Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Running Dos & Don’ts

Posted: June 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

The weather is getting warmer and many of us are getting outside and getting back to running. You may be feeling new aches and pains or maybe feeling inefficient as you get back into it. Let’s review some common mistakes in running and some fixes that can keep you running and feeling good.


  1. Not Warming Up

This is a pretty easy one to fix and although people know what to do they choose not to.

Would you snatch or do pull-ups without warming up your muscles or going through the motions first? OF course not. Yet most runners step out of their cars, touch their toes twice and they’re off! Then that first mile or so feels awful. Your ankles aren’t ready for impact, your hips and back are tight and you feel slow. It is my belief that this is why many people say they “can’t run”. They can not get past the first mile of feeling awful.

To prevent this terrible start to your run, take a few minutes and prep your body. You have all done hundreds of warm up at RAW. You know what to do!  (Air-squats, side lunges, ankle rolls, high knees, butt kicks, band some body twists at the least)


  1. Heel Striking

Now that your warm and running let’s talk about running technique. You’ve probably heard warnings for this error a million times in a million ways. “Don’t heel strike”, “Land on your mid-foot”, “Don’t over-stride”. They all mean the same thing. When your feet strike the ground when your foot is ahead of your hips, your ankles, knees and hips have to absorb the impact while each step is acting like a brake and slowing your progress. There are books  and books written about how to change your form but I have found that the best and easiest way to make a quick change is to just think about turning over your feet faster. Not running faster but think about taking more steps to cover the same distance. This forces your foot to strike the ground under your hips, making it impossible to strike your heel first. This increases your cadence. (If you heel strike it is certain you have a slow cadence)


  1. Slow Cadence

This bring us to the next mistake. Slow cadence. Optimal cadence for running is 180 foot strikes per minute. The easiest way to figure out your cadence is to count your steps for 15 seconds then multiply by 4. The easiest way to fix a slow cadence is again focusing on increasing your turnover. Turn off the music and listen to your feet when you run. Aim for quick light steps and slowly increase until you can get yourself to 180 comfortably.

  1. Tense Upper Body

Running is not just about the legs, it is a full body activity, and nothing drains a body more in a run than a tight upper body. People often run with tight fists, straight arms, and shoulders shrugged. This is a drain of energy that could be focused on your run. 

To avoid these common mistakes do a “body check” when running. At a predetermined distance (every mile marker, every road intersection etc) go through these steps:

  1. shrug your shoulders then drop them into position
  2. check your angle of your elbows. They should be kept a 90º. DO not release in the back swing
  3. straighten your fingers then allow them to relax
  1. Lazy Feet

Now that I told you to relax I’m telling you not to be lazy! Every stride you take your ankle should be lifted toward your butt, then allowed to fall to the ground, under your hips, in place to be lifted again. When lift occurs and its followed by proper landing, it creates the optimal positioning to utilize forward progression with the least amount of resistance and utilizing gravity to push you along.  If you ‘’scuff” your feet you are not getting proper lifting of the heel. Again… be in tune with your body and listen to your feet. If you hear scuffing you are not getting proper lift.

Now get out there and enjoy the great outdoors and run better than ever before! Ill see you at the Boathouse 🙂


Constant refinement is a sign of a true athlete.  They are continually working to improve their movement patterns, learning new drills or trying to come to a better understanding of their technique.  It’s not enough to just acquire a skill, but to become efficient and able to reproduce that skill over and over again.  Taking the extra time to work on drills and positions will pay off as you will begin to move better and more effectively in all areas and refine yourself as an athlete.

Jen Harlan: Athlete of the Month


Congratulations Jen! Very well deserved Athlete of the Month. Ever since Jen showed up she has worked super hard and wanted to learn more. She always has good questions and is never scared to take on a new challenge that we throw at her. Whether it’s a heavier DBall for the workout or a new cue or technique on her gymnastics, Jen never backs down. I’m proud of the progress she has made but even more excited to watch her continue to refine and get better in the future!
Coach Sonny

It has been an absolute pleasure watching Jen grow in her journey here at RAW Training.  She is quiet, modest and very humble.  But, to watch her attack a workout is quite special.  She holds nothing back at 3,2,1…GO!  She is continually improving and wanting to learn.  One of the things I enjoy most about her is how she surprises herself every time she hits that position just right, or the move feels just perfect!  Keep up the great work Jen! Coach Sean L. 
Below are a few thoughts from Jen on her RAW experience.
What does Jen think of RAW?

