Royal Navy Crossfit at the Coalition Games! 

The first Royal Navy Crossfit team made an appearance at the Coalition Games on the 22nd & 23rd October 2016.

Having received an out of the blue message from Royal Navy Lt. Alex Kelley, I unexpectedly ended up on the Royal Navy’s first ever crossfit team!

Alex Kelley, a keen crossfitter and all round super fit sport enthusiast, invited me to join her team of Matelot Crossfitters to compete at the Coalition Games. A two-day crossfit event in Cardiff.

Teams consisted of two men and two women. Alex and I were teaming up with super strong squat king Michael Park – AKA “Parkey”, an aircraft engineer travelling from his base in Portsmouth. We were also joined by a very gymnasty Steve De’ath, who amazingly has only been crossfitting for a year. You would never have guessed from watching his slick toes to bar and effortless squat cleans! Steve, also an Aircraft Engineer, travelled all the way from Cornwall!

Once the team completed the epic journeys from around the UK, we got a few hours kip at Alex’s place in Cardiff, scranned up and circled Cardiff a little before arriving nervously at the venue! Alex did an excellent job sourcing some very patriotic Royal Navy team vests and shirts for us! Nice bit of PR for recruitment.

I had never met my team mates before so I felt slightly nervous. Worried I’d not quite live up to their expectations in terms of skill / fitness, I found myself feeling a little anxious in the lead up to the competition. The event organisers released a couple of the WODs prior to the event. This settled my nerves somewhat as it meant I had two weeks to perfect some of the skills and test my strength / fitness. I even coerced Sam into being my guinae pig to test the wods!

The wods released were as follows:

Having done a few partner carries in my time – I quite liked the look of this one!

Alex being a tall and more endurance type athlete – we decided she would carry Steve (the lighter of our male team mates) and I’d carry Parkey and his over sized quads!! Weighing in at 88kg, it was no easy feat. But the wod went well for us; Alex’s awesome engine, Steve’s super quick burpees and Parkey scooping me up King Kong style, meant that we put in a pretty decent time. We were chuffed with how our competition kicked off.

After a quick refuel and obligatory coffee pit stop we felt excited to tackle WOD 2:

Squat Cleans are certainly not a strength of mine. So I practiced this wod at least 3 times before the competition. In training I managed to PR my squat clean and successfully complete 1 rep at 80kg. I knew straight off the bat I wouldn’t finish this Squat Clean Ladder – so my tactics would need to change. I wanted to give myself enough rest to make sure I didn’t fail any of the reps at 75kg. After chatting with Alex I learnt of her recent hip injury and so we decided I’d go first and finish the 3x 75kg. We successfully reached this point within the time cap and it gave Alex a minute or two to get through the reps at 75kg. She fought very hard and we were chuffed with our efforts. Parkey and Steve made the toes to bar look absolutely effortless and demonstrated some awesome squat clean tekkers! Though we didn’t finish very highly on the leaderboard for that particular workout, we were all really chuffed with our individual performances!

The final wod of day 1 consisted of:

When I saw this wod… I felt a little sick!! It’s no secret that I find rowing particularly tough. It is also no secret that I rely a terrible amount on brute shoulder strength for my Push Jerks. In the lead up to the competition myself and Sam practiced this wod a couple of times. And I also worked on that push jerk technique. But this did not settle my nerves.

However, getting to know Alex, I soon figured out that she was our equivalent to Sam Briggs. An absolute engine. And a keen rower! Awesome. Steve bravely set off first, making easy work of the push Jerks and box jumps. Alex smashed the row for the team. She took on most of the calories and still had the lungs to race through the push Jerks and box jumps. It was my turn and I dragged my sorry butt through those reps as best I could. Safe to say the shoulders were blown out come the end! Poor Parkey was our last team member in the relay – which put a hell of a lot of pressure on the young athlete.

Steve, Alex and I had finished our work for the day whilst Parkey was left slaving over the last 40 box jumps. Unfortunately for him, we had enough energy to encourage (scream at him to keep moving) until the bitter end! Parkey did us proud.

Our Saturday night could be summed up as follows: Shower. Protein and carbs in the form of a Nando’s. Bed.

Day two started off with a wod I was very much looking forward to…

As the horn sounded, Steve blasted through a minutes worth of deadlifts. Making the bar look light he then began his double unders – something he admitted was not his strength. And it is NOT easy gripping that rope whilst combatting the deadlift jelly legs. But he did a fantastic job and clocked up some decent points for the team. With his forearms screaming he slumped in a heap. I looked at him and saw the pain we were all about to endure! (It’s at this point you realise how crazy Crossfitters must be). Parkey’s turn – did we forget to put weight on that deadlift bar?? Easy money for them legs. Straight into his doubles looking calm and collected and his work was done! Time for the girls AKA Wrens!

