Building Your CrossFit Closet

So you’ve been doing CrossFit for a month or so now. If you’re on social media, you have probably been solicited to purchase all sorts of gear. I’m here to tell you, don’t worry, you don’t have to buy it all. In fact, you don’t have to buy any of it! All you need for CrossFit is athletic clothing, a good pair of solid soled shoes, and yourself! There are hundreds of different things you can buy, but what makes the most sense, and in what order? I like to think about it in terms of benefit versus effort. Where benefit is how much this specific gear will help develop me as an athlete, and effort is how much it will cost me. Over time, as your budget allows, there is some gear that you can invest in that will help you progress towards your goals.

The first thing I would recommend would be buying a pair of solid soled shoes. For all practical purposes, you will wear shoes in all CrossFit workouts, you will definitely get your money’s worth out of CrossFit shoes. Running shoes are great, but for just that. Running. In the sport of CrossFit, you will run, but typically not to distances where a soft soled running shoe is necessary. 99% of the time a hard soled, flat shoe will benefit you in the WOD. The downside to wearing running shoes in a CrossFit workout is that they do not give you the stability that you need. Under load or in jumping movements, they tend to give out. Flat, solid soled shoes will give you the proper support while doing all weight lifting movements, as well providing you stability while performing such movements as box jumps and wall balls. I’m not going to try to sell you on a specific brand of shoes, but some of the most popular CrossFit brands are Reebok Nano, Nike Metcon, or NoBull.
Typical price range – $80-130

The next thing to add to your closet would be a good speed rope. In a typical weekly CrossFit program you’ll see double unders programmed at least once, if not, multiple times. Jumping rope will help you build coordination, speed, and endurance. While most gyms will have ropes for you to use, having a rope cut specifically for you, will make WOD life easier for you! There are a number of different manufacturers of ropes. Look for one that has a 5-6″ handle and ball bearing rotating ends.
Typical price range – $15-50

For additional support and position assistance under heavy load, a weight lifting belt and Olympic lifting shoes should be your next purchase. Let me start by saying that neither of these are necessary for CrossFit workouts. I have yet to encounter a workout that specified any movement be done using either of these pieces of equipment. A weight lifting belt helps you create greater internal pressure, which will help keep your spine in its neutral position under heavy load. Lifting shoes will help correct your squat position, especially if you have poor ankle and hip mobility. The combination of these two pieces of equipment can help put you into a safer, more powerful position during the back squat, front squat, clean, snatch, and dead lift. My advice for using both of these, is do not turn them into a crutch! Unless you’re doing strict Olympic lifting training, make it a point to lift light, moderate, and moderately heavy loads in your normal shoes and without a belt! A general rule of thumb I use for myself is, if the load is less than 80% of my 1 rep max, I’m going to do it without Oly shoes and belt. That is, unless it is a large volume of repetitions, or happens to be programmed in the middle of a MetCon.
Typical price range: Belt – $50-150, Oly Shoes – $90-200

Of course there are dozens of other gadgets that you can add to your CrossFit closet: Knee sleeves, knee wraps, gymnastics grips, gloves, AbMat, weighted vest, the list goes on… Depending on the workout, your goals, and your current physical condition, these can also greatly help you out. If you have questions about these, or other equipment, feel free to reach out!

-Cliff Rudzki 
CFL1 – USAW Sports Performance Coach


Scaling: The key to success

Scaling has been a hot topic over the last few months at the 5 Seasons. We’ve had a bunch of new people start in the past few weeks, so no better time to discuss than now! Honestly it’s a great topic to always keep in the forefront of every movement you do at the gym.

But first, before we get started, let’s define scaling. Scaling is performing the workout to anything other than what is perscribed on the white board. This can mean, but is not limited to: modifying the weight, modifying the rep scheme, or modifying the movement all together.

Do NOT feel bad, ashamed, or embarrassed that you scaled or are planning on scaling a movement. In fact our entire program (and the sport of CrossFit) is built for scaling. Everyone at the gym is at a different point in their health and fitness journey. Athletes that are performing the workouts as prescribed, or “Rx” did NOT start off Rx’ing workouts on their first day, and if they did, it was questionable or sloppy at best. “Rx’ing” workouts when you are not ready can lead to injury, and believe it or not, set you further behind than someone at the same skill level who decided to scale properly!

First off, you must conquer the fundamentals before thinking about performing the movement as prescribed. This means first mastering the form, or points of performance, of the movement. Conquering the movement does not happen during the WOD, but should be focused on during the skill portion of the program. 5SCF trainers are there to help you progress towards mastery of the movement. It does not happen overnight, one session, or potentially even years. Mastery of all of these movements take thousands of repetitions to build muscle memory.

Ok, so how do I scale properly? Figuring out how to scale each movement takes time, experience, and self awareness. If you’re new to CrossFit, it’s not uncommon for this phase to take a few months or more. Our advice would be to start small. Start with the PVC bar. Start with an empty barbell. NOONE will judge you! Always remember, it’s You versus You! By starting small, you will be able to perfect your form and technique, while minimizing your risk of injury! Once you have proved that you can perform the movement, add weight/further progression of the movement. Don’t get us wrong, you still need to challenge yourself! Don’t feel like you have to do this alone. 5SCF trainers will help you scale each movement and workout.

“Success is a low trajectory into a distant horizon”

Let us give you an example. The workout of the day is Fran. 21-15-9 Thrusters (95/65) & Pull-Ups. You’ve never done a thruster before and have attempted pull ups but couldn’t quite get your chin over the bar. Depending on the strengths displayed by the individual prior to the workout, the trainer may prescribe PVC or empty 25# barbell for the thruster, and jumping chin over bar pull ups. Just because you’re modifying the workout does not mean that you cannot have the same intensity as someone who is performing the workout as prescribed (Rx)! If scaled properly, you should finish in relatively the same time as the person who performed it as Rx.

