Latest News from Rally Fitness

October 10, 2017

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Why CrossFit Is (Not) Bad For Your Health

The CrossFit craze has swept the nation for over eight years now, but many health experts warn that the extreme, over-the-top workouts could be bad for your health. Though the jury is still out on the final verdict, we’ll run through some common misconceptions about CrossFit and you can decide if it is a good addition to your workout routine or if it should be shelved.

CrossFit is only a workout regime. What good is any workout routine with the proper dieting and lifestyle changes? CrossFit is a form of lifestyle coaching. You’ll get a healthy serving of nutritional guidance in addition to killer workout routines designed to push your body to the limit and get you in the best shape of your life. Many CrossFit studios also offer a host of other “non-CrossFit” related exercise and wellness options too like aerobics, pilates and even mediation programs. Plus, the CrossFit community is like no other and you can benefit from the relationships you build with your trainers and other CrossFit enthusiasts. Unlike other gyms, CrossFit is designed to give you the support you need to make the lifestyle changes that will improve your health and overall wellness.

You’ll be too sore and stiff to move. Who isn’t sore after a good workout? Whether you’re training for a marathon, doing high-intensity aerobics or taking a stab at your first CrossFit workout, you’re bound to be sore. But, as your mind and body get used to the workouts, your soreness will reduce after each session. In fact, CrossFit can give you more flexibility than other workout regimes. CrossFit’s warmup and cooldown routines stretch out muscles that normally would have gone unnoticed and remained stiff. So, in reality, by working your body beyond what was possible but also being attentive to proper pre- and post-workout recommendations, CrossFit can have you feeling as limber as a gymnast.

CrossFit isn’t for strength training. Believe it or not, strength training is one of the cornerstones of CrossFit. You’ll become very familiar with lifting weights and various lifting techniques to take your fitness and strength to the next level. The CrossFit training program will get you toned and build up both your endurance and strength by using a host of different (and unique) approaches. Most CrossFit enthusiasts are shocked at the level of strength they’re able to achieve, even in a short time. The more you workout your body muscles, the stronger and healthier they’ll become.

CrossFit has a host of benefits that go well beyond flipping tires. Recent studies have even shown that CrossFit is a relatively safe program and is at the same level of health risk as gymnastics. If you’re looking for professional CrossFit equipment to get you started or to continue the workout fun at home check out Rally Fitness’ extensive collection of CrossFit must-haves here.

How to Attract and Keep Millennials Coming to Your CrossFit Gym

CrossFit Millenials

Any CrossFit box owner knows how critical it is to maintain and grow membership. Without those (rabid) fitness enthusiasts, eventually there will be no box, no matter how good the trainers, equipment and camaraderie. It is for this reason that many gym owners spend their two most precious resources – time and money – trying to attract millennials.

According to Pew Research, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2016, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.

The millennial generation continues to grow as young immigrants expand its ranks. Boomers – whose generation was defined by the boom in U.S. births following World War II – are older and their numbers shrinking as the number of deaths among them exceeds the number of older immigrants arriving in the country.

Here is a breakdown of the most recent generations:

The Generations Defines


Millennials Are the Perfect Fit for CrossFit

The reason CrossFit gym owners think (a LOT) about millennials is because that they are health fanatics! More than any other group, millennials are laser focused on healthy lifestyle. This is exhibited in several ways. Their obesity rates are falling, they search out healthy foods and they demand better, more effective workouts. They are also bored easily! This mirrors the typical (if there is such an animal) CrossFit athlete.

Women’s Marketing noted, “Prior generations may have exercised in traditional gyms, but the monotony of the treadmill or stair climber doesn’t appeal to the adventurous millennial. They are avoiding exercise boredom with endurance challenges that push them to excel or small boutique-style fitness classes that offer variety and personalized service.

“A full 81 percent of millennials say they exercise regularly, but 72 percent believe that gym memberships are too expensive. Although they haven’t completely abandoned multi-purpose facilities, boutique gyms that offer specialized classes, group workouts, and a community atmosphere are growing in popularity. Dedicated micro-gyms that offer authentic experiences, service, and the ability to connect with like-minded individuals is a trend that appeals to the millennials’ desire for a unique experience.”


Understanding these motivations are keys to attracting the group to a CrossFit gym.

Tracking Success and Sharing on Social Media are Very Important

Sharing on Social Media

In addition to being highly competitive, millennials are very “social” and this has attracted them to fitness apps and a sharing of their progress on social networks such as Facebook. A savvy CrossFit gym owner is aware of this and uses social media in marketing and membership engagement.

