Member Story: Patty

It’s time to resume our member stories! For this month, we’re featuring Patty H. Enjoy her story, and if you’re ready to take the jump into CrossFit yourself, we’d love to have you at CrossFit Sabertooth! head to to set up your own private intro session. – Ed.

I once was a softball player.


…Until a few years ago, when I had to quit playing softball due to an Achilles tendon injury that just wouldn’t resolve. I had always liked exercising, especially while being part of a team. I soon learned that working around an injury is no fun. Having to run at 60%, slowing down your team in any way, and not being able to give it your all just sucks. I finally realized that I actually liked lifting heavy weights and started doing that, but would still occasionally fall of the wagon because I missed the camaraderie of a team and felt misplaced in a gym filled with strangers.

It was about that time that I watched one of the CrossFit documentaries and thought, “this looks awesome and totally bad ass. I will sign up for that if I ever get fit enough”. If only I knew then what I know now: that you don’t have to be fit to start CrossFit! It took me at least a year, a move to Minnesota, and the luck to stumble upon the Sabertooth website, which literally said, “If you can get in the door, you can do CrossFit”.

I watched one of the CrossFit documentaries and thought, “this looks awesome and totally bad ass. I will sign up for that if I ever get fit enough”. If only I knew then what I know now: that you don’t have to be fit to start CrossFit!

After deliberating for about a month, I finally managed to drag myself out there. I was nervous for what was going to happen and what people were going to think. They’d surely think I wouldn’t belong in a CrossFit gym… And then it turns out, people were extremely friendly and supportive. No judgement. People were cheering me on before they had even met me, while I was working through the Foundations course. I immediately knew that CrossFit and Sabertooth was what I was looking for all along! I never looked back and went all in.

In CrossFit, I have finally found a sport that allows me to work on all aspects of fitness without ever having to give it less than a 100%. I still cannot run or jump, but I won’t let my injury hold me back: I can row and do step ups at the same intensity! I get to lift heavy, finally learned the Olympic lifts (a longtime wish), and the programming helps me not to chicken out of more challenging workouts (hello, burpees and planks).

Crossfit is simple and raw. Work hard and it pays off. We’re not here to look pretty. You’ll get to drop your bar from overhead, cover the floor in chalk, sweat on everything and grunt and yell to grind out that last rep. You get to feel good about your achievements all the time.

In CrossFit, I have finally found a sport that allows me to work on all aspects of fitness without ever having to give it less than a 100%. I still cannot run or jump, but I won’t let my injury hold me back: I can row and do step ups at the same intensity!

There are big and small wins almost every week. Some highlights in only 4 months of CrossFit: adding 75 lbs to my back squat while having better form than ever, breaking my 1000m row PR by a minute, kicking myself into a handstand after 10 years of not even daring to try, joining the women’s weightlifting club, and winning a medal with the Sabertooth dragon boat team. All this makes it so easy to continue to show up at the gym 5 times a week: not because I feel like I have to make myself do it, but because I really love doing it! I have many goals to pursue, both achievable in the near future and things that will require months to years of work. I can only look forward to getting closer to them with every workout that I do.

The best thing is that I get to work on all those goals with other people that all share the same passion to be pretty awesome at life. We’re technically not an organized team, but it sure feels that way! There are always fellow members and great coaches to celebrate the highs with and share the lows with. Everyone is there to cheer each other on, helping to push ourselves even more. I feel sad that I have to leave all of this behind when I move back to Europe. I can only hope that I will find another great CrossFit gym there, because I have set my mind on training to become Wonder woman.


Ed. note: As you read, Patty is leaving us next month to go back to Europe. We will miss her and are so grateful that we were able to give her a CrossFit foundation. You’re already Wonder Woman in our eyes, Patty! 

Are you a Sabertooth member? We want to feature you – yes, YOU! – on our blog! Send Vern a message or grab her at the next WOD for more details. 


Have you hit your edge? Keep going.

You’re bent over, trying to catch your breath, watching your sweat drip to the floor. Your legs are burning, your lungs are burning, and you don’t know how you can possibly finish the workout. Are you at your limit?


David Goggins says no. This former Navy SEAL believes that when we hit our limit, we are only performing at 40% of our true capacity. We actually have one more pullup and one more thruster and one more pushup in us, and it’s our mind, not our body, that’s shutting down.

