Behind the office I work at during the day is a large construction project. What was once a courtyard is now destined to become a theatre. I take a minute or two to look at the job site every morning, which is always abuzz with all kinds of cool stuff. First, they excavated the property and drove giant support beams into the ground. This took a couple weeks, and now, the workers are bolting and welding the entire frame together. It's pretty neat to watch this and see incremental progress with each passing week. At some point in the not-too-distant future the entire thing will be complete. If you think about it, your improvement in the gym is just like a construction project. From my side of the line, I see how new members progress with strength and skillwork. Everyone moves at their own pace, difficult things take longer than the easy things, but the improvement is always there so long as dedication and commitment are present. There will always be something new to work on, just remember that these things take time!
Inder has come a long way in just a couple months! #dedication
Every 10 minutes for 4 rounds:
30 kb swings
Posted by Commish
Part of our whiteboard is dedicated to awesome mugshots of the badass men and women that make up our CF 818 community. Over the next couple weeks we will be taking photographs before or after class for new members - if your picture is already up but you want it updated, then get ready for your close up, too! Pro tip: the best pictures are taken immediately after a workout, check the whiteboards to see this in practice ;)
Finn is rollin' up, ready for his whiteboard pic!
A. Handstand practice
B. 8 rounds of:
40 seconds max wall ball
20 seconds rest
40 seconds L-hang
20 seconds rest
Posted by Commish
At this point the only thing left for me to do is say "thanks".
Thanks to Z, my awesome big brother, for opening CrossFit 818, for trusting me enough to give me the best job I've ever had, and for always being there to talk me off the ledge when I got stressed out.
Thanks to our staff of coaches for going through a gnarly and painful internship process to develop their skills, for being on time and consistent, for caring about the individual success of each of our members.
Thanks to you, our members, the heart and soul of the gym, for not only sharing in my fitness journey but also allowing me to share in yours. I've never been more proud in my life than to watch you overcome obstacles and conquer seemingly impossible tasks.
Thank you for every PR, every first pull up, every first handstand, for giving me a chance to witness your happiness and growth, for giving me a front row seat to self empowerment and positive self esteem.
Thank you for inspiring me to lead from the front, to put myself out there, and for the drive to keep working hard and getting better. Thanks for making my "work" some of the most fun I've ever had, a chance to hang out with and teach some of the coolest people I've ever met.
Thanks for making it clear to me that I've been more than just a trainer, that I've been a friend and a teacher, and a positive example. Thanks for helping me build confidence in my skills and myself, and thanks for laughing at my bad jokes, for listening to me gripe about the inaccuracies in the most recent comic book movie, for showing up to those really grumpy 5AM classes.
A. Every 90 seconds for 8 rounds:
1 deadlift + 1 hang squat clean + 1 squat clean
*work up to a heavy set
B. For time:
kb swings (70/53 USA)
rest 2 minutes
Posted by Armen, one last time.
Sorry guys. I'm jumping on the "Goodbye, Armen" train too. Armen is a big part of why I am the athlete and the coach I am today.
"Trust the process." You've probably all heard that at some point or another from Armen. The first time I heard it, I walked away frustrated and not trusting the process one ounce. This came after I had decided I wanted to try competing in a local competition and was struggling to get stronger and cursing whoever decided double unders were a good idea. A week out from the competition, I nailed a huge PR on my clean and thought, "maybe there's something to this so-called process..." On competition day, I was able to string together sets of 30+ double unders fairly easily and knew the process definitely needed to be trusted. Every time I have been frustrated in my training and I've gone to Armen, his response has usually been to keep trusting the process. Sure enough a week or so later, the process has proved to be successful yet again.
I've been able to take that advice and carry it over into my daily life and work life. I'm not a very patient person. I like things to move at a certain pace and when they don't or things get derailed, I can get pretty upset by it. But trusting the process, is essentially just another way of saying, "be patient." In my day-to-day life, that means not everything is going to go my way or at my speed so be patient and ultimately everything will work out the way it's supposed to. In my work, it's been a long journey to get to where I'm at now.
