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Adult Gymnastics

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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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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For vanity or mental resilience, its yes to handstands!

Even if you cannot get into your beloved gym at CrossFit London, you should always be building regular handstand practice into your life.

Whether it’s a free-standing handstand, a headstand, or a dish shape, you can be working towards inverted cool, effective moves!

We have drills and skills units in our facebook group and our trainers publish lots of handy technique videos like this one

To be utterly truthful, we don’t actually care if you get a free-standing handstand. If you do it’s because you have listend to our expert coaching and have put in loads of daily work. Not everyone can.

However, for us, the simple act of getting you comfortable with being upside down, or partially inverted can have remarkable physical and mental health benefits! It strengthens your core, makes you work on your shoulder mobility, and builds your wrists.

The training itself is the secret!

From a mental health point of you, if you are frightened by inversion, our progressive drills will help you manage that fear. This can really help with your general stress inoculation. If you’ve beaten this fear, maybe stressors at work won’t be as bad. If you can lead your body, by progressive drills and practice, to get upside down, maybe you can effectively lead your team at work to do a bit better!

It sounds weird but the pillars of mental resilience are

  • SELF-BELIEF – confidence in your own abilities and judgment
  • POSITIVE AFFECT – the ability to interact with life in a positive way
  • EMOTIONAL CONTROL – the ability to understand and express your emotions
  • MENTAL CONTROL – the ability to control thinking, attention, concentration, focus, self-awareness, reflexivity, problem-solving
  • SENSE OF PURPOSE – the motivation that drives you forward
  • COPING – adaptability, natural coping strategies you have learned through coping in a previously stressful situation
  • SOCIAL SUPPORT – the social network you have and the ways you use it

This mirrors exactly the process by which you nail the handstand and the way at which Crossfit Londons training makes you a more effective operator in the competitive London jobs market.  When learning a handstand, a wandering mind, emotional tantrums, no sense of purpose, negative thinking stop you from learning. By learning with progressive drills  you lever in social support and start developing coping skills.

Nothing builds coping skills like handstand practice.

 

If you want help releasing the better you,  get in contact!

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How often should you train to get the best results?

The amount of Crossfit training to produce fantastic results was recently studied by Cavedon et al., in the  recent report:

“Different amount of training affects body composition and performance in High-Intensity Functional Training participants”. Click here for the full report

 It concluded ” that, in CF participants, a higher amount of weekly training improves most notably lean body mass and increases performance in association with increased skeletal muscle mass. CF participation is especially effective in reducing fat mass vs. age- and BMI-matched physically active controls”

The real thought provoker was the amount of time you probably need to invest in becoming super Crossfit  gorgeous. Our coaches will tell you that people who come 2-3 times a week, do really well.  Crossfit, at Crossfit London tramples over anything you can do in a park pretending to be a soldier, and certainly puts jogging to shame.  To get fit, you need a skill set, you need to use weights, you need disgusting cardiovascular stimulus and you need our insane programming.

This report looked at less than 10 hours a week as “low training”and more than 10 “High training”. In other words if you want to be a GREAT Crossfitter, you need to spend about 18 hours a week:

EIGHTEEN HOURS A WEEK.

The participants were chosen from people doing 6-18 hours a week. The maths works like this.  If you followed the Crossfit pattern of 3 on 1 off ,  that means 5-6 wod classes a week PLUS supporting classes, such as olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, powerlifting and mobility.

Probably 3 hours a day!

I hate to break it to you, but the super performers are above you because they put the work in. The good thing is, if you come just once or twice a week, the results can be magical. It’s just that at 18 hours a week, it’s more magical.

Make sure you talk to the training team about building in those extra classes if you want more magic, but be delighted with your skill set and fitness if you only come once or twice a week.

Never before has the need to be fit been more obvious! Get fit, get healthy.

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The L-sit will calm you down!

Whilst everyone likes a rippling physique, there  are exercises that are simply good for you, sometimes, for reasons that are not immediately obvious.

The L sit can have an impact on your stress levels. It was recently established that there is a connection between your core, your brain, your adrenal glands and thus the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s only been tested on Monkeys, but it’s very interesting.

Classically it was thought that most of the body systems worked top down. You think it, and the brain sends out the memo.

Basically, the primary cortex portion of your brain (or M1 for short) contains a map of your entire body including regions like your legs, arms, face, and your core. 

To everybody’s surprise, boffins have discovered a large number of neurons in the M1 that controlled the adrenal medulla. Plus, most of these neurons were located in the axial muscle region of the M1. Stated plainly: “Well, lo and behold, core muscles have an impact on stress,” says Peter Strick, PhD, a professor and chair of the department of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. 

