What I Learned at My First CrossFit Competition – by Vern

If you follow our social media account and have a pulse, you know that we hosted Saberspook 2018 last weekend. Nearly forty teams competed in Scaled and Rx divisions, battling assault bikes, burpees, box jumps, cleans, split jerks, front squats, ring muscle-ups, double-unders and more.

I was privileged enough to compete in the scaled division and it was a truly awesome experience. This was my first competition, and I learned three major things about CrossFit. Of course, I knew in my head that these things were true before Saberspook, but there’s a difference between intellectual knowledge and actually feeling something, y’know?

1. I learned that CrossFit really is for everybody and every body. 

One of the things that got me hooked when I started CrossFit is the variety of body shapes and sizes in every box. You simply cannot look at a person and tell whether they are fit, and CrossFit confirms this. A very thin woman might be able to hoist 200 pounds overhead, while a fat woman (like me!) can deadlift almost twice her body weight. I love not being able to judge a book by its cover.

One of our competitors – Mighty Maria – was only slightly taller than the bar over which she had to hoist 100-pound sandbags. She had a huge smile on her face when she walked up to that bar for the first time and absolutely slayed that workout.

There are many facets of our bodies that we simply cannot change, like our height and overall shape. CrossFit competitions render those unchangeable characteristics irrelevant. There’s no such thing as a disqualifying body, and because functional fitness incorporates so many different movements, there is also a “wheelhouse workout” for every body. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, an athlete is an athlete, no matter how big or how small.

2. I learned that community is more important than winning. 

CrossFit competitions might as well be a Care-Bear convention. Though we’re technically competing against each other, everyone is invested in seeing their friends and community members do well, and the camaraderie amongst your fellow athletes brings a contagious smile to even the most serious game-face. The loudest cheering at Saberspook came not from spectators there to watch individual people, but from the athletes themselves, screaming their support for fellow competitors from every gym.

Derek and I knew we weren’t gonna win any medals, but hoped for best costume. And who were we cheering for during the costume contest scream-off? Beauty and the Beast, that’s who. Because these people were awesome, and camaraderie is more important than competition.

Beauty and the Beast. They were beautiful and beastly.

Pictured: the exact moment I realized I hit someone with my Nerf bullet. Sorry dude.

On a serious note: people with news apps on their phones found out during the competition that a terrorist was assassinating people in Pittsburgh. It was a brutally stark contrast between the happiness and joy inside our box and the terror outside. You need the former – strong community, encouragement, and support – to combat the latter.

This photo of Kayla and Billy warms my heart and gives me hope for the world. #friendshipgoalz

3. I learned the value of pushing your limits – especially when it’s scary.

Pushing your limits is hard, yo – and also the most important thing that you can do as a human and an athlete. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: growth and change only happen on the edge of comfort.

Several of our members signed up for this competition knowing that they struggled with a certain movements in their chosen division. They all put in extra hours at the gym to work on that sticky movement in the weeks and months leading to Saberspook. Some of those people were able to conquer the movement, some weren’t. And you know what? They ALL did the right thing by pushing themselves out of their comfort zone regardless of the outcome. After all, what if the person had signed up for the easier division (or not signed up at all)? Then there’s a ZERO percent chance that they would master the elusive movement. They banked on the higher chance, and committed themselves to nervousness, discomfort, and personal growth.

Your turn. How did your Saberspook experience pan out? What did you learn?

For more information about CrossFit Sabertooth, to see pictures from Saberspook, to sign up for a FREE intro session or simply to say hello, click here!

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It’s Nutrition Challenge Time! – By Vern

Hey Saberfriends! If you’ve been in the gym or on our social media in the last few weeks, you’ve seen posters advertising our Fall Nutrition Challenge. This challenge, which starts tomorrow and is run by Coach Tim and Coach Fedde, is filled with an awesome group of people who want to make long-term changes in their health. Why do we run these challenges? Why should you pay attention to your diet?

