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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer!

See schedule here.

Bye Bye Big Kris

Today marks the final day in the state of Michigan for the Champions Club fan-favorite Kris Campbell.

Kris is headed off to the Air Force Academy where he is slated to play football for the next four years. While he is surely the strongest athlete in our gym as far as size and lifting weights go, Kris will no doubt be remembered for his goofy antics just as much as any of his Beast Modes. Sometimes they both happen at the same time.

What a lot of you may not know, however, is Kris was the main ingredient in a large-scale experiment conducted by myself and Coach T. In early 2014, I went in to Mott for the first time to meet T and share some of the movement standards we follow at the Champions Club. As you can probably guess, he was all-in almost from Day 1. The only question was: how would the kids take the the new style? Mixed into his 5 classes of 60+ was a gigantic freshman who just came off a major knee surgery; judging by how he was dancing in the video above, you never would have guessed the injury history.

Shortly after our introduction, Kris signed up for Fundamentals with his teammate Mike Pond and managed to do well in a few workout sessions with the Champions Club before kinda falling off the wagon.

The cool thing, though, is he was still getting great coaching every day he stepped in his Lifetime Fitness class. By the time he came back around the Champions Club in late 2015, the lessons learned from Coach T showcased in the gym and it only took him a matter of weeks to fine-tune the form to our standards.

Kris's recent stint with the Champions Club has been my favorite, though. From January through last week, Kris has meshed very well with our community and he's hit his peak (so far) in fitness. I still marvel at how well and how fast he moves at his size. He has the toughness to push himself in high-rep bodyweight workouts, 400-meter runs, and even complex barbell movements. At first glance, you would not expect him to hold up in that area, but that goes to show how much time and work he has put into his body. And now, it is paying off in the form of Division 1 College Football.

Kris, it's definitely a tough loss to have you away from the gym, but we're all very proud of you and thankful that you've called this place your home for the last 4 years. And your rope climb is the highlight of the Summer so far!

Go kill it big fella!

New Graduates: The Family

I try to keep most of the spotlight on you guys, but man... I am pumped!

The Peach Jam is an annual Nike Basketball Tournament held in Atlanta, and in recent years has become a major location in the EYBL Nike circuit. For the 17U teams, it is the final chance to qualify for the National Championship in Los Angeles. But for the 15U and 16U this is the final stop; win the Peach Jam and you can claim the title of the best Nike team in the country.

And yesterday, that is exactly what The Family's 15U team did yesterday!

I have seen most of these kids play together since they were in 4th grade, and started coaching them last spring. This is a huge step for them in their hopes to get paid playing basketball one day, whether that is in the NBA or over seas. Great job to the kids, and especially to Coach Courtney, their head coach, who continues to do a great job managing so much talent. And thank you for letting me be a small part of it!

Pics of the Week: Bubs Being Bubs

Coaches will always have favorites because human beings have favorites and coaches are humans. My favorites fall into two categories: 1) are very low-maintenance or 2) play basketball.

The second criteria is an obvious bias, so whatever. But the first is, to me, the best kind of athletes to have in the gym. Bad stuff happens to everyone; the ones who don't whine and complain and extend their misery to ethe people around them are athletes I want on my Champions Club team. Luckily, we have a lot of them. But since 2010, I can't think of one non-parent who has been more low-maintenance than Bubs.

And this is why Bubs is Bubs...

She makes the best out of whatever situation she happens to be in at the moment. We have quite a few athletes with injuries at the moment. Follow Bubs's example and you will be in good company. In fact, I'm sure Kroll will have a similar post sometime next week...

Athlete of the Week: Avery

We've put in a ton of great work so far this Summer, and it's still only halfway in the books! Our Athlete of the Week this time around is rookie Avery Maslowski.

Our 10 am rookie session is still developing, and I think it might finally come to fruition in late July/early August. But the one constant has been Avery. And the only thing more consistent than her attendance is her improvement in coordination. Since she came back after soccer season, it seems like her body awareness and strength is getting better by the minute. Just yesterday she managed to control her position on slow overhead squats as well as anyone, and coming from where she was in January, I was very impressed.

Backtrack to Thursday and her jump ropes were fluid; Tuesday her box jumps stayed feet together and back flat on deadlifts; and even today she beat Jennifer on a few hill sprints.

Avery could fall in the Katie Bromm complete athletic overhaul category by the time Summer is over, and I am just thankful I get a front row seat to watch it. I think I even heard her talk on Friday, but I could be wrong.

Either way, great job Avery and keep the momentum going for the rest of Summer!

One Year Anniversary: Erica with a "C"

In July 2016, I read an old article in the CrossFit Journal about the success affiliates have had doing a "Corporate Fitness" class of sorts. Seeing that we are right across the street from a worl corporation, I figured I'd give it a try with one of the Henkel connections. A few days later, we had a decent-sized group of Henkel employees come in and try out a few sessions with things looking to be on the up-and-up.

And it turns out if you squint really hard towards the back of this picture you'll see a girl doing a ring row on the small pull-up bar that might look familiar to you. Her name is Erica Krueger Gibbons and she is the only person from the Henkel crew to stick around with us.

