What’s Up with Open Gym?

Open Gym – if you are new to CrossFit these two words are probably foreign to you. 

Let’s clear up just exactly what Open Gym is, and why you should be using it to your advantage! 

Open Gym at KCI is on Thursdays from 9-10am and in the evening from 4-7pm.  Instead of a coach running a class, the coaches are helping athletes work on individual skills, drills, or workouts.  It’s one of the best weekly opportunities to improve your fitness!  Here are the best ways to maximize Open Gym to your advantage: 

1)  It’s a chance to do a workout from earlier in the week that you missed.  Let’s face it, no one is perfect and sometimes we miss a class.  Open Gym is your opportunity to complete a workout you missed!  

2) Open Gym is an opportunity to benchmark your fitness.  There are dozens of “benchmark” workouts in CrossFit.  A great way to test if you are getting fitter is to re-do those benchmark workouts every so often during open gym!  Find a friend, pick a workout, and record your results.  Rinse, lather, and repeat in a few months! 

3)  Active Recovery.  You might be sore on Wednesday or Thursday and your body is telling you to take a break.  Good, do it!  But if you are sore, the best thing for you is what we like to call “active recovery.”  Stretching, light rowing, jogging, or biking will serve you better than “resting” on the couch at home.  When you are sore, being stagnant (not moving) is the worst thing you can do.  You’ll become less sore if you move around and spend time on active recovery!  Open Gym for the win! 

4)  Open Gym is an opportunity for you to work on your weaknesses.  Well, that sounds awful, doesn’t it?  Maybe for the first or second session it will suck, but the more you practice things that are hard for you, the easier they become!  A baby spends some time falling down when learning to walk, but it’s exactly what they need to do!  And the more frequently you train your weaknesses in the gym, the less of a weakness they will be.  No more kryptonite, Superman!  Open Gym is your time to improve all aspects of fitness! 

There you have it, the top 4 reasons why you should start using open gym to improve your fitness!  Commit to coming this week and see what happens! 

CrossFit Etiquette

Getting started in CrossFit is hard.  New exercises, new words, new people.  Then throw in loud music and a coach telling you what to do and you probably feel like your head is spinning.  Am I right?  

Well, your coaches try to make it as easy as possible to get started but sometimes it just takes some time to get used to all the new stuff.  Below you’ll find a list of common CrossFit Gym etiquette tips so you can feel a little more comfortable on how to navigate the gym and the unspoken expectations of your coaches.  

Take a look below and try to absorb the 31 most common gym etiquette tips! 


  1. Arrive early for class. Please don’t be late.  

  2. Don’t drop a barbell while unloading it

  3. Wipe down equipment after using

  4. Put your equipment away

  5. Pay attention when coach is talking

  6. Don’t have a conversation mid-workout

  7. Introduce yourself to newcomers

  8. In raining/snowing conditions – bring your CrossFit shoes to the gym

  9. Chalk belongs in the bucket or on your hands – not the floor

  10. Don’t walk in front of someone while they’re lifting

  11. Be considerate of others’ space

  12. Try to avoid “ghost-riding” the bar

  13. Don’t let the handle fly off the rower

  14. If you put chalk on equipment for a workout, take it off afterwards

  15. Take the chalk off your barbell

  16. Platforms aren’t for WOD’s.  Lifting only

  17. Don’t spit on the floor

  18. Please recycle

  19. Encourage other athletes

  20. Be accountable. Don’t cheat on reps, finish the workout you started.

  21. Be coachable. Learn how to respond to verbal and visual cues to enhance your experience and performance

  22. Encourage each other (yes, it’s in here twice)

  23. Walk into the gym with a positive attitude.

  24. Be grateful

  25. Pick up after your kids, or help them pick up their things

  26. Do your part to keep the bathroom clean

  27. Give high-fives to each other after class

  28. Kids are kids, but please make sure they behave

  29. Don’t be late for class (yes, it’s in here twice)

  30. Remove the J-hooks while doing wall balls

  31. Minimize distractions – cell phone, etc

I’m sick and still improving my fitness

Let’s face it.  “Sick” happens, even to CrossFitters. You can be spot on with your diet, consistent in the box,  and hydrated, but still get sick – especially this time of year! 

