Paleo Potluck & WOD

Save the date! Join us Friday, Jan. 24 for an all-levels WOD, good eats & great fun.

Looking for something to help break up the winter blahs? Grab a friend and join us Friday, Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. for an all-levels WOD and then stick around for a Paleo Potluck. Please RSVP on the Facebook Event Page, or by dropping an email to

Up Your Strength Game In 2014.

Contributed by Coach Scott. Train with Scott in one of the following classes based at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights:
Strength & Power l Wednesday, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. or Friday, 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Skills & Strength Intensive / Advanced WOD l Sunday, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
CrossFit Boot Camp, Sunday l 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

BodiStrongAre you ready to up your training game? Whether you are new to training or an advanced athlete, participating in the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights Winter 2014 Strength & Power cycle at least two classes per week will positively impact your fitness and performance. Guaranteed.

The eight-week Strength & Power cycle (January 13 – March 7) is divided into goal-specific “mini-cycles” programmed to develop absolute strength output, or drive your 1RM in the Back Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Press, Bench Press, and Deadlift. Programming will also increase proficiency in several key functional movements, including Chin Ups, Pull Ups, Dips, Grip Strength, and carrying heavy loads across long distances. This is a shift from the past few Strength & Power cycles which concentrated almost exclusively on increasing power output by training the Olympic lifts. The Clean & Jerk and Snatch are still included in the January – March cycle, but will be programmed to contribute to total body strength … and ensure interested athletes are properly prepared for the CrossFit Games Open slated to start in March.

StrongThe benefits of strength training are many, and include:

  • Positive change in body composition
  • Increased muscle mass (turn into a calorie burning machine)
  • Complete more “work” during CrossFit classes (more repetitions and more weight)
  • Attempt new movements with new strength (more Rx and fewer scaled WODs)
  • Increased ability to generate force (other activities become easier)
  • Improved sports performance (sprint faster, jump higher, and hold your ground)
  • Increased confidence
  • Ability to improve all other areas of fitness

If you’ve not participated in a previous Strength & Power cycle, now is your chance. If you’ve been a regular to the Strength & Power classes, you’ll find the new programming physically and mentally challenging, and a great opportunity to accelerate your progress.

Editor’s Note: Visit the EAD / CFAH Athlete Center to access the 3-2-1 Goal Training Plan Template and Goal Planning Worksheet. Use both tools to organize your first quarter training performance goals.

Scott Mezzano is an EAD / CFAH / CFAX performance coach. He earned his BS & MS, Exercise Science, from Western Illinois University. He is a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and holds certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine and USA Weightlifting. Scott is a Fitness Education adjunct instructor at McHenry Community College.

Shattering the Strength Ceiling.

Contributed by Coach Scott. Train with Scott in the Wednesday 5:30 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. Strength & Power classes at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights.

Strength is a lifelong endeavor that benefits everyone, regardless of fitness goals. But many athletes bypass strength training because it lacks the excitement and fast pace of metabolic conditioning (the MetCon), or because they question how getting stronger will help them perform better in the Workout of the Day (WOD). Here’s the bottom line: A stronger athlete will always perform better if equally as fit and mobile as their opponent.

Increasing strength is a unique adaptation that requires a progressive stress to be applied to the body over time. This stress is most effective in doses of compound movement that utilize as much musculature as possible. Movements like Squats, Deadlifts, and Presses get this job done in a very efficient way. These movements must be trained on a regular basis with enough resistance to disrupt homeostasis — or the body’s need to maintain balance — while providing enough recovery to complete each training session.

After an athlete — whether experienced or new — has utilized key compound movements for a length of time they will exponentially increase overall strength and have a hypothetical strength level we will refer to as their “strength ceiling.”  This ceiling represents an individual’s maximal strength that can be applied to all movements.  The higher this ceiling is built, the easier all sub-maximal movement will become.

ScottGraphicRevisedAn example that illustrates this point is a male athlete who begins training and works up to an initial max Deadlift of 315 lbs. Now, after several months of training, this athlete is able to increase his Deadlift up to 495 lbs.  With this new found strength, this athlete will be able to better handle a Power Clean of 135 lbs for multiple repetitions during a WOD. Even with imperfect form, this athlete can approach the Power Clean with more ease due to his ability to generate enough force to overcome a Deadlift of 495 lbs.

