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Let’s all make 2019 the perfect formula of technique, progressing smartly, being challenged and having fun! And of course, crush those goals!

To start, let’s chat the basics

Be present and in the moment.

Yes, that does mean ditching your phones when you walk into DogTown. For many of us, the 1 hour we spend at DogTown is the only true hour we have for ourselves. Make the most out of it.

Being present also means listening (I mean, REALLY listening) to our coaches. The more we can tune in to those queues they give us, the better our technique gets. And the better our technique gets, the faster and stronger we get. Coaches intentionally repeat themselves when it comes to explaining and breaking down movements because that is what creates that body awareness and performing movements almost on autopilot.

Everyone needs coaching.

Even those who have been at this CrossFit thing for years, it is never mastered and there is ALWAYS room to improve. Having proper coaching is what keeps us safe and continuously getting better. Noone is above needing coaching.Look at professional athletes. They have teams of professionals coaching them.

Stay Positive.

Firstly, no one likes a complainer. Show up to class ready to work and be positive. It is infectious, so be the person that everyone is inspired to work out next to.

Being positive is what can make or break us and get us to our goals. It is so easy and common to become our own worst roadblock so think positively and be kind to yourself.

It also means celebrating every little thing. Maybe you are still struggling to get full depth in that Overhead Squat, but recognize that you are getting lower than you did yesterday. Celebrate those PR’s, even if they are “just” a pound more. Every little bit gets you closer to where you want to go.

Be Consistent.

If you do not want each time you come to CrossFit to feel like your first time at CrossFit, show up consistently. That soreness you experience gets better when your body adapts to the intensity and volume.

Also, think about consistency in terms of how you pace yourself during those wod’s. Strive to have a consistent pace and if anything, instead of starting off like a bat out of hell, pace and at the end, go crazy.

And about them 2019 goals.

For some goals, we will organically hit them simply by showing up and giving the regularly scheduled programming 100%.

For other goals though, we will need to put in extra time and effort. Which means, goals have to be more specific than “get 1 strict pull-up” or “hit a 300 pound back squat”.  HOW do you plan to accomplish that? Are you going to ask one of the coaches (or youtube) for extra accessory work? Are you going to come in during Open Gym to work on strength?

Really put thought to the plan to hit a goal because merely wishing it and putting it out into the universe may not result it in magically happening.

Also, just because you hit a goal once, does NOT mean you are golden for life. You must continuously work at it. (Just look at myself and Bar Muscle Ups. I have 4 under my belt but my success rate is like 1%).

 

Alright, 2019, let’s do this!

On Behalf of the DogTown Staff,

Missy



Erica Mendel reached out to us about possible work early this past summer, before she relocated to Los Angeles with her boyfriend. We get hundreds of requests for potential coaching positions at DogTown, which 99 percent of them are dead ends. From time to time, we find real gems like Erica. Upon meeting her, I immediately liked her perspective on life, her approach to coaching people and her belief in the basics when it comes to Strength and Conditioning. Please welcome Erica to the DT family if you haven't already!
Thanks,
Coach Dusty

Q: From Maryland to California, what brought you to Los Angeles?
A: My boyfriend and I both started school at UCLA this past fall. He is getting his PhD in Sustainability and I am doing an Acting program. I want to be an actor (I am an actor – gotta get used to saying that), so moving here was going to happen eventually. UCLA just sped it up a bit.

Q: What has it been like adjusting to West Coast life?
A: Honestly it’s been great! I was ready for a change, and getting the opportunity to start our own life here has been really nice.
Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit and what were you doing before?
A: I have been doing CrossFit for 5 years. I was a swimmer from the age of 7-18. I got pretty sick my last year of high school and had to quit. To be honest, I was also pretty burnt out. I dabbled in climbing and yoga and Muay Thai before I finally went to a CrossFit gym and got totally hooked.

Q: What are your CrossFit and fitness goals as an athlete?
A: I actually don’t have any goals as an athlete. I have a really obsessive personality, and I have found that if I set goals in CrossFit, I stop enjoying my training and just obsess over why I am not achieving things as fast as I want to.
I am not a competitive CrossFit athlete and I never will be. So I just focus on doing what I like to do, and letting whatever happens happen. It took me a really long time to learn to enjoy the ride and not focus on the end result. If I am looking for longevity in this sport and in my general fitness, then I need to just focus on keeping myself healthy and happy. That said, if setting goals keeps you coming to the gym, by all means keep setting those goals and crushing them. I think it’s important for each person to find what works for them and stick to it.