Raw is an incredible place full of amazing people. The coaching staff and the community are what makes RAW so special. I’ve made some amazing friends, and working out around so many positive people is really inspiring. Every time I come in, I’m just happy to be there. Whether the workout is full of things that I like, or I’m suffering through everything I hate, it’s just so cool to be a part of this community.

The changes I’ve seen in my strength and endurance have been more than I ever expected and could never have accomplished on my own. I’m excited to keep building and improving on everything. As someone who had/has some mobility and form issues, I am so grateful for all of the guidance and help (and patience) from the coaches. I started at RAW for exercise, but its become much more than that, it is more about the camaraderie and friendships, having fun and talking smack during class, and celebrating improvements no matter how big or small.

If you had to write a workout, what exercises would be in it?  
Heavy clean and jerks, HSPU, T2B and some low/red sleds.
What got you to start at RAW?

After years of working out at home to DVDs, I was getting really bored and unmotivated. I heard about “a crazy CrossFit gym in North Park” from some co-workers. That sounded like my kind of place, so after some internet research, I signed up for fundamentals and never looked back.

Sitting in the parking lot right before the first class was so intimidating. All I could hear was the music blasting and barbells dropping, but once I got inside I knew I was going to love it. I look forward to coming to RAW, and even on the days I take off I’m wondering what the workout is.
What is your least favorite lift/exercise?
The ski erg and the bike.

What are your goals for 2019?
My goal is to take everything we are learning in the gymnastics class, put all of those pieces together, and finally get a muscle up.

Another goal is to not forget what I’m supposed to be doing halfway through the workout…the toughest goal of all!

What class/times do you regularly attend?
Either 4pm or 5:15pm during the week and 9am on Saturdays

Mike Kelly: Athlete of the Month

 Congratulations “Kelly” (Mike) for being our June Athlete of the Month.  Man, this guy is a hard worker and its great to see that  it’s paying off.  I really enjoy when he comes in during Open gym and we take a minute or 2 and refine a lift or gymnastic drill.  I know its not always easy making it to the gym, and no matter what is going on, Mike always comes in with a great attitude and a friendly hello.  I want to thank you for allowing me to be your Coach and I look forward to watching you compete in Patriot Games next week.  Good Luck
 Coach Amy

Mike, congrats on being June’s Athlete of the Month.  Your hard work is sure paying off. It is great to see you being consistent and growing as an athlete.  You always put your best effort forward no matter what the wod may be.  You never hesitate to ask questions and you can tell you want to continue to improve.  Your quick wit and great sense of humor make you a joy to coach.  Keep up the great work Mike! Thank you for your continued support throughout the years. 
Coach Sean L.

Below are a few thoughts from Mike on his RAW experience.


What does Mike think of RAW? 
RAW is a special place to me. It is somewhere I can go and forget about everything while being challenged in amazing ways. RAW helped me achieve things I never thought possible. I have met many awesome people here as well.

If you had to write a workout, what exercises would be in it?

No doubt, I would have deadlifts, running and sleds. Basically the things no one else likes.
What is your least favorite lift/exercise? 
Overhead squats, by far. I don’t have great mobility with that movement.
What are your goals for 2019?
I want to become more efficient at some of the overhead and gymnastics movements. These are my weaknesses in any wod. Also, keeping my arms straight/locked out! I definitely get yelled at for this more than everything else combined!

What got you to start at RAW?
I had never worked out very seriously at any point in life. I just wasn’t sure where to start and never wanted to feel like I was wasting time going through the motions with no results. After talking to a few friends about CrossFit I knew that was the direction I wanted to go. RAW was a place they all said to check out. I did a little research of my own and visited RAW one time. I believe I signed up that day! Tom Knouff and I started together 4 years ago now. My only regret was that I didn’t start sooner!

What class/times do you regularly attend?  

6am and 4pm are my most common. I think I have been to at least one class at every time though.



CrossFit is branded as an all-inclusive program that can be scaled up to the most elite level athlete and down to the simplest of workouts for those just starting their fitness journey. We have found here at R.A.W. that this is 100% true.

Recently we began working with a gentleman named Bryon. He came to us eager to make a change in his life and ready to commit to a healthier lifestyle and the hard work that comes with it. Bryon comes in 3 days a week ready to work and does our version of CrossFit that is tailored to him. He does sprints on the Ski Erg, uses battling ropes, performs box squats and deadlifts, and of course uses sleds (everyones favorite) among other modalities.