The movements that allow an individual to lift the most weight will have the greatest impact on the height of this ceiling. This concept applies universally with all activities, but the direct impact when looking at biomechanically similar movements is very apparent. If we can train the movements that allow for the most weight to be moved using a certain movement pattern we will see the most carry over.  Training the Front Squat and Overhead Press until significant progress is made will most certainly make a great impact on an athlete’s ability to complete 95 lb Thrusters.

An athlete that is able to improve multiple lifts such as the Deadlift, Squat, and Press will be much more well rounded and have an overall strength level that can be applied to everything he or she may encounter in sport or during a WOD.  The idea of the ceiling is not new or ground breaking. Strength is a necessary component of all training and activities. A stronger athlete will always perform better if equally as fit and mobile as their opponent. Metabolic conditioning can always be added into training to increase endurance. Most athletes should focus on getting stronger initially since this process takes longer and a stronger foundation will make it easier to acquire better overall fitness.

Scott Mezzano is an EAD / CFAH / CFAX performance coach. He earned his BS & MS, Exercise Science, from Western Illinois University. He is a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and holds certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine and USA Weightlifting. Scott is a Fitness Education adjunct instructor at McHenry Community College.



2013 TandemThrowdown Champs Crowned.

CrossFit Arlington Heights 2013 Tandem Throwdown champs Michael Bodi & Vanessa Stack, CrossFit North Wall; 2nd place finishers Jason Kalinowski & Leah Perri, CrossFit Kenosha, and 3rd place finishers Scott Carlson, CrossFit AMRAP & Mary Kate Olsen, CrossFit Arlington Heights.

CrossFit Arlington Heights 2013 Tandem Throwdown champs Michael Bodi & Vanessa Stack, CrossFit North Wall; 2nd place finishers Jason Kalinowski & Leah Perri, CrossFit Kenosha, and 3rd place finishers Scott Carlson, CrossFit AMRAP & Mary Kate Olsen, CrossFit Arlington Heights.

Check out more photos from the 2013 Tandem Throwdown on the EAD / CFAH Facebook Page.

Just sixty pounds denied Michael Bodi & Vanessa Stack, CrossFit NorthWall, a perfect Leader Board run at the CrossFit Arlington Heights 2013 Tandem Throwdown.  Event champions Bodi and Stack – competing as “NorthWallers” – dominated the Leader Board with first place finishes in Workout #1 l “Shackles”, Workout #3 l “Run – Row “and Workout #4 l “Chip You.” But a seemingly effortless ascent through Workout #2 l “Ground-to-Overhead Ladder” by Jessica Layman, competing with Taylor Layman as “A$$Clowns”, Dog House CrossFit, slowed the Bodi / Stack steamroll, handing them their lone second place finish of the competition. Layman was the only woman to complete the Ground-to-Overhead Ladder, and even made a valiant effort for a second lift at 205 pounds. Every additional lift completed by an athlete at the last rung of the ladder (205 pounds for women, 315 pounds for men) added weight to the Tandem’s finish total. Taylor Layman cleared 275 pounds, giving the “A$$Clowns” a combined weight of 480 pounds for a first-place finish in the workout.

Joining Bodi & Stack on the 2013 Tandem Throwdown podium were Jason Kalinowski & Leah Perri, “Team JaLeah”,  CrossFit Kenosha, in second place; and Scott Carlson & Mary Kate Olsen, “Scott & Mary Kate”, CrossFit AMRAP and CrossFit Arlington Heights in third place.

2013TandemThrowdownWOD1The Bodi / Stack championship run was not without challenge. Kalinowski / Perri came within three Partner Burpees of Bodi / Stack in Workout #1 l “Shackles”, completing 88 Burpees to the 91 logged by the “NorthWallers.” A single Partner Burpee separated the third place team, JR Phillips & Amanda Phillips, “Team Phillips”, CrossFit Caliber, from Kalinowski / Perri. The top eight Tandems in “Shackles” completed an amazing 621 Partner Burpees within the 17 minute cap.