Research has shown that fitness apps are also helping workout enthusiasts to track their workouts and share their success on social media, something that especially pleases the socially-networked millennial woman. “Among those ages 18 to 29, 24 percent had health apps on their phones. This research found that college-educated women under age 50 with an average household income of at least $75,000 are more likely than others to have downloaded at least one health app.”

The report from Women’s Marketing noted that since they are very social “that dynamic spills into every aspect of their lives—and their workouts are no exception. The popularity of fun, group exercise such as Zumba, SoulCycle, and CrossFit, that turn workouts into a social event are popular with this demographic. Competitive and team-based race participation has skyrocketed among Gen Y—Running USA reports that the number of road race finishers tripled between 1990 and 2014, with women accounting for 10.7 million finishers worldwide.”

Be Authentic

Millennials are the current “target market of the month” for lifestyle brands such as CrossFit because their numbers are so large. They have also been around long enough have an impact on both large and small businesses, and while they tend to drive their employers nuts, they are beginning to have greater earning capacity making them even more important for growing brands.

Getting the attention and retaining the loyalty of millennials for a CrossFit box is challenging, but well worth the effort. It starts with having an authentic, competitive experience in each session and a high profile social media presence. Because this group is so social, word of mouth might very well be the best advertising medium.


Do you have a CrossFit program that millennials love? Contact us and we will share with our readers.
August 20, 2017

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Make Sex Gains with CrossFit

CrossFit shapes up more than bodies. It shapes up sex lives, too. If someone's not hitting it hard with CrossFit, then they’re probably not hitting it hard in the bedroom or wherever else the mood strikes. Statistics prove this. According to a Singles in America survey cited by LiveMore:

"5,000 singles, 33% of those who work out twice a week have sexual relations at least once a month. It was also determined that those who practice CrossFit proved to be the most active under the sheets: at least 45% of CrossFitters had sex monthly, and 55% of them went on at least one date during the year."

People who do CrossFit work out so intensely, they have more sex than people who do other types of regular workouts. This is because CrossFit enhances the endocrine system, which boosts testosterone in both men and women. This testosterone increase also increases the sex drive.

Additionally, Cross Fit transforms how people look, feel, and move. It improves one's overall health. Improvements in these areas translate to sexual gains because of gains in

  • self-confidence
  • emotional awareness
  • sex appeal
  • blood flow
  • flexibility
  • stamina.

There's a popular game that involves picking a famous person to spend one night with. Not many people pick a famous person who lacks desire, self-confidence, emotional awareness, sex appeal, blood flow, stamina, and flexibility. Think about it. Have you ever said, “Wow, I’d just love to spend a night with Idris Elba or Gal Gadot, if only they’d gain about fifty pounds each plus be an unsure, unresponsive, boring, cold, stiff heavy breather?"

Yeah, we didn’t think so.

Moves That Help Bust a Move

Squats play a major role in how well a person moves in the bedroom. They mimic “certain motions” and build strength because they tone the legs and backside. They also burn fat and help improve balance and posture. All of this enhances movement under the sheets. Or above them. Or next to them. Squats combined with weights add more burn. It’s time to start burning, any way possible.

The ole slam balls technique works wonders, too. (Notice there’s no “the” in that phrase!) Slam balls into the ground. Or, slam wall balls into a wall in a variety of moves to increase cardio capability and tone the whole body. Playing with balls releases a lot of stress. The sheer force of slamming balls into the floor or wall feels beyond good and puts people in the mood.

Don't Be a Tease

Give your clients what they want by making sure they can get their CrossFit freak on in your gym. Rally Fitness will show you how to make your facility a source of pleasure. Contact us today.

July 28, 2017

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CrossFit: A Lifestyle That Includes a Workout

CrossFit means that the people who live the lifestyle nourish their bodies instead of just stuffing their mouths with junk. CrossFit also demands that the people in it rest so that their bodies and minds recover from the trials and tribulations of being a CrossFit athlete.

Anyone who does anything else in the program is half-assing it.

Diet and rest prove essential to progress and longevity. Without them, injuries and poor performance abound. Both bad nutrition and a lack of sleep weaken performance in other areas of life as well, like on the job or in the bedroom.

To anyone who hasn't done so already: It's time to get serious.