Think about a time that you’ve been suddenly distracted from your pain during a WOD. Maybe that handsome dude walked in early, maybe your coach cheered you on, maybe it’s just a blast of fresh air from the fan. No matter what the stimulus is, we have all experienced that sudden burst of energy giving our legs just a little more life, even when we thought we were d-o-n-e done.

How can we channel that capacity in a safe and healthy way?

The answer lies in edgework. This concept, the work of sociologist Stephen Lyng, means working to your edge – for the sheer joy of finding the edge. It means pushing yourself farther than you could yesterday. It means finding your own personal wall, and going just one step further. It means shifting your mindset, from avoiding discomfort and seeking pleasure to actually finding pleasure in the discomfort itself.

This makes sense for workouts when you’re literally breaking down muscle fibers in order to build them back up. But what about the unsexy “real life”? Good news! This idea of expanding your limits translates to every single part of your existence.

When you decide to treat your life as a challenge, to dance with your edge at every moment, even mundane work meetings take on new life. Can you use the meeting time (which, let’s be honest, could have been conducted over email in ten seconds) to learn to embrace patience? Can you be content in a traffic jam even when you’re late for a WOD?

Spoiler alert: the answer is yes. One of the most practical ways to incorporate edgework into your life is to develop a mantra. A mantra is something that you can repeat to yourself. It’s short. Rhythmic. Hypnotizing. It means something to YOU. Something you can repeat to yourself during a tough workout with every pull of the rower, and a phrase you can silently* say during that inefficient meeting. You’re limited only by your imagination.

We’re going to examine the idea of edgework and how it relates to CrossFit in different contexts – meditation, exercise, even wilderness survival – in the coming months, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, leave us a message here or on social media about how you have pushed your edge!

* Or out loud, but we don’t recommend that, especially if it’s “I hate my boss and I will get a new one someday.”

If you’re new to CrossFit, welcome! If you can get in the door, you can do CrossFit – no exceptions. Click this link to sign up for your own free, private intro session at CrossFit Sabertooth. We’re here to help, not judge, and we’d love to help you meet your goals.

Social Media Maven Vern

A near storybook ending to a grueling DragonBoat Sunday.

This Sunday we fell just short of first place to our arch rivals Monkey Bay Paddling Club (MBPC)

The scene couldn’t have been set better: After our first of two rounds of racing we were 2.5 seconds behind MBPC in total time.

During the break, Tricia and Courtney collaborated with the group to revise our race strategy. They decided to simplify the strategy. The current one was more complex and intense. Our paddlers were burning out before the end of the race.

In the second round, we would be racing head to head against MBPC in the final two heats. We needed to make up 2.5 seconds for the win.

At the start of the first round, you could feel the tension in the air. Adrenaline was surging. My rowing partner Brad mentioned “nerves.” Thanks to Karl and Maddie, we had run of dirty jokes to ease the atmosphere.

The gun went off, paddlers dug deep, the boat lifted off the water and we picked up speed quickly. Our drummer Sonya, yelled “eyes up” when she sensed the paddler’s gaze straying from the front of the boat. Our lead paddlers Caroline and Allie locked in sync. Last 50 meters. It was push time. Sonya gave the cue – “REACH!!” That meant we dug deep to the finish and gave it everything we had. Flag Catcher Ryan, sitting patiently at the front of the boat, pops up and extends his body and arms out of the front of the boat in the last moment to pull the flag out of the water. A perfect Grab!

The strategy worked! We made up the 2.5 seconds needed to pull ahead of MBPC!
One last heat to go. We only needed to tie to hold the win.

The 2nd heat went much the same of the first with one exception: Our start was a little slower. But once the boat was up to speed it was smooth sailing. I could hear the entire boat counting, grunting, and yelling. It sounded like FaceMelt Friday Classes. I knew then we were putting every bit of effort we could into each stroke. As Ryan pulled to flag out of the water, we saw we lost by what seemed like inches.

Final result:
MBPC : 4:34:54
Sabertooth: 4:35:78

I couldn’t be more proud of our racing team this year. The positive attitudes, the willingness to give 100% on a scorching hot day, and the feeling camaraderie was easily noticed. Everyone stayed after to break down camp and clean up.

This was a GREAT DAY!

