.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Attaining More JNAP. A CrossFit Success.
By:  Mark Rajack   (2016/11/05)


Jam and snap… or as I like to call them together, “JNAP”. It’s what every Nordic skier wants more of.

After 3 years of the same ski specific strength routine in the gym, I decided to try something new... CrossFit. Although I did see gains with my old routine, I felt that I was not reaching my full potential.

Now, before we get started, CrossFit has gained a cult status with many in the exercise world and yes, there is a lot of variety between CrossFit gyms or “boxes” as they are known within the CrossFit community. Picking the right box can make or break your CrossFit experience.

For me, the choice was Bytown CrossFit, in Hintonburg. I found the coaching to be superior and extremely technique focused. They are a fully-inclusive environment and have a flexible schedule, with classes throughout the morning, day and evening.  

XC Ottawa's Matt Brown, Mark Rajack with Bytown CrossFit coaching staff:
Taylor, Dan and Karine.

Most importantly, they were willing to work with me understanding that CrossFit was secondary to my ski training and were very accepting and supportive given my Olympic aspirations.

Being relatively new, I’m still putting down the foundations for fun skills like handstand walking, endless wall balls and skipping rope double-unders. I’ve experienced unexpected and welcome things like an increase in mobility and becoming proficient at picking up large, odd and heavy objects. I have already seen success in developing new skills, like fast rope climbs, muscle ups and kipping pull ups. But without question, the vector through which I gained so much JNAP this season was because of the Olympic lifting. Cleans, Jerks and Snatches. All very large, multi-jointed, technique-oriented lifts.

Not long ago, this was my max weight for cleans.  Now I warm up with it!

Mike on a handstand walking obstacle course.

After six months into CrossFit, just 2-3 times a week has seen me gain 10lbs of muscle. That is not easy to do on a frame like mine. The biggest downside? Some of my pants are getting uncomfortably tight now. I’m also benching and squatting more than ever before; without even making that the focus of my training. Best of all, I am now replete with JNAP. I realized this while skiing recently, when I had to double-check the grade of the pathway and then check to see if there was a tail-wind behind me, only to realize that it was flat and there wasn’t any wind, it was just the CrossFit making my skiing easier and faster.

Legless rope climbs are one of my favourites.

Classes at Bytown are usually an hour long and involve a group warm-up, followed by either a strength set, technique work or skill building. Then, the main focus of the class is the WOD or “Workout of the Day”, this is where you can go all out and is the most intensive component. For me, being able to train for skiing the next day takes the priority, so this is where having maturity matters. To both ski competitively and CrossFit at the same time, you sometimes need the maturity to not compete with others at CrossFit, to respect your training zones and not sacrifice technique for time. That being said, I truly appreciate the days my training plan allows me to let loose on the WOD and I can compete with the others in the class.

Matt after a successful ring muscle up.

Aside from the physical gains, the social experience at Bytown CrossFit is one of the biggest benefits. In my observation of the Nordic skiing community (and other elite sports in general), is that many developing teens and young adults face challenges coping with the expectations of being a high achiever in every domain of their life. Having the exposure to a different environment or group can provide a healthy paradigm shift or a different lense through which to gain new and positive perspectives. I found Bytown CrossFit  to be a very encouraging, supportive and inclusive environment without judgement or unhealthy competition. To sum it up, having something besides skiing to focus your life on, like CrossFit, will not only make you better skier, but make you a more well-rounded and well-balanced individual.

Matt during some dumbell deadlifts.

Lastly, the society we live in can be a cruel one. Especially when it comes to the societal pressures of conforming to conventional North American standards of beauty. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many women go to unhealthy lengths to obtain a certain body-type. With the recent publicity on eating disorders in the Nordic community, it has been revealed that many female skiers are suffering unhealthy weight loss to achieve faster speeds or a certain standard of beauty. CrossFit is helping to redefine what constitutes traditional female physical beauty and strength. The Bytown CrossFit community has some of the best examples of what a strong, fit, capable and healthy women can look like.

So to my female skiers, it is my pleasure to introduce the beautiful, healthy, fit and strong...

...  future potential you !!!

So all skiers now, please use that month off in April as anatomical adaptation for CrossFit and sign up for the introductory foundations class at Bytown CrossFit. It will take the whole month to train you how to move properly and safely so that you can experience the immense benefits of what CrossFit can do for your skiing and your life.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Rajack.

Interesting Reading. . .
Interested in supporting XC Ottawa or advertising on our site? Email: info@xcottawa.ca.
© Copyright 2001-2006, www.xcottawa.ca. All Rights Reserved. Contact us before re-publishing anything seen here.