Q: As a coach, what advice do you give both veterans and rookies of CrossFit?
A: For veterans: Pay attention to your movement. After years of lifting it is easy to think that you know it all and don’t have to focus on what the coaches are saying or what your body is doing. Everyone can improve, forever, especially when it comes to movement. Our bodies change over time, so what you did 5 years ago won’t necessarily work for you anymore. Take joy in continuing to learn. Don’t take it as an attack on what you think that you already know.

For rookies: Take it slow. We all start somewhere. If you kill yourself trying to beat the people who have been doing this for 5 years, you’re going to end up hurt and with bad movement patterns. Just focus on you and your journey! Nobody else can affect the work that you put in and the results that you get out of it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing things (i.e. kipping pull-ups: Do NOT do them until you have strict pull-ups). That is how people get hurt. Trust the process and be patient (and diligent).



Q: Mobility is one of those areas that often is neglected. Thank you for always adding even a few extra minutes of mobility to the classes you coach! What are the benefits (aka selling points) of mobility you would like for DogTown to cash in on?
A: I LOVE MOBILITY! I like to think about it this way. If you have mobility restrictions, you are not able to do anything at your full capacity. If your shoulders are super tight, then your overhead squat is only going to be 30% of what it could be if you were more mobile. Mobility (and stability in those end ranges) opens up a whole new level of gains that you will never be able to reach if you never work on it.
If you watch Olympic Lifting competitions they often have a stream of the training hall. All of the best lifters in the world also have INCREDIBLE mobility. You can be big and strong, but if the guy/girl next to you is big and strong AND mobile, he/she will out-lift you every time.

Q: As the new coach for Saturday classes, you get to take liberties with the programming. What is the method behind your madness?
A: HA! This is a great question. I love those Saturday classes. I like to try to introduce odd objects and movements that you wouldn’t see in a normal class during the week. Mostly, I try to think of workouts that I think would be fun and that force people to work together (hence the partner workouts!). The mobility is there for all the reasons mentioned above, and the question of the day is there to force us all to get to know each other. I love the conversation that those questions spark and the laughs that usually ensue!

Q: What do you find to be unique about the DogTown community?
A: DogTown has a really welcoming community. Oftentimes gyms can be very exclusive, even though they advertise inclusivity. From the start of my time here, the people at DogTown have been incredibly kind and supportive of me and from what I can see, of each other. It’s really nice to watch people really care about one another!



Q: What are two things about you that our DogTown family may not know?
A: First…. I used to have (slash still struggle with) an eating disorder. It is often touted that CrossFit can cure body image issues; at least, that is largely what I have seen. CrossFit is wonderful for many people, but it is not guaranteed to cure anything.
My body image ideals just shifted from being skinny, to being lean and “ripped” when I started CrossFit. Neither of those things are healthy for me (or anyone) to obsess over. If you struggle with really unhealthy eating habits (and that can include obsession with sticking to a “healthy” diet), get help! My eating disorder did not go away when I started CrossFit, even though I tried really hard to pretend it did. Just be really aware of the messages that you are telling yourself with regards to training and eating. Secondly… I am 24 years old. I like to try to pretend that I am older and wiser than I am, but really I am just a youth masquerading as a grown-up

Q: When you are not at DogTown, what are you up to?
I am usually spending time with Russell and my dog, working on my acting/photography, or cooking.

Final word: In regards to health, working out and eating well are great, but if you are not getting enough sleep, you are severely hindering all of your hard work. Sleep is the cornerstone of health. Get some sleep kids.

Since Julia has started at DogTown, she has grown as an athlete, as a person and an integral member of our community! Naturally strong, her numbers have increased astronomically over the course of 4 years. She has an impressive, hefty 300 plus pound deadlift.

Julia has been an awesome member who has participated and helped organize our Crush Cancer fundraiser over the last three years in which time, she alone has raised over $150,000. Jules is literally the best!

Thanks,
Coach Dusty





Q: What was your health and fitness like prior to CrossFit?

A: Growing up I loved playing sports and competitive soccer pretty much ruled my life through high school, but my fitness totally dropped off during college and the years following. Prior to joining DogTown I would go to LA Fitness a couple of days per week, hop on the elliptical or treadmill for 30 minutes and then awkwardly walk by all of the weight machines telling myself I'll try them next time. I joined a lot of group fitness classes like spin and step and even got into Zumba for a bit, but I could not find anything that kept my interest or made much of a difference in my fitness level. When I started at DogTown I could not do a single push-up!



