Curt C. is the September Member Of The Month

The thing I love about having Curt as an integral part of the Croga Family is that he is a wonderful role model for consistency, thoughtful training, and persistence. As you’ll see in his answer below, when he came into the gym he was pretty fit aerobically, but he knew he had some holes in his fitness game and he was excited to work on them. And work on them he did.

Over the past 4 years I have watched Curt eliminate mobility issues that were causing pain through consistent stretching, build huge strength to bodyweight numbers (he’s toward the top of the list of pound for pound lifters in our gym), improve skills through consistent practice and being open to coaching feedback and then using it to improve technique, take his aerobic capacity far beyond where he started even though most of what he used to do was aerobic based, and become just plain JACKED to the point where he probably can’t take his shirt off at pool parties because he’d embarrass the other dads.

It has been a pleasure getting to know you, coach you and learn from you, Curt. I really value our friendship and look forward to watching you continue to crush your goals year after year with your focused training and hard work.

When did you join Cróga?
I joined in July of 2016.

What were you doing before for fitness?
I used to cycle a lot. I enjoyed climbing the hills up the peninsula, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Mt. Hamilton. I also did spin classes and HIIT.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
I don’t remember exactly what my first workout was, but I do know it included wall balls. I recall Shawn and Tony seeing me, the new guy, pick up the Rx’d 20 lb ball saying something like, “No, you don’t want that just yet.” It was good advice!

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
I just feel stronger overall. All the cycling I used to do gave me a good aerobic base, but no matter how many hours I put in or how many hills I climbed I could feel myself getting weaker as I got older. Now, I am stronger and feel more fit than at any point in my life.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
My workout times have shifted around over the last four years. I was a regular at 5:00 AM for a while but have settled in at 5:30 PM.

What’s your favorite WOD?
I like chippers. Seeing a large volume of work on the board and the this-is-going-to-suck dread it induces gives me that much more satisfaction when it’s over.

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Right now, it’s anything with double unders. I like jumping rope, but I just cannot get my act together on double unders. However, I haven’t given up and will eventually be able to do them consistently. At that point my least favorite WOD will be anything that includes the assault bike. I enjoy pushing myself hard, but I’m not a masochist.

“The Curtis” WOD! What would it be?
I like working with kettlebells. Here’s something I wrote for myself a couple months ago.
5 rounds for time:
Run 400 m
20 Kettlebell snatches, 10 each arm
20 Abmat sit-ups

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I started the year with two goals: to log over 200 workout days for the year, and to deadlift over 400 lbs. With the consistent programming that Croga has put out through the shutdown, the first goal is well within reach. Also, the 1+ hours per day that I have gained back from not commuting the past several months has given me more time for working out.

I don’t have a barbell at home and was beginning to doubt I’d achieve my second goal. I’ve made overall gains during the shelter in place, but I don’t think bodyweight and kettlebells were going to allow me to increase my deadlift. Now, with the small group training and open gym available, I just might have a shot at it.

What do you love about this type of fitness?
I love the variety of the workouts. Going to a typical gym was never something I could stick with for very long because it was just boring, and I would never make much progress. I’m sure that was due to not having any coaching or any sort of training plan. Having programming that is continually changing but is not totally random keeps working out fun and challenging.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Be consistent with your training. Everything is scalable to whatever your current abilities may be. So get in the habit of showing up regularly even if the workout has a movement that you’re not yet able to do or is a weak point in your fitness. Consistent effort over time will produce the results you’re looking for (and some you may not have expected).

And don’t be intimidated by the 6’ 2” bro wearing a Rogue cap and no shirt. He’s actually a cool dude who I’m sure would be very supportive of the fitness journey you’re on.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
The community is a huge part of why I belong to Cróga. I have gotten to know some really great people with similar fitness goals. There is a healthy level of competitiveness that motivates us to push harder, but we also encourage and support one another. The coaches are excellent teachers and motivators. They know their stuff, show us how to move safely and effectively, and keep things fun. I am extremely grateful for the coaches and members of Cróga.

Croga Nutrition Journey – Madhu N.

It is indeed a surreal feeling that I am sharing my journey so far, hopefully it will make anyone reading this continue to pursue their goals.

As everyone wishing to lose weight, I tried all different things from excessive running to sacrificing food at times to starve myself. But I could never get the result I wished for. At times I would lose a little weight, accompanied by weakness, but that was short lived as the weight always bounced back as soon as I lagged a little bit. In other words, the attempts weren’t sustainable.

When I heard about the WAG program at Croga Nutrition, my very first reaction was that it was not for me. For a person from South Asian my diet has a mix of different cuisines, Indian vegetarian food being the prime. But after hearing so many success stories from fellow Croganites and Coach Dave, I thought I should give it a serious shot.

Along came constant sideline guidance from Coach Cody. After some tweaks with my food, the results finally started showing up after a few weeks. Lockdown did affect this initially but I wouldn’t say it was a big obstacle. Initially it was tough to measure and eat everything and at times. I felt like giving up, but Coach Cody patiently explained that everyone goes through this phase and very politely inspired me to keep going.

