2021 Open – Part 2

This year we will be doing something similar to what we did last October for the Open with a slight twist. Instead of picking your own teams, we will be grouping everyone together based on the classes that you most often attend. You see each other every day at the gym, now you get to compete alongside everyone as teammates! We will have a 5:30 AM, 8:30 AM, 5:30 PM, and 11:59 PM team. While not necessary, we encourage you to give your team a name, the funnier the better.

You have been automatically put on a team based on your attendance to class the last 60 days (as of 2/19/2021). Whatever class you attended the most during that time frame determined your team. The teams will be presented at the end of this post for your reference.

We know that some of you frequently attend different classes based on the day, don’t worry! You do not have to attend your team’s class on the Friday’s during the Open. It will probably be more fun that way, but if your schedule does not allow for it, we just want you to come in. Your points that you earn will go towards your team, not the class that you attend.

An important thing to note is that points are not awarded according to athlete performance. We only care that you are in the gym and doing the workouts! The Open is about coming together and celebrating our Crossfit community. At the conclusion of the Open, the points will be tallied up and bragging rights will be given to the winning team.

Points will be awarded to the team for certain categories throughout the duration of the Open. Opportunities for points this year are:

  • Receive 1 point for each team member that completes each Open workout

  • If you accomplish a “first” in the Open you will get 2 points (first C2B, muscle up, HSPU, etc.)

  • If you accomplish a PR in the Open you will get 2 points

The teams are as follows:

5:30 AM

Angela Price

Katie LaCosse

Justin LaCosse

Clint Johnson

Rachael Thomas

Aaron Persenaire

Nicole Heinonen

Joanne Markham

Tricia O’Brien Stein

Rochelle Spencer

Sam Herbert

Kara Paavilainen

Duncan Price

 

8:30 AM

Jake Putala

Amanda Hoffman

Julie Jalkanen

Michelle Miller

Amy Olson

Jenna Zamaites

Gerald Huffman

Elizabeth Mitteer

Kartik Iyer

E Krause

Daryl Putala

Brendan Flanagan

 

5:30 PM

Gwen Kangas

Gavin McBride

Justin Miller

Becky Kopke

Morgan DuPont

Ed Freysinger

Ayla Miller

Eric Boersma

Terri Frew

Kim Dunnebacke

Zachary Rosenbaum

Adam Olson

Anders Carlson

Julia Anderson

James Ward

Chloe McParlan

Autumn Weidman

Lathan Delp

 

11:59 PM

Kevin Trewartha

Lindsey Larson

Christopher Bates

Tony Oxley

Austin Kosinski

Renee Hiller

Shannon Rink

Shannon Watt

David Hemmer

Carly Siko

Karlee Westrem

Russ Stein

Jesse Rulison

 

We understand that new members may join the gym between now and the Open, and even during the Open. Those individuals will be placed on a team as they join the gym.

Keep an eye out for Part 3, in which we detail how each class will be run during the Open.

We fail at the margins of our experience (Monthly Mindset, March 2021)

Constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity. That is the definition of Crossfit. Today, I am going to talk about the first one – variance. Variance comes into play in pretty much every facet of your day to day in Crossfit, from the movements, to the time domains of our workouts, and for some of you, the time of day you actually work out. Why though? Well, enter our monthly mindset. “We fail at the margins of our experience.” This quote from Greg Glassman means that what, where, and how you train regularly determines your strengths, but also develops the blueprint for your weaknesses.

(photo credit: CrossFit.com)

If you’ve never seen a specific movement before or picked up a certain odd object, it is pretty easy to imagine that you will not be good at it on your first try. Just think back to your intro when you had to snatch for the first time. Remember how fun/confusing/frustrating that was? If you never work out in the morning, but then come into the 5:30am class because of work conflicts, it is not a far stretch to think that you will struggle as that is not your normal time to workout. These experiences are all outside our typical margins, and therefore, are new stimuli that we are not yet adapted to.

The beauty of the human body though is that it is nothing if not adaptable. Even if you try something once and are absolutely horrible at it, you will be better at it the second time you see it. And then even better the third time. That is why we throw different challenges at you. To get you exposure to new skills and movements, so that you can succeed if you see them at the gym, in a competition, or more importantly, in life. That is the Crossfit way: be pretty good at pretty much everything, and be prepared for the unknown and unknowable.

