The Final Countdown

Hard to believe that this is already the final passion blog of my freshman year. Woah. Scary.  And guess what, I (unsurprisingly) never ran out of Crossfit things to talk about.  Because this is my last passion blog, I wanted to take some time to really reflect on my freshman year. Of course Crossfit played an important role in it from the beginning.

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This year has been full of ups and downs to say the least.  I have met some incredible and inspiring people and also have met people who I really hope I never will have to see again for the rest of my life. That being said, I was so incredibly lucky to find my nitch in the Crossfit community as fast as I did after arriving to Penn State.  When I first arrived at college, I had no friend group of my own and instead socialized with the few high school friends I had here.  Crossfit provided me with something unique to call my own.  It allowed me to have my own group of friends, my own social events and even my own workouts. Obviously since my first day I have brought various friends to Crossfit.  Some have stayed and some have not.  Either way, no matter who is there now or in the future, it is still something individual and unique that I can call mine.

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The people I have met this year and the memories I have from Crossfit (whether they are from killing it in a hard workout, puking in the bushes behind the Wagner building or giving a sweaty bloody high five after finally figuring out how to do pull-ups) are indescribable.  Looking back on our photos from this year, it truly has been a progression.  I know that I have become more independent and have also gotten physically and mentally stronger throughout the course of this year. No club or group of people will ever be perfect, and I will be the last one to say that Crossfit is the ideal club for everyone.  However, I can’t wait to train over the summer (AND DO MY MARATHON) and come back next year stronger and fitter than ever.  I only hope that I didn’t bore everyone in this class too much with my incessant chatter about everything fitness all semester.  Just imagine how my future husband will feel someday… Thank you all for being wonderful listeners, commenters and fellow-bloggers.  It was AMAZING getting to know everyone, and I love you all lots and lots.

PSU Crossfit Competes

I have completed my first ever crossfit competition! Our team of roughly 20 people drove down to University of Delaware Saturday morning.  We all stayed at different houses Saturday night (it was a wonderful evening of homemade food, The Great Gatsby and an early bedtime), and then woke up very early on Sunday morning to compete! I of course fell asleep on the hour drive down and groggily woke up around 9 to everyone yelling at me that it was time to get up and WOD.  We competed at Crossfit Hardbat (not sure where the name came from) with the crossfit teams from Villanova and University of Delaware.

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The first WOD was an AMRAP of 8 Thrusters, 8 wall balls and 8 burpees.  Obviously it was a killer first WOD even if it was only 6 minutes.  6 minutes of death that is.  There were 5 rounds and people from the other rounds judged the competitors who were competing. It was so awesome to have so many people there cheering everyone on all at the same time.

The second WOD was 5 minutes to find your max lift clean and jerk.  I of course am not really good at lifting heavy and especially don’t like lifting heavy objects over my head.  I did, however, PR by 10 pounds (130) and watched my teammates hit some pretty awesome PRs as well.

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The third WOD was a brutal 800 run and then 10 minutes to get as many rounds of 30 kettlebell swings, 30 pullups and 30 airsquats. UGH. So many pullups. I was DEAD (and ripped my blisters off once again). Everyone was so tired at this point that it was a struggle to finish, but we all tried our best. Finally, as if we hadn’t done enough already, the top three males and females from each school had to consist in a team event that consisted of a 2000m row, 20 muscle ups, 30 deadlifts, 40 cleans, 50 handstand pushups, 60 toes to bar, 200 double unders and then a sled pull.  Unfortunately, our team got last but we put in a great effort and really did well on the last event.

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The winner of the competition, University of Delaware, was the winner of the Golden Keg (yes it was actually painted golden).  As a team with all of our team points and individual points we placed second (WOOOHOOO).

Overall, I am exhausted but had an amazing weekend.  I am so proud that we as a club were able to compete in our first competition and were able to take home second place. Next year, we plan on doing better and taking FIRST.


