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Is The Open for me?

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by coach Kelly Moates





Sooo The 2020 CrossFit Open is here.

Let’s review: The Open is the start of the CrossFit season. It consists of one workout per week for five weeks, starting on Oct 10th. Workouts are announced on Thursday evenings, and to bring us all together around the event, starting Oct 10th, we’ll be hosting Open Workout Announcement Parties every Thursday at 7:30pm! Come one, come all. You don’t have to be a member to attend.

Now, after the Thursday evening workout announcement, you’ll have until the following Monday at 8pm to complete the workout and submit your score. There are several divisions to compete in: RX, Scaled, Masters (ages 35 and up), and Teens (17 or younger). You can complete some WODs Rx and some scaled. You don’t have to do all of them one way or the other. Members of CFL get an additional incentive – each member that completes all of the workouts in order, and submits their scores to on time, receives a FREE pair of sweet chevron socks.








Now let’s get into what the Open really represents. People often see the competitiveness and think, that’s not for me. Some think that only the elite “athletes” are allowed to sign up and complete the Open. You may or may not fall into this category and if you do, you’re not alone. I used to believe that it was reserved for those trying to make it to the Crossfit Games. Well let me say that I now believe that it is truly for everyone else. Did you read that right? The Open is for everyone else? Like you and me?


The Open is truly for US. It is a worldwide competition between you and whoever else you want to include. It could be you vs. the world, you vs. your gym, you vs. your best friend, OR you vs. you. For me, the last option is the best option. Me vs. Me. Year after year I get to compete against myself and the place I finished the year before. I get to compare myself to me from the year before, and I set a baseline for the next year.

However you approach the Open, I hope you approach it. I hope you participate in it. This is the community that we talk about all the time. The Open brings CrossFitters from all over the world just a little bit closer. Think about that catchy Facebook commercial that came out after they sold all of your data. The one about making the world a little bit smaller. That’s what we get to do here, connect with our global fitness community. You are essentially training with every Crossfit box in the world. How cool is that?

I’ve hyped myself up just writing this. I’m on the fence every year because I get caught up in the “I don’t belong here” mindset. Please, please let me encourage you, YOU do BELONG here. This is for you and you’ll love yourself for completing it. Trust me.

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Getting Bulky

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by Coach Kelly Moates

There’s a question that seems to come up often in the CrossFit world:

“If I do CrossFit, will I get bulky?”

Let’s dig in for a minute.

People appreciate straightforwardness, right? This particular question typically comes from females but is not exclusive to one gender. All endurance athletes ask this question before starting any program with strength training. CrossFit is no different; we incorporate strength, conditioning, functional movements, high intensity, and broad time and modal domains into our program.

First, let’s note that the question is valid on the surface and there is no need to reprimand or judge someone for asking.

So, in answering the original question, “will I get bulky?”, the answer is, it is dependant on your body type as well as the amount of time you spend at the gym. You very well could gain muscle mass and therefore become bulky depending on your definition of the word. When my wife decided to try Crossfit for the first time I told her that she may gain weight. I wanted her to know that the reality was she would likely gain muscle and be “heavier” on the scale. This does not mean that her goals of being healthier and more tone were not achieved. Like most things, it’s a matter of perspective.

It’s also critical that we address two key points.

One, body image is the thing in question here and it’s deeper than looking in the mirror. Again, not gender-specific. You have to be kind to yourself and realize what your goals are. I think it’s important to remember the overarching theme of CrossFit – to live a richer life. We want to play with our dogs at the park, we want to pick up our kids, move our couch, run marathons, eat an entire pizza and not feel bad, etc. Our bodies are beautiful machines that afford us incredible benefits when we treat them right.

Two, there is no number two. Fitness is not that complicated. Do you feel good? Are your labs coming back clean? Can you engage in the activities that you enjoy? If the answer is yes to these then what the hell does bulky matter?

Love your body for all of the things it can do for you. Don’t attach a word to it because Instagram says you should look a certain way. Workout for the right reasons. Eat healthy for the right reasons. Bulky or not, are you fitter than you were the day before? Is your life better?


What is good nutrition?

