainty that you will move slower over time if you remain sedentary. It is possible that—even if you are physically or recreationally active, as recommended by popular initiatives—you might suffer exaggerated slowing. What seems to change the rate of decay is training for fitness—working progressively to develop strength, endurance and mobility. Yes, slowing with age is unavoidable, but the degree of speed decay is dependent on maintenance or regaining of fitness. It is absolutely never too late to begin or restart fitness training.

But what about the decrement in movement speed seen in aging athletes? It seems that getting slower is unavoidable.

A number of biological factors partially explain why we get slower. Muscular atrophy and sarcopenia lead to the loss of functional muscle mass beginning at around age 45 (13). Changes in structure and reduced neural function also contribute to decrements (17). These, and other occurrences, are associated with the reduction in physical capacity so frequently reported with aging. But these sources of loss can be mitigated by time in the gym (23).

Out of Range

Range of motion is important. Can we move parts of our bodies where we need to in order ambulate effectively? If we have a restricted range of motion, we are limited in our ability to interact with and move within our environment.

In this aspect, the stereotype is extreme, but the data suggests that while loss of range of motion does occur over the lifespan (18,21), the loss is likely less profound than one might expect. In fact, the loss does not appear to be large at all, with reports suggesting declines as low as 0.3 percent and up to 0.8 percent per year after 40, with some joints—(such as the shoulder and hip) more affected than others (such as the knee).

If we consider Sehl’s estimation of biological-function decay at 0.66 percent per year after age 30 as indicative of the rate of joint-function loss over time, we can begin to see that biology is robust and persistent over the lifespan (20). The loss in range of motion probably has contributing factors—likely lack of use and a sedentary lifestyle. The loss of range of motion in the sedentary occurs a little faster and to a greater extent than loss of biological function. How can we say lack of movement is a contributor? Because significant data tells us that if we move joints, or, better yet, train those joints in the quest for fitness, then we can increase range of motion (2,6). While we can’t reverse aging, we certainly can prevent excess loss of movement capacity.

Pain in the Ass

For a 60-year-old, I train a lot, and I get training-induced aches and pains. I have chronic pain that can be traced to early and late-adulthood orthopedic injuries and many more insults from a weird life. If a researcher queried me about how my pain level compared to that of my younger years, he or she would conclude that I’m probably a masochist and have been so since my teens. Working toward my limits in physical performance has always, always carried with it transient pains, adaptation to and reduction in pain, and then more training-induced pain. I am not alone in this by any means; trainees and athletes of all ages everywhere have this experience.

Pain, as a concept, has to be defined. What one person describes as “mild discomfort” another calls debilitating. Some people consider training-induced pain to be indicative of homeostatic disruption that will drive adaptation, some consider that pain indicative of injury, and some consider the pain to be an actual injury. We have to make sure everyone is operating on the same definition.

If we consider sensitivity to pressure-induced pain in experimental conditions, it appears as though age lowers the threshold to pain perception. Several studies have reported that older populations report pain at lower input compared to younger populations (4,5,8,16). While much more data is available on this topic using myriad research models with wide-ranging results, it appears that as a member of the sedentary public ages, the neural network acquires a lower pain threshold. Lower levels of input create a higher pain response. Perceiving pain at a lower threshold can affect behavior; for example, by causing fear and avoidance of circumstances that are associated with pain (24). Pain can stop us from moving if we let it.

But we also see—as we did with movement speed and range of motion—that exercise has a positive effect on reported pain. Back pain is very common globally (11). As such, it receives a huge amount of attention clinically and scientifically. A very recent meta-analysis of a spectrum of common interventions to reduce the prevalence of back pain found that exercise alone reduced back pain more than any other non-pharmaceutical intervention (22). We can see a similar positive effect on reported knee pain (1).

So if older individuals report pain when they would not have in their younger lives, and if exercise will aid in reducing the prevalence of pain, it might be tempting to push older trainees for their own good. Of course, we should by no means think the data gives us license to push older individuals deep into the dark abyss of pain. Rather, it is evidence that a trainer can’t treat a well-aged couch potato fresh off the sofa the same way he or she would treat a younger new trainee. The same goes for a trainee who was athletic 20 years ago but is trying to get back into shape after two decades of sedentarism. Older trainees perceive pain differently, and scaling and progression have to be customized to each.

