Open Magic


Open Magic

The 2017 Open is over! Everyone who competed gave it their very best and we couldn't be more proud of our NCR athletes – NCR NATION! Here is a look at the numbers from this year's Open at NCR:

141 - athletes signed up

73 - athletes completed all five workouts as prescribed (Rx)

51 - athletes completed 17.1 under the time cap, Rx 

57 - athletes completed at least one bar muscle up in 17.2

13 - athletes completed at least 1 snatch at 135/185 lbs. in 17.3

52 - athletes completed at least 1 handstand pushup in 17.4

86 - athletes completed 17.5 under the time cap, Rx

Louis going to "that dark place" in 17.1 (photo: @93Agency)

Louis going to "that dark place" in 17.1 (photo: @93Agency)

The numbers above only tell part of the story. Some of the most inspiring performances over the course of the five weeks evoked an emotion only felt in that moment, in a sort of "you had to be there" kind of way.

Some specific performances that come to mind:

Christine Côté having an out of body experience in 17.2 and performing 10 bar muscle-ups for a total score of 88 repetitions. This was after only having learned bar muscle-ups five days before...

Christine Côté (photo: @93Agency)

Christine Côté (photo: @93Agency)

Mohab Mafouz performing 17.4 and coming six calories short of his 16.4 score. Except last year he performed it scaled and this year he did it Rx...

Mohab Mafouz (photo: @93Agency)

Mohab Mafouz (photo: @93Agency)

And Kim Carroll's determination to complete every workout as prescribed, even when she hates double-unders and the time cap is 40 minutes. Having strung together her first 15 unbroken double-unders a few weeks prior, Kim was only 17 double-unders away from finishing 17.5...

Kim Carroll (photo: @93Agency)

Kim Carroll (photo: @93Agency)

It's performances like these that define the Open. There's a reason we compare these five weeks to Christmas at NCR; this time of year is truly magical.

Some people say the Open is not about competition, but that isn't true at all. The Open, in it's purest sense, is a demonstration of the power of competition on athletic performance. Eleven months out of the year our coaches preach intensity and offer strategy to maximize power output in daily workouts. Sometimes we will offer anecdotes to inspire mental focus and drive. But often we wait until that twelfth month and let the Open do the talking.

The beauty of the Open is that once you complete the workout and submit your score, your performance is permanently etched in time on a public leaderboard. The fact that this makes you uneasy is a good thing. It is the uneasiness that drives you to put forth your very best effort. Whether you're competing against your friends or competing against yourself, you want to make sure that the results align with your true athletic capabilities. For this, you drive yourself into the ground, once a week, for five weeks. 

The end of the Open signals a time for reflection. We have all discovered things about ourselves we didn't know before. This information is useful. Just as the year turns and we find ourselves coming to a fork in the road on our quest to health and fitness, the Open provides us with a roadmap to get us through the next 11 months. If you're not sure how to read it, we have coaches who can guide you. If you're feeling unmotivated, we have 300 members who can cheer for you. If you didn't do the Open, there's always next year.

Here's to becoming better versions of ourselves. Here's to the Open.

– Coach Pete

St. Patty's Day 17.4 Thursday Throwdown with Mr. Moe, Milad, Steve O., J.D., and Joey. (photo: @93Agency)

St. Patty's Day 17.4 Thursday Throwdown with Mr. Moe, Milad, Steve O., J.D., and Joey. (photo: @93Agency)




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Athlete Spotlight: Soraya Moghadam

Forward by Pete Shaw

Soraya Moghadam joined NCR in February 2015 not knowing what she was getting herself into.  She had set the generic goals typical of any normal person looking to progress their fitness and now only cares about her max snatch and clean and jerk.  Every day Soraya walks into the gym with a smile on her face wondering how to attack the Workout Of the Day and still gets butterflies thinking about overhead squats. 

I have had the pleasure of training Soraya one-on-one and I can tell you first hand that she has made leaps and bounds in her fitness.  She is always determined to give the workout her very best and is the first to be inspired by other athletes' performances.  We asked Soraya to describe her experience at NCR and this is what she had to say...

