The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Paris Vannata

Here’s a scenario that I see often – A new member comes into our gym, and falls in love with all things CrossFit. Maybe this is the first time they ever worked out regularly or have ever really enjoyed working out. They are seeing amazing results, making some friends and getting really getting involved in the community. Another scenario is a long-time member who is really starting to get good and believes that training more frequently will be better, but this is not the case.

Proper rest allows your body to adapt to the stimulus (training) being placed on it and to repair and rebuild the muscles. Too much intensity or too little recovery will stall progress and lead you to a plateau rather than improvement. As athletes, we are continually chasing after constant improvement, whether that means physical performance or appearance. We’ll do whatever it takes to get better, but tell an athlete to take a rest day to improve and you’ll sometimes get a blank stare. While CrossFit is infinitely scalable for every ability level, it is intense. At least as intense as you want it to be. However, intense training without proper rest can actually be detrimental to your progress. It may lead to some nagging injuries if you’re not listening to your body and can cause Central Nervous System (CNS) Fatigue. I think getting nagging injuries is fairly self-explanatory. If you continue to overuse and abuse your muscles and joints without allowing them time to properly rest and recover, you will increase the likelihood of injury – pretty straight forward. However, what about the Central Nervous System? What does your CNS do as it relates to training? To keep it simple, the CNS includes your brain and spinal cord which connects to your muscles through the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system controls your muscles. When you contract a muscle, a message travels down your brain and spinal cord where it eventually connects to the individual muscle motor units through a neuromuscular junction. The muscle receives your message telling it to contract and fire and tension is generated. When the central nervous system is fatigued, all major muscle groups will be negatively affected. With too much central nervous system fatigue, you will become over-reached and/or over-trained. Think of it like this, the central nervous system has a limited pool of energy and when used up, it has a ripple effect throughout the body. It has the same effect as throwing a rock into a pool – it effects all your body movements. Have you ever heard the sayings, “You don’t grow when you train, you grow when you rest”, or “If you under-train your progress will be slow, but if you over-train your progress will be zero”? Well, both are true.

CrossFit Bradenton now offers gym hours 7 days per week including open gym time on Sundays, but that doesn’t mean that you should train 7 days per week. I can’t stress enough how important rest and recovery is to long-term, productive training that will lead to results. There is a difference between rest and active recovery. Rest means taking the day off and allowing your body to physically and mentally restore itself. Gasp! Yup, you heard that right, you can just be inactive for a day. But what does “Active Recovery” mean? Active recovery to me means light aerobic work such as jogging, swimming, hiking, rowing, biking, etc. at about a 60-70% effort and not much more. It can also mean doing some mobility and body maintenance work. Either way, it definitely means taking some time away from CrossFit and the pressures of the WOD. Also, if you are coming in on a regular basis of 3 or more days per week, I would also highly recommend scheduling some sort of restorative body work at least once a month – you are worth it and your body will thank you. That may mean getting a massage or a chiropractic adjustment. I do both and it helps tremendously.

Whether you are an aspiring competitive CrossFit athlete or someone just looking to get fitter, remember more is not always better, but better is better. Listen to your body and learn to be ok with skipping a day in order to take care of yourself. You will get stronger and faster if you allow your muscles a chance to recover. While reducing rest days may help speed progress in the short-term, it’s unsustainable long-term. Be smart and go with the long-term plan.

Credit for some content to: Kelly Baggett of Mind and Muscle, Nuno Costa of CrossFit Invictus and Nicole Christensen of CrosFit Roots

Setting Goals – Why It’s Important

Starting a fitness regimen can be overwhelming and intimidating if you
begin without any direction or vision. One way to make the transition
from sedentary to active is to set goals to work towards. Not only
will you be motivated to get to the gym everyday, but you’ll find
yourself envisioning where you can be in he future. George T. Doran
first presented the idea of SMART goals in 1981 as a way to write
management goals and objectives. If you break down the acronym
however, you can certainly apply this idea to any area of your life.

When deciding on what you want to work towards, be sure that your goals are :

SPECIFIC : Decide exactly what it is you want to achieve; avoid being vague
MEASURABLE : Determine your starting point and your ending point to
ensure that your goal is obtainable
AGREED UPON : Work with a mentor (your trainer) to ensure that your
goals are applicable
REALISTIC : Is your goal something that you can actually achieve
within a given timeframe and with your available resources
TIME BASED : Set a due date. Without one, then you’ll be spinning your
wheels indefinitely and never see your goal come to fruition.

