How Many Push Ups Can Your Brain Do?

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with one of our clients about “health”.


“Big surprise!” I hear you say.

Let me explain...

We were talking about “change”.

If someone wants to change their health or fitness they have to do something different. They have to change whats being done now.

Start some exercise, change the diet, get some personal training.


Our conversation was actually about mental health.

“What does your mental and emotional exercise look like?”... I asked.

People are well aware of having plans for their physical health.

However, when it comes to our mental and emotional health we don’t consider our practices, our plan or even talk about it.

Sometimes it’s trial and error. Not everything will be a fit.

Not everyone likes or feels comfortable with every type of physical training either.


We discussed meditation. Practicing meditation takes time.

Olympic Lifting takes practice too but we seem to keep at physical challenges far longer than mental ones.

One of my best decisions was to stop watching the news. I avoid so much negativity.

I don’t listen to the radio either, most of the time I listen to podcasts or audiobooks...they relax me.

We spoke about “gratitude” and journaling too.

“None of that is me.” my friend said.

I laughed… “None of it was me either till I started it!”

Without change there is no change.

People join a gym, train five times a week, go to a nutritionist to better thier physical health...which is (swear word) awesome by the way.

What does your plan look like for your mental and emotional health?

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Matt O'Brien
When “Selfish” Is Unselfish.

The word 'selfish' instantly conjures up negative thoughts.


The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘selfish’ as - “lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.”

What if we stretched the definition?

Or applied it to one’s health?

It is fair to be selfish at times when it comes to our health?

The negativity of selfishness seems ok to be flipped when it is directed to other people. Such as our families.

Society deems it ok for us to want ‘more’ for our kids, our partners and… to be selfish about it.

And so here begins the confusion…

‘Sacrificing’ yourself is different to be selfish.

It is potentially more damaging.

You can’t always put others first at the sacrifice of your own happiness and health.

Note I said ‘always’.

In fact, making your health and happiness a priority will see more rewards for your family than sacrificing it.

How often have we heard about the tired and cranky parent coming home short fused with the kids. Or too tired on the weekend to do anything with the family.

Health and Fitness provides benefit to mind and body. Those benefits extend to all those around you.

Maybe the word ‘chiefly’ in our definition should be changed to... concerned ‘appropriately’ with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

It seems if someone’s ‘priorities’ differ from others they are the recipient of criticism or judgement.

Placing a priority on one's own health and happiness is a means of placing priority on those around us, our families, our kids.

Sometimes it’s ok to be a little selfish… especially when it comes to health and happiness.

Matt O'Brien
“CrossFit Is Too Cheap!”

Why you can’t afford not to do it.

Gym owners regularly hear how expensive CrossFit is.

Well I’d argue the real question is...


Compared to what?

If its a $13 a week membership at a “normal” gym...then yes it is.

A Ferrari is an expensive car compared to a Holden Barina.

Even the Barina is expensive compared to a broken pushbike though.

You get what you pay for!


I was going to write about all of the things that your “normal” gym doesn’t do.

Instead here are some other questions you might ask yourself comparing expensive things.

However, here is the warning…

These questions are harsh.

Don’t read on if you aren’t ready to face some truths about expense and your health.


  • How much do the medical bills cost if you have a heart attack and live?

  • What is the cost to your children if you die from the heart attack?

  • How much does it cost you and your family to get a nurse after your stroke?

  • What is it worth to live a better more active life?

The cliche’ about only having one life to live is true.


Maybe I’ll have one less coffee each day.

Or, I’ll take my lunch to work.

Friday arvo beers might be just beers and I won’t put fifty in the pokies.

Maybe I’ll only have smashed avo with feta and pesto for brunch every third weekend!


If you have the self motivation to chase goals on your own, the drive to turn up, the knowledge to progress your training, knowledge about nutrition

and like walking on a treadmill alone then maybe “normal gyms” are for you.

If you don’t… well maybe CrossFit isn’t too expensive.


This is what I believe…

Your gym should care and want you there.

You deserve to be coached, helped and given advice.

