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Anaheim, CA 92806, USA
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4 reasons not to do the Open

It’s Open season again…

So let me get something straight.

If you can do the following list of movements,
you should sign up for the Open:

  • overhead squat 65#/45#
  • unassisted pull-up (kipping)
  • barbell thruster 65#/45#
  • power clean 115#/75#

Those are the entry requirements for the “Scaled” division,
based on last year’s workouts at that level.
Any well-rounded CrossFitter past the novice stage can do all of those.
For Rx’d division, the list is a bit tougher (and kipping is allowed):

  • muscle-up
  • chest-to-bar pull-up
  • barbell thruster 95#/65#
  • power clean 185#/115#
  • overhead squat 120#/85#
  • double under
  • squat clean & jerk 165#/110#
  • snatch 115#/75#
  • handstand push-up
  • box jump 24”/20”
  • toes to bar

This is based on previous years’ Open WOD’s.

If some of those are out of reach it’s okay –
that’s why the Scaled division exists.

So now that we have that out of the way…

Reasons why someone would be reluctant to jump in:

1- Can’t do one or more of the movements on the “Scaled” list

(The pull-up is probably the most common limiter.)
I would still suggest doing the Open and plowing through what you can.

It will show you what you’re good at – and not so good at –
compared to your peers worldwide.
And chances are it will light a fire under you to fix your weaknesses.

2- You aren’t a competitive person

Yeah…I used to think I wasn’t competitive either.
Turns out I’m HIGHLY competitive…just cool-headed about it.
You might learn something similar about yourself.

And regardless of any competitive aspect, the Open is still a
valuable assessment tool to evaluate your progress.

 

3- You’re afraid of embarrassing yourself with low scores

Sack up.
Do your best and you have everything to be proud of.

There’s no better feeling after a workout than looking back
and knowing you gave it everything you had.

While high scores earn you props,
low scores do not merit disrespect from anyone.
All we care is that you tried.
Besides, you can’t win if you don’t play.

4- You can’t do any of the movements for the scaled workouts

This concern is actually legit.
At least get the basics down before throwing your hat in the ring.

 

Look, the Open is not like a regular competition.
If you can’t string together chest-to-bars,
squat snatch 150/100+, or run a mile under 8 minutes,
I’m not going to advise you to enter a normal comp.

But this is different – this caters specifically to
beginners AND elite exercisers, on a large enough scale
for anyone to figure out their peer group
and strive to beat them wherever they can.

I’m doing the Open.

Who’s with me?

Why should you track workouts?

…Wait, you aren’t already tracking your workouts?

Okay. Deep breath.

1. The best way to get results is with a structured training program.

This differs from aimless “exercise” by doing
everything with a purpose, towards a set goal.
A coherent training program builds on itself over time to achieve that.

If you don’t know what you’ve been doing,
you have no idea how to continue the program
and thus won’t get to your goals.

2. We can prove whether or not we’re making progress
by documenting what we put in and what we get out.

If any issues come up, we can then diagnose
and effectively troubleshoot them.

3. Seeing your progress over time is a great way to
stay motivated when things get shitty.

If you take this stuff seriously, eventually
it won’t all be sunshine and kittens.
When that happens you need something to keep you going.

 

Things to write in your training log:

  • food, at least until you’re dialed in
  • benchmark times (and loads where applicable)
  • lifts – sets, reps, tempo, and rest times
  • technique points to remember
  • how things are feeling
    (heavy/light, efficient/sloppy, fatigued/rested, injured/healthy)

 

Personally, I use a Word document that is 263 pages long as of 1/28/16.
(Thanks to the magic of Ctrl+F, I can flip through to
compare lifts and workouts instantaneously.)

It dates back 6 years.
I started logging PR’s after about three months of CrossFit
– which was three months too late – , and
I didn’t thoroughly document my training until 18 months in.

That was a HUGE mistake.
Learn from it.

Moral of the story:
Log everything.
You never know when that information will be useful.

I just realized it’s been entirely too long since I’ve written a blog.
That’s my bad. I’ll be a bit more regular on that front.

So here’s the latest goings-on at RWS.