Your mindset this month will be to try and expand your margins of experience. Try something new. Whether it be a new sport or activity, a new hobby, or a new scaling option at the gym. Variety is the spice of life, or so I’m told. This month, try to spice it up! 

Latissimus Dorsi (Muscle of the Month, March 2021)

Oh the Lats. Probably one of my favorite muscles. My coach used to say that anybody can have abs or big arms, but if you have big lats, you’ve earned those. The latissimus dorsi is a large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides, behind the arm, and is partly covered by the last month’s muscle, the traps, on the back. It is the largest muscle in the upper body, and quite literally means “broadest [muscle] of the back” if you are keeping up with your Latin.

Functionally, the latissimus dorsi muscle plays a huge role in scapular motion. Pretty much any movement that your shoulders can and do make is aided by the lats: extension, adduction, horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and internal rotation of the shoulder joint. In layman’s terms, pressing and pulling in pretty much any position. It is also one of the main stabilizers of the spine during its various movements.

Interestingly enough, the lats are not used strenuously in common daily activities. However, it is an important muscle in many exercises such as pull-ups, chin-ups, lat pulldowns, and swimming (Crossfit). The lats are one of the main drivers of the kipping motion that we utilize in Crossfit, as well as a major player in pulling motions for movements like pull ups, rowing, and snatches. Pretty much anything we do in class will either directly or indirectly train the lats, but if you are looking to target them specifically, incorporate lat pull downs, strict pull ups, rows with barbells or DBs, and movements with a wider grip.

2021 Open – Part 1

What is the Open? Simply put, it is “where grassroots meets greatness: Compete with hundreds of thousands of athletes in CrossFit’s largest all-inclusive event.” The Open is the first step in qualifying for the CrossFit Games, and has grown to a worldwide phenomenon in the CrossFit community. In what other sport can amateur, semi-pro, and professional athletes compete together? I’ll tell you – none. Before we go any further, here is a brief timeline for the history buffs: 

  • The CrossFit Games started in 2007 at The Ranch in Aromas, California. Back then, anyone could show up and compete for the title of Fittest on Earth. A small group of about 70 people gathered to compete.
  • The format changed in 2009 due to increasing popularity, and an ever growing number of athletes at the Games. CrossFit added qualifying events, called Regionals, where athletes could compete at a few select gyms and qualify to compete at the Games in Aromas.
  • In 2010, CrossFit added Sectional qualifiers prior to Regionals, due to ever increasing popularity. From Feb. 13 to March 28, athletes around the world competed and the best athletes then moved on to Regionals, the final qualifying step before the Games.
  • The 2011 CrossFit Games season began with the first-ever Open competition. The Open (so called because participation is open to anyone) was and is held over the course of 5 weeks and is meant to test our fitness and allow us to compete for a position among the fittest athletes in the world. The top finishers in the Open were invited to the Regional events.
  • In 2015, the number of Regional events was consolidated from 17 down to 8 “Super Regionals”, again, due to the ever increasing number of athletes participating.
  • In 2018, the Regional events were again modified due to increased competitiveness outside the US and Canada. There were 9 Regional events this year.
  • Big changes occurred in 2019. After the Regional events in 2018, CrossFit cancelled Regionals and stated that athletes would have to qualify through sanctioned events, now called Sanctionals, instead. Top overall finishers from the Open, National Champions from the Open, and Sanctional qualifiers would be invited to the CrossFit Games in 2019 and moving forward.
  • 2019 is also the only year with two Open qualifiers, as the Open season has changed from February/March to October. The October 2019 Open qualified athletes for the 2020 CrossFit Games.
  • And without a doubt, 2020 had the greatest changes of all with regards to the Open and the competitive CrossFit season. Coronavirus forced the postponement and eventual cancellation of most of the Sanctioned Events and the CrossFit Games themselves. Coupled with significant changes at CrossFit HQ, we were pretty lucky to have a CrossFit Games in 2020, as different as it may have looked.

Participation in the Open has steadily increased over the years, with about 26,000 people in 2011 to over 416,000 in 2018. There was a slight drop in participation in 2019 due to the drastic changes implemented by CrossFit, so only around 358,000 people signed up in 2019 for the first Open, and only 239,000 people signed up for the second Open – two opens in one year was probably a little too much for everyone.

