Whether you’ve started your journey with CrossFit starting at a Bootcamp or a seasoned CrossFitter, the beauty is that there will be always something to learn, improve to become better. At CrossFit Toronto (CFTO), we’re all about adapting and changing for the better.

While CrossFit helps athletes of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds prepare for the unknown and unknowable, here are 12 changes to make in 2014 to make it your fittest year yet.

Clean up your diet

clean diet

Outside of making the change to show up at your gym as a part of your lifestyle, I’d say that changing up your diet is the hardest and highest impact change you can make to improve your fitness. If you’ve ever heard of the old adage “you are what you eat”, it will definitely resonate with those who are looking to make this change. Cleaning up your diet can vary from exploring diets such as those that are embraced by the CrossFit community such as the Paleo or Zone Diets or if you’re familiar with Tim Ferriss’ work his book the 4-Hour Body, the “Slow Carb” diet is a good start as well.

The key with any of these diets is to start small, rather than trying to cut everything out cold turkey from the get go. For more comprehensive guides on these diets, check out this post on the Paleo diet, this post from CrossFit HQ on the Zone Diet, and this post on the Slow Carb Diet.

Measure your progress

don't break the chain

It could be a simple system like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t break the chain” calendar system, fitness social networks that I’ve written extensively about like Fitocracy, MyFitnessPal for calorie/macros tracking or a Goal based apps like Lift or even taking videos of your form on GiveIt100.com.

Simply put, checking in and building up momentum over time with social accountability systems like any of aforementioned will ensure that you make long term gains. An awesome by-product is that you’ll feel awesome for each time you’re making small, measurable and incrementable progress. One step at a time is key.

Take a look at last year’s post on being more “data driven”.

Ask more questions

If you can’t really tell if you’re doing the hook grip properly or looking for some pointers on your deadlift form? Don’t be afraid of asking “dumb” questions – chances are others will probably have the same questions as well. Why should you ask more questions? That’s what the coaches at CrossFit Toronto and the CrossFit community at large are there for – to help you become fitter and stronger versions of yourself. Everyone was a beginner at once point in their lives and know where you’re coming from. Getting the feedback you need to get over a hump that you’re facing is crucial in become fitter and acquiring the skills necessary for your journey in CrossFit.

Take videos of yourself

You never really know how your form is doing until you actually see yourself performing a lift or movement yourself. Simply by taking a video of yourself can give you the immediate feedback you need to be able to correct any mistakes so you’re cognizant you’re executing whatever it is the next time you do it. Keep doing this until you get it down cold and try it for other movements as well. The default recording app on your smartphone will do, but if you’re really nerdy about it like myself, Coach’s Eye is the best out there (iTunes link here, Play Store link here).

Watch more videos

No, not cat videos, but of elite athletes. Maybe learning the muscle up is tripping you up, it might help to see Camille Leblanc-Bazinet’s famed slow-mo muscle up video to see how high her kip is and how efficient her movement is. Learning is just as much about watching others execute a movement flawlessly, and then emulating it yourself until you get it right and it permanently becomes part of your CrossFit repertoire. Video tutorials from CrossFit HQ, Olympic gymnasts, Powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters will quickly fill up your YouTube feed once you start making watching videos part of your training regimen.

To see what I mean, you can check out the list I’m curating of Olympic Lifting videos on my YouTube account and create your own that you refer back to.

Welcome new members

high five
Remember when you started out at a big box gym and it wasn’t so friendly or encouraging to start with? Now compare that to your experience with CrossFit at a bootcamp or your foundations onboarding. I’d venture to say that it was a much more welcoming and more fun experience because of the shared agony of a brutal WOD and then the ecstasy that quickly follows after you’ve conquered not the WOD, but pushing yourself to the limit and more – then amplifying that experience by cheering or being cheered by others in your class.

Whether it’s cheering, smiling and saying hello to a unfamiliar face at the gym, throwing a high five, fist bump or helping another classmate up out of their pile of sweat, it’s the community that makes CrossFit so damned special. Keep paying it forward so that the culture of welcoming and supporting each other perpetuates.

Sign up for more events

Outside of the regular programming at your gym, there’s plenty of other things that are going on. If you want to mix things and change it up a bit, CFTO offers workshops on Olympic Weightlifting, Handstands and Obstacle Course Racing. Outside of that, ever wonder what your gym mates are like outside of the gym like at a pub? Connecting with your gym mates where you can consider them friends is rewarding and takes training to another level when you realize how cool your gym mates are outside of the gym as they are inside of it!

Master a skill a month

While this is a bit ambitious, it’s certainly not impossible. Focusing on something you suck at or simply want to challenge yourself to learn as much and become competent across the skills that CrossFit touches upon.

Taking to this challenge might mean coming in an extra 10-15 minutes early to accomodate praciticing that skill. Maybe it’s the pistol squat or wall balls that are your “goat” (weakest point) – taking the time to focus on one weakness or point of interest and methodically tackling it one by one will make you a much more well-rounded CrossFitter faster by the end of the year.

Try and branch off do some other programming

Maybe you’re looking to become stronger or Olympic Weightlifting caught your eye. The beauty of CrossFit is that it can accomodate your curiousity and offers streams to those who are looking for different outcomes than the general programming affords. I’ve tried Starting Strength or anything by Mark Rippetoe for that matter is awesome. If you’re into Olympic Weightlifting, maybe your gym (CFTO does!) offers strict programming for that. The programming over at Catalyst Athletics is top notch as well.

Go back to CrossFit programming

Maybe you’ve been doing strictly strength programming for a while and you want to shake it up a bit.. well.. you’re already at a CrossFit gym so why not dive back into the programming that you kept you guessing and challenged you every time you stepped through the doors of the gym?

Invite a friend to CrossFit

No doubt you’ve already sang the praises of CrossFit and all the good things its done for your fitness, energy levels, self esteem, health and a plethora of other benefits. I would dare say that people talk about CrossFit so much because it really is at the core of it FUN and it works.

By now you’ve probably had friends who’ve inquired about it, so why not extend them a warm invitation to a session at your gym. I’m not talking about being overbearing or being a d-bag about it. Just a simple invitation such as  “Hey if you’re down for checking it out.. let me know” – and leave it at that. Your friend already has probably done all the research they can about it and you would be the tipping point in helping them get through the door.  The rest is up to them.


Threshold OpenThe very nature of CrossFit itself is very competitive, since you’re competing against time, and others are doing so as well. Maybe after all blood, sweat and tears you’ve poured into your own training over the last little while has you wondering if you’re good enough to compete against the best in your gym, city or region? Talk to your coach about this and I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to point you to local events or get you started on programming that will get you ready for your first CrossFit competition.

CrossFit Toronto has two such competitions: Threshold Open Team Challenge in the summer, and Threshold Open Pairs during the winter.

What Changes Will You Make in 2014?

So there you have it – 12 Changes for the 12 months of 2014 that you can under take. While it would be pretty challenging to tackle every single one of the points I wrote about, it gives you something to think about what you want to get out of CrossFit to make 2014 your most kick butt yet!

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