News & Rumblings ~ July 2017

Good Morning Everyone!

I hope everyone are doing well this gloomy Tuesday morning.  Keep in mind it’s just weather it doesn’t dictate your attitude, at least it shouldn’t. Back to this post! There are a couple of things I wanted to address and announce to the community so here it goes!

  1. As you awoke this morning you may have seen my social media post with the Merrimack Fire Dept. helmet and uniform.  Some of you know about this but I’m sure many do not but I have begun working on their On-Call division on Monday evenings.  This is a dream of mine since I was a kid and witnessed my own house catch fire while living in Auburn, NH.  I’ll never forget watching our home pouring black smoke from the windows and sunroom and the Auburn Fire Dept. heading into the house and thinking, “I want to do that.”  The process began about 7 years ago and I got away from that dream with the opening of the gym.  Well it’s back in the mix and I couldn’t be more excited. So, the big question – What does this mean for the gym? No big changes minus you won’t see me in the evenings for now on Monday nights.  Once Fire school starts you’ll see less of me on Tuesday & Thursday evenings. The gym will stay open or be affected by this change, if anything it’ll see big improvements.
  2. Our next New You Challenge begins the first week of August.  The “interviews” and ads will begin in the next week or so. As always, if you have friends or family interested in joining have them get in touch with me ASAP as I’d much rather bring on a referral from you all then a completely new person. Sooner the better with this guys.
  3. We had a coaches meeting a week ago and a lot of great topics were discussed. Many of you have brought up wanting to work on skills more, but still wanting to have plenty of strength and WOD’s in.  An hour isn’t enough time to do it all each day so what we’re going to start working on is our Movement Clinics which will focus specifically on certain movements and progressions.  Once we have this laid out we’ll post sign ups and cost for each class or a package of classes.  There will be a set amount of attendees allowed, but again we will have all the information for you late summer/early fall.
  4. This is our last month with Coach Keith which is a bitter/sweet situation.  I am very excited for Keith and Ang, as well as his business partner Aaron on opening up Rockingham CF in Londonderry.  However, when one door closes another opens and with the opening will come two new coaches here at CFAF.  Beginning of August our own Kelly Parker will be getting her CF-L1 and taking on classes after some shadowing.  Also, some of you have already met Adam Stankard who has done some shadowing already here.  Having Adam and Kelly will open up more opportunities for not only class times, class coverage, but also clinics and so on.

CFAF is on a hot streak right now and we don’t have any plans on slowing down.  Keep putting the work folks and trust the process.




May Athlete Spotlight: Michelle Ortiz

May Athlete in Spotlight: Michelle Ortiz

Michelle started with us in June of 2016 looking for something new for her workout routine.  Like many of us, she was bored with what she was doing and was looking for a new challenge.  Both Michelle and her good friend Yanira joined up after completing their elements program and routinely come in 4-5 days a week to the 4:30pm class.  For a long time the weights on the bar stayed the same as, in my opinion, she wasn’t confident going heavier not only in WOD’s but on strength days.  January 2017 hit and something in her head must have awoken because sine the new year she’s been ripping through barbell.  She decided to sign up for the Blizzard Beatdown, our annual winter in house competition, though hesitant as she wasn’t sure she was the “competitor type.”  I assured her she was ready and that she could definitely hold her own on the competition floor.  See, I had been watching Michelle slowly grow as a CrossFit athlete and knew she was ready to break out.  The in house competition came and boy did she make a BOOM within our community.  She PR’d her Snatch that day at 95#, then kicked butt in WOD’s #2 and #3 for her team.  Since then she’s been on a mission: don’t settle! Each day she comes in she tries to push herself more and more chopping down progressions on her way to achieving new heights within her fitness journey.  Michelle keep dreaming big and keep plugging away at your goals.  The sky’s the limit for you!

Get to know Michelle!

