CrossFit Cypher | Straight Up CrossFit Strength & Conditioning

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“First, understand that you can build muscle and increase your flexibility at any age. Along with strength and agility will also be increased mental alertness and better sleep. Both of us have had the opportunity to excel at hard work throughout our lives. Whether it was physical, mental, or emotional work, we have had our share of challenges and we have learned some things about how to succeed. Just because something is hard, does not mean you can’t do it. It just may mean it may take longer than you had thought or you may have to change your approach (one, two, three or more times) before you accomplish the goal.”

Congratulations to Rocky & Norma, our latest Cypher Athlete Spotlights!

Cypher: What were you doing to stay in shape before you started Cypher?

Norma has been actively involved in martial arts for the past 28 years which allowed her to maintain her flexibility, strength and balance.  Rocky was doing mainly individual workouts to stay in shape just before joining CrossFit Cypher.  He was cycling and swimming but he did not necessarily look forward to working out alone.

Cypher: What do you do for work?

Norma runs her own real estate mortgage brokerage company, the Norma Saunders Group.  She provides families and individuals the opportunity and pride of home ownership through a network of 50 leading lenders. Rocky is a retired emergency manager and currently consults with several companies including Seismic Warning Systems, a company that delivers actionable earthquake warnings.

Cypher: How did you hear about CrossFit Cypher and CrossFit?

Our daughter, Jamie, joined a tabata CrossFit club in Sacramento and was extolling the virtues of CrossFit training.  We both remembered hearing something favorable about CrossFit, so inspired by Jaimie’s great results we decided to look into it.  We found CrossFit Cypher on the internet and went over for a visit.  To our surprise on our initial visit, we saw a neighbor of ours, Chris Yetter, in the class.   After getting an enthusiastic thumbs up from Chris, we met Mauricio and Leslie for the first time and the rest is history.

Cypher: Describe your first day participating in a CrossFit workout. Do you remember what the WOD was? What was it like, and what were your thoughts when you left the gym?

Our first workout experience was through the six session On-Ramp program which took place over the first two weeks.  At first we couldn’t even spell WOD, let alone know what is was.  Although our bodies were sore (really sore), we were feeling the success of achievement.  Our first impression of CrossFit Cypher, Mauricio, Leslie and the community of athletes was “Yessss!  This is it!”

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Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?

Both of us have experienced several challenges since joining CrossFit.  For the most part, joint and muscle flexibility issues have been a continuous challenge for both of us but this is definitely getting better.  We both have received great instruction from Mauricio, Leslie, Becky, Sarah and Bianca on stretching and flexibility in addition to maintaining good form while exercising.

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What has been the most rewarding part of CrossFit for you?

By far we enjoy working out hard every day in a community of like-minded people and enjoying the comradeship of new friends.

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Cypher: What is one of your most memorable CrossFit PRs or milestones? What did it feel like when you did it?

We both enjoyed the moment of surprise and satisfaction with our Dead-Lift PRs.  Norma never thought she could lift more than her own weight and Rocky broke into the 300 club with his.  We amazed ourselves, while at the same time we knew we could do more.

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Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit?

We have both seen an overall increase in physical strength, endurance, feelings of well being and mental alertness. Norma has gained strength in her legs and arms.  Rocky has also lost inches around his waist, dropped a few pounds and his knees don’t seem to hurt as much as they once did.

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Cypher: What encouragement or words of advice would you give to new people coming in?

Take the long view.  Look at your progress over a few months at a time and don’t necessarily look for immediate changes.  Stick with the program and trust your coaches.  If you need an accommodation on a particular exercise don’t hesitate to say something.  The coaches are really great about thinking up substitute routines so you can accomplish a tough but doable workout.  Even though a particular exercise may be challenging, take inspiration from the other athletes in the class.  It is challenging for them too.  Put in the time and you will get the results.

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Cypher: You are both such great ambassadors for the Masters population :)! What do you think it is about your background and personality that made you open and willing to try something like CrossFit?

First, understand that you can build muscle and increase your flexibility at any age. Along with strength and agility will also be increased mental alertness and better sleep.  Both of us have had the opportunity to excel at hard work throughout our lives.  Whether it was physical, mental, or emotional work, we have had our share of challenges and we have learned some things about how to succeed.  Just because something is hard, does not mean you can’t do it.  It just may mean it may take longer than you had thought or you may have to change your approach (one, two, three or more times) before you accomplish the goal.

 

Cypher: What fitness goals have you set for yourself to achieve in 2016?

In 2016, Norma wants to set new PBs for dead lifts, and back squats while improving her flexibility.  Rocky wants to get into the 400 club on dead lifts and the 300 club on back squats.  Oh yeah, both of us want to get better at burpees!

 

Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym? Any fun facts your gym-mates might not know about you?

Norma has been studying and teaching Kung Fu for 28 years.  She has also been involved in all aspects of the real estate industry including designing solar energy systems.  Rocky had a career in government including many years working at the State Capitol in Sacramento and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  Rocky enjoys singing and he holds a private pilot’s license for airplanes and helicopters. We have two young adult children.

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Cypher: Spirit Animal & Super Power?

Norma’s spirit animal is the rattlesnake, fast and powerful. Rocky’s spirit animal is the elephant; strong, stable, and the true king of the jungle.

Cypher: If you could describe Cypher in five words, what would they be?

Uplifting, flexibility, empowering, community, challenging.

Cypher: Any other thoughts or shoutouts?

We would like to send out an enormous shout-out to the Cypher team of coaches as well as to the inspiring group of athletes with whom we are privileged to sweat.

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“The most rewarding part has been all the growth and change I’ve seen. I am way stronger than I have ever been. CrossFit makes me feel great!!” -Maria
“Becoming more athletic than I’ve ever been, even more than high school when I would play sports and work out. What I’ve learned from going to Cypher is that there is always room for improvement! The rewarding part comes every time you get a PR.” -Miguel

Congratulations to Maria & Miguel, our latest Cypher Athlete Spotlights!