I opted to get it out of the way first. The truth is – I do like a deadlift. My current one rep max is 160kg, so I felt comfortable repping 80kg. My double unders on the other hand – can be hit and miss! However, luck was on my side and I was very pleased with 120 reps in 60 seconds!

Alex took us to the finish line in style. Repping out 5 unbroken deadlifts at a time and some super smooth double unders she put in a great score for the team.

Looking at the leaderboard we were hanging on to the top 30 by a thread. Our aim for the weekend was to stay in the top 50% of 70 teams. So, we were doing exactly what we set out to, and more!

With not enough points on the table to make the cut, we knew we only had one more wod of the weekend to go. We were ready to give it absolutely everything and leave every last bit of energy on the competition floor.

Being Sailors you’d expect our rope climbing to be top notch.. right? …

WOD TACTICS. Alex – great engine. Steve – great rope climbs. So, you guessed it, they took on the part A.

Watching my team mates absolutely blast through their KB Swings and then fight to the top of the rope, I felt so proud of them! I was in awe of their sheer determination. Steve by far had the best rope climbs in the arena and Alex had by far the easiest looking KB swings I’ve ever seen!

Parkey and I prepped ourselves to sprint to our barbells for the 100 snatches. I cannot tell you how we partitioned the reps – I genuinely cannot remember. It’s a blur in my memory! I can only remember pushing my body to its limit. I wanted to get through as many reps as possible as I felt Parkey had a disproportionately heavier barbell than I. We had also agreed that I’d take the brunt of the snatches if he started the rope climbs! Again, no idea how many rope climbs I completed. All I know is, it felt amazing! The adrenaline was flowing and I was enjoying this wod more than any of the wods so far. The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant and I could hear the crowd cheering loudly.

Completing that final wod was incredibly satisfying. I was so happy with our performances throughout the entire weekend. I also had such a fun time with these guys. I have made three awesome friends I would 100% train/compete with or even just hang out with again. Top weekend. And a great weekend show casing some of the Royal Navy’s athletes.

Thank you to Alex Kelley for organising the team, and a thank you to Steve and Parkey for being awesome team mates.

Let’s see more crossfit in the navy please!!


Combined services powerlifting champs 2016

The combined services didn’t go as well as I had planned. I weighed in @73kg and opened with a successful 200kg my second lift was again successful @215kg for my third I tried to break my own Navy record with a 225kg. Although I managed to lift it, it was a fail due to a slight hitch at the end.

Looking closely at the video my feet are just slightly too far apart, causing my knees to come in and lose power. However, I know I can lift it! Navy champs in December, I’ll get it then!



USA Road Trip: Day 18!

After some navigational issues on route to our Air BnB (there were TWO Broadway streets in the same small area!?).. We arrived to find two Chihuahua’s and a “cat that comes and goes” – I was very happy about this! We got ourselves settled in and took a walk around the quiet neighbourhood to buy some groceries. We got to work on editing go pro videos and our blog. After this we headed out to a local Italian restaurant and treated ourselves to a delicious dinner (90% carbohydrates).
Returning to our room we were met with a heat that felt like a steam room. Sadly, there was no air con for us!! It was a pretty uncomfortable night.
In the morning we took our last trip in the Mitsibushi Mirage. It was time to take the lil dude back to Dollar Rentals downtown. We were sad to say goodbye! In the end we drove 2,844 miles in that bad boy.

Today was the day I got to realise my Crossfit dream, by visiting and working out at the famous Crossfit Invictus! The home of my favourite female crossfitter Lauren Fisher! But first we had to get there …
Now, car – less, we had to figure out our way around town on foot or by “trolley” which is San Diego’s Tram system. After a short walk from the rental centre we got to a trolley station. After much frustration with the ticket machine (it didn’t like our British debit cards) and only took exact dollars).. We took a risk and hopped on ticket-less! Whoops. Luckily we got away with it.
We got off at 12th Street and College to take a short walk to Invictus!!! I could barely hold in my excitement. Skipping along the street we finally saw the big green V. We had arrived! We took the 12 class with Holden (Crossfit Games Team Competitor) which was a ‘performance class’. It consisted of Snatch technique and a conditioning partners wod of wall balls and burpees.