 

1. New strength programming

We’ve adopted a CrossFit-ized variant of 5/3/1 as
the cornerstone of our strength work.
This is a program that has proven itself valuable for
lifters of all levels the world over, and I’ve been testing it on myself
for the past three months with good results.
Feedback from the first few weeks has already been quite positive.

 

2. Beginner boot camp

We’re getting ready to re-implement a 6-week boot camp
specifically for people new to CrossFit.
We’ve done something similar in the past, and while
it was quite effective we discontinued it because {reasons}.
Situations have changed, and it now makes sense to
reinstate a new, modified version.

The boot camp is meant for three groups of people:

  • former CrossFitters getting back into shape
  • folks who like the idea of CrossFit but aren’t yet ready for regular classes
  • people who want to make a life change that may not even consider CrossFit

Here’s the distinction.

CrossFit builds a pyramid of fitness.
Boot camp focuses specifically on the foundation of that pyramid.
How much time is necessary to build that foundation depends on the individual.

The tentative start date is March 5th.

Spread the word.

 

3. CrossFit Open

Yup, it’s that time again.
It’s Open season.
Last year the folks at HQ introduced a “scaled” division,
which I think is brilliant, and enables CrossFitters of nearly all levels
to participate in a worldwide competition.

If you can do the following things in a workout, I strongly encourage you to
sign up for the Open (numbers are men/women):

  • 65#/45# thruster; overhead squat
  • 95#/65# push press
  • 115#/75# clean
  • 14#/10# wall ball
  • pull-up (kipping OK)

We’ll be doing the workouts every Friday.

Let’s get ready for a great 2016!!

[Note: Kristen won the Fall Shred competition by
consistently being more dedicated than anyone else,
and subsequently made faster progress
than any other RWS athlete in years.
Example: when she started out her deadlift was 35#;
she hit 145# for a perfect set of 5 just six weeks later.]

Background:

Growing up, I was a multi-sport athlete (field hockey, track, and softball)
and trained dancer in a variety of techniques.
In my adult life, not too much specific training apart from
running a few miles a day on a treadmill.

 

What changed the most:

I learned how to eat better and more efficiently to consume
the nutrition my body needed to withstand the rigorous workouts.

First and foremost, my eating habits.

Correctly calculating and tracking my macros was a little tedious at first.
I ended up creating a spreadsheet for myself with a list of typical
foods I ate on a daily and/or weekly basis as a quick reference guide
so I wasn’t constantly forgetting to read the nutrition label.
I made entering my food into my spreadsheet a part of my eating routine,
entering in the macros either before I ate or immediately after.
That way I didn’t lose track or forget.
I took my spreadsheet with me at all times if I knew I would be having
a meal away from home so I knew exactly how much I had left for the day.

Weighing my food was extremely beneficial.
Not just for easily calculating macros, but also
training my brain/eye to see what 4oz of food actually looks like.
Hitting my protein was never an issue since I’m such a fan of
chicken, Greek yogurt, and protein powder.
The carbs, not terrible considering the number I had to hit was pretty reasonable.
But the fat, on the other hand, proved to be a bit challenging.
I ate more peanut butter in those 6 weeks than I think I have my whole life.
Good thing I’m partial to Jiffy.
Overall, I just learned how to eat better and more efficiently to consume
the proper nutrition my body needed to withstand the rigorous workouts.

Secondly – I had to change my perception of lifting heavy things.
Prior to joining the Shred and RWS,
I’d never lifted anything heavier than a 10lb dumbbell.
(slightly embarrassed to admit this now considering the progress I’ve made.)
I never went into the “weight area” in my gym
because everything looked so intimidating.
I convinced myself I couldn’t lift any of those things,
and if I tried I wouldn’t be doing so correctly
so I dubbed the “weight area” scary and that was that.
I had to come into the Shred with a a fresh perspective
and change my thinking toward heavy things,
since I had made up my mind and really
wanted to learn something I had been afraid of doing for so long.

Results:

I am conquering my fear more each day and can feel myself
become a little less apprehensive when it comes to
trying a new workout or increasing my weight.
I was able to successfully lose 3.5 inches
(2 from the waist, 1.5 from the hips) as well as 3lbs,
and improved my fitness baseline by 33%.
If those aren’t accomplishments to be proud of, I don’t know what are.
When the pre-Shred baseline workout took me over 25 minutes to complete,
I immediately wanted to run for the hills.
I remember thinking “what the heck did I get myself into…?”
But the competitive athlete side of my brain took over and I became
determined to improve on everything, even if it was just in small successes.
I am conquering my fear more each day and can feel myself
become a little less apprehensive when it comes to
trying a new workout or increasing my weight.