Initially it was overwhelming – measuring food is not natural and is hard for Indian food. Medicinal words like nutrients, macros are big and scary, but once you start logging it, you get used to it and then it becomes second nature. Nutrition is nutrition, it’s the same in any food from any country, all that matters is measuring it.

It is a lifestyle change – making the right food choices, measuring, logging, and meal planning – but the results are worth all of the work. It’s not only about weight loss but about getting healthier. Now I feel much more active, I’m lifting heavier weights, running better, and have less fatigue throughout the day.

All the coaches at Croga Nutrition are very accommodating and that makes the journey to better you a little easier.

Susie R. is the August Member Of The Month

This month we have the pleasure of choosing one of our evening class stalwarts, Susie, as our Member of the Month! It has been almost exactly four years since Susie first walked in the door of Croga and she has been a consistent and uplifting part of our community and a big piece of the social puzzle at Croga as well. If you have ever been to a 5:30 or 6:30 pm class at Croga, you most definitely know and love Susie! And she’s always been a Croga staff favorite because she loves all the things that we all love: Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, Murph, making friends quickly, adult beverages, and now that she’s a member of Croga Nutrition, counting macros, hahaha.

Congratulations on taking an already consistent commitment to your health and fitness pre-COVID to a whole new level by attending even more classes and signing up as a nutrition client a couple of months ago. We’re proud of you, Susie, and can’t wait to have you back INSIDE the gym with all your friends slamming bars and having dance parties in the back corner of the gym, soon!

When did you join Cróga?
Around Labor Day Weekend 2016 – 4 years ago now!

What were you doing before for fitness?
Literally nothing. My old apartment had workout classes I would attend occasionally and I would run about a mile a few times a month. It was a weird time in my life as I have always been active, but I had no desire to then.

What was your first workout? The first reaction to your first workout?
I have told this story many times, but my first workout was a Saturday WOD. I was told it would be a good day to start because we would have partners. BUT THEN my partner turned out to be Kristi Smith. She was so fit and I was so not – thank God she was so nice to me. We were to go on a wall ball run together, and I just saw her grab this giant heavy ball and take off on what felt to me like a sprint. I chased after her as best I could and afterward all I could think of was, “how the hell did she do that?”. When I asked her, she told me she had been carrying around baby Parker for months. I was blown away, if I could be that fit someday right after having a baby I was so in!

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel, and perform?
I LOVE looking more muscular. I look back at photos of myself and see scrawny arms/shoulders and think I look weird. I am excited to continue improving with Croga Nutrition. My goal is to wear a crop top this year and I am determined to make it happen!!

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
I am a solid evening gal, and since COVID started I now try to come 4-5 days a week. It’s my only time for socialization :). You will never catch me in the mornings at the gym, I am the grumpiest! Shoutout to the old 10:00 AM Saturday crew!

What’s your favorite WOD?
Anything with farmer’s carries, kettlebell swings, or deadlifts. It’s when I feel my strongest 🙂

What’s your least favorite WOD?
Is anyone actually a fan of burpees? I also HATE box jumps. So fair to say I also hate Burpee Box Jumps – I am sure that is why Cody programs them so often.

“The Susie” WOD! What would it be?
Something with a healthy combo of cardio AND strength exercises. It would probably include some of my favorites above like Kettlebell swings and Farmer’s carries and maybe rowing for calories. the WOD would also be an AMRAP, I hate being the last to finish something because it is for time.

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
On a nice night, I like to sit outside in my garden to cool off for a bit before eating dinner. Lately, with the heat, I have resorted to driving around my neighborhood with the AC on blast or sticking my head in the freezer 😂. Before COVID and joining Croga Nutrition my post-power lifting routine was to get McDonald’s. It was such a wonderful treat and the reason I needed to join Croga Nutrition. 😉

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
Figuring out ways to make my favorite dishes healthier has been really exciting for me. I love that I don’t have to miss out on my favorite things!

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
I always say “this is the year I will get pull-ups”. I hope at some point I will be able to get into the gym for some practice soon – I was really motivated this year! My biggest goal is to lose some of my extra pounds and improve my overall health/fitness.

What do you love about this type of fitness?
I know everyone says this, but it’s the community. I love lifting and being strong but there is no way I would have stuck to it without such amazing people surrounding me and pushing me forward.

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?
Just push through your first month. We all had that feeling at first of “I can’t do this” or “this is too much”. Once you get into the groove you will see results so quickly, feel so much better, and join a community of people you won’t be able to live without.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Shout out to the best coaches in the world who have stuck through my sarcasm, complaining, dance sessions, and talking too much during class. I could not have gotten this far without you guys over the last 4 years. Thank you to my friends for pushing me to keep going, push harder, and lift heavier. This community is what keeps me going, and makes me excited for the end of my workday. I am so grateful for every one of you.

Mark B. is the July Member Of The Month

Wow, what a great story and what an incredible shelter-in-place success, Mark is!