Trainers need to recognize that older trainees do not have the same pain-perception characteristics as younger trainees or even the trainer him- or herself. Attention must be paid to verbal and non-verbal pain cues from the older trainee to ensure appropriate loading, progression and happiness. Modify and adapt; don’t quit.

Slowing the Effects of Time—and Inaction

With regard to speed of movement, range of motion and pain, all can be modified by training. Disuse is a powerful force in aging, one that amplifies the negative effects of inevitable biological diminishment.

We can maintain a tremendously large portion of our younger function if we simply train regularly and progressively. If we choose the couch, the end result is reduction in speed and range of motion accompanied by an increase in perceived pain. To me it seems a silly and self-defeating choice. But this is precisely the option millions of older adults select.

As we age, we tend to sit down more and do less and less. The percentage of people considered to be active enough to derive health benefits is low. Only 29 percent of the young-adult population is considered physically active to the point of gaining or maintaining endurance- and strength-related health benefits (3). But remember that “recreationally active” appears insufficient to maintain movement velocity over a lifespan.

If we look deeper at the data, at exercise habits over a lifetime, we see that as the public ages, those who actually exercise or play sports stop. That low 29 percent participation rate drops to about 23 percent by about 45 years of age. It plunges to about 15 percent around age 70 and further falls to under 9 percent as people reach their 80s. This decision to stop training or playing has a profound effect and accelerates age-related functional decay.

When we plot losses in biological function, movement speed and range of motion, and the growth of the inactive segment of the population, you can see that choosing to be sedentary is likely a large contributor to loss of movement speed (see graphic). Remember I’m showing an association here, not causality, as that data does not exist.

Fight the Stereotype

What we should take away from this discussion is that noticeable slowing with age is driven in part by biology but is significantly affected by the choice to spend time on the couch. Similarly, while some loss in range of motion with age is inevitable, the degree of loss is magnified by sedentarism.

It is fairly simple to break out of the stereotype: We just need to avoid retreating into inactivity with the passing years. The global perception of the aged as doddering and low functioning is less a necessary fact and more a self-fulfilling prophecy when inactivity is added to the mix.

What are the limits of aged performance? How much of our age-related functional decay can be avoided? No one knows, but we should endeavor to find out, not necessarily as part of scientific inquiry but as part of our own self-care into antiquity. When we lose physical function, we become dependent. The longer we maintain our physical fitness, the longer we remain independent.

While not a panacea for illness and injury, exercise—exercise that starts with the smallest of steps and progresses to a robust retention of strength, endurance and mobility—can push the onset of dependency back toward the absolute end of life. A current retiree, a soon-to-be-retiree, and those who will at some point retire will greatly enhance quality of life by becoming physically active and then moving on to progressive exercise.

From one aging individual to another, fight the stereotype. Fight it by choosing to be active and avoiding a self-induced functional deficit that only grows and becomes more profound with the passing years. Choosing the couch has long-lasting ramifications on our independence.