Your nutrition, mobility and movement should be important to them.

They should know your name.

Social events are included just because they should be.

The odd bacon and egg brekky BBQ is great on a Saturday after training.

Making friends, laughing and fun is allowed too!

You don’t get that for $13 a week.

Matt O'Brien
“Am I Fit Enough For CrossFit?"

When I was 8 years old I was going to be the next Peter Sterling.

For the younger readers “Sterlo” was the greatest halfback to ever play Rugby League.

Yes, this statement may create arguements, (none more so than between me and my Rabbitohs loving business partner when I post this blog) but hear me out.

I was young and starting out in Rugby League. I had no experience. I didn’t know what it would take.

As time went by I was never going to play in the NRL. I still enjoyed it though.

The skills, speed and abilities of great players are admirable and awesome to watch to this day.


In a few days time the CrossFit Games will start.


Great athletes from around the world will soon hit the competitive stage at the highest level in the sport.

These athletes are truely incredible in ability, fittness, dedication and a long list of other qualities.

Many people will watch the CrossFit Games and think…

“I can’t do that.”


“I’m not fit enough for that.”

No one ever watches the State of Origin thinking, I can’t play at that level so I will never play or enjoy Rugby League.

People don’t expect to start at the top level. We start off with playing in the park, some touch footy or OzTag.

So why do people think they have to be at the CrossFit Games level to start training?

A CrossFit Games level athlete is a freak, let’s face it.

Not many will ever get to that level.

Training CrossFit and the CrossFit Games are two different things.

CrossFit takes the best things about different sports and training styles and throws them together.

Think about this…

If a CrossFit Games athlete turned up to our gym they would do the same class as our members. They might do it a bit faster and lift a bit heavier but it would be the same.

There’s the beauty of it.

You CAN do it.

You ARE fit enough.

It is the perfect place to get fitter.

Training is able to be adapted for everyone and there lies the difference compared to competing.


So next weekend I will probably sit back and watch the CrossFit Games in admiration and amazement just like when I watch the State Of Origin.

Knowing that I will never be Matt Fraser or Sterlo, but will really enjoying the spectacle and skills of the athletes.

Go the Aussies!

Matt O'Brien
“Are You Having FUN?”

When was the last time you had fun?


I guess we have to define what fun is for each of us.


Why am I asking?

Well I’ll tell you…

In the gym people are often bogged down and frustrated about “numbers” they are lifting or “times” they are getting.

We hear statements like, “I can’t do muscle ups.” or “I still can’t do double unders”... usually as a skipping rope goes flying across the gym.

People beating themselves up about their training.

Frowns, disappointment and frustrations are not what training is about.

Training shouldn’t be something getting you down.

If for you, the weights, struggles and journey of those things ARE fun...awesome!

It should be.


The same can be said for our lives outside of the gym.


Life can be tough. Sometimes it seems like one battle after the next.

So the first question again...When was the last time you had fun?

In a movement class we ran I watched a group of members laugh as we finished off with some game play.

I watched them genuinely having fun all the while not even realising they were training.


Every now and then I think we need to do something (in or out of the gym) where we feel silly or laugh, just for fun.

Anyone in my classes when Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” hits the stereo is lucky enough to be treated to my outstanding power metal dance moves. If box jumps are in the workout well look out...they make the perfect podium!

Why?... because sometimes I just want to have fun.


Let me be clear… Training at times MUST be serious.


  • Lifting heavy weights needs attention and concentration.

  • The right mindset must be there to battle a long enduring workout full of wall balls, thrusters and burpees.

  • Concentration is a must when learning a new skill like muscle ups.

  • Goals and progress are important (I’ll talk on importance of these in a blog soon)

As coaches it is our responsibility to make sure those times are recognised in the gym.

On occasions clients have to be refocused on a task for safety.


You also need to have fun.

Just as exercise and training is good for your mind and body…

Fun and laughter is too.

Playing with the kids, laughing with your partner, seeing a movie, going to the beach.

