All Posts By

Andrew Stemler

800 gram Challenge

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Fibre for a healthy guy = happy and healthier you.

The power of the nutrients can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

Even though we know the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, 72% of the UK population don’t meet the NHS daily recommended portion of fruits and vegetables. Let’s change that!

We at CFLDN have decided to give fruit and vegetables a little nudge into the spotlight.

Lead by our Nutrition coach,  Juan @juanthecoach and inspired by the 800gmschallenge created by EC Synkowsky, we are going to start a 12 day nutrition challenge where there are no restrictions, no food is off limits, the only thing you need to do is add 800gms of fruit and vegetables to your daily intake.

This challenge is free to do and if you know someone that can benefit from this please tag us.

Kick off will be the 1st of February, don’t worry if you don’t have a scale you can still take part in this. Get in touch with Juan juan@crossfitlondonuk.com for any Q’s.

Grab that wonky potato or wobbly carrot and join us in promoting a plant revolution!

When it comes to nutrition and healthy eating or your relationship with food, Crossfit London has your back

Stress

How you manage stress is crucial.

If you ignore it and continue to eat rubbish, blot out your pain by booze, and continue to do “stupid stuff” (just for another hit of adrenaline), eventually it will drag you down.

Most chronic conditions have a stress connection. Stress rips relationships apart!

For now start thinking about what are the good things you can do to relieve stress, and what are the things that make your stress even worse.

Here is a handy infographic to nudge you along

If you want help managing your stress, see what we can do at Crossfit London to help you. Why not  get in contact

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Emotions and Food.

Every year some people attend a few food-based education sessions, sign up for a few exercise classes, turn over a new leaf, and voila a few months later they are at a healthy target weight. According to the obesity statistics, about 50% of the population are able to maintain a healthy weight, and a physique they are  (presumably) comfortable with, without ever seeing a trainer or a weight loss expert. Some people so it seems,  have a natural gift to maintain a balance between food and activity.

For others, this balance is an impossibility. Seemingly simple healthy eating rules are to some, a stress-inducing nightmare.  Sometimes emotions can be controlled for a short-term celebrity diet. For many, this denial results in unwanted weight gain!

To be utterly clear, about 50% of the population needs no emotional food or eating support what so ever.    If you simply need some hints on the mechanics, there is  lots of weight-loss advice out there, from weighing to calorie counting.  The mechanics that successful weight managers use are here. . If you want  support in working out your macros, it’s here at our nutrition service

These methods and hints work brilliantly as long as you haven’t made an emotional connection with food.

If you have an emotional connection, the science says that methods like calorie counting will send your stress levels through the roof.

The moment you see food as a reward, a comforter, a stress reliever or central to family life,  most unsupported attempts to control how what, or when you eat will magnify the stress you feel. In many cases, your current relationship with food is the only thing that keeps you together.

Thankfully in between the numerous: “It’s the food stupid” diets, there have been great strides taken to understand some people underlying emotion/food issues.

The conclusions are clear. Until you work out how to change your body image,  recognise and properly deal with your emotions, acclimatise to change and normalise your eating,  food will continue to dominate, rule, and ruin your life. To help we will now be running a monthly free 5-day “food and emotions challenge” Hopefully with a better, snappier, name (but no promises)!

Over the 5 days, you take part in some interesting behavior and mindset challenges and join in thought-provoking online discussions ( possibly by zoom, more likely to be in the Crossfit London Facebook group join here ) At the end of the challenge you’ll have some interesting ideas to either continue a self researched journey or chat to our team and see if you’d like some more support!

Here is how to get involved.

Step 1: Identify if you are an emotional eater

complete this  questionnaire and we will  tell you if your eating is emotionally driven

The Emotional Eating Questionnaire

If you know you have an emotional issue with food and find the questionnaire idea daunting/ or don’t like the one we are currently using, we can add you to the challenge without it! just drop us an email and say “add me to the  emotions/food challenge”)

(If you have problems with the questionnaire link email me and I’ll send it to you directly)

Once you’ve submitted the questionnaire we will tell you if you have issues that the challenge will help with.

Step 2: If we think the challenge will work for you, we will send you the background to the challenge and some basic tasks to help you prepare for it.

