January Member Spotlight

Kristen Skinnerkristen deadlift

Intro by Billy Rodgers: As trainers we can only give you the platform and formula for success, its each individual athlete that actually makes the success happen.  Kristen Skinner is hands down one of the hardest workers in the gym, and is making success happen daily.  She shows up early and stays late, arranges extra training sessions, spends time taking care of and fueling her body, reads obsessively, and is always looking for more.  In turn, the results speak for themselves.  Across all 10 of the CrossFit recognized domains she has improved… Endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, accuracy.  Couple that with a kind heart and generous spirit of friendship and you have the type of person that makes CFM a great place to call home.

I encourage each of you to ask Kristen about the goals she has set for herself for inside and outside of the gym… some are very lofty, but none are out of her reach.  Then reflect on what goals you have for this month, this year, the next 3 years…  Talk about them with a coach and even fellow athletes and then go get them.

On January 30th, Kristen will achieve another goal she set for herself by competing in her first Olympic Weightlifting meet, the Buford Open.  By taking on this challenge, she is taking her training to a new level and I have no doubts that she will again find success.

Member since: August 2015

How did you hear about CrossFit and what was your first experience/WOD? My brother has been a member of the CrossFit community in Atlanta for several years now and spoke highly of his experience. I wasn’t kristenseeing the results that I wanted to at a traditional gym, so I thought that I would give it a try. I started CrossFit in April 2015. My first WOD was 20 wall balls, 20 burpees, 20 sit-ups, 3xs. It laid me flat and I couldn’t walk properly for several days but I loved it!

How many days do you CrossFit? What classes do you normally attend? I usually attend the 6am class 3-4 times per week. Now that school is back in session you can probably catch me at the 6pm class more often.

Favorite CrossFit movement/workout? Surprisingly, the snatch.
Least favorite CrossFit movement/workout? There are several that make me groan, but hands down, the movement that makes me think twice about coming when I see it programmed is the deadlift.

What motivates you/keeps you coming back to CrossFit Mudtown? There are a multitude of factors that keep me returning to Mudtown including my fellow athletes who foster one of the most supportive environments I’ve ever been in, great coaching, and superb programming.

Favorite thing about Birmingham? Small town feel with all the perks of being in a big city, can’t go wrong there.

What accomplishment are you the most proud of (outside and inside the gym)? Outside of the gym, I am proud of finding a career that I am passionate about and that I genuinely enjoy. Inside of the gym, getting pull-ups!kristen_Snatch

What is your favorite meal? I love food, let’s face it. I love a beautiful steak with mashed potatoes. I could eat and entire basket of chips and queso. But, when it really comes down to it, my food of choice would be a hot loaf of French bread with butter.

What are some of your interests outside of CrossFit? I’m a bookworm, always have been and
always will be. When we lived in Mississippi, I was an avid cyclist, I would love to get back into that once I am don

What do you do for a living? I am a registered nurse at one of the local hospitals and a full-time nurse practitioner student.

What is one goal that you are currently working on? The biggest goal that I am
working on right now is finishing my Master’s in Nursing.

Jan 6 2016 WOD


Thurster 3-1


Thrusters 95/65
200 Meter row between rounds

December Member Spotlight

Patrick & Alisha Crossley

Patrick and Alisha bring a wonderful attitude and work ethic to their training at CrossFit Mudtown. Not only are they fun to be around, but they’re both intelligent and well dressed to boot. They brought their family to us in June and we’re so glad they did. Now for the details…

How did you hear about CrossFit and what was your first experience/WOD?
Patrick: I started Crossfit in 2012.  My first WOD was Angie and I couldn’t do an unassisted pull-up.  I cut the reps in half, scaled all of the movements, and it still took me forever.
Alisha: I started Crossfit six months after Patrick. I came into CF tired, depressed and incredibly out of shape. Within one month, I felt insanely better!

How many days do you CrossFit? What classes do you normally attend?
Patrick: I go 5 days a week, typically 6am.Patrick lifting an atlas stone.
Alisha: I aim for 4-5x week. Fall is peak season for me as a photographer, so I am starting to get back into my normal routine 😉

Favorite CrossFit movement/workout?
Patrick: Snatches and box jumps
Alisha: Squats. I just love to squat.

