Updated Health and Safety Guidelines

Thank you for your continued support and your understanding and respect for your fellow gym members who are all making their way through these events with their own challenges.

The Washington State Governor’s Office and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have updated their guidelines and so we are updating our health and safety protocols.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact us in person or in private.

Once again, thank you.

Tacoma Strength

By Craig on Sunday, May, 23, 2021

Mask Guidelines

Dear Tacoma Strength Community:

As many of you have heard, the Governor’s Office has issued new COVID-19 safety guidelines.

  • It is our understanding that you do not need to wear a mask during your workouts.
  • However, a mask must be worn as you enter and leave the gym or whenever you are not actively working out.

Please wear a mask when you arrive. Once you are at your station, you may remove your mask or keep it on. Once done with your workout, you must put your mask back on.

Masks must be worn while in the gym when not working out. For example, you are required to put your mask back on when taking a break during class to use the restroom.

Thank you for helping us comply with the required State of Washington COVID-19 Guidelines and Requirements.

P.S. To help you help us comply with this new guideline, we have a limited number of complimentary cloth masks for our gym community. Please ask your coach for details.

Thank you,

Tacoma Strength

By Craig on Thursday, June, 25, 2020

Tacoma Strength Re-Opens June 8 [UPDATED: 26 JUNE 2020]

[UPDATED: 26 JUNE 2020]

To Our Tacoma Strength Community: We are excited to announce that Tacoma Strength is reopening on Monday June 8th.

The State of Washington has provided guidelines to help us safely reopen during these challenging times. There are going to be adjustments for all of us but together we can navigate this transition as smoothly as possible to create a safe and fun environment for everyone.

Things You Need To Do Before Your First Class

  • Sign Your Waiver
    Before returning, you are required to sign an updated waiver. The waiver will be both made available online and emailed to you.
  • [UPDATED: 26 JUNE 2020] Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
    State guidelines require you to wear a mask you enter and leave the gym. You may remove your mask while you are working out but must have a mask on whenever you are not actively working out.
  • [UPDATED: 26 JUNE 2020] Arrive Dressed And Ready
    Please be dressed in your mask, workout clothes before you enter the gym. The changing rooms and showers will be closed for member use. If possible try and use the restroom before showing up at the gym. This will help us with cleaning requirements.
  • Arrive On Time (Not Too Early. Not Too Late.)
    Class admittance will begin ten (10) minutes before the start of each session. If you arrive early, please wait in your vehicle.
    Be on time. You will be assigned an area within the gym to provide you with plenty of distancing space. Be on time and ready to go so that classes can run smoothly without interruption and your having to cross through spaces.
  • Use The Front Door
    State guidelines request that all members enter the building through one entry. We chose the front door.
  • Wash Your Hands
    We ask that you wash your hands as you enter the gym before heading to your space. We encourage you to wash your hands as you leave us for the day. If the washrooms are being utilized we ask that you not congregate near them but instead space yourself and be patient.
  • Respect Each Other
    These are challenging times. Consider the guidelines that we are asking of you as minimums. If someone within our community chooses to do more then allow them that right with dignity. Be mindful that each of us has circumstances that we are working through.
    If you need additional considerations to feel safe with returning to the gym please reach out to us.

Class Changes

  • Reserve Your Class Spots
    State guidelines ask that we limit our class sizes to five (5) members plus one (1) instructor.
    Use the “PushPress Member Portal” app (available for both iOS and Android) to reserve your spot in advance. We will have to turn you away if you try to drop in and the class is full.
    Be mindful and understand that if you reserve a class please show up for that class. If you reserve a class and cannot make that class then please cancel the reservation on the Push Press Member Portal. We understand things can happen at the last minute but please be sure you can make that class so another member is not missing an opportunity.
    There will be some sessions that will offer two (2) classes running at the same time. Each class will have its own coach. All class rules still apply.
  • Workout Stations
    Each person will be assigned an area where they can complete their workout with adequate social distance. The equipment for the day will be ready for you or the coach will let you know when it is appropriate to grab additional equipment that is needed.
    If you would like your own chalk bring in a container or plastic bag and we will provide you with chalk. Please let us know in advance so that we can prepare your block.
  • Clean Up
    When you have completed your workout, wipe down all equipment that you used.

Guideline Limitations

  • State guidelines currently are not allowing members of our community who are sixty-five (65) years of age or older to return to the gym during this phase. We’re not thrilled about it either.
  • State guidelines currently are not allowing for the resumption of gym childcare. Children will not be allowed in the gym during this phase.

Open Gym

Open gym as it was will not be possible under the current guidelines. If open gym was and is the only time you are able to utilize the gym please contact a coach or staff member to help guide you through your options.

The guidelines that the State has provided are meant to keep everyone safe. We realize that this isn’t how it was. We recognize that this isn’t perfect. We are hoping that we can get back to normal soon but until then it’s up to all of us to do the best we can with what we can.

Please follow this link to watch how to register for classes. You will need to download the Push Press Member Portal App on your phone. Registration for each class session opens up 24 hours in advance of that class time.

If you are still in need of a hold on your membership please send us an email.

If there are any questions, concerns, or suggestions please let us know.

We look forward to seeing everyone soon. #tacomatogether

Thank you

Tacoma Strength

By Craig on Monday, June, 08, 2020

Tacoma Strength Update

To our Tacoma Strength community:

We at Tacoma Strength hope that you are staying healthy, strong, and pushing forward together in these challenging times.

We are extremely grateful for your support. Tacoma Strength is more than just a gym. It is more than a place to grow stronger. It is a place where we laugh and learn. It is home to where we share and bond. It is a community that we have built together.

As of date, the Governor's office has provided a basic timeline for when we will be allowed to reopen but details such as exact dates and guidelines have not yet been provided.

In the meantime, we have been hard at work developing plans for how we will reopen the gym in a safe manner. These plans will be subject to change based upon city and state guidelines but responding to constantly varied demands is something that we’ve all trained for. When the time comes, we will be ready.

Even though we are not together physically, this does not mean we aren’t still growing stronger together. If you haven’t already done so, please reach out to us if you have any questions about participating in the resources and opportunities available:

  • Home workouts through TeamBldr
  • Group classes through Zoom
  • Nutritional coaching
  • Individual coaching through various digital platforms

If you haven’t joined us because of space or equipment limitations - or even if you’ve needed some motivation - reach out to us. We may not be able to coach you in person but that doesn’t mean that we stopped coaching.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns please let us know.

In the meantime, we ask of you a favor. Reach out to your community and ask how they are doing. A simple text or email will go a long way. When you are done reading this note, reach out to two people and ask how they are doing. Stronger. Together.

Thank you. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Tacoma Strength

Craig O Hanlon, Jordan Coby, Andrew Brown, Chris Pasqual, David Pak, Jack Lelko, Jo Ann Lucas, Meredith Frost, Val Middelton

By Craig on Thursday, May, 14, 2020

Temporary Closure Message To Our Community

Dear Tacoma Strength Community,

The Tacoma Strength Coaches acknowledge that this is a stressful and uncertain time for many of us, in our community, and the world. Let’s continue to support each other through kindness and friendship, and come together as a community to get through this difficult time. We appreciate many of you showing up to take classes at Tacoma Strength and expressing gratitude to have this special space to work out, lift weights, relieve stress, release anxiety, and to receive inspiration.

Today, as per the Governor of Washington and The State of Washington Director of Public Health, it is clear that we need to temporarily cancel all classes until the COVID-19 pandemic is contained and the State allows us to reopen. At this time, we have been told this closure will only be through March 31, 2020. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and send you updates to confirm our reopening date.

To support you, we are working to bring you home and outdoor workout options through your TeamBuildr app so that social distancing can be ensured and you can continue to work out with the Tacoma Strength community. We will begin launching these later this week and will send you information on how to participate soon.

Working out at Tacoma Strength is all about adaptation to change, and constantly varying what we do. For now, we are being asked to modify our behavior and to adapt to this current environment. This means our workouts must change too.

As a small business, we are working hard to adapt and make changes to navigate this uncharted territory. We request that you not reach out to cancel or modify your monthly autopay if you are a member. We ask that you support the gym, your community, and the coaches by helping us stay financially afloat during these tough times.

As well, we will have additional membership opportunities for you to help your fellow gym members who facing tough financial times during this crisis, as well to ensure that Tacoma Strength is available for a long time after COVID-19 is in our rearview mirror. If we can show up today and face these challenges with courage and wisdom it will shape who we are and shape our Tacoma Strength community moving forwards.

We are thankful for each and every one of our friends in this gym community. Thank you for your support.

  • The entire Tacoma Strength Team - Craig, Jordan, David, Meredith, Jo Ann, Andrew B, Jack, Val, and Andrew D

By Craig on Monday, March, 16, 2020

A Message To Our Tacoma Strength Community

Tacoma Strength Community

Tacoma Strength will always be a strong group rooted in community. Our bond between friends and gym members is stronger than any PR we can achieve with a barbell. We talk about testing our mettle and applying a competition mindset to many of our workouts. And there has never been a time like now to test this community strength.

So, with COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, the staff of Tacoma Strength would like to update you on what we are doing in these unprecedented times.

First off, we are not closing the gym or canceling any classes at this time.

But, we are making some changes though to help “flatten the curve” and maintain our new favorite introvert term “social distancing.”

Please read our update on what we are doing to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus while maintaining a place for you to feel safe, experience much-needed community and maintain and increase your overall health.


  • We will be closed on Sunday 3/15 (wait… you’re closed on Sundays already!) to do a deep clean and wipe down of the gym. We will reopen at 5:30 pm for Jack’s Yin yoga class. Please join us then. Got some time to donate and want to help? Join us at 2:30 pm to help wipe the gym down. Snacks will be provided!
  • We will continue to run all regular classes and open gym.
  • We reserve the right to limit class size participation to maintain successful social distancing. At this time we are limiting each class to 10 participants.
  • You can ensure a spot in a limited size class by reserving your spot online through the PushPress app.
  • Also, you can help ensure a spot in a class, by arriving on time. A favorite quote: “Early is on time. On-time is late.”
  • As the young folks say, “stay in your lane” will be a good approach to how classes will be run, to help ensure social distancing. When applicable, you will have an assigned area in which to do your class workout. We will help ensure some social distancing and your help with this new idea will be appreciated.


  • We have used an industry-leading HepaStat disinfectant at Tacoma Strength for many years. We will make it more readily available throughout the gym. This disinfectant kills viruses and germs, such as COVID-19 and the influenza virus.
  • We will encourage the liberal use of disinfectant during classes and on equipment.
  • We encourage everyone to wash and/or disinfect their hands when arriving in the gym and after working out.
  • Please do not use the restrooms for changing at this time. We need to keep them available for handwashing.
  • Please do not use the bathroom sinks for drinking out of. (I can't believe I just had to write that!) Please alert a trainer if you see something that needs cleaning.
  • We will be building cleaning into our regular class programming. Your help is appreciated.


  • We have always provided disinfectant wipes and sprays, but are now making it mandatory for all equipment used to be wiped down immediately after use.
  • We will limit the sharing of equipment during classes. This may mean limiting some class sizes For yoga classes, you will need to bring your own yoga mats until this outbreak is contained.


  • We encourage anyone with signs of illness to stay home and rest. Please do not attend the gym. That means, if you have any sort of elevated fever - do NOT come in the gym! Do not come back until you have no fever for at least 24 hours WITHOUT medication.
  • Our trainers will keep an eye out for the health of the whole gym and will ask anyone showing signs of illness to please excuse themselves from the gym and return when healthy again.
  • Our trainers will also not work, coach or clean if they are feeling ill or have a fever.


  • Please come to the gym if you are able to. You need it. Your community needs it. And we are a small business - so we need you too! But if you are not able to, we will be providing body strength, at-home workouts in your TeamBuildr app. Keep moving! Also, we will post some group workouts where you can meet up outside the gym as well (First one is Sunday, March 22 at 8:00 am - Stadium Stairs! See you there!)
  • Be sure to stay online! Tag us in a workout post #TacomaStrength or @tacomastrength on Instagram. We would love to hear from you if we are unable to see you for awhile.

Thank you for your help in these new and challenging times.


The Tacoma Strength Team - Craig, Jordan, Meredith, David, JoAnn, Chris, Andrew, Jack, and Val.

By Craig on Saturday, March, 14, 2020

Tire Flip Fundraiser

  • Saturday, April 27
  • 10 am to 12 noon
  • Tacoma Strength

Get a few sponsors (or just sponsor yourself!) and come test your mettle in an old-fashioned CrossFit style movement competition: 360lb tire flips! How many can you do in 5 minutes?!!

Download your sponsor sheet and get ready!

This First Annual Flip to Fund event supports the Colonel Jo Swartz Memorial Scholarship through the Association of the US Army - AUSA Captain Meriwether Lewis Chapter.

Tire Flip Fundraiser

By Craig on Thursday, April, 18, 2019

Summer 2018: Big Announcements

Happy Summer 2018 everyone!

We wanted to let you know about some exciting coaching, programming, and administrative changes that are going into effect this summer at Tacoma Strength. For the last couple months, we have been working hard behind the scenes and are ready to unveil some pretty cool things as we head into what is shaping up to be a great summer season in the gym.

  • First, as no surprise to anyone, Coach Jordan Coby is being officially recognized as “Head Trainer” at Tacoma Strength. Details...

  • Next, we would like to welcome Coach Paul Stoermer. Details...

  • We want to recognize Coach David Pak and his Olympic Weightlifting Training Class as an official class now at the gym. Details...

  • Finally, we would like to announce that effective July 1, Coach Craig O’Hanlon will be taking over as sole gym owner of Tacoma Strength. After many years of service and hard work, Coach Leon Aldrich is off to new adventures taking care of Baby Calvin as well as handling personal training sessions for PT clients at the Hangar Clinic in Gig Harbor.

By Craig on Thursday, June, 21, 2018

Message From Leon

This is my 10th year of being involved with Tacoma Strength and my 9th year in an ownership role. It would be difficult to overstate how much I appreciation I have for that experience and for all of you. I can’t think of a good friendship that I’ve made on this side of the country that wasn’t a direct result of the community that exists at Tacoma Strength.

I’m ready to move on, though. I’m also very happy to be leaving the gym in great hands. As mentioned above, Craig will be taking over as sole owner. Not soul owner. I’m selling that separately.

I have to acknowledge Craig (as in, it’s in our purchase agreement that I have to say something nice about him on my way out. Weird, right?). Seriously, Craig is the perfect choice to take over Tacoma Strength.

Firstly, he is truly a product of Tacoma Strength. Significant weight loss, health issues drastically improved, and healthy lifestyle habits installed. One really couldn’t hope for better results for a client. Immediately, he showed a genuine interest and love for the community. In the earlier days of running the Pine St. gym, Craig helped me immensely as a friend, mentor and eventually as an employee and business partner. I’ve said for a long time that every business owner needs a Craig.

Secondly, Craig has continually sought knowledge and experience that would increase his impact at Tacoma Strength. From Yoga certification to Precision Nutrition Coaching Certifications. The PN Level 2 Masters Certification he just finished was a years worth of daily work. It’s no joke. He has also been working really hard to sharpen his coaching skills to deliver a great class experience for you all.

Okay, that’s all I’m contractually obligated to say about Craig.

The rest of the team have been mentioned above. They are awesome. So, in summary, I’ll just say that you and Tacoma Strength are in good hands and I’m honored to be leaving this crew in charge.

You’ll see me around, as this dad bod isn’t just going to maintain itself.

More: Message From Craig...

By Leon on Thursday, June, 21, 2018

Message From Craig

First read a message from Leon if you haven't already...

Thanks, Leon! I am humbled and honored to be where I am today. And I could not have done it without your help as a Coach, friend and business partner. Now, as we enter our tenth year in business, I look forward to taking Tacoma Strength into the next ten years and beyond!

As some of you (many current members pre-date me!) may recall, in January 2011 I walked into the Tacoma Strength Pine Street gym after losing a bet with myself about my health. Apparently, you can’t outrun a bad diet and no exercise forever… Whatever… The first thing I saw was gym member Kristie Hoke kipping through 100 pull-ups in the middle of a little CrossFit WOD called Angie. I didn’t know what it was called, but I was hooked just watching the grace and beauty of her movements and knew I wanted to do whatever that was called. The second thing I saw was husband and wife team Ryan and Heidi Grace Kress working out with their kids running around the gym. I knew this was the right place for me! A lot has happened since then. We combined small gym spaces, our founder Morgan Blackmore decided computer programming is a pretty cool thing, and CrossFit has waxed and waned in popularity.

And as I take control of the helm that Leon and I have shared these last couple years, I think a lot about where I am today and where I have been in my former life. The journey I have been on is real, and I am reminded of that journey every time a new person walks into the gym looking to make some sort of a change in their life.

On the outside, they may look fit or not, but on the inside, there is always a battle, or a story, going on with them that has led them to decide to make those initial steps inside our gym. For some, it is about weight loss or body composition changes. For others, it is about competition and continuing the path they have been on since childhood, or since competing in college, or since finding fitness as an adult, or just needing a new community or change from the gym they are currently at. Whatever that change is, I realize that the difference may not be an easy one for them. Remember, I am the guy that sat in the Pine Street parking lot for three days before actually getting out of the car and walking in the door to ask about membership.

That said, we never know the full journey about why someone walks in, and that is why I pledge to help keep Tacoma Strength a welcome and open community of members who will accept the most competitive lifter to work out right next to the member who has just picked up a barbell or kettlebell for the very first time. It is drive and desire that unites us at Tacoma Strength. And as long as you are willing to be a part of the shared struggle, our gym community supports you.

So, as we move forward into Summer 2018, I look forward to the direction we have been on for the last year or so. As mentioned above, Jordan is giving us top-notch programming and Paul is working on a new way for some of us to move. And Maria, Jo Ann, and Andrew are a phenomenal group of trainers to be involved with. Our nutrition coaching program has yielded amazing results these last twelve months, and I am excited for the Masters Program we will be releasing soon. Our future looks bright, and we here at Tacoma Strength are thrilled that you have chosen to be a part of it!

As I have observed our members these last several years (from high up in my office perch!), there are times I have wondered how I could possibly lead a group who is better at CrossFit than me, better at Power Lifting than me, better at Olympic Lifting than me and better at sports-in-general than me. What could I possibly offer this group? And my answer to you is that I will always listen to you and provide you with the best-trained team I can to fill the gaps in my knowledge. If you want a power-lifting specialist, I will direct you to that person, if you want to know how to game a WOD, I will direct you to that team member.

So, as I close out this lengthy missive, I will leave you with two thoughts.

The first thought is that I am not only the owner of Tacoma Strength, I am also a client.

The second thought is that I hope you all remember that it doesn't matter who is at the helm of Tacoma Strength, it is the name “Tacoma Strength” that matters at inspiring us. I was reminded of this fact while watching “Princess Bride” recently with my daughters. As Wesley explained to Princess Buttercup how he became the Dread Pirate Roberts. With this idea, I am picturing both Morgan, and now Leon retired and living like kings in Patagonia as is the original Dread Pirate Roberts. If you don’t recall the story, check it out in the video link. In the meantime, “Good night Tacoma Strength. Good Work. Sleep Well. We’ll most likely kill you in the morning (with an awesome WOD!)”

By Craig on Thursday, June, 21, 2018

Weightlifting Class Is Now Official

We want to recognize Coach David Pak and his Olympic Weightlifting Training Class as an official class now at the gym. Several months ago, David came to us with an idea about starting a beginners lifting group and really digging into how form and technique work creates excellent weightlifters. If you haven’t had a chance to watch his class or see some of his students in your daily classes, then you are really missing out! The solid lifting form that these students are bringing into our regular classes is fabulous, and many gym members are noticing and asking about how their technique has improved so rapidly. This summer David will be expanding his lifting class to a morning time slot as well as opening it to allow a new cohort of lifters to begin working with them.