So, what’s the right thing to do when sick? Here’s what not to do. 

1) Don’t train hard, pretending you aren’t sick.  

2) Don’t completely give up on your fitness.  You can actually use your sick time to move your fitness forward.  

Let’s address #2 from above.  Use your sick time to get better.  What do I mean? “REST and MOBILIZE”.  Most people don’t want to leave the house when sickness strikes, and I know that feeling!  However, if you can leave the house, use this forced “down time” to work on mobility during your usual class time.  If you are contagious, don’t come to the gym obviously.  But even if you have a fever and are contagious, you can mobilize at home!  

If you are stuck at home, I recommend trying to keep your routine as much as possible.  If you come to a morning class, use that same time at home to stretch and mobilize. Heck, you could even do air squats, sit ups, and push ups if you feel good enough!  Keeping your normal “routine” during your sick-time will help you get back into the gym once you are better.  If you aren’t contagious and want to come to the gym, you should do that! 

Coming in for a 30 – 45 minute stretching and mobility session will allow you to focus on problem areas. Tight shoulders, calves or hips? Foam Roll, voodoo band, and stretch your problem areas. This will make you move better and more fluidly than before; and your future self will thank you for it. Feel like you need to get your heart pumping a little bit? Hop on a bike for a few minutes, just don’t go overboard with it.

Don’t stress about not working out while sick; you’re resting, you’re working your mobility, and you will be back at it in a few days.

If you view your illness as an opportunity to work on quality movement, you may surprise yourself with better technique and speed when you come back. Remember, CrossFit isn’t just about intense workouts.  You also need to move well!

Until next time – stay healthy, and train hard!

The Crutches

I’ve been thinking a lot about crutches recently. Actual physical crutches that are needed when we get injured. But also metaphorical “crutches” that we use every day.. 


Let’s think about the crutches you see in the picture.  Crutches are wonderful tool for a leg injury. They help us get around, increase our capacity to do normal tasks, and give us the ability to be semi-independent.  In this scenario, our goal is to get off of the crutches as soon as possible, am I right?   We need them for awhile, but at some point they become a hindrance.  There’s one main way to get rid of the crutches.  

We seek help. Usually from a physical therapist or someone else to assist you to walk on your own without the crutches.  It can be a tedious and time consuming process.  We make small improvements by working diligently, and we finally can move around without the crutches.  And even when we put the crutches down, we aren’t yet achieving our full potential.  There is still more work to do.  We have to continue to train ourselves to improve range of motion, strength, stamina, etc.  You get the point?  Let me finish with this;  I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that wanted to rely on crutches for the rest of their life.  Have you?

Now let’s think about crutches in the metaphorical sense. We all have them to varying degrees.  Alcohol, food, caffeine, sugar, sleep, distractions, television, social media, or any other.  I don’t want to vilify these crutches, because not all of them are inherently bad things.  But, I’ll argue that when we use these things as crutches they can hold us back from understanding and pursuing our full potential.  

When we are stressed, depressed, anxious, need to unwind, or unsure what to do, we go to our crutches.  We actively pursue our crutches.  Let that soak in a little bit.

It’s interesting to think about – we know we don’t want to be on crutches because with crutches we can’t reach our full potential.  And yet, it is so easy for us to turn these crutches at certain times. When we are utilizing those crutches, we might say, “I’m happy” or “comfortable” or “this is what I enjoy.”  But I think what we fail to realize is how much more happy or more fulfilled we could be if we didn’t use them.  It’s hard to admit, isn’t it?  Could we all admit there are crutches in our lives we want to get rid of?  So then, how do we stop turning to them?  