Least favorite CrossFit movement/workout?
Patrick: Wall-balls.
Alisha: Pull-ups

What motivates you/keeps you coming back to CrossFit Mudtown?
Patrick: I love the individual styles that each coach brings to CFM.  They are all very different, but help us focus on different aspects of our fitness to be well-rounded athletes.  I particularly enjoy the high level of technical instruction we get on Olympic lifts.
Alisha: Our coaches are phenomenal. The community that has been created is incredibly welcoming and diverse. I love our childcare program and the ability to WOD knowing that my littles are being cared for fully. I am continuously motivated and challenged yet never made to feel inadequate or lacking by our coaches or programming. That’s a tough a balance for any box to achieve and Mudtown does it better than anywhere we’ve been!

Alisha first starting CrossFit and this summer.
Alisha first starting CrossFit and this summer.

Favorite thing about Birmingham?
Patrick:  The food.  We have some of the best restaurants in the country here.
Alisha: What Patrick said. Our local food scene is exceptional.

What accomplishment are you the most proud of (outside and inside of the gym)?
Patrick: In the gym, I’m proud of how much my strength has improved this year. I’ve hit several PR’s recently and I feel like I have much more room for growth.  Outside of the gym I’m most proud of my family.  We are chaotic and usually tired, but I still look forward to coming home to them every day.
Alisha: I am most proud for getting to a place where I appreciate my body more for what it can accomplish rather than what it looks like (or weighs). As a female, I think there is a societal pressure most of us can relate to. Crossfit has allowed me to appreciate my thick legs and what they can squat instead of continuously wishing them away 🙂 Outside of the gym, I am most proud of my family and business. It has been humbling to watch the growth of both over the years. I feel so undeserving and so very thankful.

What is your favorite meal?
Patrick: Beef filet with smashed potatoes or pizza and beer.
Alisha: Macaroni and Cheese … or Sushi.

The whole fam, Bryant, Patrick, Alisha and Evie Beth. Photo credit: Mallory Katherine Images

What are some of your interests outside of CrossFit?
Patrick: I love college football and attending the occasional Alabama game with my better half.
Alisha: I really enjoy traveling with Patrick and our littles. P and I try to break away solo at least twice a year and adventure together. Some of our favorite places include Rosemary Beach, Disney World and Savannah.

What do you do for a living?
Patrick: I work for Southern Company as the Project and Engineering Manager for the research and technology group.  We work on development of clean power technologies.
Alisha: I am a photographer … I specialize in weddings but capture an eclectic mix from time to time.

What is one goal that you are currently working on?
Patrick:  I’ve had a 185# snatch on my goal list for a long time.  I hope to get there before the end of the year.
Alisha: I am focusing heavily on my nutritional needs and how my foods impact my workouts and energy level. I really love macro counting and am working on the perfect numerical balance to lean out slowly

CrossFit Liftoff

An online, three-event competition consisting of different weight classes allowing athletes to compare their lifts with those of similar size around the world. Sign up

Three Wisemen Tribute

On Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11th we’re participating in a worldwide event called the Three Wisemen Tribute benefiting the Three Wisemen Foundation. Read more

October Member Spotlight

Brian & Heather Warwick

If their last name wasn’t Warwick, it would be Friendly or Positive or Positively-Friendly. Either way, this couple has been an amazing addition to our community. They support each other and everyone else they encounter at the gym. Plus they have four really cool kiddos that bring a lot of life to the childcare room.  Brian & Heather became members of CrossFit Mudtown in June. Lets get to know them better!

How did you hear about CrossFit and what was your first experience/WOD?
The gym I used to go to was half-traditional gym, half-CrossFit affiliate.  I never fully committed to the Heather & BrianCrossFit classes there, but my exposure to it got me interested in CrossFit and I started researching online and incorporating it into my own workouts.  My first formal WOD was Murph, on Memorial Day 2011.
Heather: I first heard about CrossFit from Brian, after he was complaining about how awful that first Murph WOD was.  More recently, Brian saw a sign outside of our neighborhood (Liberty Park) for CrossFit Mudtown.  At the time, we were working out at Lifetime Fitness.  I was doing Zumba classes, and running on a treadmill and working with a personal trainer regularly, and we were just in a “comfortable” routine there.  But despite all the different things I was doing, I wasn’t seeing the strength gains or results I wanted—especially after having 4 kids.  Brian suggested we go try out CrossFit Mudtown, so we came by for the open house.  The intro WOD on that Saturday was my first WOD.  After that, I signed up for the next OnRamp session.

How many days do you CrossFit? What classes do you normally take?
I try to go 4-5 days a week.  I either do the 5pm class, or sometimes the 11:30am.
Heather: I usually go 3 days a week, typically at the 5pm class.

Favorite CrossFit movement?
Brian: Anything body-weight; my favorite weighted movement is probably the push press.  “Cindy” is probably my favorite WOD.
Heather: I would say cleans are my favorite movement.