We met Mark in January and he had only about 10 weeks to get in the groove before we were all forced to stay home. As I watched him weekly on Zoom workouts for the first couple of months of SiP, I could tell he was not only losing weight consistently, but he was evolving as a human.

His answers to our questions are the best I have ever read and tell an amazing story, so I’m not going to say anything else besides I encourage you to read Marks’s whole story below.

We’re all extremely proud of you Mark and I enjoy every 6 am class that I get to coach you or join you for the workout during. You are an amazing example of where consistent effort and dedication will take you and I look forward to watching your journey continue for years to come. Let’s go get that pull-up!!!

When did you join Cróga?
January of 2020

What were you doing before for fitness?
Hardcore video games. (NOTHING!)

This isn’t entirely true. I had a decent start in January of 2019 with Crossfit at another gym when I got sidelined with an unrelated medical issue that left me unable to work out. While that took a while to resolve, it left me listless and unmotivated for almost 6 months before I got my act together to push myself again.

What was your first workout? First reaction to your first workout?
I am pretty sure my first workout was Jan 27th.

“Cali Bear”
1 Clean & Jerk every 30 seconds for 20 minutes

First reaction? Given how awkward I still am at Clean and Jerk I can only imagine that I felt like the biggest fish out of water flopping around :).

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
The most immediate improvement for me was in my mood and productivity. Before any physical changes happened, starting my day with the crew had a MASSIVE impact at work. Everyone around me noticed that I seemed more attentive, mentally present, and higher energy.

As time went on I started relying on the Croga team and members as my lifeline during Shelter in Place. One of the most underrated things that we have in this community is just that: a sense of community. Almost every member at Croga that I have come to know and love has been through online interactions and Facebook posts while we have all been stuck apart from each other. These people welcomed me so warmly (even at a distance!) that while I was beginning this fitness journey I never once felt alone. It was really through them that I came to realize that having a high-quality support group around you is just as important as the quality of your workout.

Eventually, after stalling out after my first 10 pounds, I started to really notice the physical difference. I would prefer to take the stairs instead of the elevator just to “feel” like I was moving. My gorgeous fancy (EXPENSIVE) celebration jeans I bought for my 100+ pound loss? Yeah, those are too big now. The boyfriend tells me I am significantly less “cuddly” while also giggling when he pokes my arms.

But I think the biggest difference is how I feel about myself. I am overall happier, more active, and more aware. I just feel “good” more often, which is worth its weight in gold.

What days and times do you come to Cróga?
You will find me at 6am. My goal is always Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday… but if you see me on Saturday it means I slept in one of my days 😉

What’s your favorite WOD?
This one is hard! Shelter in Place started before I got a really broad exposure to lots of the WODs that I think I would love most. My gut says anything involving back squats. For some reason I love a barbell on my back. I can’t wait to have it there again!

What’s your least favorite WOD?
As any member who has ever worked out with me knows: ANYTHING … WITH … RUNNING. I will go out of my way to avoid running. I had a new football coach in high school that used to make us run until we puked up our lunch… and then run some more as a punishment when we screwed things up. When we all stopped eating lunch so we wouldn’t throw up in practice we all learned what dry heaving was.

… to his credit it was the best season of JV the school had ever seen and I loved that coach, but I absolutely blame him for making me hate running. (Well that and my weird mutant feet).

“The Mark” WOD! What would it be?
Back Squats + Rowing + Kettlebell swings + CJ Vincent in a Tutu + a country free playlist by David Musgrave where he sings along.


What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
My post-workout morning ritual includes browsing reddit and delicious delicious chocolate protein shake with avocado + macadamia vanilla nut butter from Perfect Keto.

What’s been your favorite culinary discovery since joining Cróga?
Realgood products. Keto doesn’t work well for everyone, but for some reason, it works REALLY well for me. For those of you who are trying to cut the carbs out there, there are tons of products that purport themself to limit sugar and refined carbohydrates, but do a terrible job of it. Companies are adding cauliflower to regular pizza dough and calling it healthy. A couple months ago I discovered Realgood products, and my god when you don’t want to fix dinner/lunch for yourself they have some awesome stuff. I have always enjoyed cooking, but when SiP happened and I had to start cooking lunches, I really wanted something I could just throw in the oven that would be delicious. If you haven’t tried their frozen stuffed chicken breasts (raw chicken wrapped in bacon and filled with cheese and super awesome fillings … not precooked … has to be cooked in the oven) … my god man, that saved my weekday lunches. I eat one every day. (Except Tuesday … Tuesdays are for tacos.)

My second favorite is cauliflower. Man, I had no idea how versatile cauliflower rice was, but I keep a bunch of seasoning mixes around that I do myself, and holy hell does that make a good side dish with just about any cuisine. The pre-riced stuff from the store is in larger chunks and you can make kind of a hash with it with all of the veggies you desire while throwing it in your own blender yields tiny little kernels that soak up flavor like nobodies business. I recently did mashed cauliflower and I had no idea how close it came to a potato puree … that scratched an itch I didn’t even realize I had. Absolutely delicious.

