Stress Management

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Stress will always be a part of lives – but the holidays tend to bring extra of it.  Whether it is balancing family functions, cooking, wrapping presents – it’s helpful to try to remember ways we can manage it.

Here are some of the best ways we can try to manage stress on a daily basis:

Keep to a routineIt’s important to try to keep some sort routine during the holidays with physical activity and nutrition, because it can be difficult to try to get back in a routine after the new year.  We’ve all been there! Whether it is your regular schedule at CFE or balancing healthy eating during lots of holiday meals – do what you need to do to keep your current routine up!

Practice mindfulnessSometimes we are so busy about what we’ve done in the past or what will happen in the future.  Often, we play out worst case scenarios in our mind. Practicing mindfulness – being aware of what is going on and how we’re feeling in the present – can be a powerful tool to hit a “reset” button on our day.  Some people actively meditate (even a short guided one from online) or practice deep breathing. Find something that works for you.

Change of sceneryWhere you are physically able to, getting away from whatever is causing you stress can be extremely beneficial.  Whether it is at work and getting away from your desk for a bit, or taking time to go on a walk in your neighborhood – a change of scenery can bring much needed relief.

Anticipate: Stress can be unpredictable, but there are certain parts we may be anticipate.  Are there situations, things – even people that cause us stress? How can we emotionally prepare ourselves for these situations?  Maybe it is a certain family member we’re going to see at the holidays or a never-ending to do list for holiday preparations – knowing what stresses us out ahead of time can help us better manage it.

How we respondFinally, consider how you respond to stress. There are stressful things we can act on, others that prompt us to change how we emotionally react, and things we have to accept whether we know it or not.  As people we may naturally try to “fix” things – but often we cannot. Knowing what to spend your energy on and what to accept and move on from is something we can all try to do a bit better.

– Patrick Lukingbeal


Is Boutique Fitness Right for Me?

If you’re ready for results it’s time to ditch the health club…

There was a time when we got all the exercise we require from our daily activities. But as hunting and gathering lead to farming and eventually the industrialized world we live in today the need for human “labor” has been nearly eradicated. Now that we work desk jobs, eat our meals from the hot bar at Whole Foods, and enjoy a generally sedentary lifestyle we are required to reintroduce this missing physical activity. For some reason, the question of how to add physical activity, or work, back into our lives is one that has proven to be puzzling, controversial, and difficult terrain to navigate.


In response to the demands of the market the fitness industry has grown tremendously, particularly in North America where an estimated $28 billion was spent in 2015. Much of this industry is dominated by health clubs and large gym franchises that offer a sampling of strength equipment, cardio machines, TV’s, massage chairs and minimal staffing. Granted  how many staff members do you need when your members don’t actually attend the club? In a study done by students at UC Berkeley found 67% of gym memberships are never used in the population they surveyed.


“If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym’s best customer.” -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR


The savvy marketers at big box gyms know how to target their marketing towards individuals who won’t actually come to the facility. As humans we often get a rush of excitement by a new fitness undertaking. “This is it, the time I actually change, no looking back,” you say. The challenge is that the health club has made zero commitment to you. They don’t care if you show up or not. Luckily there is someone out there who does.


Boutique fitness is the alternative to the traditional health club model. Boutique gyms offer specialized classes based on the expertise of the owners, teachers, or coaches. CrossFit boxes, Barre studios, Bikram yoga, parkour facilities, spin classes  are all great examples of the boutique fitness model.


These communities succeed when the all parts are working together; the owner, staff, and clientele all succeed when they each meet their goals. This synergistic effect leads to faster results and more satisfaction from all parties. As a client you have a team of coaches and fellow members who are all rooting for you, teaching you, and most importantly holding you accountable. Becoming fit doesn’t have to be a chore, a challenge, or a pain point. In fact, it can even be fun 😉


Boutique gyms have been seen rapid growth in the past decade as clients recognize that when it comes to fitness, not all gyms are created equal. Some of the most common excuses sound like:

  • “I have a hard time sticking to a routine”
  • “I’m just too busy to exercise”
  • “I get bored with going to the gym, it always feels like work”
  • “I don’t know how to lift weights/choose a routine/eat the right food”


These are great excuses, but since you’re ready to make a change it’s time to ditch the excuses and focus on RESULTS. By implementing a system that counters your excuses you’ll be left with the only option, the results that you want to achieve.