Step 3 whilst it’s not clear at the time of writing if we will use Zoom or  a Facebook group for our daily discussions, it’s as well to join the Facebook group asap here 

Step 4 each day of the challenge you’ll be sent some interesting tasks by email to make you think about things as varied as your body image, your emotions,  your social flexibility. We will discuss the results, issues, problems either on zoom or in the Facebook group later that day.

The first challenge will start on Monday 1st Feb ( We thought we’d leave some space between then and the nonsense of new years resolutions. This gives you time to jump into a 7 days celeb starvation diet, and remind yourself how awful and destructive they are before you start!).

 

 

Attributions

Mindset, mindfulness, and for that matter “Mcmindfulness” is all the rage. If you are teaching sport or cleaning and  jerking, or kipping your way through your pull-ups  and you don’t say “mindset” at least once you are very naughty.

However, before mindset, specifically Mindset as defined by Carol Dweck became the thing, we used to also talk about attributions!.

The following is  from Andrew Stemler’s blog post “Attributions

You are a self-fulfilling prophecy! Your early teachers, the trainers you have met, the sports you have tried and failed at  have pretty much taught you that you are weak, uncoordinated, and basically crap. So, when you look at the WODs we publish on the Crossfit London UK site, you must be thinking: “you have to be joking!  I can’t do that!”

How you account for failure and success and the feelings these evoke is the subject of attributions;  the perceived causes of events and behaviours. Theories about attributions focus on your perceptions and interpretations that affect your behavior.

The attributions we make about ourselves and others affect our behaviour.

If you cannot snatch (an Olympic lift) you would behave differently depending on why you think you cannot. Perhaps you don’t know how, or need more practice; in which case you may attend a Crossfit London UK skill seminar. However if you think it’s because you are weak and too uncoordinated to learn, you could simply give up and go back to a leg extension machine in your local fitness centre. The attributions you make about others also effects how you feel about them. If you watch a classmate attempt a snatch, how you perceive their attempt will be different if you think they lack the strength or that they are lazy!

Weiner et al (1974) has been credited with bringing attribution theory to prominence by developing an attributional theory of achievement behaviour. He specifically felt that the difference between high and low achievers is the difference in attributional patterns (or how you think about stuff)

According to Weiner, if you had to assess why you screwed up a workout, or came last in the Crossfit games, your explanations could fall into one of 4 categories: ability, effort, luck, task difficulty.

However these four categories are not the critical aspect, the locus of causality (where the “blame” lies) and stability are the two essential dimensions.

The locus of causality can either be internal or external, ie ability and effort are internal,  luck and task difficulty are external. Are these stable?  Your ability is stable, however your effort is unstable and can vary from workout to workout: luck, unstable.

Later Weiner added a third dimension; controllability. Some factors are internal, but not very controllable, ie aptitude and natural ability.

Often people make internal attributions for winning and external ones for failure. In team sports, external attributions normally seem to come from the losing side (lucky breaks, officials’ calls, weather). The tendency to attribute success internally and failure externally can be seen as setting up a self-serving bias. If you complete a workout faster than classmate, you would prefer to think that your extra effort won the day, not that your rival was ill that day.

Weiner suggests that the internal/external dimension can correlate to feelings of pride and shame, with the internal attributions provoking stronger feelings: you take a greater pride in a victory you earned!

The stability of these factors also has an effect: a stable attribution leads you to expect the same outcome: if you have failed in the snatch because you it’s too complicated for you, you can expect the same results in the future. The controllability of the factor affects our moral judgments: we praise those who give extra effort and dislike those who shirk.

However, the results of the studies are confusing. Some have identified winners as internally stable and controllable, others that winners make more stable and controllable, but not more internal, attributions.

Spink and Roberts (1980) showed winners made more internal attributions, more importantly they actually found two types of winners satisfied, and dissatisfied winners who felt the victory was too easy. Satisfied losers attributed losses to task difficulty, dissatisfied losers looked to their own low ability. Essentially, McAuley(1985)  found perceived success to be a better predictor of internal stable controllable atttributions than objective success.

Attributions and Emotions.