Thank you Team,

-Coach Matt

#ACTION — Getting yourself unstuck

When we first took Baby J into our home last year, Lianna didn’t get any maternity leave or bonding time. She was fairly new at her job, and for foster care most companies don’t have any policies in place for family leave. From day 1, Lianna felt like she was missing out on time with J. I was at home learning the ins and outs of our new 6 month old, and Lianna was stuck at work.

The guilt and feeling of missing out kept nagging. Rather than taking time to work out and take care of herself on the weekends, Lianna felt that she needed every spare ounce of time and energy to spend on our little guy. I felt super guilty that I had more time with J during the day. Working out became less and less consistent, our diets slipped a lot, and now the guilt was mixed with low energy and just not feeling good.

We needed Lianna to work full time. Financially we were stable and finally starting to make headway towards a down payment for a house. Her full time job had wonderful benefits, great coworkers, and rewarding work, but it was holding her back from getting the quality time with J that she craved. Lianna quitting her job or going part time was just not an option.

We talked through our options, can came to our ideal scenario: Would it be possible for Lianna to go down to four day work weeks, to get a weekday at home with the Bub? We knew Lianna’s boss was very supportive, understanding, and flexible, but to Lianna it just seemed like too much to ask, at first.

There was always a reason not to have the conversation.
“I just started this new position.”
“It’s too busy at work now, maybe I’ll wait a couple months.”
“What if they fire me or something?”
“What if they say no?”
“What if my boss gets upset?”

When it comes down to it, as many of us do — we were avoiding a tough conversation, that we weren’t sure would go our way. So we kept the (unhappy) status quo for way too long.

Take a minute to think — what is the tough conversation you’re avoiding right now? We all have them. Maybe it’s a bad work situation. Maybe it’s a sticking point in your relationship with your significant other. Maybe your roommate drives you insane and you want them gone — but they’re your friend, so it might get weird.

Life is short. Too short to sit around hoping the situation will resolve itself.

So it’s time to take action. I learned this great process from one of the Two Brain Business mentors, Jason Williams.

Answer the following questions:
1. What is the uncomfortable situation I need to address?
Spell it out for yourself plainly — why is it making me unhappy, who would I need to talk to, and why am I afraid to go through with it? Example: Lianna wanted more time at home with J. Quality time with him was highly important to her but working full time, it was crushing her.

2. What is the realistic worst case scenario, if I initiate this conversation?
I’m sure you can think of some awful things that could happen. What would be the hardest outcome? What is the root of the fear holding us back from pushing for what we need? In Lianna’s example, the worst case scenario was getting terminated from her job.

3. How likely is that worst case scenario to happen?
When you think about it — you’ll probably realize that the probability of the worst case scenario happening is pretty low. Would Lianna’s boss really fire her for asking for a different schedule? Would she think less of her for wanting more time with family? Highly doubtful.

4. How would I recover if it happened?
This is planning for the worst, hoping for the best. If Lianna got fired, we’d find her a new part time job with a schedule that allowed her the time she needs. Would there be a tough period during the interim? Of course. But we would figure it out! You can also think through some of the other more likely outcomes, and how you would manage if those happened. Being prepared takes a lot of the fear and unknown out of the equation.

5. What is it costing me NOT to have this conversation?
This is a big one. Most people discount the cost of the status quo. They don’t take into account their current level of frustration, guilt, anxiety that they are experiencing, often every single day, all because they are avoiding a difficult conversation that may shake things up, or make things worse in the short run. It might be more than just feelings too — is it costing you time, money, or other resources?


Eventually Lianna had that tough conversation with her boss. Now she works a little longer Monday-Thursday, but she has Fridays off, and works for a couple hours from home during J’s afternoon nap. Friday mornings are just for mama & Bub now. This has lead to so much less guilt and FOMO, which has lead to Lianna staying strong with nutrition, and getting a third weekly CrossFit workout in on the weekends. The one uncomfortable conversation lead to a big life improvement. As I write this I’m getting Snapchats from Lianna of her and J at the park on a beautiful Friday morning, and my heart is full.

Here is my challenge to you: Go through this exercise for an uncomfortable situation in your life. I highly recommend talking through these steps with a friend or significant other who can help you see the various outcomes.

THEN…DO IT. Have that conversation. Start moving that “mountain” and realize it was really just a molehill.

Life is too short to tiptoe around and feel like a victim to your own life. Sometimes the only thing standing between your current situation, and an awesome situation, is one uncomfortable conversation. Every once in a while we get lucky, and everything falls into place just the way we wanted, without having to push. More often than not, it’s going to be up to you to make it happen.