  • How long have you been doing CrossFit at CFAF?
  • Almost 1-year
  • What’s your favorite move and/or WOD?
  • Snatches
  • What’s your least favorite move/and or WOD?
  • Burpees, well it’s a love/hate with those.  I hate them but love the way I feel when they’re done.
  • What’s one piece of advice you would give someone nervous about doing CrossFit?
  • Just try it out, it’s not what you think it is!
  • Favorite Movie/Tv Show?
  • The Walking Dead
  • Favorite “cheat” meal/food?
  • Chinese Food
  • If you could have one super power what would it be?
  • I’d want to Fly
  • If you could be any animal what would you be and why?
  • A Tiger, because they’re tough. 
  • What’s your #1 goal here at CFAF?
  • To be powerful and strong like Katrin Davidsdottir! 

March Athlete Spotlight: Carolyn Hardt

March Athlete Spotlight: Carolyn Hardt

When Carolyn first started with us 20 months ago she was looking for something to supplement her running, specifically marathon training. The main goal was to get stronger for the long race to improve her times and grind out the hills in the races.  During her elements classes we realized before we could really attack getting stronger we needed to improve her mobility not only in her ankles and hips but throughout her shoulders (loved those overhead lifts!).  Over the next year Carolyn approached each days training extremely intelligently by arriving early (when possible) to get warm and mobilize the various areas needing extra attention.  When I told her about needing to “wake up” her gluten and hips before squatting days she would add band steps and clam shells to her pre-WOD routine.  When she wanted to get stronger at pull ups she asked the coaches how to best utilize the progression charts.  Point here is she wanted to improve and made sure to put the work as much as she could.

Now 20 months in Carolyn has been completing many of the WOD’s and movements Rx’d here at CFAF.  She also registered and is participating in the CrossFit Open and has completed the first two WOD’s as Rx’d! Are all the mobility limitations resolved? No, but she continues to work them out pushing herself when able and holding back when her body (or coaches) say so. I personally have been extremely impressed the last few months especially with her determination and focus on the most important aspects of improving within CrossFit ~ improving her mobility.  That is the biggest reason for her improvements in WOD’s, with 1RM lifts and barbell movements and soon Rx’d gymnastics movements.  Great work Carolyn, keep it up!

Get to know Carolyn!

  • How long have you been doing CrossFit? – 20 months
  • What’s your favorite move and/or WOD? – Box Jumps & Cleans
  • What’s your least favorite move and/or WOD? = Overhead Squats & Wall Balls
  • What’s one piece of advice you would give someone nervous about doing CrossFit? – Anybody can do it regardless of your current fitness and abilities.  Everyone at CFAF are super supportive and it’s a lot of fun!
  • What’s your favorite movie? – Boondocks Saints or Jurassic Park
  • Favorite “cheat food”? – Reese’s Peanut Buttercups
  • If you could have one super power what would it be? – Fly, ’cause it looks cool and I wouldn’t be scared of heights.
  • If you could be any animal, which would it be and why? – Hummingbird, because it can fly and I can’t think of any predators that go after it. How can you not like a hummingbird?
  • What’s your #1 goal here at CFAF? – Be able to complete the WOD’s Rx and to keep having fun.

The Open: Everything you need to know

The CrossFit Open 2017

Over the last few weeks many, if not all of you have heard myself and the other coaches talking about “The Open” and our Friday schedule change.  I know there has been some confusion on what it is, class times and heats, the workouts, and everything in between.  Hopefully this post will clear the air for you all.

What is the CrossFit Open?

The Open is the first stage of the CrossFit Games competition season.  For a very, very select few this is the their roads to the Games this summer. For the rest of us this is a great way to gauge a few things:

  1. How are fitness has improved in the last year. For many that means have we improved on our weaknesses? Can we do Muscle Ups or HSPU? Have I/we learned to breathe while under tension and stress? Can I pace myself while pushing myself through a tough WOD?
  2. Has the programming at the box reached it’s goal of improving my fitness.  Basically, do I know what I’m doing and are you becoming more fit because of it.
  3. How do I stack up worldwide, in the Northeast Region, in the state of NH, in my age group, or even just in our box!  You can set up personal leaderboards however way you want to see where you stack up in almost any category or scenario (CF related) you can come up with.
  4. What will we have to work on for next year? What WOD’s will Dave Castro (Director of CrossFit Games) release that expose my weaknesses….?

For the next 5 – weeks at 8pm on Thursday night go to the CrossFit YouTube channel to see the Live announcements for each weeks Open WOD.  Here they will have Games level athletes perform the WOD on short notice immediately after announcing the WOD.  As soon as the WOD is announced and all the details are released I’ll post WOD times for the PM on Friday.