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by our on-staff Registered Dietitian, Sara Sheridan

In the age of the Internet and social media, we are continuously inundated with new fad diets (does anyone remember the Cabbage Soup Diet?), diet “hacks” (drink apple cider vinegar every morning to lose weight fast!), and nutrition research (are egg yolks healthy or not??). It’s no wonder the general public thinks “eating healthy” is complicated, monotonous, and restrictive.

In reality, nutrition does not need to be rocket science. Nutrition and “eating healthy” becomes complicated when you try to emulate a diet that isn’t conducive to your body, goals, and/or lifestyle. If you have a family, a full-time job, and a 10-pound weight loss goal, then it doesn’t make sense to follow the diet of a full-time CrossFit athlete in the midst of cutting for a competition. On a less extreme level, it also doesn’t make sense to follow your coworker’s diet for weight loss – no two bodies are the same, and there is no “one size fits all” for nutrition.

When it comes to fueling your body for workouts and day to day life, the most important questions to answer are:

1. What works with your body?
2. What works for your goals?

In my opinion, good nutrition can be defined as balanced, wholesome eating that empowers your life. That definition is meant to be a bit vague in order to force everyone to do their own nutrition homework. Ultimately, you have to define what good nutrition means for YOU. This means experimenting with different foods, meal prep (or non-prep) scenarios, meal/snack timing, pre- and post-workout foods, etc. in order to figure out what works best for your body, lifestyle, and goals. Once you define good nutrition for yourself, you’re more likely to be successful with your goals long term.








When I say that good nutrition should empower your life, I mean that it should empower you both physically AND mentally. Having a healthy relationship with food is just as important as fueling your body properly. Food should not dictate your emotions or how you feel about yourself. The act of discovering your own definition of “good nutrition” sets you up to have a better relationship with food because you’re learning to accept and work with your body’s needs, preferences, and quirks. In turn, that snowballs into consistency with your eating, better energy levels during the day and at the gym, and improved self-image. By no means is this a fast process, but it is the most sustainable one.

How often should you work out?

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by Coach Kelly Moates

Loaded question: How often should you work out?

The answer requires another question, what are your fitness goals?

REMINDER: We are all athletes. Everyone that enters the gym becomes an athlete. There are coaches and athletes, that’s it.

As an athlete, I would say that you should be in the gym a minimum of three days a week over a seven day period. This is often my goal. Life can be hectic and three days is usually an attainable goal. Our fitness should never cause added or unwarranted stress. If your goal is four days a week and last week you only went three, that’s okay. Things happen and there is no reason to get bent out of shape because of it. Again, the goal of Crossfit is to the elevate your overall fitness. This includes mental and emotional fitness. Stress is to be reduced as a result of exercise, not induced.

That’s why I am writing this short post. Many times we get caught up in how many days we are supposed to work out or how many days other people seem to working out. With that, we lose sight of the reason we work out: to be healthy, to feel good. Don’t let your workout frequency be an added stressor in your life.

ABC’s of workout frequency:
A) Define your goal and determine a schedule that aligns. If you want to be a games athlete then you should probably move a cot into Jan’s office and live at the gym. If you just want to look and feel good, workout anywhere between three and five times a week. Take some rest. Take your fitness outside. Be active. Seven days a week is NOT necessary.
B) Go back and read the blog post from June!
C) Evaluate on a monthly basis. Do not look at a single week and let it determine your progress or even consistency. Take some time each month and evaluate the previous and make corrections if necessary.

*Stay tuned for the August blog post as we’ll share some personal stories of lives being changed because of CFL and maybe even address the, “will I get BULKY?” question.


Grace & Patience

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by Coach Kelly Moates

Holy potato, it’s already June! I’m sure that by now you’ve already reached your 2019 goals, whatever they are…


Things have gone exactly how you planned for them to and the weight is flying off or the muscles won’t stop growing…?

Allow me to offer an alternate reality – one where life happens and instead of going to the gym five days a week, you rarely make it twice. Or one where grocery shopping went really well for a month or so and now it’s like pulling teeth just trying to get the list together. These are fitness related but maybe you have other areas in your life where consistency has fallen off or things aren’t going quite like you thought they would. The easy answer is to go back to your old ways. The ones that drove you to make goals in the first place. The areas in your life that you were not comfortable with. Going back to that will undoubtedly be easier than my suggestions below.

