Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas WOD!!!

In keeping with our family tradition, the Morrisons headed to southern California for the holidays to spend time with my dad's side of the family.  With relatives in town from Minnesota, Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico, we were well represented.  Training-wise, I was on rest week, so I wasn't trying to go crazy working out.  But with all my cousins in town we couldn't completely ignore fitness. We typically get in at least one workout as a family during vacation and this year we took it to the parking lot.  It had all you really need: space, a wall with varying heights, and a little bit of a slope.  A sandbag, bumper plate, and a kettle bell was all we needed to fill in the gaps.

So fun getting to train with family!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sutter street wall balls

We had a break in the rain today and I've been wanting to take the 30# medicine ball for a spin, so I went to an alleyway over off Sutter street in Historic Folsom to do the following WOD:

10 minute AMRAP:
10 wall balls @ 30#
10 handstand pushups
10 walking lunges @ 30#

The alleyway is across from the old powerhouse, and I've probably parked there at least a dozen times when shopping or eating on that street.  The exposed cinder block foundation makes for great wall space whether you want to do handstands or anything else, so I took advantage.  I only managed 6 rounds in the 10 minute timeframe, but the 30# ball definitely made it tough.  Check the video below.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

100 lb tire drag uphill at Lake Natoma

Today I took our 100# tire out to Lake Natoma to try and drag it up the hill.  I drilled a simple eye-bolt through the center of the tire so that connecting the webbing wouldn't be an issue.  Normally this hill is reserved for running intervals because of its length and loose footing, but I've been wanting to try to haul something up it for awhile.  I expected the tire to be a challenge because the surface wasn't at all smooth.  Sure enough, it was getting caught on rocks and roots, throwing me off balance the entire time.  But these issues made the workout that mush cooler.  I was forced to constantly re-evaluate the best method of getting this huge awkward object up and down the hill.  (For the record, carrying is much easier than dragging.)  Sometimes doing something that is inherently inefficient will teach you a lot about how to operate efficiently.  Or just beat you into submission.

Upon completion, I played around with some other fun exercises you can employ with a tire of this size.  Presses, lunges, squats, even thrusters.  Getting a handle on the thing overhead is a bit sketchy because you're trying to set your hand position while inside the tire--not exactly the same as lining up your hands on the barbell.  There are a dozen other variations of exercises that can be done with an old tire, so if you have one lying around don't get rid of it!!!  Throw it in the back of the truck and go have some fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Anywherefit Ireland Recap: Day 2

Day 2 of AWF Ireland was when our training really kicked up a notch.  We met at CF Tipperary just after breakfast on Saturday with a full slate planned:

1 mile run (Irish miles, which turn out to be closer to 2 or 3 miles for every 1 American mile)
5 rounds of calisthenics:
5 pullups
10 pushups
15 situps
20 squats

Handstand hold technique

Deadlift 5 x 5
Floor Press 5 x 5

Glute Ham Raise 3 x 10
Strict toe to bar 3 x 10
Ring Row 3 x 10

The goal of this session was to practice some things that people don’t typically get to practice (handstands, floor press) and challenge the body with some heavy stressors (deadlift, glute ham raise).  We opted out of conditioning because I wanted to save everyone’s lungs for our beach WOD later in the day. 

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with everyone’s aptitude on the handstand holds.  The groups from Cork and Tipperary both showed impressive body awareness and responded well to the small corrections made to positioning.  We practiced drills from the wall first, encouraging everyone to keep only their toes in contact with the wall while reaching for the ceiling.  Then we moved away from the wall and used partner’s arms to form a front and back wall for the athletes to balance between.  People were really starting to feel the way their hands could control the entire body after this. 

The deadlifts and floor press are always crowd pleasers.  Who doesn’t like to lift the heaviest things possible, right?  Even with everyone’s glutes ripped up from the walking lunges the night before, we saw multiple guys pulling 190 kg for sets of 4-5.  And again, impressive technique and attention to form was shown by all.

After a quick break for lunch, we hopped in the cars and took a 45 minute drive out to Ardmore Beach on the western coast.  This is a very popular spot when the weather is nice, which it definitely was during my visit.  In fact, just about every local I talked with made sure to tell me just how lucky I was to be in the presence of such sunshine.  Call it California karma. 

The coolest part about this beach is that you can drive the cars straight onto the sand.  So we plodded the CFT van down near the water and marked off 400 meters along the beach.  At one end we left the van and the pullups rig, and at the other we set up barbells with 115# and 75#.  Halfway between we set up 24 kg and 16 kg kettlebells.  We then split up into teams and did the following workout for time:

200 pullups
200 meter buddy carry
200 kettlebell swings
200 meter buddy carry
100 squat clean thrusters
200 meter buddy carry
200 kettlebell swings
200 meter buddy carry
200 pullups