It is quite popular to link attributions and emotions. Weiner identified outcome-dependent emotions (associated with actual outcomes)  and attribution-dependent emotions (the reason for the outcomes)

Work by Biddle ( 1993) indicated performance satisfaction (or subjective appraisal)  is one of the best predictors of emotion, and that attributions play a role.

Dweck (1978)  (before her Mindset book fame ) deploys attributional theory in the field of learned helplessness.  We all come across those individuals ( do you think this of yourself)  who “know” they are slow, uncoordinated, and too un-athletic to take part in sports or get fit ( or Crossfit) Here we can help by making these people attribute their failings to unstable, controllable factors including a lack of practice, instruction, and techniques.

In reality, at Crossfit London, we find that many people who have been dismissed as weaklings, or overweight, uncoordinated failures can often make substantial improvements in performance and fitness. Our focus is to get you to work on those things you can control, and make stable; we do our best to get you to forget the vicious labels that incompetent sports teachers and trainers may have lazily given you. Our teaching is made progressive so that we can take beginners and make them skilled performers. Our approach will get the best out of your efforts and enhance your feelings of personal control.

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The hidden mindfulness regime!

Physical training at Crossfit London has always been a fantastic mechanism for delivering mind training and mindfulness,  although we don’t often brag about it.

We have discussed “flow” elsewhere, in this article, we look at Dweck’s Growth Mindset concept and the way in which it relates to Seigal’s  “Window of Tolerance” idea

At its most basic level, many people come to Crossfit London so unfit and unskilled that starting a Crossfit journey seems impossible; However, both our clients and our coaches share a growth mindset. A growth mindset ( as popularised by carol Dweck)  praises the work you do and acknowledges that every skill and challenge we set can be mastered (check out our fundamental programme).  Implicit in this theory is the idea is no such thing as a gifted athlete, merely one who has studied for longer and trained harder than you. Athletes who come to CrossFit with a  fixed mindset often believe their performance is simply the result of natural fitness and gifted ability can often be undermined by failing to believe work is the secret. BTW. Work is the secret.

To effectively use CrossFit London for your mind  training, you need  an understanding of the Window of Tolerance  as  discussed by Seigal

The “Window of Tolerance” (Ogden, et al. (2006); Siegel, 1999) is the optimal zone of arousal where you are able to manage and thrive in everyday life. Siegel & Bryson describe this as sailing within a river of well-being where we are able to respond to all that comes our way without getting thrown off course. We cannot control the wind, but we can manage our sails!

When we are outside of our window of tolerance, our nervous system responds by going into survival mode – fight, flight, or freezing. We can either feel overwhelmed and go into hyper-arousal or we can shut down and go into hypo-arousal. Our window of tolerance can be narrow or wide and is different for all people and at different times in our lives.

For many clients, a Crossfit workout is active meditation which helps them develop their window of tolerance. Each workout presents an effective method of being non judgementally in the present rather than being lost in thoughts about the past or worry about the future. Workouts that require the manipulation of heavy external objects, or the application of skill, requires you to “be there”.

Many of our workouts push clients outside their comfort zone: from aerobic into an anaerobic state. This means they directly experience body sensations, emotions, thoughts – whether they be pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Bring there is crucial. This starts the process of regulating emotions and riding the waves of intensity.

Technically tricky workouts in a high-intensity environment teaches us to learn to respond, rather than react to or avoid difficulties.  The manipulation of weight and the scaling of moves help us to relate to ourselves and others with kindness, warmth, and compassion. Using the wrong weight and scaling is an ego running out of control. Go too heavy and you end up with a fight or flight reaction,  Going too light, you run the risk of  dropping into a hypo-arousal state

Mindfulness is present moment awareness. It means paying attention to our thoughts, emotions, and feelings in the body as they are happening and adopting an attitude of curiosity and compassion.

You’ll enjoy your next workout!

Crossfit London.It’s all in your mind!

Crossfit, as it’s taught at Crossfit London, is a devastatingly effective physical fitness regime. Interestingly while it obviously builds muscle and skill, its biggest adaption is in your brain! Are you looking to reduce stress, meditate or up your mental game, This is the place for you!

