Friday, August 2, 2019

Autoregulation Part 2

Depending on the intensity of your training, we can assume that most people need to go sympathetic on at least some level in order to have a productive training session.  Time of day, nutrient timing, stress levels, quality of sleep, etc. will all play a role on our ability to go into a sympathetic state for training.  On the flip side, when the training is over, we want to be able to move out of that sympathetic state and enter a more parasympathetic state.  We need to rebuild/model tissue, adapt to the training stimulus, rest and digest, and recover before our next session.  This doesn't necessarily mean we lie around and do nothing, it could be more active recovery or doing activities that bring relaxation and a more peaceful state.  This will definitely look different for each and every person.

How do we know whether or not we are balancing between these two states?  How do we know when we are primed to train or in need of rest?  There are tools like Heart Rate Variability, Recovery and Resting HR, and other Biomarkers.  I think the missing ingredient for most people and the first place to start is to just be present, being in tune with your body, and recognizing the signals.  This is hard for most of us and it is a skill that needs to be learned, maybe our signals have been muted or crossed for so long.  Sometimes we mindlessly follow the program, check the boxes, hit the prescribed reps, sets, percentages, etc. and give no conscious thought to what we are doing.  When it comes to autoregulation, most of us need to start with being present.  Most of us need to be present in our training and learn to be in tune with our bodies.  We need to stop doing things that mess up the signals and learn to recognize the signals.  Doing so is the first step to longevity in our training and long term progress towards our goals.  There are plenty of resources out there if you want to go deeper into the rabbit hole.

-Good Luck!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Autoregulation Part 1

I want to spend some time over the next month or so discussing autoregulation as it relates to training, nutrition, sleep, etc.  I have been studying this topic for about 4 -5 months now and the science teacher in me (I teach biology, health, CrossFit, & Weightlifting at my school) is blown away by this topic and the implications it has for our health.  My goal isn't to write a thesis here, but I hope to distill down some of these principals to the very basics.  First off, this isn't information that I came up with on my own, nor is it new information.  I have to give credit where credit is due. I am currently learning from Julien Pineau and the Srongfit Community.  I highly recommend their Youtube channel or strongfit podcast if you want a deeper dive:   I also think Ben Pakulski does an excellent job explaining the topic on a recent Youtube interview: There are so many others who I am also drawing from and you can easily find more information by just googling topics like autoregulation training, the nervous system, nutrition, heart rate variability, etc. 

I think before we go much further down this rabbit hole, at least for this particular post, we need to discuss two specific branches of the nervous system.  The Sympathetic Nervous System also known as the "Fight or Flight" side and the Parasympathetic Nervous System often referred to as the "Rest and Digest" side.  It is much more complex than these simplistic names I am giving here, but it definitely gives us a starting point for this discussion.  We can figure out from the names above what the primary role of these two sides of the nervous system entail, but I would encourage my readers to start thinking about how these two systems can influence things like sleep, workouts, nutrition, heart rate variability, endocrine response, productivity etc.   Take a week or so to really understand what is happening in your body. In future posts I will start to break down some more specific examples.  Trust me the rabbit hole is deep and has huge implications for our health.  Look carefully at the following lists.  They are by no means exhaustive lists, but if you look carefully at the two states of your nervous system, you will quickly identify those that are conducive to things like exercise, sleep/recovery, and optimal digestion/nutrition.  To say that the state of your nervous system doesn't matter is ludicrous! The state of our nervous system is the context in which we train, eat, recover and it means everything, Context matters, without context the messages and the signals to our body are convoluted and distorted.

Sympathetic Nervous System:

  • Prepares the body for vigorous activity.
  • Stimulates the endocrine system to release stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
  • Increases blood flow to the extremities and muscles.
  • Increases heart rate.
  • Slows digestion.
  • Increasing respiration.