We also had to overhead carry all of our weights back with us on the return trip.  Because some teams had 4 and others had more, we made a rule that anyone not carrying a weight or a person had to be bear crawling.  What an awesome workout this turned out to be.  Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, teamwork… it was everything you want from fitness all rolled into one.  The only thing that could’ve gone better was if my team had won the WOD.  As it turned out, we were about a minute off the pace.  But that didn’t stop us from leading the charge into the Irish Sea when everyone else had completed their turns.  Nothing like a nice ice bath to help the legs recover!!  And boy was it icy. 
Drying off and warming up didn’t take us long, so we decided to stick around Ardmore for a cup of coffee at a local bakery.  Colin secured us free reign over the place’s back garden, so we couldn’t have been more comfortable.  Just 20+ crossfitters chillin’ out back sippin’ tea and coffee.  No big deal.  This was a great opportunity for those of us who hadn’t spoken much yet to get to know each other better.  We talked about programming quite a bit, but also the growth of fitness in general throughout the world and in Ireland.  It’s no surprise that the patterns I saw in the States are starting to form over here as well.  It’s only a matter of time until it’s everywhere.
After heading home and getting cleaned up, we all took to the town for a wonderful meal.  Again, with Colin’s knowledge as our guide we struck upon an awesome restaurant with a quintessential Irish Pub attached to it.  Naturally, this was the opportunity for me to taste my first official Irish-born Guiness draught.  If I’m honest, it tasted more or less the same as the ones I’ve had back home.  But I still had to do it.  The food was great as well, with people ordering everything from crab cakes to fish and chips, sirloin to roasted duck.  I had no complaints with anything pertaining to food the entire weekend, the fare was phenomenal. 

With one last day remaining, and it including a mountain assent, everyone decided to turn in early.  I was pretty wrecked myself, so I was happy to save the carousing for another time.  The plan for Day 3 was to hit the ancient monastery just after breakfast, then swoop lunch on the way to the mountain for the afternoon. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Anywherefit Ireland Recap: Day 1

Colin collected me from the airport early Friday morning after approximately 18 hours of travel.  I was groggy, a little numb from the series of flights and time changes, but still excited about the opportunity to experience something new and exciting.  The weekend we had planned was to be a perfect balance of wilderness and civilization, blending raw, outdoor workouts with fine dining and traditional Irish pastimes.  The only thing that could muck it up was weather, and I was dutifully warned this wasn’t something to be counted on in Ireland.  But as we walked from the terminal to the car I had a good feeling.  There were clouds, but not dark ones, and the air felt light and breezy.  Something was telling me through my numbness that we would be okay with the weather.  It was right. 

First stop from the airport was the Colin’s gym, CrossFit Tipperary in the town of Clonmel, where I got to meet a few of the guys who would be joining me for the duration of the weekend.  The bulk of the groups wasn’t set to arrive til later that afternoon.  The box was great.  High brick walls on all sides, painted white but stained gray in parts from years of use.  Pullup rigs on two of the walls, and high hanging ring brackets coming out of a third wall above an endless sea of kettlebells.  It was clean, spacious, and had all the trappings of a killer place to train.

Right about this time my stomach was ready to eat itself, so Colin and I made the round of introductions in short order then shot off for some breakfast.  We went into town to a place called Nimh’s, which turned out to be a bakery in front and a cafĂ© in back.  I ordered the most enormous thing I could find on the menu…a full Irish breakfast plus potato waffles and coffee.  If you’ve never been to this part of the world, you’ve probably never experienced breakfast the way they do it.  Be it in England, Ireland, Scotland, or Wales, the standard morning fare is some variation of the following:  Bacon/rashers, sausages, baked beans, fresh tomatos, hash browns, mushrooms, white pudding, black pudding (“pudding” equals fried pigs blood, just so you know), and a fried egg.  While I still might prefer a 3 egg omelet most days, I love the UK and Ireland for maintaining this tradition.

After breakfast a few of us went on a small scouting expedition to one of the locations for Day 3 of the trip.  Colin said that his box frequented a small creek not far away that featured a jogging trail and a series of pools useable for jumping in and cooling off.  “Cooling off” in Ireland means “icing” in the rest of the world.  The area around the creek was beautifully forested and covered in green moss, but the water itself was freezing.  Despite my California roots, I’ve never been one to shy away from a good ice bath, especially since I knew my body could use a reset after all those hours on the plane, so in I went.  Correction, in we all went.  3 separate times.  That was the cool part about this: you run a ways, then jump in (shoes and all), run a ways, jump in.  It wound up being like a mini mud run, but with way less people and waiting in line.  At the bottom of the creek sat an ancient stone monastery where we were planning to do a fun workout on Day 3.  This part of the world is replete with relics like this, making it a dream vacation for anyone obsessed with history.
After our run I got checked in at my residence for the weekend, the Clonacody House.  This is not your average B&B, though that’s probably the way it’s listed online.  I’m talking an authentic Irish countryside experience—from the hundred-year old floorboards to the horses trotting and grazing out back.  This place was an absolute dream.  Helen and Michael, the live-in managers, inherited the place from Helen’s family awhile back and decided to turn it into a venue for travelers and events about 4 years ago.  They renovated the spots that needed updating and the resulting structure is no less than magnificent.  The main house stands 3 stories tall with a basement below.  The ground floor consists of a living room, drawing room, dining room, and kitchen, all of which boast 15-foot ceilings and ridiculously ornate moldings and finish.  The 2nd and 3rd floors hold all the bedrooms and baths, 7 in all.  The furniture is rustic and country inspired, with enormous Victorian bathtubs in all but 2 of the bathrooms.  Needless to say, I was stoked to be staying there.  Surrounding the main house are acres upon acres of land, including grazing fields, gorgeous trees and gardens, and an ancient barn & courtyard that serve as the work area for Michael. 

