Empire State CrossFit



By Coach EJ


Not sure what all the acronyms in CF Lingo are? Curious to see all the benchmark girls and Hero WODs? All your answers can be found on the CF main site webpage. Click here to access CF FAQ



It’s Friday afternoon and you’re ready to kick off your weekend by doing a WOD. You took a look at the WOD and are mentally ready to get after it. You manage to get out of work early, and you get to your affiliate with 15 minutes before class starts. What do you do when you arrive?

a) put your stuff down and chat up some of the other athletes

b) listen to some music to fire you up and check out the current class finishing up

c) work on your mobility issues and stretch out based on the WOD

d) work on some of your GOATS

Hopefully you answered ALL OF THE ABOVE.

In an ideal scenario, before you get into your WOD, you’ve had some time to get your body warm and work on some of the magic that Kelly Starrett (CF’s mobility guru) talks about on hisMobilityWOD. But not everyone has the luxury to get in super early. And all WODs are not created equal. There are some days where the warm up + demo + set up eat away at your prep time. As your coaches, our main objectives are to lead you through as thorough a warm up as possible but leaving enough time to walk you through the workout, answer questions, get you set up, and then watch you cut loose. Some times I wish there was more time to do the warm up, but then we’d end up having SUPER long classes…no bueno.

This is where you come in. While we definitely get the basics done pre-WOD in class, take some time to whip out the foam roller and loosen yourself up. Grab a PVC pipe and work on perfecting your OHS. If you’re trying to master a skill, why not take this opportunity to practice your DUs? If you’re trying to get your first pull up, it’s not going to magically appear tomorrow if you don’t put in any practice – work your negatives or do some ring rows. Why not do some hollow rocks?

Mobility WORK suggestions

There are so many things you can do before your WOD to make it productive. What do you do before class? Would love to hear your ideas.


Foam roller for beginners




Crushing my WOD, circa 2011

Now that the Open is over, have you taken a moment to look at your performances? Not just the numerical performance, but how you felt during the WOD and if you could have done more? Was it a lack of physical ability or mental?

What is it exactly that allows some athletes to plow through a WOD, while others take breaks? How is it possible that work capacity differs so much and how can we get better at being able to embrace the pain?

Each athlete has a different threshold, but it’s truly that inner voice that dictates the whole mind-body reaction. Before coming to a WOD, are you thinking about your performance? Are you thinking how bad the workout is going to suck or how kick ass you’re going to be? That miniscule bit of negativity can trickle into your whole WOD. You can spend your energy fighting for every rep or waste it complaining about how much the WOD blows. Why waste more energy cursing and getting frustrated, as opposed to taking a second, and re-focusing?

  • STAY PRESENT IN THE MOMENT You must be present in the moment and focusing on the task you’re setting out to accomplish.
  • FIND OUT WHAT TYPE OF LEARNER YOU ARE (VISUAL/AUDITORY/HANDS on) – People require different types of motivation and learn things in various ways. I personally like to watch oly videos and envision myself going through movements,especially when trying to PR a lift. Before I go, I shift my focus on my breath and visualize doing the reps, along with the important technique cues. Then I go after it. There is a possible negative, where you might OVERTHINK to the point where you just end up spazzing out, BUT like I said this is just what has worked for me
  • EXPERIENCE MY GRASSHOPPER – The other factor that falls into this is time and personal experience. There will be certain workouts/movements where you know you’ll feel like you’ve left your lungs on the floor (e.g. Fran) or movements will just feel straight up funky. An example of this is when you’re first learning to do oly lifts, you feel AWKWARD. But slowly your body builds on muscle memory and now that foreign movement becomes second nature! Now you can progress and do these movements efficiently, and with load. So be patient with yourself if you’re just starting out.


Looks like the WOD CRUSHED me.

After one of the longest WODs ever!

Let’s be honest, without a doubt, they are brutal. Honestly, it’s WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET YOU TO FINISH. I try to occupy myself mentally by breaking down rep schemes or aiming to hit certain targets; or I look at a WOD and think about where exactly am I going to hit that wall, that way when I’m mid-WOD trying, I can think the hardest part is almost over; Or the ever popular “ every rep counts”. Eeking out a rep or two can often help out with movements that require very little thinking (e.g. lunges/burpees). However, for more technique based movements (e.g. pullups/HSPUs), take a few seconds to compose yourself, instead of getting the dreaded “NO REP”.

In short –

The mental toughness you gain is by your PERSONAL experience and pushing yourself through the mental challenge. Not listening to that lactic acid build up and your brain saying, just take a quick break. I think the beauty of CrossFit is that you’re constantly fighting to perform at your full potential. With repeated experiences, you become more attuned with both your mental and physical threshold and know how to push towards that red line. The more you train, the greater you can expand your threshold.

Additional References

To repeat or not to repeat Open WODs..that is the question

So the WOD is over. You’ve come off your high from your performance doing your workout and now you start kicking the dirt a bit. You’re questioning your score. You’re doubting your performance. You’re thinking maybe I should re-do the workout?