  • Slows the heartbeat.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure.
  • Constricts the Pupils.
  • Normalizes breathing.
  • Normalizes blood flow to all parts of the body.
  • Normalizes and stimulates digestion.
  • Decreases release of stress hormones and increases production of "feel good" hormones and neurotransmitters.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

20 Ways that CrossFit Changed My Life

As we wrap up another school year here at Vision CrossFit, I wanted to highlight and celebrate some of the successes from this year.  We are finishing up our 3rd year as a non-profit school affiliate and I can honestly say that students lives are being changed, beyond what I even thought was possible.  These aren't just physical changes, they are mental, nutritional, academic, and so on.  For the first time (I should have done this the past two years), I had students write an essay for their final assignment entitled "How CrossFit changed me." I was totally blown away by the things my student athletes wrote.  Most of this list of changes that follows were things that were repeated multiple times by multiple students, as if they somehow collaborated to write the same things.  This list isn't exhaustive by any means, but you will quickly see that this isn't just about fitness anymore, it is about changing people's lives and having a positive impact.  For this I am very grateful!  My students this year reported the following changes:

1. Fat Loss, increased lean mass, and Body Composition Changes
2. Increased Self Esteem
3. Emotional Stability & Mental Health
4. Gains in Strength & Kinesthetic Awareness
5. Elimination of Sugar and other Healthy Eating Habits
6. Healthy Immune System and less sick days
7. Stress Reduction
8. Increased Performance in other Sports and Activities
9. Improved Sleep
10. Improvements in Self Confidence and Social Interactions
11. Increased Flexibility
12. Old shoulder and Knee injuries "healed" (their words not mine).
13. 2 students reported that they haven't had to use their inhaler for the last 6 months.
14. Community Building and Life long friendships established.
15. Improved Posture
16. Behavioral and Impulse Control
17. Increased determination and grit
18. Positive Body image especially for girls who hated the way they looked before and no longer feel self hatred.
19. Academic Improvements, better grades and increased focus in class
20. Overall improved outlook on life

These are just a few of the positive benefits my students mentioned in their essays.  There were so many more, but these 20 were the common themes that popped up in multiple essays.  Just remember as a coach, you are doing more than just coaching squats or telling students to eliminate sugar from their diet.  You are impacting their whole life.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Success Stories

We are finishing up our 3rd year here at Vision CrossFit.  The school year comes to a close on May 24th, and I hope that the lessons my student athletes have learned with go with them and serve them well.  Some of them will be going onto college where I hope they will get plugged into a CrossFit community near their campus.  Our underclassmen will hopefully continue to pursue their fitness over the summer, using Beyond the Whiteboard to find workouts that they can do with the equipment available to them.  I can't believe it has been 3 years since we started this non-profit school affiliate, which is still the only one of its kind in Idaho as far as I know.  So much has happened over the last 3 years.  We continually fill up two classes a day with students and have a waiting list every year.  I wish I could take more than 20 in a class, but I am the only coach, we have limited space, and only 50 minutes to get things done.  These variables are challenging even with 20 students.  We could probably easily fill 2 more classes if that is all that I taught, but I still love teaching Biology and Health with the rest of my day.  We finally got barbells and some bumper plates this year due to a very generous private donation.  The kids have been grinding with sandbags, med-balls, kettle-bells, and dumbbells for so long now that it was refreshing to put a Barbell in their hand and work with something other than a PVC pipe.  As a result of this generous donation, we also started Vision Weightlifting (USAW registered Barbell Club) and had our first 4 athletes compete at some local weightlifting meets during this past year. The success of Vision Weightlifting has also led to the creation of a weightlifting class that will begin next year in addition to our two CrossFit classes here at Vision Charter School.  We had over 20 kids (7 teams) compete this year in the Granite Games Throw-down and 17 students compete in the CrossFit Open.  We have set new PRs, lost body fat, gained muscle, bolstered our confidence, increased our grit, improved our academics, and much more.  One of the most exciting developments this year was that the school has agreed to build us a designated space for my classes next year.  In past we worked out mostly outside in the heat, cold, rain, snow, and every condition imaginable (typical Idaho weather).  We shared the gym once or twice a week and had to haul equipment around, before storing it all back in my science lab.  Starting in December of 2019, this won't be an issue any longer.  Even though we will now have our own space, we still don't have a budget, so we will continue to rely on businesses and private donations.  We will need flooring, a rig, assault bikes, rowers, more barbells, more bumpers, and storage.  If you are interested in donating to our program,  please message me or email me at   In the coming weeks, I will highlight in detail some of our success stories.  Thank you for your support, the CrossFit community is some of the most generous people I know.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Introducing Intensity