Since Bryon started working with us he has lost 40 pounds in 10 weeks. This is huge progress and we are incredibly proud of him! We know its not easy walking in the doors, Bryon is consistent and that is all we needed in order to get started. We have talked about the scale being a good data point for progress but not the only one, and definitely not the most important. There are many other things that can be used to measure our progress like energy levels, clothes fitting better, or just daily activities becoming easier as Bryon mentions below.

“Last week I took the kids to the Pirate which includes a 

12-15 minute walk from the car to the gate at PNC. Last year I remember 

being out of breath trying to keep up with the boys walking pace to the 

field . This past visit I had no problem with the walk and actually felt 

good doing it. The same can be said for the walk up the steps from our 

seats. We had great seats down along the field which includes about a 30-40 

step climb  back up to the concourse which in Seasons past always left me 

winded…. This year not a problem! The workouts over the past 10 weeks 

have made many everyday things a lot easier but this night at the game 

really stands out to me. Thanks for all the help!”

Progress can be measured differently for each individual and it all depends on their own personal goals. We’re so proud of Bryon and all our athlete’s hard work they put in on a daily basis. It truly is quite humbling and is motivation for us to continue our work here.

Sonny J. Litwiler

R.A.W. Training


Posted: May 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

This is a topic that is near and dear to our hearts at RAW Training. We have so many strong, capable and athletic women of RAW Training who embody health and wellness. Women who weight lift, at all ages, know the benefits and how it positively impacts multiple aspects of their lives.
How many times have you read or heard: “Don’t lift weights because you’ll get too bulky” or “I want to lose weight and get skinnier, so I’ll just do cardio”? Maybe you were once one of these people who said this and/or believed it. Thankfully, here at RAW Training, we know otherwise and are passionately ready to break it down for you.
What do we know about the benefits of weightlifting for women?
We know that it increases our BMR (basal metabolic rate). BMR is the rate in which the body is able to burn calories throughout the day. If your BMR is higher, your body functions more efficiently and continues to burn calories at a higher rate even long after your work out ends.

Lifting weights increases bone density. This is true at any age BUT is especially important for post menopausal women. There is a significant decrease of estrogen in the body of women after hitting menopause. This decrease in estrogen causes bones to break down easier, but weight training helps keeps those bones strong!
Health overall can be increased due to fewer symptoms associated with arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. It also improves sleep patterns, mood and helps manage stress levels.
Weightlifting adds function to your everyday life! It makes you more capable to complete daily activities such as moving furniture, carrying children, shoveling the driveway, etc. Knowing how to move weight correctly also decreases the risk of injury while performing these functional movements.
Lifting weights makes you feel empowered and builds confidence in your own skin! (This is a personal favorite of mine.)

So if all of this factual info about the benefits of weightlifting is available knowledge to the general public, why is it that people still believe the myths? Let’s debunk the truth!
Women will NOT get too “bulky” from strength training alone. Various other factors contribute to a woman’s physique including: genetics, diet and hormones.
As a coach, I have worked with women who have felt like lifting weights wasn’t really for them. After spending a little bit of time with the iron, they usually see things differently.

“Before, I lifted weights for maintenance without much thought to actually building strength. But since I’ve started doing personal training, it’s been so empowering to see and use weightlifting as a way to build; not just maintain.” – Neha
“Before coming to RAW I had the misconception that weightlifting was for dudes at Gold’s Gym and Bally’s Fitness who strut around flexing all day. My time with Bri has certainly changed that idea! Weightlifting is for everyone, and especially for women! The strength I feel and the confidence that I have goes with me way beyond the confines of the gym. I feel great, mind and body! After a particularly great session you may even find me strutting around a bit.” -Catherine

I’m going to wrap things up by telling you what it is about weightlifting that I, personally, love so much. It’s so empowering! I have always been a stronger girl. Growing up, it sometimes seemed to be a negative. When I was a cheerleader, I was never on top of the pyramid. I will tell you this though; I was one of the STRONGEST bases! As a diver, I wasn’t really known for my technique, but I was known as a “power diver” and for my DD (Degree of Difficulty). Currently, being one of the stronger girls in CrossFit makes me feel like I belong there. It gives me confidence inside and outside of the gym. My wish for all women is that they may find this same joy and love for weightlifting that many of us at RAW Training possess. I hope that one day, every woman will feel empowered, strong and confident in their skin!


