40 Plus Takeaways from TJ’s Gym Masters Class For Over 40

I came back to my Crossfit box today after a long weekend away taking TJ’s Gym Master Class  and one of the first questions I was asked was what was so special about the class.   I may have gushed, “everything;” which isn’t too far from the truth.    The Master Class was a two-day event  geared towards Masters athletes, ages 40-plus, learning new skills and how to be better athletes.   Two days of super star athletes and trainers sharing their wisdom and precious time – Coach B, Carl Paoli, Brian McKenzie, Diane Fu, Marcus Filly, Dr. Allison Belger, and TJ Belger.

1040521_10151743096020972_1976916589_oIf there was one overall all theme of the weekend it was this – you need a goal, a plan, and a coach.   How you envision the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, plan for that implementation, and engage in that vision is everything.   I realized that this is something I really need to work on and change in short order.  Many of my movements are progressions that I learned when I was larger,  I now need to re-think and re-learn them.   I don’t run, I shuffle, but I can change that with time and practice.   More specifically, my takeaways from this weekend’s event that I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to participate are….

1)       Coach B prioritized the skills of Olympic lifting as a) mobility; b) speed; and c) strength.  Which maybe the opposite of what I was practicing.  Lifting heavy stuff is fun, getting the junk moving around in the joints is anything but fun, but its necessary.   Go as low as you can, but don’t lose form.


2)      Diane Fu started the Olympic lifting session with preparing the muscles by doing several mobilization techniques from the Mobility WOD which mobilized the hips, hamstrings, ankles, and shoulders (hanging on the bar and having a super friend push the back of your shoulders in three different positions, the pistol squat stretch, and an ankle and hip mobilization).

3)      The three things to focus on as a beginner lifter is the set-up and having the shoulders over the bar and hitting the power position (if you can hit the power position, you have a 90% chance of making the lift); and know how the lock out position feels.

4)      Your butt is your re-set button.  You can’t recover from a bad position.   Reset.  Diane Fu is a total badass and I’m a total fan girl.


5)      I was a fan girl of Carl Paoli before coming to the workshop.   I adore him even more now.   We worked on some fundamental movements including the burpee, pistol, rolling pistol, muscle up transition, and the handstand push-up; but more importantly what connected for me is that there is skill transfer in everything.

6)      Since there is skill transfer in everything and how you do many things is actually the same, you need to know why you are doing what you are doing and ask yourself what you are hoping to accomplish.   Just because you are modifying a skill doesn’t make it wrong, it just may not allow you progress with it to the next skill.

7)      Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

8)      You need to see and look for the opportunities.  carl

9)      Pretend you’ve got a $100 bill between your feet when doing burpees – pretend it is your life.

10)  The two key components to doing push-ups is having your arms in and having a straight vertical forearm (I learned that I’ve been doing them in a way that won’t progress to other skills).

11)  As one of Robb Wolf’s testimonials, I knew a lot of the information in Marcus Filly’s talk on nutrition, but it was a good reminder.   I need to dial it back in.  I started implementing some of those changes this morning and am feeling good this morning.  I didn’t know Marcus walking into the room, but I felt like I just wanted to sit by his feet and absorb his knowledge (OK – and maybe just gaze at his beauty a while too.)   Margie and I met him during lunch and he was just such a nice guy and I’ll be cheering for him during his third crack at the Crossfit Games.   Go Team Filly!  marcus

12)  Resilience is the ability to adapt, recover and adjust to the stress of training, compounded by life stresses (mental, emotional, spiritual, etc).   Our resilience is dependent upon many factors and is age dependent.   We have a diminishing resilience capacity.   I can’t afford to miss nutrition to tip the recovery/resilience scale.

13)  Nutrition is the opportunity to offset the training stress and it can also cause a tremendous amount of stress.

14)  When you want to pull, wait one more second.

15)  Don’t mute the hips

16)  Stroke rate workouts are the key to getting faster

17)  Adjust your toes on the rower – you want full contact with the ground when lifting, you want full contact with rowing.

18)  The rowing finish is the same as the hollow rock with your elbows tucked in.

19)  For women, the drag factor on the Concept 2 should be between 105-125.

20)  The higher your stroke rate on the Concept 2, the higher your skill.SanFran

21)  Running equates with your fear of falling.

22)  Lions run like lions, gazelles run like gazelles, and humans run like humans.   Why would we think that we have different running styles.   It’s a complex skill that needs to be learned and practiced like everything else.   Drill work should be done 3-4 times a week.

23)  We are constantly hunting for stability.   Prioritize your motor patterns.

24)  Check out The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle –  coaching, motivation and practice.

25)  Work on the 30-40 videos and 6 weeks of progressions on Crossfit Endurance.

26)   Practice makes permanent.   The key to adult learning is repetition.

27)  Practice with the jump rope with pulls on each leg – 5,4,3,2 and lean.

28)  Mobility WOD has a 3-part series on rebuilding the feet. Brian

29)  Barefoot jump rope sometimes.   Your feet and your hands are the same tissue for a reason.   Your feet should look like your hands.

30)  Learn diaphramic breathing for running.   I have absolutely no idea what this is and its going to take some research.

31)  Asana is a posture, but it also reflects a mental attitude.

32)  Stress Up: Vitality Down à Offload stress whenever possible

33)  Even the heart has built in rest.   2:1 rest work ratio.  The heart has more neurological tissue than muscular tissue and produces hormones

34)  You are either building up or breaking down.   Metabolism means to change.

35)  If you block one pathway, its has got to find a different pathway.   Do you really think you are smarter than evolution and the body?   Science and medicine are constantly changing.   Engage in the process.

36)  Everything really matters.  Don’t set the bar too low.   Unlearn what you are thinking and find your resistance points to change and improve.   We get set in our ways as we get older and those ways are either serving us or not.

37)  Learn a new gear and learn a new skill.

38)  Be aware and cognizant of over-reaching and under-recovery.

39)  Build your base of fitness.   Limit the high intensity sessions particularly during the off season.   There are times when its appropriate to just rollout and row.   Periodization is varying the levels of intensity and volume according to your priorities and its appropriate and necessary. Plan your progressions from week to week and month to month.

40)  Restorative aerobic work 10-20 minutes after a workout at about 120 beats per minute for about 30 minutes.

41)  Figure out why you are doing what you are doing and set your expectations and goals.

42)  Address fears and your worst case scenario.  Is it really that bad?   Is it perceived versus actual.  Is it FNE – fear of negative evaluation.

43)  I may forget what was said and what I did, but I left feeling like I’m on the right path of taking better care of myself,  improving my health, and a plan for some changes.


4 thoughts on “40 Plus Takeaways from TJ’s Gym Masters Class For Over 40

  1. Joy, thank you for writing all this down. I will refer to this in the future to refresh myself on what was said over the weekend and try to incorporate all this new knowledge into my training. I was asked today to share what I learned tomorrow with some of my box peeps, oh where do I start. Great blog!

  2. Still assembling my thoughts and notes, but if I had to wrap it up into a single thought – I would believe I was instructed to live my life in a sound and positive way, to take what I know and share it freely to those who are curious or will listen, always pay attention to and learn the fundamentals of what you want to do and accomplish, not only in CF, but in life, only then can you become an expert. Work hard and smile!

Leave a Reply