2014-CrossFit-Open-14_5-WorkoutIT IS OVER. Well…kinda. The lost WOD (14.5) was an absolute massacre.  No one really knew what to expect and there was a lot of build up to the announcement of the event in California.  A teaser was leaked around noon that stated that in the live competition on Thursday night, guys and girls would be going against each other.  That typically means that the workout would have to be something body weight related.  My crossfit partner, Lexie, and I decided that we wanted to get the WOD done with and out of the way early on Thursday and so showed up right at 8 to do the WOD. It was as follows:


21, 18, 15, 12, 9, 6. 3 of thrusters and burpees. Basically…hardcore endurance and cardio. To make matters worse, the burpees had to be done on either side of the bar.  A better description would be that athletes had to do 21 thrusters and then burpee, jump over the bar laterally, burpee again and then repeat until 21 reps were reached.  Then start all over again with the 18 reps.  I was exhausted before I even reached the 15 rounds and it absolutely showed.  14.5 may not have been the toughest workout physically (although at the end of it my body was shaking and I was covered in sweat) but it was the hardest workout mentally.  The idea of having to pick up the bar when my quadriceps and forums felt like they were dead was very daunting, and there were multiple occasions where I tried to pick up the bar to complete a rep only to drop it back down when my arms could not support the weight.  Lexie, who does really well with thruster movements of any kind finished with a relatively quick time of 17 minutes.  It labored on for several more minutes until I finally finished and collapsed in the typical “crossfit recovery posiont” (aka lying prostrate on the ground unable to move.)

Here comes the fun part. I am DETERMINED to do it again and will be doing it again tonight before the scores must be submitted. I cannot stand the fact that my mind gave up on the workout before my body did and I am determined to pace myself and finish in a much quicker time.  Everyone in my crossfit club thinks that I am totally crazy (which I probably am, but for some reason it really bothers me that I know I did not give my all. I am sure that everyone has had that moment at least once in their life.  So, only 10 more hours until I am officially done with Crossfit Open 2014! It was quite the solid run, and I cannot wait to compete next year.  

The Reason Why 14.4 Killed Me

Muscle-ups. Gosh darn muscle ups.  For those of you who don’t know what that is….it is THE defining elite move in crossfit. AKA…I can’t do it.  Actually, can’t is the wrong word to use. I STRUGGLE (a lot) with muscle ups.   I was far from thrilled when muscle ups were announced as part of the Week 4 crossfit Open WOD.


Muscle ups are one of the hardest gymnastic movies in crossfit (yes, even harder than hand stand pushups). It involves swinging back and forth on rings and then using the momentum from your swing and biceps to pull your entire body up (basically a reverse dip for those of you who know what a dip is).  I know that is a pretty bad description so I have attached a video below! For some reason, muscle-ups are more difficult for girls.  This could partially be due to our smaller hands, but regardless, only one girl in our crossfit club here at PSU can do a muscle up.

Obviously, with no previous practice with muscles ups, I most likely will not be able to get my first one during the crossfit Open.  I am not even sure of the correct form.  That being said, I am very surprised to realize that I am not really down or upset about it.  Instead, I am looking past it.  Realizing that I have begun to focus more on my skills that I am good at and not on the ones that I have not been able to get yet is a HUGE step in the right direction for me.  Throughout my highschool and college sports career, I seemed to have always focused on the things I needed to work on.  Although that can be a good thing for improvement, it also did not allow me to really appreciate the things that I WAS doing well.

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In other news of Shannon fitness’s whirlwind, I have decided to try and attempt another marathon (or ultra) this summer! WOOOO. I know that I didn’t exactly train the hardest before my last one and am looking forward to actually getting in some good training time this summer.  I will be trying to decide which one to actually do in the upcoming days and then decide on an effective training plan.  I have been bitten by the marathon bug and now there is no stopping me!! Now, all I have to do is convince my parents that no, I will not break my body by running 26 miles. Have a wonderful week people and hope for good weather!!


A Week Without Crossfit

And just like that, Spring break is over. I hope everyone had just as an amazing spring break as I did! It was full of food (wayyyy to much of it) and sun and… crossfit (sob).  I guess my body needed the break but now I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things and my three-a-day workout sessions. After completing the second Open WOD on Friday and being pretty disheartened, I needed the break from crossfit. The WOD was

20 overhead squats (65 lbs)

20 chest to bar pullups

In three minutes.  IF you passed the first level in under three minutes, then you started right away with round 2 which increased each exercise by 4 reps. It increased by 4 reps every 3 minutes until the person “failed” or could not make the 3 minute time cap.

