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Entries in danielle (37)

A Constant Foot in the Ass

Danielle Worden had the body of a distance runner, mental makeup of cotton candy from the concession stand, the training routine of a teen CrossFit competitor, and a guilty phobia about carbohydrates. Somehow that formula led to an All State powerlifter.

Danielle Worden's competitive career is now over. She will be relegated to the world of College Kid where Ricky Carey and David Saporito dwell; a Christmas break here, a random weekend there, and a Summer to get back into the swing of things just in time to let it decay all over again. And this is okay, for the most part. We are playing the lifetime game, and training with the intensity and focus Danielle had during the winter of her senior year has an expiration date. The training intensity of Jay Junkin - give or take his deadlift technique - does not.

With that being said, Danielle is in the best shape of her life and sometimes we need to take advantage of that. So on Thursday our 4:30 session was stacked with the top consistent girls at the gym: Shakes, Fry, Erica, and Woorden (not to mention Crystal, someone every young girl in the gym wants to be when they are her age). A 5k run substitute - AMRAP in 20 minutes of 200m run, 30 lunges, 15-sec. l-sit. Since the lifting season ended, I've been working with Danielle on getting more comfortable at an uncomfortably fast pace while running. She had two the week before that went to my liking, so I figured Thursday was a good time to test it.

"Danielle," I said as they lined up at the garage door, "you need to come back first." She scoochy-scooched her way to the front of the line, I counted down, and they were off! I set the timer down, made sure the mat was clear, and looked out the door to see Shakes well ahead on the way back, followed by Fry and Woorden neck-and-neck.

"Danielle, stop! Try it again. I wasn't joking"

So she waited until Shakes finished her lunges and L-sits and took off on the run again. A little over a minute later, Shakes came back first with Danielle trailing.

"Nope! Try again."

Her patented hissy fit, stomping, and breath-holding ensued. In the midst of this, she took off on her third run well before Shakes finished her L-sits. She came back in faster than any of her previous runs.

"Sucks for you, Woorden! Wait for Shakes and try again... Shakes, 20 bucks if you beat her this time."

20 minutes, numerous "I hate you's," and the top girls time of the day later...

A coach really has two jobs: teach and set standards. A new person coming in might not know that a lunge is supposed to look like the picture above (minus the bad head/neck/shoulder position). A teacher needs to teach them that so they can replicate it for themselves. After that happens once, the job becomes setting the standard. That is what a lunge looks like. If something comes up that looks different, it's a coach's job to say, "No, that's not the standard." Barry Brunke does not have the athleticism, coordination, or flexibility to make every lunge look like that, so his standard is different. Danielle sleeps in a standard lunge.

What she isn't used to, however, is running at a high intensity - something she is perfectly capable of. The comfortable thing to do, for both of us, is say, "C'mon kiddo, you can do better," after her first run, let her continue at her pace, then text Coach T afterwards and complain about how she won't push herself. Or we could just do it over and over until we meet the standard.


The basketball team I'm coaching for at the moment is in a very important year for the program, which culminates in a tournament at the end of July. We meet up twice a week if we're lucky for anywhere from 2-3 hours. Any time a kid doesn't throw a pass the way they're capable of, the drill is stopped and we do it over. Every. Single. Practice. Due to the short-term scenario we're in, this is okay. For reference, I've coached that team about 12 times since the middle of March. And I've coach Mrs. Bennis 12 times in the last 12 days. If I want Mrs. Bennis as a sane member of the Champions Club when she's 90, then not every session can be held to that standard. Thus the Sunday workouts and random chill days thrown in through the month. But on the workouts that are laser-focused, there's no excuse on my side or your guys' side to accept anything other than the standard.

As Brian the Trainer said a while back, "What you allow is what you encourage." Hopefully the "right" way is demanded enough that it's the only way you know how to do it.