It’s time for action.


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“Self-Love: Setting the same goal for myself three years in a row.”

Recently we hosted a four week small group seminar focusing on self-love and overcoming negative self-talk. We asked our longtime member Brandy to tell us about her experience with the seminar, and why she signed up in the first place. Here’s what she had to say!

Setting the same goal for myself three years in a row.

Every winter Crossfit Sabertooth puts on a goal setting seminar around the start of the new year, presumably when people are most interested in pushing reset on the way they are living their life.   It’s winter in Minnesota; people are locked indoors, frustrated and ready for change. I have attended this goal setting seminar annually and without fail because I have gotten results from it in the past.   

Again, in this year’s seminar I made a list of the potential things I wanted for myself.   Like many of my friends there, I had obvious items: Do a strict pull up, pay off student debt, be happier.  But the last one, “have a more positive body image”, had come up annually. Looking back at my last three years of worksheets, it was always on the list.  I had ignored it because I couldn’t wrap my head around how to work on that or how I would even know when I had achieved it.

I’ve gained and lost weight over my adult life, and I knew that being thinner certainly didn’t mean that i stopped being a jerk to myself when I looked in the mirror.   Certainly if I could just become perfect at everything, then why wouldn’t I just be happy all the time. Some of my thoughts are such garbage. Those little nasty squirrels running around my brain always found a way to nest in the cozy corners of my mind.   

I’m very proud of myself for recognizing that the problem wasn’t my body, but the thoughts I have about my body.   A younger version of myself would have set a weight loss goal and booked a haircut.

I didn’t want to share this goal with the workshop group…but I did. I reluctantly talked about it, and my friends never cease to amaze me with their supportiveness and just bad-ass acceptance of me.   The sentiment was shared around the room, and after some discussion we had some ideas about what we could do to make this a meaningful goal.  

This is the part where my gym is the best ever.   Coach Chris followed up.  He’d found a coach to come to the gym to put on a body image seminar.   We needed a thing, and Sabertooth delivered it. BAM!

The 1 hour seminar was great, but really just a teaser for the kind of work that is needed to clean out years of squirrel poop in a person’s mind.  

Sonja Ecklund of Wild Hope Coaching ran the seminar, and set up a four week small group option for those of us who really wanted to dig deep into this stuff. 

If you’ve ever been part of a group before you know that they have the potential to put you in some crazy brain space.   Luckily everyone in the group was ready to go deep. Most of our conversations started with us talking about showing ourselves love, but often got into life changing events like betrayal and loss.  I looked around the room and felt really lucky that everyone there was willing to be vulnerable, share their stuff and be real.

On the last day of the group our topic was forgiveness and Sonja directed us to make lists of things we needed to let go of in our lives.   Inevitably for me, my divorce is going to come up on any list of “shit I gotta deal with”. I didn’t want to share this stuff with the group.   This is my poison, and I liked them too much to allow my inner toxins just come leaking out into the room. Again, I didn’t want to share this stuff with the group.   (That’s usually how I know it’s probably REALLY important).

I held my throat as I choked my way through how pissed I am that there are knee jerk reactions in many areas of my life that the ex is still in my brain.   I went on to talk about how I try not to feel judged by this relationship anymore. Enough time passed and this person isn’t even in my life to judge me anymore.  “I should be over this”. But my brain still has patterns that give me anxiety when I do things that would have bothered “The Ex”. I went on a tangent talking about how I still use the little forks in the house, so that the big forks are clean for other people since the little forks are “terrible”.

In a second, it was like “Where the f— did that come from?”

It seems obvious, but no shit.  Of course my old dishes and flatware that I see and use every day is connected to how I feel about myself and what I eat and my body.  Every day I’m having these tiny feelings about a fork, and then literally swallowing its contents.

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Sonja was totally cool about going into the mind body connection.   She mentioned that a person’s 5th chakra (throat) is often related to forgiveness.   Even though I knew that already intellectually, this was a realization. Throats, and choices, and forgiveness, and swallowing, and forks, and  food….oh my.