Sometimes it's doing those things without worrying about the time or what the next “important” task is.

It doesn’t matter what your FUN is… just as long as you have some!


So put on some great music, pretend you are wearing leather pants and have big hair… the world is your stage!

Matt O'Brien
“Motivation doesn’t exist!”

In these cold days of Winter we often hear comments about “motivation” in relation to  training.

What if I told you “motivation” as you think of it doesn’t exist?

If I told you only “decisions” mattered?

In 2008 a young Connor McGregor was interviewed way before he was in the UFC. During the interview ( he makes a number of predictions.

“I’m an up and coming young fighter and without a doubt you will see me in the UFC in the near future, without a doubt.”

“My dream is to be World Lightweight Champion in the UFC. Have more money than I know what to do with and have a great life for my kids, my grand kids and everyone in my family.”


He decided.

McGregor goes on to outline his decisions to pack up his job, train twice a day and chase that goal.

He doesn’t talk about his “motivations”

All the motivation to be fit, lose weight or train for a competition can be there, but those “motivations” won’t take you anywhere without the decisions to do it.

You can decide to get up early and train or decide to stay in bed.

You can decided to go to the gym or decide to sit on the lounge.

On Facebook I watch these motivational speakers with hundreds of people in the audience cheering, giving high fives and excited about whatever they are being “motivated” to do.

It makes me wonder…

When they leave the room, when they go home from the speakers’ show…

What then? What happens to all the motivation?

None of it matters if those people do not DECIDE to take the next step.

As coaches we can talk about goals, health benefits, fitness, weight loss, where you want to be in life...the list goes on.

We can try to “motivate” you with words, music and even articles designed to speak to your desires for health and fitness. We desperately want the best for you!

In the end it comes down to your decisions for you.

Let's look at it the other way...

No one is motivated to become overweight. Or motivated to be unhealthy or unfit.

People make decisions though. They make the decisions not to train. The decisions to eat poorly.

What do you want ... FOR YOU?

At CrossFit Zelos I am lucky enough to see people everyday making great decisions about their health and fitness.


When you make the first decision to come and train the coaches of CrossFit Zelos will be there to guide you through the right movements, techniques and training for you.

“Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.” - Michael Jordan.

Matt O'Brien
The Tale of CrossFit Bear.

Once upon a time…


There was a bear who loved to exercise. This bear’s choice of exercise was CrossFit.

He was known to everyone as “CrossFit Bear

CrossFit Bear really enjoyed going to the gym and smashing out a workout with his friends.

Over time CrossFit Bear started to notice some changes.

He was getting fitter, stronger and looking better too.


Soon CrossFit Bear had some goals. He wrote them down.

Goals like a heavier deadlift, a muscle up and a faster “Fran” time were all in there.

A six pack of abs would be good he decided, but shaving down so people could see them would take time.

CrossFit Bear decided he wanted to increase the weight of his Snatch as well. Although hook grip is tricky when you don’t have opposable thumbs!


One day in the gym, he heard a guy named “John” say, “Winter is coming.

CrossFit Bear had noticed it was getting colder in the mornings. Some days he snuggled up in bed and stayed there a little longer.

He decided to skip some of his training days.

His diet of berries and salmon (his paleo diet) of which he was quite proud, started to slip.

Weight started going back on.

It got harder to get back to the gym even when he knew he should probably go. So in the end he stopped and started to...hibernate.

CrossFit Bear’s goals just sort of... disappeared.

He really wanted a muscle up but it was so warm on the lounge watching TV.


A lot of his friends, including the owners of the gym, would message him asking when he was coming back to train.

He would say things like...“Yeah I’m just having a rest. I’ll be in next week.” or “Work has been really busy.

All of the work CrossFit Bear had put in had now taken a backward step. He regretted not sticking to his training and his goals.

He didn’t feel as good as he did when we was training. In fact he felt pretty bad.

CrossFit Bear was sad.


You are not a bear.

People do not hibernate.

Yes it is cold in Winter.

Stop with the excuses.

Life is still happening...get after it...grab those goals.