Athlete of the Winter '18-'19

During the Fall 2016 I made quite a few changes to the gym, the most obvious of which was the pricing structure. But behind the scenes I made a decision that is still effecting the Champions Club (for better or worse.) I pretty much scrapped the high school program and decided to start over, building from the Babies-up. So far so good, but that does leave a gaping hole in the consistency of our high school crowd*. We have the Averys, the EmDs, the Marias and Maddys, the Conors and Andres, and Carter the Blob. I love those kids to death, and I'm still waiting for them to find the attendance the previous generation showed. Not sure if it will happen or not.

But somewhere in the mix we found a gem. A long lost Freak that somehow found her way to the Champions Club on August 21, 2017. And now she's Athlete of the Winter.


Danielle Worden is an only child, and is kind of treated like one at the Champions Club. She throws temper tantrums when she isn't allowed a band on pull-ups and we think it's cute. She gets to take the Marc Pro on road trips and comes in early and use the compression pants. And she's the only in-season athlete I can remember who talked her way out of almost every single in-season variation of a workout in favor of the full thing. Would that have flown with Alyssa Jabara back in 2014? No chance! So why is it okay now? Well, she's really all we got. And a really good one she is.

Starting with Eva in December, Woorden hit a pr despite horrible conditions and a 20k kettlebell. Up next was the Filthy Fifty, and she got 19 minutes and some change. Then came 16 rounds on Cindy with a skinny green band. Fight Gone Bad came after with a score of 335. And she rounded things out with a 4:41 Fran. All of these were either a pr or scaled up from her previous attempts. Another noticable difference came on the technique side of things. Cleans started going from the ground, handstands looked better, and she switched her deadlifts from sumo to conventional a week before finishing 3rd in the state for her weight class at the powerlifting championships.

With all that being said, the biggest change in Woorden this winter was her mood. I honestly have never seen this kind of 180 from someone in the Murley Mood category. During the Summer I was sure she was on a downward spiral clutching to the 20-lb weight vest of negativity. Her workouts were not going well, she was overtraining, and bugging out over a vacation of sorts (I forgot exactly where it was but I think it was a school thing). She was number 4 in attendance but nowhere near Athlete of the Summer running because of her workout quality. I told Coach T to be ready for a rough powerlifting season from her.

Instead the exact opposite happened. I'm not sure when or where it happened, but Danielle became genuinely tolerable to be around. Like, not quite fun or pleasant, but not mid-workout breakdown tears on the cheeks. And now for the past few weeks it's been even more of a tilt. She smiles. She says "hi"and "bye" to everyone in the gym. She's taken Sam under her wing as the leader for the new generation. She goes out of her way to talk with the New Kids on the Block. And she's completely embraced the things she sucks at in the gym as opportunities to improve. Danielle is about the best ambassador we have for the Champions Club at the moment. And in a gym that included the Benni, Colussis, Careys, and all the Babies parents, that is saying a lot. The gym has a long way to go to get back to where we need to be at with the teenage crowd, but Danielle has managed to hold the fort down. Or lift the foundation, whichever sounds better.

*Owen's been pretty good, and Sam is spearheading a promising freshman class, so we'll see...


I had a short-term goal to average 30 people per day by the spring. This was my goal for 2018, and it didn't happen. So I figured might as well try for it again. Christmas break was sweet and our Christmas Workout brought in the most people for a single session in Champions Club history. But after that things got stuck and stagnant for a bit, especially in January. We never really ducked down in the teens, but 22 is about what we were stuck at. Within the last few weeks, however, we have been in the 30s almost every day. And with the New Kids on the Block coming in, things appear to be looking up for the Spring.

We managed to get through the turf stuff relatively unscathed (except that time when the melted snow backflowed in through the garage door) and now will have it more open for our workout sessions. We started with the string of workouts that included L-sits, Ricky Reps, and handstands until your shoulders wanted to fall off. Cory and Angie and Mrs. Fitz have been back on track. And Jesus have you seen a Babies session lately?

I know today is the only thing we can control, and there's lots of todays between now and June 10, but it's difficult to look at the state of the gym right now and not be excited for Summer. Also, did you hear the rumors about who might be making a comeback?

We'll see what things look like in 3 months...