It was a great experience to be coached in this particular Olympic Lift by somebody so experienced and talented. For me, Snatch has always been the hardest skill in Crossfit to learn. I’ve battled with a few mobility issues and also have struggled to drop quickly under the bar to catch it in the bottom squat position. Holden gave me some good pointers and I feel that I now know what I need to do to keep improving. A lot of my issue with getting under the bar was to do with the angle of my back. My chest has been too far forward and my hips haven’t been fast enough. I’m excited to get back into training and get some heavier weight on that bar!
Sam and I felt that we performed pretty well in the wod, especially since burpees are not his favourite. I would say that burpees are particularly difficult if you are tall with long limbs (Sam!). He has a lot of Femur length to negotiate with!
Feeling truly exhausted and very sweaty we got to chat to Crossfit Games Athlete Garret Fisher! (Lauren’s older brother AKA Big Fish). We talked briefly about his Crossfit games performance and he’s already back into full time training for next years Games. We were sad to find out that Lauren was actually in surgery that day to sort an ongoing issue with the ligaments in her ankle. We wish her a speedy recovery!
Looking sweaty we got a quick photo with Coach Holden…


USA Road Trip: Day 17

Feeling content with our workout and dose of sunshine we hit the Interstate Highway 15 south to Temecula. We booked a hotel in this town since it wasn’t too long a journey but about half way to our next stop – San Diego. Knowing nothing about the town we rocked up with little expectation. We were pleasantly surprised to find a quaint Old Western looking town! The buildings were full of character with pretty fairy lights for embellishment. The streets were so clean in comparison to the big cities we have been visiting. American flags were proudly flying in the streets and the smell of American food wafted towards us. We instantly loved the place. We were also very pleased to find a hotel swimming pool! 

After a comfortable nights sleep we woke early to get to work. I devised a short WOD consisting of 2 rounds: 4 laps, 10 push ups (these felt challenging as we were suffering from major chest DOMs) and 20 squats. It was a short but very effective workout! We could both feel the strain on our muscles from the previous day at Muscle Beach. 

Our plan for the morning was to relax, walk around this pretty town and pick up some souvenirs for family. Then of course, drive to San Diego in the afternoon. 

We found a really lovely Cuban cafe for brunch. This filled us with some good healthy carbs and protein. On to our next stop… 


USA road trip: Day 16!

Following an incredible day exploring Death Valley we continued our journey south west back towards the coast. We stopped over in a town called Ridgecrest – it was an interesting stay to say the least! The town looked like something out of the Hills Have Eyes.. It was so spooky. A total Ghost town. Abandoned houses with boarded up windows and doors.. Old mining facilities closed down.. It was very eerie. We didn’t hang around!
Another early start for us and back in our trusty little Mirage. After much map flipping and negotiating aggressive traffic we finally made it to LA! No guessing our first port of call… Yep. Venice Beach AKA Muscle Beach. Body building’s equivalent to Mecca. It really did not disappoint! The place was buzzing with busy Cafes, street performers, sidewalks bursting at the seems with skateboarders and rollerbladers. It was just how I imagined and better! The beach itself was quite something – stretching for miles with its golden sand and surf friendly rip curls. Much like Santa Cruz, the beach was alive with family BBQs and sports.

After we managed to weave our way around a protest, groups of break dancers and street artists, we eventually set eyes on the main attraction. Muscle Beach outdoor gym. We showed our military ID and got into the caged area half price (thanks Her Maj).

The gym was fairly quiet. There were a couple of guys training quietly on the machines, taking in the sunshine and posing for the walkers by. Then there were the two performers! Two guys hired by muscle beach gym, who’s sole job is to flex for cameras and practice their moves. They were pretty impressive to be fair! In the hour and a half we were there, I’d say approximately 100 selfies were taken by these guys! Hilarious!

Sam and I decided to use whatever equipment was free. We ended up on the bench press (our fave!). It was really difficult in the heat and with the sun directly in the eyes whilst lying flat on the bench. Especially using bars and plates in Lbs which we are not used to. However! We both lifted heavier than we normally manage in training. After a couple of sets of 5-3-2 reps we decided to get more weight on the bar. Maybe it was the onlookers, or all of the naughty carbs we have been eating, but I managed to bench 84kg! Sam normally hits about 90kg in training, but he also managed a much hire number for one rep at 97kg! After bench press we hit our normal 3 x max effort dips and also pull ups. After a sweet upper body pump sesh we spotted a space to do some deadlifts. Using the kit available we ended up doing 3 sets of 5 reps fairly light for us. The heat began to take its toll and food was calling us! We had a great session and got chatting to some really nice guys from Chicago who were also on a similar trip to us. It was a fun day all round!
We reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the gym and sat down on the beach with a mini picnic we picked up on route. We had an awesome raw broccoli salad and a sandwhich! It felt good to get some greens in.