I have never been able to do chest to bar pull ups. Ever. My triceps are much weaker than my biceps and I was forced to do chest to bar chin ups instead which was a lot slower. Unfortunately, I only was able to get 27 reps and I was NOT happy about it.  I planned on redoing the workout on Saturday but unfortunately did not have time before my flight left for San Francisco on Sunday.

I assumed that San Francisco would be a break from everything crossfit. HA. I thought wrong. First of all, the number of people here with crossfit apparel/shoes is incredible. I feel like 2 out of 10 people I passed yesterday were wearing Rogue t-shirts.  On my Monday morning jog, I was incredible lost and trying to find my way down to the water. While I was running I saw about 15 runners ahead of me. I assumed they were heading where I wanted to go and tagged along behind. Low and behold, they turn right instead of going straight and lead me straight into San Francisco Crossfit. Yippee!! I had found my sanctuary.  Unfortunately, I missed the Open gym times on Saturday due to being on an airplane. That did not, however stop me from talking to the owner and buying a t-shirt! According to the owner, the particular gym I was in the only the 26th Crossfit gym to ever open. It is pretty incredible how much it has grown in such a little amount of time. Anyway, can’t wait to do this weeks Open WOD of box jumps and deadlifts. Time to get back into the swing of things!


Let the Games Begin


I know that I have mentioned the Crossfit Games several times in various blog posts.  I, personally, signed up to compete in the Games last Thursday (the last day of registration). To the average, non-crossfit athlete, the Games appear to be a single ESPN featured event once a year. The amount of work and preparation that goes into the Games, however, is astounding. Because this is my first year competing in the Games, I am a newbie.  I know very little behind the entire process and the rules.  Due to my lack of knowledge, I decided to do a little research so that everyone could better understand the 2014 Crossfit Games.

The most important information regarding the Crossfit games is that there are three stages: the Crossfit Open, Crossfit Regionals and the Crossfit Open.  The entire process is meant to essentially weed out weaker athletes (like myself) that have no business competing on a nationally televised ESPN event.

This year quite a few people from the Crossfit Club here on campus signed up to compete in the Open. Registration was $20 and the first workout (WOD) was posted last Thursday. Everyone has approximately one week to complete the WOD and report their highest score on the crossfit site.  To ensure no cheating will occur, all WODs are required to be video-taped and each competitor will have a judge that will watch them to make sure all repetitions are completed.  There are several different Open WODs over the course of several weeks. At the end of the process, the top 45 men and women and teams will advance to the Crossfit regional competition. Because it is only my first time competing my expectations this year are not high.  However, I am hoping that next year I could potentially advance to regionals on a team.

The first week Crossfit Open WOD was a “goodie.” It was 14.1. A WOD that (thank goodness) involves no heavy lifting or gymnastics skills.


10 min AMRAP of

15 Snatches @ 55 lbs

30 Double Unders

I was very pleased with how I did in the workout, but was also extremely exhausted. Before competing in the WOD I was very hungry.  Of course one of the only things I had to eat in my room was a pint of Ben and Jerry’s icecream and so I (stupidly) decided to eat it. I finished in 7 minutes (and icecream eating PR) and then proceeded to vomit up said pint of icecream after I finished my workout. Moral of the story? NEVER EVER EAT ICECREAM BEFORE COMPLETING A CROSSFIT OPEN WORKOUT. I am redoing the workout again today to see if I can better my score before the submissions are due tonight.

The Crossfit Criticism

As with any sport or workout program, crossfit receives a fair amount of criticism from multiple sources.  Because crossfit and I are basically in a long term relationship at this point, it is hard for me to imagine thinking anything negative about it. However, some of the criticism surrounding crossfit is warranted. Here are some of the post popular negative crossfit remarks.

  1. Girl: “If I lift weights like that I’ll get big.”
  2. “Crossfit? Nope. I will get injured. Like everyone else who does it.”
  3. “Crossfit gyms don’t even have benchpresses. Wimps.”