Soraya performing 16.5

Soraya performing 16.5

"I'm So Glad I Started CrossFit"

by Soraya Moghadam

Every New Year’s Eve for the past number of years I have made the same resolutions dealing with food and fitness.  My final goals were always the same: to lose 10-20 lbs. I have done a number of things in the past, such as running several ½ marathons per year, cross-country skiing, cycling, swimming, doing cardio and power lifting at the gym, as well as a combo of the above.

All of that was fine, and I felt like I was fit, but my weight and body composition mostly stayed the same.  Plus, I was getting bored and finding it a chore to get to the gym or to go for a run. 

So in January 2015 I decided to push myself more and try something different.  I thought I should try ‘Body Boot Camp’.  I checked out some nearby sites on Facebook but was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a place nearby, so I gave up.  Then Facebook suggested ‘CrossFit NCR’ and to be honest, I groaned a bit at the thought of CrossFit.  I admit I didn’t know much about it, but the little I thought I knew was that it was some sort of hard core exercise fad with muscular, macho protein-shake-drinking ‘tough guys’ who would put down anyone who tried to caution them on the dangers of this fad.  To be honest, they kind of scared me.  But then I noticed it was near my home, a family member had a friend who went to NCR daily and loved it, and I was still looking for something different to do fitness-wise.  So I emailed the site and very quickly received a friendly reply back.  Because I was very nervous, I emailed the site a second time suggesting that it might be best if I just go and watch a class 1st, but again I received a quick, friendly reply back encouraging me to come and do a class. 

Everyone cheering on Soraya during a squat clean.

Everyone cheering on Soraya during a squat clean.

I anxiously showed up near the end of January 2015 and the 1st thing I noticed was how welcoming and friendly everyone was.  I asked some women in the change room where the lockers were, and they just smiled and told me “lockers aren’t needed here”; this shocked me but showed me how much trust there was with this group.  I then waited in the lobby with some other obvious newcomers and we were watching a class finish.  I have to admit, I was in awe with how fit and muscular the men and women were!  I caught myself secretly wondering and hoping that I would be able to be like them-which was so different from my usual ‘lose 10-20 lbs’ dream.  I sensed the rest of us in the lobby were feeling the same way-but we were obviously looking a bit nervous too! 

We then did our first class, and it was fantastic.  I remember it being challenging, I was sweating a lot, but also that it was great fun.  But most importantly, I sensed a closeness with the whole group that I never saw at regular gyms, even in the group classes.  I knew that day that this was for me.

I have been doing CrossFit at NCR since January 2015 and I am still grateful that Facebook suggested it on my newsfeed!  I have noticed many changes, such as feeling happier and even more confident at work and other areas of my life.  Things that would have made me anxious in the past bother me far less than before.  If I have a bad day, I catch myself lighting up at the thought of going to CrossFit.  My family, friends, and co-workers have told me on various occasions that they noticed a positive change in me as well. I sometimes feel like this may have prevented a mid-life crisis for me!  I suspect part of this improvement may be the constant endorphin rush you get with a good, hard workout, but I think a lot of it is due to the sense of community you feel at NCR.  From the start I was impressed with how welcoming and friendly everyone was - it is nothing like a regular gym where people smile politely but then go on with their business.  Here people know and care about each other, and this includes during classes.  There were many times I pushed myself harder than I thought I was capable of, despite wanting to give up, thanks to the encouragement of the coaches and members of the class. 

And it doesn’t matter what level you are at, there is something for everyone at CrossFit.  I love that the person next to me may be hoping to make the Games (the CrossFit world championships) someday or is working to be a competitive lifter, while I may simply want to be able to do a pull-up for the first time.  I feel like everyone’s goals matter and I love the encouragement given to everyone.  You are not made to feel like you are taking up space or wasting people’s time if you can’t lift as much or move as fast as the next person, and the coaches spend as much time-even more time-on the beginners compared with the more elite athletes.  This is the first time in my life where I actually feel like I’m an athlete!

