All posts by Katie Norris

Athlete Spotlight: Maria G.

At CrossFit Hale, we like to give a public shout out to folks we feel epitomize our core values: consistency, hard work, positive attitude, overcoming of fears or obstacles and community spirit.

We are lucky enough to have a gym full of amazing people and today we are shining a spotlight on Maria!

You might see Maria at the 9am class, right after her overnight shift as a veterinary technician. Coming in every day after working overnight, and working through shoulder issues has not been easy, but Maria made it possible. Maria’s consistency has been an inspiration to all of us. Maria doesn’t focus only on her own goals, but she also supports those around her and cheers her fellow workout crew on.

Let’s get to know Maria a little bit better!

Age: 30

Day job:  Emergency Veterinary Technician. For those who don’t know me or never see me, I work overnights. So most of the time when you see me at 9am, I’m just getting off work!

Dream job: Still trying to find my career! But if I could choose anything, I’d either be a surgeon or a Broadway singer. 

Can you give us some of your benchmark stats?
Around Halloween 2017, I showed up to crossfit for like 4 days straight and joked about it being my longest streak to Coach Jay. He then challenged me to show up and work out every day for the rest of the year and I accepted this challenge. I made it 57 days in a row (until I got the flu like everyone else). Now I just show up at 9am every day like it’s a part of my daily routine. 

What is your athletic/fitness background? 
I did most sports as a kid/teenager: soccer, baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, dance, etc.  After starting college, I did the occasional gym visit with some knowledge of the basic machines. Oh and dancing… I did a lot of Zumba at the gym and weekly Latin dancing with friends and professional salsa dancers. 

What’s your biggest strength in the gym? 
I can read minds. When Coach Heidi starts walking towards me in the middle of a workout, I immediately realize my form is off and then correct it before she can get to me! Ha! But seriously, my biggest strength is my dedication to showing up and working my butt off. 

Biggest weakness?
Controlling my breathing during running, burpees, and double unders. Also anything overhead: OH squats, kipping, snatches, and all those other fun activities. 

What’s your drink?
La Croix or any bubbly water for sure. If you mean adult drink, I do enjoy a nice glass of wine or two…

What is your current fitness goal? 
I WILL get my first pull-up this year! I also want to get a toes to bar, ring dip, and string together my double -unders. I really want to be able to do RX for most WODs. 

What do you enjoy most about Hale?
The community. Hale is basically my second home and everyone there treats me like family. I also love how the coaches are always there for you and go out of their way to help you. I’d be lost without them. 

What are some improvements you have made since joining Hale?
My confidence is undeniably better. My friends and family tell me I am so much more confident than when I first moved to California in 2015. Also I’m stronger — It’s easier to lift heavy dogs at work!

Any advice for those new to or considering Hale?
Nutrition is key— Binging on junk food will negatively affect your performance! I learned this the hard way (Thankfully Coach Tina is currently helping me with my nutrition goals and macros). Also when in doubt, just show up to the gym. I promise you will leave feeling 10x better than when you arrived. 

Most importantly, what do you think is the greatest SPORT MOVIE of all time?  
This was my favorite movie as a kid, so I’ll stick with it: Rookie of the Year. 

Out Of The Box: Mobility

(In our “Out of the Box” series, you will find small things you can do outside of the CrossFit box to help you reach your athletic goals.)

Do you get little aches and pains after some workouts?

Maybe every time you do front squats you have a bit of knee pain?

Is your deadlift or squat snatch weight not where you want it to be?

Do you chicken wing your arm out on pushups or bar muscleups?

We have often been told (from conventional gyms) that if we work out three times a week, we will get stronger and faster. Any issues we have can be fixed if we just workout more. That was a lie!

In order to be good athletes, we need to do work outside of the CrossFit box.

I really wanted a heavier press and push press, but every time I added weight, I pulled my shoulder and couldn’t use it for at least a week or more. What no one told me, until I came to CrossFit Hale, is that I have limited overhead mobility. I could workout three times a week and never get a better push press because my shoulders could not even get in the right position to support the weight.

