Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fourth week of Virtuosity.

So it's the fourth installment of Virtuosity, and I'm super excited about it. We're working on Deadlifts and double-unders. Deadlifts proved to be interesting, people got the basic lift, but the devil's in the details. There were only two people lifting at a time, but because I might miss something I wanted to involve everyone, trying get everyone in the class learn what to look for and to help each other. I got really positive responses, people started to feel like they were using their legs instead of their back. I know for a fact some one upped her deadlift from 85# to 135#.

Double unders were fun. One thing I really, really like about teaching this class is it requires me to go back and learn about the fundamentals, to go and really focus on the movement. As I've expected, looking at this stuff with the mindset of teaching is, in itself, a great teacher. If I have to be able to teach everything from pull ups to the clean I have to be able to do everything well. But I digress, back to teaching the double unders.

I had everyone go through the progression, save for the double under - single - double under. I've been told people get stuck in that phase and are reluctant to move on, so we just avoided that step altogether. As everyone worked on them I took turns working one on one with each person. I was surprised how much I was able to help, figuring out what was wrong even though I had never even thought of the problem before (e.g. picking up on an uneven cadence by listening to the sounds of the rope hitting the ground). Everything seemed to go really well, I'm very, very happy with how it worked out.

Workout on Thursday

So the Bronchitis is lessening, and I'm just itching for getting back in the gym. On Thursday I go in and the wod is:

1000m row
1 pull up
1 burbee
2 pull ups
2 burbees
8 pull ups
8 burbees
1 pull up
1 burbee
1000m run

Time was something like 28:23. I had absolutely no problem with the pull ups, after teaching the pull up the other week I feel much more solid in my pull up technique. Burbees are never fun, but they really winded me. ...For that matter, I really felt winded the whole time, when I was running the last 1000m I felt a pain in my chest that was really sharp, so I walked most of it. Although the Bronchitis is better, it's still there and I shouldn't push myself too hard.

However, I think I rushed coming back to Crossfit. I just feel so weird not working out, I needed this psychologically, but it seems like I still needed rest physically. For the rest of the day I just felt exhausted, more than I have for the past couple of days. Unfortunately I think fighting off this infection is taking more out of me than I realize. I just don't want to be totally out of shape when I show up for the Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge. On the other hand, I want to get completely over this thing, I don't want it to linger for weeks on end. Ugh, being sick sucks.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Working out with my Dad

Earlier weekend this month, I went to Dallas to visit family for my Dad's birthday. It just so happened that my highschool classmate, John Marshall, was celebrating his gym's move to a bigger space by hosting a free workout. So I decided to go, and I mentioned this to my dad. He decided to come along.

At first I was very hesitant. I know crossfit can be a bit of a, ah, unpleasant experience to those that aren't properly initiated to the movements and intensity, so I made sure his experience was enjoyable.

Because of the big crowd, John went with a group workout. For time:

As a group of four, do:
400m run
400 barbell thrusters
300 double unders
200 pull ups
100 burpees
400m run

We broke up the movements evenly among us, but I made dad do scaled back movements, like 10# dumbbell thrusters, single jump ropes, and after a few strict pull ups he did band assisted pull ups (later he went to band assisted jumping pull ups, very sneaky dad.) He only did a couple of burbees, with his back (herniated disc repaired) getting down on the ground wasn't that easy for him. We basically walked the last 400m, but as we rounded the last corner he decided to sprint. As we crossed the finish line, he then sat down on the curb and commented on regretting doing that, as his heart was racing. A moment of concern, but after a short bit everything was ok and we got up and walked back inside. This picture is of us shortly after that, I don't know why he looks taller than me, I've got a good inch on him at least.

I learned something about my dad, one is he's a competitor. When we were strategizing pre-workout Dad commented, "because i don't like losing." This seemed kind of strange to me since he's such a nice guy, and has always been so supportive of me no matter what my performance on the athletic field (that's a post for another time). But it made me realize something: this is the man who lead his college water polo team to a national championship, this is the man who graduated first in his class in receiving his Ph.D. in Physics at University of Pennsylvania. I could go on for a ridiculously long time, but suffice it to say the man doesn't lose, he doesn't know how to fail. One of the biggest reasons I've had the success I've had is me just trying to follow my Dad's example.

