Monthly Archives: July 2010
Jul 11th, 2010

Do Your Feet Hurt?

Reminder:  Please arrive to classes a half-hour early tomorrow so that we can arrange for carpools up to the Connector for our hill run workout.



The foot has 24 bones in it that form two arches. The longitudinal arch runs the length of the foot, and the transverse arch runs the width. The bones of the foot are shaped so that that they fit together.  Ligaments also hold the bones of the foot together.  The plantar muscles are arranged in four layers; they move the toes and provide support to the longitudinal arch of the foot. 

The arches enable the foot to support the weight of the body, provide an ideal distribution of body weight over the hard and soft tissues of the foot, and provide leverage when walking.  The arches are not rigid.  They yield as weight is applied and spring back when weight is lifted, helping to absorb shocks.

The foot can be considered the foundation for most athletic movements. Pain in the foot indicates that there may be something wrong with either the interaction of internal structures of the foot or with the how the foot is interacting with external influences.

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Jul 10th, 2010

How Holding Your Breath Can Save Your Back

MJJ Deadlift 2009 NorCal Regional

MJJ employing the Valsalva maneuver in the midst of 22 deadlifts at 315 lbs during the 2009 NorCal Sectional.

Of paramount importance when training with barbells is maintaining the spine’s normal anatomical position. What is normal? When you stand up straight, your spine will assume something of an S-shape if viewed from the side. Near your shoulders, your spine traces the top of the S and demonstrates what is called kyphotic curvature. Your lower back also has a curve, or an arch, referred to as a lordotic curvature. This is normal anatomical position. For the purposes of this article, we are primarily interested in the lower back and keeping it in this extended, normal position when lifting weights.

Maintaining your lordotic curvature when under a load is function of trunk rigidity. The more stable and unmoving your torso, the more efficiently and safely you can transmit force to the load you wish to move. Your spinal erectors will provide isometric support for the spine in the back. The front, or anterior aspect, has only the abdominal musculature, with no corresponding bony structures to maintain stabilization. If you are to more effectively use those abdominal muscles, you need to pressurize your abdominal cavity using what is called the Valsalva maneuver. This is simply taking a big breath and holding it while closing the vocal folds of the throat, known as the glottis.

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Category: Fitness
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Jul 9th, 2010

Special Sunday Workout


Hill running is fun; hill running with short shorts is even better

We have a special workout planned for all of you this Sunday.  It’s the third and final day of our cycle, and we’re taking it to the hills.  And there’s more:  you’re going to be coached by members of Team CFO!

They’ve been toiling on that hill every Saturday since Regionals, and have seen great gains in conditioning as a result.  And they jumped at the chance to coach and cheer on all of you as you tackle the hill with sprints of various sorts.  Your support of them, both on the blog and in person, has been greatly appreciated, and they figure the least they can do is be at your side encouraging you while you tackle that hill.

We’ll be running classes at the normal time on Sunday (8am, 9am, and 10am), but the logistics will be critical.  The hill we’ll be running is the Connector.  It’s up behind Cal’s football stadium and it takes about 20 minutes to get there from CFO.  So plan on being at CFO about 30 minutes before the class you’re attending.  This will accomplish two things:  it will allow us to organize carpools (parking can be tricky up at the Connector) and it will allow us to get up there with some time to warm up.

I’ll be driving back and forth for each class, and will be able to take 3 to 4 other people with me.  The plan is for everyone else who’s driving to follow me up.

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to get a sweat on in the lovely hills of Berkeley.  You won’t soon forget the workout we have planned.  And Team CFO is ready to cheer you through it!

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Jul 8th, 2010

Athlete Spotlight: Nathalie!


Nathalie in action

This week’s athlete spotlight is Nathalie, who has recently been chosen to represent the United States at the Rugby World Cup in England August 8th! 

Nathalie typically trains at Open Gym during the week and flies pretty low under the radar.  She is amazingly humble for being the real deal.  If you’ve met her, you won’t soon forget.  She is a beautiful, athletic woman with a soft accent (born in Colombia and raised in Switzerland) and stunning smile and is super-tough (duh, she plays international rugby!) and has been recovering from a serious injury as she hits the CFO workouts hard.

When I asked her for more details about the World Cup details she provided the following:

"26 US women will be traveling to London on August 8th to compete against 11 other nations, including New Zealand – the defending champs – England, France, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Australia. The Rugby World Cup takes place every 4 years and the USA placed 5th in 2006, in Canada. We will be competing in England for 4 weeks, with our first match on August 20th vs Kazakhstan. The games will supposedly be retransmitted over the internet so I’ll try to pass that information on once I have it for those that are interested."

This is an exciting opportunity for Nathalie and I know that a number of us will be watching closely has Nathalie and the US team take on the world.

Post congrats and best wishes to comments.

