Calling all CFF Athletes we need your help. On the bathroom door we want to know why you CrossFit, ask one of our trainers for a marker and write it down!
We all know cancer sucks. Jason Fine knows that better than most, because it’s killing him. But he’s going down swinging with kindness.
For the first time, I’m publishing a story by another writer on this blog because time is short and I think you should know Jason’s story while he still draws breath on this Earth. Project Kindness is perhaps the way we all should live, and it’s the way Jason has chosen to go out. Thank you, Jason. Even though I never met you in person, I will always remember you.
Jason Fine, co-owner of CrossFit North Scottsdale in Arizona, and his wife, Erin know first-hand what the heart of the CrossFit community looks like. They know what it’s like for a tight knit community to come together and rally for each other regardless of the circumstances. A community that shares in both joy and sorrow – good news or bad.
Recently, for 44 year-old Jason Fine, the news has been bad.
16th in the World
A few months prior to competing at the 2013 South West Regionals, Fine (a Master’s competitor in the 40-44 age division) saw a doctor to ask about a lump he noticed under his arm. After ordering a few tests, his doctor cleared him and asked him to follow up if he noticed any changes. Fine continued on with life and training; at the age of 43 although he was qualified as a Master’s athlete, he competed against athletes as young as 20 years his junior at the South West Regionals “just for the experience.” He then headed to Carson, California for the CrossFit Games sitting in 8th place for his division. He finished the week as 16th in the world – he now knows that he did all that while he had cancer.
In April, 2014, as the CrossFit Open was coming to an end, Fine was diagnosed with Stage 4 malignant melanoma cancer.
Fine had done everything right. He had regular doctor appointments, check-ups and physicals. He had his skin and lump checked by a dermatologist, had moles removed and biopsied, had follow-up doctor visits and even sought a second, third and fourth opinion.
It was that fourth doctor that eventually found the cancer almost a year after he noticed the lump. Fine, as it turns out, is one of the ten percent of the population who did not have a primary cancer site that he had ignored. He had no outward symptoms, no warning signs.
Fine (and his sister, Robyn, who is also battling the same disease) has what his doctors believe is a genetic marker that sets off the cancer. In his case, the cancer has progressed quickly and despite surgery, radiation and aggressive treatments, his cancer continued to spread throughout every corner of his body. In an excerpt from his personal blog on July 2, 2014 Fine describes the news he gets from a recent scan:
“News was not favorable. I have cancer almost everywhere. Thyroid. Ascending aorta. Pancreas. Right and left kidneys. Right and left groin lymph nodes and right axillary lymph nodes. Thirteen new tumors. Many of them and 1-2” in size. I can feel them when I breathe deeply and swallow. Along with a few superficial ones around my body. FU CANCER!”
His treatment, emotional journey, adventurous spirit, relationships with his friends, CrossFit community, family and his wife are all written about in his blog. Although he is fighting a terminal cancer, Jason and Erin have chosen to move forward and smile everyday living by the mantra “We have today, let’s make it the best.”
They have done just that. As a gift from their community, Jason and Erin have been able to travel and check things off their bucket list as well as visit family members out of state thanks to the CrossFit North Scottsdale community. A group from their box started a private fundraiser to make sure the Fine’s were able to get away spontaneously between treatments for a few days when they needed a break. Four local affiliates also hosted fundraiser WOD’s to provide financial support and relief for treatments, travel or other needs.
“It has positively affected our box, our community. They have totally stepped up under negative circumstances. We are a lot tighter, closer. People have been bringing us meals, bringing me to the hospital. It brought out the goodness of what already exists in CrossFit” said Fine.
Project Kindness: Free Hugs
It was out of this goodness that Project Kindness was born. After a series of bad news from doctors regarding scans and prognosis last week, Jason was up most of the night vomiting. His wife was asleep in bed and he was in terrible pain.
“I wanted to die,” said Fine – “I thought it was the only thing to take away the pain. After three hours, I finally got myself up off the floor. I needed to find a way to make my week better. It [Project Kindness] was something I made up to find a way to cope.”
The next day, he made a sign that said “Free Hugs” and set out at the Mayo Clinic to show people a little more kindness.
“I was shy at first. I didn’t want to be the creepy guy with a sign, but I opened up. When the elevator opened up, there was a guy standing there with a tracheotomy tube coming out of his neck, draining – I flashed my sign at him and he pointed to himself like ‘who me?’ I said ‘yes,’ he nodded and we [Fine and two friends] gave him a group hug,” said Fine.
Acknowledging that people are fighting private battles that are not always apparent, Fine made it a goal to give 100 real hugs from people he didn’t know. He has since changed that goal to “as many as he can get” with the time he has left.
