It was an absolute pleasure to have the incredibly talented Michaela Breeze MBE (double Olympian & medal winner for Wales at the last 4 Commonwealth Games) come to the gym and do a day’s coaching session with us a few weeks ago! She went into great detail and explanation of her reasoning behind the technique she coaches and her guidance was exceptional. Have a look at the link which is one of the videos explaining the clean.

In just 5 hours the technique of each and every one of us had massively improved and I think it’s safe to say we all left feeling much more confident in our lifts and learnt masses on technique. Already we are seeing improvements in an ability to lift more and we have decided, due to the success of this session, to take a trip across the bridge and have another days coaching at Michaela’s gym in Wales on either Sunday 5th April or Sunday 14th June.

Anyone who came on Sunday 22nd will get first refusal but anyone else interested, please email nina@jmfitnesschewvalley.com asap as we will be looking to do this soon and places will be strictly limited to 12 people! Once I have an idea of who is interested we will confirm a date asap! The cost of the day will be £60.

I took some time out with Michaela following our session to ask her a few questions…

Weight lifting in the past has been incredibly male dominant. What do you think about CrossFit as a sport and their utilisation of olympic lifting in their programming? Do you feel this has opened it up to more women?
Absolutely. Not only women but i think CrossFit has saved our sport. Far more people are now lifting weights thanks to CrossFit. Weightlifting is now widely recognised as a highly technical, skilled sport in its own right and their is a much greater awareness and appreciation with many more people lifting. I’m sure we will see many more men and women competing on the International stage having come from a CrossFit background.

What is your honest opinion of CrossFit? Let's face it, crossfit does suffer negativity through people's opinion that due to intensity of workouts, form is compromised and people get injured? (Whilst any crossfiters would argue this isn't the case)
Anyone who argues that isn't the case has their head in the clouds and is in complete denial. My concerns regarding CrossFit are exactly that. I spend most of my coaching time teaching CrossFitters how to lift safely. The last thing I want is for CrossFit or weightlifting to attract a negative reputation.

The problems with CrossFitters attempting to incorporate lifting related exercises in my view is simply that not enough time is spend learning the foundations and developing the techniques on light weights before loading. Anyone who thinks this can be mastered on an 'On Ramp' course is kidding themselves. Weightlifting techniques are developed over many years and thousands upon thousands of repetitions which in general, due to the nature of CrossFit and having to learn many other movements, simply isn't being done.

I have just gone in to partnership and re-launched 'Reebok CrossFit 365' in Neath, South Wales. My role is to spend focussed sessions developing CrossFitters technical ability so when they attempt and related WODs, they are as safe an efficient as possible. I envisage this being an ongoing process and taking many months to have a real impact.

When attempting WOD's with high volumes, the weights really should be manageable (around 40-50% of 1RM). When lifting heavier than 90% of 1RM, I do not deem it safe to attempt multiple repetitions. When a clock is involved and you have a time limit to achieve a 1RM after being pre fatigued such as 15.1 this week then my view is that there are safety issues and athletes will undoubtedly get injured. Even with good technique, I wouldn't like to attempt anywhere near close to a 1RM after 9 minutes of high intensity training in a 6 minute time limit.

As a coach and former weight lifting competitor, what advise and tips would you give to any new lifters or those just getting into the sport of CrossFit?
Understand all the fundamental moves required for CrossFit, complete an On Ramp course, then really start to develop the skills you have learned before trying to load them or put yourself under pressure. This process will take time but the bigger the technical foundation, the better the results.

What importance do you place on specific olympic lifting 'technique' work alongside CrossFit?
Huge. Probably the most difficult but important aspect for anyone who is even considering competing. To give you an idea, I have girls aged 12 years of age, weighing under 48kg bodyweight snatching bodyweight. Put that in perspective! That is after 2 years training and lifting around 70% of 1RM range and doing plenty of technical work. 3-4 months with no weight on the bar. It really is worth the weight!

Any final words or advice?
Patience, confidence. Warm up as you want to lift with heavy weights. No Limits!

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