This year, the Open is going to look significantly different. First off, the Open is only going to be three weeks instead of five, and it is being pushed back to its original spot in the calendar year, albeit a little later than normal. The idea is that a shorter Open and a couple week delay from when it would normally start will be better for the COVID situation – many gyms are still closed,  and the delay may be enough time for them to open back up. If not, it will at least give them more time to plan for the Open. Additionally a shorter Open is less hassle for gyms that have restricted class sizes and limited space, so it should be less of a headache for gym owners/managers. There are also additional divisions this year, including the Rx division, Scaled, Foundations, Equipment Free, and several new Adaptive Athlete Divisions.

For aspiring individual athletes and teams, the season begins with the Open and progresses to the Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Last-Chance Qualifier, and ultimately the 2021 CrossFit Games which will be held in Madison again this year. The top 10 percent of individual competitors and 25 percent of teams per continent advance to an online Quarterfinals and compete over the course of a weekend for a chance to advance to the third stage, Semifinals. 

Athletes who qualify for the Semifinals will be invited to one of 10 in-person events across six continents ensuring at least one athlete from each continent qualifies for the Games. Prior to the CrossFit Games, there will be a last-chance qualifier for athletes who narrowly miss the cut in the Semifinals. The Games will be held at the end of July.

How does the Open affect you? Well, for 99% of us, it does not affect us at all. It just means that on Fridays during the month of March (starting March 12th), we will be performing the Open events. We have been revisiting several of these Open events the past month or so, so you have a little taste of what is in store. We like to refer to these events as “tests” not as “workouts” as they are meant to test you. They may be a little more difficult, they may include higher level skills, they may get really heavy. These things are all planned out to test our fitness and ultimately find who is the fittest to move on to the next level. 

Again, for most of us, it doesn’t really change anything. As you’ll hear me say, “it’s just another workout”, so nothing to worry about. If you would like to sign up, you can do so here: https://games.crossfit.com/open. The cost is $20, and gives you access to the leaderboard which will tell you how you stand compared to everyone else that signs up around the world. There are also custom leaderboards where you can sort by age, country, state, etc. Is it necessary for you to sign up? No. You will be doing the events on Friday regardless of if you sign up or not. 

If you do decide to sign up for the Open, your score for each event will need to be judged and validated before you submit online. You may also do the workout without a judge, but you will need to video the workout and submit that as your proof. Judges need to take and pass the Judges Course Certification for that year (https://oc.crossfit.com/) in order to judge athletes. If you plan on submitting videos instead of having a judge present, I recommend you also take the course as it not only teaches you the movement standards, but it also gives you the requirements for the video submissions.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 which will detail how we organize our in-house Hakkapeliitta Open challenge, and Part 3 which will detail how our Friday Night Lights will be run.

Conscious Habits (Monthly Mindset, February 2021)

This last year or so has been interesting. A lot has been thrown at you with regards to lifestyles (quarantine, working from home, working out from home) and you will notice that a consistent message from us has been to look for the silver lining among all of the craziness and build healthy habits. This month, we are going to delve a little deeper into habits, more specifically the Conscious Competence Ladder, and how we can apply that to our fitness.

What is the Conscious Competence Ladder? This is a set of four steps outlining the natural progression of a skill. The steps are:

  • Unconsciously unskilled
  • Conscious of lack of skill
  • Consciously working on a skill
  • Unconsciously skilled

How they apply to us in Crossfit is as follows:

Unconsciously unskilled

For most of us, this was before Crossfit. We did not know that we were not skilled [fit], and probably were pretty happy with our current level of fitness. If we did do fitness, we did not do the movements correctly, or maybe even safely. Terms associated with this stage are oblivious and comfortable.

Conscious of lack of skill

And then, BAM! First day of Crossfit. First year of Crossfit, even. We were exposed to many things new and scary, and boy, did we suck! Movements were thrown at us left and right, and in many cases we were not able to perform the movements correctly, if at all. We were very aware in this stage that we were not skilled. Terms associated with this stage are awakening and awareness.

Consciously working on a skill

This is our current day to day for most of us. While it may not seem like it, everyone is in this stage for at least something in Crossfit at this exact moment. In this stage, we now know the correct movement, are performing the correct movement, but it takes a lot of mental power and focus to achieve the correct movement. Terms associated with this stage are awkward and failure.