So, let’s agree together that this journey is worth it and that you are worth the effort.

I’d like to be an encourager here. We are halfway through the year and we can look at the glass as half empty or half full. When we planned the topics for this year’s blog posts, I knew there had to be one about this very topic, so I came up with two words that make the most sense, grace & patience.

Grace to me is understanding that things will not always go our way and that it’s okay. We are human and odds are we probably set some lofty goals in the first place. Give yourself some grace and don’t judge yourself into inactivity.

Patience is all about understanding the process and seeing the big picture. Look back and see how far you’ve come. This fitness journey is a long game. A lifestyle. There will be peaks and valleys and we have to be okay with it.

Take a few days and assess your progress and your feelings toward that progress. If you find yourself frustrated remember what we talked about, be graceful. If you find yourself anxious, remember the word patience and trust the process. Now, you may be thinking, “Really, Kelly, two words are supposed to be the jumpstart I need?” And to that I’ll say, go back to the top and remind yourself that this is worth it and you are worth it. All I have done is given you tools, it’s your job to get the work done.

As the slightly creepy Rob Schneider would say, “You can do it!!”

Hero WODs

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by Coach Kelly Moates

What is a Hero WOD?

A Hero WOD “is a tribute to a fallen first responder or member of the military who has died in the line of duty.”

Hero WODs are often more difficult than your average workout of the day.

Why Hero WODs?

Many early adopters of CrossFit were military and public safety personnel. The high-intensity workouts of CrossFit made for great training in their respective fields. Now that CrossFit is a worldwide phenomenon, those humble beginnings are sometimes lost. Hero WODs are a tribute to those early adopters that are no longer with us.

Hero WODs are unique. They are especially difficult. They are rarely “fun” in the traditional sense. But they are always worth it. Hero WODs are the not-so-gentle reminders that the human body is to be celebrated for its abilities and more than that, life is to be celebrated. So often we dread doing a workout or weasel our way through just to get done. Hero WODs demand a different attitude. They command respect and deserve your best effort. If you have a particular “why” for working out, a Hero WOD can and should redefine your why. In my opinion, your best effort imparts the greatest ‘thank you’ to the individual that owns that workout title.  We are reminded of them on weekends like Memorial Day. There is a famous workout called Murph and it is an annual tradition to host that workout on Memorial Day. The WOD is is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.






This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.

CrossFitters and fitness folks alike take part in the grueling workout that is “Murph” for one single reason. Honor. It is out of great respect for our fallen men and women that we participate in workouts like Murph. Take some time this Memorial Day to remember those that paid a price for our freedom. Remember them well with a vicious Hero WOD.

2019 Memorial Day Murph in Athens, GA

This year, CrossFit Liberate, CrossFit Oconee, and Kill Cliff are teaming up to raise money for the Navy Seal Foundation. We’re expecting over 100 athletes to perform the Murph WOD bright and early on Memorial Day – Monday, May 27th – right here at CrossFit Liberate. This year’s iteration is going to be a new experience and should be a really great event for the two gym communities coming together on this – CrossFit Liberate and CrossFit Oconee. We’re going to close the street down in front of CrossFit Liberate to allow for space for friends and family to bring tents and chairs, as well as space for Rashe’s Cuisine and Kill Cliff. Should be a rad block party vibe. Kill Cliff is our presenting sponsor and is MATCHING what we raise through the event. Over half of your entry fee will be donated and then generously MATCHED by the Kill Cliff team. The goal is to raise over $6,000 for the Navy Seal Foundation, which provides a comprehensive set of programs to support the Naval Special Warfare community. They strive to improve health and welfare, build and enhance resiliency, empower and educate families and provide critical support during times of illness, injury, loss, and transition.

Be a part of something bigger than yourself this Memorial Day. Consider doing Murph with us this year!


Defining Injuries

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by Coach Kelly Moates

Do you ever get confused about the difference between soreness and injury? Perhaps soreness is a relatively new feeling for you and you confuse it for injury. The basic rule of thumb is that soreness is temporary and should be relieved one to three days post activity. Soreness is rarely a sharp or debilitating sensation. Injury, on the other hand, is a feeling that doesn’t seem to go away. It can persist for weeks or even months.