During a workout I always try to inspire myself, I try thinking about various things, usually around how each moment is precious and I should make the most of it. This produces spotty success, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Working out with Dad, however, was like nothing else I've experienced. It's hard to describe, but seeing some one you care so much about work out really is moving. At age seventy if my Dad can do 100 dumbbell thrusters, I better damn well be able to bang out 100 Barbell thrusters in no time flat.

I am so glad that my father wanted to live in my world for a little bit, to experience something that I love so much. Thank you Dad, it was an experience I'll never forget.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Allergies and Bronchitis suck

So I worked out last Wednesday, and it was not the best experience. It required 9 muscle ups to start, so I figured I could handle it, after all I did 12 when I did Nate. What i didn't consider is nate is only two at a time. That changed things a bit. Only got up to five in like 8 minutes, and then I called it quits and went to the alternate wod, where I went too heavy on deadlift (225) to really get my intensity up. After each deadlift I felt light headed, and I just didn't have that motivation I usually have.

Well, as the day progressed I realized I felt pretty crummy. It seemed my allergies were acting up. I started feeling worse and worse. During class my voice got really hoarse, and I started to realize I had a lot of congestion. Saw the Allergist the next day (Friday) and it seems I have bronchitis. Awesome. This happened last year during the spring, and many times before that, but god damn it makes it hard to do anything. Like I just feel like Crap, and worn out.

I'm not happy about this because The Mid-Atlantic Hopper Challenge is like two weeks away. I just don't think working out right now would be productive in the least. ...It's even made blogging feel like work. Now it's Wednesday, and I haven't worked out since last Wednesday.

I feel fat and out of shape, I try doing small sets of push ups and squats, but nothing like I should be doing.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Second class: Pull ups

So yesterday was the second class for Project Virtuosity. There was a very large turn out on this, had eleven people, more than those signed up for the regular wod. Because of the size I made sure everyone had a partner, so I only had to monitor 5 people at a time.

We worked on pull ups, going through all of the progressions, working on the movement of the feet, then adding in the knees, then working the kip on the floor, and then adding it all together. I pointed out the difference between the C-grip and the suicide grip, which I learned about two years ago. Gosh that makes me feel old. Anyways, I didn't have the fear of always presenting new material for the sake of entertainment like last week. I realized it's ok for people to try the movement for a little bit, rest and chat, and then get back on the bar.

I had people work on unassisted pull ups before introducing the band. I figured the band can make things a little more complicated, so to add it in after everything else. don't think I had anyone reach a milestone. At least, no one mentioned it to me. Regardless, I think people appreciated the practice.

I also set everyone aside and taught some about hand maintenance. Because this was more of a lecture, people def seemed less interested. Hopefully if they do tear they'll know what to do, and how to prevent it.

We only had like 5 minutes to work on GHD as scheduled, I just explained the set up and let some people try it out. I think a lot of people had pretty much checked out though.

There was one instance where I don't think I acted very professionally by strutting my stuff a bit during a demo. When I was demonstrating how everything works together, I was easily hitting chest to bar. I was excited, so I decided to see how high I could get. Turns out I can get stomach to the bar with ease. Like it was fun, it wasn't work, and I felt like I could do it for a long time. It didn't feel like I was working my shoulders or anything, and I could really find my rhythm. Anyways, looking back I don't want to come off as that asshole that's like "look at me and how awesome I am." Especially in a coach capacity. I hope I didn't come off that way.

But other then that, it was very uneventful, and I think that's a good thing. Can't wait for next week.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Class is a success!

I really couldn't have asked for a better time. At first it looked like there were only going to be three guys in the class, but as people realised I was starting they wandered over and asked, "is this the workshop?" Soon the ranks had swelled to eight people, just about perfect.

I talked up the squat, how awesome it is and we use it everyday. Next I demoed it, giving the four points of performance: weight on heels, knees out, butt back/proper depth, and lumbar engaged. I showed it again, and then had everyone do it together as I walked around giving cues. For some the verbal cue worked, but sometimes I had to give a tactile cue. I would have to say the most popular fault I saw was the knees moving in, but over all the group moved really well, so I moved on to the front squat.

With a barbell, I tried to get everyone comfortable with the rack position by starting them off on a Frankenstein squat, and after everyone got in a couple of reps I then brought in the hands holding the bar, and how one drives with elbows up. Everyone did fairly well with this, so suddenly I was only 15 minutes into class and was almost done with the movements planned.

