204 Blog

A line of athletes perform a warm-up with kettlebells and dumbbells at CrossFit 204 in Winnipeg.

Your new year has already started.

In fact, 2019 is already well in progress. Whether you know it or not, you’ve already made all the decisions that will take effect next year.

New Year’s Resolutions are closely linked to the fitness industry, and it’s often said that traditional gyms experience a huge spike in January and February as people sign up for memberships they won’t use by March.

At our gym, January is never busier than the other months. We don’t have more people signing up. We don’t have a huge influx of people jumping into CrossFit. We don’t walk into the gym and wonder where all the people came from.

For us, January is almost identical to the other months of the year: A few very special people contact us because they’ve decided they want to invest in their health. They’re ready to start, and we’re thrilled. These people generally stay with us for years, not months.

We’ve found that most people who decide to “get fit in the new year” gravitate toward the various deals and special promotions most facilities run in January, and we understand. If you’re hesitant about starting a program or confused about fitness, it’s easier to dip a toe into the water—and we really hope those people keep working out. But many people never jump in fully and end up wasting $40 a month on a gym membership.

It costs more to start CrossFit with us, and we never offer holiday promotions or quick-fix promises. Our on-ramp is the same price all year: $420. This is because we’re looking for people who are ready to make a significant commitment to long-term health and wellness.

I was recently struck by a Planet Fitness bus-shack poster that said “No commitment!” as if it were a good thing.

I’d never use that phrase in association with a fitness facility. It’s the fitness equivalent of this: “I not sure I like you, but let’s get married. We can always get divorced.”

Or this: “Maybe you aren’t the kind of person who puts in effort.”

You need to commit to things in order to find success. You need to invest. You need to put in some work. You need to set your mind. You need to write in pen, not pencil. You need to make a mark on the wood and saw with confidence. You’re building something, and the time for planning is over.

If you’ve decided that you want invest in health and fitness, we have just a few spots in our On-Ramp program open now. The program involves 8 1-on-1 sessions with a coach, and it includes movement instruction, goal setting and nutrition info—the things that will help you develop healthy habits for life.

But the on-ramp isn’t on sale. We don’t do Boxing Week sales and New Year’s promotions designed to capitalize on resolutions and snap decisions. We want you here for years, not months, and we’re confident that your investment will pay off no matter when you start with us.

We don’t have specials. We have special people.

If you’re ready to commit to health, click here to talk to us about how we can help.

A woman reaches her chin to successfully complete a pull-up after years of hard work.

We’ve been asking you guys about your goals lately. 

This isn’t a New Year’s thing—we don’t really believe in resolutions. As if motivated people need a reason to set goals. 

We know you already have goals because you’re at the gym. Most people don’t work out, and those who do always have a reason. You could stay at home and sit on the couch, but you don’t. You’re after something. Maybe several somethings.

Why do you drag yourself out of bed and head to the gym when it’s cold?

Why do you do 1 more rep when you’d rather rest?

Why do you want to add just 5 more pounds to the barbell and lift it?

We want to know about your goals so we can help you with them. You’ll notice our coaches are asking about goals a lot, and if they haven’t gotten to you yet, they will. Once we know what you want to do, we’re committed to helping you do it, and you can expect some extra motivation and encouragement. 

We encourage you to set at least two goals: one you can accomplish in about a month, and one that will take 6 months to a year. Both should be specific, and both should be reasonable but challenging. Here’s an example: “I want to make sure I get to the gym at least 4 times a week during the holiday season.” Another, this one long term: “I want to add 15 lb. to my deadlift by July 1.” 

Feel free to tell your coaches about your goals, but you can also go further. Write to us at info@crossfit204.com and share your thoughts.

Even better, book a free goal-setting session through our No Sweat Intro system. Just click here and pick a slot. We’ll sit down and talk to you, and we’ll put together a plan to help you accomplish your goals. We’ll help you out along the way, we’ll give you a high five when you accomplish your goal, and then we’ll help you set another one.

So think about it right now: What do you want to accomplish in 4 week? In 6 months?

Now tell us and make it happen!

A closeup of the broken metal sleeve of a silver 45-lb. barbell at CrossFit 204.

A closeup of the broken metal sleeve of a silver 45-lb. barbell at CrossFit 204.This was our first barbell.

When I became fascinated with @crossfit in 2008, I started collecting equipment. I found this bar on Kijiji and drove about 45 minutes to pick it up for $150 or so.

It’s not what people would now call a “good bar.” Its sleeves barely spin, and it wasn’t really made for lifting heavy loads. But it was more than I needed to learn how to lift and to get stronger.

