NorCal On Ramp Published!

The second part to my On Ramp article is now available at the Performance Menu, in Issue 53, June 2009. This second part includes our 12 session curriculum. Enjoy!

Also, I had a question regarding body rows…one of the movements we use in the curriculum and the way we progress our folks toward the pullup (it’s great for strengthening connective tissue and can be scaled for anyone!) Here’s a great little video of the body row courtesy of Catalyst Athletics…check it out!

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16 Responses to NorCal On Ramp Published!

  1. Chris Brown says:


    Both parts of your article rock! I really appreciate you sharing all this information. I think it will really help us improve our affiliate!

    Thank you!

    Chris Brown
    Emergent Fitness
    Fort Collins, CO

    You’re welcome!

  2. DannyG says:

    When you subscribe to the Performance Menu, is it all online? Also, if it is online, can you search back through the entire article data base? I think I needs to get me some of this Menu.

    Hi Danny,
    Yes, the PMenu is an online journal…but you can download and print the issues if you wish. You can search past issues here.

  3. ShaneCFSBK says:


    This may be my favorite issue of Performance Menu so far largely due to your On Ramp curriculum article. Great stuff.

    Our Foundations cycles have gone through various stages and transformations from one cycle to the next and your article has given me a slew of new ideas both for our future Foundations classes and for my own mini-cycle (4-6 participants) beginning in a couple of weeks. Really love that you establish the importance of the cool down as part of the cycle. Also glad to see that your programming selection doesn’t read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Benchmark WODs. Focusing instead on reinforcing the skills introduced w/ a dose of intensity.

    Also, I’m now sold on the 12 class cycle. 8 classes at 2x per week has never felt like enough especially as the folks coming into Foundations seem to be less athletically conditioned with each subsequent cycle. It’ll hopefully give us a little more breathing room and allow us to expand our curriculum a little while having more time to drill the fundamentals. I’m excited to sit down w/ Dave once he’s read this and see what we can do to improve our future Foundations cycles. Invaluable article. Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do for our program.

    Crossfit South Brooklyn

    Awesome Shane! Keep us posted!

  4. Troy-SBCF says:


    P-Menu 53 could easily be called: “Start to Finish: Programming a Successful Affiliate.” It’s just that good, and I almost feel like I’m cheating by standing on the shoulders of geniuses. This comes at a perfect time for our affiliate, as we’ll be opening a space very soon and had already decided on doing a comprehensive foundations program. You really fleshed out some areas that we were lacking, and gave us some great progressions for those who are perhaps a bit more detrained. It’s people like you and Robb that allow the CF community as a whole to keep improving by generously sharing your hard-earned knowledge. Many thanks!

    We sent Karen to your Nutrition Cert at Fairfax this past weekend, and she couldn’t say enough good things about it.

    Awesome Troy! Thanks for the feedback…happy to help!

  5. Peter Haas says:

    Fantastic articles. I was really looking forward to the second part. Thank you for publishing your program with such detail.

    We’re going to go ahead and try to run our first onramp class in July, and use a member postcard challenge (as outlined in your previous post) to help enroll for that.

    Would you mind answering 2 questions for me?

    Question 1: How do you deal with people that come to you and want to enroll, but it’s the middle of the onramp progression? Say you started Day 1 on Monday and they come to you on Tuesday and want to enroll. Do you just have them start on Day 1 of the next onramp class?

    Question 2: What do you charge for your onramp? What was your rationale for that price? How does this compare to your ‘regular’ group class rate(s)?

    Thanks again.

    Hi Peter –
    1) Our classes usually sell out (we cap them at 10) so I would encourage them to sign up for the next class, even if it’s a month out… Or I recommend they do a few sessions of private training to get going until the next class begins. If the class isn’t full and they’ve only missed the first day I would have them do the first day as a private and jump into the class on Day 2.
    2) We charge $150 – a little cheaper than our regular group rate for 3x week. When we first started the program a year ago we charged $199….in January we offered a 5 year in business special of $80. We find our conversion rates are best with the $150 price point.

  6. tara says:


    We are a new affiliate opening in about 2 weeks. I loved your article. The on ramp curriculum that you have created is amazing. Unfortunatly when I try to print it the parts where you have the charts of each day prints in some form that my computer does not understand. The explanations are fine. I would really like to print it out. Help!
    Thank you,
    Tara Krieger

    Hey Tara!
    Not sure what’s up with your printer…maybe email it to a friend and see if they can print it for you?

  7. Chris says:


    This couldn’t have come out at a better time. Two of my friends just asked me to start training them and this will work perfectly for getting them headed in the right direction.

    Quick question…on the third workout (3 rounds of row 200m & 10 thrusters), what are you having your clients use for the thrusters? PVC? empty bar? dumbbells? depend on the individual?

    Thanks again!

    We use dumbbells on the third workout…5# if folks are really deconditioned…heavier if it’s a more robust person. We have also had a few folks with shoulder issues use pvc. This is the beauty of scaling :)

  8. Hey Nicki,
    I just wanted to thank you and Robb both so much, since the nutrition cert, I have dove head first into both nutrition and finally deeper into crossfit as well, and business has taken off, my clients are all getting better results, I got past my own personal burnout, and am looking at affiliating here shortly as well. Hope to have you both at our location one day soon here so we can spread the crossfit community even further. Thanks again for all your great information.

    Awesome Ryan!

  9. thea taylor says:

    thanks for the great article!
    question, does everyone go through the on-ramp or pt sessions to get to the gruop sessions? are there any exceptions?

    thank you!

