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ION Strength and Conditioning
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ION Strength and Conditioning
ION Strength and Conditioning

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We are constantly talking about “Prove your Fitness”, testing our fitness, increasing our fitness, etc.
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Road To The Games

The Beginning,
I don’t want to be cliche, but after watching my first California Regional Competition it lit a fire in me. I can’t even imagine myself going head-head with some of the most elite athletes know in the sport of Crossfit regardless I get up every morning with a game on mentality and it’s off to the gym. The gym is more than a gym, it is a place where I can let go of the distractions and I can be myself. Constantly pushing what I thought was my limit to the next level. I have one of the best coaches I have ever seen in my athletic career. With such a passion to help others overcome their challenges, it is always humbling to hear a good job or you killed it after going all out on a workout. It’s a little crazy to think I can make it to the games, but it is the people crazy enough that eventually do.
I’ve been doing Crossfit for accumulative three years, taking a break during my first year in college and then coming back and doing it more consistently and with higher intensity. I have immersed myself in the sport of Crossfit and it has been one of my best decisions I have made in my life, not only for the health benefits, physical advances and confidence building, it is life changing. It is a daily test of your character to perform even when you don’t feel like it. Not only a lesson for the gym it happens in the real world, no one will do the work for you and nothing replaces hard work. I hope my words of hope and determination can help someone who is having a rough patch in their road to a goal or dream. It’s not always pretty it can be draining and difficult, but it is in the hardship and low places that we grow. Rising to the challenge is what makes us victors and allow us to enjoy a life of success.
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Why ION?

ION- An ion (/ˈaɪən, -ɒn/)[1] is an atom or a molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving the atom or molecule a net positive or negative electrical charge. Ions can be created, by either chemical or physical means, via ionization.
The word ion is the Greek ἰόν, ion, “going”, the present participle of ἰέναι, ienai, “TO GO”
IONS in their gas-like state are HIGHLY REACTIVE, and DO NOT OCCUR IN LARGE AMOUNTS on Earth, except in FLAMES,LIGHTNING, electrical sparks, and other plasmas.
When I went to choose the name for the gym a lot of the names I thought were cool were already taken. At the time there were over 3000 CrossFit gyms so as you can imagine coming up with something unique and would reveal the intent of our program took me a bit.
ION came to me in a flash of inspiration after reading about in in depth and the bold points above are the characteristics I believed were going to differentiate us from every other community, be it a gym, club, movement or tribe.
“TO GO” is as basic as it gets. When I first started CrossFit and my fitness journey there were little motivational tools I used to get myself moving. Somedays I didn’t feel like working out. Somedays I would show up and not really be excited. The thing that got me through those days and even these days is a little self talk and the word I use is “Go” Nothing extravagant, nothing fancy, no frills, kind of like our box and our approach to fitness. Just one simple word “Go” repeated over and over pulled me through more times than I can count.
“HIGHLY REACTIVE” I prefer the scientific definition- tending to change into something else when mixed with another substance. I’ll redefine it for our purposes – pursuing change through work and physical exertion and practice. At least that’s what I interpret when I read it.
“DO NOT OCCUR IN LARGE AMOUNTS on Earth” That one is self explanatory. It is truly a rare person that decides an undertaking like self improvement. So many people talk about doing it. They say tomorrow, or when I have time. The truth is this is all the time you have and to those of you who are out there putting in the work, I am fortunate to know you. I get inspired by the people that just get it and know that even though it’s not easy, you show up and work. And that work separates you from all those do-nothing-but-talk folks we know.
“FLAMES and LIGHTNING” Those are just cool things to be associated with. Sometimes during a workout you feel like you are breathing fire. Other times you feel like you got struck by lightning. Or maybe our movement starts a fire in your gut to make other changes in your life and flames are close and pushing you into action. Maybe the lightning is a revelation of the potential your body and mind still have no matter where you started or where you are right now.
So ION is the name of our gym but also the nameof a community and movement of people that are striving and fighting to be better every time they walk through the doors. When you go out into the world you can go with the confidence that you have left it all on the table and that most of the people you meet either have no idea or do not have the will to do what you have just done. With that,, take a moment and congratulate yourself. But only a moment. Theres still work to do…
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3 Ways to Improve Your Life