Things learned:

If you really want to make a change,
“I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” simply doesn’t work.

Aside from everything else I’ve mentioned, I learned
the importance of meal prep and workout scheduling. 
If you really want to make a change,
“I don’t have time” or “I’m too busy” simply doesn’t work.
I put 5 days’ worth of lunches together and threw them all into
separate tupperwares for the grab-and-go convenience.
I knew I had to get to workouts during the week and
if I couldn’t make it to my usual time, I’d figure out
which other time worked best for my schedule.
There really are no excuses, and I humbly admit that
since I used to come up with every excuse in the book.

Also – you can get your burger lettuce-wrapped pretty much anywhere.
You just have to ask. No more need for excessive burger buns!

Advice for new people:

If I can do it, you can do it.
Go in with an open mind, follow the directions, and ask questions.
If I can do it, you can do it.
I had no preconceived notions as to what was going to happen
during this challenge and since I got it into my head I wanted to win,
I had no other choice than to follow the program and not deviate.
The coach doesn’t create unrealistic guidelines.
They are there because he knows by following along,
listening to your body, and doing things correctly,
you will get results.
I really am the perfect example of it.
I’d never taken fish oil in my life.
Points for fish oil?
I got fish oil.
Multi-vitamins used to make me sick.
Points for multi-vitamins?
Get multi-vitamin, adjust serving accordingly by
breaking it in half and taking in 2 doses.
I hit my macros, weighed and prepped my food,
and went to the workouts as often as possible.
If I didn’t understand, I asked questions.
I wanted to understand the changes my body
was going through and why we had to do certain things.
You can’t completely devote yourself to a challenge,
or anything new for that matter, without wanting to fully understand it.
If you don’t, you’re just going through the motions
and that’s not how you get the results you want.

How this was important:

There’s no better feeling of accomplishment than
hitting and exceeding goals you set for yourself.
I wanted to learn something new, I was unhappy with my body,
I was new to California and needed a gym to join,
I wanted to do something I was afraid of,
and I wanted to eat better.
So I did something about all of these things and
gave the RWS 6-week Fall Shred a shot.
It became important for me to truly dedicate myself
to this program so I could conquer some, if not all, of my new goals.
As I progressed throughout the Shred, all those goals intertwined.
I ended up learning something new while transforming my body,
making new friends at a new gym, and overcoming a fear,
while learning how to eat better.
I’m proud of myself for not just sticking with the program,
but following through to completion.
There’s no better feeling of accomplishment than
hitting and exceeding goals you set for yourself.

[Want to get in on what Kristen’s got? Click here!]

[Note: Heather has been part of the RWS family for some time,
but after spinning her wheels for awhile
she decided to buckle down and make some changes.
She won our Summer Shred, and nearly won the Fall Shred as well.
Her progress in the past six months has been remarkable,

and on top of quickly becoming one of our strongest athletes
she’s a shining example of the difference nutrition makes.]

Background:

I first started working out at RWS in April 2014.
You could say I attended classes 2 to 3 times a week on a somewhat regular basis.
I would miss a week or two at a time because
“life happens” but still went in when I could make time.
2015 came around and I was not seeing the results I was hoping for.
So I started working out 3 to 4 times a week on a consistent basis and
started making WODs a priority rather than only when convenient.
I began to notice improvements on mobility, lifts, endurance,
and all the things one would expect from regular exercise.
But it was still just that, exercise.
Justin has been telling me since I first started all the foods and sugars
that I would need to stop eating if I ever wanted to see real results.
I can be pretty set in my ways, and I really enjoy food,
so I was never too excited about drastically changing my diet to really start losing weight.
I decided to participate in the Summer Shred to see just
how much I would need to change my diet to “fit my macros.”***
I was nervous and not expecting to do well at all.
Someone has to come in last right?
I like pizza and pasta and beer and there were
not nearly as many carbs in my macros as I was used to eating.
The first few days of the Shred I’m pretty sure I
only ate chicken and eggs as a baseline.
From there I started THINKING about my meals.
I could still eat french fries for lunch.
It just meant that I couldn’t have potatoes with dinner.
The meals became easier to think about and plan as the weeks went on
and I actually felt like I was consuming more food than before.
I was surprised to see that I could still eat pizza and pasta, just not on the same day.
My biggest challenge during the shred was breaking my snacking habits.
I sit at a desk all week and would constantly snack on chips and nuts and such
which quickly chipped away at my carb allowance.
It took a while but I was slowly able to change what and WHEN I ate
to minimize the urge to snack, feel full after meals,
and stay within my macro target zones.
After just a few weeks I realized I was down a belt notch and my clothes were fitting better.
Every week I was hitting a new PR whether it was
lifting more, completing more rounds, or finishing faster.
I FINALLY felt like I was making progress.
I never bothered to weigh myself when I originally started,
I guess I just didn’t want to know.
I do know that I didn’t lose any noticeable weight/fat
between January 2015 and starting the Shred in June.

