One and Done


Friday night light was fun. I had the pleasure of doing the CrossFit Open 18.4 Workout with my buddy, Devin Edward. Unfortunately our other teammate, Matt Motia, was out of town. Out of all The Open workouts so far, I’ve got to say that this one really highlighted a weakness. I have never been a big fan of deadlifts. Personally, I don’t see the benefit of including a high volume of heavy deadlifts. On the other hand, I found some strengths in gymnastic movements. I was able to do the handstand push-ups unbroken and managed to get a set of handstand walks. Should I be worried about my deadlift numbers?

I would have to be more serious about my deadlift training/performance if I want to compete in the 2019 Regionals. At this point of my life, Regionals training is not my focus. Training for Regionals means I would have to train a couple of hours everday. I do not want to spend this amount of time at the gym to train for a competition. I have many other goals in life that I want to put my energy into. My priority is being a good husband. I want to be able to spend more time with my family. I do not want to be restricted by training. I want to be able to take a day off from training to go on a hike with my wife. I want the freedom to take spontaneous short trips. Training for Regionals is a serious goal and would require me to shift most of my focus from my home life to training.

I am also a gym owner. Serving clients is important to me. Training my coaches to grow their skills as coaches is also another priority in my life. I also want to be able to bring the best training and coaching for my athletes at the gym and online.

I think 18.4 is “one and done” for me. I don’t think I can improve on my points more than what I already have. I am also not going to risk injuring my lower back for an extra few points. Recovery is important after such a high load and volume workout. I spent an hour on rowing and biking the following Saturday, which allowed my body to flush out the toxins.

The 18.5 Workout is just around the corner. It’s another opportunity to bring our gym community closer and allow our athletes to push just a little more in a fun, competitive setting. The following week is going to be “deload” week, a recovery week that everyone deserves and can look forward to.


Coach Vaz


I’ve always wondered if training alone makes one tougher. I mean I see that Mat Fraser, Josh Bridges, and Dan Bailey train alone all the time. Their performance backs their training. All of them have been to the CrossFit Games multiple times. So I decided to do a little experiment of my own. I usually do the Open workout with the 4:30 pm class and instead, decided to do the 18.3 Open workout alone on a Saturday while my brother filmed it.

What I found was that I did not like doing the workout by myself. It was painful and I did not have anyone to push me. The workout felt very mono-structured and boring. I mean, I know the workout wasn’t meant to be fun. After all, it was programmed by “The Dave Castro” and designed to separate the elite from the weekend warriors. The workout consisted of double unders, overhead squats, ring and bar muscle-ups, and dumbbell snatches, with every section of the workout beginning with 100 double unders. It’s a test on how well an athlete can do high-skilled CrossFit movements once fatigued from jumping rope. It didn’t take long until I started to break my double unders and the movements prescribed in the workout. The only movements I could perform unbroken were my Overhead Squats. I ended up with a score of 659 repetitions. Even though I felt I performed poorly I was gassed and felt like I couldn't breathe after the workout.

I ended up re-doing the workout with Matt, who regularly takes the 4:30 class, and I got a better score. Matt, Devin (another regular 4:30 class taker)  and I have been redoing the Open Workouts regularly on Mondays. The re-do went a lot better. Just having Matt there made a big difference. Even though Matt and I were not necessarily pushing each other through the workout, his presence made a difference in my performance. I got 25 more double unders and one ring muscle-up. I guess this means that not everyone performs or trains better alone. It takes a lot of discipline to train alone and perform at high level. I guess I can call myself a weekend warrior. I enjoy the camaraderie of working out with one of the classes and also enjoy hanging out with them to do some extra lifting after the class. Community is key in training. It supports you to push your limits, fight through fatigue, stay consistent and it’s a lot more FUN. My gym tribe is my vibe.

Crushing the Open

I am crushing the CrossFit Games Open! Ok, not the competition (technically) because so far I placed somewhere in the 1,000th place in the West Coast region. What I really mean is that I’m crushing my nutrition challenge during The Open. So far, I’ve done the 18.1 and 18.2 workouts. They were both very challenging and even though I’ve lost six pounds, I feel really healthy, I’m sleeping well, and my energy level is out of this world.

Over the years, I’ve done all kinds of nutrition challenges and have always lost weight, but have never really liked the way most of them made me feel. As I mentioned in my last blog, I have a fast metabolism. Since most of the challenges required me to reduce my protein, carb and overall calorie intake, I would often end up feeling weak.

When I was on a Keto diet, I lost 17 pounds in 19 days. I loved the way I looked, but I lost all my strength. It took me two months to regain my strength back. I found that the Keto diet works really well for endurance athletes or for athletes who are looking to lose weight quickly. Athletes like wrestlers, boxers and MMA fighters. It also works well for individuals who are struggling with weight loss.