Q: How long have you been doing CrossFit and what inspired you to start?

A: I started at DogTown 5 1/2 years ago. I actually had no interest in trying CrossFit because I thought for sure it would be too hard and I wouldn't enjoy it. A friend of mine had been a member at DogTown and kept pushing me to try a class, insisting I would love it. A couple of years later her cousin Olivia, who happens to be my sister-in-law (it's a very cute story), had moved to LA and had also joined DogTown, so now I had two people pressuring me to try CrossFit. I finally agreed to go to a "Bring A Friend Saturday" figuring I'd appease them by trying it once and would never have to go back. I do not remember what the workout was, but I do remember thinking I might die. My next thought was, "I can't wait to do that again!" I joined that Monday!

Q: What are your favorite movements and workouts and what are your least favorite?

A: I love any workout that has a lot of barbell. Deadlifts, squats (any kind), and double unders are my favorite movements. I don’t love to run, but I have gotten A LOT better at it since starting CrossFit. Gymnastics movements are definitely the most challenging for me, but my least favorite has to be wall walks. They make my head feel like it might explode.

Q: What is one of your most proud CrossFit moments and what is one of your more embarrassing ones?

A: My proudest CrossFit moment was when I finally figured out how to link together my toes to bar. After about 3 1/2 years of practice and conceding that it was just never going to happen, things finally clicked and I figured it out. I was so excited and relieved! My most embarrassing moment happened at the old gym during the warm up run when I tripped and flew what felt like 10 feet onto the sidewalk. Less than 2 weeks later I fell again at the exact same spot. I still have the scars on my knees to prove it.

Q: What are your CrossFit goals?

A: I have never really set any specific CrossFit goals. My hope is that I continue to get stronger and move faster. My endurance remains my biggest weakness, but also where I have improved the most since starting CrossFit, so I hope my stamina and aerobic capacity continues to increase.



Q: When it comes time for Crush Cancer, you are the top female fundraiser. What is it that inspires you to be such a significant part of it?

A: Like everyone else my life has been impacted by cancer. I lost a grandfather to cancer, have aunts and uncles who are survivors, and an aunt who is currently in the fight. They inspire me, but I also look at Crush Cancer as an investment in my own future. Perhaps the energy and time I put into fundraising now will one day save my own life. Also, I am the Director of Development for a nonprofit, so fundraising is my area of expertise. I have no problem asking people for money, and luckily I have very supportive family and friends who believe in the mission of Crush Cancer.

Q: Since you are a DogTown OG, have you changed your approach to training over the years? If so, how?

A: Absolutely! When I first started I was so excited by how quickly I was improving, getting stronger, figuring out new movements, and hitting new PRs regularly. After the first year or so, as my body had now acclimated to daily high impact exercise, I knew I was still improving, but the difference was not as drastic and the PR's were not happening as often. I really had to adjust my expectations for myself so I would not feel disappointed. Now, 5 1/2 years in, my approach to training is really just to show up and have fun with my friends. All of the benefits that come along with doing CrossFit are wonderful, but it's my DogTown family that keeps me excited to come in every day.

Q: Any advice you can give to a newbie at DogTown?

A: Keep coming! In the beginning you will be sore all of the time, intimidated by a lot of the movements, unsure of yourself, and probably doubtful that CrossFit is for you. If you are consistent I promise you will quickly begin to see physical results, feel so much better, and have more energy. You will feel proud of yourself every day. Also, we are a very friendly bunch and love welcoming new people. Put yourself out there to be social with your classmates. Most of my closest friends in LA are people I met at DogTown, and I am so thankful for that!

Q: What have been the most surprising changes in yourself that you have experienced since starting at DogTown?

A: I can't believe that I actually love and even crave exercise now. Before CrossFit I worked out because I knew I had to be healthy, but I never actually enjoyed it. It always felt like a chore and something I often dreaded doing. I thought people who said they loved working out were literally crazy. I totally get it now because I am officially one of them.



Q: What 2 things can you share with our DogTown family that they may not know about you?

A: In college, I traveled around the world on a ship for 5 months through a program called Semester At Sea. We went to The Bahamas, Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, India, South Korea, Japan, Canada, and Alaska. It was the most incredible experience of my life!

My middle fingers are very crooked and I was super embarrassed by them as a kid and would try to hide them. Now I think they're fun and cute!