With the holidays approaching soon the new year will be upon us before you know it. While I’m not a big fan of “New Years Resolutions” I know there’s a tendency for people to feel more motivated to do something to improve/change their current situation at this time of year.
I’ve put together a list of 3 key points that I believe will help not only with fitness goals but any goal you want to tackle in your life.
1- Decide. It’s been my experience that most of the people that never achieve their dreams and goals never actually decide what they want. Oh, I’m sure they say ” I want a six pack” ” I want to lose weight” but they never take it to the next level of actually finding out what that would take. Most of the time they talk about it but never seek out the methods and the action required to get to where they want. Be very specific about what you want. Seek out others who have got there. Decide if that’s really what you want and if you are willing to pay the price to achieve the goal you set out for yourself. If you don’t know where you are going you will never get there.
2- Commit. So you have decided on a goal. Great! You have acquired the information or the tools to get there. Even better! Now you have to commit to following through on it. Before you even start working on this goal commit to completing it no matter what. Everyone has excuses. Everyone is busy. Nobody cares and no one will feel sorry for you if you don’t complete your goal. Its up to you and you only. If you make excuses for yourself it’s never going to happen. Commit and have the discipline to follow through.
3- Act. After you have decided and committed to a worthy goal its time to act. Don’t wait until everything is perfect or you feel like it. Nothing will ever be perfect and you won’t feel like it most of the time. The first steps are always the hardest. You might fail and it might seem like you’re spinning your wheels. Keep going. Theres no other way.
Decide what you want, commit to that with your whole being, take immediate massive action. Don’t cop out that it’s too hard or that maybe you weren’t supposed to have the things you want in life. I can promise you that at least one person in this world has tried and succeeded in the same thing you are trying to achieve. It’s possible some of those people had an advantage but it’s also possible that some had a huge disadvantage to reaching their goals and they did it anyway.
Don’t wait until New Years to start. Start today. It won’t be easy. It never should be. You wouldn’t want to be. Anything worth having comes only with sacrificing who and what we are now. We sacrifice who we are now and who we could be for who we chose to be.
Decide Commit Act
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Part 1- Strength

