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What’s your ‘Why’?

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by Head Coach Nat Walker

“10 seconds!”, the coach shouts at the class over the music.
 That’s when the jitters hit. The nervous thoughts of “What am I about to do? Why in the hell am I about to put myself through this?” If you’ve been doing CrossFit or competing in sport for long, you probably know these thoughts all too well. I’ve been doing CrossFit for 6 years, and these thoughts manage to creep in right before a lot of workouts. I believe it’s the mind’s way of trying to save you from the physical pain you’re about to put your body through, and I believe that if you don’t have a strong enough “why” for what you’re doing, the thoughts will win. That’s what I want to talk about in this article: finding your own personal “why” for what we put ourselves through. Because, let’s be honest here, we are all just a little bit nutty for choosing this particular path to being better, fitter people. Torn hands, scraped shins, bruised collar bones, sore muscles, and lying on the floor gasping for air are just a few CrossFit byproducts. Being secure in your own mind about your path on this journey will help justify them.

So why are you here and what keeps you coming back every day?

Yes, the most common goals are to get fit and look good. But I’m asking you to look deeper than that. Really think about it: what are some other reasons that these “constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensity” are the right path for you? Do you have kids that you want to be able to keep up with? Would you like to run a race, climb a mountain, bike for miles, learn a new sport, excel at an existing one, sit up straight at work, or just be able to sit and stand confidently as age begins to take hold? The list goes on and is seemingly endless. What a cool thing to consider! These are the thoughts and goals that I feel are often left at the door of the gym as most become a little too concerned with “fitness for fitness’ sake.” Don’t get me wrong: that’s a great reason to be in the gym, but it doesn’t apply to everyone. My job as your coach is to teach you and challenge you physically, of course, but I also want to challenge you all to apply your fitness to your life outside the gym. To do that, I believe it’s best to really figure out the reason(s) why you take the step to go to class and endure our brand of recommended suffering.

I’d love to share some of my “why” with you all. Maybe to shed some light on how I tick, or just to confirm for you that I’m a nut. Keeping my fitness at my upper level helps me to be prepared for most anything life decides to throw at me. I’ve had many different professions during my time as a CrossFit coach and athlete, and I’ve always noticed the advantage that this training method has given me. When I was doing carpentry full time, I saw the results in being able to work overhead for a longer period with greater strength and stability. As an arborist and tree climber, the physical demands of running a chainsaw in a tree are quite high. Doing the proper training in the gym has given me the core and muscular strength to put myself into safe and effective positions so that I can complete my tasks while better managing injury risk. On more of the fun side, I’m also able to participate in almost any outdoor activity that’s presented to me, which is where my biggest passions live. These and many more are situations where I’ve called upon my prepared fitness to help me be successful. These are the things I think about in the middle of those “terrible” workouts where I feel like quitting and walking away. Yes, I absolutely have those thoughts regularly, usually with some expletives tossed in there, too.
 So this is my challenge to you as you travel the road of CrossFit and fitness. Find those reasons that keep you motivated through the hardest physical strife. Build up your mental strength to compliment your physical strength. Holding fast to those reasons will help you push through the rough days of training when your body feels like it’s filled with cement and just won’t move. To borrow a phrase from the Special Forces community that has helped me immensely over the years: “Your body is going to tell you it can’t go any farther, that it’s weak. This is where your mind tells it that you’re strong” Please feel free to share your “why” with me or any of us at the gym. That way, we can all help each other. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the gym!

Guest Blogger: Jimbo Wood of Horizon Physical Therapy

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By Jimbo Wood, Horizon Physical Therapy.
For more info on our partnership with Horizon Physical Therapy, click HERE and HERE.