Cypher: What were you doing to stay in shape before you started Cypher?
Maria: I would go to Planet Fitness.
Miguel: I was going to planet fitness 3-5 times a week.

Cypher: What do you do for work?

Maria: I am the office manager for a housekeeping company in El Cerrito.
Miguel: I’m the manager of business operations at a housekeeping company based in El Cerrito. Maria handles the front end client and employee based communication and I handle all the paper work associated with running the company (payroll, insurance, etc all the fun stuff yay! Haha).

Cypher: How did you hear about CrossFit Cypher and CrossFit?

Maria: I first heard about CrossFit through one of our friends who would not stop talking about it. Finally, we decided to check it out and landed at Cypher.
Miguel: One of our friends is crazy addicted to CrossFit and he’s been trying to get us to try it out for a while (I think a year or two lol). We came across Cypher through Yelp!

Cypher: Describe your first day participating in a CrossFit workout. Do you remember what the WOD was? What was it like, and what were your thoughts when you left the gym?

Maria: I don’t remember the first workout to well but I know it kicked my butt. I remember Miguel and I were very excited and nervous to start. After the first day we knew we had found something we’d love!

Miguel: I don’t remember the WOD but I have a feeling I was doing some kind of overhead bar work because I remember thinking that it was the most awkward bar movements I’ve ever done haha. I do remember Hann giving me pointers that day. My thoughts were “God I’m gonna be so sore tomorrow but that was so much more fun than the regular gym!” And yup I was right, for the next month I was constantly sore in new muscles pretty much every day lol.

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Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?

Maria: The most challenging part of CrossFit for me is handstands. Its a movement I’ve never really done and I guess that scares me. I’ve never really liked being upside down. I’m sure with practice I will get over it.

Miguel: Being patient about not being able to do certain movements (overhead squat is my #1 enemy ) and learning to trust my body and it being able to handle the weights.

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What has been the most rewarding part of CrossFit for you?

Maria: The most rewarding part has been all the growth and change I’ve seen. I am way stronger than I have ever been. CrossFit makes me feel great!!

Miguel: Becoming more athletic than I’ve ever been, even more than high school when I would play sports and work out. What I’ve learned from going to Cypher is that there is always room for improvement! The rewarding part comes every time you get a PR.

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Cypher: What is one of your most memorable CrossFit PRs or milestones? What did it feel like when you did it?

Maria: One of my most memorable CrossFit PR’s is probably my squat PR. It was nothing crazy or anything but I have alway squatted and never at this weight. I use to squat maybe like 50 to 60lbs and thought that was tough. The first time we squatted in CrossFit I did double that weight and it felt so natural. It was an exciting moment to know I was capable of lifting heavy weights.

Miguel: Completing the CrossFit Open. I seriously thought I wasn’t going to make it after doing 16.1 and the toll that took on my entire lower body! Shout out Ana for pushing myself and Maria to signing up. I already can’t wait for next years (hoping to go all Rx!).

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Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit?

Maria: Since starting CrossFit I have definitely lost some weight which has helped improve my energy and overall well being. I am also way stronger than ever before and that’s a great feeling.

Miguel: Started around 190# and I’m down to 173#! The best part was that I never made it about my weight like I used to when I would go to the regular gym. When I see friends who I haven’t seen in a long time they always ask me about how I’ve been able to get back in shape . Going Paleo (not strict but for the most part) helped me out a lot as well. Overall I just feel healthier and more fit, I’m able to do more throughout the day without feeling super tired.

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Cypher: What encouragement or words of advice would you give to new people coming in?

Maria: I would say just do it. Don’t over think it and you will get it done!

Miguel: If you really want to see the results that you’ve always wanted (no matter what they are), you’re gonna have to work hard. That’s what I think is the beauty of CrossFit. There’s a level for every single individual that will still give you the same toughness during the workout. In every class I go to I always see everyone tired at the end of the workout and it doesn’t matter if the did Rx or some type of scaled. Best advice I would give is don’t feel discouraged if your workout is scaled down, everyone has to start somewhere but the important part is to stay consistent and keep working as hard as you can to improve day by day! 🙂

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Cypher: You both come to the gym together so consistently, we love it! How has having a pretty reliable workout buddy affected your daily experience and growth? (Do you talk about the workout together before or after class? Are you competitive at all with each other ;)?)

Maria: Having a consistent workout buddy has definitely helped in my success. In the past I usually fall out of a good workout cycle if I don’t have someone to join me. Miguel and I are both very competitive so we are always trying to do more than the other. We talk about the workouts all the time and discuss how they went for us and how we will improve.

Miguel: It has made the experience richer! We tend to hold each other accountable when it comes to going to class (even give each other a hard time when one of us misses class lol). We talk about the workouts all the time, maybe you could say we’re borderline addicted to CrossFit lol. We’re always being competitive because each of us wants bragging rights! I know during workouts I scope out how she’s doing to see if I need to turn it up a notch hahaha!

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Cypher: What fitness goals have you set for yourself to achieve in 2016?

Maria: I don’t have a specific goal I want to achieve in 2016, just to keep trying my best and getting stronger.

Miguel: I want to be able to do most, if not all workouts Rx! I would also love to be able to hand stand walk at least 10 feet. Notable PRs I want: 255# bench 300# squat 350# deadlift 200# power clean 8).

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Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym? Any fun facts your gym-mates might not know about you?

Maria: My hobbies consist of going to raves/concerts, eating and my pups. Outside of the gym we’re usually exploring with the pups, trying out a new food joint or attending a rave/concert. I also really like make-up so I’m constantly watching Youtube tutorials and buying lots of it.

Miguel: We go to a lot of raves and concerts, I would say that’s probably our favorite hobby/interest together. Interest that I personally have is collecting sneakers, but I’m trying to cut back on that lol. A fun fact I guess would be that I have over 50 sneakers (I don’t even know how many exactly, Maria thinks over 75 pairs).

