Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tricks to Promoting Your Brand

Creating and promoting your brand is your livelihood.  For some, Hammerhead Fitness included, it is a very personal, cherished part of your business.  We love our brand, our logo, our color scheme.

We've talked to tons of potential and existing CrossFit gym owners who have reached out to us for equipment packages.  One common thread we found as we were talking with them is that it was difficult for them to secure a CrossFit Affiliate name.  Many of their first, second and even third choices were taken.  It can be frustrating, but through that search to find a unique, catchy name to brand your business, you develop a deep attachment to it.  That's good.  Having a strong, personal attachment to your brand is important.

We've seen some really catchy, and some even funny names.  I was responding to a connection request through +LinkedIn when a saw a status update for a new CrossFit Affiliate Owner.  The name of their affiliate was CrazyWife CrossFit in Clarksville, TN.  Haha.  Cool.  Now that name works, doesn't it?  It's funny, memorable and caught my attention enough to write about.  They've got a subtitle too that's catchy...Forging Elite Housewives.  That's funny and creative.

The reason for today's article is not about how to name your affiliate, but something else rather that caught my attention about branding in particular.  Social media plays a huge part in building a brand and we've all heard how important and engaging images can be.  For the enormous amount of information that passes by our eyes in the way of Blog posts, Status Updates to Google Plus and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, we've all got to be engaging fast or we lose the opportunity.  Photos and images are a great way to engage.  They do it quickly and effectively.

There are three main keys in branding your business that you want to present to your customers every chance you get - Your Business Name, Your Logo and What You Do.  I've put three images on this blog post that are all great images for us to use either on our equipment for CrossFit site or on any of our social media accounts, but one of them is the clear stand out.  Not all of them contain all three aspects of branding.  Before you read on can you pick out which one is the best?

You've Got One Shot to Make a Memorable Impression - Get Your Full Brand on that Image.  The image above right of Ryan K. out at CrossFit R5 in Wayne, PA is a great image.  It's engaging and well-composed and it conveys that we are an equipment supplier.  But is it enough?  Most will look at the image and think it's a really great shot.  I agree.  But the one thing that it is missing is a clear presentation of our brand.  We've got three logos presented in the image but none of them are clear enough for someone to tell instantly who we are.  Granted, its a great shot and I can and will use it on our site and in blog posts like this one.  But to get the most brand promotion and recognition, I should not post this image by itself.  If you saw that image, would you know enough to visit HammerheadFitness.com?  You might be able to piece our name together by looking at both Plyo Boxes but I'd rather not take that risk.  Presenting just a logo is not enough.  Even the big names like Target and WalMart don't present just their logo when advertising.  If we presented just our "H", only our existing customers would recognize it.  Keep both together.  Always.

Now, have a look at this image on the left.   Here is a 10/10 in my book.  Well composed, and well branded.  We actually use this image on our Gymnastics Rings page and I've posted it to all the major social media sources.

This photo nails all the important aspects of presenting our brand.  Our logo and brand are presented twice both in the logo stamp on the lower right and on the Gymnastics Rings straps.  Both are easily identified.  And this image conveys exactly what we are about.  Building equipment for CrossFit Affiliates.  A great logo stamp can turn a great image into an outstanding image that presents who you are and how to find you.

Keep Your Logo, Your Business Name and What You Do Together in one Image.
These three key aspects will help you present your business the most clearly.  Our logo at the top of the blog is great and there's enough information there for someone to look us up on the web but it only has two out of three of the key points of branding.  Does it tell everyone what we do?  Some might think we're a CrossFit Affiliate.  Equipment is our thing, actually.  So the best way for us to present our brand is in this image just above.  It nails all three.  We use the image at the top as our logo stamp quite often.  It works great for that.

Ok - I told you there are three main aspects to presenting your brand...there are four actually but I didn't want to overload you. :)  As an equipment supplier, our location is not as critical.  We can and have outfitted CrossFit Affiliates all over the US and even Canada.  The fact that we are located in Victor, NY doesn't matter that much to our customers.  Many do like the fact that nearly everything we do is US Made, but just because we're not in their backyard isn't super important.  We can ship anywhere.

For the gym owner, however, location is super important to the business and it's potential customers.  The gym owner spends a ton of time researching location and area.  The right location can mean the difference between flourishing and failing.  So, I'm going to leave you with two final tips to helping you present your brand in the most effective way.

Tip #1 - When you get apparel printed, conspicuously put the name of your town somewhere on it.  Especially if you are printing Hoodies or Hats.  These two items most likely will be worn outside the gym and when your current clients are out and about, not only will people know about +CrossFit Alpha Dog, for instance, but they'll also know that the gym is in Lombard, Illinios.  [By the way - if you need apparel printed, we know some guys :)]

Tip #2 - Hire a professional photographer.  We did.  A few times.  And she was worth every single penny.  Tell them what your objectives are in the photos.  A clear presentation of your brand whenever possible.  Maybe have them come over on a Saturday when you've got one of your biggest classes.  Get everyone wearing your shirts if you've got them.  And if not, remember, logo stamps work great.  And, you don't need to use all the pictures immediately.   Use some for your website and social media home pages and save the others to sporadically post or attach to workout or nutrition blogs that you might post in the future.

Need more tips for running your Affiliate?  Subscribe to our Blog and our YouTube channel for more great stuff to come.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vitamin Deficiencies with Healthy Eating?

I just love this CrossFit community. If there is any common factor that I've found it's that it is a group of people who honestly want to see one another succeed.  That's rare.  And awesome.

We all have our reasons for joining in on CrossFit.  Maybe it's to excel at sports, lose/gain weight or as for me, it's about keeping my body moving.  As I get older, it's more about keeping my mind and body healthy and less about what my max Deadllift is.  And I'm okay with that.

I've dabbled with a bunch of different eating plans over the years.  I mostly have just eaten whatever I was in the mood for but occasionally I've jumped on the bandwagon for one 'diet' or another.  I've been able to maintain my weight between 160lb-170lb without too much effort.  Well, a few weeks ago Lance and Chelsea over at CrossFit Victor announced a one month long Paleo Challenge that is going to start next week.  I guess that was a good enough kick in the rear end for me to re-think my diet because since they announced it, I've eliminated processed foods and dairy from my diet.  I've even stayed away from all the stuff you're supposed to - white potatoes, legumes, and rice.