The thing that I’ve always loved about my career as a physical therapist is that often I get to play the role of a detective.  I’ll give you an example: a CrossFit athlete comes in and reports knee pain with running and squatting after years of working out at the local CrossFit box.  Standard medical practice says we should take x-rays of the knee to rule out anything serious and then likely put the athlete on some type of anti-inflammatory medication to decrease the athlete’s symptoms.  I’m not saying this course of action is inappropriate, but I think if these are the only interventions, we’re missing the mark.  I like that my career allows and even encourages me to think more globally about a patient’s symptoms.  As a PT, I want to watch this athlete squat.  I want to watch this athlete run.  I want to examine the hips, the spine, and the ankles of this athlete and see if this is purely a knee issue, or if there are other movement restrictions that are over-stressing the knee and resulting in the athlete’s pain.  This is unique to physical therapy.  This is not standard medical practice.

At HPT, we recently studied a research article from The Journal of Orthopedic Physical Therapy Practice entitled “Treatment of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Using Non-thrust Mobilizations to the Thoracic Spine and Ribs:  A Case Report” .  In this report, therapists treated an overhead lifting athlete’s shoulder pain using the theory of regional interdependence– the idea that pain, or, in this patient’s case shoulder impingement syndrome, may be caused by a restriction or dysfunction in another area.  In this report, therapists treated the patient’s shoulder impingement symptoms by focusing on improving mobility in the patient’s thoracic spine (the area of the spine where the ribs reside).  The patient had been given a cortisone injection and some exercises by his doctor, which proved ineffective prior to the onset of PT.  After 6 visits of PT and some home exercises, the patient was back to doing his workouts without pain.

Now I’m not trying to say that all shoulder pain is correctable by treating the spine, and I’m also not promising that we get everyone better in 6 visits.  What I’m trying to say is that most dysfunctions are not isolated issues, but they’re regional issues.  If we only treat shoulder pain by treating the shoulder, we normally miss the mark.  I encourage you to find a healthcare provider who thinks outside of the proverbial healthcare box and watches your body move, assessing your symptoms in lieu of the surrounding tissues.  Think outside of the box, so you can be more successful and pain-free in the box!

30-Day Money Back Guarantee

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It’s New Year’s Resolution season. Losing weight or improving health/wellness/fitness is on a lot of resolution lists right now. As such, we at CrossFit Liberate know we’re in the spotlight this month. We suspect we’ll see lots of interest in who we are, what we do, and why we do what we do.

You might be expecting us to capitalize on this and offer discounts or specials deals this month. Well, we’re not doing that.


Instead, because we’re so dang confident in what we do – improving community wellness through fitness, nutrition, and fun – we’re going to give new members that sign up in January a money back guarantee.  Sign up during the month of January, stick to the terms of the guarantee, and get your money back after 30 days if it’s not working out. No questions asked!

Interested? All we ask is that you come workout with us 3 times per week and stick to a personalized nutrition plan we’ll provide you when you start up with us.  If you’re not happy with what we do and how we do it after 30 days, we’ll happily give you your money back.

Want to give us a try? Click on one of the START HERE buttons to the right, or give us a call at 706-350-4701!

Happy New Year! Let’s make 2018 your healthiest and fittest yet.

Improving movement and quality of life

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While pain-free range of motion may be our goal within a workout, improving movement quality, creating greater range of motion without pain, and ultimately improving quality of life is our long-term goal for our member athletes. Improving athletes’ health and reducing injury risk is of the utmost importance for their consistent development and for the achievement of their goals.

Basically, we want to see you in the gym often, getting fitter, having fun, and feeling awesome.

So, how do we do that? One big step in making that happen is our partnership with Horizon Physical Therapy. Our Functional Movement Screen program through Horizon PT has already impacted many of our members. Building on this, we’re excited and proud to announce that, starting in January 2018, Horizon will be providing an array of services from our on-site body-work room. Think compression boot therapy, Graston/Gua Sha, dry needling, mobilizations, and more! This is going to change lives, and we couldn’t be more pumped about offering this value to our members.

Have a Holiday Helping of Fitness

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The holidays. A time for family, food, and….. fitness?