The amount of time both Armen and Z took into developing me as a coach is very unique to CrossFit 818. When I shadowed for Armen, he would check-in with me throughout the workout and ask me "what do you see?" Shadowing wasn't just writing names up on the board, and recording times and scores. It was my job to actively pay attention to the class, point out the things I was seeing and then explain why I was seeing those things happen. As I learned more about movement and the human body, Armen would then follow up with "how would you fix it?" We would meet after classes were done and break down each class and talk about everything in more detail than we could during the class time. Armen had me program workouts and we would talk about what was good, what could be better, and how to make it better.
More than 2 years after I started interning for 818, I finally got the opportunity I had been waiting for, I was asked to be a coach. Although I questioned the process on more than one occasion, Z and Armen made sure that I was equipped with all the right tools to coach before I was brought on to the team. Even though I'm a coach now, Armen has always been my sounding board for workouts, class management, coaching style, etc. So when I found out that Armen was moving to Austin, I was a bit shell shocked. Armen is such a big part of CrossFit 818 I couldn't imagine one without the other. Not that I can really imagine it now, but I came to realize that this too is part of the process. It's part of my process of developing as a coach, and a part of everyone's process as an athlete. Circumstances in life sometimes lead to big changes. You may move out of the area and be in need of a new gym, or new and exciting opportunities may be in store for any member of 818 team like they are now for Armen. It's all a part of the big process of life. Luckily the gym is still here, and Geoff, Z, and I are still coaching. It won't be the same without Armen, but don't give up on the process.
Armen was very excited for Sally during the Open
10 sandbag lunges
20 sit ups
30 double unders
Posted by Megan
Happy Friday! A handful of your fellow 818ers jotted down some of their favorite memories of Armen to be entered into our public blog record. Feel free to add a note to the comments if you'd like to chime in!
P.S. a couple of scheduling notes for Memorial Day Weekend:
- The gym will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, but the competition team will still meet and train Sunday morning at 8:00 AM.
- On Memorial Day, the gym will open at 8:45 AM and two heats will be held for the Murph workout at 9:00 AM and 10:00.
- Stick around after the workout to hang out with friends and enjoy some delicious tacos! (and BYOB!)
A while ago I decided to try out CrossFit & I landed at CrossFit818. I didn’t realize at the time what a wild ride it would be or how fortunate I was to have found Z & Armen as coaches. A few years have passed and well, I’m still sore almost everyday. But it has been a wonderful adventure. I am always challenged & always changing. And now one of my favorite coaches at the gym is flying the coop. He is spreading those wings & flying high!! I feel very lucky to have had Armen as my coach. He understood my sense of humor (I think) and was always up to share a good story & listen to one. He was patient (mostly) and occasionally grumpy, which was still funny. He pushed me hard & we sometimes disagreed on how heavy heavy really is and we always disagreed about running and I’ll miss that, (I’m still not taking up running). I have gotten stronger & I can do things that I always wanted to do. I got there because of Armen’s commitment to us all at the gym. Always pushing all of us to do more. And when I did more, my wins were his wins & he was always SO stoked when any one of us achieved something, whether it was a 1RM PR or our first Pull Up. I have benefited greatly from Armen’s encouragement, from his knowledge & his dedication to fitness & sports. But most of all I have to thank Armen for helping realize a childhood dream, and for that matter Z as well.
My first and final Wod at CF818 were taught by coach Armen and my perspective of him changed dramatically. I honestly thought my initial day of CrossFit would be my last. Making the long journey from being overweight was slowly progressing and adding daily WODs seemed appropriate. The cocky bearded bastard coach getting in my face however made my blood boil. It took all my will power to not ring his neckbeard. Realizing later that the swagger and attitude were just his genuine personality. Now his transparency and brutal honesty are the reasons I go to him for guidance. Armen's energy and enthusiasm for his passion of fitness is what makes him special. He's never satisfied with himself and damn sure won't let others rest on their laurels. Personally, he has pushed my physical abilities farther than I could have ever imagined. His encouragement will stick with me for many years to come and I will try to emulate his intensity in more facets of my health progression. His ability to see ones potential versus their own underwhelming perception paired with his knowledge and desire to help others achieve good health is a lethal combo. I have no doubt with his unrelenting drive the Hammer will conquer all in his new field. I wish him nothing but the best and truly grateful to call him coach and friend.
