New Stuff coming soon

Over the last year I have experienced dramatic growth as I have continued my pursuit to become a successful actor and more grounded present and successful man in general.  I’ve learned and am learning a lot of lessons and hope to be able to share them with whoever wants to listen 🙂

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New random musings

When faced with a decision, take into account this question: what will result in a better story ten years from now???

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Wearing the same shirt or pants two days in a row is frowned upon.
Wearing the same socks or drawers is not acceptable

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Tbc

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Box Life Magazine article

So I actually wrote this article for Box Life Magazine.  Due to a communication error, it was credited to the owner of my gym, but nonetheless its by me, here is another article on mobility and competing:

 

ImageKEEP IT MOVING

Mobility During Competition

By Michael Alfaro

Spring is a wonderful time of year. Why it’s the start of the CrossFit Games Season! Nowadays whether it’s the Games or an in-house throwdown, everyone is strong, everyone is fast, and everyone is hungry. So what could you possibly do to give yourself an edge over the next guy or girl? Please say hello to my little friend, Mobility. You hear about it all the time. You probably even spend some time on it, but are you putting yourself in the best possible position, literally, to perform at your highest level? Look at the best CrossFitters and you could illustrate a textbook on weightlifting and basic gymnastics. That’s because they have impeccable positioning and technique.

To prepare your body for peak performance, you need to know and attack your mobility goats daily. These are areas where you struggle to maintain good form and positioning. The two most troublesome areas, as well as arguably the two most important points of movement in CrossFit are the hips and shoulders.

Mobility starts months before any competition when

no one is watching, but let’s say it’s Game Day. Before your first WOD, be sure that your hips and shoulders are in the right place and have full range of motion.

During a competition, it is important to maintain your body’s range of motion and keep from cooling off too much, because you’ll have to spend more time warming back up. Taking time to cool down after a workout with some light rowing is extremely helpful. If you developed any trouble spots, or if your next wod has any particularly spicy skills, like Pistols or Snatches, then it’s good to prep with some more specified mobility.

After your last WOD and the post workout shake
or beer, remember to work on some good old mobility, returning to the proven formula of focusing on any trouble spots then attack your primary points of movement: hips, shoulders, knees and elbows. A little extra fish oil and a hot bath with Epsom salts can do wonders as well. Plus, don’t forget that maybe the greatest source of recovery, if possible, is a good nights sleep. WOD long and prosper!

How much time should you spend prepping??

Recently the ‘World’s Fittest Couple’, Annie Thorisdottir and her boyfriend Frederick, said they “try to take
45 minutes to an
hour before a daylong competition begins to work on mobility.” This approach seems to be working pretty well for them, so it’s safe to say if you take the extra hour, you should be prepared for almost anything Dave Castro, or whoever is programming your competition, throws at you.

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THE COUCH STRETCH

Arguably the most important and commonly used mobility position and likely the most bastardized is the Couch Stretch. To improve positioning, you must first get into a good position. Oftentimes athletes rush into this position, resulting in their back knee being several inches away from the wall and then overextending their spine to get their shoulders against the wall. Take the time to get into a good position, drive your knee all the way into the wall and then work to get your opposite foot as far forward as possible. Can’t straighten up? Don’t worry; focus on squeezing your glutes and driving your hips forward while maintaining your midline. If you’re able to get the angle from your thigh to your abdomen open to or past 180 degrees, without overextending your spine.

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THE PIGEON STRETCH

While the Couch Stretch improves your hip drive and depth in your squat, the Pigeon Stretch helps your deadlift, clean and snatch positions. The Pigeon Stretch helps open up the back of your hip, allowing you to drive your legs back further and create more engagement from your hamstrings and glutes throughout the drive phase of this lifts.

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KETTLE BELL ARM BAR STRETCH

When it comes to your shoulders, it’s important to make sure they are set in good positions. The KB Arm Bar Stretch helps immensely in improving shoulder positioning and range of motion. If your shoulders are an issue, try starting with here and then branching out to other stretches and movements.