Fitness can sometimes take a back seat to holiday festivities. Between the travel, office parties, decadent foods, and cold weather (who wants to leave the house when it’s freezing out?), it’s no wonder we look to the new year to rewrite and rekindle our fitness goals.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! A little fitness and mindfulness around eating can make a significant difference in how this season treats you. With that said, we’ve put together some tips and programming to get you through this tough season.

Let’s start with the tips:

  1. Moderation! A slice of pie is fine. A whole pie isn’t a great idea, though. This key tip applies to any season, really.
  2. It’s ok to say no! Really. If a loved one offers you a treat that you don’t need, repeat after me “Oh, no, thank you, I just ate a huge meal.”
  3. Eat regular meals. Don’t starve yourself all day to prep for one huge meal. Chances are, you’ll overeat! And feel terrible.
  4. Try to get some movement in every day. Could be a 30-min walk. Or some youtube yoga. Or one of the workouts below! This daily movement will help you feel sane and give you something to build your day around.
  5. Travel with good food. Truck stops are not farmers markets, and neither are airports. If you’re driving, pack a cooler with healthy, wholesome foods (meal prep!) and fill a bag with non-perishable healthy snacks.  If you’re flying, non-perishable, non-liquids are good ideas. Stick to trail mix, protein bars, dried fruits, jerky, and such.

In addition to the tips above, we thought y’all might enjoy some great at-home or travel workouts to get you through your time away from CrossFit Liberate without losing all that hard-fought progress. These workouts require minimal equipment or no equipment at all, will still get you huffing and puffing, and get you a good deal fitter than no workout at all!






First thing’s first – you’ll need a basic timer. Every smartphone has one in the default clock app, or you can get fancy and download any number of decent and free WOD clocks in the app store.

So! Here are some of our staff’s fave travel/at-home WODs:

Nat – 

In 30 minutes, as many rounds and reps as possible, of
12 situps
6 pushups
12 air squats
400m run

Jan – 

Every minute on the minute for 10 mins perform
10 pushups + 10 air squats
-rest 2 minutes-
Every minute on the minute for 10 mins perform
10 lunges + 10 situps
-rest 2 minutes-
Every minute on the minute for 10 mins perform
10 chair dips + 10 seconds of mountain climbers

Nathan – 

4 Rounds for Time of
400m run + 50 air squats

Kendall –

300 air squats for time

Bobby – 

3 rounds, for as many reps as possible, of:
0:00-2:00 – 200m run + high knees in remaining time
2:00-3:00 – burpees
3:00-4:00 – air squats
4:00-5:00 – plank position (as many seconds as possible)

Brynn – 

100 burpees for time


Let us know what you think of these tips and WODs. Share your times and rep counts! Share some pie, too? We hope y’all have a joyous, healthy, and fit holiday season!