“I don’t have a lot of time left. I am trying to find every bright spot that I can – it’s been working and I’m going keep doing it until I die. It’s so simple to do simple things for each other,” said Fine.
Jason Fine is logging off for a while. After keeping friends, family and the CrossFit North Scottsdale community updated on his journey for several months through his blog, he is choosing to spend every moment with his wife and his family. Project Kindness will go on. He asks you to continue it as well:
“The most impactful lesson I learned in this short journey with cancer is we can all be a little kinder … This battle taught me more than I can put into words right now, but I had a major awakening a couple months ago after diagnosis and prognosis. Don’t wait for something like this (or never) to learn to be better. Be a better husband, wife, friend, brother, sister, son, daughter, uncle, aunt and person … TODAY. It doesn’t have to be complicated, simple acts go so far. Be present. Listen. Hug away … Love to you all, Jason Fine.”
Fine added: “Life changes so quickly. I hope it [my story] has a longer impact than just a social media piece. It is so simple to do simple things for each other.”
- You can donate to the Jason Fine Foundation here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2l2q2
Our skill focus this month has been the Snatch, sweatpit.com has an article of the different phases of the Power Snatch:
The power snatch is an assistance movement performed by weightlifters to develop power and strengthen the second pull, or the portion of the lift from above the knee to completion. It is also used to train the snatch while limiting lower-body involvement. This lift can be used by many other athletes to build strength, explosiveness, develop the upper back and strengthen the external rotators. In many sports that feature extensive throwing, the benefits of the power snatch nicely offset some of the imbalances that develop over time in competitive sport. Athletes who participate in sports that feature a great deal of swinging or stick-handling such as baseball or hockey will often have external rotators that are stronger on one side than the other, and the power snatch can help correct this imbalance. Throwers often over-develop the internal rotators and the external rotators get neglected. The power snatch can build strength while correcting this and developing power.
The usefulness of this exercise cannot be under-stated. The power snatch not only works your upper back, it specifically strengthens your external rotators. This is critical for most athletes, but even more so for throwers and anyone who develops any sort of imbalance. An excellent exercise for rowers, the power snatch can serve as a mainstay exercise in the program of nearly every athlete. Having some of the same benefits with respect to improving the vertical jump as the power clean, volleyball players in particular can benefit from this exercise. This exercise is no more difficult to learn than the power clean, and teaching by any reasonably competent coach can provide all the guidance you need to get started in one or two training sessions.
Like the full lift, the power snatch is broken down into phases, starting with the set-up and the pull. Each phase of the lift must be correct before moving onto the next phase, or your lift is far less likely to be successful. There are six phases in the pull, and you must connect the phases, like dots, in order to successfully receive the bar. Think of each phase of the lift like a picture, and each picture or position needs to be technically correct for maximum power and minimum risk of injury. While some people can lift weights with bad technique, they are not only lifting below their potential, they are increasing their risk of injury.
The lift starts by pulling the bar from the ground. The different phases of the pull are critical, and each phase must be correct or the next phase will be off. The pull alone is broken down into six phases, with the last phase ending when you have secured the barbell overhead. At this point all you must do is straighten your legs to complete the lift. Since the initial aspects of the lift are identical to the full snatch, the set up and execution will be discussed in roughly the same manner. If your power snatch does not duplicate, or at least very closely mimic, your full snatch, you are not getting as much out of the lift as you could. Many muscles generate power in this lift, but most notably the hip extensors. Weak hips cause your legs to work harder and increase the strain on your knees. This can also lead to a decrease in power between the 1st and 2nd pull.
Pisarenko showing how to finish the pull:
1st phase: Set Up:
Your feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart, toes turned outward slightly. If you stand approximately in the same position you use to execute a vertical leap, you are off to a good start. Line the bar up with your metarso-phalangeal joints, which is where your toes meet your feet. Incline your shins forward as you reach down to grab the bar, with your hands at least one-and-a-half times the width of your shoulders. You should grip the bar with a hook grip, which is an overhand grip where you wrap your first or first two fingers around your thumb. Keep your arms straight, and lightly flex your triceps to ensure your elbows remain straight. Rotate your elbows so that they point out to the sides. Your elbows will continue to point out during the first four phases of the pull. Your shoulders should be either above or slightly forward of the bar. Your knees should be flexed approximately 75 to 90 degrees. Arch your back and stick your chest out. Either keep your head in line with your torso or look up slightly. This should result in your torso being no more than 50 degrees from vertical.
When you first grip the bar, lightly flex the muscles of your back and legs. Keep your chest, shoulders and arms tight and take a deep breath. Do not attempt to suddenly rip the bar from the floor, use the tension you build up to provide power for when you ease the bar from the ground.