2013TandemThrowdownWOD2Workout #2 l “Ground-to-Overhead Ladder” congested the Leader Board with three Tandems joining Bodi & Stack at 420 pounds combined: Katye Kettler & Josh Burrell, “Ebony & Ivory”, CrossFit Amplify; Eric Gustafson & Jyllianne Czanstkowski, “YPFS”, CrossFit Huntley;  and Josh Refenes & Heather Refenes, “Gruesome Twosome”, CrossFit EPC. Several Tandem athletes reported PRs during Workout #2, a particularly impressive feat considering the workout structure – 20 seconds to complete the lift and 10 seconds to rotate to the next station – and the levy weighed on the athletes by Workout #1 l “Shackles.”

2013TandemThrowdownWOD3Tandems across the Leader Board leveraged Workout #3 l “Run-Row” to their advantage. Jessica Rush & Jason Garrett, “The Replacements”, CrossFit Arlington Heights and CrossFit Paradox, finished the workout in second place, seven seconds behind Bodi / Stack, to catapult from a disappointing 29th place finish in Workout #2; the performance earned them a spot in the Elite 8 and an eventual  7th place finish in the 2013 Tandem Throwdown. The Rush / Garrett Tandem – the two met for the first time the morning of the competition – formed out of necessity when each lost a partner earlier in the week, and turned out to be one of the great stories of the competition. “Run-Row” handed three of the ultimate Elite 8 –“Team Phillips,” “Freak Status” and “Jerk It” — their lowest placing finishes of the day.

2013TandemThrowdownFinalWorkoutConsistency across workouts which demanded teamwork, communication, strategy, strength and muscular endurance was paramount to the top finishing Tandems. Heading in to the final workout, “Chip You”, it was mathematically impossible to dislodge Bodi / Stack, yet the champs set a blazing pace for the event, finishing in 9:15. The battle for the final two podium spots was fierce with five points or fewer separating seven teams. Carlson, a CrossFit competition veteran, and Olsen, in her first CrossFit competition, perfectly executed their Workout #4 strategy and placed second in the workout, their highest placing of the day, locking third place. And Kalinowski / Perri landed in second place after finishing events in second, eleventh, third and third.

The Tandem Throwdown will return to CrossFit Arlington Heights Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014.

Find the complete event standings and other event information on the 2013 Tandem Throwdown web page.

Supple or Stuck. What Is the State of Your Hamstrings?

Contributed by Coach Becky

How many times during the Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights Dynamic Warm Up do you feel like your leg just won’t go straight for Russian March or Iron Cross? How often do you feel a tug in the back of your legs during Windmills or Sumo Squat to Stand? My guess is this happens on a fairly regular basis, and the likely culprit is tight hamstrings.

So how does this happen? There are a few different things that may contribute to your tight hamstrings.

You Have Bad Posture. When your mother told you to “sit up straight,” she knew what she was talking about. Many people walk around with an anterior pelvic tilt and don’t even realize it. So if everybody is doing it, can it be so bad? Physiologically, an anterior pelvic tilt puts a lot of strain on your hamstrings, causing them to work really hard to counterbalance anterior force by trying to pull your pelvis into extension. This constant need for your hamstrings to be turned “on” results in a chronic shortening/tightening.

Left: anterior pelvic tilt. Center: neutral Right: posterior pelvic tilt

Left: anterior pelvic tilt. Center: neutral
Right: posterior pelvic tilt

You Sit. Alot. When you sit for an extended duration, your knees are flexed and you support a posterior pelvic tilt. So what does that mean? Knee flexion and hip extension are the two primary actions of the hamstrings, so being in those positions all day will lead to chronic shortening of the muscle; chronic shortening is another term for tightness.

You Can’t Distinguish Between Hip Flexion and Lumber Flexion. When you flex at your lumbar spine (which most people do), it allows your hamstrings to remain in a shortened position, thus adding to the tightness. If you are able to flex at your hips (like you should be doing), it allows the hamstrings to lengthen. So if you spend your whole life bending over from the back instead of from the hips, your are never giving your hamstrings the opportunity to stretch out in that position.