  1. Anwer S, Alghadir A, and Brismée JM. Effect of home exercise program in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy 39(1): 38-48, 2016.
  2. Choi J-H, Yoo K-T, An H-J et al. The effects of taping, stretching, and joint exercise on hip joint flexibility and range of motion. Journal of Physical Therapy Science 28: 1665–1668, 2016.
  3. Clarke TC, Norris T, and Schiller JS. Early release of selected estimates based on data from 2016 National Health Interview Survey. National Center for Health Statistics, 2017.
  4. Cole LJ Farrell MJ, Gibson SJ et al. Age-related differences in pain sensitivity and regional brain activity evoked by noxious pressure. Neurobiology of Aging 31: 494–503, 2010.
  5. Edwards RR and Fillingham RB. Age-associated differences in responses to noxious stimuli. Journals of Gerontology Series A 56(3): M180–185, 2001.
  6. Freimann T, Merisalu E, and Pääsuke M. Effects of a home-exercise therapy programme on cervical and lumbar range of motion among nurses with neck and lower back pain: a quasi-experimental study. BMC Sports Science and Medical Rehabilitation 7: 31, 2015.
  7. Frimenko R, Goodyear C, and Bruening D. Interactions of sex and aging on spatiotemporal metrics in non-pathological gait: a descriptive meta-analysis. Physiotherapy 101(3): 266-272, 2015.
  8. Gibson SJ, Gorman MM, and Helme RD. Assessment of pain in the elderly using event‐related cerebral potentials. In: Proceedings of the Sixth World Congress on Pain. Bond MR, Charlton JE, Woolf CJ, ed. Amsterdam, New York: Elsevier, 1991. pp. 527–533.
  9. Glenn JM Vincenzo J, Canella CK et al. Habitual and maximal dual-task gait speeds among sedentary, recreationally active, and masters athlete late middle-aged adults. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity 23: 433 -437, 2015.
  10. Grimston SK, Nigg BM, Hanley DA et al. Differences in ankle joint complex range of motion as a function of age. Foot & Ankle International 14(4): 215-222, 1993.
  11. Hoy D, Bain C, Williams G et al. A systematic review of the global prevalence of low back pain. Arthritis & Rheumatology 64(6): 2028-2037, 2012.
  12. Intolo P, Milosavljevic S, Baxter DG et al. The effect of age on lumbar range of motion: a systematic review. Manual Therapy 14(6): 596-604, 2009.
  13. Janssen I, Heymsfield SB, Wang ZM et al. Skeletal muscle mass and distribution in 468 men and women aged 18-88 yr. Journal of Applied Physiology 89(1): 81-88, 2000.
  14. Kilby MC, Slobounov SM, and Newell KM. Aging and the recovery of postural stability from taking a step. Gait & Posture 40(4): 701-706, 2014.
  15. Kulmala JP, Korhonen MT, Kuitunen et al. Whole body frontal plane mechanics across walking, running, and sprinting in young and older adults. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 27(9): 956-963, 2017.
  16. Lautenbacher S, Kunz M, Strate P et al. Age effects on pain thresholds, temporal summation and spatial summation of heat and pressure pain. Pain 115: 410–418, 2005.
  17. Manini TM, Hong SL, and Clark BC. Aging and muscle: a neuron’s perspective. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 16(1): 21-26, 2013.
  18. Roy JS, Macdermid JC, Boyd Ku et al. Rotational strength, range of motion, and function in people with unaffected shoulders from various stages of life. Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology 1: 4, 2009.
  19. Samson MM, Crow A, de Vreede PL et al. Differences in gait parameters at a preferred walking speed in healthy subjects due to age, height and body weight. Aging 13(1): 16-21, 2001.
  20. Sehl ME and Yates FE. Kinetics of human aging: I. rates of senescence between ages 30 and 70 years in healthy people. The Journals of Gerontology Series A 56(5): B198–B208, 2001.
  21. Soucie JM, Wang C, Forsyth A et al. Range of motion measurements: reference values and a database for comparison studies. Haemophilia 17(3): 500-507, 2011.
  22. Steffens D, Maher CG, Pereira LS et al. Prevention of low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine 176(2): 199-208, 2016.
  23. Uematsu A, Tsuchiya K, Kadono N et al. A behavioral mechanism of how increases in leg strength improve old adults’ gait speed. PLoS ONE 9(10): e110350, 2014.
  24. van Vliet CM, Meulders A, Vancleef LMG et al. The opportunity to avoid pain may paradoxically increase fear. Journal of Pain. Pii S1526-5900(18): 30185-30188, 2018.

Blog Courtesy of CrossFit Journal and written by Lon Kilgore

How to Modify CrossFit While Pregnant

We all know the evidence behind staying active while you are pregnant. Thirty minutes or more of exercise a day is great throughout your pregnancy. For those wondering if CrossFit is safe during pregnancy, let me assure you that I did it through two pregnancies (one was twins) and felt great. Working out during pregnancy can help:

  • Reduce Back Pain
  • Reduce Swelling & Inflammation
  • Help Control Weight Gain
  • Improve Mood and Energy
  • Help you Bounce Back Postpartum


As you go through your pregnancy that are 3 ways to adjust the workouts: alter repetitions, alter intensity and/or alter the movement itself. The big thing you want to watch out for is pain. You should never feel pain with any movement. Later in the pregnancy if you see coning in your belly, you should modify the movement as well. Always listen to your body. It will tell you how much to push or scale back.

