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Rest Day

Active Recovery at CFSBK

The original version of this article appeared on David’s blog, Inside the Affiliate.

Active Recovery (AR) is essentially an hour of mobility and soft tissue maintenance that we offer four times a week at CFSBK. The original version of this program started in 2009 when we began hosting six-class workshops to more directly address the movement restrictions we were seeing in our membership. The few minutes of movement prep built into the beginning of group classes was proving insufficient in terms of instructing and enabling members to really understand their restrictions and learn how to work on them. The goal of implementing specific AR sessions was to help members establish a routine of DIY work outside of class so they could move and perform better in class.

We realized that an open class format (similar to group classes) would decrease the barriers of entry, providing hour-long sessions that anyone could hop into for some soft tissue lovin’. These classes have been enormously successful, and our members have seen dramatic improvements in their mobility as a result of both attending class and learning to mobilize regularly on their own. 

Membership Logistics
CFSBK members can attend one or more of our four weekly AR classes by either dropping in for $15, or by using the class as part of their weekly group class membership. Unlike our group classes, AR is also open to the public. Every once in a while, members bring friends along or visiting athletes attend, but the vast majority of people are active CFSBKers. Despite the popularity of the workshop, we were a little unsure at first if people would actually show up for an hour of pure mobility, but attendance has been consistently high. In fact, part of the impetus for building our recent upstairs annex space was that Active Recovery classes were becoming so large. It’s typical for my Saturday AR classes to have upwards of 20 people in attendance. Each class has a bunch of "regulars" who attend every week and have worked it into their weekly training routines, which is evidence of how important it is to membership. 

I would be remiss not to mention how influential Kelly Starrett's work has been to our AR program. When Mobility|WOD launched in September of 2010 with the motto “All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves,” CFSBK’s "tool box" of mobilization methods was much smaller than it is now, and our conceptual approach to dealing with movement issues was far less refined. Along with so many others—CrossFitters and other athletes alike—we are forever grateful for his contributions. I would highly recommend reading Kelly’s book Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance to anyone interested in offering a class similar to Active Recovery. His oeuvre of m|WOD videos are also extremely helpful.  

Programming + Class Flow
Since we're catering to an open enrollment of CrossFitters and we've got an entire hour to work with, we keep these classes pretty broad and try to hit most basic positions and systems. I generally write out eight to 10 different mobilizations that I want to cover and usually have to add or delete a few things depending on the flow of the class.

Since I've already programmed what we're going to do, I start class by asking people to get the tools they're going to use that day so they're on hand when we need them. Sometimes I start with general movement prep like DROMs or something resembling a Crossfit-ified sun salutation, and sometimes we just get right into it. 

I try to teach one conceptual thing per class, such as reviewing a rule of mobility, explaining how the knee works in general terms that offer insight into how to care for it, or I might even talk about hydration or the bracing sequence. We want to maximize what our athletes are getting out of the time, with the hopes that what we talk about and do in class blooms into the rest of their lives and athletic endeavors. Also… I'm a particularly chatty person and like to engage people in class, with the aim of helping everyone get to know each other better, have fun, and pay less attention to the discomfort of some of the more intense mobilizations.

So, for example, maybe I'll ask one person what they did the previous evening and they’ll mention a restaurant, which leads to a group conversation about which restaurant has the best burger in town. Or maybe I'll pick a silly question similar to our Question of the Day, and throughout the hour, get each participant to answer. It doesn't really matter how the conversation starts; the most important component is that laughter happens at regular intervals during class. We know that people will keep coming back to our gym not only because the instruction and programming are good, but because it’s a FUN place to be. 

Closing Thoughts
We believe AR classes are a fabulous asset for our members because it teaches you how to take care of yourself and listen to your bodies in a more informed way. The classes also provide athletes with a place to go that directly relates to their CrossFit training and is different from any other mobility work, including yoga or massages, since it focuses on actively caring for and improving soft tissue health. Perhaps most importantly, AR creates worthwhile, important conversations at CFSBK about how to get and be better—which is hopefully why we’re all doing CrossFit in the first place.

So what are you waiting for? Come get mobile tonight with Coach Fox at 6:30pm. Also, remember that Pilates with KH is canceled tonight.

What is your AR "Money Move", the thing that always seems to hit the right spot and make you feel better afterwards?
Badass Beauties Fuel for Fire
Letting Beauty Speak CrossFit

Reader Comments (20)

Wednesday's Programming

Clean and Jerk

Fitness: Halting Clean Deadlift + Clean + Jerk
Focus on having your weight over your mid foot at the mid hang position. If you have a hard time organizing the pull off the floor, perform the clean from the mid hang, after the clean halting deadlift.

1) Clean and Jerk

2) High Hang Clean + Knee Hang Clean + Jerk
70% x (1+1+1) x 2


Front Squat

Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Add 5-10 pounds to last week's weight.

Performance: 72.5% x 8 x 4
Rest less than two minutes between sets. Use 105% of the 1RM you used for last cycle.