In my experience, the Paleo diet is a little more sustainable for busy people. I wake up at 4:30 a.m. every day. My days are long and I train hard. I don’t have a high volume of training because at this stage in my life, I care more about intensity. It’s now been 10 days since I started my challenge. I feel great and want to keep feeling this way. I think my meal plans have been giving me the right amount of fuel so I am going to continue my journey until the end of the CrossFit Open. And, because I believe in balance, I may allow myself to have a moderate cheat meal every other week. Follow me in my journey and take charge of your nutrition.

Coach Vaz Dera

Through the 2018 CrossFit Games Open

Every year, CrossFit crowns the fittest man and woman on earth. The process begins with The Open, with athletes all over the world participating. The Open is an online qualifier for the Regionals. From this competition, the top 40 men and women from each region compete to go to The Games. Only four men and women represent each region, with a total of 100 athletes that get to compete at The Games. Only one male and female will be crowned the Fittest On Earth. The season is long, highly competitive, and challenging. The workouts are designed to measure fitness levels unlike any other sport. So, those that make it to the qualifying rounds reflect some of the most highly committed, disciplined athletes with unshakeable mental grit.

Not everyone is aware that The Open isn’t just for athletes and not your ordinary competition. It’s inclusive, allowing for anyone of any fitness level or age, to register and compete. It’s a community builder. The Open is five weeks long, with one workout a week. Each week “The Dave Castro” releases a workout on Thursday evenings. At our gym, CrossFit Crescenta Valley, we make an event out of the announcement and sit together in one of our rooms. If you’ve ever competed in The Open, then you understand both the anticipation and excitement of the announcement. We try to guess what it is, and hope to see an improvement of our performance from last year’s Open. For the last six years, I have enjoyed being able to measure and compare my performance with each passing year. It’s exciting to see our members who are new to CrossFit compete for the first time, as well as those who have competed for a few years now.

Every year I had a different goal for competing in The Open. For the most part, my goals were focused on performance and numbers. This year, I have a different goal in mind. Although I still want to perform at my best, my focus is on my overall health. Specifically, my nutrition. I haven’t been making the healthiest choices in the last six months and have decided to reset my health markers. I have been blessed with a high metabolism and have been able to get away with eating junk food, and I no longer want to take that for granted or use it as an excuse to eat whatever I want.

The Open is here and I am excited to part take in one of the biggest challenges in my life. I have committed to follow a paleolithic diet throughout The Open. I commit to consuming food reflecting paleo choices in the amount my body needs as fuel to match my exercise activity. I will also be taking before and after photos after every Open workout to measure my progress throughout The Open. Join me through my journey and take charge of your health!



Coach Vaz Dera

Motion Provokes Emotion

We are always looking for motivation to do things that we don’t always enjoy doing, like working out! We may listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos,  or read books to inspire us. We can get easily motivated by what we read or watch, but it just doesn’t seem to last long enough to keep us consistent. So how does one stay motivated? One thing that has worked well for me is reversing the order of motion (exercise) and emotion (motivation). I started moving to get motivated.

How does this translate to our classes at the box? Don’t wait to feel motivated. Take an active part in your own motivation. Get to class and use the movements in the warm-up to motivate you. The focus of our warm-ups is to bring your core temperature up and get your endorphins going. Moving your body alongside your team will motivate you to push through a class you may have dreaded. Visualize your goal. Ask the Coach for more guidance or scaling options if needed. But whatever you do, just MOVE. The motivation will follow.

Need help getting to class? Set up your support system. Ask another gym or family member to be your accountability buddy and keep each other accountable to your commitment.


Keep moving!

Coach Vaz



Can’t make it to the gym today?

When Weights Meet Gymnastic Movements

Can’t make it to the gym today? No problem! If you have a pair of dumbbells and a jump rope, you can do this workout at home. The workout is short and simple. The goal is to get as much work done in a short period of time. In this workout, the duration is 12 minutes. Here are a couple of suggestions to get the most out of this workout:


  • Take less and/or shorter periods of rest to increase the intensity

  • Practice proper technique to ensure work of the intended muscles and minimize injury. If proper technique is compromised with the prescribed weight, decrease weight to one in which the movement can be performed properly. Links to videos for each movement are provided below


This workout can also be performed while on  vacation at  the hotel gym. If you don’t  have access to a jump rope, replace the movement with Jumping Jacks.




For 12 minutes, complete As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) of the following movements:


  • 18 Dumbbell Press (Prescribed Weight: 10 lbs. Females / 20 lbs. Males)

  • 16 Burpees

  • 50 Single Unders


Score: The total number of rounds + repetitions (of the last incomplete round) performed within 12 minutes.