“Friday Night Lights”

Every Friday night we will host “Friday Night Lights” which basically instead of set class times at 430pm, 530pm, and 630pm we will have set heat times for the WOD to start.  Like I mentioned, as soon as I have all the details and can figure out logistics for set up and equipment I’ll post on FB (in the CFAF private group) heat times and available spots.  It’ll be a first come first serve basis so you’ll want to sign up ASAP if you are on a time restriction.  You can also let me know ahead of time when you can get to the gym by and when you have to leave by and I will add you to a spot first.

“Mat, what if I don’t sign up online for the Open? Can I still workout Friday afternoon?”

– YES! We encourage everyone to come in Friday afternoon to WOD and experience the energy the Open brings.  However the set up will be different.  Along with having to sign up for a heat time you will also have to warm up more on your own.  The coaches will be here and can help as long as we are not judging or working out, but we will have everything posted up for you to follow either way.

“Do I sign up for heats on Triib?” 

-NO! They won’t be posted on Triib, only on the private CFAF FB group.  If you’re not in there let me know and either Sue or I will add you.

“What if I can’t do the Rx or even the Scaled options for the Open WOD?” 

-If you didn’t register through for the Open ($20 fee) and you’re doing it strictly because it’s programmed here on Fridays then no biggie. We can scale or modify it like we do with all WOD’s. Now if you did register on the games website then do as much as you can as it’s listed, we will record that score for you to submit then if you want to continue the WOD with a different scale option just to get your sweat on by all means rock and roll.

“Can I bring my friend to try a class during the Friday night Open WOD’s?”

-No.  Let’s save drop ins for another day as this is not a traditional set up.  They can come and watch and check it out though.

So now what? 

Do things the way you normally would every day this week and next.  However, Thursday after say 830pm go on FB in the private CFAF group and look for my post that shows the heat times and available spots.  In the comments section right what heat time you want to do and I’ll add you name to that heat.  On Friday come in 30min before your heat time (or earlier) and get ready with the warm up and mobility, then at your heat time – kick some ass!

Hopefully this helps at the least explain what “Friday Night Lights” is as well as how the schedule will be set up.  If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask myself or the other coaches.



February Athlete Spotlight: Scott Connatser

February Spotlight Athlete: Scott Connatser

Two years ago this past December was when I first met Scott.  He had come in for his first Elements class as a referral from co-worker and current CFAF stud Tucker Davis.  When I asked him what brought him in he said something along the lines of, “I want to lose weight and have more energy and Tucker says this is the place.” On our 2nd day we did a workout at the end of the elements class that looked like this:

  • 3RFT (10:00 Cap)
    • Row 250
    • 10 x Push Ups
    • 10 x Wall Balls

The other gentlemen in class finished in 4:00+/- and Scott, well he had a bit of a rough time unable to finish under the cap.  He shrugged it off and understood it happens and would continue to come in and complete the beginner’s course.  Fast forward to current time and Scott has blossomed into quite an athlete while training here at CFAF, and especially while working with Coach Paul Mulhern.  In the last year Scotts #’s have improved dramatically:

  • Back Squat = 315 (01/16) ~ 355 (current) = 40# improvement
  • Front Squat = 245 (01/16) ~ 305 (current) = 60# improvement
  • Snatch = 175 (01/16) ~ 205 (current) = 30# improvement
  • Clean = 255 (01/16) ~ 285 (current CFAF heaviest clean) = 30# improvement
  • Grace (30 C&J FT @135#) = 5:36 ~ Heavy Grace (30 C&J FT @155) 3:56

Those are just a few numbers to show his gainz in the last year.  On top of his progress in the gym, Scott is a great guy with a one of a kind sense of humor.  He has an adorable German Shepard named Jax and can usually be found post WOD “relaxing” on the bench behind the rig in “Scott’s Spot.” Lastly, if you’re ever in need of a good joke ask Scott, he’s got some classics….

Get to know Scott!