    Hi Thea,
    Yes, everyone starts with either On Ramp or PT. The only exception is if someone has been training CF at another affiliate, in which case we find out what their work capacity is like…”what’s your Fran time, etc.” and then we have them come down and we evaluate their movement/test them in.
    Hope that helps!

  10. Todd Lynch says:

    We also will be converting to the Onramp or PT starting in July. My question is how did you market your inaugural class? Anything other than word of mouth of your members?

    Side note: Great having you and Robb down. Dana and I have gone all in (me Paleo, her Paleo/Zone). We both feel amazing! Thanks again and hopefully we can have you back soon.

    Hi Todd!
    We can’t wait to come back to West Palm…we loved it there! That’s awesome the two of you are dialed in!

    As for marketing our first On Ramp…really all we did was make some postcards and hand them to clients and tell them to give them to anyone who they thought might be interested in getting started. And we put a blurb on our website that explained the way folks get going at our facility. Word just spread after that.

  11. Hi Nikki, thank you so much for the On Ramp article it rocks – I love how you just lay it out for all to see. The only gripe I have is nerdy – factorial notation for a desending pyramid could result in massive overuse injuries if the wrong mathematician got hold of it :) . Thanks again, Brett.

    HA! I guess that could be seriously misinterpreted. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1….not multiplied! Hopefully even the nerdiest of mathematicians would recognize we aren’t shooting for 3 million reps on Day 2 😉

  12. Cash Reynolds says:

    One problem I’ve been having using the OnRamp curriculum, is with new clients who already have pullups. I feel bad making them do ring rows, when I know that time should be better spent learning the kipping swing / kipping pullups. As I open a new facility and begin classes using the onramp curriculum, I’m afraid I will have to scale the workouts just as I used to do in personal-trainer-mode.

    Would you agree that some cases of scaling are appropriate even with the really wise curriculum you’ve developed?

    Hi Cash,
    We usually have around 2-3 folks in each On Ramp who already have pullups as well. But typically they are fairly de-conditioned, and throwing a big volume of pullups (even 15, 12, 9) on day 1 is not appropriate with regard to connective tissue. Also, the ring row teaches core to extremity movement by emphasizing scapular retraction first and then following with the pull. Even taking a fitter person and putting them through the ring row progression and the workout with ring rows is a solid first day workout. If I were to modify and have someone do pullups I would cut the numbers to something like 9-6-3…remember, we want to teach mechanics first and provide an appropriate stimulus…if they are pushing hard the ring row will do just that. Hope that helps!

  13. Cash Reynolds says:

    Nicki, thanks for the response.

    My curriculum is slightly different from yours. My day 1 workout is either 3 rounds or 5 rounds – depending on strength and conditioning – of 5 ring rows, 10 pushups, 15 squats. So it’s a very different volume of ring rows / pullups. Historically, I was doing 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats, and using rubber band assistance for the pullups; and we had them doing knees-to-elbows and jumping PU to begin conditioning the hang and connective tissues (not on Day 1, but in the first 3 days / warmup).

    I like training hip activation ASAP, just like the squat, so on Day 2 I teach kettlebell swings. I love this progression of squat -> kettlebell swing, because it reinforces the posterior chain action and much of the squat mechanics, and gives us the clearest measure of just how muted their hip function is. It also gives us what I think is the best treatment for this muted hip function. So day 2 = 3 rounds of 200 meter run, 15 kettlebell swings, 10 knees-to-chelbows.

    (Then we go to deadlift and press on Day 3.)

    Even with that low volume (3×5) of ring rows, I’ve had people who I’m not sure could have handled much more. However, maybe I should consider increasing the number of ring rows on Day 1, something like:
    3 rounds for time,
    9 pushups
    12 ring rows
    15 squats

    (totaling 36, the same volume you’re using, albeit without the run)
    (On the pushups, about 70% of the women are elevating their hands onto a bench / 24″ box / tire, as I require a full plank position so no pushups-on-the-knees.)

    Looks good Cash! I think the important thing to keep in mind is that however low the day 1 volume is…it may still be too much for some folks. Being able to discern when someone is failing and then modifying their volume down is key! I think Rutman used to say something to the effect of “stimulate, don’t annihilate :)”

  14. Derek says:

    Your article finally convinced us it was time to move to a 12 session program for our newbies. We just finished our first “Boot Camp” and it was a total success! We had 9 people go through it and they are totally stoked! Thank you so much for posting this stuff!

  15. Gios says:

    I love this. We’ve been talking up this program for a bit and are ready to take the next step.
    Would you mind me picking your brain a bit with scheduling?

    Would a specific start date help?

    3 x wk?
    weekends included?
    It may have been covered already and if so I apologize. You guys are fantastic.

    Thanks in advance

    Hey Gios!
    If you check out the first part of the article some of this is mentioned. We run our On Ramp 3x week for 4 weeks. We have a specific start date and specific times: eg: our next class runs 8/31-9/24 Mon/Wed/Thurs from 7:15pm-8:15pm. This way the entire class goes through the process together and graduate into the ongoing group classes together. Hope that helps!

  16. David Weaver says:

    Hey Nicki,

    Just wanted to let you know that we have been using this curriculum for the past 3 months and have had incredible success with it! We are in the process of affiliating soon, but we are currently running personal training only. If you have time, check out our website – I just posted a blog about 2 of our members success finishing on-ramp. Thanks for what you do.

    Awesome David! Good stuff!

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