“When soreness is accompanied by sharp pains or aches that continue to linger on after a few days, it may be cause for concern…” Rebound physical therapist Mike Baer

When something is nagging you, it just requires extra love. Don’t ignore it. An injury will typically not go away without some form of treatment, even if that treatment is simply extra stretching or some scaling of your workouts. The answer is rarely to do nothing. While some rest is always a part of the recovery equation, I have found that an active rest is much more beneficial than doing nothing. Rest may look like taking a few days worth of workouts slower and supplementing extra pre- and post-workout corrective movements.  

Here is where I will unashamedly plug our friends at Horizon PT. We are extremely fortunate to have them as accessible as they are. I believe in physical therapy and massage therapy as forms of recovery from injury. The sooner we get treatment the sooner the pain or discomfort will subside. The last thing you want to do is let something compound and get worse. Take advantage of the resources that are available. In order to prevent injury, I would recommend getting a functional movement screening if you haven’t already. Horizon offers these to all new members and it will give you an indication of where your movement patterns are slightly deficient. The stretches and warm-ups they suggest from this screening will be the ones you do to prevent injury in the first place.

“Physical therapy can help you identify the body mechanics that led to the injury, help you manage pain and learn ways to overcome injury and prevent future injury. A physical therapist will work with you to create a recovery plan that suits your needs and focuses on conditioning and strengthening your muscles and joints.”

My final thoughts are personal. Don’t be like me and allow your reluctance to do a particular workout affect the way you prepare for it. If we are not careful, simply showing up can hurt us, because Crossfit requires more than the average workout. We should treat it that way by implementing pre and post workout routines. They are just as important as the workout itself. While we as a gym try to program sufficient warm-ups, there may be times when you have an ailment that requires something more specific. Take the initiative and do the work. We are more than happy to help solve a problem before it persists. I love when athletes ask for extra work or a stretch to help a certain movement. Once you have identified whether or not a sensation is soreness or an injury, do the work to remedy it immediately.

P.S. – Remember soreness is temporary and should subside. Soreness does not equal injury. Those times when it’s hard to get on and off the toilet should be points of pride for you. Celebrate soreness, address injury.


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Written by Coach Kelly Moates

Myth: Scaling means I am weak.

Truth: Scaling enables me to match the workout movements and intensity to my level of fitness.

Myth: Reaching Rx/prescribed should always be my goal.

My best effort, while constantly improving should always be my goal.

I have mixed feelings about workouts being posted with the RX version shown. I completely understand the logic behind it and I do think it is the most effective way to post a WOD (workout of the day) but my issue is with how RX is portrayed to new CrossFitters and in some cases, long time CrossFitters. Not being able to do RX means nothing when it comes to your fitness. RX is for elite athletes. It is always written for the ones we see at the Games and being that athlete is not the goal for many of us. The majority of us simply want to be the healthiest versions of ourselves that we can be. I know that is my goal.

I used to be the guy that wanted all of my workouts to be done as prescribed (RX) and if I wasn’t capable of doing it, I was unhappy. If that is you I would encourage you to reconsider. Each workout is written for a purpose. It is meant to be taxing either cardiovascularly or muscularly, high heart rate or high skill, strength or speed. In some cases, it can tax all of the above. Every time, the RX weight and movement is meant to reach that stimulus for elite athletes. For us, you and me, we should be scaling. We should adjust the workout so that we are getting a similar stimulus. Making a seven-minute workout last twenty minutes because you want RX is completely missing the point. You have just changed the stimulus, therefore changing the workout completely. As a coach, I always tell people that everyone should be finishing a workout at roughly the same time. Your scale should match the elite when it comes to the time domain. Mind you, elite does not mean better, it simply means that person has a goal of reaching high-level fitness. Often times, elite athletes have greater motivations than just overall health, typically some competitive goal.

So, what’s the goal, if getting to RX, or prescribed, is not the end game? In my opinion, your goal should be to make each workout as challenging yet accessible as possible. Work hard at adding movement capabilities as opposed to weight. Some people will never do a muscle up and some will never squat three hundred pounds but that does not mean that you are getting any less of a workout doing ring rows and squats to a ball.

The beauty of Crossfit is its scalability.