If you struggle with sticking to a routine you will benefit from the coaches, friends, and community members that you’ll meet at each class. A group of people that will ask you about your day, learn about your goals and life, and most importantly encourage you to show up consistently to your workouts.


If you claim to be too busy then you should sign up for classes ahead of time. The wide variety of classes that are available each day at time frames that are consistent with your schedule make it easy to squeeze in an hour long workout.


If boredom is your challenge then a workout that changes every day is exactly what you need. Not only that but the different coaching styles and friends you’ll make at different times of the day make each class a totally unique experience.


If information is the enemy then relax, because that’s already been taken care of for you. Your coach has put a lot of thought into a training program that will improve your fitness and will be by your side to instruct you on form, breathing, and what weights to use. Keep an eye out for group nutrition challenges to boot!


To get the results you want sometimes you need to try a new approach. If that trip to the gym feels more daunting than Frodo walking the ring to Mordor then it’s time to see what a boutique gym has in store for you!

The Power of Choice

Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of  summer… in 2012.


And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.


I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.


You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.


“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger


At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.


And life goes on.


And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.


Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.


You might think it’s too late (it’s not).


You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).


You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.


It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next?You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?


Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.


The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.


So what are you going to do?


[GYM OWNER:] Add a call to action here, like: “Schedule your Free Consult here” with a link.

The Importance of Sleep

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Hey CFE family!

Were you aware that we spend about a third of our lives asleep? That’s about an average of 122 days a
year – but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), about 1 in 3 adults in the
United States get inadequate sleep. As human beings, we probably could live longer without food than
we could without sleep!

Recently my department at UH had an event about the importance of sleep, and what I learned was too
awesome to just keep to myself. My faculty colleague (Dr. Candice Alfano) is a clinical psychologist,
professor, and Director of the Sleep and Anxiety Center of Houston. – she’s even working with NASA to
study sleep patterns of individuals living at McMurdo Station in Antarctica in hopes to learn more about
sending astronauts to Mars and beyond! Along with what was shared with us, I outline below some
basic tips to get better quality sleep!

1) Put down the screen – I do the same thing, I admit it! I’m on my phone when I’m trying to go to
sleep and keep it charging on the bedside table. The light our cell phones emit is called blue
light – and gives the signal to our brain that we should be awake. Try plugging your phone in
across the room so you’re not tempted to pick it up, and look at settings like Bedtime on the
IPhone to cut down on the brightness.

2) Stick to a regular schedule – as much as you can, set a regular bedtime – this consistency will
help you be in the mindset that it is time to sleep. Your body can tell the difference between
going to bed at 11 pm rather than 10 pm and that may impact how you feel tomorrow.

3) Stop drinking caffeine after noon – coffee, soda, and energy drinks stay in your system for a
long time! Try cutting back on the caffeinated beverages earlier in the day.

4) Expose yourself to bright light first thing in the morning – this will wake you up quickly and
helps hit the reset button on your day. The earlier that is done, the better your body can settle
in to its routine for the day!

5) Eat a light snack before bedtime – the right snack will cause your brain to release serotonin,
which aids sleep. Aim for high carb snacks (no more than 200 calories) with a little bit of

6) Keep that bedroom COLD – it is recommended that you keep your bedroom cooler at night
(around 67 degrees), as colder air helps lower your body temperature. This is a signal to your
brain that it needs to slow down and get some rest.

7) Keep naps only when necessary – when we sleep for longer periods of time, our bodies enter a
natural circadian rhythm throughout the night. Prolonged naps throughout the day have a way
of throwing our bodies throughout the day. Experts encourage us to aim for 7 continuous hours
of sleep – this increases our chances of getting deep restful sleep. One’s ability to dream is also
impacted. If you cannot remember your dreams or have found yourself not dreaming for a
while, you may not be getting the deep restful sleep you need.