“One clear implication of this organization is that the sympathetic responses which occur during activities such as exercise, the performance of demanding cognitive tasks, and the experience of emotions are generated by neural activity from the same cortical areas that are responsible for these behaviors.” (The mind–body problem: Circuits that link the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla)

This isn’t that much of a surprise although as the mind body connection has been fairly known, or boringly worked to death, depending on your perspective. What we are beginning to see is the pathways for a body mind connection.

How you treat  your body has a direct impact on your emotions .

The psychologists, hippies and new age weirdos had always talked about this connection. I went to a charity fire walk in Liverpool Street, London several years ago, and we were made to power pose (stand there, legs astride, “being powerful”) to prepare us for the  rigours of the fire walk to come. Without such preparations, we would clearly have died.

Whilst power posing per se isn’t at all guaranteed (other studies found it to be utter tosh), its enough to understand  that:

  “specific multisynaptic circuits exist to link movement, cognition, and affect to the function of the adrenal medulla. This circuitry may mediate the effects of internal states like chronic stress and depression on organ function and, thus, provide a concrete neural substrate for some psychosomatic illness”.

All of which is a long winded rambling way of saying, do the L sit! ‘Cause your core sort of chats to your stress bits. Like”.

It’s OK.  I hang around with some really trashy people and have picked up some filthy phrasing habits.

To own the L sit, here are the stages! It’s vaguely abusive in places 

Stage 1. Notice the burger you are scoffing

Stage 2 put the burger down

The abusive thought behind stage 1 & 2 really is unnecessary. You can get good strong abs and still eat crap, you probably won’t be able to see them though. Although eating crap per se is bad for you.

Stage 3 grab the edge of the health and safety checked chair and push your ass off the seat, Notice how your bum is behind your hands. Find a balance. Practice for a few weeks (less if its easy)

Stage 4  Build on stage 3 , then stick one of your legs in front of you.Yikes. It’s hard for some, not so for others. You are lucky or you are not. Practice this and stage 5 together. One leg, then the other. Feel free to cry. Everyone likes people who can express emotional  weakness

Stage 5, is the other leg!

Stage 6. Hurrah, both legs out “purleez”

Stage 1-6  can be almost instant or its 6 weeks worth of work.

Then you can do it on the floor with paralletts

Then you start your disgusting journey to 2 minutes!

You’ll love the abs you get, the core control, and of course you’ll be calm and stress free!

Bug your Crossfit london  trainer and they will get you L sitting, like you were born to it. It will soon become easy ( this is a lie: it will always suck. If you have Abs of steel, we will  just put weight on your feet to me it awful again)

Thanks to  the PDF  The L Sit on Andrewstemler.com

The sketches are from is.tatsuo@gmail.com

Gymnastic Skills Clinic for Crossfitters

There are several tricky gymnastic based moves in Crossfit that you  need to get:

Muscle ups
Handstand push ups
Kipping and Toes to bar

There is a fantastic opportunity, this Saturday,  at Crossfit London in Bethnal Green E2, to have some expert tuition from some of Crossfit London’s top coaches. They will either help you nail these skills, or help you lay the foundations for those drills and practices that will mean you’ll be “kipping and Stuff” in the near future.

Calisthenics and the 90/90 balloon drill

Inevitably the issue of breathing had to come up in our experimental Calisthenics class. Breathing can influence so may aspects of performance, that it’s worth becoming familiar with some of the more  popular breathing drills and concepts.

Increasingly you will see on cutting edged fitness blogs, the 90/90 breathing drill. As a cutting edge fitness class we looked at this skill last night.

The original 90/90 hip lift breathing drill was, to my knowledge, properly discussed by Boyle et al, ( 2010).

90/90 breathing was designed, so they say,  to optimise breathing and enhance posture and core stability. The idea being this would improve improve function and/or decrease pain (Boyle et al., 2010).

Here is a handy dandy “How to do it” guide

 

  1. Lie on your back,  feet flat on the wall, knees and hips bent at a 90- degree angle.
  2. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees.
  3. Place your right arm above your head and a balloon in your left hand.
  4. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, performing a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels. You should feel your hamstrings “engage”
  5. Breath in through your nose and slowly blow out into the balloon.
  6. Pause three seconds with your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  7. Without pinching the neck of the balloon and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take another breath in through your nose (the first few times you do this is slightly tricky).
  8. Slowly blow out  into the balloon again.
  9. Do not strain your neck or cheeks .
  10. The original instructions say “After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth.Let the air out of the balloon”. Frankly, i just open my mouth and let it fly around the room ( I have a pile of balloons to hand so I don’t have to move to get another one. My girlfriend says this is  annoying.
  11. Relax and repeat the sequence 4 more times.

You can checkout more materials at the Postural Rehabilitation Organisation

The 90/90 rests on a concept  called the zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm, which is the part of the muscle shaped like a dome.  In simple terms “MORE DOME GOOD”

If the ZOA is decreased the ability of the diaphragm to inhale sufficient air in a correct way is diminished.  This affects the diaphragms ability to build up  intra abdominal pressure.  If the ZOA is decreased The transversus abdominis activation also decreases with a smaller ZOA (Boyle et al, 2010), which again affects lumbar stabilisation ability .

