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New Feature Post: Behind the Champion with Mr. Augustine

Check out the epic interview here.

Spinal Flinch in the Deadlift Setup

The first rule of movement we have to follow - regardless of what movement we are doing - is Midline Stability. A complex meaning of this is related to being able to control your spine in any position or movement. But all you need to know is keeping midline stability simply means your spine does not change. Period. My arms and legs can move all they want, but our spine from head to hips cannot. One of the most challenging movements on the midline is the deadlift. Oddly enough, the area I see this rule violated the most when I coach in other locations(although we are not completely immune to it) is not on the lift, itself, but in the preparation for the lift. The setup.

Back in the Summer when we had a max effort deadlift day, David Sap was ready to hurt an innocent bystander because of how often he was corrected on this fault. Here's a quick clip:

The first thing to understand is this is nitpicking. If I walked into Lamphere or Warren Mott or Detroit Central and saw deadlifts like this, I would be happy. Zero spinal movement is the standard, and this is a tiny bit of spinal movement. This is 1.5 frames to get into the Pose running position, or missing a fat block in your meal. With that being said, zero spinal movement is the standard - both for safety and performance - and that is what we at the Champions Club hold oursleves to.

From a safety perspective, the dangers of spinal movement is obvious. There is a certain range of tolerance, but in general the less movement we get in the spine, the safer we are. And this especially holds true to the lower back (lumbar spine). This is the connector between the lower body and the upper body, and injuries to the lumbar spine effect both ends of the system.

From a strength perspective, a change in spinal position results in a loss of movement control. Our nervous system runs through our spine, and if we kink the hose, the output will be compromised. - which really would manifest itself if David were doing something requiring more athleticism like a clean or a snatch. Losing control of the spine dampens the connection between your feet (where the pushing comes from) and the hands (where a lot of the weight is).

The fix for this is simple, but sometimed difficult to execute. David just needs to keep tension through the entire setup. The good news is this is completely a coordination issue. The bad news is this is completely a coordination issue (especially considering Sap's athleticism placement on The Graph is generously mediocre). He is able to maintain perfect spinal position as he squats down to the bar. But once his attention goes towards finding a good grip, he loses the tension his body created while squatting. In other words, if his mind isn't on his spine, he flinches.

Tension is how we move. By bracing our spine before if becomes loaded with external weight, we are setting our entire body up to create peak tension for our max lifts, which results in more weight lifted and no injuries. The more we do this, the more it becomes a habit and the less we'll have to think about it. Be patient kids, both in your setup and your overall progress.

Thanksgiving Weekend Schedule

Just an update for this weekend's session times:

Today, Tomorrow



10 am

5:30 pm

*this will be a mobility session, or makeup workout if your're a college kid back home


8:30 am - Thanksgiving Workout 7.0

*A few of The Babies are coming to this one as well, like we did for the Christmas one last year


10 am

5:30 pm



Get your belly ready for an updated version of Plymouth Hollow Rocks on Thanksgiving.

Pic of the Week: Crawford and his Coach

Many of the fall sports around the area held their annual banquet at some point this past week. Warren Mott Cross Country was in that camp, as theirs went down on Wednesday. As you know, we have quite a few runners on that team that are part of the Champions Club now, or at least were for a while - Andre, Kenny, Hickey, Parker - and the guy that started that connection was Brendan Crawford. Yes he's annoying, yes Avery can beat him up, and yes, he's still one of my favorite athletes to have in the gym. He's in that Katie Shakes camp as far as just being a plain, old-fashioned good kid.

At the banquet on Wednesday, somewhere between dinner and their coach getting silly-stringed, a few of runners interrupted the procedure in favor of a special announcement: they gave Crawford a trophy and nominated him as an honorary captain. He brought it to the gym on Thursday and the first person he hold was Mrs. Pip, who took a lot of time to work on his nutrition over the past year.

Crawford finished the season very well, and is looking to run at Macomb Community College next year.

Congratulations kiddo! Keep up all the hard work!

New Kid on the Block: Izzy

The Cousino connection continues with another member of their cross country team, Izzy Barone.

Izzy is a junior runner under Shannon and teammates with Avery, Emma D, and Maddison, and was also a standout on the volleyball court this fall in addition to her running. She started Fundamentals this week and has already made it through four sessions. By this pace, look forher to finish up some time next week and be a regular with the group. I'll check back in after the last day.

Quote of the Week vol. 217

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing"

- Teddy Roosevelt

One Year Anniversary: Avery

On this day last year, Avery Maslowski completed her first day of Fundamentals, along with her Cousino classmates Erik and Hadley Hopkins.

Actually, technically Avery Maslowski never started, because in her intro post I caller her "Waslowski". That is certainly embarrassing. Either way, Avery has been silently our most improved athlete of this calendar year by a long shot. Avery came in as a wirey freshman who never had any formal movement coaching and it showed. Holding a hollow position, squatting with control, and doing a handstand were very challenging at first. A year later and you can see muscle on her legs, push-ups without her knees, and deadlifts over one hundred pounds.