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44 BOXLIFE MAGAZINE i april/may 2013

facebook.com/boxlifemagazine 

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Legs

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So this article i wrote in December of 2011, also for the Brickell Reporter in Miami. Ironically a few months later there was a very similarly written article in again faster’s magazine, even ended a paragraph with boom, haha… https://www.againfaster.com/en/blog/2012/02/09/embrace-them-thighs/ … very Interesting, and a great article talking about how crossfit is empowering women, which is awesome, but still there are more than a few similarities. But, whatever, this article and my love for legs is still very appropriate though, so enjoy :).

Who Loves Them Some Legs? Me! And Why You Should Too

Well hello grasshoppers, we meet again. Hopefully, you’re now spending a little bit more time focusing on your mobility, and your diet, and hopefully it’s paying dividends for you. What would you think if I said I can tell you how to build more muscle, boost your metabolism, reinvigorate yourself, and more greatly attract the opposite sex — or same sex, if that’s your cup of tea, hey we’re progressive here — and you don’t need to spend any money? Well it’s true, and ironically enough all you have to do is focus a little bit more time working out that one area it seems gets neglected the most, despite being the site of your greatest amount of muscle mass. Yup, if the title didn’t give it away, I’m talking legs, your posterior chain. Let’s build some callipygians, Boom!

Now I’m going to get into the technical details but, I’ll start by addressing the fun stuff about building your legs. First of all, we are here in Miami, Skin City, where the body is a temple to be viewed and appreciated. Ladies, you’re born with the breasts you’re born with, but your legs? You can naturally build works of art of out those babies. Now I can’t speak for everybody, but I think am a fair representative for the men here when I say that nothing is quite as fine as some great legs, you just gotta love ‘em. I hate to see you leave but love to watch you walk away, that old adage is referring to some mighty fine legs. Don’t be afraid of the weights ladies, some squats and deadlifts can do your body a whole lot of good, which the elliptical simply just cant match.

Now guys, a lot of us spend a lot of time in the gym building up your arms, chest, shoulders and back, but when you get to that legs day, you somehow get busy and don’t make it to your workout. I got news for you Jack, ladies like legs just as much as men. You’d be surprised how many women simply watch football games to see a bunch of athletic men running around in tight pants, seriously. So fellas, you gotta give the ladies what they want. I mean, you don’t have to, but that will just open up the door for someone who will, I’m just saying.

Now we’ve got the aesthetics covered, so what else is so great about building your legs, and why is it so great? Glad you asked, because I’m about to drop some brutal knowledge upon you. A few weeks ago a client at my box, Reebok Crossfit Miami Beach (shameless plug, I know) came up to me and told me that we should advertise that crossfit improves your sex life because since starting crossfit, he and his wife have been going at it like juvenile dogs in heat. He said he didn’t know what but something about all the squats and thrusters he was doing just turned up the heat in his bedroom. After getting past the fact that this was more information than I really cared to know, I thought about things from a more scientific standpoint. With crossfit we are always incorporating legs into our workouts, be it squats, lunges, wall balls, deadlifts, squat cleans, squat snatches, burpees, thrusters, I could really continue with this list for an entire paragraph. Long story short, we hit your legs, almost if not every day.

In Lehman’s terms, when you lift weights, you are creating tiny tears in your muscles, which forces your body to rebuild them stronger. In order to rebuild these muscles your body produces more of the growth hormone testosterone. Your legs are the largest muscles in your body. Soooo, when you lift weights with your legs you are going to naturally start producing more testosterone than you would by focusing on any other muscle group. What of it, you ask? More testosterone, leads to a plethora of goodness. Increased testosterone levels in your body will lead increases in muscle growth all throughout your body, not just your legs. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so your metabolism will speed up, in turn burning even more fat. Testosterone also plays a role in, we’ll say mating. It leads to increases in libido, and for men, it also is connected to the release of pheromones. So more testosterone, greater sex drive; more pheromones, more women, or more attention from your woman. Play your cards right and, well, you should be able to connect the dots, slugger.