Left: lumbar flexion Right: hip flexion

Left: lumbar flexion
Right: hip flexion

It’s Actually Coming From Your Back. In cases of nerve impingement, lumbar disc herniations and other lumbar spine injuries, the feeling of tightness in your hamstrings may actually be the result of compression on your sciatic nerve. How do you know if this is the case? Symptoms typically include sharp, shooting pain down the front or back of the leg. To be safe, you should always consult your physician.

This Sounds Like Me. How Do I Fix It? Depending on the cause of your hamstring tightness, you may need any combination of mobility exercises, myofascial release work, isolated strengthening, or even medical intervention. Try an EAD / CFAH Mobility & Recovery class, Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. or Saturday at 8 a.m. as a first step. You may be surprised to find that after just 10 minutes of mobility work on your hamstrings, you will feel a significant difference. Think you need a little bit more direction? Email Coach Becky at and schedule a consultation.
Becky Rivard is a senior performance coach at Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights. She is a NATABOC Certified Athletic Trainer, Illinois Licensed Athletic Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Corrective Exercise Specialist & Performance Enhancement Specialist, National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer and CrossFit Level 1 Certified Coach. Spend one hour in Coach Becky’s Mobility & Recovery class and you may rethink how tough you think you are.

Five Answers You Want to Hear: The Microgym.

Re-posted from Fit For Arlington Heights, a health & fitness blog from the nationally-certified professionals at EAD / CFAH. Have a topic you’d like us to research? Email

Contributed by Coach Karen

The microgym — small, independently owned places which specialize in one-on-one and small group activities  — have muscled into Arlington Heights and the surrounding area, pumping up the options for the fitness-minded consumer.  According to the Sports Industry & Fitness Association, 6 of the top 10 growing sports and fitness activities are class-based, the primary charter of most microgyms. But how do you know which microgym deserves your fitness dollars? Here are Five Answers You Want to Hear when you ask the owners of a microgym: “Why are you right for me?”

We train -- not exercise -- at EAD / CFAH.

What we do at EAD / CFAH is train — not exercise.

1. We Specialize in Training (not exercising). Anyone can lead a group of people in an activity to burn calories, reduce tension, socialize or keep active – that’s exercise, and it doesn’t even require professional certification. Exercise is better than sitting slouched on the sofa, clacking through the channels. But it isn’t, nor will it ever be, the equivalent of training. Training is the systematic, periodized, progressive process to achieve a defined set of performance goals. A good exercise session leaves you sweaty; a good training plan delivers measurable results in ten key areas — Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. Ask the microgym owner to describe the process used to establish, track and maintain goals, and show any tools used to support the process. Ask the owner how staff supports member goal setting and recognizes goal attainment, detail his or her personal goals, and share member success stories. If the microgym isn’t structured to help you get leaner, stronger, faster, more agile, better at your chosen sport, or improve key health indicators, look elsewhere … you deserve better.

2. We’re Established. There is something to be said about longevity. According to Crain’s Chicago, microgyms are quickly “approaching the ubiquitous presence that bank branches enjoyed during the real estate boom.” But not every microgym will succeed; University of Tennessee research cites that more than one-third won’t survive two years in business. A microgym in business for five or more years has winning formula – and plenty of satisfied customers. Take time to thoroughly check out the microgym’s website and read up on the business history, philosophy and mission. Then talk with the owner and ask about business growth, how long people typically stick around, and the top three reasons members give when they leave. Signal the alarm if the owner can’t readily answer those questions.

There are fewer than 50 Certified Strength and Conditioning Coaches listed on the NSCA website. Three EAD / CFAH Senior Perofrmance Coaches -- Jim, Karen & Josh -- have earned this prestigious certification. The fourth Senior Performance Coach, Becky, is a Certified Athletic Trainer.

There are fewer than 50 Certified Strength and Conditioning Coaches listed on the NSCA website. Three EAD / CFAH Senior Perofrmance Coaches — Jim, Karen & Josh — have earned this prestigious certification. The fourth Senior Performance Coach, Becky, is a Certified Athletic Trainer.