NCR Golf Tournament

NCR Golf Tournament

I had the good fortune to go to Albany for the East Regionals (CrossFit championship qualifier event), and I loved how a large group of us from NCR were there: it was our chance to be able to encourage our coaches who were competing, like they do for us all year round in our classes.  It was great watching them and the other athletes - I caught myself again being inspired by them and it motivated me to push myself further when I returned to Ottawa.  I caught myself following the Masters athletes as well and this inspired me to want to continue to do CrossFit well into my 50s and 60s.  Imagine being a strong fit person in your 70s and 80s! 

There are still many things in CrossFit that I can’t do and it doesn’t bother me that it may take me years before I finally can - I am having a great time trying, and I love the small improvements along the way.  My ultimate goals are to be able to do most of the workouts Rx (as prescribed), and I suspect that will take a few years, so that’s ok.  I have been doing private sessions with Pete Shaw, and I found them to be very helpful.  I started out with these sessions because I felt that there were so many Olympic lifting moves I had trouble with, and I also felt I wanted to improve before going to the regular classes (though I see now that I could have gone to them even as a beginner).  With his help, I am sure that I will reach my goals.

People have been kind enough to tell me that they noticed a change in me physically and that I look fitter compared with when I started.  It hit me there that I realized how I stopped caring as much about my weight as I did the past 10 years.  I see that my fitness resolutions these days just deal with doing better at CrossFit, and I am now just curious as to what I would look like as I improve (the more muscular the better!).   And despite caring less about looking thinner, doing CrossFit was what finally helped me to get the change I was always wanting.

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Athlete Spotlight: Michael "Kirky" Kirkpatrick

Forward by Reza Mashkoori

Michael Kirkpatrick has been a member at CrossFit NCR since 2013.  I have been privileged enough to provide him with one-on-one personal training once a week for the past two and a half years.  When we started, Mike had a ton of weaknesses, and slowly we started to attack them.  Over the years Mike has not only come to understand the value of the CrossFit training methodology, but also the value of the community and support that the NCR family provides.

When I met Mike he could not perform a muscle up and today he can hit seven in a row.  He also had a hard time deadlifting his own body weight and now he does almost double that.  In 2014, Mike placed 2872 in Canada East in the CrossFit Games Open.  In 2015, he did his second CrossFit Games Open and he came 1142 in Canada East.  This year (2016) he came 818 in Canada East!  Our goal for 2017 is top 500 in Canada East.  Our long term goal is to send Mike to the games as a masters athlete.  I asked Mike to share his journey with us and this is what he had to say.

Michael sitting at the "Power and Politics" desk.

Michael sitting at the "Power and Politics" desk.

"WOD Together, Live Forever"

by Michael Kirkpatrick

In 2013 I started to hear more and more about CrossFit and how it was a new way to workout.  I became very intrigued when a strength and conditioning coach I knew and respected posted on his Facebook wall that CrossFit was "rocking the foundation" of his knowledge of fitness.  What could possibly be so new or so different I thought to myself.

Being a rather frugal individual and also having access to a free gym within my condo building I thought I would infiltrate the CrossFit world by attending one class per week, studying their new methods and fitness secrets so that I could incorporate them into my workouts.  Why would I pay a monthly fee of $180 per month and take a taxi (I did not own a car and Uber was not available at the time) to drive the 15 minutes to a CrossFit box when I could do the workouts on my own?

Things were going according to plan for a few months when I signed up for a competition called the Open. What a great medium to display my prowess in this new sport!  All I had to do was show up at the box, perform a workout, and then submit my result (time, number of reps, etc.) online and then I could see how I performed against athletes from all around the world!  This was my chance to solidify the fact that my personal training methods were the best and that driving 15 minutes to the box, paying their $180 membership fee, and working out around their class schedule was for suckers!

Kirky hitting triple extension in his power clean.

Kirky hitting triple extension in his power clean.

The problem though was that my results did not prove my hypothesis that my regimen was superior. In fact it revealed some gaping holes in my training.  It seemed that in every Open workout there was one thing holding me back.  Week one it was the double-unders – I had never done them before.   Week two it was a unique movement called the overhead squat.  Then in week three the deadlifts were too heavy for me.  Finally, when the week four workout was announced I knew this was my moment to shine!  Rowing followed by body weight movements!  This was my jam!  Only again I realized I did not have as good an engine (cardio) as I thought.  What really boiled my blood was that everyone else was beating me, by massive margins!  After week five when a pregnant lady performed the workout faster than me I knew something had to change.