Bottom line, you have to be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, what is your fitness level with the specific movement? What are your health and fitness goals?

We’ll leave you with a phrase that can be used not only in fitness, but in multiple facets of life. Crawl, walk, run. You must crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run! No one was born running and no one grew up wishing they were still crawling.

Cliff & Nikki Rudzki – CFL1

The Other 23

The Other 23You put in hard work. You hit that new personal record. You sweat through your shirt. You left some skin behind on the bar. You lay on the floor in exhaustion wondering how you just made it through all of that. What do you do with the next 23 hours before you come back and do it all again?! While the 1 hour you put in may be the most grueling 60 minutes of your entire day, what you do with the next 23 defines success or failure of your health and fitness goals. It separates the stagnated from those who continue to progress towards their goals.

If you do the right things during that other 23 hours, it will unleash your potential to hit that next milestone. In my time in athletics, fitness industry, and just life in general, I’ve seen and heard all too often “I just worked out, I can have (fill in the blank with some unhealthy indulgence)”. When in reality, in order to unlock that potential: I just worked out, I need to have something that will help me recover properly. It doesn’t matter if your goal is weight loss, gain muscle mass/strength, or both, these hours are crucial.

“Ok, yeah. I get it, I need to treat my body well. Not just when I’m working out, or immediately after, but for the entire day. So what will help me be successful?” Nutrition. Sleep. Active recovery. These 3 are the foundation upon which you will build your success. Without this foundation, the work you put in may be for none.

Nutrition: I’ll start by saying start small! The downfall of most modern “quick fix” diet approaches is that they incorporate some sort of all in, nutrient elimination, 6-8 week program. At the end of the program you’re left to face the harsh reality  of real world temptations and unfulfilled urges that you’ve been resisting for the past month or two. Days, then weeks go by and slowly old habits return… Simply start by slowly eliminating processed food from your diet. Every week, eliminate 1 thing that comes in a can, box, bag, or wrapper. Next start to prep 1 meal for every day of the week using what you learned in your first phase. Then prep 2 meals per day, then 3. This ramp up process can take weeks, if not months, depending what your current state of nutrition is. However, at the end, you’ll be left with sustainable results! This is obviously a super condensed version of my views on nutrition. For more details, google search “Dr. Barry Sears, The Zone”.

Sleep: According to a 2013 Gallup poll, the average American gets 6.8 hours of sleep per night. You’ve probably heard the saying “You build muscles while you sleep, not at the gym”. It’s true. We all know we should be getting more sleep. I’ve yet to run into a person at the gym that tells me they’re getting too much sleep. 8-10 hours should be your goal. Again, like nutrition, start small! If you’re currently getting 6 hours, shoot for 6 hours and 15 minutes. Really, you can cut out 15 minutes of mindless Facebook or Instagram surfing. Then add another 15, and so on. It’s doable, how bad do you want those results?

Active Recovery: 99% of CrossFitters do not live at the gym. They’re nurses, engineers, realtors, bankers & construction workers (etc). Depending what your profession is, can also play a factor into your success towards your goals. A construction worker may have a better chance at active recovery, then say a banker. However that doesn’t mean that the banker should just give up, or change professions. Do whatever you can to remain active during the day. Simply stand periodically during the day instead of sitting for 8 hours straight. Go for a walk/jog/climb stairs over lunch break.

You have your goals. You know why you’re putting in the work. It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s not fun, so why ruin it all with a sloppy 23 hours of recovery. Give yourself every fighting chance you can to make progress towards your goals!

“To get what we never had, we must do what we have never done”

-Cliff Rudzki – 5 Seasons CrossFit
CFL1 – USAW Sports Performance Coach

Where to start? The vicious cycle of starting your fitness

One of the most common responses I get to “You should give CrossFit a try” is: “I’m not in good enough shape to start”.

You aren’t fit enough, so you don’t start. You don’t start and get less fit… You still aren’t fit enough, so you don’t start…..

There are a multitude of hurdles that most have to overcome before walking through the door of a CrossFit gym, however your current level of physical fitness should not be one of them! Yes, I will agree, it IS intimidating. You see people posting all over social media, doing pull ups, walking on their hands, lifting weights that would normally require a fork lift to haul. They’re shirtless, wearing booty shorts, and more cut than Rambo. If you think those people ran through the door on their first day and deadlifted 500 pounds, you’re wrong. The majority of them started off exactly where you are. The beauty of the CrossFit is that our program is 100% scalable. At 5 Seasons, we have a very broad spectrum of athletic ability. We have athletes who compete in local and national competitions to athletes who are learning to jump rope. We have athletes in their teens and athletes in their 60’s! This is actually the demographic at most of the CrossFit gyms I’ve been to worldwide. What you see online, while true, is a very small percentage of the community.

If physical fitness is not an excuse, then what is it that is holding you back? For most people it is more of a mental challenge than physical. Most people cannot hold themselves accountable enough to achieve wild goals on their own. So don’t worry, your definitely not alone! The first step to starting a new and fitter you is walking through the door and trying your first class. Our coaches are trained and will assist you in scaling all of the movements you’ll test yourself with during any workout and will help you battle off mental demons. Breaking the mental barrier will propel you to new levels of health and fitness you never thought possible. You definitely will not regret it and I guarantee that you will be physically and mentally fitter the first time you walk out of that door. So break barriers, stop the cycle of excuses, and start your fitness, TODAY!

“Many great things can be done in a day, if you don’t always make that day tomorrow”

-Cliff Rudzki