What’s your biggest fitness goal for this year?
Part of my shift in thinking now that I have been rolling along is a changing mindset over what goals look like. When I was morbidly obese the number on the scale meant everything. This severely distorted my view of my progress early on at Croga, as the way I felt (AWESOME) didn’t match up with rewarding numbers on the scale (didn’t move for a month!). This disconnect was confirmed when I started taking measurements and realized that my body was changing DRASTICALLY even if the numbers on the scale weren’t moving much.

This caused me to reconsider how I think about goals. I know I lost a lot of weight during shelter in place, but the weird thing is I was most proud of getting my first double under. I had wanted them so badly that Annie loaned me her jump rope (which is the only one I still use!) the day after the SiP announcement and I started working on them several times a week. I am still not great at them, but I get more every time! The sense of accomplishment when I got my first one (some of you were there on Zoom at 7 am when it happened) … I was giddy. I had to stop in the middle of the workout because I was giggling like a 10-year-old boy who just got his dream toy at Christmas.

I think this is a better way to think. Set a movement goal for myself and fitness will be achieved as a result of aiming for it. What I want MORE THEN ANYTHING next is a pull-up. Just one. I haven’t done one since high school. This is the biggest reason I can’t wait for the gym to open again.

After that is a handstand pushup. That one will take a while … but I WANT it!

What do you love about this type of fitness?
The people. I introduced myself to all of them by telling them they were in a brainwashed cult, and instead of chasing me out of the room, they insisted on indoctrinating me and becoming my friend. Can’t get much better than that!

What words of advice do you have for new members or people considering joining Cróga?

Start small and celebrate EVERY victory. Habits are formed over time. For me it looks like this:

I want to start working out. The only time I can do this is before work early in the morning.

– Gotta start with waking up early enough and not hitting my snooze button.
– Then I have to MAKE it to the gym(on time).
– Now I need to find a way to speed up my recovery so I can attend more classes.
– Now I need to make sure I do laundry frequently enough that I can attend more than twice a week.
– Now I need to figure out how to eat so I can perform better.

Notice how many of these things happen outside of the gym. Each of these is a goal that contributes to something bigger … and each of these completed successfully is a victory that should be celebrated. Breaking down your path into tiny achievable increments and then building and building and building becomes a habit. That is when you look back 6 months and realized you have changed your life and you didn’t even know it. You just wanted to get out of bed when the alarm goes off and now your clothes are too big!

Start small. Celebrate EVERY victory. If you don’t feel like you have something worth celebrating, re-examine your goals.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?

Don’t I talk too much already? We will end up with my life story here 🙂

Tara and Matt Are The June Members Of The Month

The most beautiful thing about being stuck at home during shelter in place for the last four months has been watching some incredible Croga relationships blossom. Not only have we seen some friendships grow stronger than ever (like the 7 am crew that is on Zoom 7 days a week), but we’ve seen husbands and wives like Matthew and Tara get the opportunity to spend more time together and train together daily to push each other to new heights.

We couldn’t be more proud of you two and honored to call you Croganites, even while we’ve been apart. We can’t wait to see you back at the gym (or outside the gym if you prefer)! We miss you Tara and Matthew. Keep up the good work!

When did you each join Cróga?
Tara: My intro classes were the first week of June 2019, but then I got pneumonia and was out of commission for a month. My first real month was July 2019, inaugurated with the 1776 workout.

Matt: Tara mentioned she joined Croga last summer. After a couple of months, she convinced me to stop by Friday Night Lights in the Fall and try a Saturday Bring-a-Friend workout. I officially joined up in Feb 2020.

What were you doing before for fitness?
Tara: I ran a 5K twice a year and collected the bling. I admire it on my wall from a safe distance.

Matt: A few years back, I did a couple cycles of Jack Daniels and Pete Pfitzinger running plans, doing 30-40 miles per week, mixed with some trail running up and down the peninsula. I read Starting Strength, StrongLifts 5×5 and 5/3/1 Strength program materials and signed up for Fit Republic. Waited for my turn on the power rack, listened to whole songs in the minutes of rest between sets for 5×5 workouts, and questioned my life choices while hiking the Dogmeat segment of Priest Rock Trail.

What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
Tara: Besides the reductions in the layers of fluff, I am starting to actually see muscles 🙂 I was a gymnast when I was young, and my strength was always in my legs – I’m starting to feel some of that again. I’ve had numerous shoulder issues over the years (Thanks, US Army!), but I’ve been able to work through/around it and haven’t had nearly the problems I did before. I’m also gaining some confidence, bit by bit – it sounds silly, but I wouldn’t have worn tank tops when I first started, but now I love them! Being able to see my shoulders when I am lifting reminds me that I’m gaining strength. I never thought that I would enjoy lifting as much as I do, but now it’s one of my favorite things.