Starting out can be the tricky part. Think about your perfect day and
write about it. Use specific ideas and circumstances when thinking
about where you want to be in one, five, or 10 years. Use this vision
for the future to develops specific goals to help get you to that
perfect day. Once you have your goals written down, post them
somewhere so that you have to see them daily. Seeing them written down
regularly will remind you of why you started your fitness journey and
will hopefully encourage you to keeps striving towards success!

Above all, stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t allow
your vision to be distracted. Elbert Hubbard (renowned American
philanthropist) once said, “Many people fail in life, not for lack of
ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never
organised their energies around a goal.”

– Beth Vannata, Head Coach & Co-Owner

Members of CrossFit Bradenton may click the link below to schedule a goal setting session.

Member Goal Setting

Rubie Gaudette: From Doubtful to Addicted

12814241_1020360198051897_2142981201127238785_nI moved to Bradenton a year and three months ago. Before moving here, I had only tried Crossfit for a couple of weeks so I still had no idea what I was doing when I walked through the doors at Crossfit Bradenton.  I had enjoyed the place I originally started at and was nervous not only to start somewhere new but to start to commit to something that was still very foreign to me. I have always been involved in various forms of exercise but never something like this.  Crossfit Bradenton was suggested to me by a close friend and within just a couple weeks of being in Florida, I decided to try it out.  As soon as I walked through the door, I was greeted by Paris and felt unbelievably welcome.  I was so nervous because there was so much I didn’t know and everyone seemed levels above me.  After my first class, I knew Crossfit Bradenton was where I wanted to be.  What amazed me, and continues to amaze me, is how open, kind, and genuine not only Paris and Beth were, but all of the members.  I was always greeted at every class and members who didn’t know who I was always introduced themselves to me. I immediately felt as if I had a home away from home and even today, I am so grateful to have all of these members in my life.
Within a few weeks of being at Crossfit Bradenton, my grandfather had passed away.  Paris had only known me for a few short weeks, but as soon as I walked through the door, he knew something had happened. Paris’s compassion helped me through a very difficult time and it was so amazing to know that someone who still didn’t know me very well could care so much.  The camaraderie built around Crossfit cannot be found in any other setting.  We are all there together, struggling together, sweating together, and no one is done until the last person is done.  Even after the worst of days, I have never left a class not smiling.
Crossfit Bradenton creates an environment where people can come together of all levels and can work together to achieve their personal goals.  Paris and Beth, and all the members, help push me farther than I ever thought my body could go.  Crossfit is so addicting because you can see yourself improve week to week, workout to workout, and even after seeing the smallest of improvements, it gets you so motivated and looking forward to the next work out.  In this past year, I have done things I have never thought I would be able to do.  I am doing olympic lifts, double unders, and have even gotten my first pull-up.  My body has accomplished so much physically and without even realizing it, this has been the first year I have been so proud and comfortable in the skin I’m in. It hasn’t all been perfect; there has been blood, sweat, and tears (literally) but every burn, ache, and extra rep I work through, I feel myself becoming a better me.  I had always had my doubts in Crossfit but ever since trying it out, I am never going back!

Chris Gilpin: No More Boring Gym Routine

14054482_1135566679864581_5395242532835025654_o2 years before starting CrossFit; I was a member of a 24-hour gym and had a smart phone and a downloaded fitness app. I’d get up early in the morning to get my work out on before heading into the office. It was a nice gym, but like most regular gyms; everyone keeps to themselves, everyone has their own routines, and no mingling or talking to one another. I’d load up my fitness app at the time and it would tell me how many reps to do at what weight, etc. The app I was using at the time had only one routine and it was the same routine each week, but with slightly heavier weights each 2-3 weeks. Needless to say, the fitness app lasted a good 2-3 months. I did the same routine each day as scheduled; almost robotic in nature. Let’s be real here; who enjoys doing the same boring thing over and over and over again? In the last few months of this routine, my alarm would go off in the early mornings and I’d hit the snooze button and started to say to myself “I’ll go intomorrow morning and do today and tomorrow’s work out together.” My postponing of my work outs became days upon days, weeks upon weeks, months, and even a year. And of course nobody was waiting on me to go in and work out; just me, myself, and I.