1. Because food is fuel, not the enemy. Here’s the thing. Our society is fixated on food. Some of that fixation is good – relaxing and creating a home-cooked meal, bonding over a dinner with friends and family, supporting small local farmers and butchers. But some of that fixation is bad. As a nation, the average size in the United States is growing larger, while the diet industry (currently worth $66 million) continues to grow with us. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results, and clearly something has to change.

One of those changes is reframing food as fuel, not an enemy to be maliciously stared down. That lasagna was not put on earth to torment you. When you reframe food as simply the gasoline in your CrossFit engine, you naturally make choices that reflect that. Maybe it means having a big plate of roasted broccoli AND a piece of lasagna. Maybe it means making your own lasagna that fits your macros. Either way, it’s something that makes you feel excited, not guilty.

2. Because everything is easier in community. Our challenges involve counting your macros and tracking your food intake. Let’s be honest. That’s not thrilling stuff. But when your friends are doing it too, and you can share your favorite recipes, complaints, successes, and struggles, even the most tedious part of nutrition becomes more fun.

3. Because that’s how you get the GAINZ, bro. Physical activity is awesome, but it’s not the base of the CrossFit and fitness pyramid. There’s a saying out there – “you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.” Unfortunately for the processed food industry, it’s true. If you’re serious about having more energy, sleeping better, feeling better, and getting stronger (all non-scale victories!), you have to take an honest look at your food intake and see where you can make changes that will fuel your body, not fight it.

When you see the nutrition challenge members in the gym, give them a high five and ask how it’s going! Missed the signup? Don’t worry – we also offer personal nutrition coaching, and will have more challenges in the future.

Party on, dudes.

Myths about CrossFit competitions and why YOU – yes, you! – should compete! By Vern

If you’ve been doing CrossFit for any length of time, you’ve seen and heard about competitions. There are The Games, of course – but on any given weekend (especially in the summer!) you can find a competition hosted by a local CrossFit box. (Related: CrossFit Sabertooth is hosting the SaberSpook Throwdown on October 27!) Here are some common misconceptions about CrossFit competitions, and a few reasons why you should take the plunge and sign up.

Myth 1: I’m too fat/skinny/weak!

Nah, bro. Like CrossFit itself, CrossFit competitions are for everyone! Sure, there are minimum movement standards, and some competitions are more difficult than others (for example, the scaled division in Granite Games is not the same as the scaled division in SaberSpook). But that doesn’t mean you have to be jacked before you can compete. It means you need to find a competition with movement standards that reflect your overall abilities. There are more than twenty CrossFit gyms in the Minneapolis/St. Paul immediate metro area, with a competition to suit every fitness level.

Myth 2: I have to be competitive!

Nope. Busted again. Even at the highest levels, CrossFit competitions are some of the friendliest events you can find. Athletes cheer each other on, whether in direct competition or not. The whole box erupted in cheers when this athlete got her first muscle-up during a competition at Sabertooth!

Myth 3: I have to be able to do [insert movement here]!

Okay, so this one is a half-true, half-false kinda situation. You don’t want to sign up for a division where you know you can’t reach any of the movement standards, because you are setting yourself up for injury. But if you reframe your definition of winning, you don’t have to be able to do everything.

Example: Our members Corndog and Kayla recently competed at the Calypso Cup at CrossFit Calypso. They registered for the division that would challenge them, knowing that they could reach all of the milestones except one – toes-to-bar. To them, “winning” meant competing and trying as hard as they could. “Winning” did not mean finishing in first place.

Corndog and Kayla worked relentlessly to get toes-to-bar before the competition, and just couldn’t do it. They finished last in the workout that had that movement. And you know what? The world didn’t end. In fact, they did well enough in the other events that they would have placed if they’d had the toes-to-bar movement.

Growth only happens at the edge of comfort.

By reframing their definition of winning, Corndog and Kayla challenged themselves physically, emotionally, and mentally. Growth only happens at the edge of comfort, and they are both stronger for pushing themselves past that edge.