Matt: Between the WODs and the WAG, I have lost 16 lbs of fluff since mid-March. I have never consistently dropped weight like this ever before, especially while still enjoying the finer things in life: New York strip steaks, waffles, classic beef pot roast, light craft beers, fresh-picked oranges, and ice cream! I am stronger overall than I have ever been and have far greater cardio capacity, despite how few miles per week I am logging. I can break out a 9:30 min/mi without putting up too much of a sweat, when previously I would have struggled with 11:00 min/mi on how little running I have been doing. My shoulders feel like they are twice as big as they once were and I am starting to see some nice definition. I have a new-found respect for bodyweight exercises, although I have more fun working under a barbell. I can’t believe how many shoulder-to-overheads I can do at 75 lbs – literally hundreds! Everything is easier when you are strong – gravity just doesn’t bother you as much.

What days and times do you usually join a Cróga class?
Tara: In the before times, M-W-F 6AM during the week, 7AM benching on Saturdays. I don’t do cardio Sundays. In the quarantimes, 3-4 times a week for the 7AM equipment WOD on Zoom.

Matt: Before, M-W-F 6AM during the week, 7AM benching on Saturday, plus partner WOD if I was feeling adventurous, and cardio Sunday, if I had the energy for it. Nowadays, I’m passenger number five on the Quarantine Gainz Train, 7AM departure time, most days of the week. Weekend workouts at 8AM. Shout out to CJ, Annie, Rocky and Kal for keeping the train running on time.

What’s your favorite WOD or fitness movement?
Tara: Bench press, hanging knee raises with an eye on toes-to-bar, hang power cleans, back squats, and now that I don’t fall down as much, I’m starting to like handstands again. I like to go upside down.

Matt: I like lifting heavy things! Deadlifts, farmer’s carry, bench press and hang power cleans are my jam. DT is an awesome workout – that was the first one I ever did that got me dripping with the sweat output equivalent of being roasted by 1000 suns and it hammered home the beauty of the 21-15-9 rep scheme.

What’s your least favorite WOD or fitness movement?
Tara: B U R P E E S. And running. Don’t forget the running. The best part of shelter-in-place is rowing instead of running!

Matt: Overhead Squats. I just don’t bend that way.

“The Tara” WOD! What would it be?
For time:
1000m row at 30 spm or lower

5 rounds:
10 T2B
10 Pushups
10 Hang Power Cleans

“The Matt” WOD! What would it be?
“The Matt” WOD is really the “Jack and Diane” mashup WOD, set to a playlist of John Mellencamp songs:

If I was to invent a new WOD, then it would be 5RFT:

200′ farmer’s carry
15 bench press
10 hang power cleans

What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Tara: In the before times, a large iced coffee at Peet’s and breakfast in the car on the way to work. Now, a regular home-brewed coffee on the patio while watching the birds, then breakfast and a short walk to the home office.

Matt: As Daryl might say, brefkast! Kodiak oatmeal or muffin cup, 4 scoops Naked Whey protein powder with water, an orange picked from the tree out back, and Mighty Leaf English Breakfast Tea. Pinkies out.

What are your biggest fitness goals for the rest of this year?
Tara: 125 lb bench, 175 lb back squat, 200 lb deadlift, toes-to-bar, 20 real pushups

Matt: Stay consistent with 5 WODs/week. Get stronger by doing the WODs as hard as I can. >25 pushups unbroken, >10 strict pullups unbroken, 1 HSPU, 135 lb 10RM bench press, 300 lb 1RM deadlift, 8:30 min/mi 5K.

What words of advice do you have for people considering joining a Cróga class?
Tara: OMG try it! I was totally scared when I first walked in, but everyone at Croga has been great. It doesn’t matter if you think you aren’t in good enough shape – everything can be scaled or modified. Everyone starts at the beginning, and it doesn’t matter if you are the last one to finish something. The coaches and other members are so encouraging; they help you learn that you can do way more than you think. Lifting heavy things is so much fun; once you start, you won’t go back.

Matt: Walking into the gym, I had some familiarity with power lifting movements and programming, but I had never attempted any olympic lifting moves – they seemed scary and unnecessary. Joining Croga was a big step up for me in terms of expanding my exercise repertoire and form correctness, and I now see the value in dynamic barbell movements. The coaches are excellent teachers – at the beginning of class or when someone has questions, they take the time to break the movement down and they pay close attention to everyone as they work on their form. The level of personal attention that you get in a small class is an incredible experience and the long-time members of the gym are just as helpful – you really feel like everyone has your back.

The people are awesome, the program works and scaling is not a crime. If you are looking for body composition changes, then I highly recommend signing up for WAG at the same time to maximize your time investment. In the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf, “JUST DO IT. DON’T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS.”.

Anything to add that we didn’t touch on yet?
Matt: Shoutout to Dave, for being the kind of leader to keep this community together and moving forward during these times – the Croga OTB response plan is excellent and responsible for many of the gainz I have been seeing recently. Shoutout to Cody for the programming and reliable social media posts that keep the Gainz Train running at 7AM! Shoutout to Preston, for the consistent and positive WAG coaching.

Tara: To Dave, Laura, CJ, Annie, and Joy – thank you so much for helping me push myself. There are many times that I’ve underestimated what I can do, and you have told me that I can do more. I also want to say thanks to everyone who has encouraged me during workouts; it really does help me more than I ever thought. The Croga Community is amazing, and I’m so glad that I’m part of it.