Side Note: David will be taking over as “Equipment Manager” here at Tacoma Strength. We have never had someone in this official capacity but have realized over time that there is definitely a need for the position as we see equipment needing repair or regular maintenance, and then not getting to it for some time. So, to combat this issue, we have been researching proper maintenance schedules for rowers, assault bikes and even barbells and kettlebells, and David is fast creating Excel Spreadsheets to keep all our gym equipment in tip-top shape. With this change, we should be able to return broken equipment back to the gym floor much faster than in the past.

By Craig on Thursday, June, 21, 2018

Welcome Coach Paul

We would like to welcome Coach Paul Stoermer.

Coach Paul predates most of us (that is NOT an age joke!) here at Tacoma Strength. He first joined the gym way back in 2009 and has been with us ever since. Paul will take over as the 5:30 am coach on several mornings each week, as well as work with us to develop a new and exciting Masters Class. Stay tuned for more details about that class as we get ready to unveil it later this summer. In the last couple of years, Paul has earned a nutrition coaching certification from Precision Nutrition and has begun developing his own personal training clientele. He is bringing that expertise and those clients in-house here, and we are excited to have him working with us in an official capacity. With a long history of nursing a bad back while maintaining a competitive mindset during workouts, we look forward to developing some classes that help our Tacoma Strength gym members move in a different way than was easy to do back in their 20s, 30s or 40s.

By Craig on Thursday, June, 21, 2018

Coach Jordan Officially Recognized As Head Trainer

As no surprise to anyone, Coach Jordan Coby is being officially recognized as “Head Trainer” at Tacoma Strength.

For many months now Jordan has been in charge of the direction our weekly class programming has headed as well as the onboarding process for new members getting started here at the gym. Jordan has a knack for programming thoughtful yet challenging workouts that adhere well to a sensible strength cycle to help keep us moving well and avoiding injury. His hard work and dedication in the gym (both while lifting AND working!) has also put him on our Tacoma Strength Partnership track. With his continued hard work, great ideas and willingness to learn and even lend a hand when needed, we look forward to Jordan assuming a future ownership role in Tacoma Strength. Congratulations Jordan! He has built a substantial personal training clientele here at Tacoma Strength and always has room to take on additional new clients as well. If you ever have a form or technique question or if you are still finding a specific movement elusive to you, be sure to inquire about setting up a training session with him.

By Craig on Thursday, June, 21, 2018

Beginner Weightlifting Coaching

ATTENTION NOVICE AND BEGINNER WEIGHTLIFTERS... and anyone who wants to improve their technique in the Snatch, Clean, and Jerk. Come in an improve your Olympic Lifts.

Every Thursday and Saturday @ 5:3pm Tacoma Strength will be offering informal coaching sessions. We’ll look at your lifts, coach you through improvements, offer some drills you can do on your own, and put you through a mini workout to test what you’ve learned.

  • Cost: Free to Current Gym Members
  • Where: Back of the gym near the Jerk Box
  • When: Thursday and Saturday @ 5:30pm starting
  • For More Info: Email Us

By David on Sunday, December, 17, 2017

Team Builder App

Have you logged on yet?

We are excited to announce this new add-on for easily tracking your gym workouts and lifts. Now you can easily access your Tacoma Strength workouts and lifting maxes wherever you are; using your tablet, computer or mobile device.

The Teambuildr app is a data collection hub allowing easy location of how you are doing with specific movements and workouts, removing the need for archaic, scribbled notebooks and unreliable memories.

If you have not already done so, be sure to ask a trainer to add you to our list of registered members. Or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We will email you an invite and the setup is simple.

By Craig on Sunday, November, 05, 2017

Tacoma Strength Newest Gym Member

Our heartfelt congratulations to Leon & Candis on the birth of their son Calvin Dorsey Aldrich, born September 4, 2017 at 2:09 am. As Candis put it, "our little "pun in the oven" arrived on "Labor Day."

Weighing in at 7lb 6oz and a Length of 21", this tough guy likes long naps on the beach and boobies (according to his Father).

See footage Leon captured during the birth.

By Craig on Sunday, September, 10, 2017

Send Off Powerlifting Competition

  • 1:00 to 4:00 pm
  • $20.00 DONATION

We are celebrating Coach Maria's amazing accomplishment prior to her departure for USA Powerlifting Nationals in Orlando, Florida. What better way to send her off in style than a showcase of her favorite sport through her favorite people!

This in-house powerlifting competition is an amateur event. No need to buy a singlet, or register with USA Powerlifting. Just come as you are and test out some of those 1 Rep Maxes!

A small competitor fee of $20 will go to helping Maria cover all of her costs for her competition on October 12th.

Let's show Coach Maria our support with this fun, no pressure, friendly competition.

To register to lift, or for any questions about this event, contact us.

Spectators are most definitely welcome! And donations are always accepted!

By Craig on Sunday, September, 03, 2017

Octoberfest Party

  • Saturday, October 7 @ 4 pm

Hammerschlagen is coming

Mark your calendars for our next quarterly gym barbeque as we bring Octoberfest to you! Craig is sourcing some pig knuckles to slow roast into Schweinshaxn. If he can't find those we'll do some pork shoulders instead.

In the mean time, brush up on your sledge hammer skills to be ready for some Hammerschlagen. Large hammers, giant, sharp nails and big wooden stumps and beer. What could possibly go wrong?

Bring some cabbage, potatoes, kraut, or whatever sides you wish to share and your own beverages, and we will see you here!

By Craig on Sunday, August, 27, 2017

Tacoma Strength “Steps” On The Competition


PICTURED: Brian Nelson, Executive Director for Unleashed At Stadium Bowl, presents Quinn with a medal.

Representing Tacoma Strength, and the Stadium High School Cross Country Team, gym member Quinn O'Hanlon ran away from the competition last weekend at the 2017 Unleashed in the Stadium Bowl Stair Challenge.

Through hard running on the rough roads of Tacoma and hard work in the gym this past year, the 2017/2018 Stadium Cross Country Team Captain was able to drop over two minutes off her time from 2016 and launch herself onto the podium this year. Nice job Quinn!

Inspired by Quinn's performance? The road to Stadium Unleashed 2018 starts now. Stay tuned for details as we put together a Tacoma Strength group to practice over the next 12 months and win the team competition next year. If interested in joining, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, August, 13, 2017

Yoga Classes Return

We are excited to announce yoga classes are returning for Tacoma Strength gym members - now in a genuine yoga studio!

Yoga is a great way to add some much-needed mobility work into your life between gym sessions and it is also a great way to focus your mindset and relax your nervous system and release stress between weight lifting sessions.

We are offering different yoga add-on memberships for you to take advantage of.


First, in a new and creative partnership with our friends at Samdhana Karana Yoga (S.K.Y.), located near Opera Alley in downtown Tacoma, our new $30 monthly add-on membership will give you unlimited access to SKY's wide variety of excellent yoga programming including All Levels, Yin, Iyengar, Gentle, Flow, Ayurvedic Flow and even Advanced Level II Flow. Click here to see the current SKY schedule.

This is an incredible deal being offered just to Tacoma Strength that is well below what you pay for unlimited yoga at almost any other yoga studio. And money raised from this unique membership will help SKY to offer scholarships to individuals unable to afford yoga. This membership add-on requires a regular, ongoing TS gym membership for classes or open gym, and you must commit to a minimum 3 months of yoga membership. Also, this membership option may not be placed on hold.


Beginning July 11 at the SKY Studio, we will hold two weekly yoga classes just for Tacoma Strength members that will be taught by our own Tacoma Strength Yoga Teachers. These classes will be held at 630am on Tuesdays(w/Maria) and 630am on Thursdays(w/Craig) and are a great way to start your day! The classes will start promptly so be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early to get checked in and ready.

  • SKY CLASSES MONTHLY ADD-ON MEMBERSHIP: $30 plus tax (3-month minimum commitment)
  • TS TAUGHT YOGA CLASS - MONTHLY ADD-ON: $50 plus tax. (3-month minimum commitment)

If you would like to add any of these membership to your Tacoma Strength account or have any questions about it, please contact us.

By Craig on Sunday, June, 18, 2017

I Bought New Plates

This weekend I bought new plates. That may seem like an odd statement, but truthfully, It was time. Now, there wasn’t anything wrong with the original ones. They weren’t chipped, scratched or broken, and none were even missing. And to be honest, I really liked the old ones. But, the simple truth is they were just too big! This insight came after doing our Precision Nutrition online coaching program for awhile. See, if you’re doing your PN habits with any regularity, then most likely, your average American sized dinner plate, probably has a lot of unused space on it when you eat. If not, then take a look at your current eating habits and see if adding more blank space to your plate can fit into your daily practice. Remember: you can always go back for more food after your first plate is empty, and as long as you check in with yourself about whether you are truly hungry or not.

Now, back to plates. The size of the American dinner plate has increased dramatically over the last 40-50 years. It seems what most of us use for a dinner plate now, used to be called a Charger, and was meant as decoration in a formal setting before the meal began. Today’s lunch plates are what we used to use as dinner plates, and what we used to use as lunch plates, we now call appetizer or bread plates. And whatever size we use, we do a great job of filling up all the space on it. “I still have a little room, I can pile "more on!”

Moron is right!

So, for the last bunch of months, the dishes I have been using for meal time have been a hodgepodge of small appetizer plates and ramekins. Even my coffee cup is now only 4oz. And after many months of practicing with these smaller sizes, I realized I’m not hungry or feeling deprived in any way, and I have no intention of going back to the old, larger ones. So it was time to buy some new smaller ones as a reward to myself. When my Precision Nutrition coach (yes, even I have a coach!) asked me what I was going to do as a reward for my hard work in the program, this is the reward I stated: Buy smaller plates!

Think about places in your life where you can assess your daily nutrition habits. Where are you doing well already? Are there places you can still tighten up and make easy, permanent changes? For me, it was plate size. What have you found is working for you? Check in with me and let me know. And if you want to know more about the Tacoma Strength Precision Nutrition coaching program, drop us a line. In the meantime, have a great week!

By Craig on Tuesday, May, 23, 2017

USA Powerlifting Team Cup Challenge

  • Saturday Morning
  • May 13
  • Tacoma Strength

USA Powerlifting of Washington is returning to Tacoma Strength next Saturday for their Team Cup Challenge.

Watch as these formidable teams of 3 compete for fame and prizes!

To set up for this event, Friday evening classes at 530 and 630pm will be cancelled as well as Saturday morning classes so the event can be held.

Take an active rest day and come in to spectate!

By Craig on Thursday, April, 20, 2017


  • Saturday, April 29
  • 7-9pm
  • Tacoma Strength

Come see your fellow athletes showcased in the photo gallery XX Fitness by artist and Tacoma Strength gym member Ella Robinson.

This gallery is meant to encourage females of all ages and body types to become more involved with athletics, regardless of skill level. It will contain portraits of fifteen models who participate in some sort of athletics, including members of Tacoma Strength, along with a short written interview of each model.

This event is free and open to all ages and genders. For questions, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, April, 16, 2017

UPDATE 4/23 - Spring Seafood Deliveries


Bring your cash or check as payment at time of pickup. Checks can be made out to Alaska Select. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, March, 19, 2017

New Gear For The Lil’Uns


Gym member Jason Gauthier has been overheard many times saying "weight lifters wear singlets, not onesies." And while that fact may be up to some rigorous debate, what isn't up for debate is that it's never too early to start wearing Tacoma Strength Gear.

New in the retail shop, to help clothe the upcoming crop of future Grit City Barbell Members: Tacoma Strength Baby Onesies!

In 3-6 month and 6-12 month sizes, we have a limited supply of these 100% Organic Cotton onesies available for $22.50 plus tax. Get yours in the shop today!

By Craig on Sunday, March, 19, 2017

2017 Washington State Powerlifting Championships

For the second year in a row, USA Power Lifting Washington is returning to Tacoma Strength for the 2017 Washington State Powerlifting Championships.

For this event, the 6:30pm class on Friday, 3/17 will be canceled due to set up, and the gym will be closed to all classes and Open Gym on Saturday and Sunday for this special event.

Even though you can't work out, be sure to come to the gym anyway to watch some amazing lifting events. Weigh In for competitors begins at 7:00am and the lifting events start at 9:00am.

For more information about USA Power Lifting Washington Chapter or this event, be sure to check out their web page.

By Craig on Sunday, March, 05, 2017

CrossFit Open Returns


Get ready! The 2017 Reebok/CrossFit Open is upon us and we will be holding official workouts at Tacoma Strength.

This year will be a little different than past years in that we will hold official scoring rounds of the Open on Friday evenings. On those days we will hold our regular 330 and 430pm classes. Then at 530pm we will begin running Open heats.

Open WOD 17.1 will be released on Thursday, February 23 and we will start the following day on Friday, February 24.

To compete in the Open you will need to register online at the CrossFit main site. Click here to do so.

NOTE: Be sure to use our registered affiliate name “CrossFit Tacoma” when you sign-up.

Not interested in competing? No problem. Be sure to stop by the gym though to cheer everyone on. It's open to everyone and is an exciting time to watch, experience and cheer your fellow gym-mates on.

By Craig on Sunday, February, 05, 2017

What Is This Push Press Software I Keep Hearing About

Happy 2017!

As we move forth into a brand new year at Tacoma Strength, complete with new fitness goals for the year, we are also moving forth with a brand new client management software system complete with new functionality for our gym members.

For many years we have been using a software program called Front Desk HQ. It has been a great program overall but there have always been a few holes in it. One of our goals always was to have a system where gym members could easily manage their own profile, checking balances, easily updating addresses and payment cards, and even buying retail items online whenever they wished to. While Front Desk limited many of these abilities, our new program, PUSH PRESS does not. It operates like many websites you currently order from and use in your everyday life.

In late November we began a trial roll out of the new PUSH PRESS software program - updating a few gym members at a time over to the new system. This allowed us to work out the kinks on a small scale that always come with these types of software changes. But with the new year, we are ready to roll it out to everyone.

In the next few weeks, you will receive several emails from us as we move your account over to the new PUSH PRESS system. Among them will be

  • A request to update your payment card in the new system.
  • A welcome email
  • A request to complete a waiver (even though we have your original paper one on file we are asking everyone to complete the new updated electronic one.)
  • A request to create a PIN number so you may make online purchases, enter into classes and update your profile.
  • A confirmation that we have moved you over to the new system.

Also, soon, a new check-in system will be available at the Front Desk. Instead of checking into our Front Desk HQ system when you arrive, you will be asked to check into the PushPress app on the iPads.

We are excited for this change as switching platforms from Front Desk to PushPress will free up our time to focus more on being better coaches and give us more time to work on the business which in turn benefits you.

If you have any questions about this change, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, January, 01, 2017

Swim WODs Return

Swim WODS resume Monday, January 2 at the Stadium High School Pool. The swim workouts will be held from 5-6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays through June, with outdoor lake swimming at American & Black Lake beginning in June as well.

Fee per class will be $10. For more information or any questions, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, January, 01, 2017

The Purge

Gym member Rico Cortez is collecting any of your unwanted clothing items to donate to charity. If you have any extra warm coats, blankets or new clean socks, these items are especially useful and needed in the cold winter months.

By Craig on Sunday, December, 11, 2016

2017 Limited Edition Hoodie

We are now accepting pre-orders for our Limited Edition 2017 Zip Hoodie with the new Tacoma Strength "Electric" Logo. Orders taken until Saturday, Dec 10. This is an American Apparel Zip Hoodie TRT497. A classic zip-up in a Tri-Blend Terry fabric blend (42%cotton - 50%poly - 8%rayon). It is ultra soft with a heathered look and is the same popular sweatshirt we ordered in Fall 2015! HOODY FABRIC COLOR: Vintage Blue PRINTING COLOR: Bright White lettering and design. SIZING: Unisex Sizes (XS to XL) FRONT DESIGN: Our Traditional TS logo BACK DESIGN: Our new TS “Electric” Logo PRICE: $40.00 plus tax

Get yours today!

2017 Hoodie

By Craig on Wednesday, November, 30, 2016

A Letter From Leon About Programming

Greetings Tacoma Strength Stalwarts,

I would like to announce that we are going to be changing up our programming style. Dr. Jared Williamson DPT has been writing excellent programming for us for the past three years and we all have stronger glutes and cores to show for it. Jared is currently working hard on a PhD in between changing people’s lives over at the Hangar Clinic in Gig Harbor. After much thought, we’ve decided to shake things up a bit (in several ways, but we’ll just talk programming for now). I think you are all going to enjoy this, but it may take a few months to get a sense of the rhythm, so please give yourselves time to adjust. If you are someone who is interested in the particulars of how the program works or if you are prone to leaving anonymous comments about the programming without attempting to understand the reasoning, then please keep reading.

A fellow member of a business group that I am a part of, specializes in writing programming for gyms. He and I have talked and I have discovered that our philosophies are very much aligned when it comes to training and programming for general physical preparedness in a group setting. So, I’ve decided to get us on board with his programming through his company Thrivestry (a mix of thrive and mastery). We start on Monday the 31st of October.

The new programming has a few characteristics that I want you to understand. First, the six week strength cycles. Every six weeks there will be a new exercise or lift that will be repeated. You’ll do it once or twice per week for six weeks.

During the first couple of weeks we’ll be getting the feel for the exercise or lift, so the loads and volumes will be conservative. The conditioning modules will be a little longer and harder during this time. Then, as the load and volume of the lift increases, we’ll taper the conditioning modules to allow for your bodies to recover properly. In our current and previous programming we accomplished this with our 4 week accumulation and 3 week restitution phases. During accumulation we had more load and volume of lifting and less of conditioning. During restitution it was the opposite.

Another thing to understand is the daily training context. 60% of the time we’ll be approaching the day’s training with a “practice” mindset. This means we’re learning, making adjustments, and mastering the movements. Quality and ease of movement are the primary goals.

30% of the time we’ll be in “competition” mode. This means we’ll be working on gaming the workout a bit to squeeze out the best possible performance. This is game day. This is where you showcase your skills to the best of your ability that day. In this context you’ll only choose movements that you can do very competently. The movements that you can just barely do when you are fresh will quickly turn to garbage when you get fatigued, so you’ll opt for a less complex version that you can perform flawlessly. In my opinion, it is a mistake to approach training as competition every day, even though that’s how CrossFit is often approached. This leads to injury, burnout, and less progress.

10% of the time we’ll be working on “mental toughness”. Often our bodies are capable of so much more than our minds will agree to. On these days, we want you to expand your boundaries a little. When you really want to quit, don’t. Not yet. Again, this doesn’t mean that unsafe movement is acceptable. Part of mental toughness is developing some control over your physiology during a stressful situation. Controlling your breathing and posture, etc. This isn’t a healthy way to train all the time, that’s why it only comes up 10% of the time. Your coaches will be reminding you of the context of each day’s training, so you have an idea about how to approach the session.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the three different scaling options that will be offered for most workouts. There is a “performance”, “Athletic” and “Health” option. These are meant to help you choose a load based on what you want to get out of your training.

Many of you are training to move better and be healthy, so going heavy and trying to set some sort of speed record really isn’t in line with your goals. That’s what the “health” option is aimed at.

“Athletic” is a little heavier. This will double as the women’s performance prescribed weights.

“Performance” is the same as the typical men’s prescribed weights and should only be used if you are competent in the particular movement in question and if it makes sense for your training goals.

You may choose a different scaling option depending on how you are feeling on that day. If you normally choose “Performance,” but you didn’t sleep well the night before, or are feeling less than awesome for whatever reason, the smart thing to do would be to choose one of the lighter options.