If you’re anything like me, the people who have been influential in my life tend to become little voices in my head that chime in from time to time with a pep talk, some encouragement or accountability (read: REAL TALK). Armen has certainly become one of those voices.
It goes without saying that your presence at the gym has been enormous and that your absence will felt. You’re guidance has been incredible and we all thank you immensely. Personally, I’d like to thank you for bringing together such a great community of people and introducing me to a sport and friends I hope to cherish forever.
Armen was initially a tough nut to crack. I have known Armen for 3 years. He would come into the first class of the day - whether at 5:30, or now 5:00 - and we would get Grumpy Armen. Usually a grunt or two... And I thought that was just him until I came to my first evening class and felt I had to reintroduce myself because it was a different Armen. While the Grumpy Armen has not changed too much at the 5:00 AM class, he has turned out to be like no other coach I have ever had (and I have had plenty either through swim team or running clubs)... Armen always gave the appearance that this was more than just a job for him. He showed genuine interest in our successes and failures. Armen sacrificed his time and energy for our out-of-gym events, competitions, and many other things. With no offense to others, Armen has been the heart and soul of CF818, and I for one, will truly miss him. Armen - a BIG THANK YOU from me and the other 5:00 AM class members (even Harout).
Flashback Friday: Armen's shoe headphones!
A. Every 2 minutes for 4 rounds:
30 seconds on leg/one arm plank
30 seconds superman hold
B. For time:
40 deadlifts (155/103)
40 wall ball
40 hand release push-ups
*18 minute cap
Posted by Commish
Since his time at CrossFit 818 will soon come to a close, I wanted to take a moment to share a brief note with the collective group about our friend and coach, Armen.
When I heard the words new job, Austin, and, Texas in the same sentence, I was struck with a very strong mix of emotions. I was sad that Armen would not only be leaving the gym, but also moving a couple time zones away. At the same time, I was inspired and happy because the new gig is a testament to the hard work he has put in at the gym and on the podcast. The fact that he will be doing something that he loves and excels at, in my opinion, is icing on the cake.
I've known Armen now for almost 5 years and, instead of saying farewell, I want to extend my personal gratitude for all that he has done for me. The reason, I'm writing this on the blog and not in a goodbye card drenched with tears (just kidding about the salt water!) is because I know that my thanks is not unique, that his positive personality and tenacious effort have touched all of us in some special way during the time we've spent together. You see, the thing I've noticed about Armen is that he truly loves aiding in someone's success. There is a fire that burns bright in his eyes when he sees someone get that first pull-up or hit that big lift. That is a very special gift to give.
So, Armen, thank you for the good times, the encouragement, the guidance, and most of all, the sacrifices you made to help us along with our fitness and coaching goals. Godspeed as you embark on this exciting journey. I know you will kick major ass in your new Tony Lama boots - you were planning on getting a pair of those, right?
Armen Hammer, friend, coach and ukelele player extraordinaire!
A. kipping practice
B. AMRAP 18 minutes:
20 db manmakers
Posted by Commish
I'm in an anonymous hotel room in Austin, TX, and this will be my second to last blog post for CrossFit 818.
As of right now, I have less than 5 classes left before I leave for Austin and I guess the thing that's stuck out to me the most is how awesome everyone of you have been in reaching out to me to congratulate me and even thank me for what I do.
I didn't get into coaching because I expected to change lives, I just wanted to share my experience with CrossFit with other people. Gauging from your emails, cards, texts, and what you've told me in person, I've been lucky enough to share that positivity with you and have a positive impact on your experiences.
Sure, at the end of the day we're talking about exercise, but there's more to this than just physical fitness. Learning about yourself and having a good time and forging abs and sweating it all out and setting new personal records and being really sore and hanging out with cool people...all these things and more are irreplaceable aspects of your journey at CF818. And while I know I'm awesome (I mean, seriously...come on.) you are all tasked with continuing to share that positive and wonderful and eye-opening experience with each other and anyone else who wants to experience something special.
