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
“I’m Addicted To The Whiteboard!”

by Matt O'Brien


In Rugby League it’s called “white line fever”.


The moment when professional footballers lose their minds and all common sense goes out the window because the try line is in front of them.


They make mistakes, break rules and go for glory when they think it’s in reach but... it’s actually beyond them.

In’s the whiteboard!

People get addicted to what is written on the whiteboard.

In CrossFit a “Prescribed” workout is referred to as “RX”.

Yes, I know...CrossFitters like to speak in their own language!

The belief that the workout is not a real workout unless its done the way it’s written up, is a problem.

A problem for coaches and a problem for the clients fixated on doing workouts RX at all costs.


Enthusiasm, drive and ambition cannot be faulted.

As a coach they are traits we love to see.

So let's look at why this addiction is such a problem...


The intent of a workout should dictate the approach.

What is written on the board is a guide.

There are times workouts get set with the intent for clients to push through movements with as little rest as possible.

Yet the hypnotic powers of the whiteboard seems to whisper in the ears of clients.

“Go heavier”...”Lift more”, it says.

It convinces them to load barbells with weight destined to slow them down or worse...stop them in their tracks with missed lifts.

“What about my goals?” I hear you say.

Well, let's look at that.


There is no doubt, working towards goals of greater strength, muscular endurance and improved performance are what we want.

To RX a workout might is indicate a win when it comes to these.

The problem is when people get so shackled to what is written on the board they don’t get the intended outcome for that workout.

They stop moving towards those goals.

Or worse still...they leave the gym feeling as though the hard work they just put in didn’t count because it wasn’t done RX !

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not talking about the situation where someone is close to understanding a movement they have been working on.

This might be muscle ups or double unders.

There is nothing better than seeing people battle a workout involving a nemesis movement...and win!

It finally all comes together and ‘bam’!...they get to write “RX” next to their name.



What I’m talking about here is a 9 minute workout where you watch someone (after 2 minutes) stand around for the next 7 minutes to do four lifts.

All because they refuse to scale a workout and shave off a little weight.

Waste of time.

It is often one’s ego that doesn’t let them change the workout.

“I am a firebreather!”

“I have to do the workout exactly how it's written at all cost.”

Ego will see your progress halt, your movement patterns remain poor and injuries occur.

Leave the ego to one side.

I bet you start to progress quicker.

“Are you saying we should take an easier option in workouts Matt?”

Of course not.

What I’m saying is to make a decision appropriate for the workout.


Ask yourself, what is your goal?

You still have to challenge yourself. The challenge though, might be to move faster or do more work.

The challenge might be to replace a movement you are still learning with something allowing you a greater workload.

Practicing a movement so that it can be added to your workout is what before and after class and open gym is for.

Creighton Abrams said, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.”

Play the long game.

Matt O'Brien
The Almost Laughable Statement You Don’t Need To Worry About.

By Matt O’Brien


In my past career there was a gym on site for anyone in the company to use.  


One day I asked this guy if he wanted to train with me.

“No thanks, I don’t want to get too big.” was his reply.

After I stopped laughing I manage to say, “I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about that!”

Back then I was into bodybuilding.

Lifting as heavy as I could and training different body parts…

I hadn’t yet discovered the world of CrossFit.

This guy was pretty thin - Prancing around the gym not doing anything too serious.   

I tend to find these days it's usually women at our gym I have the;  “I don’t want to get too big”, conversation with.

So let's have a chat about what it takes to… “get too big!”

In my book there are two types of people who worry about this.


1.    Those using the argument to be lazy as they don’t have the drive and dedication to train consistently, lift heavy weights and stick to a serious amount of eating.

2.    People who genuinely don’t know what it takes to add amounts of lean muscle to their bodies.


Lets just leave the first group alone for now.


I’ll assume you know people who talk about how tough they train too.

Yet in reality they wouldn’t know what sweat was!

Group two…

The natural part of bodybuilding is wanting to be bigger.

Bigger is better!

The first part of the equation is you have to lift heavy weights...a lot!

