August 3, 2015

opex, opex fitness, formerly opt, james fitzgerald


Inside the beating of every human heart is a desire for something significant—a dream, a vision, an achievement, a goal, peace, happiness, love.

What does significance mean to you today?

How has that meaning evolved, changed or remained constant throughout your lifetime?

Recently, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Happy Living, an organization with the mission of empowering others to improve their health and well-being—one person at a time.

I fully believe in their platform and message, and was challenged to reflect deeply on the meaning of this little word (significance) in my own life.

Significance means importance to me – or where my priorities lie. Honestly, values and priorities are everything to me. They play a daily role and are a constant thought. Significance attaches me to the reasons why we are here, why we are doing anything we are doing, and what happens when that physical time is done.

Things that were significant to me years ago are different now… that in itself is fascinating.

Years ago, I may have told you “significance” meant:

  • Being the best (athlete)
  • Setting a new PR on
  • Starting a company, and being able to pay my bills, to live out my passions for fitness and helping others
  • Witnessing a personal training client ‘get it’—inside and outside the gym (a proper squat, a pull-up, giving up a Diet Coke addiction, transforming their lifestyle)

Today, “significance”, for me, looks like:

  • Being a great father to my two girls, and loving husband and supporter for my right-hand woman, my wife, Leighanne
  • Empowering coaches worldwide to become the “total coach” through OPEX’s CCP program
  • Revolutionizing the methods for fitness development through individualized design training programs
  • Witnessing a client ‘get it’ through adhering to a program, uniquely specified to them

The future holds hope and excitement as I wonder what will be significant for me in 40 more years? Don’t you?

Take some time for yourself at the end of the summer to really reflect on your life, your happiness, your passions, your well-being. Come out and join me in Sedona the weekend of August 2122 for the Happy Living Retreat—two full days of inspirational speakers, guided reflection and simply centering yourself, your mission, your life vision.

You can register here

Perhaps you can even make a trip to OPEX HQ while you’re at it (approx. 2 hours away from Sedona in Scottsdale.

James FitzGerald

August 2, 2015

aug 2 2015

Back To The Beginning

When I began coaching back in the university days, circa 1996-1997, I never imagined myself doing what I am doing today and this last week.

I never imagined walking amongst the fittest CrossFitters in the world and feeling a part of it, feeling accepted and comfortable.

I never imagined taking part in a one-time competition in 2007 that would turn into a world spectacle.

And I definitely never thought I’d be as inspired as I am now to coach up coaches; In turn, helping them achieve “success” in their business.

I have always wanted to have a large impact. My impact now comes in the form of professional coaches—teaching people the benefits of what I know to be true about fitness:


I answered a question from a student in our online OPEX CCP Business Systems course this past week, and it hit me: I am living out my mission.

The student’s question concerned his feelings of whether or not he is “worthy enough” to be a coach. He had fears on being ready.

My guidance I offered? Experience (as a coach) CANNOT be fast tracked.

One thing OPEX offers is solid, easy to understand, easy to implement principles on how to start, grow and run a business in fitness coaching.

In our CCP courses, we teach coaches skills and lessons on the essentials for being a great coach, such as: Communication, fitness assessment, exercise prescription and movement, and an understanding of the foundations of nutrition, like digestion. Throughout our courses, we also make certain to teach coaches how to best connect their newly acquired knowledge to their clients, on the front lines, in their gyms or through their written programs.

Ultimately, OPEX’s coaching education program (CCP) is all about teaching the best of the basics of being a great coach, a total coach.

A solid foundation built upon these essentials, allows the coach to gain outright, immediate confidence in simply just “starting”. (Side note: By the way, I’ve never seen anyone go wrong with offering advice on eating whole foods and teaching proper movements, with a little bedside manner as well).

In the same course that day, time stood still as I heard my partner, Sean Greeley, answer some students’ questions on margins and the mechanics of that for profit.

I sat there, realizing that we (OPEX) are doing a large positive service to these coaches simply by just allowing them to breathe, find acceptance and learn in an arena that genuinely desires to empower them with this information – OPEX!

Here are some written comments from several students on the course call that day, regarding how things are going in our easy-to-follow online CCP Business Systems module:

Coach Marcus – The biggest thing I’ve learned is more about myself and why I want to open my own gym and help people. This is helping to shape my mindset!

Coach Tom – I am up to Lesson 10, trying to learn that script! Biggest take away is not taking this stuff for granted, the content so far has forced me to take things more seriously and consider my future in this sector.

Coach Zack – Completed through Lesson 10. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to take action and follow the simple rules. The biggest problem/question is that I’m realizing I have very limited experience with everything in this module. So it is challenging to admit to my short comings in relation to business and sales, but exciting to implement the process at the same time.

Coach Joseph – Up to Chapter 6 CVPM. So far the biggest tak-aways have come from the that lesson. I am noticing those principles being applied in my every day life from other successful companies.