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Cypher: Spirit Animal & Super Power?

Maria: <blank>

Miguel: Wolf! Everything about the wolf is so cool and the fact that they’re similar to dogs is awesome (I have two pups) Super power would have to be teleportation! Just imagine all the places I could travel and I would never be late again lol.

Cypher: If you could describe Cypher in five words, what would they be?

Maria: Strong, Motivational, Friendly, Edgy, and Fun.

Miguel: Friendly, energetic, awesome, fun, motivational.

Cypher: Any other thoughts or shoutouts?

Maria: You guys are awesome!!

Miguel: Thank you Mauricio, Leslie, Becky for helping Maria and I grow! And to everyone else for being so friendly and supportive. Crossfit Cypher is definitely family!

 

Are These 5 Concerns Holding You Back From STARTING?


Starting something new, especially a new workout program, can come with degrees of concern and, for some, crushing anxiety. Ahhh change is SCARY! Run awayyy!

It doesn’t have to be this way… especially not here at CrossFit Cypher where we specialize in helping beginners get started.

Here are 5 concerns that hold people back from living a more fulfilling life, and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, why they don’t have to anymore.

Concern #1: “What if I can’t do it?” Then we will kill you. Ha! Just kidding! I only make this joke for you to see how silly it sounds. Of course you CAN do it at Cypher! We have been teaching beginners how to START their fitness journey for years, and have MANY tools in our tool belt to make sure you have a positive and appropriately challenging workout each day. We scale, scale, scale the workout! We regularly help pregnant mothers-to-be, 60+ athletes, and people that have never worked out a day in their lives complete fun and challenging workouts and walk away smiling. We make sure all our coaches know something about each and every member before they see them at class for the first time. Each Cypher Coach has also invested years in honing their skills to better serve our members, and are completing ongoing education to continue bettering themselves. And, I’ll tell you a secret: the goal we have at Cypher for each one of our clients is simple: Be safe, have fun and learn something. You can do that! And if you keep doing that, you’ll keep coming back!

Concern #2”: “What if I look stupid?” Starting something new can certainly make you feel awkward. But there is nothing wrong with being a beginner. In fact, if we are doing it right, we approach all things from a “beginner’s mind” (Shoshin) at all times. Embrace newness; it helps you appreciate everything that you already have and view the world in a positive light. The only way out is through!

Concern #3: “What if I get hurt? You are choosing to do something athletic. This comes with a small bit of risk. But here’s some interesting “risk” thoughts to chew on:

450 people die in the U.S. each year falling out of bed!

Here is a list of injury rates per 100 participant hours:

Source: Injury rates per 100 participation hours in various sports. From Hamill, B. “Relative Safety of Weightlifting and Weight Training,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 8(1):53-57, 1994. [Table reproduced from Starting Strength]

And let’s not even get into the risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease, and other Metabolic conditions that arise from sitting on your couch and doing nothing!

You absolutely stand a much greater risk of dying by not exercising! (Or being killed by your bed!)

At CrossFit Cypher, our training principles are sound and science-based, our staff is highly certified and you are continuously guided by an experienced coach at each class!

Concern #4: “Do I need to be in shape first?” Nope. We get you in shape and then we keep you progressing. That’s our job and that’s why you hired us. BUT, if you do want a little extra before beginning our program, feel free to do each of the following workouts once per week for 2-3 weeks:

Workout A: As Many Reps As Possible in 12 minutes:
4 Hand Release Push-ups (from knees ok)
8 Sit-ups (feet anchored ok)
12 Air Squats (as low as you can)

Workout B: 5 Rounds for Time:
5 Burpees (chest to floor, stand up all the way)
10 Lunge Steps (5 per leg, light knee touch)
15 Hollow Rocks (knees bent ok)

Workout C: Burpee Ladder –  Score is the highest “rung”/round of the ladder you make it to!

Set a clock to beep Every Minute On the  Minute (EMOM):
complete 1 Burpee the 1st minute, then rest the remainder of the minute
complete 2 Burpees the 2nd minute, then rest the remainder of the minute
complete 3 Burpees the 3rd minute, then rest the remainder of the minute
complete 4 Burpees the 4th minute, then rest the remainder of the minute
complete 5 Burpees the 5th minute, then rest the remainder of the minute

Keep adding one burpee each minute until you can barely complete the work in a minute!

Scoring Scale:

Beginner: 7 Rounds

Beginner-Intermediate: 9 Rounds

Intermediate: 12 Rounds

Advanced: 15+ Rounds

Concern #5: “I’m not who I used to be.” Who cares? We don’t. You are who you are right now and that’s it. Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love. Remove the self-doubt and the concerns about “what you could do back then” and get going. Just be you now. Chances are that person’s pretty awesome. Start there, with us, and I guarantee you we can do something really amazing together. Maybe even be BETTER than you used to be. Think about that!

At CrossFit Cypher, we change lives every day. Our favorite phrase, and we hear it daily, is when one of our members says, “I never thought I’d be able to do that.” We can’t wait to hear you say it too :).

-Mauricio Leal & Leslie Macedo

CrossFit Cypher Co-Owners & Head Coaches

Sign up for a No-Sweat Intro here: http://crossfitcypher.com/appointments

 

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“The friends I’ve made on the journey – six AM folks are a tight crew and for me I need the personal connections to be satisfied.  Hands down. On the fitness realm – I feel better at 43 than I did at 23 or 33.”

Congratulations to Randy, our latest Cypher Athlete Spotlight!

 

Cypher: What were you doing to stay in shape before you started Cypher?

I was an aspiring cyclist.  I never raced and was more stoked on endurance rides and rode centuries all over Northern California.  I rode Levi’s Gran Fondo three times (103 miles, 9000 ft of climbing) and finished the California Tour of the Alps in 2013 (129 miles, 15,000 ft of climbing).   While training for death ride, I worked out with a personal trainer and went to ahem, Planet Fitness.  It was 10 dollars a month and if you went with a plan at 4:30 am, it wasn’t so bad.