To make muscles grow there are techniques used to place a lot of stress on muscles so they recover and grow in adaption to those stresses.

This is “bodybuilding” or “muscular hypertrophy”.

Alongside the lifting is the eating.

There is a bucket load of eating involved!

This is what I ate, aiming to get bigger...


1) Two whole eggs and six egg whites for breakfast.  


2) Second breakfast of oats.

3) Mid morning - tuna and rice.

4) Lunch - half a chicken and vegetables.

5) Mid afternoon - tuna and rice.

6) Protein shake before training.

7) Protein shake after training.

8) Dinner was steak and vegetables.

9) Just before bed - three rice cakes with half a tub of cottage cheese.

At midnight I’d get up and drink the protein shake I had waiting in the fridge.

Now I’m pretty sure most of the women at my gym aren’t eating those meals!


Let’s have a chat about what “big” actually means.


If you are talking about the Olympia Stage and the people competing for the top prizes in bodybuilding then yes…

Chances are, they are too big in the eyes of most people.

Competitive professional bodybuilders you see in magazines are also taking a heap of steroids.

Mainly - Testosterone and Human Growth Hormone.

In men, testosterone is the hormone responsible for building muscle mass. Women have approximately 15 times less testosterone than men.


Women produce more growth hormone.

Some studies suggest growth hormone is therefore responsible for muscle growth in women.

As we have discussed,

The recipe also requires heavy weights for hypertrophy training and a large amount of food to support training and recovery.

There is only enough natural hormones in the human body for women to gain between 9 and 11 kgs of muscle.

Add into this situation, it takes 4 to 5 years of serious training and dieting.

(The type we spoke of earlier) to even get near this potential.

We haven’t even touched on the benefits of increased muscle mass in this blog.

Ok, enough of the factual stuff…

Let's discuss some realities.

First of all, why wouldn’t you want to be a bit bigger?

In the case of both men and women, bigger muscles means being stronger.

Life is easier when you are stronger. From the work you do, to carrying the groceries in from the car. Life is easier. looks better!

Ladies, when it comes to CrossFit…

If you want to fill out those booty shorts then get under a heavy barbell and learn to squat.

Gents, despite what any women will tell you - they want to see your arms fill your sleeves and picture falling into pec canyon as they are hugged by two boulders you have for shoulders!

As for all the women clients of CrossFit worried about getting too big...

I’m going to list some names…

  • Camielle Leblanc-Bazinet

  • Tia Claire Toomey

  • Annie Thorisdottir

  • Sara Sigmunsdottir

  • Lauren Fisher

  • Christmas Abbott

I can go on.

These are some of the top CrossFitters on the planet.

Who lift more weight more often than you.

Dedicating their lives to getting stronger and fitter.

I would hardly say they are “too big”.

They are beautiful confident women!

So next time you are sitting at lunch worrying about getting too big have a think about some of the things I’ve mentioned and remember...

Strong is sexy!

Gary Stavrakis
"Stav, should I do the Open?"

If you have been hanging around Zelos the past few months or even weeks, I am sure you've been asking yourself "Am I ready for The Opens?" or asking others "Are you competing in The Open?" Most of the guys who have been around Zelos and other boxes for a number of years all know what is coming and what the Open is all about.  For those of you that don’t, let me tell you a little more!!


The CrossFit Open is the first of two qualifiers for the CrossFit Games. Those who make the cut in the Open move on to Regionals, and then potentially the CrossFit Games. Those who make Regionals and then The Games are basically cyborgs...I believe that they are truly the fittest people on earth.  Very cliche line, I know but so true.


Ok, so now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about what it means to us punters and mortal athletes at Zelos. The CrossFit Open is five workouts that serve as a benchmark of how our previous year’s fitness has improved and it serves as a measure of how our next year’s fitness will continue to change and what goals we set for ourselves. It’s scary to see how great your improvements can be over the course of a the year without you even knowing or trying to run faster, lift heavier or jump higher.  I even look at people doing burpees and jumping up and landing on both feet with perfect balance but it wasn't that long ago that that same person was crawling off the floor to stand on their feet. That is just one tiny example. Hence why benchmark workouts are so great!!