3. We’re Qualified. The National Commission on Certifying Agencies accreditation serves as a benchmark on how organizations should conduct professional certification. The NCCA has accredited only 13 of the thousands of health and fitness programs offered across the country.  Among the most prestigious NCCA accredited certifications is the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, the credential required to work with collegiate and professional sports teams.  Ask the microgym owner to detail the credentials held by staff, then verify that staff credentials are current and in good standing. If the microgym has one or more CSCS on staff, odds are that you’ll be in good hands. Don’t settle for a place where staff carries only boutique or non-NCCA certifications.

4. We’re Experienced. Experience matters when it comes to selecting a microgym. Ask the owner how many people currently belong, roughly how many people pass through the microgym each month, and  how many hours each person on staff has working with members. Search the internet for reviews and testimonials, and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for photos of microgym staff and members. Few or no pictures of microgym members and staff indicate lack of activity, and could be a warning sign. Ask the gym owner to describe staff experience with members of all ages and fitness levels. Ask about their programming philosophy – do they purchase programming from somewhere else, or develop it based on the needs of members? – and how they adapt programming to meet the specific needs of a variety of members.

5. We Have High Retention. People who get results stick around. Ask the owner about member retention. It’s a warning sign if a microgym turns over greater than 35 percent of members within 12 months.  Similarly, it’s not a good sign if staff members come and go. Ask about staff tenure, then talk to staff about why they stay, and why (or why not) that they refer people to the microgym. It’s a problem if staff members don’t speak about the microgym with pride and a sense of ownership. Ask the microgym owner to share member satisfaction survey results. It should tell you something if the owner hasn’t conducted a membership survey, and isn’t proud to show you the results. Drop in to a regularly scheduled class and talk with people before or after class – ask them what keeps them coming back.

Athena Classic Crowns 2013 Champs.

The inaugural Athena Classic lived up to its billing Saturday, April 20 as 80 women from 24 CrossFit affiliates braved three fierce workouts to land a spot in the finals, where the top 18 warriors battled for bragging rights, trophies, and almost $1,500 in cash and prizes. The Athena Classic will return to CrossFit Arlington Heights Saturday, April 19, 2014.

The final workout — a spectator-friendly-but athlete-nasty combo of a 500m Row, 30 American KB Swings (30#), 20 Pull-Ups and 10 Burpee Box Jumps — capped a great day of competition, and determined the 2013 Athena Classic Champion in the Open (18-39) and Master’s (40+) divisions.

2013 Athena Classic Master's Champion Liza Nelson, Thadine Zajac, 2nd place, and Sue Walton, 3rd place (not pictured).

2013 Athena Classic Master’s Champion Liza Nelson, Thadine Zajac, 2nd place, and Sue Walton, 3rd place (not pictured).

Liza Nelson, 43, CrossFit Carbon, took top honors in the Master’s division after posting a draw for Workout #1 with Thadine Zajac, 40, CrossFit Roselle; placing second to Zajac in Workout #2; and then besting Zajac in Workout #3. The difference between being crowned Master’s Champ and placing second came down to 43 seconds, with Nelson completing Workout #4 in 5 minutes, 14 seconds to Zajac’s 5 minutes and 57 seconds. Rounding out the podium for the Master’s Division was Sue Walton, 42, Cheetah CrossFit, in her first-ever competition. Walton placed third in Workout #1, fourth in Workout #2, first in Workout #3 and fifth in the finals. Also competing in the Master’s Division finals was Kaia Kraus, 40, CrossFit Barrington; Kristin Young, 41, FitBodies CrossFit; and Laura Channell, 42, CrossFit Barrington. Channell edged out Lori Lindahl, 49, CrossFit Arlington Heights, from a finals berth by just one point.

The top three finishers in the Open Division — Jennifer McDade, 35, FitBodies CrossFit; Emily Yates, 29, CrossFit Connex; and Lindsay Wilson, 25, CrossFit E-Town — consistently scored well throughout the day, but each had an Achilles Heel workout that kept them from a lock on the overall standings.

