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In November we pause to elect leaders in the beginning of the month and reflect on what we are thankful for at the end of the month. Sandwiched in between we have a day dedicated to our Nation’s veterans. That’s one of the reasons our November Member of the Month couldn’t be more fitting.
Chris Deso had a distinguished military career spanning 22 years in the Army National Guard. This career took him overseas to Afghanistan for a one-year deployment and he was activated for 3 months in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
Extraordinary, but it doesn’t stop there. At the age of 33, Chris decided to pursue his passion and began a long educational journey to become a teacher. It wasn’t easy balancing a career and being a father–but Chris was committed to making sure there were no regrets or “I wish I hads.” Chris is a dedicated father with a strong faith and obviously an engine that doesn’t quit.
After his military career ended, Chris didn’t like the changes and extra pounds that came with it…so, like Forrest Gump…one day…he started…ruhhhneeeng (running).
He’s a huge fan of the mud and obstacle races that have become popular these past few years and even completed one with his daughter. He’s completed over 20 in total plus recently crushed a half-marathon. In this same time, he’s found Crossfit and I’ve found someone that inspires me everyday.
Thank you to all of the Veterans at Albany CrossFit and especially to you Chris, our November 2014 Member of the Month.
Albany CrossFit Members,
The Coaching Staff constantly strives to enhance the experience of every athlete within our community. We have been listening to your feedback over the last few months and with great consideration have decided to institute the following changes:
The class cap will be in effect Starting Saturday, November 1st.
The class cap will be placed at 18 athletes per class. Most of the classes throughout the day will not be affected by this change. We realize that this may inconvenience some members that come to our busier 5, 6 and 7pm classes. This change will require an adjustment for all of us but will result in a much better experience at Albany CrossFit. A smaller class will be a safer class and allow you to receive more attention from the coaching staff.
With this change it will be more important than ever for you to register prior to coming into the gym, signing in at the front desk before coming into the WOD room and to be present at the WOD briefing. If you do not follow this procedure you will risk losing your spot in class. Classes will have priority in the triple wide and as such only athletes registered to class will have access to it during class times. Some athletes may need to adjust their workout schedules to fit this policy.
With the purchase of Albany CrossFit our members enjoy the use of the entire Court Club facilities and classes. We have decided to enhance your value even further and are reducing our rates! Our new rate structure is as follows:
* 10% discount for family, teachers, students and nurses
* 20% discount for fire, police and active duty military
These rate changes will go into effect December 1st for any current members.
Your first membership payment after this date will be at the new rate
We will be making many improvements to our facility over the next few months to help refresh and renovate the gym. We have started purchasing lots of new equipment and plan on purchasing more. We strive to provide the best possible environment for you to train in and we want to keep you up to date on the renovations schedule. Some changes you will see are as follows:
There are a few more surprises we hope that all of you will be excited for which will be announced at a later date. Please, be patient while the renovations are happening. We may need to adjust our schedule to fit the construction. I know that some of you may be concerned by some of these changes but we truly believe they are necessary to keep help Albany CrossFit flourishing. If you have any thoughts you would like to share please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Coaching Staff
Fall Face Off is just 48 hours away! We hope you and your team have been finalizing your game plans for this weekend and are ready to have a good time. Our competition T-Shirts have just recently come in. Check them out below (modeled by the lovely Nancy).
More Important Information
Here is part two of our interview with resident Strong(wo)man expert Coach Catherine Toniatti Yanulavich.
Click the button below to read Part One!
8. What are some of your achievements in strongman?
I’ve had my fair share of wins and losses, but I’m proudest of winning Gotham’s Strongest Woman this past December. It was a field of 11 really strong girls and I won 3 out of 5 events and never come in below 3rd place. It was freezing cold that day – like below zero – which was mentally difficult as well as physically taxing, but I managed a big win. I’ve won my last 5 shows and I’m training for Nationals, September 20th at the Olympia in Vegas.