Don’t be like CrossFit Bear.

See you in the gym!

Matt O'Brien
Eating in Penrith? - CrossFit Zelos Knows The Best Places!

As the owners of CrossFit Zelos, we do some of our best work together over a coffee and a good feed.

We also know the importance of fueling your body both prior to training and post workout.

So we thought we’d put together a list of our favourite spots to eat around Penrith...the home of CrossFit Zelos!

Post workout, in between classes, or just to catch up… here is where we think some of the best eats are!


Henri Marc Cafe’

Located: 2/438 High St, Penrith (just near the War Memorial)


When not at the gym, you’ll probably find the owners of CrossFit Zelos here having “our usual”!

Poached eggs on toast with bacon and avocado.

Great coffee.

Definitely one of our favourites.

The staff are always friendly and up for a laugh.


High Street Depot.

Located: 488 High Street, Penrith


Fresh and healthy food at the Depot.

Coffee is always good.

You’ll find a whole range of healthy juices.

The Super Salad with added protein is a favourite amongst our members.


Cafe Lattetude.

Located: 1/69 York Road, Jamisontown


Just up the road from CrossFit Zelos.

Makes it handy for a quick bite to eat and a coffee in between the morning classes.

Acai bowl for Gary.

Oats with Apple for Matt.

Mustafa will look after a great coffee for you!


The Union.

Located: 542 High Street, Penrith


Full of atmosphere and great tapas.

It’s why we chose The Union as the place to celebrate CrossFit Zelos’ first birthday with our members!

Arancini Balls are to die for!


Pioneer Tavern.

Located: The Northern Road & Maxwell St, Penrith


No doubt about it!...If you want to indulge in a schnity then this is the place!

27 different Schnitzels to choose from.

3 sizes!....Take on the large if you dare!

Plain one for Gary.

Chicken Moo Ha Ha for Matt.

...and the odd beer or two.


Vincent Diner.

Located: 25 Ross Street, Glenbrook.


They use the same coffee as CrossFit Zelos so how could they go wrong!

The Big Breakfast is where it’s at. Great feed in a quiet neck of the woods just up the mountain from Penrith.


Cassandra’s on Queen.

Located: 131 Queen St, St Mary’s


If you find yourself a little outside of Penrith then this is the cafe.

Packed full of healthy eating options for those who train and watch their waist.

High protein breakfasts are the pick at Cassandra’s.

They also have a range of protein shakes too good to be healthy!


The Shack.

Located: 12 the Crescent, Penrith.

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Organic Foods at the Shack make it a really healthy option. Vegan and Paleo options too.

They have smoothie and juice options that are awesome.

We can’t pass on a serve of their sweet potato chips when we are there.

So there you have it.


Train hard and reward yourself with a feed from anyone of these great local eating spots.


Matt and Gary.


We’ve got it wrong...Apes evolved from us!

By Matt O’Brien


We’ve grown up hearing we evolved from apes.  

Somewhere along the way gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys all stood upright and became humans.

Maybe they didn’t…


What if we were around first and at some stage apes evolved from us?


Now I realise this idea might make a great movie...oh that’s right, it’s already been done!

Let’s consider this...


Apes swing through trees, climb, play and move all the time.

They are strong, fit and lean.  

Eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. (CrossFit’s “100 words of fitness” by the way).

Monkeys don’t seem to get fat, have heart disease or develop Type II diabetes...unless in captivity.

So I guess they have humans to thank for this!


We humans sit at work desks, computers and in front of televisions.

Aches, pains and stiffness in joints to rival the Tinman, seem to be a way of life.

Worn as a badge of honour to indicate how hard we work.

Put simply, not moving, leads to problems and disease.


The figures on Cardiovascular Disease are pretty astounding.

According to the National Heart Foundation of Australia…

  • CVD claimed 45,053 Australian lives in 2014, one person every 12 minutes!

  • Coronary Heart Disease 20,173 lives, one every 24 minutes.

  • Heart Attack 8,623 lives.