Maybe we’ve covered this before but I wanted to dive a little deeper into our mission statement. When I started this gym I didn’t have a defined set of beliefs. I wanted to help people get fit. I thought that was enough. As the years have gone on I realize that we needed a direction. Some guiding virtues that would define what we do here at ION. I decided on 4. Partly because they sound pretty cool, but also because they can be universally applied to every facet and situation in life.
STRENGTH- physical, mental, spiritual, character
COURAGE- the ability to act, despite your fears, not only in the gym but in our day to day endeavors.
DISCIPLINE- to do what you have to do day in and day out. Even when you’re tired. Even when you’re not motivated.
HONOR- honor our tribe, our traditions, our culture. Honor those things you hold dear.
There you have it. Some of that’s pretty deep and I know some of you might say “Hey, I just came to work out” and that’s fine. As we grow and strive to be the best version of ourselves maybe one day you will look back and see how each of these apply to your fitness and to your growth as a person.
I’m going to dive into each of these a little deeper so this will be a four part series. I get a little…wordy sometimes so if it’s too long I apologize. This is for me as much as it is for you and all the future athletes that come through the door that might wonder what the heck we are all about.
1.The quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
2. mental power, force or vigor.
3. moral power, firmness or courage
4. power by reason of influence, authority resources, number, etc.
The four main aspects we want to cover as it applies to our pursuits in fitness and in life are
Physical strength is a no brainer I think. A person who has some degree of strength is better off than someone who has none. And I believe our program provides the necessary stimulus to achieve better than average strength to those that are consistent in their efforts. The benefits that go along with a properly designed strength and strength training program have been well documented so I won’t go into too much detail here. Check out this article though if you want some science based facts.
Mental strength goes hand in hand with physical strength. We do push our bodies but the biggest adaption to our program is between the ears. The constant day in and day out challenges in the gym can sometimes leave you dreading the next workout. But you show up anyway and push through. That’s mental strength. Our minds stop us way before our bodies ever do. Think about some of the physical accomplishments you have made so far. Completing “Murph” or 500 KB swings in a day. All of those sound impossible when you first see them on the board. But then you finish it and you realize it’s not. Bodies make adaptions slowly. But our minds can change in an instant. Believing you can do something, then doing it. Even if you have never done it before. It all starts upstairs.
Spiritual strength might not be directly built through a strength and conditioning program but I feel it’s important to mention. Regardless of your belief system, spiritual strength can give you a purpose much deeper than surface for pursuing an activity that some might feel is vanity. I realize this will not be everyone’s experience but physical training is like a form of mediation for me. Bringing that single focus for the time I am doing it. It’s very hard to think of anything else when you are in the middle of 100 burpees or super heavy cleans. That “living in the moment” is rare opportunity these days and part of the attraction I think to CrossFit and programs like it. Those moments within yourself, focused intently, provide a lot of carryover to the rest of our existence.
Strength of character is another thing that might not be directly effected through a strength and conditioning program. If we are speaking about it as in terms of the gym I think it has tremendous bearing on peoples actions. Cutting reps, half assed efforts are a pretty rare thing in our environment. While we aren’t doing this for anyone else our culture does make us accountable to each other. Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing I will leave to others to decide. It does bind us closer together, knowing we have a shared misery and suffering. Those who aren’t a part of this wont and can’t know what we put ourselves through and their opinions are meaningless. But God forbid one of our own thinks less of us if we mail it in.
At ION we build mental strength though the physical. Spiritual strength can be built by the carryover of the single-minded focus required to achieve our daily tasks. Strength of character is built through the ties of our tribe that hold us accountable to each other.
Strength is never easy to build. The mass of people never do it. They go to well lit, sterilized dance clubs pretending to be fitness meccas. Wasting their time and money. Content on the average. Too timid to change one iota. Mediocre effort leading to mediocre results. There’s too many tepid fence sitters.
But then there’s those that roam the dark edges, always hungry, always searching. We were designed out of struggle. We are only satisfied temporarily at the extremes. Life is short. Tread heavy, leave a mark. This world is not for the timid and the weak.
ION Strength and Conditioning
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Part II- Courage