Eat Clean or Go Home

Abs happen in the kitchen. That’s a fact of life. Working out without eating clean might tone up some flab, leading to small gains. Maybe the people who do that wind-up looking like well-toned semi- trucks. But we’re gonna go out on a limb and say that just about nobody wants to look like a semi-truck, well-toned or not. 

 In an Eat This, Not That! piece, Perri O. Blumberg recommends that CrossFit trainees eat

  • almond butter
  • bananas
  • coconut water
  • eggs
  • oatmeal
  • sweet potatoes.

There are more suggestions. Go to the Eat This, Not That! page to learn them.

Oh, and anyone who’s new to the lifestyle may not know to avoid what’s called “gastrointestinal discomfort food” before working out. Anyone like that should do everyone in their program a favor by checking out that page for the best kinds of food to not eat before getting sweaty.

Now, a good rule of thumb for how much to eat comes from reading a piece that Jack Braniff wrote for Box Nutrition. In the piece, Braniff talks about total energy expenditure, or TEE. This means a person eats according to the energy he or she expends. TEE consists of 

  • metabolic rate
  • thermic effect of activity 
  • thermic effect of food.

Braniff simplifies it to 

                                               TEE = BMR + TEA + TEF                

To learn the details on TEE, go here.

Hit the Sack Jack, For At Least Eight

Sleep matters. A lack of sleep leads to weight gain. Extra weight causes all sorts of problems with CrossFit goals. A lack of sleep also leads to a lack of focus.

Many people underestimate the amount of sleep they need. Anyone who does CrossFit should strive for at least eight hours a night. Even a loss of thirty minutes diminishes gains.

These workouts promote sound sleep by helping to adjust hormones. This is part of the process. The human body is designed to function to maximum capacity when it eats and rests well. 

And the stronger one gets, the more workout challenges one needs. Equipement plays a big part in meeting those challenges.

Use Military Grade Equipment

Rally Fitness believes that all CrossFit programs should offer their clients equipment that supports their fitness endeavors. We offer military grade training options for CrossFit professionals to help people achieve their dreams. They're eating right and sleeping right. Let them train right, the military grade way. Contact us today to learn more.

July 18, 2017

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CrossFit training ›


Enhance Your Fitness Facility's Functionality

The benefits of using a functional trainer at home are well known, but these machines also work wonders in commercial workout facilities. The flexibility of this machine is hard to beat. And it works for a cross-section of the population, the kind of people who visit

  • hotel workout rooms
  • work gyms
  • work gyms
  • school gyms
  • hospital/rehab facilities.

Let’s look at why.

Keeps You Long and Lean

The functional trainer is compact. That means you can squeeze them into small places and remove other items that lack their versatility. This provides clients with more options and leaves your facility with more space.

Bulks Up Your Wallet

These machines save money because they incorporate a number of exercise options into one machine. Therefore, there's no need to spend money on things like weight stacks. And it cuts down on the range of free weights needed.

Provides Smile Gains

The functional trainer works for beginners who are just starting a workout program as well as pro-athletes. It's even great for rehab patients. That means it keeps the wide range of people who visit your gym happy.

Everyone Earns a Gold

Because this machine uses cables, there's no limit on what a person can do. As long the user understands how to move with the cables and employ different angles, a good workout is within reach. It's not hard to figure out.

Newbies Feel Like Pros

If one of your goals is to help people start an exercise program, a functional trainer is a good way to do that. As we mentioned above, it's easy to use for just about anyone. But there's another reason it works for newbies: It's less intimidating.

The unobtrusive design, as well as the quietness, draws in those who are new to working out. There's no clanging like sometimes happens with free-weights. It doesn't demand an aggressive attitude. 

Let's Streamline Your Fitness Facility

So what are you waiting for? Get functional! Contact Rally Fitness today so we can talk about getting your fitness facility stocked with a functional trainer.

Post-Workout Stretching: You May be Missing an Opportunity to Supercharge Your Strength Gain

Many dedicated fitness fanatics believe the traditional warm-up regimen of stretching is a complete waste of time. As it turns out, they may be right.

According to many strength-training books and websites, including JMAX Fitness, “The main problem with conventional stretching programs is they often work against your body’s physiology rather than with it. If you take a tight, cold muscle and expose it to prolonged standard stretching, you could incur scar tissue and micro-tearing, which could then lead to muscle weakness, inflexibility, and injury.