Here is a guide to help you through your modifications. You may feel pretty good in the 1st trimester and need very little scaling. That was the case for me. Overall, I was pretty tired so I chose to scale back the intensity to start but didn’t need to alter movements. In the 2nd Trimester that bump is popping out and may inhibit certain movements so you may want to switch that barbell for some dumbbells. During the 2nd trimester you should eliminate any twisting movements, as well. There aren’t a lot of these in CrossFit, so it isn’t too tough to follow. Here is a list of modifications for the most common CrossFit movements.

Push Up -> Elevated Push ups on a box/bench

Burpees –> Top half burpees (remove push up)

Barbell –> You can substitute dumbbells for any barbell movement

Box Jump –> Box step up

Pull Up –> Ring Row or PVC banded pulldown

Double Unders –> Line jumps

Sit Ups –> Plank

Handstand Pushups –> Seated dumbbell press

In the second trimester a hormone called Relaxin softens your ligaments. I felt like my squat got deeper overnight. You do want to be careful about weight and intensity when this happens. As long as you can control the movement, you should be safe. If you are struggling to control your squat on the way down squat to a box or wall ball. You can easily eliminate high impact movements like running by replacing them with a rower or bike. As you go can decrease the intensity or the weight.

The third trimester is very similar to the second…with less space. As that stomach grows things may get a bit harder to do. If squatting is tough, switch to power (above parallel). All movements have variations and modifications. Just ask your coach if something is uncomfortable. There is no reason to ever ‘push through’ a movement. Working out through your entire pregnancy is safe as long as you are cleared by your doctor. With my daughter I got a workout in the morning I was induced. This also allowed me to bounce back and jump back in postpartum.

In the end, always play it safe. Always listen to your body. You know yourself the best. Take it easy on yourself. You are growing a human! You are doing a great job.

4 Tips To Help You Get Started

Most of us have no problem once we’re at the gym, on the trail, or biting into a salad. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. But getting to that point. Doing the “healthy thing” or the “hard thing” that we know will benefit us. That can be a bit trickier.

There is a certain amount of activation energy we must muster anytime we want to break out of our normal habit patterns. It’s hard to make will power override the status quo every time we need to make a decision though. If you’re someone who finds themselves frequently running into barriers when it comes to healthy habits then this article is for you!

Here are 4 Tips to help you get started on your healthy habits!

1. Define your task.
2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.

1.Define your task.
Specificity is your friend when it comes to taking action. The more focused and detailed your pursuit is, the more likely you will be to get it done. Just think about the following 3 statements:

  • “I’m going to eat healthy today.”
  • “I’m going to have a salad for lunch.”
  • “I’m going to eat a vegetable and lean protein with each meal and avoid eating sugar today.”

Which person do you think is going to have the most success with their healthy eating today?

Ding ding ding! If you said person number three you are absolutely correct. This person took an approach that set them up for success in their meal choices for the day. Notice that they didn’t have to do anything special to make this happen. The short amount of time it takes to plan how you will attack your healthy habit will pay tremendous dividends in the end!

2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
As we talked about before, there is always a certain amount of activation energy required to start a new habit or task. If we can reduce the amount of activation energy it will be easier to get started.

That’s science right? Boom!

So how do we actually apply this concept? There are a ton of ways. Let’s say the habit is to go to the gym at 6am tomorrow morning. What are all the things that could make your trip to the gym happen successfully? You could:

  • Set your alarm so that you have enough time to wake up, get ready, and drive to the gym with 10-15 minutes to spare.
  • Set up your morning coffee and a simple breakfast so it’s ready to go.
  • Set a bedtime alarm reminding you to shut down the tech and get ready for bed at a desirable time.
  • Pick out your gym clothes and anything else you need to start your day off as a success.
  • RSVP/Sign up for the class.
  • Coordinate with a friend to carpool together to class. (This is a great way to stay accountable!)

