Somehow we stumbled upon Eva’s instagram. The caption of “Sustainable Fitness” triggered our brains to go….. BING!
About a month ago, we were really fortunate to have a visit from 2x Alpine Ski Olympian and original crossfitter Eva Twardokens. Eva came to CFCA to give her seminar on Sustainable Fitness and Optimized Health to all of our coaches and a few members too. Below is sort of a re-cap of why we reached out to her and the big takeaways from the seminar.
Backstory: Over the last 7 years that I have been doing crossfit (4 now as an affiliate owner) there were periods when I got so caught up in training for fitness that at times I let it override the ability to think for myself or be intuitive to how I was feeling on a day to day basis. Like many, I fell into the trap of believing more hard exercise was certainly better in my early crossfit years and recovery was not really on the radar as much.
In the 9 months or so leading up to Eva’s seminar, Karen (my wife) and I’s lives had taken a HUGE turn with the birth to our first son Maz. We were exhausted and literally running on fumes (as most new parents can attest too). Somehow, I still managed to teach the early morning sessions at the gym and still tried to train as much as was possible. Subconsciously, I felt as the gym owner that I had to set THE example of hard work & motivation despite a massive shift in our lifestyle. I kept that up till I literally couldn’t. I remember it seemed like one day a switch had flipped and all the sudden my legs were chronically stiff and sore. Stretching, mobility and massage offered minor temporary relief that just reset with each morning. It was as if I had aged 20 years over the course of a few months.
That was a huge wake up call for me. Questions arose… Why am I pushing myself so hard right now? Is this positively effecting my health?… my relationship with Karen & my son? Is being so sore from an arbitrary workout really a badge of honor or just a plain nuisance that gets in the way of day to day activities? What are the long term ramifications? I started to think about everything from a cost/benefit perspective. I wanted to educate myself as much as possible because at times it seemed like Crossfit was becoming more and more defined by the Games and aspects of competition and maybe in some ways branching away from general health. I started doing research on recovery and re-established my training to directly support my outside passions of climbing, biking & surfing. I posted articles to my gym members dealing with concepts that more is not always better, and that “hard” is not necessarily synonymous with effective. Some members were probably like “fuck off” as I likely would have been in years past, but as a coach, I now feel it’s my job to develop folks who are intuitive and think about their training long term, beyond just showing up hoping to get crushed everyday….and that’s what led us to Eva and eventually to make plans to bring her east to learn more from her seminar.
I think for Karen & I, it was really refreshing to hear her theories on how training fits in to the bigger picture of life. Eva’s ideas on exercise to support your outside the gym passions & overall health are really at the core of how we try to run our affiliate. Her wealth of knowledge and a perspective gained through experience not only questions the “more is always better” attitude but she had great examples to support the opposite based on her years on the US Ski Team and from being involved with Crossfit from its infancy. Our hope is that our coaches and members are able to process this information and really think about training to support their personal passions and what is sustainable in the long term for them individually. Some may not be ready to accept her message whole hog, but that’s not really the point. Understanding her experiences will make you think deeper about what you are doing day to day and plant the seed for thinking in a long term sustainable way… which is never a bad thing!
Beyond that, Eva outlined concepts on how to best optimize your health while avoiding common pitfalls of over training, injury, and burnout. She had great information on athlete self assessment/classifications and what that means in terms of a ideal training dose based on personal lifestyle factors. As she says, “being an athlete is NOT a certificate of health”. We couldn’t agree more.
One of the great takeaways was more of a question actually… Regarding your fitness: How is success defined by you? Where do you want to be in 10, 20, and 30 years? To us these are the important questions to ask that hopefully get our members really thinking for themselves and prioritizing what’s most important to them. I know for me, my success as an athlete is now defined by setting a positive example for pursuing my passions and training/recovering responsibly to support those passions in a much more balanced way. This may seem like a no brain-er to most, but really sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in something that is exciting, fresh and competitive. You can sort of put the blinders on and forget to keep things in perspective at times. If we can offer that perspective and encourage intuition in our members, we feel we are on the right track.
Thanks again to Eva for making the long trip out from California! We look forward to keeping CFCA a place that’s open and evolving with the needs of our members for the long haul and having Eva as a resource and mentor along the way.
For more info on what Eva covered in the seminar check out her website evatstrengthandconditioning.com or listen to the podcasts linked below.