If you are not mobilizing for at least ten minutes a day, your strength and skills in the box will not improve as much as they can.

If you are frustrated because of a nagging shoulder injury, it won’t get better unless you are working on your mobility every day.

Heck, if you want to go on a road trip and still be able to walk all day to tour your destination (I would choose Disneyland), you need to work on your mobility.

Calf smash after class.

Here are some tips to getting in your ten minutes of mobility a day:

  • Get a mobility prescription from Coach Heidi. Set up a short mobility assessment with Heidi at the front desk (a 15 minute assessment is free for Hale members.)
  • Borrow “Supple Leopard” or “Deskbound” from our library to find mobility ideas.
  • Keep a lacrosse ball with you at all times. Seriously. I have a lacrosse ball in my car, purse, gym bag, my kid’s gym bag, and at least one lacrosse ball in every room in our house. You can easily sneak in a few minutes of mobilization while waiting for appointments or even for your cup of Starbucks. Mobilize while watching tv or playing video games. Any of the mobilizations on a lacrosse ball we have done in class, you can do at home.
  • Follow a general mobility program by trying out MobilityWOD’s Daily MWOD program. 
  • Keep your computer, phone, tablet, or books at the level of your eyes. This will greatly increase your shoulder range of motion and put your spine in better alignment. Put a PopSocket on the back of your phone so you can hold it up. Use a standing desk for your computer or elevate your computer on boxes on your desk. (Nike and Reebok boxes work well to prop up your computer, or you can buy a cardboard desk for $25 on Amazon. 

See you in the box,

Coach Katie

NEW Masters Class: Become the Master of Your Workouts

Karen, Ruth, and Phil perfecting their skills in our Masters Class

For the month of November, we are trialling a new class on our schedule – Masters Class!

A Master is someone who shows great skill and proficiency in a task, someone who is a skilled practitioner of a specific activity.

Our Masters class is for anyone of any age who wants to focus a bit more on mobility, fundamentals, and conditioning in order to increase skill, proficiency, and become a skilled practitioner of their CrossFit workouts.

These classes will feature the same workout of the day as our other classes, but with more focus on the mobility that supports the movements in the workout. You will also learn more about our fundamental CrossFit movements and how to do them with greater accuracy.

This class is great for everyone, but especially those who are dealing with any mobility issues or injuries.

What did people say about the Hale Masters class in October?:

“It was amazing. I am stronger in my workouts and I have less pain in everyday life. Life is better!”

“It has improved my posture outside of the gym. In the gym my squats are better and my overhead position is much easier.”

“I was able to take things I learned during the series to regular classes and work on them.”

If you want to…

  • Get a deeper and more stable squat,
  • Work on your overhead position to solidify your presses and overhead squats,
  • Discover what mobility you need to prep you for a workout if you have shoulder or knee issues,
  • Figure out what is going on with your wrists in the front rack position,
  • Get stronger and lift more by having great bracing and form,
  • Learn how to increase your endurance, or
  • Have fun (like every class at Hale),

….then come to our Masters class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11am. (Starting Monday, November 6, 2017, trialling through Friday Dec. 1.) This class is included in your membership, so try it out and become a Master of your own workout!

See you in the box!

Coaches Heidi and Katie

Strongman Movements = Functional Movements

100 lb. Atlas ball toss over the shoulder

Max distance medicine ball toss

Increasing weight Atlas stone lift to a platform

Max weight sandbag squat clean & jerk

Run with a sandbag or medball on your shoulder

Heavy D-ball carry at your stomach

Why do we do these things??

To increase strength and to have fun, but, most importantly…

So you can be functional and safe in your everyday life!

100 lb. ball toss over the shoulder = lifting and moving large bags of gravel or dirt for yard work.

Max distance medicine ball toss = tossing large rocks into the back of a truck for your next landscaping project.