Refuelled we headed back to Mecca and finished up our session with some gymnastics. Rope climbs, muscles ups and skin the cats! Feeling suitably pumped we called it a day. We left the bright lights of LA and hit the freeway to our next hotel in a little town called Temecula.


USA road trip: Day 14/15!

Setting off from Las Vegas, we felt a little deflated. We really enjoyed our time there, lazing by the pool and hitting Freestyle CrossFit in the evenings. Now back on the road we knew that ‘living the dream’ had come to an end. We headed west toward the Grand Canyon and it was truly spectacular. For those of you who haven’t seen it we would highly recommend it! There are lots of different trails and walks to do here, so if you have time its well worth spending a couple of days to really appreciate the magnificence of it!

From here we headed back to Vegas and used another Air BnB to get up and set off north and through Death Valley. For me this has to be the highlight of the trip. Its probably the strangest place I’ve experienced, there are so many different rock formations, altitudes and landscapes all in one area. We headed up to more than 5000ft to ‘Dante’s View’ for an incredible sight of the Death Valley floor. It was relatively cool at this height but as we descended and drove further into the furnace the temperature rose greatly. This has to be the hottest place I have ever been as we recorded a temperature of 46.6°C.

We next came across Zabriskie Point which is surrounded by a maze of wildly coloured badlands. Here we really began to feel the heat and was relieved of the comforts of the air conditioned car.

Further we drove into the abyss and out of nowhere we came across the Mesquite Sand Dunes, as many as 13 people die here each year. People venture out to the dunes thinking they are closer than they are and loose track and site of their way back.


USA road trip: day’s 10-13

We spent Sunday night in Bakersfield with the lovely Helen and Terry, an absolutely lovely American couple who took great care of us. Terry who is actually ex US Navy gave us great advice and tips for our upcoming trip to Las Vegas and LA. Helen was such a sweetheart, she kept us well fed and watered and was such a caring woman! We also got to have dinner in the garden with their two cute dogs. All in all – a lovely little stop over for us.
Feeling well rested and fuelled up, Sam drove the four hours to Las Vegas. We left nice and early to avoid the crazy tourist traffic! We reached our hotel – The Stratosphere in good time and squeezed in a little sunbathing session followed by some HIIT training in the hotel gym. (See previous blog for the HIIT video).
The Stratosphere:

We chose to stay in one place for four nights so that Sam could have a break from the driving and so that we could get some decent training in. Freestyle Crossfit was just a 30min walk away which was great for us and meant that we could train each evening. The walk itself was a bit cheeky in the 35+ degree heat! We also used the hotel gym occasionally for some fasted cardio and free weights.

Freestyle Crossfit deserves a big shout out on the blog. We visited the box website to see what it looked like and what times they offered wods. Honestly, the website doesn’t do it justice. It is one of the best boxes we have visited. We really loved the programming. Nothing was missed – all of the Olympic lifts were covered and also all of the powerlifting lifts.

Coach Jake kicked off the wod with a really decent warm up. I have a real pet peeve for poor warm ups. I think it’s hugely important, especially since I tend to suffer from shoulder pain and elbow tendinitis.

The warm up consisted of using a pvc pipe for snatch style jump and jacks. I’ve never seen this before but it was perfect! A great little pulse raiser and it really opened up the shoulders prior to our Snatch session. The warm up continued with a number of great little mobilisation and pulse raising exercises.

Jake then guided us through a 3 position snatch skills and strength session. Sam is still learning the Olympic lifts and he found this session extremely helpful and felt he really turned a corner in terms of technique. Coach Jake’s teaching style was spot on, he was authoritative yet approachable. He also gave each individual athlete the attention and tips they needed. We were really impressed and satisfied.

We also had a wod with Coach Shelton. We were pretty excited to find out the strength element was bench press! The warm up again was absolutely spot on and then we did a good old fashioned 5×5 bench sesh.

Shelton was a really animated coach and he kept the attention of his athletes at all times. He was super upbeat and really motivating! He continually fed in tips during the strength and the wod.

5*rating for Freestyle Crossfit!!