Coach Joe – Chapter 10. And the biggest thing I’ve learned thus far is how to price our services based on the value and not based on what the gym down the street charges.

Coach Heather – I have read through lesson 10, but really need to re-read and go over numbers. A little confusing to me but extremely educational.

Coach Andrew – My biggest learning has been on how I need to market myself, knowing I’m worth it and believing that I can provide the best service to a client. I also have learned just realizing how a process of selling to someone is so valuable to ensure that you are able to help people get to where they want to go, gives me vision with how to ensure I can have a future as a Coach personally to continue to help people.

Coach Elan – I’ve learned how to imply the mindset and CVPM forced me to think of these things that I never thought where important but realize it is essential for a business and its path to success. I could add more but the flavor under it all was all the same: Gratitude and challenge. I mean what else is there?

As I sat there on the call, watching these comments pour in, I realized that I am a part of offering something special to people. I am doing something that feels right in my bones, something that I stand for. It encourages one to feel purpose and fulfillment. Daily.

I challenge each of you reading this to think about taking the time to reflect and realize what you may be doing in your work as a coach; realize the benefit you may be providing for people in fitness.

AND, if you ever need help and guidance on how to do this the best way possible, how to be the best coach you can be, contact us – we want you. We can help. We want to.

James FitzGerald



August 1, 2015

aug 1

Team Reflections

As the coach for our FIRST Games team, I have had a couple days to reflect on the weekend as a whole, as well as some thoughts on everything in between, from athletes to events to preparation.

Here’s what I observed:

— Scoring this year for teams was emphasized much more on individual’s performances and male vs. female team performances.  In addition, the ordering of how work was completed also impacted teams who had weaker players. In the past, more team-based work was prescribed, so you could hide some of those weaker players.

— To have a top team you need great CrossFitters who have great endurance. The best teams had all six athletes carrying the same essence (endurance / grinders). In my eyes, athletes, like OPEX’s Jim Crowell, looked like super stars out there because of the grind required. Generally speaking, the teams need more grinders.

—Top teams this year who carried strong individual REGIONAL competitors didn’t finish well—ultimately, the bottom line: they need to be enduring too.

— Froning’s team won this year by their male team crushing their male events; The males placed 1st  in the solo events!

— Girls need to be tall, strong and gymnasty.

–Power really isn’t tested in team –Seal Fit training and Muscle endurance is…

— Teams need to practice synchronized swimming with objects more than once…

–Athletes need to be able to run, period.

—The best teams train together year round

—The Earth Worm workout in the stadium, where the team had to run up the stairs, didn’t favor teams in lanes 6-14

I look forward to this next season.

– Coach Robin Lyons

OPEX ONE July 31, 2015

opex one july 30

July 31, 201
Coach James Taylor

Observational Trends in Fitness Athletes

This past weekend I had the opportunity to make a trip to California and observe athletes competing in the CF Games as a spectator while team OPEX Red competed as well. For the first time at the Games, I watched more of the team competition than the individual competition. I saw on a big stage not only the very best of the best competing this time, though those few elite were there as well. Of course, I’ve had the chance to watch athletes at the Open level completing workouts at OPEX here in Scottsdale and at the Regional level in the South Region for years, too. Over time, I’ve noticed some trends emerge in fitness athletes as my eye for movement has been refined through trial and error in lots of program designs and competitions. Additionally, athletes’ training ages in general are getting higher within the sport and therefore there is more individual susceptibility to biases in coaching that they have received, training they have done, or movements tested for which to be prepared in their chosen sport. Here are some of my noticings about the state of preparedness and execution of fitness athletes that can be improved upon.

1.Eccentric Control in Bending

In the sport, there is a lot of emphasis on completing reps, which is obvious and incontrovertible, but the paradigm created by the testing protocols that have been implemented over time is that the concentric phase of movement is king. However, for an athlete to reach their potential in concentric movements, they should obtain high proficiency in the eccentric phase of those movements as well, and this can be overlooked by athletes and coaches. Sure, there is emphasis on the eccentric phase of movement sometimes in competition such as when an athlete’s depth in squatting is judged or full lockout between reps in hanging based movements is required, but often there is no requirement for eccentric control in upper body barbell pressing movements and lower body barbell bending based movements. This categorization includes Olympic lifts as well as other deadlift variations. For the athlete who needs to be strong holistically, ignoring eccentric control in the large global movement pattern of barbell based bending leaves many athletes imbalanced and this shows up as inefficient movement subtly and often.