We agreed that I would lie down for a few hours to try and catch some rest, then head to the gym for a workout before the majority of the group arrived that afternoon.  I was definitely tired when I went down, but getting up 2 hours later was like coming out of a coma.  I had no idea where I was or what I was doing there.  For my money, the California to Europe experience is still the toughest jet lag there is.  Groggy as could be, I made my way to the box and started shaking out the cobwebs…


1000 meter row
5 rounds:
5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 situps, 20 squats

EMOTM 10 minutes:
2 muscle ups
6 alternating pistols

100 meter overhead carry (100 kg)
*Every drop requires 10 deadlifts

By the end of this my brain was back on track, just in time for everyone’s arrival.  We had a whole host of locals from Clonmel, a group of 6 from Cork, a few from Dublin, and one from Spain.  As usual, people that were strangers kind of stuck to their own packs at first.  But by the end of the weekend we’d all be close friends.

To introduce everyone to each other and the AWF experience, we headed out to the Clonacody House for our first workout of the trip.  Colin has rigged up an old van with pullup bars and support posts, so finding a spot to do a workout was as simple as finding a place to park.  We did so on the back grounds of the estate, setting up the following for everyone:

20 minute AMRAP:
10 toes to bar
25 meter walking lunge
10 burpees
25 meter walking lunge
10 ring dips
25 meter walking lunge
10 burpees
25 meter walking lunge

We set this up so that the toes to bar and ring dips were on opposite ends of a 50 meter stretch, that way the lunges were the way to transition from one exercise to another.  The rings we hung from an enormous and gorgeous oak tree looking out towards the mountains.  By 3 or 4 minutes in the moaning and groaning had started, as it is wont to do, but soon everyone found their groove and was able to continue through to the end.  Afterwards we went inside for soup and salad and had a round table discussion about programming, nutrition, recovery, and travel.  During the course of the workout and discussion, everyone became visibly more at ease with one another and began to open up.  This is always a good sign so early in a trip.  Beyond that, however, the discussion itself was really, really interesting.  People were raising questions about everything from supplementation to recovery cycles.  We even talked about the difference between motivating forces for competitors and those seeking health and wellness.  It was probably the easiest and most enjoyable open forum I can remember. 

Most everybody was ready to call it a night after that, but a few of us ventured into town for some late dinner.  Not much open on Good Friday in Ireland, but we were able to snag a table at a local Indian restaurant that proved delicious enough.  The plan for the morning was to be up early enough for breakfast and to be at the box by 9:00 to train.  After that, we would be hitting the road!!!

Anywherefit Iceland 2014 Details

In case you weren't already aware… AWF Iceland 2014 is coming this August.  Back to the land of fire and ice, but in a way never done before.  Ice climbing on Europe's largest glacier, exploration of the  remote eastern coast, and beach training are just the beginning.  21 locations in only 12 days!!! There are 20 spots remaining as of now.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fitness Is...


Every action.  Every statement.  Every thought.  They’re all inputs.

Think of your body as a super computer.  Every waking moment it is gathering data, deciphering meaning, and formulating responses.  It’s constantly evaluating potential threats to its existence like hunger, injuries, enemies, and environment.  It’s measuring temperature, calculating distances, and adjusting for balance.  But for all the external stimuli your body is asked to process on a daily basis, what it’s registering from the inside can be ten times as important.  You see, your body also keeps careful track of your subconscious.  Your emotions, attitude, and inadvertent thoughts provide the backdrop on which every other input is analyzed.  If you’re in a bad mood, it will feel like the world is stacked against you.  You hit every red light, your boss is 3 feet up your ass, and your kids don’t appreciate anything you do.  If you’re in a good mood, you might notice the Lamborghini across the intersection, the quirky tie your boss is wearing, and how your kids have their mother’s eyes.  The same reality exists in both scenarios, but the interpretation of it is drastically different.  Multiply that experiment by a lifetime and you can imagine the divergence. We’re all just a million hits of a hammer; you better believe the attitude of the artist makes a difference. 

How does this affect fitness?  If you keep telling yourself you’re old, tired, and sick, that’s what you’re going to be.  What you think, you’ll soon say out loud.  And what you say out loud, you'll eventually carry out in practice.  Because your brain is largely influenced by habit and repetition, the thoughts you replicate most will wind up ingrained in your subconscious.  Your body will sense them even when you don’t—like the high electric whine of a TV on mute or the color of the walls in your bedroom.  Your self-image essentially becomes the product of background noise. 