This bar used to sit in the corner of my second-floor apartment, and I would regularly practice cleans and overhead squats in front of the TV. It was stuffed between the seats of my Honda Civic many times and is responsible for many gouges therein. At one point, it served as a clothes rack when @204lifestyle moved in and I needed something strong to support her hefty collection of clothes. Eventually, it went into the basement gym, along with other bars I started collecting, and it was often hauled to @assiniboineathletic, where I taught my first classes.

In 2011, it went to 483 Berry St., where it was used less frequently after we bought a whack of much better bars. But we still used it, and it still did the job.

Whenever we bid farewell to a piece of old equipment, I’m always reminded that people are stronger than steel. This bar is done lifting. But we are not.

Thanks to everyone who squatted or deadlifted with this one over the years. You know who you are.

A female during the second pull of a barbell snatch at CrossFit 204.

It would be easier to win the lottery if you knew the winning numbers in advance.

Same deal with weightlifting. 

It’s easier to lift the bar if you know exactly where it’s going to be.

The other day, I was lifting with Crystal and she asked if she should try a missed clean again. It would have been a PR lift, but I suggested we move on instead of trying to get lucky.

Crystal had the strength and power to make the lift. There was no question about that. But in the sets leading up to the PR attempt, she was swinging the bar away from her.

At lighter weights, the error doesn’t create misses. The bar swings out a bit and loops back to the athlete, who is strong enough to receive it in a less-than-ideal position before grinding through a squat that’s more difficult than it has to be. At heavier loads, the error ensures miss after miss. 

A male performs a barbell snatch during the 2015 CrossFit Games Open.
With practice, you’ll know exactly where the bar is going and increase your confidence significantly.

Crystal pulled the PR attempt and almost made the lift. I’m certain she would have if the bar had been in the right spot—about an inch closer to her torso—but neither of us knew for certain that it would go there on a subsequent attempt. 

We decided to pack it in a make a note to work on positioning to fix this error. That way we could make the lift with confidence rather than luck the next time we attempted it.

Lucky lifting is very common, but it’s a shortcut. The best example is when a bar owns an athlete and pulls him or her forward. All the athlete’s weight goes into the toes, the bar swings away from the body, and the athlete jumps forward, pulled by the bar. In some cases, the athlete happens to jump to exactly the spot where the bar was flung, and if the weight is relatively light and the athlete is strong, a lucky lift is made. 

But it’s not a good lift.

The tempting mistake is to consider the lift an unmitigated success, adjust goals upward and then continue flinging bars and getting lucky about 5 percent of the time. Many, many people do this. 

The smarter play is stowing the ego, backing the weight down and then drilling positioning and mechanics. Fix the errors at very light loads, then work back up. If the error is truly gone, the PR bar will be in the right spot and the lift will be made. And more PRs will follow quickly. At that point, when mechanics and positioning are sound, it’s time to focus on becoming brutally strong—which is easier than becoming precise.

Ever notice how world records usually look “easy”? I once read that it’s because they have to look easy. The loads are so heavy that tiny errors make the lifts impossible. If the bar is in the perfect spot, the athlete doesn’t have to struggle with a tremendous load he or she simply can’t lift if it’s not in the correct spot.

My advice: Enjoy the lucky PRs but recognize them for what they are. And listen to your coach when he or she says “leave it there for today.” That’s your cue to fix some errors so you can hit a PR that feels easy.

When lifting, it’s always better to be good than lucky.

An egg-white frittata as part of a healthy diet.

You’ve had a body-composition scan—so now what?

A recent Winnipeg Free Press article talked in detail about body-composition scans. In the Free Press article, writer Doug Speirs published the results of his scan, which revealed his body fat was too high: 42.2 percent. The healthy range for males is about 18-24, and athletes are in the range of 6-13. On the positive side, Speirs had good bone density and carried a solid amount of muscle. That’s fantastic.

Perhaps you’ve already been scanned somewhere with a Dexa or Fit3D machine. If you haven’t, we have an InBody machine that can tell you your weight, your body-fat percentage, your muscle mass and resting metabolic rate in about 20 seconds.

But here’s the real question:

How do you improve the numbers on the printout?

It’s one thing to know what you’re made of, but it’s another to change it. That’s where we come in.

We’re experts at interpreting the results of body-composition scans and providing an exercise and diet prescription that will help you make positive changes.

For example, if Speirs brought his scan to us, here’s what we’d suggest:

Step 1: If Doug is not active in any way, we’d recommend some activity. Something is better than nothing, and going to a gym with a specific plan is even better.

Step 2: If Doug is currently working out, we’d have him prioritize weight training to ensure he maintains muscle mass while we reduce body fat. Lean muscle mass has incredible metabolic effects, and we don’t want him to lose much muscle. Doug’s boss trains with us, so he has a ride to our gym. 