In November of 2013; my neighbor at the time was looking into other fitness options to which she came across CrossFit Bradenton’s site offering a free trial and asked me if I was interested in going with her. We both went in and gave it a shot. We “survived” the trial and I, personally, was addicted already to CrossFit. What gets one addicted to CrossFit? EVERYTHING! Most importantly, the community that pushes one to be a better person than you were yesterday. I made CrossFit my New Year’s Resolution and promise to myself for the 2014 year and I’m nearing 3 full years of continuing this great journey to being a better “me.”

Anyone who knows me personally knows I’m a “numbers guy” both professionally and at the CrossFit box. I noticed visible improvements within the first 30-60 days going 3 times a week, but it wasn’t until about 6-9 months in after starting that I went from weighing 220 lbs. and 22% body fat down to 190 lbs. and 15.9% body fat. My physical strength and endurances have gone up regularly as more time passed. Again, because it wasn’t just me, myself, and I anymore; I had a community behind me to push me forward to my fitness goals.

Today, not only do I continue to improve on my own personal fitness goals (which at this time consists more towards competing – both locally and through the CrossFit Open), but I love giving back to the community by mentoring and pushing others around me to make and succeed in their own personal fitness goals.

Workout Then Pigout?

mallie-shirk-2By Guest Contributer, Mallie Shirk, Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist

Workout then pigout. It is a mindset and cycle that is easy to fall into and hard to break but if you want to achieve your goals we have to delete the workout then pig-out routine.  We are all guilty of it.  We work our butt off at the gym and when we get home we stuff our faces.  Research says that this is very common so do not feel like you are the only person with this mindset.  I hear it all the time at the box and from past clients that I have worked with.  In actuality dieters who workout the most do not lose as much weight as expected usually because of the workout then pig-out routine.  At times I have felt like I had to burn at least 800 calories on some of the WODs, but in reality it may be closer to only 300.  Overcompensating with exercise is very common, especially in women.  We tend to workout hard but have a difficult time losing the pounds and this is one of the reasons why.

It is important that we keep things real.  We have to make realistic goals.  In the real world none of us can eat perfectly every day but we can try to make good choices that prevent us from wanting to pig-out.  Understanding what we may not be doing to prevent the feeling of starvation after a workout is important along with some other tips I will give you.  But what do you do when you do pig out and cheat?  What do you do when you devour the bag of chips your friend brought to the party, attack the homemade biscuits your mother made, or scarf down the pizza at the pool party?  You feel guilty and feel as though you have failed but you have to stop there and tell yourself it is going to be okay. Do not let one bad meal or one day of poor eating turn into a week or month of bad choices.

Typically after I finish a WOD I am not hungry.  The thought of food usually disgusts me and I do not want to eat, however, the most important window for refueling is usually when you are least hungry after a workout.  Our body produces a hormone that dampens the appetite after working out so this is the main reason why you are not hungry but what happens a few hours after the workout?  You probably want to inhale everything in sight!  Most of us feel that we can wait till the next meal to eat but by the time you sit down you are starving.  What do we do when we are starving?  We overeat and we are more than likely to eat foods that are high fat and high on calories.

You busted your butt at Crossfit this evening so at dinner you order the french fries instead of the side salad.  Does this sound familiar?  We feel that we deserve a treat or a big meal after we workout.  According to research, people who think about exercise eat 52% more than those who did not and therefore we usually end up consuming more calories than we burned! Let me share with you how I was once guilty of this. When I was in college and lived in Illinois I joined the local running club.  I trained for half marathons and even ran the Chicago Marathon during this time and was burning tons of calories.  I was not weightlifting at the time but I was teaching yoga several times a week. I was part of a running club that had a habit of meeting after workouts to drink several beers at a local micro-brewery or we would meet up at our favorite breakfast place after an early Saturday run.  We had the mentality that we deserved those beers or that huge stack of pancakes so our weight loss efforts were stunted or even halted by this mentality.  Some of the runners would complain of weight gain even and the reality of it all was that these habits were allowing them to consume more than they were burning in exercise.