Undoubtedly it’s a very complex answer.  But if we go back to our “physical therapist” example I think the best place to start is with help from another person. We need help; whether from a spouse, close friend, mentor, or medical or business professional.  Only then can we figure out how to get off the crutch.  To eliminate the need for the crutches we must first admit that we’re incapable of doing it on our own.  Now let that soak in. 

Possibly you feel that something is holding you back and you can’t quite pinpoint what that is.  Or maybe you know your crutches.    Either way the starting place is the same; turning to the right person for help.  If this is you, I’d be happy to talk and listen to you.  Even though I may not be your “physical therapist”, I want to help you find the right person. I want to see you get on a path to achieving your full potential and removing the crutches in your life.  


Coach Nick | nick@kcicrossfit.com | 816-659-3076

How to Stick to Your Workouts – 4 Essential Elements



Sticking to a workout program can be tough. We have good intentions – we know that regular exercise is good for all aspects of your like.  And we all know people who are on-again, off-again with their fitness routine.  And I get it; life gets busy.  Bills, kids, significant others, work, social life, a house to keep up, etc..  So many priorities it makes our head spin!  But, some people still manage to establish a routine and stick with it for a ridiculously long time.  People are able to live a busy life AND stay in shape.  How do they do it?  Did they get lucky?  Is it an incredible amount of discipline?  I assure you, it has nothing to do with any super human powers.  So, below are 4, tangible, implementable actions I feel will make the biggest difference in your ability to stay with the program.  Read on, and then make some small steps in the right direction. 

Plan it. Put it in your calendar.

First and foremost, plan your week and workout schedule. The simple act of scheduling training time in your calendar helps to make up your mind that you’re going to do it.  If you don’t have a calendar, get one.  If you are bad at using your current calendar, ask for accountability help.  Planning to do it is powerful.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  It’s just that simple.  

You have to understand that you cannot succeed without a plan.  The plan can, and will be, adjusted along the way but it’s important to just get started.   The next part of that plan is you then have stick to it, and keep those appointments.   This will be hard at first, especially in the first couple weeks.  But once you build the habit of working out, it will start to get easier.  By keeping your workout appointments, and therefore sticking to your plan, your plan will begin to start working for you.  This is the point when most people begin to see real change; not only in their fitness, but also their personal life.  I’m not going to spend time on this, but winning in one area will begin to spill over into other areas of your life.  Work or career, relationships,  sleep quality, will all improve from the mental and emotional strength you get from sticking with the program.  Not to mention that you’re getting fitter and feeling better so your energy levels are also going up.  It’s all very empowering.  Plan it.  Put it in your calendar.

Focus on Habits; not Goals.

Goals are great – and necessary.  However, the challenge with goals is that once the goal is reached, motivation can wain.  A good example would be; you want to lose 15 pounds before your Caribbean cruise.  You’ve got 2 months, 15 pounds to go, and will work out 4 days per week.  The plan is straightforward, and you crush it.  Sweating, running, lifting weights and toning up! Salads for lunch and dinner.  You didn’t even eat the cake at your 4 year olds’ birthday party.  The cruise deadline comes and you look better!  Lost 16 pounds! So, on the cruise and you take some well-deserved rest.  You even have some drinks and rum cake.  