I have to admit, even in just two weeks I feel great.  I thought I was feeling pretty great before but the difference is very noticeable.  I have more energy, my stamina and strength levels at the gym are higher and what I really have come to appreciate is the lack of muscle soreness. All from just eating well.  So with all these benefits, why go back to that bad diet?  This just might be a bandwagon I stay on.

One aspect of the diet that I was concerned about was if I was now susceptible to Vitamin deficiencies of any kind, especially Vitamin D.  I haven't had cow milk in at least two weeks so I wondered if I might have to supplement.

Enter the great CrossFit community...  I posted a comment up on my Facebook page last night asking all my CrossFit friends about any deficiencies that might come about and what I should do to supplement.  All of their answers were very helpful and they all come from people that I know and trust.  All of them are avid CrossFitters with years under their belt, some are seasoned, well-known and respected CrossFit gym owners, one is a Nutritionist and another a Chiropractor.  There was certainly a common thread among all of their answers.

I thought it would be really helpful to pass along what they told me.  Here's the question I asked and the answers I received.

Hey fellow CrossFitters:
Does anyone know of any vitamin deficiencies that can come about by eating strict paleo?  I've been free of dairy and processed food for about 2 weeks and feel great but wanted to make sure I wasn't lacking anything like maybe Vitamin D??
I'm wondering if adding a multi vitamin might be a good idea??

Gina ground this on Vitamin D "It also occurs naturally in a few foods - - including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks"  I'd say if you feel the need to add anything, take Cod Liver Oil or a good Fish Oil (Omega 3) supplement.  If you are eating a good variety of protein and vegetables you should be getting everything you need.

Jeff Calcium is another one that people need to keep an eye on.  Almond milk is a good way to get calcium if you give up milk and dairy.  http://livestrong.com/article/91388-calcium-depression/

Matt Claire and I just started taking Vitamin D dissolved in sunflower seed oil to try to supplement during the winter, because the best way to get Vitamin D is to naturally make it with sun exposure.  Although, there was a big study that just came out against Vitamin D supplements being effective, and another one against supplements in general... I think Gina is right, just try to eat a variety of acceptable foods and you'll have an easy time at it.  Also, I've been reading Dr. Cordian's latest book and if you can get past the sensational subtitle, it's a really good read.  And cheap on Kindle too - 3 bucks!  http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00BKRONWI?cache=1390960202...

Shane Your body gets all the vitamin D it needs from 20 minutes in the sun...

Theresa Dude.  You live in Rochester.  You need vitamin d this time of year!  Regardless!

Alex Vitamin D and magnesium.  I take Natural Calm before bed.  The raspberry lemon is pretty tasty.

Dave One of our clients is a doctor who literally wrote a book on vitamin D.  Everyone in the northeast should be supplementing with 3-5,000 iu a day.  It oxidizes pretty quickly too so if you don't go through a bottle in 30 days get a new one.  Cheap too.

Patrick I've read a lot about Vit D deficiency.  Yes, about 20 mins is all it takes, but that's full sun exposure, as in: laying out on the beach.  We need sun exposure all over, not just the face/hands/arms.

Adam I take vitamin D, fish oil (krill), and a multi vitamin daily.  Angle of the dun is too low until May to get the correct ultraviolet rays (b) in this part of the country for vitamin D production. UvB tanning bed would also work for D.

So here's a shout out of thanks to all my friends here who took the time to share their knowledge and experience with me.  I've decided to supplement with Vitamin D, Fish Oil and to grab a copy of that book Matt was talking about.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Gear Tips - Outfitting Your Gym - Medicine Balls and Kettlebells

When getting ready to outfit your facility there are a few pieces of equipment that are without equal for the benefit they bring - the Medicine Ball and the Kettlebell.  But choosing how many and what size to outfit your facility can be a challenge.  You never know what athlete makeup each class will be and being short on both these pieces will leave your athletes missing out on some highly effective training.

Color coded medicine balls not only look great but they're easy to id, too.
The Medicine Ball and Kettlebell are among our Top Six recommended pieces to equip your facility.  For the number of exercises that they bring to your athletes, they are one of the best investments you can make.  Because both of these pieces are so versatile, you can program them in the Warm Up, Skill, or Metcon every day and still maintain a high variety of movements on the whiteboard.  And both the kettlebell and the medicine ball are fantastic tools for training beginners as well.  They can be used to teach some of the more complex olympic movements on a lighter scale.

So having enough appropriately sized medicine balls and kettlebells on hand will open up a ton of options for you in programming for all levels of athletes.

So, armed with all that info, how do you choose what sizes are best to invest in?

Gear Tip #1: When Starting Your Facility - Get RX'd Plus Two or Three.  When programming, having two sizes below your RX'd weights available gives the Beginner and Intermediate Level athletes the option to grab something other than RX'd.  If you've got 32kg/24kg Kettlebell Swings up on the whiteboard, having those plus 16kg and 8kg as options will keep everyone moving, especially if you've programmed a RFT [Rounds for Time] WOD that everyone needs to complete.  And with those options, you can provide a challenge for all levels of athletes with only four to five sizes of kettlebells.  The same can be said for the Medicine Ball.  If you are considering a workout with 20lb/14lb Overhead Squats, then having 16lb and 10lb Medicine Balls available keeps those that aren't ready for as RX'd challenged but not frustrated.


Adding colored electrical tape is very inexpensive.
Gear Tip #2: Color Coding Your Equipment is a Good Idea.  All of your Dynamax Medicine Balls will be the same diameter, so getting them color coded not only makes it super easy to pick them off the shelf, it's also really affordable.  And putting colored tape on kettlebell handles is smart, too.  You can even create a little cheat sheet up on the wall next to the equipment showing what color corresponds to what size.  Color coding your equipment makes grabbing the right size piece easy and fast for your athletes and it also encourages them to put everything back where they found it. :)

Outfitting a new facility or looking to expand?  Feel free to browse our Equipment Packages or contact us for a custom quote.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Type of Workout Motivates You Best?