So to avoid undoing all of the hard work you put into the box always stick with your normal portions then wait 10 to 15 minutes and help yourself to more if you are still hungry.  I would also suggest eating more salads and vegetables instead of diving into more of something else.  We tend to not eat enough salad and vegetables anyway and the fiber that these foods contain can help with satiety.  If you still feel like you need more or you are truely are hungry, treat yourself with fresh watermelon or blueberries instead of that piece of chocolate.

That feeling of emptiness in your stomach does not always mean hunger.  Dehydration can make you feel hungry and tired as well.  When you feel tired your brain can make you crave food.  Dehydration starts before you are even thirsty so you can easily be fooled into thinking that it must be hunger.  Sip 16 to 24 ounces of water 1 to 2 hours before your workout and then have another 8 ounces 15 minutes before you head out.  During your workout take a few sips every 10 minutes or so.  If you weigh yourself before an intense workout you can weigh yourself again after then for every pound you may have lost sip 16 to 24 ounces of water to rehydrate.  Overall, the idea is to consume half your bodyweight in ounces daily.  This does include the water in food so take that into consideration.

If you are still struggling then it may be time for an audit. Track your exercise and your calories in on My Fitness Pal or use a Fit Bit.  The 800 calories you thought you were burning may actually only be 400.  That popcorn you devoured at the movie last Friday was a whopping 1,000 calories.  Logging and tracking really does open your eyes and help you realize what caloric amounts really are.

Make sure you are eating enough protein.  Not all at once in a protein shake but at every meal and snack.  I am suggesting 30% of your total calories, but some of you may need more.  2g per kilogram of body weight would be the max I would suggest.  There really is no need for more than that.  Protein does not cause you to bulk up like everyone believes but it actually helps you to slim down.

Try to remember these three things:

#1 Give your body premium fuel.  Fuel to give you energy to perform well at the box, but also to maintain energy throughout the day.  When you fuel your body well you also prevent injury.  Finding the right amount of calories can be tricky so that is where I can help with individual consultations.  Nutrition is highly individualized and just because you read in some magazine that you should consume x amount of calories and protein does not mean it will work for you.   Balance your meals among whole grains, produce, and lean protein, with a bit of healthy fat. Try to eat food instead of just shakes and bars.

#2  Eat your meals and snacks within 2 hours of exercising.  Try eating half of your breakfast prior to an early workout and then finish the second half after.  Eat within 30 minutes of finishing your workout as well.

#3  Meal Plan.  If you know what and when you are eating then you are less likely to pig-out.

Jordan Escher: No Longer Just The Fast Kid

Jordan Escher

Hope, dreams, and ambition… this is what made me into the kind of person I am today.

My CrossFit journey began 3 years ago and it has drastically improved my life. First and foremost, let me start off by saying that I have always had a concern for my health and being physically fit. However before joining my box, I had no idea just how narrow-minded I was on what that meant.

My whole life I have played sports; from competitively playing soccer and running track and field to playing pick up games of basketball, football, or ultimate Frisbee. Whatever it is, I enjoy the spirit of competition. Playing all these sports I became quick on my feet and had great cardio, but I never really had the chance to hit the gym so my strength wasn’t there. I tried joining a local gym multiple times, but when you have no idea what your doing and no one to properly show you, you lose interest quickly. I have always had a strong will and a desire to be the best that I could be, but I was starting to accept that I was just supposed to be some skinny, fast, weak kid.

After coming across the CrossFit games on TV, I instantly searched Google to see if there were any gyms near me. Sure enough there were multiple in the area, and after a few trials at a couple different locations, I found the perfect fit at CrossFit Bradenton and instantly jumped in. The community was so friendly, and the knowledge and tips from the coach’s were beyond extraordinary.

Since joining, I managed to put on 30 lbs. of muscle mass now weighing about 180~. I am no longer just the fast runner I used to be, but I can also move some weight now and am continuously growing as an athlete. I am often told that I have become an inspiration to those both in our gym and out of it, and to me that is the best accomplishment yet. My ultimate goal is to someday compete on the biggest stage in the CrossFit world… the CrossFit Games.

Steve Selph: Down 120 Pounds!