If you have questions, please come talk to me or send them my way and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Happy training,


By Leon on Sunday, October, 30, 2016

1st Annual (and maybe last annual) Tacoma Strength Beer Mile

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 22 as we hold the first unofficial Beer Mile at Tacoma Strength.

Gym member, Kurt Harsh, is interested in leading us through this challenging workout of running one mile while drinking four beers for time.

Sounds kinda Gangsta, but actually, it's a pretty legit competition. Don't believe me? Well, check out this article where the World Record for the Beer Mile was set at 4:39 back in July. Now, I know I can't run a 4:39 mile, and I may not even be able to drink four beers in 4:39, so this dude totally rocked it!

And as far as the rules go, there are some, and they keep them pretty official for how to compete in this challenge. You can check those out at BeerMile.com

So, if you'd like to give the Beer Mile a try, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to let him know you'll be at the gym on Saturday 10/22 at 11am, as soon as the 10am class finishes.

To compete, you'll need to bring 4 of your own 12oz 5%ABV beers and some running shoes. We'll have stop watches and garbage cans ready to go for you. Good luck! You're going to need it.

By Craig on Sunday, October, 16, 2016

4th Annual Seafood Delivery At Tacoma Strength



Alaskan Select Seafood is returning to Tacoma Strength at 5pm on Tuesday, October 18 to deliver orders of their awesome wild caught Alaskan Seafood.

Plan to order your seafood by Friday, October 14 so you can have a freezer full of 100% Pure & Wild Alaskan Seafood all year round.

Buying directly from Alaska Select Seafood ensures you're getting the highest standard of fish available. This seafood is 100% pure, sourced from Alaska's sustainable, managed fisheries and harvested using the highest quality standards.

You'll taste the difference!


Payment for orders are due at time of pickup.

When you place the order online, be sure to choose TACOMA STRENGTH as your drop location.

If you have any questions about ordering the fish, contact us .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, October, 09, 2016

Olympic Weightlifting Class

The next 8 week Oly-Lifting Class begins Tuesday, September 20 @ 4:30pm.

The class will meet 3 times a week for 8 weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 430pm and Saturdays at 11am.

Cost is $20 for current members and $300 for outside registrants. Registration fee includes a GritCity Barbell T-shirt or Tank top.

Returning coach, Mike Hass will be assisted by TS Gym member extraordinaire Brenan Pasquale and the class is open to new students as well as those who completed the first round of Oly Training. Previous students from the first session will also receive coaching workouts.

By Craig on Sunday, September, 04, 2016

Emerald Iron Powerlifting Club

Tacoma Strength’s Maria Rodriguez and Madeline Scott are excited to offer an 8-week introductory powerlifting program beginning September 7th.

As USAPL-Certified Powerlifting Coaches, Maria and Madeline will introduce the three competition lifts – the squat, bench and deadlift – and go over other accessory movements that are essential for succeeding on the platform.

This course is helpful for athletes at all stages in their fitness but is ideal for those who are looking to see a linear progression in their baseline strength. Athletes will receive one-on-one coaching and specialized programming based on their individual goals.

Classes will be held Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday mornings. At the end of the 8 weeks, athletes will have the option to participate in a small mock powerlifting meet.

If you are passionate about strength and curious about what you are capable of under the bar, Maria and Madeline encourage you to give yourself this opportunity!

Spots are limited, so .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more info and to confirm your spot today!


  • Wednesdays 6:30-7:30pm
  • Fridays 4:30-5:30pm
  • Sundays: 10:30-11:30am

NOTE: Work sets begin when class starts. Please allow at least 20 minutes prior to class start time for warming up, stretching and preparing for work sets.

COST: $20 for Tacoma Strength members. Cost includes T-shirt and programming notebook. Members have priority, but non-members are welcome to sign up on a space-available basis. Cost for non-members is $300+tax.

By Craig on Sunday, August, 21, 2016

Stretching Series Moves To Full Time For Summer!


At TS we always have our sights set on improvement. We each want to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be and we want to offer you the training opportunities that help you do the same. Something that's easy to neglect in our training is focused work on flexibility. It's just not as instagram worthy as getting a muscle up or a deadlift PR, so it tends to move further down the list of priorities. BUT, flexibility, or the lack of it, is very likely putting the brakes on your performance and your ability to move with grace and ease.

This is true to varying degrees for most of us. I've noticed that as I've focused on lifting and CrossFit like activities that I'm just not as flexible as I used to be and it is holding me back. So, I'm committed to the process of fixing that. I've been experimenting with some different stretching protocols over the last few weeks and I'd like bring you in on the action.

Who would join me on this quest for movement freedom? We'll work on one thing in each session and we'll do it once per week. A major area of weakness for me is thoracic mobility, so one of the sessions will be focused on developing a strong thoracic bridge (gymnastic style bridge). The other two will be focused on developing the Front Split and the Middle Split. These will have huge carry over to the rest of your pursuits.

The sessions will be about 45 minutes of focused work, but I'll schedule an hour so we have time to learn the stretches and have transition time. These will be relatively intense sessions, but anyone will be able do them. I don't recommend training after the session. Training before is okay, but don't be afraid to trade a regular workout session for a flexibility session, especially if you really need it.

Improving flexibility takes time and patience. It took many years for you to develop the tightness that you have, so don't expect it to go away in a few weeks. It might take you a year of consistent effort to see significant changes, but the next year is going to pass whether you work on this or not. You can either be more flexible at the end of that year, or not. Sounds fun, right? The good news is that you'll feel better with each session. It just takes a while for lasting change to happen.



  • Tuesdays - 5:30pm


  • Wednesday - 6:30pm


  • Thursdays - 5:30pm

By Leon on Sunday, July, 17, 2016

5th Annual Tacoma Strength Pig Roast

Mark your calendars and save the date as we gear up for our 5th Annual Summer Pig Roast Celebration. Craig will be roasting a whole pig - Cuban Style!

Bring a side dish, dessert or salad to share and your favorite beverages to enjoy.

Any questions, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, June, 12, 2016

Stretching Series

Hello All,

At TS we always have our sights set on improvement. We each want to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be and we want to offer you the training opportunities that help you do the same. Something that's easy to neglect in our training is focused work on flexibility. It's just not as Instagram worthy as getting a muscle up or a deadlift PR, so it tends to move further down the list of priorities. BUT, flexibility, or the lack of it, is very likely putting the brakes on your performance and your ability to move with grace and ease.

This is true to varying degrees for most of us. I've noticed that as I've focused on lifting and CrossFit like activities that I'm just not as flexible as I used to be and it is holding me back. So, I'm committed to the process of fixing that. I've been experimenting with some different stretching protocols over the last few weeks and I'd like bring you in on the action.

Who would join me on this quest for movement freedom? We'll work on one thing in each session and we'll do it once per week. A major area of weakness for me is thoracic mobility, so one of the sessions will be focused on developing a strong thoracic bridge (gymnastic style bridge). The other two will be focused on developing the Front Split and the Middle Split. These will have huge carry over to the rest of your pursuits.

The sessions will be about 45 minutes of focused work, but I'll schedule an hour so we have time to learn the stretches and have transition time. These will be relatively intense sessions, but anyone will be able do them. I don't recommend training after the session. Training before is okay, but don't be afraid to trade a regular workout session for a flexibility session, especially if you really need it.

Improving flexibility takes time and patience. It took many years for you to develop the tightness that you have, so don't expect it to go away in a few weeks. It might take you a year of consistent effort to see significant changes, but the next year is going to pass whether you work on this or not. You can either be more flexible at the end of that year, or not. Sounds fun, right? The good news is that you'll feel better with each session. It just takes a while for lasting change to happen.


  • TUESDAY - 5:30 pm - Thoracic Bridge
  • THURSDAY - 4:30 pm - Front Splits.

By Leon on Sunday, May, 29, 2016

Race The Stairs

Tacoma Strength is helping to sponsor the 2016 Kindred Souls Foundation Unleashed At The Stadium Bowl Event. As part of that sponsorship, we are forming a 10 person Tacoma Strength team this year to race the stairs.

The event will be held Sunday, August 7 in the Stadium Bowl.

To join the team, click HERE to register. Then, use code " tacomastrength348 " where it says "Got an invitation code?" After the code has been input, register under the first red option "Community Partner Registration $35".

Once you have registered, email us .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to let us know you will be part of the team. We will keep you in the loop about special team training days prior to the event.

By Craig on Sunday, May, 29, 2016

There Can Be Only One, Part 1

Greetings Tacoma Strength members,

I’d like to announce some significant happenings behind the scenes at Tacoma Strength. So, I will.

Several months ago, Morgan and I had a conversation about the future of Tacoma Strength and the future of its owners. After much thought and consideration we came to the conclusion that I should purchase Morgan’s and Lisa’s share of Tacoma Strength. So, I did. As of April 1st (this is not a joke), I am the one and true Supreme Overlord of Tacoma Strength. I promise to use this power for the enrichment of the lives of our gym members.

I’ll keep this post focused on the ownership change and in a future post I’ll discuss the evolution of the gym and my vision for the future. Many factors played into each of our decisions, but I think I can say confidently, that both Morgan and I are making the right move for ourselves and for Tacoma Strength.

The Hepfers will still be in Tacoma and you’ll see them at the gym, at least for the next few years, so from many of your perspectives, things won’t really be much different than they are now.

I am so grateful to Morgan, Lisa and all of our past and present Tacoma Strength members for the experiences, memories, and opportunities I’ve had because of this community. I’m thankful for the past and thrilled for the future.

After Morgan and I actually signed the paperwork to transfer the business over to me, something really strange happened to me. Not everyone will know this reference and all I can say is that I’m sorry your life hasn’t been everything it could have been, but it’s not too late.

By Leon on Sunday, April, 10, 2016

Yoga Saturdays & Sundays

Please join Jenny Mae for yoga at 1000am on Saturdays and Sundays at the gym.

By David on Sunday, April, 03, 2016

Swimming Classes

Join Coach Amanda on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Stadium High School Pool at 5pm.

  • Drop-in: $15
  • 10- visit swimming pass: $120
  • Swim-only membership: $75
  • TS Membership add-on: $30

By David on Sunday, April, 03, 2016

Kid Size Shirts

Just Added To The Tacoma Strength Pro Shop - Kid Size Tacoma Strength Logo Shirts!

Choose red or black in sizes from Youth Small to Youth Extra Large. These 100% Cotton Gildan Tees will stand up to whatever your junior Ninja dishes out! $15 plus tax.

By Craig on Monday, February, 08, 2016

Tacoma Strength Takes Team Event!


The event was held at Urban CrossFit in Seattle on Saturday, October 24th. Six Tacoma Strength members competed in the event under the coaching eye of Strength Coach Anna Marie Joudy.

In addition to taking the combined Team event, our Tacoma Strength team placed well in individual competitions as well, with David Shaw taking 3rd place in the 108KG division, Kelsey Kelly taking 1st and Sarah Albert taking 3rd place in their shared division, Alyce Jorgensen taking 1st in her weight division, Maria Rodriguez taking 2nd in her division, and crowd favorite Nicole Tribble taking first in her division.

A big round of applause for these competitors for doing so well in what was their first competition as a team and for many was their first weightlifting competition ever.

check out our website.

By Craig on Sunday, October, 25, 2015

Tacoma Strength vs Machupicchu

by Pete Cribbin

There are many reasons why we choose CrossFit as our fitness program. The mutual support of the group setting, the professional programming and the shear challenge of improving fitness levels through hard work.

The concept of GPP (General Physical Preparedness) looms large in the programming. The idea that well-rounded fitness involves strength, endurance, flexibility, power, mobility, and balance being considered the best approach to overall fitness. How does this stack up against a real world challenge?

I recently completed a 45 KM hike on the Inka Trail in Peru. I thought my preparation for and experience with this hike would be of interest to my fellow CrossFitters.


I started to work specifically toward this goal by assessing my own fitness level and limitations. CrossFit programming tends to be in the Glycolytic range (less than an hour 80-90% effort). I knew I needed to do more work in the Oxidative range (Greater than an hour 70-80% effort). I also knew the altitude would be a challenge for me (mid-50’s with mild asthma)

I started doing open gym about six weeks out to emphasize the areas I needed to work on. My programming included 4 days a week at T.S. plus some hill hiking. 5X500 rows, 30 minute rows, sprinting, back and front squats, deadlifts, farmers walks, KB swings, pull-ups, sled drags were among my favorites.


I arrived in Cusco a day before the hike. This city is 11,500 feet above sea level, giving me my first taste of the high altitude. The effect is gradual; you don’t notice much for the first few hours. My measured heart rate was elevated over 20 BPM above normal resting rate.

We started the four day hike the following day. You have to carry a backpack with about 35 pounds of weight. The Inka trail consists of many stone steps and it is very steep in places. On the second day the trail tops out at 13,776 feet. There are four distinct passes so there is much uphill each day.


Most of the steps were between 20-24 inches in height. I quickly learned the most efficient method was to lightly step up and then press through my heel. This is very similar to coming out of a front squat. The body awareness and balance from years of CrossFit helped. This is also the first time I used walking sticks and having the upper back development of many pull-ups helped.

The most surprising thing for me was the lack of overwhelming soreness. I expected to be very stiff and sore each morning but I was remarkably fresh, despite many hours of hard climbing each day.

I believe the T.S. programming helped me complete this challenge. This was not easy for me and I lost 11 pounds on this trip. Thanks to Jared and the coaches for the programming and guidance over the years.

By Craig on Sunday, October, 25, 2015

Alaskan Seafood Delivery


  • October 20, 2015


Tacoma Strength will again be a delivery spot for our Fourth Annual Bulk Alaskan Seafood Order on Tuesday afternoon, October 20.

Online orders have begun, so get your shopping list out.

Many gym members have participated in this yearly order before and have been extremely impressed with both the quality and price of this seafood.

Buying your seafood in bulk is a great way to get high quality Alaskan fish products for a great buyer's club, wholesale, discounted price.

To order, click HERE. You will receive a confirmation of your order. Bring cash or check at time of pickup.

If you have any questions, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By David on Sunday, September, 27, 2015

In-House Weightlifting Meet

  • OCTOBER 10, 2015
  • 11am Till Done

Want to get some experience on the competition platform? Join us at Tacoma Strength for our in house weightlifting meet.

No entry fee, no weigh-ins, no "required" singlets. Just 3 snatches and 3 clean & jerks in a competition set up.

This meet is for anyone at Tacoma Strength who has or is interested in competing in the sport of weightlifting. To register click .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Curious about what the Tacoma Strength Grit City Barbell club is up to? Be sure to follow them on FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM.

By Craig on Sunday, September, 20, 2015

Lifting Competitions - Starting Strength Fall Classic

  • Seattle WA
  • OCTOBER 24, 2015
  • 9am to 5pm
  • $45 to compete
  • Pre-registration required

Join Anna Marie Joudy's Starting Strength Barbell Class as they head to Seattle to compete in their first meet! Tickets still remain so you can compete, or plan to attend as a spectator and cheer our Tacoma Strength Grit City Barbell Team on! For questions, please see Anna Marie during class at 630pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the gym.

The Starting Stregnth Fall Classic is a nationwide strength competition that will be simulaneously held at multiple sites throughout the country. Competitors will have three attempts to test their squat, press, and deadlift. Individual and team scores will be tallied against lifters from all locations. Sign up now to get the early registration discount!

Are you strong enough?

By Craig on Sunday, September, 20, 2015

Upcoming Saturday Skills Class

Mark your calendars to attend our upcoming Fall series of skill development classes. These will be held on Saturdays throughout the Fall and are offered at no additional charge to Tacoma Strength Gym Members.

September 19

  • Taught by Anna Marie J.

October 17

  • Taught by Travis D.

November 7

  • Taught by Tara J.

December 5

  • Taught by Joe A.

By Craig on Monday, September, 07, 2015

Class Schedule Change

Effective September 8, there will no longer be a 7pm CrossFit class offered.

This change isn't a big one, since only one or two of you have been coming to that time slot anyway, and even those two were not regular about it.

Instead, we will continue offering Open Gym until 8pm and you can come in and do the class on your own. Trainers will still be available for any questions about the daily WOD.

For a complete list of our class offerings, be sure to check out the Tacoma Strength class schedule.

By Craig on Monday, September, 07, 2015

Who Is Jefferson Beardsley?

No, it isn't the first line to a new dystopian Ayn Rand novel, but is instead a way for us to keep in direct contact with our active gym members on Facebook.

Are you tired of not getting FaceBook notices from Tacoma Strength about important things going on and changing at the gym?

Getting Facebook messages and notifications out to our current members has become increasingly difficult over the last year due to something called “algorithm tweaks and changes in conjunction with a move towards monetization of commercial entity feeds.” Whatev…

So, we created a our Facebook “friend” Jefferson Beardsley, who has graciously volunteered to handle notifying you of super important things like changes in gym hours, reminders of upcoming events etc. This may come in the form of a direct FB message, posts to the NewsFeed, awesome gym action pics, or invites to FB Calendar events (like the pig roast!)

Jefferson has begun sending out a few friend requests to current gym members that easily pop up in the news feed, but if you haven't seen a request yet and want one, be sure to look JEFFERSON BEARDSLEY up and add him as a friend. If you're a current gym member and already in our Front Desk software system, your friendship request will be accepted.


You can also ask Craig any questions about Jefferson, if you have any.

By Craig on Sunday, August, 02, 2015

Tacoma Strength Annual Pig Roast & Potluck

It's time for our annual summer gym party & potluck!

Saturday, August 8, 4pm-ish

Craig will be roasting a whole pig, Cuban Mojo style, in the pig box, so show up around 4 or 430 to hang out, drink, talk and eat.

We will serve the pig around 530pm.

Tacoma Strength will provide

  • The space
  • The pig
  • The plates, napkins and silverware

You will provide

  • Your self
  • Your two legged kids if you have any (but not your 4 legged ones)
  • Your drinks
  • Appetizers, side dishes and desserts to share

Make sure to invite all your TS gym friends! If you feel like it, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

We look forward to seeing you there!

By Craig on Sunday, August, 02, 2015

Starting Strength Barbell Class

Starting Strength Barbell Class is back and now running as a regular class! Taught again by Instructor Anna Marie Oakes­ Joudy, Starting Strength Coaching Candidate and local Powerlifting competitor.

WHO:​ Y​OU! Come get strong with us!

WHAT:​ The 5 basic Barbell movements build all over body strength making you better in all your physical endeavors!

  • Back Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Press
  • Power Clean

WHERE: ​Tacoma Strength

WHEN: For ​6 weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30pm starting August 11.

BRING: ​Lifting Shoes (Nanos, Adipowers, Romeleos, etc), Weightlifting belt, Stretchy pants or Shorts, and Knee Sleeves if needed

COST: ​FREE​ to Tacoma Strength members!

CAPACITY: ​The class is limited to 10 persons due to rack availability so sign up .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, August, 02, 2015

Tacoma Strength Summer Kids Program

Register your junior TS gym member for our 6 week summer kids program!

July 7 to August 13

  • WHO: Your little kids aged 4-10, hanging out with our big kids (and coaches!) Jordan Hoover and Katie Saul.
  • WHAT: Tacoma Strength Summer Kids exercise program.
  • WHERE: Tacoma Strength and selected local Tacoma Parks.
  • WHEN: Tuesdays & Thursdays, July 7 to August 13 from 11:30am to 12:20pm.
  • WHY: You need a break and kids need exercise!
  • HOW: $75 per child, $125 for two kids from the same family. Price does not include applicable Sales Tax.

DETAILS: Younger kids and older kids will be divided into two age-appropriate groups to participate in lots of fun, exciting, exercise-minded games and activities. Special Theme days will be included!