Cypher: What do you do for work?

I’m the General Manager of Alameda Natural Grocery and the Alameda Marketplace.  We are an independently owned natural foods store in the island city of Alameda.  I love my job and always use the analogy of the natural foods industry being the land of misfit toys (those of us that don’t fit in professionally elsewhere can find success in natural foods).

Cypher: How did you hear about Crossfit Cypher and CrossFit?

I was friends with Molly M. IRL and on Facebook. She was always posting photos and talking about WODs and strength training.  I sent her a message asking more questions and went to a garage sale at her house to talk in person (she loaned me her copy of Becoming a Supple Leopard).  I intentionally met her at Cypher to return it to her so I could return the book, watch a class and have someone introduce me to the coach – for me this was much easier than cold calling.  I signed a waiver and paid for my On-Ramp that day.

Cypher: Describe your first day participating in a CrossFit workout. Do you remember what the WOD was? What was it like, and what were your thoughts when you left the gym?

I don’t remember what my first workout but I do remember being nervous.  Darlene was also in my On-Ramp group and I didn’t have to do a lot of talking.  I thought I was in good shape just coming off of Death Ride but quickly learned bike fitness is very different than CrossFit.

When I left the gym, I knew I would be back and this was going to become a consistent part of my life.  The same way I did with cycling – except the gear I needed was less expensive.  I was sore, still nervous but couldn’t wait to come back.

I need to backtrack because I like a good story.  After my first week I went for a longish bike ride on a Saturday morning – about 60 miles.  That night I was getting my daughter ready for bed and my back started to hurt (I thought I pulled a muscle on the ride).  About 20 minutes later I knew I had a kidney stone and needed go to the ER – 10 minutes later I was laying on my front lawn in agony.  Long story short, after multiple surgeries, I had to take 8 weeks off due to complications.  Bummer.  This is also happened again a year later – but I got away with only two weeks off.
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Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?
Oh man, where do I start with this one.  I technically fall into the “masters’ end of the spectrum (I will be 44 this summer).  Some of the movement we do have not come naturally to me and it’s taken a ton of work to get to the place I am now.  Sometimes this feels shitty when you see the young bloods and their rapid progression.  Most of the time I don’t care.

What has been the most rewarding part of CrossFit for you?

The friends I’ve made on the journey – six AM folks are a tight crew and for me I need the personal connections to be satisfied.  Hands down.

On the fitness realm – I feel better at 43 than I did at 23 or 33.

Cypher: What is one of your most memorable CrossFit PRs or milestones? What did it feel like when you did it?

I’m a notorious “Hatch Squatter” and recommend the process to anyone who wants to improve their Back and Front Squat.  I hit two milestones in December and February – 245 lb Back Squat and a 235 lb Pause Back Squat.  At the time I was bummed because I missed at 250 and my gains on this are so damned incremental – like 10 lbs per cycle.  I will take it for sure and was stoked about it, I never thought I be able to do this in my 40’s.
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Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit?
My intent when I started was for CrossFit to make me a well rounded cyclist.  Riding fell off the radar when the logistics of my kid starting a new school interfered so I never got to test that theory out.
 

If anything, I’m consistent.  I haven’t lost or gained a damned pound since I started.  I can’t eat Paleo, doctors orders – I tried doing CrossFit vegetarian for a month, that was hard too.  I am constantly hungry.

Changes in Health and Fitness:  Better mobility, better functional awareness (how to lift properly in real life), stronger for sure.

Cypher: What encouragement or words of advice would you give to new people coming in?

Show up on time, listen to your coaches, ask questions.  Think your question is silly?  Ask anyways.  Don’t want to ask in front of the class?  Send your coach an email.  Hatch, then Hatch again and again.  Do the supplemental work if you have time – weighted sit-ups, work on your weaknesses (I say this knowing full well that I still can’t do a double under).  Ask more questions.

All things in moderation – I totally get eating good food to support the hard work we put in.  I’m also not going to miss out on an ice cream cone with my daughter or a slice of pizza with friends.

Be consistent. Show up at Open Gym.  Drop in at other boxes when traveling, do travel WODs if that doesn’t suit you (my fave is sit ups, push ups, air squats – perfect for hotel rooms, your parents basement or a bike path in the woods in Michigan).
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Cypher: You have been with us for quite some time (almost 3 years and 356 classes), and are a regular at 6AM! What’s you secret for staying consistent for so long in the early morning?

Mostly out of necessity.  It’s hard for me to come at any other time – if you have a 5AM class, I would be there and stay until 7.  I also have a routine – I get up at 4:50, make my kid’s lunch and my wife’s coffee, that’s part of the trade off to come that early is to get the morning train moving before I leave the house.

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Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym? Any fun facts your gym-mates might not know about you?

I just bought a new helmet so I could start riding my bike again.  I still buy records and have a turntable at home and another on my desk at work.  My daughter is my greatest accomplishment.  I was a vegetarian for 12 years and vegan for four of those 12 (Sometimes I think I should eat that way again to be a truly compassionate human).   I’m super tight with a group of dudes from Michigan who I met going to punk shows 20-25 years ago – those dudes changed my life.  I have tinnitus in my right ear, it rings constantly.  On occasion, I will go see bands play – basement and house shows are still the best.

Cypher: Spirit Animal & Super Power?

My daughter asked that I say Puffin as my Spirit Animal. Super Power would be too complicated, multifaceted and hippy dippy to list here.

Cypher: If you could describe Cypher in five words, what would they be?

Passion, Strength, Support, Friends, Soul.
 

Enjoy our guest blog featuring Cypher member and Certified Massage Therapist Leslie P.!

bodywork

“This feels incredible. Why don’t I do this more often?”