9. What is your favorite thing about strongman training?
Doing really impressive looking stuff in the gym. I mean even a light keg looks badass when it’s lifted over your head. If you do a car deadlift and only lift it once and come in last place- you still lifted a freaking car which is awesome. The best part is playing with the “toys”. Barbells are useful, but the fun part of strongman is using the logs, the kegs, the stones etc. You feel different when you lift them and it’s more satisfying because you know this smooth round ball of concrete does not want to be lifted and you just lifted it. Take that, Atlas Stones!
10. What has strongman taught you about yourself?
I’m actually a lot tougher than I thought. In event training I have to do a lot of things that are guaranteed to give me bruises in some obvious places. I do them anyway and I guess some days it surprises me what I’m willing to put myself through. It’s all worth it!
11. Tell us a little about your program? What kind of training does it entail? What should new comers expect?
Spoilers! You guys will have to wait for tomorrows post to read all about it. But to take the edge off I will say that it’s a program anyone can do no matter experience. It focuses on static strength and moving events and will prep you for life or competition – it all depends on your goals.
12. What advice do you have for newcomers to the program or class? (Scaling, being nervous, not thinking it is for them, not everyone has to compete, how it can help them in life ect..)
Strongman is for everyone. There are no prerequisites for strength or fitness to come to class. If you’re waiting to be strong(er) before you start strongman, you’re doing it backwards. EVERYTHING can be scaled. We have male, female, young, old, light-weight, heavy-weight, and middle-weight athletes in the program. If you just want to get stronger to improve your fitness or if you want to compete, the class will be adjusted to your needs and goals. Plus, I could argue strongman is even more functional that crossfit. A barbell is convenient, and efficient but in real life we are more likely to carry groceries, lift boxes, and move furniture – these are big and bulky and not designed for lifting. Strongman prepares you for that. You will learn how to lift things that are not meant to be lifted and you will become comfortable carrying things that are not designed for your comfort. I can’t emphasize this enough…if you can do crossfit, you can do strongman. There are no exceptions.
13. A lot of ladies in the gym want to get stronger. You are probably the strongest woman in the Capital distict! How strong are you (Deadlift, Squat, cleans, snatches..other lifts crossfitters would know about).
I actually have no idea how strong I am at any given moment. If I’m winning competitions then I know I’m progressing and I’m always looking for heavier events to test myself. I almost never test my maxes, but last September I had a 410 Deadlift and a 315 Back Squat. My Log press is 170 and I can lift a 175 stone to shoulder for 5 reps in 60 seconds. My best Yoke is 604 for 75ft in 60 seconds and I’ve done a 200 per hand Farmer’s Walk for 40ft in 13 seconds. Even if I win a National or World title, I will never be satisfied with my strength. Events are always getting heavier and its a never ending challenge.
14. What advice do you have for the ladies out there who want to get strong?
My advice to ladies who want to get strong is to lift heavy and lift often. There is no magic formula. If you lift heavy in a variety of ways every week you will get stronger. If you find a weakness, you should address it at least twice a week.
15. What if they are afraid of being getting too bulky? Isn’t that just a myth?
It is a myth. It’s also something that when I hear it, it gets me really, really angry because it’s a part of the reason I was not encouraged to get into strength sports sooner. Lifting heavy will not make you big and bulky. You will not look like a giant bodybuilder by doing crossfit or strongman. If you want to get bulky like a bodybuilder, you have to actually work really, really hard for that specific goal and training for strength versus size are two very different styles. Anyone at crossfit probably is more concerned with getting their next PR than how much muscle they might gain, but in case any ladies out there are afraid of getting massive you have my personal guarantee that you won’t. And personally, I think it’s time we placed less value on how we look and more value on what we can accomplish…like lifting 200lbs off the ground.
16. What success stories have you seen from the athletes in your program?
Pretty much everyone has gotten stronger since the program started and not just in strongman movements, but in traditional CrossFit movements as well. We tested all our maxes August 24th – and I was really impressed by everyone. Jen, after only 6 months of training has a 355 DL, 285 Back squat, 120 Press and took 3rd place in her first NAS Competition. I saw Sonya go from barely being able to lap the 140 keg to putting it easily over a 48” bar and I know her Squat went up 15lbs and her DL went up 10lbs. Everyone has PR’d there logs and stones. Lenora could barely lift the 90 stone last year and now she is shouldering the 115 for multiple reps. She also hit a goal of a 115 Farmers carry for 40ft after not even being able to lift it off the ground last year. Jim did his first NAS competition this year in June after training for 3 months and handled all the weights easily. I love my athletes and I’m always looking to introduce new people to strongman.