Got a kid older than 10, and wondering what to do with them? We have a few spots available for older brothers and sisters to be a "Junior Coach Assistant & Helper." A very big responsibility! If this applies to one of your kids, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

To register, please .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will send you a purchase request to secure your child's spot.

By Lisa on Sunday, June, 21, 2015

Notes From The Trainer


Get With The Program

Let me take a moment of your time to put this year in context. I've had some pretty positive feedback on the programming over the last couple of weeks (also, death threats). Thanks! Also thanks Rob McDonald of Gym Jones (http://www.gymjones.com), whose "Mass Gain" and "Mass Gain 2" cycles formed the basis for June's program.

Our overall programming strategy follows a repeating cycle of 4-week / 3-week Accumulation/Restitution.

  • 4 weeks of "accumulation" means we're accumulating stress on the neuromusculoskeletal system.
  • 3 weeks of "restitution" means we're decreasing loads and allowing the neuromusculoskeletal system to not only recover, but "supercompensate." This means it gets bigger/stronger/faster than it was before the accumulation phase. #gainz

We started this strategy in January, and we've gone through three iterations. Each iteration of accumulation was characterized by a specific goal.

  • In Accumulation 1, we were promoting muscle growth (hypertrophy).
  • Accumulation 2 was taking the muscle we'd built and making it work better (strength / recruitment).
  • Accumulation 3 was taking that strength and adding a timing factor (power).

As I'm writing this, we're in the middle of Accumulation 4, which is a more challenging attempt at promoting hypertrophy. I was looking for a method and perspective other than mine to accomplish this. Hence, I went back to my first programming mentors at Gym Jones. I hope everyone likes how their bodies are responding to it!

Looking ahead, we'll do some assessment and benchmarking in July as part of the 4th Restitution phase, then reprise a strength/power accumulation phase in August before starting all over again in September/October.

As always, I welcome your feedback and appreciate your interest and continued trust and confidence in what we're doing here.


By Jared on Sunday, June, 21, 2015

Order Your Zip Hoody Sweatshirt - Deadline Thursday @ 5 PM

We are placing an order for some very nice American Apparel Zip Hoodies this week. They will be available in light blue, dark blue, slate grey/black and vintage green. All sweatshirts will have the TS logo on the upper left chest and for the back, your choice of either our Red Spartan helmet w/white Tacoma Strength lettering or our Vintage "Tacoma Strong" logo.

Order forms and sample sizes are at the Front Desk. Pick your size, color and design choice and let us know how you want to pay for it. Then place the completed order in the DropBox. After the order deadline, we anticipate delivery in 2 weeks.

Be sure to order your zip hoody now as we will not be purchasing very many extras to keep in the shop.

Any questions, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, June, 14, 2015

2015 Unleashed At Stadium Bowl

Join the Tacoma Strength Team on Sunday, August 2 to run or walk the stairs to benefit the rescue animals of Kindred Souls Foundation

We are putting a gym team together that is 20 members strong to run or walk the stairs to help raise money for Kindred Souls Foundation. Kindred Souls provides sanctuary to abandoned, abused and neglected dogs and cats, a holistic approach to their care, and education on the rewards and responsibilities of animal companionship.

At the event you can run or walk the 1,628 stairs once or even twice to support the fundraiser.

Register for the event and be sure to click the tab that says “Register With A Coupon Code.” When asked, enter USB 2015 Tacoma Strength to be added to the Tacoma Strength Team.

For more info about Unleashed At Stadium Bowl, see their official website.

By Craig on Sunday, June, 07, 2015

Tacoma Strength Builds A Community Garden

With the arrival of Spring, some of us have been noticing the back hill of the gym parking lot coming to life again. Right now it is full of weeds, horse tail and blackberries. But we have a vision!

Last year we started with a few tomato plants and this year we have even bigger plans. Planter boxes!

Gym member Ashley Powell wants to bring back the bees and help manage the process and Craig has seeded (See what I did there?) the project with $300 in startup funds.

The vision for this year is to prep and clean up the flat area next to the parking lot and build the first two of six planter boxes to grow some awesome, tasty and edible foods this summer. Eventually we would like to have a bunch of planter boxes brimming full of healthy, delicious organic food and a hillside of native plants that promote butterflies and bees.

We are looking for your financial and muscular help with the project. Contributors and caretakers will have first dibs on anything harvested this season.

If you have some time or interest in helping to install these boxes in May, email Craig.

If you want to be a summer caretaker of the garden, email Craig.

If you don't have time to build or caretake the boxes, but would like to contribute some matching funds (we estimate the total cost of the project this year to be around $750 for boxes, soils, plants and supplies.) then please email Craig.

We will keep you updated about the project's progress in future newsletters.

By Craig on Sunday, April, 19, 2015

How Do I Manage My Tacoma Strength Account Online?

With the recent changes in health care laws, we have had a sudden increase in the number of requests to print membership receipts, so members can submit them for reimbursement from their employer. While this is a very cool thing some employers are now doing, the last time I was printing up a whole tree's worth of gym receipts for someone, it got me thinking there must be a better way to accomplish this task. Well, there is! Get the gym member to do it themselves. (Insert parable here about "catch someone a fish they eat for a day, teach them to fish, they eat for a lifetime.")

So welcome to the first edition of "TACOMA STRENGTH TEACHES ME HOW TO USE SOMETHING SO I BECOME A BETTER ATHLETE AND GYM MEMBER." With a title like that, it may also be the last edition...

In a nutshell, did you know that you can manage your Tacoma Strength account online? You can update and change payment cards, see info about your gym plan, see past bills and print paid receipts, as well as register for upcoming classes. What else you ask? Well, you can also see how and when you have attended the gym and see your upcoming bill. And so much more!

Receive an email note from us your payment due failed?

  • Well, simply log on and fix it from the convenience of your home. This method helps avoid the embarrassing "sorry I shopped too much at LuLuLemon last month and maxed my credit card out" face to face thing that has to happen otherwise.

Receive a note your plan with us is ending?

  • Well, simply log on and see the details, as well as update your plan for going forth. That way there is no lapse in training.

Sounds awesome Craig. But how do I do all of this?


Go to this link:

  • https://tacomastrength.frontdeskhq.com/accounts/sign_in

and log in to see your Tacoma Strength account.

  1. Enter your email address that you use with us (most likely it is the one you are receiving this newsletter at.)
  2. Enter your password. Are you stuck because you have no idea what your password is? Keep reading.

If you are stuck, then most likely, you either have forgotten your password, or you have never claimed access to your online account that we create for you when you join Tacoma Strength. So, either recover your password or claim your account, by clicking the appropriate link below the Login box.

After you have secured your account profile and logged in your dashboard will show you

  • Details about the plan you have with us
  • When your next bill is due and how much it will be for

On the right hand side of the dashboard you can

  • Update your payment card method
  • See your activity of how often and what times you have attended the gym
  • And most important: if you click the BILLS tab, you will see all your paid receipts. Print away!
  • And, much, much more!

Any questions or problems doing so, be sure to email Craig

By Craig on Sunday, April, 19, 2015

Homemade Jerky Class

Easy prep demonstrated using a food dehydrator for a healthy, take anywhere, shelf stable protein.

  • Wednesday, April 22 at 530pm. $5 Food Fee

Join us Wednesday afternoon to learn the secret to making homemade jerky the easy way: at home in your food dehydrator.

Craig will go over different types of dehydrators, how they can be used to make easy, healthy, dried, take anywhere, snacks including jerky, as well as show you the steps and time involved in making a batch of jerky. Oh, and yes, there will be jerky samples available!


By Craig on Sunday, April, 19, 2015

This Month In Running a Gym February March 2015

The CrossFit Open is underway. We're currently one week away from wrapping it up. Unlike some years past, we didn't make much of an effort to get people to enter it this year. Part of that is due to the fact that the Open can be a frustrating experience if you're not an elite athlete. Muscle-ups have been a part of the Open every year (I think), so if you can't do one, you end up spending money and effort on an event that you are unable to actually do. However, this year has seen the introduction of the scaled division which has given people a chance to complete it and compare themselves to others who are at a similar level. I think we'll encourage people to participate more next year.

That said, we've had some phenomenal performances from our athletes this year. Since the number of athletes participating is so high, I've found it helpful to translate some scores into percentiles to give a better perspective of how awesome people are doing. Our top athlete is Blaine McConnell who is sitting in 66th place in the region or in the 98th percentile. Joey Burns is right behind him in 76th place, also good for about 98th percentile. On the women's side Amanda West is in the 88th percentile followed by Coach Amanda at 86th percentile. Also worth special mention is Ivy Brent who is in 8th place in her division. That is amazing.

Meanwhile behind the scenes, Leon and I have been working on the goals we set out last time. I have developed the first training module for our trainer development plan. It's on nutrition mechanics- the process of digestion, nutrient absorption into cells, and energy systems. One of the most interesting parts of the process for me has been to apply some well-established but under-used teaching techniques. They are something called “spaced learning” and “test-enhanced learning” which goes like this: you have a 15-20 minute study session. Typically with a teacher narrating through a visual presentation. It moves fast (6-10 slides per minute) with no time for discussion or anything. After 20 minutes, you take a break and do something completely different like make play-dough animals, do a cartwheel contest, play quadrupedal tag, etc. It's got to be something that has nothing to do with what you're learning. Then after 10 minutes of that you go back to the study session. Except this time, some things have been removed from the presentation and the instructor calls on people to remember what that is. Again, take a play break after 20 minutes. Then go back for the final session which has still more information missing. You can read more about it here. The bottom line is that people retain much much more information long term when their study is structured this way. Although, oddly, people report that they think they learn less using this method rather than studying for a big chunk of time, even though tests done later show that they're wrong about how much they learned.

We'll have our next staff meeting Saturday April 4th at 11:30. Feel free to come, get a preview of April's programming, and to be my beta-testers for this first roll-out. We'll do these every month. Jared is currently working on a movement/anatomy/mobility module for May.

Leon, meanwhile has been working on getting our books ready in order to file taxes. This has been a headache of comical proportions. He tried an experiment wherein we would use a budgeting software called YNAB which is something both he and I use and love for our personal finances. But after hand-entering and categorizing every individual transaction from 2014, he discovered that it wouldn't work as conceived. So we've switched to Xero, which required hand-entering and categorizing everything again.

Let this be a lesson to you kids: sucker your partner into doing the books for you.

We've also put together a list of ideas for fun stuff to do that don't involve working out. We're getting a projector for the trainer development lessons which will let us have movie nights. I'm thinking some gourmet food and a classic like “They Live.” Speaking of food, we're planning another BBQ in April. Date and details TBA. The CrossFit Regionals will be at the Tacoma Dome so we'll plan a group day to go check it out. And we've currently got a sign-up sheet for a gym softball team which comes with a free TS hat. So…you know, that's fun and fashionable.

And that's the update on this last month or so. It may not seem like a lot, but man stuff takes time. I've been working on this blog post for the last two hours. Even writing about the stuff we're doing takes more time than you think. It doesn't help that I'm writing this at the gym and can't help but watch these Parkour kids crash landing on their faces. It's pretty funny.

By Morgan on Tuesday, March, 24, 2015

Join The Tacoma Strength Softball Team

Kelsey & Chris Kelly are putting together a Tacoma Strength Coed Softball Team for the upcoming Comeback Sports Spring Season. The team needs at least 10 players including 4 women on the field at all times.

Experience is welcomed but not necessary, but Positive attitude a must!

Your cost to join will be the team fee of $820 divided by the number of players. For example, if we have 15 players, the individual cost would $820/15 = $55 per person.

The season starts around March 31 and ends about 8 weeks later and includes 7 reg. season games +playoffs.



  • Sunday afternoon games between 12-6pm
  • Tuesday night games between 6-9pm


  • Dacca Park in Fife


  • Sign up on the roster located at the Front Desk if you are interested. If we have enough committed men and women, we’ll go ahead and register.


Q: What if I can’t make all the games?
A: Most people end up missing 1 or 2 games during the season due to their own plans normally. This is fine, we will still divide the cost evenly among players otherwise it gets overly complicated and unfair trying to split of up fees based on games attended. I’d say if you know you will miss more that 3 games, consider playing another season.

Q: What if something comes up?
A: If you say you’ll make a game we do expect you to show. But things happen, just let us know ASAP so we can update game rosters.

Q: What if I don’t have a bat?
A: We generally share bats within the team. Sometimes people have extra gloves as well.

Q: What if it rains?
A: Dacca has a rainout line that is updated the day of the games.

Q: Will we have practices?
A: Unlikely, with everyone’s schedules it’s hard to organize a legitimate practice. However, if we get enough people that want to meet up, we can have one.

Q: I played ball in college or high school, but I don’t know if I’m good now…
A: Only one way to find out! And also, that is not a question.

Q: I have another questions not listed.
A: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Sunday, March, 22, 2015

Tacoma Strength “YOUR” 30 Day Challenge

Diet, Sleep, or Nasty Bad Habit.
What will you change about yourself in 30 days?

Starts March 1, 2015

Cost is $25 plus some skin.

In past challenges we have created a template for you to follow, forcing everyone to “Give Up Sugar, or Gluten”, or “Go Paleo” or “Reset Your Diet.” But if there is one thing we have learned over the years, it is that no one plan is right for everyone, and not everyone is looking to clean up their diet. That is why we are allowing you to design “YOUR” 30 Day Challenge this year.

How the Challenge Works

It's simple. Decide how you're going to change your life in the next 30 days and how much you're willing to lose if you're unable to meet the challenge. Complete the pledge from and pay your registration fee and separate wager (minimum wager is $25). We will help get you the info you need to be successful at making your changes. Then you're off and running, working hard for 30 days to change your life for the better. Complete the challenge and we will refund your wager to you. Drop out or fail to complete the challenge? Then we donate your wager to charity. It's that simple. Sign-up pledge forms will be available at the Front Desk starting Monday afternoon, February 23.

More Details

Once the groups are established, we will organize you into smaller groups of like-minded individuals working towards a common goal by sharing personal space. Our hope is that you will lean on your group for community support and insight as you share a common experience during the month. We would like each group to meet once a week, either at the gym or at a group members home for a potluck meeting to discuss the successes and challenges you are facing during the month.

To keep up with how the entire Challenge group is doing, we will also be using our new Tacoma Strength Forums to converse about meeting dates, topics and trainers and the group will answer questions. That's right! For this challenge, we are moving away from Facebook as a communications method. To access the Forum, CLICK HERE. You will need to request a user account, and you can do so up in the top right corner of the page. When requesting your user account, please use the email address that we have on file for you at the gym for your Front Desk account and that you receive this email at.


Clean Eating Group

You can choose from Whole 9's Whole 30 Plan, Balanced Bite's 21 Day plus Sugar Detox, Chris Kresser's 30 Day Reset, or our new gym favorites: Mindful Eating or Lyn-Genet Recitas' “The Plan”. Don't feel like doing a full clean eating program? Thats fine by us. Make it your own plan, by simply pledging to give up dairy, or wheat, or dessert or fast food for 30 days. This is YOUR plan and YOUR wager, so you're the boss! Pick one or a couple things you want to change about your diet, write'em down and get started. We will help coach you with some ideas on how to succeed at meeting you goal. New to the gym and the whole idea of clean eating, or doing a baseline food reset? That is great. Jump into our basic, Beginners Clean Eating Group, where we will show you how to clean up your diet for 30 days. To help learn the basics, on Thursdays we will offer Nutrition Office hours from 430pm to 630pm and some awesome cooking classes at 6pm to learn how to easily create clean, healthy food on your own.

Better Sleep Group

Got a good handle on your diet, but still watching Jimmy Kimmel each night AND making it to the 530am WOD? You need more sleep! Consider making a change in your sleep habits by joining this group to see if you can effectively go up from 5 hours to 8 hours per night of high quality, uninterrupted sleep. You'll be amazed at how much brighter the world looks after a good night's sleep. We will guide you on some simple changes you can make to your day, your environment and your evening routine to help meet your new sleep goal.

Bad Habit Group

You know what your vice is, but can you live without it? Maybe it's too much Facebook or some other bad online social media habit. Maybe it's too much TV or swearing or driving somewhere you could easily walk to. You've been thinking about changing it for awhile, well now is your chance. Write it down and banish it for the entire month of March. We will offer guidance on how to meet your bad habit head-on and win!

Got Questions?

Stop By the gym, this Thursday, February 26, open house style (no formal presentation!) from 4:30pm to 8pm to find out more information and see the different clean eating challenges and resources that are available. Or, as always, you can email Coach Craig your questions @ .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By Craig on Monday, February, 23, 2015

This Month In Running a Gym January 2015

This used to be a weekly column, but there were too many weeks when I was just reporting trivial details or sharing personal experiences that have little to do with the actual running of a gym and therefore little relevance to the point of the column. Monthly seems like it will be far more manageable with more relevant information for y'all. So here goes.

Leon and I had a strategy meeting about a week ago. We reviewed the year gone by and established our priorities for the year ahead. I hope you'll understand that I'm reluctant to publicly share our membership and financial numbers from 2014. I'll just say that moving into a new facility and improving it, such as installing shower rooms, is expensive and can really do a number on your bottom line. But we are on solid footing and things are going to continue to improve through 2015.

The main topic of our meeting was looking forward: What are our long term plans, what are our immediate needs, and how do we get from here to there?

Long term plans are highly dependent on personal goals and what we want for our lives. On that note, I gave Leon my six year notice. Lisa and I have always talked of living abroad again, preferably in Latin America somewhere. In six years our youngest, Xavier, will have finished 5th grade at Holy Rosary which has a dual-immersion English-Spanish program. (By the way, if you have a kid entering school, I HIGHLY recommend Holy Rosary. It's the only truly bilingual school in the South Sound, every parent I've met there loves it, and it's only 3 blocks from the gym. And they're accepting applications for 2015-16.) So six years seems like a good time frame to plan for. It also gives us a definite timeline to work from for business development. No business is ever “complete” but if you want to be able to hand it off to someone it requires a high level of organization and systematization. So now I've got my goal and my timeframe. Leon, by the way, doesn't have similar plans, so you can rest assured that he'll still be here plugging away.

Alright, so that established, we turned our attention to other matters. Namely, what are our greatest needs and opportunities? We narrowed things down to four areas: an Operations Manual, a Trainer Development Program, more community development, more opportunities for athletic development. I'll talk about each in turn.

