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Welcome to the Champions Club Summer 2018!


Entries in amy (49)

A Coach Named T

There have been so many people in this gym who give off the aura of respect, credibility, and knowledge to varying degrees. From Mr. Carey to Jacob to Shannon to Jason to Mrs. Pip to AJ to Murley to Brian the Trainer. These people often find themselves in positions of having to explain themselves and back up their performances or ideas. I have come to realize Coach T is in this category too, except on a little bit of a bigger scale. From the Michigan High School powerlifting community, to Warren Consolidated P.E., to the Michigan State football program (boo!), Coach T has built connections and gained respect in just about every relevant fitness-related community in Michigan. He even coached someone on the Biggest Loser TV show. I am lucky to be on his good side to the point where he strings me along and involves me in most of his side projects.

And the more I hang around him and realize how many top people rely on him, and how many professional-level coaches he talks to, the more I wonder how a little Champions Club weasel named Amy Potter is the one that changed his mind.

Right around the time this picture was taken - October 2013 - Amy was one of the little rascals in Coach T's Lifetime Fitness class at Warren Mott. After one of the workouts that had deadlifts in them, she went up to T after class and said in that classic direct-but-somehow-not-quite-rude-Amy-tone:

"T, you're teaching the deadlift wrong."

That is art at its finest, right there. No fluff, no filler stuff, no extra words or criticism sandwiches. Just facts. Coach T - who was just as respected then as he is now - had a very interesting reaction to this. He asked, "why?" I mean, sure, that was probably not the first thought that went through his head, but after the initial reaction of this tiny creature questioning the methods he'd been teaching forever, he put his ego aside and asked for an explanation. Fortunately, Amy is one of the best kids I've ever seen at backing up a point she wants to make. She even once convinced JZ he was wrong. And in this particular instance with T, she explained that the Big Butt Big Chest method of teaching the deadlift was actually unsafe in the long run because it puts the spine in overextension; from what I heard she used those exact words. I don't know if I had ever been so proud of one of the Champions Club kids up to that point.

I keep a coaching notebook by my bed that records my thoughts on significant days' events, business notes, and spontaneous 2 a.m. ideas, among other things. On January 11, 2014 I wrote in horrible handwriting,

Mott gym teacher texted me about doing some training there. I wonder how that will turn out... Pokemox X is pretty sweet. Hope it doesn't take up too much of my time.

As it turns out, it's 2018 I still have to use every bit of willpower to walk past the 3DS and not flip it on to see if I can finally add a shiny Rhyhorn to my collection. And as far as the Mott gym teacher part, on May 28 he became the first ever kind-of outsider brought on as an official coach at the Champions Club.

In the modern era of the Champions Club (post-Carl Paoli), Coach T has been the single biggest influence on my coaching. Going into his class to observe for the first time, I was so freaking judgemental. I was used to seeing Banets and Jasons and Mrs. Careys and packed classes of like 9 people. 3rd hour Lifetime Fitness had like 9 good people and about 50 shit kids. All crammed into a weight room expecting to do something productive in 37 minutes. Once I got the chance to actually run a class, I realized very quickly that the Champions Club standard of movement was not realistic everywhere.

An interesting thing happened as I continued to coach with T at Mott, though: I was forced to simplify. Remember when hook-grip on pull-ups was a thing? Or knee push-ups? Or straight bar path on presses? Well, they're all still things sometimes, but I cut those, and tons of other things out of the normal teaching rotation due to my time at Warren Mott P.E. I had limited time, limited experience, and 3 different languages spoken... and even without that there was still 6x more people in a session that I was used to. Adapt or die, as they say. And over time Coach T helped me simplify, and simplify, and simplify, to the point now where I literally teach three things and that's it. This came to fruition at Michigan State in 2017 when we presented at their annual Football Strength Clinic in front of 200 high school and college coaches from around the country.

Building a Champion pt. 9: Reflections of a Dropout in Sparta

Surprisingly, the preparation process for this clinic was not the thing that sold me on getting T to coach here. Instead it was the constant observation of his Mott classes. Early on in 2014, I'd be going to Mott once or twice per week. By 2016-2017, I'd make it to one or two classes every other month or so. And this distance between classes helped me get a better visual picture of not only how well his kids were improving, but the incredible acceleration of Coach T's ability to manage a big group with tough movement standards. It was really impressive to watch, and still is.

This past August was the first time I asked him to coach for me, and I was hoping to make it a two or three year project to work towards. I constantly made passive references and suggestions (Shannon knows how annoying these can get) this entire year and things were looking like it would take even longer until about 2 weeks ago, when I got a random text on the Sunday before Memorial Day from T talking about how he thinks it's time to make the jump right in time for Summer 2018.

What Coach T brings to the table is something that I'm not entirely sure yet. I don't know what his floor or ceiling look like. I just know that there are only a small handful of people in the state of Michigan who teach movement like we do, and even fewer still that do it as well as Coach T. This is a guy we need to have on our team, and by the looks of our record-number roster for Summer 2018, it could not have come at a better time.

I know you've been here before, and never really left, but welcome to the Champions Club my man!

CrossFit Injury Rate Study + Mini Rant

I got a mass email last night from a student at USC who is looking for participants in an online survey regarding a very common topic: injuries and CrossFit. It's really quick and if anyone wants to participate, the link is below.

Severe Injury Rate in CrossFit

How bout this throwback from the vault! Summer 2012Coach Glassman had a great quote that was something along the lines of, "I could make an exercise program that is 100% safe, and doing so would also make it 100% ineffective. You'd just be sitting on your butt the whole time."