I ask myself that same question after each and every massage I receive. Which is ironic given the fact that I massage folks for a living. I mean, c’mon.

So for everyone out there, myself included, who need a gentle nudge, I have compiled a short list of some of the completely awesome things about getting a massage.

  1. Massage. Feels. Good.

And massage makes you feel incredible. What could be better than feeling incredible?

  1. Regular massage could lead to better lifts.

If your lifts are restricted in some part by tight or bound soft tissue, bodywork can absolutely help with that. For example, in order for our arms to reach full extension overhead, a lot has to go right. The scapula must be free to rotate and move over our ribcage. The clavicle must be free enough at the sternal end in order to allow the arm to extend overhead, not to mention all of the rotating and gliding the head of the humerus has to do. The list goes on and on. If any one of these movements is restricted, the entire motion is compromised to some degree. Free up these restrictions and who knows what’s possible.

  1. Faster recovery and less pain.

There has always been a ton of anecdotal evidence to support this claim. Athletes the world over get massages regularly for this very reason. However for a long while there was no scientific explanation for this phenomenon. Well, some brilliant person circa 2012 decided to poke holes in a bunch of legs and test some tissue. Turns out massage helps speed recovery and reduce soreness caused by inflammation and now we know why.

Although I have some, ahem, issues with bits and pieces of this article, it is very much worth having a look, which you can do here.

  1. You will be better person for it.

Although I lack the scientific data to fully back up this particular claim, I still maintain that massage makes the world a slightly friendlier, gentler place. No biopsies needed.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many benefits of bodywork. I encourage you all to go forth and get some work. ( It can even be with me! )

Leslie Louise Price, CMT

leslielouiseprice@gmail.com

 

Now that the 2016 Open is over, I want you all to have a road map for success. After going through this cycle with our members and the community at large for several years now, I have a few observations I would like to share with you:

  1. It turns out, just “doing CrossFit” in its rawest form (classes and metcons) will only take most people so far, especially if you have some very specific weaknesses you need to address. For 1-2 years, it will be enough to see some great PRs and accomplishments. If you’re still in that phase of training with us, don’t overthink things, trust us. Just keep showing up and we’ll take care of the rest. If you’re beyond this phase and you are doing the old 1 step forward 2 steps back routine, or the same issues keep creeping up, read on.
  2. Want to get a muscle-up? Struggling with Double Unders, Snatching or even just getting below parallel on a Squat? You need to practice it, receive feedback on it, make adjustments and try and try again multiple times per week. This is the core message of Malcolm Gladwell’s talent myth, and you can apply it to your training and development in so many facets of your life. Don’t get me wrong, for the right kind of person (think Diego or Don), just doing the classes will take you very far (but not all the way). People that have athletic backgrounds (especially having been coached prior) and tenacious drive will see a wall and run through it — even though sometimes it’s better to climb over it or walk around it (develop better technique) — but I digress ;).
  3. You have to believe you can do it; that you are worthy and deserving of success the same as anyone/everyone else. This is the work of overcoming our demons, but is essential if we really want to see ourselves through to our goals, whatever they may be.
  4. We (CrossFit Cypher) are in the “fitness business” and run a “CrossFit gym”, and to most people that usually means you show up and work out 3-5 times per week (ideally) for an hour class, get coached (can mean many things), have a good time working out, push yourself, high five your gym friends, go to work, go home, eat all the proteins and vegetables, sleep, enjoy a bit of free time here and there, rinse and repeat. And that’s a pretty good model. For some that may be all you ever want and need. But we can do more. As I see it in 2016, we are really in the “Seeing-People-Through-To-Their-Potential” business. You might even call it the “Self-Actualization” business. And that adds another layer.
  5. The solutions to ALL of your problems, once properly identified, are relatively simple. They just require proper identification (see movement), and time and  effort (you). You are rare and precious, but at the same time we have seen enough athletes and there are enough gyms running into the same tight hips and looping bar paths that we have built a library of solutions for almost any problem. This manifests mostly through our coaching, but people are out there writing books as well. In time there will an app for it I’m sure.

Basically, to make the most of your time and progress with us many of you will be best served with some supplemental work. This aligns perfectly with the CrossFit ideology of “work on your weaknesses,” which the last Cypher Pro Tip video hopefully helped you identify.

Based on your post-2016 Open assessment, you can identify your weaknesses based on this simple translation of your struggle points:

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There might be a few other items, but this covers most of the spectrum. Come talk to myself or other Cypher Coaches, and we can help you identify what supplemental work will get you on your optimal path. In some cases it can be as little as 10-15 minutes per day of “extra credit”.

Finally, don’t sell yourself short! You are all made of the same star stuff as CrossFit Games champions. Forreals. Your goals are different by degree but not by kind. If you have the desire, we will find a way to see you through to your potential.

 

So, let’s talk.

There are a few ideas swirling around our local community and the community at large that I would like to address. One of them is the unfortunately pervasive idea that adopting a Paleo-style diet and doing CrossFit well are incompatible. This is simply not true, but I understand where it’s coming from. Here is how it flows:

  1. You decide to try Paleo
  2. Okay, so you can’t have any bread, rice, cereal, or pasta, no refined sugar anything, juice, soda, alcohol, etc.
  3. Sooo meat and salad then, alright
  4. Which often ends up meaning you don’t eat hardly any carbohydrates because the Paleo Gods stole all your preciouses!
  5. Like a good CrossFitter though, you keep showing up and doing your programmed metcon workouts (the majority of what we do at the gym), which are highly glycolytic, and eat up your glycogen stores like nothing else, which are supplied primarily by carbs
  6. Funny, that
  7. In addition to the normal pains of working out, your workouts start to consistently achieve a new level of SUCK (if that’s even possible) after about 3-5 minutes, almost every time
  8. And if it goes over 15 minutes or so, HOOO BOY
  9. This is probably an understatement, how much this feeling sucks
  10. Your gains/PRs also vanish
  11. You feel sucky
  12. Screw this!

