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Shot at Reality TV Yields Life Lessons for EAD | CFAH Athlete Beth R

Thanks to EAD | CFAH athlete Beth R for taking time to share with us her recent experience as a contestant on the reality TV show Stone Cold Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. An EAD | CFAH athlete since July 2016, you’ll usually find Beth training with the morning crew weekdays and on Saturday & Sunday mornings … although you could also find her in a weeknight class now & again. Be sure to tune in to CMT on Tuesday, Oct. 17 to watch Beth compete, and check out this article about Beth in the Palatine Journal & Topics . Have a thought or two you’d like to share with your fellow athletes? Let us know … we’d love to hear from you!

“I might have been born small… but I was raised to fight tall.”

When I was younger I used to take my mom’s video camera she bought at a garage sale and make homemade videos. The video cameras back then were the size of your head and almost took two people to hold. Whether it was creating Oprah shows or Herbal Essence commercials, I thought I was destined to be an actress.

Well, spoiler alert, I never became an actress. However, I did receive the opportunity to compete on an episode of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge (BSC) on CMT. Yes, the same guy who was a former WWE wrestler and was infamous for yelling, “I’ll open up a can of whoop-ass on you!” has his own reality TV show. What a time to be alive! But in all seriousness, my experience on Broken Skull Challenge was something I’ll never forget for more reasons than one.

I applied to be on the show in the spring of 2016 when I lived in Iowa, and my roommates and I would binge watch episodes of the show. One day, while watching an episode, I got a wild hair and decided to apply to be on the show. Fast forward to the summer, the show gave me a call and asked if I would like to do a Skype interview with them for my casting call. I went ahead and completed a Skype interview with them but I didn’t end up getting chosen for Season 4. Then, jump ahead to May of 2017, and I received a random call on my phone from the Broken Skull casting crew asking if I would like to re-cast again for Season 5. So, of course I didn’t hesitate in jumping on this opportunity. With the help of Web, I was able to submit updated videos of myself working out at EAD | CFAH and I was on to the next steps of the process.

Once I submitted updated videos of myself and signed all of the paperwork I needed, the BSC casting crew informed me that I was a semi-finalist. Weeks went by and I heard nothing but crickets until one Sunday afternoon. I was actually back in Iowa playing in an alumni volleyball game at my alma mater and the BSC casting crew called me and asked if I would be able to fly out the next morning to be on an episode of Broken Skull Challenge. That’s right, I had less than 12 hours to head back to Iowa, pack my belongings, explain this odd situation to my supervisor, and catch a flight to Los Angeles. The BSC crew apologized for the last-minute request, but they were also covering my airfare, hotel, and food for the two days I would be in Los Angeles so I really couldn’t complain.

I wasn’t even in LA for a full 48 hours filming for the show, but I can tell you that every minute there was worth the controlled chaos. I, of course, had fun filming and competing on the show. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a once in a lifetime opportunity? More importantly, I now have a really fun fact to share about myself when I’m at an office holiday party and they play those “get-to-know-your-coworker” games (those are the worst). I most definitely had an exciting two days in LA, and I came back with one heck of a story. Through this crazy experience, I also learned a lot about myself and about life in general. I don’t want to get too sentimental and cheesy on you, but it truly was one of those unforgettable experiences that taught me a little about living and reminded me to pause every once in a while to reflect. So, here it goes:

Own Your Awesome. There are going to be moments in life where you just need to own your awesome. I heard a former colleague of mine, Megan Watt, use this phrase during a presentation and it stuck with me ever since. You don’t have to be an Olympic gold medalist to give yourself a pat on the back or credit yourself for your accomplishments. As humans, we are our own worst critics. Most often, someone is going to be stronger, faster or tougher than you. However, that doesn’t mean we should forget to give ourselves credit for putting in the hard work and accomplishing our goals. Even if our accomplishments aren’t breaking world records or making headlines in the Chicago Tribune, we are all great in our own capacities. We need to give ourselves a little credit every once in a while for showing up, putting on our game faces, grinding it out and not freaking quitting.