  • Operations Manual - This is the comprehensive how-to guide for how to run a particular business. Ideally I could hand to you a book which contains step-by-step instructions for how to do everything the gym needs to function properly. I have over the years developed a pretty extensive OM for certain positions, but there's more to do. This is something that for now doesn't require a whole lot of extra work on our part. We've already been tracking our own work and how we do it. As we get things streamlined and figure out how to best do them, we'll formalize it into a document and bam! there's your Operations Manual. We'll review things on a quarterly basis and update as we go.
  • Trainer Development Program - Or I should say a formal program that can be opened to members and the public. We've been blessed over the years to have trainers who were already teachers, coaches, and fitness nuts who wanted to coach because it's their passion. These kinds of people are already invested in their own development, they don't require any prodding from me to go out and study. As a group we've done various in-house trainings, and I've lost count the amount of money we've spent on outside workshops and certifications for our staff. All good stuff and I can say without a doubt that top to bottom we have the best educated staff of any gym in Tacoma. That said, as Jared and I have made our way through the 200 hour Yoga certification course, we keep talking about how great it would be to have something like it for ourselves. So we started brainstorming what sort of things we'd include in it. The list is currently at 18 general topics, ranging from nutrition to performance psychology. This is what I've chosen as my primary focus for the months ahead. I'm currently developing a module on nutrition physiology and expect to have a 2-3 hour class ready by the end of February. I'll need a couple of beta testers, so if you're interested, let me know.
  • Community Development - The most rewarding part of my job since day one has been getting to know the people who come to train with us. It's impossible for me to overstate how much I enjoy the people who walk through our doors daily. I admit there was a time in my life when I was cynical about the goodness of people and the fate of humanity. Looking back with the experience I've had at the gym, and that worldview is so obviously wrong I'm embarrassed to admit it. I'm not alone in this, it comes up frequently in conversation that one of the best parts of Tacoma Strength is getting to be a part of a community of great people. With that in mind, Leon and I discussed ways we can support the development and strength of that community. Leon identified this as the area he most wanted to work on.
  • Opportunities for Athletic Development - I was first introduced to CrossFit in February of 2006. In those nine years I have gone through many cycles of enthusiasm and apathy. There have been times where I weighed and measured everything I ate, tracked every single rep, planned my schedule months ahead of time, and counted it all as time well spent. There have also been times when the thought of picking up a weight was intolerable, where I didn't care what I ate or how I looked, where I was interested in almost any athletic endeavor except CrossFit. This is part of a natural ebb and flow, though maybe a little more extreme on either end than most. But I think that most people will reach a point where they think, “Okay, now what? Where do I go from here?” Typically, those that come talk to me about it want to focus down on something and get really good at it. Olympic weightlifting is a great example. There are a lot of people who want to get better at O-lifting and to let the CrossFit side of things take a little break. Exercise is a process and both Leon and I have personal experience with the desire to change focus now and again. A way to facilitate this is to gradually offer a greater variety of classes. The O-lifting class has been a huge success, the yoga class at 5:30 Mon and Wed is growing. What about other types of lifting classes? Perhaps a group focused on fat loss or muscle growth, or running, or endurance? If you'd like to see something that we don't yet offer or want to support one of these ideas, let me know by posting to the comments or emailing me .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Expect to see more offerings in the future.

One final thing, since several of you have asked. We are taking apart the structure that is currently the kids area so that we can use it for more training space. The kids area will be moved to the front corner by the glass wall panels. It won't be walled off in the future and for a little while it'll be pretty bare bones. But the thought of not giving kids something to climb and play on just rubs me the wrong way, so we'll eventually install stuff there for them to distract themselves and be active.

By Morgan on Friday, February, 06, 2015

Gym Closed Saturday

This Saturday February 7th we won't have our regular morning classes. Instead we'll all be at Trident Athletics to support our athletes who are competing in the Olympic Weightlifting meet that is taking place there. The address is 5206 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, WA 98409. The competition starts at 9am, I think. I would love to flood our cross town rival's gym with Tacoma Strength supporters. Come wear your gear and cheer on our lifers!

By Morgan on Thursday, February, 05, 2015

SOCIALWOD - Love it? Hate It? Or Meh?


Includes an apology, please keep reading.

SOCIALWOD - Love it? Hate It? Or Meh?

Since June we have been using SocialWOD as an online WOD tracking program for our gym members. The goal was to give you a place to easily keep track of all the hard work you were putting in at the gym and remove the need for you to drag your fragile cell phone around the weight room, or scrawl gibberish in an old shabby notebook.

Since starting last summer, we have been trying to get gym members to grab & edit their profile. To take possession of it, and see their WOD history, set some lifting goals and log some benchmarks. The results have been mixed with us hovering right around 1 in 5 gym members actually doing it. Depending on the number of members using the program, it costs us about $150 per month.

So, to increase awareness and participation, late last week we uploaded a database of all our members to SocialWOD so you would receive notifications of when you did a workout, how you did in that workout, and a weekly summary of how many workouts you did, and any pr's or goals you hit.

We achieved our goal! We increased awareness, and as of Monday morning, we now have over 1 in 3 of our members participating. Nice job!.

But along the way, we seem to have irked a few of you by allowing SocialWOD to suddenly send you an email that might be construed as junk mail.

We would like to apologize for that. We are very truly sorry.

Now, my rule of thumb is that if one person complains, then there are 4 or 5 more people who were upset, but didn’t take action. So again, if you received an email from SocialWOD and were offended, please accept our sincere apology. Email us your name to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and we will remove your name from their database right away, no questions asked.

That said, for those of you using SocialWOD, on the fence about SocialWOD or against SocialWOD, please let us know here or by email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) what you like, dislike or love about it.

Constructive comments only please, we are crowd surfing in an attempt to decide if it should stay or go.

We do put a fair amount of time each day into making sure your names are written on the white board correctly, scores are written correctly and the database is maintained each month. We currently feel there is value to this service over getting nothing like at other gyms, but maybe that is just us. Please let us know.

PS, not sure what we are even talking about? You can click here: http://tacomastrength.socialwod.com/wods/84296 to check it out and claim your profile.

By David on Monday, January, 12, 2015

Olympic Weightlifting Class

Learning and improving the clean & jerk and snatch.

Instructed by Coach Austin Kemink

Wednesdays and Fridays

  • Starting January 7
  • 530pm at Tacoma Strength
  • $100 + tax for TS Gym Members
  • $200 + tax for Non-TS Gym Members

Registration Required

To Register, Please Click HERE.

Hit the ground running in 2015 by improving your core weightlifting movements with our 8 week Clean & Jerk and Snatch Movement Class taught by Coach Austin Kemink at tacoma Strength.

Austin has been a Personal Trainer since 2008 with USAW Level 1 and NASM CPT certifications. His athletic background in basketball and track in high school as well as skiing, mountaineering and martial arts in college has led to CrossFit and Weightlifting training in his adult life. As a Corporate Pilot, Personal Trainer/Coach, and now as a Probationary Fire Fighter, his current goals are “to add another 10# of muscle mass and to be a part of the TS Open team to make a run at Regionals again next year and to stay healthy while doing it!”

His 8 week lifting class is open to anybody and everybody interested, but the focus of it will be on the basics by practicing one lift during each session.

Austin says, “the goal will be to improve on one of the most technically challenging parts of CrossFit and I want everyone to understand this will be an evolving class. If we get a good turnout and interest, the gym may start programming for those who want to lift competitively. We have a long term goal to form a Tacoma Strength Barbell Lifting Club. But for now, this class will be more about mastering technique than peaking for a competition.”

In class he will be break down each lift into its basic parts, 1st, 2nd & 3rd pulls, and ensure participants have an understanding of “the why” as well as drilling in the movement pattern into muscle memory. “We will be using weight as is dictated by the participant's skill.” It will not be a PVC class. Austin says he almost never use PVC because he doesn't believe it allows for enough feedback to the lifter. “I prescribe to the U.S. Version of weightlifting = 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pulls + bar sweep and follow Catalyst Athletics for the bulk of my technique advice.”

Don't miss out on this awesome opportunity to improve your lifts this winter. Spaces for the class are limited, so don't delay. To Register, Please Click HERE.

By David on Sunday, December, 21, 2014

Updated End Of Year Holiday Hours

Gym Schedule Update

Holiday Hours

WED 12/24

  • Closed at 1:30pm after the 12:30pm WOD

THR 12/25

  • Closed. Merry Christmas!

FRI 12/26

  • Closed. Ninja stealth construction & demolition project.
  • Limited open gym times may be available. Pay attention to the Tacoma Strength Facebook Page and website for more details and updates.

SAT 12/27

  • Closed. Ninja stealth construction & demolition project.
  • Limited open gym times may be available. Pay attention to the Tacoma Strength Facebook Page and website for more details and updates.

THR 01/01/2015

  • Happy Hew Year!
  • 8am, 9am & 10am WODs & Open Gym till 12 noon.

FRI 01/02/2015

  • Open for all regular classes

By David on Sunday, December, 21, 2014


Burgers-n-Blankets is a homeless outreach program provided by Life Center DWNTWN, where gym member Garrett Werner works. It is a simple way to provide winter resources for the homeless of our local community. Through donation bins, like the one located at Tacoma Strength, DWNTWN receives new and gently used blankets and winter coats.

At 8pm on the first Saturday of each month, B/B volunteers meet at William Philip Hall on the University of Washington Tacoma campus. With fresh purchased burgers and donated blankets, they venture into the heart of our city to distribute to those in need.

From monetary donations to direct involvement, they invite you and your family to join with them and help the disadvantaged of the 253 in this practical way.

This winter, please bring your new or gently used blankets, winter coats and warm socks to the donation bin at Tacoma Strength.

Editor's Note: Please DON'T bring in your new or gently used burgers and place them in the bin. Yes, I'm looking at you David Pak!

Don't have extra blankets or time to buy any this busy holiday season? We will accept your cash donation if you have a spare $5, $10 or $20. The full amount will go to this awesome grass roots organization to help purchase new blankets, or fresh burgers.

You know how cold it has been IN the gym the last couple of weeks. Now imagine being outside with no place to retreat for protection from the elements. Any help you can provide will go a long way to make someone's day a little brighter and a little safer during this holiday season.

By David on Sunday, December, 14, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - Roids

The other day I posted a link to an article on our FB page. The article took a look at drug use and CrossFit. For those who won't take the time to read it, the conclusion is that by using a rough correlation with muscularity, maybe half of the top 10 men CF Games athletes could be doping. I use those hedging words because it's an imprecise instrument and we have nothing provable that we could hang our hat on. But it got me thinking about performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) and the many issues surrounding them. Before going much further I must confess I've never used PEDs, which will only be too obvious by those who see me. I have no first-hand knowledge of the effects or psychology of using, nor am I a chemist that actually understands the mechanisms of what effects these drugs have on your body. So I'm using this as a sort of working paper to formulate my current understanding and open it up to your thoughts and discussion. This is more of an opinion and survey so I don't want to get bogged down in the sciency stuff and try to quote all my sources.

Many of the effects of PEDs are misunderstood and overstated in the public narrative. Make no mistake, pumping chemicals into your bloodstream is going to have some serious ramifications. But even vitamins can be harmful if taken wrong. The key issue regarding the health of any drug is the method of application. In fact, steroids and many of the other PEDs are regularly used in normal medical treatments.

The question is if they can be used by healthy people as a way of enhancing their performance without also incurring negative side effects to outweigh the positives. This is certainly a question I'm not equipped to answer, but then again, few are. One of the troubles with talking about PEDs is that so little research is done about them and their actual effects in both the short and long term. By making drugs illegal and restricting research, it leaves the question to be answered by people willing to take the risk and experiment on themselves.

So that's what we have. This experimentation has been going on for decades now and a reasonably large body of anecdotal evidence has been built up. Guys (mostly) have been sharing tips and gear and comparing notes and writing about them on message boards and blogs and books for the last 30+ years. When I've read those books and websites and personal experiences, I don't see a lot of horror stories, even long term. I do see a lot of attention paid to learning from past mistakes and mitigating side effects. But of course this is anecdotal evidence and selection bias, but it is significant enough to leave an impression on me: that maybe this stuff can have a net positive use.

On the health side of the equation, I'm left with a big question mark about the long-term effects, but it seems like the great lab/gym rat self-experiment has managed to find a consensus about a method that eliminates or minimizes the short-term drawbacks. Again the question is whether the positives outweigh the negatives. How you answer that will depend on your situation and risk tolerance.

The other side of the discussion has to do with the morality of PED use. Is it right for people to do something potentially harmful to themselves? We don't let people smoke crack, after all. This idea is based on the belief that by making something legal, society condones it and that by making it illegal, we inhibit its use. Can we adults agree that this simply isn't true? Many bad things are legal and we prefer it that way. Street drugs are plentiful in spite of a 30 year war on them. I'm of the belief that you need to put the truth out there and let people make their own choices, which means letting them make bad ones too.

Is it an unfair advantage in a competitive sport? Yes, but only because there are rules restricting it. There is a damnable difficulty with trying to drug test a population of hundreds or thousands, and even if you could handle the logistics and cost of doing it, the nature of the beast is that new drugs get invented for which there is no test. Enforcement is reactive in nature while doping is proactive, so you're never going to be able to ensure that any sport is perfectly free from doping. But I think an even bigger question is what we mean by “fair.” Is someone born with more red blood cells or better vision or muscularity really on a level playing field with their competitors? Genetics isn't fair, so we already start with an unequal situation. In light of that, isn't it fair to say that PEDs actually equalize the natural unfair advantages some athletes are gifted with?

I'll close my thoughts there. I'd love to hear yours in the comments or at the gym.

By Morgan on Wednesday, November, 19, 2014

Teen Fitness 101 Strength & Conditioning Program

A Successful Athletic Season Begins In The Off Season.

Learn strength and conditioning techniques this winter in a teen-friendly environment, under the guidance of our exceptional certified fitness trainers.

Our 3 month Teen Fitness 101 Program prepares athletes for participating in CrossFit style classes and excels as an off season high school strength & conditioning program.

Join Tacoma Strength now and be ready to compete for your school this spring!

  • Who: High School Teens 14-18yrs
  • When: Dec 1, 2014 to Feb 28, 2015
    Mon, Tue and Wed
    3:30pm to 4:30pm
  • Where: Tacoma Strength
    2354 Jefferson Ave
  • How Much: $225 - kids of non-members
    $150 - kids of gym members

To register, or for more information please contact us by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

By David on Sunday, November, 16, 2014

Not Your Grandma’s Yoga

For a long time, y'all have been requesting yoga as a part of the regular Tacoma Strength service offerings. I get it. Yoga is a great counter-point to CrossFit. And it's phenomenal for building body awareness and control, not to mention the flexibility gains that can come with it. Now with us staff improving our Yoga skills to Dhalsim-like levels, it's time to start integrating some Yoga programming into our schedule.

The challenge with this sort of thing is always to find the time and frequency that works for the most people. Which for now looks like a weeknight during regular hours. So to try it out, we're going to run a yoga class starting this Wednesday at 6:30pm. A regular CrossFit class will be happening at the same time, with all of the loud music, swearing, and noise that comes with that. This won't be your grandma's yoga.

By Morgan on Sunday, November, 02, 2014


We are excited to announce some big changes to the Tacoma Strength childcare program. First, as many of you know, long time childcare coordinators, Jana and Alex left us in October due to relocations and new jobs. Thank you for your help ladies, we wish you both well!

In their place, Lisa Collins has taken over coordinating the program. We also have two new, awesome volunteers, Chloe and Lisa, to help watch the kids. Thank you and welcome!

In addition to our regular childcare at the 930am workout, there have been several requests to have babysitting provided during an afternoon WOD. You asked. We listened. Beginning in November, we will begin providing childcare services for our 330pm workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If it is popular, we will expand it to additional days and workouts.

To further entice you to utilize our award winning and friendly childcare program, we have decided to discontinue charging for it. That's right, it is now complementary while you work out with us! And no, to answer your immediate question, you may NOT drop your kids off here and then go run errands or play bunko. It is only for while you work out!

If you have any questions or suggestions about how to make the child care program even better, or which workouts besides 9:30am and 3:30pm we should provide sitters, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

By David on Sunday, November, 02, 2014

Remembering Lisa Bernsten

It is with heavy hearts that we report to you that Tacoma Strength has lost a member of our close gym family.

We received word last Friday that Lisa Berntsen passed away while descending from her climb on Mt Everest this month. At this point, details are still coming in, and all we know is that it was a sudden and unexpected medical event.

The Mountaineers have written a post about her journey. Also, her blog, NatureMaven, which we shared with you a couple weeks ago, has many pictures and updates that she had been posting along the way.

We will keep you posted as we learn more news and when services will be held. Please keep Lisa and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

By David on Sunday, November, 02, 2014

Wednesday Whiteboard Posted

By Leon on Wednesday, October, 15, 2014

Tuesday Whiteboard Posted

By Leon on Tuesday, October, 14, 2014

Monday Whiteboard Posted

By Leon on Monday, October, 13, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - Zones

I don't have much to say about running a gym this week, but Leon did write a really good response to someone who had complained about the Zone idea, so I want to share that instead. I've edited it to remove personal references.

The biggest challenge we face in programming and coaching is trying to find a way to get group of people with varying ability levels, injuries, goals, and preconceived notions of what CrossFit is or what it's supposed to “feel” like and give them a safe, rewarding program that maybe even actually works. The best way would really be to write a program for each individual that addresses their specific needs/issues. But, ain't nobody got time for that, so here are some possible approaches:

Different Class Levels

Basically same idea as zones except you no longer get to come to whatever class time you like. Everyone in the class does the same thing, but you are severely limited in your choice of times.


This is what got CrossFit started, but as the community grows more sophisticated, you see this approach used less frequently. The main reason is that it's not very effective. Sure, it gets people through a workout that they couldn't otherwise do, but does it actually progress people toward being able to do the real workout? And, what does “real workout” even mean? People often feel that because they "scaled", their effort was less noteworthy.

For example, let's say lift for the day is Overhead Squats. Let's say you suck at Overhead Squats. The suckiness is most likely caused by poor shoulder mobility/stability, poor core stability, poor hip / ankle mobility, or all of the above. So, the CrossFit method of scaling would say you should do lighter weights or a pvc pipe until you can do it better. The problem is that better never comes. You just end up doing shitty overhead squats with no weight for the rest of your weak, pathetic life. You probably won't get hurt, because you're not loaded, but you do nothing to correct the problem and you don't get the benefits of doing a loaded squat, which was really the whole point to begin with.


Rather than scaling, we are trying to let people get the full benefit and intent of the exercise while preserving quality of movement and therefore safety and effectiveness. It's like scaling in that it keeps people from doing things they aren't ready for, but it also keeps most of the good parts about the movement. From a coaching perspective, I find it easier to coach with the Zones, because people are moving in a range that is appropriate for them. Good form is more likely to happen. There are fewer train wrecks to deal with. Also, I think rather than making people feel like they can't do the real workout, we are just giving them the appropriate workout. It's more predictable, measurable and easier to manage, in my opinion. Plus, it's only part of each class where we “segregate” people. For a more in depth discussion on this, you'll need to buy me a beer.

By Morgan on Sunday, October, 12, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - September 14, 2014 [Throwdown Edition]

I missed my article last week since I was busy preparing for the throwdown with Gig Harbor and Federal Way. So let's start this week there.

The event was at CrossFit Federal Way. Several of the core members and owners at Federal Way used to be members here for a few years before they caught the bug and opened their own gym. Although I miss training with them regularly, it's awesome to see what they've built and I'm impressed with the caliber of staff and athletes they've put together. That said, I really really wanted to beat them so that we could talk trash for a year. I'm not going to lie, a secret motivation for putting this thing on was just to be able to smack talk. We also invited Gig Harbor, who we haven't seen before because their team finished a couple points ahead of us in the Open last year.

Each gym brought three teams of four (2 men, 2 women). Two teams were open, one team was masters (40+). There were three events. A max effort deadlift; a progressive series of rowing, thrusters, and pull-ups; and a final workout involving sled drags, ball slams, push-ups and squat thrusts (which I designed). Gig Harbor won the open division, Federal Way won the masters, and Tacoma won the overall (combination of masters and open), although it should be pointed out that Gig Harbor had to pull out of the masters division due to a lack of 40 year olds there.

Anyway, it was fun to watch virtually all of our athletes PR their deadlifts. And I was pleased to see how well our athletes moved and the quality form we displayed. Really couldn't have been happier on that score. We also had a great turn-out from our members to support and cheer. My only complaint on the day is directed at myself- I had wanted my event to be more of a sprint. It's my fault for not testing it as it would be done in the competition (I had gone up there and tested certain parts of it, but not all together). But that's small beans. It was a great day and I'm proud of our athletes, especially of those for whom this was their first CrossFit competition.

Other notes in running a gym: I'm glad it's September. August gets pretty quiet up in here. It's by far the slowest time of the year when people are on vacations and the weather is sunny and warm so people have options to go play outside. But in September, kids go back to school and people start getting back into work mode. So over the last week I've started to see some old familiar faces that I've missed these past couple months.