Coach Bri


In the first 6 months of RAW LEGENDS, the coaches have seen a tremendous improvement in clients’ functional fitness. Our 50 and older class focuses on balance, mobility, strength, body awareness, metabolic conditioning and cognitive function. The primary goal is to improve quality of life as our clients age, both physically and mentally. We have a wide range of fitness backgrounds creating a supportive and welcoming environment where each client can feel comfortable with folks their own age. RAW LEGENDS not only build stronger bodies but stronger minds as well. The confidence they gain by learning new skills and by setting goals helps them lead the highest quality of life possible as they age. They work extremely hard on the technical skills and the physical and mental benefits of this hard work is evident at the end of the class when they talk about how they are moving better, getting stronger, swinging a golf club with more ease and generally feeling really good about life.

Here’s how Flo and Jim Oakes,  feel about the Legends class:

What I love about Legends is that the classes are structured so that we warm up our muscle slowly and gradually work up to a level where we can challenge ourselves to lift heavier weights and do more cardio without feeling total wiped out. Every week the coaches challenge us to increase the weights we lift to help build up our strength. Each week I look forward to the next workout to see how I can improve my overall fitness. Flo
 Legends is a great class. I like the fact that most people are around my age. Kate and Linda, our instructors, are very thorough in providing us the proper techniques in weight lifting, as well as in other exercises. I look forward to Tuesday and Thursday Legend classes for the great exercise as well as for the great camaraderie in the class. Jim
Here’s a small sample of what you can expect from R.A.W. Legends:

Get a Grip!

Posted: May 9, 2019 in Gymnastics, Uncategorized

Hey all! Let’s cover a topic that is often over looked pertaining to any gymnastics skills on the rig…


How you grip the bar will help you in all aspects of gymnastics skills. The coaches at RAW have touched on this topic, and anyone who has come to our Gymnastics Strength & Development clinic should be familiar with why this is important. Let’s discuss how and why to make a change in your grip –

HOW (refer to visual below):

  1. Wrap your hands so that your knuckles are facing “up”
  2. The “meat” or “fat pad” of your hand is on the bar vs. finger tips only
  3. Wrap your thumbs around the bar, not over (aka suicide grip).


  1. Improves position to press on the bar.
  2. Grip is more secure (you wouldn’t clean or KB swing by your finger tips would you?)
  3. Engages larger muscles of the shoulder, lat, and forearm, and is overall safer for your shoulder.

Often people say “this is uncomfortable… it hurts my thumbs”. Like anything else, there is an adjustment period. Don’t let this dissuade you! Like Coach Amy would say, give it 10 days. Work your new grip into toes to bar first, then mix in into your other gymnastics skills. These seemingly “little things” matter!

“OK Coach, I’ll give it a try… but what about wearing grips???”

Go ahead and wear grips if you need, particularly if you are already torn or have a high volume of reps on the rig. My opinion is this – they can add bulk to an already fatigued grip mid-WOD. I recommend trying a variety of grips to determine what you are comfortable with, and ones that DO NOT distract or interfere with the movements.

As always, don’t hesitate to ask the coaches for tips and tricks pertaining to this and other gymnastics techniques! And don’t forget about the Gymnastics Strength & Development clinics on Sundays. The 2:15pm still has open spots for all levels, members and non-members!


Coach Maria

Most of what we have in life we had to work for it.  Some may have had to work harder than others. But, it is that hard work that makes achieving the goal so sweet!  In the walls of RAW many of our goals tend to be physical in nature, PR that lift, move better with a barbell, make it around the RAW lap with out stopping.   No matter what the goal if you want to accomplish it you have to work hard at it.  You need to take the extra time, you need to work hard while you are here and that goal will become more and more of a reality.  What is your goal, big or small, and what are you doing to achieve it?  Share that goal with a friend, ask a coach to keep you accountable.  But whatever that goal is, work toward it with great fervor.

Shelley Jones: Athlete of the Month



Congratulations, Shelley!!!
Shelley is one of the most impressive, inspirational and hardest working athletes I know! When she came to RAW, she could not squat below parallel and lacked quite a bit of body coordination. All I can say is it’s AMAZING how much someone can improve in a year. I feel very inspired by Shelley, as should all RAW athletes and coaches, because Shelley immediately realized how much she needed to work on her weaknesses and took it upon herself to do so. I remember her telling me how she would go home and work on her squats!! All of this hard work shows because she now can squat very well below parallel, busts out handstand push ups like it’s her JOB & has improved her body awareness. On top of all that, she is a beautiful human being on the inside and looks AMAZING! You go girl! I am so proud to call you the Athlete of the Month.
Coach Bri