9 out of 10 cases of Type II Diabetes are preventable with an estimated one million Australians living with the disease.

Enough of the heavy stats !


I like animal documentaries...I admit it !

Watching apes move, climb and swing looks so smooth and free.

If we came from them, why don’t we move so gracefully? Why did we untrain ourselves?


Ok, I know there are more holes in this argument than the documentary on termites I watched.


No, we don’t live in trees and we don’t have lions and tigers living in our backyards.

Yes...They are genetically different.

What is interesting is they haven’t stopped using their bodies for what they were designed for.


Humans have.


We were made to do pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. We were made to bike, run, swim and row.

(more “100 words of fitness”)


This is why the philosophy of CrossFit works.

Taking the best aspects of sport, play, and movement to create health and happiness.


So…grab a banana and climb a tree or…

Swing on by the gym and do some human training with us!


Matt O'Brien
Are you a “Bomb” or a “Classic”?

By Matt O’Brien



Imagine that your body is a car...

I bet if you bought a brand new car you would look after it, put the right fuel in and get it serviced regularly.

A brand new car runs smooth, looks good and all the parts work.

As time goes by things start to change.

Tyres and brakes will inevitably wear out.

There’s a good chance a few scratches and dents will show up.

I just about cried the first time I dinged my “new” second hand car!

If you don’t look after your car it will eventually break down and cost you a lot of money.


The human body is the same.

It needs to be looked after. It needs the right fuel.

We even get our bodies serviced when it’s needed…(no, not that sort of service!)

What I mean is, we see doctors, physiotherapists and massage therapists when we need to... our very own mechanics.


If you leave a car in the garage for years it won’t get damaged but you will have other issues.

Parts start to seize up. Over enough time the battery will go dead and the engine might not work at all.

Those issues come from not using a car as it’s meant to be. Cars are meant to move and drive.


The human body is meant to move!  It’s not meant to sit on a lounge gathering dust and seizing up.

It’s designed to be active, play sports and be enjoyed.

Over a lot of years there is a good chance some body parts will eventually start to wear too.

Things like cartilage in knees and shoulders start to go...our shock absorbers.

Discs in backs will generally compress to some degree in adults.


This is why not just moving but moving correctly is so important. Varied types of training and movement should be used. Full ranges of motion so that joints when they wear, do so evenly and smoothly.


Millions of years ago we were only designed to live for 30 or 40 years. Life expectancy has increased dramatically.

So it has become even more important to move correctly and look after ourselves.


No one really expects to be driving around a 60 or 70 year old car but unlike cars you don’t get to trade in your body for a new one.

You might get some parts replaced but a whole trade one is really buying!

Given there are no trade ins on bodies, why do we not look after ourselves better?

Some people are obsessed with looking after their cars but don’t show themselves the same love.


If you look after them both, adjust how you use them over time and get some good advice from mechanics they will last you longer and be far more enjoyable to get around in.

No one wants to be considered a “bomb”.

Be the “classic” everyone looks at driving down the street!

Matt O'Brien
Maybe it is a numbers game ?

By Matt O’Brien

Do you remember sitting at school in maths class and thinking, “When am I ever going to need this stuff?”


Well if you recently did the CrossFit Opens, you probably now have the ability to convert pounds into kilos like Rainman.

Apart from that the Number’s Game, doesn’t seem to apply all that often.

Or does it?

Recently I was thinking about how much the numbers matter more than ever to people.


How many likes, subscribers and followers?

These numbers seem to be more important than ever!

It is more important to the generations born say in the last 10 or 20 years.

Now before you start thinking this blog is just the ramblings of an old crazy man, let me explain…


I know there are people out there making an incredible living from social media. A living very dependant on their social media numbers such as followers and subscribers.

Not too many years ago a “YouTuber” wasn’t even a thing let alone a job.

People with very clever minds worked out they could make a living through these different social mediums and in so many different ways!

This seems to have a habit of turning into an obsession for people though. Especially those growing up in the social media environment.

As the Crazy Old Man I can’t just point the finger at kids though.