Since the end of the workshop I told my BMF Ryan, (Beardy Man Friend) about all these realizations and we spend time together choosing new dishes and flatware.   I’ve boxed up the old dishes and I’m waiting for them to tell me what to do with them. Should I smash them in the dumpster behind my house? Should I give them away?   I haven’t decided yet, but they will be gone soon and I’ll have fewer things in my life for my inner squirrels to observe and remind me about a time I made different choices.  

I can say that in the first week after this I ate good food, all my laundry is done, the new dishes are clean and aren’t piling up,  plus I’m finishing stalled projects all over the place.

Yes, my brain is still infested with squirrels… but there is one fewer …. And I’m better at figuring out what they sound like.    

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Advice for New Parents, by Lianna

Lianna is a longtime Sabertooth member, and mom to a super high energy 20-month old foster son. Since we have half a dozen new gym babies popping out in the next month (and some already here!), we asked her for some advice for new parents. 

I recently visited my parents, who are thrilled to be grandparents and absolutely dote on J (who is now 20 months). It’s amazing to see the grandparent-grandchild relationship blossom and my parents truly enjoy every single second they have with my little guy. He loves them so much in return and asks to be held by Nonna or dance with Boppa all the time.

Watching the three of them, it sunk in that I actually am not overjoyed every second I’m with my son. I love him, and there are many, many moments of pure joy where I feel I am truly in the moment. Then there are times when I’m watching the clock for bedtime, or hoping Chris will be home early so I can have a second to sit down. Having a toddler is a lot, but I feel guilty, especially because, even though we’re well on the path toward adoption, J’s future is still a little bit up in the air. I feel I should relish every single second and, to be honest, I don’t.

I mentioned this to my mom, my feelings of guilt and sometimes wanting a break from my own child. She smiled and told me, “that is what parenting is and if anyone tells you different, they’re lying.” I was shocked, but she went on to explain that the loving every second is what grandparents are for and what parents are for is showing up. Just showing up day after day, night after night. Showing stability, warmth, love even when you’re exhausted and burnt out. That’s parenting. And then I thought, “huh, that’s also the gym.”

So here’s my advice to new parents: just show up. Show up for your kid and show up to the gym (I mean, after your doctor says it’s ok if you gave birth). Show up when you’re exhausted and you smell and you haven’t done your dishes in two weeks. Show up when you don’t think you can even do part of the workout at a scaled weight. Show up because your community is here for you. I can guarantee someone will hold your baby or wrangle your toddler while you slog through a workout. It’s not going to be your best workout but it also probably won’t be your worst. Come once a week or five times, just come.

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Here’s the second part of my advice, and try and let it sink in: YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. You seriously can’t have a clean house, happy baby, good sleep, great relationship, daily workouts, dinner on the table, laundry and dishes done and also look put together. Ignore those dumb insta-famous moms who have potty trained their triplets by three months and have their pre-baby body back and are drinking green juice and look refreshed. That isn’t real. Showing up is real. Showing up and finding the little joys is real. Making it until bedtime is real. You are real and you’re a really good parent and you have a community to lean on at Sabertooth.


Regionals Rundown: Week 3!

Regionals week 2 was epic. There were some amazing performances, huge comebacks, and big shakeups in the final event.

My picks were strong once again — I correctly chose 15 out of the 22 Games qualifiers. Overall through two weeks I’ve chosen 35 of 52 correctly, for a 67% correct pick rate. I’m in second place overall in the online pool, out of about 150 people…wish me luck in week 3!

Some of the top stories this week:

  • Becca “Deca” Voigt qualified for a record TENTH CrossFit Games, at age 37. She is simply a legend in the sport. Her reaction to taking the 5th spot was one of the highlights of the weekend! She was in a deep hole after day 1, but fought back hard through the last four events.
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  • Mat Fraser continues to dominate. “Dominate” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in sports. But Fraser actually deserves it. After taking 9th in the first event (the “Triple Three” endurance workout) he took 1st place in the next five events straight, including two world event records. Barring injury or act of God, he will win the Games this year.
  • The Panchik Bros! Perennial Games athlete Scott Panchik found himself in a big hole after coming in 24th place in Event 1. He clawed his way back into the top five with an amazing performance in the final event. His younger brother Saxon also fought to the end, finishing just a few seconds behind his brother in the final, clinching his first ever trip to the Games. The reaction of the two brothers when they found out they both made it was classic.
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  • The Latin America regional almost didn’t happen at all! Due to a trucking strike in Brazil, none of the equipment was able to make it to the venue on time. They had to source bikes, rowers, bars, plates, and pull up rigs from nearby CrossFit affiliates to put on the competition. Pretty amazing that they were able to pull it together so fast. While it lacked the pizazz of the fancy new equipment, the community and crowd there was second to none.