So now you know you should spend a little more time working your walkers, but what to do? One key is to remember to be balanced. If you crossfit, then you’re awesome and you already know what the deal is, you just keep doing what you do. If you’re pretty cool but not quite awesome, then make sure you dont solely focus on just pulling or pushing movements. What do I mean? Pair squats or lunges (movements where you are pushing against the ground), with deadlifts, cleans or snatches (movements where you are pulling or lifting weight up, off of the ground). You can do them on the same day or different days, just as long as you make sure to balance movements. In order to get accustomed to incorporating legs into every workout I would say start each workout with a lift incorporating legs. In addition to ensuring that you don’t skip over your most important muscle group, starting with your legs will jump start your system, b/c of the aformentioned increase in testosterone production. Also, focus more on the functional, compound yet irreducible lifts, squats, deadlifts, lunges, etc. Don’t waste your time with leg extensions, and curls, those machines look fun and all but really, what are you doing? You’re being lazy because those machines look safe and squats and deadlifts look scary, well they’re not, they are amazing, like double rainbows, and wrought with the aforementioned whole body benefits. If you need more proof, remember Rocky IV, Rocky was doing functional lifts like flipping wheelbarrows, while Drago was doing leg extensions, and who won in the end? Need I say more?

When you use machines, you are locked into a fixed range of motion, so all that you are improving is your ability to move in that fixed range of motion; and the machine is stabilizing the weight for you, so your body doesn’t work as hard. What sense does it make to go to workout but not work too hard? It makes no sense, so snap out of it fool! Let’s take a look at squats and leg extensions. You know what you’ll be great at by improving your squat? Going from seated to standing, and any movement which involves leg and/or hip extension, like jumping, running, and kicking to name a few. You know what you’ll become great at by working on your leg extension? Doing leg extensions, and that’s about it.

Want one exercise that gets everything? Squat cleans will hit virtually every muscle in your legs. Add a push press or push jerk to it and you have a total body lift. If you walk into a gym and complete 30 squat cleans at about 75% of your body weight you just completed one hell of a workout, and you will feel it in every muscle of your body. If you’re real nasty, Squat Snatches are the best lift for developing total body explosive strength. In case you were wondering, the saying is true, nothing feels quite like a great snatch.

Now let me post-face the previous paragraph by emphasizing that before you do any of these lifts, squats, lunges, deadlifts, cleans, or snatches, be sure that you know what the correct form is and that you are capable of consistently maintaining the proper mechanics. You have to walk before you can run. You may have to start with just your bodyweight or some light dumbbells. And that’s totally okay; as “The Mayor” said in “Do the Right Thing,” you just “gotta do the right thing,” and mon cher or mon frier, you will be well on your way.

Well kids, I hope you’ve found this informative and entertaining. Have a safe and happy holidays. Be active, mobilize, eat healthy and do something good for someone else. Peace

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Old article #1

So when i was living in Miami, i began writing articles for the Brickell Reporter, figure why not repost ones that are still useful today’s this one was from nov 2011

Mobile, Virile and Agile, Boom! Get Yourself in Shape to Tackle the Holiday Season

By Jared Prudoff-Smith

Being my first article, I am going to touch upon a few topics I am passionate about and will likely go into further detail in future articles; namely crossfit, mobility/flexibility and nutrition. To provide a little info about myself, I am a constantly learning Level 1 Crossfit Trainer at REebok Crossfit Miami Beach. I may have told you to do burpees before. I say constantly learning, because the one thing I know is that I could always know more and be better prepared to aid and assist my clients with reaching their fitness goals.

On the topic of constant learning, this past weekend, I attended an immensely informative Mobility Certification taught by Kelly Starret, founder of http://www.mobilitywod.com, a physical therapist who also happens to own Crossfit San Fransisco, one of the original crossfit gyms. What’s that? Physical Therapists crossfit?!? I know that almost seems oxymoronic but indeed, many physical therapists appreciate the health benefits garnered from crossfitting, in addition to physicians, osteopaths, chiropractors, flexibility specialists, basically you name the speciality within the Health field and you will find someone there who crossfits. Its actually no more or less dangerous than working out anywhere else. But if done right, can make you a much more powerful and durable version of your former self, thereby reducing your injury risk. Also one of the great things about crossfit is its open forum nature, which allows brilliant minds in any field, like Starret, to add their input to the equation, creating a constantly improving and evolving beast.