2013 Athena Classic Open Division top three: Champion Emily Yates, Jennifer McDade, 2nd place & Lindsay Wilson, 3rd place.

2013 Athena Classic Open Division top three: Champion Emily Yates, Jennifer McDade, 2nd place & Lindsay Wilson, 3rd place.

McDade, entered the finals in first place after third place finishes in Workout #1 and #2, and a first place finish in Workout #3. Yates came to the finals in second place after a second place finish in Workout #1, fifth place finish in Workout #2 and third place finish in Workout #3. But Yates peaked at the right time, and her blazing time of 4 minutes and 39 seconds in Workout #4 pushed her past McDade, and to the title 2013 Athena Classic Open Division Champ. Wilson rounded out the top three spots with a first place in Workout #1, second in Workout #2, and ninth in Workout #3. Also competing in the Open Division finals was Julie Curry, 35, and Kelsey Dipman, 30, CrossFit Construct; Erin Matta, 33, CrossFit Barrington; Kasey Pontarelli, 23, and Erin Rupsis, 32, CrossFit Darrien; Tomeka Coe, 37, CrossFit Bloomington-Normal; Michaela Ortega, 22, CrossFit Amplify; and Gina Ciannetti, 31, CrossFit E-Town. Kim Greenstein, 34, placed highest overall among the CrossFit Arlington Heights competitors, with Mary Tapia, 45, and Andrea Poffenberger, 45, placing in the top 10 for Workout #3 and #2, respectively.

Members of FitBodies CrossFit run in competitor Diann Grim during the 800m Run segment of Workout #3.

Members of FitBodies CrossFit run in competitor Diann Grim during the 800m Run segment of Workout #3.

In a day filled with stellar athletic performances, once of the most memorable moments came when the spectators packed into Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights poured outside to encourage Diann Grim, 32, as her fellow FitBodies CrossFit athletes and friends ran alongside her as she completed the Workout #3 800m run. Diann, like all competitors, had the option to scale one or more workouts, but she never did. Her gumption and grit inspired those around her, and elevated her performance well above the scores she posted.

An initial batch of event photos is now posted, and more photos will be added in the coming days. Competitors and spectators are encouraged to contribute to the event photo album. Please email photos to Event results and more event information is available on the Athena Classic event page.

The sold out 2013 Athena Classic was hosted by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights and supported by Road Runner Sports-Kildeer, The Paleo Baking Company, US Wellness Meats, Jack Alexander Salon & Spa, Nowicki Chiropractic, Raw Revolution, Progenex, Unbroken CrossFit Outfitters, and Tropical Smoothie-Arlington Heights. Admission to the event was free, but many spectators contributed to the event charity, The Northwest Special Recreation Association, an organization which provides outstanding opportunities through recreation for children and adults with disabilities.

The (Yellow Brick) Road to Results.

Contributed by Coach Karen

It is amazing how an environment once so familiar becomes foreign. Sounds no longer resonate. Sights blur. Skin crawls. The feel defies translation, other than the sense that something is horribly, terribly, incredibly not right.

Owning and operating a small business is truly an all-consuming labor of love. Jim and I don’t get to spend near as much time exploring the world outside the confines of Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights as we’d like. That’s why we always pepper our athletes with questions after they visit another CrossFit during a business or pleasure trip, and check in with folks who drop in for a training session or transfer to EAD / CFAH from another CrossFit affiliate. We appreciate seeing what’s right – and maybe not-so-right – at other training facilities through the eyes of our athletes.

Just one of the many examples of people paying good money to achieve nothing at the Globo Gym Thursday morning. Seriously, they were everywhere.

Just one of the many examples of people paying good money to achieve nothing at the Globo Gym Thursday morning. Seriously, they were everywhere.