Here are my picks for the final week! We’ve got Atlantic, Meridian, and Pacific on tap.

1. Noah Olsen
2. Ben Smith
3. Travis Mayer
4. Nathan Bramblett
5. Alec Smith

1. Kenzie Riley
2. Cassidy Lance-McWherter
3. Emily Bridgers
4. Paige Semenza
5. Alison Scudds

MERIDIAN (Top 4 advance)
1. Jason Smith
2. Lukas Esslinger
3. Phil Hesketh
4. Willy Georges

1. Jamie Greene
2. Lauren Fisher
3. Carmen Bosmans
4. Oddrun Gylfadottir

1. James Newbury
2. Brandon Swan
3. Khan Porter
4. Mitch Sinnamon
5. Zeke Grove

1. Kara Saunders
2. Tia-Clair Coomey
3. Jessica Coughlan
4. Justine Beath
5. Madeline Sturt

Enjoy the show! Should be another fun weekend!

Face Your Fears: Getting under the bar in Olympic Weightlifting, Part 2! Drills & Skills

In our first installment, we went over some very important basics — safety and how to bail properly from a missed clean or snatch! Head over the Part 1 first if you missed it. 

This time around, we’ll go over some of our favorite drills to build confidence and stability in your catch position, especially in the snatch. The key here is to START LIGHT. The point here is to start building new movement patterns, not trying to max out these lifts right off the bat. Start with a PVC if you need to.


A big part of being able to get under the bar is having confidence. You cannot be tentative or half-assed when you’re going for a squat snatch. If you approach a lift assuming you’ll miss…you’ll miss. How do we build confidence? Practicing quality reps, and accumulating time in these tricky positions. Gaining experience!

For a more experienced lifter, you can use these drills as accessory lifts to help you break through lifting plateaus and shore up your positioning.

Spend time in the catch and squat positions.
Start with the basics. Accumulate as much time as you can hanging out in the bottom of a front squat, or overhead squat. Overhead squat holds are a great way to start building up strength and stability in your snatch catch position. Start with a PVC or empty bar, hanging out for :15-:20 at a time. If you don’t spend time in your bottom position, it’s not going to get better! If you can’t perform a full depth overhead squat with a PVC or empty bar, keeping your heels down, arms locked out and spine in a safe positions, or your front rack position needs a lot of work for your front squat — these need to be addressed first via mobility and practice. We have to walk before we can run!

Got the basic squats down? Try these next drills to start working on speed and stability.

Snatch Balance
The snatch balance starts with the bar on your back, with your hands in their snatch width grip. Usually these are taken from a squat rack. With a quick dip and drive, similar to a push press, jump the bar up off your shoulders. As the bar travels up, lock your arms out as your body drives down under the bar. You’ll end up riding the bar down through an overhead squat. You can add pauses in the bottom position before standing back up, to work on being stable in the bottom position. This drill is very effective even with just an empty bar!

High hang snatch (AKA the Dip Snatch/Pocket Position Snatch) 
The high hang snatch is a good next step after working on the snatch balance, because it adds in the turnover from the front of the body, while still requiring speed and strong positions. Since you get very little pull on the bar from such an upright position, you will be forced to move your body under the bar faster.

Deadlift the bar up to your hips, with your hands in the snatch grip. Keeping your torso upright, dip your hips down a few inches by pushing the knees out and forward. The bar should be resting at your hip, with arms straight. Drive through your legs to create enough power to get the bar moving up, then get yourself down under the bar quickly. You can do this as a power snatch to start, and gradually get deeper in the catch. Make sure you are driving UP through your legs, NOT sending your hips froward into the bar. Your hips move up and down, not back to front.  Start with an empty bar and see how it goes! This is also an awesome warm up drill any time you’re snatching.

You can do this same drill for cleans as well!

What other drills do you like for developing confidence in the catch position? 

Need some help with your lifting? Check out our Olympic Lifting class at 11am on Saturdays, or sign up for a skill session with Coach Chris! 

Face Your Fears: Getting under the bar in Olympic weightlifting! Part 1.