Steve Selph

CrossFit Bradenton has played an important role in helping me change my life. I found CrossFit Bradenton through searching online after consulting with a doctor about my obesity. He recommended gastric bypass surgery, which was a huge wake up call for me, especially at the ripe old age of 22! Initially I signed up for a spin class, but I quickly decided that wasn’t for me. I was *really* interested in the group workouts in the larger area of the box.

After finishing up Foundations and becoming a regular, I quickly found the WoDs to be highly challenging, but infinitely scalable! No matter how technical or advanced the movement was, even with my extreme physical limitations, the coach of the class helped me with scaling the movements I struggled with. The fact that each and every movement in CrossFit is scalable is what keeps me coming back! While I am steadily improving and getting stronger, the movements are always adjustable to my skill level, and I love this!

As of writing this, I’ve lost around 115lbs with the help of the CrossFit Bradenton crew! I have made such drastic changes over the past year at CrossFit Bradenton, words cannot express the impact our small community has made on my life. I have learned so much… How to Squat Snatch, Clean and Jerk… Even simpler things like when to eat, how to get my eating under control, and more. I’ve learned many things about myself as a person, about my mental and physical capabilities.

Overall, CrossFit Bradenton is much more than just a gym. It’s a community. It’s a place I can go and visit with friends, talk about the latest and greatest trending topics, and relieve stress. I’ve made numerous friendships, and I’m constantly working towards new goals. None of this would have been possible without the CrossFit Bradenton community.

Hannah Winner: A “Winner” In More Ways Than One


“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”

People used to look at me and see a young very thin girl, who appeared to be healthy and in shape, but this couldn’t have been anymore incorrect. I am 5’8” and before CrossFit I weighed just under 95 pounds. I was not physically or mentally healthy. My schedule was hectic between going to school five days a week and working between 6-7 days a week. My sleeping and eating schedule was irregular and I suffered from depression and severe anxiety. I was so focused on making a living, that I put my health on the back burner.

One evening after a shift at the restaurant I worked at, I glanced up at the television in front of me and it was playing the CrossFit Games. I remember watching in disbelief at the workouts these people were doing, wondering why anyone would want to put himself or herself through that sort of torture. Months down the road, several of my coworkers talked about the CrossFit gym they had started going to and one of them invited me to come and try it out.

I was instantly hooked on the high I felt after working out. It made me feel better than any medicine ever could. After my trial, I decided to jump in headfirst and get an unlimited membership. My first few months were extremely challenging as I had never lifted weights prior to joining, but the encouragement and unending support that I received from the trainers and fellow CrossFitters was absolutely unbelievable. I had never been so proud to be a part of a group of people in my life.

From the beginning of my journey, to now, there have been many ups and downs. There have been days I couldn’t will myself out of bed and days that I wanted to quit. But for every day I’ve struggled, there have been 20 days filled with triumph.

Because of CrossFit, I am a happier, healthier, more confident and better version of me. I am only going up from here. After just under 3 years, I have gained 40 pounds of lean body mass, I stopped taking medication to make me happy or calm me down and I have learned my self-worth. People can no longer tell me that I am tiny, weak, or that I need to go eat a burger. I also have the best friends (whom I consider more like family) I could ever ask for.

Lor Roma-Nusman: A New Lease on Life

Lor Roma-Nusman

Paris, I can’t say Thank You enough! I was always the type to go, go, go until my energy level and exhaustion got so bad that I knew something was wrong. I had tests done which showed I had a congenital defect of my Aorta and it was also barely open enough for the blood to go thru. I quickly had open-heart surgery for a Mechanical Aortic Valve Replacement. The recovery was the hardest part and still is. Why? What am I doing wrong I kept asking the Cardiologist. I was told it would take time because now my Aorta was functioning fine and everything else had to catch up so to speak. Because so much blood is now flowing thru (as it should) my Blood Pressure went sky high. So many med changes and bad days that included horrible headaches, dizziness, nausea, hair loss and on and on that I had almost given up on a normal life. I had this surgery to save my life and now my body is having a hard time “working effectively”. All I could say to myself is “this can’t possibly be happening after all this!”

