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Rest Day

It's our second installment of Behind the Lens, about our intrepid and freakishly talented photographers. Photographs don't grow on trees, and our Flickr account is populated by the art of a number of wonderful CFSBKers. They're so good at shooting us while we sweat that we sometimes even forget they're there! Our first interview was with Bekka Palmer, and this one is with the marvelous Asta Fivgas. See some of her favorite photos and her interview with Kate below.

Behind the Lens: Asta Fivgas

Candid Shots

Where and when were you born? Keflavik, Iceland on May 25, 1985.

What color are your eyes? They're actually the same color as my hair. Matchy matchy.

Favorite smell? Cinnamon and that super toxic smell when the A/C first comes on in the car.

Weird fact: Besides when people find out I was born in Iceland? I pronounce my w-h combinations in words, it's not really weird but people point it out a lot.

What is your perfect Friday night? Something involving friends, laughter, and bourbon. Sometimes this devolves into just liquor by myself on the couch after a long week. And open gym. You can usually find me there when my Friday is going as planned.

Favorite photographer? I don't know if I can really narrow this down, I appreciate a lot of different photographers for a variety of reasons but two of my favorite books of images are by Lee Friedlander and Geir Jordahl.

One of Asta's favorite photos that she took at the MoMALonger Exposure

Kate: You've been around CFSBK way longer than I have, so other people might know the answers to some of these questions. Regardless, clue us all in, if you don't mind. How did you start down the CrossFit journey and how did you find SBK? 

Asta: I was dating a guy who was super into CrossFit but always made it sound like the most bizarre thing in the world—so when I got the opportunity to meet some of these "CrossFit people" during a little potluck (complete with what turned into a really aggressive game of dodgeball and burpees), I was definitely going to be there. I decided that I, too, wanted to work out in the post-apocalyptic movie set known as the Lyceum and challenge myself more than my gym routine of peddling away on the stationary bike while reading The Fountainhead. I knew I had endurance, but I wasn't very strong and I truly didn't know what to do to get strong—so being around all these really interesting, diverse, strong people definitely called to me. My first teaser was with Margie and I started Foundations in January of 2009. 

Kate: Tell us about your journey with your camera. Do you remember your first photograph? What did you shoot with?

Asta: I don't remember my first photograph but I know I always liked taking pictures. I have albums upon albums of developed images from my childhood through college. I ended up at an art school for college and was able to take a bunch of photography classes where I learned to develop my own film and really explore photography as a craft. Back then, I was really into black and white nudes and exploring ways to highlight the human body. I didn't start taking a lot of digital photography until I traveled around Europe towards the end of college with my 5MP (laughable now) HP point and shoot. That's when I started working more with trying to capture moments in a moving environment.

Dan got me started on the sports photography and using an SLR. Even though I had my digital point and shoot, I still turned my nose up at digital photography a bit since you weren't really physically developing and the connection between photographer and piece... you probably get where I'm going with this. One day Dan just handed me the camera and said go for it, and it was HARD. Shooting people moving rapidly was a nightmare; I was so disappointed with my first shots, but also kind of responding with "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED." I then had the opportunity to shoot regionals upstate and everything just sort of clicked. I had explored the human form in black and white (and staged) and now I was getting to do the same thing but with color and speed and very little control other than to find the best shot/angle/moment.  

Kate: What do you shoot with now?The Preatures

Asta: Canon 7D with a 50mm/1.4 

Kate: What's your favorite photo that you've taken?

Asta: This is kind of always evolving and changing depending on what I’m interested in at the moment. Sometimes it's patterns, sometimes it's monumental structures, sometimes it's broken things I find on the sidewalk. The first thing that comes to mind though is a photo I shot at a show recently for CMJ (music festival) in NYC. I was put on an Aussie Showcase with about seven sets, and one of the bands was The Preatures. The female lead was really intense on stage, but had these great moments on interaction with her bandmates.

Another is an older photo from an exhibition at MoMA years ago. I like the pattern and I remember getting in a lot of trouble from the security guard for sticking my camera "into the piece."

Kate: What captures your eye over everything else?

Asta: Human connection/touch and lines that form patterns.

Kate: If you had to spend the rest of your life photographing one thing or one type of scene, what would you choose?

