What are You Training For?

Are you training for strength, endurance, a sporting event, physique competition or overall fitness? Define your goals; that will determine your training.

Get Off the Blocks

Whether we’re talking about starting a workout program, a new job or doing something you’ve always dreamed of there are a few things you need to do before you begin:  get your mind right, do your homework (research) and have a plan and strategy to achieve it.

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It all starts with the mind being in the right place and a clear focus.  This isn’t something you’re going to “try”, this is something you’re going to do.  Recognize the difference.

Save yourself time, effort and mistakes by thoroughly researching how you’re going to do it; you want to have an initial plan and strategy in place before beginning.  And while you might fail along the way you get back up, shake yourself off, determine what went wrong and how to correct it and move forward.

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It won’t be easy.  If it were everyone would be successful.  Here’s where we separate the men from the boys (or the women from the girls). You’ve got to keep going when you want to quit, when you’ve had a bad day, when you’re overwhelmed with unexpected challenges and when you doubt yourself.  Sometimes you need to back off, get some rest, rethink or recharge your batteries and then proceed.

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Once you reach your goal are you finished?  Generally not, for while in the midst of that goal you will continually be adding, reaching higher and figuring out where you want to go from your new vantage point.  It may not be far off it, just a littler further or there may be new branches.  Things often change along the way, need to be revised and occasionally hit the mark.

It’s a process and one that never truly ends nor would you want it to.  Enjoy the ups and even the downs by learning from them; finding ways to overcome obstacles turning them into new opportunities.  A brilliant and strategic mind can turn many disadvantages into advantages.

In order for dreams to become a reality the first step is getting off the blocks and once you–never, EVER give up!


What Can I do for my Abs?

I am often asked “what can I do for my abs?” “what can I do to reduce lower back pain?” what can I do for my butt?  Ladies the answer to all these questions is pick up the bar.  There are many great movements and one that comes to my mind is the deadlift.

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While this photo is circa 2010 the deadlift continues to be a staple and one of the most fundamentally functional exercises there is.  Talk about more bang for your buck.

What are the benefits of the deadlift

  • Builds muscle which is your best friend – more valuable than diamonds
  • Enhances fat burning
  • Improves cardio – you question that?  Try a few sets of 10 deadlifts at 65% of your 1 rm
  • “Core” strengthener – I prefer the term trunk, you call them “abs”.  A name is just that, deadlifts will strengthen your abs, lower back and glutes and guess what? Those muscle groups  predominately compose which is called the core or trunk

In addition to the above dead lifting will also reduce injury, increase hormonal levels, improve your grip strength, work multiple muscles at one, improve your posture and transfer to ‘real life’ strength and functionality.

While the deadlift is king of compound exercises you will also want to add in the squat and press which additionally and effectively target your abs.  And while what you do in the gym is of importance for building a strong trunk (and yes, “abs”) what you do in the kitchen will allow you to actually see them.

Don’t be a ‘Secret Squirrel’

There are at least three known meanings for ‘Secret Squirrel’; a military nickname for those on highly classified missions, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon series which debuted in 1965 and a more current term used to describe a small subset of the fitness population.

RockyThe most eloquent and accurate definition I have ever come across was an excerpt from an article by John Welbourn 42 Things I Learned Leading up to 2013. . .

“5. Don’t fall prey to the Secret Squirrel Program

This is what happens when late at night while scanning the internet you decided to hybrid CrossFit Football’s strength WOD with CFE’s running 2 days a week with CrossFit’s hero WODs and Outlaw’s Olympic programming just for good measure. All the while doing 23 hours a day of ketogenic interment fasting. If you think this secret squirrel program will help you become the fittest man on the planet you are delusional. All that will happen is you become a massive ball of injury, end up doing nothing but Mobility WOD for 2 years with the testosterone levels of a 14-year-old eunuch.”

Well said John.  Within the span of a week two members of our community approached me with the best of intentions and asked “hey, I really want to get my deadlift to 500#, improve my 5K time and see my abs so I’m going to add in a few things like 25 thrusters everyday and evening runs in addition to continuing to do the wods 5-6 times a week what do you think”? And “I’m doing the challenge and I want to win.  I’ve changed my nutrition, am wodding 5-6 a week, want to join you on Jacked Street 2 x a week and am doing the Barbell wod with Melissa 3-4 x a week along with her met cons and adding in extra cardio by riding the bike to and fro the box”.

Whoa.  How do you answer?  I admit I am not known for my compassion but these are well intentioned individuals that believe in our programming, our box and us.  They want to improve and they are asking for help.  I admire and respect their motivation and willingness to achieve more.


My first question is always what are you training for?  If I get an answer like “I want to win a power lifting competition and run a marathon the next week’ I explain they are conflicting goals and each requires different training.  Fortunately most people’s goals fall somewhere in between and are not that extreme.  We narrow it down and then I ask them what extra they have been doing.  It’s usually excessive and not aimed at their goal.  Hey but that’s what we’re here for and why they came to us.