Come get strong with us!!
Fall Face Off is just ten days away! We are excited to see all the teams in both divisions come to our gym to go toe to toe with one another in some tough events. At the event we will have a few vendors in attendance who will be promoting their products and contributing to the prize pool. Checkout their websites and event demo videos below!
Event Demo Videos
Event 1: Prowler / Snatch Relay
Event 2: Cumulatively Complex
Event 4 is…well…you will just have to wait until game day to find out, but I will say you have definitely tangled with her before and she is a mean one…
Our community just keeps growing! Our recent On Ramp class just concluded with thirteen new diehard CrossFitters graduating (everyone passed the test!). They are excited, highly motivated and ready to continue putting in the hard work necessary to achieve their goals. If you see these smiling faces in class introduce yourself to make a new friend and welcome them to our gym.
Our next On Ramp course starts Monday, October 6th at either 7:00am or 7:00pm.
Current ACF members: Do not forget that if a friend or family member signs up for On Ramp you get a free month!
Help us spread the word so we can spread the Fitness!
This weekend our very own Strongman guru Catherine Toniatti Yanulavich will be traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the 50th Joe Weider Olympia Fitness & Performance event. The Olympia Strongman Challenge is a major Strongman event. Cat will be performing on a national stage fighting for gold against quite literally some of the strongest women in the world. She will be attempting to pull massive weights off the floor, hoisting massive stones to her shoulder or performing other unreal feats of strength. Cat has been training hard so we have no doubt she will be excelling at whatever is thrown at her way tomorrow.
Cat, everyone at Albany CrossFit is extremely proud of you and wish you the best of luck!!
Below is part one of an interview we recently did to learn a little more about Coach Cat and her Strongman program.
1. What brought you to Albany CrossFit?
A craigslist ad for Albany Crossfit. I finished RPI in 2007, and with that went from Varsity Crew practice twice a day to working in a lab and having very little physical activity. I gained 100lbs and got really frustrated so I decided to look up personal training services. That led me to ACF’s ad which promised me I would learn how to lift weights and use a barbell. That sold me on the spot.
2. How long have you been at the gym?
I’ve been there since October 24th, 2008. So, just shy of 6 years. My first workout I went through the official CrossFit warm-up and I had to stop just before finishing my last set of jumping pull-ups- I was in bad shape! Jason thought he scared me away, but I LOVED it and the rest is history!
3. How were you introduced to Strongman?
There was a summer marathon of World’s Strongest Man Competitions on ESPN 14 years ago. Yup. Thanks ESPN! I watched 2 episodes and I was instantly hooked. I know teen girls today are into some kid called Justin Bieber, but back in my day I had my crazy school girl crushes on Strongman Champions Magnus Samuelsson, Jouko Ahola, and Svend Karlsen. I requested tickets to strongman competitions for my birthday and Christmas and my Dad became a fan as well.
4. When did you realize Strongman was something you could excel at?
Well, until 2010 I never even realized it was something anyone could excel at except giant men from Scandinavia. Once I realized women had opportunities, I knew this was my sport. It all really began when Jason invited me to come to a new Strongman Certification Crossfit was offering that was introduced by Rob Orlando. That day was the turning point for me where I started to transition to training for Strongman instead of Crossfit.
5. Why didn’t you start doing Strongman/Lifting weights sooner? You waited 8 years to start. Why?
A combination of fear and ignorance. Right away after finding strongman on ESPN I wanted to lift weights. My mom was against it because of course, “I would turn into a man and get bulky.” I had no idea who to ask or where to go. I tried hanging out in the weight room after school, but since I played other sports practice trumped the weight room once the seasons started. In college, I was just afraid to ask. Partly, because I had no idea who to ask and partly because I thought I might be laughed at since I was a woman. It wasn’t until 2008 and finding that ad on Craigslist that I felt like I knew where to go. And now Crossfit has become so friendly for everyone at any stage in their life to start lifting, when I look back I realize how much things have changed for women in in strength sports.