Name: Nathalie Marchino, pronounced Natalee Markeeno but if you ever happen to tune into one of the rugby online broadcasts, I could be anyone one of these: Nathaniel Marchilenko, Nathhhhalie Martchiiiino, Vanesha Martino, which is when they mix me up with the other wing, or Natal Martchino

Height: real: 5’7, desired: 5’11, rugby: 6’3

Weight: real: 142; desired: 150; rugby: 175

Age: 28, though often confused for a high school kid. there comes a point where it stops being flattering!

Q: How long have you been a member at CFO?
A: I joined CFO for a few months back in 2007 and have been back since February…ish
Q: What is your day job?
A: I work for Nestle. I sell hot pockets. I think they are often mentioned in Connie’s posts
Q: What is your athletic background?
A: I played a bunch of random sports growing up (volleyball, tennis, ping pong, swimming, ski, snowboard,… Does ballet count? But eventually I got serious about basketball and played in college, at Siena. I injured my knee my senior year, ruining my chances of playing pro overseas so just kinda sat around until I found rugby in 2005. Ironically, rugby was one of the few sports I was able to play, since running on grass didn’t hurt my knee. As it turns out, basketball players transition to rugby easily – Naismith was a rugger, and he allegedly created basketball so that rugby players could play a game during the winter – so I picked it up pretty fast. I was invited to my first national team camp in 2006 and have been a member of the US national team since. I am now looking forward to competing in the 2010 women’s World Cup in England!
Q: What is your favorite strength move?  
A: Favorite strength move is OH squat

Q: What is your favorite met-con?
A: I loooooove anything under 10minutes. That’s about my attention span.
Q: What is your proudest achievement?
A: Still waiting for it….. If only I could do a muscle up. So I guess for the moment it’ll have to be front squatting 180
Q: What is your most desired goal?
A: Doing a muscle up or OH squatting my body weight. 15 times would be awesome but for now I’d be happy with just 1.
Rant or Rave/Important Stats:
Gonna switch it up a little here and say that my proudest athletic moment in recent history is scoring my first International try against England. Hopefully I’ll have a few more to add to this in September!!!

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Jul 7th, 2010

“First CFO, then the WORLD! Bwahaha!”


Mike chuckling over a particularly nasty upcoming met-con

Mike and Connie return tonight, so this is my last chance to post whatever I feel like posting, so I thought I would pick something Mike would never allow….

Some of you might not know this, but CFO used to follow the WOD posted on, otherwise known as the "Main Site WOD".  Last summer Mike made a rather bold move and took over programming our workout of the day.  This was a pretty big step for our little gym, but an important one. 

By following the DIY approach to creating our workouts, Mike is able to customize them to the needs of CFO clientele and test and adjust regularly to keep the WODs evolving as our fitness does.  Another benefit is that he is right here to answer any questions we have about why we are doing what we are doing.  Mike is always ready with the science and reasoning behind each and every cycle, rep scheme, load and the ever popular – number of rounds.  We can also whine and complain directly to the source if we are not happy with what Mike serves up on a particular day.  I am sure there are more sophisticated reasons, but I’ll leave those for Mike to explain.

I personally love the Mini WODs.  They truly are evil genius. It is quite clear to anyone who’s been doing CrossFit for a while that Mike is a master of his craft and we are pretty lucky to have him molding us into freaky-fit beasts.

How about you?  Do you feel you are fitter now than you were a year ago? Are you a fan of the CFO programming?  Do you ever miss the main-site WODs?  Post thoughts to comments.

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Jul 5th, 2010

What’s the Deal with Dairy?


Milk Pushers

I get quite a few questions from clients regarding basic nutrition and I know the other trainers do as well.  First of all, we LOVE getting these questions – it shows that you realize how important what you eat and drink is for your overall health and fitness and we just plain love to talk about this stuff.

We do have a ton of basic information jammed into our "Clean Eating Guidelines", a 2-page document available to you upon request and also taped to the fridge in the lobby.  Some of you have noticed that this document does not address all foods – one of the major food groups that is missing is dairy.  I do know that dairy was left off the list of ‘clean’ foods mainly due to the fact that there is a lot of gray area when it comes to its nutritional value and that each person has a very different response to eating dairy, as far as health, fitness and body composition goes.  So you really should research and experiment on yourself to find out how much, if any, dairy is actually good for your health and performance.

Since I am no expert on nutrition (and Connie is out of town), I went to one of my favorite websites, Mark’s Daily Apple, for some advice.  I am particularly fond of his "Definitive Guides" – they just appeal to my practical nature (check out the guide on sugar).  So make sure to read Mark’s Definitive Guide to Dairy if you would like to make more educated choices regarding dairy intake.

Post thoughts (good or evil?) on dairy to comments.

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Jul 5th, 2010

I saw it on ESPN, so it must be a sport…


Congratulations to Joey Chestnut of San Jose (woot-woot!) who won his 4th consecutive Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest today by downing 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes. 