Meet Your Coach: Nat Walker

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  If you’ve ever walked into the doors at CrossFit Liberate chances are you’ve seen our head coach, Nat Walker. He may be behind the desk, coaching a class, or finding a new way to rig the ropes. You never really know because Nat is one of the those people who does a little bit of everything. Literally. We aren’t exaggerating when we say that this head coach has a whole slew of experiences under his belt that make him one pretty interesting guy.
Are you curious yet? See below for an abbreviated history of Nat Walker:
    Nat is from the fair isle of St. Simons Islands, GA. He grew up there, which we can all immediately be jealous of. After leaving the island for college he realized that there were a lot of other things that sounded way more interesting. What could possibly be more exciting that college? Well, how about working as a wildland firefighter in Oregon? Or spending a semester in an outdoor leadership program in the Rocky Mountains? Working a ropes course? Developing skills as a carpenter? Heck, he even worked in the restaurant biz and worked his way up from a dishwasher to a chef.  Yeah, nbd (no big deal, for those of you have no idea what “nbd” means, we got you).
     So now you’re probably like “Ok, so this guy is cool. He’s been on adventures. How did he end up coaching CrossFit in Athens, GA?”. Well, let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start (ok, well, maybe the middle but its always fun to throw lines from musicals into blogs). After fighting fires and living the mountain man life Nat decided to join the army. At the suggestion of his recruiter, he decided to try out CrossFit as a way to get in shape. Just like everyone else to ever try this workout Nat specifically remembers his first class. “My first class was deadlifts and pushups. I had 115lbs on the bar and this 16-year-old girl next to me had 155lb and acted like it was nothing and smoked me in the workout. Yeah, that was a humbling experience.” Sound familiar? After joining the Air Force via the Delayed Enlistment Program, Nat continued to work out utilizing CrossFit modalities. However, in 2013, he tore two ligaments in his wrist (if you ask him about it he can vividly describe the sensation and sound….ew). This resulted in a medical discharge from the army as well as putting a temporary halt to his CrossFit routine. That’s where Athens comes in.
    He had actually already spent some time in Athens back in 2007 and decided it was a good place to end up. So he brought an old 1971 camper up to the Classic City, set up camp (in a permanent way) and became an Athenian. He continued to work as a carpenter, arborist, and even helped open a climbing gym. Around this time he was approached by the founders of CrossFit Liberate about being their head coach.
    Nat is a natural fit for this job because he immediately recognized and identified with the vision of CrossFit Liberate. Here we are all about being a community, about supporting one another, building each other up and making your time in this space the best hour (or so) of your day. That is exactly what our head coach identifies as his favorite thing about CrossFit. “Doing this work is hard. Doing it solo is even harder and can be self-deprecating in a way. I guess I’m old school when it comes to brotherhood and camaraderie but that’s what I find in this type of workout.” We’d have to agree with you on that one Coach Nat.
 One of the things that makes Nat such a great coach is that he doesn’t forget what it was like to walk in and take that first class. He remembers that desire to change but also that “You have to be patient with yourself and listen to your body. People who come to CrossFit are often here to make a significant change but you also have to be willing to be patient with that.” Remember that people, patience is a good thing.
    Not only is being CrossFit Liberate’s Head Coach all about knowledge of technical movements but there’s a people science to it as well. “You have to be able to read people’s personalities. Finding someone’s inner drive is different for everyone. Some people walk in the gym and want to show off immediately and it’s up to you to temper that. Other people need help feeling at ease and others just need some coaching to come out of their shell. I learned a lot about leading others during my leadership studies in the Rockies. You can’t tell people what to do, you have to show them. Just telling people something makes you a boss, not a leader, and I vow to never be that type of leader.” We’ll just let you sit and digest that for second…How awesome is it to know that every day you’re walking into a space where you’re being coached by someone who wants to help you in your most individual way? Pretty freaking awesome.

    So, next time your in the gym and see Nat ask him about his firefighting days, the snatch (it’s his favorite movement due to the complexity), his 1971 camper (fondly named Jolene) which is being rebuilt into a tiny house, or his really dexterous toes (seriously, do it). Whatever you decide to strike up a conversation about this dude is down. Coaches like Nat are what make CrossFit Liberate one of the most welcoming communities you’ll find. We’re excited that you’ve chosen to become part of it.