Obviously we never want to get athletes injured during training; this is not our main goal, but it is very high on our priority list. Some of the things we do in life and sport requires potentially risky physical activity, so it is best to train those things in the gym in a little bit safer fashion. We jump on boxes, climb on ropes, tumble and go upside-down, and we put relatively heavy things over our heads. Sometimes Mr. Carey just misses the box. For the most part, I can live with those kind of injuries.

The ones I obviously have a hard time dealing with are the ones I think came from training with bad form. Bubs's shoulder thing in 2012 (or early 2013, I forget) comes to mind as the only one that I can think of that was probably solely due to a workout and required surgery. In fact, it's something I still think about - which is why I am so picky about head position on all lifts. The other ones that have hit me hard are when our kids get injured in their sport. Thankfully they have been few and far between, but Jay's knee was tough for me to deal with, as was Cam's and Amy's knees. I always think there was more I needed to do in here to help them prevent that stuff.

At the end of the day, it's difficult to balance that line with playing things conservative and progressing an athlete further. The longer I'm at this, the better I'll get, and the longer you're at this, the more feedback you'll be able to give regarding which days are good and which days aren't. Just remember that there has to be some element of risk in an exercise program in order for anything productive to get accomplished.

From the Vault: Forward Roll Jump-Twist

Any time we do a holding your breath workout you can bet we are trying to modify for a swimming workout that comes up on the main site. Here's the most recent one that we used for today's team workout.

5 rounds for time of:
Swim 50 meters
25 push-ups

We made the adjustment of giving athletes two breaths instead of one. Also, we added a forward roll jump-twist every time there was a transition. Despite what you may believe, those weren't a random addition; they're a skill-transfer for something in swimming races called a flip turn.

Back when I was coaching Amy Potter's one-on-one sessions in Fall 2013, one of her major weaknesses in the pool was getting power off the flip turn. So we called up Carl Paoli and he helped us figure out how to replicate that in the gym. This came in the form of a forward roll jump twist. Here's Amy doing them between sets of a max effort.

The candlestick roll some of you did was a modification if the forward roll was not happening. Either way, you guys did well with this new movement thrown at you out of the blue.

From the Vault: Cindy Crews 2012-2014

Sometimes it's cool to go back and look at out older videos to see how things compare to now. Benchmark workouts are especially interesting - seeing as it involves little to none of my coaching. It's all you guys. Here's a few Cindy videos from the last few times it came up.

2012

2013

2014

The quality of our coaching is reflected by how you guys move without coaching. So hopefully it looks better this time around.

From the Vault: When The Shorts Were Short

Two Summers ago we had our best 80's turnout to date - featuring old faces like of AJ, Meghan, Amy, a bald-headed Faust, and the legendary tandem of Seth and Frankie. For those of you new to this Summer, there is no dress code that produces the results of the 80's Theme Workout. Here's an example from Summer 2013.

Parkour FYI

Parkour and Freerunning have been kind of watered down by the mainstream and YouTube in the past few years as it has grown in popularity. Actually, watered down might not be the best term. Maybe "evolved" - kind of like CrossFit. (I wouldn't say CrossFit has been watered down either).

Since the beginning, CrossFit's goal has been to forge elite fitness (fitness being defined as work capacity measured across broad time and modal demands) and preparing you for the unknown and unknowable. As CrossFit's popularity grew, more people got involved and put their own twist on the program. We have MobilityWOD and GymnasticsWOD. There is CrossFit Football and CrossFit Endurance. Now, it seems that CrossFit is most commonly associated with competitions and The Sport of Fitness. Sometimes people lose track of the original purpose of CrossFit, but I think it's kind of a natural progression for CrossFit as a whole.

In 2005-2006, CrossFit began featuring an athlete named Jesse Woody on instructional videos for a new form of training called Parkour. The original form of Parkour had a very simple and functional purpose in mind.

"Parkour is quite simply the art of navigating any environment quickly, confidently, and effectively with only the capabilities of your body to aid you." - Jesse Woody, from his introductory CrossFit Journal article in 2006.

In other words, Parkour training gives you the tools to move through any environment (unknown and unknowable) in the most efficient way possible. This usually involves jumping, running, and climbing. But sometimes the obstacles in the way require more advanced forms on tumbling, flipping, and swinging. The more these techniques were taught, the more people began to put their own spin on them in their Parkour practice.

Today, we see many Parkour videos featuring random flips and acrobatics that would not necessarily be consistent with the original purpose of moving from point A to point B the best way possible. There are even settings where Parkour is treated like a sport - which can lead to the same confusion when CrossFit is referred to as a sport. So sometimes it's difficult to sift through the unnecessary stuff and find the goods. This video, for instance has a variety of both. Can you spot them?

In the end, just understand that if you get yourself where you want to go quickly and were unharmed in the process, then it was a good method for you and legit Parkour. So that means the parents doing a half-vault/half-climb over high boxes is just as legit as Jason, Amy, and Meghan Murley dive rolling over the same obstacle.

For a good intro to the Parkour methodology, click on the link above by Jesse Woody's quote.

Pic of the Week: Lion's Den

Some time within the last few weeks, the Meijer on 13 Mile by the Nature Center ran a secret promotion with Pepsi and Mathew Stafford (Binno and Sabal, he's a footbawl player, quarterback to be exact). Check it out.

If you pause the video at 1:26, you might see a familiar face in the background.

Yes, Amy Potter somehow weaseled her way into the Can Cave. She was the second person to go in and she stayed there for three hours.