8) Workout in the morning – shout out to my fellow 5 am’ers! I’ve been trying to get back in the
swing of going to our 5 am class – and it sure does help with my sleep. While there is evidence
that shows benefits from working out a different times of the day, lots of it point to the benefits
of an early AM workout. Not only do you leave feeling accomplished and refreshed for your
day, your body will have a more restful and reparative sleep at the end of the day.

Stay well,



Annual Houston Weightlifting Championship Recap – Michael Lyons

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Last Saturday was the annual Houston Weightlifting Championships hosted by Kim Barbell.  This is the second time CrossFit Equality / Equality WL has competed at this meet, and this year all 4 members came home with spiffy medals thanks to a great team effort from the athletes, coaches, and volunteers!


Jamie made all 3 of each of her snatches and clean & jerks, giving her a total of 128kg, which put her in 2nd place for her weight class.  In addition to her placement, she has now qualified to compete in the American Open Series 2 in Valley Forge, PA this July.  


Coach Brooke competed for her second time at the HWC and took 1st place in her weight class! She snatched 65kg and clean & jerked 78kg, giving her a 143kg total, which were all meet PRs for her. This is a 20kg increase from her total at the 2017 HWC. Hard work pays off!


David had an awesome showing going 6 for 6 by snatching 87kg and clean & jerking 101kg.  This gave him a 188kg total for the day, securing him 3rd place in his weight class.  


Brooke, David, and Jamie will all be traveling to the American Open Series 2 being held July 26-29, 2018 in Valley Forge, PA. (

This will be available to stream via the internet to cheer these athletes on, or feel free to jump on a plane and travel with us!


I, Coach Michael, lifted in the last session of the day and I am beyond happy with my performance.  I snatched 89kg and clean & jerked 103kg. Both of these are new PRs for me in this weight class. I took 3rd place in Masters 85kg weight class for my age range.  I am still wearing my medal as of today.


I have to add a super huge thanks to all the CF Equality members who came out to volunteer their time to help run the meet, help me coach, and to cheer on our team!


Aly, Dylan, Maria, Megan, Jeremy, and EWL team members all volunteered their time to help load weights, judge, and take photos of the event.  Thank you Aly & Dylan for the help in the back getting athletes ready to perform.


Last but not least, thank you Trisha for spending what felt like 37 hours at the meet cheering on our members and learning the ins and outs of what Equality WL is all about.     


Show your support for David White!

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On April 28 & 29, David White will ride from Houston to Austin with hundreds of thousands of bicyclist in the BP MS 150. The BP MS 150 is a two-day fundraising bike ride organized by the National MS Society. The ride is the largest event of its kind in North America, with 13,000 cyclists, 3,500 volunteers, and countless spectators along the route and at the finish line in Austin. The fundraising goal for the 2018 BP MS 150 is $14 million dollars to bring hope to many who are affected by multiple sclerosis.


We ask our members to support David and the National MS Society. You can follow the link below to donate to David and his team to help them fuel progress towards a world free of MS. 

Click HERE to support David!

You can learn more ways to get involved by following the link below. See what multiple sclerosis really is and how it affects people. You can also find walks, runs and biking events near you to help the cause. 

National MS Society:


The Open Does Not Define You

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The CrossFit Open does not define you as a person or even as an athlete.

Dave Castro is exceptionally skilled at exposing weaknesses in even the fittest athletes on Earth. His job is to find the Fittest Man and Woman on Earth through the Open, Regionals and Games. Even the most elite athletes in the world, who spend 6-8 hours in the gym every day, face failure every once in a while. Everyone fails, but these obstacle do not define you. At CrossFit Equality, there are many aspects we value over athletic ability.

We value humility.

It does not matter how long you have been working out, the CrossFit Open will humble you. There is no such thing as mastery, only the pursuit of mastery. If you feel that you have mastered the basics, it’s time to start all over again, this time paying closer attention. Everything we do is infinitely refinable. This concept applies to everything in your life, not just in the gym.