I wanted to preface this with a note.I write these blogs on virtues as a aspiration to my future self. I personally do not always exhibit these traits but I am trying. I write them for myself and use the same virtues as guidelines for decisions I make big and small.
I write them for my child and for his children. My hope is that they will refer to these words when I am no longer around and they are facing trials of their own.
I realize these writings are outside of the scope of what is normally discussed in a gym blog. Truth be told it’s terrifying to share these thoughts with the whole world. What if everyone thinks I’m a idiot? What if everyone thinks I write for shit? I can live with that I think. Rather that then these words perish with me, unexpressed and unfulfilled.
Part II- Courage
“Courage is the commitment to begin without any guarantee of success.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Courage- noun
1. The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear; bravery
2. have the courage of ones conviction, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.
So we covered Strength in our last blog. Strength is pretty straightforward. Courage is a little more elusive.
I believe courage exercises your strength. While all exertions of strength are not courageous, all acts that require courage are exertions of strength or will. It takes no courage to pick up a 45# barbell and do a curl but it does take some strength. The word courage implies some risk. It implies the potential for failure or the presence of danger. Acts without meaningful consequences require little courage.
What does this have to do with working out and our day to day lives? Most of us don’t work jobs that can require a ton of courage. Besides our first responders and our military there’s just not a ton of risk, physically for most of us. There are other nonphysical ways to demonstrate courage though. Changing jobs or careers can take courage. Asking a stranger or your crush out on a date displays a certain type of courage. It takes courage to end relationships that no longer are beneficial to your growth as a person. Standing for what yo believe in in the face of criticism takes courage also. Outside of these few instances there’s just not a lot of opportunity this day in age to show courage.
But inside of the gym we can look for opportunities to test the boundaries of our fears and increase our courage in a controlled, judgment free environment. Your abilities will grow to the extent you are willing to reach outside of your comfort zone. You want to learn how to climb a rope? Good. We can do that. Not quite ready for a handstand? Ok, how about we scale it with a box until you are ready? All these tasks require a certain amount of bravery and courage to attempt. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid of it. There’s nothing wrong with not being ready for it. What is wrong is to accept a notion of what’s possible for yourself.
Will everyone be able to do a handstand pushup? No. That’s the reality. But it’s not for the reason you would think. Short of physical limitations (i.e. injuries, amputation, etc.) anyone can do it. It might take years. Working for hours on end with scaled and modified versions but it can be done. The real reason people never achieve a goal like a handstand push up is lack of BELIEF that they can do it. (You can change handstand to anything. Pull up, rope climb, box jump. Handstand was used for an example and I realize not everyone wants or cares about that particular movement)
It took a lot of courage to come through the doors of ION and stay. I remember when I first started CrossFit. There was only one CrossFit around at the time and it was in some guys garage. I drove by the place at least 3 times before I had the nerve to walk in and see what was going on. It was intimidating. I was pudgy and weak. There were 4 guys grunting screaming and sweating with their shirts off and I wasn’t sure if this was the place for me. It worked out and those guys ended up being really cool but I hope our place is not like that. If someone is intimidated, I want it to be because we require a certain level of commitment to our community and to themselves to be better than yesterday. If they are intimidated because we talk about sacrifice, we drop weights and we don’t accept excuses- I’m totally ok with that.
Our program asks you test your limits. To that edge you might not be 100% comfortable with. My job as a coach is to give you a nudge in the right direction towards that edge at your own timing. Everyone’s different. We all have different tolerances for failure and risk but there’s no place better to take those risks than with people you know and want you to succeed.
Courage is skill. Like a muscle, it can be built and strengthened through repeated practice. If you’re reading this and it’s not resonating-Congrats! Keep it up! If you feel like you could show a little more courage or are a little scared to commit to working on it, think about this… what is your lack of courage costing you? What dreams and goals are you leaving by the wayside?
“The fear of death is the result of an unfulfilled life”
Franz Kafka
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Habits and Athletic Performance

Habits are fragments that seem invaluable, but are actual tools that allow for the efficient use of time, energy, and brainpower. Habits are like double–edged swords, something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. Habits by definition are the way humans actually do things. For example by taking the same freeway lane while going to work and going through our emails every time you wake up. Charles Duhigg author of The Power of Habit : Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business explains “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits”. We can also develop bad habits and the result are catastrophic. We eat too much , we exercise too little and we procrastinate. These few negative habits can potentially ruin our lives. On the contrary through the use of good habits we can also develop a set of amazing skills. Your brain is constantly seeking new ways to save effort, and is always “chunking” sequences of actions into automatic routines. Backing out of the driveway, for example, requires over a dozen separate actions, but many of us do it daily without a second thought. The habit process consists of a three-step loop:
Cue. A trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode, and which routine to use.
Routine. Physical, mental, or emotional behavior that follows the cue.
Reward. A positive stimulus that tells your brain that the routine works well, and is worth remembering

How to Develop the Habits
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
An article written by
Its simple and you can apply it almost instantly
I’ve written a number of times about developing habits, but here are the basics:
Do a 30-day challenge, focusing on just ONE habit.
Write it out on paper, along with your motivations, obstacles, and strategies for overcoming them.
Commit fully, in a public way.
Log your progress.
Remain publicly accountable — report on your progress each day.
Have support for when you falter — either in real life or online.
Reward every little success.
If you fail, figure out what went wrong, plan for it, and try again

Achieving your full potential is a lifestyle choice. An important question that I want you to answer is what do you need to let go of in order to excel. This will help you discover where you’re holding yourself back.
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ION Virtues Part III