Last year (or was it the year before/2014?), at the CrossFit Games, Dave Castro famously asked all the qualified Games Athletes at the Athlete’s Dinner (night before competition) if any of them were “doing Paleo”, and no one raised their hand. Big whoop. But it was a sort of seminal moment, something everyone had on their mind already. And many in the community took this home as a supreme form of validation of their un-Paleo-ness from The King On High. Which is unfortunate.

I have a few objections with this:

  1. What is Paleo even? Everyone on the internets seems to disagree. If I’m in that room and I raise my hand, whose definition of it am I subscribing to?
  2. If I were an athlete with a sense of business savvy and, at a more base level, a sense of peer pressure in a group I feel especially privileged to be a part of (most people at the CF Games are there for the first time, and understand Dave Castro is basically their boss), do you know what I do: I wait to see if anyone else raises their hand first.
  3. To what end do you raise this question, Mr. Castro? What should people in the world at large learn from what elite athletes are eating?

These are all potentially BIG topics upon which a lot of intelligent people disagree. But to not waste your time, here’s the deal:

  1. Really Super Duper Strict Paleo with no exceptions is a great idea for people who do not train hard or work out at all even. Science supports Paleo-style eating being an ideal candidate to support optimal health. Is it the only way? Of course not. Interestingly, this demographic is also the vast majority of sedentary and/or overweight people who populate this great nation of ours! Which makes something like Strict Paleo a great public policy recommendation. Not that we’re anywhere near that yet.
  2. Really Super Duper Strict Paleo is probably even a great idea for overweight people, and people new to exercise who only do a little strength training and a little aerobic training, but no glycolytic work. This is actually my preferred approach for new clients starting Personal Training who are ready to change their activity level (start working out) and their diet. Somewhat ironically, most overweight people who join a gym think working out a lot will do the most to solve ALL their problems, because Biggest Loser. We know now nutrition matters A LOT more, and doing both hard CrossFit and Strict Paleo is precisely the formula that many will sabotage themselves with as a result. It’s like driving with the emergency brake on. Unfortunately, it’s a tough sell to get this particular cohort in the gym to not workout the way they think they absolutely need to (BURN MOAAAR CALORIES). Really high volume intense training plus diet restriction for sedentary and overweight people is not only wrong (i.e. it doesn’t work in the long run), it is also irresponsible (can easily lead to injuries, especially in novice trainees).
  3. Really Super Duper Strict Paleo is NOT a great idea for people who train hard and often, especially those who do a lot of classic CrossFit conditioning, aka “Metcon”.

This leads us to… THEN WHAT? Well, unfortunately, many choose to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. If you can’t do it to the letter, then what’s the point? The point is that it’s just a FRAMEWORK! Does your ideology and belief system match up exactly with whatever political party/person you support? Of course not! Do you use this as a reason to withdraw from politics entirely? Actually, some do. This is unfortunately how it also seems to be with Paleo vs. Un-Paleo. But it doesn’t have to be so. It’s as simple as this:

  1. Do Paleo
  2. Short on carbs? Eat more paleo fruits and vegetables
  3. Still short? Eat more sweet potatoes. They’re delicious when wrapped in foil and baked at 350 deg for about 90 minutes.
  4. Still short? Eat rice and potatoes too if it helps you
  5. Boom.

Are you “doing Paleo” if you do this? Who cares. The name is just a label. Some people like that because they can use it to identify with a tribe. Whichever. You are not a caveman or cavewoman.

Eat food, real food. For your health and fitness, in that order. Tell everyone! Or, don’t tell anyone about it. Thrive.

About Games Athletes. Modeling your training and nutrition habits after people who train for 4-5+ hours per day is a fallacy. In the egalitarianism of the thing that is CrossFit, there is an appeal. You can actually compete in the same arena as Rich Froning, Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, Annie Thorisdottir (my fav ;)), Ben Smith, and Katrin Davidsdottir. Champions of champions, if you’re lucky sometimes even in the same gym with you. What are your chances of ever getting to play football with Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? To shoot hoops with Lebron? A lot less.

They are all human beings, and in that we share something powerful. But athletically and physically, they are not the same as regular people training for overall fitness AND health. They have trained for years and continue to push the limits of human capacity. 4+ workouts per day, almost every day. That’s what it takes to be the best.

This is something I want you to remember (credit to Coach Rudy Nielsen): performing at the highest levels of fitness AND achieving a high level of health and wellness are NOT synonymous. This is contrary to what is taught at the Level 1 certification about the “Fitness-Health-Wellness” continuum. While this model is mostly valid, observations suggest it breaks down at the extreme end. I don’t think it was ever meant to be a blanket statement extrapolated to any/all levels. In short, elite athletes fuel their bodies for a different purpose other than health, and train similarly. Which basically means they can drink a lot of protein shakes, eat a jar of peanut butter and jelly AMRAP, eat a “clean” meal once per day, perhaps even drink alcohol occasionally, and keep on trucking. But not forever. Being elite by definition means it was not meant to last. The average length of an NFL player’s career is 3.3 years. It will be proven similarly in the CrossFit Games over time (already athletes are bowing out/retiring), though hopefully not quite that short since they’re not actually running into people.

Therefore, what Games Athletes are doing with their training and nutrition, while interesting on many levels, actually should not inform your lifestyle. So when Dave Castro — whom I think is an amazing human being despite the constant criticism that comes with his territory — asks the Games Athletes whether they “eat Paleo”, you can either take that as a statement that has some meaning about what YOU should be doing, or not. Honestly, I think Dave is just obsessed with the revolutionary idea that is kindof his baby, The CrossFit Games. He wants to know what the best of the best are doing, not necessarily inferring anything about what you should be doing. He apparently cares deeply about finding and testing the fittest athletes in the world. Beyond that, I’m sure he cares about other things too, but it’s his job to care mainly about that. Is it also a jab against Paleo and perhaps some of its particular proponents on some level? Maybe, who knows. To me it mostly just doesn’t matter. He has publicly stated his support of Paleo principles, so there’s that.