We value integrity.

Every Open workout has been a chance for growth, either physically or mentally. Chances are that the thought “I can’t do that” has entered your head during one of the Live Announcements, but the effort that you decide to give says more about you than the outcome. How you do anything, is how you do everything. In the gym, we expect your best effort. In your life, you should expect the same of yourself.

We value responsibility.

Everyone is a leader. Whether you know it or not, there is someone who looks up to you. You are setting the example for what is acceptable and what is not. Complaining, cheating, quitting, gossiping: these things are not acceptable. You are not only responsible for your own attitude, but also for the culture at the gym. Positivity breeds positivity, light drives out darkness, and strong people don’t put others down; they lift them up.

We value positivity.

The atmosphere at CrossFit Equality during the Open is a microcosm of the culture that we strive to create and protect year round. We believe in celebrating every athlete. Every athlete is valued, every conversation is important, every effort is recognized, and every achievement is celebrated, whether it is a first push-up or a first muscle-up. PR’s don’t come from nothing; we see the hours of hard work that you put in, and we rejoice when you reap the benefits.

Focus on the things you can control.

The end of the CrossFit Open is drawing near, so remember: your scores do not define you, and the leaderboard is not a measure of your worth. I encourage you to focus on the things that you can control: your actions, your effort, your attitude, and your mindset. You get to choose your response; your reaction is your decision. You may never be among the “Fittest on Earth,” but you can make the your time in the gym the best hour of your day and the best hour of someone else’s day. Blow off some steam, try something new, high five some friends, and have a good time. That’s what we’re all here for anyway.

-Coach Ann


CrossFit Equality Voted Best In Houston!

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We have been selected as one of the best CrossFit gyms in Houston by !!

Check out the article at


To Repeat or Not to Repeat – That is the Question

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The blessing and curse of CrossFit are that it’s competitive. A lot of former athletes gravitate towards CrossFit as a method of staying competitive after their athletic careers are over.

This is one of the major reasons I fell in love with CrossFit. There are so many ways to measure our fitness, and it’s always clear where you need the most work.

On the other hand, the competitive nature often makes people forget about the importance of form or doing what is right for their bodies. I’d venture to say that most injuries occur not from bad programming or coaching, but from letting your ego get the better of you.

As the 2018 CrossFit Open starts, it’s not unlikely to think that athletes all over the world will be taking second, third, and maybe even 4th attempts at these workouts in an effort to better their score.

What is the cost of attempting a high-intensity piece, with the added level of pressure athletes put on themselves to succeed, and better their score within a 48-hour window? For some, it could be the straw that breaks the camels back (literally and figuratively).



CrossFit Open workouts really don’t present a new challenge (usually) as we are familiar with the type of stimulus (intensity zone) and most movement patterns, but the real kicker is the added elements that take the physiological response to the next level.

The reasoning is simple: the added level of stress and pressure due to the fact the workout is judged by and completed in front of, one’s peers and/or against them, ups the stress response even further.

These simple factors up the ante quite a bit in terms of accumulated fatigue during a 5-week stretch. Now add in attempts 2, 3, and 4 in a small window of time where there isn’t an opportunity for legitimate recovery.



It comes down to simply caring about the long-term health of your clients and NOT trying to impede their success.

I always used the comparison of, would you expect me to program the same workout for you to perform in the same week?”

As coaches, we understand that you want to perform your best, but if performing your best can take away from your overall goals, it’s simply not worth it. Additionally, performing the same workout in a 48-hour window not only has inherent risks but can also detract from your current programming.

Remember, most people want to look better and live longer. Is performing an Open workout multiple times going to lend itself to that?



Most times you’ll see high-level CrossFitters not needing to repeat workouts because their first attempt is good enough to get them to the next stage. Their overall goal may be to perform the best they can at regionals, so not interfering with their current programming is paramount.

