Great day everyone! Well, Hurricane Irma has come and gone and left a path of destruction behind. Through God's grace, we never lost power during the storm which is a miracle blessing all by itself! We luckily didn't suffer too much house damage other than a few damages to our front porch that can easily be fixed. We had a few tree branches fall over that got cut up within a few hours. So all in all, the Rodriguez family made it through alright. If anyone is in need of help removing debris of any kind, don't be afraid to reach out to us!
This is a topic I've been thinking about writing for a while. In all honesty, my wife has been motivating me to share more of my personal goals and health journey with you all for a little while now, but whenever the time comes to write to you all, I always have another topic on my mind that I rather share. So, enough is enough. For anyone that has attended my group exercise classes in the past; whenever someone asked me on my opinions of Crossfit and if I would suggest it, I was adamant on shooting the subject down immediately. From what I had seen at that time, it was the typical articles about "Injuries in Crossfit," or if I happened to catch it on ESPN, I would see the often criticized butterfly or kipping pull-ups with large sets of compound movements (Squat, Deadlift, Snatch, etc.). In many fitness lessons taught around the world, these movements were a big no-no for various reasons all relating back to potential injuries.
After my wedding in 2016, I decided to take a break from instructing group fitness classes and focus entirely on nutrition consulting and private 1 on 1 lessons which left a lot of free time in my schedule. While I was home, I received a text from my friend Megan asking me if I had seen this new fitness documentary on Netflix titled, "The Fittest on Earth 2015," which I hadn't. After hearing raving reviews from her and persistence on how I needed to check it out, I finally sat down to view it. As soon as I realized it was a documentary on Crossfit and their yearly fitness competition they hold to determine the best overall hybrid athletes in the world, my critical mindset started to seep in slowly but decided to keep an open mind and watch it for what it was-a documentary about athletes. Then I realized, that's me, I am an athlete. Or at least WAS an athlete. This documentary was for me!
What many people didn't realize behind the scenes was that I was becoming very complacent. For those that don't know, I have been involved in athletics from the time I was 3 years old! I played basketball consistently for 11 years, went into Pro Wrestling for another 8 (professionally, many more years before graduating in my academy.) Also, I was an avid Football, Baseball, Amateur Wrestling and Weightlifting competitor off and on. I was teaching fitness classes daily, I had competed in Bodybuilding Physique competitions, many athletic fitness competitions and mentored many other athletes along the way. I also ran through a variety of cycles involving Powerlifting and metabolic conditioning programs such as the popular-INSANITY, which eventually led me to instructing classes based on the popular DVD series. Needless to say, I THOUGHT I had done it all at the age of 29. Nothing else motivated me anymore. I still exercised consistently because it had become a part of me after all these years of performing but I started to notice that my workouts were becoming less and less motivating and I was simply, "just going through the motions."
After the documentary completed; I made the decision that this just might be the ticket to motivate me again to becoming a better, faster, stronger athlete. I knew I would have to humble myself in multiple ways-to admitting that I was trying something that I once criticized, as well as learning a whole different type of sport from the athletic programming aspect to the nutrition and recovery side of things. I knew I could run and lift weights, but could I honestly combine the two and do well in both? That was an avenue that I wasn't familiar with. In the fitness world, you are either a cardio based athlete and that's the majority of what you do or you are a weightlifter and you rarely combined the two other than using cardio 1-2 times per week just to keep from gaining too much bodyfat while in a "bulking" weightlifting phase.
After the documentary completed, I decided to do one of the benchmark "hero" workouts known as, Murph. Yeah, don't laugh too soon. For those that don't know, this workout is a workout completed by performing a 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 air (bodyweight) squats THEN complete another 1 mile run for your best time possible. Needless to say, I thought I saw Jesus Himself. My time was horrible and as I was left lying on the ground, I asked myself what had I done to myself? Not in a "why did I do this workout" way, but as a "how have I let myself go so much physically and mentally?" I use to run circles around other competitors and now, I saw peers that were much younger (and older) than me whoop my behind in a bodyweight cardio based routine, which was my specialty. I officially found a weakness in my athletic performance and on that day, I promised that this was going to become something that I was going to become better at.