PART 1 — Safety & Learning to Bail

One of the most common issues we hear with our members when it comes to Oly lifting is this:

“I’m afraid to get under the bar!”

This fear holds them back from attempting to drop low under the bar in their catch position in the clean and the snatch, which is a huge limiter in the top end weights they can lift. Everything becomes a power clean or power snatch, and even though they’re able to pull the bar all the way up to their chest, they still fail the lift! Even though they’re capable of lifting this weight with relative ease, their fear is holding them back from progressing their lifting technique, and a plateau is inevitable.


Does this sound like you? Read on!

It takes time and patience to get used to the idea of bringing your body quickly under the bar, especially in the snatch. “Getting low” doesn’t have to mean a full depth, ass-to-grass catch position — some people are even just afraid to drop into a slightly lower power snatch. Every inch of catch you give yourself, is another inch you don’t have to pull. Don’t have the mobility or coordination for the full depth squat catch yet? These same principles apply to a deeper power catch too.

Let’s start with this question: Why are you afraid? Most likely, you’re afraid of getting injured. You don’t want to drop the bar on your head. Makes sense! Maybe you’ve watched one too many “Lifting Fails” videos on Youtube. Is it possible you could drop the bar on your head? Yes. Is it likely? Absolutely not. We’ve been working with athletes on these lifts for 6 years now, and we have not seen it yet in our gym. Why? Because part of learning how to drop under the bar, is learning what to do if you’re not going to stick the lift!

So let’s start with safety — if we’ve gotten down into a full squat under the bar, what do we do if we don’t stick the lift?

Bailing 101
In the clean, we simply dump the bar out front with authority. Push the bar forward, while pushing your body back. The key here is to bail like you mean it. If you try to be dainty about it, it’s not going to happen quickly enough. It’s the same technique you’d use to dump a front squat.

The snatch is the one that concerns people more. The good news is, your body is pretty great at not dropping things on your head. You’re programmed to avoid danger. With a little bit of practice, you will have no trouble getting yourself out safely from under the bar if you miss the lift. Most of the time, you’ll miss the lift out front — the bar won’t get far enough over your body to stick in the catch. Similar to the clean, you’ll push the bar forward, while pushing your body back. The bar will land in front of you, and you’ll probably end up on your butt. It’s possible to miss a lift to the back, which is a little trickier, but you just do the opposite. — push the bar back quickly, while pushing your body forward. Do NOT hang onto the bar as it falls behind you. The bar will land behind you, and you’ll end up on your knees in front of the bar. As long as you at least make some sort of attempt to push the bar away from you, and don’t just completely go limp and fold up, you’ll be fine!

(Trust me guys, I fail lifts all the time!)

You can practice bailing from either position, to get used to the sensation. Grab a light bar setup with some light rubber plates, and practice bailing from the bottom of front squats, or overhead squats. Remember — if you’re going to bail, bail like you mean it!

Anytime we are Olympic Lifting, especially at higher weight percentages, it’s also important that we pay attention, and take each rep seriously. Chatting with your friend while you attempt a heavy squat snatch is not a good idea. Focus on what you’re doing, and let your newly learned motor patterns take care of the rest.

In Part 2, we’ll share some of our favorite drills to practice getting under the bar with a strong catch position!  Questions? Leave a comment or email us at 

Regionals Rundown — Week 2

What a first week! We saw some of the most dominant performances at Regionals, ever — especially from Katrin Davidsdottir. FIVE first place finishes…in six events! Crazy.

To start off this week, let’s see how terrible my picks were last week! Overall, I correctly picked 20 out of the 30 qualifiers. Pretty decent I think. My best region was the South Men, which I picked 5 for 5! Click here for the full breakdown of my mediocre picks by region.

If you missed the action last weekend, you can head to to watch replays or catch one of the video recaps.