Scenario #1 above after asking some probing questions and narrowing it down to what he wanted most we found it was to improve his Fran and Diane times.  i.e. improve power output.  So we added a few things to compliment his current  box wods that would aid in reaching that goal but not so much as to lead to over training.  The dude is a full time professional working 50-60 hours a week with a family and over age 40.  Recovery and proper nutrition cannot be overstated and were also discussed.

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Scenario #2’s goal was to reduce stress; a single mom in between jobs struggling to keep it together mentally and emotionally.  Being in the box a lot “makes me cope – I need a focus”.  For her the goal was quite different.  Keeping her nutrition in check has been huge and results were seen immediately.   We came up with a mix of a few CF class wods, 1 Jacked Street wod a week with me and a 1 or 2 barbell wods with Melissa.  The camaraderie and time spent with the different coaches will not win her the CF games but improve her general fitness while reaching her true goal of strengthening body and mind to focus on overcoming the challenges in her life.

Determine what you are training for, find a coach or program that you believe in and give it at least 4 -6 weeks to see results before deviating.  Re evaluate the effectiveness and make adjustments as needed.  There are many good programs out there; if you choose one appropriate for your goal and in line with your fitness experience staying the course and sticking with it rather than changing and adding to it will give you the best results.  Don’t be a Secret Squirrel!


Guest Blogger – Lisa Kimball: “Training with Paula Lean”

Florida Winter Weather and Bench Presses

We are FLORIDIANS PEOPLE. So when the temperature hits 50 degrees …THIS is freezing to us.

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But we buckle up and we layer and we get out and train anyway. WHY?  Because we have something we’re training for.

Paula recently asked several of the members at the box what they were training for and of course she got a myriad of reasons. Mine? To make my butt great again and to get back to the body I had 3 years ago…

In order to reach those goals I have to get out and train, EVEN when it’s a mere 50 degrees and my body seems to be frozen.

It just so happened that this Tuesday I didn’t have my car to get to the box, so in order to make that happen, I had to ride my bike… yes, in 50 degree, windy weather. The good news is that I live 1.6 miles away,  so that was doable.

I didn’t make it in time for the 8 am class. I just happened to walk in when Paula was getting ready to start her work out, and she invited me to join her.  I got the opportunity to train with Paula, one on one. Even better, it was bench day and I was excited!

I love bench day.

Photo Sep 04, 8 57 16 AMHere’s what I learned:

Dig deep.

I have been a member of Crossfit Jaguar for 4 years. I already know it takes dedication and commitment to see changes.  If you want to see more change, or you have have gotten off of your game for a while, you’re going to have to make sacrifices.  And some days, you are going to need to dig deep.

It’s going to be worth it in the end after all, right? Right?

I love Paula’s attitude. She reminded me that I need to really push myself, even though I already know that as a crossfitter.  I find that I can get caught up in my routine and in my own head…

I needed this reminder.

I proved that, (mostly to myself), when I entered my first Crossfit competition last year. The Crossfit Jaguar, Jaguar Games. This is a members only competition and the perfect opportunity to get my feet wet in competing and see if I had what it takes.

Although I had been doing crossfit for over 3 years at the time, I entered in the novice division because I still have work to do when it comes to strict pull-ups and other lifts required to compete Rx. I told myself that this was my opportunity to kick things up a notch mentally.

Team photo: Biscuits & Gravy

Team photo:
Biscuits & Gravy

 I went into the competition with the mindset that my partner and I were going to win. I didn’t see much of a point otherwise. I had never done that many WODS in one day, I had never competed, I had never really trained with my partner. But I knew we could place, and I really wanted center podium.  I never stopped thinking any other way leading up to the day of the Games. I’m glad I kept the faith in myself and my partner.

I remember someone saying that in order to do something that you know is new, seems out of reach or a step beyond your comfort zone, that you must envision yourself on the other side, imagine yourself succeeding, and you will.

We took home 1st place.

Jaguar Games - Lisa and Kara take First Place in Novice Division. [2015]

Jaguar Games – Lisa and Kara take First Place in Novice Division. [2015]

Thank you, Karra, for believing in me, and in Team Biscuits and Gravy.

Let’s do that again.

I better get to work on those pull-ups…

What else did I learn?

Don’t rush.

When Paula and I did bench that blustery Tuesday, I was rushed in my head, because I was running late that day.  Paula  got me to slow down, take my rest and really push through a lift that I didn’t (and she didn’t for a hot minute) think I was going to make.  I surprised her (and our friend Alex who was spotting me) and made it! Why? Because I slowed down and I took the time to rest, reset and push through.

IMG_4765Find your Grit Factor- Mental Toughness is key

You know what else? I realized that it wasn’t JUST rest, slowing down and pushing through that got me to PR that day, it was my state of mind. Just like I got on my bike, and rode to the box that morning, because I had made a new commitment the week prior (when I started the 2016 Look Better Naked Challenge). 