[Author's note: I've traveled to the Atlantic coast in the time that I've started this til now. I doubt I have time to make the publishing deadline still, but I'll stop here and get this to Craig and David. There's more stuff I want to tell you about- the beginner program, a facility remodel, yoga, nutrition, and the new website. But that'll have to wait until next week.]

By Morgan on Sunday, September, 14, 2014

Programming Notes September 14, 2014

UPDATED: 9/22/2014

Updated performance testing form for week of 9/22

If you've been with us since January, you've experienced what we think of as one complete cycle: pre-season, in-season, competition, and post-season workouts. Now, it's time to begin again. Over the last year, Leon, Morgan, and I have been working on a system of strength and conditioning to maximize performance and functionality for every member of Tacoma Strength. In this new cycle, we're going to see that system evolve.

For the next 2-3 weeks, in addition to our normal workouts, we will be implementing a new system of movement skill testing, performance testing, and individual feedback. The point of doing all this is to focus on movement skill and strength balance before heavy loading. Many, if not most of the injuries I've treated gym members for can be traced back to athletic imbalances of one kind or another.

At the conclusion of testing, we will make recommendations to each of you about which training “track” will be likely to benefit you most over the next 6 months. However, just because we recommend a track doesn't mean you're stuck in it. These tracks and all the corrective modules that will go along with them are not meant to be restrictive. On any given day, you may feel like trying something more. That is totally fine. These tracks are simply meant to be your touchstone - your CrossFit Conscience, if you like; something reminding you of the current state of affairs of your fitness… and how to improve it.

The tracks are as follows

  • Lifetime Athletes - anyone looking for a challenging, fun, efficiently crafted program of general physical preparedness that optimizes fitness. Expect to benefit from this program no matter what your physical activity of choice, and expect to increase your resistance to injury and athletic longevity across the lifespan. Also, expect to be a part of the community that spontaneously arises when people do this training together.
  • Competitors - Lifetime Athletes looking to compete locally, regionally, or nationally in CrossFit-style fitness competitions.

Fundamental movements are separated into “zones” of biomechanical and neuromotor skill.

  • Primary Zone (between Knee & Shoulder Level)
  • Secondary Zone (from Below the Knee)
  • Tertiary Zone (from Shoulder Level to Overhead)

This may seem like a novel idea, but think of it this way: in your average day, how many repetitions and tasks do you perform in the primary zone? Probably a lot. Personal hygiene, making food, socializing, yard work. Now how about those that require you to lift all the way from the floor. The answer is likely far fewer. And up overhead? Fewer still. Can you see why it could be important to pay special attention to zones of movement where we get less practice?

In order to achieve safe and efficient movement through all 3 zones, we need athletic balance.

Movement Skill + Strength Balance = Athletic Balance

Athletic balance is being proportionately strong in all zones of movement, then being strong enough overall and sufficiently conditioned for the tasks you plan to encounter. The idea here is to address your athletic balance in a particular zone of movement before adding heavy loads. This will ensure you do not worsen existing imbalances and set yourself up for injury.

You may still perform any and all movements of which you are capable, but our general advice is to do them at lower loads until you have fully addressed your weak areas.

So how strong is strong enough? What does balanced strength look like? When you demonstrate a basic level of capability in all three movement zones, you can test yourself out against the models of strength balance we have developed. These models are as follows:

Strength Balance Goals for Lifetime Athletes

  • Deadlift is the reference
  • Back Squat 85/80% DL
  • Jerk 65/60% DL
  • Overhead Squat 55/50% DL

Strength Balance Goals for Competitors

  • Deadlift 2.5x BW
  • Front Squat 75/70% DL
  • C&J 63/60% DL
  • Snatch 50/50% DL

Finally, though we'll explore dozens and dozens of different exercises, we'll operate off of a fundamental list of Central Skills. While you can certainly work on all these movements regardless of your track, consider how trying to master movements on the Competitors list is premature if you still lack skills from the Lifetime Athletes list.

For Lifetime Athletes

  • Back Squat
  • Dead Lift
  • Push-up
  • Pull-up
  • Front Rack Lunge
  • Push Press
  • BB Get-up
  • Handstand
  • Split Jerk
  • Front Squat
  • Thruster
  • Overhead Squat
  • Ring Dip
  • Jump Rope
  • Row
  • Run

For Competitors

  • All skills of Lifetime Athletes
  • Pistol Squat
  • Handstand Push-up
  • Butterfly Pull-up
  • Rope Climb
  • Clean & Jerk
  • Muscle-up (+ Bar Muscle-up)
  • Snatch
  • Handstand Walk
  • Double Under

How will we achieve balance and improve skill? First by establishing your individual baselines through movement skill (week 1) and performance testing (week 2). Then, we will incorporate corrective exercise modules specific to your athletic balance patterns. Something new you will begin to see during the last week of September is an “X-Block” in the daily workouts. This block will be a 10-20min adjunct to track-specificity designed to address your individual needs while you are still participating in group classes. The X-Block along with the track system is how we'll assist everyone in shoring up their weak links and maximizing their potential. We think taking this approach will bring the most success to everyone. As always, we need your feedback to make it great. Please fill out lots of Dropbox cards as we go along. Enjoy!


By Jared on Sunday, September, 14, 2014

Mastery And Why It Should Matter To You

I'm going to take a break from This Week in Running a Gym and share an article that will be sent to everyone in the beginner class today.

This week I want to talk about the concept of mastery and why it should matter to you. Mastery is the ability to perform a skill with maximum efficiency and grace. Research into motivation and performance psychology shows a pattern, which is that people who enjoy practice the most, continue to practice throughout their lifetimes, and perform at the highest levels are all in some way motivated by the desire to master their activity.

The desire for mastery is more important than external rewards, winning, and even social pressure.

To be motivated by the desire for mastery is to find something intrinsic in the practice, something of value regardless of the external stuff. I personally think that every human being is an artist or wants to be an artist of some form, whether that be the art of war, the art of motherhood, or the art of movement. The become a master is to find expression and fulfillment through your skill.

Alright, so mastery is the cat’s pajamas, but what does it mean to seek mastery? Let’s look at our definition.

First is efficiency, the greatest return for the invested energy. Technical proficiency can mean a lot of different things across a spectrum of skills, so lets look at the general stages we go through when learning a skills. We’ll use the Squat as our example (although this would apply to any skill).

  1. The first stage of skill acquisition: unconscious incompetence where you don’t even know what you can’t do.
  2. Next is when you try a Squat and can’t do it, that’s called conscious incompetence. In this stage you know a little something about the movement, and you know you can’t do it. This is probably the most uncomfortable stage because we realize just how little we know and how much work it’ll take to get to the next stage. To move on, you must break it down to its component skills or areas of difficulty and work on improving each one.
  3. Over time you finally work your way toward your first full quality rep. This moves you to the third stage of conscious competence. Now you can do it but you have to stay focused. Here is where we really build our knowledge of the movement while practice it.
  4. After a while we slip into unconscious competence which is where we stop having to think about it. This is the “good enough” stage. Skill basically stops improving.

The second aspect to mastery is grace. Sometimes we can look at exercise as purely mechanical. Do this do that go down go up. But there is always an element of expression to every movement. It’s the outwardly projecting energy. In yoga they use the term “organic energy.” We want to move fluidly, with grace and beauty. Even if we’re popping a vein and drooling while deadlifting. I don’t have precise directions for how you do this. I think there is something intuitive and subjective about it that you need to figure out for yourself. The journey is the destination, or something like that.

The key to this process is that when you reach stage four, you need to get back to stage three, and you do that by pursuing grace. At some point in the near future, you will all be able to squat with technical proficiency. It’ll be “good enough.” But if you leave it there on the shelf, you won’t get much better. You need to stay mentally present in the movement and find ways to move with grace, to create expression.

That might sound a little hokey at the end there, but it’s the truth and it’s the key to developing mastery and a lifetime of benefit.

By Morgan on Thursday, August, 28, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - August 21, 2014

Remember a few months ago, I leaped into the abyss and offered to be fully responsible for my household meals every other week, when I wasn't working the evening shift? Yeah, well that didn't get far before I had to skip a couple turns. There has been a lot of travel for me this summer which has scrambled my schedule. But this week I've been on it and want to update y'all in the hopes that you gain some insight into your own habits from my experience.

My objectives, apart from relieving some of the burden from my wife, are to refine a menu that will be healthy, tasty, easy to make, and economical. The idea was to repeat my menu from last time so as to get good at making those meals. But my brilliant plan was undermined by the fact that we bought a quarter of a cow earlier this summer and have a freezer full of meat. I learned from previous cow-shares that it's better to just eat the good stuff while you have it, otherwise you're sure to waste some. Plus I've had some veggies ripen in the garden that need to be eaten. So rather than stick to the script, I've been making meals based on what's at hand.

For that reason I've been able to get away with only spending about a 120 bucks on groceries this week, although I've made it a point to use up what's already in the fridge so that doesn't account for all food eaten.

I've gone on two shopping trips and should have what I need for the main meals until Sunday. I might need to go again on Saturday if we're low on staples. Monday I went to Duris farms in Puyallup where I got fresh veggies and cukes for pickling, also went to Fred Meyer. Tuesday I went to East Asia Grocery and La Huerta for fresh produce and tortillas & spices respectively.

This second time through, I don't find myself as stressed about the logistics of it all so much. Something that has helped is when I cook, to cook big. Triple what I need for the next meal so that there is enough to last for a couple snacks or another big meal. I'm also prepping everything. If I need half an onion for something, I'll make sure to chop all of it and save the rest for later. I've always done this stuff when I've cooked, as I'm sure most of you readers do too, but the power of it seems particularly apparent right now.

I'm basically just planning for dinner, breakfast staples (which for me, usually means eggs plus whatever I have already prepped) and using left-overs to fill the gaps. Something I found helpful this week was to take a scrap paper and write out the daily dinners with ingredients next to it, which became my shopping list. Later posted it on the fridge so the family could see it and I could remember what I'm doing. Last time I was more seat-of-the-pants, this time there is more forward thinking.

There you go. Nothing revolutionary. If you're a food ninja you might have more sophisticated habits, but the point is to share insights as I go, however rudimentary.

By Morgan on Thursday, August, 21, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - August 15, 2014

Another week in the life of. Let's zoom out a bit and look around.

A big part of my experience as a small business owner is a gradual acceptance that there is no separation between life and work. Early on I accepted this, but as a temporary necessity, the cost of starting a business from scratch. Later, I sought to create that line, by scheduling time away from work, by adhering to strict-ish hours, by getting organized. All good steps, but I've come to see that my performance as a manager is directly related to how I treat myself and how I spend my personal energy. So even though I may set up formal divisions between work and private life, of course, it's one and the same person.

Over the past several months, Leon, Craig, and I have been studying our way through a nutrition course. It's called Precision Nutrition, and I recommend anyone who eats food to check it out. Part of what I like so much about it for trainers like me is that they close the gap between nutrition knowledge and making practical changes to behavior. When it comes to changing behavior, success is all about making the many small adjustments that support the new goal. Think about somebody going from couch potato to the gym. Just the act of getting to the gym requires they schedule a new thing into their day, displacing what they used to do, possibly affecting other people or family, they have to arrange for their transportation and food, not to mention overcoming psychological factors such as embarrassment, doubt, and physical discomfort. So a key factor in making behavior change is in not getting overwhelmed by it, which means that you can't try to do everything at once. Our former couch potato probably shouldn't also expect to remodel the kitchen and quit smoking at the same time.

Which brings me to the guideline to only change one habit per month. You can read about this in more detail here. The gist of it is that your habit needs to be a physical action you can perform and you have to be totally confident you can do it. So “eat better” is too vague, but “eat a vegetable with breakfast” is good. On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that you can do this? If you don't give it a 9 or 10, then choose something easier. Success will come when you focus on small practical changes which will accumulate benefits over time.

The one habit at a time thing has stuck with me since I read it. A statistic connected to it is that 80% of habits formed on their own are still done 1 year later, but when people try to change 2 habits at the same time, their success rate a year later drops to 20-35%. With this in mind, I've put it into action over the last couple months. The habits I tackled were NoFap and YNAB. What are those things, you say? Well, I tried writing that out in an earlier draft and it took me so far afield that I was moving off the point of this week's article. So if you want to know what they are, you'll just have to look them up yourself.

The main thing I want focus on is how the one habit per month thing has played out for me. First is that it's perfectly acceptable to try to do a bunch of additional things, as long as your focus stays fixed on the main thing. I've also been taking a 60 second cold shower a day, getting to bed by 10pm, and taking fiber and supplements. But those other things are not the priority, I don't track them, I don't worry about whether I did them or not. I do keep a record of my daily success on my regular Google calendar. Second, is that by only selecting one habit, I have peace of mind that I'm doing what I need to be doing right now. I tend to think about all the things I want to do better and then guilt myself into attempting to do it all at once. When this doesn't last I drop everything and live with the mess until I'm ready to attempt it all again. Now, I can tell all those little voices in my head that yes, I'll get to that but all in good time. First I've got this one thing on my plate. Choosing only one change also presents an opportunity to prioritize. My first habit, NoFap was decided along the lines of, “that would be interesting, let's try it.” But my second one, YNAB, was more carefully considered. I had time to think about what to do next and what kept coming to mind above all else.

So now I feel like I have this tool, a guideline for making the changes that I want made, and what has me encouraged about this is that it's so simple I know I can keep it going through high and low periods. The power of less. I look forward to seeing how far it can take me.

By Morgan on Friday, August, 15, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - August 6, 2014 [Suckerpunch Edition]

It's Friday morning and I'm packing for another trip. This time Lisa and I are going to Vegas for a combatives/self-defense workshop with my man-crush Tony Blauer. Tony is the guy whose DVD about the science of the suckerpunch I used for an earlier article in this column. I hope to come back as a suckerpunch master, and I've been looking forward to this since is signed up for it 6 months ago. But I have to say I'm not thrilled with the whole process of packing and getting to and from the airport, rental cars, hotel rooms, etc. Seriously, I don't envy those of you who have to travel for work. I guess you figure out the logistical bits, but the toughest part was getting shifts covered and making sure things back home get taken care of while we're gone. If travel was a regular part of life I wouldn't want to commit to doing things around home that would need to be maintained in my absence, like having kids and stuff like that. Anyway, come talk to me next week and I'll show you what I learned about suckerpunching people.

Speaking of travel and shift coverage, Coach Amanda will be gone for a couple of weeks. She left yesterday for England. It'll be a well-deserved break for her. She works a lot and she works hard, I'm super-grateful to have her. In her absence Leon and I will be picking up a significant chunk of her coaching hours. It'll be the first time since moving to the new space that we'll have a consistently full teaching schedule. By full I mean that we'll coach four or more classes a day. This may not seem like much, but coaching can be surprisingly exhausting, even when it doesn't appear that we're doing much. You're always "on," you're keeping an eye on the clock, sharing the physical space with other users, explaining activities, and constantly scanning athletes for dangerous and inefficient movement. On top of that, people have questions about personal concerns, about membership accounts, newbies coming in to check it out, and people who want to bullshit about this, that, or the other. All of which is good and all I enjoy, it's just that after about 5 hours of that, you can start to feel low-energy and in need of a recharge. A couple weeks will be fine, just enough to make us really and truly appreciate Amanda and maybe shower her with gifts when she returns.

It's also time I announced the result of our Front Desk Ninja search. Two weeks ago we had just opened up the floodgates to applicants for the position. We had received 125 initial candidates, some of whom piqued my interest. After cutting the field in half and moving into the next round we gathered more information about them. It was at this time when I came into the gym one afternoon that Leon asked me what I thought of the possibility of Craig in that position. There was no real thought necessary- here's a guy who has been one of our great success stories, who has been involved with the gym behind the scenes for a couple of years, who has extensive business experience and would only make us better by getting even more deeply involved. The only business advice I ever got from my dad when I was young was to, "Hire good people and let them do their jobs." I'm not sure why he would tell me that, since he was a teacher and I never expressed interest in business; but I think it's great advice. This definitely falls into that category. But I didn't want to make a decision right away, so I went home and slept on it. I read somewhere a long time ago that getting a night of sleep before a big decision helps improve outcomes. (It's also true that if you wash your hands before a decision you'll make better quality choices, the research seemed to point to some psychosomatic effect stimulating certain regions of brain. And there's your trivia for the day.) So after sleeping on it and deciding that the only downside was that I'd have to disappoint the other applicants, and since that would happen to almost all of them anyway, Craig was our man.

There is more stuff going on that I want to talk about, but this would end up a very long article and I really do need to go pack. Next week.

By Morgan on Wednesday, August, 06, 2014

Programming Notes

I write this as we board our flight back from the 2014 CrossFit Games where Don King did us all so proud. He displayed exceptional athleticism and perseverance through each event. He battled a field of other competitors that was exponentially better than in previous years and held a final position among the top 10 fittest masters in the world. He did this with the same quiet professionalism you are used to seeing him display in our gym. After he completed each event, he stayed to cheer on his fellow competitors - another thing we've all gotten used to seeing in the gym.

After the Masters, Anja and I stayed to watch the full competition - even got to talk to some of the competitors about their performance and training. This next 6 weeks of our training will be informed by what I learned during this trip. Short answer: we've got to do more work on our movement efficiency.

For some of us, movement efficiency will be improved by increasing our strength range. This means first getting more mobile, then getting stable in those new ranges of motion. We saw dramatic examples of this in all divisions, but particularly in the Masters. Normal wear and tear of joints accumulating over our lifespan is additive, but can be slowed by some concentrated intervention. To this end, we'll add some mobility into our strength work, expanding the strength we already have into a new, fuller range.

For others of us, movement efficiency will be improved by increasing our midline stabilization. We saw great examples of success and failure of midline stability during the “Midline March” event. Strong men and ladies were beaten handily by smaller athletes who held their core strong. We'll be continuing a strong core focus.

If you watched the whole Games, another thing you may have noticed was a tremendous upper body focus. We will need to work up to this. Lower body and core form the foundation for all other skilled movements, so we will continue to focus on those areas. That's where we started at the beginning of the year, and it has paid off very well for many of you in PR after PR. In the coming weeks, we will shift some of our focus to the upper body.

As always, thanks for your patience and trust. We are developing and evolving a program just for you, our members. A program customized to your needs will always out-perform an off-the-shelf product, but it takes your feedback to keep it relevant. Please don't be shy with your questions and comments. Your feedback combined with the performance data we collect every workout makes us all better.

Finally, I'd like to publicly express my gratitude to Don King and Jonathan Brown. The experience I had with you both this training season was invaluable. The strength of body and will you both display is inspiring. You set the example for all of us to follow. For the next year, let's all resolve to do just that.


By Jared on Sunday, August, 03, 2014

2014 Games Write-Up

Sorry for missing the past couple of installments. I've been preoccupied and away from my computer. For those who missed it, I was down in Carson, CA supporting our own Don King in the CrossFit Games. Don is in the 55-59 Masters division. This is his second time going to the Games and last year he took third place. This year unfolded a little differently. First is that the selection process for the athletes was different so there were some guys there who were wicked strong but weren't as skilled in other fitness domains like speed or endurance. So for example, the top lift on the deadlift ladder was 475, but three of the top five deadlifters finished in the bottom half of the field overall. The way it works ultimately is that each event is scored separately and the highest average finish after 8 events is the winner. You don't have to win every event, and the overall winner this year averaged about 4th.

After our first look at the schedule, we had some concern about the deadlifts and handstand walk events, knowing that Don probably wouldn't beat the field at those. Everything else we felt good about.

First event was deadlift ladder. Don got a personal best by 20 lbs, lifting 405, good for 10th in the event. Then was the handstand walk. We've avoided doing a lot of handstand work due to recurring shoulder pain. It was decided that it was better to keep his shoulder healthy and be weak at that skill, than to exacerbate a problem that could potentially keep him from competing. So we ended up getting stung by that, but it was the right call to make. Fortunately, there aren't a lot of men 55-59 who have great shoulder range and strength, so Don took 8th in that event.