ION Virtues Part III
noun dis·ci·pline \ˈdi-sə-plən\
Definition of discipline
1: punishment
2 obsolete : instruction
3: a field of study
4: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5 a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c : self-control
6: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity
“Through discipline comes freedom”
Discipline is the third virtue we will cover in this series of blogs. It took me a while to write about this one because, for one thing discipline is a pretty obvious part of a fitness program and second, I didn’t want to rehash a bunch of stuff other people have covered pretty extensively. The other was I felt this deserved a deeper discussion than “Show up at the gym!”
The main point I will make as far as discipline as it applies to our day in and day out fitness endeavors is this- Discipline is doing what you’re supposed to even when you don’t feel like it. If you wait until its convenient or you are ‘motivated’ or for that “perfect timing” it ain’t happening. My personal experience has been I “feel” like working out about 1 out of 5 days. I go through periods of being unmotivated. Or I make excuses as to why I can’t work out today. Most of them are bullshit. Everyone has stuff to do and some of them might be valid but if it’s a priority you will find the time.
Anybody that performs at a high level of CrossFit and any sport in general will have a set routine for the day. They don’t deviate from that for anything. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline. While most of us aren’t trying to make it to the CrossFit Games or play in the NFL, staying disciplined and consistent in our fitness can have a significant effect on every part of our lives.
“Through discipline comes freedom”
I wrote again because I think it’s an important point that maybe we don’t think about enough. The more discipline you have the more freedom you will have.
It seems counterintuitive. We think of being disciplined as a rigid, stoic existence. Only focusing on one thing and being inflexible. That’s not freedom, or is it?
I am “free” to eat anything I want and sit on the couch and watch TV all day. But if I continue that for a long period of time what happens to me? I get fat and lazy. When someone says lets go play some basketball, or take a hike I physically can’t do it without serious risk. Is that freedom?
I am free to take every cent I make and spend it how I see fit. But if I am not disciplined with saving a portion of it then I get no vacations. I end up having to work until I die. Is that freedom?
I think you get the idea. While we are free to do whatever we want, there are repercussions. While doing what we should isn’t always “fun” it does lead to freedom at some point. Trading what you want right now for what you want later is hard. We are in a world of fast everything. Instant gratification. Nobody wants to wait. Now, now, now! is the cry of most people nowadays.
Working on our discipline is hard. Without an instant return on our efforts, sometimes it seems pointless. But dealing with the temporary frustration of not making progress is an integral part of the path toward excellence. In fact, it is essential and something that every elite performer in any thing has had to deal with. If the pursuit of excellence were easy everyone would do it. This impatience in getting results is the primary reason most people fail to reach their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, resulting in unneeded frustration due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving any goal is not a linear process
The secret is to show up, do the work and go home.
Blue collar work effort and an indomitable will.
When people are new we often ask what their goals are. Typically, it’s to get stronger for the fellas and to “tone” or lose weight for the ladies. Those are fine, in the beginning. As you progress though if you’re doing it right there should always be another goal to reach for. I say often there are no plateaus in what we do here and over the course of months and years, with consistent, disciplined effort I guarantee you will be further than you could have imagined when you first walked through our doors.
If it were easy, it would have zero value. I know there can be a lot of frustration when you start out. Everything is hard and you see people doing all these things and think “I’ll never get there”
Yes you can.
I get this isn’t for everyone. But don’t use it as an excuse to go back to your easy, less demanding routine. If it’s not with us, find it somewhere.
Don’t settle. Life’s short.
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Our virtues
Strength- body, mind and character

Courage- willingness to try new things, to face fears and to to achieve in spite our preconceived notions of what's possible

Discipline- even when we're not feeling it, even though there's a billion excuses not to we do what we need to do to we do it anyway
Honor- respect for yourself and your tribe.
#ionsandc #strengthcouragedisciplinehonor #fountainvalley #huntingtonbeach #santaana #costamesa #crossfit #tribe
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