I would listen to Kristi talk about the WOD’s and the CrossFit classes, coaches and members with such enthusiasm! It brightened my day! She encouraged me to push myself to do more because I was always active and maybe my body needed that again! She wanted me to join CrossFit to get fit and healthy again but I was scared to death to say the least! She kept telling me that it can all be scaled down to meet your physical abilities and I can remember thinking to myself…sure…but I doubt it! Well I woke up one day and said this is it I am going to try it because nothing else is working and life is too short to live like this!

I joined!!! Now I just had to hope I didn’t make a fool out of myself and embarrass Kristi! Not only did I not embarrass her she is so supportive and helpful along with everyone there!

This is truly the best thing I have ever done for myself! I can’t put into words how wonderful you, Beth and everyone of the trainers and CrossFitters have been to me! It’s truly an extension of family. Everyone really does care about each other and is so helpful and non-judgmental! CrossFit had changed my life in such a positive way that I can’t wait to get there. Even if the WOD is a hard one, I quickly learned to have no worries. Everything can be scaled down! I’m so happy to say that in the first week or so my blood pressure went from 200/100 to 148/80!! I’m elated! Nothing worked but this did!!!

I’m hoping some of the younger members can get their parents to join! Life is too short to sit back and say, “I can’t… I’m too tired… or I’m too sore! Just do it!

My granddaughter Kayla is in CrossFit for kids and loves it! My other granddaughter Brie has also gone! Kayla loves it and can’t wait to get there! She would always toss and turn at bedtime. No more. She sleeps like a baby now! I’m sorry this is so long but it’s real and the truth. I can’t shout from the hilltops yet (but I’ll get there!) so I’m hoping this helps give at least one person the courage to change their life for the better!

Simply put. Thank you for giving me my life back!

Coaches Corner: How Exercise Can Help Improve Energy Levels

14053677_1135567429864506_1227390864032259337_oDo you ever find yourself low on energy? If you’re like most people, it’s likely that you do. Balancing our careers and/or home life with our own extracurricular activities and then adding caring for our children and their extracurricular activities on top of that makes for a long, hectic and extremely busy day. Believe me, I can relate to a super busy schedule and more often than not I find myself going non-stop from morning to night with little to no breaks. However, I rarely have a lack of energy. Why is that? Is it my genetic make-up? Perhaps. Is it a lot of caffeine? No, except for the typical cup of joe in the morning. Well then what is it? I believe it’s because I exercise regularly and also eat sensibly.

I know what you’re thinking, “How can I possibly exercise with everything I have going on in my life right now”? While I realize that it’s not an easy task for many, if you understand some of the lesser known benefits from exercise, you may be more likely to make it a priority. Aside from the more well know benefits such as looking better naked (and clothed) and improved health and wellness, there are a lot of other, lesser-known benefits that can improve your quality of life. Improving energy levels is just one of them. Here’s how…

Yes, exercise does indeed improve energy levels. Make a little extra time in your day for exercise and you’ll be rewarded with improved energy levels. This time spent exercising may even offset the time you may have spent resting or napping. Scientists have concluded that one of the best ways to beat fatigue and boost energy is to exercise more, not less. Many studies have also shown that the more you move the more energy you will feel too.

Here’s why…

  • Physical exertion requires the need more oxygen. Because of this, our lung capacity increases which ultimately will allow you to deliver higher levels of oxygen to your brain and blood stream, helping you feel more alert.
  • Exercise allows your blood to circulate more efficiently, which moves more oxygen to your muscles creating an increase in energy production.
  • Physical activity also produces endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced at the base of your brain and when released, produce feelings of pain relief and well-being.
  • A study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics reported that inactive people who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20% and decrease fatigue by as much as 65% by simply participating in regular exercise. Other studies have shown that you can increase more energy and reduce more fatigue through exercise than by using stimulant medications.
  • The more you move around, the more mitochondria your body makes to meet your energy needs. The more mitochondria you have, the greater the boost to your metabolism, and the greater your ability to produce more energy.
  • Improving your aerobic capacity by just 15-25% would be like shaving ten to twenty years off your age. Imagine feeling ten years younger just because you started exercising!

So stay away from the stimulants and get moving for more energy. It really does work. I’m living proof.

Excerpts taken from: The Fatigue Solution: Increase Your Energy in Eight Easy Steps Eva Cwynar M.D. and Sharyn Kolberg