Unconsciously skilled

The final stage is once you finally master something, and you do not need to think about it anymore to perform the correct movement. At this point, the movement is a habit and the process is so ingrained that it is basically a reflex. Terms associated with this stage are confidence and proficiency.

If you really think about it you will realize that there are millions of skills that we perform each and every day, and all of these skills fall within these four categories in some way. Your mindset this month is to practice the Conscious Competence Ladder in three different areas: the gym, your nutrition, your everyday life. Pick one thing in each of these three areas, assess your current skill level at that task/skill, and then consciously work to improve that habit!

Trapezius (Muscle of the Month, February 2021)

The trapezius, commonly referred to as “the traps,” is a large muscle on the back, extending from the neck down to about mid back. Its shape resembles a trapezoid, hence the name trapezius. You know the muscle that the bar sits on when you are doing back squats? Yeah, that’s the one we’re talking about here. It happens to be one of the widest back muscles, and is the most superficial (nearest to the skin) of the back, neck, and upper trunk muscles. 

The trapezius muscle is a postural and active movement muscle, and is used to tilt and turn the head and neck, shrug, steady the shoulders, and twist the arms. It has three functional parts: 1) an upper part which supports the weight of the arm. These fibers also elevate the scapula as in a shrugging motion. 2) a middle region which retracts the scapula, like during a scap push up. 3) a lower part which rotates the scapula inward and depresses the scapula, like during a scap pull up.

We use the traps for many of the exercises we perform in Crossfit, ranging from pressing overhead to pulling with the arms. Anyone crazy sore in their traps after a bunch of hang power cleans? If you have been, you know what I’m talking about. To target the traps, hit these movements, but also throw in any variation of pulls (clean or snatch), front raises with a plate, and some shrugs for good measure.

Committed Club (January 2021)

Beginning in January 2021, we began the first ever CrossFit Hakk Committed Club. Members that attended 15 or more classes during the month of January include:
Aaron Persenaire
Katie LaCosse
Justin LaCosse
Angela Price
Nicole Heinonen
Michelle Miller
Julie Jalkanen
Clint Johnson
Amanda Hoffman
Ed Freysinger
Morgan DuPont
Kim Dunnebacke
Gerald Huffman
Way to be consistent and put in the work guys!
We included each of these members in a random drawing, and Julie and Ed were the lucky winners. Enjoy your gift certificates to Biggby Coffee!

Monthly Mindset – October 2020

Fitness is a Vehicle

What do I mean by this? I don’t mean that it is literally a car that will drive on the road. I’m going for a more metaphorical meaning. You know, deep, meaningful, profound… Ok, now I’m just blowing smoke. Where we are going with this today is, once you start to truly work on yourself, where will you go?

Fitness, in general, is incredibly broad. In Crossfit we try to be as unspecialized as possible and dabble in pretty much everything and anything, but despite that, we should have some end goal, or underlying motivation. The possibilities are endless, and entirely up to you, so what do you really want to do with your fitness? 

  • Competition – Some of us would like to compete, whether it be in Crossfit or in other sports (bodybuilding, weightlifting, collegiate or highschool level sports, etc.)
  • Recreation – Some of us just want to be able to enjoy life and do fun things. Hiking, water sports, recreational level sports
  • Life – Some of us just want to get healthy to be able to play with our kids/grandkids. Stay healthy, avoid sickness, and live longer.

Fitness can and will get us there! Crossfit’s fourth model is the Sickness – Wellness – Fitness continuum. In a nutshell, this model states that every marker of health that you can imagine can be placed on a scale from Sickness, to Wellness, to Fitness. Take blood pressure for example: 160/95 is an example of very high blood pressure (Sickness), 120/80 is an example of normal blood pressure (Wellness), and 105/60 is an example of great blood pressure (Fitness). By lowering our blood pressure to fitness levels, we are not only getting healthier, we are providing ourselves with a buffer against sickness. Imagine someone who had a 105/60 blood pressure was injured and had to take 6 months off of training. Before coming back to training they had their blood pressure tested and were now at a 120/80. Yes, their blood pressure increased, but because it was low to start, they did not regress to sickness levels. This is the buffer that I referred to. And while this example is just one marker and entirely hypothetical, we can apply this continuum to our own personal lives with a variety of markers. We want to get as many markers as close to the fitness level as possible to increase our happiness and longevity. 