I had a choice of either everyone keep working on the front squat, or to try to teach my personal favorite, the overhead squat. Out of concern of keeping interest, I asked the group if they would like to work on the overhead squat. Everyone, and I mean everyone, nodded yes. Democracy prevailed.

I had them grab a PVC, explained how the OHS works, demo'd, and then had everyone work on active shoulder. It was a good thing I did, because it seemed the slight twist in the arm that really makes an active shoulder active, was a foreign concept. So I did a couple of active shoulder drills, and then went on to trying to squat with a pipe overhead. Again, shoulder flexibility seemed to be the biggest issue with people breaking the frontal plane. Looking back I think I forgot to use the cue of pressing the bar up the whole time, but overall I think people were getting more comfortable with the movement, which is the most important thing.

I want this class to mitigate the intimidating nature of crossfit, to get people to be more confident, and I think I achieved that. I was asked when should someone switch from using dumbells to barbell for OHS, and I said immediately, simply use a load that you're comfortable with, even if it's only a 15# bar. I also (hopefully) got the point across that skill in these movements is exactly that: a skill; and as such is only acquired through practice.

What I think is the most interesting, and I could be wrong here, is that the note I ended on (foam rolling/recover) was the strongest. I had everyone grab a foam roller and showed them how to work the IT band, the quads, hammies, and then the adducters ("Get intimate with your roller"). I explained how important recovery is, how tight muscles can really hold you back, and that this is something that works best if done a little bit each day. I think the passion and alacrity with which I spoke about this subject matter really made it interesting, I saw a lot of head nodding going on during my explanations.

As people were wincing I talked up next week (pull ups, hand maintenance, and maybe a few more little tricks), thanked everyone, and told them class was over. Afterwards someone commented that they had no idea whey people were foam rolling, so this was really helpful. I also mentioned how having weak adductors cause the knees to bend inwards, and what can be done to strengthen them (squat as deep as you can)

So in review, it was a great success. Thinking about how it could be better, I think I might try to incorporate a squat progression Chriss Smith taught me (totally blanked on it until after the class was over) I would also add some shoulder dislocates before working on OHS, just because shoulder flexibility can be such an issue. ...My one regret is that I totally forgot to get a picture of me with my first class. Guess I'll have to do it with my second class.

I felt awesome after this, before I was having a rough day with work, and afterwards I was ecstatic, like I was high. Better be careful, I might get addicted to this coaching thing.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Calm before the virtuous storm

So in a couple of hours I'm going to have my first class as a coach. I have no idea how the turnout is going to be, I was having a hard time coming up the courage to advertise for it, which is stupid. I may be new, but I know this stuff, I've worked with Danny on some ramp up sessions and have led one or two.

I've tried to tell people about it, and I think I've had some success, and last minute I thought to try advertising it on the facebook. Waiting to see how it turns out is like asking a girl out. "What if she says no?" *shudders*. *Gasp, eyes wide open* "What if she says yes!" While I'd be ok with ten people, if like 25 people show up it could be a problem for me. I have experience talking in front of an audience. My favorite activity in law school was Moot Court and trial team, but this is somehow different. 25 may be a problem, but I think it will be less then that, and I'm fine with that. After all, this is the first class, not the last. I will have somewhere to grow, and I'd like to start small.

I've prepared as much as I could, now let's see how this goes. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of teaching this class. I'm a technique nazi, the very opposite of a stopwatch whore, and steeping members in good mechanics just sounds awesome to me.

The most exciting aspect about this class is the possibility of teaching stuff other than just movement. I might be able to teach nutrition, hand maintenance, mobility and recovery techniques (those I'm excited most about), and just the general tao of Crossfit. I just hope others find this as exciting as I do.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Coaching a class!!!

So Jerry has now placed me in charge of a class now! The idea behind this is to provide an opportunity for CFOTers to work on the the fundamentals. In the crossfit community there is a key word, virtuosity: to become uncommonly good at doing what is common. This is the product I will provide: the ability to do a perfect front squat, or a clean where one gets completely and totally under the bar. I will also provide lessons on more obscure movements such as double unders. The curriculum may be reminiscent of a ramp up section in terms of format, but I hope to provide content that will benefit the veteran as well.

This class will be offered on Thursdays nights. Thursday is usually a rest day for people, so attending the class won't force you to do a two-a-day or sacrifice a Wod. I'm very grateful for the help Melissa and Jerry have offered, and without their help this class wouldn't be possible.