The coach at CrossFit NCR told me that I should go to the 2014 Canada East Regionals to watch him and the other 13 NCR athletes compete.  I've always fancied myself as an athlete and not a spectator but I swallowed my pride and signed up to be a volunteer and I went to Mississauga to watch.

I noticed a few things at regionals.  First, I was amazed at what the athletes were doing: putting massive weights over their heads, climbing ropes, walking on their hands, doing handstand pushups!  These athletes truly were superhuman.

I was also blown away at how many NCR members went to the event to support their fellow athletes.  Why were they so passionate and committed?  I've been a member of many gyms and group fitness classes and spinning classes and running groups before yet I was still taken aback by the sense of community

That same friend whose Facebook post had peaked my interest months ago was there and I tried to have him explain to me why my performance in the open workouts were so dismal.  I thought I was an above average athlete!  He told me I should start going every day!  I thought he was nuts at first but deep down I knew that there was some truth in what he was telling me.

I recognized that there were three massive mental barriers that I needed to overcome in order to come to terms with going to the box every day:

1. Cost. Why would I pay $180 when I could use my own gym for free?

2. Location: Why would I travel 15minutes to the box and back when I had a gym 15 seconds from my condo.

3. Time: Why would I organize my life around the CrossFit NCR class schedule when I could go to my own gym when it suited me best?

I decided that I would let the results be my barometer.  If I was getting fitter then it would be worth it.  Note that the sport has managed to define fitness and make it measurable as well, so that came in handy for me to track my progress.

Prowler pushes are a great way to add intensity without too much thinking!

Prowler pushes are a great way to add intensity without too much thinking!

When I started going everyday (Monday to Friday) at 6am and Saturdays at 11am I was amazed at how much variety there was.  Every single day we would be doing different movements, varying the weights, varying the rep scheme, doing cardio based movements and sometimes more bodyweight movements.  No two workouts were the same.  I also liked the fact that I was learning something everyday.  The coaches had so much knowledge and had an amazing ability to break down the movement into smaller parts to help us understand and scale the movement accordingly.  

I started to understand what I was paying for.  There were no coaches at my gym teaching me new training methods.  I valued this advice.

I also noticed that the intensity of the workouts was better at the box than at my condo gym. There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, when I workout on my own in the morning I'd be half asleep while trying to warm up on the stationary bike.  And if I was getting tired midway through the workout I'd just leave.  That was not the case at NCR.  The coaches were very motivating and could tell if I had more to give in a workout or lift.  Secondly, the workout results were recorded on the whiteboard after each class.  I must say I liked this!  I wanted to post the best score possible.  And as much as I loved my new classmates I wanted to beat them all (note that they are thinking the same) and this was massive motivation to crank up the intensity.

The other thing I noticed was that my classmates wanted to see me improve, and I felt the same way about them.  Going through a workout together is like being in the trenches together.  You feel a bond with your teammates (classmates in this case are the same thing!) as if you had survived a war together and this creates a mutual respect and camaraderie.

After a few months had gone by I realized I hadn't missed a class since regionals.  I became a raving fan!

Three years have gone by and I'm still addicted to everything about CrossFit.  I like being surrounded by fit humans, I like pushing myself and seeing my results improve, I like being around the people who are now my friends and family.  It took me awhile to get over those three mental hurdles but I'm glad I did!

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The "D" Word


The "D" Word

CrossFit is about more than just the movement

By Peter Shaw

Nobody wants to say the “D” word.  It used to be the underrated, overanalyzed, whispered only topic of conversation in health and fitness.  It used to be that nobody paid any attention to diet, and the people who did were hardly experts on the subject matter.  However, with a growing obesity epidemic rooting itself in the United States and spreading worldwide, reality has set in for most of us.  Responsible choices must be made in order to shape not only our own health, but our children’s health.  We must prove to everyone, by showing first hand, that a healthy lifestyle is a result of generous exercise paired with wholesome nutrition. 

Richard and Xavier know their fitness journey doesn't end at the gym.