I'm proud of what we've been able to do together, and I'm thankful that I've been a positive figure for you. Soon it'll be your turn to keep the magic happening.
A. 1RM weighted pull up
B. Every 2.5 minutes for 5 rounds:
24 double unders
8 toes to bar
3 power cleans (185/123)
*go really really fast
Posted by Armen
Let's talk about our annual Memorial Day Murph. For those who don't know, every Memorial Day, CrossFit gyms all around the country do a Hero WOD named Murph. The WOD is named after Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who died during a mission in Afghanistan and it consists of:
1 mile run
100 pull ups
200 push ups
1 mile run.
If you're looking at that and thinking, "Megan is nuts if she thinks I'll be putting myself through that! That's SO many pull ups and push ups!" Here's the deal with a workout like Murph, it's just another workout. We scale it to your ability. We will still scale the pull ups the way we do normally with either banded pull ups, or ring rows. Same thing goes with the push ups, we'll scale them to your knees, maybe toss in a band around your elbows, whatever you need to get those 200 done. Also, those 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats do not need to be done in that order. One of the best ways to get through this workout is actually 20 rounds of 5 pull ups, 10 push ups, 15 squats. If those numbers are still too daunting or outside of your ability, we can cut all the reps in half and you'll do a half Murph. Don't let the way this workout is written stop you from coming in Monday and doing it. It's a really fun workout, believe it or not. And it's also a really cool way to honor those who we are remembering on Memorial Day, especially Lieutenant Michael Murphy. Hope to see all y'all Monday!
At last year's Murph everyone ran out to help Edwin finish his last mile. #teamwork
1 Mile run
100 medball sit ups
50 front squats (115/83)
25 pulls ups
Posted by Megan
Happy Monday! Below is a video of Dan Bailey, a perennial Games competitor, competing against team of four people in a series of four benchmark workouts. The fact that Bailey finishes King Kong, Fran, Diane and Grace in just over 16 minutes is an incredible physical feat. Check it out!
A. Every 45 seconds for 8 rounds:
2 back squats
*light and fast, same weight across
B. Tabata mash up:
box jumps (24/20)*
kb swings (70/53, USSR)
*no step ups
Posted by Commish
Happy Friday! Yvette wrote today's guest blog as a farewell for Armen as he embarks on his next journey. Check it out!
I was asked by Coach Geoff to write a blog remembering some of the moments and experiences I had with Coach Armen. As I started writing I realized that it was very difficult to take three years and put it down in a few paragraphs, especially when it is Armen were talking about. Anyhow here it goes.
I remember going to a 5:00 am class on a Tuesday morning in late July of 2012. That was the first time I met Coach Armen. He came across as a very serious and tad bit of a grumpy person. I was somewhat intimidated by him and somewhat afraid- I didn’t know what to expect from him. But over the course of months and years I got to know Coach Armen more and more. And behind that serious exterior is a kind, intelligent person who thrives on seeing people get better on their workouts, set new PRs and accomplish their goals because all he wants is the best for us all- a true example of a great Coach.
We have been fortunate to have him coach us through various competitions. He has taught us to stop taking everything so seriously and to just have fun. One thing that I will forever remember is him saying “Yvette just do your best and enjoy the journey”. At the same time I have learned from him that it’s ok to get out of my comfort zone once in a while in order to achieve my PRs and goals.
One particular moment that stands out for me is when last year we were doing 1RM clean and jerk. I PR’d on the clean and got so excited that I dropped the bar before doing the jerk. The look on Armen’s face was classic, he got so mad that I didn’t do the jerk and of course he yelled at me for not completing the movement. These are the memories that I will not forget. I am so grateful to have him as a coach, mentor and most of all a friend. I will miss all the laughs, disagreements as well as him making fun of my accent, which I still don’t think I have one.
So Armen my friend, time has come for you to move on to the next chapter in your life. You will forever be our coach and a friend. The lessons we have learned from you will never be forgotten. Good luck on your journey and see you later.
P.S I didn’t cry while writing this- okay maybe a little.
5 rounds of:
AMRAP 3 minutes -
40' sandbag carry
4 sandbag flips
rest 3 minutes after each round
Posted by Commish