“Furthermore, many professionals have prescribed stretching before exercise as a form of warm up. This is wrong. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded if you stretch before you lift weights, you could find yourself weaker and “off balanced” in your workouts.

Not something we want when hoisting hundreds of pounds of metal.”

Does this mean that CrossFit athletes should avoid stretching altogether? No.  It means that this activity should occur AFTER the workout. Post-workout stretching has been shown to supercharge results.

Here’s why and how.

Kick-Starting the Recovery Process

CrossFit trainer working out

Many strength training experts, including those who train CrossFit athletes, note that post-workout stretching can help kick-start the recovery process, loosen up the joints and muscles and lead to better flexibility.  This process should be seen as the continuation of the workout.

Nerd Fitness notes that “When you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered. Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains. Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.

When you go through a great stretch routine after a heavy weight lifting day, your muscles are already starting to recover and expand, which will allow to you get back to ‘normal’ more quickly than if you didn’t stretch.” Plus, as we age, regaining flexibility becomes more and more difficult.

A Simple Stretching Routine

The type of post-workout stretching routine depends on several factors. These include; your level of fitness, your level of flexibility, how hard you worked out and which muscles were strained. Here is a simple stretching routine that most beginners can benefit from.

A More Advanced Stretching Routine

Combining yoga, stretching, tai-chi, and Pilates the folks at Nerd Fitness have put together a more advanced stretching video. Their suggestion is to stretch as far as possible, hold it for a few seconds without bouncing and then repeat the process.

Anabolic Stretching

Many serious body builders use a post-workout stretching program that uses weights for resistance while stretching. This is called anabolic stretching and it has some controversy surrounding it.

This exercise uses hyperplasia which is the growth of muscles not through the increase in size of the fibers (hypertrophy) but through the increase in number. According to JMAX Fitness, “Aggressively stretching a fully-pumped muscle is the perfect mechanism for growth. You increase overall muscular tension while also maximizing the cell swelling response for maximal muscle damage.

The article notes, “Anabolic stretching challenges your body to build both flexibility and strength in the positions you need it most. By anabolic stretching in the proper manner, you will be able to build strength into your flexibility. Stretching the sheaths or layers that encapsulate the muscle bundles will elicit another anabolic effect. In protective response to this unstable change, the stretched muscle sheets trigger an increase in protein splitting, muscle cell division, and collagen breakdown and repair. The result is, again, hypertrophy for survival.”

This anabolic stretching program demands precise technique and should only be pursued with proper instruction from a trained strength or CrossFit trainer.

What types of post-workout stretching do you use? Let us know by making a comment below or contacting us here.

The Business of CrossFit: How to Hire a (GREAT) Trainer for Your Gym

CrossFit trainer

Many, if not most CrossFit gyms are started by fitness professionals who have that entrepreneurial gene in their DNA.  Typically, before starting their gym, they have been personal trainers or coaches and have decided that the CrossFit philosophy and potential for business success is worth their investment – in time and money. Then, the pressure begins for expansion.

After a start-up period, the owner of the box often realizes that running a business requires more time and energy than someone who is also in charge of leading several classes each day has. The owner/trainer has to then decide if they want to spend their entire day training members or use some of that time to build the gym’s membership, plan promotions, scope out new locations, plan the sales and marketing for the gym and about a hundred other critical tasks for growing the business.

It’s at this time when the owner has to make the most important decision he will make as a CrossFit entrepreneur – hiring another trainer.

What to Look for in a CrossFit Trainer

Great fitness trainers, even those who have owned their own gym, are not always great judges of potential employees. There’s a reason why big companies have HR departments. It is very difficult to pre-judge talent and employees can make or break any company of any size. More importantly, in a CrossFit environment, a trainer (s) is the pretty much the heart and soul of the gym.

Finding an trainer who will (1) show up for work every day with a great attitude, (2) has the training and certification required to properly and safely teach newbees and veterans who are throwing heavy weights around, running, pulling and struggling (potentially hurting themselves and their fellow CrossFitters), and (3) has the personality to actually LEAD a group is a challenge. However, there are a few considerations that can help an owner find a trainer who can help the business continue to grow.

Are They Certified?

The first criterion that every trainer must have is a Level 1 Certification from CrossFit. This is common knowledge for gym owners who started out as trainers or coaches. However, for investors or owners of gyms with no background in training, this is very important.