2nd Phase: Preliminary Acceleration:
During this phase you ease the bar off of the ground – do not attempt to rip the weight up. Move the weight by straightening your legs and keep your torso angle the same. There should be no movement at the hip joint during this phase. Keep the arch in your lower back and do not allow your upper back to round. During this phase the bar should move in towards you slightly, but not excessively so. If you attempt to drag the bar up your legs like it is a conventional deadlift, you will bang that bar with your knees and disturb your bar path while slowing down the speed of your bar. Your latissimus dorsi contract heavily to help pull the bar in and your weight shifts slightly back on your foot. This phase continues until your knees have straightened to approximately 150 degrees.
Phase Three: Rebend:
The purpose of the third phase is to allow you to set up for a more efficient second pull. Your torso straightens slightly during this phase, which causes your hips to move forward. Continue to pull the bar into you and allow your knees to relax, moving forward slightly. This should occur when the bar passes your knee joint and is about one-third of the way up your thighs. This allows the bar to be closer to your center of gravity while your torso is straighter, both of which greatly increase your leverage.
Fourth Phase: Final Acceleration:
At the start of this phase, your shoulders, the barbell, and the MP joints of your feet should all be in the same vertical plane. Your hips snap forward explosively as your body extends. You may or may not rise onto your toes during this phase, and triple extension is a subject of much debate. If you can get under the barbell without the extra motion, there is no need to extend at the ankles. You should finish this phase with a powerful shrug, but your shrug must occur naturally. If you attempt to force the shrug, when you finish the pull your shoulders will be stiff and inflexible. Your elbows must remain rotated outward during this phase. If your elbows rotate back, you will pull the bar back into you, when instead the bar should arc outward slightly. Your body may be slightly hyper-extended during this phase, which helps balance the barbell. This is your last attempt to increase the force you are applying to the bar – make it count. Your elbows should be bent slightly at the completion of this phase.
Fifth Phase: Unsupported Squat Under:
Pull your upper arms out and up, as if you were a scarecrow or marionette. Your knees bend slightly as the bar continues to move upward. You do not exert significant force on the barbell during this phase, you simply maintain control. Your feet leave the platform slightly. The barbell should pass your head during this phase. Your elbows move down under the bar as you rotate at the shoulders, and your wrists turn over.
Sixth Phase: Supported Squat Under:
Your feet move outward slightly, and your toes may turn outward slightly. You firmly re-plant your feet, with your heels solidly contacting, or stomping the platform. Your heels should remain under your hip joints. Your torso will tilt forward, but keep your lower back tight. Your arms straighten and your shoulders must tighten. Do not lock your knees, keep them slightly soft. A slight relaxation of your knees and hips allows your legs to take some of the strain of catching the barbell, easing the stress on your shoulders and elbows.
When you catch the bar, it should be in line with your hips. The lower you catch the bar, the further it will be behind your head. Your elbows should rotate outward slightly, and to maintain tension in your upper back, attempt to pull the bar apart with your hands as you stabilize it during this phase. Your legs straighten, and you stand up completely, bring your feet into line with your hips and the barbell.
Common Mistakes in the Power Snatch
Variations of the Power Snatch
The lift can be started above the ground, from anywhere just below the knee to a dead hang, with your hips straight. The higher you start your pull, the harder the lift becomes and the less weight you can use. You can allow the bar to hang, supporting the weight with your arms, or you can pull from boxes or pins. Whatever method you chose, ensure you start your lift in the correct position. Do not assume a position that does not directly relate to your pull on the snatch, or you will build bad habits that result in bad technique.
From the hang: Pulling from the hang can be done anywhere, but mid-thigh level is a common starting position. This forces you to work on your second pull and can also give your lower back something of a rest if you have been training it heavily. If you pull from mid-thigh, this is similar to the bar starting between the third and fourth phase. You do not have much momentum going into the final acceleration, and must snap your hips explosively and shrug hard to generate power. The lift proceeds as normal from that point. Avoid leaning forward at the start of the lift or bending your knees to generate power. Whatever position you decide to start from, start from a fixed position. Bending down or leaning forward to crank the weight up with your lower back defeats the entire purpose of the exercise.
From pins: Pulling from pins or boxes makes it a little harder to cheat at the start of the lift, and ensure that the bar is stationary at the start of your extension. When pulling from pins it can be easier at first to set up with your knees and hips at the incorrect angle, so if you lack a coach, take a few videos of yourself from the side and compare them to your full lift. It can be easier to accidentally bend your arms at the start when pulling from a fixed position, so take care to treat this lift just as if you were pulling from the floor.