The less you have to do in any given moment the easier it will be to take action. Try to eliminate as many barriers as possible that would present as an obstacle to your goal.

3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
If you struggle to prepare healthy meals or don’t really like to exercise maybe you just haven’t found the approach that works for you. Trying a group fitness class, small group session, or personal training appointment might help you figure out the right environment and type of support you need to make going to the gym “not so bad” 🙂

If cooking and eating healthy is a struggle try to come up with a ritual that makes meal prep more fun. Invite a friend over, crank up some tunes, or binge watch one of your favorite shows while you chop veggies and cook up your meals for the week!

4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.
Studies have shown that people who publicly announce their goals or intentions are actually less likely to follow through on them. When you tell someone “I’m going to lose 10 lbs” or “I’m going to hit the gym 5 days a week” it feels good at the moment. According to the study, that sense of completeness you feel will make you less effective than if you were to keep the goals to yourself.

So what should you do instead? Write down the goals you have or some of the changes you want to make. Discuss a plan of action with an experienced coach who can tell you what it takes to get there. Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Get it done.

There you have it, 4 tips to help you get started towards your wellness goals.

When you hear that alarm go off in the morning and your first instinct is to hit that snooze button remember this maxim from Marcus Aurelius, “Is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” Remember it is human nature to seek comfort. But it is our most basic desire that we are satisfied in the process. Hold yourself to that higher standard. The delayed gratification of getting out of bed for a walk or to hit the gym will improve your life and fulfillment in the long run. The warm bed feels good in the moment, but you’ll sleep easier knowing your actions are aligned with your words.

Trust the Prescription

You know that little 5 minute speech that the coach gives at the beginning of class? When they talk about the workout and how it should feel. That’s a pretty important part of planning out your workout for the day and will help you select the weights you use, reps you shoot for, and how to pace yourself in conditioning pieces. If you’ve ever felt a bit lost during this portion of class then this article is for you!

Let’s dive into how to approach some different types of workouts to better understand how the stimulus of each workout should feel so you scale appropriately for you. Of course, our coaches are always available to answer your questions!

One of the simplest ways to look at each workout is based on the energy system involved.

The 3 main energy systems in our body are:

  • Phosphocreatine System
  • Glycolytic System
  • Aerobic System

The differences between these systems are based on the source of energy or “fuel” for the activity. These systems are always functioning in our bodies at all times, but depending on the type of activity we’re doing one energy system may be the predominant fuel source.

Training these energy systems improve our ability to use fuel more efficiently, recover more quickly, and improve our overall health as a side effect. It’s important to know what the result you are trying to achieve is for each workout. This makes sure that you get the most out of your efforts without burning yourself out!

The Phosphocreatine system is associated with short intense efforts, usually lasting 10-12 seconds or less. Most dedicated power and strength pieces fall into this category.

An example of a workout item that targets this energy system could look like:
Build to a 3 Rep Max Back Squat with 2:00-3:00 rest between.

Another example could be:
Every 2:00 for 5 sets perform :10 second max effort assault bike sprint.

Notice how in the second prescription we chose a time domain rather a set number of calories on the bike. If the assignment was 10 calories every 2:00 you might see very different time domains based on the athlete. It might take one person :08 seconds to complete 10 calories and another person :30 seconds. This would change the energy system being trained, the rest interval, and totally change the dose response of the workout.

The glycolytic system is associated with medium to high intensity efforts that can last from :30 – :180 seconds and will taper off drastically based on how well trained an individual is. These usually show up as higher rep weightlifting sets or interval style workouts. Efforts in this energy system rely on glucose (blood sugar) to fuel the effort. They also generate lactate that the body works to clear in order to continue the effort. Adjusting the amount of time you rest.

One example of an interval workout would be:
4 sets of 10-12 reps of Bench Press with a 40X0 tempo followed by :90 seconds of rest.

Another example would be
Every Minute On The Minute for 8 rounds perform :40 seconds of Russian Kettlebell Swings.

Aerobic workouts cover the broad spectrum of workouts remaining. Most efforts lasting longer than 3 minutes will put you in an aerobic state. If you’ve ever “come out too hot” in a workout you have probably approached the workout as a glycolytic piece and when your body could no longer sustain the effort you switched to an aerobic approach.