Who doesn't get a little excited thinking about what's on the whiteboard today?  Is excited the right word?  Maybe it's apprehension?  Ha. The workout should make you a little nervous.  One thing I've always found though is that no matter what is written down, everyone always finds a way to get through it.

When I walk in the gym in the morning I normally make a bee line to the board to see what's in store for the day.  I know I'm not the only one that does that.  Sometimes I'll text a buddy to see what it is before I go. Is that wrong?  I guess as long as it doesn't prevent me from going.  Choosing whether or not to go to the gym based on what the workout is is called Cherry Picking and if you get caught doing it you just might get a talking to. :)

I've got my favorite movements and my not so favorites.  That's normal.  I'm a big fan of the double under and anything with gymnastics rings.  Me and the thruster don't get along too well.

The gym owner wields some awesome power though, don't they?  They get to decide on the workout for the day.  From what I have seen and heard they all take that responsibility very seriously and put a lot of thought into it.  But I often wonder not only how they come up with certain movement combinations but how do they decide on the timing too?  The way a workout is timed makes a big difference in what my first response is to the whiteboard.

Let's run through a bunch of the popular timing sequences I see:

AMRAP - As Many Rounds as Possible: In this sequence, we have a list of exercises that we have to run through in a repeating cycle until the timer expires.  This one I can deal with even if the movements are tough because I know it has a definable end.

RFT - Rounds for time:  This is similar to the AMRAP but it only ends when the workout is finished. I kinda hate workouts like this, especially the brutal ones.  The motivation here has to be to finish.  And although this is the hardest style for me, I understand it's importance.  Workouts like this you've got to grit your teeth and just work through it one rep at a time.  Sometimes they'll be quick and sometimes not.  I think it's important to chime in too that there is no shame in scaling back if necessary.

EMOM - Every Minute on the Minute:  One of my favorites for strength workouts.  This keeps me focused and moving.  I normally see 1-5 reps of moderate to heavy weight movements like a Front Squat, Shoulder Press or Deadlift.  It's kinda fun too when it's dotted with double unders or burpees.  Every time the minute cycles, run through the reps.  The goal is to finish quickly and efficiently and use the rest of the minute to rest and re-focus.
LADDER - 1-2-3-4-5... Reps every Minute until time expires:  Some folks call the the "Death By_____" style workout.  Work increases while rest decreases.  This is a cool workout that gets the competitiveness in me going.  I don't see it programmed very often but it's fun.

The "Chipper":  This style workout is usually one round of a ton of reps of several movements.  If you've heard of the "Filthy Fifty" then you're familiar.  50 of a bunch of different movements that have to be completed before you earn the right to go on to the next movement.  It gets it's name because you tend to "chip" away at each movement until done.  This is a RFT in disguise. I've had the most success with workouts like this when I don't shoot through the gate like a racehorse.  Consistent, methodical effort tends to work best for me.

12 Days of Christmas:  All. Time. Favorite.  It takes a ton of floor space [and equipment] to run a WOD like this but it is serious fun.  12 exercises are listed, each representing one of the 12 days of Christmas.  The Days normally also count as reps for the movements.  The way to complete the workout,however, is not to peel through the 12 Days one after the other, but rather like this 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4-5,...  I can see why most gym owners only do this style once a year.  It's tough to program and tough to run through with a bunch of folks.  I've seen the most success with staggered starts.

Deck of Cards:  Pick a movement for each suit.  Sometimes Aces can represent 11 of that movement, 10 of each or can be something completely different like a 500M Row or Plank Hold.  I've usually seen this style workout run as a Partner WOD with the workout finished once all the cards are cycled through. [Each team gets their own deck]

All of these style workouts motivate me in one way or another.  The most important part for me is that it's something different each time I walk in the gym.  I like to be challenged but not have it be boring.  A huge part of success in the gym is having the right mindset.

What's your favorite?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

10 Ways To Maximize Your Floor Space

Whether you've just got the keys to your new gym and can't wait to fill it with an equipment package you've just purchased or you've been in business for a while and are busting at the seams, we've got a few ideas to maximize your effective training space to keep your athletes moving freely and safely.

We've trained in some tight spaces - everyone has.  And there are times when more people are going to pour in your door than you can comfortably fit.  That's not a bad thing.  Necessity is the mother of invention and should you find yourself in this spot, we've got a few ideas to make the most of what space you have.