I’ve done it.

I’ll put my hand up.

I’ve sat there at the cafe or with someone and checked my latest Instagram post to seem if my massive following (124 people at the time of writing this) has grown since I checked it four minutes ago.


So much business also relies on this medium.

The irony is this blog is on Social Media!!!

It is a numbers game.

This Crazy Old Man can realise times change.

Do you think when the printing press was invented and produced newspapers, there was a generation of people claiming it would be the death of conversation or story telling?


It all has a place.

We just need to balance out the place.


Catching how downward in a phone my head was, recently caused a heap of thoughts to pop into my downward tilted head.

Before you think Crazy Old Man has turned into Crazy Old Guru Man...just work out a few of the numbers on these sorts of things...

When did you last...

- Read an actual book made of paper.

- Ask someone how they were and listened to the answer.

- Hug someone.

- Let yourself get wet in the rain for a bit…(don’t worry humans are waterproof.)

- Danced in public...(try it, I bet it makes someone smile.)

- Learn a magic trick and watched your kids face when you show them.

- Listened to an album and looked at the cover. (That was cool.)

- Sit and think about your breathing, how it feels and sounds.


In our gym we go by numbers too. Number of reps, how much weight, fastest times.

They are important to evaluate how we improve, develop and to set goals.

Seeing members lift a personal best weight is so satisfying.

Those numbers have a place.

It’s balanced with the human contact through the community of people we have there.

Sometimes when we stretch at the beginning of class I just listen to our members talking about whatever, joking with each other and just laughing.

There’s no numbers then...and it’s good too.

Matt O'Brien
5 steps to kickstarting a healthy eating plan.

by Gary Stavrakis


There is so much noise when it comes to “healthy” eating these days.

I’m asked on almost a daily basis the following things;


“I can’t lose weight and I’m training everyday!”

“What do you think about the Michelle Bridges 8 week challenge? (Or whatever it’s called?) or any other 6 week challenge?”

“ I’m going to eat paleo, vegan, gluten free, no carbs after 6pm, intermittent fasting, lemon detox...what are your thoughts?”


Sounds confusing doesn’t it?

Well I’d agree!

So here are some tips to work through all of that noise...


Here are 5 easy steps to kickstarting a healthy eating plan.


1.    The first question to ask is...“What do you want to eat?” The best diet in the world with the best ingredients is still useless if it isn’t followed.

So pick and eat the foods you actually want to eat. So long as you  can make the foods work with the ratios of protein, carbs and fats and the calories, go for it!


2.    In saying all of the above, ultimately the end goal is to hit your targets (fats, proteins, carbs and calories) with fresh, whole foods. Yes, you can hit those goals by hitting your protein targets with protein shakes but fresh fish, chicken breast or a good quality red meat is better.

Carbohydrate targets can be achieved with Allen’s party mix and Powerade but sweet potato, rice and fresh fruit fruit and vegies are so much better.

Then there are fats which can be obtained by eating avocado, nuts and good quality oils as opposed to foods that contain trans fats that are in most takeaway foods.


3.    Counting calories and tracking food is not an ideal or healthy way to live your life. Though I believe it is essential for at least 4 weeks as it gives you a great indication if you are not meeting your goals and when dialed it definitely aids you in not overeating.


4.    When establishing a healthy eating plan I believe you should eat the same food every day for 7-14 days and then establish what the chosen foods have done. If it's a good result, cool keep doing it. If it's a bad result, because the same foods have been consistently eaten over that 7-14 day period, we know the problem is in there somewhere, so we can make a change.


5.    Lastly, why deprive yourself of foods that you truly love or crave, (For me it’s chocolate and ice cream) and saving them for a cheat meal every week, fortnight or month is not a way to live your life. Food is one of the greatest joys in life.

I let myself eat a little bit of chocolate (it’s 4 squares of dairy milk) and ice cream (no it’s not Messina, it’s Peters low fat) everyday. It gives me something to look forward to, stops me from binging and suppresses a food crave....happy days.

Gary Stavrakis