Results:

For the first time I really FEEL like an athlete.
During the 6-week Shred, I lost 7.5 pounds, 3 inches off my waist and 2.5 off my hips.
I would never have seen that change if I hadn’t changed my diet
(which really didn’t change as much as I originally feared it would have to).
The Shred helped me become more aware of what I was eating and make better choices.
I could still eat a whole pizza if I wanted to, I just had to
plan to and eat other meals accordingly.
Since then, I have continued to follow the “diet” and continue to take tremendous leaps.
I have dialed in what I should eat and when to the point
where I still regularly eat potatoes, pasta, or rice at least once a day
and can even enjoy a beer or two.
In the 6 months since changing my diet I have
lost 25 pounds and 8.5 inches total
(5 from the waist, 3.5 from the hips),
and have continued to PR on a regular basis.
While I now work out 4-6 times a week, almost
all my progress can be attributed to changing my diet.
Regardless of what the scale says, I feel healthier and
stronger than I have in a VERY long time.
I have always considered myself to be athletic
but for the first time I really FEEL like an athlete.
And there is such great support from all the
coaches and members at RWS.
It doesn’t matter what condition you’re in when start,
everyone simply pushes you to do better than you did yesterday.
 *** “Macros” (macronutrients) = daily grams of fat, carbs, and protein
prescribed to each person based on body type and goals

Want to follow Heather’s example and start kicking some ass?
Click here!

Let’s get this cleared up – we actually DO test 1RM’s in class.

Just not for newbies, unless it’s in a tightly controlled and supervised setting.
(That’s where our lifting meets come in – every max attempt has numerous pairs of eyes on it, along with plenty of spotters for safety.
It’s just not feasible to have that level of control during a regular class with a bunch of people doing stuff simultaneously.)

So why not?

1. Newer peeps often don’t have the structural integrity, core strength, or skill to safely handle a missed lift at max loading without someone watching them like a hawk.

2. New peeps have not developed the nervous system to the point where a true 1RM can even be displayed.

3. We can pretty accurately determine a hypothetical 1RM from a 5RM (for novices) or a 2RM (for intermediates).

4. Your 1RM’s don’t mean shit except for bragging rights. I had to learn this the hard way.
In CrossFit, and in training for your goals, the spectrum of strength endurance (5-20RM) means a lot more than single-effort strength.
(A lot of people with lower 1RM’s than me kept whooping my ass during the Open, and it took me years to figure out why. When I started training with an emphasis on volume instead of loading, low and behold I started PR-ing all my WOD’s and placed closer to where I should in the Open.)

5. It’s a waste of training time on account of 1-4.
A 5RM test has a potent training effect for an athlete at any level.
However, a 1RM test is only meaningful for an advanced lifter.

Here’s the thing – you should test what you train.

To train for a 1RM test, you have to practice heavy sets of 1-3 reps to build nervous system efficiency.
This is not smart if your lifts aren’t at least intermediate-level (like repping out bodyweight on back squat).
You end up with a much higher risk of tweaking and/or injuring yourself because you aren’t building up connective tissue and muscle mass commensurate with your nervous system development.

You might notice with our programming, I have it designed so that novice-level folks do more reps per set than intermediate-level, who in turn do more reps than advanced folks.
This is deliberate.
That’s how we adapt the program to different levels of advancement, and our quarterly testing cycles are matched up to those levels.