The next two events, Don started to climb the ladder He got 4th in the sled drag sprint, then 3rd in the rope climb/run. At the end of the first day he was in the top 5 overall. A great finish after getting through his two weakest events.

Second day things changed. The first event involved 5 sets of 20 pull-ups among other stuff. The problem was two-fold. First, by the time Don's group went, the day had heated up the black pull-up bars. Second, Don's judge positioned himself poorly to observe the top of the rep. The place to judge pull-ups is to stand in front (on the same side as the athlete) at eye-level with the bar looking down its length. Every judge was doing this except Don's who kneeled on the ground a few feet behind the bar looking up, so at the top of the rep the bar obstructed his vision and he didn't have a good perspective to see the height of his chin. To be clear, I'm not blaming the judge for the outcome, everybody had that judge at some point, I'm just recounting what actually happened. Don got stung with a lot of no-reps which left him doing extra pull-ups on a super-heated bar. By the end of the workout, his hands were missing a gut-wrenching amount of skin. To get an idea, look at your hand and draw a horizontal line across the middle. Now, anything above that line, just rip off. You could see blood squeezing from between his fingers during the pull-ups. Despite this, he finished 6th on the event which was enough to push him into 2nd place overall.

Here is where the value of a good support team came into play. Had it just been me, I would have been loading him into the car to get to the ER. But Jared and Anja, both PT's, leapt into action. They knew how to protect the hands and get him taped up and ready for the next event which fortunately didn't involve any hanging or gripping. But he did have to do do 45 med ball cleans and burpees in ultra-padded gloves that looked like Mickey Mouse hands and with a lot of pain. To add a little twist to the dagger, the surface was so hot that he got blisters at the ends of his fingers (through gloves) while doing burpees. He got 13th pace in that event which was his worst of the week. This was tough because we'd have expected him to be able to hang with the top of the pack for that workout. He said he felt a little off due to slippage of the material inside the gloves.

That night he didn't sleep well. Back at the house, through Anja's connections we ended up Skyping with a sports medicine doctor from the Olympic Training Center. Among other things, he used to be the guy responsible to keep gymnasts in international tournaments. The guy knows tape, and he showed us how to fix Don up for the next day. Meanwhile we discussed the potential long-term harm of competing on those hands and at what point we would have to advise Don to withdraw from the event.

The following morning, his hands looked better than we had hoped. Not good, mind you, but not red and swollen, not agonizing. I swear Don is a cyborg. He's able to take that pain signal and lock it into some internal cell where it can thrash and scream, but won't stop him from moving forward. In fact, this was the most amazing and inspiring aspect of the week. He never made excuses, he never blamed anyone, he never felt sorry for himself. He still went into each event with the expectation to win, not just to do his best, but to win. The man is a gamer. He warmed up with his new bandages and cleared our criteria to continue.

The first event on the last day included 2 sets of 20 toes to bars, which are hard on your hands in the best circumstances. I was mentally allowing for the chance that he might be forced to do singles to get through them. Nope. Blasted through, only coming off the bar once in each set. He got 7th on that event.

The final event was a sprint followed by 4 burpee-muscle-ups and 5 snatches. The muscle-ups obviously hurt but he got through them. The snatches I think were the last nasty surprise. They were the first movement that significantly stretched the skin of his palms. He struggled for the first 2 or 3 reps, before mentally getting over that hurdle, at which point he finished all 5 reps in a row. He got 8th on the event and finished in 7th place overall.

Before I close I have to send love to a few people. Firstly is Jonathan Brown. JB has been Don's stalwart training partner since February, working shoulder to shoulder with him, coming in early, staying late, and coming in for second workouts. Second is Jared Williamson who was primarily responsible for Don's training program and who along with his girlfriend Anja, was able to keep Don in the game after the hand injuries. Lastly is Amy Honeycutt, who you may have heard us refer to as Ms. Magic Hands. She's the massage therapist who we want to send everyone in the world to. She prepped Don before every event and took care of him afterward. Without her, the cumulative effect of 8 events in 3 days would have worn him down and tightened him up.

Finally, I can't say enough about how amazed I am with him. Not only that he placed 7th in the WORLD in the perhaps the world's most physically demanding sport, not only that he overcame hardship and pain to do it, but that he did it with such gratitude and humility and an iron will to succeed. On character alone, I can't imagine a better person to have as our champion, to represent us. Long live the King!

By Morgan on Saturday, August, 02, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - July 13, 2014

This week the big deal on my plate is that our Front Desk Ninja Casey announced that she will be moving back to the People's Republic of Canada at the end of August. Her husband gave notice at his job after suffering too long under a boss he didn't like. Props to him for getting out of a bad situation, but unfortunately their visa status is tied to his employment status. After a long difficult debate, Casey has decided to return with him rather than stay on as our Front Desk Ninja. But I like to think we were a close second. The only silver lining is that this will mean two fewer immigrants here stealing American jobs. Right guys? Am I right? I'm right, right? …Right?

Anyway, this starts the hiring process. The fifth time I've done this. It's gotten easier to do, but it's just as hard. It's easier because I have a system in place and it's just a matter or putting the ad up on Craigslist, it's hard because I've been a job applicant many times and I know how tough the process can be. So I find myself thinking about how much it sucks to get rejected every time I'm about to reject someone. Because of this, I take the process very seriously. Even though I sometimes joke about it in conversation, I never take someone off the list without a reason that I feel I could explain to their face. I also try to keep them informed of the process and stand by my deadlines. There is nothing worse than having an interview and then waiting for an indeterminate time and not knowing the next step.

I've learned a few things that I never knew until I was on this side of the table. First is that I shouldn't hire a friend, or even someone I already know and like. That pre-existing relationship becomes a barrier after hiring because those old social rules usually don't include me telling them what to do, with expectations about quality and timeliness and getting fired as a possible consequence. I have to wrestle with breaking the old ways we used to relate, and have to be willing to sacrifice the friendship if they don't perform up to standards. So no friends. And if you already know me, you'll need to be a strong candidate to get passed my hesitation.

Ultimately I'm hiring for character. The technical requirements of the job are not so complicated that we can't teach someone reasonably tech savvy how to do it. What matters a lot more is how this person will fit with our staff and members. Somebody who is humorless or timid just won't do. A close second is that I'm looking for conscientiousness, you know, like personal standards. For example, I use an informal tone in these weekly write-ups, but you'll notice I still have impeccable grammar (ahem). I reread these articles multiple times for flow, coherence, spelling, and grammar as I write. The FDN will be the primary point of contact for most people, they will be the face and voice of the business. Sloppy writing reflects poorly on everything else.

The early stage of the process is of trying to winnow the mountain of applicants down to something more manageable. Every time I've opened this position up to the public, I've received over 200 applicants. That's great since it'll increase the likelihood that we'll have some great people to choose from. The hard part is how to sift through them all and isolate the better candidates. This was super hard the first couple times when I went the traditional route and asked for resumes. I hate resumes. They all look alike and say nothing about the personality of the person behind it. My solution is to make the first part of the process an activity, like completing a survey which lets me get an idea of their personality. It has enough room for someone to eliminate themselves. Here is where I cut people for bad writing or for forgetting to include their last name. If you're not willing to proof what you put on an application, you're not going to do it when responding to an inquiry. I might let something slip if they're solid elsewhere, but people get cut for a lot of trivial reasons in the first stage. They're told in the beginning that if they don't hear back by a certain day, they were cut.

The next step is to sift for technical ability and get some more information about their story. At this point I contact them via email and ask them to create an online document and include things in it like a picture, some autobiographical information, a link, etc. I'm specific in the directions because I want to see how well someone can follow them, any deviation where the directions are clear usually results in elimination. A standard rejection email goes to anyone who doesn't make it.

The first two stages are of eliminating the bad candidates. Now we have a stack of the mediocre and the good. After this I'll bring Leon in and we'll go through the remaining candidates and start highlighting people for positive qualities. Maybe they have some especially relevant experience, a great sense of humor, or some other characteristic that makes one of us think, “I want to know more about this person.” This gets us to about 20 candidates. This is the hardest part for me because I'm often left looking at someone who on their own would be a fine person for the job, but they don't make the cut because someone else looks a little better. Who knows? Maybe that person would be amazing but some intriguing little detail never made it through and so we don't pick them to go through to the next round. But we have to draw the line somewhere and go with the ones who sizzle over the lukewarm. Rejection emails go out.

Then we set up a phone interview. Split the list in half and ask each a standard set of questions. Things like, can you suggest any changes to our website? We're looking for insight or at least thoughtfulness. We're also looking to see if they actually thought ahead and looked at the website of the company they have an interview with. We write our notes into a shared document. When those are done, we each get to name our top three to invite to a face to face. We don't send the rejection emails at this point, if we aren't happy with the people we interview, we'll go back to this list and select more people to meet.

By this point, honestly, we have a good idea of whether the person can do the job. The face to face is more of a get to know you, more about their story, what they're looking for in a job, etc. After those are done Leon and I sit and talk it out, we each choose a favorite or two and then sleep on it. Then we talk it out again and make a decision.

And there it is, the process for finding a FDN. I know I might be giving away some of the secrets in this article, but that's only going to benefit someone who goes to the website and reads this post. Which is exactly the kind of quality I want to promote. So if one of you readers is applying, congrats, here's a map to the process: write well, follow directions, be interesting. And don't hesitate to shoot me an email about the process. So few people ever ask about it that someone who did would really stand out.

By Morgan on Sunday, July, 13, 2014

Monday Whiteboard Posted

By Morgan on Monday, July, 07, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - July 5, 2014

I sometimes play video games to unwind. When work and life become hectic, the game becomes my escape. In particular I like the game Civilization 5, which is an enormously complex empire-building game where you balance literally dozens of factors while pursuing multiple victory strategies. Honestly, the game is so challenging that when the idea of starting a business first came to mind 6+ years ago, I figured that running a business couldn't be that much harder than winning at Civ 5. By and large I was right, although running a real business involves a slightly broader skill set and you're not allowed to nuke your competition.

There is a quote that appears at one point in the game which goes, “Two things are needed for greatness, a plan and not quite enough time.” That idea stuck with me so I wrote it across the top of the whiteboard in the gym office. After Leon and I decided to take the energy that we would have put toward the T-Town Throwdown and put it toward improving our beginner program instead, we found ourselves with a plan and an ambitiously short timeline. We're talking complete overhaul, new curriculum and materials, six times longer than what we had done, and more comprehensive than anything any gym I know of is doing. Start from scratch, be ready for roll-out August 1. Ready go.

My particular pile of work involves designing and writing the curriculum for everything that goes alongside the actual training program. Meanwhile, I'm in Bend OR at a family reunion. This has been a mixed blessing. Freedom from the usual distractions and routines leaves me with chunks of time and fresh energy for research and writing. But new distractions and activities suck up that time as quickly as it becomes available. There's a group heading into town to watch Transformers? I'll be right there! A hike? Flag football? World Cup? Take my son bike riding? Well, I guess this lesson plan can wait.

My goal had been to finish at least five lessons, and I currently have two done. A couple of knuckle-down work sessions ought to get me to the goal. Which I'll get to right after we get back from the hot tub.

By Morgan on Sunday, July, 06, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - June 29, 2014

This week I'll start with a lesson that I'm still learning, but has been on my mind lately, then I'll talk about an awesome new service we're adding to all regular classes.

First, my lesson. I tend to look at my days and judge my satisfaction by what I got done. A productive day is a good day. I've told you about Lisa and my habit of asking each other, “what was the best part about your day?” as we're climbing into bed at night. A common answer I give is, “getting X done.” Where I run into difficulty is with the all-or-nothing nature of this job. When there is a project that needs doing, I can easily work 14 hours a day on 5 hours sleep, brain working the from the moment of waking to when I go back to bed. Although these times are a lot of hard work, they're also satisfying in their own way. I get stuff done and I'm proud of that. Fortunately those periods don't last forever, but I sometimes struggle with what to do when it's not like that. I feel like Wile E Coyote when he's chasing the Roadrunner and goes running off a cliff, it takes a little while to realize he's still doing a lot of running for no purpose. I often find it harder to adjust to periods of little urgent work, than periods of a lot of work. So these last couple of weeks I've been deliberately silencing that voice in the back of my head that constantly tells me to scurry and work work work. I gotta tell you, it's been great. Especially since the Sword of Damocles that was the T-Town Throwdown got removed, it's been pretty stress free; bike rides with my kids, working in the garden, and conquering the world in Civ 5.

That'll change soon. July will be a busy month. We're redesigning the beginner program to be bigger than anything we've done before (more comprehensive, in fact, than any CrossFit gym I've seen) which we want ready to go by August, we'll have kids classes running, and I'll be going to the CrossFit Games. So it goes, ebb and flow.

The other thing I want to announce is that we're going to try out a service called SocialWOD. Basically it'll let us take a picture of the whiteboard and upload everybody's name and daily results to a database. So you, the athlete, will be able to go to tacomastrength.socialwod.com where you'll have an online journal of your daily results. No more guessing what your previous weights were, no need to remember to grab your journal, it's there with no effort on your part. Awesome, right? Apart from benefiting you individually, it'll be a tool we can use to evaluate our gym programming. So I'm excited to add that and see how it works. The first couple of WODs should be up by the time you read this. Check it out and let me know what you like.

By Morgan on Sunday, June, 29, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - June 22, 2014

The big news this week is that we (by which I mean I) decided to nix the T-Town Throwdown. The idea of not doing it had been on my mind for about a week after I did a self-assessment and realized that I was procrastinating on doing my part in order to finalize the permit. When I go from simply being slow to get something done to actively avoiding it, I've revealed to myself that I don't want to do it. And that means I need to step back and reconsider what I'm doing and why. When I did so in this case, I saw how much stress I was already carrying and the event was still four months away. Then, when in a numbers meeting with Leon I saw how much the cost of the Throwdown would affect the business, I brought the idea up to him. We both agreed that the gym gets little direct benefit from the event: it lost money last year, broke even the year before, and we didn't see an appreciable uptick in membership either time. In other words, we spend a lot of money and time and stress to put on an event that doesn't benefit the business. So why are we doing this again?

Instead, we'll take that time, energy, and money and put it towards doing our core competency better. Two areas that we want to improve are our beginner program and trainer education. This isn't to say that those areas are currently lacking. I know nearly every trainer in every gym in the city and I can honestly say that our training staff and program are second to none. But it can always get better, and I want it to be so much better that there is no comparison between us and anyone else.

We'll also host a couple of smaller invitationals so we can still scratch that competitive itch. I've got emails out to some local gyms to gauge interest and have already heard back from our amigos at CrossFit Federal Way, so they're a go.

Speaking of programming, you may or may not know that Jared, Leon, and I beta test our daily program a week or two ahead of time. We usually do it mid-day and spend most of our time trying out rep schemes, movements, or work volume. We skip the things that we've done before or have a reasonable idea of how it will fit into a regular class. Well, after watching all the personal records that have been set lately, we're kind of jealous. There is a huge benefit in regular progressive training, such that if you skip too many training opportunities you don't get the full benefit. So for the near future, we'll be joining the rest of the gym and doing the full daily WOD. Expect to see our names on the board. Oh and don't worry about the beta testing. We've built up such a huge surplus of modules for classes that we can easily design the program with confidence in how it'll all fit together for a group.

There are more things that have been on my plate and that I think y'all would find interesting, but none that would fit into this set of topics. So this will be a short post and I'll write a longer more in-depth one next time.

By Morgan on Sunday, June, 22, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - June 15, 2014

So many things I want to write about, it's hard to choose. But before I do, I want to get through one off-topic rant that's been eating away at my brain for a little while. It's when someone uses the phrase, “I feel like God is calling me to...” Their next words are always about something really nice that they want. It's never, “sell everything, give it to the needy, and spend the rest of my life loving and serving others.” It's about moving to Hawaii or avoiding something unpleasant or inconvenient. Own your decisions people and don't use God as a cover for acting in your own self-interest. End rant.

Okay, while getting that off my chest, I figured out what I wanted to write about. Mostly because it makes me look like a great guy.

Lisa was gone for four days last week which left me in charge of feeding myself and kids. Normally Lisa handles all of that, not because I'm some sort of sexist, but because that's the division of labor we agreed on. She gets to take care of our kids, house, shopping, running her photography business, and cooking meals; while I am responsible for doing fun new things like yoga, capoeira, and working out with friends. There might be some stuff I'm glossing over, but anyway, I was back in action in the kitchen last week and it got me thinking about some questions that I had had during the last Clean Eating Challenge.

A summary of those questions is as follows. It's simple enough to select a couple recipes from a book and make a meal plan out of that. But that immediately brings up the question of, when do you make these meals, and how does that fit into your schedule? Do you like those meals? Are they easy to make? How much time are you willing to spend in the kitchen? If you're going to cook big meals and rely on leftovers, how long will those really last? And how do they taste after a day or two? Then in the bigger picture, when should you go shopping? How far ahead do you shop for? And of course, cost is an issue.

Every one of those things became a challenge for me. At first, I started strong, experimenting with new meals, spending lots of time in prep, etc., but as time went on, I found I couldn't maintain that level of effort. Since then, I've been mulling solutions to those problems and here's my hypothesis: if you establish a consistent routine around a small number of meals you'll learn your way around all of those problems. Familiarity with particular recipes means that you'll get better at the process cutting down prep time and you'll learn to make it taste better. You'll learn how much to get and when. And you'll know how far a single meal will go.

After a few days of taking the reins and being the guy responsible for everyone, I realized that it's a more mentally consuming job than I had assumed. I was constantly thinking about what's next, what I need to get, and when I can go get it. I figure if I was feeling the pressure, Lisa would too. So when she got back I offered to be responsible for all meals for the family every other week, when I work mornings. You should have seen her face, it was a mask of blank incomprehension. Like how Dorothy must have looked when Glinda the Good Witch told her she could have left any time with that teleporting footwear she had on. You mean all this time, there was a solution available right here, and you didn't tell me?

This week was the first week of that. I'm figuring it out as I go, I didn't really think too far ahead about this, so I already see some things I can track next time that will help me make better decisions for the time after that. Here's how I'm approaching this, I'm selecting meals mostly for enjoyment, not worrying too much at this point about eating perfectly clean or being super economical. I'm doing one main meal per day, while keeping some sort of grazing option in the fridge. I lost the receipts for my Monday shopping trip, but I remember quantities. I'm keeping track of how far each meal goes so I can adjust quantity in the future. Next time I'll keep all receipts so as to calculate cost per meal. I'll also keep track of time spent cooking and shopping. Then after I get a routine established, one that is relatively easy, economical, and tasty, I'll start to branch out into other meals as I feel so moved.

This is what I did this week.


  • went shopping at La Huerta Mexican market, and East Asian grocery
  • bfast: eggs, bacon
  • day: leftovers from Sunday (I forget what)
  • din: carne asada with plantain tortillas. included Mexican sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, guac. These were insanely delicious, where you keep eating well past satiety just for another bite.
  • prepped/cooked: bfast and din


  • bfast: adobada pork with scrambled eggs in plantain tortillas
  • day: carne asada leftovers
  • din: carne asada leftovers (I had something else planned, but we still had enough for one more meal, plus we had a picnic at American Lake and it was easy to throw it all into tupperware)
  • prepped/cooked: bfast, roasted veggies


  • went shopping at Hong Kong grocery and Fred Meyer
  • bfast: roast veggies sauteed with a couple of fried eggs on top.
  • day: ground beef and plantain tortillas
  • din: noodle stir fry. Korean rice noodles sauteed with lots of veggies, dried shrimp, fish oil, etc. Not paleo and no meat, but man it was yummy.
  • prepped/cooked: ground beef and tortillas, din, trail mix


  • bfast: oatmeal with cream, raisins, brown sugar, walnuts, and fresh nutmeg (my first time grinding nutmeg instead of using powder- it was amazing)(this is a cheat meal for me, I admit, but it was so worth it)
  • day: roasted veggies or ground beef or stir fry
  • din: whatever we didn't eat during the day.
  • prepped/cooked: bfast


  • bfast: either roast veggies with an egg or two, or whatever leftovers are left.
  • day: same as above, green salad with basil and cilantro mixed in.
  • din: hamburger and grilled chayote

Saturday and Sunday

  • I don't know yet. I'd like to throw some seafood in there and/or a roast for the crockpot.