Back to flexibility and mobility. If there is any aspect of fitness that is consistently neglected, amongst crossfitters, weekend warriors, gym rats, kickballers, just about everyone, it is flexibility. And ironically, flexibility is arguably the greatest limiting factor towards achieving and surpassing fitness goals, and towards preventing injuries. Why is tit neglected? Simply because it’s not fun, or cool, or sexy. Would you rather hit a WOD (for us crossfitters) or go work on your bench (for you non-crossfitters) or spend 10 minutes in pain working on hip mobility. Well I can tell you where the smart money is betting. The analogy Starret makes is that it is like flossing. It’s not fun, but it can help you keep all of your teeth. In that same vein, maintaining good flexibility can help you stay active and upright longer, but not only that it will make you stronger, faster, more agile, powerful and explosive. And who doesn’t want to be more explosive? Boom!

If you sit in a chair at a desk at work, or spend prolonged amounts of time in a car, or if you consistently crossfit or workout, and you’re not making a point to at least ten minutes a day actively working on your flexibility and mobility, chances are that you are not operating at your full potential. It’s like riding a bike with flat tires, or driving with the emergency brake on. It’s amazingly inefficient and if you don’t stop sooner or later it will likely lead to a bigger problem. In us humans, that bigger problem would be an injury.

Are you ready for the good news though? Starret, a physical therapist, who gets paid, by helping people recover from injuries, stated that over 80% of the injuries he sees do not require a specialist to recover from, they simply require the right type of mobility work. In 2007 Americans spent $87 billion on neck and back pain, $87 Billion, thats more money than Dr. Evil asked for in Austin Powers, and more than the GDP of 123 countries in the world. Sore backs and necks take more money than 123 countries.

You might not believe me if I told you you could solve those issues with a lacrosse ball a resistance band and 10-15 minutes a day, but what if your physical therapist told you that? I know that I personally have spent thousands of dollars in chiropractic, massage, accupuncture, cranialsacral, etc appointments, and can assure you that I and my bank account are both glad to have discovered the benefits of mobility work. I encourage you to share the epiphany, cure your injuries, and make yourself more durable and badass. Check out Starret’s work at http://www.mobilitywod.com

Now lets say you’re working out, check, you’re doing your mobility work, boom! But you still seem to be plateauing, and you’re not sure what to do. Or you’re getting in great shape, but dang, not matter how much ab work you do, you just can’t get a six pack. As a crossfit trainer, I run into this all of the time, “coach I’m working out and getting in better and better shape, but I can’t get rid of my belly.”

Well young grasshopper, have you addressed the ever so pesky topic of nutrition? Aside from the aesthetic benefits which come from a healthy diet, nutrition is right up there with mobility as a limiting factor for performance, is nutrition. And also akin to mobility, nutrition not only affects immediate performance but has widespread long term consequences as well.

Ironically, if you study the food pyramid, or food plate, or whatever new gimmick the FDA has come up with, you will find your culprit as to why Americans are getting so fat. We eat entirely too many carbs. It’s sadly comical that the FDA claims they believe the food pyramid was overly complicated, and that was part of the reason for the dramatic increase in obesity following its implementation. Yup, it’s because we’re stupid and didn’t understand that we’re getting fat. No. The reason is because the pyramid was stupid, and millions of people followed it, got fat and became diabetic.

The plate is supposed to help address some of these issues but than replacing the pryamid with pictures of actual pieces of food, there was no real change. So instead of blindly following big brother’s instructions, I encourage you to be a free thinker and do some of your own research. Look at Paleo and Zone diets, and the studies that have been done on them. Once the pet fad of us crazy crossfitters, these diets are becoming increasingly accepted by not only the general public but also the scientific community. The reason? They make you healthier. For those of you who want to lose weight, these diets can help you make dramatic gains in weight loss. For those of you who are competitive athletes you will also find that studies show these diets improve performance as well. So you’re a hard gainer wanting to gain muscle? Healthier eating might actually be easier than just bingeing on anything.