So yes, you will eventually test 1RM’s in class.

But you have to EARN it.

T-bo out.

Welcome to the latest incarnation of our nutrition/fat loss challenge!

Here are the rules.

If you don’t have access to the Google sheet for whatever reason,
you must email screenshots of MyFitnessPal data (Saturday – Friday)
by 11:59pm Sunday night.

Points: up to 40 each day

Macro points (15 max)

Protein: up to 7 points

100+% of target → 7
90% of target → 6
80% of target → 5
70% of target → 4
60% of target → 3
50% of target → 2
<50% of target → 1
Not tracked → 0

Fat: up to 3 points

MOE < 10% → 3
MOE < 20% → 2
MOE > 20% → 1
Not tracked → 0

Carbs: up to 5 points

MOE < 10% → 5
MOE < 20% → 4
MOE < 30% → 3
MOE < 40% → 2
MOE > 40% → 1
Not tracked → 0

Workout points (10 max):

RWS WOD or 10:00+ intense effort → 6
WOD: 5:00 – 9:59 intense effort → 4
WOD: 1:00 – 4:59 intense effort → 2
Supplemental cardio → 4
Supplemental guns & buns work → 4
No activity → 0

Sleep points (10 max):

8+ hours → 10
7.5 hours → 8
7 hours → 6
6 hours → 4
<6 hours → 2
Not tracked → 0

Supplement points (7 max):

Fish oil (2000+ mg EPA/DHA) → 1
Multivitamin (must contain zinc & iodine) → 1
Vitamin D (2500+ IU) → 1
NightTime Recovery → 2
Herbal Cleanse → 2

Photo food journal points (3 max):

3+ meals photographed → 3
2 meals photographed → 2
1 meal photographed → 1
No pictures → 0

Scoring for the winners:

50% points (by ranking)
25% fitness improvement (via baseline)
25% inches improvement (waist & hips)

Most people here already know this, but RWS is sort of a hybrid gym.
We are a CrossFit gym, but we heavily emphasize strength and movement quality as a foundation for fitness.
So our most popular competitions in-house are our lifting meets – they’re the ones people seem to look forward to the most, and just a hell of a lot of fun.

The objective is twofold.

Our advanced lifters periodize their training to peak, so we can push the envelope and test true 1RM’s.

And for our newer athletes (novice to intermediate), it gives them an opportunity to open up the throttle and get an idea of their true capabilities in a tightly controlled setting.
It’s pretty motivating to find out you can lift way the hell more weight than you thought.

This was our third lifting meet, and our first CrossFit Total meet.
It was a smashing success – not only did it surpass my expectations, it even surpassed what I’d hoped for.

Our more experienced folks all hit PR’s (with the technical exception of Kyle, but he’s now within 5% of his lifetime PR’s after only being back for like two months from a long hiatus so I count that as a big win).

And our newer folks lifted way more weight than they anticipated with more in the tank, which was precisely the plan. The only failed lifts were from technical errors – that’s how you learn the specifics of moving heavy-ass weight, and we make sure to use each lift as a learning experience.

Pictures are on the website, and also posted in an album here.
We only had one cameraperson – not an optimal scenario – so videos are on assorted people’s phones.
I’ll work on getting them consolidated and up on our pages.

As a coach, I’m super proud to see the fruits of everyone’s labor.
When people of all levels are still making gains, it proves that we’re doing something right here.
Lots of hard work is paying off.

The next meet will be at the end of this training cycle, in about 3 months.
We’d love to see lots of folks there!

Apparently I can’t only rotate between two different linners during the week without wanting to tear my hair out after awhile.

In the interest of saving time during the week and maybe, just maybe getting enough sleep, I’ve begun cooking giant batches of chicken (we’re talking 6-7 pounds at once) on Sundays and stuffing it into tupperware for the week.

This way, I just dump about a pound and a half of pre-cooked chicken into a pan, add vegetables and my sauce of choice (plus one egg), and I’m good to go. Takes about 15 minutes, rather than the usual 45 when you have to wait for the damn chicken to cook.

I happen to really like Thai food, and I’ve cooked green curry before – like, from a recipe and everything – so of course I decided to make a lazy man’s version.