The tricky part is you don't get to keep it to yourself.  Remember, everyone else is a super computer too—the signals you send out are being constantly gathered, deciphered, and responded to.  If you’re sending out hurt, they’re going to see hurt.  If you’re sending out old, they’re going to see old.  They're going to see old, process that information, and act accordingly.  Wait, it gets worse.  The feedback you get from your peers is an input in itself. The way they treat you is an indicator to your brain of who and what you are.  So if everyones looking at you like you've got one foot in the grave, your body processes that data and responds, “See, I knew I was old.”  This is the formation of your identity in a nutshell.  Thought begetting action, action begetting thought.  A cycle of computation and response that begins and ends with your own subconscious opinion of yourself.

Exhibit A: The guy who tells you how sore you’re going to feel once you hit 30.  He’s the same guy that’s going to tell you how sore you’ll feel when you hit 40.  And how you’ll probably die from knee pain at 50. 

“If you think 25 is rough, wait til you’re my age… I’d kill to be 25 again.” 

“Enjoy your 30’s while they last, it’s all downhill from there.” 

“I’m too old for that shit.  When I was your age, though…”

This guy pisses me off.  What possible benefit does he gain from repeatedly pointing out how horrible it is to be old?  I get why he’s doing it—by explaining the difficulties of age to someone younger, he makes it impossible for them to pass judgment on his current physical condition—what I don’t get is why he thinks by doing so he absolves himself from the universal need to not be a lazy piece of shit.  (And yes, it is a universal need)  Because, despite what his cupboard full of Captain Crunch and Pepsi Cola are indicating, his body doesn’t like being fat.  In fact, it dislikes being fat a lot more than it dislikes being old.  Problem is, he’s been telling himself and everybody else how old he is since before he can remember and he can't find his way back.  That’s how they know him.  That’s how he knows himself.  Tell yourself you’re young and you’ll start feeling younger.  Feel like you’re young and you’ll start acting younger.  Act like you’re young, and who’s to say you’re not? 

Exhibit B: The guy whose life is busier and more tiring than yours.

“Enjoy being a student, Blair.  Once you’re out in the real world, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

“Ahh, the single life.  I remember having all that free time.”

“Wait til you have kids, bro.  You’ll never sleep.  Kiss your body goodbye.”

This guy is a lot like Exihibit A, only instead of obsessing over his age he believes that life has left him no time or energy to take care of his body.  Please.  You’re telling me that no one in your office has time to work out?  Or that wives prefer a pudgier, weaker version of the man they fell in love with?  Pretty sure that’s false.  Pretty sure I watch parents with kids of all ages find time to crush it in my gym everyday.  It must be that your particular situation is more difficult than theirs.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it’s not the job, the wife, or the kids that are holding you back.  Maybe it’s you.  Maybe you’ve just been telling yourself the same, tired story so long it’s infected your hard drive.  Maybe if you’d told yourself a million times that health and wellness was non-negotiable, that it would only enhance your ability to do your job, be in a healthy relationship, and provide for your children and grandchildren, then you’d be finding ways to stay active instead of finding excuses not to. Burpees by the crib, lunges up the stairwell, 15 minutes of pushups and pullups in the garage after work. A million hits of the hammer.  It all adds up.

Again, I know why Exhibit B is doing it.  I just want him to realize that life is never going to get easier, and overweight is never going to feel invigorating.

Exhibit C: The guy who’s always sick or hurt.

“I must be coming down with a cold.  I woke up a bit congested and can’t seem to shake it.”

“I have a bad back and bum knees.  Been that way since I was a kid.”

This guy’s a little different.  His issue isn’t with physically getting to the gym like Exhibits A and B, it’s with his expectations while he’s there.  Regardless of the day, the workout, or the situation, he will find some way to let you know he isn’t at full strength.  He’s jet lagged from a business trip.   Or has caught a bug that’s “going around.”  It’s always something.  Just so we’re clear: I’m not advocating that sick people and invalids should come into the gym and hurt themselves trying to break records.  But if every knick, scratch, or stuffy nose becomes a reason to underperform, you’ve got a problem.  You’re deliberately setting low expectations and reinforcing the message that it’s okay to suck at your training.  Just so we’re clear: It’s not okay to suck at your training.  Part of fitness is the ability to perform in less than perfect conditions, to rise to the challenge of an off day or a bad night’s sleep.  But, more than that, it’s about establishing a consistent set of expectations.  Sending the message over and over that it’s okay to be terrible will only ensure that you’re terrible.  Sending the message over and over that you’re capable of success in spite of negative circumstances will make you a warrior.  This is where the truly fit separate themselves: their expectations don’t allow for petty excuses.  They know they won’t be at their best every day—that’s just a part of life—but they never blame away that down cycle.  They wear it and move on.  Every performance is progress.

All of these guys essentially suffer from the same mental fragility.  Rather than acknowledge they're choosing to put their health and wellness at risk, they find external reasons to excuse this behavior, thus absolving themselves of the responsibility.  This is cowardly.  Also, it sets a dangerous precedent of non-accountability that doesn't exactly come in handy when you find yourself battling colon cancer and obesity later in life.  At that moment, blaming McDonald's for being too convenient and inexpensive isn't going to help you stay alive.  Better to check yourself now and start reforming your subconscious identity.  