* Remember to stretch and hydrate post workout *

Dumbbell Press

With a pair of dumbbells held at shoulder height, from a fully standing position, press the weight overhead using only the arms and shoulders. Hip or knee extension is not allowed. Safe/efficient technique require the elbows to start just in front of the barbell and a hollow body position throughout the press. Also known as the "military press" and the "press".


From a standing position, throw/lower yourself to the ground until a fully prone position is achieved, then return to a standing position. Complete the rep by jumping and clapping overhead. Both feet must leave the ground when jumping with the knees and hips fully extended. Ideally, the clap happens behind the head.

Single Unders

While jumping rope, swing it such that the rope passes around your body and under your feet once in a single jump. 

CrossFit At Home

Your First CrossFit Workout at Home

Have you been waiting for the right time to try a CrossFit workout? Here is a simple workout to do at home. Consider this your very first experience with CrossFit! The movements are simple, yet effective. CrossFit workouts utilize movements borrowed from different sports. Here is an example of a triplet gymnastics workout. All movements have been borrowed from gymnastics. 

Workout Of The Day (WOD)

Complete As many Rounds As Possible in 10 Minutes: 

5 Push-ups
10 Sit-ups
15 Air Squats

Score: The total number of rounds and repetitions completed in 10 minutes

Note: Minimize your rest in between sets and reps to elevate your heart rate and burn fat. Make sure to follow the movement standard demonstrated in the videos below. The recommended target for this workout is at least 6 rounds. Hydrate and stretch after your workout. 


From a rigid plank position, with hands on the ground, arms perpendicular to the floor and fully extended, lower yourself until your chest touches the ground. Return to the starting position by pressing into the floor. Keep yourself as rigid as possible throughout. Limit any change in body angle as much as possible. Common mistakes include pivoting at the hips while on the way down.

Abmat sit-ups

Sit on the ground with your knees bowed out and the bottoms of your feet touching. With an abmat placed directly behind you, lower your torso backwards, keeping your butt on the ground, until your back has molded around the abmat and your shoulder blades are resting against the floor. Using only your abdominal muscles, raise your torso back up until you are sitting upright again.

Air Squts

From a standing position, lower your body using knee and hip flexion until the crease in your hips rests lower than your knees. Return to the starting position by standing, extending the knee and hip joints. Safe/efficient technique requires the weight to stay in the heels, the knees out to a position equal to, or wider than, the toes, and the spine as neutral as possible.

Overcome Fear

Being upside down is not a comfortable position to be in. My first attempts at a handstand were less than graceful. I felt vulnerable, weak, and off balance. It probably took me longer than most just to push my body up against the wall, and even longer to push my head off the ground. I had the strength, but my mind was resistant to the action. The real story: I was afraid because I was uncomfortable with the uncertainty. I continued to practice, albeit at a slow and comfortable pace, and worked my way to this. It still needs lots of work but every step into the uncomfortable feels like a small win towards a greater victory. "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield


Chona Navarro

CrossFit's Fitness

For CrossFit the specter of championing a fitness program without clearly defining what it is that the program delivers combines elements of fraud and farce. The vacuum of guiding authority has therefore necessitated that CrossFit’s directors provide their own definition of fitness. That’s what this issue of CrossFit Journal is about, our “fitness.”

 Our pondering, studying, debating about, and finally defining fitness have played a formative role in CrossFit’s successes. The keys to understanding the methods and achievements of CrossFit are perfectly imbedded in our view of fitness and basic exercise science.

 It will come as no surprise to most of you that our view of fitness is a contrarian view. The general public both in opinion and in media holds endurance athletes as exemplars of fitness. We do not. Our incredulity on learning of Outside’s awarding a triathlete title of “fittest man on earth” becomes apparent in light of CrossFit’s standards for assessing and defining fitness.

 CrossFit makes use of three different standards or models for evaluating and guiding fitness. Collectively, these three standards define the CrossFit view of fitness. The first is based on the ten general physical skills widely recognized by exercise physiologists. The second standard, or model, is based on the performance of athletic tasks, while the third is based on the energy systems that drive all human action.

Each model is critical to the CrossFit concept and each has distinct utility in evaluating an athlete’s overall fitness or a strength and conditioning regimen’ sefficacy. Before explaining in detail how each of these three perspectives works, it warrants mention that we are not attempting to demonstrate our program’s legitimacy through scientific principles. We are but sharing the methods of a program whose legitimacy has been established through the testimony of athletes, soldiers, cops, and others whose lives or livelihoods depend on fitness.  

CrossFit Journal