August of this year marked 1 year since I started doing Crossfit. I went from performing Crossfit workouts or "WOD's-Workout of the Day," 3 times per week mixed in with my bodybuilding routines to straight Crossfit 5-6 times per week as my body has progressed.
Q: Have I faced a bit of negativity from my peers after making the transition?
A: A bit but I have noticed that after I explain how and why I've been doing it and showed them the results, critics have become a bit more open-minded to trying the sport themselves!
Q: Questions related to the swinging pull-ups or common injuries.
A: After committing to CF, I had to study the in's and out's as much as possible. From the common criticisms to metabolic pathways, to the changes in your nutrition, to important mobility sessions used to aid in recovery and programming movements that compliment each other. After studying the sport and the science behind it for months and months, I quickly realized that if some of the greatest physicians, trainers, athletes and therapists (people that knew much more than myself) were agreeing to this methodology that I could as well. What I also started to realize was that EVERY sport has injuries, if you move daily, you run the risk of getting an injury, that's life! Injuries are often occured by a lack in your mobility and not giving the proper attention that is due to your recovery. Now, there are good coaches and bad and it is important to do your research and look into WHO is training you. If it is an individual that spent 2 days getting a paper certification and has money so he or she decides to open their own gym or "box," I honestly would not recommend getting advice from these people. The best gyms in the world have coaches that have paid their dues, received multiple certifications and degrees related to their field and have honest testimonies to go along with them while desiring to consistently grow in their personal education.
Q: Have I lost muscle since doing all of the cardio based workouts?
A: No, honestly, I've gained strength and power. One thing I've learned to respect while involved in the CF community is the need to possess power and overall strength. There is a lot of cardio involved, but performing cardio consistently can actually help you grow in your 1-rep maxes. What causes us to lose a lot of muscle is not focusing enough on our nutrition. Regardless of the sport, nutrition is and will always remain the key to your success. If I don't eat a complex amount of whole foods daily, I can feel it in my performance and on the scale! Your food is your fuel, treat it with respect.
The biggest thing that I've learned to take away from this sport is the importance to focus on our nutrition and day to day recovery. So many of us bodybuilders go into the gym, thinking about the best routine to perform that will give us the best gains possible while never batting an eye at how our nutrition, mobility or recovery needs to change to actually see those gains. Since joining CF and listening to many of their podcasts and seminars; I have learned the actual reasoning and importance of...
1. Getting 7-8 hrs of sleep every night (the self-help gurus will cringe at this one)
2. Why we need to eat plant based whole foods instead of relying on supplements, shakes and processed meals
3. Foam rolling and stretching for at least 30 mins per the day. Also, performing yoga.
4. Combining metabolic conditioning with olympic weightlifting movements.
For anyone who hasn't tried Crossfit, I truly recommend it as long as you find an educated and well versed trainer and coach. Look into taking mobility improvement courses (such as mine haha, shameless plug, sorry!) and getting 1 on 1 private lessons if you've never done complex movements such as the Power Snatch, Clean & Jerk, etc. Remember to remain humble, and continuously try something new to keep things fresh and to keep you from becoming complacent like I was! This year, I have committed to becoming even better at the sport. Last year, I competed in the Crossfit Open competition and placed in the top 10,000 of male athletes from around the world despite having to scale many of the exercises to my particular fitness level. This year, I plan on doing it again and get an even higher ranking as well as hopefully compete in some local Central Florida competitions to get into my uncomfort zone. If anyone would like to join me, I welcome the accountability :)
There is so much more to this story, but lets save that for another time. If anyone is looking to improve their athletic performance, never hesitate to reach out to me at CoachTaz24@gmail.com and if you enjoyed this, please share this with your friends and followers to help spread the information elsewhere! Also, if you haven't joined our Healthy Newsletter yet, head over to CoachTaz.com and register. It is quick, easy and provides you with consistent motivation, accountability and from time to time-free workout routines ;) Enjoy!
"Coach Taz" Taylor Rodriguez