Think of it as a benchmark workout, except it’s 5 of them, served up 1 per week, for 5 weeks straight. It challenges us to perform things we may have never done, and to learn what we need to improve upon. It pushes us way out of our comfort zone physically, mentally and maybe even emotionally (I have seen many tears (and laughs) in The Open and many PBs), but does so while placing us in an immensely supportive environment of people we train alongside daily, which is our awesome Zelos Tribe. It takes one workout at Zelos, to feel comfortable.

 Again, if you message me, call me and/or ask me in person something along these lines…Member - ”Stav, I’ve only been here three weeks should I be doing the Open?”  Stav, “Yes, of course you should be doing the Open Michael (that is not their real name), we can scale every workout and you will be part of an awesome experience.”  Member - “But I don’t want to look like a dick?” Stav - “When Matt and I decided to open Zelos we also decided that we didn’t want people in the gym that we wouldn’t want to train with (it’s our silent ‘no dickheads policy...shhhh!’). So everyone is on their own journey and only really cares about their own performance but they will be just as supportive of you as they will of everyone else.” Member - “Ok...where do I sign up for this magical thing they call the CrossFit Open.” Stav - “Right here actually actually Michael .  I’m so happy you have signed up Michael.  We get to dress up every Friday night with Kieran, laugh, train and drink beer and wine.” Member - “That is so cool Stav, Zelos is awesome!” Stav - "I know Michael..thanks."

Now, for the details; The CrossFit Open begins Friday, February 23rd when CrossFit HQ will announce the first 2018 CrossFit Open WOD to the world. We will start the WOD from 5pm that Friday night with a Friday Night Theme Night, that will continue for the entirety of the Opens.  The theme will be announced the Monday prior to each Friday Night Theme Night.  If you can’t make Friday night, you can attend Open Gym each Saturday from 9am and complete the Open WOD.  After these dates, it will be at the discretion of all the coaches when and if we can fit you in somewhere.  As you can all appreciate, it’s a hectic period in the gym for 5 weeks and now with more members than ever before, it will be FULLY HECTIC!!

Please feel free to bring a beer, burger and the family on the Friday night and join in on a truly epic event!!

It will culminate on March 23 where will have a massive throwdown at Zelos with Pizza and Beer!!

If you have any questions at all, please come to any coach with any concerns you have! In the meantime, please reach out to current members about their experience and their love/hate relationship with good ole Dave Castro, the sadistic programmer of these workouts.

Friday Night Theme Nights at CrossFit Zelos: (theme will be announced the Monday before each WOD)

18.1- Feb. 23
18.2- March 2
18.3- March 9
18.4- March 16
18.5- March 23


Stav : )


Gary Stavrakis
5 Tips to Achieving Goals

5 Tips to Achieving Goals



Giving your New Year’s Resolutions the best chance. By Matt O’Brien


2017 is now in the rearvision mirror and 2018 is well underway. That means that a whole heap of New Years Resolutions have been made and a few of those have probably already fallen by the wayside. Every year the most popular resolutions always revolve around health and fitness. They don’t have to be an unsuccessful venture and here are 5 tips to give you the best chance of success with those health and fitness resolutions.


Many people would have heard about making SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely,) These tips will help work alongside goals that are made in that fashion.


1. Break up your goal into smaller steps.

If your goal was to lose 10 kilos in 2018 then break that amount up into smaller goals. The goal might be to lose 2 kilos every 8 weeks. The smaller wins along the way will keep you on track.


2. Get some advice!

Every January I see people jogging along looking like they are hating it, with a running stye that makes me want to stop my car, get out and yell STOP! Someone pounding away on joints that haven’t trained in years in shoes they dug out of the bottom of the wardrobe after they played touch football six years ago, is going to injure themselve rather than achieve a fitness goal. It’s no wonder they give it away after a week or two when thier feet and joints start giving them grief. 9 times out of 10 I see people that would be better off walking and easing into things.