According to the CrossFit.com training page, the Level 1 certificate course is “an introduction to CrossFit’s methodology and foundational movements. The course includes classroom instruction on these topics, as well as hands-on small-group training for the movements. These group sessions are conducted under low intensity with a focus on improving mechanics. Students’ movements are observed and Students’ movements are observed and corrected, and they engage in dialogue concerning effective coaching techniques. Large group CrossFit workouts are conducted as an example of bridging the gap from theory to practice. These workouts provide examples of how to:

  • Conduct a class.
  • Hold a standard of effective technique at high intensity.
  • Achieve relative high levels of intensity for each individual.
  • Scale for any ability level.

The Level 1 provides introductory education on the fundamental principles and movements of CrossFit. It is structured to meet two goals: 1) Provide attendees with the knowledge to better use CrossFit methods for themselves; and 2) Provide attendees with an initial and foundational education to begin training others using CrossFit.”

This training and certification is not cheap. The prices for this two-day training and certification are:

  • Course (and test): (US) $1,000 if registered 14 days or more prior to the course date or (US) $1,200 if registered within 14 days of the course start date.
  • Revalidation (course and test): (US) $500.
  • Retest only: (US) $150.

These two-day training and testing sessions are conducted around the United States and other countries. For locations and dates, just click on the training page.

Where to Find Your New Trainer?

This question has two choices. The new trainer will either come from within your gym or outside your gym and there are advantages and disadvantages of both.

According to Journal Menu, When you hire from within you will already know if your potential hire has the right personality and fit for your gym, since you will have observed them in numerous classes under a wide variety of situations. However, it’s important to realize that a cool person, one-on-one, may not have the chops for full class responsibility, you'll have to throw them into the mix before you can make that determination.”

The article noted other benefits from hiring within, including:

  • Reduced/no costs associated with advertising the job opening
  • No time spent creating job postings

The article advised putting this new hire through an internship for several months, in return for no membership dues, to see how they handle the leadership role. As noted earlier, before they take on the full-time trainer role, they must go through the Level 1 certification, and depending on how great of a prospective trainer they are, the owner can opt to pay for this training and testing.

The other choice is to hire the new trainer externally. The Journal Menu notes, “Hiring externally will require some more footwork, but will also allow you to find specialized coaches to fill in a void you currently have. You could require all applicants to already have their Level 1 as well as other specific certs, like gymnastics or Olympic lifting. 

“Hiring externally might allow you to get one of the best skills related coaches around, something that your internal prospects might not have been able to put on the table. This would allow you to make a few strategic hires that would drastically increase the potency of your program.

“When you externally hire, you will not need to worry about the transition from member to coach. This transition can be very tricky since members might not view an internally hired coach as a ‘real’ coach for as long as a year or two.

“If you hire externally you will need to advertise the slot. You can advertise through a blog post, a Facebook post or even a post on the CrossFit boards.

CrossFit WOD

There are many job boards where CrossFit trainers and wannabe trainers share the thoughts about their profession. This one from “Thomas” is an interesting insight into how he got his job as a trainer and what he thinks is important.

“How I got my job was pretty much like an open tryout. My resume impressed them then I had to go in for two weeks, non-paid and prove myself as a leader and my ability to program and coach every movement and exercise I claimed to be proficient in. I like the format of hiring as an open tryout (because) you find out who really wants it. I like the Idea of finding someone you trust and grooming them too, if you have relevant knowledge to pass on and instruct people on giving instruction. Don't hire anyone based on a resume and pay them until they are proven.

In our box we don't shy away from heavy lifting so peoples’ lives are literally in our hands and it has to be treated that way. Safety is #1 period, and knowledge is key. I feel like you are robbing people of their money if you aren't giving them the whole enchilada of CrossFit in which I see as including heavy lifting. I’ve had people threaten to walk out of the box when I introduced heavy lifting. They said that didn't want to be football players. Month down the road, these people are thanking me for their new strength gains and notice in power output in there other activities, especially the few cyclists I have at the box."

What is the Pay Scale for a Great Trainer?

Many trainer/entrepreneurs who have run one-man-band in the beginning, will have many questions about what to pay these new hires.  As with every business, it’s all over the road and depends on many factors, including: experience, range of teaching skills (i.e. can they deal with weight training, gymnastics, nutrition counseling, etc.) and the city where the box is located.

Fortunately, there are several online resources for helping an owner to determine a competitive compensation package for a new trainer. One excellent resource is PayScale Human Capital. This site also offers a cool compensation calculator which will help an owner get a better starting point for this subject. Unfortunately, CrossFit trainers are like any other employee in that their personality is very important for the job and a trainer with interpersonal gifts is worth more (in the long run) to the growth of the gym than someone who is a just great athlete or coach.  