-How long have you been doing CrossFit for? – 2 years

-What’s your favorite move and/or WOD? – “Grace” & Clean & Jerks

-What’s your least favorite move and/or WOD? – Lunges

-What’s one piece of advice you would give someone nervous about doing CrossFit? – The community is friendly and welcoming.  No one is judging what you’re doing or lifting, everyone is more about your effort. 

-Favorite Movie? – Big Hero 6

-Favorite “cheat food”? – Pizza

-If you could be one superhero who would it be and why? – Spiderman, most relatable

-What’s your #1 goal here at CFAF?  – BEAT TUCKER!!



“Just the Tip” ~ February 170207

“Just the Tip” 

     In our first member tip I want to discuss something we have been training over the last few months – pacing & efficiency.  Though we have ALWAYS preached the importance of efficient movement it plays an even bigger role when trying to improve fitness as well as WOD scores.  When I first started with CrossFit I believed “intensity” just meant going as fast and as hard as you can.  As I have matured within CrossFit as a coach and athlete (not as a human, still a 15 year internally) I have realized that just trying to move faster doesn’t usually result in a better WOD score.  In fact, when I am more methodical and efficient with my movements and focus on breathing and pacing then I see my scores actually have improved dramatically. 

     The big question then is how do we improve our times without moving faster? Well, like I stated we need to be more efficient with the movements.  Efficiency can come from a few different approaches:

  1. Lowering the weight and focus 100% on technique. This goes for strength focused workouts as well as in the WOD.  Don’t get hung up on “Rx” or “Scaled”, ultimately that means nothing if we injury ourselves due to poor movements.
  2. Train & practice the movements.  For example, today’s WOD is “Diane” which is 21-15-9 of Deadlifts & HSPU.  Majority of the time people go out on the set of 21 Deadlifts fast because they are confident in the move and the weight. Then after the HSPU or scale, the set of 15 Deadlifts often is broken up into 2-3 sets and things start slowing dramatically.  Instead of this approach, during the “pre-WOD” set up do say 5 unbroken deadlifts and watch the clock to see how long it takes you.  Based off that time (if it’s a manageable speed) you should be able to determine how long each set of Deadlifts should take you.  If you do a Deadlift in 2 seconds vs. 1 second in the opening set that will save you energy in the next few rounds allowing for less rest ultimately resulting in a better WOD score.
  3. Set up a 30 – Minute Personal Training session with one of the coaches to go over movements efficiency on moves you feel you struggle with.  We have tons of drills and exercises to help with improvement your movements.

In closing, take a few minutes before the clock starts to game plan and review the game plan before 3-2-1-GO!  I know that we all want to get our sweat on and feel our lungs on fire after every workout, but that’s just not practical or smart training. Also, I know we all like PR’s and WOD improvements and nothing will trump efficient movement.

Stay Strong ,


January Athlete Spotlight: Lori Burdick

**This is a new monthly feature we will be adding in for a few reasons, one of which so everyone can get to know athlete from other class times. We went with this approach over the “Athlete of the Month” because that decision is always tough with so many people making monthly improvements. Enjoy!

January 2017 Athlete Spotlight ~ Lori Burdick!

Lori started with us here at CFAF back in early October, 2016 with our first installment of the 6-Week New You Challenge.  Like most in the group, she was quiet to start but quickly found her form and has had no problem speaking up when she needs too.  I remember after the first week of the challenge Lori came to me and said, “Hey I lost ‘X’ pounds!” Knowing that Lori has a lot of potential and some great goals ahead, I wanted her to be happy with her loss but at the same time not relax.  She’s a hard worker, and I intended on keeping her grinding with some extra motivation.  My reply went something like this, “That’s great and you should be very happy! Lets keep in mind the most amount of fat a person can lose in a given week is around 2.5#’s with the anything else most likely water weight.  Water weight is great to lose as well because that’s weight off our vital organs like the heart.  Be happy with the progress, but let’s keep fighting as we have bigger goals to reach.” She was not happy with that response.  It was a risk, and a risk I’d take again because every week moving forward the weight loss number she gave me grew, and grew, and grew all the way to 28#’s after the 6-Weeks which is remarkable. At the end of the challenge she said, “Hey Mat, I’m down 28#’s and you can bet your ass it isn’t water weight.” Laughing, I said, “Your damn right girl, and you worked hard for all of that.  You should be damn proud of that accomplishment.” We all have great stories of where we started and where we are at now, here’s just one of the many you’ll read about moving forward.