We get advice from accountants for our taxes. We get advice from lawyers for our legal matters, why wouldn’t we see an expert when it comes to our health?

Getting some advice from someone that can help you stay on track towards your goals is a worthwhile investment.


3. Tell people about it - put yourself under some pressure.

There is nothing like embarrassment as a motivator. So why not tell your family or friends about your goal. This will keep you accountable. If you have a number of people asking you how you are going in relation to your progress then eventually you are going to have the jubilation of telling them you achieved it or the embarrassment of having to admit that you didn’t work hard enough or even worse...gave up.

Another way is to find a few friends with similar goals and make a bet. Each friends puts $100 in the pot and first one to achieve the goal or last one to give up takes the purse. “Master of my own domain” style for those Seinfield fans!


4. Take some pressure off.

So I just said to put some pressure on…...why would I now take it off? Well lets say your goal is to eat better and lose some weight. Some people think….. “I have to be diciplined, I have to have willpower.” Change can be hard. So why not remove all those temptations from the pantry, the chocolates, the snacks. Just don’t put yourself in that position.

I hear smokers say…. “I only smoke when I go out and have a drink.”.....Okay, don’t have a drink for the first few weeks. Remove the pressure, or the temptation or yourself from the environment that makes achieving your goal that bit more difficult.

If you truly want to achieve your goal then you will do the little extra things that will help you get there. It will get easier with time but at first you have to give yourself the best opportunities to have a win.


5. Surround yourself with the right people.

Going through tough times with others makes those tough times easier and creates a special bond with those people. The same goes for whenever we are making changes to our lives. There are two parts to this point…….

The first extends from the point we discussed about getting advice. Surround yourself with some experts. Maybe that means a coach, a nutritionist, a good massage therapist to keep you in the game after hard training sessions. Maybe that just means someone that knows what they are talking about when recommending some new shoes for you to train in.


The second part is to surround yourself with people that will encourage and support your decision to make changes. That might mean you have to have a few conversations with family and friends. Many times I’ve seen people make a decision to eat healthy only to have a partner bring home takeaway food and eat it in front of them. Or “friends” that smoke, encourage the recent quitter to join them for a smoke…!


The right tribe around you encouraging you to attend the gym, to stick with your training, to stay on track with your new eating choices.


That's the best chance of success.


This year you can make a changes and achieve those goals you want.

Matt O'Brien
5 Things that prove Star Wars is about CrossFit.

In 1977 the first of the three Star Wars movies was released. The three original (and best) Star Wars movies spawned a legion of followers that to this day reference the characters, recite lines and dress in costumes. But was there something more to  these movies? Were they a propaganda piece for the fitness regime that was come and if so was George Lucas and Greg Glassman advertising CrossFit subliminally to millions of people?

The strange ‘community’ at the Mos Eisley Cantina and Jabba the Hutt’s paleo diet of frogs starts to take on a whole different meaning.

This article will uncover a number of scary similarities between the movies set in a galaxy far, far away and the fitness ‘cult’ that prove George Lucas and Greg Glassman were working together.

Is a Light Saber really a Barbell?

The light saber is perhaps the most recognised symbol from the movies. We all remember the first time that Luke Skywalker picked one up. He knew he could hold it but didn’t really know what to do with it. Just like that look on a new Cross Fitter's face as they are  introduced to the barbell for the first time. With practice and drills coached by Obi Wan, Luke is shown how to use his lightsaber gracefully, perform tricks and moves that others are impressed by. In the same way, people new to CrossFit are confused by the cumbersome device we know as a barbell. Over time they learn to move well and become one with the barbell. In time, moves  like the Clean and Jerk and Snatch are performed with elegance and ease. Was this our first introduction to the concept of difficulties that we would face to make this weapon look far less clumsy?

Darth Vader is Dave Castro.

Perhaps one of Glassman and Lucas’ most amazing inclusions in their project is that of Dave Castro. The representation of Dave as Darth Vader is remarkable seeing Casto was yet to be born.