There’s Paperwork…Lots of Paperwork!

Running a business and hiring more people can be worse that tire flipping in July! In order to do this right – meaning the avoidance of state and federal taxes violations and employment commission violations – it is important to get good legal and accounting advice. Anyone who is serious about growing a business should get competent help in both of these areas. Don’t make the mistake of thinking these tasks can be done by a high school intern or your cousin Vinny who went to junior college for one year!

There are also reams of paperwork to deal with! This blog post is a good place to start your hand-to-hand combat against the forces of bureaucratic evil. There are also a couple of helpful sites from IRS and The Small Business Administration.  

Go for It!

Sure there are challenges to expanding your CrossFit enterprise, but if this more than a hobby for you, hiring GREAT trainers along with other talented staff members is worth the grief. Go for it and let us know how you’re doing.

When is it too Hot for a CrossFit Workout?

How to train CrossFit in the heat

It’s that time of year again. Summer, when the days are longer and the sun is hotter, can either super- charge your CrossFit workout or knock you on your butt!

A vigorous workout in the summer heat can certainly lead to serious health consequences, but, to the surprise on no one who has ever sweated through and benefitted from Bikram yoga program, it can also enhance the performance impact of the activity. To quote Don Schlitz, who wrote the song most likely to be sung by the every one of the slightly-overserved patrons of any karaoke bar south of the Mason-Dixon Line – The Gambler  – “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run!

The Heat is On

Glenn Fry – 1985

Your mama probably warned you about playing outside in the summer heat and most likely you disregarded everything that saintly woman ever said!  Like a lot of motherly admonitions, this advice to “play in the shade” was based some science and some old wives’ tales.

First off, the bad news. She was right. If you overdo anything – from playing golf to flipping truck tires in a CrossFit class – when the temperature is 103 in the shade, you can find yourself dehydrated, disoriented or dead. Fortunately, dying from a heat stroke is extremely rare. One will typically become incapacitated with heat exhaustion symptoms long before the Grimm Reaper of Heat comes to fetch you!

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2,000 U.S. citizens die of heat-related causes each year. The agency notes, “Exposure to extreme natural heat poses a public health problem because it may result in heat-related illness (e.g., heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, and heat stroke) and heat-related death. Exposure to extreme natural heat also may result in death because it exacerbates preexisting chronic conditions (e.g., cardiovascular, cerebral, and respiratory diseases), and because patients receiving psychotropic drug treatment for mental disorders and those taking medications that affect the body’s heat regulatory system or have anticholinergic effects are more susceptible to heat effects.”  

Hot Fun in the Summer Time

Sly and the Family Stone – 1969

For all of the bad news about the dangers of working out in the heat, there is some great news for athletes who want to increase the physical benefits of their work. While there will be copious sweat involved but slugging through a WOD when it’s hot as hell can result in exponential gain.

According to an article in Men’s Health Magazine, a heat-wave workout can do wonders for the athlete’s performance. “Researchers from the University of Oregon tracked the performance of 12 very high-level cyclists (10 male, two female) over a 10-day training period (with two days off in the middle) in 100-degree heat. Another control group did the exact same exercise regimen in a much more comfortable, 55-degree room. Both groups worked in 30% humidity.

Researchers discovered that the cyclists who worked through the heat improved their performance by 7% (a noticeable and significant amount in cycling), while the control group did not show any improvement. What surprised researchers most was that the experimental group not only showed that they had achieved a level of heat acclimation, but the training also helped them to function better in cooler environments.”

How to CrossFit outdoors

This research points to some “magic numbers” for working out in the heat:

101

The number of degrees Fahrenheit you need to elevate your core body temperature during training sessions.

60 

The number of minutes you want to have that elevated core temperature maintained during your heat training to make sure that you’re truly getting the heat acclimation benefits.

5 to 10  

The number of days you need to train in the heat. In order to really heat acclimate the way the researchers were proposing an athlete must go out and exercise in the heat for five to ten days, with pretty significant exposure at times.

Drop it Like its Hot

Snoop Dogg and Pharrell -2004

Dr. Michael Landers  who is  a sport medicine physician in Dallas and a member of the physician referral line at Texas Health Spine & Orthopedics Center has some words of advice for those who decide to take on the hot summer WOD’s

“It’s critical to stay hydrated,” Dr. Landers said. “You sweat more as it gets hotter and more humid. You need to ensure you are replacing those fluids as you run, bike, or do other workouts in such extreme weather.”

