The most beautiful thing about being stuck at home during shelter in place for the last four months has been watching some incredible Croga relationships blossom. Not only have we seen some friendships grow stronger than ever (like the 7 am crew that is on Zoom 7 days a week), but we've seen husbands and wives like Matthew and Tara get the opportunity to spend more time together and train together daily to push each other to new heights.
We couldn't be more proud of you two and honored to call you Croganites, even while we've been apart. We can't wait to see you back at the gym (or outside the gym if you prefer)! We miss you Tara and Matthew. Keep up the good work!
When did you each join Cróga?
Tara: My intro classes were the first week of June 2019, but then I got pneumonia and was out of commission for a month. My first real month was July 2019, inaugurated with the 1776 workout.
Matt: Tara mentioned she joined Croga last summer. After a couple of months, she convinced me to stop by Friday Night Lights in the Fall and try a Saturday Bring-a-Friend workout. I officially joined up in Feb 2020.
What were you doing before for fitness?
Tara: I ran a 5K twice a year and collected the bling. I admire it on my wall from a safe distance.
Matt: A few years back, I did a couple cycles of Jack Daniels and Pete Pfitzinger running plans, doing 30-40 miles per week, mixed with some trail running up and down the peninsula. I read Starting Strength, StrongLifts 5x5 and 5/3/1 Strength program materials and signed up for Fit Republic. Waited for my turn on the power rack, listened to whole songs in the minutes of rest between sets for 5x5 workouts, and questioned my life choices while hiking the Dogmeat segment of Priest Rock Trail.
What improvements have you seen in the way you look, feel and perform?
Tara: Besides the reductions in the layers of fluff, I am starting to actually see muscles :) I was a gymnast when I was young, and my strength was always in my legs – I'm starting to feel some of that again. I've had numerous shoulder issues over the years (Thanks, US Army!), but I've been able to work through/around it and haven't had nearly the problems I did before. I'm also gaining some confidence, bit by bit – it sounds silly, but I wouldn't have worn tank tops when I first started, but now I love them! Being able to see my shoulders when I am lifting reminds me that I'm gaining strength. I never thought that I would enjoy lifting as much as I do, but now it's one of my favorite things.
Matt: Between the WODs and the WAG, I have lost 16 lbs of fluff since mid-March. I have never consistently dropped weight like this ever before, especially while still enjoying the finer things in life: New York strip steaks, waffles, classic beef pot roast, light craft beers, fresh-picked oranges, and ice cream! I am stronger overall than I have ever been and have far greater cardio capacity, despite how few miles per week I am logging. I can break out a 9:30 min/mi without putting up too much of a sweat, when previously I would have struggled with 11:00 min/mi on how little running I have been doing. My shoulders feel like they are twice as big as they once were and I am starting to see some nice definition. I have a new-found respect for bodyweight exercises, although I have more fun working under a barbell. I can't believe how many shoulder-to-overheads I can do at 75 lbs - literally hundreds! Everything is easier when you are strong - gravity just doesn't bother you as much.
What days and times do you usually join a Cróga class?
Tara: In the before times, M-W-F 6AM during the week, 7AM benching on Saturdays. I don't do cardio Sundays. In the quarantimes, 3-4 times a week for the 7AM equipment WOD on Zoom.
Matt: Before, M-W-F 6AM during the week, 7AM benching on Saturday, plus partner WOD if I was feeling adventurous, and cardio Sunday, if I had the energy for it. Nowadays, I'm passenger number five on the Quarantine Gainz Train, 7AM departure time, most days of the week. Weekend workouts at 8AM. Shout out to CJ, Annie, Rocky and Kal for keeping the train running on time.
What's your favorite WOD or fitness movement?
Tara: Bench press, hanging knee raises with an eye on toes-to-bar, hang power cleans, back squats, and now that I don't fall down as much, I'm starting to like handstands again. I like to go upside down.
Matt: I like lifting heavy things! Deadlifts, farmer's carry, bench press and hang power cleans are my jam. DT is an awesome workout - that was the first one I ever did that got me dripping with the sweat output equivalent of being roasted by 1000 suns and it hammered home the beauty of the 21-15-9 rep scheme.
What's your least favorite WOD or fitness movement?
Tara: B U R P E E S. And running. Don't forget the running. The best part of shelter-in-place is rowing instead of running!
Matt: Overhead Squats. I just don't bend that way.
"The Tara" WOD! What would it be?
1000m row at 30 spm or lower
10 Hang Power Cleans
"The Matt" WOD! What would it be?
"The Matt" WOD is really the "Jack and Diane" mashup WOD, set to a playlist of John Mellencamp songs:
If I was to invent a new WOD, then it would be 5RFT:
200' farmer's carry
15 bench press
10 hang power cleans
What’s your favorite post-workout routine?
Tara: In the before times, a large iced coffee at Peet's and breakfast in the car on the way to work. Now, a regular home-brewed coffee on the patio while watching the birds, then breakfast and a short walk to the home office.
Matt: As Daryl might say, brefkast! Kodiak oatmeal or muffin cup, 4 scoops Naked Whey protein powder with water, an orange picked from the tree out back, and Mighty Leaf English Breakfast Tea. Pinkies out.
What are your biggest fitness goals for the rest of this year?
Tara: 125 lb bench, 175 lb back squat, 200 lb deadlift, toes-to-bar, 20 real pushups
Matt: Stay consistent with 5 WODs/week. Get stronger by doing the WODs as hard as I can. >25 pushups unbroken, >10 strict pullups unbroken, 1 HSPU, 135 lb 10RM bench press, 300 lb 1RM deadlift, 8:30 min/mi 5K.
What words of advice do you have for people considering joining a Cróga class?
Tara: OMG try it! I was totally scared when I first walked in, but everyone at Croga has been great. It doesn't matter if you think you aren't in good enough shape – everything can be scaled or modified. Everyone starts at the beginning, and it doesn't matter if you are the last one to finish something. The coaches and other members are so encouraging; they help you learn that you can do way more than you think. Lifting heavy things is so much fun; once you start, you won't go back.
Matt: Walking into the gym, I had some familiarity with power lifting movements and programming, but I had never attempted any olympic lifting moves - they seemed scary and unnecessary. Joining Croga was a big step up for me in terms of expanding my exercise repertoire and form correctness, and I now see the value in dynamic barbell movements. The coaches are excellent teachers - at the beginning of class or when someone has questions, they take the time to break the movement down and they pay close attention to everyone as they work on their form. The level of personal attention that you get in a small class is an incredible experience and the long-time members of the gym are just as helpful - you really feel like everyone has your back.
The people are awesome, the program works and scaling is not a crime. If you are looking for body composition changes, then I highly recommend signing up for WAG at the same time to maximize your time investment. In the immortal words of Shia LaBeouf, "JUST DO IT. DON'T LET YOUR DREAMS BE DREAMS.".
Anything to add that we didn't touch on yet?
Matt: Shoutout to Dave, for being the kind of leader to keep this community together and moving forward during these times - the Croga OTB response plan is excellent and responsible for many of the gainz I have been seeing recently. Shoutout to Cody for the programming and reliable social media posts that keep the Gainz Train running at 7AM! Shoutout to Preston, for the consistent and positive WAG coaching.
Tara: To Dave, Laura, CJ, Annie, and Joy – thank you so much for helping me push myself. There are many times that I've underestimated what I can do, and you have told me that I can do more. I also want to say thanks to everyone who has encouraged me during workouts; it really does help me more than I ever thought. The Croga Community is amazing, and I'm so glad that I'm part of it.