Chances are that you've signed a 12 month or longer lease so if things start getting tight, you've got to take action.  You've got a few choices to make.  Some are easier than others.  Let's have a look at three different possibilities:
  • Restrict class size - This is by far the easiest of all the options but restrictions have the most potential to limit your overall growth.  If the next two options are exhausted then sometimes this is the only opportunity.
  • Get creative in programming - if you are running short on space then chances are a workout with Rope Climbs, Box Jumps, Ground to Overheads and Double Unders will wreck havoc.  The more pieces of equipment you involve in a workout the more space is necessary for your athletes to safely execute.  Ever run the 12 Days of Christmas Workout?  Now you know what we're talking about.
  • Maximize your useable space - Equipment layout and storage are important to consider up front if possible.  If you've invested in a Wall Mounted or Free Standing Rig, those are tough to move but not impossible.  We'll show you a few ideas to make the most of the space you've got.
  1. Use Windows Wisely - If you've got a wall full of windows this is a great place to store equipment.  Keep it stacked low enough so that folks outside can see what's going on in there.  Windows are great for letting natural light in, but there's not much you can use them for in the middle of a workout.  If your windows are spaced out, underneath each one is still a great option.
  2. Keep Bars Off the Walls - Wall space is at a premium in your gym.  You'll need them for Handstand Pushups, Wall Balls, some mobility work, and the whiteboard to name a few.  Most bars are 7 feet long and if you store a dozen or more on the wall that's a 7 foot wide block of space that can't be used for anything else.  Vertical Bar storage is the best choice.  You can store 12 or more bars in 3 square feet of space and our storage racks are easy to move while you experiment with the best location.
  3. Choose Your Weapon for Squats - When we see squat racks and a Pullup Rig on a quote request we offer this little tip.  Choose one or the other.  If a Pull Up Rig is the way you want to go, opt for the Free Standing Rig if you have room [maintain 8 feet clear all the way around].  It has double the number of Squat Stations than it's Wall Mounted counterpart and it provides the most visibility for you to watch your athletes while they are moving.  Combining individual Squat Racks and a Rig takes up space fast.  If you want to go with Squat Racks, pair them up with our Wall Mounted Pull Up Brackets.
  4. Store Vertically Whenever Possible - just like the bars, lining up kettlebells and medicine balls along a wall starts taking up real estate fast.  
    The higher you can stack equipment, the more space you'll save.  Put the heavy stuff toward the bottom [even putting kettlebells on the floor under our storage rack is smart] and get the lighter stuff up high.  Stack no higher than 6 feet or some of your athletes might not comfortably reach what they need.
  5. Assign a Space for Coats/Shoes and Personal Belongings - If you don't visually assign a space for all your athlete's personal gear then they will find the most convenient space on their own and it might be right behind them during a WOD.  Sometimes this works, sometimes not.  One of our friends suggested that different colored flooring be used to mark out an area for post workout stretching and personal gear.  That's brilliant.  Get some coat hooks up on the wall and invest in some shoe cubbies.  If you've got a rather resourceful member, trade some personal coaching time or money off their next month's dues if they will tackle this project for you.
  6. Moveable Bumper Storage -
     Bumper Plate Storage
    If you've got a few thousand pounds of bumpers in your gym, the moveable bumper storage rack is a great choice.  First, it gives all your athletes a target for putting all their gear away [each size bumper on its own dolly for best results] and second, the heavy duty casters help you move them around.  And our removable center pin makes it easy to take the bumpers off the dolly when it's go time.  Chances are when it's time to clean the floor, you're not going to be up for the 2500lb bumper shuffle WOD [before AND after :)]  These rolling dollies make it easy.
  7. Rings and Climbing Ropes - When you've got a small space, having dedicated stations for every piece of equipment just isn't feasible.  Rings and Climbing Ropes are two pieces that rob valuable real estate when not in use.  If rings are up high enough [to clear any Overhead movements and/or jump rope use] then no prob.  Climbing Ropes should have a dummy cord tied to the bottom of them that you can hoist over a high point in your gym [overhead bar joist or the like] and pull up out of the way.
  8. Assign a Running Lane - If your athletes need to move from inside the gym to outside [for a mid-WOD run], assign a running lane for them to move safely from their station outside and back.  A running lane also works well any time there is a transition between equipment that the athlete might not have at their station, i.e. rowers, GHDs.  And marking out the lane with colored floor tape is a great idea, too.
  9. Get out Pencil and Paper - The easiest way to envision your equipment placement in the gym is to put pencil to paper.  
    If you didn't get a floor plan from your Landlord when you signed the lease, ask for one.  Chances are they've got one.  Make several photocopies.  Next, take the length and width measurement with a ruler to determine the scale.  Most plans are drawn 1/8"= 1 foot or 3/16"= 1 foot.  Find out what yours is and double check it.  Next, make small scaled versions of your equipment on another sheet of paper. No need to be fancy, just make squares and rectangles to represent the rig, GHDs, bumpers, etc then cut them out.  Write the name of the equipment on each scaled model.  It's also a good idea to make 8'x8' rectangles to represent your athletes [64 square feet per athlete is a minimum, especially if they have a bar in their hands].  Now, put all those small scale models on your floor plan and move them around to see what arrangement works best.  Be sure to leave wall space for Handstands, Wall Balls, Mobility work and your whiteboard.  And allow for reasonable space around your equipment for athletes to move in/out.
  10. Bring the Equipment to the Athlete - Your best chance at maximizing floor space is designing workouts where the athlete can stay in relatively one spot.  If they do need to move to a rower or outside for a run, then they've got the running lane [see above].  (Gear tip - keep heavy stuff away from rowers :)  They are a huge investment and don't play well with dropped bars and kettlebells).  So, if at all possible, during pre-WOD setup, each athlete should bring all necessary equipment into their space.  That way, they can judge how far away they need to be from each other.
Need more tips and tricks to maximize your equipment?  Or want to keep up on the latest product developments and enhancements at Hammerhead Fitness?  Subscribe to our blog.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Equipment Packages - Update

 Affiliate Buyers Guide
We've excited to announce the addition of a few great equipment packages to our lineup!  Our Buyer's Guide is a great resource for the beginning gym.  You can get it for free by clicking on it over here. ---->

In it, we describe five great pieces to get your gym started well.  Recently, we've helped a few gyms get off to a great start including Camillus CrossFit in Fairmount, NY, CrossFit Vicarious in Milford, DE and CrossFit 7070 in Monument, CO.  Thanks guys!! And they all have those same great 5 pieces in common.

  • The Affiliate Rig
  • Hi-Temp Bumpers & Hammerhead Bars
  • Kettlebells
  • Medicine Balls
  • Gymnastics Rings
In addition to the core equipment pieces above, each of our packages also come with:
  • Programmable Gym Timer - with 4" tall digits, our timers are highly visible and operate easily with the remote control.  And since they are fully programmable, most any timing sequence you can think of can be done.
  • Resistance Bands - we include a pile full of bands.  Use them for assisting in mobility to providing added resistance to the pushup or pull up.  They're also great for resisted runs.
  • Steel Change Plates - we didn't forget one of the most important pieces.  The incremental weight [2.5lb and 5lb] steel weight plates are crucial to continued strength gains.
  • Abmats - great for enhancing/accentuating the movement of the situp, we've also used these during Handstand Pushup work.
  • Cable Jump Ropes - the jump rope needs no introduction.  It's a great tool that can tax any athlete.  Encourage your members to get their own rope cut to their size, but a handful hanging on your wall are a necessity as well.
In addition to all those great tools above we've got even more to offer for the gym owner that wants to take their gym just a little bit further.

