Name: Erika Gifford
Hometown: White Oak, PA
Age: 40

When did you first start training at CrossFit Republic? I think almost exactly three years ago.

Tell us about your sports & fitness background: I was always pretty active growing up. I did bowling, tennis, and softball. In high school and first year of college, I focused more on color guard and winter guard. In college and grad school, I did a ton of different group fitness classes – everything from cycling, step aerobics, body combat, body pump, boot camps, etc. Then after grad school, I dabbled in body building for a few years.

How did you first get exposed to CrossFit?
After I had my kids, doing at-home workouts worked well for me for a while. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and after I had Mason 4 years ago, I was also struggling with PPD. I knew I needed, and wanted, to have a community of supportive people and friends, and at home workouts alone weren’t giving me that. I looked online and found CFR and reached out to the owner Macy Mitchell to get more details since I’d never really done CrossFit before. He was amazing and encouraging and answered all my questions. I started off very slow with the “Learn to CrossFit” class and gradually built from there. I immediately felt welcomed and the hole in my heart started to fill again, because this place has everything my life was lacking, especially the amazing friendships I’ve made and continue to make.

What was your first workout and how did it go?
I don’t remember exactly. I just remember I was super nervous, and it was really hard. There may have burpees 🤢. But what I do remember is The Chris Crosby asking me if it was my first WOD, and I said yes. He said, it’s only going to get better from here! And he was right.

Favorite Movement/Least Favorite Movement: Deadlifts are my absolute favorite movement by far! Second is probably power cleans. Least favorite movement is overhead squats and burpees 🤢 Although coach Zach has helped me tons with OHS, and I feel a lot more comfortable with them now.

What class time do you typically come to?
I was 9am but lately more 6:30pm, but I’ve jumped around to all the different times.

What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting at CFR (before/after)?
Physically, I definitely feel stronger than ever. My endurance is getting better, too. As a woman, lifting weights always gives me a sense of empowerment and it carries over as greater confidence in daily life as well. Mentally, exercise has always been one of the best therapies for my anxiety and depression, and getting to exercise at CFR with this beyond amazing community of people that the Mitchell’s have cultivated has been positively life changing for me on every level.

Please share with us any favorite CrossFit or CFR moments:
Some of my favorite CrossFit moments are competing in the competitions. I’ve always been a bit competitive at heart. What I really love, though, is when CFR goes to a competition, we kinda take over that gym (in the best way possible) because we always have so many teams and so much community support, that even though it’s a competition, we are all cheering for everyone there and pushing and encouraging each other. At the end of the comp, it’s never about placement, but the amazing camaraderie, friendships, and lifelong bonds that are forged.

Any advice for people just getting started or new to CrossFit?
Comparison is the thief of joy! You really have to just focus on you and your goals and just try to be that 1% better every day, because small steps do add up to big gains.

**Friday, Jan 1st New Year’s Day – Offering classes only at 9am, Noon, 4:30PM, 5:30PM, 6:30PM* *Childcare included at typical times (no noon childcare)

Strength – 15 minutes

Find a heavy 5 rep push press

*No rebend in the knees! This is not a PUSH JERK! 🙂

Athletes will team up on racks to build to their heavy set of 5. Completing sets of less than 5 reps is recommended when building up. Somewhere between 2-3 reps will get athletes sufficiently prepared before they arrive at a weight that they would like to complete for 5 reps. Looking to only complete 2-3 sets at 5 reps total.

The push press is the focus of this two part workout. Athletes will first build to a heavy set of 5 before choosing a weight in the workout that they could complete 20+ repetitions unbroken when fresh. In the conditioning, the reps will continue to increase by 2 reps until the 12 minutes is up. There is no need to stand to full extension on the box overs.

The two common overhead movements that involve the legs are the push press and the push jerk. The push press involves athletes driving the weight from the shoulders to overhead with no re-bend of the knees. The push jerk involves the same motion, except this time athletes can re-bend the knees to receiving the weight. When athletes get tired during the push press, you’ll often see them re-bend the knees, as that is path of least resistance once the upper body tires. There is place for both movements, but today let’s make sure that all reps are push presses and not push jerks.

Conditioning WOD – 12 minutes

As many reps as possible in 12 minutes of…

2 Push Presses 115/85
2 Pullups
2 Box Overs 24/20
4 Push Presses
4 Pullups
4 Box Overs
6 Push Presses
6 Pullups
6 Box Overs

…and so on increasing by 2’s time is up…

*Scale Pullups 1:1 with jumping or banded and 2:1 with ring rows.
*If new athlete or first timer, please monitor their pullups as the kip will be new to them or just have them complete the ring row
*New athletes may also modify with DB push press and step ups on the box instead of jumping

Knees Out
On both the jump and the land of the box jump over, we can look for the knees to track out. While they do not need to be excessively driven out, we do not want them to cave in. Knees out instead of knees in uses more muscles, creates more power, and keeps the joint in a safe position.

Stay in the Box
In this workout, there is the box we are jumping on and the imaginary box on either side of the box that can help keep us on track. It is common to see athletes go for a long walk after completing a box over. This walk is more mental than physical. Let’s beat the box and not let the box beat us. Stay close to that thing. Even if you are resting, stay within an arms length of the box to win that mental and physical battle. Athletes are more likely to get the work done faster if they are close, just like athletes are more likely to get work done if they stay at their desk instead of wandering around the office.

Push Press
Our focus today is controlling the descent on the dip. When the dip is rushed, the bar sometimes loses contact with the shoulders. Other issues include weight shifting to the toes and torso dropping forward. Going slower on the dip than on the drive better enables athletes to keep the heel down and chest up.

Keeping the heels down is important for balance, but also in getting a good drive into the bar. Athletes can focus on keeping the heels on the ground until the hips and knees extend. They will likely come off the ground a little as a follow through to the extension, but should stay grounded until that happens.

The work that counts is the work that isn’t shown on the screen. The double digit rounds is where the workout truly begins. There is more reps in the rounds of 10 and 12 together than there is in the rounds of 2, 4, 6, and 8 combined. Athletes will likely want to control the tempo on the rounds of 2’s through 8’s to be able to thrive in the double digit rounds. If athletes had to pick a movement to break up more than the other, it would be the pullups over the push press. Getting back on the pull-up bar is quicker than cleaning the barbell back up to the shoulders. Planning to break the pullups and/or push press into 2-3 planned sets come the double digit rounds will keep athletes moving forward for the majority of the 12 minutes.