6. Tell us about your first competition? (feelings/emotions, where was it at?, how was the community there, how well did you do?, anything else that would be fun to know?)
Technically, my first competition was June 2010, about 2 months after I started training for Strongman. It was a local competition up in Perth, NY. I was super excited and super nervous – I had the cold sweats and I couldn’t eat. There were 6 girls in my division and I ended up winning the Women’s Heavyweight class – winning 6 of the 7 events! Angie Ahr and Katie Vallee, who took my strongman class, won the LW and Teen Girls division. ACF strongman class swept the ladies categories!
My first Official North American Strongman (NAS) contest was a different story. NAS is North America’s official strongman federation that puts on shows around the country. You have to pay a membership fee and compete to be a NAS Strongman. This federation has qualifying events where the winners get spots at larger National competitions to compete for the big title of America’s Strongest Man/Woman. I took 3rd place at this event and actually qualified by that placing to compete at Nationals. I made A LOT of mistakes during that competition and in turn learned a lot about the sport and myself. The women there were amazing and they helped me through a lot of things I didn’t know about. One was how to get tacky off you hands. Tacky helps you grip an atlas stone and it’s basically pine tar – super sticky and does not come off with soap and water. They gave me some baby oil and helped me clean up or I would have had my hand glued to the steering wheel on my drive home.
7. Some people may not realize Strongman is a sport! (Tell us a little bit about it).
Strongman dates back over 100 years with the most famous strongman being the late Louis Cyr. He toured North America with his troupe performing acts of strength and competing against other strongmen. Strongman as we know it officially became a sport in 1977 when they had the first World’s Strongest Man contest. American weightlifter, Bruce Wilhelm took the title. Since then we now have opportunities for men and women in different weight classes including novice and master’s athletes. At the heart of strongman and what separates it from powerlifting and weightlifting is the use of non-standard equipment and utilizing moving events in addition to static strength events. Strongman forces the athlete to lift things that are not designed to be lifted. A barbell is an efficient way to lift a lot of weight, but in strongman, we take away the barbell and replace it with sand bags, kegs, stones, cars, tires, logs, axles and anything else that isn’t bolted down. In fact, Strongman is a lot like Crossfit in many ways – the idea is to carry large loads, long distances, quickly. The difference is that Strongman focuses on maximal lifts and short heavy medleys compared with the longer, lighter met-cons we see in crossfit.
To be continued…
When January rolls around each year there is a phenomenon that happens at gyms and boxes across the country. People take this new year as an opportunity to make a resolution. A significant amount of people make the resolution that they are going to get a gym membership and finally get in shape. All too often these people go head strong into working out and then they slowly fizzle out and stop working out. Our member of the month does not fall into this statistic.
Our member of the month is none other than Lee Riley. Lee started his journey at Albany CrossFit back in January. Lee will admit that he was not thrilled about the decision, but both he and his wife knew that he had to do something about his health. Lee was tired of being winded while playing sports, and had a goal of getting out of the 300 pound club. After some coercion from his wife Lee was ready to take the plunge and give Cross Fit a try. After graduating from boot camp Lee was excited to see that he had lost 5 pounds and was on his way to be out of the 300 pound club. Although he was thrilled to see the weight loss, you could still see that he was intimidated by certain movements (overhead squat, snatch, front squat).
A few months later I now see a different Lee Riley walking through the doors of ACF. Lee is now 287 pounds and has made tremendous gains in all of his lifts. Just recently he did a 405 pound deadlift. No big deal, he only hit a personal record of 100 pounds in only a few short months! Beyond the physical transformation that I have watched Lee undergo, what impresses me the most is the mental transformation he has made.
As he enters the doors of Albany CrossFit you can see Lee smiling and joking around with various members. He is no longer intimidated about not being able to do a movement or finish a WOD. Lee understands that in time he will be able to continue improving his lifts, and that it doesn’t matter where you finish as long as you show up and give everything you have during the WOD. For these reason I am proud to say that Lee Riley is our member of the month. Keep up the great work! I can’t wait to see the progress you will continue to make in the upcoming months and years.
– Coach Andrew