And finally, because I know it sort of matters: Despite how I often joke about eating whatever, or how you’ll see me sometimes nomming on a cookie or pie (mmm pie) or something, I myself do strive to eat Paleo.  I probably am successful 60% of the time right now. I stick to it as much as I can, because I do want to be healthy also. As much as my schedule and lifestyle and priorities and sanity will allow. I hope you do the same.

Eat food, real food. For your health and fitness, in that order. Tell everyone! Or, don’t tell anyone about it. Thrive.

 

So Long 2015!


New Year’s Eve 12/31/15: 9AM Class, 10:30AM-Noon Open Gym

New Year’s Day 1/1/16: GYM CLOSED

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Chris Cypher

“…about four or five months after starting CrossFit, we were doing strict pull ups and one of the Real Cypher Bros said I looked “jacked.”  Who, me?  I’m definitely not jacked, but I was pretty psyched about the compliment anyway. Despite being in my mid-30s, I’m in the best shape of my life. That all feels pretty good.

Congratulations to Chris, our Cypher Athlete Spotlight for December 2015!


 

Cypher: What is your athletic/fitness background?

Chris: Minimal/average. I have never felt like an athlete, but I’ve been relatively active for most parts of my life. I grew up in the Puget Sound area of Washington State, and had endless hours of outdoor activities–biking, hiking, boating, just messing around on the beach. For a few years during the winters, my best friend and I took the ski bus up to the mountains every Saturday morning. (Now that I think about it, the social dynamic of the ski bus had quite a few similarities to CrossFit: catch up with buddies on the ride up to the slopes, take a group class then ski on your own, then talk on the ride home about which runs were the best and what you were going to try next time). In college and during my 20s, I had oscillating levels of commitment to the gym, and stuck to light-moderate workouts…no free weights, just the machines.

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Cypher: What is your occupation?

Chris: I am the Chief of Staff of Berkeley Lab. I support scientists who are working hard to make the discoveries necessary to invent the energy systems of the future.

Cypher: How did you first hear about CrossFit and CrossFit Cypher?

Chris: My decision to commit to CrossFit was pretty sudden. I was at the airport in Washington, DC at the end of a work trip in July 2014. I had just met up briefly with an old friend who lived in the city. We had kept in touch since I moved to California, but I hadn’t seen him in a few years. Well, the dude was now a wreck, inside and out. I learned that he had developed a severe drinking habit that started most mornings with a spiked coffee and continued throughout the week with boozy lunches, dinners, and happy hours with his clients. I reflexively made a pledge to him that I would also give up adult beverages if he would go get professional help (I kept that pledge, btw). So, a few hours later, I was sitting there on the carpet in the airport trying to get my phone charged up, feeling pretty nostalgic for the way things had been a decade earlier. Seeing what had happened to my friend prompted some introspection–how I was neglecting my own health through pretty weak exercise and very poor consumption habits. While I was waiting for the plane, I saw on Facebook an update from another friend with an impressive picture after about six months of hard work at a CrossFit gym in Miami. I called him up and asked how CrossFit worked, how he had managed to balance the time commitment with his career. After talking to him, I decided I would give CrossFit a try and did some quick research on the internet about options here in the East Bay. After work the next day, I went straight from Berkeley to Cypher. So it took about 24 hours from the moment I first gave it serious consideration to when I went to sign up.

Cypher: Describe your first day participating in a CrossFit workout. Do you remember what the WOD was? What was it like, and what were your thoughts when you left the gym?

Chris: When I arrived at Cypher to check it out, I mistook the first person in the doorway (Ben) as the coach. I think it must have been in the final minutes of the first WOD of the evening. It was pretty hot outside for the Bay Area. Inside, there was some fun music going and fit people looking happy and sweaty. Some people were lying on the floor next to their barbells and other people were still going at it, with Mauricio and other athletes cheering them on. Ben pointed me toward Leslie, who helped get me signed up, and I stayed to watch the next WOD from the couch. There was a lot of energy in the room and I was ready to give it a try.

When I came back to participate in my first class, Molly showed us how to do back squats, front squats, and a few other things. We mostly worked on form and how to avoid injury, but did try out the weights. My max that day for the back squat was just 40 pounds using one of the little PVC bars (nobody laughed!), and I remember feeling very sore the next day. I think my PR for five reps of back squats is a touch over 200 pounds now, so I’ve come a long way and am excited about making more progress.

chris 1

Cypher: What has been the most challenging part of CrossFit for you?

Chris: Committing the time in the first place was definitely the hardest part. The most challenging WODs for me involve holding the bar above my head (overhead squat, jerk, snatch, etc.). One thing I really appreciate is Mauricio’s ability to recommend the right amount of weight to attempt and how well his recommendations fall in the range of pushing my limits while also being achievable.Diego Alex Chris Handstand Cypher

Cypher: What has been the most rewarding part of CrossFit for you?

Chris: I feel like I added a whole new dimension to my life. CrossFit is something that I look forward to doing every day, it’s what I think about when I first wake up in the morning. I love doing the work and the high I get from doing WOD that combines a variety of weights and cardio, especially when we do it for time and with a partner. Another thing that has become really important to me is the set of friends I’ve made at Cypher and just being part of a community outside of work. There are some really impressive, quality people here.

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Cypher: Talk about your favorite CrossFit achievement/milestone. What was that moment like?

Chris: It’s hard to pick just one milestone. There have been many great moments, like when I finally figured out how to perform a basic power clean, or got the kipping pull-up to work. I’m not the most coordinated guy, so when something like this “clicks” for me, it is a good feeling. I’m still working on these, like everybody else, but I feel really good about the foundation that Cypher has helped me to develop.