I think we can all agree that Intensity is important, unless you don't think results are important.  The question is how and when we should introduce it? Especially in the case of young athletes, or in my opinion, anyone who is looking for longevity in their sport or personal fitness journey.  CrossFit has always had it right.  Even as far back as my level 1 coaching class.  "Mechanics, Consistency, & Intensity." This has always been the intent, the problem is that people often skip or rush step 1 & step 2 in order to jump to step 3.  You can't blame CrossFit for this (even though uneducated people do).  This mindset is primarily the fault of the faux coach or the stubborn individual athlete who wants to keep up with the Instagram world because they actually don't care about fitness.  As coaches and as athletes we have got to be relentless in our pursuit of steps 1 and 2.  First, we must move well and hit the proper ROM and the positions needed to efficiently and safely execute the movement(s).  Second, we have to move well on every rep (the last rep should look the first) and under fatigue and  under increasing loads.  Most of us will stop here for a really long time, but once we have mastered the mechanics (remember actual mastery takes time), and once we have mastered the ability to move well consistently under changing variables, then we can introduce intensity.  Yes, intensity is the key, but longevity is the car that drives us into a lifetime of fitness and not just for the next few years.  That is the whole point of this thing right?

M- Mechanics
C- Consistency
I- Intensity

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


As much as we want to claim our own success, chances are we didn't get there on our own.  One of the primary reasons CrossFit has seen exponential growth over the last 10 years is their emphasis on community.  There are people who are content hopping on a treadmill, putting their earbuds in, and zoning out for an hour.  That is understandable, but is it effective for most people?  I would argue no.  We all need accountability, we need friendly competition, we need people around us to push us and make us better.  Whether you find this type of community with a small group of friends that enter your "bro-sesh" circle, or whether you have a larger community that motivates you at your local CrossFit gym, or maybe it is a much larger community who takes you under their wing like our friends over at Snake River CrossFit (community within a larger community), it really doesn't matter where you find it. What does matter is that you find it somewhere.  It matters that you embrace it, and it matters that you allow the positive influence of that community to impact you in a positive way.  You could go solo, you could remain bitter, and you could remain unchanged.  You ultimately choose what will lead to your success, but chances are you will need partners along the way.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Another Chapter Begins!

I have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, but I don't really know how to do things halfway.  Vision CrossFit has been so successful as Idaho's first and only non-profit high school CrossFit affiliate.  I have been getting phone calls from other High Schools around the country who are looking to implement a CrossFit program within their schools and I am happy to share our experience over the last 3 years.  It has truly been an honor and an amazing ride.  I certainly don't know everything, but I do know that the CrossFit methodology is appealing to all students regardless of race, sex, economic status, and athletic ability or lack thereof.

Since we are always looking to improve, we have to ask where can the most improvement be made. One of our biggest identified weaknesses here at Vision CrossFit has been teaching the Olympic lifts (the Clean & Jerk and the Snatch).  We have PVC, Dumbbells, Sandbags, and Kettlebells and this has been useful in helping students understand the movement patterns, but I felt like we needed to do more. 
Here is where we have done:
1. After a generous donation from a local family and a local business we are purchasing about 8-10 barbells and some light bumper/training plates.
2. After much reading, studying, and asking questions I decided to get my USA Weightlifting Level 1 and then a few months later I got my USA Level 2 Coaching Certifications.
3. We decided to start Vision Weightlifting a USA Weightlifting registered barbell club.  The only school barbell club in the Western Treasure Valley.

4. This weekend is our first competition for Vision Weightlifting.  Three of our athletes (see picture to the right) will be competing at the Genesis Invitational at Crown Performance this Saturday on January 26th.

Needless to say, we have been very busy, we are never satisfied, and we are working hard to promote fitness on several levels.  If you would like to support us as we grow in anyway please email me at

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

1st Competition of the Year!

Our 1st competition of the year for Vision CrossFit is in the books.  We had the 7 teams compete in the Granite Games Throwdown on Saturday, January 12th hosted by our partners at Snake River CrossFit in Nampa.  So very proud of these kids!  They were mostly competing against adults, as they were some of the only teens in the competition.  They held their own for sure!  Areas for improvement include: The heavy barbell, but as we know strength takes time and you don't want to rush it with teens, who are still developing.  Their work capacity and their ability to recover between workouts was amazing and this was definitely an area of strength.  We have an Olympic Weightlifting Meet coming up January 26th at Crown Performance in Garden City. We will feature our first ever 3 lifters as part of the newly formed Vision Weightlifting Club which is now an official member of USA Weightlifting.  We are also looking forward to several students competing in the 2019 CrossFit Games OPEN starting in February.  Lot's going on here at Vision.  I will do my best to offer more updates here on our website as we continue to grow, thrive, and influence young people to pursue health.        -Coach George