Embrace the Suck. I’m not sure how many hours I was into my first 13 hour GoRuck Challenge when I heard my cadre yell, “Embrace the suck!” I wanted to quit so bad, but I listened to him and I ended up exceeding mental and physical limits I never knew were in me. It isn’t the vacations to the Bahamas or those unforgettable bachelorette party weekends with your best friends that teach you grit and test your limits. Sure, those times are fun, but you don’t really learn what’s valuable or important to you during those comfortable and Instagram-worthy moments. It’s those difficult moments in life, those moments when you are truly tested. In those exact moments are when you truly understand how strong and capable you are both mentally, emotionally, and physically. When things get tough, punch life in the face and embrace the suck no matter how impossible the task at hand seems or how big your opponent might appear.

Capitalize on Opportunities. Sure, there are opportunities that you will be presented with in life that you probably want to pass up because the internet never forgets. However, for many other opportunities, it’s important to capitalize. There might be uncertainty, uneasiness and a few calls to friends and family asking, “Should I really do this?” But all-in-all, life is too short not to take chances and truly experience and feel all that there is to life. Remind yourself to take a chance here or there because it might open up even bigger doors to greatness.

Head Up, Shoulders Back. I haven’t always been the most confident person in life. I was always one of the tiniest kids growing up, which undoubtedly affected my self-confidence. Athletics, especially lifting weights/CrossFit, was always my outlet where I felt most confident and comfortable with myself. Whether it’s CrossFit, playing the piano, or even cooking, whatever it may be, find a positive outlet for yourself that continues to build your confidence and feeds your inner drive to be better and do better. No matter how good or bad you are at a certain hobby, find something that gets you out of bed in the morning, find something that challenges you and find something that will always be the one constant thing in your life you can count because life if bound to hand you lemons every once in a while. Find something that builds your confidence and reminds you to put your head up, shoulders back and shows the world that you’re not afraid.

Find Your People. You’ll meet thousands of people in your life and maybe even hundreds of thousands. However, there will be an elite few who will form your utmost inner circle and help transform you into a better human. One of my favorite quotes is by Anne Lamott: “The reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day.” Find yourself some people you can trust to give you a high-five during those bad ass life accomplishments. But in reality, find yourself a group of people who will be there to peel you off the ground when you’re having a bad day, week, month, or even year. Find those people who can call when you’ve had a good shower cry. Without my family, friends, partner, and even the EAD | CFAH crew, I wouldn’t have obtained a morsel of the success I’ve experienced in various arenas of my life without them (whether you know it or not). Give yourself a high-five when you’ve found success, but don’t forget to thank the people who helped get you there because if you look around, it wasn’t just you who found success on your own…it takes a village of people.

With that, I hope you all tune in on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 10 p.m. / 9 p.m. CST on CMT to see me battle it out on an episode of Broken Skull Challenge. I might have been born small… but I was raised to fight tall. And lastly, in keeping with the WWE theme, I’ll leave you with a Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson quote: “Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.”

Commitment. Community. Results. George M’s Fitness Journey.

Thanks to EAD | CFAH athlete George M for taking time to share his training journey with us. An EAD | CFAH athlete since June 2015, you’ll usually find George training with the evening crew weekdays and on Saturday & Sunday mornings. He’s been a regular member of the EAD | CFAH Performance Fueling Prescription, where he’s logged tremendous success toward his body composition goals. George recently competed in the Tandem Throwdown with fellow EAD | CFAH Athlete Julie M. Have a thought or two you’d like to share with your fellow athletes? Let us know … we’d love to hear from you!

Growing up, I was involved in lots of different sports: baseball, bowling, track and field, football, wrestling, swimming, and water polo. When I got into high school, I decided to dedicate myself solely to swimming and water polo. Now, I’ve always been a bigger guy, so I wasn’t the typical build for a swimmer or water polo player, but it was what I most passionate about.