The set up of 90/90 , allegedly aligns the pelvic floor and diaphragm in parallel. This combats any upper and lower cross syndromes, and lumbar extension. This results in  the core muscles being fired which increases the ZOA and adds to core stability. As an exercise in the obvious,  dysfunctional breathing and physical activity  takes up the main breathing muscles and throws the load on to smaller muscles and makes life harder. However, according to Lukas  (2018) there is little evidence in terms of studies to support this, although it sounds like a reasonable assumption. However, the Lukas study does seem to caste doubt on 90/90 as core stabilisation method

“Taken together, the 90/90 breathing seems rather ineffective as a general core activation for a normal workout.” (Lukas , 2018 page 35). but checkout these drills by Buteyko and these other breathing drills

I think some attention to basic breathing drills is probably useful, but its more relevant if you obviously have a breathing disfunction.

Why not practice on the tube (not with the balloon, obviously).

 

References

Alverdes, Lukas  (2018) .Short-term effects of 90/90 breathing with ball and balloon on core stability. Halmstad University

Boyle, K. L., Olinick, J., & Lewis, C. (2010). The value of blowing up a balloon. North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT, 5(3), 179.

 

COME & CHECK US OUT

Gymnastic strength, calisthenics, asanas

No matter what name you decide to call it, there are movements and static holds that say an awful lot about you. People who can plank, perform a lever, pop out a muscle up, hold a crow and get into the plough – are special.

Mastery of the asanas commonly associated with modern day yoga,  if combined with the famous moves associated with gymnastic strength: the human flag, the lever, the muscle up and the planche, begins the process of building awesome human beings. At CFLDN’s Crossfit Londons Bethnal Greens facility we want all our  athletes to learn how to control and manipulate external weights through regimes such as power and Olympic lifting while at the same time learning to  control and manipulate their own body weight.

Competency in these moves and the bodyweight ones in particular appear at a unique human cross-section. It’s where strength meets agility, flexibility, balance, endurance and mental calmness embraced within the mastery of technique.

Our Gymnastic-based classes represent an amazing challenge. There are, after all, gifts of health and vitality to be harvested.  However, there is a private hell to pass through as each stage is learned: perhaps only made tolerable by working with other committed, lovely people.

 

There is another key that underpins the value of  an asana, gymnastic-based process. You only learn cool moves one step at a time. In a world that worships ease convenience and instant gratification, there is a value in learning how to play the long game.

It develops grit.

It just makes you a better person.

COME & CHECK US OUT

The free shoulder flexibility course

Are you worried about your shoulder flexibility? Well, you are in good company! Many people are in the same boat. Too much hunching over computers and way, way too much texting means your chest is tight, your back is weak and your shoulder “don’t look pretty”.

At Crossfit London, we have years of teaching the Olympic Lifts and Adult Gymnastics to normal members of  the public, so we have developed  (and , to be frank, stolen) all the tricks to help you get a better shoulder position.

Whilst we cannot reproduce, in a single blog post, all of our sneaky shoulder flexibility developing drills and skills ( you have to jump into our classes or get a fabulous personal training session) here are some great drills to begin with.

Its our gift to you

Enjoy

Shoulder warm up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jP02Bf7WBU&t=54s

Dislocations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=si9uzGEiCic&t=18s

Shoulder stretch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yLWpWSgAaE

Strength

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REjV2alcRcY

If you find your progress isn’t as great as you had hoped for, or you want help before you start, and on going support,  do book in for a PT, get  a session with one of our therapists or check out our mobility and flexibility classes

Crossfit London is based in Bethnal Green London E2. It was the first ever Crossfit facility in the UK, and remains the biggest Crossfit Gym in London, Its facilities are both gorgeous and stunning

Some foundational work for gymnastic strength

There are many secrets to achieving those sort after gymnastic skills that we all want. There is, obviously, lots of specific work and regular practice. That you’ll do in our regular classes, supported by our teachers. Crucially, however, the human flag, the lever, the planche, the muscle up  and the handstand all require a super conditioned core.

If you want to human flag at parties to impress your friends, or pop up into a handstand to impress, well, everyone, you need  a rock solid core.

The side planks, the hollow hold and the arch hold are essential daily practice. Build up to: getting the full move, then build to  90 seconds in each move, then aspire to achieve 3 sets of 90 seconds.

the foundation of gymnastic strength. A strong core

Our gymnastic strength classes will give you all the regular skills and drills you’ll ever need, but you need to support this with home practice.

Check out our Gymnastic Strength and Adult Tumbling classes  in Bethnal Green E2 click here