Here are my 2 cents on re-doing. I’ll try to play devil’s advocate.

If you were sick, injured, didn’t know the standards, or didn’t have the technique you needed, maybe you should have thought about that before you attempted the WOD.

If you didn’t have any of these issues and STILL want to repeat the WOD, then ask yourself these questions:

  • What has changed that makes you think you are magically going to do significantly better the 2nd time and where was that magic the first time?
  • Strategically, is there somewhere you know you can knock off time that you’re absolutely sure you’d do significantly better than the last?
  • Do you have a game plan (i.e. I need to finish 10 T2B in 30 seconds to get myself the extra time to get into the next round).

Unless you are a masochist, at the cusp of making it to Regionals, or had some sort of severe issue during the WOD, I do not recommend repeating the WOD. Remember one of the house rules, leave your ego at the door.

I personally have re-attempted WODs and my 2nd time only changed marginally. Depending on the movement, I might have improved 2-3 reps.

What’s cool thought is repeating a year later though! Then you might see some significant changes

To re-iterate, when should I do an Open workout a 2nd time?

  1. If you are right on the edge in the rankings of going to Regionals, then I get it. Every rep counts and 3-4 reps can be the difference in a couple of places on the Leaderboard.
  2. You acquire a skill such as double unders or muscle ups and are able to significantly improve on the workout as a result.
  3. You were sick or injured the first time, weren’t able to do as well as you know you could and you will be able to improve your score.
  4. You are a masochist who likes repeating the agony of a previous workout.

Why should I only do the work out once?

  1. You busted your butt, went as hard as you could, and even though pacing and hard work MIGHT get you a few more reps, you are proud of the work you did and the score you got.
  2. Get on with your training! If you are taking ANOTHER day to repeat a workout, you are repeating work on skills and exercises you probably won’t see again in the Open. You should take the time to train your weaknesses instead.
  3. Some workouts (such as 16.1) are hard on the body and especially the hands. If you tear up your hands repeating a WOD you will have a MUCH tougher time if you need them the following week.

What am I trying to say?

  • I love how everyone wants to better themselves. That’s why the Open is awesome – it really makes you see yourself and your training skills and what holes you might have.
  • We’re happy to help and will judge you a 2nd time IF you really want to and feel the need to do it.
  • Maybe next time, keep your approach to the Open WODs as an ALL EFFORT, ALL HEART. To re-do means that might have held back. We want you to leave the gym with no doubts.
  • Be proud of your performances. If you didn’t do as well as you expected, take an honest look at the WOD. Were there movements in there that you have been neglecting? Take this as a learning experience.

Just be sure that this is the best decision for YOU


2016 Open North Leaderboard

How are you doing with the Open? Check out our leaderboards.




The Open: How does it work?

(Article material courtesy of CrossFit Jääkarhu)

As you know by now, the 2016 Open is quickly approaching, and we want to make sure you are as prepared as possible.

To recap, the Open is a five-week competition. Each week, a new challenge is presented and participants have a four-day window to complete the workout and submit a score. Workouts are announced at 8PM on Thursday. You can tune into the announcement by going to games.crossfit.com.

At Empire State North, on Fridays we will perform these workouts during regular class times. In the evening we will gather together to do the workout as a community (friends and family are welcome to watch). The evening sessions will be run as classes however it’ll be important that you sign up in advanced so we can plan accordingly.

Here are a couple important notes to keep in mind:


How does judging work?

  • You will have a judge/counter who will put your score onto a paper scorecard that you will sign.
  • You will submit your score online through your Games profile.
  • We will collect the scorecards and validate any performances done in our gym.
  • You will be asked to help judge/count for the athletes in the heat after your heat.

We will also be programming the Open workouts in our regularly scheduled classes on Friday from 6:00am through the 9:30am classes. Those scores will be validated, as well. If you cannot make it, contact EJ to schedule a separate time to perform the WOD.

To sign up for The Open, register here:

Why Sign Up for the 2016 CrossFit Open

Not sure you should sign up? Here are a few great reasons from our coaches as to why you should consider signing up. In no particular order….read on below.


 Coach Dan (Larchmont) – the wizard

Everyone should do the Open because any time you compete it offers you a chance to grow as a person. Also as I have said before, competing is equivalent to a month of training. If you are not into the competition you should do it because it is a great community event and the support of the energy is amazing. It also might show you that you are better then you think you are. There is no other sport in where you can go head to head with the elite of your sport and know exactly how you stack up. After spending my first 3 years having the Open be the end all be all of my training it is good sit back and throwdown with our gym.

Coach BK (Larchmont)- a man of great reasoning

Here are some things to consider while you are thinking about signing up for the CrossFit Open. But in the end, it is your decision – we will love you no matter what!

You are competitive…we see it every day and in every class, whether you are competing against your friends or yourself. The Open is a great way to experience a CrossFit competition – you get to compete against the world on your home turf, surrounded by family and friends.