Asta: People exploring Carlo Scarpa's Brion Cemetery or Castelvecchio in Italy. Hands down the most incredible spaces I've yet to be in.

Kate: Tell us about your life outside of the gym. Word on the street is that you’re an architecture buff. How do you spend your days beyond barbells and skulls?

Asta: Ghost in the machine at a big global engineering/architecture firm. Well, not really ghost—I just say that because sometimes people don't understand what architects do.  Which is completely understandable, we are such mysterious creatures (haha). 

I moved from a design-heavy small firm to a technical-minded large firm a couple of years ago and am really enjoying how hands-on my current job is. I get to travel, I get to break open walls and investigate damage, hang off really tall buildings on scaffolds—it's fun and it's challenging. I'll probably go back to design full-time at some point and I still do freelance architectural design on the side to scratch that itch, but for the time being I think it's important I keep nerding out on the technical side of our built environment to improve my capacity as an architect.

Otherwise, I try and travel as much as I can. Sit on beaches. Eat exciting food. See the stars.

Kate: One of the things I always love about your photos for CFSBK is how they capture bodies in motion so beautifully, and in a way I feel like I haven’t seen before, at least not with “ordinary” people. Talk to me about shooting athletes and people who are sweating all over the place and often not looking their conventionally sexiest. How do you capture CrossFit in your photos? What's the hardest part about shooting athletes?

Asta: Bad lighting?  ;)

I see it this way, bodies are these incredible and beautiful mechanisms, especially in motion when they are experiencing the struggle and elation of performing a really hard task. I've had to really let go of expecting people to be in the right spot or making the right face, which is what all my previous work was about. I think that when people are performing and not paying attention or worrying about how they look, that's when the good photos happen. I mean, I take thousands of photos and parse them heavily to find the shots that work. At the end of the day, you're telling someone’s story and I want that story to be relatable, to mean something, to mean many different things to many different people. Occasionally there is a creepy moment when someone makes direct eye contact with me through my lens which is my cue that I'm not being mindful. If I'm distracting them, then I’m not catching the really good shots, and they aren't focused on the task at hand. Photo ninja, it's a work in progress.  

Kate: What's your favorite event or day that you shot at SBK?

Asta: Events with multiple gyms involved (Subway Series, games). The shots of people giving it their all with their whole support network yelling it out on the sidelines, the energy in those shots is palpable. Uhm, and anything with a self-service photo booth, since I get to take all the photos home.

Kate: If you had to give a piece of advice to blossoming photographers or people who want to take better photos, what would it be?

Asta: Take a lot of shots, even if you've set up the scene/still-life—take a burst of frames. You'll soon realize that one in 50 will actually be worth going in your "really good" album and that is completely normal, frankly I would consider that a good day. Also keep track of your images, rank them, compile your favorites, see how your own story develops. Last, my personal thing is, I don't take photos of people where I wouldn't be okay having my photo taken if roles were reversed. Empathy can be helpful.

Kate: Where can we see more of your work? Can I hire you?

Asta: My photography portfolio is available by request. I take on jobs every now and then (headshots, events, concerts/shows)—if you have something that you want to collaborate on, get in touch! Also I post all the CF photo content on the CFSBK Flickr account, so if you want some photo overload, go poke around there.

What is your 14.4 strategy?
Happy Birthday, Dan E!

Snatch Analysis video with Pendlay

Reader Comments (33)

Hey everybody,

In light of the 14.4 announcement I thought I'd share some discoveries I made about calories per hour vs. 500m pace that I made right after CRASHB ended. We had some sort of row for calorie workout programmed in group classes, and I was curious how to approach it since I was so dialed into 500m pace at that point, so I found a spreadsheet online, and then tonight I geeked out and used it to make this cheat sheet for a 60 calorie row. It looked like Josh Bridges came off the erg right around 2:25, so I started there:

1500 cal/hr = 2:24 total time (about 1:40/500m @ 25spm)
1300 cal/hr = 2:46 total time (about 1:45/500m @ 25spm)
1150 cal/hr = 3:08 total time (about 1:52/500m @ 25spm)
1000 cal/hr = 3:36 total time (about 2:00/500m @ 25spm)
800 cal/hr = 4:30 total time (about 2:15/500m @ 25spm)

The spreadsheet is here if you're curious:


March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrad D

6AM run with Neil across the Manhattan Bridge and back. Neil, looking at the map it was really closer to 2.5mi which we did, according to my watch, in about 21 minutes, so a nice, easy 8-9 minute pace.