CrossFit London’s unique combination of skill development,  against a  background of general modal domain gains (strength, aerobic capacity), developed and practiced with high-intensity creates the ideal environment to begin to develop your capacity to deal with stress.

One interesting aspect of our regime is the development of flow or as Csikszentmihalyi, says “The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” . Our workouts aim to create a balance of perceived challenges and skills.  This balance is crucial in developing flow . When people are allowed unprepared into a  crossfit class the challenge is often bigger than their skill level.  This creates anxiety and stress. These are probably the very reasons why someone goes to a CrossFit class.in the first place. However, if the class is under programmed or too easy when the beginner’s skill level exceeds the size of the challenge, it becomes dull and boring.

At Crossfit London, we support our beginners by steering them through our fundamental process, which gives our clients the basic survival skills they need.

This preparation also explains why our sessions are designed to develop flow. The literature identifies numerous elements in developing flow. To promote flow feedback needs to be almost instant. Our trainers provide in the moment feedback and you can measure your progress against established standards so you know what your goals and aims are. Whilst you may have a muddle of internal aims, during the workouts we give you the targets you need to chase while making sure they are amended to your specific skill level.

Whilst in a normal gym you meander between machines, or chill out to music is a dance class, CrossFit workouts require you to merge your actions and awareness. You are there, in the moment. When pushing a weight above your head 30 times, you need to be present in the task. You don’t really have time to think about yesterday or tomorrow’s work problems. You need to be there in the room, with your weight and your skill and the challenges. The internet is stuffed full of adverts claiming that their weird mind training can give you flow. If there is one truth in mind training it’s that as a stand-alone thing, it’s worthless. Mind training needs to be coupled with challenges!

We work to make you and the movement one. We aim to build your physical and mechanical dominance. We strive to make every movement feel like an extension of your body. We get you to practice, practice because our moves are worth it. You can grapevine till the cows come home, but it’s the power lifts, the Olympic lifts, and basic gymnastic moves that boost your genuine physical capacity. We get you to focus on the process. It’s just that in flow and work and relationships, process is queen! By constantly challenging you,  your workouts and skills begin to  shape the language and the thoughts you use. This influences the way you interact with others and your relationship with yourself. Every jogger who secretly knows they cannot do a pull-up or run any faster or handstand subconsciously accepts their weakness and it often carries into real life. Many of our clients succeed in the workplace because, by coming to us, they have already been to hell and back. There is nothing to fear in a zoom presentation!

By coaching effectively we genuinely give our clients, not only a physical gym but a mind training gym too! We know this, as Crossfit London was the first-ever Crossfit affiliate in the UK ( actually the 8th anywhere in the world ) and we know our stuff. Our staff are experts, with years worth of teaching and training practice, and we know our stuff. See you soon!

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How do you conceptualise multi-faceted physical qualities?

What is an easy way for people to conceptualise multi-faceted physical qualities? 🧐

It’s easy to picture how a “crystal” fits together. Multiple faces create a whole, and intuitively, this is a strong stable structure. It’s harder to digest something multi-faceted in a biological/physical setting (like tying together different hip/trunk focussed work). Models that offer ready-made and understood concepts can, maybe should, be used to help athletes understand how their training fits together and each aspect offers support to another.

This could easily be expanded into a layered model showing how stability feeds into deceleration/absorption of force and then acceleration and expression of force🚦💥

Then find a way to communicate athlete progress in a way they can easily understand.

Create a playing field where you don’t have to fight to win. Build understanding in a way that it’s harder to not get it than to get it. Let athletes win the understanding easily so you can work on the hard stuff together.

To develop your strength you need to be training at our powerlifting class. Alex, who runs the Instagram page Athlete testing is a genuine go-to strength coach!

Checkout our powerlifting classes here
.

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The muscle up: because its good to have a standard

Pretty well anyone, who isn’t quite ill, can jog a bit!

It’s actually, not that difficult with a bit of basic training to get almost anyone into a simplistic exercise class. I was forced to teach basic circuit classes in 1998 as part of my initial introduction into the world of fitness teaching, and its theory was to keep it really simple and really basic “as long as their heart is elevated it’s a great workout”.