Jim and I ventured out Thursday morning for a Valentine’s Day adventure, but ended up in a place neither of us had seen in quite some time:  the Globo Gym. The facility was filled wall-to-wall with the latest fitness gizmos, gadgets and wizardry. Equipment whirred. Flat screen TVs flashed. Music pumped. Trainers and staff scurried about. And even though there were hundreds of people working out, the facility felt empty. Lonely. Isolated. And eerily void of any human interaction. It made me sad. I stood in the middle of the very large space and wanted to click my heels three times and magically transport back to the Oz at 12 West College Drive where classes with far fewer people using much less equipment have an abundance of success thanks to four attributes: Courage, Conviction, Brain and Heart. Here’s what EAD / CFAH athletes demonstrate daily, and the people working out at the Globo Gym yesterday seemed to lack:

  • Courage to step outside their comfort zone and accept new challenges, even when hard or scary; openly share their “been-there-doubted-that-then-defeated-it (and more)” stories with new athletes; hit each session with renewed intensity; welcome failure, and then kick it in the a$$; admit that they don’t have all the answers, and readily accept and apply coaching from seasoned professionals.
  • Conviction to train their weaknesses with vigor; set performance goals, establish a training schedule to achieve them, and stick with it even when they get impatient; connect what they eat, how they sleep and why the choices made outside the gym impact their performance inside the gym; share their “hits” and “misses” to contribute to the success of fellow athletes.
  • Brain to recognize that it is impossible to lift Heavy S*** or kill a MetCon on a 1,200 or 1,800 calorie per-day deprivation diet; decipher the nutrition “information” on packaged goods for the marketing spin it is;  break up with the scale and instead track performance (… which will lead to body composition change);  see through the BS shoveled by the fitness industry about the hot new trend that will change your life; know that training multiple energy systems yields dramatic results; recognize that the body is the best training machine around; and choose intensity over duration.
  • Heart to never give up; get back up after a stumble; celebrate success; honor failure; embrace current ability, yet work toward athletic potential; cheer fellow athletes; say thanks to the performance coaches; realize that undoing years of less-desirable lifestyle choices happens over months, not days; and warmly welcome athletes new to EAD / CFAH.

Jim and I always envisioned that EAD / CFAH would be a place where people could become a better version of themselves. We know that means different things for different people. That’s why we’ve surrounded ourselves with the most qualified and experienced performance coaches in the area in Josh, Becky, Kristen, Alida and Ashley, and why we support their continued professional development. It’s why we track the techniques and methodologies used by the top collegiate and professional programs in the country, and innovate and adapt our programming and class offerings. It’s why we ask for your input and feedback, and then take action where there is consensus. It’s why we push, cajole, nudge and sometimes annoy you – because we see something in you that you may not yet see in yourself. It’s why we encourage you to eat clean & green (but not necessarily Paleo), and schedule recovery days so you can achieve your short- and long-term goals. It’s why we coach, coach, and coach technique, and enforce movement standards. It’s why we host free nutrition, running, swimming and other informational workshops / seminars. It’s why we form football, dodge ball, soccer and rowing teams, and travel to area races en masse. It’s why the performance coaches know the name of every athlete who trains with us, and why we encourage you to get to know them, too.

You see, there is no man behind the curtain. It is just a gathering of strangers-turned-adventurers who care, and want to be in the center of something bigger, better, familiar and incredibly right.

EAD / CFAH Honored with Hearts of Gold Award.

Coaches Ashley, Kristen, Karen, Jim, Josh, Becky & Alida at the 2013 Hearts of Gold Awards Dinner where Jim accepted the Business Leader Heart of Gold on behalf of EAD / CFAH.

Coaches Ashley, Kristen, Karen, Jim, Josh, Becky & Alida at the 2013 Hearts of Gold Awards Dinner where Jim accepted the Business Leader Heart of Gold on behalf of EAD / CFAH.

Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights was honored by the Village of Arlington Heights February 9 during the 15th Annual Hearts of Gold Awards. The ceremony, attended by local and state dignitaries, recognized EAD / CFAH with the Business Leader Heart of Gold for going “beyond its responsibilities to make our village a better place to work and live through participation and / or philanthropic support of community organizations and programs.”