So where do you want to go with your fitness? Take some time this month to think about that and write down what you would like to accomplish. Once you know what you want to do, talk with the coaches to get their input and advice on how to structure your fitness to work towards your goals.

Muscle of the Month – October 2020

Gluteus Medius and Minimus

Last month we discussed the gluteus maximus, so this month we are going to cover the other two muscles that make up the gluteal group – the gluteus medius and minimus. For the most part these muscles are covered by the gluteus maximus except for the uppermost and forwardmost portion of the gluteus medius. This is the part that you will hear me refer to as the “side butt™.” The medius and minimus are smaller than the maximus (go figure), and the medius is larger than the minumus (another brain buster).

                 

These two muscles share almost the exact same functions, which consist of stabilizing the pelvis during walking or running and abducting the thigh (lifting leg away from the body). Both muscles also medially rotate thigh at the hip (turn toes inward), however only the anterior fibers of the medius muscle produce this motion, therefore, the minimus tends to be the primary muscle for this motion. The gluteus medius is the only one of the two that is able to laterally rotate the thigh at the hip (turn your feet and knee out), and does so with its posterior fibers.

The medius and minimus are important in walking, running and single leg weight-bearing as they prevents the opposite side of the pelvis from dropping during during these activities. When a limb is taken off the ground the pelvis on the opposite side will tend to drop through loss of support from below. These muscles work to maintain the side of the pelvis that drops therefore allowing the other limb to swing forward for the next step.

By just moving like a normal person we will work these muscles, much in the same way as the gluteus maximus. However, if you are looking to directly target these muscles to strengthen them or fix an imbalance, focus on banded walks, especially side to side motions, and abductions.

Monthly Mindset – August 2020

How do you measure Improvement?

This may seem a little silly, as you may think this is a pretty obvious question. You see improvement when your lifts and reps go up or your times go down. If you answered like this you would not be wrong, but you are also approaching the question in a very black and white fashion. What happens when the question is no longer black and white, but is more of a charcoal, or pewter, or graphite, or smoke? I know I could have just said gray, but listing colors is more fun.

Let me explain a scenario to you. Roughly five months ago you did Fran at the gym. Let’s say that you logged an Rx time of 5:34. Last week you did Fran again to check your progress, and you logged an Rx score of 5:40. Did you improve? If we go by the classic definition of improvement stated above, then no. But we need to look deeper into the specifics of your situation to determine if that is actually the case. The main component that is often overlooked is how did you feel? And don’t just say terrible. I know that already, no one feels good after doing Fran.

If, on the first attempt, you felt like you were going to die and failed several pull ups and your thrusters were iffy on depth, but on your second attempt all of your reps were solid, and you were walking around pretty quickly after completing, then you likely improved. Your technique was better and you had no failed reps, so you likely are stronger now, more skilled, and have a better idea on how to pace yourself and save your muscles from fatigue.

Another marker is heart rate. If your first attempt had you at 180 bpm and about to have a cardiac event, and your second event was a much more manageable 140 bpm, then you are more fit as well. You did the same amount of work, in basically the same amount of time, but were more efficient from a cardiovascular perspective. This is improvement!

You should also consider body composition as well, especially since this a bodyweight workout. One thing people tend to overlook is how much you weigh with regards to completing benchmark workouts. A couple further scenarios:

  1. You gained 15 pounds of muscle between the two Fran workouts. The second time you completed the same amount of work at a heavier body weight (which makes bodyweight movements more difficult). That would be an improvement!
  2. You lost weight between the two Fran workouts. Now based on the first scenario you may think that this would result in a decrease in performance, and that may be the case. But in this case you need to look at the weighted movement. You will hear me say “mass moves mass,” and what this means is that larger people tend to lift heavier weights (just look at Olympic Weightlifting). If you lost weight, but were still able to do the thrusters at the Rx weight, you may in fact be fitter because it is harder to move that load at your lighter bodyweight. For a purely weightlifting workout (say DT), maintaining a similar time with a lighter body weight is an obvious improvement.

What all of this goes to show is that there really isn’t a clear definition of how we measure improvement at the gym. We have some pretty decent guidelines, but it really comes down to a case by case evaluation of the specifics of the two performances. Your mindset this month is to focus on these more obscure definitions of improvement. Try to notice and quantify the little improvements on your day to day workouts, because with time, they will add up to large improvements in your fitness.