Increasing weight Atlas stone lift to a platform = lifting a dog and putting it on the vet table

Jessica lifting Atlas Stones (D-Balls) onto platforms.

Max weight sandbag squat clean & jerk = putting a duffel bag into an overhead compartment 

Max distance medicine ball toss – any way you can throw it!

Run with a sandbag or medball on your shoulder = kid falls asleep on your shoulder as you are walking around Disneyland

Heavy D-ball carry at your stomach = Hale member Candice says she used this movement when she had to carry her luggage and run through the airport to get to her gate!

Remember to use the same form we teach you in the box for movements in your everyday life. This will keep you safe, healthy, and injury free.

See you in the box!

Coach Katie

Always Improving: Why We Love This Gymnastics Course

Cullen working on kipping.

CrossFit, the technical definition: constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.

CrossFit, the regular people’s definition: do all the the things!

How do we do all the things? How do we do olympic lifting, running, gymnastics, balance, strongman, jumping, and more?

We have to keep learning.

The intricacies of how to do a movement more efficiently and safely are always evolving and in order to be good CrossFitters, we call on experts in each area to help us move better.

For the past six weeks, over ten of us from CrossFit Hale took a gymnastics course with Mark Freeman. Mark is an elite international gymnast, performer and coach from Manchester, England. He is also an assistant coach for the Cal Men’s Gymnastics team

His program is “a methodology based upon functional movement, injury prevention, gymnastics fundamentals, and acrobatic awareness.” His philosophy is a perfect match with Crossfit. It focuses on helping all of us to learn how to do gymnastics movements better, safer, and with more efficiency. In six weeks, Mark taught us the intricacies of handstands, kipping, muscleups, pushups, and more.

All of us loved the session so much, that Mark is coming back for another six-week session, and we want you to join us!

Why do we love Mark’s class?:

It “[went] back to the basics and made them hard again. Humbling and inspiring at the same time. A reminder that there’s always room for improvement.” – Larry

“I think the gymnastics course was amazing… It’s a course that caters to everyone- all skill levels. I think that it is helpful in not only teaching proper form but giving helpful exercises to learn each step of that form in a controlled manner. Lastly it has been incredibly helpful for someone like me who doesn’t have as much mobility, to learn and find more avenues to gain that mobility I am lacking.” – Cullen

Marks “Warmup is worth it’s weight in gold! Plus, being able to compare your own movement patterns vs. a near “gold quality” standard (Mark’s movement) — big aha moments of ‘So that’s how it’s supposed to look!’”- Mike

Coach Heidi learns technique for kipping on the rings.

“I don’t have handstands or kipping, but Mark still helped me improve. I was actually able to kick up to my first spotted handstand ever! Everyone should take this course.” – Katie

Check out Mark’s website, the Freeman Technique, and sign up for his next class at the front desk or email Ashley. The course starts this Wednesday!!! (10/18)

See you in the box,

Coach Katie

What Do You Mean, “No Excuses?”


What does that mean to you?

When you see it on social media, it’s laced with bravado:



Life should not be so hard that you have to FIGHT it all the time!

The truth is…”no excuses” means that you get to OWN your choices, and own your life.

It acknowledges that life is difficult. Really difficult. There are often circumstances outside of your control that make many of our goals, or even our daily needs, pretty impossible.

When we say “no excuses” we mean that we want to help you put your self-care and life goals at the forefront, because you matter!

“No excuses” really means- How can we help you get through this?

Carrie helps Jessica get ready for a CrossFit Open 2017 workout.

We happen to be at the beginning of a “No Excuses Challenge” right now, but, challenge or no challenge, all of us at Hale are trying to help each other fight through the difficulties in life. The coaches help you with this, but we see you helping each other every day!

Hale friends text each other in the evenings asking; “Did you see tomorrow’s WOD? Looks terrible! Want to meet me at 6:30??”

You cheer each other on when someone is struggling through a workout.

Notes of encouragement left throughout the box during the CrossFit Open 2017 workouts.

