I began my CrossFit training in September of 2007 as an endurance athlete. Right away, I found out that a couple of limiting factors for me were strength and flexibility. So while I could run and ride a bike for days, I was weak and tight. It was no wonder that I struggled with front squats and kipping pull ups, don’t even ask me how the overhead squats went.
I was undaunted in my attempt to attack my weakness. I was dedicated to getting stronger. I worked two days on/ one day off for over a year. WOD after WOD honing my strength and skill. I successfully made gains in area that I deemed important. One area that sorely lagged behind was my flexibility. This inability to hold posture and position under load (ie an overhead squat) came to bite me in 2011. That year, I signed up for the first ever CrossFit Games Open. The first 3 WODs of the Open went as well as I could have expected but the 4th one contained two words I didn’t want to hear…overhead squats.
It was an AMRAP of bar facing burpees, OHS (120#) and muscle ups. The rep scheme was 60-30-10. While I was eyeing getting to the rings, sadly I didn’t make it out of the OHS. I didn’t even get half of them. I think my judge, Phillip Mercer, actually cringed each time I went down in a squat. My shoulders were tight and my hips were locked virtually making it a Herculean effort to get to depth each rep.
The limiting factor for this workout for me…flexibility and strength combined. For this combo, I can’t really say that I’ve improved as much as I have in the strength/technique combo over the last 8 years. Have I had the opportunity? Sure. Do I always take advantage of it? Nope.
Why is that? Priority and focus. I hadn’t seen the need to develop my prowess at functional, usable flexibility. I just chalked things up to- well, I’ve always been tight, so I’ll always be tight.
Enter yoga. Sarah Pruitt has worked with me over the years to implement a practice of yoga into my go-go-go schedule. I can honestly say that when I do, I feel better. I recover quicker from workouts and I rest better at night. The first time I took a yoga class with Sarah it was directly related to performance in CrossFit. It was shortly after that first Games Open series. My left hip didn’t have near the external rotation range as my right. I could tell it was a big hindrance in my squat, overhead or otherwise. A few pigeon poses later and I was moving more freely than ever before. Well, it wasn’t quite as simple as that. Pigeon pose on my left side still makes me want to tear out my hair (or something like that).
I’d like to say that I keep up with a regular practice but the truth is I haven’t. The best stretch I had was a weekly practice for an entire summer. As I look back on that, I see the tremendous gains that were had.
Join the MVMNT
This past month, we’ve implored, cajoled and enticed you to get to yoga. It wasn’t about “just getting to yoga.” The MVMNT was about bringing an awareness to your body- how it moves, where it’s stuck, how you’re connected to your breath. So, while you may have just been coming to get a sticker and in the end a free t-shirt, I think many of you have received so much more.
I (not Sarah) came up with the MVMNT. Shocking, I know. But what you need to know is again, it’s more than yoga. At the base level of Evolve MVMNT is a platform for change. Changing (evolving) your movement patterns to make them better, more stable ergo safer for any environment you encounter. Will a deeper pigeon pose help your overhead squat? I can say without a doubt- yes. Will an improved connection to your breath help your metcon and interval training- uh huh. Even so, it’s still more about quality, controlled movements in which you’re connecting better with your own self. That is the endgame.
We’ve got a workshop for Evolve MVMNT coming up September 19th from 9am-2pm. The training I believe will be phenomenal. It’ll be a time for growth and expansion in both your movement and mental library. If you want to move better, recover more quickly and navigate easier the world around you, this is where you want to be!
We’ve got a spot for you and if you register before Tuesday, Sept 1st the price is only $59. Click HERE for more info and to get registered.