Our nutrition philosophy

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 If you were to walk into a room full of people and ask what nutrition is you would probably receive a handful of various answers. Some people have a positive response…. but seriously, most people probably draw back and instantly think of terms like “healthy”, “diet”, or “that means that I can’t eat <insert favorite edible vice here>”. Open any dictionary and you’ll find the definition of nutrition as “obtaining the food necessary for growth and health”. Meh. Not very exciting. At all.
    That’s where we, at CrossFit Liberate, see an opportunity to maximize your health journey. Yes, we do agree that nutrition is a way to promote growth and health but we also see it as so much more. We like food. A lot. And we like food that makes us feel good, alive, and happier versions of ourselves. We believe in eating good food. We believe in eating food that nourishes us. We believe in focusing on food as a component of fitness.
    Now, let’s define what good food is here before you carried away with ideas of queso and cupcakes. Good food is whole food. Food that is as natural as you can find it with minimal processing. Basically, let’s get back to eating the real stuff! Foods that are raised and/or grown such as meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, some starches, and as little sugar as possible. These foods are nutrient dense and provide everything we need so why not have as much of it as possible?
eat lots of these!
    Wasn’t what you were wanting to hear? Or maybe it is a now your psyched and want to know more about how to hop on this nutrition train. Good news, for both you peeps. We’ve got some great programs coming your way to help you create and maintain a nutrition plan that works for you. Just like we optimize our workouts to help you find your highest level of fitness, we would love to sit down with you and work together to help you discover what your version of nutrition looks like. We’ve got an excellent team that is here to support you, hold you accountable, and acknowledge your successes. On staff, we have our coach Brynn, who is a Whole30 Certified Coach Candidate as well as an Integrative RN Health Coach Candidate. Set up a one on one coaching session, show up for some of our nutrition workshops and demos, or join one of our gym challenges and navigate your new plan with your fellow CrossFit Liberate athletes.
    We can’t wait to see the changes you can make in your life not only by joining our community of athletes but also by supplementing it with a personal food and a nutrition philosophy. After all, abs are made in the kitchen. And where’s that kitchen? Right here at CrossFit Liberate. See you soon friends!

Flooring, fans, and fitness

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We’ve been very busy here at CrossFit Liberate.  Our tentative opening date is……..

October 9th!

Cannot believe it’s finally happening, and yet we’re totally ready to open and host y’all for some fitness.

Make sure you stay tuned to everything going on via our social media channels – Instagram and Facebook.

We’ve hosted community WODs at Bishop Park, Fleet Feet in Five Points, Creature Comforts (mmmm, beer), and Lululemon. If you’ve joined us, we thank you for trusting us with your fitness and we appreciate your support.

If you’re considering becoming a member, take note that our Founder’s Club offer is our very best rate we’ll ever offer, and is limited to the first 50 members who join.  More info is available here –


This week, things have really been coming together at our facility. Where is it, you say? We’re located in an old seed mill in downtown Athens, at 425 E Dougherty St!

Our vast 35ft ceilings mean lots of air to move around, so we’re jazzed that our two 14ft high volume ceiling fans were finally installed. They look amazing and very powerful! These will be keeping us cool in the hot months, and recirculating lovely warm air in the winter!

Even bigger news is that our flooring, locker rooms, bathrooms, turf room, and childcare room are in place and nearly ready.

The main gym floor is an incredible, seamless rubber roll, called eCore Rally, which means it won’t collect grime and sweat and germs in the cracks like with stall mats. AND it feels like clouds when you walk on it! Can’t wait to break it in with some WODs

Our bathrooms and locker rooms are air-conditioned, and each has two sinks, two toilets, two showers, and a 24-count bank of lockers which we’ll have available for rent or day-use. You’ll be able to sweat it out and lay it all out there, and then get perfectly cleaned up for work or a night out in these amazing locker rooms.

The turf room has cushy athletic turf installed seamlessly, just like our main floor. We’ll host our Foundations courses in here, as well as program WODs with all kinds of turf appropriate activities – shuttle sprints, tire flips, sled drags/pushes, yoke carries, and gymnastics.  So much room for so many activities!

And finally, our childcare room features the same eCore Rally flooring, air-conditioning (!!), playful lighting, and plenty of toys for the kiddos.  Childcare is complimentary with your membership, and we’ll offer that during our afternoon classes to start. Just ask your coach for more details.  Childcare will be staffed by a separate, dedicated staff member to ensure their full attention is devoted to your kids. Ages 6 months to 12 years are welcome.

Next week, we’ll be hard at work getting our equipment set up, arranging the space so it’s optimized for fitness, and making final arrangements for opening day.

Wish us luck on this final push!! We absolutely cannot wait to share CrossFit Liberate with you. Again, make sure you follow along on social media for the very latest.




Making the most of your time at CrossFit Liberate.

