Two quick notes:

(1) You’re invited to join me for Thursday morning mid-week recharge at 7:15am. Zoom or live in-person, this is a 30-minute breath and journaling session to give you that boost of focus and energy to finish the week strong.

(2) Over the holiday weekend we will be updating the Oak Park website. Things will be moved around and you’ll probably want to know where to find the daily workouts. You can do that by creating an account on SugarWOD and choosing Oak Park as your home gym if you want to receive the workouts directly on your phone. Or, as the new site rolls out, you can scroll and click and search for it. I feel like the new site will be a bit friendlier to navigate, especially on mobile, but we will of course want to hear your feedback.




4 Rounds For Time:

500m Row

25 Thrusters (45/35)

15 Pull-Ups

Quick reminder that Coach Shirley’s Kindness Party is tonight at 7pm. It will be hosted on Zoom by Kenny Kane. If Shirley Brown has had any impact on your life in any way, I am asking that you show up to share in our wishing her a bountiful transition into her next coaching adventure.


Link is here. See you at 7pm!



Courtesy of

For time:

45 kettlebell swings (32kg/24kg)

400m run*

35 kettlebell swings

800m run

25 kettlebell swings

1200m run

15 kettlebell swings

*Use 9th route*

Coach Shirley’s departure from the full-time coaching team has caused me to reflect a lot on the times she and I spent together last year driving to Malibu once or twice a week to train at the home of Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton. There were many weeks last year that I spent more time with Shirley than with any other person in my life. She was a great training partner for me, especially for training in the pool, because her willingness to get in the water despite her discomfort with the water always encouraged me to overcome my discomfort with the whole environment. I grew a lot as a person and as a coach from the training we did, from the people we met, and from the conversations we had on the drive there and back each week. Much of my growth as a coach and leader this last year has come as a result of those trips to Malibu and as necessary and (ultimately) fun as it all turned out to be, I am not sure I would have done it on my own.


Reflecting on the times Shirley and I spent in Malibu reminded me of one of the few times I trained at Laird’s without Shirley. It was a blustery November day on the mountain and the wind whipping across the surface of the pool sucked all the heat out of the water. It was so cold that the few of us who were up there were spending most of our time in the sauna trying to warm up between rounds of work in the chilly water. The sauna sessions that day gave me an insight that has been so influential on my thinking ever since.


Laird was in the sauna and next to him sat a very successful movie actor. Beside him sat a New York Times best-selling author. Across from him sat a Grammy-winning musical performer and next to him sat Kenny Kane. And our conversation, driven by our collective discomfort with the almost unbearably cold waters of the pool that day, came around to the question, “How do you reward yourself for seeking the feeling of being uncomfortable rather than relying on a positive outcome as the reward?” Relationships, professional life, or training, how do you learn to truly embrace discomfort?


It was not what I expected this group of men to collectively admit they struggled with. They are all physical specimens, incredibly gifted in their fields, and enormously successful by any metrics you might care to use. And yet, here they were, nodding in agreement with stories we all shared of struggles, of hesitation, of unwillingness, of failure – of choosing what was easy not what was right. Of shying away from the uncomfortable thing and of learning the costs of that. And learning from those lessons that everything worthwhile is on the other side of discomfort. And having to relearn that lesson over and over.


What I came away from that conversation with are three ideas that I have worked to apply in my life.


No one is immune to the pain of growth, including You. Growth is uncomfortable for everyone and there is no amount of talent or gifts or success that suddenly allows you to grow without struggle or effort. This is not a new concept and I have written about it before even on this blog. However, participating in that exchange in Malibu, hearing this group of super successful men express their struggles with the same struggles I face caused me to feel tremendous empathy for each of them. What was transformative for me was that my empathy for them allowed me to have more compassion for myself. Yes, Matt, it IS uncomfortable. For everyone, including You. So when you are feeling that pain, that discomfort, it does not mean you are weak or that you have made a mistake or that you are a failure. It means you are human. It means you are growing. (“You are not special.” – TGKB)


Get clear on your purpose. The clearer you become on who you are and what you want, the easier it will be to choose to engage in things that are consistent with your purpose and your values. There is tremendous payoff from time spent reflecting on who you want to be and what you want for your life. The clearer you get on those things, the easier it will be to confront those uncomfortable moments because of their deep connection to who you are what you want for yourself.


Surround yourself with like-minded people. Choosing to be uncomfortable, choosing to do the harder thing is difficult. But it is exponentially easier to make those choices when you have people around you who can encourage you, with whom you can share your struggles, and to whom you can be accountable. Find those people on a similar journey of growth and choose to rely on them.