Step 3: From there, we’d look at Doug’s diet. We’d reference his resting metabolic rate and his activity levels, and we’d prioritize protein in his diet to help retain or build muscle mass. Then we’d adjust caloric intake to target fat loss, likely by changing the sources of carbs and fat in his diet. For example, we might recommend extra lean ground beef on a bed of spinach instead of a greasy burger and french fries. We’d prioritize reasonable amounts of whole foods, and we would absolutely get rid of any forms of liquid sugar.

Step 4: We’d have Doug log his food intake, and we’d make adjustments as needed. We’d meet with him regularly and scan him to make sure things are moving in the right direction—and we’re positive that they would be if he combined exercise and sound nutrition.

If you read the Free Press article and are interested in determining your body composition and making changes to it, contact us. We can help! Come to us with your scan results or book a scan with us, followed by a consultation.

For more information about body-composition scanning, click here.

For more info about 204 Lifestyle nutrition and food services, click here.

Trainer Crystal Kirby coaches an athlete to improve the rack position for a push press.
Coaching and smiles—the heart of our program.

You might have seen an announcement about a few changes to the CrossFit Games.

If you didn’t, the announcement is here: Morning Chalkup.

I’ll tell you what it means for us at CrossFit 204: Absolutely nothing.

We made a number of changes years ago that put our focus squarely on health, and we’re right in line with CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman’s vision. That’s why we have a Legends program, it’s why Rise Up Physiotherapy is in our building, and it’s why we invested so heavily in starting 204 Lifestyle to help people improve their health by eating better.

We have for years known that diet and fitness with friends are far more important than any competition.

That doesn’t mean we don’t think you should compete or that we don’t support you when you do. We’re happy that people choose to apply their fitness in competitions, and we’re proud of everything they accomplish. We just don’t place any extra emphasis on competition, and we haven’t for years.

Those of you who have been around for about five years have no doubt noticed the change. The best example is how we treat the Open. Back in the day, it was a stressful time with so many competitors vying for spots in Regionals. Now, we treat the Open as a five-week celebration of our 204 community. The scores don’t matter, but the smiles do. All we care about is fit people having fun and being healthy, and we’ll leave the leaderboard to you if you’re interested. You’re all No. 1 to us.

The time we once spent organizing or training for competitions is now spent making our nutrition program better, meeting with seniors about our Legends program and finding ways to make our CrossFit program even more fun and inclusive.

The CrossFit Games will always be there, and they’ll always be interesting—just like the Olympics. But I’ve been to the Games for 10 years, and if I had to choose between watching the Games and watching our Legends push sleds around the gym at 10 a.m., on a Thursday morning, I’d be on Berry Street with a cup of coffee and a smile.

The squat racks with a loaded barbell at CrossFit 204 in Winnipeg.
Under construction on Berry Street in July 2011.

We’re heading into Year 9 as an official CrossFit affiliate, though we’ve been coaching CrossFit for almost a decade.

With that in mind I’ll share nine lessons I’ve learned over the years—with thanks to all the coaches, gym owners, colleagues and clients who helped me learn them.

1. No single workout matters, and it isn’t worth being frustrated on any day. Weeks and months and years of training matter. One day does not. 

2. Look at the whiteboard after your workout, not before. Stow your ego, do your very best, then see if you beat your rivals. Whether you did or didn’t, congratulate them.

3. Reduce intensity when you need to. Recognize that life happens, and your best effort doesn’t look the same every. Sometimes you need to reduce the load, slow down and just move. That’s OK. You’re best is good enough, and you’ll still get fitter.

4. Listen to your coach. Your coach isn’t holding you back or showing a lack of faith. He or she is watching out for you at all times—but especially when you’re being greedy.

5. Don’t be greedy. Take what’s there and be grateful. If you hit a PR, smile, unload the bar and cheer for everyone who’s still working.

6. Be patient. You’re building something great. It took 632 years to build the Cologne Cathedral, and it will take more than a week for great things to happen to you. Set your sights on the horizon and enjoy every milestone .

7. Focus on what you can do or what you did. It doesn’t matter what you can’t do or what anyone else did. It only matters that you showed up and did something. Your coaches think you’re a super hero just because you walk in the door.

8. Food matters—more than you think. You will never, ever outwork a bad diet. Not ever. But if you make healthy diet changes—even small ones—everything will get better. I won’t describe the things we’ve seen people do when they eat better because I’ll sound like I’m on an infomercial. But trust me: If you work out and eat better, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

9. Keep going forever. We’ve seen people lose their canes and then need them again after taking time off. We’ve seen people make amazing positive changes and then make equally dramatic negative changes. Momentum is key. To stay healthy, you can’t stop working out—not on vacation, not because you’re busy, not because you’re tired. You have to keep going. You’re a person who works out now, so do it regularly no matter what. If you do, you’ll be richly rewarded.