Get to know Lori!

Name: Lori Burdick

How long have you been doing CrossFit for? – 13 weeks

What’s your favorite move and/or WOD? – the Deadlift, any WOD’s with Deadlifts I like

What’s your least favorite one and/or WOD? – Box Jumps

What’s one piece of advice you would give someone nervous about doing CrossFit? – It’s a family here so don’t worry, they’ll take care of you.

Favorite Movie? – Top Gun (great choice)

Favorite “cheat food”? – Cheese

If you could have on super power what would it be? – To be invisible when I needed to be

What’s your #1 goal here at CFAF? – to get strong

“OOOOO we’re half way there!”

Good Afternoon Athletes!

So we are juuuuuuuust about half way through 2016 and so far it’s been quite a year! We have so many new faces in the gym, and unfortunately have had to say bye-bye to some familiar ones too.  For many of us 2016 started off with a BANG jumping right into our nutrition challenge which yielded some amazing results for all those that stuck through it for 45 days.  Before, during, and right after the challenge we all had some great goals we were working towards and were feeling very confident that we would achieve them.  I know for myself, I have made some progress but not the kind I would have hoped for in 6 months.  How about you?


Do you feel like you’re still on the right path to achieving your 2016 health and fitness goals?

Are you still tracking your food and logging all workout results?

Still taking Fish Oil?

20min of mobility a day?

I’m guessing many of you answered “NO” to one of these questions.  It happens to us all, and we all have our excuses.  Some of them are valid, but most are not.  Lets be honest here, we all have fallen victim to the lazy or ‘comfortable’ demons here or there and it has probably been the reason we’re still in the same position we were back on January 1st.  So what do we do? Do we accept it and come up with more excuses to not get into the gym? Do we just say, “Well it’s summer and it’s harder to eat healthy at BBQ’s because no else does.”? Are we going to allow others dictate our health or let the fact that it takes hard work and dedication to achieve results, push us away from even trying?

I know I’m not giving up.  I know my wife isn’t giving up.  We are restructuring our food, our time, and our priorities to improve our health and fitness, not just for us, but for the two big head turkeys we have to run around after.  We want them to see the importance from a young age so it’s easier for them as they get older.  We are going to continue to be there to support each other, even when cookies are the only thing I/we want at that moment.

Wyatt and Owen, the not so little Cote boys!

Wyatt and Owen, the not so little Cote boys!

What’s your plan?

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know. I don’t know who can be my support system or where to even start making changes.” Then message me or talk to me next time you’re in.  I’m not waiting until “after the holidays” to get in shape and get my food back to where it needs to be.  It starts now and there is no end date in sight.  You all pay premium cost to workout at CFAF.  Don’t make the 1 hour you’re here the only healthy hour of your day.  Ask myself or the coaches for help and guidance to get you back on track.  Many of you that participated in the Nutrition challenge still have PT Sessions that you haven’t used, maybe now is the time to cash in.

Again, what’s your plan?




So Many New Faces!

Good Afternoon Everyone!

So I’m going to cut to the chase here, I’ve been slacking.  We have many, many new faces in the box the last few weeks and I’ve failed at posting their pictures to introduce you all to them.  Here are the short and skinny of it (don’t worry, there are a few of you that have slipped by but I will get a photo of you soon enough)!  Welcome to CrossFit Ad Finem and the CFAF community!

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“16.5” Game Plan, Warm UP and WOD Prep

Morning Everyone!

I won’t say good morning because, well, if you say the Open announcement last night then you’re probably dreading this afternoon (well at least I know I am).  One positive is many of you have done this before, if not 2 years ago as programmed in 2014 (“14.5”) then on Friday Feb 19th this year.  I unfortunately don’t have a picture of everyones scores on that Friday (rushed out that night due to Lauren going into labor), but hopefully you all are recording your WOD’s somewhere to look back at your scores…

Game Plan

“16.5” is “14.5” also known as the “I Quit” WOD…since you either finish or call “I Quit”!