I didn’t come this far in my journey to just come THIS FAR.

I want to see the reward. I want to look back and say “That was totally worth it.”

In order to realize those gains and to see the reward, I am going to have to show up, slow down and trust the process. When shit gets tough, I am going to have to find that GRIT, and when I do, you better watch out.

All in all, I loved working out with Paula one-on-one. She made my day, and really got me thinking about what I am training for.

Nice butt. Yeah. Better body? Yep.

Finding my GRIT FACTOR?  

MOST definitely.❤️


— Lisa


I’m sure everyone tuned in to watch the presidential debate last night – but I’m not asking you who you’re voting for.  Nope not going there.   But I do want to know. . .  what are you training for?  You need a purpose and that will dictate your training.

We took just such a poll today at CF Jaguar and we got a variety of interesting answers. . .

Jon & Kindra

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Me:  Jon, what are you training for?
Kindra:  “A wedding”
Me:  Awesome and Jon what are you training for?
Jon:  “A wedding”
Me:  Jon, anything else?  You’re your own man aren’t you?
Jon:  “Not anymore” (laughs)
Me:  Congrats you two!


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Me:  What are you training for Michelle?
Michelle:  “My selfish reason is to be incredibly fit because at almost age 55 I have a baby.  I want to wear a 2 piece, I don’t want to get old and I love CrossFit”


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Me:  Joe, what are you training for?
Joe:  “You know I don’t play those games”
Me:  Come on Joe, you have to be training for something.  You’re an LEO – to stay fit on the job?
Joe:  “I’m training for the redhead”
Me:  Ok!

The Redhead (aka Lisa)

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Me:  what are you training for Red?
Lisa:  “Functional fitness and a nice butt”
Me:  Good reasons
Lisa:  “Oh yea, remember that sexy picture you took of me post challenge holding a laundry basket”?
Me:  Yes
Lisa:  “I want to look like that again”


The Boys from Meathead Corner:  Alex, JC & Brian

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Me:  And what are you guys training for?
Alex:  “A 1200# powerlifting total
Me:  You have to be training for something?
JC:  “No seriously idk”
Me:  Food for thought – think on it
Brian:  “To be able to take my shirt off in public
Me:  You’re there, next.


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Me:  Chris, what are you training for?
Chris:  “Paula, you know I sustained an ankle injury at UPS”
Me:  Yes Chris I am aware of that yet I see you in the gym and it’s easy to see you have a purpose and a plan so what are you training for?
Chris:  “I’m taking the downtime and working on my upper body strength.  I have a progressive program to get my strict pull up back and a strict hspu.
Me:  turning an injury into an opportunity

And there you have it a random sampling from this morning’s class.  WAYTF? Feel free to share yours in the comments section.


You don’t spend over 2 decades in the fitness industry without learning quite a bit, meeting awesome people and having great experiences.  Clients and members have come and gone over the time span but today one young man stands out in memory.


For over 2 years – 2009-2011 I had the pleasure of working one on one with a mother and her son.  They trained separately of each other since they had different goals.  Tyler was around 11 or 12 at the start of our training and just getting into sports in school.  Football was his favorite and he was doing okay; according to the coach he needed to be stronger, more powerful and faster.

Our training revolved around those three aspects of fitness:  strength, power and speed, the cornerstone of any anaerobic sport.  My experience with working with kids was limited at the time being an only child, having cats and not playing sports in my youth had made it so. Tyler made it easy; he trained 2-3 times a week always excited to learn and work hard.  He asked lots of questions and would make changes in practice and study habits along with sleep and nutrition.

In other words I got lucky; most kids that age don’t have that mindset.  Over the course of the seasons I would get great progress reports from his mom via his coaches.  Tyler was growing, learning and improving.  It was joy to work with him and watch him evolve.


Sigh and alas this wonderful family moved north in 2011 and our training came to an end. But not on their end as Tyler continued in their new home.  I would get occasional reports on his progress from his mom and the beauty of social media allowed me to keep up.

More than a few years have passed since we trained but that didn’t contain my excitement as I saw a post from his mother last week that Tyler was gearing up for the Tennessee State Championships.  Well, all his training, hard work, consistency and dedication of the past several years paid off . . .


. . . with a win and Tyler ending his high school football career  taking home the Tennessee High School State Championship by knocking off the #16 team in the COUNTRY!  How sweet it is!


That just brought back a lot of fond memories for me and while that game had nothing to do with me knowing that I might have instilled or influenced the beginnings of the knowledge and passion that drove him was a reflection of just how proud I am of him and to have a played a part in his training.

And while this might be the end of his high school career I think it’s only the beginning of even bigger and better things.  Mama isn’t the only one beaming with pride — congratulations Tyler!