Almost all of my girl friends who never lift and focus on cardio all seem to share the same thought process.  Weights will make you look like the Hulk. Although the crossfit cover ladies do share a somewhat nauseating resemblance to the Hulk, they are the extreme cases, and I can almost 100 % guarantee that crossfit is not what is primarily making them look that way. In order to look like the Hulk, you have to eat like him too. Gaining and building muscle (and fat) is more diet and a little weight training. Although all girls’ bodies are different, we will never ever gain a lot of muscle by just doing heavy weight training. Some serious supplements would also have to be involved.


Crossfit injuries are a little trickier to deal with. In this category, some of the criticism is absolutely warranted. Unfortunately, crossfit is a sport designed to push a patron to his or her level of exhaustion. In some cases, this can mean injury.  However, the sport as a whole is hardly to blame for this. People who do crossfit need to realize that safety comes first, and performance comes second. May crossfit injuries are also due to bad form. Because it is a sport that is based on competing for time, in many cases (in order to get a faster time) people sacrifice form. This is where coaching come in. There is no such thing as an unsafe crossfit workout. The answer is simply an unsafe coach. A coach’s job is to correctly demonstrate moves and keep an eye out during workouts to make sure that form is not sacrificed to better performance.

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Lastly, the age old complaint about the crossfit gym: that it isn’t a gym.   If a regular person were to walk into the Wagner building (where we lift) he/she would not even know it was a gym. We have ropes, weights, bar-bells, pull up bars and then miscellaneous jump ropes, kettlebells and wall balls. It is hardly the typical gym filled with leg pressing machines and bench presses. Does that mean that crossfit is for the weak? Hardly. Crossfit focuses on mobility motions that are useful in daily life. These are referred to as Olympic lifts. Let’s be real. When is bench pressing ever going to be useful? Deadlifting, however, is the same motion you would use to pick up a heavy couch or rock. Crossfit is all about mobility and function. Not just looking good while doing it people!

The Fittest Man and Woman on Earth

As with any sport, there are a few figureheads that really become the spokespeople and examples for the rest of the community to follow. In crossfit, these people are generally determined based on their performances in the Crossfit Games, an event that has recently gotten more attention after appearing on ESPN.  The crossfit games amaze me partly because I am in awe of how far the sport has come (from the Games being a 20 person event in an open field to becoming a world-wide event on ESPN) and because of the amazing fitness prowess that is demonstrated by the crossfit athletes. And let me tell you, the fitness required to be in the top tier of these games is incredible. I cannot even begin to THINK about performing some of the lifts that the men and women completed in the 2013 games.

Due to the nature of the crossfit games, the winner of both the men’s and women’s competition is crowned the “fittest on earth.”  This may seem like an exaggeration but after seeing all the brutal rounds that these athletes are put through, I truly believe it to be true.  In this blog post, I just wanted to highlight the careers of the man and woman who won the Crossfit open in 2013. They truly are amazing and great examples to the Crossfit community.


The current fittest man on Earth is Rich Froning.  He is retained this title for the last three years as the reigning champ of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 crossfit games. He is a professional crossfit athlete who currently lives in Colorado. He is 5’ 9’’ and weighs 195 pounds. He has been known to create multiple crossfit workouts including the infamous “Bring Sally Up” (YOUTUBE IT).120712-M-2815I-003

The current fittest female on earth is Samantha Briggs. Not only is she 31 and from England, but she has also recovered from a year of no training with a knee injury. She used her time off to recover and then continued training, focusing on form and technique (two things that many crossfiters desperately need to work on).  After winning the games, she shared some of her training secrets with the world. Amazingly, they were pretty self-explanatory. “Rest Hard. Work Hard.” “Rest Actively.” “Work Your Weaknesses.”  Samantha is still a firefighter in her home England but is planning on taking a break and preparing herself for the 2014 games.

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Both of these athletes have a tremendous level of overall fitness. As the Open Games rounds begin in the next month, I cannot wait to see what both will do this year.