Kal and Ann-Marie Are The May Members Of The Month

Sticking with our theme of honoring multiple individuals for Member(s) of the Month during Shelter in Place, this month we've chosen the awesome couple, Kal and Ann-Marie. These two have been coming to Croga for awhile now, but where they live, traffic and their work schedules really only let them come to the gym once during the week and on the weekends. Once Shelter in Place hit though and they had nowhere to go and full access to Croga via Zoom, they both took it up a notch and started joining in Croga classes and working out together 6-7 days a week! To go along with that, the extra time spent training with their friends and working on their skills has delivered a laundry list of PRs and athletic firsts. Your hard work and dedication to improving your fitness during this Shelter in Place has been extremely motivating, Kal and AM! We can't wait to see you back at Croga so you can show off all your new skills and increased fitness. When did you each join Cróga? Kal: CJ brought me to a few partner workouts in 2018 and early 2019, and I had a great time. During the 2019 Open season, CJ convinced me to come to a Friday night lights and do 19.5 as my first workout, under the guise that he would do it with me. Then the big jerk went to China, so we FaceTimed him in and he was whispering in my ear to stop staring at it and pick up the bar while I basically died. The energy and the camaraderie from that night instantly hooked me, so we signed up not long after that. AM: CJ also brought me to a partner WOD as a gateway drug to Croga. It was pretty fun, but super tough. I really liked the competitive aspect as that is something that really motivates me in fitness. I love competing with the big dogs, even though I’m the tiny dachshund nipping at their heels. When we went to 19.5 I really loved the community and didn’t really want to leave. We signed up shortly after to do Saturdays since the commute during the week didn’t seem possible and we’ve been hooked since. What were you doing before for fitness? Kal: As you know, I come from a very fit family, so fitness has been an integral part of my life. As a child I played hockey (A Canadian playing hockey? Shocking!) and my family would go for long bike rides or rollerblading. I got big into weightlifting in my early 20’s and did it casually until I hurt my back pretty badly, then I swam a mile every day as part of the rehab. Before joining Croga I was coming off the back injury and feeling much stronger, so I was getting more seriously into powerlifting. That’s part of what drew Me to Croga, actually, was the fact that everyone I saw was more fit than me on things like running and the rowing machine, but they were actually slinging pretty big weights around too. I thought “maybe I can be super strong but ALSO fast!” So far the fast part hasn’t come yet, but I’m hoping one day it will. AM: Growing up for me was a stark contrast to Kal’s family. As a kid I hated bikes so I roller bladed around the neighborhood and my family played badminton. The only sports I did we’re in school, but I tore a ligament in my ankle early in high school and that was the end of it till late college. I did a bit of working out then but mostly cardio and continued that trend when I started working. I’ve had a lot of injuries to my joints so I never really got momentum working out until I moved in with Kal. Kal taught me some weight lifting and I did a minor amount of weights, but not too much. Minor squats, shoulder presses, curls. I got a bit stronger, but no where near where I’m at now. Now I’m so much more comfortable with weights and have a much better fitness tool belt. What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform? Kal: I am basically an entirely new person. When I joined Croga I was about 5 months into a massive weight loss journey where I lost over 55lbs, I had terrible cardio, no gymnastic skills to speak of, and was still very limited in my mobility and strength. If you ever get a chance, look at my sign-in photo; when I took that photo I was almost 200lbs! Imagine a pudgy little pug trying to run with a bunch of dobermans and greyhounds, and you have a pretty close approximation of my first few months at Croga. Now I’m more like a sleek dachshund running with the dobermans and greyhounds. I’m not very big and I’m not very fast, but I can work my little legs to keep up and sometimes even get on the board! Actually though, the way I feel and perform has drastically improved. Shortly before I joined Croga I was diagnosed with a rare bone disease that results in chronic joint pain and severely limits mobility and flexibility. My hips had started to fuse together. There were a lot of movements I never thought I’d be able to do: squatting more than 100lbs was impossible, sit-ups, toes to bar, even burpees were a struggle. The awesome coaches helped me scale movements and worked with me to slowly progress, and the improvements have been almost unbelievable. At my first bourbon and barbells I was able to squat 225lbs, which was more than I’d ever thought possible. More importantly, at my follow-up MRI in October, I was told that I had actually reversed the fusion in my hips. The doctor specifically said “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it forever.” I have good days and bad days still, but Croga has helped me turn my bad days from “I can’t walk unassisted” to “Maybe I’ll only squat 185lbs today”. AM: My phone thinks I’m a different person! I was just coming off a big 30 lb weight loss when we started but I didn’t have much muscle or definition. Between Croga and Invisalign, my face shape has thinned out and changed, I’m also WAY more jacked. I’m starting to have resting definition in my arms which is just crazy and super cool. I also think I look way more proportional to my frame than I did