Least favorite CrossFit movement/workout?
IMG_3961Brian: Overhead squats.  Period.  Ugh, they are just awful.
Heather: Burpees.  Oh, and the Bear Complex.  I don’t like that one bit.

What motivates you/keeps you coming back to CrossFit Mudtown?
Brian: I really enjoy all of the people I get to work out with, so I’d say the community is a huge reason.  And the programming is awesome.
Heather: Yes, the people we have met are so great.  And the coaches are amazing!

Favorite thing about Birmingham?
Brian: It’s great being around all of our friends.  And the breweries that are popping up everywhere are pretty cool.  CrossFit Mudtown is the obvious answer here though, right?
Heather: The restaurants, the people… it’s easy to get around.  There’s so much that is great about Birmingham!

What accomplishment are you the most proud of (outside and/or inside of the gym)?
Brian: Outside the gym, I’d say family.  Inside the gym, I’m pretty proud of managing to convince Heather to start CrossFit.  She loves it (except for the burpees), and I think that’s awesome!  As for me personally, I recently did the “Barbara” benchmark WOD (20 pull-ups, 30 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, 50 air squats, five rounds for time with 3 mins rest between rounds) in under 30 mins including the rest.  I was a wreck afterwards, but otherwise, I’m pretty proud of that.  Oh, and those 7 double-unders I strung together that one day!
Heather: I agree, outside of the gym, I’m most proud of our family.  I think our kids are pretty great!  At the gym, I’m most proud that I recently did my first Rx workout!  I try and find something to be proud of after everyheather workout… whether it’s improving my time on a workout, lifting more weight than before, or just being happy that I am able to pick myself up off the floor when the buzzer goes off.

After a hard workout, what is your favorite meal?
Brian: Since it is what I ate after my first CrossFit competition, I’m going to put in a plug for the Blackwell’s PB&J burger.  And beer.
Heather: I don’t know, I usually eat a lot of chicken and vegetables.  When I splurge, it tends to be Mexican food.  I love pizza too though!

What are some of your interests outside of CrossFit?
Brian: Golf, watching football.
Heather: Anytime we get to do something fun with the kids, playing tennis (although I hardly ever have time for it), hanging out with friends.

What do you do for a living?
Brian: I am an attorney and work for a healthcare technology company.
Heather: I am a pediatric physical therapist.  I work for the Mountain Brook school system.

warwicksWhat is one goal that you are currently working on?
Brian: Double-unders.  Man, I am just not coordinated enough.
Heather: Mainly, I just want to get stronger, so I can do more weight and Rx more workouts!

3,000 Push-up Challenge: Who is in?

Starting Thursday, October 1st we will be kicking off a month long push-up challenge!  This is open to anyone and can be completed by everyone.  We challenge you to complete 3,000 push-ups from October 1st through 31st. These can be done at any time during the day and they can be completed in any rep count. Bust some out during a commercial break, each time you get up from your desk, every other hour etc. (if you want to even it out, it’s about 96 push-ups a day).


  • Sign-up for the challenge by writing your name on the whiteboard in the main gym. We have a designated spot for the challenge.
  • This is on the honor system. You are responsible for keeping track of your push-ups.  We’ll have tracking sheets at the gym for you to take with you and log your reps.
  • Push-ups are to be completed as chest to deck, with full range of motion; arms locked out at top plank position. If you’re still working on a full push-up, please challenge yourself to do elevated push-ups instead of knee push-ups. Knee push-ups are acceptable for this challenge, but for the sake of improving and getting stronger, give elevated push-ups a try!
  • Update your current status on the whiteboard every few days so we can keep track of how everyone is doing as a whole.
  • Push-ups we do in warm ups or workouts count towards the 3,000 goal.
  • 3,000 push-ups may seem like a lofty goal, but we urge you all to accept the challenge. You may feel there’s no way you can complete that many in a month, but you may surprise yourself. And even if you do 1,000 that’s a great accomplishment.
  • The person with the most push-ups at the end of the month will win a prize! We also encourage you to have fun with the challenge so we are giving a prize for the most creative place push-ups are done!  Share your photos and videos on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #CFMchallenge.

We look forward to seeing your progress and remember – have fun!

Push-Up Tips

Use the proper push-up technique we coach in class:

  • Situate hands about shoulder width apart, fingers pointing straight ahead or slightly out. (Screw hands into the ground)
  • Put torque on arms and point elbow pits forward.
  • Keep a neutral spine (don’t drop head or hips) and keep a tight core.
  • Squeeze glutes and belly tight and lever forward making sure your elbows are shooting back and not to the side.
  • Press out of the bottom position without any change in spine or shoulder position.

