“If they stand behind you, protect them. If they stand beside you, respect them. If they stand against you, defeat them.”- Nordic Viking saying
WarriorWOD Saves Veterans’ Lives, Treats PTSD with Fitness, Nutrition and Community
After serving in the United States Marine Corps for close to a decade and battling with the invisible wounds of PTSD for years, Phil Palmer walked into C4 CrossFit outside of Houston in 2015, just a mile away from his house.
He was new to Texas, wanted to join a gym, but didn’t necessarily know anything about CrossFit, its ethos, its structure or the reverence the sport and its community has for the men and women who serve our country.
Palmer immediately saw the United States flag on the wall. He continued scanning the space and saw a Marine Corps flag as well. All the armed services were represented. After the interminable isolation he felt due to his PTSD, he was overcome by a sense of peace.
He had found empathy.
He had found his community.
Some background: Palmer entered into the Marine Corps in 2005 and by 2006 he was sent to Iraq, where he fought at the Battle for Ramadi.
“I was sent in and immediately… it was kinetic, it was chaotic, I was hit by an IED. It was nothing catastrophic for me, but we lost so many people. I came home with so many mental wounds,” said Palmer.
Not only was he facing an internal battle for wellness and overcoming his PTSD, but he was also saddled with the stigma of mental illness. As he desired a career in the armed forces, complete with promotions and climbing the ranks of the Marine Corps, the reality was that “leaders didn’t have mental health issues,” Palmer recalled.
“We hid our mental wounds–our invisible wounds,” said Palmer.
As Palmer attempted recovery, he engaged with Veterans Affairs services that offered medication and talk therapy. While Palmer was and still is in support of these methods, he admits that they did little to help him personally. On the contrary, the medication he took kept him from functioning and the therapy contributed to his feelings of isolation.
“I’m communicating with my therapist, trying to describe what it felt like to watch 18 of my friends burn to death, and I realize I’m scaring her. I mean, she felt for me, I could tell her heart was with me, but she couldn’t empathize with me. Nobody could understand. So it couldn’t help,” said Palmer.
Enter CrossFit: Flashback to Palmer stepping foot into C4 CrossFit in Houston. He continued his involvement in the CrossFit community and as he later moved back to Charleston, South Carolina, his hometown, where he joined Iron Bridge CrossFit.
Shortly after joining, he was told by owners Donnie and Shannon McDaniel that every July 4th the gym community participates in multiple Hero WODs, none of which were commonly known like Murph.
For Iron Bridge CrossFit, they wanted to honor “homegrown heroes”: heroes that were familiar to their community, giving their members an experience that would be uniquely intimate and personal.
Palmer was asked if he had anyone he wanted to honor and indeed he did: Joshua Booth, a fellow Citadel classmate, who was killed by a sniper while he was in Iraq.
Iron Bridge CrossFit had given Palmer, alongside his CrossFit community, the opportunity and the privilege to honor Booth and grieve this devastating loss.
Immediately upon this catharsis, Palmer was introduced to Justin Myers, veteran of the US Navy and fellow CrossFitter. Having battled PTSD himself, as well as the pain of the tragic loss of his brother to suicide, Myers knew first hand the healing power of fitness and community.
Meet Ringo, the Hybrid Water Bottle You Didn't Know You Needed
Tired of struggling to prop up your phone at the gym? Phones balanced on dumbbells, J-Hooks, and even shoes? It’s time for a safer, healthier, and more convenient solution: Ringo!
Ringo is a game-changer. It’s not just a water bottle; it’s a MagSafe mount for your phone. The double-wall insulated bottle features a magnetic mount into the lid, providing secure phone placement and adjustable angles, so you never miss a big lift.
Keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours
🚨 🚨 New Flavor Alert: NOCCO has released a new flavor of its performance drink: Juicy RAZZ. The raspberry-flavored Juicy Razz is sugar-free, carbonated, and ready to drink. It has got your back when you need increased focus, better performance or enhanced alertness.
💪 🏋️ Hero Barbell Signature Athlete: The Hero Barbell Company announced Colton Mertens, four-time CrossFit Games veteran as a “Hero Barbell Signature Athlete.” Hero Barbell is the official barbell of the Masters Fitness Championship and the Monster Games.
🎟️ 🎟️ Grab your TYR Wodapalooza tickets,on sale now! And don’t forget, for guaranteed seating for elite events at Flagler and Bayside, select “Elite Passes” or “VIP Passes” for even more options and perks.
The Fittest Experience:The Fittest Experience qualifiers are on now, September 27-October 10, 2023, for individuals and team. Let’s Gooooo!!!
💪 🔥 Brute Camp, CrossFit Flora: On October 14 and 15, the Brute Strength crew and coaches will offer a training camp at CrossFit Flora in Flora, MS. The two-day camp will feature group workouts, lectures and skill sessions with Brute athletes, Dex Hopkins, Head Coach Matt Torres and Micah Shoemaker. Register now! And use code BC40 for $40 off for a limited time.
Have a Speed Read you think we might like? Hit us up.