The big stories from week 1:

  • Katrin DOMINATING the East Region. Winning 5 of 6 events in any region is something special — only Mat Fraser has matched that feat. She looked like the Katrin of 2015-2016. The other female competitors should be scared right now!
  • Treadmill Controversy in the East Men’s competition. In the first men’s heat, many of the comeptitior’s treadmill monitors didn’t turn on, and didn’t work at all. The backup plan was for the judges to manually count the piece of white tape on the belt of the treadmill to track their distance. Every 10 revolutions was 1/10 of a mile…you can guess how that went. Expecting judges to count this accurately for 20+ minutes was crazy. Some athletes were credited with 4 minute miles, and others took over 10 minutes for one of their miles. The big loser here was Cody Mooney, who got bounced to the sixth spot and missed qualifying, after being beaten in this event by some of the beneficiaries of the equipment failure. For reference, he got on the treadmill 5 seconds after Craig Kenney, but Kenney was credited with being 800m ahead of Mooney just 2 minutes into the run. Unreal that this sort of thing still happens at this level of competition.
  • Annie Thorisdottir makes it to her 9th CrossFit Games, and wins her 5th Regional Competition! Annie is a CrossFit OG who people constantly overlook, just because she’s been around so long.  She turned a lot of heads with a 3rd place finish at the Games last year. She came out in first in a stacked regional once again — hopefully nobody is writing her off this time!

Looking ahead to Week 2:

Regions on tap: Central, Latin America, West

Let’s start with the Central Region! This region is absolutely STACKED this year, especially on the Men’s side. This is perhaps the most challenging region to predict (other than 1st place), because the talent pool is chock full of Games veterans, plus some younger athletes who might shake things up.

My picks:
1. Mat Fraser (duh)
2. Streat Hoerner
3. Scott Panchik
4. George Sterner
5. Alex Anderson

1. Kristi Eramo
2. Jen Smith
3. Jessica Griffith
4. Brooke Wells
5. Kelley Jackson

NOTES: I actually hope Brooke Wells doesn’t make it, after basically being given a free pass by CrossFit HQ in the Open. Long story short, she should have been given a massive penalty for no-reps in her video of 18.4, but HQ gave the now-running-joke answer of “We know she has the capacity to do the reps even if they weren’t good reps in the video, so we’re giving her the reps.”

On the guys side, I would love to see multiple Panchik brothers make it to the Games, but I’m not sure if Saxon is good enough, yet. I’m a big George Sterner fan, but he’s only 19 years old — he might need another year or two to grow before he makes the leap to the Games, but he had a ridiculously good Open, so who knows! If Mat Fraser doesn’t win the Region, I’ll do Fran in a tuxedo. I don’t see a workout that screams “Fraser won’t win this one.”  Maybe the Triple Three, but then again was still top 6 in the endurance events at the Games last year. Can he go 6 for 6 this year and sweep all the events? That seems more likely, than him not winning the region.

This will be an interesting one. The new West Regional combines the old California regional with the Northwest regional. There are a ton of strong athletes who haven’t gone head to head in Regionals before, so this should be fun to watch.

My picks:
1. Brent Fikowski (Calling it now — he sets the world record on Event 5)
2. Christian Lucero
3. Cody Anderson
4. Cole Sager
5. Josh Bridges

1. Chyna Cho
2. Alessandra Pichelli
3. Becca Voigt
4. Emily Abbot
5. Carleen Matthews

NOTES: I am a big Becca Voigt fan, and maybe it’s wishful thinking that she’ll make it back for her 10th Games appearance…but a guy can dream, right? I would say there’s no real favorite to win this Region for the ladies– it should be pretty wide open down to the wire! Will Brooke Ence be a factor, after taking a year off for a major surgery? Time will tell. Brent Fikowski didn’t have a great Open, but he is better suited to the Regionals and Games events. I don’t think he’ll dominate, but I think he will win with a fairly comfortable margin by the end. He knows how to bring it when game day comes. Garrett Fisher is another guy who could take a top 5 spot, but I struggle to find events that he’ll knock out of the park this year.

It should be noted that only ONE qualifier gets to the Games from this region! If you want to make it to Madison…you have to win. Latin America has seen a huge surge in CrossFit participation, so they’re getting their own regional competition — but the overall quality of competitions isn’t enough to warrant lots of Games competitors. Yet. Brazil has seen some especially astounding growth numbers in the recent years, and has some seriously talented Teen athletes coming down the pipeline.

1. Paulo Rossil

2. Brenda Castro

Lots of new faces in this Regional. Castro is looking to finally crack the Games lineup after several years coming up short in the South regional. Look for Guilherme Malheiros on the Men’s side in a couple years…he snatched 280 at the Games last year… at age 17! He missed Regionals by a handful of spots this year as an 18 year old.

That’s a wrap for this week! Can’t wait for the Central Regional action. First heats for individuals are usually around noon on Friday, but they will release the heat schedules at in a day or so. Get pumped!