You have put together food brigades for Haler’s who have been in the hospital.

Haler’s pet sit for each other for vacations and family emergencies. You do each other’s laundry, and help clean each other’s homes when someone is sick, and you watch each other’s kids!

You have helped each other find new jobs, and get out of situations that were unhealthy.

You celebrate birthdays, new babies, new jobs, you even send off Haler’s who move out of state so that they know Hale will always be their home, no matter where they live.

You literally help each other fight through difficult things in life so that you can all have “no excuses” and take care of yourself and your families. You make life better for each other.

Hale Teens celebrating birthdays!

I don’t know what “no excuses” means to the rest of the world, but I like what it means at CrossFit Hale.

See you in the box,

Coach Katie

Out of the Box: Eat for Fuel

This post is part of our “Out of the Box” series which talks about what we need to do outside of the CrossFit box in order to improve inside the box.

If you are not getting the results you want in your workouts, you might need to look at your nutrition.

If you are dragging and slow during a Metcon with 400 meter runs in it and you tell me you only eat two meals a day, that is not enough food to support your workout.

If you are feeling sick during a workout and ate pizza and beer the night before, your nutrition is not supporting your workout.

If you can’t do a pullup even though you have the form down, you may need to increase muscle, which means changing your nutrition.

Teens from Hale Teens Camp 2017 learning about nutrition from Coach Heidi.

We have been taught a lot of inaccurate things about nutrition, but at Hale, we believe the purpose of nutrition is to help you feel and function better.

While I have been doing everything right in the box, I still was not getting the results I wanted. Over the past three months I focused on looking at my nutrition as fuel and I have seen great results.  My weights on lifts have increased, I can jump higher for box jumps and double unders, and I finally got toes-to-bar.

Eating enough food, eating foods that build muscle, and decreasing foods that cause inflammation in your body will help you perform to the best of your ability in the box, at work, and at home.

Our general recommendation for nutrition that fuels your body is to eat half your plate full of veggies, a palm sized portion of meat, some nuts and seeds, some fruit and some healthy fat, little starch, and no sugar. Eat enough to give you energy for your workouts and day, but not so much that you feel tired and sluggish.

Feel free to ask any of our coaches about your nutrition, set up a nutrition consultation with Coach Heidi, or join our No Excuses Challenge (6 weeks nutrition challenge with an accountability partner and lots of support).

Our next No Excuses Challenge starting up on September 18, 2017- sign up at the front desk today!

See you in the box,

Coach Katie

How I Learned to Love Partner WODs

I used to HATE partner workouts.

When you’re always the slowest, and you have to scale everything, they aren’t your favorite thing to do.

How do you partner with someone if you aren’t as good as them?

What if you hold them back?

What if they regret it?

All this goes through my head every time I see the words “In pairs” before the workout of the day.

I have found, with some experience, that they are not all bad.

In fact, I’ve learned some pretty valuable lessons by working out with a friend.

Jessica and Lori finishing up a long partner WOD.

Here are the best things you can get from a partner wod:

  • You push past your “normal” pace. When that person is relying on you to get through something, you don’t give up quite as easily, or rest quite as much…AKA, you push past your limits, and find NEW limits.
  • You try new things! You’ll climb a little higher on the rope, or add just a little more weight to the bar. That extra push helps you reach just a little further than you would by yourself.
  • You gain some empathy. When you see your partner struggling, it reminds you how hard it is for EVERYONE (not just you). Sometimes, you’re even better than your partner, and you help lift them up!
  • We learn to be part of a community. In a community you help each other. For example, most runs on a partner workout are done together, and you do not run faster than your partner. You learn to stick together, no matter what. It is okay to run slower than you can, to support your partner, and it is also okay if your partner needs to slow down for you.
Candice and Gabby sharing Kettlebell Swings.

Ok, so I still don’t really LOVE partner workouts, but there are always ways for you to learn through them.

And the truth is, in the end, you still get a high five! 🙂

See you in the box,

Coach Katie