Gaining Muscle and Losing Fat: Actionable Tips for CrossFitters
In a recent conversation on the Consistency Project podcast, I dove into one of the most common and persistent questions I get from listeners:
How can I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?
Unsurprisingly, this is a common goal for many CrossFitters. Improving body composition (i.e., decreasing your body fat percentage) can better optimize one’s strength-to-bodyweight ratio, which is key for better fitness.
While you’ll often hear you must go through a bulking and cutting phase to do this, many in this community can likely achieve simultaneous muscle gain and fat loss (also known as body recomposition or “recomp”).
Dani Horan Reflects on her Individual Career and the Masters Division
At the 2013 CrossFit Games, Dani Horan made her Individual debut, placing 18th overall in the women’s division.
Ten years later, she’s still here.
At the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games, Horan, in the 35-39 division, finished sixth, her highest career finish. In the ten years between when she first stepped on the floor (in 2012, she competed on a team) she’s watched the sport grow up alongside her.
“When I first started, I had never been into a gym before and everything was really foreign to me, but I just fell in love with the process of always trying to get better at something,” Horan said. She started the sport in 2010 with a background in gymnastics and competitive horse jumping. “I guess I constantly struggled, and I just really enjoyed that.”
Looking back on her time in the individual division, Horan admits that she had an extremely one-track mind. She says that to a certain degree, she laments it since she didn’t have much balance in her life, but knows it was integral to her success at the top of the sport.
Now, as a Masters athlete, she’s able to balance the life she wants while still competing.
Horan: “I didn’t want to do the individual competition anymore, just because I felt like the volume was a lot. I’ve been training CrossFit since 2010 and I don’t think there’s enough research done to say how my body is going to feel when I’m 50. I want to live to be 100-years-old and be able to stand on my own two feet, so that was my draw.”
After several years of setbacks and injuries, Horan said she needed a win going into the 2023 season. At the CrossFit Games, she battled against a stacked field to get sixth overall, including a test win in “Endure the Coliseum.” Coming into the final stage of competition seeded eighth, she exceeded expectations with her knowledge as a seasoned competitor.
Today’s workout is programmed by ten-time CrossFit Games athlete (Second Fittest Man on Earth in 2019) and pliability athlete, Noah Ohlsen. Across his legendary CrossFit career, Ohlsen placed in the top five three times and in the top ten seven times at the Games. In the next phase of his career, Ohlsen has set his sights on the team division, having already won team competitions at Wodapalooza in 2022 and Madrid in 2023.
1. Patellar Mobilizations
Begin seated with your legs straight out in front of you
Gently grasp your right kneecap with your fingers
Relaxing your leg as much as possible, slowly move your knee cap in different directions, making sure not to overstretch
Continue to move the kneecap for 1 minute
Now switch sides, so your left kneecap is being moved in different directions, making sure not to overstretch
Continue to mobilize for another minute
2. Self Cervical Fascial Mobilizations
Start by sitting on your knees
Reach your right hand to your neck, just above the collarbone
Gently press into the skin with flat fingers and look up to the left, while pulling you right hand down towards the left shoulder
Release the tension, then reapply the stretch – continue for 1 minute
Switch sides, reaching the left hand to the right side of the neck, and continue on for the next minute
3. The Couch Stretch
Begin on your hands and knees
Reach your right knee back to where the wall meets the floor and begin to stretch your chest up
Depending on your comfortability, bring your left foot up to your left hand and raise your chest up higher, increasing the stretch in the front of your hip and thigh and hold for 1-2 minutes
Repeat this stretch, this time with your left leg behind you, hold for 1-2 minutes
4. The Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobilization
Begin in a half kneeling position with your right knee up
Keeping your knee pointed to the outside of your pinky toe, lean your bodyweight forward
Place your elbows on top of your knee once you hit your end range, you will feel a stretch in the back of your calf, hold for 1 minute
Now switch sides, so your left leg is up in the half kneeling position, and repeat the stretch again, hold for 1 minute
5. Cossacks Squats
Begin in standing with your legs spread wide outside the shoulders
Reach your hips back and down towards the right heel while keeping the chest tall and the left leg straight
Pause at your end range, then press through the right heel, raising back up into a standing position
Reach your hips backs and down the left heel, keeping the right leg straight, pause, then press through the left heel to stand
Continue to alternate sides for 3 minutes
Advice from Noah: “Throughout my CrossFit career, I have grown to realize how important it is to focus on my mobility and recovery, whether I am training for an upcoming competition or as part of my general training schedule. This mobility flow is great for the lower body–I recommend incorporating it into any training routine–all you need is a mat and a quiet environment, and you are ready to go.”
To inquire about submitting an upcoming workout of the week, shoot us a note.
Anikha Greer on the Kettlebells and Cocktails Podcast
One of the names making waves in the sport, Anikha Greer, sat down with John Wooley and Niki Brazier to chat about her challenges and triumphs throughout her time in the sport.
Don’t spend your day looking for places to refill your bottle. YETI Gallon and Half-Gallon jugs ensure you’ve got enough hydration on-hand, through the heat waves and the two-a-days. And for the days that feel like you need a gallon of coffee (whether it’s for you or the crew), you’re covered.
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