The best part about building a mentality like this is that you’ll find yourself feeling sick, tired, and hurt less often.  Because your subconscious forms the backdrop on which your body processes all sensory data, reducing focus on illness, fatigue, and injury is going to decrease likelihood of your feeling that way.  You’re not sick, you just have a runny nose.  You’re not hurt, you just have a sore ankle.  These maladies no longer hinder your performance any more than a bad song on your iPod.  You can go from invalid to indestructible in one thought-generation. 

At the end of the day, nobody wants to feel tired and sickly.  Nobody wants to be treated like they’re past their prime.  But obsessing over the limitations inherent in those qualities will only propagate them.  Thought begets action, action begets thought.  Your mental approach to fitness has to be positive and forward reaching.  It has to learn to ignore everything except that which helps you improve.  Call it selective computation.  Or the rehabilitation of your warrior self-image.  The beauty part is, when you start to believe it, everyone else will too.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 9

It felt really good not to be moving on to another town after Day 8.  Queenstown was proving to be every bit as exciting and fun as it's reputation, but nothing we had done so far would prepare us for the rush of Day 9.

We loaded up the group early and caught the first bus of the day to Shotover Canyon for the adrenaline junky's dream:  the canyon swing.  And not just any canyon swing, the world's highest canyon swing.  109 meters above the river below (that's close to 400 feet for all you un-metrics our there) with a 60 meter free fall.  The rig they use is very similar to a bungee jump, except that the cord isn't attached to a fixed object like a bridge or tower at the top.  Instead its suspended from a wire cable that is strung across the canyon, so that as you hit the bottom of the bungee you begin to swing along the cable like an enormous slingshot.  Eventually gravity catches up with you and you start swinging back and forth until you settle to a hanging position and they reel you back in.  If it sounds crazy, it kind of is.

The crew that works at Shotover Canyon are diligent with their safety precautions but also do a great job of keeping groups relaxed and having fun.  You're offered all sorts of jump styles while preparing for your turn, ranging from a simple jump to using props like chairs, tricycles, and ropes.  There's really very little you're not allowed to do while jumping off their ledge.  One member of our group even took advantage of the naked jump, earning her 2nd jump free of charge.

As far as the feeling you get while taking the leap… it's pretty intense.  Free falls are always exhilarating, but I've never fallen for that long with such a lack of control.  Usually when you're jumping of cliffs into water you're thinking about your landing.  With this you're just trusting that the cable holds you the way it's supposed to.

By the end of our morning, all but one among us had done the swing.  We hurried home for a quick lunch then got back on the bus to make our appointment with the Jet Boat pilot.  That's right, Jet Boating.  This had to be, without doubt, one of the most impressive feats of skill I've ever seen.  We were pinning the throttle in inches of water, swerving around boulders and cliff edges, while doing donuts.  Obviously these guys are professionals and do this all day long, but I still swore we were going to crash every third turn.  I don't really even understand the physics of how we could maneuver in such shallow water.  Pair that with the road we had to take just to get to the boat launch (think bolivian death road), and I can't imagine frying a tourists nerves any more.

To round out the day we found a staircase right in the middle of Queenstown and hit a bear crawl, lunge, pushup, sprint workout as a group.  Crawling down stairs is always a great way to train the entire body in my opinion, and most Crossfitters haven't ever done it.  So I like to throw it in and see the reaction I get.  It ended up being one of the toughest WODs of the trip thus far, and had everyone ready to hit the town that night.  After everything we'd done that day, I couldn't blame them.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 8

Day 8 began with a free morning to explore the town, then a 1:00 swim WOD in the deepest lake on the South Island, Lake Wakatipu.  Because of its depth, this lake never really warms up, even in the heart of summer. So there were a few among us that toed the water a little more nervously than they did on Day 1 in Auckland.  The workout was intended to be 3 rounds of a buoy swim (about 200 meters), 5 pull-ups (tree branch or jungle gym), 10 pushups, 15 squats.  Very simple as written, but the temperature of the water made it far more challenging.  As the WOD got going a few people had to divert to a closer buoy, just to be safe.  The best part of this workout was easily the location.  Queenstown proper was on the opposite shore, and the mountains climbed high around us, throwing reflections on the aqua blue water.  The sun was out and beautiful, as it had been our entire trip, so even the cold water wasn't too much of a bother.

After drying off, we headed up the hill a short ways to CrossFit Queenstown for some heavy front squats and deadlifts.  We only had an hour before the next class came in so we limited ourselves to just those lifts.  Surprisingly, there were more than a few PR's from the group.  This has been something of a trend on AWF trips, and I have to think it has something to do with the absence of normality.  Sometimes routine creates pressure to perform, whereas the absence of routine removes that pressure.  Think about it… If you're in an unknown situation, you're not worried about performing up to some standard, you're just excited for the opportunity to perform.  Not a bad mental state to be in if you ask me.