This Summer Avery was part of the 10 am rookie session and shined, using the opportunity to fine-tune her technique. Her consistent attendance led to a great cross country season this fall, where she set a pr in her final meet of the season, running a low-22 minute time.

Hopefully we'll see some big things from Avery in the years to come, but for now, it's this one-year anniversary we are celebrating.

Great job Avery!

Athlete of the Fall 2017: Jay Junkin

There is a workout in CrossFit lore that is universally known as the single most difficult WOD ever posted on any site. In a world with Murph, Eva, Fight Gone Bad, and 30 RM back squats, that is saying a lot. And oddly enough, it was none of those. In fact, the workout was not even posted on, but instead by former NFL lineman John Welborne on his CrossFit Football site on June 23, 2009:


For time:

135-lb. thrusters, 100 reps

*Perform 5 burpees every minute, on the minute

In other words, you do 100 thrusters at near your 1 rep max as fast as you can. Except your are interrupted at the top of each minute with a mandatory 5-burpee buy-in. There is nothing about this that sounds sane, or just, or even marginally survivable. In fact, one could imagine taking a few minutes off from thrusters and just doing the 5 burpees at the top of every minute to "catch your breath". Ha. Haha.

I have never done this workout. So naturally when 14 year-old Jay Junkin came up to 19 year-old me in the summer of 2009 asking to try his first ever CrossFit workout, I had him do this.

Brian was away in Seattle or California at the time, so Jay and I walked Old Faithful (the original 20-lb. medicine ball) up to the Fieldhouse and used the shaded side of the building as our workout station, with wallballs instead of thrusters.

That poor kid.

That poor, poor kid.

Jay (left) - first day at the Champions Club.


Nobody knows what happened after the workout. Some say Jay went into hiding. Others say he just slept for the next two years like Rip Van Winkle and grew a foot taller in the process. Either way, he resurfaced in June 2011, much to my surprise, and joined the Champions Club's Summer in the Fieldhouse - the very place of his death two years before. Over the course of the last six years, Jay has been quietly one of the most improved Champions Club athletes. It's odd saying that now because of how we see him, but when he first came in, his body just didn't seem to connect with him.

*On a side note, click on the video link in the title to see JZ's comment

Summer 2012 saw him garner the invite to the "Advanced Session". In the Summer 2013, Jacob texted me asking whether or not I thought Jay was the best male athlete in the gym - at the same time Josh, Cam, Buzz, Jason, and AJ were all in the gym (Faust... you're a kicker, can't count you, and 2015 was your prime anyway). And from then on, Jay was officially on the radar. In Summer 2014, he was a no-brainer pick as our top male athlete, then made the Grand Valley basketball team a month later. He kept up his fitness through the season, obviously, and by the time he came back spring-2015 Jay was in absolute top form. Then he tore his ACL while we were playing one-on-one at Lamphere. It was either the worst or second-worst feeling I've ever felt as a coach. The combination of me writing about his jumping mechanics previously and begging him to play a tiebreaker game that day lingered for months to follow and put a damper, for me at least, on what was probably the best Summer we have ever witnessed. That is not an easy thing to bounce back from for a coach, and I can't even imagine how that must feel for the athlete in question.

With that being said, fall 2017 Jay is the fittest I have ever seen him. It took all but a month to figure that out. Sometimes things just don't make sense.

Jay came back home from Grand Valley in August and immediately picked up with his usual 4 days-per-week at the gym. I asked him his goals before coming back and getting in pre-knee-injury shape was the only thing he really had in mind. When asked what his time frame was he replied, "Eh...whenever".

The first few days in August took some time to get back into the "CrossFit discomfort" mindset, but after that it was pretty smooth sailing (other than one inexplicable turbo boost from Cory). Some of his highlights include:

In the 6+ years Jay has been with the Champions Club, this is the first time I can remember him training consistently during the school year. He's been a Summer star, winter break warrior, and the occasional drop-in on weekends. Now he's routinely here 4 days every week, and sometimes 5 if the Lions don't have a 1 pm game. When people show up consistently at the Champions Club, they get a lot better. It's just how things work. When athletically gifted people show up consistently at the Champions Club, they go from out of shape to peak physical condition in about 3 months. It's not often you will see an athlete with Jay's height and build move as well as him and be able to express strength in all these different ways. In fact, I think I might bump him up on the board, still neutral in personality and juuuust below me on athleticism. And if he keeps on this trajectory and I think he's getting too close to me, I'll just bring out Kalsu again.


The fall was up and down here. September was slow, but things started to pick up towards the end of the month and definitely into October and November. This is the story every year it seems. Conor was also in contention for the Athlete of the Fall award, highlighted by beating Jay head-to-head on the 800m sprint/toes to bar workout. Look for good things from him this winter.

We had four Fundamentals kids come through our ranks, with Danielle being the standout so far, and two more in the works at the moment. New faces are coming back around like Olivia and Erik, and hopefully more to follow. Our roof is finally getting fixed, so be on the lookout for a reorganization of some things on that side of the gym. I was anticipating better numbers after the Summer, but I think it will be looking up for the winter. Let's make it good! And congratulations to Jay!