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Trust us. We understand busy schedules. In fact, many of the members we have here at CrossFit Liberate initially joined because they needed a more efficient workout that didn’t require them to be in the gym for hours at a time.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of ways you can make your time at the box as productive and fulfilling as possible.



While you generally enjoy coming into the box, there are some days when maybe overtime at work, school papers, family issues and other nasty things can really get you in the mood to skip the WOD “just because.”

A good way to deter the “just because” excuse is to get into the habit of coming in at the same time on the same days. Once you’ve created this habit, it becomes automatic. You’ll find yourself going to the box without any force involved regardless of the plants who could probably use watering (or any other strange excuse you give yourself.)

Bottom line: A schedule keeps you consistent, and consistency is the key to forming healthy habits.


If you’re serious about hitting your fitness goal, it’s critical to track your progress. And we don’t mean stepping on the scale every morning and completely freaking out at any increase in weight.

Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re doing it right you’ll be gaining lean muscle while you’re losing fat which doesn’t always result in seeing a lower number on the scale.

Throw out that scale and buy a notebook. Keeping track of your workouts and progress will help you train with a purpose. If you did 5 back squats at 135 a few months ago, and that sequence has come up again, well now you’ll know what number to shoot higher than.

Bottom line: Knowing what you did yesterday will help you be better today.


Many of us get into the habit of coming in on-time and leaving on-time. That’s by no means a bad habit. But to make the most of your workout, the best thing you can do is put in a little extra time before and after class.

We know, working out before working out sounds like advice from a crazy person, but it’s really the key to taking your fitness to the next level.

It’s no news to say that putting in some extra credit will turn you into a better athlete, but when you do it with other athletes that like to go above and beyond outside of class times, you’re fostering some really positive relationships. That’s when the true awesomeness happens.

Bottom line: To get the most out of your training session, put in some extra work both physically and socially


It’s ok to admit that you feel a little intimidated to ask for help at the box. But don’t be! Even those big, huge, grunting, bearded guys were new once. Everyone has been in the same spot and there’s absolutely no shame in needing some extra help to understand a movement. In fact, that’s the sign of a smart athlete who’s on their way to big things.

Bottom line: There’s no such thing as a stupid question. Except for maybe, “Can I pee before you start the clock?” We don’t like that one.


Are you the type to only drink water when you’re feeling really thirsty or maybe you like to chug the majority of your day’s water intake right before and after a WOD? Well, you might want to change that and here’s why.

Feeling thirsty and getting dry mouth indicates that your body is already dehydrated. Dehydration can reduce the volume of blood pumped by the heart which means less oxygen to the muscles which often results in premature fatigue. And if you try to quick fix your dehydration by drinking lots of fluid right before class it can cause bloating and cramping. That’s a terrible way to suffer through a WOD.

This is especially important for women. “Women are not small men,” says Stacy Sims, Ph.D., exercise physiologist-nutrition scientist. “They’re five times more likely than men to have GI problems when exercising . . . women are also more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Bottom line: To get the most out of your training session, stay hydrated all day long before you step foot into the box.


We want you to sleep more. In fact, we insist you sleep more. We can’t stress enough the importance of getting a good night’s rest because without it, all the training and dieting in the world will just be a waste of time.

It’s hard to believe that something you do when you’re not even awake can be one of the most important ways you can make the most out of your training sessions, but it’s true. To put it simply, lack of sleep stresses out your body which cases weight gain and anxiety.

Bottom line: Prioritize your sleep. Prioritize your well-being.


Stretching and becoming more flexible really shouldn’t take a back seat in your plan to become a fitter you. If we could tack on an extra 30 minutes to the WOD for mobility, we’d do just that! An hour a day at the box isn’t going to undo a lifetime of sitting on your bum craning over a keyboard.

Invest in a few key items for home like a foam roller and a PVC pipe to improve your range of motion while you’re watching TV or right before bed. Practicing mobility at home will improve your overall athletic ability and will decrease the risk of injury.

Bottom line: Mobilize everywhere and invest in the tools to do so.