Coaches Kyle & Sully: Gettin’ With The Program

kyle-barWith nearly 50 classes to teach between them each week, as well as their own personal training pursuits and lives outside of the gym, you would think coaches Kyle Smith and Mike Sullivan would have a full schedule and little sleep to speak of.  But within the past two weeks Kyle and Sully have begun to tackle your training schedule as well.  Programming for the masses (them asses?) at Crossfit NYC can be a huge challenge, so it made sense to pick the collective brain of our sadists-in-residence, and see what they may have in store for us over the course of the next couple of months.

Could you sum up your general goals with the gym’s programming?

Kyle: To provide the safest, most fun, productive CrossFit training program we possibly can. If that sounds difficult, you’re right! We’re not afraid to learn from our mistakes and achievements, so keep the feedback coming!

Sully: What we have seen in this year’s Open is you need all of the following: strength, the ability to Olympic lift well and a Metcon engine that won’t quit. How does that apply to real life, life-long fitness, and also to those people that aren’t interested in competing in CrossFit or the Open? Simple: our programming applies to most goals. We are starting first with Strength, with three week waves of movements. Currently, we are Back Squatting once a week for three weeks, strict pressing and deadlifting. The next three weeks will be a different squat, press and lift/posterior chain. There is a snatch day and clean day for skill/strength and an Olympic movement in a Metcon. Which gives us a Metcon/Cardio/Respiratory every day…different lengths depending on the day.

You’re programming workouts for 1500 people.  Some of us are very strong but have limited capacity, and others have tremendous endurance but are very limited strength-wise under the barbell.  With everyone trying work toward the middle of that spectrum, how do you come up with a program that helps everyone get there?

Kyle: We write logical strength pieces and smart conditioning workouts- athletes go heavy, then go hard, respectively. As programmers, we know that every workout isn’t perfect for every athlete, and as an athlete you have to be aware that every aspect of your fitness won’t get better all the time.

Sully: The balance of what I have outlined above should produce the middle spectrum results.

For the past few months we’ve seen some movements that are uncommon in Crossfit, like Bulgarian Split Squats, kettlebell pulses, and the elusive contralateral jump & touch.  Should we expect to see more of these unique types of movements?

Kyle: Some of these exercises may make an appearance.  They make you stronger and keep you healthy.

Sully: The beauty of CrossFit is that we have hundreds of movements that we use, so the Bulgarian Split Squat isn’t uncommon to CrossFit– it’s just something that our box hasn’t used much. You will occasionally see some unique movements coming up.sully-stone

When the gym was following main site Crossfit programming, we would see some days where the only WOD was “Deadlift 1-1-1-1-1-1-1” or a similar focus on one strength movement for the whole hour.  Would it be wasteful to bring days like this into the rotation again, even occasionally given our typical format of strength/metcon?

Kyle: You’re likely to see some days that are more strength oriented, some that are more conditioning. But for the most part, it’ll be a combination of both.

Sully: Main site is a great guideline. We have time to do strength and a Metcon in an hour class and our Metcons compliment our strength work, like accessory work. It’s effective and a great use of time.

Kyle your personal focus leans toward olympic lifting.  Talk about the difference between snatches and cleans in a metcon, vs snatches and cleans as an isolated strength movement.  Which athletes and/or coaches inspire you the most in olympic lifting, and why?

I encourage every oly lift done in isolation to be as pitch perfect as possible. These movement patterns will carry over better into conditioning workouts. The one thing I’ll point out in regards to the oly lifts in a conditioning workout- make sure you’re getting back into a good starting position, safely. If you get your hips back into position (low) for a good looking clean, you’ll have more comfortable, efficient cleans for the rest of the WOD. Use conditioning workouts to reinforce good movement- you’ll feel better and be more productive for it.

Athletes that inspire me are the baby with perfect squat form and whichever student I last heard say, “Holy shit, that’s what a snatch is supposed to feel like!”

Sully you seem to work a lot on strength, with an emphasis on Westside Barbell training and strongman.  Talk about how this type of training has helped you as an athlete, and which of your favorite strength movements will be making it into the rotation most often (and why).

I have seen large strength gains from following the Westside programming and I find the Strongman movements really fun. Constantly varied is a large part of both.  So following the three week waves of squatting, pressing and deadlifting will appear and the varied reps, weights and different squats, presses and styles of deadlifts will show up. Remember that all of the strength programming will be scalable also, so newer members shouldn’t be worried.

Coach Kyle teaches weekday mornings at 26th St. and early afternoons at 28th St.  Check the schedule for details.  He can be reached via email at

Coach Sully teaches afternoons at 28th St. and evenings at 26th St.  Check the schedule for details.  He can be reached via email at