I can remember sitting next to Shelley at the RAW picnic 2 summers ago trying to convince Shelley that she will be just fine when she started the upcoming fundamentals.  Look at where we are now!  Shelley your hard work and dedication has paid off immensely.  You are moving better, faster and looking great.  One of the things that I enjoy most about Shelley is her tenacity.  If there is a skill that she can’t quite get the hang of she will put in extra time, stretch and continue to learn until she has that skill figured out!   Shelley, keep up the great work and thank you for trusting us with your fitness journey.  It sure has been a lot of fun for me!
 Coach Sean L. 
Below are a few thoughts from Shelley on her RAW experience.
What does Shelley think of RAW?
RAW is more than a gym, it is a sense of community with a unique environment about which I cannot say enough great things, including:
–  Very welcoming atmosphere regardless of fitness level.
– Top-notch coaching staff that never makes you feel like you are being judged.
– Great friends, somehow while gasping for breath you are able to develop wonderful friendships that go beyond the gym.
– Ideal place to de-stress or lift your mood.
–  Pushes you to limits you didn’t even know you had, leaving you with an elated feeling (even if you failed reps or finished last) and increased mental toughness.
If you had to write a workout, what exercises would be in it?  
Burpees, box jumps, deadlifts, jump rope, back squats, handstand push-ups.
What got you to start at RAW?
My husband Brian has been going to RAW and enjoying it for years. He finally convinced me to give it a try. I am thankful he was persistent in getting me started.

What is your least favorite lift/exercise?
Sleds and the bike!

What are your goals for 2019?
My fitness goals for 2019 include being able to do a real squat, pull-ups, toes to bar, and double-unders.

What class/times do you regularly attend?
I usually attend the late classes, 7:30 pm during the week, 10:00 on Saturday and 11:15 on Sunday.


Carmin Leone: Athlete of the Month


 Congratulations Carmin for being May Athlete of the Month.  I know you think its because you finally shaved your beard, but I have to say, its not.  I have known Carmin for many years and I admire his fight inside and outside the gym.  He is a father, husband, son and small business owner and I know making it to the gym is not always easy.  Whether he is coming in to do “Bossfit” hahah or try to take one of the guys out in Crossfit, he will come in and give all he has that day and have fun at the gym with everyone too.   I know he will always be there for me if I need ANYTHING.  I appreciate all the referrals and help he has given me/RAW along the way.  Thank you Carmin for being a long time client and friend.  Enjoy that parking spot (its just for 1 month)
 Coach Amy

We are proud to announce Carmin as this months male athlete of the month. Who would have thought this day would ever come (him included)?  It has taken a lot of effort, consistency and dedication for him to achieve his goals and to realize his athlete within. Although Carmin likes to joke around and he’ll be the first to make fun of himself, he has truly put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is today. This is also a special thank you to all of the previous male athletes of the month as you have been inspiration and motivation for Carmin to continually work harder each month. Carmin speaks his mind, works his tail off, has a great sense of humor and is a genuine good hearted person through and through  – all qualities we love about him. Congratulations Carmin you have earned that parking spot and a special place on our wall.
Coach Molly

Below are a few thoughts from Carmin on his RAW experience.


What does Carmin think of RAW? 
I would rate raw a ten out of ten.  The coaching staff is incredible and the owners are amazing women who always have your back and best interest in their minds.

When I first joined RAW Training I had no clue how to work out and was completely out of shape. But the community and constant uplifting from the people around me and the coaches kept me coming back.  I remember not being able to sit on the toilet or walk down steps front wards for the first three months but again because of the community and the pretty owners I endured the pain and eventually became as much of an athlete that I have ever been . Raw has put me in the best physical shape I have ever been in and it keeps my mind right.

If you had to write a workout, what exercises would be in it?

Pull ups  power cleans rowing and shouldering sleds and short sprints
What is your least favorite lift/exercise? 
Burpees any kind of running around running , running , any sort of running , gi janes and any sort of jumping around.
What are your goals for 2019?
My goals for 2019 are to stay in shape be smart and start to think about health and all around fitness rather than hurt my self with ego .  good luck to my self on that one

What got you to start at RAW?
Chuck Jesky  got me to start RAW by coming to L.A. Fitness and crushing me on FRAN . I was so sore and decided I wasn’t going to let some old man beat me up so I joined the next day

What class/times do you regularly attend?  

Typically the evenings.