Holiday balance…

In order to maintain a little holiday balance we indulged in the odd milkshake or two at Roxy’s diner!! I would say that this is the best diner we’ve been to yet. The waitors / waitresses are all entertainers and randomly burst into song! …

Apart from daily sunbathing sessions by the pool and Crossfit workouts we also did a fair bit of walking around town. We took the obligatory stroll downtown to see the sights. Walking along Vegas Boulevard we had to walk through the casinos of Ceasars Palace and the Bellagio. Slot online ‘s variety and such casinos’ experience are two different things. We also have a confession.. We stopped by the Cheesecake Factory at Planet Hollywood and had the most awesome burgers and a Reeses Pieces cheesecake – unbelievable!!!! I feel no guilt…

Naturally we had to pop into the factory outlet and spend our pennies in the Crossfit Reebok, Nike, Oakley and Adidas stores! After all, you can never own too much workout gear right?

Sadly Friday morning came around too fast and we once again packed up early morning. This time taking a drive North East to the Grand Canyon…


USA road trip: Day 10

Having spent a great few days on the west coast we packed up the car again and travelled 300 miles to Las Vegas!

I’m going to put it out there – sitting in the car for hours and a lack of weight lifting has been getting to me. I find it very hard psychologically when I don’t get to fulfill my usual workout routine. But, I do also realise that this is a holiday. It’s that one time of the year where you have a couple of weeks to re-charge the batteries. To fix broken muscles and niggling injuries. It’s the only time of year we can fully switch off. So I guess I should try and relax.

In order to exercise some damage control (ie. Keep the engine running and try to fend off some unwanted body fat!) I took a B line to the hotel gym for a little workout. Being a crossfitter, I’m not used to using these types of gyms. I was alarmed at the lack of squat rack for a start! So, I made do with what I had and came up with a mini body weight wod…

3 rounds of:

800m treadmill run

10 squats

10 push-ups

5 strict pull-ups

For this workout I wore my Bear Strength leggings and (californian style) orange crop top! Which I have to say, is my favourite top in their range. If you like what you see, you can have a look at their clothing line by clicking *here*


This evening Sam and I will be in search of a Crossfit gym!


USA road trip: Day 8/9!

Another 700miles on the Mitsubishi mirage.. we have spent a lot of time in the car travelling!! Wow, this place is huge. We managed to escape the car for a short exploration of Santa Cruz. We took a walk along a nice breezy beach as the refreshing air smashed waves over the rocks. We noticed how sociable American/ Californian families are. They set up huge picnics and bbqs, play sports on the beach and spend time with family and friends. I love this lifestyle!

It’s been a few days since we have been able to train. The best we have managed is to race each other up a steep rocky hill – much to my disappointment Sam beat me. I’ll get him in the Crossfit box when his long levers are no longer such an advantage!



Still, it’s been a great few days with some spectacular scenery.

After spending a night in Morganhill we set off bright and early to drive the west coast route through the Big Sur. Honestly, you would not believe the array of species of animals we saw! To list but a few: VULTURES, yes Vultures. Of whom were recently released from San Diego zoo. They seem to be doing very well in their new habitat since they have already produced some babies!!

We also heard and saw Sea Lions in the distance whilst we stood on a cliff top.

For lunch, we decided to abandon the car and walk down to a dark sanded beach. Much to my shock and terror I almost stood right on a snake!! Sam, of course, found this whole ordeal hilarious. He then began to chase said snake, whilst commentating in a Steve Irwin-esque voice.

Back in the car again heading south of Morro Bay towards Santa Maria we spotted a sign pointing to a nature observation point. Intrigued, we parked up again and boy were we glad we did! After walking a short beach side boardwalk we were stunned to see a huge group of Elephant Seals. These big guys were sunning themselves up on the beach completely oblivious to their dozens of spectators! Sam was rooting for them to fight (boys eh). He did manage to get some footage of the grumpy males having a heated confrontation!

What an epic two day journey. Now onto VEGAS BABY…


USA road trip: Day 7!

Another early start for us as we had a very long drive ahead. We left the beautiful Lake Tahoe and began heading back across to the west coast but taking the more scenic drive through Yosemite National park. Before we left Tahoe, we stopped briefly to have a look around the outlet shops, and who do we bump into but Ben Smith, former CrossFit games champion. After much nagging we agreed to have our photo taken with him…


Back on the road we really began to appreciate the size and scale of America and again the scenery just took our breath away.

IMG_2546 IMG_2547 IMG_2565 IMG_2561 IMG_2550 IMG_2549IMG_2552

As we proceeded through Yosemite we finally came across what Emma has been dreaming of for years and the same will go for any avid climber. We sat in awe at the infamous El Capitan, a climb that has taken the lives of so many in the past and will probably continue to do so.