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More Program than Gym

See the editorial here.


Beast Mode: College Freaks

The Freaks are in college now, let that sink in for a minute.

Ricky Carey and crew just finished their first collegiate year and are now back at the Champions Club for the Summer. The 9 am session from last Tuesday featured Slick, Elizabeth Banet, David Saporito, Katie Shakes, and Mrs. Fitz. They put in a great performance on the wallball/box jump ladder. Check it out.

Goon and Goblin Resurgence 5/15

This week's poll comes from Jacob the goon.

Would you rather have your favorite player win the MVP/Heisman/MOP, etc., or your favorite team win a championship?

Mother's Day Workout Wrap-up

After a hiatus of a few years, we decided to bring back our Mother's Day Theme Workout. This year we switched med-ball run for med-ball clean, then we bumped up the reps. It looked like this:

Med-Ball Run, 14 reps
I-want-my-six-pack-back sit-ups, 80 reps (partner style)
Lunges, 250 reps
Front squat, 150 reps

We split up into partners and divided the work however strategized. Only this time we had a few new faces join.

Babies session standouts Conamora and Zeena participated, as well as their mother, Mrs. Regine. We also had Abby Fitz - the most athletic offspring in the Mr. & Mrs. Fitz household. I was pleasantly surprised with the workout and it seemed like it was challenging to you all.

Full photo gallery can be seen here.

Workout results can be seen here.

Pic of the Week Has a Baby!

Just a reminder: tomorrow's team workout will be at 10 am instead of noon. Mother's Day theme.

On Monday, Champions Club fan-favorite Khalil Wallace brought a new baby into the world.

Karter Wallace. Now baby Chase has a little brother.

Theme Workout Announcement: Mother's Day

This Sunday will feature the return of our Mother's Day M.I.L.F. workout. The workout will be at 10 am instead of the usual noon time slot. We figured this would give you all more time to do your afternoon business. The traditional workout involves:

Med-ball cleans
I want my six-pack back Abmat sit-ups
Front squats

We will probably adjust the reps this time around, but it should be a good one either way.

Original M.I.L.F. workout. Spring 2012 at Jarrod's.It will be a traditional team workout format with a few wrinkles in the mix. Hope to see you there. Sunday at 10 am.

Sunday at 10 am.

Sunday at 10 am.

Thinking Out Loud: Productive Thoughts from Unproductive Seminars

by, VJ Tocco

Each Monday at 4 PM, our department invites a speaker from another university to deliver a seminar presentation about his or her research. Most of these people are brilliant, much smarter than I will ever hope to be. Yet, every presentation, roughly one-third of the way through, I become physically ill with boredom. I do anything I can to entertain myself, including crossword puzzles, doodling, and reciting rap lyrics silently in my head. The time slowly creeps by as the speaker drones on and on until the conclusions slide finally appears on the screen, mercifully signaling the end of the talk.

This weekly ritual is deeply tragic because companies and government agencies spend an absurd amount of money to fund research projects, and yet nobody in the audience learns anything. I can’t speak for my colleagues, but the percentage of noses buried in phones or papers during the presentation gives me a hint.  The reality is that even the best research cannot be perceived as interesting if the presentation is horrible.  During a particularly painful seminar a few weeks ago, I did some meta-thinking about why seminars are unbearable week after week. This treatise is the product of that seminar.

In my first year of attending these lectures, I struggled with lacking the intellectual capacity to digest the material. I had always been able to follow any lecture in school if I put forth the effort, but try as I might to focus on every data point and conclusion of the seminar talks, none of them ever clicked. Only during my thinking session did I realize that my intelligence was not the problem; it was the communication skills of the presenter that were lacking. The thoughts contained in these seminars are often disorganized and difficult to follow. Many of my friends that don’t share my technical background sometimes lament they aren’t smart enough to understand what scientists do. I wholeheartedly disagree; I think they just haven’t had technical subject material presented appropriately to them.

So why can’t scientists just keep it simple and communicate their research effectively to a broad audience? I came up with several reasons. Some scientists are pretentious egomaniacs and intentionally confuse the audience to make their work seem profound. Other scientists are simply negligent in considering exactly what the audience knows or does not know. A third class of scientists have discussed their specific area of research in so much depth with other experts that they have difficulty taking a step back to look at their work from a broader perspective.  But perhaps the biggest reason why scientists struggle to communicate is because scientists rarely put conscious effort into organizing their thoughts.

Communication and thought organization fall under the umbrella term soft skills, which includes other desirable non-technical attributes such as teamwork, work ethic, and professionalism.  I personally find the absence of these topics in the curriculum (at every level of education) deplorable. I've heard some faculty members use the term "soft skills" pejoratively, insinuating that soft skills are trivial when compared to hard-core chemical engineering topics like fugacity, the Navier-Stokes equations, and transfer phenomena. Isn't that asinine? Over the past few months, I've taken my soft skills education into my own hands, researching, experimenting, and practicing different techniques to improve. I've been proud of my progress, but frustrated that I've had to discover these topics on my own.

One might argue that everyone learns how to communicate and organize thoughts in high school, but I personally became an engineer because I hated the abstract essays that my English teachers used to assign about the literary prose du jour. I was never any good at speculating on the author’s intentions in flowery literature. Those assignments taught me how to complete an assignment, but they did not teach me how to think. Perhaps the actual process of learning how to think must come from within (I hate those types of abstract cliches, but I think that one plays here), not an assigned topic.

I urge anyone who wants to increase their communication or thought organization skills to 1) teach yourself how to write and 2) write as much as you can. Write on something you know. Write about anything you see going on in the world that interests you. Formulate unique opinions and craft them into an essay. I’ve learned that almost everybody has something unique to say about something. Or a unique perspective shaped by their experiences. Yet, few people have the ability or courage to communicate those thoughts. My high school basketball teammate Chris Sinagoga is a great example.  He was never interested in literature class, but man, can he write an essay about Lupe Fiasco's wordplay. The thought process that goes into crafting an argument is independent of the subject matter. Don't be like our seminar speakers. Do what I’m trying to do.  Find a topic you’re passionate about, write about it, and publish it somewhere on the internet. You will be surprised by how quickly your communication skills develop.

Quote of the Week vol. 191

I'm excited to announce my former teammate/high school classmate VJ Tocco's first installment of an ongoing Guest Post series called Thinking Out Loud will be published tonight at 5 pm. It should be a good one and definitely worthy of some discussion.


"Imagine if every time you walked in the gym you had to play for your spot on the team."

- Coach Speedy at our 15U practice last night

When you do something on a daily basis, it is easy to get complacent from time to time - especially if you are already decently accomplished at what you are doing. I know I am guilty of it every now and then. I have coached literally every single day for the past 5 years without a break. I love it and I choose my schedule, but I know there have been times where I have not given the effort that I needed.

I'm also sure a lot of you reading this have been in the same boat for your work or school. You're there every day, your spot is secure, and you kinda just float by. While this is almost unavoidable, it is a bad habit to get into. So I'm going to try to remind myself about what coach said above. What if your productivity today at work determined whether or not you're going to be there tomorrow? What if your scholarship fell on your performance in class today (not the semester as a whole)? Keeping that mindset will ensure we never get satisfied where we are.