I'm thinking next week we should do Brooklyn Bridge. Friday bridge day!

Here's some bonus running motivation: http://www.uproxx.com/up/2014/03/new-york-city-marathon-runner-took-selfies-hotties-saw/

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan C

Thanks Brad! That's interesting. Forgive my ignorance, but does it change if your spm goes above 25?

I woke up early this morning with dread: "It will take me 14 minutes to do 50 T2B"

Clearly, I'm taking this all too seriously!!

Just to ask another really basic question, why is it better to go slower and more consistently (as Matt suggested last night and many coaches have said) rather than get reps done quickly and then take a longer rest? I believe in the collective wisdom that it is, but just curious as to the reasoning. Is there some "breaking point" for one's internal motor?

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I feel because it's a chipper, the first movement and we don't want to run out of gas (ie oxygen and glycogen) right at the start, slow and steady wins. I think of chippers like endurance races not sprints at each movement.

Rowing really hard for all we're worth will leave us getting off the erg quick but then spending precious minutes recovering our breath and trying to lower our heart rate to deal with what's next will keep us from getting there.

Last night on the cool down show Dave Castro said you can't nug calories by letting the wheel just spin, you have to have exertion on it. So hard strong pulls will get the calories more efficiently I believe.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeith W.

A for Asta, A for Awesome. Love her work - and her smile! Big hugs.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

Yeah, awesome interview! Asta always takes amazing photos.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeith W.

Michael - especially when you've got so much volume, I find it's better to break things up into quick sets than do it all unbroken. I think the toe to bars is really where this is going to be key, because you can lose that kip and core tension really easily if you exhaust yourself.

The competitors last night did a set of 10 (maybe two?) for the T2B, then broke it down to sets of five or so. I've been reading about the experiences of mere mortals, and it looks like it might be best to start with sets of five at the beginning with a quick rest in between (i.e. 5 reps, 5 second rest), instead of knocking a whole bunch out, resting for a whole ton of time while you try to catch your breath, then only getting sets of twos or threes as your kip goes.

This is a good thread with people posting their experiences and tips for the WOD if you want to read more.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Katz

ASTA! Luv huh!

I did not go into this with a strategy, because I did not expect to finish the T2B. I just figured there was a number between 1 and 50 that I was going to get, and that would be that. (Really, I figured it would be a number between 10 and 30...NOT 50!) But...I did finish them. Took me about 9 minutes, but I finished them, with quite a few unfortunate oh-so-close no reps. I don't care. I FINISHED THEM. I know a bunch of you gals are going to smoke my score (128 total) but I'm still stoked about that.

A real treat to judge and be judged by Rob K, who got his first T2B in 14.4!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella


I'm going to keep checking these posts to see how people approached the WOD. So curious! (Sorry guinea pigs!)

Michael, send me those Parisian restaurant tips please.

Good luck everyone. Asta thanks for all the great pics. (And even some less than flattering ones over the years.)

Congrats Rob on the t2b. It must have felt AMAZING.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIsaac Green

6am. 180 reps on 14.4. Got off the rower at 2:45. Finished the toes to bar right near the 8min mark. Finished the wall balls at the 10min mark. Finished the last clean at 13:59 and had 1 second to glance longingly at the rings. I broke the toes to bar up into sets of 5 until I hit 20 when my kip started to break down. Finished with sets of 3 and 2. Did the wall balls in 4 sets of 10. Did singles for about the first 20 cleans and then did a few sets of doubles and triples.

I felt pretty good when I got off the rower. In hindsight, I could have gone a bit faster, but I doubt that would have helped my overall score. A big chunk of time is taken by the toes to bar. If I were to do this workout again, I might try doing sets of 3 with very short rests. I'd also start doing doubles and triples for the cleans from the get-go.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

I'm all a flutter over this workout and the pacing. Especially because I had major pacing issues on all three other workouts and this one seems to be the most strategic. I figure I'll go medium intensity (about an est. 1:55 split) on the row, then do two sets of ten toes to bars before going to 5s. The Wall balls are going to kill me. I'm hoping I'm not dead by then and can actually do more than 5 reps at a time which is what I usually default to in WODs.