We wrapped up the day with a trip to the top of the Queenstown gondola and an hour or so on her street luge course overlooking the valley.  No matter how fun you think this sounds, you have no idea.  The simplest contraption one could imagine (handlebars that control the brakes by levering forward or backward), and gravity.  The track was wide enough for 3 cars to fit side by side, and there were steep drops, sharp turns, tunnels, and chances to get airborne.  For our money, this may have been the best value of the entire trip.  We were racing, bumpering, and screaming down the course just like kids at a 10 year old birthday party.  The video footage says it all.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 7

We were up and out the doors early again on Day 7, heading for Fox Glacier to see what that type of hike is all about.  It's not everyday that you get the chance to walk on a piece of ice thats been around longer than the human race.

After a safety briefing and boot fitting, we hopped on the bus with the guides and made our way to the terminal face of the glacier.  It was about a 2 mile walk from the car park, during which time our guide made it abundantly clear that the cliff walls around us were very loose and could crumble down upon us at any moment.  They didn't, thankfully, but it certainly added to the adventure of it.

Once at the glacier's edge, things slowed down considerably.  The guides in front of us were meticulously cutting and re-cutting staircases into the ice so their groups wouldn't slip and fall.  All well and good, but every guide was acting as if they were the first ones to carve the stairs.  The result was that we wound up doing a lot more standing than hiking.  Even so, just physically being on the glacier, watching the water flowing through it, and seeing just how powerful nature can be was worth the trip.

Once off the glacier, we made a quick turnaround and got out on the road towards Queenstown.  It was our last major driving day of the trip and I could tell everyone was getting a little bit of cabin fever from being stuck in the van so much.  That being said, we had to get over the pass by 6:00 pm or we'd be stuck on the wrong side of the mountains until morning.  So we hustled our way across and then stopped at a random pull out to stretch our legs.  What we found was a hidden gem.  Nestled not far from the road was a waterfall feeding into a small creek.  This may as well have been a playground the way our group was scampering up it.  People took turns ice bathing in the pools and doing handstands on the shore until we were ready to get back on the road.

Our last stop before Queenstown was CrossFit Wanaka, who graciously opened their doors to us for an additional hour so we could train.  We did 1RM split jerks, then a 21 minute AMRAP that included 5 shoulder to overheads, 10 sit-ups, and 15 wall balls.  Every 7 minutes we did a 600 meter hill run.  What a burner this turned out to be.  I looked around the room at one point and it felt like everyone was on their knees gasping for air.  Just what we needed to carry us the last hour on the road.

Check the video footage from Day 7 below.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 6

Day 6 was our first of 2 major travel days.  We needed to cover roughly 500 kilometers through national forests, coastline, and mountains in a single day, easily our roughest road trip thus far.  But it was a necessary evil for us to get where we wanted to go the next morning: Fox Glacier.  

The plan was rough draft at best: drive a few hours, take a break when we found something cool to do/a great place for a workout.  Sometimes spontaneity and embracing the unexpected is the only way to stay upbeat when you're trapped in a  car for 7+ hours.  Our first stop was at a historic swing bridge in the Buller River Gorge.  This was a cool excursion that was more novelty that anything else- a 200 foot bridge built out of thin cables, kind of like something you'd see in Indiana Jones.  So we all walked the plank and got across, then took a quick hike through the surrounding forest and beach to stretch our legs.  While it was a very beautiful portion of river, the most memorable part of this particular stop were the sand flies.  Everyone got eaten alive in the 30 minutes we were there, and could be seen scratching their ankles, legs, and backs for the rest of the trip because of it.  Needless to say we picked up some Off! at the next supermarket.

After another few hours on the road we pulled off at the underpass of an old rail bridge and did some free climbing.  We used the I beams under the bridge itself as hand holds, but also were able to string up the rings for muscle ups, skin the cats, toes to rings, you name it.  This was our best opportunity thus far to do some legitimate skill practice on the rings so we took advantage.

While there we squatted logs and boulders, and even did some stone to shoulders.  Different animal when the stone isn't perfectly round, let me tell you.  This turned into a 2 hour workout, and it was a blast!  Super creative and resourceful, just like these trips are meant to be.

On the last leg of our drive we were blessed with one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. EVER.  Every few minutes the colors got deeper and deeper, to the point where we simply had to pull off the shoulder and admire them.  We took pictures in front of a random lake and did our best to capture the moment.  Soon after we were in Franz Joseph, a stones throw from Fox Glacier, and getting ready for bed.  Another big travel day lay in front of us, but with Queenstown as our destination, who could complain?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 5

We boarded the inter islander ferry and said goodbye to the North Island.  This also meant that we were leaving behind our van and trailer and picking up a new one on the other side.  This was a little nerve racking since it meant we were depending on the rental agency to have everything prepared and ready when we landed, but because the cost of bringing the van with us on the ferry was so high, we didn't have much choice.

Once on the ferry we scouted a comfortable spot for home base, then broke the group into two halves for a workout on the main deck.  Death by burpees.  Only, because the deck was wet and disgusting, we did the burpees without pushups.  This was the second time an Anywherefit trip has trained topside on a ferry, and it proved every bit as fun as the first.  In this instance we had a section of the deck all to ourselves, as it had been divided into seating and standing areas.  Because there wasn't much to see so early in the trip, no one wanted to stake a claim to the standing area.