2. Straight-arm Strength

Similar to the lack of eccentric control in some movements, in large part created by the paradigm of the testing environment, here we are basically talking about another case of movement that’s not concentric based. There are all types of straight-arm strength to which I’m referring that are all specific to the position and loading parameters involved. For functional fitness athletes, straight-arm strength is mostly not tested in isolation, but it shows up often with other functional movement patterns. The most important factor in realizing the importance of straight-arm strength for athletes is that training it follows the principle of training from core to extremity for many movements that are not often considered straight-arm movements, such as rope climbs and handstand pushups. Training for balance in strength at the scapula from straight-arm movements will help many athletes’ performance over time in movements traditionally considered to be bent-arm movements, as bent-arm strength starts with shoulder strength. Two straight-arm movements that I find especially potent for fitness athletes and in which proficiency played a big part in success for individuals on the main stage on Sunday at the Games were heavy Farmer’s Walks at high intensity and short distances, and single arm OHS (squat snatch) at high loading. These movements are great to test for individuals and will likely have a trickle-down effect of showing up at other competitions over time.

3. Equipment

Certain types of equipment are fine to be used for training and competition to get a better training stimulus and improved competitive advantage. However, some of the equipment that can be used in competition, such as belts, knee sleeves, weightlifting shoes, and wrist wraps, seem overused in training environments. This equipment has various beneficial aspects to its use for performance, but one thing that all of these pieces of equipment have in common is that they help eliminate unwanted range of motion and can take up the slack in movement patterns. It’s no doubt important to use in practice what you’ll use in competition, but with too much reliance on equipment away from major competitions, an athlete can lose some range of motion and stability in movement by never training it since the equipment replaces the need for an athlete to have that range of motion or stability. Overuse of weightlifting shoes can lead to silent arches and anterior tibias, and overuse of belts can lead to suboptimal breathing in movements and core bracing that’s weaker without the belt. I believe that these pieces of equipment can play an important role in competitive advantage, but for the intelligent athlete, their use may be best periodized to some extent relative to competitions.

July 30, 2015

july 30

Noticing From The Games; Scoring Potential 

1          750     Tia-Clair Toomey
2          736     Katrin Davidsdottir
3          703     Kara Webb
4          689     Sara Signmundsdottir
5          681     Sam Briggs
6          661     Chyna Cho
7          636     Lindsey Valenzuela
8          620     Margaux Alvarez
9          616     Amanda Goodman
10        569     Emily Abbott

The rankings above are how the 2015 CrossFit Games COULD HAVE unfolded with MINOR tweaks to scoring methods. If you watched the Sunday finale, suffice it to say, the pegboard proved difficult for the majority of female competitors. Out of the remaining 37-competitior-field, three completed all three pegboard repetitions, two completed two pegboard repetitions, and seven completed one pegboard repetition. This left a MASSIVE tie for 13th-place amongst twenty-five individuals NOT completing a single pegboard repetition.

In an alternative scoring method, where the 13th-place tie is given 0-points versus 54-points in PTTM1, you see how drastically the leaderboard shifts. Notably a different champ is crowned and Kara Webb stands on the podium.

And to be clear, the 13th-place tie is being given 0-points because they failed to complete a single successful repetition.  In previous events, namely the clean and jerk max, when competitors failed to complete a repetition they received 0-points. For instance, Ben Garard, Travis Williams, and Joe Scali all failed to complete a successful attempt. Instead of receiving 8-points on a tie for 36th-place, they all received 0 points. (Side note; imagine if Matt Fraser misses his second attempt on the clean and jerk max. He then joins the other gentlemen with 0-points. All only things being equal Fraser ends the competition with 795 overall points, still finishing second in the Games, mind you. However, the drama around a podium race is negligible as Ben Smith truly walks away with the title at 915 overall points).

I liked the scoring system this year. It rewarded exponential points to top finishers and allowed for major shifts across the leaderboard. I simply think PPTM1 was poorly conceived and no one in Games management saw the tie-breaker coming at that scale. Perhaps even a last minute call was made during PTTM2 in terms of how to handle scoring of 13th-place; 54-points each or 0-points each?

Let me know your thoughts on this.

– Coach Matt Springer

July 29, 2015

ryan gg

OPEX Takes 2nd for Granite Games Qualifier

While all eyes were on the CrossFit Games, if you don’t happen to be one of the less than 1% of athletes competing in Carson, there are still plenty of opportunities to do so throughout the year.

In fact, if a goal of yours is to ‘get better’ or improve in the sport of fitness, competition is not just encouraged, it is necessary. (more…)

July 28, 2015

danny jerk

Interesting Individuals; Competition Thoughts From The CrossFit Games

Another year has come and gone. After a long season, the highly anticipated 2015 CrossFit Games is now a thing of the past, and now, reflection begins.

Reflection on what went wrong, what went right, mistakes made, lessons learned, victories to celebrate—and everything in between. (more…)

July 27, 2015

community event

What Does “Community” Mean To You?

Often times when we hear the word ‘community’, we instantly associate it with ‘unity’, ‘togetherness.’

Within the realm of CrossFit, ‘the community’ is most often the #1 response of every day folks who report on what keeps them coming back to their box, day in and day out. (more…)

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