My goal is to not overpace this thing, to just keep chipping away as fast as I can and get as far as I can. I would be happy to make it to the cleans. I'm already nervous.

March 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Stella! That's amazing. I remember how much you struggled with t2b during the open last year, and now you just did 50. In a row. Like a boss. Congrats lady.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Mc

thanks Brad, awesome bit of info there. I also remember that row for calorie workout and remember getting somewhere around 50 calories so I'll look back and see that one. Also, i'm going to check my Erg log and look at some of my workouts and check them as well.

I'm going into it thinking that I'm going to have a nice 3:30 row and then spend the next 10 minutes trying to get 50 TTB.

Dave Castro mentioned last night that 14.4 is meant to separate the pack and between the TTB and the MU, that is going to happen.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRob F

Thank you, Brad! I have spent countless hours on that evil machine but never used the calorie setting until starting Crossfit. I'm always totally lost in the beginning trying to figure out what "feels" like the split I'm trying to maintain.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

somehow all this talk about strategy for 14.4 makes me wish I had signed up for the open.....even if I've never attempted a t2b...weird.

6AM run nice and easy over and back on the manhattan bridge with Jon this morning. I'm glad I was able to rope somebody else into running this morning otherwise I wouldn't have made it out of bed. I'm down for Friday bridge runs with Brooklyn Bridge next week

March 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterNeil

For those not registered for the open - what will scaling look like for strict t2b, and the alternative for muscle ups (not that i will get that far)?

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren S

@ Michael

I played around with that spreadsheet some more and it looks like the stroke rate doesn't affect the relationship. Cal/hr appears to be a 1:1 with 500m pace.

I did notice another interesting thing, which is that the faster you knock out the 60 calories, the fewer meters you end up rowing. Bridges completed 60 calories and ~720 meters in ~2:25, whereas someone who completed the 60 calories in 3:08 is going to end up rowing ~840 meters. If it takes you 4:30, its ~1000m. This is proof the erg is evil. It kicks you while you are down.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrad D

10am with McDowell.

So I am not registered for the Open (wish I was in hindsight- just didn't really know much about it), nor was any of the 10am doing tomorrow's WOD. There was an alternative WOD, and I thank McDowell again for letting me do 14.4 anyway.

I had so much nervous energy going into the WOD!!

I did the row as steady and fast as I could, but I am not familiar enough with the ERG to tell you anything more than it took me about 4 minutes and 30 seconds to get to 60 calories.

I had decided to do T2B 5 at a time and take rests in between (I probably rested 10 seconds after each set of 5). After 35 T2B I had to drop to sets of 2 and 3 because they became so hard. I finished those about 10:15 into the workout. Onto Wall Balls which were not as bad as I expected. Did 4 sets of 10 with a lot of deep breaths in between sets. Got to the barbell with about a minute to go and managed to get 3 cleans (+ 1 failed attempt). 95 is heavy for me especially after all that other work (My 1RM is 100lbs).

Total Reps: 153. Fun WOD. Glad I got to do it!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichele W

Asta is another one of my favorites! Great peeps right there!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJR

ASTA! I love her pics, and how she captures the energy at CFSBK. Typically, I'm very camera shy and don't enjoy getting my pic snapped but I'm really grateful for the images that Asta has captured at TDD and during classes, it's a great visual record of how far I've progressed since starting CF. In addition to be being a very talented photographer she's a great partner during workouts.

@Brad - the rowing summary is great, I'm afraid to see how much slower I've gotten after CrashB's.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJude

I hate toes to bar. And I hate you, Brad, for pointing out that I should row faster.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox


1. Asta's shots are amazing. Her shots from the CRASH B event 2 years ago were some of the best shots we've ever had. She's phenomenal at catching interesting and evocative candid moments in people while making herself seem barely there. We've very lucky to have her as part of the team making the CFSBK (and ITA) blogs so special.

2. Thanks for the tips about rowing. I plan on doing an easy 60 calorie row pressure test before hitting the workout later today. That's the part that Im most unclear about.. pace has to be just at that exact level where you don't blow up but aren't wasting time on the erg.

March 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Thanks for the detailed breakdown Peter! I think you gave me some good benchmarks for the rowing and the ttb.