Also, on the practical side: for many partner competitions, only one of you needs to be able to do any given movement – you can split it up as the standards allow.

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Example: this guy is Vern’s partner for SaberSpook and he’s doing ALLLL the pull-ups.

Truth: it’s a fun weekend filled with camaraderie, personal bests, challenges, and growth.

One of our members, Tricia, recently took the plunge and signed up for SaberSpook at the end of the month. Now, Tricia has been battling a demon ever since she started CrossFit, and that demon is named Box Jump.

We all have our fears that threaten to cripple us (personally, I can’t handle holding a handstand!). Tricia is physically more than capable of doing a high box jump, but has struggled to get beyond the fear that comes when we stand in front of the box and imagine ourselves clearing it.

Tricia found out that SaberSpook has an event with box jumps, took a deep breath, and got to work.

In the last week, she has gone from not being able to comfortably do a single box jump, to easily hitting 16″ jumps and consistently making the required 20″ jump.

We have a saying here at Sabertooth – #exerciseyourdemons. By signing up for SaberSpook and committing to compete, Tricia has finally started to master her fear.

Similarly, our member Maddie signed up for a Strongman competition last summer. Maddie is strong and powerful, but didn’t know whether she could hack it at a competition. She faced her fears head-on and got a personal best of 20 reps of 245-lb deadlifts.

What are you waiting for?

Life lesson: you will never feel fully ready to take any scary plunge. Whether it is buying a house, getting a dog, or signing up for a CrossFit competition, you will always have lingering anxiety. Face that anxiety down, find a competition, and sign up today. Remember, growth only happens at the edge of comfort – don’t hamper yours!

As always, if you’re brand-new to CrossFit (or an expert athlete), you are welcome at CrossFit Sabertooth! Head to https://linktr.ee/crossfitsabertooth to learn more!

Get HOT! – by Vern

When is the last time you put any real thought into the most important part of your workout – the warm-up?!

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about it too much. You coast half-heartedly on the assault bike for a few minutes, maybe do some casual rowing, stretch while chatting with friends, and call it good.

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It’s okay to go with the warm-up flow in CrossFit classes, where our coaches – especially coach Matt! – incorporate intense warm-ups in every WOD. When you come to open gym, though, it’s important to create a warm-up that is specific to your workout. A good warm-up will have several components.

First, you need to…wait for it…get warm! Get on the bike, get on the rower, get on the ski erg and get that heart rate up. A good way to ease your body into the warm-up is to use intervals. Do at least three minutes of cardio, breaking up each minute: thirty seconds easy, fifteen seconds medium-intensity, and fifteen seconds of sprinting.

Once your body is warm and you’re breathing heavy, it’s time to warm up your muscles. Dynamic stretching is a great way to do this! Lunge and twist, spider-man walk, bear crawl, broad jumps – anything that combines muscle engagement with muscle mobility.

After dynamic stretches, take your warm-up a step farther and do movements that specifically activate what you’re working on. Let’s take squats as an example. If you jump straight into a squat workout without a proper warm-up, your hamstrings and quads will likely take on most the work because your glutes haven’t been activated. Try this next time you squat heavy, as part of your dynamic stretching:

  • Ten bridge holds (3 seconds each)
  • Ten single-leg bridges, each leg
  • Ten fire hydrants, straight back
  • Ten fire hydrants, to the side
  • 100-foot monster walk
  • Ten jumping squats

By doing a glute-specific warm-up, you’ve activated your glutes and are allowing them to help your quads and hamstrings to lift that heavy weight.

tl;dr: Get HOT before every workout! Now it’s your turn – what are your favorite exercise-specific warm-ups?

Experienced CrossFitter? Brand-spankin’-new to CrossFit? Elite athlete? Couch potato? No matter what, you’re welcome at CrossFit Sabertooth! Click here to set up your own free, personalized intro session.