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Cypher: What sort of changes have you seen in your body, health and fitness since starting CrossFit?

Chris: Well, I am definitely a lot happier with my body than I was when I started. It’s been a huge change. I also feel a lot better and sleep a lot better. According to the data from my scale, my body fat has come down from over 18% in July of 2014 to around 12.5% (…asymptotically approaching my goal of getting to under 11%). I’m not sure how accurate the scale really is, but the long term trend is in the right direction. So, this is probably going to sound vain…about four or five months after starting CrossFit, we were doing strict pull ups and one of the Real Cypher Bros said I looked “jacked.”  Who, me?  I’m definitely not jacked, but I was pretty psyched about the compliment anyway. Despite being in my mid-30s, I’m in the best shape of my life. That all feels pretty good.

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Cypher: What encouragement or advice would you give to new people coming in?

Chris: Stick with it and come as many days a week as you can. Nutrition is the other half of the equation, so don’t shortchange yourself from good results by coasting in this category. If you’re new, don’t be shy. Everybody at Cypher has learned a lot through personal trial and error, so ask the coaches and athletes about anything that is on your mind about the workouts, Paleo diet and nutrition, exercise equipment, etc.

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Cypher: You have a pretty interesting and high stress job. Can you talk about it briefly and how you make time for the gym and your training?

Chris: My role at the National Lab is mostly related to helping the leadership group manage its affairs and being a utility infielder to get new research programs and facilities launched. It is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had, and humbling to be part of the team and our mission. Some of the current projects I am most excited about are in artificial photosynthesis as well as in a next generation of batteries that will allow grid-scale storage of energy from renewable, intermittent sources of electricity like solar and wind.

We are part of the University of California system and have close to 4,000 people on staff, including about 1,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, and over 10,000 visiting scientists from around the country every year working on unclassified research. It can be easy to put all your energy into this great place and forget to take care of other things in your life.

Making time for CrossFit took a pretty big attitude adjustment on my part. Before I came to the Lab, I worked in the U.S. Senate for four years, the White House for three years, the and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science for another three years. I turned out to be a complete work adrenaline junkie and had been putting in 14+ hours a day nonstop since I got to Berkeley. To get myself to CrossFit every day, I really had to let go of my fear that my coworkers would respect me less if I went to the gym at a time of day that most people would consider it normal to go home. It felt like a huge gamble with my career and my role on the team that I care about.

The experiment has actually gone pretty well. I’ve learned how to operate differently, create some healthy boundaries at work, put more trust in other people, and still get things done. I think my coworkers probably appreciate that I have mellowed out in the past year and a half. At least I hope they do. I am definitely better able to deal with stress because I have this separate outlet through Cypher where I go work hard physically, detach completely from email and text messages, and spend some time with people outside of the science community. It’s kind of funny, at first I had intended on maybe just a few days of the week of CrossFit, just the days with the later evening class…now I go to the first class of the evening, pretty much every day.

Cypher: What are some of your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of the gym?

Chris: Spending time outdoors, visiting my family and friends in the pacific northwest.

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Cypher: You recently completed our Cypher Paleo Challenge, congrats! What are some things you learned from that experience? What advice would you give to someone considering trying Paleo for the first time?

Chris: Overhauling my food shopping and meal prep routine to change my diet has been very important. I dove in on this about the same time I started at Cypher, and have learned a lot over the past 18 months by trial and error and from others. At first it was a few variations on a small list of basic things. The Cypher Paleo Challenge gave me a window into what other athletes were doing, gave my own habits a healthy bit of peer review, and it helped me find new and better ways of putting together the meals that I eat each week. It’s easy now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, and actually a lot less work than what I was doing before.

So, I started very simple and boring, and moved to simple and a slightly less boring. But I keep it simple. If you work out in the evenings or have other commitments after work, you are going to be hungry and probably not in the mood to take the time to put together an elaborate meal before eating when you get home. So I guess my advice for those just starting out would be to look for ways of doing things that are very efficient from a time management perspective and find variety more in various combinations of simple things than in new and elaborate recipes.

Would it be TMI if I told you my basic meals? I have experimented with a few things along the way, but here is my current routine…

Breakfast: egg white scramble in the microwave and a green smoothie. The only thing that changes about this every day is the kind of fruit in the smoothie. I keep a variety of some fresh but mostly frozen tropical fruit on hand. The whole thing takes less than 5 minutes to cook and eat/drink.

Lunch & Dinner: turkey or chicken, quinoa, steamed vegetables with lemon juice and parsley. Maybe some avocado as well. I cook the chicken in batches or buy a pre-roasted turkey breast. I do the quinoa in a rice cooker on a timer and enough for a few meals. So the only thing I have to do most nights when I get home from the gym is steam the vegetables for 3-5 mins, squeeze a lemon and chop some parsley, and then put everything on a dinner plate and in a lunch container for the next day. Changing up the veggies, trying different kinds of quinoa, alternating poultry is enough to keep it interesting for me most days.

Snacks: not very often, but mostly only nuts and fruit. Occasionally a Clif bar.

The things I still eat that are not Paleo: I still haven’t kicked my diet soda habit, though I have scaled it back greatly. I recently started throwing oats into the green smoothies in the morning, which is not Paleo, but I don’t care. A cheeseburger or similar on a Friday night with friends is the other main loophole in my plan.

Cypher: What are a couple short term (3-6 months) fitness goals you have (ex. Back Squat X amount, get first pull-up/muscle-up, PR Fran, etc.)? How about long term goals (6-12 months)?

Chris: I’d like to add the bar muscle-up soon to the list of things I can do, and also make some more progress on the overhead squat. I’m considering doing a competition soon…I haven’t committed to that one yet.
Chris Yetter 12 December 2015

Cypher: Any other thoughts or shoutouts?

Chris: You guys helped me change my life in many positive ways, so it’s hard to adequately express my appreciation. Thanks.

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