Now the holidays are coming up and so often people start to panic because they are just certain they are going to eat too much and get fat. My response might be a little harsh, but that’s just plain stupid. Instead of making a new years resolution how about making a pre-holiday resolution, to exercise some self restraint. And furthermore, if you are enlightened and have started following the Zone or Paleo diets, then you should know about cheat days. My suggestion to allow you to enjoy the big family meals without the self deprecating guilt that follows, would be to schedule your cheat days around the family meals, and go to town. Have your one day of gluttony. But then when its time to take home left-overs, pass on the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and those fluffy biscuits, and instead go for the green beans, broccolli, ham and turkey. I know it sounds scary but you won’t die, I promise. In fact you’ll avoid the week long food coma that adjoins the constant reckless engorging, and feel fresh and ready to tackle the new year with a little extra zeal.

Be active, mobilize, eat healthy and do something good for someone else. Peace!

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Motivated

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Time to get back on the blog, mostly will be CrossFit focused with a smattering of acting stuff and random nonsense that I’m always good for 🙂

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where’d I go? Plus! my definitive Crossfit interview

Woah, so its been a while, only a little more than a year. After much nudging from friends, family, coworkers, colleagues, comrades, and komodos, I’m back on the blog. Quick cliffs notes on what I feel like divulging about my life. Still modeling, still acting, yes, but living in Miami and working full time as a trainer at Crossfit Miami Beach. This was actually the deciding factor when I chose to move down here. Let’s flashback to circa February 8th, 2011 give or take a day. I was in Miami for the modeling season, and having a conversation with a friend of mine about how I needed to get back to New York. He simply asked, “why are you in such a hurry? What’s up there you’re so emphatic to get back to?”

This very basic question stopped me in my tracks. I had no answer, I realized that the only thing I enjoyed about NY was my acting class, but you can’t go through life being a professional acting student. Well I guess you potentially could, but not when that class is just one day a week. So the stage was set, and I was going to stay the fuck outta dodge. But then, what would I do in Miami. I had done the whole, I model and live in Miami, enjoying a life about as active as flotsam; wasn’t going back to that. Wasn’t going back to depending on modeling period. If I book something great, but I lost the patience to jump through the hoops and play the part. For lack of a better phrase, I’m too old for that shit.

Now, I had been studying to get my personal trainers certification. Since the early summer of 2010, I had been crossfitting on my own, at the gym I belonged to in NY, often times much to the confusion of the other gym members. When I came to Miami for the season, much to my excitement Crossfit Miami Beach had opened up right next to Whole Foods on 9th and Alton. I immediately joined and loved it, even more than crossfitting on my own, its nice to be a part of a community.

As I was reading through this text book to get my CPT liscense I thought about all of those personal trainers at the gyms I’ve gone to in my life, pandering for clients to train and otherwise kinda just being there. Boom! the epiphany struck me, I crossfit, I should get certified to train crossfit, practice what I preach, it would only make sense that I espouse what I myself do.

Fast forward back to the present time, and I am gleefully training at Crossfit Miami Beach, and I still model and act when the opportunity knocks. Ironically, as I stepped away a little bit, opportunity seems to miss me, because it’s been knocking quite a bit, and I’ve enjoyed an active offseason of modeling and acting here in Miami.

You may be asking yourself, what is this mysterious Crossfit, he speaks so amorously about? As it turns out, I’ve been pretty active answering that very question. I was interviewed about crossfit after Miami Swim Week. I was extremely fortunate to be very busy and walked in more shows than any other male model, which was pretty shocking to me, and quite exciting. Exciting enough to be worthy of its own post in the near future. As you can imagine Swim Week shows don’t include a lot of clothes, “I’m a pretty big deal with no clothes on!” are the exact words I told my bookers at Wilhelmina. And so it seemed, and I garnered many questions about what I do to stay fit, which you now know is, I crossfit. Angela Giltrap, a fashion blogger for Runningwithheels.com interviewed me and below is a copy. I know I’m verbose and type small novels in my blogs, read what I written or go waste your time somewhere else. I’m not going to start writing less though. Take that sucka!!