If this is the case for you, then great, but if you’re trying to make regionals you may have no choice but to repeat open workouts. If this is the case, performing the workout on Friday and then again Monday afternoon will at least ensure some recovery time.

You may even consider your first attempt as a “dry-run” where you don’t go to that “dark place” and simply use it as a strategy session to help build your game-plan for your final effort. This, of course, puts more pressure on you for your second attempt, though.



At the end of the day, regardless of your current level of fitness or your goals, listening to your body ALWAYS supersedes what’s written on a whiteboard. Many times athletes can be served better by simply changing their mindset about the open workouts and viewing it as a chance to have fun putting the work they’ve already done to the test.

If you stress out about your performance then you’ll likely exacerbate your current state and not perform optimally. More importantly, your long-term motivation will be more consistent if you’re able to remove the stress from ALWAYS performing your best.


Have fun, don’t stress about your performance, and learn to value the priorities of your body over your ego.


Nutrition Challenge | Eating Out

With the Nutrition Challenge nearing its halfway point, we take a deeper look into this week’s challenge and tips on how to make sure we’re sticking to our eating plans. For those participating in the challenge, this week you were encouraged to go out to a restaurant, pick the healthiest option and share the picture with your community. The thing is, this may be harder than anticipated. We can tell ourselves that we WILL chose the salad at the restaurant, but when we get there and see the menu, were flabbergasted by the idea of wasting money on that salad we had in mind. So below are some ideas and tips to help you make that healthier option and how to attack temptation when it arrives.

  1. Don’t look at the menu: Most restaurants nowadays fill their menu with mouthwatering pictures which push you to ordering certain foods. They display these images to trick your brain into wanting whatever they’re showcasing, but you can’t be tricked if you don’t look. Before you go to a certain restaurant, check their menu online. You’re more probable to make the right choice at home than you are at the restaurant when your sense of sight and smell kick in. So make the healthiest option from the menu at home and when you get to the restaurant don’t even look at the menu – you already know what you want!
  2. Think about what you CAN eat: A lot of times we focus on the foods that we can’t eat, that are unhealthy and shouldn’t even be touched. Instead, focus on the foods you can eat. Look through the menu online and search for healthy alternatives – whole grains, lean meats, healthy fats, fruits and veggies. Restaurants are willing to work with you, so don’t be afraid of asking for more, after all, you’re a paying customer.
  3. Don’t split, don’t starve: We read articles about splitting the plate with a friend or significant other to eat less calories and prevent overeating. No, you don’t have to do that! Splitting a meal you crave will create a rippling starvation effect, forcing you to eat later in the day to make up for the hunger you suffered earlier. Eating less is not always the right option, sometimes its only about self-management and moderation. Most restaurants fill your plate with food, but you’re not forced to eat all of it. You can always ask for a to-go box from the get go and save some for later. However, if you’re hungry, then eat up!! You go to a restaurant to enjoy the food and your surroundings, not to starve. Simply make the right choices and you’ll be alright.
  4. Make changes to bad foods: Sometimes our favorite dishes are ones that are fried, battered or smothered. Obviously we’ve learned that these foods affect our weight loss, so work around it. For example, a fried chicken sandwich can easily become a grilled chicken sandwich. Fries can turn into sweet potato fries. You can still have the food you have, just in a different form which makes them healthier overall.
  5. Ask the questions: Sometimes we decide what we want to eat, but don’t know how many calories, carbs, fats or protein it has. They’re not always labeled on the menu or not on MyFitnessPal. What do you do then? Well, you ask your server or someone who may have the answer. The worst case scenario is that they don’t, but asking didn’t hurt you in any way. It’s more beneficial to be informed about what you’re putting in your mouth than to go in blind. Good questions to ask are: Do you have the nutrition information for your menu? What’s my food cooked in? Do you do substitutions? Etc.

There you have it, some simple tips that can help you through this week’s challenge. For everyone participating, congratulations on the work you are putting in, I hope all of Courtney’s expertise has been helpful as you continue your journey. For additional help and tips, Sign Up for one of our Nutrition Plans!