After obsessing over this all night and morning, I think I've come up with my guiding principle for this workout: just being strict about 5-10 second rests between smallish (5-8 reps) sets of work throughout, and if I get a muscle up I'll spend any remaining time staring in shock at the rings with my mouth open.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlex C

Asta! Great interview! I don't get to see Asta much as I am normally a 'morning'-10am or 12pm- CrossFitter but the few times I have been partnered with her on WODs, she has been such an encouraging partner and obviously her pics are beautiful.

Strength Cycle last night
LBBS 170 x 5 x 3 with belt. Jeremy said they were better than Tuesday. Must have been the belt. Heavy. Funnily enough I have not yet gotten the 'knees out' cue so that must mean that my knees are out!! 'Chest up' is the recurring cue these days, it seems.
Bench Press 85 x 5 x 3- weight felt appropriate but shoulder was a bit uncomfortable.
12 x body weight chin-ups in 5,4,3.

14.4- 85 reps.
Row in 3.23- I kind of knew I would just be flailing around on the bar for 10 mins for this one, but was glad to get the practice in! So frustrating not being able to string any together. And SO many missed reps!!!! That very last bit at the top kept getting me- and then my shoulder started hurting so I quit with a few seconds left. Still, I got my very first t2b only a couple of weeks ago so I guess I should be happy about this. If I could only kip!

Next year....

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Also! My grey men's size medium CFSBK hoodie disappeared from the coat room during the 12pm class. Of course I had not yet gotten around to writing my name on it. If you were there at that time and you find you have two, please let me know/ bring it back. Thanks!!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Stella, that's so awesome and Charlie, your row time is impressive! Get it, girl!

Asta!! Such thoughtful answers, and of course, your photos are stunning.

My strategy for 14.4 tonight involves painting my nails neon pink to increase my girl power and then doing my best on the T2B, which will be interesting. If I start swinging around like an asshole, I think I'm going to just call it and move on to the wall balls and try to get to the cleans so I can feel a personal sense of accomplishment. Being in the top 10 for our gym the first week was a cool feeling, but my, how quickly that faded... Have I mentioned there's lots to work on? :) Determined to have a good attitude and have fun tonight!!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

14.4 in the books

Very bittersweet

180 Total reps, which means I finished the last power clean with 3 seconds left to go, what I thought was not enough time for a single muscle up but probably could have been if I rushed over and went for it. I was really happy to make it as far as I did. I'm VERY disappointing I didn't get that muscle-up. I thought it was only 20 cleans so at 15 reps I started to slow down in prep for the muscle-ups and at 20 I walked away from the bar and everyone was saying I had more cleans, that was a tough switch to flip again. Then it became survival mode for the last 10 reps.
I'm seriously bummed about coming so close to the muscle-ups and not taking a crack at it.

This workout is really painful, the cleans felt horrible, theres nowhere to hide. Get ready to go into your pain caves and stay there for a long time.

Lots of short consistent sets with minimal rest is the way to go. Keep jumping back into the fire.

March 21, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio


March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRolan

Asta! Love me some Asta. One of the first and friendliest people I met at SBK. She's turned into a hell of a photographer, too.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox


Fun 10 am - Friday @ 10 s my single fave time of day to come in - great mix of everything that sets this place apart. Dr. Mike, you owe me a poem... Just sayin'.

Did Thursdays's workout and loved it. The rest is just detail.

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

DO, just do it again dude, no biggie, how hard can it be?

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLuca

One of my favorite nights in the gym and I only got 63 reps! Thanks to Lauren for being my judge/coach/cheerleader. I finished the rows in 4:30-something, which felt fine. Then I only got 3 T2B and my "strategy" was to call it after 5 failed attempts. Around 9 or 10 minutes, I moved on to the wall balls (20/10/10) and then did the cleans, first 15 in sets of 3 until David told me to finish within 2 minutes. It felt great to do all of it (minus MU, obvs) and push way harder than I would of on my own at the end.

Then I did a bunch of pull-up work with KMo and went back to practicing T2B and got, like, 10. I finally figured it out after watching David demo them for someone else.

Finished with 10 minutes of plank work (1 min on, 1 off), then another 10 min with side planks, and lots of stretching. I felt like I really accomplished stuff tonight and had so much fun. :)

Go team and good luck tomorrow everyone!!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

Asta rocks. Period. And she's been at CSBK three months longer than me. OG!

March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDMak

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