You don’t think you will win the CrossFit Games, so why bother…why do we enter anything at all then? Charity and free t-shirts aside (I do admittedly like free t-shirts), finishing and completing the event is the true end goal – it is an accomplishment in itself. And you can also channel your inner Lloyd Christmas…

You are scared that you won’t do well or there will be something you can’t do…you know what, you’re not alone. If the WOD has chest-to-bar pullups, handstand push-ups, muscle-ups, etc…I’m toast. But that’s how we get better – by holding ourselves accountable to do the things we are not good at.

I’ve never regretted doing the Open and I’ve never heard anyone else say they regretted it either. Hope you will join us.

Coach Bri (Larchmont)- Everyone is an athlete!

I LOVE Open season. It is so exciting. Competition brings out the best in everyone. I have been competing my whole life and every time I do, I surprise myself. I find that you discover this inner strength or skill that you never knew you had. It’s easy to come to class on a normal day, see the WOD and say “I’ll just modify that” to something you have never tried. You might get away with that on a daily basis, but when an Open workout hits, you can’t modify. You either have to give it a go or give up..and I know that none of our ESCF athletes are quitters! Trust me when I say that you CAN and WILL impress yourself (just look at the thousands of people who got their very first muscle up in the Open last year because they were forced to vs. accepting failure) and when you do, you will be so proud. You will probably feel like you are on cloud nine for days or even weeks. We need to feel this about ourselves sometimes. People get so caught up in the routine and being basic. Competition brings out the extraordinary human inside all of us.

In addition to doing the Open for personal achievement, it’s so great to have our community come together and have a great time. I love the atmosphere at Friday Night Lights. The whole gym comes together and has a great time. It’s such a supportive and exciting environment.
Lastly, I must also mention how awesome it is that we get to be a part of a sport that recognizes EVERY SINGLE ATHLETE. We ALL get to compete directly against the top of the top. Personally, that really excites me. For all of you football/ baseball/ basketball fans, just imagine getting to play the same exact game as one of your sport idols. Neither the NFL, the NHL, nor the NBA allows you to do this but CrossFit does.

Coach Lex (Larchmont)- Let’s GO! 

2016 will mark my 6th year participating in the Open. Its a great time of year to put your previous months sweat dripping, blood shedding, HAND RIPPING work to the test! With that said its also a excellent time to get together as a gym community and have a great time.

Everybody of all levels should participate. Whether you have been Crossfitting for 5 weeks or 5 years, you will see the amount of encouragement and people pulling for you is just the same! That’s whats great about this Crossfit thing! If you come in top 50 in the region or top 15,000 in the region, doesn’t matter. You came out, kicked ass, and left a better athlete then you were before! See you all there!!!

Coach Rav (Larchmont)- simply stated..

•Good benchmark since one event will be repeated

•Compete with friends at other boxes

Coach EJ (North)- Less nerves and some warm and fuzzies

The Open has always been an awesome experience for me. Yea I was scared to death when I first participated in 2010 (4 months after I started CrossFit).

Yes there were workouts and weights where I looked at what they were asking for and said “No Way”.  But I also ended up showing myself that “no way” was my way of doubting my own potential. I realized by doing the Open that I was a lot stronger than I thought. I was more capable of things that I allowed myself to think because I mentally thought it was impossible. I’ve made a lot of PRS during the Open – which is priceless!

As a coach, I think the Open highlights that CrossFit is not only about working out and becoming fit and healthy. It showcases the heart of what CrossFit is about and that it’s all about the community and the support of other friends who are just as crazy as you. The energy is through the roof and the adrenaline rush you get from not only your successes but of your friends is such a memorable experience. Hope you’ll join us for a crazy 5 weeks

Coach Kathy (North)- It’s the memories! Oh and that emotional roller coaster

The Open is a fun, community event.  It brings together the entire gym and allows for everyone to workout together.  Friday Night Lights workouts are some of the most memorable workouts.  The Open allows for everyone to compete in a comfortable and supportive environment.  It challenges you and many 1sts happen (C2B, Muscle Ups, HSPU’s, etc)
Not to mention the emotional stages of the open…
  • The anticipation stage on Thursday nights waiting for the workouts to be announced
  • The self doubt stage after the WOD is announced…”There’s no way I can do that”
  • The planning stage, once you’re past the shock of the WOD you start to strategize
  • The anxious stage, the nerves start and your can’t believe you’re about to do this crazy workout
  • The aftermath, you’re comparing your scores to others, your past scores, shocked at what you just did, excited for a new PR or overcoming a goat, relieved its over and can’t wait for next week to do it all again.

Coach Leanna (North)- It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Thinking about doing the open? Not sure if this is something for you? Well, wait no longer – pay your 20 bucks and sign up!! WHY? The open is a BLAST…plain and simple! You have your whole gym behind you – cheering for you, pushing you & celebrating your pr’s! Each week you will do something, or try and do something, you didn’t think you would ever be able to do…and guess what? You will most likely succeed!  There is something about the Open that pushes you out of your comfort zone, making you set new goals for the upcoming year! You will surprise yourself each week and inspire others…! It’s the most WONDERFUL time of the year! 🙂