You can see a lot of repetition in there and it may not look like the meal plans you typically come across in books or websites, but that simplicity makes things a lot easier. I'm sure we'll tire of these eventually, but I'm already looking forward to my next go-round so I can eat each of them again. You can see how far each meal went and when and where I shopped. Like I said earlier, I already see how I will track things differently next time, but I think this is a good start. I'll share again when I've got a template worked out.

By Morgan on Sunday, June, 15, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - June 8, 2014

Last weekend was the first of my 200 training hours to become a yoga teacher. This was at Expand Yoga in downtown Tacoma, Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, and will take place once a month for ten months. I'm in the class along with our gym PT Jared, and gym superstar Ashley P. The following are some of my thoughts after the first weekend.

First, my experience with yoga, especially in a class context, is extremely limited. I first came across yoga through a library book in 1993. I was 15 at the time. I looked at the pictures and tried to make my body do that to the best of my ability. I mostly saw it as a form of stretching, but was surprised when I came home from work (my first job at Burger King, yo) late and tired , and I chose to go through the sequence as a way to bring myself down in order to go to sleep calm and de-stressed. Eventually I moved on and forgot about yoga. Fourteen years later in Thailand, Lisa started going to a class with a friend. The idea of going to a class was weird to me - you do yoga in the living room, why would you go somewhere else? So inspired by her, I got another book from another library and figured out what to do again in my living room. All yoga in Bangkok is hot yoga, you just open a window. I kept at it until I got through the learning curve and then lost interest again as my attention shifted to moving back stateside. After moving back and starting CrossFit Tacoma (aka Tacoma Strength), my energy has been directed at becoming a better trainer by learning as much as I can about exercise science and strength and conditioning.

My first takeaway from the weekend was to learn just how intuitive the yoga mindset really is. Everything about it seems oriented toward drawing your awareness inward toward your body and mind. The operative idea is to feel what you're doing. This is something I always enjoyed about my experience on my own, but now I have a sense of how central that idea is to everything. I particularly like how the start of class is spent deliberately drawing attention inward to the body and breath, that would be a good habit to cultivate prior to any physical undertaking.

Along with this intuitive approach is a surprising (to me) amount of vagueness about the “right” way to do a particular movement or pose. I thought that much of our time in class was spent talking about the different ways things could be done. I guess I assumed that the yoga world was more homogeneous, just as someone might think all CrossFit gyms are the same. Guess not.

This intuitive approach contrasts with the analytical mechanically-oriented perspective of exercise science. In the strength and conditioning world, it's all about the most efficient way to move, the order of operations, joint angles, percentages, and lines of force. Whereas yoga is intuitive and internally oriented, fitness training is mechanical and external. I would think that an ideal perspective would be one that balances between both. After all, the mind navigates the body and both as athletes and coaches we want the awareness and control that comes from a yoga-like approach. At the same time, gravity is imposed on all of us from without, so an objective analytical point of view will yield its own benefits.

Most of the technical training from the weekend centered on the Primary Sequence, a series of movements that roughly goes from: standing, to forward bend, pike, push-up, back arch, then back to standing. It's nearly identical to our Inch Worm exercise, but with a lot more of the details filled in and coordinated with the breath; which I loved. The whole time I kept thinking about how attention to those details (like, for example, how to hold tension in the hand while on the floor) would benefit anyone who wanted to do something like Crossfit or any other athletic training. Definitely expect to see some crossover in the future.

I'll finish with an idea that has been on my mind for the last several days, which is the word psychosomatic. The word comes from a combination of two Greek words. Psyche is a huge concept but basically means your conscious self, your mind or soul. Soma is the word for the physical body, so psychosomatic is literally mind-body. Although not used directly, it's a word that came to mind while listening to a lecture about Eastern Orthodox Christian theology recently (yes, I do that). The Orthodox idea in a nutshell is that body and psyche are inseparable, thus living a life of faith will require a bodily practice. I've been chewing on this for a week or so, and it was on my mind this weekend. The idea kept resurfacing as I observed the myriad connections people made between yoga (a physical practice of breath, movement, and posture) and emotional, psychological, and spiritual concerns. I'm not sure that I have any big conclusions to come to about this now, just that the strength of the connection between mind and body has never been more apparent to me.

How about any of you readers? Does your physical practice (whether in the form of CrossFit, Yoga, or any other discipline) have a spiritual (however you define that) element to it?

By Morgan on Sunday, June, 08, 2014

SOTA WOD Results

Students from SOTA came in today to learn about exercise and CrossFit and how we do things at Tacoma Strength. They had to do this WOD at the end. Awesome work.

SOTA, Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Whiteboard

By Morgan on Tuesday, June, 03, 2014

This Week In Running A Gym - June 1, 2014

This week my biggest challenge was trying to design an obstacle course for the Throwdown. It's got to be physically challenging and test skills like agility and balance, but not be so high-level that it eliminates everyone except ninjas. It should be able to accommodate 300 athletes and somehow be a partner workout. Oh, and it can't harm the grass. I think I've got it though, and I'm looking forward to testing it out.

Someone took me up on my offer to practice some self-defense drills that I put in last weeks column. It was the first time I've tried to present these concepts as a lesson unto themselves and so was nervous about it. My background is in traditional Jiujistu, or as I prefer to call it, "Dirty-trick-fu." When I first learned about Tony Blauer and the psychological side of self defense I was practicing Jiujistu daily and these drills and ideas simply became a part of the martial arts training. But what about when somebody has no martial arts training? What if they aren't here to learn a fighting system, but instead just want to learn to proactively defend themselves? It's a radically different starting point and it scrambled my assumptions about what to teach and how to present it. I spent more time talking than I'm comfortable with. I feel that a training session (whether self-defense or CrossFit) should be spent practicing the actual skills, and if I'm talking, you're not practicing. Some talk is necessary of course, but my goal as a teacher of movement is always to keep my coaching precise and concise so we can get back to moving. So I was definitely outside of my comfort zone, and although I hate that feeling, I know that when I've been challenged like this in the past, it's usually a golden opportunity for growth.

Someone who was contemplating opening their own gym once asked me what I thought some of the keys to success were. My answer included the willingness to fail publicly.

On another note, another “Why I don't do CrossFit” article made the rounds on Facebook this week and I saw it pop up on the feeds of several of you. I skimmed through it, but didn't spend much time reading it closely. It seemed more like click-bait than anything interesting or new, trying to play up controversy in order to attract attention. But since those ideas are in the air, I thought I might try to address them here.

Basically it boils down to three things. These are responsibility, technique, and injury. Really it all comes back to injury.

The responsibility question usually gets presented in the form of an example when a workout calls for a certain weight or skill which is beyond the ability of the athlete. Critics look at this situation and point out how the athlete is being pushed beyond safe boundaries and needlessly risking injury. The subtext is that the trainer is the one responsible for putting the workout on the board and is therefore responsible for the athlete putting the weight on the bar. I agree and disagree with this idea. Yes, training in a group and the authority of a coach can put heavy social pressure on a person to conform. That's a reality that a coach needs to be mindful of and to find ways to mitigate it. We can do that by not prescribing weights or offering scaled versions along side the main workout. But the athlete is also responsible for him/herself. You are ALWAYS responsible for your own actions, especially when you bear the consequences for them. If you disregard all of those mental doubts about whether you can or should do something, even as you do it, then I have a hard time blaming the system for what happens as a result. We have to assume that you're a responsible adult who won't willingly hurt yourself when you know better. We'll call this one a shared responsibility.

Next is the question of technique. Some people like to claim that CrossFit doesn't promote good technique. But let's clarify what "good" means here. Good technique is what is efficient and safe. Sometimes by people's language I get the impression that they mean good in moral terms as in good versus evil, like they have a mental picture of what technique should be and any deviation from that is sin. But it's a mistake to think in those terms. Good technique is efficient and safe. That's it. It may not look the way you want it to, but you have to evaluate it for what it is, not what it isn't.

Within our proper parameters, we have some wiggle room. Bending arms early on a power clean is inefficient but not unsafe. If I see someone with that problem I will say something, but I won't restrict their freedom to choose their weight and I won't beat them over the head with it. That's one of those problems that tends to iron itself out - just add more weight and it gets harder to keep bending your arms early. Now if they're unable to keep their back in a stable position, I will intervene and tell them to drop weight or switch to a regression. But what if they won't listen?

True story from a couple months ago: A guy comes in and talks his way into class. He insists he did our beginner series last year, has been deployed since then, and he does Crossfit all the time on his own anyway so he knows what's up. We were doing a Clean and Jerk ladder and very quickly I realize this guy has no clue what he's doing. I give him a regression (hang power clean) and suggestions for weight (65lbs). I move on to observe and help elsewhere. Literally after two minutes, I turn back and he's putting 45lb plates on the bar. Which he then tries to pull from the floor with bent arms and a back so rounded it reminded me of a snail. I walk back and say pointblank, "That's too heavy. You should take that weight off." He looks at me and nods his head. I turn away again and when I turn back he's added 20 more pounds! I shit you not. I walk back and say again, "I think that's too heavy." He nods and shrugs, apparently thinking that since he successfully got it up it can't be too heavy. At that point, I figure I've done my job, I've told him several times what he should do and he's chosen to ignore my advice. I could either draw a line in the sand and tell him to conform or get out, or let him risk hurting himself. I chose the latter, if I kick him out it's just ego vs ego. If he stays he might learn something like, ignoring good form leads to injury. Now this guy is an extreme case- he had terribly unsafe form and refused to use a weight or regression that was appropriate despite my direct command otherwise. But you'd be amazed at how often this happens on a more subtle level. People have their own will and will often ignore coaching. See my earlier point about athletes being responsible for themselves. If you wanted to hate on CrossFit and you came in during such a class, you'd see plenty of bad form to write about. But that overlooks the subtle realities I've just discussed.

Lastly comes injury. This is a tricky topic to speak about as a trainer. On the one hand, I am never okay with injury; my goal is always a 0% injury rate. And like a boxer going into the ring, part of my mental preparation is to believe that my goal is attainable, despite the fact that when I look at it objectively I can see that it might not be. I don't want to admit that injuries can happen despite the best efforts of athlete and coach. But the reality is that they do. You can progress slowly, show perfect technique, and still find yourself nursing joint pain or a sprain. Here is something to remember- ALL sports have injuries. Running has an injury rate of about 66%, two out of three runners will lose training time to an injury every year. (Runner's World) Yoga? I was just visiting an uncle a couple weeks ago who was nursing a yoga injury, and this a guy who lived in India as a sadhu for 6 years and has been practicing yoga for over 30. What if you don't do anything at all? What if you sit on your couch and do nothing strenuous? Well, then your hip flexors will shorten, your spine will curve, and your muscles will atrophy. Less muscle mass means lower metabolism and you'll put on fat. That will carry it's own host of additional problems. You'll end up living a lower quality of life, but at least you'll die young.

Pick your poison. What if scar tissue in your shoulder from an injury you don't even remember prevents you from getting full lockout when holding a bar overhead? It's nothing big, but the cumulative effect over months and years leads to a bigger shoulder injury, one that requires a PT, rehab, and missed training time, maybe even surgery. Prior to that you were fit, healthy, and active. You'll get your shoulder back too if you do the rehab and stay smart about it, it'll just involve a period of recovery. What do you think? This is the worst case scenario, but even so, in the final analysis is it worth it? Which path would you take? Remember, risk of injury lies down every path you choose. Some paths include additional benefits such as fitness and fun, although those paths also carry a higher level of risk. It's almost like life isn't fair and shit happens even when you do everything right.

Which seems like a perfect place to end this week.

By Morgan on Sunday, June, 01, 2014

This Week in Running a Gym - May 25, 2014

What I did this week:

  • I learned how to sucker punch someone.
  • I documented some of my regular job duties so that anyone could read it and do what I do.
  • I edited and re-edited the website for the upcoming personal training service we'll be offering soon.
  • Did the same for the nutrition consulting service.
  • Oversaw some facility improvement projects.
  • The YBM boys finished clearing the hill side next to the parking lot, so I've been happily browsing nursery catalogs for what to plant there next.
  • Got permission from the landlord to commission a graffiti mural on the retaining wall in the parking lot.

I won't go into too much detail about each of them, but a few are worth mentioning.

First, how to sucker punch. This comes from Tony Blauer who I've mentioned here before, and it assumes that the bad guy has initiated contact and has signaled his intentions somehow. You know or strongly suspect that violence is coming, or that you can only avoid violence by letting the attacker take whatever he wants (your property, your body, etc). First step is to get challenged, which is a way to turn fear around by focusing on what you can do as opposed to what can happen to you. Second step is to adopt a non-violent posture. Deliberately use submissive body language both as a way of trying to deflect his bad intentions (if you can avoid violence altogether, that would be easiest), but also to conceal any signal that you're willing to fight for yourself. Third, when he doesn't back off, it's time to disrupt his flow. It's not easy for a human to harm another human and an attacker often needs to get worked up to do it. That's why he's talking and hasn't started attacking yet. The simplest way to interrupt his build-up is to ask a question, especially if it's a little off-kilter. For example, if you hold up your watch and ask, "You want my doberman too?" The instinctive reaction to a question is to answer it, and if you throw a curve ball by using the wrong word, they'll have to take a second to figure out what you said before they can answer it. Tony calls it cognitive dissonance. It distracts them for a moment which is your window to strike. The first rule for a sucker punch is to use your is closest weapon against his closest target. Any of you who have had any martial arts or boxing training will do it wrong. The idea is that you lead with your hand, followed by shoulder, then hips. This is backwards from what everyone does, and it does sacrifice some power, but not that much, and what it lacks in extra force it makes up for with the fact that it lands where you want it. You can see a good demonstration of the concept in this video of Kimbo Slice getting taught. Daze him and then you can finish however you like.

A couple of important points to make before I move on. This knowledge doesn't do anything for you. You need to practice non-violent postures, you need to practice using deflection questions, and you need to practice various methods of striking. Most importantly you need to practice acting out the scenarios. Speaking of which, anyone interested in this? I'm no expert, but I am a student and will gladly work some drills with anyone interested.

I'll speak more about personal training in a later article. There is no point in focusing on it right now when there are a few weeks to go before roll-out. The nutrition coaching thing I'll talk about in a separate article too.

On the facility side of things, the YBM boys finished clearing the hillside of brambles and put down some bark ground cover. They also hauled away the trash that was left over from our original move in here. They did a good job no? If you've got yard work to do, these boys can get it done. One (the entrepreneur of the bunch) has already approached me about doing some sort of maintenance contract. With that area cleared, I went searching for a shed to have delivered. The idea is to be able to put things we're not using for the weekly program in there so as to free up more floor space inside. I've been browsing Raintree Nursery's catalog of fruit bushes and trees. I'm thinking some blueberries to form a hedge along the top, maybe a couple of flowering apricot trees, and kinnikinnick for ground cover.

That retaining wall on the south side of the lot which faces the gym is on my target list too. I contacted Fab-5 to see if they've got any artists who might be interested in painting a mural there. I offered food as an enticement. It worked. They'll be here Saturday to look at the space and talk it out with me. I feel like this is going too easy, like something is going to rear it's ugly head soon and shoot this idea down. Which is why I want to move as quickly as I can before anyone can stop me. If you know why this can't work, please keep quiet until it's finished. If you have any great ideas about what's going on here, let me know.

By Morgan on Sunday, May, 25, 2014

Murph 2014

Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Murph, Whiteboard Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Murph, Whiteboard

By Morgan on Saturday, May, 24, 2014

Tuesday Whiteboard Posted

Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Whiteboard Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Whiteboard Tacoma Strength, CrossFit Tacoma, Whiteboard

By David on Tuesday, May, 20, 2014

This Week in Running a Gym - May 18, 2014

I wasn't checking out dudes or falling over stuff this week so I guess it's back to our regularly scheduled programming for this column. It was a relatively uneventful week, actually. The most significant thing was that I met with the Metro Parks special events planning committee on Tuesday about the Throwdown. They were a little spooked when they read the proposal I submitted for the permit. Apparently that happens when you start talking about putting scaffolding and obstacle courses in a public park. So they asked me to come in and talk about it in person. You never know what to expect from these sorts of meetings, you're never sure just how open they are to the idea or whether someone is looking for a better reason to say no. As it turned out, they were cool. Their primary concern was that we not destroy the turf. When I was able to convince them that I don't want to ruin a park either, it was just a matter of figuring out how best to set up for the day. Now it's just a matter of figuring out what the actual events are going to be.

It occurs to me that some of you reading this might have some creative ideas about the events. I'd love to hear what you think would be awesome. Here are some details: 300 athletes in teams of 2. Age categories range from toddler to 60+. Three events. Here is a map of the park. We'll have a free-standing rig in the parking lot which can be used for pull-ups, hspu, wall balls, etc, and there's a big open grass field. Complete the sentence, “It would be super awesome if you did…” Email answers to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

My business development work was to write descriptions for our new nutrition and personal training services, which are moving along the development process faster than I expected. Writing and other creative work require a degree of isolation in order to get done. It takes a while to get into the writing mindset and I can easily get pulled out. As a result I kind of look forward to writing assignments with trepidation. It's sort of like going for a swim in a cool lake. I know I'm going to enjoy it once I get started, but I don't always look forward to that initial plunge. I sequestered myself in the upstairs office, put in earbuds without music to block out distractions and got it done. Now we'll do some quick testing to make sure everything is set up right and then we'll roll out the live versions.

I hired the YBM guys to clear the hill by the parking lot of brambles and blackberries which they'll do this weekend. After they chop everything down, they'll haul away the trash and throw down some more soil. When that project is finished we'll start planting that area. Since I brought this project up in a previous newsletter, member Ashley S approached me about her area of study which is bees. And would I be interested in using that area as a testing site to measure the health of south sound bee populations? To which I responded with something like, “Umm… hell yeah.” I don't think the plan is to have bee hives or anything like that, but a little extra motivation during sprints couldn't hurt, right?

Speaking of gardens and what I did with my week, I spent a long time in my garden yesterday. I don't actually know anything about growing a vegetable garden, but I'm willing to try and fail which I've learned counts for a lot in this world. Half my back yard is now just piles of dirt with tiny green shoots popping up here and there. My neighbors keep telling me it looks great, but I don't know what they're talking about. It looks like little piles of dirt. I worked in there for about four hours, digging, weeding, raking, planting, and building trellises. Later in the evening I was talking with some friends and reflected on how my work has changed in the last six months. Six months ago I was working hard, running the Fawcett gym, planning for the move. Now with the consolidation I have less to do on a daily basis, and I've got more people to pick up the slack, but I still work just as hard. The funny thing is that it doesn't feel as hard or draining because it's by choice. Shoveling dirt could be miserable if you had no choice, but since it was something I wanted to do and had the opportunity to do since my life as a business owner has settled down into a manageable routine, I enjoyed it. At any rate, I think you're all going to get a lot of free veggies toward the end of the summer.

By Morgan on Sunday, May, 18, 2014