I feel sad because Shirley and I don’t get to train at the pool together now. It may be a very long time before that happens again. But I am so grateful for the times we did share on the PCH and at the top of Latigo Canyon. Our conversations on the drive helped me gain so much clarity about many of the things I want for myself and about who I want to be as a man, as a coach, as a leader. Her consistent support as a training partner and encouragement as a friend helped me choose to be uncomfortable – deeply uncomfortable – and I am a better person for it. Thank you, Shirley Brown.




Strength & Power

A) 2 Hang Power Clean + 3 Front Squats

     Build up to 70-80% of 1-rep max Clean & Jerk

     (25 Minutes)

B) Strict Press

     5 sets of 3

     (15 Minutes)





A couple of close friends and mentors shared some excellent reminders with me in the last week and I want to pass them along to you:

  • Life is hard. It just is. There is no getting away from that fundamental truth.
  • You are not special. The stresses and challenges of life that affect everyone else? Well, they are going to affect you, too. You can pretend that you’re invulnerable, but you’re not.
  • Sometimes the answer to discomfort is to just sit with it. There isn’t always a need to do something or fix the situation. Sometimes, the best thing to do with an uncomfortable feeling is to sit with it for a while and see what it brings up. If that discomfort is coming from the people around you, then remember what Carl Jung offered, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”


Reminder to download the SugarWOD app to get the workouts delivered to your phone every day



5 Rounds on the 5:00:

50 Double Unders

20 Alt. DB Snatch – You choose the weight!

1:00 Max Effort Cal Row

**Subtract seconds from your round from the max effort cal row**


“Aim For the Bushes!”

For Time: 

100 Thrusters (95/65)

60 Bar-Facing Burpees

40 Pull-Ups / 30 BMU (RX+)

– Partition Reps However You Want…DO IT! –

**22-Minute Cap**

We are making some updates to the website and the ways in which we deliver information, including the daily training, to you. We are also making some changes to the online Zoom classes. Some of these changes are in effect now, some will be rolling out in the coming days. If you find issues, please share them (and your proposed solutions) with the coaching team. I cannot promise we will adopt your proposed solution, but we absolutely will listen to your feedback.


We are experimenting with – and will likely move to – the Sugar WOD app for posting the workouts online. Sugar WOD will allow you to log and track your progress, which is something that we believe is necessary for real growth. It also allows us to more easily deliver the workouts to you in a timely manner and helps us collect data in the workouts. You can take a look at how the workouts will show up by clicking on the “Today’s Training” link in the menu on the right side of the blog or in the main navigation menu on every page of this site. I encourage you to sign up (it is free), try it out, and give us your feedback.


Zoom classes will continue for the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 7am classes without changes. Zoom classes will continue for the Monday-Friday 6pm classes without changes for now. For all other classes, if you want or need to attend remotely, you may do so. But you will need to contact the class coach well in advance to let them know you will attend.


I am going to offer a morning guided breathwork + journaling session on Tuesday mornings at Oak Park beginning tomorrow (November 10th). We will start at 7:05 and I will guide you through about 15 minutes of breath work and give you 15 minutes to journal afterwards. If you are curious, please show up! I know this is a great way to start the day and I look forward to sharing this with you guys. This will be an in-person offering. Wear a mask and bring your journal. We may add ice baths to this, if there is enough interest.


You may notice that Tuesdays are consistently an aerobic capacity class. It is not an accident of programming, but an intentional decision on the part of the coaching team to systematically introduce Aerobic Capacity on Tuesdays and Sundays as a class specifically focused on developing your aerobic engine and your understanding of your own physiology. You may notice that Wednesdays are consistently a Strength & Power day. That, too, is intentional. This will likely extend through the end of 2020, but our plan rolling into 2021 is to begin offering multiple types of classes each day of the week, so that you can choose a combination of classes throughout the week that best supports your purpose in training. More to come on that. For now, if you want to build your engine, get in here on Tuesdays and Sundays for sure. If you want to focus on strength and Olympic weightlifting, do not miss Wednesdays.


Got questions or suggestions? I would love to hear them.


Tuesday’s Workout

Aerobic Capacity – Competition


18 Rounds

:60 Row – MAX EFFORT!!


**After 18 rounds, perform 50 burpees.**

**Focus will be on your AVG. WATTS after 18 Rounds.**

**Two Scores: 1) AVG. WATTS 2) Time: 50 Burpees


We continue to adapt to the changing circumstances of re-opening and re-quarantining and in all of this have worked hard to provide access to coaching and training and our community for those of you who need to train from home (Bob, I am looking at you!) and those of you who are too far from the gym to make it in right now (Maddison and Camp). And I know that for some of you, training at home over Zoom just feels like it makes the most sense right now – and Charlie that is totally fine!