After high school, college came and went, and even though I was always an athlete, I stopped participating in sports during my college career. I played a casual game of ultimate Frisbee here or there, and during the summers, I would play club water polo, but I was never dedicated to working out or consistently going to the gym. Over the course of college, I lost a lot of athleticism and gained a lot of weight. My situation didn’t get much better once I had a job as a full-time teacher. In fact, it probably got worse.

Before and After. The students are two years older and George M is 120-pounds-plus lighter, and incredibly more fit.

Having been a teacher and living at home for a while, I became complacent with my job and my body. But two years and 120-plus pounds ago, my Dad (and fellow EAD | CFAH athlete Mike Mitchell) convinced me to try the Free Class Challenge at EAD | CFAH.

My first class at EAD | CFAH was on one of the first Wednesdays of Summer, and it was an unbearably hot day. At 5:30 p.m. on the dot, I started the workout with all of the other athletes. The first ten minutes was grueling, and I was sweating bullets. Little did I realize that I had only just completed the Dynamic Warm Up. After completing the warm up, I remember Coach Karen taking me aside and teaching me some of the different movements and standards for CrossFit. Eventually, when the 5:30 p.m. class started the workout, Karen gave me a modified version of a workout. I don’t remember exactly what the workout was, but I remember that there were Ball Slams, AbMat Sit Ups, and Running. Looking back on it, the workout was probably something completely reasonable and manageable; however, this workout destroyed me. Even though I had just pushed myself extremely hard and was mentally and physically exhausted, I decided that I wanted to give this thing a go, and I signed up for Training Essentials.

About a week later, I started Training Essentials, which was a great program that got me prepared for the different Crossfit classes offered at EAD | CFAH. Once finished with Training Essentials, I started out by trying to make at least three CrossFit classes each week. In the beginning, I was extremely intimidated by just about all of the workouts, but the other athletes and coaches kept pushing me to finish and work just a little bit harder each time. Now here we are, two years later, and I try to get in at least 5-6 days of training a week. For anybody looking to make a change and lose a little weight or become a better athlete, I have some advice.

My first piece of advice is that it takes time. You can’t go in expecting to be the best right away. Having been an athlete for EAD | CFAH for two years, I am pretty happy with my performance in workouts, but again, it didn’t happen overnight. Second, take advantage of the different classes that are offered at EAD | CFAH: CrossFit, Boot Camp, Rowing Boot Camp, Strength & Conditioning, and Performance Fueling. I have learned something new in each and every one of the classes offered. Third, listen to the coaches. Each of the coaches have their own style and own way of pushing you past your limits. In addition, they see things differently and teach things differently. As an athlete, I respond to cues. The more coaches you see and listen to, the more cues you will receive. These cues will help you improve technique and performance. Finally, get involved in the community. This is by far one of the best communities that I have been a part of in the past five years. Everyone looks out for each other. Everyone encourages each other. Everyone makes each other better. While I have become a better athlete than I have ever been by joining EAD | CFAH, the most positive change in my life has been becoming a part of a community that is truly more than your ordinary gym.

Know someone ready to take their training or nutrition education to the next level? Encourage them contact to learn more about:

  • Free Class Challenge, offered on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m., Saturday at 9 a.m., or at another time by appointment.
  • Performance Fueling Prescription, an eight-week nutrition education program including food log analysis, custom / goal-specific menu planning, nutrition education sessions (either individual or in a small group), initial & follow up body composition testing, and more.
  • Training Essentials, a two-week, six-class program where athletes new to EAD | CFAH learn the fundamentals of our training programs, and log plenty of small group instruction and technique work with our nationally-certified performance coaches. Training Essentials participants will learn, practice and perfect body weight, dumb bell, kettle bell, and barbell movements, including Olympic weightlifting and power movements, and more.

EAD | CFAH Cyclocross Champ Previews Thursday’s CrossFit Games Event.

EAD | CFAH Athlete and Master’s Division Cyclocross Champ Al W shares his thoughts on Thursday’s CrossFit Games Cyclocross Event. Games competitors will attack the course in two heats of 20 athletes. Starting position was determined Wednesday during an individual time trial on the same course athletes will race Thursday. Preview the course here. Check out the complete CBS Sports view schedule here. Thanks for taking time to share your perspective, Al!