The Hearts of Gold selection committee called EAD / CFAH founder and head performance coach Jim Inman “an active civic volunteer,” and applauded his aim to amend the Village tagline from the “City of Good Neighbors” to the “City of Fit Neighbors.” The committee also noted his involvement in local athletic and academic events, and that EAD / CFAH “creates a supportive environment where individuals of all ages and skill can develop and reach personal fitness levels.”

Coach Jim accepted the award on behalf of EAD / CFAH athletes, and his superb performance coaching team. “I’m very honored and humbled as the front man for Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights to be able to accept this award on behalf of this organization,” said Coach Jim, prior to acknowledging “my amazing team — Karen, Josh, Becky, Kristen, Alida and Ashley” — who joined him at the event.

Jim told the standing room only crowd that he believed the people of Arlington Heights — whether they are a student or 021113iPhoneDump 017senior, experienced athlete or someone just getting off the couch — deserve access to the training systems used by elite-level athletes to help them achieve their health and fitness goals.

Elite Athletic Development joined the Arlington Heights business community in 2006 and expanded to include CrossFit Arlington Heights in 2009. The business helps “every day athletes” from across the greater Chicagoland area achieve a staggering array of results thanks to innovative strength and conditioning programs, a top-caliber coaching staff, and a unique ability to understand the needs and motivate each athlete.

“We’re honored to give back to a community which has given us so much,” said Jim when referencing the many athletic events EAD / CFAH has created and run to raise money for area charities, work with school districts 25 and 214, and area residents. “We’re very proud to be part of Arlington Heights.”




Squash the Squat Excuse.

Contributed by Coach Becky

“I can’t squat. I have bad knees!”

What exactly does “bad knees” mean? Well in my experience in both a rehabilitation and exercise setting, it usually all boils down to the same thing: muscle imbalances.

How well do you remember your high school anatomy? Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

There are several structures that make up your knee. First, you have the bones: femur (upper thigh), tibia (inside lower leg), and fibula (outside lower leg). They are joined together by four ligaments: ACL (front to back), PCL (back to front), MCL (inside), and LCL (outside). Then you have the muscles that surround your knee joint: quadriceps (in front), adductors (inside), hamstrings and calves (in back), and TFL, IT band, and glute min/med (outside). You have a meniscus and bursa sacs that provide extra cushioning, along with your patella (kneecap) and the patellar tendon that it is attached to.

When all the pieces of the knee are working well together, you can squat and lunge and jump without any problems.  However, when one of those pieces begins to fail, things start to do downhill and then the “bad knees” develop. Here is an example of what I will typically find in someone complaining of bad knees: The VMO (inside quad muscle) is not firing very well or even at all + the IT Band and lateral quad muscles are shortened (too tight).

Image courtesy of CrossFit Riverside.

We were born to squat. Just watch any baby or toddler in action. Image courtesy of CrossFit Riverside.

These two things alone result in your patella being pulled toward the outside every time you squat, lunge, or even walk. Over time, this lateral tracking of your patella will create too much inflammation in your patellar tendon (because its no longer fitting into the grove it was meant to), and you will begin to have pain and tenderness in the front of your knee. This problem can be even worse if your glute med/min aren’t firing well. If you ever notice your knees falling inward while you squat, then chances are those lateral glute muscles aren’t doing their job. This creates even more inflammation in the knee joint, and it can begin to affect the other structures and lead to further problems. Throw in weak hamstrings and tight calves and you can see where this whole “bad knee” thing comes from.

So the next question is how do you fix it? Well the simple answer is this: squat more! Yes I said it, SQUAT. But you can’t…you have bad knees, right? Wrong. You can squat, you just may have to do some mobility first. Getting on a foam roll or lacrosse ball for your IT band and lateral quad will help to loosen up those muscles. Once they begin to loosen up, it won’t pull so much on your patella. Next up are the squats. Squatting helps build up strength in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. If you focus on good form, it will also help create some muscle memory patterns that will get the right muscles to turn on when you need them. It won’t happen overnight, but I promise with a little effort, you can literally move past your bad knees and squat until your hearts content.

Need help getting started? Check out my mobility and recovery class Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. I go through a variety of techniques and exercises designed to correct common muscles imbalances, such as the ones creating your “bad knees.” Questions? Email