We’ve all experienced “goosebumps.” The subtle response is stimulated by strong emotions, fear, euphoria, inspiring music, nails on a chalkboard and sometimes temperature changes which cause the hair follicles on your skin to contract and stand up.

Have you ever stopped to reflect on what exactly initiates those “goosebump” moments and how to deliberately (and repeatedly) re-create that feeling? Is it possible to obtain that type of elevated emotion consistently?

Unexpectedly, I’ve found myself on the receiving end of “goosebumps” on a daily basis—for the past 20 years. And it’s primarily from coaching. I’ve been acutely aware of it the entire time, but have never shared or expressed this. It happens in observation: watching people grab a nugget of information about a lift and seeing it click, or noticing an athlete who doubts their performance and then suddenly exceeds all expectations. Sometimes, it’s the “ah-ha” moment during a team meeting, or simply walking down the gym hallway and watching two joyful teammates reunite to train together during a 7p class. And the goosebumps don’t stop there. These are just the ones that happened yesterday.

I consider myself to be incredibly blessed in this regard. Everyday, I get to experience this. And it’s not always about the lifts, the big weights, the workout times or a monster-sized squat. Instead, it’s the more subtle occurrences that prove most remarkable.

To elaborate, writer, Dan Heath, argues that we can understand these goosebump-like feelings as defining moments: moments of elevation (inspiring emotions), moments of insight (epiphanies), moments of pride (achievement) and moments of connection (relationships). Coincidently, these four points are the exact things that create remarkable moments for both the athletes and myself.

So, I ask you to reflect: take a moment to, first, consider what gives you goosebumps. Then, dream-up the ways you might begin re-creating those moments: one at a time, until they repeat themselves enough to become habit.

Coach David

Knee Surgery & Reflection 

Knee Surgery & Movement Reflection 

On Tuesday, August 7th, I went to Northwestern Hospital for a scheduled left knee arthroscopy to remove a cluster of intra-articular bodies in the anterior recess. Or, as the doc put it: “to clean up my knee”– as if he were taking a Swiffer Wet Jet in there or something.

Nothing major happened. There was no vicious trauma, a fall, or an accident. This was just a product of an active lifestyle; I’d been putting this off for about six months. In fact, just a few days before surgery, I hit a PR front squat at 300+, worked on some deadlift block pulls at 500+, and a 5lb strict press PR that I’d been eyeing for two years.

Today will be the one-week anniversary since my knee got “swiffered,” and I can’t begin tell you how bad I’m itching to get back to moving freely–to be able to travel around the gym, walk fast, walk slow, or hop in and out of my truck with ease. I’m eager to take the dogs for a long stroll at night, move a barbell with proficiency, carry a laundry basket up and down stairs, or simply get a cup of coffee with a friend. I’ve come to realize: It’s the day-to-day stuff that we often and accidentally take for granted, myself included. So when its actually taken away, it promotes reflection. And motivates.

I can’t imagine what it might feel like to completely abandon any kind of physical practice for a month. A year. Two years. But perhaps that’s due to the fact that I’ve adjusted my lifestyle to include it. However, for so many of our friends and family, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Go brother!

Years ago, one of my brothers was gaining weight, looking a bit rough and generally just felt bad. So I purchased him a 3-month gym membership to CrossFit Alpha Dog, without realizing how this temporary exposure would transform into an on-going commitment to health and fitness. Now, his wife and kids are also avid CrossFitters. My brother has traveled to the CrossFit Games in CA and WI., his wife is obsessed with Sara Sigmundsdóttir, his son has air squat positioning that’s out of this world, and he often sends me videos of his daughter doing burpees. As for his friends? They’ve turned into CrossFitters too. One of those friends also has a wife that changed her career path to be in the health & fitness industry.

So what can you do? Years back, I took a small step to help someone in my life, and it’s been paid forward many times over. Whatever the gesture, dare to make it. Bring someone to the gym. Take your parents, neighbors or friends for a walk. Instead of downplaying your pledge to training, your recent personal record or weekly gym attendance with your co-workers; share these stories, and challenge them to inspire change, too–or better yet, ask them to join you. An invitation is a chosen opportunity. And an opportunity can promote change. To have access to refined movement training makes us particularly lucky, but it’s what we do with this knowledge and experience that defines meaningful change.

The point is: You never know when a small gesture could reach far beyond it’s intended target. And if we never attempt them, we miss out on some of the most important benefits of what we, as athletes, do.

Coach David

Competing in workingOUT with my brother Scott.

Board Meetings & Hype Sauce

Board Meetings & Hype Sauce

Just the other day, in-class teammates (aka training partners) were encouraging each other to an extraordinary level. I can’t recall the precise movement focus, but the amount of hype around what was going on was undeniably noticeable.

I know: this doesn’t seem like anything particularly significant. Especially since we’ve gotten used to this kind of culture having deliberatley working to develop it over the last eight years. In fact, it’s come to be standard behavior here at CFD. But if we look a bit deeper, what’s actually going on is remarkably kick-ass.

The class was loaded with doctors, researchers, VPs, students, parents, lawyers, scientists, engineers and various tradespeople. During the training session, the project was to build up to a weight that was challenging for the day. As the intensity progressed, so did the spirit of the class. These “professionals” were screaming at one another with the utmost excitement. The collective enjoyment of everyone doing their best was enough to tear the building in half.

I sat there and wondered: When was the last time this happened in their lives? Does a level of hype exist at work, in the boardroom during a quarterly sales meeting or while ordering a cup of coffee? Does it occur during a walk in the morning with the dog, or while getting the car washed; during lunch, maybe? Perhaps, for most of us, the only place this level of unfiltered excitement occurs is here, at Defined.

So, your assignment is this: Arrive each day and let us cheer for you. Allow two, three or four people to support you with reckless, unsolicited enthusiasm. And then return the favor; do the same for someone else. Be a part of something.

Coach David

Movement Culture. More than a gym.