Our Silver Level Packages add three more great pieces to challenge your athletes even more:
  • Three Sided Plyo Boxes - coming in at 20" x 24" x 30" - the most popular platform heights.  Our plyo box has 12 oversized handholds rounded over inside and out to make it easy to pick up.  And all of our edges are rounded over, too.  Since they are CNC cut, every box is an exact duplicate every time.  And they're super easy to assemble.  Check out our video here.
  • Our Stackable Plyo Boxes - for the gym that's tight on space [who isn't?], our stackable plyo boxes nest one within another allowing you to stack them as high as you can reach all the while taking up no more than 4 square feet of floor space in your gym.
     Stackable Plyo Boxes
     Our stackable box height begins at 12" [perfect for the beginning jumper] and each time you add a box, the height increases by 6".  Stack them up. 12"-18"-24"-30"-36"-42"-48"-54"-60"-66".  And plyo boxes aren't just for jumping on.  Use them for pass-throughs [feet behind the hands to feet forward of the hands], deficit push ups or dips and we've even seen gym owners lay a piece of PVC pipe between two boxes and have their athletes jump over the pipe (stick jumps).  Try L-Sit holds and modified Handstand Pushups too.  We shot an assembly video of this one too.  It's right here.
  • Climbing Ropes - functional fitness at it's finest and tons of fun, too.  There's something about climbing a rope that brings me back to the high school days.  Rope climbs are a fantastic way to build grip strength, pulling strength and perhaps most of all - confidence in your athletes.  We've added them into our Silver Level Packages as well.
Our Gold Level Equipment Packages add the final touches to the gym that many gym owners are asking for - Equipment Storage.

Keeping a gym well organized is always a challenge, especially after starting early in the morning.  Sometimes you just want outta there when the day is done.  We get that.  So we've crafted a few storage options that keep your equipment well tucked away when the day is done and easy for your athletes to grab when it's go time.

Our Gold Level Equipment Packages include everything in the Bronze and Silver and:
  • Bumper Storage Dollies - The 4 heavy duty casters make it easy to roll these out of the way when needed.  The center pin stays in when it's time to store the bumpers at the end of the session, but also comes out to make removing the bumpers a breeze.
  • Vertical Bar Storage - Not only is our bar storage rack a great way to protect your investment, 
    but it stores 12 bars in less than 3 square feet. And it holds all bars - Axles, 20KG Men's Bars, 15KG Ladies Bar and Training Bars.  It's base is wide enough to easily support one bar or all twelve without fear of tipping.  If you prefer to store your bars on the wall we can do that but here's a little gear tip - save your wall space for Handstand Pushups and Wall Balls.  You can store an entire collection of bars vertically in much less space than you can on the wall. Save that valuable space you pay for each month!
  • Equipment Storage Rack - The final touch that we added to our Gold Level Package is our Equipment Storage System.  With these you can store kettlebells, medicine balls, abmats and more.  Maximize you useable floor space by stacking vertically.  The more floor space you have, the more room your athletes have to work and the easier it is for you to handle class overload and last minute programming changes.
Store vertically if possible but if
you've got to go horizontal, do it
under a window bay to keep your
space maximized.
We've got a bunch of great new gear we've just announced and much more on the way.

Have you seen our new Hammerhead Men's and Women's Bars?  We've built them with all the qualities everyone likes - no center knurling, bright zinc coatings, bronze bushings and the perfect shaft diameters for the hook grip - 28.5MM for men and 25MM for women.  And we're proud to label them Made in USA!

And we've got a new Classic Kettlebell, too.  Crafted in all the popular kg weights of 8kg-12kg-16kg-20kg-24kg-28kg-32kg.  A great handle and a great price make these a fine addition to your gym.

And new Wall Ball Targets, Parallelettes and more coming next week!  Be sure to subscribe to our blog to hear about all the latest.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hammerhead Performance Barbells | Made in USA - Gear Specs

You may have noticed some big changes on our site over the past few weeks.  We've been working on some really big projects over these past months and are ready to unveil the first [and second] in a line of products that we've been working on.

Thanks to all of our prototype testers out there who have helped us to make some final adjustments to our latest endeavor - the Hammerhead Performance Barbell.

We've produced two barbells with all the qualities that everyone is after - superior performance, perfect shaft diameters, great whip, top notch coatings and high quality alloy bushings.

The barbell is perhaps one of the most important tools in your equipment inventory.  It opens up a wide variety of exercises and it's a piece that you can program differently every day of the week.  Whether it's static movements such as the deadlift or shoulder press to olympic lifts like the snatch and cleans, chances are the barbell will dominate your programming.  And what barbells take up residence in your gym is a serious decision.  They need just the right combination of price, durability, shaft diameters, knurling and sleeve spin.

So, from a highly saturated barbell market that can present you with so many choices it's hard to decide, we've crafted two great barbells that offer all the right combinations of characteristics that deliver you a solid performer at a great price.  And we've built them to handle all the heaviest static loads such as the deadlift and back squat.  But when it comes time for needing finesse and whip, our performance barbells over deliver.  They will perform superbly to help you generate that whip to get those tough loads overhead.  And the performance bushings keep the sleeves spinning freely and all of your force moving the weight in the right direction.


Our Hammerhead Performance Barbell Specifications:
  • Shaft Diameters - 28.5MM for Men, 25MM for Women.  These are the most comfortable for both guys and ladies to maintain the hook grip which is critical for the clean and snatch.
  • Dual Shaft Markings - to assist with quick reference for handle placement we've added dual markings.
  • Knurling Depth - some bars bite your hands and some have a slippery feel due to inadequate knurling depth.  We hit the middle of the mark that keeps your hands gripping the bar well on that 30th rep without leaving you short 2 layers of skin.  It's just right.
  • No Center Knurling - rep after rep of cleans, thrusters, front squats or bear complexes can be brutal when the bar has center knurling and it's in the front rack position.  Especially for our ladies who like to train in scoop necks or tanks.  Center knurling can leave some pretty nasty abrasions.  We've kept it off to keep you looking pretty :)
  • Bright Zinc Coating - bright Zinc offers great protection against oxidation and that's the name of the game - keeping your bars looking great year after year.  They will age to a great petina and continue to keep your bar protected.  But if you are a die-hard Black Zinc or Black Oxide fan we can cost the shaft in those as well.  You need only ask.
  • Bronze Bushings - contained with the sleeves with dual snap rings, our alloy bushings keep the sleeves spinning freely from the shafts.  That means your joints are protected rep after rep.
  • Strength - at 165K Tensile Strength and 140K Yield Strength our bars provide just the right balance of strength for the heavy loads as well as whip to help get that heavy load moving vertically.
And if you are outfitting or expanding your gym, have a look at our Equipment Packages.  You'll notice we've been busy there, too.  We've restructured all of our equipment packages to now include the Hammerhead Performance Barbells standard.  We want you to have the best equipment that will serve you and your athletes well.  And we've added four more package options for all new or growing affiliates.