Beast Mode: Woorden at States

This morning Danielle Worden had her State Championship powerlifting meet in Ionia (where exactly that is, I have no idea.) She competed in the 123-lb. weight class, which is two classes under her 145-lb. weight class from last year. Both her and Coach T were hoping for a top-10 finish. She didn't quite get that.

She got 3rd! Her total was 540. You can see the full results here.

Needless to say that is good for All-State honors.


As it turns out, there are now a few people from the Champions Club who know where Ionia is.

At the crack of dawn, Mrs. Bennis, Mr. Bennis, Mrs. Tara, Shakes, Sam, Josh, and Mallory met up at the gym and made the two hour trek to the meet to see Danielle compete for the last time in her high school career. I am continually humbled by the community we have here, and this is just another example of that. Thank you guys for taking the time on a Daylight Savings Sunday to make the Champions Club better!

Beast Mode: Danielle at Regionals

We know what good form looks like. We know how Danielle moves when she's lifting at the Champions Club with sub-maximal weight. And we know she's built up a lot of equity in Get Out Of Injury Free cards over her time lifting with us and Coach T.

So going into Saturday I just wanted to not critique form and just enjoy having the chance to see her compete as an athlete for the last time in her high school career. And I enjoyed that very much! She pr'd on back squat, missed a pr on bench press, and tied a pr on deadlift - 205 / 115 / 225 respectively - and she took 5th place overall in a heavier weight class than what she weighed. She'll be competing at 123-lbs. for States in March. Here were her final three lifts:

Another thing I found really cool was how many Champions Club people were representing there; Jay, Elizabeth, Shakes, David Sap (somehow), Cecilia, Luke, and Noah were all there as volunteers, as well as Jarrod and Michelle from CrossFit BMW. Jacob was also there with a few of his Bishop Foley powerlifters, who all seemed to be doing really well.

In the stands, Mrs. Bennis, Murley, Mrs. Pip, Mrs. Colussi, and Mallory were all there to see Danielle finish out her deadlifts.

Thanks to everyone who showed up and congratulations to Danielle on making it to States for the second year in a row.

From the Vault: Powerlifting Regionals

Last year I attended my first ever powerlifting meet at Utica Ford to watch Danielle do her thing. I hope a lot of you can make it tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this). But either way here's how she looked on deadlifts last year:

You'll notice that her back is not as flat as it does while she's deadlifting in here. That's for a few reasons. 1) her technique and consistency has improved quite a bit over the past year and you all have seen less slip-ups. 2) The weight is really heavy. 3) It's a competition and things like this will happen.

Practice/training is the time and place to work on this stuff. When the game starts (or competition, in this case) habits are already built in. This doesn't mean you can't remind the athletes about things you went over in practice, but just know it's going to be tough to do a complete overhaul. I wrote a post about it in the aftermath of the meet.

The Game is the Player's Job; Coaches Stay Away

Be on the lookout for some video footage of Danielle's lifting attempts sometime on Saturday!

Powerlifting Meet For Danielle This Saturday

Every year Coach T and Utica Ford High School hosts a pretty big powerlifting meet and last year we had a ton of Champions Club people participate in judging, setup, and organization.

Well it's that time of year again, and most importantly, we'll get to see Danielle Worden in action (she already qualified for states in her weight class, but she'll be lifting in this meet anyway.) The girls will be lifting from 8 am - 12 noon. Back squat is first, bench press is next, and deadlift is third. If you head out there with me after the mobility session, you'll probably get there right in the middle if the bench press. I also would encourage you to skip mibility altogether so you can hit the entire thing.

If you can't make it at all, we'll still have the State Championship meet coming up (which, I think, will be at Lake Orion.) Coach T will be running all over the place on Saturday but I'm sure he'd love to see you there.

Pics of the Week: Best of Ford and Worst of Kroll

Last week featured two of the Champions Club Ford kids getting recognized for their athletic accomplishments. First is Cecilia Steinwascher in Chicago at the D-II All-American banquet:

Next is Danielle Worden receiving 3rd place in her weight class at their most recent powerlifting meet:

And finally, we have Rachael Kroll's submitted picture from after her recent bout with Cindy in her basement gym.