For the most part, this WOD went as expected: everyone was cruising through the early rounds, then ground to a halt once things got into the higher teens.  A few were able to make it to the twenties, and Sven took top marks with 25 rounds.  The coolest part of this workout was the elements.  The boat was rocking and the wind was spraying mist everywhere.  Luckily for us the sun was also out and shining, making the wetness a little more bearable.

After we made it across and got our bags from the carousel, we made our way to the rental agency to discover our van was not yet ready.  We were told it was still on it's way back from a neighboring town and that we'd have to wait another hour and a half.  So we took the opportunity to walk around town and grab some lunch at a local spot.  Right away, we could tell the difference between the North and South islands.  The marina we had left in Wellington didn't hold a candle to the one in Picton where we now found ourselves.  Crystal blue water, tree covered mountains, and an easier vibe were among the things that jumped out straight away.

After a great lunch we picked up the van and started driving west toward Newton.  We made an unscheduled stop, however, and decided to spend the rest of the afternoon romping around the countryside on ATV's.  Best decision of the trip so far!  The place we stopped was a combination of sheep farm and off road wonderland.  There were zip lines, quad tracks, and paintball courses littering the place.  We got fitted up and took off climbing the trails behind our guides, dumping in and out of creeks and pausing for nice views.  When we hit the top everyone decided to ride the Skyline, a 4 person chair lift turned zip line, across the valley.  While not exactly scary, this turned out to be a really cool addition to the trip.

On the way down the mountain our guides let us ride a few laps around the "fun track" at our leisure.  Which pretty much meant go as fast as you can without flipping.  And we did.  Everyone emerged covered in dirt and mud, but totally stoked on the experience.  A short drive later we were in Newton barbecuing burgers and hashing out plans for the next days long drive to Fox Glacier.  For a day that hadn't been expected to provide much, this one had really delivered the goods.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 4

Day 4 was a crack of dawn start.  5:30 am we were up and getting breakfast on the go in order to make it to our trailhead by 7:00.  The shuttle bus only picks up 3 times per day for the Tongariro Hike--6:30, 7:30, and 8:30--each successive pickup growing more crowded.  Thankfully our group was on top of the wake up and we made it for the 7:30 pickup no problem.

There's something cool about a sunrise shuttle ride when you know what you're in for.  20 km up and over the North Island's best hike, passing just to the side of the mountain used in Lord of the Rings as Mount Doom.  I could tell everyone was a little nervous getting off the bus, but also really excited.  The plan was to let Asta run ahead with the runners, I would stay with the walk/runners, and Sven would park the bus and come with the 8:30 shuttle, sprinting to catch the pack.

The initial few kilometers were cake.  Flat land with a few twists and turns, but no crazy climbs.  Right about the 3k mark things started to ramp up significantly.  The trail turned right and started switching back and forth up the mountainside, giving us a beautiful view of the where we came from.  Soon nobody was running because the grade was so steep.  Bags were getting passed around from person to person in an effort the share the heavier loads, and there were plenty of "picture stops."

At the top of the initial climb the terrain flattened out and we caught a cool stretch of volcanic basin.  To the right was "Mount Doom," to the left Mount Tongariro.  It was a welcome reprieve from the steady climbing we'd been doing for the past hour, but it didn't last long.  Another set of peaks awaited us and they proved even steeper than the first.  We started climbing along the ridge, giving us an amazing view of the North face of the mountains.  As we hit the summit, the dirt turned soft and ashy and people started sliding down the backside.  SO FUN.  This took me straight back to Iceland 2011.

The back half of the hike was all downhill, weaving between sulfur lakes, volcanic debris, and thick vegetation.  While the views were incredible, the downhill pounding was starting to catch up with me.  By the time I hit the car park I was feeling it in the knees and ankles, and I wasn't the only one.  We basked in the sun, snacked on some Paleo Kits, then hit the road to Wanganui to watch the second half of the Super Bowl.

After the worst game ever (not biased), we rode the rest of the way to Wellington to wrap things up.  Brittney took the group down to a waterfront park and took us through some Yin Yoga to stretch the legs.  This felt amazing and it was so needed.  Everyone was ready for bed early, knowing we were catching the ferry to the south island early in the AM.

Video clips from Day 4 are below.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand Day 3

Day 3 of the trip began with a partner beach WOD.  We partnered everyone up in teams that were equally distributed based on strengths, injuries, etc.   The workout was a relay between partners that went as follows:

50 meter bear crawl
50 meter frog jump
50 meter burpee broad jump
50 meter partner wheelbarrow

In between every round teams had to complete 50 partner pushups.  At the very end, teams had to complete 100 partner sit-ups.  This workout would've been hard enough as written, but put it on the deep sand and everything got just that much harder.  Especially the wheelbarrows.  Supporting your bodyweight while having to keep stable on such a squishy surface absolutely blows up your arms.  This proved a big challenge for many of the people on the trip, forcing them to dig deep and lean on their partners for support.