Thanks for all the support to our friends old and new.  We look forward to continuing to bring you the best products and services to outfit your garage gyms and commercial facilities.

We're adding videos weekly on our YouTube Channel so subscribe to see all the latest.  We just finished a series on programming our 6 Digit Programmable Interval Timer.  And if you'd like to see how easily our plyo boxes go together, we've also added two assembly videos.  Want to keep in the know with all things Hammerhead?  Subscribe to our YouTube Channel right here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Gymnastics Rings - How to Set Them Up

I've been involved in fitness my entire adult life from pursuing it through high school athletics and in the military and beyond.  I've had several memberships to the well known globo gyms and I've even owned a few home gym machines in my time.  For their part, they did their thing.  But, after I started following the CrossFit® Main Page back in 2006, I have to admit that gymnastics rings really intrigued me.  I had never even thought of owning a set because I had never seen them in use outside of the olympics.  And obviously most of what we see there is beyond the reach of most mortals. :)

One of misconceptions I had was that gymnastics rings are only for advanced level athletes.  Although it is true that there are some wildly stunning movements that olympic athletes perform on them [Planche, Maltese, Front and Back Levers to name a few].  But ring training is still within reach of the beginning or intermediate level athlete.  Sure, most won't pull them out of the box and start cranking out Muscle Ups and Iron Crosses, but there are still a bunch of functional movements that you can use them for.  And as we've commented on before - they are portable, quiet, lightweight and based on how you set them up or what exercise you perform they can challenge any level athlete.  That's good stuff.  It's completely different from a kettlebell, for instance.  Yes, kettlebells are great but a 55lb kettlebell cannot appeal to all athlete levels/abilities the way that a set of gymnastics rings can.

Gymnastics rings were actually one of my very first purchases once I was introduced to CrossFit®.  And whether you've just bought a set or are considering it for the future, we've put together a simple startup/setup video to help you get them out of the box and prepared for use.  Our short video describes how to mount the rings, position the cam buckles and how best to store away the loose ends of the straps.  One thing I did not mention in the video is how far apart the rings should be to make them the most comfortable.  Our Gymnastics Rings Mount that is installed overhead keeps them spaced at 19" apart.  That is generally going to be the most comfortable for all athletes.  As you step in between the rings to use them they should be hanging at shoulder width distance.  If you are mounting on a pull up bar or other structurally sound member, you can slide them to this distance.

To get the rings incorporated into your workouts quickly, and to develop strength and confidence in them, we suggest that after your warmup, use the rings [or any new movement for that matter] in a couplet with the EMOM [Every Minute on the Minute] timing pattern.

For instance, take one exercise that you feel comfortable with such as the Deadlift and pair it with one new exercise on the rings such as Ring Dips.  Start the timer for the EMOM and work 3 heavy deadlifts the first minute then 5 ring dips the second minute.  Repeat this for 10 minutes alternating between deadlifts and ring dips.  In this type of workout, adjust the reps up/down to allow yourself some rest before the minute expires.  By keeping reps relatively low you allow sufficient time to recover before you've got to jump back on the rings again.  And you are giving your body a chance to learn the movements before you put them in a "For Time" workout.

We are big fans of this approach to training [Warmup-Skill-Strength-Metcon-Stretch] since it lends itself so well to accomplishing many goals in one training day.  Lance and Chelsea at CrossFit Victor in our hometown have been using this approach to training since they opened and it's super smart and effective.








Tuesday, January 7, 2014

7 Ways You Might Not Have Thought to Use Your Bumper Plates

Looking for some inspiration on how to use your bumper plates? Read on.
Bumper plates are the staple for pursuing fitness and we've got more than
a few ways to keep you reaching for them every time you're in the gym.
Bumper Plates have become synonymous with the functional fitness gym.  And without them, we limit exactly what we can do with the barbell.  We've written before on how important the incremental steel weights at 2.5lb and 5lb are, but bumper plates are paramount to bringing your fitness to the next level.  And we're big fans of Hi-Temp bumpers - they're US Made and are super resilient.

For those who have been following our Blogs, you'll know that we applaud the imaginative coach/athlete.  And we like to see creative ways to use our equipment to the fullest.  Bumper plates are no exception.  If the only time they are in use is when the bars get pulled out, here are a few ideas to keep you reaching for them every time you step in the gym.

7 Ways to Re-Purpose Your Bumper Plates:

  1. Overhead Squats/Lunges - held overhead with the arms locked out or cradled on the chest, bumpers add a great challenge to these movements.  And if you already have the bar loaded up for deadlifts or some other movement, then you can still incorporate bumpers in your workout with a movement like this.
  2. Farmer's Carry - If you're looking to improve grip strength, try carrying a 25lb bumper with a pinch grip over a set distance.  We've seen this type of movement before in a workout with a penalty for each drop.  Cool!
  3. Handstand Pushups - when you're ready for deficit Handstand Pushups, bumpers make a great platform for your hands.  And if you're using an abmat under your head as a cushion then a 10lb High Temp bumper on each side makes the perfect adjustment against the height of the abmat.  The higher the stack, the harder the movement becomes.
  4. Plank Holds - increase the difficulty of the plank hold by stacking up a bumper or two [or three!] on your back while holding this position.
    Adding bumpers to the Plank Hold makes it so much more fun :)
  5. Pushups - There are at least three ways to use the bumper plate to change up the difficulty of the push up.  One - add a bumper to your back while in the plank [a little hard to do if you're on  your own].  Two - elevate your feet on a stack of bumpers.  Three - stack one or two bumpers on either side of your body so that you can place your hands on them while lowering your body.
  6. Ring Rows - Changing the elevation of the gymnastics rings can add/decrease difficulty for the ring row but adding a bumper plate or two is also a great way to change up the standard ring row.
  7. Weighted Pullups/Dips and more - One of our friends - Kristin C. out at the Pack CrossFit in Twin Falls, Idaho took a great pic of a very imaginative way to use bumper plates and resistance bands to add weight to the Pull Up.  Very imaginative, resourceful and effective.  Brilliant!
Looking for a way to add difficulty to the pull up or ring dip?  Use bumper plates and resistance bands.
If you've got a great, imaginative use for the bumper plate outside of using them with a bar, send it in or post it to comments below!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Gear Tip - Add Varying Bar Heights on the Pull Up Rack