It is quite correct that basic aerobic fitness is a useful thing and that it helps bring down some of the crippling costs of the NHS. However, to make fitness “walk off the street”accessible the powers that be decided to trash the moves. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t squat, or a push-up. If you could do a ‘half jack” and elevate your heart rate you were fit!

Trashing fitness standards leaves you weak and vulnerable in what is after all a very harsh world.

Jogging and spinning on a bike does not train you to pull your family from a burning house, or pick up your children and run with them to the hospital. An emphasis on specialism produces awesome endurance runners who cannot haul their luggage and superbly strong strongmen who would collapse after jogging a mile.  At Crossfit London we look for the middle road; unfortunately, it’s a hard road.

Many people embark on fitness regimes that consist of a muddled mix of sports-specific rehabilitation and bodybuilding drills. If you are injured – you need rehabilitation drills If you are developing your golf putt – you need sports-specific drills. If you like posing on a stage wearing fake tan and teeny weenie panties – body-building drills are for you.

Of course, all training should have an aesthetic output: your body should express what it can do. Is there any point in having a Cadillac chassis with a lawnmower engine? (Actually, some people think there is: and they are so very, very special)

We think it’s second-rate to embark on a core conditioning and training regime without a clear idea of what you are going to achieve. Immature goals such as ‘reducing my 10k time by four minutes’, or ‘upping my deadlift by 8%’, – while seemingly precise and accurate – are distractingly narrow for the fundamental ‘underpinning’ training that most people need (that said, we can easily get you those targets too).

We simply aim to generally prepare you for all types of challenges, by measuring and designing training against three standards.

Crossfit fitness standard 1

There are ten recognised general physical skills. They are:

■ Endurance (cardio/respiratory) ■ Stamina (the ability to effectively use energy) ■ Strength ■ Flexibility ■ Power ■ Speed ■ Coordination ■ Agility ■ Balance ■ Accuracy

You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills. A regime only develops fitness if it improves each of these skills.

Improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training improves performance through physical changes.

Improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice – which improves the nervous system.

Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.

Use this standard the next time you go for a spin class ( how strong, flexible, powerful and coordinated does sitting on your ass on a bike really make you?)

Crossfit fitness standard 2

We think your training should prepare you for real life. The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks (even unfamiliar ones) combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice, this encourages you to put aside any prior notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to ‘mix stuff up’.

In practice you turn up to training a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect.

It helps build will and bravery.

Crossfit fitness standard 3

Whoever invented the human body was a bit of a ‘worry puss’– they felt that one energy system just wasn’t safe enough. Rather like the householder who has a real fireplace, electric storage heaters, and gas central heating. Some would call that greedy, but a cautious person would call it prudent.

The human body has three energy systems. One for fast reactive movement (diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler), a slower, more extended, but still, a pretty snappy system (for running 350 metres, then diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler). Finally, there is the long term ‘trickle’ energy system (the one you use while shoe shopping, running 5k, miles away from any toddlers).

For people who have little experience of toddlers, these ‘metabolic engines’ are known

as: the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

■ The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities (100 metre sprint), those that last less than about ten seconds.

■ The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes (400-800 metre run).

■ The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes (5k run, walking, shopping).

Total fitness – the fitness that Crossfit promotes and develops – requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning (or ‘cardio’) that we do at Crossfit. Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others, and not recognising the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway, are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.

As an overriding principle, Crossfit views the needs of an Olympic athlete and that of our grandparents as differing by degree not kind. One is looking for functional dominance the other for functional competence. Competence and dominance manifest through identical physiological mechanisms.

At CrossFit London we scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.

In objective terms, this could mean trying and failing to master  skills like the muscle up

The muscle-up is simply a visible test. Do you really have strong arms and a  tight core? Do you have the will power to train for a move that’s genuinely hard? The advantage of a bicep curl* is that on day 1 you can do it, albeit empty-handed. All you have to do is add weight. Day 1 there’s no chance that most people can muscle up. But here is the thing. We are basically a school for adults. We teach you the functional physical literacy that you were deprived of. We have drills galore to help you learn, like this one, and expert trainers to support you.(* BTW, it’s ok, you get to do some bicep curls too!!)

We have some training drills on our facebook group if you fancy checking it out. If you want to come and train, drop us a line

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