Photo from www.rocinhacrossfit.com

Rocinha’s strength, and why the world cup matters

I will open this conversation with the statement that I believe in with my heart and soul: Athletics are an essential part of life.  Not just for the fun of watching the pros, but for making every single one of us better.  With a good training session or competition, the soul of the athlete is strengthened.  When people exercise in groups, the bond created there forms a community, which in turn strengthens the community at large.  As a result of that one workout, every one of those athletes – whether ordinary or professional – now has a slightly stronger support system within his or her own body, and also within their city.   Every one of those athletes now feels empowered to achieve those things that were previously thought to be impossible – regardless of whether the playing field is in the gym, on the court, or in the office.

My friend Rogério is the trainer at the only nonprofit Crossfit affiliate in Latin America, Rocinha Crossfit.  Rocinha is a favela (a shantytown) in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  You know, Rio, that city where the world’s most elite soccer players are getting paid to play the best soccer of their lives right about now.

Rocinha CrossFit typically holds classes outside in the city, on the beach, and anywhere they can find a little space.   But Rogério has informed me that he has had to put many classes on hold lately.   Not because he doesn’t want to run the programs.  Not because his members all quit.  But because sometimes it has become too dangerous to hold classes in the streets.

The Police Pacification Program (UPP) in the favelas of Rio has been moderately successful, returning control of the favelas to the government rather than the drug cartels.  However, despite the good intentions, things have become a little more inflamed in this city that my friend calls his home.  This program was implemented mainly as as a direct result of the international athletic events that are being held there.   With the buildup professional sport in this case comes the slight downgrade of sport for those who truly need that sort of strength in their lives.  Unfortunately, that’s the irony.  But we can do something about it.

The community in Rocinha and other favelas like it need our help.  Now more than ever, they have a tremendous need for the community empowerment that fitness can foster.  Rocinha CrossFit needs a home, a physical space, where they can attract new members and be a beacon of personal and community strength at all hours of the day.  

 Rogério plans to host workshops and events several times each year in order to afford to pay the utilities on the building.  This man is one of the most supportive, uplifting, and community oriented people I know, and he is continually encouraging his members to be proactive about the changes they want to see in the world.  

From what I hear from Rogério, with no permanent address and no equipment the strength is already starting to take hold.   

Keep an eye out for our Rocinha CrossFit fundraising effort coming your way this summer.  Please be in touch with any comments, ideas, or if you would like more information.   And in the meantime, please visit their website at www.rocinhacrossfit.com and check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rocinha.crossfit.

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Functional vs. Optimal

Someone recently sent me a link to this article, which basically bashes the use of the word “functional” when discussing fitness regimens.

Of course,  he’s right.  The word IS overused.  But that doesn’t make it a bad word.  It can be appropriate, if defined properly.  What is “functional” for your activities of daily living or athletic pursuits may not be appropriate for the next guy.   But there are some things, namely working on the primal patterns of movement (push, pull, squat, bend, lunge, twist) that are things we do every day no matter WHO you are.    So shouldn’t we always have an  eye on doing those things the best we can, whether you’re a professional baseball player or a desk jockey?  

Of course that’s not all the baseball player should do to train for his game.  And it’s also not all the desk jockey should do to keep his or her body in great condition.  But it’s a start, and it’s a baseline that most of us can relate and adhere to.  

I originally named our classes Functional Fitness because it is built on the concept of cultivating optimal function for life in general – walking, running, MOVING better, with the added bonus of feeling and looking great.  

 But there’s that word “optimal” again.  So, should we change the name, as he suggests in the article? Optimal Fitness Asheville? Has a nice ring to it… And it covers what we’re aiming for: Optimal Life.

Want to check out our Optimal/Functional Fitness classes?  Join us at 7am every Thursday at Splashville in Pack Square Park, Downtown Asheville.

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Confession of a Personal Trainer

I’m a fan of playing.  If you were ever a kid, I bet you are too.   I like running, jumping, climbing, and crawling around, preferablyin the dirt.  After five years in Asheville, I have finally gotten on a mountain bike.  And I loved it.  There’s a spark, a fire we feel when we’re excited to go outside and play.  It’s like sunshine welling up from my belly, and it makes me smile…and then I go play.

We all moved to Asheville to be rich in the head and the heart, and not, most certainly not, rich in the wallet. Am I right?  (Ok, yes, some people make it big, but most of us just live here because we like it :)

So here’s my confession: somewhere along the last year and a half I’ve forgotten all that.  I’ve been sitting behind my computer stressing about that damn wallet.  As my body melts into the desk chair, so does my motivation. And there it goes…  I can see my fire flickering, sputtering, and ultimately reduced to smoking coals. Continue reading

The Magic Ingredient

There are few things on my calendar that I refuse to change.  When that little alarm pops up at 2:50 on Tuesdays reminding me to get my shoes on and grab some money, I almost always do as I’m told.  I have even told potential clients that no, I can’t meet at that time.  I have priorities.

I’ve wavered from my routine in recent weeks.  Travel, work, laziness, and a generally unconcerned attitude has kept me from making my weekly appointment at the West Asheville Tailgate Market.  Excuses have crept in and sounded legitimate, “I can just go the store tomorrow instead,” or, “Oh well, I’m a little late.  I will have missed all the good stuff by the time I get there anyway,” or, “Nobody will miss me.”   But when I made the valiant effort to go yesterday (it’s a 6 minute walk from my house), I was rewarded with the beauty of human interaction, supporting our local farmers, and recognition of the amazing community we call West Asheville. Continue reading

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Mom’s Marathon: Childbirth

A friend of mine completed the infamously challenging Shut-In Trail Race this past fall.  She trained for months, and even went out and ran the course several times.  Her nutrition was on point.  Her mental state was in-line at the start of the race.  By the end, however, running the last three miles toward the finish line, the thought that got her through was simply, “If I made it through childbirth, I can make it through this.” Continue reading

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Top Ten Rules of Living

Imagine yourself as a caveman (or cavewoman).  This list includes only the things that would keep you alive.  You would do them out of necessity, and as a result, you would be healthy, lean, energetic, happy, strong, bright, and productive.  However, we all know we can’t live like cavemen.  In modern times, we have to make a list and pin it to our computer monitor so that we remember to make them happen.  But if we do, and we focus on just these ten things, we’ll be that much closer to optimizing our bodies abilities, and therefore living a happier, healthier, stronger, longer life. Continue reading

Fitness, Food, and Fun in NC