My goal is to move well. If we are performing a movement well and our strength level has surpassed that scale, then we move up a rung. Try the next scale or prescribed movement/weight. Until we reach the point where movement patterns, under load (weight), are sound there is no sense in moving ahead. Trust the process and trust your coach. Whether we advise more or less scaling, listen. Your best interest is in mind with the decisions that we make. One day, yes, you may get to point where you are capable of doing movements and weights as prescribed, but until then enjoy the process.


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by Coach Kelly Moates

I have a couple of questions before we get into this. How connected are you? I don’t mean in the political or socioeconomic sense but how connected is your life to others?

At Crossfit Liberate, community is a staple. It is a calling card and frankly, it’s one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest reason that our membership is growing every day. Community is more than just working out in the same space. Community is connectedness. When my life is tied to someone else’s for any reason, be it emotional support, accountability, motivation, education, or anything else, I am better. It’s as simple as that. We are better, connected. I think that is what makes Crossfit stick out and more specifically, what makes Crossfit Liberate rise above the rest. There is a community here like none other.

To be fair, I am definitely biased. I am a part of the awesome community and my view is from within but I think anyone standing on the outside looking in would find what we have here is pretty special. My role is not necessarily to write a blog post that inflates the ego of this gym or its founders. I see this as an opportunity to be honest, and the truth is, fitness cannot happen without community. Even those in non-Crossfit flavored gyms typically find others to workout with. It takes a special person to consistently wake up and train by themselves. Those folks tend to be in a league of their own. I, for one, am not that person and most of us are not. The reality of the situation is that community or connectedness is the magic formula. I’m confident that if you were to ask a current member why they love the gym, the specific workouts we do would not be their first response. They are likely to say, “I love the people or the atmosphere or the encouragement.” Seriously, go ask someone you know that is a member why they keep coming back.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, and no, we are not a cult. You don’t have to drink the kool-aid, although we do drink the Kill Cliff (Shoutout to Kaitlin), to understand and join this community. What’s most weird and strange about us Crossfit Liberaters is that we endure the pain of each workout because we love the company. We love being connected, in some small way, to each person in our class. That is community.

My encouragement to those who are members of CFL is to reach out to those around you in class. Introduce yourself to someone new everyday. If you are new, I hope that you have been welcomed properly but don’t wait for community to come to you, go get it. Get connected to those that you see on a regular basis. And for those on the outside looking in, give it a chance. Fitness is a lifelong journey and like everything else in life, the way to make it sustainable is to do it with others. I’ll get real for a second, I am an introvert. Lots of people make me anxious. But people make life worth it. Find your community and get connected. Life is better this way.



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by coach Kelly Moates

Welp, here we are halfway through January. How are those resolutions coming? What about your goals and your “one word”? Regardless of how you went about starting this new year, the questions remains: How’s it going? Are you just as motivated as when you embarked on this new journey? It’s fascinating how quickly motivation can wane.

There is something to be said for applying Newton’s First Law to motivation. Once an object is in motion it will continue in motion until something knocks it off track. In the same way, an object at rest will stay there until something prompts movement. I hope you hear this right, you may go through ebbs and flows of fitness or anything in life but it’s all about starting. Once you start, the ball will roll. But this is where the similarities to Newton’s Law end. Our objects, or goals, won’t remain in motion without our attention. Each new day requires a new start. While that seems daunting don’t let it scare you. It simply means that you have a choice every day whether you are going to start the snowball or not.

Motivation is the first force that gets you going. And sticking with the theme of analogies, let’s use another one. Staying motivated is much like plugging into a charger. Once you have your power source, i.e. motivation, then you know where to go when times are tough. When it’s 5:00 am and you have zero desire to go to the gym or Sunday afternoon and you still haven’t grocery shopped for the week. In times like those, you will need to find your charging station. Your original motivation is that charging station. Don’t lose sight of it and don’t let it lose importance.

The point is this, motivation does not have to come in the form of a hype Youtube video or sticky notes covering your bathroom mirror, although those things may help. Motivation instead is holding on to the answer of your “why” question and knowing exactly what to do to find it in times of need. Why did you move toward your particular goal in the first place? What was the driving force then and how can you continue to use it to motivate you now?