Here goes: “Thai Green Chicken Curry for those who fucking hate to/really suck at/have no time for cooking.”
It’s pretty f’ing tasty, actually.

Ingredients come from multiple locations – chicken from Costco, sauce from Trader Joe’s, and veggies from Stater Bros.

Utensils:
– non-stick skillet
– rubberized spatula of some sort
– probably a vegetable peeler and knife
– …that’s it

Ingredients:
– 1.5 pounds of chicken breast and/or thighs, pre-cooked and seasoned with black pepper because you’re awesome like me, cut into chunks
– Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce (it’s $2.49 for a 12-oz jar)
– 1 cup frozen bell pepper strips (you can get them in a one-pound bag for like $2)
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 large egg
– 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into chunks

Instructions:
0. Cook a silly amount of chicken breasts and thighs ahead of time. Cut into chunks as they cook. Refrigerate.
1. Throw about 1.5 pounds of said chicken into your handy-dandy large skillet.
2. Add vegetables. Cover for a few minutes until they thaw.
3. Crack your egg and toss it in. Stir until the egg appears to be somewhat cooked.
4. Add the whole friggin’ jar of simmer sauce. It’s super thick. The water from the veggies and chicken should thin it out a little bit. Stir.
5. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally so you don’t get stuff cooking unevenly.
6. When the sauce’s viscosity has evened out and it’s bubbling throughout, turn off the heat, stir it a bit more, and you’re good to go.

Serves one.

Macros (approximate):
Fat – 50g
Carb – 50g
Protein – 140g

So, similar to my posting about Taco Slop: For many ladies (or guys that can’t eat like a man yet) this is pretty much an entire day’s worth of food…or at least several day’s worth of lunches.
Maybe add in some post-workout carbs and a protein shake or something.

Enjoy!

James is a 28-year-old software engineer at SendGrid, an email delivery company in Orange.
(If you ever got an email from Spotify or Uber, they made sure it got to your inbox.)
SendGrid is a fast-growing company with folks that work hard, sometimes pulling long hours for days on end to meet deadlines.

Such a job entails long periods of sitting and constant temptations of beer-filled refrigerators and candy-filled snack bowls around the office.
Like many people, James’s intentions were good and he tried to stay active with things like karate, mountain biking, and hitting up 24-Hour Fitness.
But whenever he’d try to jump-start his own weight loss, without something to hold his interest he’d lose momentum and backtrack.

Before James started at RWS, he weighed about 240# at 5’8″.
A difficult flight of stairs used to put him out of breath for 15 minutes.
Many people from the SendGrid office had been training here for years, and constantly encouraged him to give it a shot.
As he puts it, “None of my co-workers would shut up about you. I mostly joined out of spite.”

When James started, considering he was essentially wearing a 60-lb weight vest and lacked cardiovascular endurance, he actually moved pretty well – the physical activity that he’d done, even though it was low-intensity, helped his overall sense of body awareness.
However, there were several things that needed to be scaled down or modified – demanding barbell movements like cleans and snatches were contraindicated by lack of flexibility, and pull-ups were quite a ways off.
To avoid joint injury and speed up progress, James was instructed on substituting kettlebells for barbells until mobility got up to speed, and used assistance bands for strict pull-ups to develop a base level of strength.
It was tough, and there were many workouts that tested mental fortitude and took longer than he’d have liked (especially at the beginning), but he still kept coming back. With the help of a high-protein, low-carb diet, he never felt hungry yet the weight was absolutely falling off of him.

Now, after 18 months of quietly putting in work at RWS, James looks like a completely different person.
He weighs 180#, deadlifts over twice his body weight, reps out strict pull-ups, and can jog over 10 miles without stopping.
“A really good day was seeing my brachial artery actually cast a shadow,” he says.
Not only that, but he stands up straighter, looks more confident, and even smiles more!

“This isn’t your stereotypical CrossFit box where you’re power cleaning in your first week,” says James. “The coaches are very scrupulous when it comes to moving us to more complex movements. They take form seriously, and as a result, I felt I progressed faster and more safely. Everyone is super encouraging at RWS; we all look out for each other and get excited when we see others hit their PRs. Everyone knows your name, knows your strengths and weaknesses, and keeps you accountable.”
james before-after