He recommends consuming 16 to 24 ounces of water two hours before exercising in hot temperatures. Past that, he says to take in another six to eight ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise.  

“The humidity is also an important factor to consider for summer workouts,” he said. “During and after exercise, the body is cooled by the evaporation of sweat. When it is humid the athlete does not experience as much of that evaporative cooling effect because the air is saturated with humidity. On days when it is both hot and humid, take the WOD inside.

“The most important consideration for these summer workouts is proper acclimation,” Dr. Lander said. “In the summer we spend a lot of time in air conditioned spaces and when it comes time to exercise outdoors the sudden heat overwhelms the body.  Try to acclimate to the heat a few hours before your workout by going outside or at least raising the inside temperature.

“Finally, it is very important to take it easy in the beginning and gradually work into the extreme heat. Wear breathable clothing and ramp up the intensity over days. Don’t try to go full-bore if you are not used to the heat.”

He noted some signs to watch out for.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: Profuse sweating, severe headaches, dizziness and intense thirst.

Heat Stroke Symptoms: Lack of sweat in spite of heat, a core body temperature greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nauseaseizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.

If these symptoms are noticed, call 911 immediately!

Have you had good experiences or bad experiences with working out in the hot summer sun? Contact us and we’ll share your story with our readers.

The Business of CrossFit: What Kind of Equipment Do You Need to Start a Gym and what does it Cost?

CrossFit class in session

Fitness entrepreneurs are drawn to the CrossFit business model because the outward appearance of a typical CF gym or “box” is decidedly industrial-looking (i.e. cheap) and the antithesis of the fancy schmancy chrome and glass franchises (i.e. expensive) such as “LA Fitness” and other well-known brands. It looks like a great business opportunity and it is!

The affiliate fees are modest ($3,000) as is the training certification cost ($1,000) and there is no revenue sharing required. Of course, there are expenses for rent, insurance, utilities, legal and accounting, but when an entrepreneur sees these converted warehouses, packed with die hard fitness fanatics who are paying $150 per month he/she thinks: “Hey. I can make some money doing what I love to do - helping clients get fit – with a CrossFit gym!”

It’s true about the modest accommodations of a typical CF box. However, all of those CrossFitters who show up at 6 a.m. ready for the workout of the day (WOD), demand great trainers and commercial quality equipment, both of which require initial capital investment and in the case of equipment, ongoing replacement.

When starting up a CrossFit gym, nothing is more important than the investment in excellent trainers. Finding these professionals is a very challenging task and this subject will be treated in greater detail in an upcoming post. However, this post will deal with what equipment is needed to open the doors on a CrossFit gym.

Location, Location, Location

Choosing appropriate equipment for a gym is partially dictated by the location of the workout facility and the clientele an owner wants to work with. A box on the Upper East Side Manhattan might require more modern and brand name equipment than one found in the warehouse district of New Orleans or Dallas. Plus, a smaller town may have fewer competing CrossFit programs and can survive and even flourish with very basic equipment.

According to this planner, “CrossFit is an ever-changing field in fitness, meaning there will be times when every affiliate box will need to include new equipment to keep up with the latest workouts. For example, the Assault Bike is an up and coming affiliate gym trend that not every fitness equipment company has available. Choose companies that are aware of and are able to accommodate these trends.”

It further noted that many boxes follow what they call the “Rule of Three,” meaning that a class should be able to be broken into three groups. For example, a class of fifteen individuals can be broken into three separate groups, therefore you would only need enough equipment for five individuals for each WOD. If the decision is to hold larger group sessions, each member of the group will require the same piece of equipment. Needless to say, this can be very expensive for a startup venture.

Equipment Investment Costs

According to many websites on the subject, outfitting a new CrossFit box with commercial equipment can run from $5,000 to $100,000 dollars. The types of workouts that are planned, the number of people in each session, the training strategies contemplated, location of the gym and other factors will dictate how much investment in equipment is required.

tire flip exercise

Some equipment, such as used truck tires which are used in workouts geared toward building explosive lower and upper body strength are cheap and readily available at any tire store. While the state of the art commercial grade, “Big Grip Kettlebells” from Rally Fitness cost about $85 each.  If the plan is to use these Big Grip Kettlebells in a group of 15, the investment will be $1,275 (and change) plus tax for this equipment.

big grip kettlebells

Most gym owners benefit from researching “package” deals from equipment manufacturers. Each company offers a little different package, composed of different pieces of equipment. Rally Fitness has a competitively priced package it calls “The Captain.” This includes:

The price for this package is $2,399.00 and most gyms would want to purchase at least three and perhaps five of these packages in order to accommodate the “groups of three” noted above.