Affiliate Rig Gear Tips
Thanks a bunch to Mike C. over at +CrossFit Nj├Ârd  in Chesapeake, VA for sending us a pic of his Pull Up Rack setup.  Mike has a 12 Pole Free Standing Pull Up Rack from us along with four of our Rig Pole Extension Kits.  As soon as we saw this pic, we just had to chime in.  One of the things we really like to see under our rigs is a clean, smooth floor with no obstructions just like Mike has it set up.

We know that there are times in gym programming when athletes can be required to move from the pull up rack and back and keeping the area under the rig clear of obstructions keeps athletes moving quickly and safely without fear of tripping.

Our Offset Pullup Bar (as shown on the long side of the rig above) can be mounted from as low as 56" to 106" high in two inch increments along our rig poles.  And with two useable pull-up bar heights on each station you can construct our rig to accommodate all sizes of athletes.  With this capability we hoped to reduce or eliminate the need for stacking boxes or bumpers underneath.

A few important design features in our Offset Pull Up Bars:

  • First - they come standard on every one of our rigs.
  • Each station has two useable pull up bar heights.  From the inside the rig facing out, the shorter athlete can grab the low bar and perform chin ups and chest to bar pull ups.  The taller athlete can stand outside the rig facing in and grab the higher bar [6" higher than the low bar].
  • The outside bar is perfect for not only for pull ups, knees and toes to bar, but also is ideal for bar muscle ups.  There are no additional bars in the way.
  • The long bar station [6 feet in length] comfortably accommodates two side-by-side athletes.  And, importantly, our center strap that we've nicknamed "The Dog Bone" is 1/4" thick and completely wraps around both bars.  And we weld it on both sides to keep it super strong and super safe.
  • Each of our pull-up bars is mounted to the rig with six 1/2" thick bolts.  And we ship out our rig with enough hardware to mount each of the offset pull-up bars in a different location if needed.
  • If you need to adjust heights a week or a month later, no problem!  Our bars are easy to move if necessary.
Our Basic Cross Members can be set at multiple heights as well.  When mounted at their highest point on the posts, the bottom bar stands 7'-6" off the floor.  That's a height we've found to be the most comfortable for athletes standing 5'8" to 5'11".
Our Basic CrossMembers have an over-sized 'window' to keep you and
your athletes moving worry-free without fear of hitting your head.
And we've designed them with the same "Dog Bone" style connector that keeps them super strong.

Measuring at a full 6 feet long, the center strap conveniently separates them into two stations each and the 36" of space in each station is the perfect distance for the athlete performing toes to bar, pull-ups or even ring dips.

We've designed the space in-between the bars extra wide to provide ample headroom in that window so that chin over the bar pull-ups are safe for you and your athletes.



Quick Gear Tip - When you've got a class full of athletes and have pull ups or toes to bar programmed in your Metcon, take a minute and have everyone find a pull up station on the rig before the timer starts.  If necessary, make position adjustments to keep everyone in a comfortable height station.  That will eliminate the need to add bumpers or plyo boxes under the rig and also makes the transition for the athletes to on/off the rig super easy since they know exactly what station is theirs.



Friday, January 3, 2014

Travel Workouts - The Deck of Cards

Need a change up to the mundane workout?  Try the Deck of Cards.  It's surprise element adds interest and fun.
One of my all time favorite workouts is the Deck of Cards.  If you're not familiar with it, I bet you might find yourself running out to the store to get a deck after you read this.

I was first introduced to the infamous Deck of Cards WOD by Joe Celso of CrossFit Rochester back in 2010.  The style he followed was that every suit stood for an exercise - sit-ups, pushups, pull-ups and squats.  Face cards were worth 10 reps and Aces cost you 10 of each exercise.  Ouch.  But cool.  We would pair off in teams of two, each team having their own deck of cards.  Each team member drew a card and we all raced to finish the whole deck.  My buddy Mike Z. and I always paired up and I've got some great memories of those workouts.  [I definitely remember the time I picked all four aces :) - don't we all have stories like that?]

There are so many great things about a workout like this:

Strategy - We've all been there...we see the old standard 21-15-9 rep scheme up on the board and begin to strategize our plan of attack.  Maybe it's 11/10 or 11/5/5, then 5/5/5 and 5/4.  The fact is that we all do the math when we know what's coming.  Workouts like the deck of cards add an element of surprise that doesn't allow for a lot of time to think or a time to plan.  And since the rep counts are never more than 10, you can go all out each card.  Unbroken.  I like that.  We never know what life might throw at us each day so the unknown of what card comes next is exciting and fun.

Endless Options - We've written a few blogs on "The Creative Coach" and those that plan workouts like this fall right in line with that group.  Being creative is cool, always adds interest and can energize even your 5AM class.  We are only limited by our imagination in how to apply to four suits to the different exercises and those that think outside the box may add a 500M row for every ace that's pulled or maybe they leave the Jokers in and assign three rope climbs to them.  Or, if you want to really stir things up, maybe assign the Ace of Spades as a penalty where the one who draws it needs to take one card from everyone's deck.  Ha...  All good stuff.

Bringing along a set of gymnastics rings while traveling or on vacation can add variety to the Deck of Cards workout.
Gym rings add variety and difficulty.
They Travel Well - When you are on vacation or traveling for work, chances are you can't take a ton of equipment with you but there's no excuse for not bringing along your deck and a little imagination.  There are always a ton of bodyweight exercises you can do.  I took the family to Surf Side Beach, SC last year and I used this workout a few times.  After I ran thorough it with the old standard - pushups, sit ups, squats and lunges - my heart was certainly pumping but I wanted to add a but higher level of difficulty.  I reached out to an old friend of mine - Gina over at CrossFit Fairport and she gave me an excellent idea - Handstand Pushups.  Winner.