It’s now back to reality and you figure you need a week rest from all the cruising fun.  You’ll get back to the gym next week.  You have fried chicken for lunch.  You look at the weight scale next week and you’ve gained 8 pounds!  But you still weigh less than you did a couple months ago, so it’s not so bad.  Work gets busy and you skip another week in the gym.  Before you know it, you don’t have any new goals, so you never get back at.  Until your next vacation, of course.  A constant up and down of training, and therefore a constant up and down of fitness.  This is what setting goals and not having lifestyle habits can potentially do to you.  That’s why I recommend to everyone to focus on habits, not goals.  Developing the habits of a healthy lifestyle will bring you continued success over the span of your life.  Habits are formed over months and years – in small, daily increments.  Making choices consistently over a period of time will start to make those daily decisions a habit.  Then you just have to maintain those habits when life throws a curveball at you.  So what’s the best way to go about getting these daily habits started?  Have you ever built a snowman?  Start small and build some momentum.  Get some input from your coach on what habits you can, or need, to start first.  Pick one, whichever one you believe you can do, and do it for at least three weeks.  After three weeks it should become easier.  If at that point you feel confident enough, add in another habit.  If after three weeks your feeling confident, add another, and so on and so forth.  If at some point you begin to falter, drop the most recent habit until you gain control again and then can continue the process.  You may also find that three weeks is too soon – that’s ok, because the plan can change.  Just decide what time frame is best for you.  It could be a couple more weeks, or a couple of months.  It’s your journey – just be sure to keep going.  You will be amazed how much you can change in a year with this simple strategy.  Over time, the commitment to daily habits will change you into the person you want to be.  FOCUS ON HABITS, NOT GOALS

Make Friends That Workout

You NEED friends that workout to be able to stay on your fitness journey.  How do I know this?  Let’s say you go to the gym by yourself 5 days per week for an hour each time.  With 168 hours in the week that leaves 163 hours you can spend with people that are either helping achieve your goals, or they can be pulling you away from those goals. They probably love you just the way you are.  People you work with, family, friends. They aren’t bad people, fitness just isn’t that important to most of them, so by default they can pull you in the other direction.  Away from a healthy lifestyle.  Away from whom you want to become.  

So, what I’m saying is you need friends who are working towards a healthy lifestyle.  Better yet – group fitness like CrossFit will introduce you to like-minded people who also have fitness goals!  Wouldn’t it be nice to share some of those 168 hours each week with people that have similar goals to you?  Someone who will tell you that you can do it – and who are doing it with you!  It’s one of the biggest factors in one’s success in almost any aspect of life; family, work, or leisure.  MAKE FRIENDS THAT WORKOUT.  And workout with them!

Remember Why You Are Doing It

Your WHY is the number one determining factor if you’re going to make it in the beginning.  It will be what you go back to and think about when you’re trying to talk yourself out of tomorrow’s workout.  Your why is the glue that holds the whole thing together.  Why do you want to be fit?  Figuring out your true “why” is like “pealing the onion”, because you have to keep pulling back the layers in your why.  The initial answer most of the time is never the real why.  Things like to lose weight, have more energy, and look good in the mirror, are rarely if ever the real reason for making a lifestyle change.  


The real reason lays a few layers below that.  What do I mean?  Take the goal to lose weight, for example.  An athlete may give me that response for their reason to workout.  I would then ask the simple question, why?  A typical response to that would be, “well, I guess I want to look better”.  Great.  Why do you want to look better?  After some thought, “I guess I want to look better so I feel more confident”.  Awesome, why do you want feel more confident?  It sounds like a dumb question, doesn’t it?  Everyone wants to feel more confident.  Why ask why?  Sadly, more times than not, the peeling of the onion stops here for most people.  In order to answer this question they have to get really honest with themselves, and most people are not comfortable with that. If you don’t answer these deeper “why” questions, nothing happens.  You stay the same emotionally, and therefore you stay the same physically.  So if you’re going to make a real change this time, you’re going to have to get super honest with yourself.  Dig into what you really want, and why you want it.  Keep asking why until you find your answers.  This is a tough assignment, but it must be done if you really want to make it on your fitness journey.    REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING IT.  Once you have your answer for why you want to stick to a workout routine, the emotion of those things will carry you mentally when you want to stop.  It will put some fire in your belly.  So if you hit a tough spot, remember why you started in the first place and the emotion of your why, and do what you need to do that day to get the win.  

Well there you have it.  I hope this helped clarify what it really takes to develop long lasting health and fitness habits.  If you want to reach out to me with any questions, I’m happy to help.   Email or call: nick@kcicrossfit.com | 816-659-3076

Name *

Nick Prohaska     |    KCI CrossFit     |      816-659-3076       |       nick@kcicrossfit.com

5 Realizations from 7 months of CrossFit

 “I started CrossFit last September.  I’ve learned a few things along the way.”