Castro’s programing of the Opens, Regionals and Games is a display of his power to make people do things that they wouldn’t normally do and appear to do against their own will. Many say that Castro is a good man but has lost his way, his position has seen him use his powers now for evil and his strength seems to be growing. Remind you of anyone?

Young Anakin Skywalker was a good man lured in by the power of the darkside. His abilities to use the Force grew and soon his abilities as a Jedi to control people did too.

When Darth Vader says, “I am altering the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further.” That could have easily been Castro responding to some Box owners over the dumb bell controversy of 2017!

Yoda is a CrossFit Coach.

The Jedi Master, Yoda, is the one called upon to train young Luke in the ways of the Force. He literally coaches Luke!

In the training scene Yoda makes Luke run, jump and climb a vine. It looks suspiciously like a legless rope climb to me!

Some of the most memorable lines from Star Wars are those of the Jedi Master. This small unassuming creature that possess great skill, ability and of course wisdom is surely George Lucas’ representation of a CrossFit Coach and could in fact be meant to represent Glassman himself. If we take a look at some of his quotes it all starts to make sense………

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” - an obvious description about learning double unders, burpees and the anger felt by athletes performing these movements.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” - We have all stood at a barbell over thinking a lift or have baulked at a workout that instills fear. Sometimes we just have to be told by a coach to do it.

“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size do you? Hmm? Hmm? And well you should not.” - It is clear in this teaching from Yoda that he is referring to all athletes having strengths and weaknesses. Some amazing lifts come from those that we least suspect.

“Always pass on what you have learnt” - Too obvious to even comment on.

Probably the most famous speech by Yoda is when he explains the Force…….

“For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere!”

Hello!.....Is anyone else hearing Glassman’s ‘Fitness in 100 words’?

Everyone has a friend that doubts.

We’ve all been there…….when we first discovered CrossFit we were excited, we spoke about it and had discussions about Fran with friends. But there was always one friend  that didn’t believe. According to them it was no match for the Chest and Tri’s, Back and Bi’s split!

Enter Han Solo. Han was the detractor, a non believer. Could Lucas have been preparing CrossFitters for these negative people that would tread on our enthusiasm?

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”

The destruction of the Globo gym.

Star Wars is itself about the construction of the largest space station/weapon in the galaxy. With the Death Star in the control of the Empire, planets everywhere were in danger. But a few brave members of the Rebellion, in small space ships, take on this giant, seemingly unstoppable conglomerate and destroy it.

Was George Lucas forecasting the way the fitness industry was to go in the future? Were he and Glassman laying the foundation and motivation for CrossFit to make it’s way in the universe? The giant unstoppable force of the Globo gyms had started their dominance in the fitness universe. In some locations they had put smaller gyms out of business. (This is clearly represented by the destruction of Alderaan by the Death Star.) That is until a few brave members of the CrossFit community made a stand. With limited resources and equipment they put themselves out there, took on the Globo gyms and made the galaxy safe for small gyms and CrossFit boxes everywhere.

By the way……..Yoda walks with a cane because he has a limp.

May the Force be with you!

Pokemon, Hippos and CrossFit will kill you!

The REAL risk of injury....

In 2013 the CEO of Exercise New Zealand was quoted in an article as saying “CrossFit has resulted in six deaths overseas and rendered an Australian man paraplegic …” (1)

When challenged about the quote the article was edited and an apology published based on the claims of death being unsubstantiated.

In the same year, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research published a study entitled "Crossfit-based high intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition". The study followed 54 people that participated in CrossFit sessions for 10 weeks. The study made the following statements

"...a notable percentage of our subjects (16%) did not complete the training program and return for follow-up testing."

"This may call into question the risk-benefit ratio for such extreme training programs..."

In 2014, CrossFit, Inc. filed a lawsuit against the National Strength and Conditioning Association in relation to the publication of this study claiming that the data was false. Not only did the NSCA  issue a statement acknowledging the injury data was incorrect (2) but the lawsuit was settled in September 2016 with the District Court of the United States ruling in favour of CrossFit Inc.'s claims. (3)

Based partly on articles like these, CrossFit has been consistently criticised for causing injuries and deaths to those that participate.