Caution

It is tempting for an owner of a startup box to save money by purchasing cheaper equipment from a big-box retailer. This is certainly an option but it is a bad option.  

CrossFit athletes are much more serious about their workouts than any other, more casual, fitness enthusiasts. Because of their average income and professional standing they expect quality training and safe equipment. This is part of the reason they are not hesitant to pay upwards of $150 per month in fees.  

Don’t skimp on the quality of the gym’s equipment just to save a few bucks in the beginning. Buy quality and build confidence in the staying power of the box.

If you have questions about the type of equipment you need for your CrossFit gym, contact us and we will be happy to share ideas and financing options

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for CrossFit Success

CrossFit and Sleep

Good CrossFit athletes are often said to “eat and sleep” the program.  Based on a great deal of athletic performance research, this may not be such a good thing. Among the overwhelming majority of high-performing athletes, quality sleep is an essential training component.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. REM sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones.”

High intensity exercise such as CrossFit depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are only part of training and recovery. “What athletes do in the moments during and immediately after competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients. This helps maintain endurance, speed and accuracy.”

The Stress Hormone: Cortisol

Many athletic trainers and physicians have noted that sleep deprivation can result in an increase in the “stress hormone” known as cortisol. An article in Psychology Today noted that “The stress hormone, cortisol is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.  

Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the “fight-or-flight” mechanism and adequate sleep helps to reduce its incidence in the body. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery after a workout.

Reduction of Injuries

CrossFit class in session

Anyone who has gone through a grueling CrossFit session has first-hand knowledge of the potential for injuries in this setting. A University of California study concluded that injury rates in youth athletes increased during games that followed a night of sleep fewer than six hours.  Another study looking at injury rates in high school athletes found that sleep hours was the strongest predictor of injuries, even more so than the hours of practice.

What accounts for this? First, fatigue affects reaction time and a tired athlete is slower to react to potential twists and turns of a CrossFit WOD. Secondly, fatigue affects the body’s immune system, making athletes more susceptible to illness. Finally, shorter sleep periods don’t provide the body with sufficient time to regenerate cells and repair from the abuse of workouts, games, and daily activities. As the research notes, “Over time, game-earned injuries, health issues, and the inability to fully recover can wear on an athlete and contribute to more time spent on the sidelines.”

Sleep Deprivation Can Drive You Crazy

Sleep deprivation can also have profound effects on one’s mental state. Dr. Joyce Walseben, a psychiatrist and the former director of Bellevue Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center noted in an article in The Atlantic, “Sleep loss can cause psychological damage because sleep regulates the brain’s flow of epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, chemicals closely associated with mood and behavior.

“Mood and sleep use the same neurotransmitters,” she said. “It’s very hard to tell if someone has sleep loss or depression.” Walseban added, “When these neurotransmitters are disrupted by sleep loss, the chemical changes in the brain can also result in manic feelings and behavior similar to bi-polar disorder: high highs of ecstasy and low lows of depression and anger.”

Can You Make it up on the Weekend?

Working too Much

Everyone has heard about the athlete, student or business tycoon who regularly lives on fewer than five hours of sleep each night. While this is certainly possible to do, the long-range health dangers of this type of lifestyle are extremely real.

Some believe they can regularly pull all-nighters and then “make it up” on the weekend, or sometime later. This is also a fallacy. It is a similar problem found in jet-lag. “The problem, the researchers write, is that many people who chronically lose sleep live in societies where their work and school schedules are not aligned with the body’s circadian rhythms.  So they never make up for lost sleep from the nights before, and build up a “sleep debt” that is never repaid. The consequence of chronic sleep debt  is “social jetlag”—a chronic slowing of concentration and hampering of bodily systems.”

If you want to accelerate you CrossFit training impact, get some rest – anywhere from 8 to 9 hours each night. This will also speed your recovery time and give clear head when it comes time to go to the grocery store and buy some healthy food.

Have you had any experience with sleep and workout success? Post them below and we’ll share with our readers.