A classic benchmark workout that require an aerobic effort would be:
Cindy, Complete as many rounds as possible in 20:00 minutes of
-5 Pullup
-10 Pushup
-15 Air Squat

If you are not able to sustain that number of reps or continue completing the movement safely for 20 minutes at a steady pace then you can explore scaling the movements, repetition numbers, or shortening the time domain.

Each day’s class might contain one or more elements of these types of training. There may also be a skill component to a workout that may not be targeting a response from any of these energy systems and is instead geared towards improving movement patterns and transferability of key skills.

Questions about scaling? Don’t hestitate to ask a Coach at The Coop Crossfit in Scottsdale.

The Top 3 Hacks For Healthy Eating

Not every “fit” person follows a diet.

Not every person who struggles with their body composition lacks self control.

Finding the right foods, ratios, and quantities to optimize the way you look and feel is an ever evolving process. Your body is in a constant state of change. Cells are dying and regenerating. The body we live in today is a result of many past choices. How we look and feel will be influenced by our food choices, age, gender, hormones, activities, sleep, and stress. There’s no one right answer.

There are however some areas we can focus on in our journey to looking and feeling great. Here are the top 3 hacks for healthy eating!

  1. Pick your fats
  2. Eat more vegetables
  3. Protein is the foundation of every meal

1. Pick your fats
Fats stick with you. Not just figuratively, they actually make up the cell wall in every cell in your body. This affects the way cells communicate with one another as well as your body’s inflammatory response. That’s why the types and the quality of fats you choose to eat is such an important factor.

Fat Types
Polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats can help provide your body with a sustainable energy source, decrease inflammation, and improve mental performance. These types of fats are found in foods such as salmon, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

Saturated fats should be consumed sparingly. They are not all bad but high consumption of saturated fat may be linked to increased risk of heart disease.

Fat Quality
Each meal should include a healthy fat option that supports your goals. Fat quality in animal products can vary greatly depending on the conditions the animal was raised in and what they were. You are eating what the animal ate! Focus on humanely raised animal products, grass finished, and wild fish versus farm raised.

Fat amounts
Working with an experienced nutritionist is a great way to calculate your fat needs for the day. This can vary based on your body type, genetics, and goals. Try to avoid high fat meals before or after exercise to avoid any digestive issues around training.

2. Eat more vegetables
Seems like a no-brainer but when you think about your meals over the past few days how many of those contained a full serving of veggies?

Vegetables are a great source of fiber, essential nutrients, and prebiotics to support gut health. They are also always going to be your best alternative when it comes to snacking. Most of us are not going to do any sort of damage by stuffing our face with broccoli and carrots!

3. Protein is the foundation of every meal

Humans need protein. There’s no way around it. The amino acids that make up proteins (plant or animal) are the building blocks for our muscles. Without sufficient protein in the diet our bodies will start breaking down muscle, diverting amino acids to perform other critical functions in the body.

So how much do you need? This again will vary a ton based on your goals, body composition, and genetics. Once you have your protein goal determined for the day. Set a protein goal for each meal by dividing that total daily amount by the number of meals you generally eat. Don’t forget to factor in your post workout shake!

For example, if you are shooting to consume 150 grams of protein per day and typically eat 5 times a day you would aim for about 30 grams of protein at each meal. Once you figure out your numbers it becomes easy to know what foods support that quantity of protein.

There you have it, the top 3 hacks for healthy eating! If you’re trying to clean up your nutrition and fitness regiment let us know how we can best help!

Need more help with nutrition? Come see one of our coaches at The Coop CrossFit in Scottsdale or schedule a free 15 minute consultation with Dr. Jordan, our in-house nutrition expert.


Is Boutique Fitness Right for Me?

If you’re ready for results it’s time to ditch the health club…

There was a time when we got all the exercise we require from our daily activities. But as hunting and gathering lead to farming and eventually the industrialized world we live in today the need for human “labor” has been nearly eradicated. Now that we work desk jobs, eat our meals from the hot bar at Whole Foods, and enjoy a generally sedentary lifestyle we are required to reintroduce this missing physical activity. For some reason, the question of how to add physical activity, or work, back into our lives is one that has proven to be puzzling, controversial, and difficult terrain to navigate.