Read more about this inspiring accomplishment (plus some added diva-drama) here.

Post thoughts on Competitive Eating to comments.


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Jul 4th, 2010

Happy July 4!

Moses and James.jpg

Moses and James during open gym today.

Happy July 4th!  Remember the gym is closed tomorrow.  There will be no group classes.


A few of us are meeting up tomorrow at Aquatic Park in Berkeley near the playground for a picnic at 1 p.m..  I am bringing apple salad with walnuts and blue cheese and a frisbee (and my dog and baby).  Bring your sneakers and some snacks!


This week I would like to introduce a short regime of strengthening exercises for those of you with complaints about your knees.  These exercises are meant to be done as part of your warm up.  

Pooja Plank.jpg

Isometric Plank Hold:  Begin lying face down on the floor with feet together and forearms on ground, elbows directly under shoulders.  Pull your belly button in and lift entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe.  Hold 30-60 seconds, 3-6 times.

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Jul 3rd, 2010

How Strength Can Aid Endurance

20100327-1126 02655.jpg

Raph contemplating the benefits of strength during an 800 meter run.

The case for strength driving progress on higher intensity, shorter duration conditioning workouts is straightforward. When you need to perform multiple repetitions of a weighted exercise, making it so that load is a smaller proportion of your one repetition maximum will yield performance improvements. Cardiovascular endurance, while important, will not help you deadlift 225 pounds 21, 15, and 9 times for the CrossFit workout Dianne when your maximum deadlift is 250 pounds. What is less obvious is whether strength will have any carryover to more purely endurance activities. Will picking up barbells make you a better runner or cyclist? The answer is yes, although there are caveats.

Your chosen focus in fitness will require specific training geared toward that goal. If you want to be an Olympic weightlifter, you need to practice clean and jerks as part of your training. If you wish to be a runner, you must run. CrossFit competence requires working on CrossFit movements, usually under duress. Lifting weights, or doing other resistance training, can serve to boost performance on endurance activities while the converse is rarely true. In fact, focusing too much on longer, slower distance activities will often cause strength gains to stall or erode. Unfortunately, life is not quite as simple as increasing your squat and immediately reaping faster 10K run times.

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Category: Fitness
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Jul 2nd, 2010

CrossFit Games: Two Weeks and Counting…


Only the finest for Team CFO

Hard to believe, but the CrossFit Games are only two weeks away!  Just in case you are the last to know, CrossFit Oakland will be sending a group of amazing athletes to do battle in the Team Competition.  The Terrible Twelve (just came to me) have been working tirelessly to prepare for the ‘unknown and unknowable’ that will make up the challenges at the Games.

Of course there is a new twist this year (as promised).  The workouts will not be published or even announced to the athletes until about an hour prior to go-time.  Here is the format as published on the CrossFit Games site:

The 2010 Games are going to emphasize this component of real world fitness (to a point). We’re only going to announce the next element of the competition at one time. Everyone will learn what the event is about an hour before it kicks off. Shortly after the event is completed, the athletes (and the public) will learn when their next event is. We’re not going to say how many events there are, nor how they are spread out throughout the weekend. We will say that there will be some cuts of athletes and teams throughout the weekend.

Teams will be briefed on their first workout at 9am on Friday, July 16th at the Track. Their first event will begin at 10am. At approximately 12:30pm, they will be told when to report for the explanation of their second workout. At that point, this website will also be updated with that information.

And if you really want to be in the know…

We will announce the scoring system as part of our live Preview Show, webcast on Thursday, July 15th at 6pm PDT (the site is, which will be converted to the Games Live Webcast page within a couple days).

So what does this mean for the rest of us?  Well…. If you are planning to be in lovely Carson, CA as a fan/spectator, CFO will be set up somewhere on site with the our famous green tent (more detailed location will be published as it becomes available).  We should have coolers w ice and most likely some beverages.  There will be food vendors on site at the complex and I hear a beer garden as well.

If you cannot get away for a long weekend vacation and will be staying in Oaktown, the gym itself will be closed as the majority of our coaching staff will be unavailable.  However, Mike will be posting some awesome WOD’s that can be done at the track or a park and you all can possibly meet up and do them in groups or on your own.  There will be updates and hopefully photos from the Games posted to the blog as often as possible.

Post to comments 1) if you will be attending the games – either as a spectator or competitor –  what you will be bringing and/or would like to see in the tent OR 2) if you will be staying – what would you  like to see in a  Track WOD.

                        ************* GAMES WEEKEND SCHEDULE *************
FRIDAY JULY 16th: Regular Schedule for group classes – NO ON-RAMP or OPEN GYM
SATURDAY/SUNDAY July 17th & July 18th: CLOSED
(Track WOD’s Posted)


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