Bodyweight Scale or Crank Up - Even with no equipment this workout can be a great challenge.  If the pushups aren't pushing you enough, get your feet up on a chair.  Sit Ups too easy?  Try V-Ups.  And if Air Squats don't get you gasping for air try Jump Squats.  And if you are traveling and have a chance to grab a couple items from the gym before you leave, try taking your jump rope, gymnastics rings, abmat and a few resistance bands with you.  Even with those few light weight pieces, you just opened up a bunch more you can do.  And the resistance bands can add difficulty to pushups or can be used for shoulder pressing for example.

Today just happens to be a perfect day for a workout like this.  If you can't get out to the gym, pull out a deck of cards and get to it.  I'm in.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

6 Digit Programmable Gym Timer - Gear Specs

Up next in our Gear Specs lineup is our 6 Digit Programmable Gym Timer.  Aside from cooking your meals every day, this timer will do it all :).

We've designed it to handle every timing sequence that we think could think of and then some.

One feature we are really happy to introduce on our newly redesigned 6 digit gym timer is the Round Counter.  The two blue digits on the left can be used to count rounds for you so you don't lose track.  Just hit a button every time you complete a round and the blue digits keep counting up.  When the time expires, your rounds remain.

Specifications:

  • Digits - 4" high x 2.5" wide - 2 Blue and 4 Red
  • Dimensions - 7-1/8" tall x 28" wide
  • Mounting - two screw keyholes in the back make for easy, flush mounting with any surface. [screws not included]
  • Power - the separate power supply plugs into the timer and into any 115/120V outlet.  The cord is a full 10 feet long.  Since most wall power outlets are ~16" off the floor, this means you can mount it at over 11 feet off the floor.  That makes for easy viewing by everyone.
  • Remote Control - included with the timer is a universal remote control.  That means if you lose or break it [it happens] that all you have to do is replace the remote, not the timer too.  The remote operates on 2-AAA batteries [not included].
  • Save Slots - The numbers 1-9,0 are all used for saving your most commonly used programs.  They can be over-written, too so if you want to change them up at any time, you can.
  • Timing Modes Available - Count Up / Count Down / Custom Interval.  Count Up/Down are straightforward.  The Custom Interval mode allows you to program up to 99 periods of time to use any way you like.  All periods can be work [eg, EMOM] or you can mix work/rest as in the Tabata sequence.  And not all time periods need be the same you can vary each and every one if you like. 1 min work/30 sec rest/2 min work/1 min rest/4 min work, etc...
  • Pre-Programmed Modes - TABATA [20 sec work, 10 sec rest x 8 rounds], Stopwatch [Count Up from Zero that shows tenths and hundredths], Fight Gone Bad/EMOM [1:00 intervals x 17 rounds with a chime at the end of each interval]
  • Buzzer - The unit comes with an audible buzzer that can be turned off/on with the Mute Button on the Remote Control.
  • Countdown Timer - all of the timing modes begin either immediately upon button press or you can activate a 10 second countdown timer [the Flash Button] that counts down from 10 and chimes at 3-2-1-Go.
  • Round Counter - One of the features we are really happy to announce is the round counter.  The two leftmost blue digits can be used to count your rounds either in count up or count down modes.  Once the timer has started counting, pressing the Up Arrow will advance the count on the blue digits by one for each time you press the button.  No more losing track of rounds and no more chalk lines on the floor!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Build Your Box Tips - Be the Inventive Coach

Providing well thought out, challenging workouts will keep your athletes progressing.  And with the 40 or so basic movements that you've got in your grab bag, you can mix them in couplets, triplets, AMRAPs and RFTs six different ways from Sunday and not repeat the same workout for months.  Routine is the motivation killer and the coach has a big responsibility to keep things shook up a bit.

We're firm believers in multi-use equipment that allows you to change up programming easily without emptying your wallet.  In fact, with 6 major pieces of equipment you will have all the tools you need to be successful [Our Buyer's Guide talks about that]

But even with a wide range of exercises available with the tools you have, the creative coach can think past the routine and add an element of surprise or intrigue that can still accomplish everyone's goals all the while helping you stand out from the crowd.

I was originally going to comment on +CrossFit Headway's plywood walls in the above photo.  We've seen a few gyms do that and it's smart.  It's resourceful, cost effective, looks great, and takes the punishment of Handstand Pushups and Wall Balls really well.  But as I was looking more closely at the photo I picked out something out of the ordinary that I think is really cool and it changed my whole idea on the blog post.  Yes, that front squat depth is superb but that's not it.  We've commented before about CrossFit Headway's PR Bell [great idea btw] and now I'm noticing yet another great idea.  See it yet?  Look under the grey stripe.  Ever seen those before?  They are rock climbing hand holds.

Now that is the kind of stuff I like to see in a gym.  There are a ton of great things to point out about something like this:

Inventive - All day this shows me [and anyone that walks into CrossFit Headway] that these guys think outside the box.  And it's not about being silly or gimmick-y.  Rock climbing holds are interesting, functional and fun and it would be hard for me to walk in there and not jump on them.

Resourceful - Every gym owner knows that space is at a premium.  Looking for ways to use what space you have to the fullest only maximizes your investment.  That support beam had only one function before - not any more.

Safety Minded - Not only are the addition of the hand holds brilliant, CrossFit Headway put them in a location that everyone can use.  At that height, the beginner can grab onto them and not climb themselves into a position where their safety is compromised.  And the advanced athlete could start from one side and move to the other without using the floor.  If that isn't hard enough, add some weight.  And with where they are, no harnesses or spotters are necessary.  Well done.

Budget Friendly - for $100-$150 you can get more than a handful of climbing holds and spend an hour or two installing.  What's not to like about that?  And for the small investment Alex has another spot for his athletes to do pull-ups too.  Yes, not as conventional, but much more difficult and with different hand spacings and at mixed heights it's a winner.

Super functional, out of the mainstream and although those hand holds have somewhat limited use, Alex didn't empty his wallet on them and they add a ton of interest.  Thinking outside of the norm keeps everyone interested and excited about coming in.