In response to the demands of the market the fitness industry has grown tremendously, particularly in North America where an estimated $28 billion was spent in 2015. Much of this industry is dominated by health clubs and large gym franchises that offer a sampling of strength equipment, cardio machines, TV’s, massage chairs and minimal staffing. Granted  how many staff members do you need when your members don’t actually attend the club? In a study done by students at UC Berkeley found 67% of gym memberships are never used in the population they surveyed.


“If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym’s best customer.” -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR


The savvy marketers at big box gyms know how to target their marketing towards individuals who won’t actually come to the facility. As humans we often get a rush of excitement by a new fitness undertaking. “This is it, the time I actually change, no looking back,” you say. The challenge is that the health club has made zero commitment to you. They don’t care if you show up or not. Luckily there is someone out there who does.


Boutique fitness is the alternative to the traditional health club model. Boutique gyms offer specialized classes based on the expertise of the owners, teachers, or coaches. CrossFit boxes, Barre studios, Bikram yoga, parkour facilities, spin classes  are all great examples of the boutique fitness model.


These communities succeed when the all parts are working together; the owner, staff, and clientele all succeed when they each meet their goals. This synergistic effect leads to faster results and more satisfaction from all parties. As a client you have a team of coaches and fellow members who are all rooting for you, teaching you, and most importantly holding you accountable. Becoming fit doesn’t have to be a chore, a challenge, or a pain point. In fact, it can even be fun 😉


Boutique gyms have been seen rapid growth in the past decade as clients recognize that when it comes to fitness, not all gyms are created equal. Some of the most common excuses sound like:

  • “I have a hard time sticking to a routine”
  • “I’m just too busy to exercise”
  • “I get bored with going to the gym, it always feels like work”
  • “I don’t know how to lift weights/choose a routine/eat the right food”


These are great excuses, but since you’re ready to make a change it’s time to ditch the excuses and focus on RESULTS. By implementing a system that counters your excuses you’ll be left with the only option, the results that you want to achieve.


If you struggle with sticking to a routine you will benefit from the coaches, friends, and community members that you’ll meet at each class. A group of people that will ask you about your day, learn about your goals and life, and most importantly encourage you to show up consistently to your workouts.


If you claim to be too busy then you should sign up for classes ahead of time. The wide variety of classes that are available each day at time frames that are consistent with your schedule make it easy to squeeze in an hour long workout.


If boredom is your challenge then a workout that changes every day is exactly what you need. Not only that but the different coaching styles and friends you’ll make at different times of the day make each class a totally unique experience.


If information is the enemy then relax, because that’s already been taken care of for you. Your coach has put a lot of thought into a training program that will improve your fitness and will be by your side to instruct you on form, breathing, and what weights to use. Keep an eye out for group nutrition challenges to boot!


To get the results you want sometimes you need to try a new approach. If that trip to the gym feels more daunting than Frodo walking the ring to Mordor then it’s time to see what a boutique gym has in store for you!

The Power of Choice

Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of  summer… in 2012.


And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.


I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.


You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.


“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger


At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.


And life goes on.


And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.


Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.


You might think it’s too late (it’s not).


You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).


You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.


It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next?You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?


Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.


The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.


So what are you going to do?


[GYM OWNER:] Add a call to action here, like: “Schedule your Free Consult here” with a link.

5 Reasons to get STRONG

Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason.

Most programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s a wonder why so many folks stray away from what is tried and true when it comes to exercise programs?

“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics.” -Charles Poliquin

Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.

1. Training for strength produces results.

Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry has made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure those loose terms. If you want to change your body composition there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do make a change then strength training is your best option.

Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.

2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker

Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.

3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.

As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life.

A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:

  • Improve motor function
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Increase stamina
  • Prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)
  • Improve bone mineral density
  • Prevent and help rehab injuries

Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.

4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.

Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:

The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.

What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…

5. Strong moms have healthy babies.

During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Luckily, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boosted mood and energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes

Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!

We would love to help you live a healthy strong life. Schedule a Free Consult to learn more.