I was more than a little surprised to see a cyclocross, or “cross” event included at the 2017 CrossFit Games. If you watched today’s individual time trial, it was easy to see which competitors have done similar things on a bike … and which have not. It looks like Thursday’s mass start and mix of experience levels will make for an entertaining event.

By cross racing standards, the CrossFit Games course is pretty tame in terms of technical elements, but it will challenge fitness. Normally, a cross course would make riders get off the bike more than once, but the Madison course does have a legit set of barriers. Many Elite Pro riders would jump barriers similar to those on the CrossFit Games course, but don’t look for that from most of these novice riders. Winners on the barriers will look very smooth as they dismount, lift the bike, and hurdle the barriers. Look for very little vertical movement as the rider goes over. After the tackling the last barrier, the bike should be back on the ground quickly and the rider back in the saddle in no more than two strides. The Trek bikes the Games athletes are riding [actually Mountain bikes] have flat pedals, so their feet should be back in contact with them almost immediately. Athletes must get power back to the pedals as quickly as possible; inexperienced racers will likely waste time and lose momentum.

Normally, a cross course would have some vertical challenges and some off-camber corners, but the CrossFit Games course is in a dog park, so the ride will be relatively flat. In exchange for the lack of features, the course designers did a good job of putting in many, many 180-degree corners. Standard racing lines for this kind of corner is tape, pole, tape — meaning you come into the corner on the outside tape, cut to the inside at the apex pole, and then let the bike go back to the outside tape as power gets put back on. Exiting corners should be a hard, out of the saddle, short effort to get speed back. Traffic will tear the grass up and traction will continuously evolve as the laps add up. If it rains before the final, there could be mud and / or ruts, all of which require a slightly different skill set. Watch the people best at cornering; they will not carry the most speed into the corner, but will carry speed through and out of the corner.

Fitness wise, I think the cyclocross event is going to challenge the Games athletes. The promo video rider took just over 6-minutes to complete a lap, which makes the course an aerobic system challenge. Watch for the athletes who exit every corner hard, deliver the highest sustainable effort to the next corner, recharge in the middle of the corner, and are able to repeat … again and again. Think about what happens to your form when you are gassed and doing the umpteenth rep of something. This course will take its toll on novice riders and those with poor bike handling skills. It is likely that athletes may be able to finesse the first few corners, but that smoothness – and the ability to manage the barriers – will degrade as the race goes on. My guess is that the fastest people will complete the required laps in 18-19 minutes, and that we are in for a few crashes.

Summer Strength & Conditioning Cycle Starts Next Week!

The new Strength & Conditioning Cycle — programmed by Coach Kate — kicks off the week of July 24. This is a general strength cycle featuring the Olympic Lifts and short, varied conditioning.

If you don’t have current 1RMs, or if this is your first Strength & Conditioning Cycle (ever, or in several months), no worries … an EAD | CFAH Performance Coach will help you establish working ranges. Questions? See an EAD | CFAH Performance Coach.

Welcome, Coach Sammy Jo!

Please join us as we welcome Sammy Jo Mahler to the EAD | CFAH Performance Coaching Team!

Sammy Jo is a USA Swimming Certified Coach and an NCAA All-American Swimmer. She has been a member of the EAD | CFAH training community since 2011 and is an accomplished CrossFit athlete, competitive pole dancer, and aerial arts enthusiast. She recently placed 3rd at her first bodybuilding show (Figure division).

In addition to coaching at EAD | CFAH, Sammy Jo is an assistant coach at CATS Aquatic Team. She is studying for her NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification and her USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach certification.

Sammy Jo is currently finishing her orientation process and will be a regular on the class schedule in the coming weeks.

Memorial Day 2017 Schedule

Saturday, May 28 | “Murph”
7 a.m., Half “Murph”
7 a.m., “Murph” on the Surf
9 a.m., Half or Full “Murph”

Monday, May 29
9 a.m.,  Memorial Day Boot Camp