Now-a-days, anyone who comes to the 4:30 session knows Erica as the person with great technique on almost every movement, a hatred towards jump ropes, and an easy personality to get along with. She has officially been with the Champions Club group since October and we have seen her get married, come back after a brief job scare, and accomplish multiple graduations:

It goes without saying that Erica has been a perfect addition to the Champions Club since Day 1, regardless of what the Graph of Ability might say about her. Hopefully she enjoys her job across the street and will be with us for a long time to come.

Congratulations Erica! Thank you for sticking with the Champions Club!

Case Study: Teaching vs. Motivating

I wanted to call this "Teaching vs. Cheerleading," but I need to give credit where credit is due; college strength and conditioning coaches are great at motivating players. Like, supremely great, from the testimonials of most of the players I've talked to. So I'll keep this as unbiased as possible, Coaching vs. Motivating.

I think I summarized my thoughts on the matter pretty well in my latest Building a Champion installment after the clinic and nothing has changed since then. I believe the priority for strength and conditioning coaches should be the following:

1. Skill

2. Strength

3. Conditioning

4. Motivation/mental toughness

Teaching athletes proper movement technique and how to use gravity correctly can take care of a lot of other issues. Sports are not perfect, though, and sometimes we will find ourselves working against gravity (or a 300-lb. beefcake across from you), so we need to develop strength to endure this.

Next we have conditioning, and conditioning can be used as a way to test an athlete's strength and skill, and is probably the best diagnostic tool a coach can use to see what their movement looks like on the field or court. In my opinion, motivation and mental toughness can be developed from within the athletes that hold themselves to the movement standards coaches set. If it doesn't take mental toughness to keep your knees still during the last 9 cleans of Elizabeth, then I don't know what does. This, to me, is unnecessary...

Or is it? I am spoiled, remember. Every one of you I coach at the Champions Club wants to be here. No mater how much you claim otherwise, you pay money to be coached the way we coach. So motivation has always been an afterthought for me (sometimes to my detriment). But what if you guys were really just here for the goodies Mrs. Carey and Pat bring in? And what if in order to indulge in the Twizzlers, Gummy Worms, and Banana bread, you have to work out at a certain intensity? This is probably what Rick Court, head S&C coach at Maryland (pictured above) and fellow presenter at the MSU clinic in February, and other college strength coaches across the country have to deal with. Their kids are there to play football (or basketball, or whatever); not to work out. Yet, it is widely known that working out helps make better athletes. So maybe the goal is to get them excited to work out first and foremost?

Coach T sent me this article yesterday and we met up this morning to discuss it, among other things. Check it out.

He wasn’t merely off to the side observing the spectacle he had created.

Instead, he was running around like a madman with his muscles bulging through his white T-shirt, squatting closer to his players’ anguished faces as they raised absurd amounts of weight. He stuck ammonia inhalant packets near some of their noses to give the players an adrenaline rush, then congratulated them on their completed sets by violently slapping them in the chest. That’s how Court shows love.

I try to rationalize this with my thoughts above, and DJ Durkin likes him, which counts for a decent amount in my book. Still, I think this article is giving a misleading image of what is important. Rather, what is most important.

When announcers drool over Jabrill Peppers making a bone-crushing tackle on a Colorado QB, I agree it is exciting and I get as pumped up as anyone about it. But it is also overlooking the fact that Peppers makes countless plays during the game that are much less exciting, but have even more of an impact on the overall outcome. Having announcers like Gary Danielson and Kirk Herbstreit point this out to the audience is a great thing; seeing BTN announcers miss this is not.

When strength coaches around the country read articles like the one above or watch videos like this, they are usually seeing a very limited view of what makes a good coach. This has been the natural progression going down the line of coaches I have seen in my experience; it takes a very open mind to be willing to focus on what really matters (movement), because once you realize it, you will see how much work you really have on your hands.

In the end, our jobs as coaches are to make our athletes move better in whatever area matters to them (football, basketball, lifting weights, lifting grandkids). In order to do that, correct movement needs to be taught and held to standards that are non-debatable and set by gravity and our physiology. It is pretty black-and-white. In the realm of motivation, there are as many standards as there are athletes in the group; which is not to say that it should be avoided, but rather not be the main focus.

Motivating is not easy by any means. Neither is teaching. Motivating looks very exciting, probably draws in good recruits, and takes football coaches from 6 to midnight with every corny quote they hang up (did you guys know that Iron sharpens Iron?) Teaching, for the most part is very boring in comparison. There is a process to it, where most days are built on small progressions geared towards an endless end goal. Either the athlete has the right answer on that particular day, which then gets reinforced or progressed further, or they don't, in which case the teacher backtracks and builds more progression. The excitement comes when the athletes doesn't rely on the coach any more.

I don't think this kid needs ammonia packets. He has Jeff Martin.

It seems like there are two camps; great coaches = great teachers, or great coaches = great motivators. In my experience as an athlete, great teachers motivated me by teaching a new skill or technique that I can see will make me better. In my experience as a coach, I have reached "unmotivated" kids simply by teaching them to use gravity when running, or proper footwork on a jump shot, or correct reads in passing routes.

If we aren't teaching, and teaching with standards, then what the hell are we doing? Make that the first priotity and everything else falls in line.

Quote of the Week vol. 199

Bubs (before the 5 minutes of burpees): "Ugh! Just kill me now!"

Kenny: "I'm already dead"