1. It’s not what I thought it was. I thought it would be bad for my knees and hard on my shoulders. I’m more mobile and flexible now. I thought there would be big sweaty brainless jocks grunting through the gym. CrossFit is for normal people. 
2. It’s good for my brain. Every single workout is different and I love the variety. My coach has patiently broken down all the movements and scaled back to my ability and strength level. There’s alot of terminology to learn and I’m doing work I never thought I’d be capable of a year ago. 
3. It’s good to feel vulnerable because through effort and persistence there is growth. I had to shed my “I’ve been active all my life and I know alot about working out” attitude and get busy learning something totally new. It made me realize that I might need to get better at other things in my life I thought I was good at. I realized I like learning and growing and becoming better at something. 
4. It’s hard- really hard. But so very rewarding. 
5. I’ve only scratched the surface of what I’m capable of doing. I have a long way to go but I’m excited to get to work. 
The point of all this is that my gym, KCI CrossFit, is offering free classes to moms all this week in honor of Mother’s Day. Please join me for a class this week and check it out for yourself!

The Top 10 Things I Learned in my First 6 Weeks of CrossFit

I am new to CrossFit.  I started at the first of December and am about 6 weeks in.  I have been traveling a lot, so I haven’t been able to go to classes as much as I want as consistently as I want.  But, I have been able to go to classes and visit traditional gyms.  This gave me an interesting perspective on CrossFit, traditional gyms, and my own workout programming.  I’ve witnessed first hand the difference between what happens at a CrossFit gym and a traditional gym.  I’ve witnessed and heard some hilarious things in the last few weeks, and, most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about the benefits of CrossFit and about myself.  I’m not going to show you a before and after picture because I don’t have one and you don’t want to see it.  Even if I did, I wouldn’t show it!  I have a ways to go before I’m willing to do that.  This is about what I learned in six weeks and how CrossFit has improved many areas of my life.

Years ago, I got into strength training.  I started a very simple program recommended in Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe.  Generally, the training involved 5 sets of 5 reps of squats, deadliest, overhead press, bench press, and barbell rows.  You generally trained three times a week with at least one day between workouts, and you squatted every day!  It was a great program.  I say massive improvements in my strength.  I didn’t know what a deadliest was when I started.  At the height of my training, I hit a PR of 385 pounds.  I put on some pounds.

Then, I got burned out.  Squatting three times a week was brutal, and I started dreading going to the gym.  Instead of pushing through, I started looking at different programs to try for a few weeks.  A few weeks turned into a few months, which turned into a couple of years.  I started the 5×5 training again, but got totally discouraged because I lost a ton of strength.  I knew it would take me a while to get back where I was.

I was going through the motions at the gym.  I was maintaining, but not really seeing any results.  I felt good that I was going to the gym, but I wasn’t giving it my all.

Then, I started CrossFit.  I started for me.  I wanted to try something different, and I hoped that the constantly varied workout would keep me interested and engaged.  I don’t do well with the same routine for too long!  

My experience so far has been great!  Here are a few things I’ve learned in my first 6 weeks:

1.  Working out on my own sucks, and I generally suck at it:  I have always worked out on my own.  I didn’t like having a workout parter because you had to coordinate a time to go that works for everyone, and there was some inconsistency.  I like to get up when I could and go workout without having to worry about somebody else’s schedule.  I also did my own programming, mostly focused on strength.  I would work hard, but not nearly hard enough.  I wouldn’t push myself at all.  I settled for what was easy and routine.  I was, and am, capable of so much more than what I was doing.  I was not pushing myself, and I was definitely not pushing myself to be better.  I was maintaining, and I guess that was okay.  And, what’s funny about that is that I am typically a very driven and motivated person.  I work hard and I’m efficient.  But at the gym, I was lazy.  Doing CrossFit workouts has pushed me to do more than I thought I could and in a supportive environment where people care.  I am now doing more in one hour than I was in a full week of training, and I love it!