Let’s take a look at some meaningful dates in United States food history:

1956-1992, USDA recommends it’s “Basic Four” food groups: Vegetables and fruits, Milk, Meat, Cereals and breads
1985, no state has an adult obesity rate > 15% (
1990, Mississippi becomes the first state to reach obesity rate of 15%
1992, USDA food guide recommends serving size for the first time with cereals, grains, rice, and pasta supporting the base of the food pyramid.  This was against the suggestions of nutritional experts who had originally placed fruits and vegetables at the bottom of the pyramid. 
2000, 23 states reach > 20% obesity rate.  CrossFit Inc. is founded by Greg Glassman prescribing high intensity exercise with a diet of meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar to promote healthier living. 
2005, USDA released “MyPyramid”.  A “revised” version of the pyramid recommending 50% of calorie consumption come from grains and milk.  For the first time in history it recommends physical activity to maintain healthy living. 
2007, Exercise Is Medicine is co-launched by the American Medical Association and the American College of Sports Medicine emphasizing the need for physical activity for healthy active living, with no mention of diet.  The ACSM’s largest sponsor is Gatorade which is owned by Coca-Cola.
2008, 4 states reach > 30% obesity
2010, Michelle Obama launches Let’s Move campaign to promote healthier eating and physical activity in children.  Goal is to reduce childhood obesity to 5% in 2030, which currently averages closer to 15%.
2015, 25 states have > 30% obesity rate (  Obesity has more than doubled worldwide since 1980 (WHO).

The world needs constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity paired with meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.  What the world needs is CrossFit.

At CrossFit NCR, we are officially launching the NCR Nutrition Club.  Our mission at CrossFit NCR is to bring health and fitness to the community through the CrossFit methodology.  The NCR Nutrition Club is dedicated to helping you build the foundation to your fitness. 

Proper nutrition supplies the body with the molecular building blocks necessary for physiological change leading to improved fitness.  Improved fitness serves as a hedge against metabolic disease and other sickness. 

Our nutrition club will include a monthly meeting and a Facebook group to promote conversation, collaboration, and accountability leading to better nutritional decisions.

See you at the next meeting!


New Website!


New Website!

I hope you like our new look!  This page will be dedicated to regular blog posts mainly written by the coaches but may have the occasional guest writer!  Be sure to stop in regularly to stay updated on current topics in the CrossFit world!

Keep scrolling to find out some cool features of the new site...

NCR getting ready for Saturday's first heat of 16.5.  Bring on the pain.

The WOD and class schedule is one click away on our "Home" page.  Just look for these buttons:

You can also find the WOD in the top menu of any page, and the schedule is also located in the drop down menu under "Contact". 

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the website to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay updated with our posts and goings on at the gym!

At the bottom of the "Home" page you will find a brief list of upcoming community events at the gym!  This list will be limited to a few events but will be a great way to make sure you have an idea of what is to come and stay more involved!


Above the social media links (at the bottom of the site) there is a link titled "Search WODS".  Clicking this link will allow you to type in key names and travel to any WOD that we have done in the past.  

What an AWESOME feature to allow you to compare your results and IMPROVE YOUR FITNESS.  We encourage all members to begin posting their scores in the "comments" section of the WOD blog.  

This will make it easy to find your results if you ever decide to go back and look at that workout.  You can be as detailed as you like.  Don't worry, we are working tirelessly to transfer all of the past WODs from the old website.  For now you only have the ones from the date this site was launched.

Here is a list of other cool features that you can check out:

  • Every so often a new member will be featured on the "Home" page so make sure you check back frequently!

  • If you want to bring a friend to a free trial, you can either scroll down on the front page and click the blue "Free Trial" button or you can click "Join Us" –> "Free Trial".

  • Check out our updated coaches profiles!

  • If you're interested in personal training, click "Join Us" –> "Personal Training" and fill out our new inquiry form so that we can put you in touch with one of our coaches! 

  • We also have a new "Careers" section under "Contact"!  CrossFit NCR is growing and we will post openings for future job positions on this page. 

  • If you want to log into your member account to change anything in on your membership or Zen Planner profile, simply click "Join Us" –> "Member Login" and you will be directed to your Zen Planner log in. 

Hope you like the new site!  Enjoy!