which is very nice. Performance wise is like night and day, especially after increasing workouts during the quarantine. Even though old joint injuries are haunting me a bit, I’m much faster, much stronger, and my WOD scores show it. I’m finding that a lot of the movements that seemed impossible a year ago are now just in need of a bit of work. I’m a much different athlete than I was and feel way more like I’m actually competing with the guys than I did before. My doctor was also super impressed during my physical this year. Last year my blood work was all “just ok” this year he said “I wish my numbers were this good! What are you doing?!” What days and times do you usually join a Cróga OTB class? Kal: Before the quarantine, we were die-hard Saturday morning partner WOD people. AM and I would show up at 7:30AM and get in a quick bench with the boys, then crush the partner workout, then hang around for a little to do some mobility and have a nice chill Saturday with the lovely Croga community, then go home and I’d eat a 1000 calorie brunch before starting our day. We’d also go to the Wednesday powerlifting class, which was always a testosterone and pre-workout fueled blast of slinging big weights and making fun of Richard’s music choices. Since the quarantine, I’ve fallen into a pretty good routine for OTB: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I get up at the ungodly hour of 6:30AM, smash the 7:00AM crossfit class, eat a protein bar, and go back to sleep until 10:30AM or so, depending on when my first morning meeting started. Then I’d sign on to the 5:00PM class with AM and have a nice pick-me-up workout before making dinner and starting my evening conference calls. Tuesdays and Thursdays used to be 7:00AM crossfit, turn off my camera for my morning meetings because I’d still be shirtless and sweaty, then onto the 9:00AM ignite with Joy, but now it’s 7:00AM crossfit and then the Noon Ignite. If it’s a particularly fun one, I might also hop on the 5:00PM and do three-a-day. I’m definitely not addicted. I can stop whenever I want, ok?! Saturdays are ferda boys, so AM and I do a partner workout at 8:00AM, an ignite workout with Joy at 9:00AM, and I’m loving the new mobility workout at 10AM. Then I eat a 1000 calorie brunch and have a nap before starting my day. Sunday we’ll usually take some rest and do skill drills on a gymnastic skill I don’t have for 30 minutes to an hour. I’m hoping to have Double Unders before the quarantine ends! AM: The beginning of quarantine was really hard and I only really made it out to Saturdays. I felt like garbage and really only perked up when Kal dragged me to work out. Once things got a bit better work wise (I had been working China hours and was basically a walking zombie), I’ve been trying to make it out to 5pm (or noon if meetings get in the way) and get at least 4/5 weekdays in. As Kal said, the weekend is a team sport and we try to workout together. Saturday is such a marathon that my nutritionist had me add re-feeds on the weekend! By the way, it is super fun to finally have a skill I can crush Kal at (DUs) every Sunday on our “rest day”. That said, I did embrace the Croga spirit and give him some of the tips you guys gave me to help him along. What's your favorite WOD or CrossFit movement? Kal: My favorite crossfit movement is definitely dramatically taking off your shirt in the middle of a WOD to get that extra energy boost. But actually, one of my favorite WODs I’ve ever done was a simple 20 minute AMRAP partner workout of each partner trades rounds on a barbell complex: 3 deadlifts - 3 power cleans - 3 push jerks. The complex goes VERY fast and the movements aren’t particularly tough for that low rep scheme, but it gets real spicy real quick. I did it with Kenny and he obliterated me. My favorite movement is anything that involves a barbell. Except thrusters. Thrusters and I are not friends. Thrusters can be replaced with kettlebell swings and Farmer Carries on my list of things I like. Oh! I also REALLY loved 1776. That was probably one of my favorite Hero WODs, because there’s a lot of teamwork and communication, and variation in the movements. Also hearing Richard say “guys I think we’re done” every 5 minutes was pretty great. AM: I really dig DB snatches, most of the other skills I like are ones I’m still working on so I love/hate them (DUs and HSPUs). I agree with Kal though 1776 was the most fun ever! I also love when Brett comes to town and we do one “stupid and long” workout, something like 100 Curtis P’s for time, or the 1000 rep challenge. It’s not the workouts themselves that I’m overly crazy about, more just the ridiculousness and the fun of suffering with friends. What's your least favorite WOD or CrossFit movement? Kal: Honestly running. I hate running, which is sad because I used to love it. One of the side effects of my previous hip fusion is that the impact of running and having my center of gravity shifted forward like that is that it really lights up my lower back and deep in my hips after a while, so sustained running isn’t something I can do. Even worse is wall-ball runs. I’m getting much better at it, but I will always hate it. I also hate Double Unders. Actually, no, scratch that, I like Double Unders. I hate FAILING double-unders. I’ve been using the quarantine to work on getting them in the hopes that I will be a DU champ when we come back to the gym, and I look like a bad 50 Shades of Grey novel. I somehow managed to whip myself across the nose the other day. HOW?! I’m just waiting for the day I accidentally get my rope caught and it dramatically flings off my balcony down to the street 5 floors below. That will be fun to explain. AM: I’m not super crazy about push ups, probably because I’m bad at them, though I’m starting to improve a lot and I’ll probably feel better about them over time. I think my real disdain