2.  Come as you are:  When I started, I didn’t know how to do all of the movements.  I was totally inflexible in my shoulders, elbows, ankles, and, well, everywhere!  Now, I’m about half flexible, which is significant improvement.  I learned that I was making minor mistakes on some movements that had a huge impact on my ability to perform the movement and could lead to a higher risk of injury.  Christine and Steven coached me through some of these.  I certainly don’t know everything, and there is so much more to learn, but I know that my coaches started me where I was and are slowly taking me to where I need to be.

3.  Safety first:  One perception you may have about CrossFit is that it’s intense, or TOO intense.  This may be true at some gyms, but it’s not true at KCI CrossFit.  The coaches are first and foremost focused on your technique, form, and movement.  They want you to be able to achieve maximum results without injury.  They don’t add weight until you’re ready.  I never knew that a PVC pipe workout could be so effective!

4.  Show up ready to give 100% and focus:  When I worked out on my own, I could listen to my music or podcasts and generally jack around between sets.  I would check email and Facebook for minutes at a time.  I would even take phone calls on occasion while doing sets!  There was very little focus.  In a CrossFit workout, you have to get focused.  Not only do you need to be focused, I found that you WANT to be focused so you can give it everything you have.  With other people giving it their all, there is no way I’m going to leave anything behind!

5.  Don’t compare yourself to others:  Every person has a different reason for being at CrossFit, including you.  There is absolutely no reason to compare yourself to anyone but yourself.  You are there to get better, and you get better by following the programming and advice of your coach.  Others are there to motivate and inspire you.  It is a completely judgment free environment.  Give your best, focus on becoming better yourself, and never ever compare yourself to somebody else.

6.  Follow your coaches advice:  I’m not exactly one to follow the rules, unless my CrossFit coach tells me to do something.  If they tell me to do it, I do it without question.  I trust that they know what’s best for me and that they are there to make sure that I grow stronger and faster without injuring myself.  They have taken me through technique drills that increased my range and mobility.  They watch my form and correct me when I’m doing something wrong.  I am confident that I am doing the right things when they are guiding me through the process.  No YouTube video can do that for you.

7.  Eat right:  I don’t follow the Paleo diet…at least not yet…but I have been more conscious about what I’m eating.  If I eat junk, I feel terrible when I work out.  If I eat well, I have a ton more energy that I can put into my workouts.  It also affects my overall energy throughout the day and my mood.  Seeing results from small improvements in my diet makes me want to continue making additional small changes which will create additional positive results.

8.  Your discipline will increase:  By regularly going to classes and working out on my own, my discipline in other areas of my life have increased.  My focus has generally increased, and I know that I am capable of more.  When I don’t want to do something, I have more strength and energy to push through.

9.    If you work hard, you will get results, and you will want more:  After just a few weeks of working hard, I started noticing that I had a little less belly, my mobility was improved, and my overall happiness improved.  There’s something about working hard that releases endorphins that make you feel happy.

10.  The community really cares:  Without knowing many people at KCI when I started, I was amazed at how these complete strangers accepted me and supported me.  I found people cheering me on to finish a rep even when they were out of breath (and
knowing they were about to start again).  The community pushes you to move past what you think you are capable of and supports you in the process.  You also grow closer to the group as you complete these workouts with them.  There is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment that comes after every day you are there.

Finally, I am a little stronger, and a lot more fit than when I started.  I am much less winded when doing workouts.  More importantly, I learned that I can push myself farther in every aspect of my life if I put in focused energy into a task.

If you have wanted to try CrossFit, I highly recommend you try KCI CrossFit.  If you are looking to push yourself a lithe farther, I highly recommend KCI.  

I hope to see you here, and I hope to hear about everything you learned and accomplished in your first six weeks!