Now people will claim that I am part of “Crosscult” and have a vested interest in defending CrossFit because I own an Affiliate. But what is truly concerning is recognised bodies and persons in positions of influence scaring people away from exercise protocols based on false statements and data. These exercise protocols assist to prevent health issues such as Cardiovascular Disease, Coronary Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

Yes there is a risk of injury, I admit that. Even the founder of CrossFit Greg Glassman admits that in interviews! There will always be a risk of injury if you “do” something active. Staying on the lounge watching TV is definitely one way to avoid injury (btw - you should also know that approximately 450 people die each year falling out of bed! (6)) But what also has to be admitted is that staying on the lounge doing nothing also increases the risk of Heart Disease and Stroke. The pay off for the increased risk of injury is that you decrease the risk of dying from preventable disease. I’d rather have an achey knee or a dodgy shoulder every day of the week than sitting there slowly dying from heart disease or being out of breath because I got off the lounge and walked to the kitchen.

All forms of general fitness contain an injury rate. That rate is 2.4 - 3.1 injuries per 1000 hours of training. There have been three academic studies conducted that found CrossFit’s injury rate to be below or equal to that rate. (4)

The list of benefits such as increased strength, fitness, confidence and weight loss have not even been discussed here.

So why is this information important? Because we should be encouraging people to get off the lounge. We shouldn’t be faced with bogus information discouraging people from doing something about reducing their risk of preventable disease. Many people new to CrossFit are faced with people around them spewing false facts they have heard in these articles and studies rather than congratulating them on their efforts and encouraging them to continue. They should be celebrated for doing something to improve their health not ridiculed for the decision to be active.

By the way……..  approximately 100 people are killed in Russia every year by falling icicles, Hippos kill 2,900 people a year in Africa, Autoerotic Asphyxiation kills 600 people a year, vending machines falling over kill 13 people a year (5) and 12 deaths have allegedly been linked to people playing the Pokemon Go game! (6)

  1. (the article has since been edited to remove “erroneous information in relation to CrossFit”)

  2. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:November 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 11 - p 3159–3172 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318289e59f


  4. The Truth Hurts: Part 1 | THE RUSSELLS



The Iron Never Lies. Why I Train...

There is a long list of reasons why I train. I could talk about the health benefits or the great people I train with, but this article is a little different.

In 1993 Henry Rollins was quoted in a magazine article as saying...

“The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.” (1)

Life is often pretty hard. It throws up its fair share of difficulties from time to time. I’m not on my own here. These difficulties come in many different forms and are different for different people.

Injuries, financial issues, bills, work stress, relationship difficulties, divorce, issues with kids, depression… pause and repeat! The list doesn’t really stop.

I’ll be honest, for me it just seems like Iife likes to sneak up from time to time and smack me in the back of the head with a shovel, just to let me know it hates me. I know for some people they have this amazing ability to not let things get to them and just move on. I’m jealous of those people. For me, many of those things feel like they are out of my control. For someone that likes to have a handle on what is going on, that just adds to the feeling of life getting the upper hand and picking up another shovel!

But the iron never lies…

When I train - I am in control. All of those issues disappear as I go through my detailed process of getting ready. I get to decide how things are going to happen. From packing my bag, I get to decide what items I will need and take to the gym. My phone, that one device that helps all those issues pry their way into my consciousness, no matter how hard I ignore them, gets locked away. I decide if this workout calls for my lifting shoes to be worn. I decide how to tape my hands. I decide what movements I need to put my body through to warm up. I decide how I am going to attack this workout written on the whiteboard and what strategy I will employ to win this battle - I will have on the gym floor. I decide how hard to push. I decide how much effort to give. I decide the weight I lift…

And again I am in control. For that brief moment, that hour of the day in the gym, I know what is going to happen and I can breathe.

For like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend.

(1)IRON, article in Details Magazine, January 1993