As soon as we were finished, we got up to the main drag and rented some toys.  Surf boards, boogie boards, and sunscreen were the tools of the day, and we did our best to take advantage of them all.  Jason, Kevin, Helen, Sven, Gio, and I all tried our hand at catching waves with the surfboard, but with little success. Jason probably had the best ride of all, but still a far cry from the locals carving up the waves further down the beach.  I will say this though… Surfing is absolutely one of those things you don't need to be good at to enjoy.  I could spend all day out there trying and failing and still have a great time.

The rest of the gang either boogie boarded or sunbathed.  Everyone knew that Day 4 was the day we were aiming to be up early at on the mountain for our 20 km hike so no one really wanted to beat themselves up.  We gathered everyone up by 2:00 and hit the road for Lake Taupo.  A few hours later we were there and checking into our 3rd home in 3 nights, the Settlers Motel.  The owner of this establishment threw out the welcome mat in the form of an Icelandic Flag out front.  We all agreed that this had to be a good sign for the day ahead.

The highlights from Day 3 are below.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand: Day 2

Day 2 of our trip began with an early morning jaunt into the Symmonds Street Cemetery.  No, there was no climbing of gravestones or sprinting around mausoleums.  But we did find a trail that led to the bottom of a ravine and the base of an enormous bridge.  After a quick canvassing of the area, everyone was able to find a heavy object to squat, an area to work handstand holds, and a beam to hang rings from for toes to bar.  We divided the group into 4 x 1 minute stations: squats, toes to bar, handstand holds, and stair sprints.  We set the clock for 20 minutes, giving everyone 5 times at each station.  The goal was to hit the same number of reps each round for each exercise, but that proved quite the challenge.  Squatting logs and stones becomes pretty dicey when you're out of breath.  But it was a great way to break a sweat before hopping in the car for the drive out to Mount Maunganui and the coast.  And it was good to see everyone willing to get their hands dirty.  A good omen for the rest of the trip.

The drive to Mount Maunganui took around 3 hours, just enough time to get everyone acclimated to the 12 person van that was going to be our transportation for the next 10+ days.  We learned quickly that bathroom breaks needed to be frequent, music needed to be uptempo, and snacks needed to be readily accessible.  Also, we were driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car.  That took some adjustment.

All things considered, I think we did a damn good job navigating our way out of Auckland.  Parking in Mt. Maunganui, however, was a bit of a challenge.  We dumped the trailer at our hotel, found a good burger spot on the main drag, then hit the beach for some free time.  We got lucky as far as weather, with some offshore wind creating perfect waves for body surfing and the sun keeping us warm enough to do it without a wetsuit.  We spent the remainder of the day swimming, exploring the volcanic hillside overlooking the bay, and even chasing a few sheep.

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel where we cooked dinner and admired each other's sunburns.  Honorable mentions in this area go to Sven, Brittany, and Jason… all of whom would be pealing for the rest of the trip due to day 2.

Check out the highlights from day 2 below.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Anywherefit New Zealand: Day 1

Anywherefit New Zealand finally commenced on January 30th, 2014 in Auckland.  Sven, Asta, and I were in town a day early to get things organized with the rental bus, the hotel, and the grocery store, but the rest of the gang showed up that Friday.  As soon as we had everybody checked in and unpacked we shot off to Mission Bay for our first workout of the trip: Paddleboarding.  Few of the group had ever attempted this before, let alone out on the open ocean, so we were keeping our fingers crossed for calm waters.  As we took instructions from the SUP staff, I watched white cap after white cap roll in towards the bay and I had a flashback to the AWF Iceland 2012 ocean kayaking trip.  Shudder.

Thankfully, by the time we were out on the water things were starting to calm down.  People took their time getting to a standing position, but soon everyone was up on their boards.  Which meant it was time to either race or start pulling out the stupid human tricks.  Cue handstand attempts (all failures), headstand attempts (most failures), and overhead squats (few failures).  This was no crushing workout, but it was a ton of fun and a great ice breaker for this group of 12.  For me, it felt like I was knocking dust off after a series of long flights.

From Mission Bay, we went straight across town to CrossFit NZ to hit the weights.  Darren and his crew out there were more than accommodating, allowing us to christen their new barbell room with power snatches and back squats.  Everyone was given 4 attempts at unbroken sets of snatches (90%, 80%, 70%, and 60% of 1RM).  During this session, Sven and I were able to walk around the room and give small cues and coaching advice to some of the less experienced lifters.  Starting the trip off with a WOD like this helped me to get to know everyone's ability level when it comes to Oly, their mobility level, and gave us the chance to expose any injuries that might need working around.

Afterwards we worked up to heavy doubles of back squat, then hit a short and sharp team WOD.  Can't say enough about the members and coaches at CF NZ for their hospitality, only wish we could've stayed longer.  But the first 6 night of this trip are all in different towns… an unfortunate necessity when you want to drive to Queenstown in less than a week.  Not to worry though, there's plenty to do along the way.

Below is a few video clips from our first day.