As we continue to provide more and more classes at the gym and as our schedule continues to evolve, we are going to move to a reservation system for Zoom classes similar to our reservation system for in-person classes. No changes for now, but as we sort out the details we will share them with you. For those of you who need to train with us virtually, we want to continue to provide you with a high quality experience. And we don’t want that experience to suffer because we are also working to provide a high quality experience to our in-person community, too. I believe we can make all of it an exceptional experience, but we are going to make some changes soon. If you are a consistent Zoomer, I would welcome your comments and suggestions about how we can make this experience better for you.




For Time:

200m Run

5 Thrusters (95/65)

5 Burpee Box Jump Overs (24″/20″)

200m Run

7 Thrusters (115/75)

7 Burpee Box Jump Overs

200m Run

9 Thrusters (135/95)

9 Burpee Box Jump Overs

200m Run

11 Thrusters (145/105)

11 Burpee Box Jump Overs

I shared this with Devlin for the Acorn, but wanted to share it here, too: For years we have wanted to provide a broader variety of group fitness experiences that more closely matches our coaching team’s belief that to support your varied health, fitness and wellness journeys we need to offer a broad range of training and recovery options. Going into the end of 2020 and into 2021, look for us to really begin to live into this with an expanded range of group class options. If ya got questions or suggestions, please send ’em my way.



For Time:

Buy In: 1000m Ski Erg


3 Rounds:

10 Deadlifts (275/195)

10 Bar Muscle-Ups


Buy Out: 1000m Ski Erg

**16-Minute Cap**

There has always been uncertainty in the world (“the only constant is change”) but that seems to be especially highlighted this year for more people than in years past. There has been upheaval and there are threats (real and perceived) to the life of the planet, our lives, and our way of life. Yet, for all we believe we understand about these events, what do we really know about whether the uncertainty and these changes are “good” or “bad?”


In the moment, we can experience what we describe as good and bad feelings from or about an event. But do we have the perspective to properly contextualize the events themselves? Can we separate our emotional reactions from our responses? Can we acknowledge that whether any experience feels “good” or “bad,” whether we are “lucky” or “unlucky” may not reflect the actuality of the events? What I am working on – and what I invite you to practice – is to set aside the notion that events and emotions are good or bad. Rather, can I accept that they simply are? And in that acceptance see that all events, however I may experience them in the moment, ultimately provide opportunity for me to experience life and to grow. That what is good is to be present in each moment of life, what is good fortune is that I have these moments at all.


Lately, as I have reflected on the events of my last year (a painful divorce, being broke and homeless, a new leadership role at work, a staggering heartbreak, rediscovering the depth of love and compassion my friends have for me, finding new connection with my mother, new doors opening professionally, surviving serious illness), a Taoist parable has been very much on my mind. There are many versions of this story, but this is how it was shared with me.


The Old Farmer and His Son


An old farmer was working in his field with his old horse. At the end of the season, the farmer felt compassion for the horse and let it loose to live out the rest of its life free from burden. When the villagers saw this, they offered their condolences, saying, “How unfortunate you are to have lost your only horse!”


The old farmer said, “Maybe.”


A few days later the old horse came back to the farmer. He came back with several younger, healthier horses that followed the old horse into the corral. When the villagers heard of this, they congratulated the farmer on his good luck. “How fortunate you are to have so many horses!” they said.


The old farmer said, “Maybe.”


The next morning, the farmer’s only son attempted to train one of the new wild horses, but was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. The villagers arrived bemoaned the farmer’s situation. “Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won’t be able to help you farm with a broken leg. How unfortunate you are!” they said.


The old farmer said, “Maybe.”


Several days later, soldiers arrived in the village demanding that all the able, young men be conscripted into the Emperor’s army. While all the other young men were marched away, the farmer’s son was spared because of his broken leg. “Your son does not have to go to war! What good fortune you have!” the villagers exclaimed.


The old farmer said, “Maybe.”


As time went on, the son’s broken leg healed, but he was left with a slight limp. The villagers offered condolences. “His life will be so difficult now. That is so unfortunate!” they said.


The old farmer said, “Maybe.”


In the following years, the other village boys all died in the Emperor’s war and the old farmer and his son were the only men left capable of working the village farms. They became very wealthy and were very generous to the villagers. They said, “Oh how fortunate we are!”


To which the old farmer replied, “Maybe.”



OAK PARK OPEN 2020  – Workout #4 Re-Test

For Time:

50 Cals Row

40 Pull-Ups

30 DBALL Squat Cleans (100#/70#)

20 Box Jump Overs (30″/24″)

We have the re-test of Oak Park Open Workout #3 tomorrow and Saturday. If you tested this six weeks ago, you have a number to chase. If you missed this the first time around, it is a fun workout that you don’t want to miss.



OAK PARK OPEN 2020 Workout #3


2 Shuttle Sprints

5 Deadlifts (315/220)



Level 4 = 315/220

Level 3 = 275/195

Level 2 = 225/155

Level 1 = 185/135