Learning has a Method

In psychology, the four stages of competence, or the “conscious competence” learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.

The Four Stages of Learning provides a model for learning. It suggests that individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, then consciously use it. Eventually, the skill can be utilized without it being consciously thought through: the individual is said to have then acquired unconscious competence.

The Four Stages of Competence

Unconscious incompetence

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.

Conscious incompetence

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.

Conscious competence

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.

Unconscious competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.

Applying to CrossFit

This model of learning is inherent in CrossFit training. The CrossFit coach is tasked with helping the athlete ‘know what they don’t know’ and create self-awareness. Then the coach and athlete work together to progress through the model until an athlete can perform a skill with unconscious competence. Not doing it right and making mistakes are vital steps in the learning process. And the entire learning process takes time, lots of time (10,000 hours some say). Understanding the four stages of learning a skill can help keep the learning process focused on learning to do something, and not feeling bad about ourselves for not already knowing how.

Using the example of learning how to back squat, as a person new to CrossFit and weight training I thought all I had to do was put the bar on my back, sit my butt down and stand up again. This was the happy stage of unconscious incompetence.

When I began learning how to back squat (low bar specifically), I realized there was a lot more to it and it was a little overwhelming. I had moved on to the stage of conscious incompetence. There were many different things to do and think about and I had some physical and neurological re-wiring that needed to be done. In this stage I made lots of mistakes, along with judgments against myself for not already knowing how to do it. No one likes being told they aren’t doing something correctly, but judgment release can be very helpful in this second stage of learning. Making mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. They’re necessary because learning is essentially experience-based trial and error. As long as the errors are addressed and fixed.

As I practiced (every Monday for at least a year), I got better and moved into the third stage of learning, conscious competence. I could back squat decently well, but still had to really focus on my body mechanics using a relatively light weight.

Finally, after enough practice, I have gotten to a place where I don’t have to think about every little thing that goes into a technically sound back squat. Now the focus is on increasing weight to build strength.

And a cool pair of lifting shoes never hurts.


September Member Spotlight: Jennifer Childress

Jennifer (aka Jenn) was one of the first to join the CrossFit Mudtown family, along with her husband Clay, in April 2015. She’s Crossfit Mudtown Jennifer Childresscurrently expecting her second son and it’s so inspiring to see her continue to work hard in class. Jenn proves to us every day that CrossFit can work for anyone. Let’s get to know Jenn a little better…

How did you hear about CrossFit and what was your first experience/WOD? 3 years ago Clay and I went to a “bring a friend day” at a CrossFit box.  It was a partner WOD of wallballs, pushups, and running a 200 with a med ball overhead (don’t get any ideas, Jacki ).  It was a rough WOD and we were sore for days.  We both knew we’d love CrossFit, but didn’t completely take the plunge until after our first son, Jase, was born.

How many days do you CrossFit? What classes do you normally take? These days I’m doing good to come 3 days a week.  You’ll find me at any class except for the 6 am/pm classes depending on my work schedule.

Crossfit Mudtown Jennifer ChildressFavorite CrossFit movement? 
Squats and deadlifts for strength.  Putting lots of weight on the bar makes me feel strong .  I also enjoy any WODs that involve mostly body weight.

Least favorite CrossFit movement/workout? Wallballs & rowing.  Wallballs require too much coordination for me.  I’d rather do thrusters (I mean, they’re basically the same, right).

What motivates you/keeps you coming back to CrossFit Mudtown? The coaching and community.  I experienced a lack of coaching for my first 18 months of CrossFit.  It truly is amazing to see what all I’ve accomplished in the 4 months I’ve been at CFM with solid coaching and encouragement from others in a class!!

Favorite thing about Birmingham? The hills, trees, and close proximity to shopping (I grew up in a small town in Texas that was about 30 minutes from Ft. Worth)!

What accomplishment are you the most proud of (outside and inside of the gym)?Crossfit Mudtown Jennifer Childress Back squatting 175#!

After a hard workout, what is your favorite meal? Something bad for me, followed with a chocolaty dessert that’s equally as bad!!

What are some of your interests outside of CrossFit? Running, hiking, spending time outdoors with my husband, Clay, and our son (soon to be sons in December!!)

What do you do for a living? I’m a nurse in the Emergency Department at Children’s of AL

What is one goal that you are currently working on? Crossfitting while pregnant.  It’s a bit of a mind game and physical challenge for a competitive person like myself.  I’ve had to lower my standards of myself as my body now has a new set of limitations.