though is for wall walks. The huge push to learn HSPUs is to not have to scale to wall walks anymore. Also not a great fan of wall balls (as I’m sure is common in the tiny people club), mostly because to get it high enough I have to jump every time. EVERY time. They make me feel extra tiny. Any tips are appreciated (to preempt it: “Be taller” is not helpful. Looking at you, CJ.) "The Kal" WOD! What would it be? Oh, easy. I wrote this WOD for the WOD-writing contest and I’m still mad we haven’t done it. I call this one “The Filthy Pump”: 15 minute AMRAP: Max pushups - you can rest in yoga position, but every time you break and your quads touch the ground, do barbell complex: - 5 deadlift (135/95) - 5 power clean (135/95) - 5 front squat (135/95) Score is # of total pushups completed. I did a variation of this WOD with CJ and Brett a while back, and it is true to it’s name; you get the filthiest of pumps. It’s also absolutely gutting and a super fun challenge, and there are a few strategies involved: do I want to go for more pushups earlier and take it easy on the complex? Or stop the pushups before I fail and go hard on the complex? The combo of mental and physical aspects of Crossfit are fun to me, and this really covers both. "The Ann-Marie" WOD! What would it be? One that I like and do very often is: AMRAP 14 mins: 30 DUs 20 Alt. DB Snatches 10 Situps I used to scale this to single ropes, but I’m amped to try again with DUs. For me the snatches have to be at around 25lbs, but I’m hoping to pull that up over time. I think at this point I just need to do a little bit of form work. This workout though is why I held on with Dave so well during that one workout in the open. What’s your favorite post-workout routine? AM: Kal just looked over at me and raised his eyebrows suggestively. Maybe we’ll leave that part off. Kal: There’s no better feeling than a nice, warm post-workout shower. We generally like to have a big meal afterwards too, so going out for bagel sandwiches with the bench crew is always good, or going home and cooking some really good protein waffles and eggs. If the weather is nice, we also love to go chill in a hot tub for a while and stretch out. Oh, also, bicep curls. That’s immediately post-workout before any of that happens. What are your biggest fitness goals for the rest of this year? AM: probably HSPUs and kipping/higher volume pull-ups. The HSPUs to avoid wall walks and cause circus tricks are fun. The pull-ups to try and have for Murph next year. Oh! And 100lb bench. Ever since Dave mentioned on the podcast that he thought I’d get it, I’ve wanted it so badly. Only 5lbs to go. Kal: I really really really really really want to get a muscle-up. I can do weighted dips forever, I can do butterfly pull-ups, I just can’t seem to connect the two together. Also I’d like to make sure I continue to beat Mark G and CJ at workouts. Actually yeah, I’d take that over muscle-ups. Other than that, I’d love to get a 275lb bench, a 315lb squat, something more than 315lb deadlift, a 135lb snatch, and a 185lb Clean & Jerk. Those are very lofty goals, considering I don’t have a rack at home and I only recently got more than 100lbs for my bar, but I’d love it. What do you love about CrossFit? Kal: The community and the support is great. When I was just doing powerlifting on my own, I would enjoy putting on the music and just zoning out. Doing workouts at Croga where we come in early, hang out with the crew for a bit, then hit the workout hard and seeing everyone else working just as hard is such a great motivational drive to push myself. This shelter-in-place has been stressful for a social butterfly like me, and being able to log into the 7AM class, or 5PM class, and see a bunch of my friends ready to attack the day with me has been so uplifting. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the highlight of every day is logging in and throwing down with my crew, or hearing Cody say “What’s up guys”. AM: Of course the community, whenever I really don’t feel like working out I have this pull to go anyway to see my friends! I also really enjoy that the workouts are an hour max. One of the big barriers to entry I usually have is time and I can make an hour work. Plus that hour is so crammed full of movements and activity, it’s like two non-crossfit workouts. Which is just awesome! What words of advice do you have for people considering joining a CrógaOTB class? Kal: Just do it! Find a time that works for you and log in. Don’t worry about whether you can do the movements, or whether you’ll perform well. Everyone is there for fitness, fun, and friends. You will be welcomed in and the great coaches will find a modification for you that works, if needed. It’s a ton of fun, and it should be the best hour of your day. AM: It might seem insurmountable to commit. So just log in once to start. Pick one day and see how it goes. Once you get moving and laughing with everyone you’ll be energized to keep going with it, so don’t think about that, just one step at a time. Also, don’t look at the workout ahead of time or you’ll talk yourself out of it. Just go and everyone will take care of you. Anything to add that we didn't touch on yet? Kal: Honestly if you’re still here, I’m amazed. This was a lot of words that I wrote. Congratulations for making it this far! I really want to thank Croga for everything coach Dave, Cody, Jill, and all the wonderful coaches have done through this difficult time. The world is going crazy around us right now, and I’m so thankful to have a great community to support each other through this. I am so excited to get back in the gym soon. The first WOD we do will be a 10 minute AMRAP hugs. AM: Agreed! AMRAP hugs when we’re back! Thanks so much to all the coaches for laughing with us and helping us stay fit! You guys are the best!


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