Crossfit turns mortal humans into badass machines, like the honeybadger

1) What makes CrossFit different from other exercise programs?

What makes crossfit so different from any other exercise program, is our programming. With crossfit we combine, olympic lifting with gymnastics, plyometric, calisthenics, aerobics, and traditional cardio. We emphasize performing functional movements and combine exercises from all of these fitness modalities to create our workouts. Our workouts are almost always completed at high intensity. We usually will have a set amount of reps to complete as fast as we can, or we have set time in which we want to complete as many reps or sets as possible. By structuring our workouts this way, we end up building our strength and power while we are simultaneously improving our cardio-respiratory endurance. It really is the best of both worlds. Additionally you are working in a group setting with other members, often creating a symbiotic effect (people responding and feeding off of each other’s drive and pushing themselves further), and you are always under the supervision of certified trainers, making sure that your form is correct during these movements. Because we are going at high intensity, it is imperative that you have good form throughout the workout.

2) Can CrossFit be tailored to individual skill levels?
Crossfit can absolutely be tailored to individual skill levels. In my opinion that may be one of the greatest things about crossfit is that anyone from the professional athlete to your grandparents to a new mother, and everyone in between can participate in crossfit and see dramatic improvements in their fitness. Every move that we incorporate is scalable and therefor every client we see can do every workout because we do exactly what you asked, by tailoring the workout to the individual’s skill level. For example I may overhead squat 115 lbs 30 times, and a brand new member may just use an 8 oz pvc pipe, 30 times and we both will have an equally intense workout. This is great not only for meeting individual’s skill levels but also their goals. Where some members want to add size and muscle others might want to just burn fat lose weight and tone up. With scaling of workouts both of these goals are achievable!

3) What are some basic techniques/routines that a beginner could try?

We actually always have our new members complete three intoductory classes where we teach the air squat, front squat and overhead squat one day, the strict press, push press and push jerk the next and the deadlift, sumo deadlift high pull and med ball clean on the final day. Each day we will have members complete a scaled version of a typical crossfit workout. An example of one of these would be “Baby Cindy,” which is a 10 minute AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 5 pullups, 10 pushups and 15 air squats. As mentioned earlier we can scale these movements to each individual to ensure they complete an intense but achievable workout.
4) What are some exercises specifically targeted to the legs?

With crossfit we focus on total body fitness, and functional movements. Whats a more common movement than sitting down and standing up, or picking something up from the ground? These are the foundations for a squat and deadlift. We incorporate squats and deadlifts into a plethora of our workouts, using them individually or in conjunction with other movements, for example a squat clean and jerk which works almost every muscle in your body. In fact one of the most common experiences of neophytes to crossfit is that they notice an improvement in their legs.

5) What kind of diet complements the CrossFit program?

We crossfitters generally prescribe our members to follow a zone based or paleo diet, not in an attempt to specifically lose weight per se but to simply be fitter healthier people. Each individual will usually make their own tweaks and adjustments to these to cater to their individual needs but these are great diets to look at in order to bolster ones nutrition and training. The concept of “I just work off whatever I eat so I eat anything” is really a misconception because although you may not see aesthetic effects, internally if you do not eat healthy down the road you will pay the price.

6) Talk a bit about the CrossFit Games.

The Crossfit Games are a culmination of months of sectional, regional and worldwide competitions. They are truly a test of strength power, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, coordination, agility, flexibilty, balance, and accuracy, resulting in the crowning of the World’s Fittest Man, Woman and Team.

The competitors in the games were the top finishers of the month-long sectional competition — which was completed online this year, allowing for anyone who wanted to compete to do so, even brand new crossfitters. This resulted in more competitors than ever, and was then followed by 3 day regional competitions, which took place all over the globe.

The workouts in the Games were mindbogglingly challenging and the athletes are truly the cream of the crop. We crossfitters pride ourselves for being in great shape. The games competitors make regular crossfitters look like mere mortals. You will never see a fitter collection of individuals, save for maybe the olympics.

Well I hope this gave you a brief taste of what crossfit is, and hopefully will encourage you to give it a shot. Stay healthy and stay happy!

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