June 12, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Excellent olympic lifting session last night. Fun sharing the bar with DanRx (sorry I made you change the weight every time man) Really happy that everyone got a chance to meet and train with Heather Farmer. I know her well from Equinox on 43rd Street. Great coach, great person. Having two sets of trained eyes really made a difference. Worked up to 95# on the snatch. Hit some pretty ones. Could have gone for triple digits but I wanted to quit on a high note. Love the feeling when the bar unfurls overhead. Still have some issues with the clean to iron out but my jerks were pretty solid. Best cue Frank gave me was to GET OUT OF MY HEAD and just lift the weight. Thinking too much generally, need to move more smoother like.

@Wow so legit, such role model: Strength cyclers always work hard, bro. Do You Even Lift??


June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

6am with Jess and McD. Fitness version of the C&J. Worked up to 113# today and seemed to move much easier than last week. Jess commented that we should be getting extension from the ball of our foot and this really clicked today. Also got a great pointer from her on not rushing on the dip before the jerk.

FSQ - LP 135#x3x5. These also moved well and I'll look to add more weight next time. Cash out of Tabata burpees = sweaty mess. Lowest round was 4.5

AR $ move - All of it, but if I had to pick one, a few weeks ago we did some shoulder mobility with the band, stretching out pec minor. I'll echo Charlie in saying that I would love an AR punch card!

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Monday 7pm Strength Cycle in a not so crowded gym




Taped my forearms today and woah!!! No pain. Could also be the fact that Jeremy let me lift lighter weights on Friday and a weekend of rest. Still feeling strong in the squats. Moving much faster than last cycle and hopefully I got some more weight in me before my first bail. Had some struggle with the second set of bench press. Needed some neanderthal growling and bad words to get it up. Last set much better as Jeremy coached me through it.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

Couch stretch helps me a lot and I try to do it daily. When I had a knee injury in December, it was one thing Fox told me to do and at one point I was doing it for five mins on each leg and I really believe that is the reason my knee does not bother me anymore.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Hey, it's hubby and me doing wrist distractions!

I switch up my AR moves based on whatever it is I need most that day, but the one thing I do every. single. time. is roll my back with the Rumble Roller. Love that thing. It busts up the knots like nothing else.

Thing I try to hit often at SBK (since, although I've bought most of the AR toys, I don't have this one at home): calf mash on a parallette. I can lax ball them at home but nothing works quite as well as the parallette (or partner mash on a PVC).

I am seriously stoked for strength cycle tonight. Something tells me the number 200 is going to be on the board.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Do you like music? Do you like bands from Brooklyn? I have two tickets to see The National at the Prospect Park Bandshell tomorrow night (June 18th) that I would like to sell. E-mail me if interested.

mjacobson81 [at] gmail.com

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike J

6am with Jess and McDowell. I did Monday's press work with McDowell. I stayed at 95#, which was where I was last week. After spending yesterday wrangling a couple of small kids on a plane from LA, sticking at last week's weight felt just right. I got three rounds in the WOD, doing the pull ups as jumping pull ups. The real surprise here was the double unders, which I was consistently stringing together in groups of four, sometimes five. That's a major improvement for me. McDowell's cue to just relax helped a lot.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

cfsbk-ers - does anyone have a large cooler I could borrow for Saturday? I could pick it up anytime Friday and return it Sunday afternoon. akalishman at gmail and muchas gracias!

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterarielkw

Too many go to AR moves to mention, though a general session with my thighs on the orb is probably the best.

The AR instruction I remember the most is David demonstrating to us the way the scapula moves when it is restricted by gunked up fascia restricting all the muscles that connect around there, then having us trace our scapula with the lacrosse ball, and doing a test-retest. A true "oh, this is why I do this" sort of moment, plus I like geeking out about anatomy.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoel w

6am with Jess and McD.

C&J - worked up to 165 which was feeling good today. Jess helped me to straighten my jerk which made it go up much better.

FSQ 175x5x3 which moved fairly well today. I don't like front squats but I'm getting more comfortable with them.

Tabata burpees were not fun. I kept things consistent with 6 per round for all rounds.

June 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterElliott

egg csa signups are ongoing! The sign up form is here!

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Finally got in for my first Oly class:

40x3 50x2 60x1 70x1 75x1,M,M,M 70x1,1

Need to work on sweeping knees back off the floor and getting hips through on the second pull. Not used to some of the positions so I was missing out front a lot.

Hang snatch

Clean and jerk
60x1 70x1 80x1 85x1,1,1 90x1 95xC,1 85x1

Still working on footwork, got some new drills to practice.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

Roll out t spine with a foam roller
Couch stretch
Any shoulder internal rotation piece
Voodoo wrists

I feel like I could only do those 4 moves for the rest of my life and be good to go

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Osorio

I mostly like to roll around and feel where I'm tight. Currently that's T spine and Calves/Ankles and anterior hip. I believe that if I improve the bottom of an overhead squat everything else would be ok.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Today's link, "Letting Beauty Speak", is amazing. I hope this is where we're going as a whole.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Michele, could we buy a trial dozen of eggs tomorrow?

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAsha

Is the egg delivery the same day as the veggie?

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNan

Snatch Doubles up to 80%

Power Clean+2 Jerks up to 75%

Romanian DLs

Sitting all day long doing shit you dont want to do REALLY makes you appreciate getting to the gym and moving under a bar.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

Asha and nan, yes and yes.

June 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

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