For Time complete the reps for both movements ~ 21-18-15-12-9-6-3

Thrusters @95/65 (Scale: 65/45)

Bar Facing Burpees

Well there’s nothing special or no real sophisticated way to approach this grinder, just keep moving.  For majority of us we need to be thinking of how we want to break up our Thruster reps to sustain quality and controlled breathing.  If you lose control of your breathing early in this WOD it can turn into a 30+min WOD very easily.  Here are a few options for breaking up the reps:

  • 21: 11/10 -or- 7/7/7 -or- 6/5/5/5
  • 18: 9/9 -or- 6/6/6
  • 15: 8/7 -or- 5/5/5
  • 12: 6/6 -or- 4/4/4
  • 9: UB -or- 5/4 -or- 3/3/3
  • 6: UB -or- 3/3
  • 3: UB

This isn’t necessarily the only way to break it up but you definitely don’t want to get stuck in single and double reps in the big sets and MAKE SURE YOU ARE HITTING FULL DEPTH AND FULL EXTENSION! Just like last week the reps are high enough, don’t do any extra reps because of a ‘No Rep’. Resting between your sets on the Thrusters should be minimal if you can, by no means should you be resting upwards of :30 between sets even the big rounds… If this is the case you should be at lower weight.

With the Bar Facing Burpees, just keep moving.  Honestly for many of us we need to use this time to refocus our breathing so don’t think speed as much as not stopping and staying in control.  If you’re registered for the Open you HAVE TO DO A TWO FOOT JUMP OVER THE BAR. You cannot step over or do a single foot take off (think like a box jump, two feet start together and two feet finish together).  If you’re not registered for the Open then you can do one step or one foot take offs if you want, though we are here to challenge ourselves so keep that in mind. Also, if you watched the announcement WOD you may have saw a few things on the burpees:

  1. Mat Fraser was turning in the air when jumping over the bar to get a better set up for the next burpee.  Why? Saves a little time, maybe :01 or so which adds up in the end.
  2. Rich Froning Jr. was coming out of the bottom of the burpee and putting 1 foot forward as a step towards the bar so he didn’t have to either broad jump over the bar or stand up then step before jumping over the bar.  Why? Same as #1, it saves :01-:02 which will save time in the end.


Make sure to get here with plenty of time to warm up.  Don’t think, “Ahhh the set of 21 will get me warm.” If you think that then expect for some shitty moving through the WOD and all weekend.

Row or Assault Bike ~ 5:00 and keep sweats on

3 sets w/ an empty bar of 

  • 5 x Deadlifts
  • 5 x Cleans
  • 5 x Front Squats
  • 5 x Push Press (no Jerk)


  • Front Rack & Thoracic Spine (Mid/Upper Back)
    • Lax Ball between shoulder blades (Single or Double) 1:1
    • Band or Bar Front Rack Stretch 1:1
  • Hips
    • Hip Opener Routine 2 x’s each side
    • Foam Roll Hip Opener Stretch or Couch Stretch
    • Deadbug on Wall
  • Lower Leg
    • Lax Ball Arch & Achilles 1:1
    • Double Lax Ball or Mobility Stick on outer shin (not the bone, the muscle)

WOD Prep

Work on exploding with the hips on the Thrusters so you can save your shoulders as much as possible. Some people may choose to wear OLY shoes to help stay upright easier on the Thrusters, just make sure you are comfortable doing burpees in them in regards to your calf and arches.

3-5 Thrusters @Empty Bar

3 x Bar Facing Burpees

1/1 Spiderman Stretch w/ Twist :05/:05

2/2 Child’s Pose to Moose Antler :03/:03

Rest 1:00

3 x Thrusters @75/55

3 x Bar Facing Burpees

1/1 Spiderman Stretch w/ Twist :05/:05

2/2 Child’s Pose to Moose Antler :03/:03

Rest 1:00

3 x Thrusters @95/65 or scale

3 x Bar Facing Burpees

1/1 Spiderman Stretch w/ Twist :05/:05

2/2 Child’s Pose to Moose Antler :03/:03

*If there is 5-10:00 prior to the start get on the rower or bike for some short sprints, nothing too hard just to keep the heart rate up. 


Breath, pace, stick to the game plan, and try in some way to have fun!