Crossfit Vocabulary

quiz-obssesed-with-crossfitOne of the hardest and most confusing things about crossfit is, shockingly, the vocabulary. Part of the “cultish” judgment that crossfit has received is because participants speak a foreign language that many regular gym goers do not understand. For example, a crossfit workout on any given day could look like this:


5 minute AMRAP

10 DL

10 PU

10 BJ

25 DU


Confusing, right? I know. Written out in long form the workout would actually be

Workout Of the Day

5 minutes of As Many Rounds As Possible of

10 Dead lefts

10 Push ups

10 Box jumps

25 Double Unders


Some people might not understand the skills that crossfit involves (i.e. Double unders or dead lifts) but understand the vocabulary is the first step to understanding the sport. For your benefit, I have included a list of commonly used crossfit abbreviations and their meanings.

AMRAP: As many rounds as possible of a given workout in a given amount of time (aka…DEATH)

BS: Back squat

Box: Crossfit gyms are referred to as boxes because they are literally ALWAYS in the form of…a box.

CLN: Clean

DL: Deadlift

EMOM: Doing a specific workout for a specific number of reps every minute on the minute (aka…another form of death)

FS: Front squat

KB: Kettlebell

Kipping: a Swinging motion that is used to help propel the body with momentum during pull ups and hand stand push ups

REP: repetition.

PC: Power clean

RM: I rep max of a given exercise

SN: Snatch

WOD: Workout of the day


YBF: You’ll Be Fine

There you have it. Your very first crossfit intro. Of course all the skills require intros of their own before people understand the correct form etc. that is necessary to perform said skills.

One other somewhat confusing aspect of crossfit are the names given to some of the workouts. In crossfit, benchmark workouts are WODs that are meant to test an athlete’s improvement over a certain amount of time. These WODs are named after women in the crossfit community who have mastered crossfit. For example “Annie” consists of a decent of Double Unders (jump roping) and sit ups. “Cindy” is a fun one that consists of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats for 5+ rounds. Crossfit also has “hero WODs.” To honor American heroes. These WODs are extremely difficult. For example, there is a WOD to honor lives lost in 9/11 and also a WOD to honor Penn State graduate and diseased Seal Murphy.






The Crossfit Obsession that is Sweeping the Nation

**Before reading this: scroll to the end of the page and watch the quick video **

If you are have been around me at all in the last year, chances are you have heard me mention my favorite pastime at least a thousand times. No exaggeration. Unsurprisingly, the responses to “I do crossfit” has changed from “What’s that?” to “Wow….I’ve been wanting to try that.” Crossfit is one of my newest obsessions and has also been the trending method of training across the United States.  But what is it exactly? Crossfit is a unique form of weight lifting that is built on the principal of only doing lifting moves that are actually useful for daily life. Benching? Nah. When are normal human beings ever going to need to bench something in daily life? Not only is crossfit built off of doing useful moves, but it is also a unique lifting program that manages to include cardio. Running is usually incorporated into the WODs (workout of the day) and is also included in warm up.

crossfitOne word to describe crossfit? Exhilarating.  Unlike some people, I perform much better when people are cheering me on and getting in my face. Crossfit is exactly the kind of encouragement I need. I may not be the best at pull-ups, but being surrounded by ten people at the end of a hard workout who are all yelling at me and encouraging me to finish is exactly what I need to motivate me.

Of course, like all workout trends there are many people who disapprove of some of the methods behind crossfit. People talk about the injuries sustained by many crossfit athletes and also talk about the “cultish” nature surrounding the program. My response to all the critics is that an athlete is only as good as his or her trainer. Injuries are not sustained because of bad workouts but by bad trainers. As for crossfit being a cult? It completely is, but that does not mean that not everyone can join the cult. In my crossfitting experience in the last year I have lifted with people ranging from the ages of 14-72. There have been pregnant women, men with recent knee replacements who are trying to get back into shape and D1 college athletes are looking to get more strength training. That is the beauty of crossfit. It is a workout program that can encompass a wide variety of ages and abilities. A D1 athlete and pregnant mom can do the exact same workout (albeit a slightly scaled down version).

So after that brief into that probably still left some of you slightly puzzled, I promise to get more in depth with everything crossfit related this semester. By the end you will know the difference between an RFT (round for time), and EMOM (every minute on the minute) and an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible). Sound confusing yet? I promise it’s not. To wrap it up, I will leave you with a video (from my crossfit club here at Penn State) and one of my favorite quotes.

“When people walk into a crossfit gym they ask where are the machines. Our response? We are the machines.”

Crossfit Video