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I want to offer some advice for all of you who had the courage to sign up for your first CrossFit competition, the Festivus Games, but first, let me offer you CONGRATULATIONS! Good for you for stretching out of your comfort zone!

During Festivus, you’ll perform multiple WODs, but don’t let the idea of 4 WODs overwhelm you! All of you are more than capable of completing the workload this Saturday. With the right fuel and hydration, you will be able to compete at a high level and test your fitness.

Here’s what I mean by fuel and hydration: the night before, eat a hearty dinner with a good source of carbs. In the morning, eat a normal, balanced breakfast with quality fats and protein. Do not do anything out of the ordinary for breakfast and eat at least an hour out from your WOD 1 start time.

After WOD 1&2 you will have roughly two hours before WOD 3. During this time it is important to relax and hydrate. Some fruit or a Lara bar or something light will suffice. The same goes for after WOD 3. Drink at least one protein shake at some point during the day and the rest of your calories should come from easily digestible carbs and protein. Stay away from breads and anything heavy once the competition begins. From personal experience, it is really hard to eat enough food during the day. If you have no appetite, it is imperative that you find a way to fuel the furnace.

In conclusion, come prepared and have simple snacks that you are used to eating on a daily basis. If you know how you react to different types of food, DON’T change everything on competition day! Keep it simple and relax between WODs. This will be a great first experience for all of you! Your coaches will be extremely proud of you regardless of where you finish!

Have fun!

Coach Chris Poppa

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Above are  two different still shots with the positioning I am looking for on the way up and down when you perform muscle ups. The top picture is when I am transitioning down from the dip, while the bottom picture is my swing up after being in the arch position. Either way, the hollow position is what we are looking for. It allows you to stay balanced while also keeping you in a connected/powerful state.

Athletes typically have two common movement flaws athletes as they descent in a muscle up:

1) They drop straight down without being engaged, losing all momentum and power

2) They leave their feet out front, which causes them to be unbalanced as they set up for the next MU. Instead of the upper and lower body counterbalancing each other and keeping us centered, our body becomes a pendulum–we’re out of control and swinging back and forth.

Below is a link to the MU video I posted last week. The still shots above are from that exact video. Watch it closely, but this time look for the consistency in the MU. (Identify what you are doing different and then go to work on correcting that part!)

Connected Muscle Ups

Skill: -4xME Strict ring pull ups while maintaining a hollow position Rest 1 minute in between. Use whatever grip you use while performing your MUs or MUs attempts.

If you’re able to complete MUs, spend 10 minutes working on the transition. I want you to concentrate on keeping your shoulders, stomach, and glutes engaged.

Coach Poppa

This post was originally published at Deep Movement.

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The past couple weeks I have been chipping away at muscle ups and nothing else. Even if you haven’t been able to achieve a MU yet, I hope you understand the importance of correct positioning and applying it to everything else.

As athletes/coaches, we have to know what the optimal position or global position is for the body.  If you can consistently apply the hollow and arch while executing different movements, you will become stronger and move with much more control. Having the glutes and abdominals turned on with the shoulders activated puts you in a stronger position than most. No matter what level, knowing the CORRECT position and technique is everything.

When I first start working with an athlete, they sometimes feel as if they are taking a  step back instead of instantly getting better, because I bring them back to basics. As an example we will use a chest to bar pull-up. There are regionals athletes who still have trouble butterflying and even kipping these at times. Are they still at a high level of competitive exercise? You better believe it! Would they be better if they took the time to consistently train their movements in a better position? Definitely!! You have to be able to get out of your own way and accept the fact that you need to clean up some movements by going back to the basics. A butterfly chest to bar is VERY difficult, especially when your heart rate is elevated. If we resort to good positioning ALL THE TIME because we have trained it daily then it won’t be a shot in the dark come game day. Rich Froning is a perfect example of this. He is always working to become better at everything. I know many others do, he just happens to be the best at it. He is a tough example because there are adjustments he makes that we don’t even realize because of how small they are.

Imitating someone’s movement can help athlete get better. Naturally, you should always look at the highest level of athlete. In our world, that is the CrossFit games athletes. What is the common factor with all of them? Do they all move the same? If not, who is better and why. You have to ask yourself these questions if you are trying to get better at this sport. If you are a coach, hold yourself to a higher standard and never deviate from it! Now take a look at the pictures above and think about what looks right and why.

Skill: post wod-3x max effort ring l-sit with 1 minute in between. If you dont have rings then use paralettes or boxes.

Never stop getting better!

Coach Mike Poppa

This post was originally published at Deep Movement.

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aimeecrop2As coaches, the Open stories we like most are the ones that come from our everyday members: the athletes who face their fears, push through their barriers, struggle through the agony … and drop to their knees to the shout of TIME! knowing they held nothing back.

Aimee Heden is one of those athletes. She’s not a CrossFit superstar … but she’s disciplined and dedicated, and a great example of how following the program and pushing past limits regularly prepares us for unknown challenges.

aimee2Aimee’s been doing CrossFit for four years. Her brother, who owns a CrossFit gym in Connecticut, introduced her to the community. (As a bit of trivia, this brother is the man who started/organizes the FESTIVUS GAMES! Make sure you sign up.) She says she isn’t any different from the other athletes who come to Real Fitness; in fact, she still gets nervous every time she sees the WOD. “On the day of 14.5, I was telling my husband and my daughter how nervous I was,” says Aimee. “They said to me Don’t Go! And I said, Oh, no! I’m going!!”  Anyone lucky enough to watch her log her workout saw her grit as she fought for every rep. It was so inspiring!! (15:21-we knew you’d ask)

We asked her what was going on in her head during the workout. “The whole thing was mental,” she said, “But, really, every workout is mental, so I do a lot of self-coaching—I literally have a conversation with myself.” Aimee said she’ll tell herself, “Ok, give me six more reps” or “You’re through the 21; you’ve got 15 this round.” She doesn’t think about all the work she has left to do. She just talks herself mentally through every rep and lets her body do what it’s trained to do.

We sometimes hear people comment that certain athletes are “lucky” or are different in some way than the rest of the average people.  We asked Aimee if she’s ever heard this. “Yes. Sometimes someone will say I look the way I do or perform as I do because I have good genes,” she said. “Um. No. I work hard, and I show up 5 days a week—every week. I face every workout with the idea that when it’s over, I want to know I honestly could not have pushed myself harder.”

“I’m pretty much an average Joe,” says Aimee. “I think what helps me keep improving is that I don’t let myself have excuses. I generally have a plan of how I’m going to strategize the workout; I talk to myself a lot, and then I do the work. I don’t want to give 80%. I don’t ever want to say, ‘You could have done better.’ I want to be satisfied with what I’ve done—every time.”

That’s the spirit of CrossFit. That attitude gives an everyday athlete like Aimee extraordinary results, which we loved to see as she worked through her Open WODs. We’re proud of you, Aimee—you’re a great athlete! You’re also a motivating coach and a constant encourager to other members here at Real Fitness. We’re thrilled you’re part of the RFS Family.

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Client Success Stories

Michelle Pennie

I was lucky to find Mike, Chris and Tanya at Real Fitness Sarasota during a rough point in my career. I needed an outlet after many stressful days and looked forward to my daily WOD (workout of the day) at 5pm. I knew if I could get through my day, then I could get through Read More »


Steve Wieder

I have been working out at conventional gyms most of my life from bigbox/big name gyms to small individualized gyms and everything in between. The common link with all of them was the “this is the way we’ve always done it” attitude: cardio mixed with free weights and machine training; upper body one day… Read More »



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